Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:6–8)

Memorial Day is an American holiday set aside to remember a special group of people: those who gave their lives.  Veteran’s Day is for remembering all who served, but Memorial Day is extra special, because we honor those who went away to war and didn’t come home. 

Some of these people are barely remembered.  But most of them left big holes in someone’s life.  Young women became single moms because their husbands died in battle.  Mothers lost sons, brothers were lost, and nowadays we are losing also girlfriends, daughters, sisters and mothers.  I remember Christa McAuliffe.  She was a school teacher who was assigned to crew on the Space Shuttle Challenger, where she was killed during the launch.  I remember reporters asking her daughter about her mommy going into space shortly before the launch, and through tears her daughter said, “I wish she wouldn’t go.”  Caroline’s mother died when she was just seven. 


I’m fascinated by the causes of conflicts and wars.  Why do wars start?  Why do people go to war in the first place?  And on top of that, what do others claim was the cause?  Most people these days claim the American Civil War was about slavery, for instance.  But I’ve known thousands of people who are descendants of confederate soldiers, and I can assure you that none of them went off to fight and die to protect the “right” to own slaves for a few rich plantation owners.  When people say the Civil War was about slavery they reveal their ignorance of a much more complex issue. 

So why did those guys go off to fight?  Why does anyone do it? 

The answer is different for different people.  But here’s the strange part: they don’t get to answer the question themselves.  A guy may have joined the Marines in WW2 because his best friend was going, and they were partners who wanted to defeat the enemy.  But what came from their sacrifice isn’t up to them.  The real meaning of their sacrifice isn’t known until we discover what their descendants do with the victory.  What’s the actual outcome?

You see, war – like most things – has unintended consequences.  These consequences, intended or not, are what Jesus called “fruit.”  When we do something, like fight or surrender or love or take or remember or forget – everything we do, has consequences.  And the lives we live reflect back on those who came before us. 

To put it more simply, WE get to answer the question about why they died.  Whether they intended it or not, the America we live in, work in, and vote (or not) in – this IS the America they died to produce. 

WW2 changed the US forever.  We emerged as the dominant world power without equal.  We inherited responsibility for rebuilding Japan and Germany and for fighting against the spread of socialism (masquerading as communism).  Because of this, our technology industry became one of the most amazing things in human history.  As it turns out, the guys that died in WW2 for us actually died to produce, for the very first time in human history – a nation that had machines called “appliances” in kitchens, nuclear advancement, space exploration and electronics of unthinkable power.  With all that in mind, their sacrifices led to GPS satellites and the internet.  The internet is the world’s largest library and shopping mall.  And it’s about 70% porn. 

Why did they die?  So we could shop and read and hear music and look at pictures?  If we are that shallow, then yes.  While that was certainly not their intention, it was definitely the result.

Why did Jesus die?  

We used to sing a song in church that asked and answered this question. 
Here are some excerpts:

Why did my Savior come to earth, and to the humble go…?
Why did he drink the bitter cup of sorrow, pain and woe…?
Why on the cross be lifted up? 
Because he loved me so!

That’s a fact.  Jesus and his Father did what they did because of their love for us, even though we had been living as their enemies! While we were yet sinners,” wrote Paul, “Christ died for us.”  

But then (as I argue here) our response is all-important.  Jesus’ life, death and resurrection were things he did for his reasons, but what about our response?  What were the real consequences of Jesus’ sacrifice?  The song above continues to sing:

Till Jesus comes I’ll sing His praise, and then to glory go…
And reign with Him through endless days…

Do you think God is pleased to have sent His Son to die so that we could sing about it?  Was that a fair deal?  Will you offer your child to me to kill, so that I’ll sing your praises the rest of my life, and then go on to heaven? 

I believe God expects a bit more than our lip service.  I believe Jesus is only a Savior and Lord to those who recognize what’s really be done for us. 

A person holds open a door for me, and I walk past and say “thank you” and move on.  If a rich person gives me an expensive gift, my response should be a little more than a quick “thank you” and me moving on.  But when a poor person gives her most valued treasure – what kind of ingrate would I be just to shrug it off with a quick “Thank you”? 

Memorial Day

Most of God’s holidays were memorials.  Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles were all memorials, or times to remember.  What were they remembering?  Did God lead Israel from Egypt and give them great land so that they could worship other gods?  Did He do it so they would only think of Yahweh once in a while, or so they’d make up rules and force other humans to follow them? 

The results (or fruit or consequences) of God creating humans caused God to regret it:
Then Yahweh saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that:
Every intent of the thoughts of his heart was
Only evil
All the time.
Yahweh was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
(Genesis 6:5–6)

God also seems to have regretted delivering Israel from Egypt.  He decided to destroy Israel and start over with Moses and his family:
“I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”
(Exodus 32:9–10)

This same attitude continued through Israel’s history and even into the age of Christianity:
You who boast in the law, through your breaking the law, do you dishonor God?  For God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
(Romans 2:23–24)

Can any reasonable person deny that today Christianity is making God look bad? 
Did Jesus die and forgive our sins only to have us disrespect his sacrifice and bring shame to God? 

It seems many people these days think that going to church and being “good” is all that’s ‘required’ of us.  It seems to me that even if those people are right, they’re still responding in an incredibly disrespectful way.  No, we cannot earn heaven, but we all deserve hell. 

God’s son came to earth, served and died.  Is your response simply to say, “Hey, thanks” and then go on with life?  Or maybe you’ll go the extra bit and sing in the choir or pray once in a while, or (*gasp*) maybe you’ll even read the bible occasionally!  Wow.  I’m sure the Father of a crucified son is super impressed.  God’s probably bragging right now to Satan about how much you've given!

Most Christians I know are unwilling to offer a real sacrifice.  Our response to God’s gift of His son is not very expensive.  We don’t want to do our best or be our best; and we certainly don’t want to give our best.  We want to give the minimum necessary; not develop the ability to give as much as possible.  Our time, money, compassion and effort are all reserved for those close to us.  There are not many leftovers for God. 

Memorial Day is a day of remembering someone who died so that you can live a certain way.  The way you live will reflect back on their sacrifice.  Does your life honor those who died? 

Please: don’t let this be true of you as an American, a child of God, or as a disciple of Jesus:
“Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites:
‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me.  Their worship is pointless.’”
(Mark 7:6–7)

Make your memorial vow to follow the example of Paul, whose hope was in God and resurrection (not for this life), who put is faith in scripture (not men), and who did his best (not gave a small percentage) in service to God (not a career or earthly family).  After all, in view of what God gave to us, how can our response be anything less than our best effort?

…“According to the Way (which they call a sect)
I serve the God of our fathers,
Believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and … the Prophets;
Having a hope in God … that there shall certainly be a resurrection….

In view of this,
I do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience before God and before men.
(Acts 24:14–16)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Flesh & Blood

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.  
(Ephesians 6:10–18)

Last time I wrote about “fear” but there’s another “Goliath” in our lives: desire

Lots of times bible translators will translate the Greek word as “lust,” but for most of us “lust” is about sex, and sex is only one of many desires.  A very common one among Christians is the desire for food and relaxation, for example.  This desire, when it overtakes us, is gluttony and laziness.  That’s why so many people are fat.  Others are not fat, but they’re in such bad shape physically that if they had to walk a distance or (gasp) run for a while, they’d fall apart.  I’m not talking about people who are sick or broken, I’m talking about people who have become pathetic and weak because they are lazy and gluttonous.  And since most of the others around them are also lazy gluttons, they simply think of it as “normal.” 

So … what’s your desire? 
Stop and think about yourself for a moment, and consider what sorts of things you really WANT. 
Do you want to be popular? 
Maybe you want to be powerful or rich or respected. 
Or maybe you always want to be “in style,” or to feel good. 
Or maybe you’d like another drink or more food, play or rest. 
Or maybe you just want another plate of Mexican food or pie with friends. 

Seriously now … stop reading for a moment and examine yourself. 

Now keep your top two or three desires or “wants” in your mind as you read on…. 

Good and Bad desires
Some desires we call “bad,” like “substance abuse” or “gay” or “drunk.”  But is a glutton one bit better of a human being than a drunk?  Is one kind of sex worse than another?  And do you know that Paul wrote that people whose god is their stomach are actually enemies of the cross!?!

Is your mind on earthly things - or God's kingdom?
What about warm, loving, kind family relationships in which one is rarely encouraged to put God first in all things?  Is that church-going family any better than one with an alcoholic dad?  In fact, a “healthy” and tight-knitted family who fails to put God ahead of itself is the worst kind of family, because that is one where children grow up believing a lie.  Those are parents who have put a stumbling block in the path of their own children.  Here’s what Jesus said about that:

He said to his disciples:
“It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble."
(Luke 17:1–2)

How can it be that an apparently good family is really bad?  How is that possible? 

It’s because we have an enemy, and he wants to destroy us by any means necessary. 

Satan is a master at knowing what things will cause you to stumble and fall.  If you like to drink, maybe he will put some “friends” in your life who also like to drink, then throw you a few setbacks, like losing your job unfairly, and then he’s got you more than halfway there. 

Most of us are not foolish for alcohol, but we are all foolish for something. 
I’ve known many people who would do nearly anything for romance.  Others believe family comes first, and for others it’s their nation or their political party.  Some people can actually ache from desire to have approval of other people and can never be alone. 

Satan will use whatever is your poison.  And yes, too much of anything – even good things – can become poison. 


Pay attention again to the quote at the top of this article. Here, I’ll post part of it again:
Put on the full armor of God,
so that ……you will be able to stand firm
…against the schemes of the devil.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm….”

When I read that it sounds like something from a Harry Potter story.  In our case, the dark lord is the devil – Satan.  And he uses our fears and desires to defeat us. 

Look again and see that Paul wrote that we’re fighting “the schemes of the devil.”  And that’s what the disciple’s life is like.  We literally have an evil genius trying to defeat us.  And he’s never lost, and he’s stronger than us.  He knows our greatest fears, and he knows our strongest desires, and he uses them both against us. 

If you know the stories of Israel’s history, you’ll see how the devil’s schemes unfold.  He tempted Israel to fear and refuse to go into the Promised Land by showing them giants, and he used their desire for pleasure to destroy them in Moab.  He used envy, lust, even a desire to sacrifice to God! 

Our only hope

Another thing you’ll see in the quote is that we don’t win by our own strength.  What makes victory possible is God’s armor.  The armor is His, not ours.  Our armor doesn't stand a chance.  We are way too fragile and foolish to resist Satan. 

King David understood this, and it’s why he was the greatest man.  He knew he was safe as long as Yahweh was with him (Psalm 23).  And when he sinned, it wasn't the devil he feared, rather it was his fear that God may take away the Holy Spirit:

Create in me a clean heart, O God, & renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence & do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation & sustain me with a willing spirit.
I will teach transgressors Your ways, & sinners will be converted to You.
(Psalm 51:10–13)

David knew that as long as he had God’s Holy Spirit in him, he was safe and secure.  But if God were to remove the Spirit as He had from David’s predecessor (King Saul), David would be doomed.  And why had God left Saul?  Because instead of destroying all the Amalekites, he spared a king and some livestock to sacrifice to Yahweh!  His intentions were (apparently) good!  And Samuel, speaking for God, told Saul that “to obey is better than sacrifice.”  (1 Samuel 15.22)  To put it in modern terms, God’s not impressed with your church attendance if your life isn't obedient. 

The contrasts between the first two kings of Israel are good for us, because they teach important lessons:
  1.  Be willing.  Remember in the last article I showed you that our will precedes our ability.  Most people won’t do things unless they think they are able.  But disciples understand that it’s God’s power, and for God all things are possible.  So we must be willing first, and if we are, then God will give the ability.  Saul was unwilling, and it ended him.  (they “were not willing to destroy them utterly;” 1 Samuel 15.9) 
  2. It’s all about God.  We wear God’s armor, and we submit to Him as the Good Shepherd, and so we are safe and need not fear.  And because he supplies all our needs, we can be freed from desire!  So we fear God, and we obey God – because doing that creates about us an indestructible shield. 
  3. The battle isn't flesh and blood.  We think battling our desires and fears is a personal challenge.  So did Saul.  But David (and Paul) understood that the battle isn't really against our own fears and desires, that’s just the way Satan makes it look.  He makes it easy for us to forget about him and his schemes, and for us to get discouraged when “we” fail.  The real battle isn't an earthly thing … it’s happening in realms we cannot see. 

Our only hope is God.  
No friend can help.  
No family member can rescue you.  
You can’t hide in food, alcohol, books, movies or the local spa 
You cannot win by your own strength.  

The only hope you have is in God’s power.  

He is our only hope.  
With God, we win.  
Without God, we lose.  
The battle is the Lord’s. 

So now I’ll finish by repeating the same quote as at the start. 

Consider each of the parts of God’s armor we are to wear.  Take time to understand each of these things and consider how they function.  A shield, for instance, is usually defensive and protects us from other’s attacks.  Our shield is faith/belief/trust in God. 

And when you’re aching with desire for something you shouldn't want … remember that the battle is not you verses your own flesh, but it’s part of what Satan is doing to you to tempt you.  It’s a part of his strategy to get you to fall. 
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
 Stand firm therefore,
Having girded your loins with truth, and
Having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and
Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith (with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one)  And take the helmet of salvation and
the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).   With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10–18)

Sunday, May 4, 2014


“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”(Matthew 10:28)

Are you afraid of the wrong things? 

If you’re like most people, the answer is “yes.”  There are professionals who calculate the odds of you having a certain kind of accident, illness, or death.  When you ask people about these things, most of us are very afraid of things that are unlikely to happen, while we’re very bold in things that should cause us concern.  For example, I met many people in the southeastern US who think it’s crazy to live in CA where they have earthquakes.  But if you look at the actual numbers, you can easily see that many times more people die in hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, lightening and floods … than in earthquakes. 

Most people live between two extremes of fear and recklessness.  Some people are afraid of lots of things, and even though they know their fears are irrational, they “just can’t help it.”  Others seem to be afraid of nothing, and so they take foolish risks.  Often the reckless people are teenagers, and the fearful are “senior citizens,” but age isn't the only thing that affects our fears or our boldness. 

Now consider the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17). 

Goliath was unafraid, because he was an experienced warrior who had (obviously) never been defeated.  Also he was a giant.  His fellow Philistines were unafraid, because they had seen what Goliath could do before, and they were confident in their champion. 

For the same reasons, Israel’s king (Saul) and his soldiers were all afraid.  Again, they were afraid FOR THE SAME REASONS the Philistines were bold: Goliath was an undefeated giant. 

To put it in modern terms, let’s say LeBron James came to your town and challenged your city.  Let’s say LeBron offered to play a game of one-on-one basketball with anyone in your town, and winner takes all.  Either you’d become the owner of Miami and all her people including LeBron’s own family … or LeBron would be the owner of your town and everything in it.  He could have all the money, all the women, all the children … everything … or you could have all that was contained in Miami. 

And then up from nowhere comes an eighth grade kid who sells hot dogs at the Lakers' games and says confidently that he can defeat LeBron James.  You've GOT to be kidding me. 

OK, now let’s take this story and go back to our original question about “fear,” and use the metaphor to get real.
What is your personal Goliath? 
Who is your LeBron James? 
Or to put it another way:
What is the thing that keeps beating you up? 

Hold on to that thought for a moment, and we’ll come back to it soon.

Our Challenge

As I've written here many times, I write this blog for people who really badly want to be followers of Jesus.  I mean, those of us who see how amazing Jesus was and how perfect and loving and strong Jesus was, and would give anything to be like him.  We are people who watch his every move, and read about him and study him and are fascinated by him.  We are disciples of Jesus. 

There are many Christians in the world (about a billion) of various religions.  I’m not talking to those people.  If they’re happy in their religious world, then I find that to be disappointing, but there’s nothing I can do about it.  So I focus only on dedicated, devoted, passionate disciples of Jesus. 

So (for this blog) I divide humanity into three groups:
  1. The World
  2. Christians
  3. Disciples

     “The world” is a term found often in the bible.  It applies to all people now alive.  They may be atheists or Muslims or Buddhists or whatever. 

     “Christians” are (the way I use the term) anyone who calls himself a Christian, whether God considers them so or not, whether they’re saved or not, or anything else.  I hate the thought of having to judge others, so I’ll accept people who claim the title “Christian” as if that’s what they are.

     “Disciples” are something altogether different.  
To describe a disciple, let’s use Jesus’ description:

Now large crowds were going along with him; and he turned and said to them,
“If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.  Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.   For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?

So then, none of you can be my disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
(Luke 14:25–35)

So our challenge is to decide if we’re willing to pay the price to be a disciple. 

But wait!  Before you answer, read this:
Pay special attentions to the words Jesus used and the word I used.  Jesus didn't say that people who don’t pay the price are not disciples, he said they cannot be disciples.  Now go back and look at that passage again, this time pay extra attention to how Jesus uses the words “can” or “cannot.”

There Jesus is talking about ability – what you’re capable of. 
Now if you go back and look at my first sentence after the quote you’ll see that I used the word “willing.”  And that’s why Jesus says “does not,” as in if you do not give up x or y or z, then you will not be able to do things. 

I hope you see it, but if you don’t I’ll try to make it clear:
Being a successful, productive disciple of Jesus isn't about what you CAN do, but what you’re WILLING to do.  If you’re WILLING to give up everything, then you CAN succeed as a disciple.  If you’re unwilling, you’ll then be unable

Bob invites Ed to come for a hike along the Appalachian Trail.  Ed asks Bob if he can bring his favorite bible and travel books and portable DVD player and laptop.  Then Bob says to Ed, “You may bring anything you want, but you cannot make some of the steep climbs with too much weight in your backpack.” 

Anyone can claim to follow Jesus, but only those who are willing to give up everything will be able to succeed.  That is what Jesus said, and Jesus knew what he was talking about. 

Useless – Useful

Now back to your Goliath.  David didn't defeat him with armor or experience or size or speed.  David was able to defeat Goliath because of his faith in God’s power, not his own. 

Sometimes we can win battles by our own strength, but the one that keeps getting you in trouble over and over again, it’s beating you because it’s stronger than you.  Not a single person reading this blog can beat LeBron James in a game of one-on-one.  Not a single one of us.  We are unable – we cannot

But GOD can beat LeBron.  GOD can do anything.  GOD can beat LeBron at basketball with 99.999% of His ability left over.  GOD vs. LeBron is the most lopsided thing in history.  It’s insane. 

So it is with your struggle.  The thing that keeps beating you up is too big for you, but also too small for God.  God’s power is so staggeringly great that we aren't even capable of imagining it, let alone me describing it. 

So our challenge is to defeat our Goliath – by using God’s power, instead of our own. 

Remember above when Jesus was talking about the un-salty salt?  He called it “useless.”  And isn't that exactly what un-salty salt is?  I mean, what’s the point?  You can still call it salt if you want to, but it’s useless.  It has the form and the name, but not the function.  Useless.

In the same way, a person who claims to follow Jesus is salt … but many are not salty.  They don’t bear fruit.  They are unproductive.  They are useless.  And one of the biggest reasons these people are useless is because they try to be useful by their own power! 

They think in terms of what they “can” do instead of thinking about what they’re “willing” to do.  That’s why all of Israel’s army got dressed every day and then stood and listened to Goliath’s challenge – every day – for six weeks!!  Of course they were unable.  No one is able to beat this guy, including David.  But David was willing.  He was willing because he knew the battle was God’s – not his. 

It was the same with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego (Daniel 3) who believed (had faith) that God would deliver them, but even if He didn't … they were UNWILLING to bow to Nebuchadnezzar.

So … Are you willing? 
If you are willing to pay whatever the price, I’ll teach you how to tap into God’s power and overcome, just as David did.  

Fear & Faith

This article began by asking you about your fears.  The world & Christians should have certain fears, and not others.  Mostly they can educate themselves and learn to be unafraid of things that have little likelihood of harming them (like earthquakes), but be sensible to come inside out of a lightning storm, which is very dangerous.

But disciples are different.  We don’t have to be afraid of anything or anyone - but God.  If your first and only fear is that of Yahweh, then this (according to Solomon) is the beginning of wisdom.  David also feared Yahweh, and his fear and faith went together, so that he was able to call Yahweh his shepherd (Psalms 23).  That means that he trusted God to feed him, clothe him, care for him and protect him from harm.  David was able to do things that provoked others to fear, because David understood that God’s combination of power and love were undefeatable. 

What seems to have come naturally to David, we can learn.  We can learn to live without fear of anything.  When we never fear, there is no stress, no anxiety, no worry, no panic … just strength and resolve. 

But first, you must decide if you’re willing. 

Take the week and pray and think and talk to God about this.  Be honest with yourself. 
  • Are you willing to give up even family relationships? 
  • Are you willing to give up all your possessions?
  • Are you willing to sacrifice your career?
  • Are you willing to sacrifice your friends?
  • Are you willing to sacrifice your life? 

Jesus asked, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul”?  With our brains, the answer is obvious – no one in his right mind would trade anything in this life for eternity.  But we answer that question differently when we’re confronted with our fears and our desires. 

The rich young ruler (Matt 19:16–29; Mark 10:17–30; Luke 18:18–30) was willing to do anything to follow Jesus, except he just could not bring himself to give up all his possessions.  Just that one thing!  And because he counted the cost and was unwilling … he walked away from Jesus “grieving.” 

The apostles were confused about this, even more so when Jesus said how hard it was for the rich to be part of the kingdom.  They also didn't (at this point) understand the difference between willing and able:
“Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said,
“Then who can be saved?”
And looking at them Jesus said to them,
With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
(Matthew 19:24–26)

Jesus was telling them (and us) that if the rich man had been willing, God would have made him able. 

Spend the next week and see if you can figure the thing(s) you’re least willing to give up.  And then decide – will you give them up?  If you decide to answer “yes,” then God will make you able.  But if you are unwilling to give your life, God will not make you able