Life.  Some see it as a randomly assigned smattering of days with no purpose.  Others believe in divine appointments they rarely keep.  For most, ordinary.  But it doesn't have to be.   What if we dared to go the narrow way? Join me in taking THE FAITH DARE.

Caution: Participating in this challenge might force you to give up some of the things (people?) dearest to you. This challenge could change your life.  Join at your own risk.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

FAITHdare #5: Mud Pies Underfoot

idol [ahyd-l]: noun; any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion; a phantom

I am broken as I write this post. We begin month #2 of FAITHdare focusing on idols, and as I have been praying over what God wants this month to look like, I am broken over the walls of idols I have erected around my heart. I am broken because I feel completely inadequate to write this post. So here I am, praying that the words on your screen are the words of the Spirit. That they are daggers to your soul, separating earthly flesh and desires from the deep spiritual reality in which Christ calls us all to live. I desperately plead with you to commune with God this month, to spend the time wrestling with God over the heart issues He exposes in you. Please know that I come to you broken, a sinner saved by grace, seeking to obey God...just like you. We are in this journey together.

We all have idols. Maybe not the kind found in the old testament, shaped like a calf or made out of gold, but we all have them. Our God is a jealous God, and He demands that we be pure in spirit. That we keep HIM on the throne of our hearts. And yet it seems like day after day He is dethroned from my heart by lesser gods. The sad thing is, I think most of the time I like to BELIEVE that He is on the throne. But a lot of the time I don't live like He is. My priorities say that other things, other people are more important than my Savior. In the end, my idolatry hurts only me.

C.S. Lewis said, "We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

We are far too easily pleased, friends. We think somehow we are getting shortchanged out of a fun life when Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love HIM with everything we are. We think we are missing out when Jesus says, "leave everything you have and follow me," and when God sets high standards for holy living. But are we really missing out? Is there really any satisfaction outside of relationship with Jesus? Any hope?

I pray this month is a journey for you, a journey to a vacation by the sea. Along the way, though, you will have to get rid of your mud pies. It will be painful, it will be difficult, and most people will not understand. We need to remember that we are living our best lives later. I'm not talking about next year. Or in an extravagant retirement. I'm talking about heaven. We do not live as those who have no hope! If this world was all there was...if the slum was all there was...we would spend our days making mud castles. We would live for comfort and safety and extravagance. But this world is nothing but a blip on the radar, a passing phantom. We cannot afford to waste this life on comfort and safety and extravagance when there are billions of people who are on the road to eternal separation from Jesus. However, we CAN afford to give up everything, including the worthless idols lining the halls of our hearts...because we have the promise of eternity and eternal reward, the day at the beach that far surpasses the mud pies of the slum. I think it's time to do some mud pie squashing.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be specifically focusing on three different idols that I think prevail over most in today's culture: Relationships, ambitions (often in the form of safety and security), and possessions. This week, however, I want us to focus on uncovering our idols.

FAITHdare #5:
1) Watch the video at the bottom of this post. If you feel so led, watch it a second time with your family (or prayer partner). This message is not on the topic of idols, but I think it deals with some common idols.
2) Do the work of wrestling with God over this issue. Maybe these questions will help: How do you spend the majority of your time? To whom do you take your needs and desires? What (or who) do you have in your life that you could not live without? Do you attribute thankfulness to the One who has given you every good and perfect gift? If so, how often? Would you be willing to leave everything and everyone in your life to follow Jesus if He asked you to today? When you read the account of the rich man (Matthew 19:21-23), do you find yourself relating to the rich man and feeling sad? Would you be able to do what Jesus asks the rich man to do?
3) Create a thankful habit. Hang with me for a minute. Hosea 2: 8-9, in comparing our unfaithfulness to God with the unfaithfulness of an adulterous wife to her husband, says: "She [the prostitute, or YOU and ME] has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold--which they used for Baal. Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens, and my new wine when it is ready..." The prostitute's husband provided good things for his wife to enjoy and utilize, and yet she neither acknowledged his generosity nor gave him the thanks he was due. Instead, she idolized the things provided rather than he, the provider. God has provided good gifts for us to enjoy and with which to fulfill our needs. Too often, though, we do not acknowledge God's goodness in providing those gifts, and sometimes we even become so enraptured with the gift itself that we forget God is the one who gave it to us! We spend the money we make without a second thought, effectively forgetting to even acknowledge God's goodness in providing for our needs. We frivolously enter into and leave relationships without realizing that God has allowed and ordained those relationships. We take EVERYTHING for granted! I believe God gives us good gifts in relationships and possessions SO THAT it drives us back to Him...with thanksgiving and worship. People of God, the culture in which we live tells us we deserve at least 78 years of life, the jobs we have, the houses we live in, the friends and family we spend time with, and so on. WE DO NOT DESERVE ANYTHING. And yet, we are children of a generous God who provides for our most basic needs and so much more. Don't you think it's time we at least acknowledge His part in providing everything we have? I cannot emphasize this enough...WE NEED TO RECOUNT HIS GOODNESS OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Once a year is not enough, nor is once a week or even once a day. We must be continuously seeking to enter His presence with thanksgiving in order to prevent the things and people around us from becoming more important than Him. We are too vulnerable to idol erecting to not take this issue more seriously. SOOOO...the challenge is to create a thankful habit. Be creative with this. I want you to develop a way in which you are recounting God's faithfulness at least once a day. That may mean starting a thankful journal where you write down one thing you are thankful for each day. For me, that means creating a thankful jar.
God had His people build stone altars to remember His faithfulness. I like the visual reminder, so I have decided to do something similar. I took a clear vase (or you could use a jar or whatever you have) and will place a rock in it every day after writing on the rock a reminder of how God was faithful to me that day. Maybe you have your own creative way of installing "thankfuls" throughout your day...Please share it!

As always, please share any thoughts or ideas with the group!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

FAITHdare#4: Revisited

Can I just say...Solitude and silence are RADICAL for me. That's what I learned this week = ]

I don't know how many times I reached for the POWER button to the car radio, only to remember... Oh yeah, I'm silencing my life...

And then we come to my heart.
I think I have one of those "cue screens," the ones used to prompt newscasters, constantly running in my head. "Do this...think about this...Don't forget this!" And on and on it goes. No dead batteries here! I have THE energizer bunny inside my brain, ensuring the constant flow of thoughts and plans and desires and dreams... Boy. Maybe I'm a lost cause.

Or maybe not. Maybe silence takes practice. Maybe shutting my mouth (or turning off my brain) is like a muscle that needs to be flexed and strengthened. Maybe I have just been too lazy (or selfish, or ignorant, or....) to do the workout, and now I'm trying to run a marathon. It doesn't work that way.

I can't count the number of times this week that I told God how much I want to hear what He has to say. Because I do! I WANT to quiet my heart so that He actually has a chance to get a word in edgewise. Oh, how I long to obey Him...but I have to HEAR what He says in order to obey. So my prayer, this past week and moving onward, is that God would teach me how to QUIET. How to quiet my life (removing needless distractions and activities that are outside of His call for me NOW). How to quiet my spirit (bringing areas of sin to the throne and handing over idols that line the halls of my heart). How to quiet my prayer life (can't I just SIT with Him, without constantly asking for things?). How to quiet my tongue (is every word that falls from my mouth REALLY that necessary?). How to QUIET. May it be so, and may God give me the strength to do the WORK of "flexing" my solitude and silence "muscles."

Friends, how was your week of silence and solitude? Did you do the work of creating silence in your life, or were you overrun by the noise of the world and in your head? Was this week an encouragement to you, or a struggle?

Please share your thoughts!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

FAITHdare #4: Seeking out Solitude

"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper" (I Kings 19:11-13)

I love this Old Testament account. I can just imagine the drama of it all. Here is Elijah, who has just exposed the false gods of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel in a mountaintop showdown. Afraid and suicidal, even after such a magnificent display of God's power, Elijah sinks into depression. Then God meets with Him. He tells the prophet, "'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by'" (I Kings 19:11).

If God told you He was going to pass by, what would you be waiting for? What would you be looking, listening for? And when that earthquake came, wouldn't you think, "Surely the Lord has come!" And the fire! Would you be disappointed when He did not show up in the earthquake or the fire?

Would you hear that whisper?

To be completely honest, I think it would take an earthquake to get my attention most of the time. Noise is a constant in my life, in our world. I get in my car; I turn up the radio. I step out of the car; I am immersed in voices and conversation and traffic noises and just plain noise! If I'm sitting in a room with someone, I feel like conversation is necessary or "awkwardness" fills the air. Even in church there is constant noise.
Have we forgotten how to LISTEN?

Do you ever just come before the Lord in silence? So much of my "quiet time" is spent talking to God...rarely am I actually "quiet" before Him. How can I expect to hear His voice if I am never quiet enough to listen?

A frequent question I hear from my peers is, "How do I know what God wants me to do?" Good question. My question is, "How can God tell you what He wants you to do if you're always talking at Him and never just stop to be quiet before Him and LISTEN?"

Maybe it's a time issue. We just don't have time for quiet. What a shame. Jesus made time for solitude, and he guarded that time preciously (see Luke 6:12, Mt. 14:13, Mt. 14:23, Luke 5:16, Mt. 17:1-9 among others). He inaugurated His ministry with 40 days in the desert (Mt. 4:1-11), and as He prepared for the cross, he sought out solitude in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt. 26:36-46).

There is fear in silence today. Why? Because we give up control in silence. We give up the fire that is our tongues (James 3:6). We give up the power to justify our actions with words. We give up the power to manipulate. We give up the power to make our reputations look the way we want them to. Words are not bad in themselves, but as Ecclesiastes 3:7 says, there is "a time to keep silence and a time to speak." And I think many of us have lost the ability to distinguish between the two.

Friends, you could turn this dare, as you could with all of them, into something to do, another law to uphold. I am urgently praying that this is not the case. Outward solitude must accompany and compliment inward solitude, which is only found in the peace of Jesus Christ. I cannot give you that peace, I cannot even tell you how to find that peace. You must not avoid the hard work of bringing this and all the FAITHdare challenges before Him. So while we will be focusing on the creation of OUTWARD solitude in your life this week, please seek out INWARD solitude.

FAITHdare #4
1) Create a place of solitude. This should be fun! Is there someplace in your home that you can designate as "the quiet place," a place where anyone in your family can go to be quiet? Is there someplace outside of your home that you can use? Maybe a favorite tree in a park or an empty church sanctuary? Get creative, doing whatever you feel is necessary to make that "quiet place" a cozy and warm environment to facilitate times of solitude.
2) Create a daily TIME of solitude. For me, this means taking advantage of the numerous times a day I am in the car. This week I am going to forgo listening to the radio. I am also going to take a 3-4 hour "retreat" this week, setting aside a specific time and place to enjoy complete silence before the Lord. For you it may mean something altogether different. Take time this week to learn to LISTEN.

And please share your thoughts and ideas with the rest of us!

I'm going to leave you with a quote from Thomas Merton:
"It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them...Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say."

Friday, March 19, 2010

FAITHdare #3: Revisited

We are nearly finished with week #3 of FAITHdare, and I feel like this week was pivotal for some of you. I would like to keep my recap of this week's dare short, and instead invite you all to share with each other in the comment section what God is doing in you so far. It is important that we do this together and encourage each other along the way.'s my recap of FAITHdare #3:

I used my time fasting this week to pray, asking God to give me a desire for Him as gnawing and consuming as my desire for food after going without for just a few hours. It was a very good reminder; I might just continue this dare!

How has God met you so far in FAITHdare? Which week has been the most convicting for you so far? Are you struggling? Are you soaring? Please share how God is working in you.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

FAITHdare #3: Hungering for Him

Fasting: Say WHAT?
In a culture of supersized gluttony, we hardly know what "hungry" means.  We have learned to satisfy ourselves with the next "quick fix" before we ever feel pangs of longing.  And I would venture to say we have carried this philosophy into our spiritual lives.  

Listen to these words of David:
"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water" (Psalm 63:1).

Do you long for God?  Do you wake up parched, running to the One who alone can satisfy?  I must admit that I am not sure what that feels like, to physically long for Jesus.  Maybe I've never felt it because I am constantly self-satisfying with [fill in the blank].  

Friends, we are starving to death and reaching for the sugared donuts of the world, rather than the satisfying nutrition offered by the God of the universe.  I feel a deep soul longing and I consume myself with THINGS, with DOING, rather than turning to the One whose LOVE is consuming.  Isn't it time we allow ourselves to FEEL what David so poignantly described: My entire being ACHES to be near you; I am tired of trying to fill my spirit with STUFF, and ACTIVITIES, when all I really need is YOU (my paraphrase).  

I have only fasted once in my life, and to be honest, I think it was more to see if I could do it than anything.  But TRUE fasting is not a diet technique.  It is not a spiritual trophy to wave around for all to see.  It is a deep soul examination, ripping the curtain clothing our carnality to expose sin hidden by night.  It is the experience of physical hunger that becomes a constant reminder of our spiritual starvation and depravity.  

I was fascinated by Richard Foster's words on fasting in his book Celebration of Discipline:

"Fasting must forever center on God.  It must be God-initiated and God-ordained.  Like the prophetess Anna, we need to be 'worshipping with fasting' (Luke 2:37).  Every other purpose must be subservient to God...More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us.  This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.  We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface...Fasting reminds us that we are sustained 'by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God' (Matt. 4:4).  Food does not sustain us; God sustains us.  Therefore, in experiences of fasting we are not so much abstaining from food as we are feasting on the word of God...Fasting helps us keep our balance in life.  How easily we begin to allow nonessentials to take precedence in our lives.  How quickly we crave things we do not need until we are enslaved by them.  Paul writes, 'All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything' (1 Cor. 6:12).  Our human cravings and desires are like rivers that tend to overflow their banks; fasting helps keep them in their proper channels...Fasting can bring breakthroughs in the spiritual realm that will never happen in any other way."

Here is my preface to this dare:  Like every other FAITHdare I put before you, this must come from you, or it will only be an exercise in legalism.  Please do the work of bringing this challenge before God and examining your motives.  This is not meant to be a dieting technique, or another thing to do (we are not even using this challenge to focus on the plight of the world--yet), but a tool to bring you closer to the intimate relationship Jesus longs to have with you.  Relationship produces action.

FAITHdare #3:
Fast from one meal every day this week (or two, or whatever God leads you to), using that time instead to tune your physical/spiritual radar to the soul-deep hunger that can only be satisfied by the Bread of Life.  

As much as possible, we should restrain from calling attention to what we are doing.  Foster says, "If you call attention to your fasting, people will be impressed and, as Jesus said, that will be your reward.  You, however, are fasting for far greater and deeper rewards."  Use the time you would normally use eating to instead draw near to God, feasting on the wholly satisfying Bread of Life.  A few suggestions?  Memorizing Mt. 10, listening to scripture on tape, praying with other brothers or sisters in Christ, reflecting on what God has convicted you of thus far in the FAITHdare year, etc.  

Please continue sharing what God is teaching you!  It is an encouragement to those who are in the journey with you!

Friday, March 12, 2010

FAITHdare #2: Revisited

Finding Him in "Hard"

Do you feel attacked?  I do.  FAITHdare was really hard for me this week.  

Last night, it rained.  As I was running on the still damp streets of my neighborhood this morning, I could not miss the probably hundreds of evicted earthworms, flooded out of their homes after the rain only to dry a sad death.  It made me think about how much I hate difficult things.  

In the western world, we measure the effectiveness of an endeavor by how easy it is.  If something is hard, we must not be on the right path.  So we quit.  When faced with the forecast of a hard decision, some of us don't even start.  Jesus uses a completely different kind of gauge to measure effective living.  He said, "In this world, you WILL have trouble..."  He promised persecution.  And yet even the modern church has forgotten this.  The Gospel is changed and fitted to look appealing to the crowds (after all, numbers are everything), youth groups are all about "fun," and the hard truths are avoided as church becomes a place where people can have their life choices affirmed without having to make uncomfortable changes.  What a sad state of affairs.  

In the midst of such a culture, we arrive at the end of FAITHdare #2.  And I have to be honest, it was really hard for me.  But as I was reflecting on the "hardness" of this week while I was trying to skip over withering earthworms, I was encouraged.  Because Jesus said following Him would be hard.  If this were easy, I would need to question if I was following Him with all I have.  

Everyday, we have a choice to make.  We can stay in the comfortable dirt of the world, and ultimately be flooded out--drowned--by the idolatry, materialism, and hate for the things of God, or we can take the high road, the Narrow Way, where every tiny slither takes the last ounce of our human strength.  When we take the Narrow Way, we reach the end of ourselves and the beginning of Him.  Do you want comfortable living or His strength?

You might not be happy with me for this, but I am actually praying that this FAITHdare year is really hard for you.  That you are convicted and exposed for what you really are.  That every week you find yourself broken.  Why would I pray such a prayer? Because "in your weakness, He is STRONGER."  The less you can do on your own, the more HE has to do for you.  The more you dry up and fade away, the more He shines through you.  
May we be a city on a HILL!

So how is Matthew 10 going for you?  If it is hard, be encouraged...and keep on keeping on!  What were you convicted of through David Platt's message?  

I will share the question that broke me the most when I first heard this message, and then I will stop rambling and let you move on to more important things...
     "Practically, what is it costing you to follow Jesus?"
As I looked at Luke 14:25-35, comparing my life to the life Jesus calls His followers to, I was broken.  Because following Him has not cost me much.  Following Him has not cost me my family or my comfort or my well-being, not really even my reputation.  But He said it would cost EVERYTHING...didn't He?  I have begun to make changes in my life, but I pray my gauge of effectiveness is no longer hardwired to shout "give up!" when the going gets tough...
Because Jesus said when it gets tough, you can know that you are finally in step with Him.

What challenged you this week?  Do you feel like giving up?  What keeps you going?  Let's be an encouragement to each other this week!  Please share your thoughts on this weeks dare in the comment section.  Tune in Sunday for next week's FAITHdare.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

FAITHdare#2: Dreaming His Dreams

disciple (dih-sayh-puhl) noun, verb. A person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower

"A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.  It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master" (Mt. 10:24).

Are you a disciple of Jesus, an adherent of His doctrines?  If we claim to be followers of Christ, we cannot pretend to be above the teachings of Jesus.  We are to be like Him in every way.  We are to share in His loves and hates, His joys and sorrows.  Everything we lived for before answering His call to, "Follow me!" is dead, buried in a deep grave.  Including our dreams and goals, our hopes for the future.  

Can I be honest with you all for a minute?  I am a dreamer, and as such have visions of what the perfect life would look like.  I've always wanted to get married, to have a big family, to take family vacations and build a home and walk through the joys and sorrows of parenting with a spouse.  Recently, I put these dreams on the altar.  I cannot serve two masters.  I cannot keep one hand on my "dreams checklist" and one in the hand of Jesus.  When I gave my heart to Jesus years ago, I tried to fit Him into my life.  But the sovereign God of all the universe cannot be minimized to a human-size god.  I have been convicted of my adultery in the years since, and have come to this conclusion: When Jesus calls us to follow Him, He leaves no room for anything or anyone else to stay where He invades.  You cannot say you love Him and still hold onto your plans and dreams, to your stuff, to your family, to your house.  You have no claim on any of that anymore.  Instead, we are to become students of the Teacher.  His dreams replace ours.  And everything and everyone we love is held in an open hand.

Have you neglected to give God your dreams?  If you truly want to follow Him, there is no room for your futile goals and plans.  You were bought at a price...your life is not your own.  

"Another disciple said to him, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.'  But Jesus told him, 'Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead'" (Mt. 8: 21-22).

There is no, "I'll follow you, but...______________."  I'll follow you but I'm going to get married.  I'll follow you but I will never go to Africa.  I'll follow you but I'm going to save this money for a cushy retirement.  I'll follow you but I'm not giving up this house.  I'll follow you but I'm going to raise my kids the way I want to raise them.  I'll follow you but I'm not going to forgive that person.  I'll follow you but there's no way I'm adopting a sick orphan!  I'll follow you but I refuse to visit prisoners.  I'll follow you but I can't talk to that homeless man I keep passing.  I'll follow you, but...but...but...

There are no "buts" with Jesus.  You are not above His teaching.  It's either yes or no.  If we say yes, His dreams become our dreams, His loves become our loves, and everything and everyone we have become His.

Have you made room for Him in the midst of your clutter, your dreams and goals and lists and stuff?  If we are to truly follow Jesus, we need to study His teachings, His loves and hates.  We need to rid ourselves of everything we have held onto for so long.  We need to understand His perspective.

FAITHdare #2 once again has two parts:
1) Click HERE.  Beside the title, "What the Gospel Demands," click "Notes" and print the handout.  Then cuddle up with your Bible, the handout, and a pen and watch the video below in its entirety...TWICE (yes, I said two times...if you feel so led, watch it with your family the second time).  When he calls for time of reflection, hit pause and answer the questions on the handout.  It is about an hour long.  If you've already seen it, watch it again.  We all need reminders, sometimes more than one = ]  Friends, this is TWO HOURS out of your life this week.  Make the sacrifice.  Feel free to dialogue with other team members through the comment section about what God convicts you of through this sermon.  
2) Memorize Matthew 10.  Yes, I said memorize.  Now, before you freak out on me, let me finish. Choose for yourself how you will divide it up.  Maybe you work on a verse a day for a little more than a month.  Maybe you do two verses a day.  It doesn't matter, just so you MEMORIZE IT.  And don't even try to use the excuse we've all used at one point or another: "I'm bad at memorizing stuff!"  You may be, but if you have your address memorized, or a song from the radio, or someone else's phone number, that tells me you are capable of memorizing the Word of God.  In fact, this is His commission to the disciples (to YOU and ME), His final instructions before sending them out into the world. These are the instructions you are giving up everything to read the fine print, and put it into your heart.  Remember, His loves are your loves...His dreams are your dreams.  You are not above ANY of His words.

This may seem like a strange dare.  This month is all about laying a foundation for what is to come...we have to understand God's perspective on the issues we will be uncovering the rest of the year.  Let's be about building a solid foundation this month, a foundation built with conviction and the Word of God!

Friday, March 5, 2010

FAITHdare #1: Revisited

This week I learned...
~that American Idol really isn't that exciting
~that 2 1/2 hours is like....2 1/2 hours!
~That the God of the universe is just waiting to be with me
~that I need to be INTENTIONAL about being with Him, or other things will claim that time...
~that I need time with Him to maintain an eternal perspective

FAITHdare friends, I pray that your experience stepping out in faith this week has yielded rich rewards. I have been convicted, challenged, and renewed.  At the same time, it has been eye-opening.  

I realize that we have to be careful with these dares, so let me take a moment to go to a place I have already tiptoed through this week in my own heart.  It would be easy for these dares to turn into a checklist, a do-this-and-get-God formula.  I pray we do not go there.  I pray desperately for everyone walking this road...that YOU would be motivated by a DEEP, BUBBLING desire to know God in a more intimate way.  That the dares I put before you would not become a legalistic monotony, but a convicting, heart-wrenching journey on which you come to terms with the distance between your reality and Christ's call on your life...and then I pray you make changes because you want to love Him more fully.  We need to be motivated, not by guilt, but by the very WORD of Jesus.  We do not obey Him because we have to, but because we are living for another world.  

That being said, how has God met you this week?  Has this been hard?  As one FAITHdare team member said to me, "It's hard to go from spending no time with God to spending 2 1/2 hours with Him."  I understand.  I have to be honest in that there were days when I thought about spending my time with Jesus and part of me cried out, "But I'd rather do this!"  And maybe I'm wrong, but I have a feeling there were days when the disciples would have preferred to be on their boats with their fishing poles, resting in everything they knew to be comfortable, instead of risking everything to follow the One who was despised and rejected by men.  

"Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27).  Do you think it will be hard to be a true disciple of Jesus, giving up everything and carrying your cross?  As a church, we have done everything possible to dilute the Gospel in order to avoid doing the hard things.  We look at those words in Luke as a suggestion rather than a command.  We take scripture and try to mold it to fit our lives, rather than taking our lives and molding them according to scripture.  Friends, if we are truly going to follow Jesus, we cannot avoid the hard work of spending time with Him!  We can't!  Especially not at the cost of trivial things (like American Idol).  

However, I think, for some, it would be a mistake to live by this 2 hours and 24 minutes policy. Maybe you feel like you need the accountability of the numbers.  For me, the numbers encourage guilt, an emotion on which I do not want to base my decisions.  In order to avoid going there, I have learned through years of practice that I need to "switch things up" in order to do the hard thing for the right reason.  I loved seeing how you all were spending your time with Jesus, and I hope more of you share now that we are finished!  Spending time with Him can mean so many things...and more than anything, I want to be living life with Jesus.  So, I'm going to come right out and tell you that I am not going to be following the timer anymore...but I will be doing the hard work of spending time with Jesus.  I will be examining my life on a daily basis, uncovering ways in which I can better be using my time toward Kingdom purposes.  

Please share how God has met you this week, what He has convicted you of, what He has stirred up in you. Will you continue with this dare?  How do you see yourself moving forward, now that God has hopefully opened your eyes to the way you spend your TIME?