Category Archives: Pursue Christ

Are You Lying to Yourself?

liesHave you ever told a lie?  I know; what a ridiculous question because you have.  Have you noticed what happens the more you tell it?  You begin to believe it too.  Many times our own lies begin to convince us and our perception of reality is changed because what we say happened, actually never did.  Yet, its how we’ve begun to remember it and somehow the lie we tell becomes the truth we believe in.  Unfortunately, there’s no truth to be found at all.

Luke 13:24-30 is one of those passages which disturbs me the most because it reveals how the truth we believe can actually be based on a self-manufactured lie.  If you have this concern too after reading this passage, let me give you one clear directive which will guarantee you won’t live in a false reality where your relationship with the LORD is concerned.

One phrase Jesus says which stands out to me in vs. 24 is to “Make every effort….”…. What a game-changer.  I think many of us would have to admit there have been too many times where we did not make every effort and we expected an impossible outcome.  It was impossible because we gave an effort which can be stated as “good enough.”  The “good enough” mentality somehow lulls me into expecting more while giving less effort.  For instance, we may settle for a marriage which is not ideal because it is “good enough” and so we never work to make it stronger.  Our lack of effort is realized when it crumbles under the weight of the pressure of life because in reality, it wasn’t “good enough.”

We will sacrifice eternity if we think we can live some sort of “good enough” in relation to the LORD.  First, the problem with this thinking is no one is “good enough,” so how could you even think such a ridiculous thought.  Actually, it is easy when the lie becomes the truth.  See, I look at myself and think what is good about me outweighs what is wrong with me, so I’m now “good enough.”

When you dedicate yourself to “make every effort” there is little room to miss the mark.  Jesus knew the most important goal for any of our lives was to find salvation in Him through our repentance of sins within His forgiveness for those sins.  Nothing less will move us to the other side of the threshold except for His grace.

The reality is this….if your life were to end now and you were on the wrong side of that threshold, you would be desperate to get through this door called salvation, but it will be too late.  The decision has to be made in this life.  Rather than be desperate later, make every effort now to ensure you are saved.

Don’t shut out God’s voice to your life, and His direction.  Find joy in His Word of life rather than in things or even people which only last or stay for a time.  Trust in Him, so you will not allow the worries of life or the temptation to gain great riches draw you from His presence.  In other words, keep your priorities straight by making sure He is your first priority…your first love….the One you serve first…….your All in All!

There’s no sense in gaining the world and losing your soul.  If you will make every effort, you will undoubtedly enjoy a fullness in your life which only comes from Him and cannot be duplicated by anything or anyone else.

Why I Worship Him

worshipI’ve enjoyed singing all of my life.  When I was only three my Dad was a car salesman at a dealership in Paramus, NJ, and his demo car didn’t come equipped with a radio.  Undeterred, I would sit in the back seat and sing all the songs we would have heard on the radio if we had one.  Throughout my life, I’ve always enjoyed music even though my music choice and tastes changed over the years mainly because of my love for the LORD.

I don’t listen to secular music anymore.  To be honest, it doesn’t fit the focus of my life, and it does not serve a purpose.  Maybe that statement seems foreign to some people, but I believe everything, including the music I listen to, should serve the purpose of my life.

I grew up in a Catholic church until I was 8 years old, and we eventually attended an Assemblies of God church where I made a genuine commitment to Jesus, and was filled with the Holy Spirit when I was twelve.  I failed to understand, at that age, how my decision for Him affected my purpose.  Before that decision, all of my present and future plans revolved around what I desired to be or become, and what I would do to make that happen.  That all changed when I made a commitment to Him.  It was no longer I who lived, but Christ living in me (Galatians 2:20).

For the believer, our lives revolve around His existence much like the earth circles the sun.  Apart from many reasons for the existence of life on our planet, nothing could exist without the warmth and light of the sun.  What the earth needs most for life to exist is what it revolves around; the sun is at the center of its existence.  In the same way I view the existence of the believer, and my own life.  I know the Creator who breathed life into me, and the Savior who died and rose for me, and the Holy Spirit who fills me with the ability to serve God, so He is the center of my existence.  Whatever does not serve the purpose of deepening my dependence on Him, extending my reverence for Him, or portraying my devoted love for Him is waste (Philippians 3:7-12).

Now…..back to music.

What do I listen to most?  Worship music.  Why? Because my life is dependent on Him.  See, I have a testimony for why I am the person I am today, and it revolves around the faithfulness of God.  Worship is my opportunity to praise Him for who He is, thank Him for what He’s done, and draw closer to Him.  It is a time for me to get in God’s presence and be reminded how necessary He is and how incredibly generous He has been to me.  Worship is an opportunity for me to simply pour out my love and gratitude to God.  In worship, my focus is completely on Him.  I’m not focused on what others are doing, or if someone is singing in key or not, or how someone else is responding to Him.  It just becomes Him and me, and I’m relating my love to Him in worship.  I understand worship is a matter of obedience to God in how I live daily, but it is very much the act of singing and praising Him, as well.

In the midst of my seemingly impossible issues, I can worship and enter His presence and remember He is greater and more able to direct my life than anything which stands opposed to me.  Worship isn’t about asking Him for anything, but it reminds me what I already know….God loves me and He who is in me is greater.

This past Sunday night, our church had a night of worship where we just came together and lifted up His Name.  It was an incredible experience for me, and I believe for many who came that night.  It is definitely the first of many worship nights to come!  I also believe, God not only desires to develop a culture of worship in our church, but His people desire it too.  When our desires align with His desires, we can be sure we have finally figured out He is the center of our existence.

For your listening pleasure, here are some of my recent fav’s for worship…..

Only Wanna Sing – Hillsong Young and Free

Holy Spirit – Kari Jobe

Yahweh – Elevation Worship  (Song starts at 3:00 mark)

Spirit Break Out – Kim Walker

 

Commit or Quit?

quitWe all have some projects, ambitions, dreams which we’ve not completed.  For everything you have ever thrown up your hands and said, “ENOUGH!,” you have your reasons for giving up.  That’s right…..you gave up.  You quit!  You said it wasn’t worth your time anymore, so you decided to invest your time somewhere else.  You didn’t see value and whatever you don’t value you throw in the trash.

What’s interesting is why you even started in the first place.  Chances are you decided to quit when you were in a state of mind which did not consider why you even were involved to start with.  What was the reason behind starting that project, committing to marriage, choosing a college major or career, or taking that job?  I believe if you remembered the reasons why you started you would be more committed to what you started.  Why?  Because there were good reasons, well thought out reasons, for starting, committing and investing at the start.  Let’s be honest, when we want to quit, our reasoning is lame at best.  We’ve reached a point where we’ve had enough, and we want out so badly that we will justify our exit plan.

What have you recently given up on because it isn’t what you thought it would be?  Did you consider how it can’t be what you thought it would be if you haven’t finished it yet?  Honestly, you don’t start building a house and halfway through walk in and get discouraged because its so incomplete.  The walls and roof have been framed, but there’s no sheetrock, and you can’t easily distinguish from one room to the other.  You wouldn’t say, “This isn’t what I imagined it would be, so let’s forget it.”  Well, of course it isn’t what you expected because its still in the process of being.  It isn’t yet, but it will be if you will see it through.  One of the reasons we quit so easily is we aren’t committed.  When you’re committed, you are determined to see it through.  You are determined to overcome.  You are determined to finish and finish well.  Much in life is a process, and there’s no sense quitting when the work, your work, isn’t even finished.

What have you recently given up on because its harder than you thought it would be or should be?  The problem here is you didn’t count the cost.  There’s nothing like getting excited, ambitious, even full of faith and not taking the time to consider the cost.  You can’t go into everything in life and think it should be easy, predictable, and follow your pre-defined plan.  In everything there will be struggles and difficulties which need to be overcome, and those same hurdles don’t necessarily mean you’re in the wrong line of work, the wrong marriage, chose the wrong major, or that you’re going the wrong direction in life.  Did you really think the person you married was going to be perfect and it was all going to be for the better and never worse?  Marriage is a challenge; are you going to commit or quit? Did you think just because you were voted ‘Most likely to succeed’ in your High School yearbook that your life would be full of continual greatness?  You’ll have to work hard like anyone else, so are you going to commit or quit?  When something becomes more of a challenge than you anticipated; do you commit or quit?  Do you think your life should be so much easier because you are a child of God?  In everything, we have a choice to make – commit or quit.

In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Paul says this:  “Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

There’s a truth in this passage and its this:  The troubles faced are working God’s purpose in His children.  That’s not to say your struggle isn’t real, but it is saying you need to set your eyes on the One who is unseen rather than what you can physically see.  If you make decisions based on mere feelings, emotions, and expectations then you will never commit your life to Him as He commands.  Nothing worthwhile will be attained.  God’s faithfulness will never be witnessed.  The power of faith will be a testimony for someone else.  Yet, if you will fix your eyes on God and commit to what He has told you to commit to, and follow His Will in your life, you will find there is little to quit when God has called you to it.  It will be worth it because God said so.  Your marriage will be worth fighting for because God said He hates divorce.  Your commitments will be worth your effort because God gave you the burden, and you’re accountable to Him.  Let’s be as committed to all God has entrusted to us as He has been so committed to us.

 

What’s My Excuse this time?

no excusesHave you ever noticed the only time a person makes excuses when their behavior hasn’t measured up to their own expectations or even the expectations of those they respect.  Otherwise, we don’t have to make any excuses when we are operating at our peak and everyone around appears satisfied with us.  Excuses are made when there’s the need to try and remove blame from yourself.  To seek an excuse is to admit, as humans, we are not perfect, and we will not always do as needed or expected.

It’s easier to make an excuse than to come to resolution.  Sometimes people would rather have their behavior excused and overlooked by others rather than resolve what is causing the issue.  Resolve the issue, change behavior, and there is no longer a need to make excuses.

I’ll assume most who are reading this blog are Believers, Christians….Children of God.  So, are you living as His Word directs you to, and if not, why not?  What’s your excuse?

No, I’m not trying to be condemning or sarcastic but realistic….if you’re not being what He’s called you to be then what do you claim is the reason to excuse yourself from living as you should?  I doubt I’m alone on this, but I’d rather heal what’s broken, so I don’t have to be confined a crutch the rest of my life.

Let’s consider that Jesus came to release us from the excuses which keep us from living optimally for Him.  When the woman with adultery was brought before Jesus (John 8), it would be easy for her to justify her life.  There was nothing else she could do as she became a product of what others thought she was.  Maybe she could have excused her behavior saying everyone had faults and this just happened to be hers.  She could have even excused herself saying she didn’t have the opportunities others had, and she was doing the best she could with what was dealt to her.

Let’s not be so easily diluted because Jesus died and rose again, so we would no longer need to make excuses because He was all-sufficient to change us.  Jesus said He came so that ‘they may have life, and have it to the full.’ (John 10:10b)  So much for our excuses.  When I focus on Him, I become a product of His redemptive work in my life and not what others think.  When He is my goal, it matters little what others do because I desire to be like Him.  When I understand He is in control of my life, I praise Him for the opportunities He brings, and I won’t desire what He doesn’t present to me.  There is nothing lost if He has chosen to withhold it from me.

Be encouraged today how you, as a Child of God, don’t need to be stuck in the rut of making excuses.  Jesus has made a way for us to live for Him and because of Him, each of us is overcomers (Romans 8:28).  I may not be perfect, but He is perfecting me.  I may still fail, but I don’t have to be a failure.  I may sin, but I no longer have to be bound to it and can find freedom from it in Jesus.  Part of Jesus’ victory on the cross reminds me I can accept who I am, without excuses, as He is making me into who I am.  That’s good news!

 

Yeah, but is He any good?

good-or-badI’m Italian, and I let everyone know wherever I go (just ask anyone who has met me).  Naturally, I love Italian food, and is it because I’m Italian?  Sure – whatever, but it’s also because Italians do everything the best (did I mention we have serious pride issues??).  So, whenever someone says to me that an Italian restaurant is good,and as I’m nodding, smiling, and seem moved by such a glowing review, I’m thinking deep down, “Yeah, but is it any good?”  In this case, I know this person, and I know what they think is good, and their standard may not be my standard for authentic Italian food.  I know what my tastes are and what my standards are, so is this place going to meet my expectations?  Hmmmm, I’m not so sure.  Never mind that my standard of expectations may be completely flawed, and the food is actually good.

People are such skeptics even when they think they are very open-minded. Many times we aren’t.  We seem to be easily driven to decision by what others say.  Sometimes its based on what I know about you because I know what you like, and it isn’t what I like, so a decision is made to reject what you just said.  Other times, we place so much value in the position of those we don’t even know.

For instance, there is a famous app on most people’s phones where they can leave reviews about basically any registered business.  Generally, people leave negative reviews.  We  are eager to complain while keeping praise to ourselves.  So, a new Italian restaurant opens up, and I look them up and there are a few bad reviews, and I decide to pass.  Based on what?!?  The statements of people I don’t even know.  The next time someone looks at you puzzled, its because you, me, them, someone…..just doesn’t make a lot of sense sometimes.  Well, maybe a lot of times!

Jesus is surrounded by skeptical thoughts and notions too.  People have formulated their opinions about who Jesus is, what He did, and even where He is right now based on the thoughts or ‘educated’ opinions of those they know or don’t know.  They’ve heard positive things about Him and they wonder, “Yeah, but is He any good?”  Basically, will He fit my definition of good?  They’ve heard negative statements about Him, and they’ve rushed to a judgment of, “Yep….that’s what I thought!”  Either way, they haven’t taken the time to know Him themselves, and that’s a problem.

Psalm 34:8 states an important truth – “Taste and see that the LORD is good.”  When it comes to everything in life, you can’t have an opinion on what you haven’t experienced.  If you have a non-experiential opinion, its merely based on the tastes of someone else.  If you want to know what Jesus is all about then you have to come experience Him for yourself.  This verse tells us we will discover He is good when we experience Him.

I know, I know, I know….you’re thinking…”But, there are people who went to church all their life and now they don’t.  What does that say about Jesus?”  Did I also mention how particular Italians are?  Something can be good, but we will nitpick on this or that and what could have been done better when in all reality, it is good just how it is.  So, what a statement like that says about Jesus is this: it means Jesus didn’t suit their tastes, but that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong, or false, or misstated about Jesus as God’s Word has stated.

Here’s something to think about – just because someone says something is wrong doesn’t mean anything is actually wrong, it just may be wrong in their own mind according to their own personal preference.  Let’s be freed from giving greater place to the words of short-term human beings and listen to what the infinite, eternal God who sent His Son to die for our sins and be raised to life is saying to us.  People need to receive His Word, live by it and they will see their personal preferences are misleading, but He is good and worth following after.

The facts are the facts – people reject Jesus for the same reason they do good Italian food – personal preference, but that is never a good reason to reject what is good!

 

What Are You Running From?

runningPeople around you get comfortable with who you are.  They know what to expect out of you and whatever that is they find it acceptable because they call you their friend. People can handle small incremental changes to who you are.  They won’t sweat the small stuff like you deciding you’d rather have your eggs over easy instead of scrambled from now on, or when you decide to grow a beard (men) or get 3 inches cut off your long hair (ladies….well, maybe some guys too!).  See, no one is alarmed by these small incremental changes in preference.  What changes this delicate balance in a relationship is when you become saved which brings a radical change to who you are, how you live, and what is now your primary motivator in life – Jesus.

No doubt, salvation has the ability to cause those around us who are not saved to wonder what we are running from, but in reality we are also running towards something new, as well.

Salvation directs me to….

run from evil desires.  2 Timothy 2:22 specifically says, ‘Flee the evil desires of youth…’ Timothy is a somewhat young minister who has been trained by Paul, and I believe Paul is addressing the need for him to be aware of the trapping associated with being younger.  Yet, this can’t be all Paul means.  It seems just as clear that evil desires are for the immature, those who don’t want to grow up (come to grips with Jesus), and who want to do their own thing and be rebellious.  Sin is nothing to be proud of and as people who have been created by God, for God, it is just immature of us to continue living so willfully in it.  Those who allow sin to run rampant in their lives are like undisciplined children who think nothing of consequences or what tomorrow brings.  They have no mind for what is important or essential and everything, possibly including their own lives, is expendable because like children, they fail to see worth in life, or what is worthy in life.

The believer must be living a life that is running from sin (Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:3-6; Revelation 22:12-16).  Colossians 2:21 says of the principles of this world (in other words….sinful practices) “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”  Believer….what are you running from?  Your answer should be from an immature desire to rebel against God and live in sin which will not only corrupt this life, but will destroy the next.

Salvation directs me to…

pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the LORD out of a pure heart.  (2 Timothy 2:22)  What this means is you must:

…….Run after what God applauds.

If we want our lives to please God then we must be saved, but the evidence of this salvation begins to manifest itself in where I seek approval.  Part of the reason people are caught up in sin is they seek the approval of those who do as they do.  As a child of God you should be seeking the approval of your Father – God Himself.  The way we do this is by having righteousness imparted to us through Christ, like Abraham we believe God’s Word to us and have faith in Him so He can declare us righteous, and our whole being is shaped by the right pursuits – faith, love peace.  We have faith in Him, we love what He loves (especially loving Him), and we live at peace with one another.  At peace with one another does not mean to accept sin in others lives, or to stand idly by as they run from the LORD (Ephesians 4:1a; Luke 17:1-4).

……..Run with the right crowd.

Paul tells Timothy in this verse to make this godly pursuit ‘along with those who call on the LORD out of a pure heart.’  What this means is you aren’t meant to pursue Him alone, but He’s given you brothers and sisters in the LORD to run with.

If you want to pursue the LORD, what better way to do this than around others with the same heartfelt pursuit?  I doubt those around you who don’t know Him are spurring you on to live for the LORD, quite the contrary as they have no mind for what He cares about.  I’m not saying you should spend time exclusively with other believers.  If we were all to do this, we would not be effective in our mission to touch the lost with the Truth of Christ.  Yet, we need others who are likeminded in their pursuit of God as we are to help us continue seeking what is right in His eyes.

What are you running from?  Sounds like you’re missing out on something…..doesn’t it?  The only thing the believer is missing out on is the destructive ability of sin in their lives.  Well, it doesn’t sound so bad now……does it?

Pursue Him…..you won’t be disappointed!