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.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

FAITHdare #7: Walking Dead

A Roman emperor reigning not long after Jesus lived said, "A man's worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions." It seems this generation is not alone in its worship of success and security. Can you walk down the street without being plagued by the claws of ambition? The instruction starts early in life..."Be the best you can be. Work hard and you can have anything and everything you want!" Status and fame are revered and upheld, and they are hard to ignore in a world where everyone seems to be worshiping them. Even the church has been tainted by the idol of ambition. Who has the best attendance numbers? How many people are you bringing in on Sunday morning? Who has the most creative programs, the most attractive buildings? On and on the ambition train flies...

Then we come to the words of Jesus: "...Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Basically, if you follow, you can consider yourself dead. Dead to ambition. Dead to success. Dead to fame. Dead even to security. Can we read this passage and come away thinking we can follow Jesus without giving up anything?

I love reading about the calling of the disciples, and yet I am always baffled. Jesus issues the call: "Follow me!" and they go. That's it. No, "wait just one minute while I finish up" or "let me just tie things up here." They just go. It scares me to think of what I would have done in the same situation. Would I have held onto my fishing net and turned my back? What am I doing today, as He says, "Follow me"?

After reading the words of Jesus in Luke 14, we cannot say "yes" and then make excuses. He leaves no room for excuses. He demands undivided hearts, and total surrender. Surrender to new plans and dreams, a future that we do not get to decide.

I am a dreamer, so the whole ambition thing was never hard for me to jump into. I loved all the career advising sessions in high school. The idea that I could do anything I set my mind to was so thrilling to me. Even more thrilling was the idea that I could do anything I set my mind to AND be successful in the process. God has had to rip my dreams off of His throne more times than I can probably even count. I have made excuses; I have rationalized. The reality is, Jesus does not promise us worldly success and security.

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Mt. 10:28). We cherish security in this country. We cling to it because, to be honest, we're afraid of death. That's really the worst we can dream up, isn't it? So why are WE, followers of Jesus, clinging to security? Jesus conquered death on the cross!

Friends, is Jesus Sovereign Lord over your life? If you have said "yes" to the call of Jesus, you have given up the right to determine what your life looks like. You have given up the right to success and fame and security. You are really a dead man walking. Are you still clinging to your old skin?

FAITHdare #7:
1) Spend disciplined time with God examining your heart. Are you clinging to your own ambition?
2) As God convicts you and calls you to action, respond with obedience!
3) Please share your journey with the rest of us.

Suggested scripture passages:
John 21:15-23
1 Cor. 6:19-20, 8:5-6
Phil. 2:1-18
Mt. 10:39, 13:44-46, 16:25
Romans 6:13, 8:35-39, 12:1-2
2 Cor. 4:8-11, 12:9-10


  1. "He who is rich toward God--is the truly wealthy man."J.R. Miller
    The other day I was talking to my friends, and I was telling her and laughing (by this point) that my day had gone nothing how I wanted it to be. I had started it with plan A and by ten in the morning I was in plan W. Was this really me or was God reminding me that if I am going to live my life for the Lord, He also deserves my moment by moment living? I remember looking back at my life, thinking of where I should of ended up, living in Chicago with my husband in the city, that was our ambitions and dreams, but God had something different for us, and I am so glad He did.
    We all have dreams and ambitions, if you are a parent, you also have them for your kids, its hard not to. We tend to forget that the God that created us already knows these plans and has them all figured out for us. I am going to say something that most people don't say, and I hope people don't take this the wrong way. But we have often tell our children that God doesn't really care where they go to school or where they find a job, or who they get married to (as long as they are equally yolked). The only thing that God cares about is if you go to that school, or that job is that you glorify Him where you are at. Are you representing Christ with your life? Are you joyful with what you are doing? are you honoring your teacher, your boss? Are you being a good embassador of the Lord, a good servant. God cares very much for us, but he cares more about our characters than for our happiness. I find my joyfulness in Him, not in things or in people, and that is hard to do unless God woks that in me.
    I am looking forward to this weeks scripture, and finding out more about my ambitions, I know that I have not let go of many, and I still have some for my children. But God is gracious and faithful and He will finish the good work He started in me, in all of us.

  2. Please if you have the time, look at this in YouTube, just type: John Piper - Radical Christian Sacrifice - Sermon Jam
    Stephen in the books of Acts had Radical Christianity! His face glowed like the angels when he claimed the glorious gospel of our Lord.
    Oh my prayer is for us to look unto Him, for Him to be everything and everything else to be nothing. But how do we get there. How do we see Him as everything? Is he precious to you? to me? Is His word precious to you, to me? Do you long to be with Him? Does your face glow like the angels when you talk about your Lord and Saviour? OH the glorious gospel of Christ!

  3. Dead Men Walking...oh yes, that is it! I remember reading in Brother Yun's book, that dead people don't care what other people think of them. That really struck me. Of course if I'm dead, then I really don't give a hoot what anyone thinks of me! And I am supposed to be dead--dead to the world and alive to Christ. Just when I think I might not care what other people think of me, God has unique ways of showing me how much I do care. It is an ongoing process of dying to myself, crucifying my flesh.

    I, too, am an ambitious person by nature. I love to dream and do. I did have my life all planned out, all dreamed out, I guess I should say. But God has had other plans and other dreams. Through last week's post and this week's post, I've been made aware of yet another dream that lies on the table. It's not a selfish dream--it's one that will feed His children. But I think what I've had to come to grips with is this: I don't get to make the plans. I don't get to determine how He feeds His children. He may have another way. So, I'm putting the dream on the altar. If He moves it forward, great. If not, I will probably cry because of the death of a dream, but I don't want to go anywhere that He is not.

  4. This is exactly along the lines of what we were talking about in Bible Study Fellowship today. What cross am I bearing? A woman also talked about how often she feels like she hears God's voice and then says, "hold on a minute." I know I do that too. Great post. Thanks! Julie