Discipleship is Dangerous!

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There are record numbers of suicides. Record levels of depression. Record levels of domestic abuse. Our world has never been more desperate for followers of Jesus to show the way out of this growing darkness! But the workers are few (Matthew 9:37).

When they asked, “Are you Jesus of Nazareth?” Jesus, “knowing all that was coming,” replied, “I am.” But when asked a short time later, “Are you his disciple?” the Apostle Peter, fearful of all that was coming, replied, “No, I’m not!” (John 18:4-5; 17).

Discipleship is dangerous! Why? Because the way to resurrection is through the cross. The cross is the doorway to discipleship. But again and again, fear stops us. How do we get around the cross?

We don’t. We go through it.

Why? Two words: Job Training. Why do people spend long years learning to be a surgeon? Because it’s the only way to become one. It can’t be done for you. You may desire to be a surgeon, but only through hard-earned skills, experience and insight does it become who you are.

Discipleship is the same. That’s why James 1:2-4 says we should “take joy” in the hard stuff, in the “trials,” because they train us, they make us “complete.” It’s the only way to become a disciple, for it to become who we are.

But whether we use our crosses to become disciples is up to us.

I spent years in the throws of anxiety (I’ll be blogging about this over the next four days). Despite my prayers, God refused to take it away. He wouldn’t let me go around it; He made me go through it. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I would not be who God called me to be without it.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter went from a “No” to a “Yes.” He’d been in discipleship training previously, but only now was it who he was. Again and again, he says, “Yes, I am!” to those he’d feared before. The trials he went through made him a true disciple–one who would change untold numbers of lives!

I keep two crosses on my dresser: The first is a silver crucifix given to me by a Catholic friend. It reminds me of what Jesus has done for me (“Greater love has no man…”). The second is an empty wooden cross…with a place for me. It’s what I offer back to Him, my unqualified “Yes.”

Because the cross isn’t just about who Jesus is. It’s about who I am. Having come through darkness into light, I’m able to say authentically, “Follow me, I know the way!”

“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in this body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” ~Galatians 2:20

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Bear With Me!

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To my old faithfuls, and hopefully a few new faithfuls, as well: I’m scrambling to finish the first draft of my novel Over-the-Rhine (based on the screenplay of my feature film of the same name). As a result, I’ll be slow in visiting your blog sites over the next week or two. But I will visit, I promise! Blessings till it hurts! ~Mitch

(No, that’s not actually me in the photo. I’m more the rugged, handsome type.)
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Earth Day is Us Day!

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I’m not a flaming liberal. I’m more of a smoldering moderate (and smoke-free at that). But when it comes to protecting my home planet, I tend to flare up a bit.

Here’s why: 

Pollution kills. We’re not just talking about the future here, we’re talking about right now. Pollution is killing people (and a whole lot of other creatures) in devastating numbers even as you read this! So, no, taking care of our home planet isn’t anti-industry or anti-economy, or anti-anything–it’s pro-life! And you don’t even have to believe in global warming to see there’s a problem. Here’s what pollution is doing to our planet right now:

  • Over 7 million humans a year are dying from air pollution
  • One quarter of all child deaths under age 5 are due to pollution
  • People with medical conditions directly related to air, water, soil and other forms of pollution: 200 million
  • People indirectly affected by pollutants (lower IQ, weakened immune system, etc.): approximately 2 1/2 billion
  • The economic effect in lost labor and medical expenses (never mind the immeasurable cost in human suffering): tens of trillions of dollars.

This is what pollution does to our planet. Every. Single. Year. And that’s why I say, 

Earth Day is Us Day!

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Risen

He is Risen!

I We Die with Him

He is Risen in Me.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” ~Galatians 2:20

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Courage is…

“Courage is the greatest of all weapons, but it’s also an invisible one.

You don’t know whether you have it until you’re called upon to use it.”

~from The Wishing Map, Episode 103

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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Q. What’s wrong with this picture?

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A. It should have been you (and me).

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” ~Romans 3:23

“But God proves His love for us in this: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  ~Romans 5:8

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  ~John 15:13

Yes, it truly is a Good Friday.

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Death Loses

little-girl-skullWe are born in the shadow of death. No one gets out of here alive. But 2,000 years ago, Jesus signed Death’s death warrant.

On the night before his crucifixion he taught his disciples to live in the light of this new reality. Breaking bread, he handed it to them and said, “I am offering myself in your place, so that you might live. Never forget this.” (Luke 22:19–paraphrase)

Shadows have no substance. They are made by the absence of light. It’s your choice whether to live in death’s shadow…

Or in the light.

“I am the resurrection and the life.

The one who believes in Me, even if they die, will live.”

~John 11:25

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