Archives For May 2017

In the United States, on the day this is being published, it is Memorial Day. It’s a day to remember the brave soldiers who have given their lives so those in this Country can live in freedom. Thanks to their sacrifice, we are free to worship as we choose, free to speak our minds, and free to do with our lives what we will. We can debate the travesty of violence and the suspect definition of a “just war” another time.

Memorial Day,veterans,honor,humility,just war,nonviolence,remembrance,respect,God's Kingdom,Kingdom of God,paradise,eternity,love,sacrifice,freedom,heaven,John 8:36,free indeed

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For today, all those living in freedom would be well-served to thank a veteran and remember those who have passed away. With that said, none of this means anything if not for the ultimate sacrifice paid by one man over two thousand years ago.

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Disciplining yourself to do what you know is the right thing to do, at the right time, is a key to a flourishing relationship with God. How many times have you been tempted to do the wrong thing and, ignoring the warning bells going off inside, you give into the temptation? Every time we find ourselves at a decision point, we must ask ourselves how Jesus would decide in such a moment.

disciplining yourself,self-discipline,self discipline,discipline,discipleship,disciple,commitment,priorities,God's character,character of God,selfishness,me first,Jesus first,God first,prayer,habit,habits,disciplines

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When faced with a moral decision, the spirit of Christ within us informs us which way we should go. The problem is, the choice we know to be consistent with the character of Christ is often the more difficult path to walk. A narrow path is always more problematic to traverse than a wider one.

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God is a Creator. In the beginning, He created, and He continues to create to this moment. Every day He is creating new opportunities for His followers to spread His message. He is never caught off guard or without a plan. Instead of reacting to the freewill decisions of His creation, He instead is spinning new avenues to provide an entirely new way for His plan to be accomplished. He isn’t discouraged by our lack of cooperation or frustrated by our failures.

stop living a reactive life,reaction,reactive,mission,purpose,God's kingdom,kingdom of God,freewill,viktor frankl,rick lawrence,jesus centered life,2 Corinthians 5:17,old things have passed away,all things are new

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I see Him moving in constant fluidity, constantly creating throughout history, and never losing sight of the mission at hand. In contrast, we tend to be a reactive people. Instead of collaborating with Him in creating something new, we busy ourselves reacting to what has already been created. If we want to be more like Christ, we’re going to need to stop living a reactive life.

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Being a disciple of Jesus should cost you something. If it isn’t, chances are you aren’t a disciple. It’s easy to assume you are a disciple of Jesus once you say the magic prayer and invite Him into your life. While such an assumption is safe and comfortable, it isn’t reality. Rather than frightening us, we should all be encouraged to pay whatever price necessary for the privilege of following Jesus.

what is discipleship costing you,A.W. Tozer,Tozer,Matthew 10:21-25,brother will betray brother,Luke 9:57-62,foxes have dens,priorities,dciscipleship,disciple,follower of Jesus,commitment,2 Corinthians 4:17,light afflictions

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A.W. Tozer once prayed the Lord would make him “willing to let my Christian experience and Christian standards cost me something right down to the last gasp.” Tozer understood being a disciple of Jesus would cost him something in this life. What is discipleship costing you?

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Recently I’ve had the frustrating experience of trying to get three of the largest churches in my city to come around a family in need. The situation at hand is a low-income single mother with six children, whose minivan was recently involved in an accident and totaled. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. One church never responded, one said they get too many requests to be able to help but did ask what my own church was doing about the situation, and the final church – the one I attend and have been financially supporting – responded they only helped with rent and utility bills and would not be able to contribute towards purchasing a vehicle for the family.

being church or doing church,benevolence,Ephesians 4:1-6,unity in church,James 1:27,orphans and widows,true religion,purpose,local church,charity,giving,generosity,commitment,discipleship,lip service Christian

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Being a preacher’s kid, I understand the inner workings and dynamics of a church better than most, but I was still left flabbergasted by the lack of assistance these local churches were willing to extend.

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In his book, “The End of Religion”, Pastor Bruxy Cavey writes, “If Jesus is God coming to us, and becoming one of us, then religion is redundant. Religion uses rules to force our steps, guilt to keep us in line, and rituals to remind us of our failure to live up to those rules. In doing this, religion adds more weight to those who are already burdened with life’s hardships.”

we don't need religion,Matthew 23:33,brood of vipers,Matthew 23:25,hypocrites,Matthew 23:27,white washed tombs,spiritual disciplines,read the Bible,discipline,religion,bruxey cavey,the meeting house,greg boyd,myth of religion,end of religion

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But Jesus said his burden was easy and light (Matthew 11:30). He didn’t come to add a bunch of rules to our lives. He came to simplify what man had overcomplicated. Jesus came to show we don’t need religion; all we need is God.

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I’ve got a problem and no idea how to solve it. I’m bored with everything but Jesus. As my relationship with Him has developed, I increasingly find myself growing out of other interests. When I’m spending time talking with Him, studying Him, or simply reflecting on Him, I am content. Nothing else satisfies any more.

bored with everything but Jesus,boredom,commitment,discipleship,generosity,compassion,devotion,mission,passion,priorities

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Now, a quick disclaimer: I am not in any way saying I spend all my time focused on Jesus or implying I have transcended sin and temptation. I still fall. A lot. It’s a frustrating, but true, dichotomy in my life. Having said that, the fact remains I’ve become bored with everything but Jesus.

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So why do we do this Jesus thing? Why would we devote our lives to a man who was last seen alive more than 2,000 years ago, and to a God we cannot see? Everyone is going to live for something or someone. But why Jesus? What compels us to live radical, counter-cultural lives for His sake? These are fair questions, and ones to which every Christ-follower should have an answer.

this Jesus thing,John 6:67-68,where else would we go,God's Kingdom,Kingdom of God,mission,God's will,faith

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We’ll dive into this a bit, but my immediate answer would be to respond as Peter did when Jesus asked if he would desert Him. Peter’s response? “Where else would I go (John 6:67-68)?”

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Few would admit it, but what most people want is a comfortable relationship with Jesus. We want answered prayers, help through troubled times, and comfort in crisis. Oh, and spending eternity in Heaven while escaping Hell, we want that too. Those are the comfortable benefits making Jesus so desirable to us, after all. Here’s where it gets a little uncomfortable. Jesus didn’t spend a lot of time talking up those benefits. He spent most of His time warning of trials and persecution, and giving stern warnings to those seeking to live a comfortable “religious” life.

comfortable relationship,commitment,discipleship,God's will,mission,pharisees,selfishness,comfort,Hebrews 13:5,never leave you or forsake you,John 14:3,prepare a place for you,John 3:16,God so loved the world,John 16:33,you will have trouble,Matthew 8:20,foxes have holes,Mark 13:10-13,brother will hate brother,2 Corinthians 11:24-27,Matthew 7:22-23,depart from me I never knew you,Matthew 28:20,I am with you always,Luke 9:23,take up your cross

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His harshest words were reserved for people just like us… those who were trying please God through comfortable and often self-serving platitudes. Comfortable Christianity is synonymous with Pharisaical living.

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