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Leading is difficult. At times it can be incredibly rewarding while other times, some may argue most of the time, it is incredibly challenging. Leading is even more difficult when leading through change. In their book, "Leading through change," Barney Wells, Martin Giese, and Ron Klassen give nine steps on how to lead congregational change.
Church members or church growth gurus often reference leading the church like an organization or sports team, but the reality is "Jesus did not call the leaders of His Church generals, coaches, or CEO's. He called them shepherds" (1). A shepherd is called to guard, govern, and guide the congregation entrusted to him. In order to do that, He must understand the members and the culture in which they live. There are some that say the shepherd should just stick to teaching the Bible and leave the culture to itself. This is an ignorant view of the shepherd’s calling. It is a faulty point of view because Bible teaching that isn’t applied to Bible living governs the flock but doesn’t guide or guard. Furthermore, this view is contradictory because the point of understanding the Bible is to skillfully apply that knowledge to live in the culture (i.e. wisdom).
The only way to bring about effective change is to understand the culture in which the members live and leverage that knowledge to produce the best possible growth. Leading through congregational change lays out eight practical steps to bring about change:
Preparatory preaching and teaching are initiated by the preacher who “has a unique instrument to effect change” (3). The bible should be the foundation for any change that takes place in the church. In leading congregational change God’s “word will provide instructions regarding that change” (4). The first objective of preparatory preaching and teaching is to expose the why and what behind the how. Congregation members may be frustrated if they only hear the “how” of the change and not hearing why the change is being made or what is exactly being changed or the purpose of the change. Who do you need to inform about the change? What do you need to tell them?
Building loving relationships also seems to be obvious, but an underused, tool in the workshop of cultivating change. Perhaps the best description for this tool is it is an aspect of change that is taken for granted. Importantly, “loving relationships within a congregation, modeled by the leaders, are essential for leading change” and “if relationships are intact, then the congregation will be much more responsive to their leaders’ proposals for change” (6). If change is lead through relationships then the basis of that change is formed around trust and self-sacrificial love and therefore has a higher probability of sustainable and acceptable change. Who do you need for formulate relationships with in order to facilitate the change?
One-to-one communication with decision-makers helps make sure “the idea is understood...show respect for their opinions and input” (7). In order to cultivate sustainable change, and if the people in the congregation are important to implementing that change, then buy-in from the decision-makers is essential. After all, the congregational decision-maker members “have an understanding of the culture and community that you may never have, and, to paraphrase the Apostle Paul, they too have the Holy Spirit” (8).
To rely on key persuaders and diplomats is to find people that members in the congregation “...regularly turn to…and the results are consistently wise counsel” (9) in order to bolster the change that needs to take place. These people can be found through observation or prayer. These people may also “have a long history and moral authority to hold respect” that “tend to be gracious, friendly folks who smile and tell stories” (10). How have been/are the decision makers in your church or business? Who do you need to get on board?
To identify similar innovators is to “gather some leaders from your church and take them to see the innovation” (11) in other churches that have a similar identity. How can your group learn from the success other churches or businesses?
To use history and tradition is to first change the perception of it from an obstacle to an opportunity in order to harness the change to catapult and cultivate the change. If change-makers can “learn what your congregation is proud of from its past” or “the times when they think they were at their best,” one can leverage that nostalgia experience as a motivation for helping “them see that change they need to make as being another step along that path” (12). Who can you leverage to bolster this necessary change for your church or business?
To sample the change is to try a change with no-risk. It is to try a temporary change that is subject to reversal. This may make the change process smoother. How can you communicate your change in such a way that reflect flexibility and openness?
Finally, after these steps are completed, one may evaluate the effectiveness of the change by asking three questions, “(1) Did the change accomplish what we had hoped? (2) Did it have effects we did not intend? (3) Can we sustain the change?” (13) The change is made for an “agreed upon purpose” but “subject to the law of unintended consequences” which may be “beneficial or adverse” (14).
1) Wells, Barney, Martin Giese, Ron Klassen. Leading Through Change: Shepherding the Town and Country Church in a New Era. Bloomington, MN: Church Smart Resources, 2005. 81.
2) Ibid., 82.
3) Ibid., 84.
4) Ibid., 84.
5) Ibid., 85.
6) Ibid., 85.
7) Ibid., 87-88.
8) Ibid., 89.
9) Ibid., 92.
10) Ibid., 92.
11) Ibid., 93.
I2) Ibid. 94.
13) Ibid., 95.
14) Ibid., 94-95.
Should Christians make political posts or engage in discussions about government? Yes and no.
There are two reasons why Christians may not want to engage in political discussions. The first reason may be for lack of knowledge. Certain Christians may be ignorant about what the Bible teaches about the purpose of Government. Another reason why Christians may abstain from discussing political issues is a tactical reason. Perhaps certain Christians lack discretion or situational awareness and therefore the discussion would be unprofitable. The sad reality is most people seem unable to engage in respectful dialogue with a healthy exchange of ideas. Personally, I’ve had former students in my ministry, members of my congregation, and friends disenfranchise me because of my political position without reaching out to discuss things. I try to align my political positions as closely to the Bible as possible. If I am in error, it is unloving to leave me in error. If I am correct, it is prideful to remain in error. Either way, the Bible is very clear about working out your differences with those living in sin, in error, or with those that have sin against you (Matt. 18; 1 Cor. 5:9ff; Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 4:3).
It is foolish to assert that silence equals violence. In fact, the Bible encourages Christians to be quick to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19) and to refrain from talking is a wise decision (Prv. 10:19; 17:27). Many immature Christians will be held accountable for the words that they speak (Mtt. 12:36) when they call fellow Christians “Nazis” and “racists” and “traitors.” These kinds of statements are usually passive aggressive social media posts because they lack the love and conviction to say it in person. They are unloving cowards walking in disobedience. If they are not careful, this disobedience may soon lead to the sin of disbelief. I believe we should err on the side of caution and speak the right words at the right time.
On the other hand, yes, Christians should engage in political discussions. To assert that Christians should not engage in political discussion is to undermine two important truths:
However, there are other times He would educate His audience and demonstrate for His disciples how to interact with governing authorities in a righteous manner (Mk. 12:17). Furthermore, Jesus came to establish the Kingdom of God, a true monarchy in the political context. Christian are Kings and Queens reigning over the Earth (Rev. 1:9). There are many posts that assert Jesus remained neutral in political discussions or always withdrew himself from political discussion. This is simply false. His refusal to be a worldly king and usher in the Jew’s false understanding of the Messianic Kingdom was not a refusal to discuss political issues.
The Apostles, speaking as authoritative spokesmen on behalf of Jesus, often dealt with how Christians should conduct themselves in relation to governing authorities. Importantly, many of the New Testament Epistles themselves are political discussions. How should Christians treat governing authorities? (Rom. 13; 1 Tim. 2:2l; 1 Pt. 2:13) Should Christians ever disobey governing authorities? (Acts 5:29). Paul and Peter often had conflicts with their rulers and Caesar himself (Acts 19:21; 23:11). Government officials became Christians (Acts 10:40ff; Philippians 4:22). These are just a few examples.
The end goal of political discourse is not silence, slander, nor self-assertive stubbornness. We as Christians should reject the idea that “silence equals violence” while at the same time possess the situational awareness and biblical knowledge to engage in discussions with wisdom. However, the sad reality is that many Christians and non-Christians act like fools. It may be wise or unwise to engage them in controversial discussion (Prv. 26:4). It depends on the person and the situation. When you see people, perhaps Christians, making political posts about not making political posts, it is in fact a political post. Publicly vying for Christians or Church leaders to stay out of politics is in fact a political position, "My political position is we shouldn't have political positions or make political posts." This is a self-contradictory statement.
When discussing political issues that impact the Church, the goal is civil discourse while remaining friends/friendly with each other. The goal is not silence. There may be a conflict in values or a disagreement about the interpretation and application of Scripture. The purpose of civil discourse is to hear and understand the other person's point of view and ultimately to get at truth. If I choose to stay silent on social media about issues of social injustice or racial issues, that doesn’t make me a faithless Christian. I may choose to responsibly speak out about political issues concerning precepts or principles in the Bible. This doesn't make me a faithless or controversial Christian.
Do you agree or disagree? Let me know.
Unfortunately, the election had to happen this way. Unless the crime involves bodily harm (like how to catch a predator), the executive branch of our government punishes crimes committed. They don’t prevent crimes (for the most part). Voter fraud and election corruption has been going on for quite some time our country. We’d like to think that our elections have been fair and free. If voter fraud was going to be so obvious, like Trump and Barr predicted over the summer time, why didn’t they stop it? I believe they did not stop voter fraud in 2020 so they could put an end to it once and for all. Trump made sure to create accountability for our elections by creating CISA and handing over our elections to DHS, which was categorized as a national security Infrastructure issue.
LONG POST ALERT: What do we make of current affairs? What do we make of voter fraud claims? Is it possible this election was a “stolen election?” What is most likely to happen?
When we look at the probability for events, like the Resurrection, we place the probability for that event on the backdrop of other kinds of information and evidence. If we are naturalists or materialists and simply view the resurrection as an isolated event, the probability that Jesus resurrected from the dead is low. This becomes even more true if your worldview is philosophical naturalism, because it presupposes God does not exist and therefore miracles are impossible.
However, the probability that the resurrection of Jesus happened begins to increase once you add additional information to the context of the event.
A. Historical reliability of the Gospels (five independent historical documents).
B. Excruciating Testimony of Converts (Disciples would not die for what they knew to be a lie).
C. Embarrassing Testimony (Disciples included humiliating details that valid truthfulness of testimony).
D. Saul of Tarsus Conversion (formerly Anti-Christian & Persecuted the Church, but Drastically changed worldview at conversion. Lost everything, gained nothing).
E. Cosmological argument
F. Teleological Argument
G. Moral argument
There are even more arguments for the existence of God and truthfulness of Christianity. These are just a few, but my point is simple, the probability of an event occurring becomes more probable as you accumulate more evidence and information. If you isolate one issue, of course it seems improbable. However, it becomes even MORE probable when you include other information and evidence. If God exists, miracles are possible. The Resurrection is the best explanation for all the facts, what we call explanatory power and scope. This means Christianity is more true than false. This means that Christianity is a reasonable faith. The same is true of this election.
QUESTIONS to consider:
We are seven days out from the election. Things are going to get more tense, especially as evidence is revealed in court and to the American people. We are living in one of THE most historic moments in American History. Don’t underestimate the gravity of current events!
In consideration of the current events, what can we expect? A few days ago I anticipated the following:
This is my honest projection of events. I don’t suggest panic, but each person needs to understand that this is a new kind of war. Sitting elected members (Like AOC) and left wing members are already creating lists of Trump supporters to ostracize and blackball for any future activity. The gloves are off. There is nothing left to lose. They will destroy Trump and his family if they gain power. They view Trump as Hitler. For many of them, removing him at all costs is their moral ethic, “the ends justify the means.” This is extremely dangerous. Be prepared for an all out political war that is fought in the courts. However, notice that after the Election, conservatives didn’t burn down cities. So, then, why are the businesses still boarded up in DC? They know what is coming and you should too.
Each person should be prepared for the worst but hope and pray for the best. While I’d like to believe there is no voter fraud, Barr is moving quickly. Optics no longer matter. The individual at the DOJ that was in charge of voter Fraud was Richard Pilger, the same individual connected with Lois Lerner under the Obama administration that targeted conservatives at the IRS. He just “resigned,” I.e. was fired. Like I said, this is an all out war for the future of this country.
I’m also not a prophet and could be completely wrong, but based on my understanding of history and research into current events these are very likely outcomes. We all need to take a deep breath and Pray, but don’t be a fool or ignorant to the situation.
What can you do?
We all have mountains we’re hoping to climb this year, but before we begin the climb, let us recognize and give thanks for the good and prepare ourselves to grow in the ways that matter most (love & character). Remember, God is for us. God began a work in you and He will complete it (1:6).
Stay focused. Give thanks. Pray. Abound in love. Grow in Character. Let’s do this!
PSA: I'm DONE with the institutional Church, just give me Jesus!
Do you ever get sick and tired of just showing up to the institution we know today as Church? Many families wake up before they’re ready, rush to get their kids dressed, skip breakfast, interrupt nap time, feel disconnected with the worship, and fellowship with people who complain about every aspect of their lives. We pass people in the hallway who don’t say hello, who was out drinking the night before, who are having premarital sex, who spend Sunday School gossiping, and we hear bits and pieces of a mediocre sermon (as if it would apply to us anyway). These are the same people who preach the Gospel on social media and often pretend to be something they are not. We look around and we see nothing but hypocrites, fakes, and a shell of the Church we read about in the Bible. If we do have a conversation with someone it goes like this,
“Hi, how are you?”
“Great, how are you?”
Then we move on in silence. If we do go to Sunday School it seems like everyone’s favorite time to argue and demonstrate their intellect. Church just seems to lack a certain realness. I mean, come on, are we still saying, “Sunday School” and not “Bible and Coffee?”
Don’t even get started with what it’s like when a person has to volunteer on Sunday. The Check-in System isn’t working… again. People are rude. Some volunteers miss out on the Lord’s Supper and have to take it at home... alone. “Well, just add a separate Lord’s Supper service at the end of service for volunteers,” one well-intended person suggests. “Great,” the volunteer thinks, “Now who is going to watch my children while I spend even more time, in the quiet, with people I don’t really know while pretending to concentrate on Jesus.” Volunteers may deal with people who are thoughtless, careless, and over opinionated. Members come prepared to complain about the music, the building improvements, the sermon conclusion, the announcements, where coffee is served, who is wearing a hat, why others are not tucking in their shirts, and many other things. Sunday may become a mad rush of discouragement instead of a hopeful light of encouragement.
Is all this hassle really worth it? Do we really get that much out of it? Is this the kind of community Jesus was talking about? Can’t we simply have Jesus, and a personal relationship with him, and not put up with the fake Church culture that has lost touch with “Biblical” Christianity? Is “going” to Church really worth it? Would it be better to sit at home, listen to a sermon on YouTube, take the Lord’s Supper with the family, and actually enjoy Sunday? I hear this kind of stuff all the time, and if I’m honest, I’ve been guilty of asking some of the same questions. Those who’ve given up on the Church have concluded that the judgmental culture of the Church isn’t worth it, “I’m just going to raise decent human beings and be nice to people” or “I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not. I pray to God. If He accepts me, great. If not, o well.” It’s sad to hear.
The most important thing I’d like the reader to perceive is my one-sided negative approach to my evaluation, description, and judgment of the Church. I have an unbalanced scale, so it seems, and I’ve failed to take into account the good aspects of the modern Church culture. Recognizing this helps me realize that something is off and the enemy is at work. Seeds of dissension have been sown. After all, “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight” (11:1). Jesus doesn’t fear an honest critique of His body, but he does detest a person who has a one-sided approach.
I want to encourage you to join me over the next several weeks as we wade through this conversation and take an honest look at answering the question, “Why should I go to the Church of today?”
Take some time to write a pro / con list of Church today.
Take some time to pray for wisdom in your evaluation.
Take some time for introspection.
Take some time to reflect on this, “As long as people (including me) are a part of the Church, it will be messy and imperfect.”
I admit, if one has the righteous anger of the Lord, it is possible to be angry and “not sin” (Eph. 4:29). Anger is a powerful emotion, and when handled righteously, can enable us to do incredible things for God. Notice the emphasis, for God.
However, more often than not, we use certain Scriptures as an escape clause to justify our human anger. We act in evil ways because ultimately our hearts are evil (Matt. 15:19). In myself and in the ministry, I’ve noticed human anger is a symptom of self-hatred and an unhappy life. When I look back at the times I acted in rage, it was because I was unhappy with myself. I wasn’t living a life that was pleasing to God. We can be tempted to cope with the unhappiness we feel for ourselves by being angry at the people around us.
A few months ago, we had a member absolutely enraged that our kids helped lead worship on a 5th Sunday Fam Jam. This person marched up to an Elder and yelled at him, then stormed off to the car, pledging to never come back. This outburst, poor judgement, and destructive speech manifested itself in human anger.
First of all, we should be slow to anger because human anger prevents us from living a life that is pleasing to God. James puts it like this, “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20 NASB). The point of Christian living is to be holy. We can’t be holy if we don’t practice the righteousness of God.
Human anger expresses itself is various forms: lies, grudges, abusive language, destructive opinions, bitterness, rage, slander, harsh words, evil behavior. A life filled with human anger is the antitheses of a life filled with the love and lifestyle of Christ (Eph. 5:2). Our human anger justifies our sinful behavior and our sinful behavior brings forth death. When we dwell in human anger, we bring sorrow to the Spirit and suppress Him from working in our lives (Eph. 4:30).
Secondly, we should be slow to anger because human anger because we can kill our relationship with God. Jesus made this emphatically clear on the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:21-26). When we are angry without a cause we place ourselves in the same category as a murderer. The Scribes and Pharisees thought they were living righteously because they didn’t murder anyone. Yet, Jesus explains the true heart and purpose of the law in that God expects us to have a love that leads to reconciliation. He wants us to love in such a way that rejoices in truth, takes responsibility for our actions, and comes to a compromise. Remember, we are called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
We can be "slow to anger" by taking time to pause and ask ourselves these questions:
1) What am I angry about?
2) Why am I angry?
3) Does Scripture agree with my anger?
4) Do my Christian friends agree with my anger?
5) If I asked Jesus His advice, what would He tell me to do?
6) If my anger is justified, how would I want someone to approach me in their anger?
Why do we struggle with loving our neighbor as we love ourselves?
The first reason why we struggle to love our neighbor is obvious, we don’t have the right view of God. We struggle to love horizontally because we struggle to love vertically. We haven’t truly grasped what it means to love God with everything that we are because we haven’t fully accepted everything that God claims to be. If you’re anything like me, you find yourself making excuses as to why God doesn’t get the best, the first, and the primary focus. After all, He as the problem, not us… right?
To love God with everything that we are is to admit that we have the problem. We have the sin issue. We have the inadequacy. We are primarily to blame for our suffering. Loving God, at the core, is to take responsibility for ourselves while embracing the right view of God. Remember, it was in the context of the Old Covenant that the question was asked, “What is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36). The law brings wrath, condemnation, and death (Rom. 4:15; 7:10; 2 Cor. 3). The law relentlessly points out our failures. It is in perspective of the Law that we discover our need for grace, salvation, and mercy from a Holy and Righteous God. The reason why the Law points out our failures is because it is holy, given to us by a Holy God (Rom. 7:1-12). We are the man in need of saving, not God.
The second reason why we struggle to love our neighbor may not be so obvious. We struggle to love our neighbor as we love ourselves because we have the wrong view of ourselves.
As we walk the straight and narrow, we may find ourselves erring on the side of self-hatred or, on the other hand, selfishness. The only people who are capable of fulfilling the great two commandments are people who recognize “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Tim. 1:15). When we have the right view of God and the right view of ourselves, we’ll be able to make headway on fulfilling the two great commandments.
If you struggle with these two issues relating to the greatest commandment, I want to encourage you to attend our Sunday morning service where we'll be tackling what it means to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. The series will be called, "In the Middle." Hope to see you!
You can only choose between one of two options, which would you choose?
A) Do the right thing most of the time with the wrong motives.
B) Do the wrong thing most of the time with the right motives.
Funnily enough, Israel often found themselves doing the wrong thing most of the time with the wrong motives. Like us, they had the greatest commandment at the forefront of their identity, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your strength" (Deuteronomy 6:4). God was, and still is, primarily concerned with the inner moral character of a person and not the outward appearance.
When God told Samuel to make David king, He made his standards well known, "The Lord sees the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7). Yet, time and time again, God had to remind Israel of this foundational truth through trials and tribulations. For instance, during Israel's rebellion God said "They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" (Isaiah 29:13). Jeremiah recognized Israel's heart condition when he wrote, "You (Lord) are always on their lips but far from their hearts" (Jeremiah 12:2). Ezekiel said this of His fellow people, "My people come to you (Lord) as usual, sit before you, and hear your words; but they do not put them into practice. Although they express love with their mouths, their hearts pursue dishonest gain" (Ezekiel 33:31).
Fast forward 700 years and we find Isaiah's prophetic truth being applied to by Jesus to Israel, "Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: 'These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me” (Mark 7:6).
God wants our hearts (motivation), not just our actions. He's wants His followers to be authentic in their walk with Him. This requires us to question and examine our motives (why we do it) behind our actions (what we do). I don't want to come to the Lord, sit before Him, and hear His words without putting them into practice. I don't want to say that I love God with my lips and all the while pursue dishonest gain. I want a pure heart and clean hands (Psalm 24:4).
On the other hand, what do you do if you're struggling with the right motives? What if you're heart isn't buying into it? Simply put, you position yourself under the waterfall of God's grace as you persistently follow Him. Eventually, your heart will catch up to your head.
I’ll admit it, I’m kind of a weird guy, and not simply because I’m a Christian. I have a joking personality and somewhat of a weird thought process. My late uncle, a former co-worker, and wife all made a comical remark to me, “Dude, you’re not right.”
When I think about some of the things that I’ve done, words that I’ve said, or ideas that I’ve had I can’t help but chuckle and laugh to myself. I’m just a weird dude. Christianity is kind of weird as well. I mean, think about it, we gather together every Lord’s Day to eat His flesh and Blood. We let someone else dunk us into a big pool of water so we can have the forgiveness of sins. We give a large portion of our income to a Church mission. If you were not raised in the Church and knew nothing of Christianity, it would be a culture shock.
While Christians do things that are beyond our reason, that doesn’t make them unreasonable. Christians are certainly called to be different, but not delusional. They are called out to be holy, but not crazy. They are commanded to pick up a cross, not pick their noses. While I’m not delusional or crazy (and I only pick my nose when I’m alone or with someone) the Cross bids me to come, lose my life, and pick up my own cross.
When Jesus spoke to His disciples He said, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39 NIV). Interestingly enough, Matthew uses the word “psuché” for “life.” This is the word for “soul.” What did Jesus mean by this statement? Simply put, if we are not ready and willing to surrender ourselves to the Father, even to the point of death, we cannot save ourselves. In fact, the exact opposite will occur. We will be lost. We will aimlessly wander through the desert. Faithfulness requires wholehearted devotion. There is no room for divided loyalties or partial affection. Jesus requires all of us.
This is what it means to love God with “all our soul” (Matt. 22:37). We must unselfishly serve the Lord. We must do what needs to be done regardless of our personal comfort or cost. We must praise the Lord most high while carrying our cross. We must surrender our selfishness and self-seeking life. We must relinquish control of our possessions, powers, and interests to the will of the Father. We must boldly proclaim, “Jesus is Lord” even if it costs us our life.
It is only through this ultimate surrender we can discover true life, “whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” It is a great Christian paradox. The only way we find our lives is to lose it. The only way to live is to die. When we lose our worldly value, we find a heavenly value that makes life worth living! This might seem weird, but remember, we are too.
What is the greatest thing you can do in 2019? Perhaps you want to lose weight, pay off debt, travel, or learn something new. Maybe you desire to revitalize your marriage or reconnect with lost friends. Goals are important. They help keep us alive and give hope.
In the same way, Jesus had a goal that gave him hope. The bible says, "Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:3b NASB). The goal was the right hand of God and the burden was the cross.
It is easy to grow weary in our ambition for success. We want to lose weight, but we may be surrounded by those who glutton themselves on pizza and donuts. We want to pay off debt, but we live in a culture of instant everything and selfish ambitions. We want to travel, but we also live in a competitive culture of home buying and portfolio building. We want to learn something new, but we may be surrounded by the naysayers who tell us we'll never be able to do it. Hebrews gives us a little more insight to our burden in our Christianity,
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:1-3 NASB).
The barrier in front of Jesus' goal was the cross, but what enabled him to endure? The week leading up to the cross, Jesus was asked, "What is the greatest commandment?" In other words, "In the midst of enduring your burden, what is the greatest thing?" Jesus unsurprisingly responds, "Love God and Love Others" (Paraphrase of Matthew 22:34ff). It was His love for the Father and His love for others that enabled Him to endure the cross. Love wins.
Similarly, what will enable us to endure? What will carry us through? It is love for God and love for others. When we love God more than food, we will endure, and lose weight. When we love God more than stuff, we will endure, and pay off debt or travel. When we love God more than the opinions of others, we will endure, and learn something new. When we love God more than we love ourselves, we will endure, and become a better spouse.
The greatest thing in 2019 is Love God and Love others. This year, love more than you've ever loved before.
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