I love this quote from real estate mogul Gary Keller: “We don’t determine our lives; we determine our habits, and our habits determine our lives. That’s great advice for life and general, but I think it is quite applicable for our Christian walk as well. What habits are you building into your life that will lead you to living wholly devoted to God?

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Discipleship never happens by accident. It’s not something we stumble into. Discipleship is a choice, one we must make every day. To continue making the discipleship choice each day, we’re going to need habits in our lives to make this easier. Our habits form the disciplines essential for discipleship.

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Proverbs 10:19 says, “When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise.” As someone who writes thousands of words each week, this is especially relevant and convicting to me. However, you don’t have to be a writer to need to learn this lesson. If we don’t measure our words, odds are we’re going to say things dishonoring to God, hurtful to others, and regretful to ourselves. Usually, it will be all the above.

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Jesus’s brother James warned our tongues could not be tamed and could start great, destructive fires (James 3:5-9). Paul instructed us to only speak words of encouragement, never saying derogatory or inflammatory things (Ephesians 4:29-32). In a world enamored with social media, it has never been more important to measure your words.

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What fears and excuses get in the way of you living on mission for Christ? What keeps you from living the life He created you to live? If Jesus was, at some point in your life, worth surrendering your life to Him, I’m going to assume you meant it. I will presume you do not wake every day contemplating ways to live in opposition to His Kingdom and His plan.

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My guess is you want to live your life for Him. You want to be the person He created you to be, because you understand you will never find true peace, joy, and fulfillment any other way. If all this is true, what are the reasons you have for not living on mission?

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Recently I was reading some A.W. Tozer and was hit by these words: “Men and women are being molded by their affinities, shaped by their affections and powerfully transformed by the artistry of their loves. In the unregenerate world of Adam, this produces, day by day, tragedies of cosmic proportions.” Take a moment to read that again. Let it sink in. Every day, we are being molded by what we are choosing to love.

shaping our lives

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Our lives are framed by those things to which we are giving our attention. We choose. We decide how our lives will be shaped. For most of us, circumstances have occurred over which we’ve had no control. Some of these are so horrific we cannot help but have them shape who we are. But most of what we allow to shape our lives is by our choice. And most of it is not healthy.

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Most are familiar with the story of Moses and the burning bush. If you grew up in church, it was one of those Sunday School lessons that tend to stick with you. Too often, the story is left in one of those Sunday School rooms, never to be examined again. Re-reading the story this week, it struck me how like Moses we all are. Before you feel too good about yourself, I’m not intending this as a compliment.

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Moses had many amazing qualities, but this was not his finest moment. God called, and Moses balked. He gave excuses why he wasn’t the right man for the assignment. He explained he wasn’t equipped for the job and asked God to send someone else. How many times have we done this when God gives us something to do?

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We’ve all had one of those days. One of those days when nothing seems to go right. The car breaks down. The babysitter bails. You spill coffee down your shirt before a big presentation. Or maybe it’s one of those days that negatively impact your life forever. A parent dies, or a spouse walks out. You lose your life savings in an investment that was never supposed to fail.

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I’m not sure why, but often these disastrous and tragic events seem to occur in groups. In these times, your faith will be tested. When you have one of those days, how will your perception of God change?

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Surrendering our lives to Jesus is not a trivial decision. It means leaving behind everything we have known and to place our trust in the hands of a God we’ve never seen. While “Surrendering your life to Christ” is a common phrase we hear in churches, I believe we do an insufficient job of explaining what such surrender means. Because surrender is a commonly understood word, I think we neglect to explain the ramifications of such a decision.

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Complete surrender is not conditional. There are no areas of our lives we get to keep for ourselves. There are no aspects of our personality over which we maintain control. Complete surrender is the only acceptable way by which we can be called true disciples of Jesus.

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Mahatma Gandhi had a famous quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It’s great advice. I believe we as followers of Jesus can subscribe to a similar quote: “Be the church you are praying for”. When I pray for the body of Christ in the world, I pray we will always act in love. I pray we show grace and mercy to everyone we encounter.  Perhaps most of all, I pray for unity among believers.

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We are an incredibly diverse bunch, and there are as many opinions as there are Christians. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is we look like Jesus to the world around us. We can’t be the church until we demonstrate his love and beauty to everyone we meet, regardless of their ethnicity, background, or social standing.

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We are not, by nature, a humble people. We desire to be praised and honored. At times, we even seek it. At the very least, we maintain a deep and sometimes hidden desire to be recognized and known. Our tendency to pursue selfish pleasures over the needs of others is rampant. God forgive us for having our focus on ourselves instead of others. Forgive us for not keeping our eyes on You.

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Our preoccupation with self is destroying our lives, our purpose, and our sense of peace. If we would put Jesus first in our lives, if we would live lives looking like Him, we would be fulfilled and joyful. Alas, we are not a humble people. Humility seems to always lay just beyond our grasp.

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In Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 10, Paul tells us we have each been created to do the specific work God designed us to do. Have you ever paused to think how amazing this is? Each person in history, in every country, and in every time, has been born with a God-ordained purpose for their lives. When each of us fulfills our purpose, it becomes part of the greater whole. It’s another brick in the massive Kingdom of God.

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When we fail to do the work He designed us to do, there is something missing. There’s a gap which must be filled. It’s an awesome responsibility. I can’t believe the privilege of doing work God designed me to do. How amazing is that? We must never forget the magnitude of the honor, or the obligation to fulfill it.

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