Luke 9:23 He said to all of them, "Those who want to come with me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses every day, and follow me.
I was not brought up in church life and did not see my parents worship the living God. Now my mom taught us prayers as little kids that we had to pray each night before we went to bed, but there was nothing really solid. There was nothing that pointed me to the living God. Growing up godless was interesting. I did come to Christ when I was 13, but understand I was the only Christian in my house-hold at the time. My parents sent us to church but never really went themselves.
Before coming to Jesus as a teenager , I had what I call "God experiences" when I was a child. I had a physical touch of God save my life from self affliction. I had two experiences where the living God spoke to me audibly. I had angelic and demonic visitations and I had many experiences where God would just speak to me. I know it sounds strange and I usually don't talk about such things, but they were actual experiences. I can't not prove them to the average person nor can I make someone believe my story. For me it does not matter because I was there and I knew what happened. Now these experiences don't validate me as a Christian or follower of Christ. They do not declare me as some great Holy Man who has been visited by the Living God. However, the experiences did draw me to the Lord at age 13. They were used to help my faith stay strong even when the world was against me. I was and have been tempted with so many things from the great tempter. There are times where I have fallen to the temptations because of my lustful flesh and there are many times where the living God has prevailed within me.
Before I came to Christ, I had spent a month or more studying his word. I read passages about salvation and about the Love of Christ for my life. I read scriptures about sin and the destruction of that sin in my life. At the end of my month or more search, I went to a little Baptist church one August Sunday night down in the south of the United States and surrendered my life to Christ. I had made a decision that I was not just going to be a regular Christian who goes through the motions but I wanted to be a committed follower to Jesus.
What does it mean to be a follower of Christ? Please understand for those of us who have had the privilege growing up in the United States can not fully answer this question. American Christians have an easy faith. Western Christianity is woven together with liberal and conservative views. It's messages go from the extreme of hell fire and brimstone to flower power love. ( Let's just love each other mannnnn!) It has followers who wear their Christian T-shirts proudly and have their Christian bumper stickers on their cars. Many think going to church makes them a christian or saying a little prayer before a consumption of a meal. This notion is ludicrous. If I stand in the middle of a garage does this make me a Car? Lol. We see this taking place all over the world today especially in modern countries who have pushed God to the back seat of the spiritual car. I often wonder if we are truly following the word of God or are we following a social gospel. The Social Gospel changes to fit the ideas of the secular world. So many are calling things good where God's word clearly says is an offense against His truth. Secularism and relativism is replacing the basic truths of our Lord. We went from hearing a gospel that challenges and places the fear of Lord in our lives to a feel good gospel where truth is false and false is the new truth. We have to rise up and stop being spectators and start being committed followers of His truth.
American Christians in History have become the greatest missionaries to the nations and still hold the number one position as givers to Gospel around the world. Unfortantely our faith is becoming less of a committment but more of a spectatorship.
Following Jesus is surrendering all to him. It is following the word of God and living out His commandments. This is what Jesus meant when He said take up your cross and follow me. Following Jesus means to die to yourself. It means to lay down your life for His truth.
I read some books a few months ago that really left me with questions about my walk with the Lord. One was Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I am actually watching his DVD series for his book right now as I am writing this blog. Below is a clip about Crazy Love for Jesus.
The other book is Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. Below is a clip of Kyle talking about not being a Fan of Jesus but a follower.
I can't speak for everyone but I can speak for myself. I wonder how much of a follower have I been lately for the Lord? How sincere is my love for the Lord? Does it have that Crazy Love for the Lord? Have I spent my life trying to build something here on this planet where it is not my home? Have I allowed my finances to go on a tangent to where I can't give to the Lord? Have I allowed my job to consume me to the point where I am missing what the Lord has called me to do? What kind of legacy am I leaving behind?
I can be honest. I would love to say that my walk has always been this clean , prestigous, righteous, walk before my first Love, but it hasn't. I have let my physical body go to the point where I am starting to possibly have medical issues. ( too chicken to go back to the Doctor). This year I feel like my life and soul was sold to my place of employment. ( Pharoah, Pharoah, let me people go.) I have not always been the perfect Christian example to my family, peers and people around me. I have allowed the events of the past few years drive me instead of allowing the Lord to draw me closer to Him. I sometimes feel like I just go with the motions. For those who truly know me. You understand that this is not kosher for me. I have a drive and passion to do right for Christ even when those around me chose not too.
I don't know about you but I want to be Crazy in Love with my Lord. I want to be this committed follower who goes to the ends of the world for His message. To the spectator looking in this is " CRAZZZY TALK!" but that is OK. I am crazy! I am different! I chose not to make this place my HOME. I chose to follow God's word and speak his truth with love, compassion, correction, and edification. Guess What? His word is not always easy to swallow but it is simple and straight to the point. There are no gray areas.
Be a follower of the Lord today and not a spectator.!