Are you settling for less than what God has for you? Do you even know if that is true in your life? How does one know if they are settling for less if they are not certain about what they have been created to do? I would say if you cannot answer the question of whether or not you are settling for less with an emphatic ‘No!’, then you probably are. People living out their God-given mission know because they are so in tune with God there can be no doubt.

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For the rest of us, we either suspect we are settling for less or we know for a fact we are. So, we have a two-fold problem: first, how do we know if we are settling for less, and second, what do we do about it if we are?

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Reading Christine Caine’s latest book, “Unexpected”, I was struck by the following phrase: “We cannot shrink back in fear and go forward in faith at the same time.” This is a truth we might know on an intellectual level, but we do not live it out well. So much of what we could do for Christ is hindered because of our fear. We’re afraid to move forward, afraid to look like a fool, afraid to be judged, afraid to lose our stuff, and at times even afraid for our physical well-being.

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Some of these fears are rational, but most are not. Ultimately none of them make sense because Jesus is bigger than all our fears. He has defeated the enemy and every evil which could come against us. Jesus is love, and He fully demonstrated this on the cross. Love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). It cannot coexist. When we trust fully in Jesus, we will know no fear.

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Life is an adventure. We don’t know if this adventure will be long or short. Like all great stories, we often do not know what will happen next. While we may not know the path to reach the end, we do know the ending is wonderful, satisfying, and unequivocally worth the journey. One need only look at the life of Jesus to recognize our lives will never be dull.

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So little was recorded about Jesus’s time on earth, but look how much life is packed into the few pages of details we are blessed to have. As we endeavor to follow in His footsteps, how can we conclude anything other than the fact our life will be an amazing adventure?

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If you’re like me, you probably struggle to not take for granted the significance of having the Spirit of God dwelling within You. This is an awesome and all but unfathomable truth. It’s too big to grasp all at once, so it’s been helpful for me to look at a single piece of this truth at a time. One of those pieces is to realize our hearts burn with the same passion in which Jesus’s heart burns. As much as He loves us, such is the capacity we have to love others.

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It becomes sobering when we contemplate how little of this great love we are sharing with and showing to others. As followers and disciples of Jesus, I believe it is our duty to maximize the gifts He has given us for the purpose of building His Kingdom here on earth. As we begin to understand the immense power available to us, we, in turn, begin to realize how little of it we are employing.

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We are as close to God as we want to be. Or, as A.W. Tozer put it, “Every man is as holy and as full of the Spirit as he wants to be.” There’s no wiggle room. You can try and rationalize, look for the gray area, or the loophole. It isn’t there. We are as close to God as we want to be. Paul tells us in Romans 8:38-39 it is impossible for anything to separate us from God: not death, angels, demons, rulers, authorities, height, depth… nothing!

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There’s one thing he doesn’t cover though: ourselves. We are the “X” factor. We are the only thing that can separate us from God. We can choose to walk away. We can choose to keep Him out of our lives. Only us.

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Today is a gift, but one most of us never discover. We use it, but rarely take notice of it. It comes and it goes, and our life passes by along the way. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “The day was God’s first creation, something miraculous and mighty in the hand of God. For us the day has completely lost its creaturely and wondrous nature.

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We use it—and abuse it—but we don’t accept it as a gift. We don’t live it.” None of us knows how many days will be gifted to us. Some will have more than others, but we never know until they’ve all been counted. At that point, it’s too late to matter.

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In his book, “The Last Arrow”, Erwin McManus expounds on Luke 9:57-62 with the observation, “Jesus clearly imparted to all of His disciples: You cannot follow me into the future if you are holding on to your past.” I wonder how many of us are hamstrung in seeking to do new things within God’s Kingdom because we are refusing to let go of the past?

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We’ve been holding onto some things so long we don’t even realize we’re doing it. They have simply become an extension of who we are. If we want to move into a future containing all God has for us, we’ve got to stop dragging the past along with us. The past simply has no place in the future. It’s too bulky and gets in the way.

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Outside Union Station in Los Angeles is a plaque reading: Vision to See / Faith to Believe / Courage to Do. I love that. It’s a great encouragement to me as I seek to follow Jesus. When we set out to do something in His name and to further His mission, it is His vision guiding us. He can see so much bigger than we could ever dream. No matter how grand our vision, God’s is always so much more.

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When you think your dream is too big, remember God is saying it’s not big enough. How ridiculous is it to think we might be dreaming too large for God? What exactly is it we think He can’t accomplish? He is able and willing to do whatever we ask and immeasurably more when we are doing it for His glory and His purposes (John 14:12-14; Ephesians 3:20-21).

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While some would accuse me of having a fascination with death, I would argue the typical Christian does not long for it enough. There is no morbidity with my fascination. I would just rather be with Jesus than here in this world. It should be the ultimate goal of every one of Christ’s disciples. If we wouldn’t rather be with Him, what’s the point of following and giving up everything for His sake? Until that day arrives, we have work to do here.

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Each of us was created with the talents, skills, and passions required to further the mission of Christ. The issue as I see it is we don’t have the will to do the work He gave us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Each of us should desire to leave nothing undone, but we love this world too much to have the appropriate amount of urgency to accomplish our work.

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St. Ignatius of Loyola said, “Teach us, Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to seek for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will.” Commenting on this statement, author Richard Foster summarized, “The Christian life is one of strength and endurance in the face of suffering.”

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How different this is from the experience of most who call themselves Christians in the Western world! Regardless of our modern culture and misunderstanding of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus, it cannot be denied our lives bear little resemblance to that of our Savior. If it is our true desire to love and honor Christ, we must examine our motives and activities.

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