Do You Immediately Follow Jesus?

 

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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.

Subduing My Little Piece of Ground

This past Monday (my day off) was spent by myself for the first half of the day. My wife was at work so I decided to finally mow my front yard and clean up some of the landscaping.

As someone who tries to see the spiritual aspects of all of life (something that Adventures in Odyssey taught me!) working to make my yard and flower beds look nice kind of reminded me of God’s command to subdue the earth in Genesis.

I think this is where many people (both men and women) get their drive to build, create, restore and rebuild. We have it wired into our very beings. Ultimately we will never restore our little piece of dirt to it’s former pre-sin glory, but we desire to try to subdue it as best we can.

And that was what I did last Monday.

Pictured, I have some before and after photos.

There was something immensely gratifying about getting my hands dirty while listening to great music. It really is such a beautiful metaphor of God’s work in us.Daily Re-dedication.jpg

The Holy Spirit’s work in us isn’t a one time thing. We can’t just mow the lawn of our souls once. It’s a constant trimming back, revitalizing, and convicting of our hearts. And it takes work.

Grass starts looking like weeds when it sits stagnant for a time. Flower beds get overrun, leaves pile up. The sin in our lives is the same way. When you’re not fighting it, it’s growing back.

Fighting sin is messy. Your hands will get dirty and your soul will grow tired, but we must go back to God’s word and to prayer to reconnect with our Lord to regain our strength again every morning.

And it’s not an easy task. God calls us to die to ourselves. Take up our crosses. Go make disciples of all nations. The only way we can do this is by the simple daily act of committing ourselves to God’s will as shown in the Bible. And though cutting grass and putting down brown bedding may be trivial in of itself, God can still use something simple to show us a small glimpse into one way He works in our lives.

Because, just like up-keeping a home, cutting grass, and washing dishes, keeping our souls requires daily re-dedication. Daily reviving. Daily dying.

 

The Pharisee And The Tax Collector (Luke 18)

Luke 18

If you click on the verse link (which i suggest you do) It will bring you to the whole chapter, which will be where I’ll be drawing from in this post.

Luke 18 is a fascinating chapter of scripture, we find the widow, the tax collector, and the children. The tax collector I find very convicting. Not only for the content, but the context. Christ specifically told this parable to the ones who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous”.

Jesus has this way of being controversial. And unlike us, He’s perfect at it.

The way the parable goes is that a pharisee goes and prays and thanks God that he’s not like all those other guys like the unjust and the adulterers, and that he’s definitely not like that tax collector (*shudder*) standing over there. He then goes down a list of why he’s better and why God should see him as such, “I tithe! I fast! look at my works, they’re way better than that…Tax collector…”

(side note: Tax collectors were looked down upon in general by society in that day, many would extort the civilians and get far more than their share of the people’s taxes)

*Shift camera angle*

*zoom in on the tax collector*

Head down. Ashamed. Not apparently because of the Pharisee’s scathing glances as the tax collector was “standing far off”. He wouldn’t even lift his head. This man was broken, ashamed, crying out to God in desperation, his heart was repentant before a holy God. But wait. This man had previously done all the things society despises, he was the scum of the earth and everyone knew it. But he cries out in humble repentance, beating his chest as he says: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

He knew he had sinned, he cried out for mercy, mercy meaning he knew he deserved wrath, but he asked God to not give him what he deserved.

Not so for the pharisee. He gave God a laundry list of why he was all that. He did all the “right” things with the wrong heart. His heart was still in rebellion.

But the one who looked good wasn’t the one justified, it was the one who had been driven to his knees because of the desperate wickedness in his heart. But, for the pharisee, he saw no wickedness in his cold heart. He was blind to his own pride.

-For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.