The Cost of Following

DO YOU RECALL JESUS’ RADICAL philosophy of servanthood? It’s found tucked away in His now immortal words: He said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” LUKE 9:23 Following Christ as His disciple is a costly, unselfish decision. It calls for a radical examination of our self-centered life.

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Surrendering Your Will

THE PSALMIST WAS CORRECT: the heavens do indeed proclaim the glory of God. The skies do indeed display his craftsmanship (see Psalm 19:1). And when you mix that unfathomable fact with the incredible reality that He cares for each one of us right down to the last, tiniest detail, the psalmist is, again, correct: “such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand” (Psalm 139:6).

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A Week after Christmas

EVER WONDERED WHAT happened shortly after Jesus was born? That’s an interesting question. We all feel that sense of uncertainty and even confusion after the crowds leave. When the house is still and quiet. The beautifully wrapped Christmas paper lies in piles, amid open boxes, stray ribbons, and bows. The once-hidden Christmas surprises sit silent and unattended under the tree now revealed.

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Looking at the Big Picture . . . and Finding Hope, Part 1

The Christmas story has been so sanitized and romanticized over the centuries that even Hollywood—as jaded a culture as can be found anywhere—fails to capture the gritty pathos that surrounded Jesus’s arrival. Truth be told, even some churches annually idealize the birth of our Savior. Yet it was anything but ideal.

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Sheep, Not Cattle

EVER GET THAT cattle-in-the-corral feeling? Sure you have. Whether it’s sitting in morning traffic or standing in a long check-out line at Walmart-it’s easy to feel as if you’re only a blip on the radar of some cosmic force, herding people like cattle to their inevitable ends. Aside from the physical and emotional discomfort of being shoved around like thick-skinned creatures with horns, there’s a subtle signal that goes off inside us with damaging results.

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Echoes

A YOUNG BOY LIVED WITH his grandfather on the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps. Often, just to hear his voice echoing back to him, he would go outside, cup his hands around his mouth, and shout, “HELLO!” Up from the canyons it reverberated over and over, “HELLO . . . HELLO . . . hello . . . hello . . . hello . . .”

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Risen, Indeed!

No need to prolong the story. Or complicate it. Or embellish it. Or try to explain it. Or defend it. Just declare it. The facts speak for themselves. Jesus of Nazareth said He would “suffer . . . be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matt. 16:21).

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Songless Saints

Everyone knows Ephesians 5:18, where we are told to “be filled with the Spirit” . . . but have you ever noticed that verse 18 ends with a comma, not a period? The next verse describes the very first result of being under the Spirit’s control . . . we sing! We make melody with our hearts. We communicate His presence within us by presenting our own, individual concert of sacred music to Him.

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Self-Praise

“Self-praise,” says an ancient adage, “smells bad.” In other words, it stinks up the works. Regardless of how we prepare it, garnish it with little extras, slice and serve it up on our finest silver piece, the odor remains. No amount of seasoning can eliminate the offensive smell. Unlike a good wife, age only makes it worse. It is much like the poisoned rat in the wall—if it isn’t removed the stench becomes increasingly unbearable.

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Modeling God’s Message

Hosea started a scandal in the parsonage. Why? Hold onto your hat—he married a prostitute. Talk about gossip! His name became a byword for “fool.” Respect for him dropped to zero. His reputation was suddenly null and void. “Small wonder he is listed first among the minor prophets,” some sneer . . . “He must have been some kind of a nut.”

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