In a recent sermon, Pastor Craig Groeschel made the comment, “Easy never changed the world.” The life of a disciple has not ever been, nor will it ever be, easy. Following Jesus is difficult. It’s unpopular and brings little glory. But eleven men, disciples of Jesus, changed the entire world. Their impact is still being felt 2,000 years later. Their life wasn’t easy.

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They were mocked and seen as insurgents and fools. They were constantly pursued, jailed, beaten, and in almost every case, they were killed. It wasn’t easy to follow Jesus in the first century, and it isn’t easy to follow Him now. But easy never changed the world.

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Lent is a season of (roughly) 40 days leading up to Easter and celebrated by various denominations within the Christian faith. I am never interested in having a debate over whether a particular style of worship, liturgy, ritual, or tradition is pleasing to God. I’m happy to talk about Jesus all day long, but outside of Him, I’d say if it brings you closer to God, then do it. If it doesn’t, don’t. The differences in our traditions don’t offend me.

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I heard Bob Hartman, the guitarist and main songwriter for the legendary Christian band Petra, once say, “Don’t criticize the way someone else worships God because God might like it!” I grew up in a Protestant household where Lent was not celebrated. As I’ve grown older and developed my own relationship with Christ, I have slowly come to embrace Lent and the beauty of the season.

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I recently heard David Platt share a quote that requires a lot of contemplation. He asked the question, “Is Jesus living in me or through me?” The difference between the two is huge. We live in a culture of casual Christianity, led to believe all we have to do is say a magical prayer and Jesus will come to live within us.

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Even if such teaching were true (and I believe there are compelling arguments to be made it is not), inviting Jesus into your heart is not the point. Unless and until we allow Jesus to live through us, we will be missing out on all the power and peace He intends for us.

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We as a people spend an inordinate time thinking about the past. Some even spend their days living in the past, desperate to recapture elements from their youth. For disciples of Jesus, I have a word of admonition: forget the past. Forget everything you’ve done. Instead, I want you to focus on what you will do both at this moment, and from this moment. It’s a lesson I am still learning but desperately want to master.

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What we’ve done up until this moment matters little to our life going forward. Sure, we may have laid the groundwork for future work. There’s definite value in this. But with the knowledge every second may be our last, I submit focusing on what we will do from this moment forward is far more valuable than what we’ve done before.

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I awoke in the middle of the night, crushed by the reality of the fact time is running out. I am fifty years old now. My life is, in all probability, more than half over and time is running out. Time to tell others about Jesus. Time to do all Christ has given me to do. Time for me to further the mission of God. For all of it, time is running out and I am squandering it moment by moment, breath by breath.

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How did I get here? I remember the zeal of a man whose sole focus was to reflect and glorify His Creator. Where is He now? Time is running out, and I desperately need to find him.

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It’s a weighty thing to letdown the God of the Universe. Yet we do it every day. Of course, God in His infinite, unsurpassable, incomprehensible love would never tell us we let Him down. But we know it. We know it in our bones. We know it in our souls. We know it in our hearts. We let Him down. We failed Him. We acted in a way unbecoming of a child of the King. And we’ll do it again.

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The moments following a letdown are sobering and strangely clarifying. We see what we should have done and what we did not. We become aware of an opportunity missed, never again to be revisited. And we’ll do it again. How can this be so?

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In his groundbreaking book “Cross Vision”, Greg Boyd writes, “The way you imagine God largely determines the quality of your relationship with God. The intensity of your love for God will never outrun the beauty of the God you envision… the depth of your transformation into the likeness of Christ will never outrun the Christlikeness of your mental representation of God.” Jesus is the perfect representation of the Father.

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He is at once both the flawless depiction of God and is God Himself. If we have seen Christ, we have seen the Father (John 14:9). Our eyes have looked on the face of God. If we want to know what God is like, we need only look at the person of Jesus. He alone perfectly reflected and manifested the Father. If we have an imperfect mental image of Christ, we will have an imperfect picture of God.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Every new morning is a new beginning of our life. Every day is a completed whole. The present day should be the boundary of our care and striving (Matthew 6:34; James 4:14). It is long enough for us to find or lose God, to keep the faith or fall into sin and shame.” I find his words to be at once both inspiring and motivating.

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In the American culture in which I live, there is much emphasis on long-term planning. We plan for retirement and financial independence. We make 5, 10, even 20-year plans for our lives, all the while knowing Jesus called it foolishness as none of us has a guarantee of even tomorrow (Luke 12:13-21). It leads me to believe we as disciples of Jesus are getting it all wrong.

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One of the most amazing things about God is the way He allows us to choose the way we will go. He doesn’t force us to love Him, to serve Him, to follow Him, or even accept Him. He says, “Here I am. What will you do with Me?” Such humility from anyone is admirable, but from the Creator of all things is incomprehensible. In Philippians 2:5, Paul urged those seeking to follow Jesus to “Make your own attitude that of Jesus Christ.”

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Every day, you get to choose; you get to make your own attitude. Nothing is preordained. Nothing is prescribed. The God of love and freedom leaves the choice to you. He will accept your decision, but He longs for you to come to Him.

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This is the 1,000th post here on EvenIfiWalkAlone.com. That’s over half a million words, and I admit, a little crazy. When I wrote the first post, I didn’t envision writing 999 more. As I realized I was approaching a thousand posts I had to ask myself, “What’s the purpose of it all?” I don’t write to hear myself talk; I have no delusions of being so interesting. I don’t do it for the money; I’ve never attempted to make a single penny off this site (and never have!). So why do I keep pushing new thoughts out there every Monday and Thursday?

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The answer is, perhaps anti-climatically, because of Jesus. Christ told us to take His Word into all the world. The Internet seems like an efficient way for me to follow His mandate. Beyond that, it’s in hopes of making a difference in a single life. I’m grateful for all of you who read this blog, but I feel I would continue even if there was only one. I would because God gave me the ability to write, the gift to encourage, and the command to share His mission. He’s given a similar assignment to you.

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