We're Designed to Consume...Jesus!

We can't apologize for being a consumer, but we need to focus on consuming the life of Christ. If we take Jesus' metaphor of Christians being a branch, we find that Jesus provides all the juice we need to produce the fruit of abundant life. (see John 15)

Discipleship requires resisting the marketing of a worldview that finds satisfaction apart from God and embracing God's view that the greatest satisfaction is consuming the life of God. This is simply done by loving, listening, obeying, and savoring the teaching of Jesus. 

Many Christians have ceased to consume the life of God in Christ and have opted for meaning and satisfaction in an empty promise of material consumerism. Material things in the hands of a disconnected branch are powerless, but in the hands of a disciple of Christ they become tools of grace – giving us and those around us JOY.

Check out this powerful clip that tackles consumerism of our day...

Party, Politics, & Jesus

"One of these things is not like the others...one of these things just doesn't belong..."

After the dust of the 2016 general election settles, we will certainly discover we're in the same place we've been since Cain killed Abel...selfish, angry, divided, fearful, and in need of help.

Party and politics are very much alike. They feed our common weaknesses and highlight our common flaws. More than dividing people politically, it often divides us emotionally – severing our ability to discuss what matters most. It has a blinding effect on our life – causing us to see nothing but the bad in others and the good in ourselves. But worse, the void (even for Christ followers) gets a whole lot larger because no system or person can satisfy the soul.

Let me confess: I've been twisted around the axel of party and politics in my past. I've won battles but lost people who could have been friends. I've declared "the sky is falling" only to discover the sun did come out again. I've seen "my guy" get in, only to watch him get carted off to prison. I've had suspicions confirmed and I've had convictions surprised. This is why I've decided to tackle all things political through the spiritual. I've finally learned that seats are changed by votes and hearts are changed by God – and changed hearts is what will change the world.

We ultimately must exercise our right to vote, and I sure did. Too much blood was spilled for this great freedom. Even run for office if God calls you to that battle. And when it comes to candidate selection, pull that lever with passion. But remember, you just voted for imperfection.

Don't take the bait. The more we hold high or try to tear down a party or a politician, the smaller we become. Even the best party platforms and elected candidates are deeply flawed. And don't allow your passion for/against party or politician exceed how much you champion our great savior.

When all the dust settles in our nation as a result of this contentious battle, we'll still be a ripe harvest field with truck loads of people who are hurting and hungry to hear a message of hope that can transform their lives from the inside out. Only God has a history of making promises and delivering on every one!

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:17) Boom!

Aren't you glad Jesus is "not like the others"?

Habit of Focus

It’s time to narrow your focus. We simply can’t take a big step, let alone run a great race, without blocking out distractions. Where we’re going is inextricably linked to where our focus is. God’s greater plan and destination for our lives will be challenged by distractions. I love this powerful truth in Scripture about getting focused: “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” Spiritual blinders are mandatory equipment when life (with all its noise, shiny things, and urgent needs) has a grip on us. This first big step can only really happen when we get the blinders on.

There’s a subtlety about the busyness of life. Without the habit of focus, some distractions appear to look better than ever before. It’s a mirage. That urgent (but most often trivial) thing that grips us is actually baiting us to turn from the extraordinary that lies just over the river. Yes, there will always be something large or small that presents itself in our minds as a compelling reason not to step out. Our human spirit just needs the smallest excuse to never take that first big step. Compromising to-do-list items and compromising people can’t stand to be left behind. Because of this you can’t even afford to take a peek and look back at them. We need to trust God to sort out the stuff, or the people, who can’t take the trip.

But spiritual blinders aren’t nearly as much about blocking out the periphery, it’s more about getting so intently focused on our leader that nothing can distract us. Jesus is ultimately the only leader to follow, so our full attention and affection must be fixed on Him. He wrestled with taking big steps, but He broke through and ran the race to His death so that we could live. We don’t fix our eyes on a cross or even an empty tomb; Jesus is risen. It’s God who authored the vision for your life and it’s God who will perfect it. Get the blinders on, get focused, and let God get to work. 

Proverbs 4:25–27; Hebrews 12:2

HE WENT TO THE CROSS

When we chased our passion
And saw in the mirror, salvation 
     He went to the cross

When we stood in our pride
And in our heart self-justified
     He went to the cross

When we walked in our power
And thought it was our finest hour
     He went to the cross

When we did anything to win
And wouldn't acknowledge our own sin
     He went to the cross

When we thought life was just a fight
And stumbled without the light
     He went to the cross

When we trembled in fear
And never knew God was near
     He went to the cross

When we fell completely drained
And yet filled with soul pain
     He went to the cross

When we landed on our face
And said "God, give me grace"
     He went to the cross
     JESUS went to the cross