Archives For priorities

The way many of us live relegates God to an afterthought. After we’ve done everything we want to do, spend money on things we want to buy, and talk to the people with whom we want to speak, then we are ready to communicate with God. We owe God the firstfruits of all our offerings (Nehemiah 10:35-37). This implies we also owe Him a tithe on our time. He should get the best of our time, not the leftovers.

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To me, this means beginning each day with God. To not begin the day with God is a recipe for disaster. I see how He rejected Cain’s offering but accepted Abel’s (Genesis 4:3-5). I don’t want to insult God with the time I give to Him. It needs to be my very best, and it needs to be the first I have to offer.

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Do you see God as useful or beautiful? This was a question mentioned somewhat in passing by David Platt recently, but it hit me hard. Why are you a follower of Jesus? You may have initially chosen to follow Christ because you saw the beauty in His love and His compassion for you, but has that same fascination remained?

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Perhaps as the years have passed you’ve come to view Him as more useful than beautiful? A good way to measure this is by looking at the content of your prayers. Are they more focused on His magnificence and the holiness of who He is, or are they more self-focused requests on what you want or need?

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For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been haunted by an old Geoff More lyric. It’s from the song, “God Believes in You”, and says, “Everything matters if anything matters at all / No matter how big, no matter how small”.  The implications of the lyric torture me. I think we would all agree some things matter, particularly when it comes to knowing Christ. Knowing some things matter, I am compelled by Scripture to believe everything matters.

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Every word I speak, every thought I think, everything at which my eyes look, every interaction I have with people, how I spend every moment – they all matter. They all will be either for the Kingdom or against it. They all will be either pleasing or displeasing to my Lord.

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Every now and then, I hear or read something which flips the way I’ve always looked at things upside down. The latest instance of this came courtesy of Francis Chan. He wrote, “We believe we deserve certain rights as humans. Yet we give little thought to the rights God deserves as God.” How many times have you heard (or said yourself), “Why did God allow this to happen?” Questions like these assume we have certain rights ascribed to us as humans.

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They also ignore the fact that, before we can ever begin to discuss what we as humans deserve, we must first consider what rights and expectations are ascribed to God simply because He is God. When was the last time you gave this any thought? We are quick to proclaim our own offense without ever considering our very declaration might offend the object of our affection. We first and always must consider what God deserves from us.

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Christine Caine makes a great analogy, comparing the way many Christians live their lives to hitting the snooze button on their alarm. Mrs. Caine wrote, “Do you know what it’s like when you have to get up, but you just keep hitting snooze until, all of a sudden, your morning is gone! When it comes to sharing the gospel, it’s time for us to rise and shine. The world is too dark for the church to keep hitting snooze.

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Each time we become sidetracked or indifferent about sharing the gospel, it’s like we are choosing snooze and allowing the world to linger in darkness longer.” We all know hitting the snooze button is a bad idea, but it becomes catastrophic when the Church hits the button. We are indeed a slumbering giant, and our wake-up call is long past due.

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What if you were starting over in your walk with Christ? What would you do differently than you are doing right now? It’s easy and even inevitable to fall into ruts if we are not intentional in our choices. Are you living the life you know Jesus wants you to live? Why not? What’s holding you back? What fears have been getting in the way of you living your potential and becoming the person God created you to be?

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I admit it’s a lot of questions to throw at you all at once, but if we aren’t taking the time to evaluate where we are in our relationship with Jesus and how we’re doing in our walk, we will continue to drift along doing the same things we’ve always done and achieving the same results we’ve always gotten.

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It is said what has your attention has you. My experience has proven this to be true. If God has your attention, then God has you. You are a servant of the King. What if God doesn’t have your attention? What if your attention is split between many things or worse yet, anywhere but God? Is anything other than God worth your attention? Regardless of the circumstances, I can’t think of anything more important than God… ever!

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Begin with God and everything else tends to fall into place one way or another. If we want to be disciples of Jesus though, I think we must go beyond attention. We need to be consumed with God to the point we struggle to think of anything or anyone else. So, let me ask the question, what consumes you?

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When doing my usual daily reading of something from A.W. Tozer, I came across a question which pierced my soul: “Can you renounce everything which is inconsistent with the glory of God and the highest good of your fellowmen?” I wish I could say I immediately responded ‘yes’ without hesitation, but this wasn’t the case. I try and live a simple life but still find myself living in absolute luxury compared to almost all the other 7 billion people roaming this planet.

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By American standards, I’m not rich. It’s worse than that; I’m comfortable. Comfortable; what a horrible word in this context. Jesus has called his followers to a lot of things, but comfort was never one of them (Luke 9:57-62; Luke 14:25-27).

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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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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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