Intro: Live life as though it means something

How do we live life as though it means something? The bible says, “Live to glorify God.” He made us in His image for that purpose. He sent Jesus to redeem us from sin for that purpose. The Holy Spirit helps us accomplish that purpose.  Why, after four decades as a born again baptized, bible believing Christian am I still stumble around in the dark.

“A Disciple’s Life” is my journey towards the answers. It is a chronicle of God’s work in my life. I plan to share what I learn through the systematic study of scripture and my attempt to live it each day.

I hope and pray that through this voyage we learn to live life as though it means something.

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Created for a purpose

“I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn’t be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.” – Hugo Cabret, Movie Hugo

Everything created has a purpose. Alexander Graham Bell created the telephone to make a phone call. Alfred Nobel invented dynamite to blow something up. Nobel created the prize to loss his moniker as the merchant of death. If everything is created for a purpose, why did God create the universe? What is our purpose in God’s plan?

The universe was created for His glory. Through the universe we see God’s power, by our love for God and others we see His love. No matter how big our small the parts are God receives the glory. 1 Peter 4:11, 1 Corinthians 10:31

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Why is it always someday?

 

During a midweek Bible Study I was struck by a former pastor’s continual use of the word, someday, when discussing characteristics of being a Christian. “Someday we will be like Christ.” “We will someday be the loving disciples we are supposed to be.” Everything was about the future. All the commands in Scripture would someday be accomplished in us. I thought to myself, “Why not today.”

Why am I talking about or hearing someone preach about the glory to come? Always talking about the future of Discipleship instead of what God is doing right now? Could it be nothing is happening? Am I still the same person as before my salvation? Have I received Jesus as my savior and neglected to make Him Lord of my life?

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Trials and tribulation

All things work together for those who love the Lord, but why does it have to be so hard. A trial here and there I can handle, it’s a dozen at a time that cause me to despair. I understand when I am at my weakest He is able to work in me to the fullest. Yet I feel further away from Him. Why? What do I need to see that I am missing?

The Purpose in life is to glorify God. For this to happen I must die to self and fully understand that I am dead with Christ. Then the issue is not the trials, pain and suffering that matter, but how long I hang on to the life that allows it to happen. But how do you let go of what makes you what you think you are? How do you die to self and live in Christ?

 

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Imitation is the sincerest form of failure

“The Majority of children born into the world tend to inherit the beliefs of their parents, and that to me is one of the most regrettable facts of them all”  – Richard Dawkins

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, he’s right. Children in general, do inherit the beliefs of their parents. No matter the belief, theist, atheist or Christian, the influence of parents is strong. An article in Psychology Today Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D. explains a normal relationship between parent and child. He said children admire “even worships parents for the capability of what they can do and the power of approval that they possess. The child wants to relate on parental terms, enjoy parental companionship, and imitates the parents wherever possible.” This Imitation extends to every aspect of life, including Christianity.

That fact is more than regrettable it is devastating. We spend our lives searching for meaning never finding the true purpose for our existence. Our children see what we think valuable by how we spend our time. They intern imitate our search for superficial meaning and pass it on to their children.

Why is this devastating to Christianity? Because Christians have been influenced by a postmodern culture with a warped view of God. Discipleship, authentic fellowship with God and other believers is practically non-existent. Being a Christian (born again) is just another thing to posses. Surrendering our lives to God would interfere with our pursuit of happiness. This is regrettable.

 

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Searching for the narrow road


I had my plans God had His. I thought I knew what this blog was about. I wanted to show cultural Christians what was missing in their lives. I look at the church in America and see professing Christians in name only. They do not understand what it means to be a disciple of Christ. What I did not see was my own ignorance of discipleship.

I thought I had grown as a disciple and had something to share. I was wrong in thinking I had the answers. I now know that I am a cultural Christian, an unbelieving believer (Mark 9:24). The last few months have pulled my life down a different path. Though I have only taken a few tenuous steps, I see clearer the narrow path before me.

My plan, and I hope God’s plan, is to find out where I am in my walk. I want to understand what it means to be a disciple. What does true faith in God look like? How can I belief in God and somehow have unbelief in what He can do? How has today’s Christian culture affected my walk? So many questions and I still don’t know where to start.

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Introduction: Live life as though it means something

I think I’m ready to be a disciple. I have been a Christian since 1969; maybe it’s time to move forward now. I have attended Christian fellowships my entire life. I have been a Sunday school teacher, youth leader, minister of music, and preached on occasion. Is it possible to have done all that and not be a disciple? It sure feels like it.

During the same 41 years, I have failed more than I have succeeded. I have been more interested in the world than the Word. Broken some of the commandments shattered some of the others. The bible tells me not to be overcome by the world, yet the world has run me down more times than I care to count.

I hold onto God’s grace. I rely on scriptures such as, “He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Am I sure of my redemption through Christ? Yes. Am I confident that I am a Christian? Again, yes. The issue is not am I saved, it’s have I found my noble purpose.

A Christian Disciple is a student of Jesus. It is our job to learn what He wishes to teach us. Then it is our responsibility to act on what we know. Like myself, I know many Christians, who have spent a lifetime learning what the Bible has to say on a whole host of topics. However, few ever seem to apply what they learn.

Are you a Disciple of Christ, or a cultural Christian? The majority of Americans call themselves Christian, who I believe are actually cultural Christians. They exhibit some traits of discipleship. They attend church on a frequent basis. They know Bible stories, and verses. Have been baptized. They believe many tenets of the faith. A cultural Christian looks like most any Christian. They are nearly impossible to pick out of a Sunday crowd. Most do not know the difference themselves.

Today’s postmodern culture allows anyone to claim “Christian” status. However, culture does not determine this, the Bible does. My goal is to build from the ground up an understanding of what it means to be a true Christian. With the Bible as our guide, discipleship as our benchmark, we can learn what it truly means to be a disciple.

In John 8: 31-33 we read, “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” The “children of Abraham” built their assurance on the fact that they were Jews. Just professing being from Abraham, like professing you are a Christian, is like saying you’re a Big Mac because you eat at McDonald’s daily. Just saying it does not make it so. Jesus said the requirement to be a true disciple is to continue in the His word.

In 2 Timothy 2: 15 we read, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” It seems clear to me that to know what our purpose in life is about, requires some diligence on our part. Careful reading of the Word of God is crucial if we are to find our noble purpose.

To be a disciple we find our noble purpose in God. 2 Peter 2: 20- 21 says, “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” Many who call themselves Christian have not found their noble purpose.

It is God’s desire that we find our purpose. God made us unique. He gave us the tools (will, intellect and emotions), to accomplish our purpose. I believe our purpose is to live life as thought it means something. The only way to live this way is to follow after God. The only way to accomplish that is to be diligent in the study of His word and to act upon what we know to be true.

It is important to understand how to navigate the road ahead. This is the purpose of Disciple Life, to journey through Scripture and explore creation learning the truth of God and His plan for man along the way. Following God’s plan we will find eternal joy, everlasting satisfaction, a ceaseless, noble Purpose to life.

The heart of every theist, atheist and agnostic wants to know, “what’s my purpose?” The Dalai Lama said, “One great question underlies our experience, whether we think about it consciously or not: What is the purpose of life? From the moment of birth, every human being wants meaning and does not want to suffer in obtaining it. From the very core of our being we simply desire answers to the big questions. ” Whether you are Buddhist or Baptist we all long to know how to move our journey along.

The plan is…

•Find common ground that Christian and hopefully non-Christian can agree on.

•Build each study upon the foundation of the previous studies.

•We must go where our God-given reasoning skills lead.

•We must avoid forcing the evidence into our denominational box.

•Use, but don’t be fooled by our emotions.

•Apply what we have learned to our daily lives.

Though this would seem obvious from the Scripture many Christians believe following Christ on some journey is optional. Only Jesus freaks and pastors need go down the narrow road. Some think they are not capable of making the journey; others are satisfied with their eternal life assurance. However God reveals throughout the Scripture that eternity starts here and now (John 17:3).

In the seventeenth century John Bunyan in, The Pilgrim’s Progress, wrote of a man named Christian, clothed in rags and weighed down by a great burden on his back. He stood facing away from his house. He opened the Bible he held in his hand and as he read, he wept and trembled. Finally, no longer able to contain himself, he cried, “what shall I do?” The bible revealed to Christian the reality of the world, and his wretched condition in it. Christian also found his purpose in the Bible.  So he starts off on his epic journey of discovery that will, in the end, leave him stronger, happier and with a noble purpose.

First study: 1.05 The pursuit of happiness?

 

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Changing directions

I walk along the track, knowing any minute a train could take me out, yet I can’t step off.  Each day the blast from the steam whistle grows a little louder. I look down at my feet continuing down the middle of the track as though they have somewhere important to go. A step then sleep, step again, eat, another step then work, step, eat, step sleep, on it goes. Is this all there is to life? You journey along a set path then – wham! It ends?

The Bible tells me there is more to life, that I can live a life that brings glory to God. What must that life look like? For God to be glorified by my life it must be more than eat, sleep, work, play. So I add religion to my steps along the track.

However, my religious path says to do this, say that, go there, follow the course then –wham! Heaven. Somewhere along the way I missed the glorifying God part. Just another step on the same path does not bring me closer to the goal.

Once in a-wile I come across something that gives my life purpose. I grab it as I pay by and my pace quickens. Like every shiny bobble it, soon loses its luster. Tossing in my pack it is added to the other trinkets that weigh me down. My days are spent looking for the next thing to capture my attention.

There must be a way to step off the track to nowhere and experience a life that glorifies God. So I have stopped. I’m going to sit for a while, think, listen to my heart, than choose a different path. I have God’s word; He has given me creation to examine. I have people who have walked before me to learn from. I have the desire; God will help me find the time. I may not be able to get off the track, but someday things will get better.

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Why is conservatism an up-hill battle?

With three days to go until the election the Republicans are poised to have a majority in the House and possibly, but not likely in the Senate. The reasons for this change are several. The new social health care program, Cap and trade legislation, and a general bent towards socialism has spurred on groups like the TEA party to fight for a conservative, constitution based government.

In the short run, conservatives will win. I fear this will only be a stopgap in the inevitable downward spiral into liberalism. Why? We are fundamentally liberal by nature. We want what we want. We prefer relativism to absolutes, wealth rather than poverty, anarchy to order. In other words, we are a fallen, sinful people.

It will be this way until the Lord returns.

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