Archives For Discipline

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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We are called to demonstrate the love and character of Jesus in every moment of our lives. We know this because it is what Jesus did. The problem is, if we aren’t intentional about this mission, it won’t happen. How many days have slipped through our fingers without showing more than a cursory amount of love to anyone but ourselves? As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me it would be a good idea to answer four questions each day.

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You can incorporate these into your daily planning. The questions are: How will I show love to my spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend today? How will I show love for a family member today? How will I show love for a friend today? How will I show love for a stranger today?
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I’ve written in the past about both intentional living and there being no days off for a disciple of Jesus. What I have come to realize is those two topics are inextricably linked. The way we take no days off from following Jesus is to make certain we live each moment with intention. Jesus was always “on”; He was always God. By the same token, He was always moving with intention in order to further His mission and to see His Kingdom come to fruition on earth.

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Even when it meant torture and death, Jesus steeled His gaze and intentionally move toward the horror awaiting Him. He didn’t go on vacation or spend a few days pursuing pleasure before getting on with things. He kept being who He was for the purpose of why He came. We are called to live in the same way.
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