Tag Archives: discipleship

A Closer Walk: Renunciation and Following Jesus

I have thought on the word “discipleship” a great deal in recent years.

If I had to describe, in one word, this journey of mine it has all come down to the word: RENUNCIATION.

The dictionary gives this simple definition of renunciation: abnegation, denial, forsaking, giving up, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-renunciation.

Tough words. Sometimes painful. Always challenging.

I smile when someone refers to a Christian as “wimpy.” (Truly, they haven’t got a clue!) Of all things required to pull-off a set of words like the above? Wimpy is certainly not one of them.

obedienceFollowing Jesus is definitely not for wimps!

Discipleship is the act of daily “laying your life down,” sometimes literally, as we have seen in our news headlines, but always, always, in absolute fidelity.

And here is where the struggle comes in—at least for me.

Perhaps there are those who joyfully follow wherever Christ points without the slightest questioning. For me—there has always been the struggle—especially when it is something that seems unfair, unjust, or illogical.

And, I suspect all the talk about the many folks going out the back doors of our churches confirms, I am not alone.

For a dedicated disciple of Jesus, life will come down to obedience—always.

American ChristianityFollowing Christ is choosing to obey Him in ALL THINGS.

We don’t pick or choose.

We don’t get a vote.

We are required to sacrifice anything and everything—if He wills it. We renounce our rights to ourselves, and renunciation, is where many walk away believing the price is just too high.

Discipleship means tough choices and giving up our right to any refusal (perhaps this is the toughest choice of all,) but that is why Jesus said to us, “Count the cost.”

Discipleship is very costly at times.

I imagine Non-Christians wonder, “Why would anyone choose this?”

For myself, I had to think hard to know how to answer that question:

I suppose, first, it is the JOY of learning that you are thoroughly LOVEDjust as you are.

All the broken, unworthy stuff, forgiven because He wants us; just as He finds us; in spite of all our mess.

Then, there is the PEACE He gives.

A peace that will overcome and rule any situation. (How could you possibly put a price on that?) He is the Prince of Peace, and when He comes to dwell in a heart He brings His peace with Him.

There is escaping hell and it’s judgement. (No explanation necessary here.)

There is His STRENGTH and the HOPE He gives.

There are all the PROMISES that He absolutely makes good on, either now or in the life to come, because He is completely TRUSTWORTHY.

He never lies. Never betrays. Never abandons.

daily renunciationHe is a King.

This world belongs to Him.

Make no mistake about it, He will never ask your permission.

He is a ruler.

He is: The Ruler.

(Something this world will soon discover!)

He will not spare for our crying, yet He will always acknowledge our suffering, for no one is more compassionate, or kind.

No one is more forgiving. But—He is laser-focused and unrelenting in His goals for our lives!

Does following Christ make you a wimp?

My answer—try it—see for yourself.

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ONLY WE TWO

We are going somewhere, you and I!

This, all of this, will be transformed into glory.

Remember? I give grace and glory.

(This we have talked about many times.)

Ah, but the cost we rarely speak of.

So today, let’s speak of it.

This chafing you feel? This constant, dragging, irritation? This is from Me. The things you think you cannot bear? The things that try your nerves, and scrape, and grate, on your soul? From Me—all from Me.

(How long?)

Just a little more.

Just until your nerves don’t grate and your heart can bear.

(Oh, that look!)

“Never.” you say?

(Oh, I don’t know about that!)

My child, I don’t smile at your discomfort. I smile because I see what you are becoming. I see the seeds of glory beginning to sprout.

(Ha, I knew it!)

Soon, you will be a luscious garden of graces, filled with the fruits of My Spirit. All this grating, chafing, misery, will dwarf in comparison.

As you begin to fulfill your destiny?

Oh, the healing that will flow from those lips; from your heart. Your life will burst into bloom and blossom and the world will marvel at what you have become.

Only we two will know what it has cost you—what you laid down and sacrificed to bear this fruit for others.

Only we two.

a closer walk“After you have suffered a little while, our God, who is full of kindness through Christ, will give you his eternal glory.”

1 Peter 5:101 Peter 5:10
English: World English Bible - WEB

10 But may the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

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A Closer Walk: Escape to An Awesome Savior!

I grew up with condemnation and criticism. It was well meant (sometimes) but still, it’s tough to breathe in that world. Tougher still, to grow into the decent and kind person, you want to be. All you can “think” in that atmosphere is, escape… I have to escape.

I am slowly learning...Yeah, rejection is a powerful toxin—and verbal abuse a stone killer.

When will we learn that?

Why do we believe that we can control, and own others, by battering another’s poor heart into a million, shattered, and broken pieces?

I didn’t understand the power of bitterness as a child, but I could feel it.

I used to think that kind of enviornment was normal. (It was all I knew.) Then later, I knew I had to find something different, because I was becoming like my abusers. My “normal” was corroding my heart into something I no longer recognized—into a someone I didn’t want to be. I knew if I wanted to breathe, if I wanted to love and be loved, I had to get away.

I had to lay down the dead hopes that my family would magically change and choose something better than their old and bitter verbal artillery.

So, I laid down a dead dream, and picked up His cross.

For a time, I believed all that “broken stuff” was wasted debris. That, not only could it NOT be fixed, but the dead weight of it had to be jettisoned from my life. (And there is some truth to that.) Some toxic relationships, no matter how much sweet water gets poured into them, will by their own heart’s choices, choose to remain bitter.

Your are priceless!Yet, even though the people we had hoped would love us, reject our love—even those difficult experiences can be wonderfully useful for His Kingdom.

It is His M.O. in us, after all!

He is: A Ransom-Redeemer, A Reviver-Restorer. The Royal-Resurrecter!

It has taken me six decades, count them, SIX long-n-dusty… bloody-n-broken… rocky-road-decades, but I have finally learned these Kingdom Truths:

God wastes NOTHING.

Our SCARS and DEBRIS are someone else’s HEALING and HOPE.

Forsaking ALL will lead us straight to HIS REDEMPTION PLAN.

And His plan?

Will BLOW destiny’s doors off their JOY-HINGES!

He rebuilds shattered lives into bridges—strong sturdy bridges that will carry other shattered hearts straight into His loving arms of Redeeming Grace.

Yahoo, what an awesome Savior!

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THEN… YOU WILL KNOW

There will be times when you will do your best, you will pray, you will believe, and still things will seem to go wrong. You may even be tempted to think, all you’ve done is worth nothing; only empty space.

This is where the wheat and the chaff go their seperate ways.

It is easy to work when all are pleased and the applause abounds. I have many in My Kingdom who will serve under such circumstances, many.

Ah, but when the wind is contrary, how those “easy-chair-followers” scatter!

Following ChristAnd, you? What about you now that you see what is really in their hearts? Will you leave Me, too?

I tell you, building this Kingdom of Mine is not for the faint of heart. The day is quickly approaching when the enemy will come in like a flood. There will be testing and trying like My Church has never seen! Many will forsake their friends and betray those they called “brother.”

I AM coming to do away with these easy-chairs, and all who cling to them! (But you?) You are My First Fruit! You will show the way to those who remain. You will encourage their hearts by your words of comfort.

No turning back

Then, “Ha, then!” it will not seem in vain. Then, you will see your Teacher, and you will know how wise were your appointed lessons.

Yes, then, your work will stand.

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“…but my work for them seems all in vain;”

Isaiah 49:4Isaiah 49:4
English: World English Bible - WEB

4 But I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely the justice due to me is with Yahweh, and my recompense with my God.

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A Closer Walk: God Never Plays Games With Us

God never plays games with us. He never lies to us. He always shoots straight with us.

I believe that is why Jesus plainly said,

“And no one can be my disciple who does not carry his own cross and follow me. But DON’T BEGIN until you count the cost…” Luke 14:27-28Luke 14:27-28
English: World English Bible - WEB

27 Whoever doesn’t bear his own cross, and come after me, can’t be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?

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What could be plainer than that statement?

So, why don’t we believe Him?

God demands everything

Why do we play games?

(Because we do.)

In the Western Church we act like this “discipleship-thing” is some sort of a democratic club. We sing that God is supreme. We say that Jesus is our King. But, if things don’t go well? If we don’t get to have our say, or have our way? We bail out—plain and simple.

The sad truth most church statisticians agree upon.

We hate to be inconvenienced, and because of that, there are as many people going out the back door of our churches as are coming in the front door!

If we don’t get what we want, and by that I mean, the pastor’s length of sermon, the style of music, the style of service, a good parking spot, or our favorite seat—we find a way to say, “Bye-bye.” Suffering—REAL suffering—is definitely not on our agendas.

And that was me!

I was seriously thinking of bailing—and here was God—painting a picture of greater suffering?

I had lost my health, my job, and with it, all of my income, my good credit, my freedom and choice of movement, my church, all my church “friends” and now God was saying, “…things could get worse.”

Worse?

You bet I was re-thinking my discipleship!

I was raised in the democratic Church in the West.

We vote on everything and I wanted a VOTE on this kind of agenda!

All InIt’s all well and good to be sitting on my nice clean cushioned-seat, in my lovely safe air-conditioned church building, singing sweet songs about how much I love Jesus.

BUT, it was quite another to contemplate things getting much worse—while I was occupying my own personal ash pile!

What was I really signing up for?

Did I want this dream I had asked God to give me?

I mean, did I really want it—at any cost?

faith or control?God was using words like “danger” and “hardship” with no apologies for either, you bet I was thinking long and hard.

Did I love Jesus as much as I claimed?

His words, “… don’t begin until you count the cost.” was certainly clear enough.

It was time to decide.

I know it looked crazy, (It probably sounds crazy too.) but my answer was, “Yes.”

I said, “LORD, I don’t have any idea where the two of us are headed, but I’ve come too far to turn back now.”

I was scared.

Life already looked plenty grim.

But regardless—I decided—I was all-in.

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WHY DO YOU WEAR THAT FUNNY LOOK?

So you have chosen. Good. Good!

No turning back.

I AM glad you have chosen to  go on.

It had to be your decision.

You are surprised?

upgrade your faithHave I not chosen to bind Myself by men’s free will? What kind of relationship would choose to hog-tie the other’s free will? That is not friendship, that is slavery!

I AM no slaver!

I AM the Divine Lover.

I never force.

(No, it is not My way.)

I do want you to come away with Me—with all My heart I want this. I AM so jealous when you choose “another love” instead of Me.

I freely admit it  I AM crazy about you!

Why do you wear that funny look?

Had you not figured it out by now?

Did I not tell you?

I would move stars and planets for you!

I would make the sun stand still for you!

I would follow you to the deepest, darkest cave, to win your love!

(This you know is true.)

Let Me shout it, “I LOVE YOU BELOVED!”

Let Me whisper it, “I love you.”

I love you with an intensity you will never understand!

When you choose Me—freely choose Me—no matter the cost? When you lay your life down as you have chosen to do?

My Spirit soars!

You are My passion Sweetheart. I wanted you to know it now, and for all time…

I love you.

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“But we have never turned our backs on God…”

Hebrews 10:39Hebrews 10:39
English: World English Bible - WEB

39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the saving of the soul.

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Memories

ashes_to_ashes__dust_to_dust__by_cheesysteele-d3nfklw

I hear You LORD… Your call to climb;
To reach bright destiny’s higher heights.
How do I climb, when hands of mine;
Are gripping baggage from long gone days?
Childhood’s hopes, for what might have been

Your only answer, “Climb or die.”

Climb or die? What choice is that?
What kind of Love can ask me this?
Surrender memory’s darker shores?
How God, with memories deeply planted…
Rooting me – in bitter lands of ash and char.
How can I escape their iron grip?
It is, too hard… You ask, too much!

Voice again whispers, “Climb or die,
Whose Love to you, means more than these…
Dead dreams you’ve lost, with love of self?
Lay down these idols, one and all…
Surrender shrine to injured child!
Child-hopes are gone… now, let them go!
You cannot climb with hands so full.”

This truth I see – and so I choose
To lay them down, to give them up;
These ashen hopes and bitter lies.
What use have I, for useless things?
The past released and must remain,
In phantom mists of days long gone.
With empty hands – with lighter heart,
I take firm grip on Master’s word,
And plant my foot on higher ground.

A CLOSER WALK: Ripples

ripples

Like ripples on a pond your life affects the people around you.

This was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn as I was growing up. There were times when I wanted to do what I wanted to do and I didn’t want to feel responsible to (or for) anyone else. I thought freedom meant no responsibility to anyone but myself.

I was young and foolish seeing only the child’s eye view.

It sounds good but it isn’t real. Like it or not, our choices affect others. Our decisions and behavior have consequences. I see people trying to ignore these facts, living as though their choices are their’s alone.

(But they never are.)

What we say and do, the type of person we choose to become, will impact those around us in a thousand different ways. Sometimes for the better; sometimes not.

One can choose one’s course, yes.

But we cannot always choose the consequences that will ride in on the coat tails of our decisions.

We have all heard the saying, “No man is an island.” but we try to be don’t we? We take our life into our own hands, choosing a course that runs roughshod over every other life around us. We claim our right to choose for ourselves, to live only for ourselves, in spite of all consequences to others.

I see it everywhere—self enthroned—Jesus Christ dethroned.

(Sadly, even in the Church.)

We make our own rules.

We decide our own course believing our life belongs only to us.

We deny Scripture trampling it under our feet, but at what cost to ourselves, and those who watch our lives?

Foolishly, we believe we must answer to no one but ourselves?

Never.

…RIPPLES

There have been times you didn’t like this very much, being in My hands.
Oh, you like it fine when I use My hand to give you what you want. But, when I close My hand. You really struggle with that one.
(Everybody does.)
Child, I would have you go far beyond this business of getting, or not getting, what you want. You are far more complex than that.
(And, so am I.)
When I say, “… your times are in My hands.” I don’t just refer to people, places, and things. The tangible is easy to fix your eyes upon, but look deeper. Your times are made up of much more than that!
What about, your gifts? Your calling? Your dreams? Your spirit-man? Your tragedies? Are not all these things in My hands as well? And if you could take them out of My hands? Which ones would you remove? You see through the glass darkly. You do not always see what I AM doing, or where I AM going.
Do you?
Your life, and the events of your life, are like ripples made upon the water. The initial splash may be very small, but if you are patient and step back and watch, you will see those ripples growing in wider and wider circles, encompassing more and more.
To take your life back. To say, “It is mine and affects only me.” is just foolish rubbish.
(And you know it.)
Everything… every… thing… you do, or say, will eventually impact someone else, someday, somewhere.
(Selah, that!)

“… my times are in your hands.” Psalms 31:15Psalms 31:15
English: World English Bible - WEB

15 My times are in your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.

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