The Thick Skin of the Beloved

“Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” – 1 John 5:5 When someone has “thick skin,” they don’t get offended by criticism. If we live our lives around God’s love for us and live in that space, we develop a thick skin that enables us to do better and succeed. There’s this great guy who paints my house. He’s got an awesome truck covered in all sorts of rock and roll bumper stickers. He has long hair and tattoos and my son thinks he’s a pirate! As soon as he enters our house, he says, “What’s up, Pastor Bobby?” The last time he was at our house, I asked him, “How are you?” and I shook his hand. It was as if I had grasped a baseball glove that was wrapped in sandpaper; in other words, he had

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The Cost of Non-Discipleship

“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’ ” – Luke 9:23 Another term that was coined by Dallas Willard is non-discipleship. There is a trend in our society toward not taking responsibility for choices and actions. Even sadder is the fact that this appears to be happening in the Church as well. In many congregations today, you can be a Christian without walking the narrow road, paying the price, sacrificing for your neighbor, and serving people. What is often taught is that as long as you pray and ask Jesus into your heart, everything’s fine and you never have to sacrifice again. Although the prayer of salvation is very important, there is also a call to be responsible and moral. This is much more costly in the long run. Becoming a Christian doesn’t

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Blessings at the Back of the Line

“Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do for us whatever we ask.’ ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked. They replied, ‘Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.’ ” – Mark 10:35-37 Whenever we study the Bible, it’s helpful to understand the cultural and historical context of the stories. Although we don’t always think about it, Jesus was living in what was perhaps the greatest and most powerful nation in human history. The Roman empire was the seat of world dominion and it was all about power, which was dictated from the top down. It was a place where people were vying for authority and where Caesar was in his lofty position only because he had an army. The Jews were living in the

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Work is a Privilege

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” – John 6:27 Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Within every language there is a philosophy.” This is something that I think really makes sense with regard to the Hebrew language, which expresses over and over again that God loves our work. As we apply ourselves with all our heart and do our daily tasks as though they have eternal value, something changes in the Lord’s great plan! In Jewish culture, going to work was just as worshipful as raising your hands in a church service or reading the Bible. How different this is from our segregated American view that says our job is what we do Monday through Friday. Worship is what we do on

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You + Jesus = More!

“A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” – Proverbs 13:4 On my birthday nine years ago, I had no party, no cake, and no presents because we decided to celebrate a week late. This wouldn’t have been so bad except that the house was a mess and it just had to be cleaned — the kids spilled Cheerios and there were toys everywhere! So there I was, cleaning the house on my birthday and feeling sorry for myself. In fact, I made sure to let Hannah know how grumpy I felt and happily displayed a grimace on my face as I was sweeping the floor.  Then, in the middle of my bad mood, it occured to me that I had power over how I viewed the seemingly unpleasant responsibility before me, and everything changed! When I purposefully shifted my mind from a

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God Loves the Work of Your Hands

“Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12 Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus had already lived 30 out of His 33 years before He went into vocational ministry? The Messiah spent the first part of His life as what the Bible calls a technoy, or a builder or maker. Though we’ve traditionally thought of His trade as that of carpenter, and He probably did work with wood, He may also have worked with stone and metal. Regardless of the specific job description, we know that Jesus obediently and patiently

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Three Attitudes About Work

“Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord, Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24 Yesterday, we introduced the concept of avodah, or the fact that our work is both worship and service. Today, I want to give you three common attitudes that our society holds about work that get “turned on their head” when we begin to let Jesus infiltrate our thinking about our jobs! First of all (and we alluded to this one yesterday), there is the person who just lives for work to be over. We see this play out frequently, maybe even amongst our friends and family, when someone exists only for the weekend or for their next vacation, and they feel a sense of dread every time Sunday afternoon rolls around. Why? Because their next

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Avodah: Hebrew for work, worship and service

“Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord, Christ.” – Colossians 3:22-24 Did you know that surveys suggest that roughly 65 percent of Americans really dislike their jobs and that at least 15 percent hate them? I know, hate is a strong word. Considering that you typically work eight hours a day, five days a week, this can be a problem! To help us change the way we view our careers, we’re going to begin a series of devotions dealing with how God works in and through us to cultivate a joy that brings new meaning to our work-life.   When you think about your favorite job, what comes to mind? Were you ever employed in a place that, although you may have worked hard, you felt satisfied

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