Terry R Baughman is Lead Pastor for LifeChurch in Gilbert, AZ. See his complete bio at trbaughman.com
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RELEASE — empowered to rise
Terry R. Baughman
“So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” (Luke 14:33 NLT).
People do some dumb things! Social media has created a phenomenon where students are often challenged to do some irrational, dangerous, and even fatal things just for the fun of it. I remember a few years ago seeing the “ice water challenge.” A lot of videos popped up of normally rational people getting doused with ice water over their heads just because someone challenged them to do it. Other challenges are more serious as kids attempt daring jumps, diving into shallow waters, or performing tricks on skateboards or bicycles. Some have ended in serious injuries or even death.
The challenge we are proposing are not dangerous, but beneficial, even positively empowering to believers in Christ. We are faced with a New Year and a fresh opportunity to go forward with great ambition to be better and do more for God in the coming months. Our challenge is to reach higher in a spiritual dimension, dig deeper in biblical studies, and leap forward in our Christian maturity. The gauntlet has been thrown down. Who will take it up and accept the challenge of the Spirit during this early season of a new year?
A desire to change course or direction is first of all a mental decision. We don’t accidentally stumble into disciplines. We don’t wake up one day and automatically run a marathon. No one ever said, “I started dieting before I knew what was happening. I started craving all the right foods and felt repulsed by anything that was fattening or unhealthy!” It is very unlikely that you just happened to show up a church without some thought or plan to attend. Likewise Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, giving, and sharing your testimony are not usually things that just happen.
Typically, there is a conscious decision to make reading the Bible a part of your weekly schedule. We purpose to pray, and sometimes have to set an alarm or schedule a reminder to keep that commitment. Church attendance is planned and our days are arranged to insure that we have no disruptions to prevent our participation. When we budget our expenses our tithing and offerings are planned as a part of our financial responsibility. Often we must actively look for those opportunities to share our witness with coworkers, friends, or relatives.
Most people only develop positive lifestyles and adopt healthy habits after making some mental preparation to initiate change in life. There is a pivotal moment where we decide to make changes. Motivations vary, but for spiritual pursuits perhaps it was a message that was preached, a book or podcast, or maybe an inspirational post that was observed on social media. Whatever the motivation, there was a moment when the decision was made to initiate a new action.
We are mentally prepared to make the desired changes as we make plans to act on our decisions. If we are to truly be committed to the cause of Jesus Christ, we must make the decision to forsake all to follow Him. We learn of His desire for us through the reading of His Word, praying for His guidance, and through the encouragement of other believers as we gather together for worship and to hear God’s messenger deliver the application of the Word of God from Scripture.
Accept the challenge today! In this beginning of a New Year, or a renewed commitment, let us arise to the challenge of Christian commitment. We are assured of God’s help as His Spirit was given to empower us for service.
“Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NLT).
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