Archives For commitment

Are you settling for less than what God has for you? Do you even know if that is true in your life? How does one know if they are settling for less if they are not certain about what they have been created to do? I would say if you cannot answer the question of whether or not you are settling for less with an emphatic ‘No!’, then you probably are. People living out their God-given mission know because they are so in tune with God there can be no doubt.

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For the rest of us, we either suspect we are settling for less or we know for a fact we are. So, we have a two-fold problem: first, how do we know if we are settling for less, and second, what do we do about it if we are?

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Life is an adventure. We don’t know if this adventure will be long or short. Like all great stories, we often do not know what will happen next. While we may not know the path to reach the end, we do know the ending is wonderful, satisfying, and unequivocally worth the journey. One need only look at the life of Jesus to recognize our lives will never be dull.

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So little was recorded about Jesus’s time on earth, but look how much life is packed into the few pages of details we are blessed to have. As we endeavor to follow in His footsteps, how can we conclude anything other than the fact our life will be an amazing adventure?

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We are as close to God as we want to be. Or, as A.W. Tozer put it, “Every man is as holy and as full of the Spirit as he wants to be.” There’s no wiggle room. You can try and rationalize, look for the gray area, or the loophole. It isn’t there. We are as close to God as we want to be. Paul tells us in Romans 8:38-39 it is impossible for anything to separate us from God: not death, angels, demons, rulers, authorities, height, depth… nothing!

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There’s one thing he doesn’t cover though: ourselves. We are the “X” factor. We are the only thing that can separate us from God. We can choose to walk away. We can choose to keep Him out of our lives. Only us.

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While some would accuse me of having a fascination with death, I would argue the typical Christian does not long for it enough. There is no morbidity with my fascination. I would just rather be with Jesus than here in this world. It should be the ultimate goal of every one of Christ’s disciples. If we wouldn’t rather be with Him, what’s the point of following and giving up everything for His sake? Until that day arrives, we have work to do here.

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Each of us was created with the talents, skills, and passions required to further the mission of Christ. The issue as I see it is we don’t have the will to do the work He gave us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Each of us should desire to leave nothing undone, but we love this world too much to have the appropriate amount of urgency to accomplish our work.

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St. Ignatius of Loyola said, “Teach us, Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to seek for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will.” Commenting on this statement, author Richard Foster summarized, “The Christian life is one of strength and endurance in the face of suffering.”

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How different this is from the experience of most who call themselves Christians in the Western world! Regardless of our modern culture and misunderstanding of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus, it cannot be denied our lives bear little resemblance to that of our Savior. If it is our true desire to love and honor Christ, we must examine our motives and activities.

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I am perturbed by the current state of Christianity. We have succumbed to a mediocre faith of few requirements and a perception of even fewer consequences. As usual, A.W. Tozer says it perfectly: “Faith now means no more than passive moral acquiescence in the Word of God and the cross of Jesus. To exercise it we have only to rest on one knee and nod our heads in agreement with the instructions of a personal worker intent upon saving our soul.”

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I’m not certain how we got here but it’s not what Jesus had in mind when He was being tortured and crucified on our behalf. Jesus’s faith in the Father cost Him everything. It caused Him to lead a difficult life and die a gruesome death. His was not a faith of mediocrity or passive moral acquiescence to the standards of His Father.

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What’s next? As I write this, Easter has just passed. All the lead-up to our celebration of the resurrection of Christ is behind us. Lent, Good Friday, fasting, focused prayer, all the activities usually structured around Easter are now in the rear-view mirror. I had the privilege of seeing three different services and witnessed many proclaiming their need for Jesus after the message at each location.

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This is certainly to be celebrated and applauded as many more seek to give their lives to Jesus and help build His Kingdom here on earth. But now what? What happens after Easter? What becomes of those seeking to place their faith in Jesus? What becomes of we who experienced great renewal during this season? What’s next?

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I love this line from author Alicia Britt Chole: “God was not absent. The challenge was self was so very present.” I cannot count the times I’ve heard people say (and okay, I’m in this group as well), “I feel like God is so far away”. God is never far away. He is always here. Wherever ‘here’ is, God is there. You cannot outrun God, so don’t bother trying to run away. Despite all our ingenuity and technological innovations, we cannot hide from God. God is never far.

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We couldn’t push Him away if we tried. His Spirit guarantees His presence with us always. The problem is not His presence, the issue is we have allowed our selfishness and pride to subtly erode our awareness of Him. To put it bluntly, we can’t get out of our own way to see God is not absent.

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Christians these days seem to bend over backward to make certain they never offend anyone. We want to appear as being tolerant of all things and all people. This isn’t the way Jesus lived. He loved all people, but He never minced words when it came to calling out whoever or whatever stood in opposition to the character and holiness of God. I like how A.W. Tozer put it: “This generation of Christians must hear again the doctrine of the perturbing quality of faith.”

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The gospel of Jesus should perturb people.  It’s a call to a radically different life and lifestyle. It’ not okay when people flaunt their sin in the presence of God. It’s not okay when we kill in the name of Jesus. And it’s never acceptable to condone the sinful deeds of ourselves or anyone else. Leading with love, we need to not follow with tolerance but rather with perturbance. We need to live out our perturbing faith.

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The wisdom of A.W. Tozer continues to confound me. I wish I would have had the opportunity to learn directly from the man, but his books and sermons have left a rich legacy. Hear this from the wise preacher: “The faith of Christ will command or it will have nothing to do with a man. It will not yield to experimentation. Its power cannot reach any man who is secretly keeping an escape route open in case things get too tough for him.

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The only man who can be sure he has true Bible faith is the one who has put himself in a position where he cannot go back. His faith has resulted in an everlasting and irrevocable committal, and however strongly he may be tempted he always replies, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life’ (John 6:68).” How often do we respond to the call of temptation (idolatry) with the words, “To whom shall we go?”

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