Archives For priorities

As I was getting ready for bed, a question crossed my mind: “What if I woke up tomorrow and hit it hard to live as a man after God’s own heart?” What would that look like? What if, once and for all, everything in my life reflected the love of Christ, and everything I did was for His glory? Perhaps it’s an impossible task. We’re human and not capable of perfection. I know I’ll fail. My life will never be the image of God I want it to be. But what if I never try?

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What if I reach the end of my life and realize I never took my commitment to Christ as seriously as I should have? I don’t want to die knowing I could have done more. I don’t want to face Jesus having lived a life half done. I want to pour it all out at his feet right here and right now.

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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.

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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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One of my favorite Bible verses is James 1:27, which says, “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” As religions go, this list of requirements seems extraordinarily short. Yet there’s so much to discover in this little verse.

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Jesus didn’t come to instill a new religious order on earth. Rather, He came to establish a way of life. All Jesus wanted, and still wants, is for people to seek God with all their hearts (Matthew 6:33). Everything else falls into place once we get that part down. Why then does James call out requirements for religion God will accept, a true religion?

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Much of our lives are spent chasing the myth of security. We seek to live in safe neighborhoods, work in good parts of town, and save to achieve financial security. So much time is spent pursuing the myth of security we rarely have time to think about living dangerously. Unless and until we are ready to sacrifice our own comfort and security, we will never be able to take the light of Jesus into the darkest places on earth.

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If we won’t shine the light within us, who then will go and rescue the hopeless, the desperate, and the lost? Instead of pursuing the myth of security, we should be bounding headlong into the certainty of risk and danger.

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The Bible talks a lot about bringing God your “firstfruits”. To bring your firstfruits means to give God the best of your efforts. In terms of finances, it means you give back to God before spending anything on yourself. In Scripture, it amounted to dedicating the first growth of your crops, or the first born from your flocks and herds, and even your family.

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You give back to God first, and the remainder is for your blessing. These days, we don’t often give God our firstfruits. More likely we give Him our leftovers and expect Him to bless us abundantly in return.  This is embarrassing at best, but I must admit my own guilt in this area.

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There is a time thief lurking in all of our lives. Time is our most precious asset. You cannot acquire more than you’ve been given. We each have a finite amount that dwindles by the second. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Yet so many of us treat time as if there is a never ending supply. We spend our time foolishly on the nonsensical and irrelevant.

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What if we spent our money the same way we spent our time? It would be the equivalent of throwing cash out the window every second of our day. If we are not intentional about our time, a time thief will steal away what God has entrusted to us. We all have a time thief; what’s yours?

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As a year wilts away behind us, another blossoms on the path ahead. There’s something beautiful and fragrant about new beginnings. A new year heralds an opportunity for a fresh start. What was is no longer, and what will be is largely up to the choices we will make. This is our chance to shape what lies ahead in ways totally honoring to God. My theme for this year is “Move the Needle”, and nowhere will this be more important than in my walk with God.

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Everything revolves around and springs from my relationship with Him. Moving forward into a deeper knowledge of God necessitates doing something different than we’ve done before. If this is your desire for the new year as well, there is one thing I know. If we want to move the needle in our connection with and understanding of God, we can’t stay here.

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We humans ascribe an inordinate amount of focus and power to dates. We put off big life changes until a Monday so as to have a “fresh start”. We set goals and resolutions at the beginning of the year almost exclusively.  Perhaps worst of all, when a week, month, or year is coming to a close, we tend to put it in neutral and just coast until the next big marker of time.  December is a month rife with coasting. Most are so caught up in gift-giving and home decorating that little time is left for anything else.

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It becomes easy to lose focus and take your eyes off the things that really matter. Unfortunately, our spiritual life and goals tend to follow the same fate. Instead of finishing well the work God gave us to do this year, there is a tendency to end with a whimper instead of a bang.

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With the new year approaching, it’s a good time to reflect and examine what you have done for the Kingdom over the last year. Is your walk closer to God or further away than it was a year ago? What have you done to make a difference for Jesus? The sad fact is most Christians never give these questions a lot of thought, much less spend any time intentionally planning how they will grow closer to God and have a greater Kingdom impact on this world.

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Why is that? Shouldn’t our relationship with Christ and what we do for Him be the most important thing in our lives? There’s not a single New Year’s resolution worth anything unless it furthers the Kingdom of God and draws us closer to the One who created us and gave His life for us.

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In “It’s Not What You Think”, Jefferson Bethke writes, “Life isn’t about going to Heaven when you die, it’s about making Heaven true on earth in every facet and level of our relationship with God, others, and self. The Christian life is asking, how can I make what’s true of Jesus and His gospel true in [every] aspect of my life?”

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It’s a question that perfectly sums up what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. As you go throughout your day, how can you reflect the gospel of Jesus in everything you do and say? Most of us never take the time to ask the question or consider how the answer to it might dramatically change our lives.

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