Archives For Discipline

Complacency is a killer disease for would-be disciples. As soon as you think you are in a great place with your disciplines and in your relationship with God, you are in trouble. Unfortunately, I have learned this (more than once) the hard way. Each time I think I’ve grown so close to Christ I could never fall away, I’ve quickly found myself spiraling downward. It’s not as if you wake up one day and decide to walk the opposite direction.

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It always happens subtlety and slowly. You won’t even recognize it’s happening. You skip your morning prayer time, “just today”, because of something else going on in your life. Then you find yourself putting your needs ahead of others. The next morning you skip prayer time again. And so, the spiral begins…

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Becoming a disciple of Jesus can seem like a lot of work, but upon closer examination, we see work has little to do with it. Instead, following Jesus as a true disciple is about doing just a few things well. As I’ve continued my journey to discipleship, I’ve come to realize there are three keys to spiritual success. Craig Groeschel summed these up well in his latest book, “Divine Direction”.

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He wrote, “It’s the faithfulness to do mundane things well, develop productive habits, and to remain faithful that eventually leads to success.” These are three simple concepts, all of which have the potential to unleash incredible results in our quest to live a more Christ-like life.

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There is no quicker path to destruction than to take your eyes off Jesus. Let your focus waver for even a minute and you will be heading down a path you never intended and have no interest in following. It’s troubling how we can spend hours on our knees with God, and seconds later lose our focus and find ourselves in a dark place. It comes down to discipline, but focus is taxing of our energy, so we often tire and give up.

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Still, if we are serious about living a life worthy of Christ, we’ve got to get better at keeping our focus on Him. One slip can cause years of damage. As you approach this day, this hour, this moment, let me ask you: “Where is your focus?”

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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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We humans ascribe an inordinate amount of focus and power to dates. We put off big life changes until a Monday so as to have a “fresh start”. We set goals and resolutions at the beginning of the year almost exclusively.  Perhaps worst of all, when a week, month, or year is coming to a close, we tend to put it in neutral and just coast until the next big marker of time.  December is a month rife with coasting. Most are so caught up in gift-giving and home decorating that little time is left for anything else.

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It becomes easy to lose focus and take your eyes off the things that really matter. Unfortunately, our spiritual life and goals tend to follow the same fate. Instead of finishing well the work God gave us to do this year, there is a tendency to end with a whimper instead of a bang.

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We all have triggers that prompt sinful behaviors. If we learn to recognize the triggers, we will begin to overcome the most problematic sins in our lives. Satan does two things really well. He lies, and he manipulates.  When it comes to his attacks on us, all of them can be traced back to one of those two strategies.

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Either he’s trying to get you to believe something untrue, or he’ll try and get you to do something against the will of God. Understanding the simplicity of the enemy’s attacks should help us formulate strategies to resist him. But unless we recognize the triggers in our own lives, we will struggle defeating the schemes of the devil.

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In the beginning, we were created for and lived in perfect peace and harmony with God. Then we gave it all away for a stupid grab for an inconceivable “more”, something better than community with God. It was of course something which did not exist because dwelling in the presence of our Creator is the greatest form of happiness, fulfillment, and joy we can ever know.

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Still, we reached for something else. We were deceived to believe there was more we could desire than God Himself. From this one horrible mistake, stress was born. From that moment, stress has become a favorite tool of Satan to continue to keep us from God.

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I learned (again) the hard way Satan is a master at stealing time. It’s amazing and more than a bit discouraging how you can be having a great day serving God only to see it fizzle into hours doing things of no Kingdom value. Without a consistent and diligent focus on how we spend our days, too many of them can be stolen away before we know it.

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While pondering that thought, it occurred to me maybe Satan isn’t so much a master at stealing time as we are at giving it away.God has put the gift of time at our disposal. Every breath we breathe is an endowment from Him. What God has given to us cannot be stolen. Satan has no power to do that. But as agents of freewill, it is within our authority to give away what God has granted to us.

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Everything I write, and all I aspire to be can be summed up by the phrase “Love God and serve people”. It is the essence of discipleship because it is the quintessence of how Jesus lived His life. If we would only do these two things, everything else would take care of itself. If we focus on loving God and serving people, we will never be selfish, greedy, prideful, lustful, covetous, or evil.

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It is the elixir for all our struggles. Jesus asks very little of us, only that we love God and serve people.  We overcomplicate things when we pile on additional rules, regulations, do’s, and don’ts. Living the life Christ created you to live is as simple as loving God and serving people.

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Every now and then I read something that at once inspires me while also feeling like being punched in the gut. In his book, “Counter Culture”, David Platt writes, “I don’t want to waste the opportunities God has given me to live out the gospel by which God has saved me in the culture where God has placed me.” Let that sink in for a moment.

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It’s a great mantra by which to live our lives. It’s also a convicting scale we can use to weigh any decision with which we are faced. Are we doing all we can to serve and love others in the context in which we’ve been placed? If not, why not?

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