I have long been fascinated with Stoicism and am often intrigued by quotes from thought leaders of the movement. I often find an interesting application of Stoic principles in my own discipleship quest. One quote I read recently, from Marcus Aurelius, said, “Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts.” This mimics – and is no doubt inspired by – Proverbs 23:7, which says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

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What we think about defines who we are. You can’t think selfish thoughts and be an unselfish person. The brain doesn’t work in such a manner. Every thought burns a new neural pathway. The more we think the same thought or way, the deeper the pathway gets grooved into our psyche. We do indeed become dyed by the thoughts we entertain.

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I was listening to an old message from Francis Chan, and he said something was mind-blowing in a life-altering kind of way. While we’ve talked here before about living with Jesus (see “Are You Living For or With Jesus?”), Francis took it to an entirely new level for me. He said since Christ is both in us and with us, whatever we do, Jesus does.  Pastor Chan said it more forcibly. He intimated when we choose to engage in sin, we are essentially forcing Jesus to engage in the same behavior. He doesn’t mean this in a literal sense of course because Jesus never did and never will sin.

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But Jesus did experience the weight of our sin when He hung on the cross. So, every time we choose to sin we are causing Jesus to experience the horror and weight of that sin. Again, it’s not that Jesus must die again for the new sin. What He did on the cross was once and for all. Still, if we believe Jesus is always with us, does it not then follow He is with us when we sin?

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Jim Rohn was and is one of the great mentors in my life. One of the things he taught was to never be content to just get through the day, but rather see what you can take from the day. I’d take it one step further and ask, once you’ve taken everything you can from the day, what is it you can pour back into the day? Another way to think about this would be to determine how you can take what you gained from today and use it to help others tomorrow.

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I believe this aligns very well with the way Jesus lived. He didn’t get cheated on any day. He took every opportunity to share His message and glorify His Father. I think it’s the perfect example of taking what the day offers and pouring it back out into the lives of others. How can we do the same in our own lives?

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Dorothy Day once said, “The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each of us.” This is the challenge for disciples of Jesus. Christ Himself was a revolutionary. The things He taught were unlike anything His listeners had heard before. His compassion dwarfed all who had come before Him. The wisdom of Jesus was unrivaled, and He demanded obedience and devotion to Himself and the good news He brought.

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Fast-forward to today, and we find churches full of so-called Christians content to live their lives in complacency and mediocrity. Instead of committing ourselves to the One who makes all things new, who brings new mercies to bear every morning, we succumb to the philosophy of “there is nothing new under the sun”. We need a revolution of the heart, and we need it today.

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You do know you can talk back to Satan, right? Jesus modeled this for us when the devil was tempting Him in the wilderness. Satan would tempt Jesus, and Jesus would talk back to the devil, reminding him who he was and putting him in his place. Perhaps you think it’s one thing for Jesus to talk back to the devil and another thing for us to do so. On the contrary, Jesus said we would do greater things than He had done (John 14:12).

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As disciples of Jesus, we are to pattern our lives after His. What we see Jesus do, we should do. When Satan comes along flaunting temptation before us, we should not hesitate in saying, “Not today devil!”

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It seems to me in this day and age Christians are content to stop short of holiness. Our churches don’t talk about this very much. We talk about many ways to get along with and in our culture, but little is said about living life in a countercultural way. The vast majority of sermons I hear these days are almost a sort of self-help message wrapped in a Christian cloak.

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When was the last time you left a church service less comfortable than when you entered the building? Today’s typical Christian is content with comfort. This is a travesty disciples of Jesus cannot possibly let stand. The whole point of our lives is to live a holy life looking like Jesus. How can we glorify a holy God with a life so far removed from His holy standard?

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Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.” Our entire lives as followers of Christ is based on this hope. The resurrection of Jesus gives us hope there is something beyond this life. Indeed, Paul said if our hope is only in this life, then we should be pitied beyond all men (1 Corinthians 15:19).

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Our hope is not things will get better for us here and now, but all things will be restored to perfection in the future. God created a perfect world and designed everything in it to worship and glorify Him. Our great hope is a return to this state, to live in complete harmony with God and nature. When we have this hope, life becomes worth living.

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In his book, “All Things New”, author John Eldredge writes, “Where we take our fantasies is a helpful way to know what we are doing with our Kingdom heart”. Which begs the question, “What is it about which you are fantasizing?” Said another way, when you daydream, about what are you dreaming? We go in the direction of the things about which we think. Indeed, we grow in the direction of the things about which we think.

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Our fantasies and daydreams reveal the deepest desires of our heart. Far from fancy or whimsy, and regardless of their implausibility, fantasies and daydreams reveal what we would be if we were God. What are your fantasies and daydreams revealing about you? Are they revealing a God-focused, others-centered disciple? Or are they revealing a prideful and self-centered individual?

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When all else has passed away, faith, hope, and love will remain (1 Corinthians 13:13). Faith, hope, and love are the essence of our belief in God. They are the underpinnings of all Christianity is meant to be. On a personal level, they are the glue holding our lives together. Take any one of the three out of the equation, and things begin to unravel. Together, they are the anchor of our soul.

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Without faith, hope, and love it would be impossible to please God or serve others. Without faith, hope, and love we could never know or understand God. While the apostle Paul singles out love as being the most important of the three, I submit without faith and hope, you could never have love in the first place.

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In Philippians 4:8, Paul instructed the church to think beautiful thoughts. He encouraged them to think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, of moral excellence, and worthy of praise. How often are our thoughts centered on things like these? I confess my own mind is not naturally inclined to go to such places. I will also tell you when I do think of such things, my mood improves dramatically.

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Such thoughts are a natural tonic and trigger the endorphin rush we all crave. When we dwell on dreadful things, our mood sours and our hearts darken. The question we must then ask is, why do we not spend our days thinking beautiful thoughts?

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