Archive for the ‘Sacrifice’ Category

For those of you who have been keeping up (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4,), we have been talking A TON about the idea of #sacrifice.  It was starting to feel pretty dark, like being a Follower of Christ is a terrible death sentence.  Well, I suppose there is a death sentence involved…

Luke 923

The death sentence I am referring to is a death to ourselves, and a death to anything we may love more than Christ.  We are called to #sacrifice the things that distract us from a closer walk with the Lord.  We are called to kill anything that robs us of the presence of Jesus in our lives.

There I go again…getting all intense.  So I started asking the students of CORE Youth Ministry a few questions, like:

What motivates your #sacrifice?

The answer I heard brought tears to my eyes.  “Love.”  These Christ-followers in Manchester, Iowa pointed back to Luke 9:23, describing “…take up his cross daily,” as a picture of love.  When Christ took up His cross, it was motivated out of His deep, wild, extravagant love for us.


Our #sacrifice–whatever form it takes in your life–is motivated by our deep, deep love for the Lord.  And our love for the Lord is a response to His deep, deep love for us.  I promise that it is as simple as that.

How will you live this love out during this season of Lent?  Maybe it’s #sacrificing something that has kept you from spending time with the Lord.  Maybe it is adding something to your life that brings you closer to Christ.  Either way, here is our prayer for CORE Youth Ministry, and our prayer for you for the next 40 days:

Final Lent Prayer

Inspired by “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman, and the Ash Wednesday Service at Manchester United Methodist Church.


Let's Make a Deal

Have you ever seen the game show “Let’s Make a Deal?”  In case you have not, here’s the basic concept:

“The show is based around deals offered to members of the audience by the host. The traders usually have to weigh the possibility of an offer being for a valuable prize, or an undesirable item, referred to as a “Zonk”. Let’s Make a Deal is also known for the various unusual and crazy costumes worn by audience members, who dressed up that way in order to increase their chances of being selected as a trader.”

Thanks Wikipedia!

One thing that I noticed in my extensive research of this gameshow (I love my job!) is that you make a deal, you’re all in.  You have to give up the prize you have in order for a chance to receive the prize you want.  You can’t have both.  There’s an element of #sacrifice.

That reminded me of something I read from Kyle Idleman:  “You won’t be able to follow the path of Jesus without walking away from a different path.” 

This was a major point of CORE‘s discussion last night.  Can you be a Christ-follower (on the “path of Jesus”) without walking away from something else?  If your answer is “no,” then what have you walked away from?

If your answer is “yes,” then take a look at “The Rich Young Man” (Matthew 19:16-22):

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

What we see here is a “fan” of Jesus who appears to be doing everything right.  He’s following the major commandments, he’s eating his vegetables, and keeping his nose clean.  But he was still lacking something: sacrifice.  See, this story isn’t called “The Poor Man,” or even the “Middle Class I-Do-Alright-For-Myself Man.”  It’s called “The Rich Young Man.”  This dude was rollin’ in it.  And the evidence that he loved his wealth was in his response to Jesus’ words: “…he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

Now do not be deceived: This example is NOT about money.  It’s about sacrificing things that are more valuable to you than God.  I don’t pretend that sacrifice is easy.  It’s painful.  It takes commitment.

Kind of like P90X.

P90X example



Now this guy looks like a dude who’s committed.  In order for him to look like this beast he has to #sacrifice sleeping in, eating cheeseburgers, and going out with friends.  There’s NO WAY he can do those things and look like that.  Right?  He had to sacrifice.  And I bet it sucked.  I wonder if every morning when his alarm went off he thought,”I could just hit the snooze button.”  I bet the smell of cheeseburgers taunted him when he at his salad.  I bet his friends tempted him with weekend Halo marathons.  But after all the sacrifice he looked like that.


“When we sacrificially deny ourselves for Christ’s sake it is the clearest evidence of our committed love.”

We can see what Mr. P90X loves and values by what he sacrificed.  We can see what “The Rich Young Man” loved and valued by what he did not sacrifice.

If our relationship with Jesus was like “Let’s Make a Deal,” a fan wants the prize behind Door #1 without sacrificing what he currently has.

I love Jesus, but...


“When we sacrificially deny ourselves for Christ’s sake it is the clearest evidence of our committed love.”  If you agree, where is your #sacrifice?

I know all of this has gotten pretty heavy, so let me bring you a glimmer of hope:

We can’t talk about #sacrifice without talking about the motivation behind it.  Next week is our FINAL lesson on “Not a Fan,” and is also Ash Wednesday.  We’re going to take the journey towards Jesus’ #sacrifice for us, exploring His motivation and our response.

It’s about to be a love-fest up in here.


Inspired by “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman.  Join other committed followers at 


DTR—Define the relationship.

In the past three weeks we have taken a look at the difference between a “fan” and “Follower” of Jesus.  We established that fans often look like Followers, but fans do not have a true level of commitment.  They become “enthusiastic admirers” of Jesus  for the things they can get from Him: good grades, popularity, and a puppy for Christmas.  (You might be scoffing at those spiritually weak “fans.”)

Let’s turn the tables on you:

Ask yourself, “Am I a fan, or a Follower?”  Chances are you assume you are a follower because your family goes to church, you volunteer in the community, and you have not been arrested in the last month.  …But is that what it takes to be a “Follower”?

Think about it this way:
There’s a guy or girl you’re crushin’ on.  You start hanging out, and it is fun and exciting.  She’s pretty; he’s cool; you’re friends think you’re cute together.  But the time comes when you wonder, “Where is this going?”  You have to decide if things are casual, or committed.  You have to have “DTR.”  Define.The.Relationship.

The same way you have to have a DTR to figure out if things are casual or committed with your crush, you need to do that with Jesus.  For instance, would your relationship with Jesus be “Facebook official”?  You know, would your Facebook status say, ”In a Relationship with” Jesus? or would it say, “It’s Complicated” with Jesus?  Would it say “Single and Ready to Mingle!”?  Here are some questions worthy of some head-scratching, soul-searching time of reflection.


DTR 2-002


What did your reflection reveal about your relationship status with Jesus?

If you see yourself closer to a “fan” than you want to be, then let’s begin the  journey from fan to follower.

Not a Fan 2 002

Here’s what Jesus says about moving beyond a casual relationship, into a committed follower: Luke 9:23

“And [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (ESV)

Anyone”—an open invitation.

No matter what you have done, Jesus is calling you to be in a committed relationship with Him.  Does accepting this come easily to you, or do you struggle with being accepted and loved?  Do you try to earn His love/acceptance by the “good things” you do?

When Jesus says “anyone,” He means “everyone.”  What does that reveal about His character?

Come after Me—a passionate pursuit.
How do you “come after” someone with whom you want to become better friends?  How do you pursue your crush?  I remember one time when I was being pursued by a guy.  He was so intent on “passionately pursuing me” that he spent hundreds of dollars on a private airplane ride…and it was only our first date!  We didn’t need a DTR to see that he was pretty committed.  (And no, this was not on an episode of The Bachelor.)

It makes me think of Matthew 13: Treasure in a Field parable.  I have always struggled to understand why a guy who stumbled upon a big pile of treasure sold everything that he had and bought the land where the treasure was buried.  I mean, that’s crazy, right?  But look at if from his perspective: He sells all he has (#sacrifice) because the treasure he has found is far “bigger and better” than what he is trading.  He is passionately pursuing the treasure.

 “When we discover the life we can have in Jesus we are to come after Him like this man pursued this [treasure].  Fans will be careful not to get carried away.  Followers understand that following Jesus is a pursuit that may cost them everything, but it is the best investment they could ever make.” Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan: Teen Edition

If you realize you look a lot more like a fan than Follower, take some time to consider what it could look like to “passionately pursue” a relationship with Jesus.  Talk to people who are doing that very thing.  Consider the comparison to a dating relationship: spend time with Him, getting to know Him.  Maybe even book a private plane ride with Him. :)

Inspired by Kyle Idleman’s Not A Fan: Teen Edition.

Last week’s discussion ended on the idea of sacrifice.  We asked, “When was the last time Jesus cost you something?”

This idea of sacrifice got me thinking about the game “Bigger, Better.”  Ever played?  It’s easy.  You start with something you find from your pocket: a penny, a piece of gum, a tube of chapstick.  Then you knock on a neighbor’s door, asking if they have any item they might trade you that is bigger or better than your item.

For example, last night we had two teams playing “Bigger, Better.”  Team Two started with a penny, traded it for fifty cents, and traded the fifty cents for a can of Pepsi.  The can of Pepsi was traded for a great piece of yard art.  Bigger, and definitely better.

Not a Fan 2 002

Each house that CORE students visited required a judgement call.  We had to judge whether the new item was bigger or better than the item we were sacrificing.  If it was worth it, a trade was made.  Do you see the spiritual significance?

Being a Christ-follower (rather than just a fan–an enthusiastic admirer of Jesus) requires sacrifice.  We give up something in order to follow Him.  In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “… “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” (NLT)

What might it mean to “turn from your selfish ways”?  I don’t mean to ask this question in a general sense; I am asking us to answer this question in the quietness if our own heart.  What might be our “selfish ways” that keep us from a closer, purer relationship with Jesus?  Maybe it is drinking with our friends; maybe it is a bad attitude towards our family; maybe it is crossing physical boundaries in our dating relationship.  Each one of us will identify or “selfish ways” differently, but how we respond to them will be the same for all Followers who judge Jesus to be bigger and better.


“…If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

[Inspired by Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman.]