Archives For John

Most are familiar with the story of Moses and the burning bush. If you grew up in church, it was one of those Sunday School lessons that tend to stick with you. Too often, the story is left in one of those Sunday School rooms, never to be examined again. Re-reading the story this week, it struck me how like Moses we all are. Before you feel too good about yourself, I’m not intending this as a compliment.

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Moses had many amazing qualities, but this was not his finest moment. God called, and Moses balked. He gave excuses why he wasn’t the right man for the assignment. He explained he wasn’t equipped for the job and asked God to send someone else. How many times have we done this when God gives us something to do?

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This is a topic I revisit every so often, but probably not often enough. We need to remember the persecuted around the world. Every day while we enjoy the comforts and freedom of our lives, our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing unspeakable torture and persecution. Throughout the New Testament, Paul urged all believers to be united as one (Ephesians 4:1-16). Jesus prayed His followers would be as close as He and His Father are (John 17:21).

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To be united, to stand as one, we must continuously pray for and identify with our fellow believers around the world. Allow me to throw down a challenge to you in the form of a question: how much time are you spending in prayer for our brothers and sisters in chains?

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There is immense joy in contentment. The trouble is, contentment can be hard to come by. Few people I’ve met seem content. When you ask how they are, rarely do you get a boisterous, even joyful, response. In fact, the typical “I’m fine” and “good” responses border on depressing and always leave me questioning their sincerity. Maybe I’m cynical because I know my own responses are typically half-hearted at best.

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Let’s be honest; the response of a disciple should never be anything less than an enthusiastic “fantastic”. Regardless of what’s happening in this current life, we have the promise of something far greater down the road. We can be presently miserable, but must never lose sight of how amazingly blessed and fortunate we are.

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As I write this, it is only a few days until Father’s Day will be celebrated here in the United States. This holiday affects people in different ways, depending on their situation or upbringing, but few are emotionless about it. For those whose fathers’ have passed away, this day probably brings mixed emotions of joyful memories and sorrowful realities. Some never knew their father, and for these there can be an ever-present emptiness.

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Unfortunately, there are those who have fathers who were abusive in one way or another and, as a result, Father’s Day is a day of bitterness. To those like myself who had good fathers who are still with them, it is a day of celebration of years past. But to all who profess Jesus as their Lord, we have something even more important to celebrate: the love of our Heavenly Father.

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In the United States, on the day this is being published, it is Memorial Day. It’s a day to remember the brave soldiers who have given their lives so those in this Country can live in freedom. Thanks to their sacrifice, we are free to worship as we choose, free to speak our minds, and free to do with our lives what we will. We can debate the travesty of violence and the suspect definition of a “just war” another time.

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For today, all those living in freedom would be well-served to thank a veteran and remember those who have passed away. With that said, none of this means anything if not for the ultimate sacrifice paid by one man over two thousand years ago.

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So why do we do this Jesus thing? Why would we devote our lives to a man who was last seen alive more than 2,000 years ago, and to a God we cannot see? Everyone is going to live for something or someone. But why Jesus? What compels us to live radical, counter-cultural lives for His sake? These are fair questions, and ones to which every Christ-follower should have an answer.

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We’ll dive into this a bit, but my immediate answer would be to respond as Peter did when Jesus asked if he would desert Him. Peter’s response? “Where else would I go (John 6:67-68)?”

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Few would admit it, but what most people want is a comfortable relationship with Jesus. We want answered prayers, help through troubled times, and comfort in crisis. Oh, and spending eternity in Heaven while escaping Hell, we want that too. Those are the comfortable benefits making Jesus so desirable to us, after all. Here’s where it gets a little uncomfortable. Jesus didn’t spend a lot of time talking up those benefits. He spent most of His time warning of trials and persecution, and giving stern warnings to those seeking to live a comfortable “religious” life.

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His harshest words were reserved for people just like us… those who were trying please God through comfortable and often self-serving platitudes. Comfortable Christianity is synonymous with Pharisaical living.

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We all worship something. It’s how we were created. Whether we realize it or not, we are worshippers. The only question is what, or who, is it we are worshipping? Saying we worship something or someone other than God is an uncomfortable admission. We don’t want to believe we worship unworthy objects.

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Many people and things will demand our worship, but only God is worthy of it. In fact, he demands we worship only Him. This goes all the way back to the Ten Commandments. Somehow, thousands of years later, we still haven’t been able to honor what He requires.

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Each of our lives is telling a story. There’s the one we think we are telling, and the one actually being told. No matter what story we have led ourselves to believe we are telling, the way we live will tell the truth about who we are. God is the Author and Creator of all life, but He has given us the freedom to write our own story. What story we tell is up to us.

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We can’t dictate every circumstance, but we can decide how we respond to whatever comes our way. The trouble is, we tend to not be able to see the forest for the trees. We tell ourselves our life is telling one story, when in truth, it is saying nothing of the sort.

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Why do we sin? Perhaps if we could understand why we sin, we could begin to limit how often we do it. My experience has shown me all sin can be traced back to either selfishness or pride. We want what we want and we want it now. We want what we want regardless of whether it is pleasing to God or beneficial to our spiritual walk. What’s going on here is indicative of both selfishness and pride.

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We determine our personal desires are more important than God’s plans for us. This is the height of arrogance and pride. In essence, we are telling God we know better than He does. Our selfishness causes us to focus on ourselves instead of on God.

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