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Forgive the rambling—there is a point here, even if I’m still in the process of trying to nail it down fully myself….

In fact, a lot of the reason for this current post would be that I’m still processing and/or trying to live into what I’m dealing with. In fact, there’s a quote in my last book Lay It Down (buy it now, kids) that seems as prophetic now as it seemed just plain-old relevant then:

Each of our lives need to move from being of Christ to being in Christ—and finally to the point where our life “is Christ” (Philippians 1:21, et al.).

The fact, I’m still trying to live up to my own words. They've been my wrestling match for quite some time now, and especially in the last several months. Not to mention the repeated assertions/convictions throughout 1 John:

Whoever says ‘” know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected…. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love (1 John 2:4-5; 4:16-18).

And yet, Jesus also tells us, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). That’s harder than it sounds—especially the implication that we already truly “love ourselves.” Because here’s the thing: God’s best is also my best. When I live in that truth, I am truly loving myself, far more than I am when I’m indulging/enabling/abusing myself.

Only that which is pure can conquer death. Jesus proved that. And we are in Him. I don’t need patience, restraint, humility—I need Christ. He is my patience, restraint, humility. If I am dead in Christ, then He is the only life I have.  The same, therefore, is true for my neighbor.

We do not have to separate ourselves from the world—God has separated us from the world, and we need to live out of that—in the way that God has separated us. We’ve gotten it backwards.

And yet, I am becoming increasingly convinced that God is powerful enough to change even a Christian. “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19b-20a). So where do we go from here, Lord?

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Comment by Carl Simmons on September 2, 2014 at 6:53pm

Thank you, Ken.

Comment by Ken Rapp on September 2, 2014 at 6:45pm

"Carl, thanks for your post.  Here's what it caused me to reflect on:

Do not be afraid" is a big theme in the Bible.  And because we know that nothing can separate us from the "perfect" love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord, we don't need to be afraid of death, nor life, etc.  We don't even need to be afraid of falling short (we will).  Thanks be to God that we are saved by grace, not by works!  

Having been loved and forgiven and saved, now I want to know Christ and follow Christ and be like Christ.  But like Paul, what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do!  I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out!  This happens when I lose focus on Christ and live according to my sinful nature.  Only when I fix my eyes on Jesus does the Spirit of God live in me and enable me to please God.  

So how to stay focused on Christ?  For me, it's staying in the Word of God, and in prayer, and in relationship with like minded Christians.  It's one reason I value the Discipleship Network.  Praying for God's clear leading about this community of believers!

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