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I am so challenged this morning about how I see blessing in my life. I'm preparing to speak to the youth group this weekend about the Beatitudes and it's honestly kicking my butt. The definition of blessed is holy, consecrated. I don't usually think about blessings in those terms. I think about little things that make life easier. I am blessed when our dryer works and I don't have to hang the clothes on the line. I am blessed when we have a functioning vehicle. I am blessed when the kids are healthy or the bills are paid on time. None of those things have anything to do with being holy, set-apart, consecrated to the Lord.


While looking around online, I came across this definition of blessings: Anything God gives that makes us fully satisfied in Him. Anything that draws us closer to Jesus. All those small things I listed are ways that my flesh is satisfied; they are not things that lead me to find satisfaction in Christ. Being comfortable almost never leads me to worship. Being content almost never draws me closer to Jesus. Pain, rejection, poverty, depression, sickness, all the things I would consider curses might actually be the blessings that "God gives that make [sic] us fully satisfied in Him." Man, have I got it all wrong!


Sacrifice is a very strong image and theme in Christianity. In the Old Testament, we see God's people offering burnt sacrifices on the altar, in worship to the One True God. They burnt the flesh of their most prized possessions as an act of faith, obedience and trust in God. In the New Testament, Paul tells us to offer ourselves as an offering, a living sacrifice.


Romans 12:1

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.


My default when my flesh is bothered is to complain or check-out. If there's nothing I can do to remedy the situation, then I decide to ignore it. I'll pray a bit about it, but I typically won't war the heavens for the little annoyances and frustrations in my day-to-day. What I'll do is look for ways to feed my flesh, to make me feel better. I'll read a book. I'll eat a sweet snack. I'll watch a movie...all of these are me escaping into my flesh instead of escaping into the presence of God. If I were to take these hardships as opportunities to press-into God, they would turn into blessings in my life.


I've got to change my mindset and see the hidden blessings: the stuff that isn't easy, but draws me to Him. Those struggles can lead me to the altar or I can keep running and miss-out on the blessing that would come through it.


How about you? Do you also miss the blessings because you're running from God? Do you chose to escape into flesh instead of battling through the sadness, the disappointment or the pain? God is drawing us closer to Him if we will allow Him to.


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“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. Mark 10:29 & 30


This passage has been marinating in my heart for the last few weeks, since we covered it in our young adult Bible study. It comes from a story in the Bible of a rich young man who wanted to know how he could inherit eternal life. When Jesus asked him to give up his riches and give them to the poor, the young man balked and ultimately couldn't do it.


While I'm familiar with the story, what struck me this time was the promise that God will replenish all that is sacrificed "in this present age." Not only that, but he will replace it one hundred fold. I made a mental list of all the things I've given up for the gospel, specifically in moving to Belize: my friends, my parents living nearby, my career, my house, 2 cars, my home church, good schools for my kids, a salary, health benefits....all things that I have walked away from, in order to walk in obedience and faith.


Sometimes when you lose so much it's hard to appreciate what comes in its place. Sometimes when we miss our favorite friends, our home church or the house we raised our kids in, we don't acknowledge the blessings God has brought into our lives since. So I've been counting my blessings. For the church ladies who check on me like a mom would. For having a house here that doesn't carry a mortgage. For connections with new churches who have taken a genuine interest in knowing and encouraging us. For new friendships and small groups where we can walk out our faith in community with others.


The life God is building here is beautiful. It isn't convenient or comfortable. It doesn't "feel like home" the way living in North America does. But God is filling in the pieces. He is restoring what was lost. He is enlarging our lives in subtle ways that we can miss if we aren't looking.


Have you sacrificed something for the Lord? Have you given up a loved one, a lifestyle, something that comforts you? God says He will replace it one hundred-fold. When we show that our allegiance is with Him, no matter the cost, He showers us with everything we need in this present age. His bartering system isn't one-for-one, but one hundred-for-one. He generously overcompensates us, out of His love and joy at seeing our faithfulness and trust in Him. The journey is terrifying, the cost is worth it. The rewards are more than enough in this beautiful barter.

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One thing that this generation wants more than anything is to influence. It boggles the minds of parents and teachers that nowadays young people aspire to be full-time Influencers. When did this become a legitimate career option?


Few people throughout history have had even a portion of the influence that Jesus has had throughout the centuries. His name is known in almost every nation and people group on earth. There are literally 2.6 billion people on the earth today who are devoted to his teachings and the lifestyle that he embodied 2000 years ago. The number seems unbelievably high, until you compare it to a certain Portuguese soccer player I've never heard of, who has 540+ million followers on Instagram. 540 million!?! How is that possible? With the global community becoming so connected through the internet and social media, people can have a greater platform than ever before in history.


So is Influencing bad? Is it good? How do I know? And, most importantly, What Would Jesus Do?


We see time and again in the Gospels that Jesus would heal people and instruct them not to tell anyone. Again and again he tried to keep a lid on his popularity. Maybe it was because he didn't want to be misinterpreted. Maybe he didn't want the crowds to get in the way of his work. Maybe it was all about timing. What I do see is that Jesus was less concerned about becoming TikTok famous than he was about serving.


"But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve,

and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:44-45


Many young people think that leading as another word for influencing. They think that having a title or leadership role in ministry means they can lead others simply by putting themselves on display. Acting the right way, wearing the right clothes, and giving the best Sunday School answers doesn't make someone a leader. Christ called his leaders to be shepherds and servants. As Christians, as leaders, we need to crawl out from under the influence of this culture of self-promotion. We need to remind ourselves and teach others about the one great example we have for ministry and life. Christ.





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