Do You Immediately Follow Jesus?



In a culture full of “me”, “mine”, and “right now” we seem to make priorities of everything but Jesus. Our phones fill every millisecond of our lives (guilty as charged) and we often complain about not “having enough time” for anything meaningful. This is a lie.

Something in Mark 1 struck me. My morning devotion has consisted of a 5x5x5 reading plan through the new testament. It starts in Mark and slowly works its way through the other gospels.

In Mark 1:17-18, Jesus calls the disciples, and the response is humbling:

 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Did you catch it? The word I want to zero-in on is “immediately”.

It seems that when we hear a notification, a phone ringing, or our favorite show is on, we are completely riveted. Nothing can shake our focus save for another digital activity that may draw us in deeper. Jesus calls us to drop everything and follow Him. Immediately.

You may say that it was the disciple who “decided” to follow with much haste. Maybe Jesus does not care how soon we follow? Another passage addresses this – Luke 9:59-60:

To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

This time, Jesus is the one who responds. The man wants to first live out his life, career, and inheritance before pursuing Jesus. Our Lord responds in typical blunt fashion, letting Him know that He must follow now. No plan B. No other way.

How many times have I lived like this? Begging God to let me achieve what I want in life before proclaiming His kingdom?

I long for the day when my first reaction is to proclaim God’s kingdom. When I read scripture, after I immediately DO it. What if pursuing God and pursuing the greatest pleasure possible in this life is the SAME journey? And what if our phones and our digital lifestyles can never satisfy the way Jesus can?

Maybe once I realize that Jesus is the greatest joy and pleasure in this life the “things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace.” I pray the Holy Spirit would apply these truths to my heart.

He commands many things in scripture. But do we ever get farther than “love the Lord your God with all your heart…“? Our hearts immediately pursue other things. We must pray and ask Him to change our hearts to love Him alone.

Emotionally Fat but Spiritually Famished

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were driving home from Church. We pulled into our driveway, stepped out in our nicer clothes, guitar in-hand, and proceeded to walk up the driveway.

For some context, there’s a church across the street from us, so there are usually cars parked beside the road sunday morning.

Anyways, an older lady was walking back to her vehicle and she noticed us.
Seeing our clothes and guitar she deduced we had come from church. She asked us if we had, and we said that we just came back. Her reply at that point was something that’s stuck in my heart for weeks now, not so much for her motives (which i’m sure were pure), but rather for the deeper significance behind it.

What were her words you ask? Just two – “Good job!”

Why is this significant? Because, as a Christian, going to church isn’t a “good job”. Church was never meant to be something that you do once a week, you get a pat on the back, and then you live your week like the rest of the world (Colossians 3). Stepping foot in a building doesn’t automatically make you a Christian, or even a “good” christian, if there ever was one (Romans 3).

The real question is “what is a Christian”?

-The American churchis emotionally fatbut spiritually famished-.jpgThis american “christianity” has shaped us into a lifestyle of comfort, materialism, and godlessness under the guise of “i-go-to-church-a-few-times-a-month-so-im-a-christian” mentality. This is not Christianity. The buttery-smooth speakers who entice the flesh with little regard for Christ and him crucified. Never mentioning death to self, never mentioning that you could die for being a christian, only plopping you down in a seat and allowing you to consume until you’re emotionally fat and spiritually famished.

And before i’m misunderstood, attending church is VERY important in the Christian life. Or, i should rephrase, meeting at a church house and having fellowship with THE Church is essential to the christian life (Hebrews 10:24-26).

From scripture, there’s an interesting connection that i noticed while teaching the 7th and 8th graders a few weeks back. I asked a trick question, “what’s the difference between a christian, and a disciple?”.

***dead silence***

Me – “Nothing!”

If you are a Christian you will be a disciple. Matthew 28:19 equated sharing the gospel with making disciples. It’s not different. If you want to see people saved you MUST see them discipled. It’s not a “come to the front” moment, it’s a “lay down your life, give everything you have, and submit to a Christ into a life of godliness”. This doesn’t sound comfortable!

We want our cars, our houses, our boats! We want security! But Christ says to lay them at his feet. Don’t cling to them. Having a house or most anything isn’t sinful. But our hearts can so easily entice us into relying on them for our joy rather than Christ.

As one of my favorite songs says “You possess your possessions or they posses you” (Switchfoot – “If the House Burns Down Tonight”).

And I think that’s the danger of so called american Christianity. We love being comfortable, rich, and fat, more then we love Jesus. And this is an eternal error.

Sure, there’s a whole lot more to being a christian then what I’ve mentioned, but I want to make this clear – If you are a Christian, you are a disciple, and you are to die to yourself and make disciples. Don’t neglect fellowship with the saints. Don’t just go, sit down, and leave. Fellowship is building each other up, maybe encouraging, maybe rebuking.

But either way. I think the American mindset of Christianity has it all wrong.

So, as you see the myriad of people coming in tomorrow for Easter Sunday, welcome them with open, loving arms. But don’t sugar coat the gospel message. The Christian life isn’t easy, but it’s so very worth it.

Key Verses:

Matthew 28:19

Colossians 3
Hebrews 10:24-26




A Radical Response To the Gospel

As I was studying to teach the 7th and 8th grade lesson on Acts 19, I was struck with the Ephesian people’s response to a horrifying discovery: Their pagan magicians could not contend with the power of Jesus.

The sons of Sceva (the pagan magicians) were meddling in places they shouldn’t have been meddling. They saw all the wonders that Paul was saying and doing in Ephesus, and thought that all they needed to do was invoke the name of Jesus, and maybe they too would be able to command demons and heal the sick.

In verse 13 they try to command a demon, but what happened to them would horrify anyone who found their hope in pagan worship. The demon literally said “Jesus I know, Paul I recognize, but who are you?” and proceeded to beat them and strip them and send them running.

So now the high and mighty sons of sceva were brought low by the power of satan. And all the people finally understood – these men do NOT have the answers.

Though i’m taking some liberty, i can imagine the people were comparing the two people – Paul and the disciples vs. the sons of Sceva. The two don’t even compare! One can command demons and heal the sick in Jesus’ name, and the other? Well, they get beat to a pulp for even trying. Based on the response of the Ephesians, I can imagine they listened to what Paul was preaching and many of them believed.

The power of the gospel is greater than we realize. The transformative power in the hearts of people as a result of the gospel is apparent in this passage. They ended up burning 50,000 pieces of silver’s worth of pagan books! That’s right around $5,000,000 worth of idolatry.

That’s the equivalent to:

  • 185 Ford 2018 F-150 Trucks
  • 12,500 GoPro Hero 5 Blacks
  • or, 6,501 iPhone 7 Plus’s

As Christ said, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. I think the Ephesian people who believed the Gospel were beginning an act of repentance in burning this paganism out of their lives.

This echoed in the ears of the silversmiths, who crafted the idols. They would lose their livelihood, so what did they do? Well, they were going to lose their pride and money, so they rioted and chanted godless things. Sound familiar?

All this to say, a radical gospel changes people radically. You can’t have one foot in the world and one foot in holiness. You’re either being swept away in sin’s current, or your swimming against it in the Spirit’s power.

Do I have that ‘crazy’, ‘foolish’, ‘radicalized’ faith that the world looks down upon? Am i friends with the world? Or have i renounced my pagan practices (or maybe, addiction to money, entertainment, etc.) and allowed God to burn them out of my life?

The Bible makes clear that true disciples of Jesus make disciples, and look radically different from the world. Is this true of us?

My Trophies

Ever gone to that conference and got a ton of free books? Or perhaps your friends have some fantastic new titles that you really want to read. 20160430_120023.jpgI can relate to both. A couple of years ago my wife (then girlfriend) and I went to a counseling conference in Lafayette Indiana (read about here!). Of course I purchased many great books that are still sitting on my shelf collecting dust (besides one I’m currently reading).

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a slow reader, or perhaps I just don’t take the time to read each day, but I walked into my apartment and realized I’d only read about 10% of them. I had turned my Christian books into trophies, not tools. They had become pseudo status symbols of my walk with Christ, hoping people would assume that I’m an avid reader who devours great Christian authors.

God really convicted me on this and I’ve begun to be more diligent to read more. Self-discipline is something I need more of. Whether it be to stop watching Netflix and read, or take my work break to open the scriptures, I’m trying to commit to use my time in a more profitable way.

And I’m not saying owning books you don’t read is bad, I’m just saying for me, I found that I had become lazy and just bought them for a sub-conscience (now conscious) want to feel more spiritual or godly. But God’s shown me (quite obviously) that the only way they can help me grow in godliness is if I actually sit down and open the pages.



Choosing a Christian Healthcare Provider (Cost Comparison)

One of the things that I wrote about recently was the stress of things that pop medical-563427_1920.jpgup in life (and my lack of trust in God to show for it!). That event was termination of my health insurance.

I’ve been looking into alternatives because I found that federal programs are way too expensive (for us) and I don’t put a ton of stock in a 74 year-old promising that my free health care will grow on (someone else’s) trees.

Because i was on my parents plan, and both of us moved away to different states, I can’t be enrolled in their insurance based on state law and the like (i used to be covered until I was 26). My wife, on the other hand is still covered under her parents. So that’s a huge praise!

Anyhow I’m going to be breaking down my top three picks for christian solutions to high health-care costs. The three ministries are:

1: Christian Healthcare Ministries logo.png


The first option, CHM, has three different “levels” of sharing which are priced for one person or unit as follows (as of February 2016):

  • Bronze
    -$5000 personal responsibility
    -$125,000 per illness
  • Silver
    -$1000 personal responsibility
    -$125,000 per illness
  • Gold
    -$500 personal responsibility
    -$125,000 per illness

The gold plan sticks out to me the most due to it’s $500 responsibility. For example (if i understand it correctly) if have to go to the ER for a broken arm, and it runs me $2000, I would receive the bill, send it to CHM, and they would in turn send me a check $2000 minus my $500 deductible. I would then deposit the $1500 check into my bank and pay the full $2000 to the hospital.

After that $500/year has been used, if i theoretically break the other arm (hopefully i’m not that dumb!) then the full $2000 would be covered by CHM because i already paid my responsibility.

The only downside is that anything under $500 (a doctors visit, etc.) I have to pay for out of pocket no matter how much of my personal responsibility has been met if it’s under $500.

Also, there’s not a joining fee or annual fee, so that’s a plus!

2: Samaritan MinistriesSMi_Corp_ID_PMS2613 rgb.jpg

The first thing i noticed with Samaritan is the $200 fee for joining. Health care is certainly worth far more, but it is definitely a small commitment.

The prices are fixed based on family size, so one-person is $180/month. In my case because I’m under 25, i would get a discount for a total of $140/month. This would save me $10/month against CHM.

What’s great about Samaritan is that they have set sharing amounts. No deductibles. The only way you pay from your pocket is if the medical need is under $300. Anything over that amount is published monthly to certain members so they can send their share amounts (in my case, $140) to a certain person directly.

Family rates are less expensive also, a good incentive to stay with them in the future. Also, Maternity is fully covered as long as my wife enrolls before she’s pregnant.

3: Medi-Sharenational_businessLogo_mediShare_0614-1.png

Speaking of maternity, Medi-Share only covers maternity with  deductible of $1250 or higher at a rate of $144/month.

Basically this health care service is similar to CHM, just significantly more expensive for family, so this is definitely not my choice. Plus the fact that maternity is a significantly more expensive deductible deters me a little in contrast to the other options.

I’m currently torn between Samaritan and CHM, but leaning more towards Samaritan at the moment.

I’ll be prayerfully considering a health-care choice in the next few days so be praying with us as we make this important decision.

Hardships Have Purpose

I so often find myself overthinking rather than praying. I think that I trust God, but then some circumstance pops up and I instantly run to my own reason, my own wisdom, my own self.

Dependence on God is something that doesn’t come easily. I tend to think of myself as the fichtelberg-1048982_1920.jpgdo it yourself, entrepreneur type person. And though I do do those things somewhat well, I sometimes forgot who’s really on the throne.

Instead of opening scripture to see Christ, I think too much. Instead of marinating in what God has already said, I dwell on my fallen intellect.

As I was pondering one circumstance in my life on my drive home from work today I was listening to “Just be Held” by Casting Crowns. The lyric that always hits me is “your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place”.

Really? This is actually part of a plan?

But it’s the truth, God created the universe with a purpose. He doesn’t throw things at me without a purpose. Life’s hardships aren’t senseless, meaningless, or unknown to God. He knows, and He will love you through it for His glory and our good.

That’s hard for me to hold on to sometimes. But it’s true.

He doesn’t promise to make things “feel” good, but He does promise that everything will work out for good. And that’s all we can hold on to sometimes.




Why I Trust The Bible

There are reasons, I think, for why we should trust the Bible. And one of them isn’t “blind” Faith.

What i mean when i say blind faith is a faith that won’t reason, won’t think, or won’t search scripture for validating evidences.

What I don’t mean is that someone is stupid for not being an apologist for a living. Christians bible-879084_1920believe the bible for many reasons, some people just major on some things over others. and it’s certainly not wrong to do so, just as long as scripture is our authority.

What I’m going to be presenting in today’s worldview assignment is by no means exhaustive. These evidences are very close to my heart and mind and are the specific ones that have spoken to me during times of doubt and questioning. So if your faith isn’t strengthened by this, there are always other resources!

Any how here are 3 reasons I believe in Scripture as the authority on everything.

  1. It’s Without Error
    Though this is widely debated, I find this evidence to be very compelling. The Scriptures show an astonishing fluidity despite 40 authors writing from 3 different continents from many different cultural contexts. The fact that they have the same over arching narrative is a miracle in of itself!The fact that the prophesies of Christ were all fulfilled in Him- one man, is astonishing as well. Even just a fraction of the historical prophesies being fulfilled in Christ is the equivalent of spreading silver dollars a foot deep over all of Texas, blind folding yourself, and finding one painted red. And you only get one try. And that’s just a mere few prophesies.

    Another inerrant reason would be history. The Bible documents actual events and places. If you study myths, they use fragmented depictions of the world. The Bible actually uses documentable, real-life places, real life kings, and real life scenarios. And even the so-called “heroes” of the faith are documented in all their sinfulness. If the Bible were fabricated, why would they show all the figures (i.e. Paul, David, Peter) struggling in such heinous ways?

  2. The Resurrection and the Following Events
    In Scripture the apostles, after being scared to death that Christ wasn’t coming back after His Crucifixion, were renewed in their vigor for the faith after Christ showed up in the flesh as proof of his Resurrection. Whats amazing about this is that 11 out of the 12 died a martyr death, and the one who didn’t die in that manner was boiled alive and exiled to an island called Patmos. What could cause such a radical devotion to Christ? He is risen.
  3. God’s Calling of Me
    I am by no means a “great man of God” and that is the exact reason this is one of my evidences. I am a wicked sinner saved by grace. Only by the grace of God am i writing these things today. If it were up to my flesh, I would not be a faithful husband, I would hate God, and I would not be a Believer. Some would say that this is too extreme, but I know how sinful my heart is, and though God is sanctifying it day by day, I know that any good I do is from God, and any fruit I may show is ultimately enabled by the Holy Spirit working in me.

    And because I know Christ is changing me from the inside out, so I know I can trust Him when He says:

    “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Thanks for reading!
This has been a school assignment for my worldview project.