Archives For March 2018

In her wonderful Lenten devotional, “40 Days of Decrease”, author Alicia Britt Chole writes, “We are duly thankful, challenged, and inspired by Jesus’ forty-day fast from food in the Judean wilderness. Perhaps we should likewise be grateful, awed, and humbled by His thirty-year fast from praise, power, and potential in Nazareth.” We don’t often consider everything Jesus gave up during the thirty years before we read much of Him in the Bible. We know a little about His first two years of life, and then get another brief glimpse when he was around twelve years of age.

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After that, it’s pretty much silent until He steps onto the scene eighteen years later. Through it all, this man was at the same time the almighty Creator of the Universe. He chose to set aside all His power, all His potential, all His right to be praised and lived in the poor and dusty town of Nazareth. This was the ultimate fast. He gave up everything, and He did it for you and me.

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Dag Hammarskjold, the Formal Secretary-General of the United Nations, once said, “In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.” I believe holiness will always pass through the world of action. Holiness is proven both by what we do and what we choose not to do. But always, holiness demands action. Only God is Holy, but in our quest to be like Him, we must pursue holiness.

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While it is not something we will obtain in this life, seeking after it provides great training for the next. Peter reminds us God said to be holy because He Himself is holy (I Peter 1:15-16). Since we know we are not holy, it seems obvious we must do something to become holy. In other words, holiness demands action.

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I confess much of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote is so deep it eludes me. I wrestle for hours with some of his instruction. Every now and then I come across something he wrote which is plain, simple, and at-once life-changing. One of those statements I read recently was, “My life is put to shame when what I rely on fails.”

what is your foundation,building on rock or sand,John 10:10,life to the full,abundant life,Dietrich Bonhoeffer,Bonhoeffer

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It prompts one to reflect on their own life and ask, “On what am I relying? On what am I building my life? What is my foundation?” So, I will ask you, “What is your foundation?” One thing I know, Christ is reliable without fail. He is fail-proof. No one and nothing else can make this claim.

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David Platt said, “You and I both have a choice. We can stand with the starving or with the overfed. We can embrace Jesus while we give away our wealth, or we can walk away from Jesus while we hoard our wealth.” No one wants to admit they are a hoarder. I suspect most followers of Jesus want to consider themselves generous. But we can’t deny the fact those of us in the West live in incredible comfort while nearly half the world is starving and lacks access to clean drinking water.

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Half of the people groups in the world have never heard the name of Jesus. Half the world has never been given a cup of cool water or a piece of bread in the name of Jesus. This is devastating.

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Regular readers know I love the teachings of A.W. Tozer. I love the way he pulled no punches and possessed deep insight into the character of God. It’s uncanny how often his writing seems so relevant for today, but in truth was mostly written fifty or more years ago. Here’s something from him which I read recently: “There is something better than being comfortable, and the followers of Christ ought to find it out-the poor, soft, overstuffed Christians of our time ought to find it out!

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There is something better than being comfortable! We… have forgotten altogether that there is such a thing as discipline and suffering.” Along the same lines, he also wrote,” We do not want the cross. We are more interested in the crown.” To put it in simple terms, one could say Christians are “all crown, no cross”.

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America has long been called the land of opportunity. Perhaps nowhere is this truer than when it comes to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are free from restrictions when it comes to sharing our faith. There is no consequence to be feared for gathering together for fellowship and church gatherings. Our prisons are not filled with those incarcerated for sharing literature or resources about Jesus. In short, Americans are free to discuss, teach, evangelize, and even sell materials and programs to help deepen your faith and devotion to God.

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This is indeed the land of opportunity. What scares me is I’m afraid we are squandering the very opportunity with which we are blessed. With so much freedom, we must be at the forefront of spreading the hope and love of Christ to every people-group on the planet. How do you think we’re doing?

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G.K. Chesterton said, “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” Wow. How often do we think of our relationship with Christ as a love affair? It is troubling in my own life to recognize I’ve got a significant way to go in this regard. I love Him. I’m in awe of Him. I’m thankful for His mercy, provision, and protection. But do I possess the kind of white-hot, unstoppable love we associate with a love affair? Do I wake each morning unable to contain my excitement to see and spend time with Him?

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Do I put off going to bed because it means less time spent in His presence? I’d love to be the guy who could answer in the affirmative to these questions, but I’m not. I want to be. In fact, it gets me excited even as I write these words. I want to love God with the love of a love affair, not of some dutiful worshipper.

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I read a great quote from Louis Giglio: “Jesus doesn’t give you what you need; Jesus is what you need.” I think we often miss this point in our self-sufficient society. We don’t necessarily tend to think about the help we need, we only think of the stuff we need. There’s always something more we think we need to make us happy. We’re always one step away from being fulfilled.

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The common thread is we have this seemingly insatiable hole inside. We can’t seem to ever figure out what will fill it. Nothing makes the ache go away for good, so we settle for temporary substitutes hoping someday one of them will last. If you are tired of chasing after what you think you need and want, you can relax. The answer is simple and immediately available: you need Jesus.

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Passion is a popular topic in the personal development space (otherwise known as self-help). There are shelves of books promising to help you ignite your passion, find your passion, fuel your passion, or simply follow your passion. Essentially the message always boils down to the point of doing what you love. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether this is good advice.

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I’m more interested in seeing how it relates to our pursuit of God. After all, He’s the One who put such passions inside of us all. The question for me isn’t so much one of whether you should follow your passion, but rather, how can you use your passions to glorify God and further the mission of Christ?

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