Radical Christianty


“Do not act like the other nations, who try to read their future in the stars. Do not be afraid of their predictions, even though other nations are terrified by them. Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol. They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails so it won’t fall over. Their gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field! They cannot speak, and they need to be carried because they cannot walk.” (Jeremiah 10  New Living Translation)

The above verse is an account of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah telling Israel to turn from the false wooden and stone idols and return to Jehovah, the only true God.

When I read the accounts of the Israelites constant turning from the one true God and worshiping wooden and stone idols, my first response is “what’s wrong with these people?” Have they forgotten their rich history of God’s faithfulness? Have they erased the memory of His multiple, miraculous deliverance? How could they snub God for a wooden or stone idol?

However, when I think of our present day society, aren’t we guilty of a similar thing? No, we may not be erecting wooden and stone idols, but we are guilty of turning to other things that become our gods. Our hobbies, possessions or even our recreation can replace our affection and devotion to the supremacy of Christ in our lives.

The Christian life is not about how many times you attend church in a week, nor how many hours you spend in prayer and Bible study. Even though it may include those things, the Christian life is about personal intimacy. It’s about developing a continual and constant dependency on the sufficiency of Christ. It’s about abandonment and surrender to the supremacy of Christ in all things. It’s giving God permission to lead, guide and develop every aspect of our life.

Total surrender is not giving God 10% of your money, time and talents; it’s giving Him 100% control of all you have and all you are. It’s yielding everything to the Holy Spirit’s control. It’s metaphorically laying every aspect of your life at Jesus feet and acknowledging that all you are, all you have and all you will ever be is vested in Him.

You see, God’s point in our utter abandonment is for us to acknowledge that we are created for a purpose. We are not just a biological happenstance created to wander about on the earth. As committed followers of Christ, we become “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 4:20) We really do figure into God’s grand scheme of things. We are created for this moment in history to be a demonstration of what God is like to your world.

The Bottom Line

You may be thinking, “This is radical stuff.” Yep, you are correct; this is radical Christianity, designed by God to impact our cultural for eternity. Anything less could be a form of idolatry. Will you take the challenge to lay your life at Jesus feet and be a radical follower of Christ and change your world for eternity?

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” ( Jim Elliot, Martyred Missionary)

Light Your World

“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.” (Ephesians 5:8-9 NLT)

I have to admit, I am a movie buff. I like all sorts of movies but my preferences fall into two categories, true life stories and, believe it or not, animation. Talking animals just crack me up. I guess that is why I laugh every time I read the story of Balaam’s donkey looking back at Balaam and asking him, “What have I done to you that deserves you beating me three times? (Numbers 22 NLT)

However, there is one thing about animation that cannot be duplicated; it’s the light in the eyes. This last weekend I was watching an animated movie with my granddaughter. I said to her, “Look at the eyes of the animated adults. The animators can reproduce everything just like a live person but the light in the eyes. That can only be given by God.”

But this principle of the “light in the eyes” goes even deeper. God gives every living creature life and it is demonstrated by the light of life that is in their eyes. But He goes even further with His children. He gives us a light that is different from the average creature. “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:7)

The light we now have within us is the light of Christ. It is His life in us that draws others to want to know Him. It’s Christ’s life shown through our eyes that the Holy Spirit uses to draw people to Himself. As the Scripture explains, God could use the rocks to cry out or the trees to sing His glory. But God, in His infinite wisdom, chooses to use us to display “the Light” to the world.

It is the love of Christ in us that is displayed through our life and shown through our eyes that makes us different. It is not our religious performance, Bible knowledge or debate skills that will draw someone to Christ. It is the light of Christ shown through our eyes that will cause someone to get a glimpse of God’s character and nature.

How can we make sure that Christ’s life is shown through our life? The light of Christ will be shown as we love Him with all our heart, our mind and our soul. (Matthew 22:37-39) It is a matter of surrender. As we surrender our rights and expectations, our dreams, and our plans to Him, we are changed into His likeness. It’s often called the great exchange. When we exchange our self-centered life for Christ’s life, a change occurs. The focus of our life is no longer “us”, but our new focus is Christ. We become a reflection of His glory.

That reminds me of the words of a beloved old hymn.

“Oh that will be, glory for me
Glory for me, glory for me.
When by His grace we shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.”

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord, who is the Spirit,makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NLT)

The Believer and Conflict

After his resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples several times. One of the encounters occurred on a beach, after they had been fishing all night. They were close to shore and noticed Jesus on the beach; he was cooking breakfast for them.

After they had finished eating Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Most of us are familiar with this discourse between Jesus and Peter. Peter responded all three times that he truly loved Jesus. Jesus told Peter to “tend my lambs, take care of my sheep, and feed my sheep.” (John 21)

There is plenty to learn from the three questions Jesus ask, but I think the deeper and more profound words of Jesus is what He said to Peter next.

“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. (John 21:18-19 NLT)

Jesus’ point to Peter is that his life from this point forward was going to be difficult. Jesus is telling Peter that there will come a time that he will be taken where he doesn’t want to go, and he will be treated like he doesn’t want to be treated, and then he will die.

The deeper message behind this foretelling of Peter’s future is not just Jesus telling Peter how he is going to die. The deeper message is Jesus telling Peter how is going to live. In a way, Jesus was telling him that life is not all about “Peter”. His life now is about a bigger story. Peter’s life is now about his mission, his mission of bringing the gospel to the nations. With that task comes a life of “being led about where you don’t want to go.”

Life is not about being the main player, but it’s about being a part of the big picture. In other words, life is not about creating a plan and knowing what is going to happen every season of your life. Life is about conflict, difficult days, disappointment and failure. But God has a purpose in all of that. He wants to lead us to the point of “If you want to keep your life you must be willing to lose it.”

God wants us to get to the point of surrendering every aspect of our life to Him, so we can give our life away. That’s where radical Christianity comes in. When we let go of our life, we will find it.

That’s how a highly trained Physician can leave a financially lucrative career and become a missionary doctor in the bush of a 3rd world country. It’s how a professional school teacher can quit her secure job with a good salary and benefits and go teach at risk, inner city children in the ghetto of a major city.

The issue is not “are you willing to be a missionary.” The issue is are you willing to lay down your life, your dreams and your plans at Jesus’ feet and give him a blank pad, and have him write your story as He sees fit.

The Bottom Line
All good stories and movies have an unpredictable and unseen surprise ending. It’s that conflict and tension that etches the story in your mind. Our life is one big story being written by the God. That means we are going to be led into situations that are uncomfortable, unpredictable, and like Peter, we may be led to places that we don’t want to go.

As a committed follower of Christ we must remember that life is about faith and trust. It’s trusting God in every situation, and even sometimes, being led down a path where we don’t want to go. Be encouraged because God passionately loves you and He always has a purpose for everything He allows in your life.

Brokenness 101

If you are a committed follower of Jesus you have probably discovered by now that Brokenness is your friend not your enemy. Brokenness removes all those things from our life that hinders the indwelling life of Christ from being manifested in our life. Brokenness is a position of spiritual weakness that enables us to be fully engaged in God’s strength.

Brokenness is both an act and a position. It becomes an act when we intentionally and deliberately surrender our rights and expectations. It is the process of giving up on our own strength and placing our trust in the living Christ within us. It becomes a position when we experientially begin to realize that we are “made complete in Christ.” (Colossians 2:10) It is coming to an understanding that Christ is enough.

Brokenness teaches us that we no longer have to impress people with who we are, where we have been and what we can do. It is being able to rest, and be so confident in our identity that we don’t have to dominate the conversation. Or, in the case of a passive person, we don’t have to feel so insecure that we remain silent.

Frequently, during an Exchanged Life Conference , one of the most often asked questions would go something like this; “If I surrender my children or my job to the Lord, does that mean I am giving Him permission to take this from me? ” My obvious answer to the question was “yes”. To some, this answer would drive them further away from accepting the virtues of brokenness. To others, the “lights would come on.” They understood that giving God every aspect of our life was in their best interest.

Brokenness becomes a paradox because you “must give up in order to receive”, you must “let go in order to keep”. In God’s economy of things, trusting Him means that we surrender all our goals, dreams, and plans to Him. It’s embracing the biblical principle that God has a plan and destiny for us, and it begins with laying our lives at His feet.

Does that mean we have no choices in life? No, just the contrary, the Holy Spirit now directs our decisions, anoints our plans and then goes before us preparing our way. It’s living day by day with the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:16, Ephesians 4:24).

What’s the point? You have heard the old saying, “You may be the only Christ someone ever sees”. Brokenness releases the life of the risen Savior so that the world will get a glimpse of the Christ in you.

When I am lifted up from the earth, then all of humanity will be drawn to Me. (John 12:32 (The Voice)

Praying through and Surrender

“Our God can deliver us — but even if he chooses not to, he’s still God!” Daniel 3

The above verse is a quote by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to the King Nebuchadnezzar. In the face of possible death these three men did not waver in their resolve to serve and obey God.

This moment of courage, faith and boldness was made possible by a life of surrender and obedience. They had already determined that God’s will was preeminent in their life.

Before their appearance before the King they had made the decision to surrender and abandon their lives to God. So when they stood before Nebuchadnezzar weakness was not an option. This was an opportunity to trust God to the max. The surrender they displayed was characteristic of the same strength that carried Jesus to the cross.

The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego reminds me of the importance of having the correct attitude toward prayer. Because of their response to the King, it is obvious that their concept of “praying through” was driven by surrender.

Many believers think that “praying through” means that “God comes through for you and answers your prayer.” Indeed, He may do that, but when we study the Scripture we know that the preeminent and overriding focus of every believer should be absolute surrender to God in everything, even our prayers.

The prayer of any mature believer includes “thy will be done.” This is not just a pious thing we are to add to prayer; it is a reflection of the heart. Absolute surrender includes even the surrender of our desires when we pray. God’s best for us always includes His perfect will, even in our prayers.

Prayer is our opportunity to bring our requests to God and then to demonstrate our willingness to submit ourselves and our desires to His will. So the next time you pray, remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and their submission to God’s will, even though it meant possible death in the fiery furnace.

“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (Thessalonians 5:18)

Stewardship of the Mind

During most of my Christian life nearly every sermon or lesson I heard on the subject of stewardship had to do with money. So to me, spiritual stewardship was about our relationship to money. It wasn’t till years later that I realized that our relationship to money was only a part of spiritual stewardship. Biblical stewardship relates to every area of our life.

Giving money, reading your Bible and regularly meeting with believers is just part of our spiritual stewardship. I have met numerous believers who were tithers and faithful church members but their lives were a mess. I think part of the reason is they neglected the necessity of being a good steward in all areas of their life.

One of the major areas of neglect is in the area of setting our mind. Our mind is a wonderful gift from God. Our mind has the ability to create, reason, compute and to dream great things. When we become a follower of Christ our life changes and we have a brand new nature (2 Cor. 5:17), but our mind needs to be developed to think consistent with our new nature. Theologically, that’s called the act of sanctification. It is up to us to be a good steward of our mind and learn to think with the mind of Christ ( 1 Cor. 2;16). If we don’t intentionally set our mind upon truth, then our mind will naturally go the way of the flesh and the culture. The Scripture admonishes us to set our mind on things above in Colossians 3.

In this devotional I want to address four hindrances to good stewardship of our mind.

Worry – Worry begins with little things, things that seem insignificant. But if those little worries are left unchecked a pattern of worry will develop, and soon worry becomes a way of life. As a follower of Jesus, there are many reasons for us to avoid falling into the worry trap. First of all, if God takes care of the flowers and the birds, He will take care of us. (Matthew 6:25-34) Also, the Scripture tells us to be “anxious for nothing” in Philippians 4. Worry is our acknowledgement that we don’t believe what God says applies to us. We must learn to bring everything to God in prayer and trust Him to give us wisdom and strength to face every issue of life. Bottom line, you can choose to worry or you can choose to trust God.

Indifference – This is a slippery slope and a very serious place to be as a committed follower of Christ. Indifference is tied to the principle of fence sitting. For some it is a safe place to be, but the decision to be indifferent is really based on fear. The Bible speaks about indifference in the book of Revelation when it refers to the church of Laodicea. Jesus said, “Because you are neither cold nor hot I will spit you out of my mouth. “ (Rev. 3) The Scripture teaches anything less than radical trust in God is lukewarm. When we are indifferent in our commitment to Christ it affects every other area of our life. We become indifferent about our relationships, about opportunity, our job, and about hard decisions we need to make. Indifference is a choice of the mind. If you are a fence sitter, get off the fence and get back in the game.

Indecision – Motivational speaker Jim Rohne said, “Indecision is the thief of opportunity.” I can’t tell you how many times that indecision has caused me to miss an opportunity to share my faith or give comfort and care to someone who needed an encouraging word. It has also cost me to miss out on a business opportunity or two. Indecision sometimes causes us to over-think a situation and causes us to not trust the voice of God. Is your indecision based on fear or a lack of wisdom?

Doubt – Doubt is tied to indecision and fear. We ought to be cautious and careful to weight our decisions with logic, but you can’t let doubt take over your life. Once doubt sets in you doubt the past, the present, and then the future. This is where setting your mind on truth is essential. When you surrender your rights and expectations to the Lord and begin to rest in Christ’s love, your legitimate doubts will become a red flag and your unfounded doubts will flee. The Scripture says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Proper stewardship of the mind begins by giving our worry to God, trading in our indifference for positive faith, then casting our indecision and doubt aside by putting our trust in God.

Some things I’ve learned from Reflection

Now that I am a senior saint I find myself reflecting on the past more often than before. Like most people I have few regrets. There are some things that I would do differently and a few things I would not do at all. I keep telling myself that I am older, seasoned and have more wisdom, so I should make better decisions. That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Through this self-reflection process I have learned a few things about my older self. Maybe you can identify with some of the things that I have learned.

1. Too much reflection causes me to center on my failures and stupid decisions. I have found that too much reflection causes me to delve into the world of “what if’s”. When we ponder all the “what if’s” of life we begin to second guess many of our past decisions. The result is always an unhealthy picture of us as failures. Then we have the danger of becoming fixated on the past. We have a tendency to focus on the negative and miss the great things God has done for and through us. I must remember that God does not dwell in the world of “What If”.

2. The greatest moments of my life were when I was “all in”. I am an “all in or nothing” guy. Whatever I am doing I am laser focused, and fully commit myself to the task. I have found that there is a connection between my level of commitment and my overall spiritual condition. When I make a deliberate decision to wholly consecrate my life to Christ’s complete control, I am able to approach any opportunity that God brings my way with passion and zeal. As I submit my every thought to the Spirit’s control, my guidance comes. I have found that I must stay hungry for God’s touch on all that I do, whether it’s a ministry project or a business opportunity. I find if I am not consciously hungry for God, I am full of myself, which usually means I am dead in the water and pretty much useless. For me, my passion to begin and sustain any new project is directly related to my present level of consecration. I have to keep in mind that I can’t separate my spiritual life from my secular life. As a committed follower of Christ every area of our life has a spiritual connection.

3. Surrender and abandonment must not just be something that we’ve learned in the past. Just because I have personally experienced surrender and abandonment in the past does not mean I am experiencing it today. Surrender and abandonment should be a daily awareness. A lack of surrender almost never occurs suddenly. It’s usually a gradual thing that occurs when we begin to take back control of our self-centered life. We forget that God can do more in one moment than we can do in a lifetime of operating out of our own strength. For me, I learned that I must have a daily consciousness of my need to surrender everything and person to His control.

4. The older I get the more I need Him. The longer I walk with God the more inadequate I feel and the more dependent I am on the Holy Spirit’s guidance. For me, daily fellowship with God is the key to keeping the fire of God burning in my soul. For many years my daily devotional time was driven by a need to feel accepted by God. I felt as if I had to do my daily ritual because I wanted God to be pleased with me. Then one day I discovered that God loved and accepted me because I was in Christ, not because I was a good performer. There was nothing I could do that would make Him love me more or accept me more. Now my daily fellowship with God is not just a mechanical event that occurs in the morning, but an all-day acknowledgment of God’s presence and acceptance. That creates a deep longing in me to bask in God’s love and fellowship and to enjoy Him as He enjoys me. Regular, deliberate fellowship with God is one of my essentials to maintaining an ongoing love relationship with my heavenly Father.

What’s the bottom line? I think the lyrics to this old gospel song best reflects what I am trying to convey.

“I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord. No tender voice like thine can peace afford. I need thee oh I need thee, every hour I need thee, Oh bless me now my Savior, I come to thee.”
(I Need Thee Every Hour by Hawks and Lowry)

“There is no more miserable human being than the one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.” — William James



My wife and I enjoy watching true-to-life movies about English kings and queens. The royalty down through the centuries are prime examples of abuse of power, self-indulgence, pride and ultimate vanity. It proves that man, when left to his own resources, will self-destruct.

One of the words that come to my mind when I think of the various kingdoms of the world is the word “Yield”.  Even with absolute power there must be a degree of yielding. The kings of the past who had the most peaceful and prosperous rule displayed an attitude of service and humility.  

It was the custom and the law of the kingdom for the subjects to yield to the authority of the king. To refuse to yield is sure death. But to properly yield to the king turns away his wrath.  Properly yielding brings prosperity and peaceful living in the kingdom. 

Just as properly yielding in an earthly kingdom is important, learning the importance of yielding in the heavenly kingdom is just as important. Having continual inward peace is goal of every believer.  Being at rest during every situation is the ideal of every committed follower of Jesus.

Yielding to our heavenly Father is not a set of religious rules and regulations but more of a Biblical principal which includes learning to rest, surrender and abandon. Matter of fact, most struggles in the Christian life occurs when we lack these spiritual virtues.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden come to me and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.”(Matthew 11:28-29)

One of the key components of yielding is learning to rest.  It’s the idea of casting your burdens and cares upon Jesus so your soul (your mind, will and emotions) can rest.  We can rest when things are falling apart because Jesus the sovereign God is in control. I heard someone say one time, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing ever occurred to God?”  That means God is never taken by surprise at the events of our life. He is fully aware of every detail.

Another element of yielding is surrender and abandonment.  As a follower of Christ, we can never be at peace with God or ourselves unless we learn the act of surrender and abandonment.

In my immaturity and naivety as a new believer, I thought the sum total of the Christian life was being born again. That is a first step, but I soon learned that being a committed follower of Jesus sets in motion a war in the heavens for my allegiance.  Since the enemy lost his grip on my soul he began a campaign to gain back the affection and allegiance he lost when I was born again.

So the battle in the Christian life becomes the struggle of surrender and abandonment.  I think that is the reason we have so many struggles in life. We are not willing to abandon and surrender every area of our life to the supremacy of Christ.

I know that is paradoxal but weakness is strength, and surrender is victory. The more of our life we surrender to His control the greater our rest.

The Scripture teaches us that abandonment and surrender is normal to the Christian life.”… do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed (metamorpheo) by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:1-2)

Why is surrender and abandonment such an issue with God?  Fenelon says, “God’s desire is to seek out and destroy the roots of self-love. You, on your own, could never find those hidden roots. God can see the entire path of self-love with your heart. Let him attack self-love at it strongest point.”

Yielding to the King of Glory is all about being suited for Kingdom Life so that He can live His life through us. It is not about performance but about relationship. It’s about laying down the self-life and exchanging our life for His life.

God desires an ongoing love relationship with us. Will you join me in allowing the Holy Spirit to examine our life in order to reveal our self-love so that we may fully yield to the King?