integrity test: resolving the clash of wills

In the last of the Integrity Test series, we considered what happens when there is a clash of wills.  Human life under the creative hand of God means that we live with the power to choose the attitudes and actions of our lives.  Jesus had a share in this trait as well.  In Luke 22:39-46, Luke presents his audience with Jesus’ conflict of will between what he wanted and what he understood his Heavenly Father wanted.  In the journey to the cross we must understand that Jesus did not have a death wish nor a desire to enter into the anguish of humanity’s sin and guilt–the very product of our lack of integrity with God.  However, Jesus did intend to live in union and obedience with His Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit.  Like Jesus, I find myself in a clash of wills when my intention to join God in what He is doing in the world conflicts with my natural inclination to preserve myself, to avoid pain, suffering, and discomfort by holding onto comfort, ease, the familiar, the safe, and the secure.  Here are few examples of when you might experience this kind of clash of wills:  when you know honesty with a parent or spouse will transform the relationship, when you are going to have to give away or sell your stuff in order to give to another, when you need to change your career path to pursue a passion and opportunity to serve that God has shown you, when you must parent with patience a child who is struggling, when you need to tell him or her “no,” when you are going to intervene in a conflicted and angry situation as a peacemaker, when you have to use your holiday to go on a mission trip, when you must wake-up every day and enter into routines with love, when you must keep investing in a covenantal relationship when you don’t feel like you are getting anything out of it, when you need to add a new discipline to your life in order to pursue God.

Now it is a different thing when the clash of wills is because of what I am doing in the world as an act of rebellion or even thoughtlessness of what God wants.  This message is really concerned with what happens when we have the good intentions required to join God in what He is doing in the world.  Jesus shows us that the clash of wills is resolved in prayer.  (You can listen to the audio of this message, When you have a clash of wills, later in the week from Cityview.)

Text:  Luke 22:39-46

Big Idea:  The clash of wills is resolved in prayer.

Unpacking the Text:

1. Jesus lived his life in communion with the Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit and in the company of those He called.

       “Jesus went as usual to the Mount of Olives and his disciples followed him.”  Luke 22:39

2. Jesus’ conflict with the will of the Father arises from His Trinitarian communion and from His intention to do the will of the Father in the face of painful and terrifying realities.

      “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  Luke 22:42

Jesus has already made reference to His Father’s will on this very evening by casting a look back to the Old Testament.  Here, Luke 22:42, “this cup” brings to mind the prophetic announcements of God’s cup of judgment for sin.  It is now finding its fulfillment in Jesus and the cross.  In Luke 22:37, Jesus quotes Isaiah 53 and identifies himself as The Suffering Servant, “It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors;’ and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me.  Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

We must beware the path of least resistance.

On Sunday I did not mention Alex and Brett Harris.  However I include their material here as a good resource to anyone who would like to explore further the idea of “doing the hard thing.”  Though they are writing and targeting their message for a generation of teenagers, I have been inspired and encouraged by the revebelution they envision.  Check out their website & blog, read their book–Do Hard Things, and watch the following video to get the gest of their message.


3. Jesus knows the disciples lack the resources in themselves alone  to be victorious in the clash of wills and commands them to pray.

       “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”  Luke 22:46

4.  If you intend to join God in what He is doing to love the world and restore people into fellowship with Him, you will have to do the hard thing.  If you intend to do the hard thing, you will have to constantly realign your will with His through the communion, conversation and cry of prayer.


In the preservice count down at Cityview we showed a video featuring Steven Curtis Chapman’s redition of Matt Redman’s song “Yours.”  In it he includes a verse written after the devasting loss of his adopted daughter Maria, when she was struck and killed when his 17 year old son was backing the family car out of the driveway.  After much prayer and counsel Chapman returned to his tour to promote his newest album.

Notice how Chapman found resolution to his clash of wills.  How could he join God in what He was doing in the world when his own heart was so grieved and torn?  Elizabeth Diffin, a reporter who attended one of Chapman’s concerts writes:

“Blessed be your name” was the first song Chapman sang May 21, the day of Maria’s death, when he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to sing again.  Inspired by the story of Job, at one point the lyrics repeat, “He gives and takes away.”  “As I sang this song…it wasn’t a song, it was a cry, a scream, a prayer,” Chapman explained to the audience.  “I found an amazing confort and peace that surpasses all understanding.”

Chapman also shared that after Maria’s death, he’d reconsidered the words to all his songs and whether he could still sing–and believe–them.  Instead, losing his little girl brought the meaning of some of those songs into sharper focus.  One example was “your” which addresses how everything in the world belongs to God.  “In this song in particular, I had to come to a new realization” he said.  “There’s not an inch of creation that God doesn’t look at and say ‘all that’s mine.”  As a result of that realization in conjunction with Maria’s death, Chapman added a new verse to “Yours”:

I’ve walked the valley of death’s shadow
so deep and dark that I could barely breath.
I’ve had to let go of more than I could bear and
I’ve questioned everything that I believe.
Still even here in this great darkness
a comfort and a hope comes breaking through
as I can say in life or death
God we belong to you. 

Steven Curtis Chapman Explains the new verse

“Yours” as seen Sunday


The clash of wills is resolved in prayer.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

integrity test: forgiveness is work

I like to think of myself as a person who forgives easily.  However, I know that the roots of unforgiveness are easily nurtured by the fertile soil of hurt.  It is too easy to let a relationship and a memory sit sour for a day then weeks and months and years.  The result is bit like the lost Easter egg.  It may not stink for days and weeks, but there will come a day that it creates a stink.  You may not smell it anymore, but anyone who enters that room and the adjoining rooms will know that something is rotten!  Relationships will be soured by your unresolved or unforgiven hurt and pain.

Forgiveness is a work that is at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus and therefore the “family life” of any who follow Jesus.  

The notes that follow are from the Sunday message at Cityview.  The audio will be posted later in the week.


Text:  Luke 17:1-10

Big Idea:  Forgiveness is work.

Unpacking the Text:

Vs. 1-3  A warning regarding sin.

     1.  Temptation and situations that cause people to stumble and to sin
          are reality.

     2.  Being the source of stumbling or scandal,  or sin, is awful.
     3.  We must give careful attention to the impact of our lives.

Vs. 3-4  Instructions regarding how to deal with a person who sins against you.  Forgiveness always costs someone; it does not excuse, overlook or condone wrong doing.

     1.  If your brother sins against you, rebuke him.

     2.  If he repents, forgive him.

     3.  If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times
          comes back to you and says, “I repent,” forgive him.

     (other texts:  Matthew 5: 21-26, 6:12-15, 18:15-35)

 Vs.  5-6  The Disciples want increased faith in order to forgive with the generosity Jesus commands; Jesus wants them to have even a little bit of confidence in Him.  We want forgiveness to be about justice, but it is about healing.  It is not about reforming, but about releasing.

      If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this
      mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it will
      obey you.

 Vs. 7-10  Jesus treats forgiveness as “dutiful work” to be pursued no matter the Disciple’s feelings, but because of their relationship to Him.  This parable is also a warning against feeling that God owes us because we have now forgiven another person who hurt us.

“We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”

 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Luke 23:34

I introduced the message on Sunday with a news piece on the Amish schoolhouse shooting October 2, 2006.  I remember watching with the rest of the world and being convicted and challenged by the grace of many in this community.

integrity test: will I stand with the friends of Jesus?

Here’s the reality:  there are forces subtly and not so subtly arraigned to divide the friends of Jesus from Him and from each other.  The disciples experienced this pressure early on when Jesus called Levi, the tax collector to follow Him.

Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth.  “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.  Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners.’?”  Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  Luke 5:27-32

The party has been crashed.  The Pharisees are making a scene.  And Matthew (Levi) stands to be embarrassed.  Perhaps the music stopped and everyone gets quiet to see what would happen next.  Its Matthew’s party…but its Jesus who gets in the face of the Pharisees and challenges their self-righteousness with a statement of defence crafted not on the merits of the tax collectors and sinners, but rather on the merits of His own mission.  Jesus will not be divided from the people He has called out even when others call them down.

In our setting, self-righteousness comes in many forms and has many preachers.  The “new” self-righteousness may not be religious, but may actually pride itself in not being religious.  This self-righteous non-religiosity creates a pressure that can divide many followers of Jesus from living an integrated life.  It happens on Monday morning.  “Hey, how was your weekend.”  Great.  “What did you do?”  uhm…watched the game, went hiking with the family…

What’s missing?  A vibrant confession:  “I got to hang out with some friends who have been accepted by Jesus Christ and consider how God is making a difference in… I’m amazed that this group of imperfect, diverse, people are drawn to Jesus and have been given life.  I’m really happy to be a part of this group.”  

Or whatever…but that’s the integrity test.  Its in the subtle ways we avoid pressure, question, conflict, and therefore never create the space to address one of the hot deafeaters of faith in Jesus:  the weaknesses and failings of Jesus’ own people.  Unless we confess with absolute joy and awe at what Jesus has done in accepting us–all of us who call Him Lord, then we will rarely have the opportunity to proclaim the gospel as a way of living that is neighter religious or irreligious, moral or immoral.  Unless we celebrate the mission of Jesus to us–to meet the sick and to heal them–and to call the sinners to repentance–then we will struggle on Mondays and Tuesdays and Fridays–and even Sundays to stand with the church.

the integrity test: alignment and anxiety

On the weekend after the Integrity Workshop we began a new series at Cityview called Integrity Test:  6 realities we have in common with Jesus.  As followers of Jesus we live with a much for severe reality than others do.  We live with the reality of God’s perspective and right to our life.  We live with the costliness of His grace.  Anyone who is a new believer or even consider following Christ is probably already aware of the challenge that accompanies alignment with the Jesus and seeking to walk as walked in this world. (See 1 John 1:6)

 The first reality that the series deals with is that your alignment with Jesus may create anxiety in others.  For the follower of Jesus this is integrity 101 after the matter of honesty.  Our text Luke 2:41-52 opens a window on Jesus going to Jerusalem with Mary and Joseph and then staying behind without their knowledge.  After three days they find him in the temple conversing with the elders there.  His parents are astonished.  And Jesus himself seems genuinely surprised that they did not know where he was or what he was about.  Jesus’ alignment with His Heavenly Father created great anxiety for Mary and Joseph.  In a simple reduction of the problem we can say that when faced with the anxiety of others we are pressed into an integrity test.  Will we be a people-pleaser or a God-pleaser?  You can listen to the message at later this week.  The listening guide is below.

1.  Alignment with Jesus means you will be doing new things and establishing new patterns.  

“Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”  Luke 2:49
2.  Alignment with Jesus creates change in relationships.  

“When his parents saw him, they were astonished.  His mother said, “Son, why have you treated us like this?  Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”  Luke 2:49
3.  Alignment with Jesus does not mean you abandon all your commitments.   But it does require you to sort out your obligations.

 “But they did not understand what he was saying to them.  Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.”  Luke 2:50-51
4.  Alignement with Jesus propels you into essential areas of growth.  

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”  Luke 2:52

Jesus fully met the demands of reality.  We do not and that problem reveals again why I need a Saviour and why Jesus was fully able to meet the reality of my sin:

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Corinthians 5:21