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.

vision,faith,courage,prayer,John 14:12-14,whatever you ask in my name,Ephesians 3:20-21,immeasurably 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.

leave nothing undone,commitment,mission,passion,priorities

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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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I am perturbed by the current state of Christianity. We have succumbed to a mediocre faith of few requirements and a perception of even fewer consequences. As usual, A.W. Tozer says it perfectly: “Faith now means no more than passive moral acquiescence in the Word of God and the cross of Jesus. To exercise it we have only to rest on one knee and nod our heads in agreement with the instructions of a personal worker intent upon saving our soul.”

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I’m not certain how we got here but it’s not what Jesus had in mind when He was being tortured and crucified on our behalf. Jesus’s faith in the Father cost Him everything. It caused Him to lead a difficult life and die a gruesome death. His was not a faith of mediocrity or passive moral acquiescence to the standards of His Father.

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We’ve made Jesus too nice in our attempt to get more people to put their trust in Him. Our measure of success is now based on numbers rather than commitment. Once again, I defer to the wisdom of A.W. Tozer to say it best: “The meek and lowly Jesus has displaced the high and holy Jesus in the minds of millions. The vibrant note of triumph is missing in our witness…

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[The early Church] never presented Him as Savior merely. It never occurred to them to invite people to receive ‘peace of mind’ or ‘peace of soul’. Nor did they stop at forgiveness or joy or happiness.” The Jesus of modern Christianity is the least offensive person in history. This is a far cry from the way Jesus lived and taught.

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This may be the most surprising author I’ve ever quoted on this blog, but save the raised eyebrow and appreciate the quote I read from Anais Nin: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” I submit in our walk with Jesus, our life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s faith.  What might we do for Christ if we actually believed what He said about faith? What might we do if we only believed we could do what He said we could? If we want to live a big life for God’s glory, we’re going to need a big faith. I believe Jesus intends for us to trust Him in what He says.

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He has created us with a unique mix of skills, talents, and passions to accomplish His mission on earth. It should go without saying if He designed us for certain work, He has given us the abilities to accomplish that work. It should excite you to be a part of His mission. If you want to expand the role you are playing in the mission of Christ, it follows you’re going to need to expand your faith.

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Christine Caine wrote, “For the joy set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2) For the joy set before Him . . . that’s us! When Jesus was on the cross, the joy that kept Him going—the passion that fueled His endurance of pain—was knowing the freedom His death, burial, and resurrection would produce in our lives.” That’s so beautiful.

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What kind of love is this God has for us? He has always been thinking of you. When He came to earth as a baby, He was thinking of you. When Jesus walked the dusty streets during His ministry, He was thinking of you. And when He hung on that gruesome and horrifying cross, Jesus was thinking about you.

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What’s next? As I write this, Easter has just passed. All the lead-up to our celebration of the resurrection of Christ is behind us. Lent, Good Friday, fasting, focused prayer, all the activities usually structured around Easter are now in the rear-view mirror. I had the privilege of seeing three different services and witnessed many proclaiming their need for Jesus after the message at each location.

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This is certainly to be celebrated and applauded as many more seek to give their lives to Jesus and help build His Kingdom here on earth. But now what? What happens after Easter? What becomes of those seeking to place their faith in Jesus? What becomes of we who experienced great renewal during this season? What’s next?

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I love this line from author Alicia Britt Chole: “God was not absent. The challenge was self was so very present.” I cannot count the times I’ve heard people say (and okay, I’m in this group as well), “I feel like God is so far away”. God is never far away. He is always here. Wherever ‘here’ is, God is there. You cannot outrun God, so don’t bother trying to run away. Despite all our ingenuity and technological innovations, we cannot hide from God. God is never far.

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We couldn’t push Him away if we tried. His Spirit guarantees His presence with us always. The problem is not His presence, the issue is we have allowed our selfishness and pride to subtly erode our awareness of Him. To put it bluntly, we can’t get out of our own way to see God is not absent.

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Christians these days seem to bend over backward to make certain they never offend anyone. We want to appear as being tolerant of all things and all people. This isn’t the way Jesus lived. He loved all people, but He never minced words when it came to calling out whoever or whatever stood in opposition to the character and holiness of God. I like how A.W. Tozer put it: “This generation of Christians must hear again the doctrine of the perturbing quality of faith.”

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The gospel of Jesus should perturb people.  It’s a call to a radically different life and lifestyle. It’ not okay when people flaunt their sin in the presence of God. It’s not okay when we kill in the name of Jesus. And it’s never acceptable to condone the sinful deeds of ourselves or anyone else. Leading with love, we need to not follow with tolerance but rather with perturbance. We need to live out our perturbing faith.

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