Archives For purpose

On your journey to discipleship, it’s important to remember following Jesus is always about the next step. We aren’t concerned with where He’s leading us, we’re simply content to follow. A hallmark of discipleship is never looking back. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, or what you’ve done. The blood, grace, and love of Jesus makes all which has come before irrelevant. We are who He says we are, and He sees only who we are becoming.

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As far as God is concerned, the past doesn’t matter. He’s not interested in what you’ve done, only in what you will do for His Kingdom.  He holds no grudges. Jesus never looks at what you’ve messed up in the past as an indicator of what you might accomplish in the future.

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At least in the Western world, we tend to allow our lives to be defined by what we produce or consume. We measure our success in comparison to our friends and neighbors, whether it’s by how far up the corporate ladder we’ve climbed or how many toys we’ve collected. If our neighbor buys a new car, chances are good we’ll suddenly feel compelled to do the same.

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If our friend and coworker receives a promotion, we’ll likely tell someone else the reasons we deserved it more than they did. When our identity is defined in relation to someone else, it’s easy to let these kinds of ugly reactions occur in our lives.

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One of my mentors, Jim Rohn, was known for saying, “For things to change, you have to change.” So many want a closer relationship with Christ, to move beyond Christianity into discipleship, but waste their lives waiting for the transformation to occur. We have a role to play in becoming a disciple. Put simply, discipleship is a choice, and it is up to each of us to decide if it’s worth it.

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If we believe in Jesus but aren’t pursuing a life of discipleship, we are valuing the things of this earth more than we value Him. I am troubled by anyone who professes Jesus with their lips but denies Him with their attitudes and actions. Jesus didn’t call us to a life of belief in Him; He called us to a radical abandonment of all things that are not Him.

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I have no doubt each of us has been put here to glorify and further the mission of Christ. Every one of us has been given a unique combination of skills, passions, and gifts. This unique combination of talents has been designed to accomplish specific work within God’s Kingdom. We get to choose whether we will do this work. If we refuse, God’s will won’t be thwarted; He’ll just give the job to someone else.

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He leaves it up to us to decide if we will spend our lives killing time or living on purpose. We can simply count the days until He returns, or do something with the time and gifts He has entrusted to us.

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God is a Creator. In the beginning, He created, and He continues to create to this moment. Every day He is creating new opportunities for His followers to spread His message. He is never caught off guard or without a plan. Instead of reacting to the freewill decisions of His creation, He instead is spinning new avenues to provide an entirely new way for His plan to be accomplished. He isn’t discouraged by our lack of cooperation or frustrated by our failures.

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I see Him moving in constant fluidity, constantly creating throughout history, and never losing sight of the mission at hand. In contrast, we tend to be a reactive people. Instead of collaborating with Him in creating something new, we busy ourselves reacting to what has already been created. If we want to be more like Christ, we’re going to need to stop living a reactive life.

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Recently I’ve had the frustrating experience of trying to get three of the largest churches in my city to come around a family in need. The situation at hand is a low-income single mother with six children, whose minivan was recently involved in an accident and totaled. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. One church never responded, one said they get too many requests to be able to help but did ask what my own church was doing about the situation, and the final church – the one I attend and have been financially supporting – responded they only helped with rent and utility bills and would not be able to contribute towards purchasing a vehicle for the family.

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Being a preacher’s kid, I understand the inner workings and dynamics of a church better than most, but I was still left flabbergasted by the lack of assistance these local churches were willing to extend.

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I was recently wondering what it would look like if I reoriented my life around the rhythms of the calendar. If you’re anything like me, you don’t take much time to celebrate or even breathe. In the Old Testament, God gave His people festivals and Sabbaths to observe. I don’t believe God does anything on a whim or without purpose, so I know He had a reason for these events. Could it be, as our Creator, He understood we need these times to refocus and re-center?

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Working with this knowledge, it makes sense to orient our lives today around similar rhythms. I’m not advocating we observe each of the Jewish holiday’s if you aren’t Jewish. They won’t have the same beauty or effect without being immersed in the tradition and history. But we can all build an effective and even joyful cadence for our lives based on the calendar of our own culture.

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We all worship something. It’s how we were created. Whether we realize it or not, we are worshippers. The only question is what, or who, is it we are worshipping? Saying we worship something or someone other than God is an uncomfortable admission. We don’t want to believe we worship unworthy objects.

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Many people and things will demand our worship, but only God is worthy of it. In fact, he demands we worship only Him. This goes all the way back to the Ten Commandments. Somehow, thousands of years later, we still haven’t been able to honor what He requires.

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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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In his book, “Together is Better”, Simon Sinek writes, “We can start a revolution when we know what we stand against. To create change that lasts, however, we need to know what we stand for.” (emphasis mine) This advice is great for our lives as disciples. It’s easy to tell the world what we’re against. Doing so may even gain us a following of sorts. But if we look at the way Jesus lived, He spent His time demonstrating what He was for.

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In doing so, he caused a change so radical it split time in two. We now refer to dates based on those before Jesus came (B.C.), and after His birth (A.D.). The followers of Jesus in first century Israel were looking to Him to denounce all the Roman Empire was doing. They were looking for a revolution. Jesus brought something better. He brought a glorious change to their lives and to our world.

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