What did Jesus do on the cross?

I don’t really know if I would be correct, but I would reason that most people look at what Jesus did on the cross the same way. I would reason that most people would say something along the lines of- Jesus died on the cross for my sins so that I can spend eternity in heaven. (This is not wrong; however, I would argue that it is very partial, and possibly gets us out of alignment in the thought process)

I think most people look at the cross in such a way as to ask the question: How can I get to heaven despite my sin problem? The answer becomes like that above, Jesus died on the cross for me. Again not wrong, but limited, and almost selfish in nature.

The point of this post is to challenge you to think outside the box, or just to get you thinking in general.

What if you were to ask the question: How can God’s plan for the growth of His kingdom be continuing when there is so much death, destruction, and corruption among humanity? The answer then becomes-when Jesus died on the cross He defeated the evil that has enslaved humanity which has ensured that evil actions would continue.

There are many answers to the question that gives this post a title, and it is my hope that you will dig in a little further.

However, lets look at some implications from this brief example alone. If I am saved just to spend eternity in heaven, then I may as well take my ball and go home. However, if I am also saved to have a purpose in God’s plan of rescue, redemption, and renewal then I have reason to be here. Jesus walked about performing miracles, healings, casting out demons, and so on. That sounds like rescue and redemption to me, and those are the same things he sent the 12, and the 70 (or 72 whichever you like) out do. It is the same thing we are to do. Asking different questions about the same event forces you to have a larger perspective.

Dig in, and go deeper!

There is great purpose for you beyond your personal salvation!

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

A brief word on becoming a son

For a very big part of my life I did things in large part in order to gain approval, or avoid punishment. That was the highest percentage of what motivated me. A couple of simple examples: I didn’t want to get in trouble with my parents, or I wanted to get a high five from my boss. It’s a good thing to please your parents and your boss. The problem wasn’t with them, or even in my actions, the problem was in my motivations. This becomes an even bigger problem in our spiritual life, and that is what I will attempt to very briefly explain today.

If I am motivated to serve God because I am afraid of punishment, feel an obligation to serve, seek approval, or feel trapped then I have the mindset of a slave. I know this because all those things are symptoms of slavery. This is very important because if I am motivated by symptoms of slavery, and I have the mindset of a slave, then it means I see God as a slave master. This is a very unhealthy place to be, and a place that will only serve to hinder our spiritual journey.

So how to do we transition from a place of slavery to a place of sonship. The reality is that Jesus has already done it all. Jesus did not partially win a battle, He has the victory in its fullness. This means that if you are in Christ you are no longer guilty, and that is at least one of the key elements. You have to recognize that you are no longer guilty. There has to be a change in the servant’s heart. You have to go from guilt to gratitude. This means that you will no longer be motivated the same way.

It means I am motivated to serve God because of my gratitude for the gift of freedom and redemption. I don’t feel an obligation to serve, I have a desire to serve. I’m not just doing things for approval, I’m doing things out of love. I don’t do things because I am trapped, I do things because I am free to do so.

This change of heart and mindset may only be a part of this transition, but it is a large part. Where a slave has to, a son wants to, and that it is a substantial change within the heart and mind of a person. Where you were once a hindrance to your own spiritual journey, you are now a partner in furthering your journey.

God doesn’t see you as a slave, and I want to encourage you not to see God as a slave master. If you take a look at your life and realize that the things that motivate you are symptoms of slavery, and you want to change that, there is no better time than now. Ask your father God to help you change your mind and your heart in these things. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

God is for you, and I am for you!

Thank you! And the BIGGEST lesson I’ve learned so far.

I just want to say thank you to everyone who reads this blog! I value and appreciate you!

We are well into the last quarter of this year, and I am praying about what the next year will look like for Kingdom First.

In its first year, Kingdom First is read in 16 countries (some more regularly than others) so far which is very humbling.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far:

I have always been pretty aware that people have different perspectives, and that every journal, book, article etc. is written from a certain perspective. I know that every picture is taken from a certain angle. I know I take pictures of my daughter and never see things in the background that other people do. I know some see the number 6, but people on the other side see number 9.

However, this blog has shown me the true weight of different perspectives. These different perspectives have caused me to rejoice as someone lets me know how it helped them; however, it has also caused me to be grieved as another becomes confused or hurt as they read it through their lens. I’m ok if we just disagree, I’m not ok if you feel hurt. Conversations will usually fix those things.

No matter who you are, I only want for you to step into all of the great things God has for you!

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

“This is what my love is like….”

“This is what my love is like”…..this is what I heard the first time I ever knew without a doubt that God spoke to me. This is a piece of my testimony, but it is really about my father God, and my wife. I’ve never spoken this testimony without crying, and I’m sure I will cry while typing it. In my experience there are some God moments where the emotions never fade.

There was a time in my life when I was struggling with how to go about life in general, and to go along with that I had a lot of pent-up emotions. I was trying to figure how to move beyond the life I had experienced while at the same time trying to figure out how to fit into the life ahead of me.

I knew my wife was going to be different as soon as I met her, and from our first date there’s never been a day when we haven’t been together. However, the early days of our relationship coincided with my time of struggle. So along with my other struggles, I was trying to figure out how to have a healthy relationship. Neither one of us really had anywhere we could draw from on what that looked like.

She was at my house, and I can’t remember what our disagreement was about, but I do remember all of that pent-up emotion boiling. I got so mad that I went out to my garage and started slamming my barbell off of the ground in a rage. I can remember thinking that she would leave and never want to return. That thought sobered me up a little bit, and I put the barbell down. I turned around, and she was standing there. She saw it, she witnessed my worst moment. She stepped to me, wrapped me in a hug, and just said it’s ok, I love you. She had every right, and reason to have responses other than that. It was a moment later in our hug that I heard God say to me “this is what my love is like.” “I love you the same in your worst moments as I do in your best moments.” Nothing in my life has been the same since that moment.

When everybody else left, she stayed. When she had reasons to leave, she stayed. When no one was there, she was. When I was at my worst she loved me. She was the physical reality of God’s spiritual reality in my life. When it comes to living a kingdom first life, God, and my wife are the biggest part of why I am where I am today.

I loved God, and I had always been in some level of relationship with Him, but I didn’t want anything to do with going to church, I had enough bad experiences with that. It was my wife who convinced me to go to a church that she knew about that would be different. There is no chance that I would have ever taught a lesson, preached a message, or even be sharing on this blog if it wasn’t for that moment. If it wasn’t for God, and my wife.

People will tell you that God loves you no matter what, and that’s a good thing. I had been told that many times, and I even believed it. However, when God Himself says that to you in your worst moment, you know without a doubt that it is true.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, there are very few things that I can tell anybody with 100% certainty; however, one of those that I can is that God loves you. At your worst or at your best, it doesn’t matter. That’s what His love is like. His love is perfect even when you are not. His love is complete, even when you are broken.

God loves you, and so do I!

 

Outliers…Are you an outlier?

I am an outlier. I always have been. What is an outlier? An outlier is a person who is  detached from the main body or system. An outlier is a person who is different from all other members of a particular group. An outlier is someone who doesn’t reside in the inner circle, and doesn’t concern themselves with fitting in. An outlier is someone who doesn’t follow the crowd. An outlier is someone who decides not to always conform to cultural norms.

As an outlier there have been times when I have stepped into the inner circle; however, I have always chosen to step back out, and remain an outlier. The reason is simply that given enough time, I have never liked what I see and hear in the inner circle. It’s not a judgement against those who were in that circle, it has simply always been my conviction. After all, I’m an outlier, I tend to be different.

The problem is that being an outlier is usually clothed in negativity by the main body, system, group, and culture. They will disassociate with, and discredit the outliers. So the outlier can end up walking around with a stigma attached to them.

If you are an outlier like me, I write this to encourage you. I remind you that Jesus made His company out of the outliers. His company had to be made up of people who were willing to go against the grain. He was going to be way to disruptive to the culture and system for it to be any other way. I encourage you that you are in good company. Just to mention a few; Elijah, John the Baptist, apostle Paul, and of course our Lord Jesus were all outliers.

Outliers have no need to conform to the norm. You can be creative, think outside the box, and stick to your mission. Go ahead and take the road less traveled, after all it is the narrow gate that leads to life. Most will look for the safe, secure, predictable, comfortable, accepted, well beaten path. Follow Jesus instead. Most will operate in self accommodation and embrace the prior conclusions of the mainstream. Most of the Jewish people sided with the mainstream, very few chose to follow Jesus.

Outliers are willing to prepare for years under a cultural stigma in order to be ready when their moment comes. John the Baptist spent years preparing for an amazingly significant 6 months. And of course there is Jesus whose ministry changed everything. Outliers are willing to risk all for their convictions. They do not live a life built upon convenience but rather craft a life built around their convictions. Death, or missing out on culturally defined success is not a fear for the outlier, the outlier fears missing their purpose.

The outlier loves the accolades of God more than the accolades of men.

Love people, value people, learn from people, accept people, etc, but it is ok if you don’t operate in groupthink or conformity. In fact, I would say that there is no better time than now to be different. Be so committed to living life kingdom first that you are willing to walk away from everything else. The kingdom for the outlier is like the hidden treasure, or the costly pearl. The outlier is willing to give up accommodations, the praises of men, and anything else for the kingdom.

You’re an outlier. It’s ok, so am I.

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

 

 

 

Ask for help

There are times in life when you need a little boost, even when you are living a kingdom first life. There will be things that you are trying to overcome that you can’t seem to overcome, but really all you need is a little boost. That boost usually comes in the form of a person.

When I was in the army I had a hurdle that I couldn’t seem to overcome. It was the 2 mile run. I wanted to get the max score on my 2 mile run, but I came up just shy of it two or three times. It made me mad! I could max the push-ups and sit-ups in less than half the amount of time given, but the 2 mile run kept me from a perfect score.

There were two things that kept me from maxing the 2 mile run, and it wasn’t my ability. It was the excuses I was giving myself such as maybe my legs are too short and I’m not built for the 2 mile run, or maybe it’s because I’m a little too heavy from spending time in the gym. The second thing was my pride that kept me from asking for help. After all I was known for being physically fit, I shouldn’t need help, people come to me for help.

I got frustrated enough that I got over myself, and asked for help. I went to a person. I asked sergeant Furqan to pace me on the 2 mile run.

The morning went as usual, I maxed my push-ups and sit-ups and it was time for the run. Sergeant Furqan got beside me and we took off. The pace was faster than I expected, I was on the verge of an all out sprint the whole time. I was thinking to myself that maxing this thing really wasn’t for me, my legs must be a blur like in a cartoon, and I might die! However, for every one of those thoughts, sergeant Furqan was telling me something else and pushing me.

When we were about a half mile from the finish line, and I could see it, something crazy happened. After I thought I was on the verge of sprinting this whole time and I would never be able to keep the pace, I realized I had another gear and shifted into a new stride. I even pulled away from sergeant Furqan, and I crossed the finish line with 20 seconds to spare. I maxed the 2 mile run for the first time!

It didn’t take some miracle, or grand scheme. All it took was someone coming alongside me, and giving me a little boost. Sometimes we need people like that. People who will help you get over your self perceived limitations, and weaknesses. Someone who will help you get past all the reasons why you can’t do what you are trying to do. Someone who will come along side you when other people say you can’t do something, or that you can’t get things right.

What’s awesome is that sergeant Furqan let me pull away. He wasn’t like so many people  who call themselves leaders. He didn’t have to beat me to the finish line. I heard him kind of laugh as I kicked it into the next gear, and I could hear him pushing me on as I ran ahead of him. What an amazing thing. I want to do that. I want to get alongside people and give them a boost. I want to cheer them on as they kick it into the next gear. I hope I already do.

There are so many people who will tell you all of the things you are doing wrong, and why you aren’t blessed and have no favor and so on. This is why we need to find the people who look past your short legs, and help you anyway. We all have shortcomings, but there are people who are willing to look beyond those things. Sometimes it feels like they are few and far between, but they are out there.

All it took was one person to come alongside me one time. I maxed the 2 mile run every time I ran it after sergeant Furqan helped me. You may be stuck in a rut, but sometimes all it takes is one person to bust you out. God designed us in such a way that we need not only Him, but His people. Don’t let your pride, or weaknesses that you think are too big to overcome keep you from finding the right person. God puts people in your life that can help you. Find the right ones, and ask them for help. God has way too many great works for you to do to be stuck in a rut.

God is for you, and I am for you!