Archives For Discipleship

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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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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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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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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Matthew 25:1-13 tells the parable of the ten virgins. The story details how ten virgins were waiting for the bridegroom. Five of them were prepared to stick it out until the groom showed up, bringing extra oil to keep their lamps lit throughout the dark night. The other five didn’t come prepared. They brought their lamps, but no oil. When the groom didn’t show as early as they expected, they all fell asleep.

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When the groom arrived at midnight unexpectedly, the ones who were prepared lit their lamps so the groom could see them. These were invited into the wedding banquet, but the unprepared were left outside, alone and in the dark. The moral of the story is to be prepared in case the Lord delays and doesn’t show up until midnight. My friends, midnight is coming.

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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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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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In a recent sermon, Pastor Craig Groeschel made the comment, “Easy never changed the world.” The life of a disciple has not ever been, nor will it ever be, easy. Following Jesus is difficult. It’s unpopular and brings little glory. But eleven men, disciples of Jesus, changed the entire world. Their impact is still being felt 2,000 years later. Their life wasn’t easy.

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They were mocked and seen as insurgents and fools. They were constantly pursued, jailed, beaten, and in almost every case, they were killed. It wasn’t easy to follow Jesus in the first century, and it isn’t easy to follow Him now. But easy never changed the world.

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I recently heard David Platt share a quote that requires a lot of contemplation. He asked the question, “Is Jesus living in me or through me?” The difference between the two is huge. We live in a culture of casual Christianity, led to believe all we have to do is say a magical prayer and Jesus will come to live within us.

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Even if such teaching were true (and I believe there are compelling arguments to be made it is not), inviting Jesus into your heart is not the point. Unless and until we allow Jesus to live through us, we will be missing out on all the power and peace He intends for us.

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