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Posts tagged ‘Dedication’

Time to Count the Cost – The Great Cost of Discipleship

The Great Cost of DiscipleshipThe turnout for Jesus’ “evangelistic campaign” was impressive.  But Luke informs us that Jesus didn’t follow-through with an invitation.  Instead, the paragraphs we look at today record His in-your-face “disinvitation”!

Jesus sensed a superficiality about the enthusiastic crowds.  So He urged them to turn back if they weren’t prepared to go deeper.  This is sobering stuff for believers of our generation as our culture shifts from tacit support of Christian values to barely concealed hostility.

Interact with God’s Word

Luke 14:25-35

  1. Why do you think Jesus’ popular following made him uneasy?
  2. Why is enthusiasm alone inadequate to support long-term discipleship?
  3. How would Jesus’ hearers have understood carrying their own cross?
  4. Have you seen a disciple who began well throw in the towel? What happened?
  5. What costs should a Christian be prepared to pay?
  6. Do Jesus’ demands strike you as extreme? As unreasonable?
  7. What would make a believer—like leached-out salt—blend in and lose his distinctive flavor?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God for strength to move beyond a surface comfort with your Christian sub-culture to a rock-solid commitment to Christ that will hold up under attack.

Luke 14:25-35

25 Great crowds were following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And you cannot be my disciple if you do not carry your own cross and follow me.

28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if there is enough money to pay the bills? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of funds. And then how everyone would laugh at you!

30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and ran out of money before it was finished!’

31 “Or what king would ever dream of going to war without first sitting down with his counselors and discussing whether his army of ten thousand is strong enough to defeat the twenty thousand soldiers who are marching against him? 32 If he is not able, then while the enemy is still far away, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace. 33 So no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me.

34 “Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? 35 Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for fertilizer. It is thrown away. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!”

Prayer for the Week:  Being an out-and-out disciple isn’t for wimps, Lord.  Give me what it takes to be all Yours.

Time to Count the Cost – Shunning the Bait

Jimmy Houston Kissing FishKey Bible Verses:  So if you are suffering according to God’s will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you. 1 Peter 4:19

Bonus Reading:  1 Peter 4:12-19

“Jimmy Houston may be America’s most famous fisherman.  As host of the ESPN2 tv series, Jimmy Houston Outdoors and Jimmy’s Outdoor World, his aw-shucks humor (kissing a fish after each catch), Cheshire cat grin, and shaggy blond hair are known to thousands.  Houston has won nearly $336,000 on the Bass Angler Sportsman Society (BASS) circuit, making 15 appearances in the BASS Masters Classic tournament, and winning its Angler of the Year title twice.

But BASS signed Anheuser Busch on as an official sponsor in 2002.  Houston refused to add the beer sponsor’s decal to his boat at BASS professional events.  He says he knew immediately that, for “ethical, moral, and scriptural reasons,” he couldn’t adhere to the Busch requirement.  That cost him points needed to qualify for the BASS tournament, the Super Bowl of fishing, and a potential Angler-of-the-Year prize worth $100,000.

“One guy asked me if I prayed about it first,” Houston recalls.  “I told him, ‘Not for a second.  To me, it wasn’t a decision.  I’m simply not going to promote beer for anybody.”

He was “totally shocked,” he says, that other Christian anglers, fearing it would jeopardize their careers, didn’t react the same way.

—Eric Tiansay in New Man

My Response:  What inducements would I automatically reject?

Thought to Apply:  You make up your mind before you start that sacrifice is part of the package. —Richard Devos

Adapted from New Man (9-10/03)

Prayer for the Week:  Being an out-and-out disciple isn’t for wimps, Lord.  Give me what it takes to be all Yours.

Time to Count the Cost – G.I. Standard-bearer

Theban LegionKey Bible Verse:  “Remain faithful even when facing death, and I will give you the crown of life” Revelation 2:10

Bonus Reading:  Matthew 5:10-12

A panel of the stained glass window behind the West Point Cadet Chapel altar honors Maurice, the patron saint of the Infantry.

Maurice was brigade commander of the Theban Legion, composed entirely of Christians recruited from Upper Egypt.  In 287, it marched under Roman general Augustus Maximilian Hercules to crush the revolt of the Berguadae Gauls.

Maximilian ordered the offering of pagan sacrifices before battle near the River Rhone at Martigny (in modern France).  The Theban Legion refused to participate and withdrew to the town of Agaunum (now Saint Maurice-en-Valais).  They had also refused to kill innocent civilians in the conduct of their duty.  Enraged, Maximilian ordered every tenth man killed.  His order was carried out, yet they still refused.

A second time the general ordered Maurice’s men decimated; again they refused to offer sacrifices.  “We’ve seen our comrades killed,” Maurice replied. “Rather than sorrow, we rejoice at the honor done to them.”  At this, Maximilian ordered all the Thebans killed.

Isn’t it interesting that steely-eyed, snake-eating, bad-to-the-bone soldiers chose to emulate a man known for his faith and the overarching power of principle?

—Col. Mike Tesdahl, USA (Ret.), in Command

My Response:  What am I facing that requires undaunted courage?

Thought to Apply:  Fear God, fear sin, and then dear Britons, fear nothing! —Lord Horatio Nelson (British admiral)

Adapted from Command magazine (2/03)

Prayer for the Week:  Being an out-and-out disciple isn’t for wimps, Lord.  Give me what it takes to be all Yours.

Time to Count the Cost – Prostituted Press

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Key Bible Verse:  Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12

Bonus Reading:  Luke 14:25-35

Several years ago the wire services carried an account of a printing press operator in the Midwest whose employer signed a contract to print a pornographic magazine.  This man refused to operate his press on that one contract.  He pleaded, “Allow me to work on any other project.  Give me the worst hours in the shop;  I won’t operate my press when that magazine comes through.”

He was fired.  He appealed to his labor union, which declined to support his “censorship.”  He lost his job with only three years to go on his pension and retirement.

I discussed this disturbing story with a pastor I know.

“What a jerk!” my preacher friend laughed.  “Gagging at gnats and swallowing camels.  How big of a deal is it?  He doesn’t have to read them or look at the pictures.  That fool has no responsibility in the matter.  All he has to do is operate a printing press.”

That pastor’s attitude exposes a deep wound in our society.  When we can no longer even identify which situations demand truly courageous responses, then we no longer know when to take a stand.  Finally we will lose our understanding of what courage is.  If a society misdefines courage, it’s on the verge of barbarism.

—Mark Rutland in Character Matters

My Response:  An issue of which I believe Christians should take a stand is …

Thought to Apply:  It is important that people know what you stand for.  It is equally important that they know what you won’t stand for. —Source Unknown

Adapted from Character Matters (Charisma, 2003)

Prayer for the Week:  Being an out-and-out disciple isn’t for wimps, Lord.  Give me what it takes to be all Yours.

Time to Count the Cost – Where Most Needed

Daniel's Firey FurnaceKey Bible Verse:  “We will never … worship the gold statue”  – Daniel 3:18

Bonus Reading:  Daniel 3:1-23

Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” was addressed to eight white clergymen who, fearing violence, opposed King’s civil disobedience.  King had been jailed for unlawful demonstrations against the city’s segregationist ordinances.

“How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” King wrote. “The answer is that there are two kinds of laws: just and unjust. … One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

One factor propelling his letter to such explosive influence was that he wrote it from a prison in the epicenter of segregation. Dr. King didn’t move to New York City and carry on his ministry from there.  He didn’t move to Los Angeles and call strategic initiatives from there.  He personally took his ministry to a town where the injustice was at its worst.  The Birmingham Chamber of Commerce bragged about its status as the most segregated city in America.  Today Birmingham has an African-American mayor, and it’s situated in one of the most integrated parts of the country.

—Richard Land in Real Homeland Security

My Response:  A situation in which I should stand up and be counted is …

Thought to Apply:  There comes a time when one must take a position that’s neither safe, nor political, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him that it’s right.—Martin Luther King Jr. (pastor, civil rights leader)

Adapted from Real Homeland Security (Nelson, 2004)

Prayer for the Week:  Being an out-and-out disciple isn’t for wimps, Lord.  Give me what it takes to be all Yours.

Time to Count the Cost – Diverse Except for…

Ron Brown, Football CoachKey Bible Verse:  The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don’t. John 15:19

Bonus Reading:  John 15:18-25

Back in 2002, when Ron Brown was a University of Nebraska Assistant Football Coach, The Daily Nebraskan reported that he was denied the head coaching job at Stanford University because of his religious beliefs.  Of particular concern was his candid belief that homosexual behavior is a sin.  His religion “was definitely something that had to be considered,” Alan Glenn, Stanford’s assistant athletic director of human resources, told the student newspaper. “We’re a very diverse community with a diverse alumni.”

Brown says he was shocked at both the decision and the school’s candor.  “If I’d been discriminated against for being black, they would’ve never told me that,” he said. “They had no problem telling me it was because of my Christian beliefs.”

In Thinking Against the Grain (Kregel, 2003), N. Allan Moseley notes that the ‘tolerance’ that ensures that no one is denied a job because he or she is homosexual, isn’t extended to Christians.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Simon, said Stanford was right not to hire such an outspoken Christian.

Brown said the Stanford rejection wouldn’t silence his Christian beliefs.  “I don’t believe you compromise truth for whatever job,” he said.

—Ted Olsen in Christianity Today

My Response: Have I taken any flak for my faith? If not, could it be because I flinched?

Adapted from Christianity Today (6/10/02)

Prayer for the Week:  Being an out-and-out disciple isn’t for wimps, Lord.  Give me what it takes to be all Yours.

Time to Count the Cost – Don’t Flinch

Football TackleWho Said It…Ron Brown

In 2004, Ron Brown was the receivers coach for University of Nebraska football.  Although intense, energetic, and demanding, he was also there to help his players if they needed him.

Ron is outspoken about his faith.  “Some people around the university aren’t always happy about it,” he once admitted, “but that’s their tough cookie.”  In 2005, Ron chucked his headset and clipboard to become Nebraska state director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

What He Said…Don’t Flinch

Paul told the elders from Ephesus, “I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants for you” (Acts 20:27).  If we let pain cause us to flinch in our Christian walk, we’ll definitely lose impact.

Football players have to learn not to flinch.  One fearless player who has that down is Mike Brown of the Chicago Bears.  I recruited Mike to the University of Nebraska.

He was only 5’8″ and barely 180 pounds in high school, but he moved around the football field like a rocket!  He never hesitated when he tackled another player.  Not once did I see him flinch when driving his body into a ball carrier.

Most players, just before they make contact, flinch and turn their head and shoulders a little.  They don’t want to take the full blow.

Coaches teach that it’s better to initiate the blow at full speed with proper technique than to avoid the contact by flinching.  God needs full-speed players willing to tackle the opposition in the name of Christ at all costs.  Don’t flinch!

Adapted from Sports Spectrum Power Up! (11-12/03)

Prayer for the Week:  Being an out-and-out disciple isn’t for wimps, Lord.  Give me what it takes to be all Yours.