One of the biggest stumbling blocks to living a life wholly devoted to Jesus is when you get tired and begin asking, “What about me?” I’ve met many professing Christians who pledge their devotion to Jesus but never seemed to have let go of pursuing their own dreams and desires. After serving on a mission trip, they need to take a little time off “just for themselves”.

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They’re okay to work really hard for Jesus during the day, but the nights are theirs to relax on the couch or out with friends. The problem of course is when you gave your life to Jesus, you surrendered everything to Him at that moment. There are no loopholes in the life of a disciple.

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Sometimes I wish things weren’t so black and white. Take the title of this blog for instance. Will you choose the cross or comfort? Surely there’s an option ‘C’, right? We want the cross but we’d really rather have our share of comfort in this world as well. After all, what good is God if He can’t cut us a break every now and then? Of course we’d never say something like that out loud, but most of us aren’t shy about living as if that’s how we feel. But the way I read the Bible, there is no option ‘C’.

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There is no gray area in which we can revel. Jesus was pretty clear in His statements. We must choose the cross or comfort. We can’t have it both ways, and living in the middle is the same as rejecting Him (Revelation 3:16).

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It’s been difficult to go a day without seeing a news story about the Pokémon Go craze sweeping smart phones across the country. I confess I’ve never played the game but feel I have read enough to be well informed about the basics. For those wondering what this could possibly have to do with living a Jesus-centered life, please hang with me; we’ll get there! If you don’t know about Pokémon Go, it is what’s called an “augmented reality” game. Augmented reality blends the real world with things that are superimposed on top of it.

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You look through the camera on your phone and see the world around you, as you would expect. The game then layers additional objects onto what you see, in the form of Pokémon monsters. The goal is to find and collect them by capturing them in the same way as you would take a photo. As I marveled at the craze, it occurred to me the game has profound implications for how we live our lives in a manner pleasing to Jesus each day.

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Freewill is central to my theology and in my mind is the linchpin to answering difficult questions about sin, disease, and evil in the world. After Jesus, I think freewill is probably the greatest gift God bestowed on His creation. After all, freewill is what enables us to love. It enables us to choose. Most importantly, it enables us to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior.

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But here’s the irony for all disciples of Jesus: to accept Christ means the death of freewill in our lives. When we surrender ourselves to Christ, we surrender everything, including our freewill. Nothing is excluded. The very thing permitting us to accept Christ is what we must give up in exchange for His Lordship in our lives.

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How’s this for a terrifying thought? The measure of your love for God is equal to your love for the people with whom we interact daily. There are some people, my wife for example, whom I love very much and would be comfortable with God measuring my love for Him by how much I love her.

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Then there are my friends; while I have a certain degree of love for them, I definitely want to believe I love God more.  But then there are my coworkers and the people I encounter in the store or in traffic. Now the comparison of how much I love God begins to get more than a little uncomfortable.
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A few years ago, Gary Keller wrote a book called, “The One Thing”. While it was not a “Christian” book by definition, I found it applicable to life as a disciple of Jesus. The book talks about finding the one thing that drives you. It encourages the reader to discover the one thing about which they are most passionate. Once discovered, the author compels us to pursue it with intense focus and determination.

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For years I have known what my “one thing” is. It is to instruct and encourage others to live lives wholly devoted to Christ. While it’s been some time since I read Mr. Keller’s excellent book, it left quite an impact on me. Then I recently read “Absolute Surrender , a book written by Andrew Murray over a century ago. In it, I came across the following statement: “Absolute surrender to God is the one thing.”
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I think one of the greatest problems with Christianity today is there are too many Christians and not enough disciples of Jesus. Lip service Christianity does a great disservice to the name of Jesus in our world. What we need are more people willing to forsake everything in order to follow Jesus no matter the cost and with no thought of themselves. Instead, we are inflicted with generations of professing Christians who want nothing to do with a costly faith.

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They are willing to identify with Christ only to the point of suffering or persecution. Vast numbers in our churches today profess Jesus on Sunday morning only to leave Him behind on the way out the door. Where is the righteous indignation, the fiery zeal, and the unqualified devotion of the early church?
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It’s Independence Day in America. Of course, for followers of Christ, the real Independence Day was the day they committed their lives wholly to Jesus. Real freedom, real independence, is found only in Jesus. Only He can set you free.

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No Nation, government, or authority can make you truly free. True freedom is found when you are no longer a slave to anything or anyone other than Jesus. Until your life is fully given over to Him, you will always be beholden to something or someone.
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As someone who has longed to meet Jesus for a long time now, I was particularly struck by a quote I read from one of the early church fathers named Irenaeus. He said, “The business of the Christian is nothing else than to be ever preparing for death”.  The statement also reminded me of Francis Chan’s latest book, “You and Me Forever”, in which he espouses the primary role of the husband is to make certain his wife is well prepared for Heaven.

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Our entire lives should be spent preparing ourselves and others to meet Christ. This profoundly impacts the decisions we make and activities we engage in every day of our lives.
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We are called to demonstrate the love and character of Jesus in every moment of our lives. We know this because it is what Jesus did. The problem is, if we aren’t intentional about this mission, it won’t happen. How many days have slipped through our fingers without showing more than a cursory amount of love to anyone but ourselves? As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me it would be a good idea to answer four questions each day.

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You can incorporate these into your daily planning. The questions are: How will I show love to my spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend today? How will I show love for a family member today? How will I show love for a friend today? How will I show love for a stranger today?
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