Archives For passion

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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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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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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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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Life is an adventure. We don’t know if this adventure will be long or short. Like all great stories, we often do not know what will happen next. While we may not know the path to reach the end, we do know the ending is wonderful, satisfying, and unequivocally worth the journey. One need only look at the life of Jesus to recognize our lives will never be dull.

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So little was recorded about Jesus’s time on earth, but look how much life is packed into the few pages of details we are blessed to have. As we endeavor to follow in His footsteps, how can we conclude anything other than the fact our life will be an amazing adventure?

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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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While some would accuse me of having a fascination with death, I would argue the typical Christian does not long for it enough. There is no morbidity with my fascination. I would just rather be with Jesus than here in this world. It should be the ultimate goal of every one of Christ’s disciples. If we wouldn’t rather be with Him, what’s the point of following and giving up everything for His sake? Until that day arrives, we have work to do here.

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Each of us was created with the talents, skills, and passions required to further the mission of Christ. The issue as I see it is we don’t have the will to do the work He gave us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Each of us should desire to leave nothing undone, but we love this world too much to have the appropriate amount of urgency to accomplish our work.

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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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We’ve made Jesus too nice in our attempt to get more people to put their trust in Him. Our measure of success is now based on numbers rather than commitment. Once again, I defer to the wisdom of A.W. Tozer to say it best: “The meek and lowly Jesus has displaced the high and holy Jesus in the minds of millions. The vibrant note of triumph is missing in our witness…

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[The early Church] never presented Him as Savior merely. It never occurred to them to invite people to receive ‘peace of mind’ or ‘peace of soul’. Nor did they stop at forgiveness or joy or happiness.” The Jesus of modern Christianity is the least offensive person in history. This is a far cry from the way Jesus lived and taught.

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Christians these days seem to bend over backward to make certain they never offend anyone. We want to appear as being tolerant of all things and all people. This isn’t the way Jesus lived. He loved all people, but He never minced words when it came to calling out whoever or whatever stood in opposition to the character and holiness of God. I like how A.W. Tozer put it: “This generation of Christians must hear again the doctrine of the perturbing quality of faith.”

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The gospel of Jesus should perturb people.  It’s a call to a radically different life and lifestyle. It’ not okay when people flaunt their sin in the presence of God. It’s not okay when we kill in the name of Jesus. And it’s never acceptable to condone the sinful deeds of ourselves or anyone else. Leading with love, we need to not follow with tolerance but rather with perturbance. We need to live out our perturbing faith.

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