This time of year commencement speakers and valedictorians from sea to shining sea are encouraging graduates to follow their hearts. That is just about the worst advice anyone could possibly give.  The best advice they could give would be to follow Jesus (and I don’t mean on Instagram) and to be led by the Spirit.

Jesus said in his sermon on the mount that there are two gates and two roads.  One is broad and there are many who take that route. Jesus said this way leads to destruction. The other one is narrow, and few travel that path. Jesus said this way leads to Life.

The broad road is the way most traveled these days; especially graduates who take the speakers advice, Following their hearts, believing their dreams can come true.  The narrow road is for those who choose to follow Jesus and be led by the Spirit.

I have been studying Romans 8 lately. The apostle Paul writes about the way of the Spirit and the way of the flesh (flesh being the natural desires of the heart). The life governed by the Spirit and the life governed by the flesh. Living in the realm of the Spirit and living in the realm of the flesh. The life led by the desires of the flesh and the life led by the Spirit.

His conclusion – Those who live their lives according to the flesh are under condemnation and spiritual death.  Those who are led by the Spirit are children of God.

The road in the photo above is of a typical road in the remote regions of Oaxaca, Mexico. This road links little pueblos or towns together. Often there is no public transportation and people must walk many miles on these roads if they wish to visit or do business with people in these communities.

I have walked many a weary mile on roads like this with Pastor Edgar.  Pastor Edgar started over a dozen churches in distant, isolated villages in the rugged mountains of Amoltepec, Oaxaca.

There was a time in his life when he had to make a decision of whether to follow his heart or be led by the Spirit. He was married with two young children, one who suffered with physical health issues. He was working in a church in a big city, doing alright for himself, following his dream of being a successful pastor with a big church.

But then the Holy Spirit intruded. He was made aware of a region of Oaxaca, out in the middle of nowhere, with no churches, with no gospel presence, where some had never heard of the love of God or the message of Christ. He had a big decision to make. Would he be led by the Spirit and uproot his family from the city and move to the wilderness of Amoltepec, or follow his heart and continue to live his dream in the comfort of the city.

He chose to be led by the Spirit. Was it easy? No! There were no doctors to treat his son when he suffered and he almost died. They called out to that same Spirit who had called him, and his son was healed!  Edgar himself almost died when he was hit by a car, and still suffers terrible leg pain to this day. He was almost murdered by a group of men who did not want any part of the gospel being preached in their community.

So was it worth it? He would definitely say yes, thinking of all the churches he started and all the souls that said Yes to Jesus and No to the World, the Flesh and the Devil. Brothers and sisters in Christ who now have a peace that surpasses all understanding, a glorious inheritance in God to look forward to, and are no longer slaves to fear. Something they would not have if it were not for Pastor Edgar being led by the Spirit.

So, to all those graduates being encouraged to follow their hearts, I say, “Be led by the Spirit. Become a child of God. Delight in God and he will give you the desires of your heart!”

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The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. John 1:9-11

Jesus created the sun and sunflowers and yes, the morning glories as well. Surely they bowed low to worship the Son of God and rose high to rejoice in him while he was in the world.

And humans, those whom He made in His image? Not so much. They were preoccupied with their own power and position; their own place and imagined purpose. They kinda missed the light of the Creator. They failed to notice the love that brought God incarnate among them.

Some felt threatened by Jesus. Their eyes were not opened. They did not have ears to hear. They preferred darkness to light. They preferred to extinguish the light. They are still doing it today. Thank God for sunflowers and morning glories.

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

David, the man after God’s own heart, fell.

His life was never the same.

It was filled with turmoil until his dying day.

What happened? Why?

It behooves us to ask and answer the question,

“What became different about David?”

lest we become different too.

Perhaps Proverbs 3:5,6,7 is a good place to begin

looking for the answer.

When anyone stops trusting the Lord with all their heart,

and starts leaning on their own understanding,

It is the beginning of the end.

Picture of the crucifix in the Catholic church in Tlacolula, Oaxaca, Mexico

After living for 16 years in a Christian community I have come up with 10 principles for people to consider who either live in community or are thinking about it. These principles are inspired by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together and the Lord’s Prayer.

10 Principles for living in a Christian Community

Followers of Jesus, living in community, are those that:

1-are dedicated to serving and cooperating with a holy God who is perfect in righteousness, goodness, love, truth, power and beauty.

2 – realize that they are called to be part of the kingdom of God, living for Christ the King and for each other.

3 –seek earnestly to know God’s will through His Word and put it into practice.

4 –gather around the table of fellowship and thank God for their daily bread, and all good gifts that come down from the Father of lights, knowing that if He doesn’t supply their needs, they won’t get supplied.

5- recognize they are sinners who have not loved God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength, and that they have not loved their neighbor as their self and look to Him for forgiveness.

6-are quick to forgive one another and and never shame each other.

7-do not necessarily like everyone in the community, but definitely love everyone as brothers and sisters in Christ and are always available to help sacrificially when needed.

8-trust in God to surround the community with his hedge of protection and to save them from the time of trial.

9-know that the Devil is a roaring lion, seeking to devour the community with strife and dissension, gossip and denigration, but seek refuge in the great truth that they are God’s dearly loved children made in His image.

10-strive to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever by making beauty, doing good and embracing truth.

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