blogs about awakening
Most of us have read how China lost 850,000 people in their population in 2022. Why did this happen? Until recent years, Chinese authorities limited childbirth to “one child per family" policy. But, seeing where things were headed, Chinese leaders, in 2021, raised the limit to 3 children per family. And they are trying to make it financially easier for parents to have more children. But will it work? Probably not. Children are a lot of work and take a lot of money to raise. “Let someone else do the heavy lifting!”
So that is China. What about America? Believe it or not, we parallel China’s bleak demographic issues. But we are not even talking about it here. We should be! Let’s start by comparing the median age of our respective populations. (Median age is the age where half of the population is younger, and the other half is older.) Notice the current similarity between China and the U.S.
Now for the real clincher. Here is a comparison of China’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) with that of the US. TFR is the number of children the average female will give birth to in her lifetime. It takes a TFR of 2.1 on average just to break even, to have Zero Population Growth—1 to replace the woman, 1 to replace the man and .1 for those who cannot or will not reproduce.
Note that China went below 2.1 in 1990, while the US went below replacement level in 1970 (probably due to abortion being legalized in 1973.) So America has been below replacement level since that time, which explains the aging of our population.
Bottom line, while China is rightly concerned about the demographic winter coming their way, the United States with exactly the same problems, isn’t even talking about it. We should be!
It’s very simple, really. All we need to do is to convince everyone of the truth! The truth is that bearing and raising a child, while expensive and time-consuming, is one of the greatest privileges God has given to us humans!
I mean, just imagine: we get to raise a unique person who is created by God—in His image!—for a number of years and are able to watch him or her develop into a full grown adult who, in turn, can be used by God to create even more wonderful children!
And these children that God fashions in us not only are made in His image, but they have the potential to positively influence people, events and activities on earth with eternal consequences! They are “missionaries to the future,” touching others’ lives in ways, places and times we ourselves as parents can never go!
Not only that, if these children of ours follow our example and invite Jesus to be the Savior and Lord of their lives, they will live in His eternal Kingdom with us forever and ever!
What a huge privilege!
So, back to my point: if you could snap your fingers and make every man and woman in America believe the truth of what I state above, you could have an abortion clinic on every corner of every city in our land and folks would never use them.
Obviously, the reality is not even Christians believe the truth of what I say above. They see children as a pain and a burden too great to bear (no pun intended!) But sex, on the other hand, is something EVERY person needs to engage in! So we need birth limitation methods, including abortion to make sure we can have our sex without the hassle of children.
And our Creator God is grieved . . .
The spiritual roots of abortion
Although it was many years ago, I clearly remember that “aha moment” I had at the time. It was back during my 15 year tenure as a trial court judge. I was standing and talking with a small group of friends as we were waiting for the start of a prolife dinner we were attending. Seemingly, out of nowhere, an Asian OB/GYN doctor walked up to our little group and burst out with a question, “Do you know why we have legal abortion in America?” Before I could respond with my obvious answer: “Because of Roe v Wade,” the doctor answered his own question with a statement that seemed at the time to be crazy, “Because of artificial contraception!” With that, he walked off.
While at first I totally dismissed the doctor’s strange perspective, what he said simply would not leave my mind. Like a stick of dynamite within my skull, his words began to explode in a number of unexpected ways. And as I prayed about what he said, God began to show me there was much truth in his seemingly off-the-wall statement.
Without describing each little step along the way, allow me to summarize where my thinking is now and how this truth has majorly impacted Marcia and me as a married couple.
Let me begin by posing a question to you: why do women have abortions? Those of us who are prolife often naively assume that those who abort their unborn simply have a desire to kill. But, if we take a moment to think a bit more deeply about this question, we need to concede that the real reasons are far less cruel. In fact, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, 86 percent of women who abort fall in one of six categories: (1) the pregnant woman doesn’t feel old/mature enough to raise this child; (2) she is not ready for another child; (3) she can’t afford a baby right now; (4) she has completed her child bearing; (5) she doesn’t want to be a single mother; or (6) the baby will interfere with her education or career.
Now let me ask you this: what are the reasons Christian married couples choose to utilize artificial contraception? Aren’t their answers virtually identical to those given by the women who have abortions?
Truth be told, like women who abort, while we oppose killing the unborn, we generally are sympathetic with their motivation to not bear a child. We think it’s totally acceptable to take deliberate steps to ensure that our sexual activity does not result in a child being born. So we agree with the motivation, and we agree with the results (no child). We simply disagree with the means that are used.
Let me ask you this. What is God’s purpose for sex between a husband and his wife? More fundamentally, what is His purpose in marriage? Certainly both work to show the wonderful relationship between Jesus and His Bride (see Ephesians 5:22-33). But God also has a desire to have godly marriages produce children. “Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union.” (Malachi 2:15 NLT)
What happens when we humans begin to view sex as an end in itself rather than a means to other much more important ends? When we believe that every person is entitled to being sexually fulfilled as a fundamental human right. And that soon leads to the belief that it doesn’t really matter what form this sexual activity takes as long as it is “consensual” by all parties involved. Looking at scriptures like Romans 1, you see that this sort of living ultimately results in gender confusion and gross immorality. No wonder we have same-sex marriage and gender transitions growing in number in our day.
But isn’t it fair to say that when we Christ-followers overwhelmingly endorse sex without the possibility of allowing God to use that activity to produce a child in His image we are following our secular culture’s perspectives? And that we are thereby inadvertently promoting a worship of sex more than a love of children that ultimately results in a pro-abortion, pro-immorality culture?
But, you say, doesn’t God want us to be wise and prudent with our time and our financial and other resources? Isn’t it better to consider one’s bank balance and abilities and limit the number of children he/she has accordingly? Folks, isn’t Jesus to be Lord of EVERY area of life? Why do we think this area is ours to decide, not the One who makes children in the womb? (See how God is the one who knits us together in the womb: Psalm 139:13; Jeremiah 1:5 Job 31:15, and Galatians 1:15).
Well, back to the comment the OB/GYN doctor made many years ago. After much thought and prayer, I concluded the doctor was right on. But then came the hard part! I needed to decide what the implications of that were going to be in my life. One of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make was, after my wife and I already had four lovely daughters (and we were very busy!), to choose to go “cold turkey” with any birth control devices and let God decide if we would have more children. Marcia was excited. I was fearful. Yet I am so glad we obeyed our Lord!
So did we have more? You might say so! Eight more children later, we are the incredibly proud and happy parents of a dozen children! And each one is so very special and is touching lives for God in incredible ways! All glory to HIM! And, by the way, God did provide big enough houses, and vans and even dropped college tuition from on high! (He’s not running out of money soon!)
There is so much more to say on this subject. We include much of it in our book, Sweeter by the Dozen: Making Jesus the Lord of Our Family Size.
Can you think of any other time in history--like we live in today--when the vast majority of people are convinced that their FEELINGS ALONE are the ultimate source of truth? That we simply CANNOT TRUST something outside of us to be true when our feelings run to the contrary?
Maybe that's why Jesus, at the conclusion of the Parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18 (designed to teach us to pray and not give up), left us with this haunting question:
"However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
You see, Christlike faith requires that I put much more confidence in what God says than in my feelings. Easy? No! But it IS something that all true Christ-followers must relentlessly choose to do.
I love what the ministry Cru has taught for years about this reality. They use an illustration of a train where you put coal (FAITH) in the engine (the FACTS of God's Word), trusting that the caboose (FEELINGS) will eventually follow afterwards.
[Under the picture on the Cru website it says, "The train will run with or without the caboose; however, it would be useless to attempt to pull the train by the caboose. In the same way, Christians do not depend on feelings. Place your faith in the trustworthiness of God and His Word. The more you learn of His Word, the more you will be able to answer any doubts with solid facts. Your feelings will begin to respond to the truth of God's Word and not your circumstances."]
Friends, this is profound! And even though it TOTALLY goes against our culture today, it really works! The Bible puts it this way, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ." (Romans 10:17)
So many of our great heroes and heroines in scripture had to exercise this kind of faith when their emotions were obviously contrary. They chose to look away from their circumstances to a powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God.
Think of the great examples of Abraham, Moses, David, Ruth, Esther, Mary the mother of our Lord, the Apostle Paul, etc. One of my good friends puts it this way: he asks, "How do you spell faith?" His reply? "R-I-S-K." When God calls, you choose to obey and get out of the boat. By His power and grace, you begin to do the impossible: you walk on water, looking to Jesus! Our world desperately needs brave men and women of God to have this kind of faith and obedience!
We need to trust God's Word when it talks about things, like what constitutes Biblical marriage (only between a man and a woman), and what is sin. And the real existence of eternal punishment in hell for those who refuse to take God's free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. And, obviously, much, much more.
Many of these facts of Scripture do not FEEL good: we strongly want things to be more loving and less confrontational. But we understand that it is MOST LOVING in the long run to speak the truth in love than to sugarcoat the truth with lies that ultimately bring death and destruction. And after we choose to believe, live and speak the truth, God will come and empower us to keep moving forward as we focus the eyes of our faith on Him.
God bless each of you in your walk of faith today. It isn't easy, but, as we look at what He did for us, how can we do less?
Those of us alive in the 1960s and old enough to be aware of public issues at that time will recall that we were inundated with scare stories about the coming Population Explosion that was certain to destroy life as we know it within a few short years.
One of the leading experts on the subject was Dr. Paul R. Ehrlich, author of the best-seller The Population Bomb. Published in 1968, Ehrlich begins in his Prologue by saying, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines—hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now . . . The birth rate must be brought into balance with the death rate or mankind will breed itself into oblivion. We can no longer afford merely to treat the symptoms of the cancer of population growth; the cancer itself must be cut out. Population control is the only answer.”
Yet, here we are, 50 years later, and realize the bomb was a dud. In fact, rather than over-population, our world in 2021 is struggling with UNDER-population! Just today, the Wall Street Journal head a major article entitled: “China Considers Lifting All Childbirth Restrictions by 2025.” The article’s subtitle reads, “Concerned about falling birthrates, policy makers plan further shift toward policies that explicitly encourage childbirth.”
In the article you read how China’s aging population and lack of children to replace the aged is hurting their economy. In fact, due to encouraging “one child per couple” in the past, they now face what the article describes as “a historic downturn in its population.”
So that is China. What about America? Believe it or not, we parallel China’s bleak demographic issues. But we are not even talking about it here. We should be. Let me show you how China and the U.S. are similar in our demographics.
Let’s start by comparing the median age of our respective populations. At the median age, half of the population is older and the other half is younger. Notice the current similarity.
Now for the real clincher. Here is a comparison of China’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) with that of the US. TFR is the number of children the average female with give birth to in her lifetime. It takes a TFR of 2.1 on average just to break even, to have Zero Population Growth—1 to replace the woman, 1 to replace the man and .1 for those who cannot or will not reproduce.
Note that China went below 2.1 in 1990, while the US went below replacement level in 1970 (probably to correspond with abortion being legalized in 1973.) So America has been below replacement level since that time, which explains the aging of our population.
Bottom line, while China is rightly concerned about the demographic winter coming their way, the United States with exactly the same problems, isn’t even talking about it. We should be!
One of the saddest stories is of the proverbial frog in the kettle that is gradually heating up. “Ah, how comfortable this is!” says Mr. Frog as the temperature slowly rises. But before long, he gets very sleepy and, as you know, is unable to jump out before it’s too late. He ends up being boiled to death.
Crises that grow gradually are certainly difficult to discern. Tragically, if the trend we are on has us moving in a dangerous direction, we can end up facing a dead end from which there is no safe escape.
Few Americans are aware of a major trend that has been building for decades that will soon present us with very severe consequences: the gradual aging of our population caused largely by historically low birthrates.
The average (more correctly the median) age of Americans in 2020 was 38.2 years. This value varies from state to state, with Maine having the oldest median value of 45.1 years and Utah (with their many Mormons having babies) coming in with the lowest median age at 31.2 years.
By contrast, the overall median age of Americans in 1900 was 22.9 years; in 1950 it grew to 30.19. As trends continue, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that, within 14 years, the elderly folks in America over the age of 65 will, for the first time in our nation’s history, outnumber those children under the age of 18. This will present a huge economic dilemma of paying for Social Security and Medicare for the elderly. The pressure to ask elderly to do everyone a favor by taking the “red poison pill” and getting out of the way will continue to grow.
But what has caused this gradual but significant shift in the aging of our population? Yes, part of it is due to the fact that folks are dying at older ages than before. But, more importantly, the reason for this shift is the huge decline in birthrates in America. A recent Wall Street Journal Article was entitled, “Births in U.S. Drop to Levels Not Seen Since 1979.”
While the decline in births has been somewhat gradual, allow me to provide a stark contrast with how things were in the past vs. how they are today. The average woman in her lifetime in 1800 gave birth to 7 children. The average woman in 2020 will, in her lifetime, give birth to only 1.64 children!
This number 1.64 is significant in more ways than merely to compare it to women in 1800. What you may not know is that it takes 2.1 children per woman just to break even in population growth: one child to replace the woman; one to replace the man; and .1 to cover for women who cannot or will not give birth at all. This number of how many children the average woman will give birth in her lifetime in a nation is called that nation’s “Total Fertility Rate” (TFR). America’s TFR has been below replacement level (2.1 children/woman) since 1971! (The only exception was a very brief period of time in 2008 when it was slightly over 2.1.)
But why are women today having smaller families? Because kids are a lot of work, take a huge amount of our time, money and energy. So we aim for the “millionaire’s family”: two kids. Or to have no kids at all, to be “kid-free!”
I cannot judge non-believers. But allow me to speak to Christ-followers who are parents. Life is short: 70 years equals less than 22,000 days, less than a million hours. You cannot take your retirement home, nor your bank account, nor your new car, nor your great career to heaven. But children are created in the image of God and have the potential to impact life on this planet and then live forever in His eternal Kingdom along with us. Or to put it a different way: children are messages we send to a time and a place we ourselves can never go. They are “Missionaries to the Future.”
Yes, children are expensive and a lot of work to bear and raise. But where in the Bible does it say that life is supposed to be all about me and my comfort? The Lord spelled it out quite differently: “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’” (Luke 9:23-24)
Yes, this issue is a scary subject. And we don’t like to be different and weird. But shouldn’t Jesus be the Lord of EVERY area of our lives? How about this area of our family size? Why aren’t we as Christ-followers praying and talking more about this? Time to repent and give God everything!
For more on this very important issue, see our book: Sweeter by the Dozen: Making Jesus the Lord of Our Family Size.
With all the back and forth discussion in our nation these days about reshaping our government, it makes us wonder what the real role of government should be.
The Bible doesn't say a ton about the proper role of government; but it is not totally silent on the issue either! It seems clear from the Old Testament that one of government's proper roles is to protect its people from foreign invaders.
The other major role of government is to oversee the criminal justice system: to apprehend, charge and fairly try those accused of crime and then punish those who are convicted proportional to the reprehensibility of their conduct and their personal responsibility at the time they committed the crime. (See Romans 13:1-7; I Peter 2:13-14)
But how about government's role in meeting the needs of the poor and disadvantaged? While this sounds like a very benevolent activity, it is NOT the primary job of government! Rather meeting the needs of the poor and hurting is the proper role of the Church and we followers of Christ!
I could go on at length on this subject, but let me summarize why this is true: Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty" in 1964 actually produced more poverty in our nation. Why might that be? Because we humans are sinners by nature and will tend to move toward any option that seems easier rather than one that requires us to work harder.
As Marvin Olasky points out in his great book, "The Tragedy of American Compassion," the poor often need to be challenged with "tough love" whereby they are rewarded more in the long run by getting a job than by continuing to take handouts from government.
Olasky explains how, when years ago, religious organizations WERE the "welfare system" in America, people quickly moved into the middle class! The reason was that churches required poor men to chop wood for other poor folks and poor women to sew clothing for other needy people. They were also required to take the first open job that became available. If they refused to do these things, they were not financially helped until they submitted to the requirements.
And, even more importantly, Christian welfare agencies were able to minister to the heart needs of people--to share the Gospel so that people began to change from the inside, a role which government, obviously, cannot do.
But over time, we in the Church have allowed government to take over our job of helping the poor. Tragically, the consequences have been very costly: we now have more poor people and, along with that, unsustainable (and growing daily) national debt. So sad!
God help us to pray and be willing to do our part to turn this around! Yes, it will truly take a miracle. But nothing is too hard for our God!
"I deserve my comfort!"
We Americans take for granted things that our ancestors didn’t even know about. Central heating, running water in our homes. Indoor showers and toilets. Electricity providing lights and entertainment. Telephones and, in more recent years, internet, email, texting and social media. Grocery stores, clothing stores, Sam’s Clubs and Costco, gas stations, barber and beauty shops, restaurants and dollar stores. Cars, trucks and airline flights to wherever. Accessible medical and dental care. The list goes on and on.
Beyond that, we here in America have assumed we are entitled to be protected 24/7/365 by our leaders in our cities, states and nation from all enemies foreign and domestic. That our laws and governments will be ever vigilant to preserve our liberties and allow us the quality of life to enjoy until we die.
So when a pandemic strikes and our government seems greatly conflicted and at odds with itself, we become anxious and then angry. We find ourselves thinking: “I deserve better!”
Really? Who says you deserve better?
“Well, I pay my taxes and vote and pay all the vendors that serve me. So I AM entitled to all these comforts of modern life!”
Friends, those of us who claim to be Christ-followers in America have been given a loving wakeup call from our Lord. Do you realize that a 70 year life is less than 26,000 days? But eternity goes on forever. We have put way too much stock in this temporary life on this planet and far too little on our eternal home in heaven.
Why haven’t we obeyed the command God gave us through Paul in Colossians 3:1-4, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
We have, little-by-little, become like the folks Paul grieves about in Philippians 3:18-21 as he compares them with true Christ-followers: “For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Ah, but you say, people that concentrate on heaven are essentially no earthly good. Listen to what C.S. Lewis said about that phony perspective:
“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither. It seems a strange rule, but something like it can be seen at work in other matters. Health is a great blessing, but the moment you make health one of your main, direct objects you start becoming a crank and imagining there is something wrong with you. You are only likely to get health provided you want other things more—food, games, work, fun, open air. In the same way, we shall never save civilization as long as civilization is our main object. We must learn to want something else even more. . . . Sadly, many of us are so tethered to this world and the things it offers that we scarcely take thought of the world to come. Yet it is precisely by reflecting often on the joys, beauties, and satisfactions of eternal life in the world to come that we find a hope that empowers us to live fully for Christ today.”
Even here in America, we may not only lose the comforts we feel we are entitled to, we may actually come to a time of persecution for our faith. Jesus predicted it for his followers in John 15:18-20, and Paul mentions it in 2 Timothy 3:12.
We need to trust that, despite all the temporary pain we experience, our God will protect us and provide for our basic needs of food and clothing until He takes us to His forever home in heaven.
It is counter-intuitive, but the pain He allows in our lives can actually drive us to find real life with Him! Because real life begins when we quit trying to live to protect ourselves and begin to daily surrender our lives completely to Him and, by faith, abide in His loving and powerful Presence.
How about this for a counter-intuitive perspective: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
Truth be told, for a long time I considered this a simply an overly optimistic, pat you on the back, pretend there’s really no problem, “shape up and quit complaining” sort of statement from the Apostle. But no, it’s a real command, a call to have joy in the midst of painful circumstances. Talk about counter-intuitive!
Folks, isn’t it tempting, when we are in pain, to begin to feel sorry for ourselves? “Lord, I have been obeying you and following you and praying my heart out, and You give me this problem! Why, Lord? It’s not fair! I deserve better!” Trust me, I’ve been there many more times than I am willing to admit.
So how can we have joy in the midst of painful trials? Looking at some parallel texts helps provide the answer. In Romans 5:2-5, Paul says, “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
And look at Philippians 3:10-11, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
We could find many other passages like these that encourage us to persevere in our suffering just like Christ did “who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross . . .” (Hebrews 12:2)
So, is it just to grit our teeth and hang on in our misery? No, we are to have “joy” and “rejoice” in our pain. How is that possible?
Well, it is both impossible and possible at the same time! On one hand, in my flesh, I cannot do it. But in my new nature through the Holy Spirit’s power, I can! Here are the steps I seek to take to turn from self-pity to joy and rejoicing:
1. I say “thank you” to God for the trial. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice ALWAYS, pray without ceasing, give thanks in ALL circumstances.” It doesn’t say, “Feel thankful.” Feelings will come later as we choose to obey. Why can we say thanks in ALL circumstances? Because Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible. All things WILL work together for good to them who love God and are called according to His purposes. And a big part of that good is that our loving Heavenly Father is using pain in our lives to make us more like Him. You know what the athletes say, “No pain, no gain!” If it’s true in sports, it’s totally true in our spiritual lives. I have a lot of pride, self-confidence, selfishness etc. that God needs to burn out of me in love. C.S. Lewis put it this way, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
2. I put on the whole armor of God to fight against my real enemy Satan. I especially need that shield of faith to quench his fiery darts that he wants to come to my heart, especially that dart of discouragement. I meditate on scripture that offers encouragement to me. One that often helps me is His promise never to leave me nor forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5) I also need to pray with my mind and with my spirit. And encourage others to pray for me as well. It’s always amazing to me how much better things go when I am bathed in prayer. What a powerhouse it is!
3. I find the grace to endure the trial today, and choosing not to worry about tomorrow. I keep my eyes on Him who went through much worse of a trial out of love to purchase us with His blood from Satan’s dominion. Day by day, I make it and, in the words of C.S. Lewis, am often “surprised by joy” as I trust Him and feel His manifest presence comforting, leading, guiding and loving me.
The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I see how much of the Christian life goes totally against my natural instincts. Someone once told me: “If you want to figure out what God’s will is, think of what comes natural. Then think of the opposite of what comes natural. Then see if the Bible doesn’t suggest the opposite of natural is in fact God’s way.”
Let me give you just a few examples of where this is true:
--“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) (Rather than taking revenge or harboring bitterness.)
--“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38) (Rather than hording and not being willing to give even sacrificially if He so leads.)
--“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)
Allow me to comment in greater depth on this last passage.
First let me ask this: Do you want to follow Jesus or just admire Him from a distance? Because if you truly want to be a follower of Jesus, He asks us to do some truly amazing things here.
“Deny” in the Greek means that we really reject ourselves! And you know the end of the road for the person who takes up a cross: death by torture!
But the next verse (24) is even more amazing: in the first phrase we have the words “save” and “lose”; likewise we have those identical words in the second phrase, but in reverse order: “lose” and “save.” “Save” is from the Greek “sozo” which is the much-loved word for someone being saved from danger or destruction, but also saved from hell.
We see sozo a lot in Scripture, including in Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” We ALL want to be saved, right? But Jesus is telling us that if our primary goal in life is to be saved or safe, we actually are going to “lose” our life. What does the word “lose” mean in the original? It is the Greek word “apolymi” which means to destroy or kill! So if our primary goal is to be saved, the opposite is going to happen. It likely also includes the person who thinks they can get to heaven on their own without God’s help: they will end up in eternal death.
But here is the clincher: Jesus goes onto say that if we lose (that means destroy or kill!) our lives for Jesus, we will end up saving our lives eternally. Does that hit you like it hits me? Jesus doesn’t want us to just dip our toes in the water, or “sprinkle a little Jesus” on our lives. He wants us to dive in completely without holding back or having any reservations!
We need to choose daily to let Him protect us. We must be totally willing to die today—even physically—if that would be His sovereign will, while it brings glory to Him and helps build His eternal Kingdom.
He is the executive director of The Grand Awakening.