Archives For Mark

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.

father's day,fathers day 2017,forgiveness,love,John 1:3,nothing was made,Exodus 20:12,honor your father,honor your parents,John 15:12,love God as He loves you,fathers,Mark 12:30-31,love your neighbor,greatest commandment

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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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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.

comfortable relationship,commitment,discipleship,God's will,mission,pharisees,selfishness,comfort,Hebrews 13:5,never leave you or forsake you,John 14:3,prepare a place for you,John 3:16,God so loved the world,John 16:33,you will have trouble,Matthew 8:20,foxes have holes,Mark 13:10-13,brother will hate brother,2 Corinthians 11:24-27,Matthew 7:22-23,depart from me I never knew you,Matthew 28:20,I am with you always,Luke 9:23,take up your cross

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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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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.

why do we sin,pride,selfishness,sin,commitment,Kingdom of God,surrender,crucify,Matthew 20:16,last shall be first,Mark 9:35,first will be last,Matthew 16:25,to find your life you must lose it,John 8:10-11,go and sin no more

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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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Who is it you want to be? More importantly, who is it God wants you to be? If the answers to both questions are not aligned, you are setting yourself up for a life of frustration and emptiness. No matter how far you advance on your dream of becoming who you want to be, if it isn’t the person God wants you to be, there will always be a gnawing hole inside. There will be an ache none of your success can fill.

who does God want you to be,God's will,God's will for my life,what should I do with my life,humility,priorities,love,mission,purpose,John 14:9,if you've seen me you've seen the father,Mark 9:35,the first shall be last,Matthew 25:31-46,sheep and the goats

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We were designed and created to serve and love God, to live in relationship with Him. Our thoughts were meant to be as His thoughts, our actions and motivations the same as His. Until we reconcile who God wants us to be, we will never become who we truly desire to be.

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I’ve been told I look like Jesus dozens of times in my life. At face value, it’s something every Christ follower wants to hear. In my case, it tends to be because I happen to bear some physical resemble to some of the more famous paintings of Jesus. While hearing someone tell me I look like Jesus never gets old, what I truly long for is someone to tell me I look like Jesus based on how I live, not on how I look.

do you look like Jesus,what did Jesus look like,living like Jesus,looking like Jesus,Jesus physical appearance,discipleship,commitment,Matthew 16:24,take up your cross,Mark 1:35,get alone to pray,went away to pray,Matthew 14:23,withdrew to the mountainside,Luke 6:12,Jesus got up early,Luke 22:41,garden of Gethsemane

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Every time someone tells me this it makes me stop and ponder if the way I am living my life is worthy of such a comment. It’s a question we would all do well to ask ourselves. Physical characteristics aside, do you look like Jesus?

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Most Christ-followers are familiar with the Biblical command to tithe the first ten percent of their income. We can debate the various nuances of the tithe – and we will in an upcoming post – but today I want to discuss giving beyond the tithe. Some struggle with the concept of even giving ten percent back to God, so talking about giving even more may be uncomfortable.

Beyond the tithe,tithing,tithe,ten percent,Acts 2:44-45,shared all that they had,uke 21:1-4,rich young ruler,Mark 10:17-22,widows mite,Matthew 25:31-46,sheep and the goats

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If you are in that camp, please don’t tune out yet. These articles aren’t long, and I believe it will be worth five minutes of your time to take away something to chew on. Giving beyond the tithe isn’t mandated in Scripture, but there are enough examples to make it something we should consider.

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I once read our excess money is given to us to share with others. This is something I’ve tried to incorporate into my own life because I feel there is good Biblical precedence for it. Early Christ followers shared all they had with each other (Acts 4:32-35). This seems to go even beyond simply giving away our excess. In the Old Testament, God gave laws commanding people to not harvest the edges of their fields so the poor could come and get some food for their families (Leviticus 23:22).

giving away our excess,wealth,hoarding,generosity,tithe,tithing,John 10:10,Luke 12:16-21,Proverbs 30:7-9

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Jesus told us not to hoard our wealth (Luke 12:16-21). The next question I generally get when discussing this is, “How do I determine how much is excess?” To me, this question is always the result of a scarcity mindset.

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It occurs to me Jesus lived such a simple life because He knew by limiting distractions, He would maximize His focus on His Father. I think we often overlook the simple teachings of Christ because we are always looking for something deeper. Like everything else in His life, Jesus kept it simple. He didn’t complicate things. He confounded the wise so the simple could plainly understand what He was saying.

simple,Mark 3:21,take up your cross,surrender all,give it all to Jesus,Matthew 8:20,foxes have holes,Matthew 10:34-36,not peace but a sword

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The so-called learned and wise people (much like us) missed it because they were convinced it couldn’t be that easy. Certainly issues as large as salvation and eternal life could not be so simple. We continue to make this mistake today and suffer the same consequences of those in Jesus’ day.
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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.

Live a Powerful Life,quiet desperation,Nelson Mandela,Henry David Thoreau,be strong and courageous,Joshua 1:9,beattitudes,2 Timothy 1:7,1 Corinthians 16:13,Mark 16:15,1 John 4:18,Matthew 5:5,Philippians 4:13,humility,love,purpose,God's will,I can do all things through Christ

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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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Claire Cain Miller recently wrote an article for the New York Times titled, “Stressed, Tired, Rushed: A Portrait of the Modern Family”. While not pointed out in the article, it reminded me how our relationship with God often falls victim to our stressed out, fatigued, and busy lifestyle. The life of a Christian in modern society looks ridiculously similar to that of a non-Christian.

left over's,leftovers,left overs,leftover,left over,priorities,God first,Jesus first,God's Kingdom,lukewarm,Cain and Abel,Genesis 4:3-7,Revelation 3:15-16,Revelation 3:16,Genesis 4:3,Mark 4:18-19,Mark 4:18,cares of this world

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We play the game of pursuing the American dream and keeping up with the Jones’s. None of which has anything to do with following Jesus, of course. But more often than not, we live our busy lives and give Jesus our left over’s. We give God whatever time and money is left over after pursuing our selfish desires.

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