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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I’m seeing a disturbing trend in Christendom…  Somehow sin is becoming “okay”. I’m not picking on any individual sin because it’s all equal in the eyes of God. Jesus demonstrated this when He said anyone who has lusted has committed adultery in their heart and anyone who has harbored anger has committed murder in his heart. I don’t think I’d be going too far out on a limb to then conclude, if not for the merciful covering of the blood of Christ, we would all be adulterers and murderers in the eyes of God.

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I say this to make it known up front I am the worst of sinners. What’s worse than an adulterer and murderer? So I am throwing no stones at any other sin or sinner. My only premise is it should never be acceptable or even possible for a Christian to find sin acceptable. Sin is not okay.
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I was listening to a recent message by Andy Stanley (you can listen to the message here) and he introduced the topic of everything we own being a tool for building the Kingdom. Our money, our car, our house, our kitchen table – everything – can, and should, be thought of as tools for building the Kingdom.

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I have long understood the time and money we are blessed with should in turn be used for God’s purposes here on earth. But I admit, I had never considered how everything we own should also be seen as tools for building the Kingdom. It’s a bold way of thinking with the possibility of opening new avenues of service to our King.
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It occurs to me Jesus lived such a simple life because He knew by limiting distractions, He would maximize His focus on His Father. I think we often overlook the simple teachings of Christ because we are always looking for something deeper. Like everything else in His life, Jesus kept it simple. He didn’t complicate things. He confounded the wise so the simple could plainly understand what He was saying.

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The so-called learned and wise people (much like us) missed it because they were convinced it couldn’t be that easy. Certainly issues as large as salvation and eternal life could not be so simple. We continue to make this mistake today and suffer the same consequences of those in Jesus’ day.
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While I risk sounding like a broken record, I continue to be convinced a large number of people who profess to be Christians want to serve without it costing them anything. We want the ticket to Heaven as long as we can maintain a reasonable comfort here on earth. We sing, “No matter the cost” but balk at giving up a Saturday to minister to the poor or homeless. We proclaim we’ll go wherever God sends us but renege when the call leads to Uganda instead of Austin or San Diego.

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When we say surrender, we tend to put guardrails around it rather than giving ourselves in reckless abandon to Christ. Unless we are willing to serve Him no matter the cost, I fear we may not even be actual followers of Jesus.
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Why do many who profess to be Christians hold back from becoming disciples, fully fledged followers of Jesus? I think it is fear, but probably not the kind you’d expect. I don’t think they fear persecution or even death. From my study and observation, I believe Christians stop short of discipleship because they are afraid of giving up personal pleasures. They don’t want to sacrifice their comforts and selfish desires. This isn’t a new phenomenon.

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It can be traced back to the early church. Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 240 AD) is recorded to have said, “There are quite a few persons who hold back from becoming Christians—not because they are afraid of losing their lives— but because they are afraid of losing their pleasures.” How have we made almost no progress in over 2,000 years?
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You are who and where you are today because of the choices you have made. This is true in your personal life, and most assuredly true in your spiritual life. You are as close to God as you choose to be. Each day of our lives, we choose whether or not to do what Christ has instructed us to do. Spiritually speaking, we are not a victim of circumstance; we are the product and sum total of our choices.

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You can’t blame anyone else for the state of your Spiritual progress. Holiness is your choice. Obedience is your choice. No matter your circumstances, your relationship with God is all up to you. He simply waits for you to take hold of everything He offers.
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I’ve written in the past about both intentional living and there being no days off for a disciple of Jesus. What I have come to realize is those two topics are inextricably linked. The way we take no days off from following Jesus is to make certain we live each moment with intention. Jesus was always “on”; He was always God. By the same token, He was always moving with intention in order to further His mission and to see His Kingdom come to fruition on earth.

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Even when it meant torture and death, Jesus steeled His gaze and intentionally move toward the horror awaiting Him. He didn’t go on vacation or spend a few days pursuing pleasure before getting on with things. He kept being who He was for the purpose of why He came. We are called to live in the same way.
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Jesus began His ministry by standing up in the Synagogue and saying God had sent Him “to proclaim freedom to the captives” (Luke 4:18). There were all kinds of captives in His day and in ours.  There are those held captive by spiritual darkness, prisoners of war, hostages held by terrorists, and those imprisoned by their own fear. Of course there are many others, but one type of captive that gets very little play in most circles are those trapped in the world of human trafficking.

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Sure, there are many who give lip service to this horror, but we simply don’t do justice to an industry that enslaves over 27 million people. These are people just like your sons, daughters, friends, and family. Twenty-seven million people who have unsurpassable worth in the eyes of God. And yet Christians remain far too silent.

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