Christian or Disciple?

Think about this.  Jesus never invited anybody to be a Christian.  Because of what the term has come to mean today, I find it challenging to call myself a Christian.  I’m not on a crusade against the word, but instead, I like the word disciple, or Christ follower.  Here’s what the scripture says, Luke 14:25 and following.  “Great crowds were following Jesus.  He turned around and said to them, “If anyone wants to be my follower, you must love Me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers, and sisters – yes, more than your own life.” 

Think about that. If you want to be a disciple of Jesus, you’ve got to love Him more than your own family, more than your own life.  Intense, isn’t it?  Otherwise, you cannot be My disciple, and you cannot be My disciple if you do not carry your own cross and follow Me, and He said, “Don’t begin until you count the cost.”  Think about that.  Don’t begin until you count the cost, because if you are a disciple of Jesus, it will cost you something. 

Now, I’m not talking about being the watered-down, American version of a Christian, the kind of cultural Christianity, because honestly, 85% of Americans, some 247 million people, call themselves Christians; and yet, those same 85% who call themselves Christians are just as likely to get divorced as non-Christians, just as likely to abort their babies as non-Christians, and even less likely to help the poor than non-Christians.  How are those 85% really furthering the cause of Christ?  More of a cultural nice guy system, but maybe the term has lost its true meaning of following, pursuing Jesus, the Lord of all. 

If you want to be a disciple, you need to understand, it is going to cost you.  Consider the cost.  This isn’t just a little safe game.  This isn’t a little church-ianity.  It’s a radical way of life.  What’s it going to cost you?  Well, first of all, scripture promises you that you will be persecuted. So, if you are not being persecuted, at some point, you probably need to ask yourself, are you really following Him, because you will be persecuted.  What is it going to cost you?  I don’t know.  For some, it may cost you your job because you are unwilling to do some things that other people will do to keep the job.  Or, it might cost you a promotion because you are a sold out, radical Jesus follower.  It might cost you some relationships.  Some family members may not understand, may not be in support.  It may cost you some popularity, because you are not going to do what everybody else is going to do.  You may stand out, because you are going to be different.  You are not going to look like, act like, be like the rest of the world because you are not of this world.  You are of another world, the Kingdom of God.  You are a follower of Jesus.  In some parts of the world today, if you claim the name of Jesus, it can cost you your life.  Not Christian, in the American sense of “Hey, we’re good people,” but discipled, radically devoted to following the Son of God, Who died so we could really live.

Bottom line: what’s it going to be for you? Christian or Disciple? 


God healed my computer, or something like that

You just have to read this. A week or so ago I posted a desperate help cry on Facebook for anyone who could come to my rescue and give me some help in fixing my computer problems that I had accidentally created. Here’s how it started. My D drive (hard drive) was giving me warnings that it was almost at capacity. The computer is only a year and a half old and this should not be.

The first piece of advice I was given was to search for .lnk files and delete them, which I did. Then I discovered that the reason for the fill up of the hard drive was that my computer was backing itself up internally every six to eight weeks and each time it did it doubled the used up capacity on my D drive. So I went in and deleted all my backups except the most recent one.

However in the process of deleting the .lnk files or the backups I deleted something I shouldn’t have. All my start up icons went to a similar look and none of them would open and run. I got some message that windows media player could not open it and there was some problem with a codec, whatever that is.

So I began the process of fixing what I had screwed up. I first tried to find some kind of free download on line that would restore what I lost but none seemed to deal with my specific problem and none of them were free, even though they promised to be free.

I then put my Windows 7 set up disc in and did a complete reinstall and that did nothing. Same problem. I tried to run a system restore to a previous date but my system would not allow me to go back beyond the date of the current problem. Another dead end.

I then remembered that I had Carbonite back up for my computer which is an online backup of all my files so I did a complete system restore from Carbonite. Still no fix. So, since the Carbonite restore didn’t fix the problem I decided to reverse the restore by doing a system restore to the date previous to the Carbonite restore to free up some space on my hard drive.

Here’s where it really gets interesting. Once the system restore was complete, removing all the Carbonite files, my computer wouldn’t even start. It wouldn’t even boot up. It tried but came up with some message about start up difficulties and that I needed to run a fix application for it but the fix application couldn’t identify the problem so it couldn’t fix it. It just went around in circles getting nowhere.

At this point I concluded that I had fried my computer and about the only option I had was to bury it and look for a replacement. I was desperate. I was so desperate I considered paying someone at the Geek Squad to see if they had any last ditch suggestions. In fact I was so desperate I prayed. I said, “God, I have no other options. If this thing gets fixed, you are going to have to do it. Do you really believe that spending $500 on a new laptop at this point is the best use of our money? God—HELP.”

That was Thursday night. On Friday morning someone suggested that I attempt to insert the Windows 7 startup disc during its attempt to boot up and see if the system would recognize the disc and boot up from the disc. I attempted, but it didn’t work. There then came to my mind two keys. I don’t know if I thought of them or if God placed the thought there. I will give him the credit. Let’s call it computer fix divine intervention.

Those keys were the F8 and F11 keys. Maybe there was an answer there. So as the computer attempted to boot up I pushed the F8 key first. A page appeared that gave me the option of starting the system in “Safe mode” which is what you usually do when trying to identify and fix a system problem. So I selected safe mode and clicked on it. Same results—no boot up.

I turned the system off and pushed the start button again. This time I pushed the F11 key during the boot up attempt. It took me to a window that gave me two options, system restore and system recovery. System restore is what I had already attempted and was not permitted to restore the system prior to the current problem. System recovery returned the entire system to the condition it was in the day I bought it and turned it on the first time. What was I to lose at this point? If I was looking at buying a new computer and starting over for $500, why not take my chances and start over with the current one and not have to pay anything. So I ran system recovery and, bingo, everything was returned to its original condition just as it promised.

Now I am just in the process of restoring all my files from Carbonite and loading to my computer the files and applications that I lost in the recovery process. It takes a little time but I end up with a unit that now has about 60% unused space on the D drive with not a dime spent in the process. I might have to buy a copy of Microsoft Office when my 60 day free trial is over but that won’t even come close to the cost of a new unit.

So, to God I give the credit. He knows more about computers than this rookie or even the nerds at Geek Squad.

And the moral of the story. Don’t give up. There is a way to fix it if you pray and stick with it.

Or maybe a better moral is, leave the computer fixes to someone who knows more about computers from the very beginning and save yourself a lot of anxiety and time.

Jesus, help me if you can.

An interesting conversation, involving Jesus, takes place in Mark chapter 9. I think most of us can relate to the father who is the other half of the discussion. The father speaks his heart when he says to Jesus, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“But if you can do anything,” “If.” There’s the key word. “If You can do anything.”  Help us, IF You can. That’s where many of us are right now. We’ve got something so big in our life, and all of the “experts” have told you nothing is going to happen, and you are saying, “God, if You can. You might be able to, but I’m not sure.”  If. 

Now, others of us are like, “No, man, I know God can.  My ‘if’ is this.  I know He can, but the question is, I wonder if He will.”  He can, but why hasn’t He? “I think You might be able to, but I’m not sure.  I’ve seen You do other things, but I don’t know if You’ll do it for me.  If You can.” 

Jesus replies to the father with a question.  He says, almost sounding hurt, “If You can?”  Don’t you believe I can?”  He says, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” 

Let that sink in.  Everything is possible for him who believes.  Everything is possible.  So, right now, you’ve got this major deal.  Your marriage is in big, big trouble.  You don’t think it will ever work.  Do you think it is possible that God in His love and sovereign power could actually heal your marriage and make it better than new?  Absolutely He can.  Your kid, that you love so much, is going the wrong way fast, and you’ve tried everything you can to bring the kid back, but they are making dangerous decisions, and you are thinking, “What’s going to happen?  Can God bring them back? ” No doubt about it.  Your doctors say this is what you have and it doesn’t look good. Could God heal you?  Unquestionably.  Your finances are in terrible shape and you don’t see any way out of the mess. You’ve been job hunting for months and nothing is panning out. Can God be the one who makes the difference? Without a doubt, if we really believe that everything is possible.  It’s not all the answer but it is the starting point for the answer. Believing that everything is possible for those who believe.