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!

 

Calling and purpose simplified

Everyone wonders about their calling and purpose. I would also say that most people over analyze, and over complicate their calling and purpose. I know I always have; however, things have become much more clear and simplified for me this year. With that being said I would like to share with you what the Lord has shown me in these things.

Remember this is simplified, not exhaustive.

Romans 8:28-28 And we know that [a]God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (emphasis mine)

We ARE called, and we are called according to HIS purpose. Your calling does not come out of your own great idea, It comes from a God idea. His purpose for you is your calling. How does that help? I am glad you asked.

I will share a scripture that sums up purpose and calling.

Matthew 28:19-19 [a]Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

So we all have a purpose and calling to disciple nations (a plurality of people). How does that clarify what you are to do personally? This is what the Lord revealed to me.

God places a desire or you could even call it a burden in us for a place, He places in us things that we are naturally good at because of giftings and abilities, as well as desires to do certain things, and He places in us a connection to certain people that we can’t always explain as well as a desire to help certain groups of people. You could possibly say that we all have the same purpose to disciple groups of people; however, the way we are called to do it, where we are called to do it, and with whom we are called to do it is all personalized by God.

So calling and purpose simplified is to go where He has put in your heart to go, do what He has put in your heart to do, and do it with the People He has put in your heart to do it with.

Now this is where faith comes in, faith is actually doing it. Faith is getting rid of all of the excuses as to why you can’t go, and can’t do.

I’m going to leave it at that. Be encouraged, let your faith rise up, and go do it.

God is for you, and I am for you!

People, Purpose, Time > profit

People, purpose, and time all come before profit. People are more valuable than profit. Purpose is more valuable than profit. Time is more valuable than profit. This goes against the grain of American society, but it stands in alignment with kingdom living. We are to use the time we have to serve people with the purpose God has given us.

Since my wife, and I have been together we have lost many of our family members. In fact there are not too many people left. So we know the hard truth that once people are gone you can not get them back. We have had plenty of money, and we have been broke, but there has always been a way that we could earn some more money. You can replace money, but you can not replace people.

Purpose brings fulfillment. If you walk in your purpose you feel peace, and joy. If you walk in your purpose, at the end of your days you will feel full. Purpose allows for a life fully lived. If you work throughout your life doing something that makes you miserable just to pile up money, you will be miserable with a pile of money. You can pile up money, but it won’t make you full.

Time is flying, and very limited. Don’t trade all of your time for money. All markets have collapsed, all currency has collapsed, and every government has failed. You could trade all of your time for money, and in an instant all the money could be gone. You can earn some of the money back, but you can’t get any of the time back. Spend your time with your people, and walking in your purpose.

I have gotten myself in trouble looking at profit. I have gotten myself knee deep in things that I had to back out of at my own expense because I was focused on the profit. When I finally stepped back and took a hard look at some of these things, it was making profit at the expense of people. I am not going to be the guy that does that.

These things have always been in my mind somewhere, but I have had to go through a lot of struggles for them to become a part of who I am.

Don’t elevate money to a place it shouldn’t be, it can cause you to miss good times you didn’t know you had. Money is just a thing can be replaced, but your people, purpose, and time can not.

 

 

 

Prayer orientation

I would venture to say that most of us pray in such a way that we talk to God about where we are now, the struggles we are in now, the pain we feel now, the gaps we see now etc.

I would also say that I believe God knows all including the purpose for the present. The purpose of the current struggles that are preparing you for the future He has in mind for you.

So if God is always molding, shaping, growing, and preparing you for your future, let me ask this question….What if we shifted our prayer life to be future oriented? What if instead of asking why this is currently happening, we ask what it is preparing us for? Ask what we need to do now to be prepared for where we will be in the future.

My family, and I have been through so much that I have grown to where I am done worrying about the now because my faith is 100% that He is sufficient for me in all ways, and that He works every single thing in some kind of way to our benefit.

Have faith. You may not know why, but God does. You may not know how, but He does. You want to know how you find out that God is a very present help in trouble? You get in trouble that you can’t see any kind of way out of, and then God shows Himself to be the way maker. You get sick, and He shows Himself to be the healer. Finances? There’s nothing to worry about, God can make money fall out of a fish’s mouth if He wants to. You may have to face a failure in an area you don’t WANT to, but God knows you NEED to in order for you to see what He sees. Instead of worrying, look forward to the future and seek to understand ‘what’ because God knows, and He just might reveal it to you. Not why am I going through this, but what is this preparing me for?

God’s heart is for you, and my heart is for you. Walk by faith not by sight. He’s got you.

Time- a constant

James 4:14 “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Time can be defined as the progress of events. A constant of moving forward. Your life is one of those events. It started at some point in time and it is constantly progressing towards another point in time when it will end. Time never stops for a rest, it never slows down, it only proceeds forward seemingly faster and faster.

I challenge us to be less stressed about time in the sense of productivity, (we’ve all seen the multitudes of books on how to be more efficient/productive) and be more intentional about time in the sense of purpose and fulfillment. Take the time to find your purpose, so that you can work in something that will bring fulfillment. Working your life away doing something you don’t like doing to have a rich retirement will never fill the void of unfulfillment because money can’t buy it. Retiring early and rich without fulfillment just means you die before you stop breathing. We are meant to be imparting rich pieces of a fulfilled life into the next generations all the way up to our last day. Retirement should not be a day that working ceases, it should be a day that our work transitions. A day when instead of jogging out onto the field, you stay on the sidelines and coach.

James 4:15 “Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

I believe the Lord wills that we find the purpose He created us for, and to live out a life that fulfills that purpose as well as inspires, and imparts to the next generations.

Time-a glimpse of my thoughts on it…

Time is a subject that in my heart and mind I’m very passionate about. We only get one chance to live a kingdom first life, and fulfill the purposes of God in our lives. Furthermore, that one chance lies in a limited amount of time. One of the big struggles in my life is not wanting to regret, but at the same time not wanting to jump into something too early. This magnifies the importance of letting Holy Spirit lead you in this life.

Our time is very limited, and as soon as it is given to us it starts running out. You can’t recycle it, refurbish it, rebuild it, custom one-off build it, or create it. You can’t shortcut it, apologize to it, or create a marketing campaign that will convince it to wait on you or allow you a do-over. Even with these things being true, time is being wasted, misused, abused, and traded as if we have some type of control over it.

We have absolutely no control over it. The only control we have is in the way we choose to spend it. Choose now what you are going to do, who you are going to do it with, and where you are going to do it because your time to do so is running out.

Important thoughts for where you are going….

Here are a few thoughts that have been formed over the last couple years of my journey….I think they will apply to you as well.

  1. There is no easy way, nor is there a shortcut to the full expression of who God has called you to be.
  2. Your capacity to endure determines if you will make it there or not.
  3.  Your character determines if you will stay there or not.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

What are your barns for?

I think that I would be pretty accurate in saying that part of the ‘American dream’ is to work, save, invest, and multiply all you can so that you have enough retirement to kick back, relax, eat, drink, and enjoy the good life. It sounds great, it sounds right, and it’s very easy to get wrapped up in. I know I have been wrapped up in it, and I’m not even close to retirement. However, Jesus called it foolish in Luke chapter 12. (read it here) I think we have to remember that the American dream, or whichever national dream is not the kingdom dream. I will add a disclaimer and say that I don’t think Jesus was calling the act of planning, being prudent, or being a good steward foolish as there are plenty of scriptures that instruct us to act in these ways. I think Jesus was teaching us about mindsets, heart conditions, and motives.

America is very consumeristic, but not everything God gives you is for your consumption. It’s not for your consumption now, or in the future. Not everything given to you is for you to obtain bigger, and better. Not everything given to you is for future retirement, or generational building. Some things are just put in your hands to give to someone else. The things of God are not just given to you, but are meant to move through you. Everything belongs to God, as in God is the owner. You don’t own anything including your own life. You are a steward, or one who looks after the owner’s stuff. There is nothing wrong with storing things up if that’s what the owner asks you to do. However, if the owner asks you to give it all away you have to be willing to do that as well. I love to talk about dreams, and vision for your life, but it is not something that is done through autonomy. You ask the owner what the vision is, and then you do your best to steward that vision.

In the parable, the rich fool says to himself you have plenty stored away to kick back, and take it easy. The problem is that he was talking to himself. He didn’t ask the owner what he should do with all of his extra. He laid up treasures for himself, but he was not rich toward God. The American christian mindset is much the same. We try to store up what we think is ours in order to make sure we can have the easy life we want in the future. Our minds are set on obtaining, and storing. Our hearts are set on ourselves because of greed. So then our motives are completely autonomous, or self driven. We want to make more so that we can get more rather than asking the owner what we should do, or considering that if we can make more we can give more. The only reason to have overflowing barns is so that you can give the overflow.

We have a tendency to want to build our own kingdoms. It goes all the way back to the tower of babel. Many try to disguise it as for the kingdom rather than for self, but disguises are not the true identity. It would probably be wise for us to insert some firewalls against ourselves when building, and filling barns. Here is a thought to consider….when Jesus was walking the earth one of the things that His followers got wrong was that they thought He came to establish His kingdom on the earth at that time. (His kingdom is established, and ever increasing it just didn’t look like they thought it would) It caused a scattering when it didn’t turn out the way they expected. Jesus said His kingdom is not of this earth. Are we making the same mistake? Are we trying to build earthly kingdoms more than we are trying to impart, and commission? Jesus spent His time building people. Disclaimer again, I’m not saying things should never be built, established, etc.

I have had a couple major fumbles in this area on my journey. The good thing about that is I am able to learn, and I have found that the fumbles cause me to pursue God’s desires for my life even more. It is a great self check when your realize you have forgotten that you don’t own your money, vision, or anything else. Furthermore, the great thing about fumbles and our loving Father is that he lets you carry the ball again. The great coaches in your life will do the same, and you should do the same for your players. A fumble doesn’t mean a person should be moved down on the depth chart, it just means they need another set of downs.

Back to the beginning. I don’t want to build overflowing barns to kick back, and disconnect. I don’t want to drift out of life, and be retired from serving in the kingdom. However, I do want to transition in what I am doing in the future. I want to transition from being the ball carrier to being on the offensive line blocking, and making a way for others. I believe the Lord will allow me to build and fill some barns, but I also believe it is for the purpose of making sure they are emptied out into others before I go. The sooner I can make a way for others to score the better.

Have you asked the owner if you should build some barns, and why?

 

What is your agenda?

There is something that I have come to know, and that is when you step into your purpose and calling you wake up everyday with an agenda. You start to live your life in a way that you no longer just exist, or do the same things day in and day out for no reason other than that’s what you have to do to get by. Instead of no reason, you find THE reason that you are here. You find that there is something burning inside of you, and you have to find a way to give it expression, or it will consume you. You realize that you may not have it all figured out, but you are more willing to jump blindfolded than to sit and let the fire consume you. You go about your life with an agenda.

Jesus knew He had purpose, and He let people know He had an agenda. Look at these following statements.

I came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). And let me just say He wasn’t just talking about people. I came to serve (Mark 10:45). I came that you may have the more abundant life (John 10:10). I came to reveal the Father, if you have seen Me you have seen Him (John 14:9). I have come to preach the Kingdom of God that is my purpose (Luke 4:43).

I could continue on, and fill pages with these statements of purpose. Jesus didn’t come to just exist, and float along until it was time for the cross. The cross was the culmination of His purpose on this earth, it was not the only purpose. He preached, healed, taught, mentored, fathered, loved, saved, empowered, revealed, etc. Might I say it in this way, He had an agenda given by His Father. I would also say that He has an agenda for you. I can picture Jesus speaking with passion saying HEY! you weren’t created to just float along, and do your own thing. I didn’t just rise again to save you from something, I rose again to save you for something.

God has great purpose for you!

Here is part of the reason I think people avoid coming to their calling and purpose, and waking up with an agenda. It makes it harder. It gives me something that I am accountable to. If I am given much, much will be required. If Jesus was persecuted, I will be persecuted. I don’t want to go through the process of being humbled. I don’t want to bring my life into alignment with the call of God on my life. We don’t want to be courageous, we don’t won’t to endure, we like the ease, and comfort of autopilot.

The best way I know how to articulate my personal example of this is that with no purpose, or agenda I could make choices that were inconsistent. I didn’t have to schedule my days, I could just go to work and come home. Sometimes I could buy things with cash while other times I could just take out a loan. Some days I could choose to empower other people while other days I could just worry about myself. Without an agenda I wouldn’t have to worry about my family structure. I wouldn’t have to make sure my wife and I were on the same page because if you don’t have a purpose, and an agenda you aren’t worried about being accountable to it. You can just avoid the hard things.

When you decide to step up, and swing the door wide open to God’s purpose for your life, you find out that your agenda needs to be consistent with His purpose for you because your agenda is accountable to that purpose. Furthermore, your spouse and anyone else with you needs to align their agenda with the purpose God has placed on you all. You may say to yourself I don’t want to go around, and around with my spouse or my business partner about this (whatever it is), but let me just say this…It is so worth it.

Again, God has great purpose for you! Be courageous enough to make yourself accountable to it, and compromise less!

Live your life Kingdom First!

Levi