Following God One Yes At A Time

Cesar felt abandoned by his dad and betrayed by life.  By the time he was 25 years old, Cesar was angry all the time, running with a bunch of tough guys, working a dead-end job and looking for life playing soccer for five Toronto teams.  His mother began attending a church and three teenagers came to visit him.  Mary told him, “He  loves you; He died in your place to pay for your sins; He wants to come in to your life.  Will you let Him in?”  When the truth about Jesus was shared with him Cesar invited Jesus into his life and he began a new journey into God’s provision for a changed life.

It was soon tested.  Connie Cavanaugh writes about that first test in Following God One Yes At a Time:

Even though he felt different, like something had happened to him when he hasked Jesus in, Cesar didn’t think it would last.  Nothing ever had.  But the next day, on the soccer filed, a strange thing happened.  A player on the opposing team, a new guy who obviously didn’t know Cesar’s reputation, tripped him and then, for good measure, kicked him in the ribs.  Everybody froze. Neither team wanted to miss the beating Cesar would deliver once he got back on his feet.

Jumping up and facing his attacker Cesar balled his fists but before he could take a swing, something stopped him.  God loves you and gave His Son to die for you, he remembered.  You are a new creation.  His hands relaxed.  He shook his head and told his opponent who was crouching, ready to defend himself, “Iss okay, man.  Fogedaboudid.  Less play.”  He ran back to his position.  Shockwaves rippled across the field.  Cesar’s first Christ-like act generated so much buzz that he eventually introduced almost every player on his team to Jesus.  Nobody had told Cesar not to fight; it was the voice of the Holy Spirit he heard and said yes to.  He was beginning to grow in the simple way God designed–one simple, immediate, possible yes at a time.

It’s stories like this that  inspired me as I read Connie Cavanaugh’s book Following God One Yes At a Time: Overcoming the 6 Barriers That Hold You Back.  The life stories from her own life and that of her family and friends readily illustrate the biblical truth she presents to help us take a first step in following Christ again when we have gotten stuck.  God wants us to keep in step with Him.  But at different times in our lives we may find that we have a our feet nailed to the floor by fear, pride, guilt, shame, comparison or doubt.

Connie, who previously authored From Faking It to Finding Grace, has given us an book that is fuel for faith.  She celebrates discipleship in real life by rooting faith in two Gospel realities:  1)  Following Jesus is a call to say “Yes” to Him everyday of our lives.  And 2)  God is faithful to reveal Himself and provide enough for us to move on. You can learn more about this Canadian author at http://www.conniecavanaugh.com .  I enjoyed Connie’s book and was equipped and inspired to follow God one “Yes” at a time!

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God’s Economy by Jonathon Wilson-Hartgrove

godseconomy1Author Jonathon Wilson-Hartgrove challenges people to enjoy the abundant life promised by Jesus Christ.  Jonathon’s book , God’s Economy: Redefining the Health and Wealth Gospel, is not your typical Health and Wealth Gospel being flogged by many in the Church today.  Rather, it is an attempt to express what Jonathon and others who are living in new monastic communities are experiencing as they take Jesus at His Word.  Jonathon understands Jesus’ call into relationship with Him as a salvation that secures not only forgiveness of sin and eternal life but also a salvation that secures participation in an alternative economy so that the abundant life is lived now.

Each of the “tactics” of the alternative economy presented by Jonathon enliven me and make me nervous.  Fortunately they are not Jonathon’s tactics, but Jesus’ commands to those who follow him.  The alternative economy moves according to these commands:

Tactic 1:  Subversive Service: How God’s Economy Slips In.  “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”  Mark 9:35

Tactic 2:  Eternal Investments: How God’s Children Plan Ahead.  “Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven.”  Matthew 6:20

Tactic 3:  Economic Friendships: How Real Security Happens.  “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves.”  Luke 16:9

Tactic 4:  Relational Generosity: How We Share Good News.  “Give to the one who asks you.”  Mathew 5:42

Tactic 5: Gracious Politics: How to Live Under Occupation.  “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”  Mark 12:17
I only completed my first reading of Jonathon’s book today.  But, I heartedly recommend God’s Economy to anyone who has handled money, to anyone who has been troubled by their own selfishness and greed, to anyone who wonders if Jesus really means for us to live better on less, and to anyone who is committed to being a Acts 2 community with a group of Christians.  God’s Economy is not really a how-to manual.  It is a confessional work, full of stories and testimonies of others who have entered into a generous and abundant life with Jesus and sought out, sometimes painfully–, how to live by faith in the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills.