Archives For I John

Whether we realize it or not, we are all suffering from a shortness of breath. Each inhale leaves us one less before we breathe our last. While this may sound morbid and depressing to some, it should not be the case for followers of Jesus. For me, the thought invokes both excitement and a sense of urgency. I have no greater desire than to be with Jesus.

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I don’t fear death and neither should you if you have placed your faith in, and pledged devotion to, Christ. Paul said to be absent from the body was to be in the presence of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:7-8). There is no fear in being surrounded by perfect love (1 John 4:18).

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I am a firm believer the key to leading people to Jesus is through building relationships with them so we might be able to demonstrate God’s love and character to them. At the same time, we must never lose the urgency caused by the reality of Hell.

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Despite the modern propensity to focus only on the more pleasant parts of Christ’s teaching – namely Heaven –we do a great disservice to the world if we don’t at least occasionally remind them Hell is real. It’s not popular, but it is necessary to talk about this. Otherwise we risk delivering only half the story and distorting the Gospel of Jesus.

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Nothing kills momentum and mission quicker than indecision. When Jesus calls you to do something, do it right away. How many times have you felt led to help someone, donate some money, or simply say a kind word but hesitated? And then the moment was lost. Indecision kills. What could have been a beautiful moment is now gone forever. You never noticed Jesus bothered with indecision.

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He knew His purpose, He knew His mission, and He let nothing interfere with them. The life of Jesus was a perfect model of consistency. Consistency is the antidote for indecision. When our default and constant reaction to any nudge of the spirit is to act, we will cut indecision off at the knees.

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How’s this for a terrifying thought? The measure of your love for God is equal to your love for the people with whom we interact daily. There are some people, my wife for example, whom I love very much and would be comfortable with God measuring my love for Him by how much I love her.

measure of your love,love your brother,no respector of persons,1 John 4:20-21,Acts 10:34-35,love,love God,

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Then there are my friends; while I have a certain degree of love for them, I definitely want to believe I love God more.  But then there are my coworkers and the people I encounter in the store or in traffic. Now the comparison of how much I love God begins to get more than a little uncomfortable.
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I’m seeing a disturbing trend in Christendom…  Somehow sin is becoming “okay”. I’m not picking on any individual sin because it’s all equal in the eyes of God. Jesus demonstrated this when He said anyone who has lusted has committed adultery in their heart and anyone who has harbored anger has committed murder in his heart. I don’t think I’d be going too far out on a limb to then conclude, if not for the merciful covering of the blood of Christ, we would all be adulterers and murderers in the eyes of God.

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I say this to make it known up front I am the worst of sinners. What’s worse than an adulterer and murderer? So I am throwing no stones at any other sin or sinner. My only premise is it should never be acceptable or even possible for a Christian to find sin acceptable. Sin is not okay.
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We love Jesus and want to dedicate our lives to Him, but our stubborn old self keeps getting in the way. How do we conform our will to that of God? Francois Fenelon once wrote, “The way to have a good will that conforms to God is to give up our desires and fears and to leave ourselves completely in His hands. Those who do so… can never be moved, because their only desire is for God.”

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Living God’s will for your life necessitates a complete letting go. Too often we make the mistake of trying to figure out how to use our dreams and passions in conjunction with God’s will. That’s a totally backwards approach.

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Everyone wants to make a difference. We all want to live a life of significance, to live a powerful life. Why then do so many lead lives of quiet desperation? Should Christ followers even aspire to any form of greatness or recognition? Nelson Mandela said there is no passion in playing small, in living a life less than you are capable of living.

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I think Jesus would agree. He created you with a unique blend of skills and passions to do the work He designed for you to do. He created you for a reason. If Jesus is your Lord, the very Spirit of God resides within you. How then could you not live a powerful life?

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In his book, “The War of Art”, Steven Pressfield talks about the resistance we face when we endeavor to become the person we were created to be. While Pressfield is most concerned with living out our artistic or entrepreneurial passions, I believe the same principles apply in our quest to utilize the unique combination of skills and passions God has instilled in each of us in order to complete the Kingdom work He created us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

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Resistance is defined in “The War of Art” as anything keeping us from starting or achieving the work necessary to reach our goals. While Mr. Pressfield refers to “The Resistance” as an unknown, somewhat mystical – yet very real – entity, I propose this “Resistance” is actually Satan.

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I was recently having a conversation with a friend of mine who is a fellow believer. They expressed being anxious about dying because all they know is here, and they don’t know how things will be on the other side of life. Further, they stated they enjoyed their life and friends and would miss them. I shared some things I hope were comforting, but I walked away a bit devastated and wondering how many other followers of Christ feel as my friend does.

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My suspicion is a great number of believers are indeed content with their life and face some trepidation about what the afterlife may hold. I decided to address both those who share the anxiety of my friend, and also those who – like myself – find it very difficult to relate to that line of thinking.
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Much of our life is ruled (and ruined) by fear. We don’t take a risk for the Kingdom because we are afraid. We cower in fear over a medical diagnosis. We’re afraid to help a stranger because we fear for our own safety. We stay frozen and never move forward because we are afraid of what it might require of us or it might disrupt our comfortable pattern of life. When we strip away the pride and braggadocio, we are a fearful people.

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I have good news! For those who are followers of Jesus, fear is optional. We need not fear anything. God is the embodiment of love, and the Bible tells us perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). In other words, whenever we are fearful, it is because we have chosen to be afraid.
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