Moving From Admirer to Devoted Follower!

11 12 2019

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Growing up, I admired many people. Lots of those individuals just happened to be athletes. As a kid, watching the New York Mets, I became very passionate about baseball. I ate, drank, lived and slept baseball. My heart would literally race with excitement whenever I saw Tom Seaver pitch. I purposed in my heart that whatever Tom Seaver had for breakfast, I wanted the very same thing. If Tom Seaver used a certain aftershave, I was going to splash the same lotion all over my face, and I was only 10 years old. I threw the ball the way he did. I copied his every movement. I read articles about him and would repeat his motion over and over again. I was so good at being like Tom Seaver that when I would listen to the ballgame on the Radio, I would be in perfect sync with what Tom Seaver was doing on the mound even though I couldn’t even see him. Basically, I wasn’t just an admirer of Tom Seaver. I was a full-blown disciple. I was definitely a learning-active follower of everything about him.

Most of you are not in that category. Those of you who are older like me, probably admired Tom Seaver, much like I used to admire Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Jim Bunning, but I can honestly say that none of those men impacted my life. Anyone who knew me then understood by my behavior that I was devoted to #41 who was known as The Franchise.

An admirer is impressed. A follower is impacted forever. An admirer claps. A follower is committed. A lot of people admired Martin Luther King. Some marched with him. Not many went to jail with him. Not many got their houses bombed like he did. A lot of people admired Mother Theresa. Not many people followed her to live among the destitute and dying.

When Jesus would do his teaching here on earth, there were always two groups of people listening to him. Many would stand amazed at his teaching, because Jesus taught them as one who had authority, not as their other ordinary teachers of the law. While Jesus was teaching, something miraculous began to happen in the hearts of a few of them. Suddenly admiration from a distance was no longer enough. As Jesus would share words of life, their hearts would pound and their minds would race and something deep inside them said, “This is it. This is what I have been longing for my whole life without really being able to properly communicate it, without knowing the spiritual name for it. I have hungered to be cleansed and yearned to be forgiven of all my sin and finally get rid of all that junk that for so many years has had me weighed down. I suddenly want to know God and not just be content with information about Him. I want to go on beyond being informed to allowing the Holy Spirit to totally transform me. I’m weary of worrying and falling into dedicating myself to deeds that I’m not proud of. I know I need more than just stuff. I admit that I need a Savior. I long to be rescued, redeemed and restored. I want to have confidence beyond the grave, to not be afraid of death anymore. I won’t settle for anything less. I would rather have Jesus and give up everything else in the world, than to have everything the world could offer me and then have to give up the Lord. I will pay any price. I don’t care. I will do whatever He wants me to do. I will go wherever He wants me to go. I will give whatever He says I ought to give. I will be whatever He says I should be. Today, I am leaving the fickle crowd of admirers. As of today, I’m a Jesus Fanatic. I am ready to love Jesus no matter what anybody else says or thinks. I will live as a fully devoted follower of Jesus.”

This Christmas, are you just an admirer that doesn’t yet fully follow Jesus? Are you holding back from God because you are afraid of losing what you can’t keep anyway? Are you flirting with the Lord rather than surrendering your whole heart? Are you just dating God when what you really need to do is make a commitment to Him?

Last week, Terri and I celebrated our 37th Wedding Anniversary. We reminisced a bit about a crucial weekend during Easter 1982. I was getting ready to graduate Bible College and begin ministry. Terri was just a sophomore at the time and so a big decision had to be made. Our relationship was at a crossroads. Either I was going to make the commitment and marry Terri or break up with her. It wasn’t a question of love. I loved Terri and admired everything about her. Nothing was going to change that. But if we were going to move forward together, it was going to take a step of movement on my part to make the lifetime commitment of getting married. Too many people try to build a commitment upon love but that doesn’t work. It must be the other way around. God didn’t commit to us because He loved us. He loved us because He was already committed to us.

I talked to all my trusted advisors at the time for their opinion. I prayed and asked God to reveal His will. I believe that He said, “It is up to you.” You see, this was not a question of right or wrong. It was a matter of going from dating to marriage. I came back and on that Easter Sunday night, I said to Terri, “I’m yours if you want me.” We have been together ever since.

Jesus didn’t come to just be buddies. He longs to be our Savior and Lord and so the next choice is up to you. He stands at the door of your heart and He knocks and says, let Me in but if I come in, it is to be your God and not just another trivial pursuit. If you are going to move forward in your faith, you can’t just cheer from the crowd. You must obey and follow the Lord. Jesus promises that He will lead us into eternal life but you won’t know that until you take Him at His word and you can’t do that from a distance.


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