Follow Jesus

This is from Matthew 4:18-22. You can read it here.

There is a difference in being called, and answering the call. Just because Jesus calls for you, does not mean you respond and follow. When He calls He gives you the opportunity to respond, but you are the one that has to go to the call. Jesus is always calling you throughout your life. He calls you from one place, to another place, to another place, etc. He never stops calling you, but not everyone answers the call. Jesus said whosoever will come, let him deny himself and follow me. So anyone can answer the call. The rich or poor, healthy or sick, CEO or unemployed, young or old, it does not matter; however, not everyone will follow because not everyone is willing to deny their own dream, their own wants, or what they had in their own mind to follow the call which put simply is to follow the one who calls.

The first disciples were out living their everyday life just as we do when Jesus came along, and called them saying follow me. Jesus called, and the response from the disciples was to immediately follow Him. They immediately left their families, friends, jobs, their whole life to follow Jesus. They gave up anything and everything to answer the call. This is what the rich young ruler did not do. He got the same call, it just looked a little different because he lived a different life. Jesus said sell your stuff, and follow me; however, the young ruler went away sad because he was not willing to give up his security to follow Jesus. The call to follow, and actually following are two different things. Are you willing to give it all up to follow Jesus? Jesus said in the same parable of the rich young ruler that those who do will be repaid many times over in this life, and have eternal life in the age to come.

Encounters with Jesus seem to cause immediatelies. These disciples immediately left everything. When Paul had his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road, he immediately began to preach Jesus Christ. When you have your own encounters with Christ it can cause immediatelies in your own life. You may immediately be saved, baptized, healed, set free, or have some other victory. Encounters with Jesus will change you, and that is the next point.

Jesus told these disciples, I will make you. If you do respond to His call then He will make you. This is a continuous transformation process that is not always easy. It will be uncomfortable because He is changing you. As long as you are following, He is changing and making you. If you follow Jesus He can make you a godly person, spouse, and parent. He will make you victorious. He will make you who He has called you to be whether that is a missionary, apostle, CEO, or small business owner.

Jesus told these fishermen that He would make them fishers of men. He just took what they did, and brought them into alignment with Him. He is more concerned about who you are becoming, than what you are doing. The skills, lessons, and everything else they learned as fishermen were just preparation for what He was calling them to step into. However, He took them from a place of comfort and moved them into uncertainty.

Jesus looked at Peter and basically told him that even though he had been a fishermen all of his life, He was changing his name, making him a preacher, and the foundation of His church. You may be scared, you may think it’s too big, you may think you don’t know how, and you may say you can’t, but if you will FOLLOW ME and TRUST ME then I will make you.

He’s not calling you to do something that you think you can do. He’s called you to do what He has placed in you to do, and to cry out to Him knowing that you can not do it without Him. He is calling you to do something that requires you to look to Him to carry you. He is going to lead you into situations that challenge you greatly, and make you cry out for Him because He is changing you. Peter wasn’t a water walker until he was greatly afraid with waves crashing into his boat thinking that he was staring at a ghost. However, there was a call. Jesus simply looked at him and said COME. Peter immediately got out of the boat and walked on the water, and when he got out in the middle between the boat and Jesus he became distracted by his fear, and he called out to Jesus who picked him up out of his struggle. Jesus may let you sink so that you can learn the lesson, grow, and be changed; however, He will never let you drown.

Answering the call, and following is your job. Making you is His job. All you have to do is follow, and let Him. You don’t have to try to make yourself anything. In reality that is one of our biggest problems as people. We try to be autonomous and create our own dreams, visions, and life stories, but if you are following Jesus you left all that in the boat the day you dropped everything to follow Him. He will make you who He has called you to be. Trust and follow the only one who knows the beginning from the end. His plan for you is better than anything you can come up with, and He will make into someone better than you could ever envision.

Follow Jesus, and live your life Kingdom first!

Levi

 

 

 

 

 

Look at Jesus

What is God like-look at Jesus

How should I interpret the word-look at Jesus

How should I behave-look at Jesus

How should I relate with people-look at Jesus

How do I overcome trials-look at Jesus

How do I walk in victory-look at Jesus

How should I treat my kids-look at Jesus

How should I relate to money-look at Jesus

What is my purpose-look at Jesus

It doesn’t matter what question you ask, the answer is Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Life is not in the abundance of things, there are no answers there, it is in Him. You can’t build something on this planet, and say look there is the Kingdom of God. Luke 17:21 The kingdom of God (YLT says the reign of God) is within you. We are still like the people in 30’s AD thinking we can build places for Jesus to establish His physical Kingdom. He said His kingdom is not of this world, if it was He would not be delivered up. We are looking in all the wrong places like wealth, success, and building programs. That’s not where Jesus is, Jesus went to the solitary places-Luke 5:16. His kingdom is hidden out in a field under all of our stuff, and distractions. His Kingdom is hidden within you. When His life is in you, it doesn’t matter what happens in life around you. If everything is going bad, He is still good.

If you are overwhelmed, tired, sick, seemingly can’t meet people’s expectations, it doesn’t matter what it is, look at Jesus.

 

 

3 of the biggest points on leadership I have learned.

I have been in some form of accountable leadership since I was 20 years old, most of it outside the church. I will be 33 in 4 days. 13 years isn’t a great deal of time, but it is enough time to accumulate a little bit of experience, and learn a lot even though I have a lot to learn. I have been in a lot of different positions, and I have learned something different in all of them. Time in service management taught me the need to define what you are good at, and what you are not good at as well as the scramble to step up, and grow into something you weren’t quite ready for. Time as assessment coordinator taught me that qualitative measures are just as important as quantitative measures especially in terms of people. Team leader, manager, coordinator, etc all of these positions which were outside of the church taught me something. However, the time I have spent learning from Jesus and the people He has placed in my life, and learning to be the person He wants me to be, and discovering who/how/what He wants me to lead has taught me more than any of those positions.

So here are 3 big points.

  1. Doing what you are good at is what adds the most value to the leadership team, the people under you, and the organization. Finding yourself in a position that requires you to work from your weaknesses is detrimental to you, and everyone involved. I’ve been there. Don’t seek positions that are not a good fit for you because you want money, authority, or anything else. Money, and authority lose their appeal when you are miserable.  Jesus doesn’t have weaknesses, but the 12 did, and so do you. Do, and continuously grow in what you are good at, and align yourself with people who have strengths where you have weaknesses.
  2. Authority does not equal competency. Just because you have authority over someone does not mean you have higher competency than they do. Just because you are over a department does not mean you understand the operations of that department as well as the people who work in it everyday. Don’t just do everything yourself. Let those who do it better than you carry it out. When making decisions lean heavily on the advice of those who are making that thing work everyday. Better yet empower them. I’m not talking circular, and redirection, until you get them to do what you want. I mean actually empower them. Remember you have weaknesses, look to others with competency, and look for other perspectives. Most are of the persuasion that one singular person has to have veto power. I tend to disagree. No need to riot or anything, I am just not sold on that yet. 2 are better than 1, a 3 strand cord is not easily broken, and 5 are even better. (Apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher) Each perspective brings a fuller picture, and a better decision.
  3. Every leader needs someone to follow. Being in a battle by yourself is a terrible place to be. NFL quarterbacks are elite, and they have to be good on field leaders; however, they all follow coaches. Remember authority does not equal competency. The coaches are not better quarterbacks, but they do have a different/broader perspective. It is invaluable to have someone to turn to, and lean on when you are not sure what the next step is, or when you are struggling.

Three condensed points from someone who still has a lot to learn, but is able to pull from some of my experiences, and what I have learned so far.

Live your life Kingdom first!

Levi

Share and support/Discipleship

In my last post about discipleship I shared stage 1 step 1 of the process which was to love others as Jesus loves us. Today I will share what I believe is stage 1 step 2 of the process. However, I first want to mention that I struggle anytime I write out something like this. It is a process, it does seem to happen in steps and stages, but I also want to emphasize that you can not do this mechanically. It has to be organic, it has to be deeply relational. I believe you have to try to form the same deep relationships with those the Lord brought to you as He did with the 12. Instructing, advising, and mentoring are all different from discipling.

So as we get into the share and support step we also have to realize that every step blends with the others, and they are all continuous. It is because of your love for someone who Christ has brought to you that you begin to support them. All throughout the book of acts we see the disciples sharing what they have to support others. Something that seems to be lost in the shuffle in a great way in America, and other consumeristic cultures. Here are a couple of the many examples of the outward acts of sharing and supporting- Acts 4:32-35 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” Luke 3:11 John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”

Here a few of the many examples of the not so easily seen acts of sharing and supporting- Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” 1 Corinthians 12:26  “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts share its suffering. If one part is praised, all the others share in its happiness.” Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

So what does all this mean to discipling someone? In discipling we are really just connecting people to Jesus, and helping them become who Jesus has called them to be. So it is really about us living life with them as they connect their life to Jesus. You share your real unfiltered life and testimonies with them, and support them in their pursuit of Christ in any way you can. You share in their victories, and you support them through their defeats. You help carry their burdens, and support them in their challenges, and struggles that cause their growth. You share your possessions with them. You give them the tools you wish you had in overcoming some of your own struggles. You give them tools you fought to get, so they don’t have to fight the same fights. You don’t fix their mistakes for them, you support and share with them as they work it out.

In short you share with them anything you have in your life both internally, and externally that will support them in living their life for Jesus, and stepping into their calling and purpose. Have their back, and build them up. Most will want to place disclaimers on parts of their lives that they will not share; however, I would serve a reminder that no one claimed any of their possessions as their own, and point to the truth that we own nothing.

I will mention again that you are not sharing the deepest parts of your life with everyone, but with those He has brought to you out of this world.

Live your life Kingdom first!

Levi

 

Core Values

I believe everyone should know, or be seeking to know their core values. Your core values help define who you are, what you do, and what you say no to. If you have no idea where to start, here is a link to over 500 core values you can choose from.

Most core value lists are simply words, and I think that is great. However, I also feel like it is incomplete. One of the things my wife, and I have done is to agree on a definition that adds action, and emotion to our core values. I am going to share some of our core values with you, and how we defined them.

The list I will share with you today is the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23. This is certainly not all of our core values, but if we are going to live a kingdom first life, I believe the fruit of the spirit better be at our core.

Love-We will lay down our own agenda out of love for our Father, and place others before ourselves. We will love others with no expectations of anything in return.

Joy-The joy of the Lord is our strength. Happiness is temporary as it is based on events. We have joy meaning sheer gladness because Holy Spirit lives in us. Our joy is not fleeting, but permanent because of His goodness.

Peace-We are free from internal struggle because we know Jesus has made us complete, and whole. We are free from external struggle because He is our source, and provider. If God is for us nothing can stand against us.

Patience-We have the capacity to wait upon the Lord, and His will. We will endure without getting angry, or upset. We also choose to exercise this same endurance when people come against us.

Kindness-We will be soft-hearted, warm-hearted, and open-hearted towards others. This internal working of Holy Spirit will be seen in our actions, and reactions towards people.

Goodness-God has made us righteous. Our goodness is His work in action. We will do what is good in the eyes of our Lord, and encourage others to do the same.

Faithfulness-We seek to prove ourselves trustworthy, and faithful to God even in spite of tremendous pressures, weaknesses, or temptations. When know that when we fail, He remains faithful.

Gentleness-We will not come with a whip, but with love and a gentle spirit. We know that no one has it all figured out, and we are all prone to weakness; therefore, we have no right to act harshly.

Self control-We seek to master, and bring our mind, will, emotions, and body under the control of Christ.

We kept our definitions short. You can make yours long, or even shorter than ours, but I challenge you to define them. Don’t use the dictionary definition to define your core values. Use your resources, but define them in a way that make them real to you.

Comment, or email and let me know if this was helpful. Which one of ours was your favorite?

Live you life Kingdom first!

Levi

 

Economy

Here are 3 major examples of man made economic ideas: Socialism, capitalism, and communism.

God’s economy is not defined by any of these man made ideas.

I believe there are three primary principles to God’s economy. 1) God owns it all. 2) We are stewards of what God gives us. 3) We are to be givers just as God is a giver.

You can make excuses or you can make time!

You say you don’t have time for growth in the things of God, or personal development.
Here is something I do….I wake up at least an hour earlier than I have to 7 days a week, no matter how early that might be. I want to know God more than I want to sleep, and I want to get better more than I want to sleep!
We all have time for what we make time for. You can make excuses or you can make time. It’s up to you.

Influence is better than authority

It can be said that leaders have both influence and authority.
Authority-the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.
Influence-the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone.

Be intentional about exercising your influence far more often than your authority. Great leaders build people not just accomplish goals.

Discipleship

I think we have a discipleship problem in America. It is my thought that one of the major issues we have is that true discipleship requires a deeper relationship than what we want to commit ourselves to. I think studying Jesus’ life shows this to be true. He had deep relationships with the 12. In a social media world of surface relationships we don’t want to connect very deep. I mean who has time for that in this culture anyway? We have to make an intentional choice to commit ourselves to Christ, and others.

Jesus said follow me and I will make you fishers of men. This one statement shows us a lot about discipleship, but for now we can just quickly and simply say follow Jesus, and He will transform you. This helps us understand what we are supposed to do. Connect people to Jesus, and support them as Jesus transforms them into who He has called them to be. That will be the perspective of this post, and several upcoming discipleship posts.

How do we disciple? There could be a lot of different answers to that question. I have a desire to be able to answer that question, or at least respond with an actual blueprint on how anyone can connect to Matthew 28:19 and go make disciples because we are all called to do it. From my experience I think there are three major stages in the process, and each stage contains three major steps. So lets look at stage 1, step 1 a little bit today which is love.

This is not just love others as yourself. Jesus said in John 15:12 “This is my command, that you love others as I have loved you.” That is a challenging statement. However, from what I’ve learned it’s pretty much impossible to go beyond the surface with someone until they feel like you love, and care about them. Love people in their victories, and defeats. When they are easy to get along with, and when they are hard to get along with. When you like their personality, and when you don’t. When they agree with you, and when they disagree with you. When they tell you what you want to hear, and when they challenge you. Etc.

People may give you their ear, and listen to what you say. They may even give you their mind, and think about what you say. However, until they feel like you love them they will not give you their heart, and take in what you say. Discipleship requires people to take things in and go through a transformation process.

Remember this isn’t about turning someone into who YOU want them to be, it is helping them become who JESUS has called them to be. I would also say you don’t have to feel like you need to disciple everyone, but you should disciple those He has given you out of this world.

Next time we will discuss stage 1, step 2.

Live your life Kingdom first! Love people!

Levi