Archives For Discipline

Christine Caine made a great analogy between our physical heart and our spiritual heart. She said, “Your physical heart muscle pumps and regulates your blood flow. That blood carries oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. If you exercise that muscle with cardio workouts and feed it healthy nutrients, it grows stronger. But let it languish and feed it junk food, and you know what happens: the arteries get clogged, and the muscle grows weak.

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The same is true of your spiritual heart… What happens if you let your spiritual heart languish and you feed it junk food, the ‘earthly things’ that do not satisfy? It also gets clogged, grows weak, and sends toxicity pumping throughout your life.” How are you nourishing your spiritual heart?

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What if you were starting over in your walk with Christ? What would you do differently than you are doing right now? It’s easy and even inevitable to fall into ruts if we are not intentional in our choices. Are you living the life you know Jesus wants you to live? Why not? What’s holding you back? What fears have been getting in the way of you living your potential and becoming the person God created you to be?

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I admit it’s a lot of questions to throw at you all at once, but if we aren’t taking the time to evaluate where we are in our relationship with Jesus and how we’re doing in our walk, we will continue to drift along doing the same things we’ve always done and achieving the same results we’ve always gotten.

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When doing my usual daily reading of something from A.W. Tozer, I came across a question which pierced my soul: “Can you renounce everything which is inconsistent with the glory of God and the highest good of your fellowmen?” I wish I could say I immediately responded ‘yes’ without hesitation, but this wasn’t the case. I try and live a simple life but still find myself living in absolute luxury compared to almost all the other 7 billion people roaming this planet.

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By American standards, I’m not rich. It’s worse than that; I’m comfortable. Comfortable; what a horrible word in this context. Jesus has called his followers to a lot of things, but comfort was never one of them (Luke 9:57-62; Luke 14:25-27).

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This may be the most surprising author I’ve ever quoted on this blog, but save the raised eyebrow and appreciate the quote I read from Anais Nin: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” I submit in our walk with Jesus, our life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s faith.  What might we do for Christ if we actually believed what He said about faith? What might we do if we only believed we could do what He said we could? If we want to live a big life for God’s glory, we’re going to need a big faith. I believe Jesus intends for us to trust Him in what He says.

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He has created us with a unique mix of skills, talents, and passions to accomplish His mission on earth. It should go without saying if He designed us for certain work, He has given us the abilities to accomplish that work. It should excite you to be a part of His mission. If you want to expand the role you are playing in the mission of Christ, it follows you’re going to need to expand your 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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Lent is a season of (roughly) 40 days leading up to Easter and celebrated by various denominations within the Christian faith. I am never interested in having a debate over whether a particular style of worship, liturgy, ritual, or tradition is pleasing to God. I’m happy to talk about Jesus all day long, but outside of Him, I’d say if it brings you closer to God, then do it. If it doesn’t, don’t. The differences in our traditions don’t offend me.

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I heard Bob Hartman, the guitarist and main songwriter for the legendary Christian band Petra, once say, “Don’t criticize the way someone else worships God because God might like it!” I grew up in a Protestant household where Lent was not celebrated. As I’ve grown older and developed my own relationship with Christ, I have slowly come to embrace Lent and the beauty of the season.

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It’s a weighty thing to letdown the God of the Universe. Yet we do it every day. Of course, God in His infinite, unsurpassable, incomprehensible love would never tell us we let Him down. But we know it. We know it in our bones. We know it in our souls. We know it in our hearts. We let Him down. We failed Him. We acted in a way unbecoming of a child of the King. And we’ll do it again.

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The moments following a letdown are sobering and strangely clarifying. We see what we should have done and what we did not. We become aware of an opportunity missed, never again to be revisited. And we’ll do it again. How can this be so?

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You don’t need a New Year to make a new start, but there is something cleansing, refreshing, and hopeful about the change of the calendar year. A new year presents a clean slate, a fresh palette, and a blank page. New dreams and possibilities dance playfully before our eyes. There are new moments waiting to be lived, new roads to be explored, and expanded heights for us to reach.

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While the temperature in many parts of the world registers a deep chill, our blood boils nonetheless with warm vigor and boiling dreams. These are days that must be more than lived, they must be tasted, held, and molded to form new possibilities. I love a new beginning. It reminds me of what Christ did for each of us when He laid down His life so we might experience a new and better life of our own.

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Until we make tomorrow today, I am convinced we will die the same (or worse) as we are right now. As a people, we are notorious procrastinators. Some are worse than others, but we all have an uncanny tendency to put off those things we deem uncomfortable or difficult. It’s true in all areas of our lives, but nowhere are the results more devastating than in our walk with Christ. How many times have we resolved to read through the Bible… next year.

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Perhaps you committed to getting up 30 minutes earlier for some quiet time with God, but since it was already Wednesday, it seemed wise to wait until Monday to kick off the new habit. Or maybe you determined praying with your spouse or best friend would be a great idea, so you promise you’ll begin doing this tomorrow. The trouble is, tomorrow never comes. Until we make tomorrow today, we will forever be adrift in our wishes, dreams, and best-laid plans.

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