Follower

34And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Mark 8

We don’t like this verse. We try to blot it out of our minds. That failing, we claim not to understand its meaning. We say things like, “It just means we all got problems.” It’s why we don’t like to be called “followers.” Just call us “Christians.” Lots of “Christians” aren’t followers. If you look close, they’re not even believers.

“Christian” is meaningless. Forget it. Today it simply means someone who calls himself a Christian.  It’s a status word. It describes what someone is or says he is. It means no more than what the speaker intends. It doesn’t communicate a unique idea.

Follower is an action word. It implies selfless action. It implies actions along a path determined by another. It implies a singularity that eliminates all other options. It means Jesus is pilot not copilot. He is also navigator and not a steward. He doesn’t make our way possible or more comfortable.  Followers were originally called The Way, not “a way”or “go your own way.”

We know it’s not like social media followers. We follow someone on Facebook or Twitter. It means they interest us. We want to know what’s happening in their life. A Jesus follower is much more than that. We have to be more than interested in Jesus, we have to go where He would have us go and do what He would have us do.

Admit it. Don’t we want Jesus to make the life we want possible? Don’t we ask kids, “What do you want to be?” Don’t we ask others, “What do you do?” Aren’t these the wrong questions? Aren’t any such questions just wrong? We don’t know the path. We should trust and follow. We know the destination only in a vague ultimate sense. The path is completely unknown and unknowable.

We don’t want to be followers. Followers are sheep. Jesus didn’t call us sheep or himself, shepherd, by accident. If we are honest we are all sheep. We just don’t all have a good Shepherd.  Most of us have shepherds who don’t love us or even know us. They just have the skill to take us where they want us to go while making us believe it was all our idea.

Letting go of our life becomes harder the longer we have clung to it and the more comfortable we are in it. It’s harder to recognize it’s merely an illusion of life and only a shadow of the glorious and joyful life cross carrying can be.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Why I’m Going to Church

 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

In a few minutes I’m going to head off to church. Today that’s not incredibly popular. Why, you might say, are you going to church? I’m so glad you asked.

Missing folks. For various reasons I haven’t been to my church in three weeks. I really miss my brothers and sisters there. So I’m going. If you don’t miss the folks at your church, maybe you are in the wrong church.

Encouragement. It’s a scary world out there, and getting scarier every day. Folks are being killed for being Christian in some places. In others, Christians aren’t acting Christian enough to even get noticed as Christians. Like I said, it’s a scary world out there. I need some courage which I get at my church were there is encouragement. If you aren’t being encouraged at your church, maybe you’re going to the wrong church.

Encourage. I know the folks at my church pretty well and I know they need encouragement. Plus the best way to get encouraged is to encourage others. If you don’t feel like encouraging or don’t get a chance to do so at your church, maybe you’re going to the wrong church.

Motivation. I’m not doing everything I should as a Christian. It’s no good to know a lot about being a Christian if you are not being one. I don’t get just knowledge at my church. I get motivated. Do you get motivated at your church? Do you even have a church?

Time Change Sunday.  It’s time change Sunday and at our church someone always shows up a few minutes before eleven. Our church starts at ten.  It’s funny to see the looks on their faces when they walk in and the sermon is well under way. It’s fun like that at our church. If your church isn’t fun or if nobody ever messes up at your church, you need to stop going. You will be noticed soon and the fun will be start.

Time to go. Be blessed.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Presence Plus

Those of us who are truly blessed have at least one someone who can turn things around by their presence. Rainy becomes sunny. Hopelessness becomes hope. Panic becomes calm. Confusion becomes direction. Perhaps above all else, sorrow becomes joy.

They do it by their presence alone. Sometimes there’s a plus: a word, a verse, a cool drink or a sweet treat. That’s pure extra. The presence is what we desperately need. We are completely thankful for it.

Such is the work of the Holy Spirit. His function is to be present in the life of the believer.  When that presence is experienced, joy flows. The presence is constant. Our experience is learned and varies. Sometimes our circumstances are so dark and overwhelming that the presence can’t be recognized. Sometimes we are so self-absorbed, we can notice anything else, especially not the spiritual presence of God.

The Holy Spirit is like the wind, unseen and recognized only by the effects of its movement. When things in our lives change, especially without natural cause, the Spirit is working. The Spirit is at work whether we recognize it or not. His guidance, however, requires our recognition of His presence and our sensitivity to his word.

A life of significant mission is one guided by the comforting direction of the Holy Spirit.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Holy Spirit

16“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.… John 14

I woke up this morning and thought of the Holy Spirit. I’m afraid it was a unique thought for me. I don’t give much thought to the Holy Spirit. That’s just not right. That puts me in the “in the world” class. Not good.

I suppose there are lots of reasons why I don’t give much thought to the Holy Spirit. For example, I don’t remember the last time I’ve heard a teaching on the Holy Spirit. I guess this is understandable. The Holy Spirit seems hard to explain. I have heard much about the “gifts” of the Holy Spirit or the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit, but not a lot about the Holy Spirit.

I know the Holy Spirit isn’t a dove. Although you would think so if you google “Holy Spirit.” Perhaps this is one of the reasons I don’t think a lot about the Holy Spirit. I have an image of the Father and of Jesus, not so much of the Holy Spirit.

I know the Holy Spirit is fully God but I don’t give a lot of thought to His function. Jesus was pretty clear about that. He is to abide with us, helping and comforting. I don’t know about you but I need a sense of the abiding presence of God helping and comforting me. I’m going to try to recognize and appreciate His presence.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Extremes

I just finished cutting my grass. After all the temperature is in the 70s, why not? I know cutting grass the first days of March, when all that gets mowed are clover and leaves,  may make me an extremist in the lawn department but that’s okay.

According to the Weather Channel, the temperature tomorrow morning will be forty degrees cooler than it will be when we go to bed. Okay so I go to bed pretty early, but you get the the point…extreme.

I saw some extremes on line yesterday as the left and right commented on Israel’s Prime Minister’s speech to  Congress. Talk about  your differences of opinion. Without going into specifics I think both sides went to extremes to express their views. Neither Israel’s Prime Minister nor America’s President is quite the low life scum portrayed on line. If that last sentence offended you, you really need to read the rest. I can assure you that no one switched sides as a result of the speech or the online debate. No one was converted or convinced.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against extremists. Jesus was an extremist. It was His way or the highway. I intend to stay off the highway. I believe we should be 100%, totally committed to our beliefs, especially those with eternal significance. The problem comes in the execution. Take executions for example. ISIS has been executing Christians just for being Christians. I think we can all agree that’s extreme.  Those Christians are willing to die rather than deny Christ. Isn’t that also extreme. I hope I can be that extreme when the time comes (Notice it’s “when” not “if.”) The “true believers” on both sides are fighting for the support of the vast majority of folks, the moderates, the non-extremists, the non-passionate, those without real convictions, the boring. Whom do you think is getting the most sympathy? Who is causing more to consider joining a side, the executors or the executed? Now some cowards may be leaning to the executioners, but who needs cowards in an extreme movement? We don’t need those willing to kill; we need those willing to die.

Jesus is the model extremist. He spoke the truth forcefully and fiercely, but in love. More importantly, he acted out the truth in love. He didn’t back down from His enemies, but He also prayed for them, even when they were killing him, even with his dying breath. He spoke to change hearts, not to win debates.

There’s danger in extremism. In our passion, we can cross the line from truth to exaggeration, to lies. In our zeal, we can move from loving debate to annoyance, to red-faced, hate-filled anger. Debate and argument isn’t where it’s at anyway. Maybe we should do a little less talking and a lot more acting. What a person says demonstrates what he wants to be. What he does demonstrates who he is.

How about we be extreme examples of Jesus?

Time Acceleration and Body Degeneration

Remember when you were a kid and Christmas seemed to take ten years to arrive and a school term lasted nine years instead of months and it seemed you had to sit in church all day on Sunday? That was a long time ago. Time has accelerated at an alarming pace. Friday seems to come the day after Monday and Monday comes the same day as Friday. Christmas occurs every quarter instead of every year. When you count the candles on your birthday cake, which seems to happen about once a month, you sit back to avoid the heat from all that fire andwonder where the years went.

Remember when you had the energy to chase the kids seven days a week? Now you are calling for the kids to pick up the grandkids after an hour. Surprised when you look in the mirror and an old person is staring back at you? Find yourself saying the things your parents used to say, or worse, your grandparents? Remember when you used to party hearty and now you hardly party, just not worth the effort?

I know it’s hard to believe but these phenomena are gifts from God. When we are young it seems we have forever to get right with God. When we get older we realize that we might have until the end of the day. When we are young we think we can do it all on our own. When we are older we know better. At least we should.  When we are young we find it hard to believe that beauty is only skin deep, later we hope that’s true.

God has a message for us. What we can see is temporary. This is not our home. We are souls with a body and not bodies that we hope have a soul. Treasures need to be laid up for eternity. It seems we need help getting these messages as we get older. So God has to work a little harder and speak a little louder. Thanks God. I hear you.

 

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Beware Vacations

Last Sunday I took a vacation from church. Well just from my church. We joined family members at another church which they attend. It was nice. Like most vacations it was a refreshing change of scenery. Like most vacations, I was ready to return to my home church the following week. However, this week I took another vacation. I just stayed home. I didn’t have a particular reason. I just did.

It seems taking a vacation can become a habit. I looked over my blog and noticed I had only posted 8 times in February. February is a short month, but not that short. I like to think of my blogging as “almost daily.” Apparently another vacation. I’m not sure my reduced blogging schedule was missed by anyone. I do the blogging principally for me. I like to do it first thing in the morning and it helps me start me day in the Word and “seeking the kingdom first.”

Vacations are nice. They can be refreshing and stimulating. We need them. We do need to keep them in their proper place. Our mission is not to be refreshed or stimulated. It’s not to do something different. It’s to do what we are called to do, every day. To do it when it’s rewarding and when it’s dry as desert sand.

It’s the greatest blessing in life to know what we are called to do and to do it. It’s exciting to have a purpose and to see that purpose mature and shift and, at times, radically change.  It’s like mountain tops and valleys. Mountain tops are breathtaking and exciting. The fertile areas are down in the valley, where there is a lot more work than rest, where the roads are winding and sometimes there is no sunshine.

Vacation is over. It’s time to get back to work.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Prophets and Kings

Historically prophets were thorns in the side of the establishment. God used them to set the king straight. In Israel, God gave the people a king only because they insisted. In many instances, it was an insistence, they lived to regret. Many of the kings were bad men and worse kings. There is something about wearing a crown that goes to your head. Kings tended to get full of themselves thinking that they were responsible for any good thing in the land. Prophets reminded them that all good things come from God and remain only with obedience to His will.

Jesus made it possible for us all to be royalty, to be children of the king. Like the kings of Israel we tend to let it go to our heads. We forget it’s His kingdom and start to act as if it’s ours. The modern day prophet, like the prophet of old, is charged with setting the royal family straight.

As royalty we need to remember that it’s not about who we are, but about what He’s done. It’s not about what we’ve done, but about who He is. We aren’t called to lives of privilege but of purpose. Because of Jesus we can be royalty, children of the King; maybe we also need to be prophets, just to keep ourselves in line.

 

 

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com