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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How do you begin your day? Starting your day in prayer and studying Scripture is rocket fuel for your day and for your life. If you want to know Jesus better, there is no better way than to spend time with Him. If you want Jesus to be first in your life, there is no better way to demonstrate this than meeting with Him first thing every day. Forget your cell phone, forget your email; how you begin your day says much about what is most important to you.

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So many teachers say to make certain you spend time with God each day, but let people off the hook by saying it doesn’t matter when this occurs, so long as it does.  I think this is ridiculous. Being a Jesus person doesn’t depend on you being a morning or night person; it depends on you saying, “I will give Jesus the first of my time, every day.”

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Those who have been reading my work for a while know I set a theme for each year in my life. One of my favorites from the past remains, “Consume less, contribute more”. That principle has stuck with me and continues to shape the way I live. As I contemplated this year’s theme, I kept bouncing between several ideas and could never seem to land on one. When I awoke on the first day of the year, I still had no theme.

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As I was standing in the quiet of my house in the early morning, I suddenly felt compelled to go to my knees in prayer for the upcoming year. Out of this time, my theme very naturally presented itself. As I was praying, the chorus to the song, “Scandal of Grace”, began playing repeatedly in my head. It begins, “Oh to be like You”. I knew in an instant this would be my theme for the rest of the year.

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You don’t need a New Year to make a new start, but there is something cleansing, refreshing, and hopeful about the change of the calendar year. A new year presents a clean slate, a fresh palette, and a blank page. New dreams and possibilities dance playfully before our eyes. There are new moments waiting to be lived, new roads to be explored, and expanded heights for us to reach.

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While the temperature in many parts of the world registers a deep chill, our blood boils nonetheless with warm vigor and boiling dreams. These are days that must be more than lived, they must be tasted, held, and molded to form new possibilities. I love a new beginning. It reminds me of what Christ did for each of us when He laid down His life so we might experience a new and better life of our own.

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There is much pain and loneliness in the world. Every day people disappoint us. It’s difficult to keep your head up and keep going. It seems so easy to forget how much God loves us; we forget this is the only thing that matters. We love Jesus because He first loved us.

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When we come to understand who He is and what He has done for us, we cannot help but love Him more than we love anyone or anything else. None compare to Jesus. When we live in this truth, the disappointments and discouragements of this world begin to matter less. Only Jesus is worthy of our affection.

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The light of Jesus shows up best in dark places. It was into the darkness that Christ came as a baby. His light shone so brightly it brought shepherds in from their fields. Seekers from far off lands traveled two years to reach the light given off by Christ at His birth. Countless prison ministries find men and women encountering Jesus in the darkest depths of their lives.

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Persecuted Christians encounter Jesus in ways few of us can imagine in some of the darkest places on earth. When we are at our lowest, at our worst, the light of Jesus shines best. It calls us to Him. It promises something better, something cleaner, something more. In what areas of your life do you most need the light of Jesus today?

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I was recently intrigued by a thought passing through my brain: “The excess I have belongs to those in need.” It’s not the most comfortable thought to consider. I like a little excess. I appreciate the peace and comfort it affords. Yet how can I hold onto more than I need when there are those in the world suffering in abject poverty? One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Proverbs 30:8 which says, “Give me just enough for today.”

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The author states if he has too much, he will take it all for granted and forget God’s provision in his life. If he has too little, he may be tempted to steal to acquire what he needs. The sweet spot is having just enough for today. Any excess should be shared with others.

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