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follow

Luke 5:4 (ESV) And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,  “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

The most beautiful mystery of scripture is that God pursues you that you might pursue Him. God sent His Son so that all humanity has an opportunity of Salvation. He came to us and died for us while were yet sinners separated from Him. The pursuit of God is indeed beautiful and mysterious. The pursuit of God is always that you might follow.

Simply hearing the invitation to follow Him is not following. Talking about the invitation to follow is not following. Admiring those who have accepted the invitation to follow is not following. You only become a follower of Christ when you follow. In other words, you become something by doing.

Many years ago, my cousin used to talking about repelling down mountains all the time. Almost every time I was around him he would be telling stories of his latest adventure. His passion was evident as you listened to him.

After many months of hearing about repelling, listening to his stories and admiring the accomplishments he had performed, I was compelled to try the sport myself.

I asked him to take me repelling, and he did. The climb up the mountain was free. The view from the top of the mountain was free. Getting geared up for repelling was free. Watching him do it first was free. Doing it myself cost me something.

It cost me leaning back over the cliff and trusting the rope to hold me, and actually repelling down the face of the mountain. Once I reached the bottom of the mountain, I could and did officially call myself a repeller.

The same is true when it comes to following God. There are many who call themselves Christians, but it is quite another thing to call yourself a Christ follower. To call yourself a follower you must follow. You become a follower by following.

When Jesus told Peter to put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch, He was inviting Him one step closer to following Him. He was asking Peter to trust that He could make more out of life than Peter ever could on his own. When you respond to the leading of Jesus you are one step closer to following Jesus.

We know how the story ends. Peter obeys and a great catch of fish begins to break the nets. Peter is blown away and confesses that he is a sinful man. The command to follow is then given, and Peter’s life is changed forever. He moves past just hearing, listening and admiring. He becomes a follower by following.

I want you to know today that you will never become the true you until you follow God. You can never be fully human the way God intends for you to be unless you follow. You must do something to be something. The doing I’m referring to is to follow Him and bring Him the glory He alone rightfully deserves.

Kyle Idleman once wrote, “Following Jesus isn’t something you can do at night where no one notices. It’s a twenty-four-hour-a-day commitment that will interfere with your life. That’s not the small print—that’s a guarantee.”

Salvation is free but discipleship will cost you something. You become a follower by following.

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There are two things I’m sure of. One, God is always faithful, and second, it’s possible to make an idol out of timing.  In 2 Timothy 2:13 it teaches us, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” In other words, God is going to accomplish all things necessary for His glory alone. It’s not ultimately about us; it’s about God.

As to the second truth I’m sure of, timing is in God’s hands alone, and if we focus on the timing rather than God, we make timing an idol. I’ve done this many times in my Christian walk with God. I’ve been hoping for something, waiting for something, and wondering more about God’s timing than about God. Needless to say, it wasn’t until I got my focus off timing that God moved.

God created your life and cares more deeply about it than you do. God birthed His church and cares for it more deeply than you do. I guess you could add two more things to my list that I’m sure of. When it comes to your life and to His church, you can believe His plan is perfect and better than your plan. If fact, Ephesians 3:20, speaking of God says that He is, “…able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,”

The power at work in us is God the Holy Spirit. He prays and knows the perfect will of God in and through us for His glory alone. The more we focus on God and not the circumstances or the timing of something that needs to happen, the faster God seems to move and get the job done for His glory.

For example, the church I now pastor was in need of a permanent church building. We had been  looking for over a year and a half. Nothing seemed to open for us. We were renting and doing okay, but still, we had no home of our own. Money in the bank was great and if we found something we could surely move on it with confidence.

However, God had a better plan. His plan was to get us to the place where it was impossible to point to our timing or money as the answer. Through a course of events,  the bulk of our money had dried up. We had money in the bank to meet the bills but nothing, and I mean NOTHING to go toward a property of our own.

Little did we know, God was dealing with a group of people who had a church, and was praying to God for His perfect will. The church was founded in 1917 and after many wonderful years God now had a next step plan. They were  feeling called to look for another church to continue moving forward with God’s plan.

One of the ladies in the other church was praying, and God showed her the face of a lady in our congregation. That prayer led to about two weeks of talk and prayer between our two church families.

To make a beautiful story short, (I will give a full account in our church history book) with no money to offer them to buy the building and much prayer from both our churches, they heard God speak and tell them to give us the building free and clear. What a magnificent miracle! Our timing was replaced with God’s timing and with no money hardly in the bank; God did what man couldn’t do.

I’m not sure what is going on in your life today, but you can know one thing for sure…God is able to move in your life for His glory without you having anything to give to Him at all. All you must do is keep your eyes on the one that has His eyes constantly on you.

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Don’t mute Jesus. Excel in making Him known through loving the unlovable. Jesus never chose sides. He loved the world. He hung on the middle cross loving both the one on the left and the one on the right. He chose them both, but only one chose Him that day. He chooses everyone that everyone might have the chance to repent and turn to Him in surrender. 2 Peter 3:9b teaches that God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

The only division Christ came to bring was to a division that points all of humanity to a decision for Him or against Him. He did so because choosing Him or rejecting Him is the only eternal choice that really matters in this age, or the age to come. You must point humanity to the middle cross every day of your life through your actions and your words. People in our world are hungry to belong. They are hungry and thirsty to be heard, valued and love unconditionally.

Pointing humanity to the left or to the right will never satisfy the hole in their lives. Pointing them to the middle cross is the only answer. In John 6 Jesus speaking to the crowd said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Jesus is still offering that call to the world today. He doesn’t offer it through himself (his physical presence) anymore because He sits at the right hand of the Father waiting to return. However, he still offers it through us, His children by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As Christ followers,  you and I have the Spirit of God living on the inside of us seeking to serve and rescue the world. The rescuing of the world doesn’t happen by following the media, or by choosing the left or right. Rescuing happens by choosing to obey the command of love, and pointing the world to the middle cross where Jesus stretched out His arms wide to embrace everyone who would hear.

Will you obey and follow His leading, or will you be a quencher of the Spirit? Will you mute Jesus today by choosing the left or the right or will you live for Him and promote Him today by choosing the middle? The middle cross is still the only answer for the world because Jesus used it to defeat evil forever. Jesus turned an ugly cross of Rome into a vision of beauty that rescues the world.  His crucifixion was the greatest act of love ever accomplished for humanity, and it’s still the only path that leads us home.

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The primary key to operating an automobile is being in control of the vehicle and not vice versa. Can you imagine letting go of the wheel and letting the car take you where it wants to go? If the car is aligned correctly, you might make it a few hundred feet before running off the road and crashing. However,  the crash would surely happen unless you regained control by taking hold of the wheel again.

Thoughts have the same potential. You can control them and have a great adventure of faith or you can let go of the “Wheel,” and let them take you where they want to go. You might cruise unharmed for a few hundred feet, but sooner of later you are going to crash unless you regain control of your thoughts for God’s purpose.

Your thoughts can be a temple of worship for God, or your thoughts can be an idol of destruction that leads you astray and off course. The choice is your choice to make. Each of us needs to take control of our thoughts, giving them over to God along with everything else in our lives.

We are commanded in scripture to bring every thought into obedience to Christ Jesus. (2 Cor 5:10) Every thought means every thought. We are called to bring the good, bad and the ugly thoughts to the feet of Jesus and filter them there.

Believe it or not, you have exceptional control over what you do with your thoughts. Thoughts coming into your mind are often fast and furious, but they are never non-controllable. When a thought comes to you, a choice has to be made and can be made.

I challenge you today. Take inventory of your thought life today. It will tell you much about yourself. Ask God to make you more awake to what’s on your mind. Ask God to help move you in Godly directions with your thought life.  I promise you that if you fill your mind with good thoughts, the bad will soon dilute and lose power of influence in your life.

Philippians 4:8 (NKJV) 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

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Authentic worship shapes the Christ follower into God’s image. Whereas; counterfeit worship run the extreme risk of shaping God into our preferred image.  We are called to live authentic lives of worship that is free from the smell of the counterfeit worship of religious array.  For His glory; for our good, and the hope of others, we must live authentic lives of worship before the world.

It’s easy to have a form of godliness; but a form of godliness will never awaken the world from its zombie like apathy.  Authentic lives of worship shows  the image of God in a world that desperately wants their own way instead of wanting and embracing what they truly need.  As Christ followers, we are called to awaken the dead by living and giving them the true life of Christ.

We awaken the dead when we turn the other cheek. We awaken the dead when we move beyond being regularly offended at everything the world does and simply reflex God regardless. We awaken the dead when we feed the hungry, cloth the naked, give water to the thirsty, love the unlovable, visit the sick, take in the stranger, and go to them which are in prison.

We are called to help people see God. However, in order for us to help people see God we must not live lives that show  the idolatry of shaping God into our own images. There must be a daily death of self and a daily obeying of entering the harvest field of the walking dead.

Humanity that has long suffered in darkness calls to us to be awakened. Light has come into the world by Jesus Christ and His light is the only light that defeats darkness and awakens the sinner.  We must show them Jesus and not our religious routes. Jesus is the only way. We must show them Him. In John 14:9 Jesus proclaimed the amazing by saying, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

Let’s show them the Father! Let’s awaken the world from their sleep! Let’s show them the redeemer and lover of their souls. It’s our call; it’s our duty; it’s our grand privilege, and it can’t be done with religion.

The awakening can only happen when we start showing the world the true Jesus that is beyond the religious version that idolatry tries to shape. There is an echo from the future calling to us, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Let’s answer that call!

Let’s go awaken the dead!

Can God Be Astonished?

April 24, 2013 — 5 Comments

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Would you like to have the kind of faith that astonishes God? Is it even possible to have astonishing faith? After all, God who created all things, include you and me, would be hard to astonish I would imagine.

Getting a prayer of faith answered by God isn’t what validates astonishing faith. Astonishing faith is validated when God see’s the belief of your heart that He can do anything. In other words, you completely believe God can do.

In Luke 7:1-10 the Bible tells the story of the healing of the Centurion’s servant. The Centurion has a servant who was sick, and he loved and cared for his servant greatly. Understanding how authority worked, due to his military career, he called for Jesus to heal his servant with perfect confidence.

He sends some Jewish elders to ask Jesus to rescue his servant from death. When they approach Jesus, they begged him eagerly. At this point,  there is no indication of astonishment by Jesus.  They are asking for Him to do something, but faith doesn’t seem to be the motive they are using to move Him to answer.

Instead, they appeal to what the Centurion has done for the Jewish people. It almost like they are using the old appeal and thought of, “He has done good things for us; would you now return the favor and answer his prayer?”

Regardless, Jesus goes with them anyway. As He nears the house, the centurion sent friends to meet Jesus and give Him another message. The message was, “Master, don’t trouble yourself. I don’t deserve to have you come under my roof. That’s why I didn’t think myself worthy to come to you in person. But-just say the word, and my slave will be healed.”

At this point,  Jesus was astonished at what He had just heard. One theologian said, “Jesus is astonished at the second message, and we are astonished at His astonishment! Normally in the gospels Jesus does and says things that surprise people; this is one of the few places where Jesus himself is surprised.”

That’s right! Jesus can be astonished at your faith in Him. You don’t need a big background of religious facts in your faith bag to give to Jesus to try and impress Him when you ask. You just need to believe He CAN! You must believe He is the sovereign one and Lord of heaven and earth. The centurion had grasped what many of the Jews had missed, the one true God was present, personal and active in Jesus and was walking among them.

Jesus is still walking among us today. He is still active among us today, and He lives on the inside of you. Ask Him in faith without regard for a yes, no or a maybe answer, and you will astonish Him, or at least come close trying.  God reserves the right to answer in any way He wants, but you should never hesitate to ask.

Now go and try to astonish God with your faith today.

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The object of obedience is God’s glory. When He calls you to obey Him, it is not about you. In fact, even the offer to forgive our sins is done for His glory alone.

Isaiah 43:25 (NKJV)
25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.

Psalm 25:11 (NKJV)
11 For Your name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

When we do all things for the glory of God, it shows honor and places honor where it rightfully belongs. Honor belongs to the one who created us. Obedience is the clear means through which we are able to point glory to God.

Submission is the first step to obedience. You must have a heart that longs to submit your will to the will of God. The struggle of compliance will always be there, speaking to you to find or ask for another way, but you must untimely surrender to the pure sound of His voice.

Each time I find myself over debating submission to what God is asking me to do, I think of Jesus in the garden before His trial and crucifixion, and I’m humbled and convicted.  He was (and is) 100% God, and He was (and is) 100% human. His humanness calls out in Luke 22:42, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

That moment of obedience brought matchless glory to God the Father, and it was and is a breathtaking example of perfect obedience. Perfect obedience doesn’t mean that all  struggles are absent. Perfect obedience is untimely your heart crying,  “Nevertheless!”

We need more Christ followers to be “Nevertheless” servants. We owe it to God, and we owe it to a world that watches our commitment to the one that we profess to follow. The opportunity to bring glory to God through obedience should be one of the foremost compelling motives for living.

I’ve often said, “Demons obey God; Nature obeys God, but humans struggle with obedience.

Obey Him unconditionally and as you do, you can be assured that you bring Him the greatest glory in doing so. Don’t let demons or nature upstage you.

Falling Forward

February 25, 2013 — 2 Comments

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My son showed me a video the other day on YouTube, and we had a good laugh watching it a few times. A father was filming his daughters learning the trust fall. If you’ve never heard of the trust fall, it’s a trust-building game often conducted as a group exercise in which a person deliberately allows himself or herself to fall, relying on the other members of the group to catch the person.

Anyway, in this video there were only two girls and the father. After, explaining to the girl who had never done it before how to do it, she took her place and prepared for her first trust fall. Her sister got behind her. The father was filming and talking her through it. Finally, she began to trust and let herself fall. She was suppose to fall backward into her sisters arms but instead, she fell forward and right onto her face. She didn’t’ get hurt, but man it was funny to watch.

The trust fall got me think about falling forward. The game of trust fall is designed to fall backwards. However, in the walk of the Christ follower we are called to trust forward. In other words,  we are called to fall forward as we trust Christ to lead us.

Many times God calls us forward and our faith is weak and so we fall away in disobedience. We think to ourselves, “There is no way God can pull off in my life what He is asking me to do?”

We see in our heart the story of Peter getting out of the boat at the command of Christ and then sinking. We say to ourselves, “No way is that going to happen to me, I’ll just say in the boat and drift the storm out.” However, deep down we know we can’t stay in the boat when He is calling. We know our faith won’t grow in the boat, and He won’t get the glory by us staying in the boat.

The only decision that is God honoring is to get out of the boat and not be afraid to fall forward. What is God calling you to do? Where is He calling you to fall forward? I challenge you! Go ahead and fall. He will be there to see you through.

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That so many Christians are satisfied with only a vertical relationship with God and feel no pull to the horizontal mission field they live in daily astonishes me. Ministry happens only in their lives by accident instead of on purpose. The problem is, God is not satisfied with that kind of life because He has created good works for them to be part of every day, if they would only look on the harvest field Jesus spoke of. We must remember God never sleeps, and He never slumbers. He is watchful and waiting on you to enter the field.

When I was a young man, my father bought some land and had a vision to farm it. We cleared several acres over several summers, and we had it stocked with many animals. The highlight of the acreage was our field of sweet potatoes – three acres of sweet potatoes! For those of you who love math, that is 14,520 sq yards of blood, sweat and tears. My father had a rightful expectation that the field would produce. After all, that is what a field that has been planted should do when it is looked after with care. I can remember working hard in the field alongside my father. I can still see his face now and the joy he got from the expected future.

When he would leave to run into town or some other errand, he would always say to my brother and me, “Work hard boys, I’ll be back.” We knew exactly what my father meant. He would be returning, and we were expected to continue working the field as though he was right beside of us. My brother and I would always try to work harder while he was gone so that when our father returned he would be well pleased. What brought him joy brought us joy. Why did my father work so hard? Why did my brother and I work so hard? There was a purpose; there was a future harvest. We simply wanted to see the greatest harvest possible. I know God the Father wants the same from us. He wants to seek the lost through us. That is what God desires to do through every believer. All He needs from you is the promise that He can interrupt you anytime and anywhere. When He gets you to that place, you will become a page being written under His mighty hand, and when the chapter is completed, all of Heaven will celebrate. What are you waiting on? The fields are white for harvest … get going. He is waiting on you.

 

Wright, Steve (2012-03-18). The Descent To Compassion (pp. 68-69).  . Kindle Edition.

You can purchase a copy of The Descent to Compassion on Amazon. Click Here

Do It Anyway

December 18, 2012 — 2 Comments

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We are to reflect God to the world. We are called to be the salt of the earth and a light that is not hidden. We are called to love. We are called to joy. We are called to peace. We are called to forbearance. We are called to kindness. We are called to goodness. We are called to faithfulness. We are called to gentleness. We are called to self-control. In Short, we are called to be like Him in front of a world that desperately needs to see Him.

At times, you will think being all the above-mentioned things don’t matter. You will see the world hate you even when you live a life that reflects God. However, do it anyway. You live as a reflection first for Him, and then for others. In the end, it will be to Him you will give an account and not to the people of the world.

Mother Teresa said it best when she wrote, ““People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”