Archives For Luke

Eugene Peterson once said, “Busyness is an illness of spirit.” I think not only is busyness an illness of the spirit, but busyness will also cause your spirit to be ill. Given this, I would implore you to stop being busy! I’m not certain when being busy became a badge of honor, but it seems like it has been in my lifetime. I hear my father tell stories of people sitting on porches and just talking with their neighbors, passing the days as if they had all the time in the world.

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Previous generations seemed to put a lot more stock in building relationships than we do today. And no, Facebook and WhatsApp do not count in this context. I’m talking about deep, personal, and lifelong relationships. I believe our obsession with busyness is killing our ability to forge true relationships with others.

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I am currently going a through a Bible reading plan that guides me through thirty-one days of praying for my nation. It pains me to see how far the country in which I live is drifting from God. To be clear, I don’t believe there is any such thing as a “Christian Nation” (for an excellent, in-depth study on this topic, see “The Myth of a Christian Nation” by Gregory A. Boyd). The history of my country is filled with atrocities which should never be associated with the name of Christ. Still, growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, it seemed my Country had a far greater reverence and respect for God. My parents feel their generation was even more dedicated to God, and I do not doubt this to be true.

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Even in the 1960’s, A.W. Tozer made this comment: “We need a revival! We need a revival of consecration to death, a revival of happy abandonment to the will of God that will laugh at sacrifice and count it a privilege to bear the cross through the heat and burden of the day. We are too much influenced by the world and too little controlled by the Spirit.”

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Laurie Cole makes a great distinction between Christians and disciples. The first is a believer, the latter a follower. I want to be a follower. I choose to be a follower. Indeed, there is no other way to become a disciple of Jesus. If you too want to be a disciple, you must choose to be one. This goes beyond mere belief. Anyone can believe in Christ. It takes but a moment, no effort, and need not have any demonstrable proof of our decision.

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Discipleship, on the other hand, takes a lifetime. It takes an extraordinary amount of effort and commitment on our part. There will be evidence of a dramatically changed life whose sole purpose becomes dramatically changing the lives of others. So, you must choose; will you be a believer or follower of Jesus?

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The curse of mediocrity has infested the Western Church. Instead of blazing a trail of fire for the sake of the Kingdom, or even disappearing from the scene with cold hearts, we do just enough to let people know we’re still around, but never enough to make a difference. It’s disgusting to me in my own life and it’s intolerable for Jesus (Revelation 3:15-16). I learned the word mediocre has its origin in two Latin words which, translated literally, mean “halfway to the peak.” Half-way. Unfinished. Lazy. Uncommitted. This is the curse of mediocrity.

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A.W. Tozer noted of the origin of the word mediocre: “This makes it an apt description of the progress of many Christians. They are halfway up to the peak…. They are morally above the hardened sinner but they are spiritually beneath the shining saint…. Do we really think that this halfway Christian life is the best that Christ offers—the best that we can know? In the face of what Christ offers us, how can we settle for so little?”

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Are you settling for less than what God has for you? Do you even know if that is true in your life? How does one know if they are settling for less if they are not certain about what they have been created to do? I would say if you cannot answer the question of whether or not you are settling for less with an emphatic ‘No!’, then you probably are. People living out their God-given mission know because they are so in tune with God there can be no doubt.

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For the rest of us, we either suspect we are settling for less or we know for a fact we are. So, we have a two-fold problem: first, how do we know if we are settling for less, and second, what do we do about it if we are?

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In his book, “The Last Arrow”, Erwin McManus expounds on Luke 9:57-62 with the observation, “Jesus clearly imparted to all of His disciples: You cannot follow me into the future if you are holding on to your past.” I wonder how many of us are hamstrung in seeking to do new things within God’s Kingdom because we are refusing to let go of the past?

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We’ve been holding onto some things so long we don’t even realize we’re doing it. They have simply become an extension of who we are. If we want to move into a future containing all God has for us, we’ve got to stop dragging the past along with us. The past simply has no place in the future. It’s too bulky and gets in the way.

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St. Ignatius of Loyola said, “Teach us, Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to seek for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will.” Commenting on this statement, author Richard Foster summarized, “The Christian life is one of strength and endurance in the face of suffering.”

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How different this is from the experience of most who call themselves Christians in the Western world! Regardless of our modern culture and misunderstanding of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus, it cannot be denied our lives bear little resemblance to that of our Savior. If it is our true desire to love and honor Christ, we must examine our motives and activities.

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I love this line from author Alicia Britt Chole: “God was not absent. The challenge was self was so very present.” I cannot count the times I’ve heard people say (and okay, I’m in this group as well), “I feel like God is so far away”. God is never far away. He is always here. Wherever ‘here’ is, God is there. You cannot outrun God, so don’t bother trying to run away. Despite all our ingenuity and technological innovations, we cannot hide from God. God is never far.

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We couldn’t push Him away if we tried. His Spirit guarantees His presence with us always. The problem is not His presence, the issue is we have allowed our selfishness and pride to subtly erode our awareness of Him. To put it bluntly, we can’t get out of our own way to see God is not absent.

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I was recently intrigued by a thought passing through my brain: “The excess I have belongs to those in need.” It’s not the most comfortable thought to consider. I like a little excess. I appreciate the peace and comfort it affords. Yet how can I hold onto more than I need when there are those in the world suffering in abject poverty? One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Proverbs 30:8 which says, “Give me just enough for today.”

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The author states if he has too much, he will take it all for granted and forget God’s provision in his life. If he has too little, he may be tempted to steal to acquire what he needs. The sweet spot is having just enough for today. Any excess should be shared with others.

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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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