Jesus Lite, Part 4

It’s pretty simple.
Anyone who wants to come after Jesus into the kingdom of God—
anyone who wants to be a Christian—
has to follow three commands (found in Matthew 16:24-25):

1. Deny himself
2. Take up his cross daily
3. Follow Him

Are these words hard for you to believe?
That you really have to DENY yourself?
That you have to take up your cross daily
(in other words DIE to all that’s you?)

And that you actually have to follow in HIS footsteps?
Not simply in the same area as He is—
but actually FOLLOWING Him—
meaning literally walking in His steps!

It’s much easier to believe a “Jesus Lite” gospel—
one that promises happiness
and bliss
and lots of blessings.

But that’s not the gospel that Jesus came to proclaim.
Many of us have mistakenly bought into “Jesus Lite”—
a diet-form of Christ.

Jesus says that to be true followers of Him, we must DENY ourselves.

The original Greek word for “deny” means
“to refuse to associate with.”

The thought is . . . that if you want to be Christ’s disciple,
and receive forgiveness and eternal life,
you must refuse to associate any longer with the person you are!

You’re sick of your sinful self
and want nothing
to do with you anymore.

That’s the invitation Jesus offers.




I’m speaking in Elk River, WV Sept. 25-28.
Will you please pray for me?

Jesus Lite, Part 3

The true gospel is a call to self-denial.
It’s not a call to self-fulfillment.

This is in opposition to what we often hear—
that Jesus wants you well, rich, free from debt and happy.

But that’s “Jesus Light.”
It’s a watered-down gospel that isn’t found in the Bible—
yet it’s a trending message that’s prevalent in many churches.

Psychologically man-centered evangelicals tell you that
Jesus gives you happiness,
Jesus makes you a better real estate agent
and Jesus helps you make more touchdowns.

Jesus really wants to make you feel better about yourself.
He wants to elevate your self-image.
He wants to put an end to your negative thinking.

Christ DOES definitely want to give us the fruit of the Holy Spirit:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”
(Galatians 5:22-23NIV).

But He never promised popularity, health, wealth and
an everything-rosy life by following Him.

We seek HIM first, and as we grow in a relationship with Christ,
He produces that fruit in our lives.

Jesus told us to deny ourselves:

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross,
and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses
his life for My sake will find it
(Matthew 16:24-25 NKJV).

“To deny oneself” isn’t a “get what you want” deal.
It’s a give up everything lifestyle.

What does it mean to deny myself and to “take up my cross”?

Well, it’s not about exalting me.
It’s about SLAYING me.

It’s the death of self.
You win by losing.
You live by dying.

And THAT is the heart message of the gospel.

Notice this Scripture doesn’t mention anything about
improving your self-esteem,
being rich & successful,
or having your felt needs met—
that’s a sugar-coated gospel.
That’s Jesus Lite.
And that’s unbiblical.

(And I’m assuming you know that I’m not suggesting it’s wrong to be rich or to have a positive self-esteem! Jesus trusts many Christians with wealth, because He knows they’ll use it to glorify Him. And when we’ve truly aligned ourselves with Christ, we DO have a positive self-esteem.)

We need to think about something:
Is the message of Christianity self-fulfillment,
or is it self-denial?
Can’t be both.

Seems that Jesus answers the question in Luke 9:23-26.
I’m not printing that passage here,
because I’d rather you pick up your Bible and read it.

How will you answer the question?
Is the message of Christianity self-fulfillment,
or is it self-denial?




I’m speaking at the MO District Ladies retreat this weekend.

Please pray for us.

Jesus Lite, Part 2

The call of Christ to repent (turn away from sin)
is radical.

Many Christians have asked Jesus for forgiveness
(confession) . . .
but still haven’t repented.
In other words, they’ve never walked away from
some of the sin they’ve sought forgiveness for.

Many hold onto some “favorite sins,”
attend church,
join in the praise and worship . . .

But many are wrong.

Jesus told us to count the cost before we follow Him.
That’s because following Him costs a LOT.
The price is everything.
It’s radical.
It’s tough to swallow.
It’s hard to embrace.
But it’s right.

We can want God’s love, grace, forgiveness, blessing
and an amazing eternity with Him—
but never get it.

Because many of us have been misinformed about
how to get it.

Billy Graham believes that only 50 percent of all people
who attend church will actually go to heaven.

Jesus confirmed this when He told the parable
of the 10 bridesmaids in Matthew 25 and compared it to
who’s getting inside the Kingdom of heaven.
HALF of the bridesmaids made it.

Does that seem hard to believe?

Many of us have given Jesus “Gumby-like” qualities.
We bend Him and shape Him to fit our needs.

We believe that He is all-patient.
All merciful.
And ever-affirming.

We’ve overlooked the fact that He came to proclaim
the Kingdom of heaven—
not to upgrade my self-esteem
make me happy
meet all my needs.

Does this seem harsh?
It’s truth.
You see, the true gospel is a call to self-denial.
It’s not a call to self-fulfillment.

God’s Son is not “Jesus Lite.”
And unless we accept the totality of Christ,
we’re not accepting Him at all.

Yes, He is love.
But He is also holy.
And He cannot tolerate sin in His Kingdom.

So instead of telling ourselves we’re getting into heaven
simply because we prayed a little prayer years ago
during Vacation Bible School—
maybe we need to start looking at our lives.

Have we really given ALL to follow Him?
Are we truly living in radical obedience
to the Lordship of Jesus Christ?


[More next week.]




I’m speaking in Sharpsburg, GA Sept. 11-14.
I’d sure appreciate your prayers!

Jesus Lite

I have fond memories of being able to purchase $3 worth of chocolate-covered peanuts from the candy counter at Sears Department store when I was a little girl.

The candy counter has been gone for a long time,
and the peanuts, popcorn and chocolates have been
replaced with flat-screen TVs, tablets and remotes.

The more I travel and speak (43 weeks/weekends each year),
I’m seeing churches filled with folks who believe they can order a specific amount of Jesus.
A “diet form” of the real thing.
A “Jesus Lite” if you will.

They don’t want all of Jesus—
Just enough to make them feel good on Sunday mornings.
But guess what—
God isn’t giving away only a little bit of Jesus.
God isn’t into “Jesus Lite.”

It’s an all-or-nothing deal.
Jesus Himself told us to count the cost before we say we’re going to follow Him (see Luke 14:25-34).

So how much does it actually cost to follow Him?











(Yes, this big space is intentional. I want to give you time to let the answer soak in.)







It will cost you absolutely













(Again, intentional space. Think about it before you continue reading.)








Absolutely everything means . . .

And everything isn’t $3 worth of Jesus.
Everything will never be “Jesus Lite.”

I’ll share more next week.




[I’m speaking at the Fall revival at Ohio Christian University next week. Please pray for God’s presence to be all over the place.)