Archives For January 2017

This entire blog is predicated around becoming a disciple of Jesus. But what does discipleship look like? How do we know if we are getting closer to the mark? I would say first, discipleship is a standard to be pursued, not a target to be hit. There will never be a day when you can sit back and exclaim, “Ah! At last I’ve reached discipleship!”

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Being a disciple of Jesus is a process that will consume your entire lifetime. To be a disciple signifies nothing ever will mean more to you than desiring to live a life mirroring the life of Jesus. Discipleship is the total dedication of your life to His calling and purpose. To be a disciple is to be daily engaged in the mission of Christ.

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As a body, the Western Church tends to look a lot like everyone else. We buy the same things, climb the same ladders of success, and treat others according to some invisible caste system. We have our moments when we behave in a manner more pleasing to Christ, but by and large, my observation is we live our lives and treat people in much the same way our surrounding culture does.

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That isn’t how Jesus lived. He had an entirely different agenda and saw everyone as having unsurpassable worth. He didn’t segregate or differentiate. He simply loved. This is how we are called to look at and treat others. Every soul has the highest value in God’s Kingdom.

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Every so often, I like to increase the amount of hate mail I receive. There’s no better way to assure this than discussing the faith (or grace) vs. works topic. As I have stated previously, I don’t fall into either the faith or works camp. I believe one without the other is useless, and believe there is strong Scriptural support to say the answer isn’t either faith or works, but rather faith and works. James says plainly in his letter faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).

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Coming from the brother of Jesus, I’m going to consider him a strong authority. There’s more to say about this, however. To those in either the faith or works camp, I urge you to keep reading. Not so I might persuade you to agree with me, but rather to take an honest look at what Scripture says about this and consider the eventual logic behind each view.

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Each of us possess an unconscious bias towards others. Some bias is the result of past experience, some the way we were brought up, and some the result of our culture and environment. Regardless of the source, we all look at the world through a lens colored by our unconscious bias. The problem is, our bias generally does not reflect the way God looks at people.

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He has a very conscious bias with which He looks at every soul on the planet. God’s bias is love. What I want to do as a disciple of Jesus is replace my own unconscious bias with His conscious decision to value people and always seek to serve them. I wish this were as easy as it sounds, but an unconscious bias is difficult to recognize and harder still to tame.

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We must never forget to pray for the persecuted. The majority of readers of this blog live in areas of the world where we have at least some degree of freedom to worship God. We should always remember to be extremely thankful for this, but we must never take it for granted. In many parts of the world, to follow Jesus is to risk losing one’s friends, family, employment, housing, freedom, or even their life. It’s a reality they live with every day.

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In many countries, to choose Jesus is truly to risk everything. We who do not face such pressure can barely relate. It is imperative we move beyond simple head knowledge of persecution, and internalize it. When one part of the body suffers, we all suffer (1 Corinthians 12:26). We must never forget to pray for the persecuted.

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I once read our excess money is given to us to share with others. This is something I’ve tried to incorporate into my own life because I feel there is good Biblical precedence for it. Early Christ followers shared all they had with each other (Acts 4:32-35). This seems to go even beyond simply giving away our excess. In the Old Testament, God gave laws commanding people to not harvest the edges of their fields so the poor could come and get some food for their families (Leviticus 23:22).

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Jesus told us not to hoard our wealth (Luke 12:16-21). The next question I generally get when discussing this is, “How do I determine how much is excess?” To me, this question is always the result of a scarcity mindset.

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There is a time thief lurking in all of our lives. Time is our most precious asset. You cannot acquire more than you’ve been given. We each have a finite amount that dwindles by the second. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Yet so many of us treat time as if there is a never ending supply. We spend our time foolishly on the nonsensical and irrelevant.

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What if we spent our money the same way we spent our time? It would be the equivalent of throwing cash out the window every second of our day. If we are not intentional about our time, a time thief will steal away what God has entrusted to us. We all have a time thief; what’s yours?

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One of the key concepts I want to establish through the blog this year is mediocrity is not acceptable in the Kingdom of God. Jesus, the perfect Creator of all the beauty you see in this world didn’t do a mediocre job of anything. None of His creation even hints at mediocrity. Even now He continues to make all things new. He continues to create. How many times have you looked at a sunset you felt certain was more beautiful than any you had seen before?

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Jesus continues to create beauty even in a dark and evil world. He continues to bring His best to every day we live. Do we not owe Him the same effort with our own lives? After all, we belong to Him. Mediocre simply can’t be good enough. We’ve got to strive to be better in ways that will bring Him glory. We can’t sit idling; we’ve got to move the needle in our commitment to God.

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As a year wilts away behind us, another blossoms on the path ahead. There’s something beautiful and fragrant about new beginnings. A new year heralds an opportunity for a fresh start. What was is no longer, and what will be is largely up to the choices we will make. This is our chance to shape what lies ahead in ways totally honoring to God. My theme for this year is “Move the Needle”, and nowhere will this be more important than in my walk with God.

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Everything revolves around and springs from my relationship with Him. Moving forward into a deeper knowledge of God necessitates doing something different than we’ve done before. If this is your desire for the new year as well, there is one thing I know. If we want to move the needle in our connection with and understanding of God, we can’t stay here.

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