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The Call for Finishers in a world of Dreamers

Posted on Aug 18, 2015 in Blog, Culture, Deliberate Living, Featured, Perseverance, Values

I’m a dreamer by nature. I love thinking about what’s possible. I spend a lot of my time thinking about all the things that could be done. And you know what, there are a lot more possibilities that most of us give consideration to. So, I will not argue that we should not be dreamers. That’s a vital role we play as people who were created to create.

But there’s another problem I have as well. I get about 80-90% through a project, and start running out of steam. I lose interest. Once it becomes functional, I’m okay to be done. Or, something new has gotten my attention and my focus is being drawn away.

Maybe you’re not like that. I know there are many who have a need to finish. When they’re not finished, it keeps them up at night.

But, I don’t think I’m alone. The intoxication of the dream is great. It’s easy to dream. It’s much harder to work and get things done.

The reason I don’t think I’m alone in this is what I see happening in the world around me. We want to get rich now, get fit now, get happy now, get married now, get a house now, get a new TV now. We want it now. We want to go to bed and fall right to sleep, then wake right up when we want to wake up. And we’re willing to take pills to accomplish this task if necessary. We want it our way and we want it now!

There are a thousand dreams out there, and we think we have a right to them. There are a million different ideas and we think it’s perfectly reasonable that we should see those ideas and dreams come into fruition.

But, there is also a great need in our culture today. We need finishers. We need people who will stay the course and get the job done. We need people who are committed and follow through.

Paul said it best:

24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Cor 9:24-27)

When you’re training for a race, you’re training to win. If you’re not training to win, you’re at least training to complete the race. No one runs a marathon without training. To finish the race, to win the prize, we have to train for it.

What that means is, we have to endure. We have to stick with it (persevere). We have to be faithful. We don’t quit when it gets hard. We don’t quit when we think we’re ready. We don’t finish training until we have finished the race. You wouldn’t train for two months to run a marathon, then take a month off before the day of the race. You train until you have finished the race.

Endurance, perseverance and faithfulness are ideas that are fading in our society. When we don’t like something, we bail. It’s prevalent. You might even say it’s dominant. We’re more likely to quit something than we are to stick with it. If you had a pair of dice, the majority of the combinations would come up with quit. If we had a magic 8 ball, all the options but one would be to leave.

When things get tough in our family life, we leave. When things get tough at work, we find a new job. When things get tough in our neighborhood, we find a new house. When things get tough at church, we find a new church.

We have bought into the deception. We think there is a magical answer to our frustration. There’s a pill we can take, a 3 step plan to follow or lottery ticket we can buy. We think there should be a magic bullet to solve our problem, and if there isn’t we just quit, leave or walk away.

The world has convinced us not to follow through. Just throw it away and buy a new one. Just sell it and get another one. The world doesn’t want us to follow through because the world needs us to always be buying more stuff. If we’re satisfied, they’re not making money. If we’re happy, they’re going to go out of business. If we’re content, they’re going to lose out on profits.

It’s time to unravel the lie and embrace the truth. The lie has convinced us that things and status symbols are what leads to happiness. The lie has convinced us that contentment is bad and busyness is good. We need to see the lie for what it is. It’s false. It’s not true. We don’t really “need” all the things the world tells us we “need.”

What we need is to endure. What we need is to persevere. What we need is to be content. What we need is to be faithful. And anything that causes us to want to walk away from these concepts is a lie. Anything that causes us to want to give up on finishing the race, is a lie. Anything that causes us to be discontent is a lie. Anything that causes us to want to be faithful is a lie. It’s a distortion. It’s a funky mirror in a fun house. It kind of looks like the right thing, but it’s way off.

What we need are people who are willing to stick it out with their families, even when it’s hard. We need spouses to work together instead of against each other. We need parents to lead their children instead of letting their children lead them. We need people to be committed to providing for their families. We need people committed to loving their neighbors. We need people who are committed to a church body, no matter how imperfect it may be.

Why? Because this is what’s right. Leaving, quitting, walking away are what’s wrong. That’s the lie.

Are there exceptions to this? Sure. But we’ve allowed the exception to become the mode of operation. Now we live by the exception and those who follow the rule are crazy.

Let’s be crazy together. Let’s be the wack jobs that just don’t get it. Let’s be faithful. Let’s endure to the end. Let’s be committed to a crazy love that doesn’t make sense in today’s day and age. Let’s stand out for being so radically committed that the world notices there is something drastically different.

Then when the world falls apart and we are still holding our world together, they will want to know why. And we get to tell them.

It’s because we’re committed to finishing. We are finishers. We don’t give up. We don’t quit. We don’t throw in the towel. We endure to the end. We will cross that finish line. We will get that prize. We will not let all our training and effort got to waste. We will persevere.

“I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Paul – Acts 20:24)

3 Simple Steps for Getting Back Into The Swing (of things)

Posted on Aug 11, 2015 in Blog, Church, Culture, Deliberate Living, Family, Featured, Intentional Living

Summer is a crazy time. It’s fun. We spend a lot of time together as a family. We do things we don’t do the rest of the year. And it’s good. It’s good to spend time together as a family and make memories that will last a lifetime. But, as we start to run out of steam on cramming all the summery goodness into our summer, we run the risk of making a different kind of memory. They last a lifetime too, but we wish they wouldn’t.

So, I wanted to give you 3 simple tips for getting back into the swing of things.

1.) Find a simple, but productive, daily discipline to begin. 

As we go through the summer months, it’s easy to let discipline slide. We’re living in the moment, winging it. And while there is a time and place for that, in fact it’s good to do that, we also need to have discipline in our lives as well.

If you’ve gone a long time without discipline, it can be hard to find the on ramp again. But, what I’ve found is that discipline always facilitates more discipline. I call it the begetting principle. That’s a post that’ll come later.

If you want to live a more disciplined life, find one small area you can succeed in with being disciplined on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be big. It shouldn’t be. You just need to be able to sustain it. It can be as simple as setting the alarm for a specific time, and refusing to hit the snooze. That may prove more challenging. You may want to get a simple devotional and read it first thing in the morning.

Whatever it is, do it every day and first thing in the morning. This will turn on the discipline switch in your mind, and you’ll start building up the getting things done muscles of your psyche.

2.) Make a list each day of what needs to be done. 

There are days when I feel productive, but then when I look back on what I accomplished that day, I realize I didn’t get nearly as much done as I thought I did. When you don’t give yourself specific things to do, it’s easy to feel like you’re doing a lot when you’re not really doing much at all.

So, another simple way to get back into the swing of things is to start making a list. Don’t get carried away. Just add 5-6 specific things to that list that need to get done today. If you do these things today, you will have succeeded. If you don’t do these things today, you know you need to work harder tomorrow.

When we get out of routine, we can easily do one thing in a days time and feel like we’ve exhausted our entire stockpile of energy for the day. But, let’s be honest, we all know we’re capable of doing more than one thing a day.

Some of the things on your list may be bigger and take longer. If it’s a bigger project, try to break it up into manageable steps that you can check off. Maybe you won’t finish the whole thing today, but I bet you can finish several steps.

And put a one or two simple and quick to accomplish tasks on your list too. That will make you feel like you’re making progress and get you moving toward getting the other things done.

3.) Plan & Build your fall routine. 

Life has a natural repetitive nature to it. Every week, we start a new week. (That was a really profound statement.) I think of the week as starting on Sunday. So, every Sunday I begin a new week. Every Sunday, my family begins a new week. The old week is done, a new week has come. Because of this natural cycle, it’s good to use the week as your framework to build your routine.

My number one suggestion for planning and executing on a successful routine is to go to church on Sunday morning. (DON’T STOP READING YET!!!) Yes, I’m biased because I’m a pastor. But I have a good reason.

Starting your week with going to church starts your week off with discipline. It’s easy to go to church. I know the excuses, I’ve heard them all. (I actually wrote some articles about it on our church blog: http://68church.com/12-excuses-for-not-going-to-church-and-why-you-shouldnt-use-them-part-1/) But, let’s be honest: It’s not that hard to go to church. Especially a church like ours, where you can come just like you are. You don’t have to look fancy and wear your “Sunday best.” Just come. Just be here.

Why does it help to start your week this way? There are a few reasons. It gives you structure. And when you’re trying to build structure, you need to start with structure.

Another reason is, if you can overcome the temptation and excuses to skip church on Sunday, you will help yourself overcome the excuses for other things throughout the week. So much of what we don’t do is because we’ve excused ourself and all we need to do is step up and be responsible.

Another reason? It’s a very healthy beginning. You have the servant aspect of church. Starting off your week serving others is a great set up. There’s the community aspect. Starting your week with a community of like-minded believers sets you up for walking through life in the same way. Tithing/Giving/Generosity is another great aspect. Prioritizing God in our finances also helps us to make other priorities in our spending.

Worshipping God is a great way to keep yourself in check. Exalting God makes it harder to exalt ourselves as the most important thing in our lives. When we are starting our week by humbling ourselves and submitting to the creator of the universe, that’s like saying, you designed this whole thing in the first place and I’m going to let you take the lead.

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
    by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
    and the clouds let drop the dew.        {Proverbs 3:19-20}

Try these three simple steps and just see if you don’t have a better week! 1. Daily Discipline. 2. Make a List. 3. Plan your Weekly Routine. Try it.

I dare you!

It’s a Human Rights Issue

Posted on Aug 5, 2015 in Abortion, Blog, Culture, Featured, Lost Virtues, Truth

I’ve been struggling with where to begin on this planned parenthood disaster. I have pages of notes and they will be coming to you over the next several posts. I recognize taking a stand on this will cause some people to unfriend me, dislike me and get angry with me. There will be those who get angry at the stance I will take. But, I refuse to let the fear of rejection be something that keeps me from speaking up for those who can’t speak for themselves. This won’t be the only post on the topic, and it may not be the best place to start, but it is a starting point.

But let me say, right off the bat. My aim is not to offend. My aim is not push people away. My aim is to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. My aim is to speak the truth into a very dark and disturbing situation. And it’s hard to know where to begin and what to say. So please bear with me.

Even as I try to think of ways to illustrate the monstrous events that are occurring, I realize that there is no logical comparison. Laws exist to protect us as human beings from this kind of treatment. Doctors can’t kill people to sell their organs. Doctors can’t sell organs. People can’t sell their own organs. People have to give consent to have their organs donated after they have died. They don’t get sold to the highest bidder. They are donated to save another life.  By the way, this makes me strongly reconsider the idea of organ donation. If these are the ethics driving doctors today, who’s to say they wouldn’t choose to let me die so they can sell my liver? Not to say that there aren’t ethical doctors, but how am I to know that I will get an ethical doctor if these ethics are a possibility within the field?

These people being abused don’t have a choice in the matter. They are being sacrificed for convenience without the opportunity to deny consent. They are vulnerable. They are in need of our protection and provision. Instead they have been destroyed and their body parts sold to make a profit.

Many will argue that this is a women’s rights issue. There is truth to that argument, but not in the way it is being used. Neither I nor anyone else who is appalled by this barbaric act would in any way argue that women should be denied health care. I would never argue that women shouldn’t have access to it. I just also happen to think that the babies have access to the same rights.

If there is such a thing as human rights, this has to be the pinnacle of human rights issues. We cannot simply decide something isn’t a right because it’s inconvenient. We can’t decide something isn’t a right because it conflicts or contradicts with the kind of lifestyle we want to lead. A human right, by definition is something that is a right to every human. Our personal motivations, agendas and ideologies are cease when the come in conflict with the rights of another human being. This is true in all of life. I can choose to have whatever beliefs I wish, but if those beliefs threaten the rights of another human being, I must stop. I cannot kill people who disagree with me. They have rights as a human, and if my beliefs conflict with their rights, it is my beliefs that change not their rights as a human being.

But, come on! Are you willing to trust someone with your own health who is choosing to make a profit by selling the organs of tiny, indefensible babies? That would, for most logical people, be a huge red flag. You wouldn’t go to a doctor who made money selling the leftover parts of a hysterectomy (which is a procedure done with the knowledge of the patient) let alone go to a doctor who stole a patient’s organs without their knowledge and sold them. And if that doctor had to kill people in order to get the organs they need for their bottom line, you would be appalled. If you discovered that your doctor was stealing the kidneys from women to sell for a profit, wouldn’t you be a little bit upset? (Of course, if a doctor were to do these things, they would lose their license to practice medicine, be thrown into jail and maybe even worse.)

Will we not stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves? Those who are defending planned parenthood have the ability to make a stand. They have a voice in the debate. They have representation in the government. But, what about those who don’t have the same ability. Are we to simply abolish them because they are too vulnerable. What about others among us who lack such abilities. Shall we demolish them as well. I’m sure there is some profit to be made from the dissection of their remains.

This is not simply a women’s rights issue, it is a human rights issue. I think women should be protected when that is the need. I think women should receive the service of caring doctors. There are many Christian clinics that have risen up to help provide. There are many other, government funded clinics who do not commit such atrocities. But there are also babies, children and even men who have rights.

It’s amazing how we will stand up against American companies who outsource production to countries who mistreat children and women. These products are made in factories where women and children make a couple of dollars a day if they’re lucky. And we will be outraged. Rightly so. And I think that is an injustice we should be working to solve. Women and children should not be taken advantage of, no matter where on the planet they reside.

But, we will boycott and protest such companies who use these means of production, while at the same time defending a company who, on American Soil, sold the body parts of babies to other companies on American soil. Really? We won’t buy products made in India because of child labor, but we’ll stand up for a company that kills, dissects and sells the body parts of a child? Why do we not see the hypocrisy in that?

We will hang from bridges to try to keep a company from drilling in the arctic, but we applaud the efforts of Planned Parenthood? Is stopping a company from drilling for oil really more important than stopping a company from profiting off of selling the salvageable parts of an abortion?

Every life matters. Regardless of race, sex, age, diseases, dysfunctions, handicaps or any other qualifier you can use, every life matters. The lives of those who make mistakes matter. The lives of those who have different sexual preferences matter. Every life matters. Why? Because every person on this planet is made in the image of God, regardless of their belief in Him. Every single person. There is no exception. And every single one of us entered this world in the same way – through our mother’s womb. There is no difference between any of us when it comes to our value and worth because that resides in each of us. And it’s there because of whose image we reflect.

I say we stand up for the rights of the workers in India, for the rights of women in America and for the rights of people who are being sacrificed, dissected and sold. It will not be easy. It will be a struggle. We have been lured into an apathetic coma and now we find the muscles needed to stand up have atrophied. But they will strengthen as we begin to use them. As we stand up for God’s creations, God will give us strength to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

And if enough of us wake up, stand up and speak up…maybe…just maybe…we will be a part of the movement that stopped this barbaric act. Maybe we will see human life valued once again and babies will cease to be treated as a product to be sold.

This isn’t a women’s rights issue because it’s a human rights issue. It just so happens the most vulnerable have been taken advantage of. Their inability to voice their dissent does not mean we should violate their rights. It means we must be their voice. We must be the mouthpiece for their right to live.

Can We All Really Be Victims?

Posted on Jul 30, 2015 in Blog, Deliberate Living, Featured, Intentional Living, Pain and Suffering

One of the biggest, and most dangerous trends I see in our world today, is the “victim state” we live in. Let me explain.

Everything is someone else’s fault now, and we are all victims of someone or something else. There is no responsibility on us to own up to our own shortcomings. When something bad happens, we immediately figure out who we’re going to blame for it.

We live in a virtual dark alley, and someone is always taking advantage of us. There is always some way that someone or something has mistreated us.

Is it even possible though? Can we all be victims? For there to be a victim, doesn’t someone have to be a perpetrator?

Bad things do happen. I would never make a claim that they don’t. People can do some really awful things. There are true victims. There are people who have been wounded by others, taken advantage of by others, used and abused by others. I do not belittle this truth. In fact, it is because of this truth, that I think we need to stop playing the victim in the small things.

Why? Because when we make ourselves out to be the recipient of someone’s abuse (when what really happened is we made a mistake or we came up short) we belittle the true victims who have gone through traumatic things.

More often than not, we bear the burden of responsibility in the problems we face in life. Yes, bad things happen. Yes, people take advantage of us. But, most of the time, we have done or not done something that led us to our current state.

The most common place I hear this is when it comes to work. Not very many people truly like work. I love my job and I love the mission of our church. But there are certainly times when I would rather be at home with my family.

What happens though, is this: because we don’t like our job or our boss or our pay, we find ways that we are being mistreated or taken advantage of or disrespected, etc. Therefore, when we’ve “had enough” we just call it quits. We walk away, and our story inevitably entails all the ways we were mistreated. Or, our attitude becomes so bad that we get let go. Either way, we are the victims.

Even though the reality may be that we didn’t do the job we were hired to do, or we just don’t like the idea of having to work to provide income for ourselves and would rather be sitting on the couch watching the Price is Right or blowing things up on our Xbox.

Contrast this mindset, with the mindset we are supposed to be living according to:

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” (2 Thes. 3:6-10)

Aside from work, there are other ways we make ourselves out to be the victim. But, aside from the ways we have actually been victimized, most of the ways we make ourselves out to be the victim boil down to our selfishness.

  • When a relationship goes bad, it’s always because of the other person.
  • When we get in an accident, it was always the other person’s fault.
  • When we are late to work, it was because of this or that – not because we got up late.
  • When we don’t pay our bills, it’s because someone took money from us who shouldn’t have.
  • When our car dies, it’s because the mechanic didn’t do this or that even though we never checked the oil.
  • If we’re overweight we sue McDonalds.
  • If we have high blood pressure we blame our parents.
  • When we don’t feel close to God, it’s the churches fault.
  • And when all else fails, we blame the government.

There are literally hundreds of ways we make ourselves out to be a victim. There are millions of excuses we make for why we can’t do something, or be the kind of person we are supposed to be.

Why does this matter?

It’s pretty simple really. When we are never to blame for our mistakes, we are always at the mercy of someone else to make us happy. We have so many reasons to be unhappy, because we have so many excuses and so much blame to push onto others.

In the end, we are the only ones who can live our lives in such a way that we improve our lives. It its not someone else’s responsibility to provide for you. It is not someone else’s responsibility to care for you. It is not someone else’s responsibility to make you happy. All that falls on your shoulders. But, as long as we are victims, we will never truly take control of the responsibility, our lives will always be at the mercy of our circumstances and we will live very unfulfilling and unsatisfying lives.

But, when you take responsibility, and especially when you start to make progress and have success because you are working to achieve it, your whole perspective on life changes. Instead of seeing mountains that can’t be moved, you get a shovel. Instead of seeing problems that can’t be solved, you start coming up with solutions. Instead of seeing a thousand road blocks, you see opportunities.

I’m not talking about some kind of positive thinking, if you dream it you can achieve it, false reality that doesn’t exist. There are limitations. You cannot live on the moon. You cannot own a unicorn. What I’m talking about is reality.

But, when you work hard, you get ahead. When you try to get out of work, you get behind. It’s pretty much that simple. Stop creating a false reality where your happiness is at the mercy of everything around you. Live intentionally and learn to make the most out of what you have.

If you would like to hear more on this topic, listen to these two talks I have given on the topic of responsibility:

http://68church.com/freeway-part-3-responsibility-ownership-and-grace/

http://68church.com/training-camp-part-7-responsibility/

Near…Far…And Everywhere In Between

Posted on Jul 28, 2015 in Blog, Devotional Thoughts, Encouragement, Featured, Worry

Do you remember Grover teaching us as kids about near and far? Maybe this video will help:

Grover was always one of my favorites. Perhaps it’s because he was so overly dramatic, just like me. I still love the little golden book, “Monster at the end of this book.”

On Sunday at SixEight Church, I shared a little about our cross-country road trip during communion. Jim had just shared a great message, and it fit pretty well with what he said. But, I thought it might help others today, so I wanted to share it in written form.

We spent the last two weeks driving from the Pacific Northwest to the midwest. In all, we drove 5,800 miles. The kids handled the driving really well, and it was a really great trip for our family.

However, and if you’ve ever made a big road trip you know this, there got to be a point near the end where it felt like we were never going to get home. We left on Thursday morning from northern Ohio and made it to Lincoln, Nebraska – where we feared for our lives. Seriously. The next day, the longest of the three days back, we drove from Lincoln to Salt Lake City, Utah – where they were shooting off fireworks as we arrived. I guess they were impressed with the fact that we had made it that far in two days. Then, on Saturday, we left from Salt Lake, got into Idaho. The speed limit had been 80 mph. Then as soon as we arrived into Oregon, the limit dropped to 65. Which is ironic to me. Because, Oregon is one of the most progressive states, and yet they are one of the last to change their speed limit.

It felt like all our progress had been stopped. We were never going to get through Oregon. We had hauled the mail through two-thirds of the country, and came to a stand still so close to home. We were so close, but home felt far away. We missed home and our life on the farm. We were ready to get there and see how much the garden had grown while we were gone.

Heading into the mountains in Eastern Oregon, we also faced a stiff headwind. Going uphill into the wind doesn’t do much to help with gas mileage. What I thought was plenty of fuel to get through the mountains to the other side quickly turned to fear that we were going to run out of gas far from a gas station. And, because our van only has 220,000 miles on it, we thought it would be safe to drive across the country without Triple-A.

Needless to say, we made it to the gas station and bathrooms in time. And we got home less than 4 hours later.

But something stuck me as Jim was talking, and God brought this scripture to mind from Jeremiah 23:

23 “Am I only a God nearby,”
declares the Lord,
    “and not a God far away?
24 Who can hide in secret places
    so that I cannot see them?”
declares the Lord.
    “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord.

We drove a lot. We were very far from home. There were many times when we were far away from civilization. Nothing was near us except bugs and Semi trucks. Have you ever been somewhere without seeing a truck? And yet, not matter how far away we were from everything we knew, God was there with us. Whether we were in life-risking Lincoln Nebraska, the thunderstorms of Wyoming or the corn of Indiana, we were never far away from God.

Have you ever felt like you were far away from God? Like he was in a distant universe? Do you want to know something? You were wrong. Is God in the far off universe we have never seen? Yes. But, God isn’t only there, he is always here. That means there is no where you can go to get away from God. No matter how far away from home you are, God is still there.

Remember this the next time your driving through the mountains, heading into a strong wind and running out of gas. Even if you are stranded far away from everything you know, God is not only far away – he is near.

Near…far…and everywhere in between.

Whatever You Think The Issue Is, It Probably Isn’t

Posted on Jun 30, 2015 in Blog, Culture, Featured, Grace, Values

The SCOTUS just ruled to allow same-sex marriage. And then people started going berserk. That pretty much sums up the last 4 days. And, while there are ramifications that should be discussed on the topic of the ruling, there is something more important we need to consider.

It’s easy, when big events like this happen to get drawn into them. It’s easy to dig in your heals on whatever side of the issue you are on and start hurling debates and arguments on people.

I understand the urge, because I find myself wanting to do the same thing. But, one thing I know for sure, is that no matter what the issue is, that issue isn’t the most important thing.

What’s the issue? People need Jesus. First and foremost. That’s the most important thing. But, when we focus on the issue first, we aren’t communicating that to people. What we are telling them is that they way they are living is wrong and they need to change.

We can’t expect people living apart from Jesus to live up to the moral standards Jesus set forth.

Why? Because we can’t even do it.

I don’t think we understand grace anymore. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. We can’t do anything to deserve God’s free gift of grace. If we could, it wouldn’t be called grace. We need to know grace. Grace is what is given to us freely, it’s what gets us into the Kingdom. And it’s also what keeps us there. It’s not just grace at one point in time, but grace as we fail every day to live up to God’s standards.

And yet, here we are, not living perfect lives, while simultaneously condemning those who aren’t living up to our standards.

We have the power of Christ in us to empower us to live according to his principles and standards. And yet we fail all the time. We are constantly being refined. We are in constant need of grace.

Do I agree with the direction our culture is going? No. In fact, I am concerned just as many of you are. And I would argue that if people lived according to God’s design, we would find a lot more peace and joy – whether they believe in him or now.

But, I can almost guarantee one thing, if we react harshly against people who don’t have the power of God in their lives for not living up to God’s standards for life, while we fail every day to live up to that same standard, we will lose whatever influence we have left.

We can’t hold an unbelieving world accountable to something they don’t believe in. That’s not our job. We can’t condemn an unbelieving world for not living up to standards we can’t live up to.

Our job is to live out the gospel, as best we can, in front of people so that they may see our good deeds and glorify our father in heaven. We live out the gospel, and we share it when we have the opportunity. Not in a condemning way, but in a gracious way.

Yes, we have to admit our sin and walk away from it when we follow Christ, but I don’t think that’s the first step of the gospel.

What’s the first step? Knowing how much God loves you. Do you know how much God loves you? Do you know that you have the opportunity to be a child of the Most-High God? That you can share in the inheritance of the King of the Universe?

I don’t think the primary motivation for putting your faith in Christ is the lifestyle we might have to give up. And as long as we start there, I think we’re going to continue to fail. As long as we start with the issue and focus on the issue and argue about the issue, we will continue to side-step the most important and primary motivation for faith in Christ.

The primary motivation for putting your faith in Christ is what you’re being invited into. And when you know what you’re being invited into, anything you have to give up pales in comparison.

So, before you get into that next argument, before you post that next article on Facebook or Twitter that says what you think needs to be said, stop and ask yourself – how are they going to respond to me? How are they going to respond to Jesus if we are pounding people over the head with a morality we fail to live up to? And most importantly, what kind of Jesus are they going to see from me as I do these things?

I wonder if we all started sharing with people about the goodness of God’s grace and what they have the opportunity to step into how differently the world might respond to Christ in us, the hope of glory?

The good thing is, it’s not too late. We can all start right now. We have hurdles to overcome. We have tremendous obstacles in our way. But, if we all start living this way, Christ will be irresistible in us. And people will be drawn to Him.

And that’s the real issue.

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