Archives For Love

Imagine your father was the richest, most powerful man in the world. Think Bill Gates or Warren Buffet rich. Now imagine also you were your father’s prize, the apple of his eye. No matter how many mistakes you made, he always forgave you, always wrapped his arms around you letting you know everything would be okay. Finally, imagine despite all his wealth and love, the thing you enjoyed most was disappointing him.

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Instead of taking advantage of the best life had to offer, you preferred cheap knock-offs. Once more imagine every time he reached out to hold you, you laughed and walked the other way. Wouldn’t it be great if this was just a bad fairy tale?

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On your journey to discipleship, it’s important to remember following Jesus is always about the next step. We aren’t concerned with where He’s leading us, we’re simply content to follow. A hallmark of discipleship is never looking back. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, or what you’ve done. The blood, grace, and love of Jesus makes all which has come before irrelevant. We are who He says we are, and He sees only who we are becoming.

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As far as God is concerned, the past doesn’t matter. He’s not interested in what you’ve done, only in what you will do for His Kingdom.  He holds no grudges. Jesus never looks at what you’ve messed up in the past as an indicator of what you might accomplish in the future.

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I have had the concern of being overly repetitious in my writing here. Being honest, it seems as if I continue to circle around a few ideas, putting what I hope is a fresh spin on them each time. Yet when I contemplate it, I come to a simple point. As long as I’m still struggling with it, I’m going to continue to write about it! I’m going to follow the advice of Ken Blanchard, one of my early mentors. He said the three keys to learning were repetition, repetition, and repetition.

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Living the life of a disciple is simple. Do what Jesus did, say what Jesus said, and love like Jesus loved. Do those things and you will be a true follower of Christ.

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With all the evil in the world it can become easy to believe there is no justice. Some jump quickly to blaming God. They hold Him responsible for the evil in the world, or even worse, accuse Him of causing it. Many struggle to understand why a supposedly all-powerful God would allow such atrocities to occur. Unfortunately, too many Christians have been exposed to teaching which tries to explain how God causes or at least permits all evil to accomplish His purposes.

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This is not only harmful teaching, but it is bad theology. God is love and does nothing that isn’t love. He is all good, all the time. Rather than diminishing His power, the fact evil happens in contrast to what He wills only demonstrates how powerful He is.

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God’s love and mercy for us comes free of charge. We can’t do anything to deserve it any more or any less. The fact is we don’t deserve it at all. Still, the love of God is such He gives it to us anyway. We cannot work harder to be more deserving or earn more favor. He has already given everything on our behalf. Regardless of what we do or don’t do, He sees us as having unsurpassable worth and loves us unconditionally.

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No matter how much we may want it to be otherwise, none of our efforts will change these facts. However, when it comes to our relationship with Christ, we have a very direct influence on how close we are and how much our lives look like Jesus to those on the outside looking in.

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Every disciple is consumed with the adventure of finding Jesus. We search for Him in this place, in this moment, wherever we may find ourselves. The search is made more difficult by the amount of disguise we’ve allowed to be placed on Jesus. For our entire lives, we’ve been told stories of who Jesus is. We’ve chosen to believe some of it, and discarded others as inconsistent with our understanding of the character of God.

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Along the way, we’ve painted a picture of Christ in our minds to help us see Him in our lives. The extent to which our picture of Jesus is accurate in relation to who He really is, determines how successful we will be in finding Him in our day to day lives.

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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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At least in the Western world, we tend to allow our lives to be defined by what we produce or consume. We measure our success in comparison to our friends and neighbors, whether it’s by how far up the corporate ladder we’ve climbed or how many toys we’ve collected. If our neighbor buys a new car, chances are good we’ll suddenly feel compelled to do the same.

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If our friend and coworker receives a promotion, we’ll likely tell someone else the reasons we deserved it more than they did. When our identity is defined in relation to someone else, it’s easy to let these kinds of ugly reactions occur in our lives.

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I was talking with a friend recently who was wrestling with figuring out “which Jesus” she should be in given situations. She was asking, should she be the gentle Jesus, the humble Jesus, or the Jesus who overturns tables? It’s a great question and one we all encounter regularly. Put more plainly, we must constantly ask ourselves, “How can I most look like Jesus in this situation?” The good news is there is only one Jesus.

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So regardless of our actions, as long as we are making our decision based on the character of Christ, we will look like Jesus in that moment. While this is good to know in theory, the challenge comes in determining how this plays out in practical ways in our day to day lives.

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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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