I’ve been told I look like Jesus dozens of times in my life. At face value, it’s something every Christ follower wants to hear. In my case, it tends to be because I happen to bear some physical resemble to some of the more famous paintings of Jesus. While hearing someone tell me I look like Jesus never gets old, what I truly long for is someone to tell me I look like Jesus based on how I live, not on how I look.

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Every time someone tells me this it makes me stop and ponder if the way I am living my life is worthy of such a comment. It’s a question we would all do well to ask ourselves. Physical characteristics aside, do you look like Jesus?

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One of my favorite Bible verses is James 1:27, which says, “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” As religions go, this list of requirements seems extraordinarily short. Yet there’s so much to discover in this little verse.

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Jesus didn’t come to instill a new religious order on earth. Rather, He came to establish a way of life. All Jesus wanted, and still wants, is for people to seek God with all their hearts (Matthew 6:33). Everything else falls into place once we get that part down. Why then does James call out requirements for religion God will accept, a true religion?

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Much of our lives are spent chasing the myth of security. We seek to live in safe neighborhoods, work in good parts of town, and save to achieve financial security. So much time is spent pursuing the myth of security we rarely have time to think about living dangerously. Unless and until we are ready to sacrifice our own comfort and security, we will never be able to take the light of Jesus into the darkest places on earth.

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If we won’t shine the light within us, who then will go and rescue the hopeless, the desperate, and the lost? Instead of pursuing the myth of security, we should be bounding headlong into the certainty of risk and danger.

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Most Christ-followers are familiar with the Biblical command to tithe the first ten percent of their income. We can debate the various nuances of the tithe – and we will in an upcoming post – but today I want to discuss giving beyond the tithe. Some struggle with the concept of even giving ten percent back to God, so talking about giving even more may be uncomfortable.

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If you are in that camp, please don’t tune out yet. These articles aren’t long, and I believe it will be worth five minutes of your time to take away something to chew on. Giving beyond the tithe isn’t mandated in Scripture, but there are enough examples to make it something we should consider.

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There is no quicker path to destruction than to take your eyes off Jesus. Let your focus waver for even a minute and you will be heading down a path you never intended and have no interest in following. It’s troubling how we can spend hours on our knees with God, and seconds later lose our focus and find ourselves in a dark place. It comes down to discipline, but focus is taxing of our energy, so we often tire and give up.

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Still, if we are serious about living a life worthy of Christ, we’ve got to get better at keeping our focus on Him. One slip can cause years of damage. As you approach this day, this hour, this moment, let me ask you: “Where is your focus?”

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One of the saddest verses in the Bible is Matthew 9:37, where Jesus told His disciples the world is desperate for hope and healing, but few are willing to go and help. Two thousand years later, the problem persists. The effects of sin are all around us. Evil manifests in unthinkable ways while the Church sits idly on the sidelines.

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We make token efforts, shake our heads, and wag our fingers, but still very few go out and spread the truth and love of Christ to our world. There is much anger and violence swirling around us. If we don’t go and tell them good news of Jesus, who will?

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The Bible talks a lot about bringing God your “firstfruits”. To bring your firstfruits means to give God the best of your efforts. In terms of finances, it means you give back to God before spending anything on yourself. In Scripture, it amounted to dedicating the first growth of your crops, or the first born from your flocks and herds, and even your family.

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You give back to God first, and the remainder is for your blessing. These days, we don’t often give God our firstfruits. More likely we give Him our leftovers and expect Him to bless us abundantly in return.  This is embarrassing at best, but I must admit my own guilt in this area.

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Perhaps more than anyone else, I believe it is incumbent upon disciples of Jesus to lead by example. Christ told us to be His witnesses throughout the earth (Acts 1:8). In other words, wherever we go, we are the representatives of Jesus and His Kingdom. No pressure there, right? But in truth there should be no pressure. If our lives are fully devoted to Christ, it will be natural to walk in His footsteps.

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The problem is the majority of Christians I’ve observed have not taken their commitment to Christ seriously. They said the prayer and have moved on. That’s not going to get it done, and it dishonors the name and character of God to live in such a manner.

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This entire blog is predicated around becoming a disciple of Jesus. But what does discipleship look like? How do we know if we are getting closer to the mark? I would say first, discipleship is a standard to be pursued, not a target to be hit. There will never be a day when you can sit back and exclaim, “Ah! At last I’ve reached discipleship!”

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Being a disciple of Jesus is a process that will consume your entire lifetime. To be a disciple signifies nothing ever will mean more to you than desiring to live a life mirroring the life of Jesus. Discipleship is the total dedication of your life to His calling and purpose. To be a disciple is to be daily engaged in the mission of Christ.

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As a body, the Western Church tends to look a lot like everyone else. We buy the same things, climb the same ladders of success, and treat others according to some invisible caste system. We have our moments when we behave in a manner more pleasing to Christ, but by and large, my observation is we live our lives and treat people in much the same way our surrounding culture does.

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That isn’t how Jesus lived. He had an entirely different agenda and saw everyone as having unsurpassable worth. He didn’t segregate or differentiate. He simply loved. This is how we are called to look at and treat others. Every soul has the highest value in God’s Kingdom.

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