Archives For Matthew

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 love A.W. Tozer. Perhaps no one has had a greater impact on my walk with Jesus than this late, great preacher. Tozer once wrote, “Anyone can do the possible; add a bit of courage and zeal and some may do the phenomenal; only Christians are obliged to do the impossible.” I understand this isn’t scripture, but A.W. was a man who walked incredibly close to our God. I hold what he said in the highest regard.

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Did you catch what he said about doing the impossible? He didn’t say we should try to do it, or we should pray to be able to do it, he said we are obliged to do the impossible. Obliged means to “make (someone) legally or morally bound to an action or course of action.” In other words, we are morally bound to do the impossible!

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Our life is a grand adventure. If you don’t believe it, spend some more time reading through God’s Word. We are part of the most epic adventure of all time. You should be excited by the role you are called to play at this moment in history. This is your moment in the story. Every day, we will face decisions and have to make the choice between fear or faith.

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As Christine Cain put it in her book, “Unexpected”, “…at every juncture in your journey, you will find yourself in an impossible place with a decision to make—to shrink back in fear or to rise up in faith. One will keep you where you are, and one will deliver you to your future.”

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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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Reading the familiar passage known as “The Great Commission” (Matthew 28:18-20), it struck me I’ve been listening more to others interpret this Scripture than reading it plainly for myself. What we often hear is this is the commandment to take the Gospel to the entire world so everyone has a chance to hear about Jesus. But this isn’t what Jesus commanded us to do. He didn’t command us to simply go and tell others about Jesus. He said to go and make disciples of all nations.

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Being a disciple goes far beyond merely hearing the gospel. It goes beyond believing in Jesus and even accepting Christ. Disciples are those whose lives are absolutely committed to the person and mission of Jesus Christ. We are to make disciples of all nations, not just make sure all nations have heard His name proclaimed.

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I have a friend who frequently laments they don’t have any gifts to use for the Kingdom. I have to consistently remind them if they have breath, then they have been created with a unique combination of skills, talents, and passions to be used for building the Kingdom of God here on earth. I will say the same thing to you: if you are breathing, you have gifts! No one is here by accident.

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While some gifts may be more visible and obvious than others, it takes all of us working together to accomplish the work Christ has given us to do. Never minimize your contribution, because you have the potential to do everything God intended you to do.

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We are the lucky ones. As followers of Christ, we cannot lose and we cannot fail. How many people strive for the same thing in their own lives? People try to ensure their legacy through success in business, relationships, entertainment, or adventure. In the end, they will all fail. They will lose everything they thought they were building. Disciples of Jesus are the true winners in this world.

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Christ Himself said those who lose everything for His sake will gain it all back and then some (Matthew 10:39; Matthew 19:29). I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend my time acquiring what I cannot lose than squandering it collecting what disappears almost as soon as I obtain it. Because we collect eternal wealth and rewards, we are indeed the lucky ones.

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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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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 am perturbed by the current state of Christianity. We have succumbed to a mediocre faith of few requirements and a perception of even fewer consequences. As usual, A.W. Tozer says it perfectly: “Faith now means no more than passive moral acquiescence in the Word of God and the cross of Jesus. To exercise it we have only to rest on one knee and nod our heads in agreement with the instructions of a personal worker intent upon saving our soul.”

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I’m not certain how we got here but it’s not what Jesus had in mind when He was being tortured and crucified on our behalf. Jesus’s faith in the Father cost Him everything. It caused Him to lead a difficult life and die a gruesome death. His was not a faith of mediocrity or passive moral acquiescence to the standards of His Father.

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