Author: Bruce Pagano II (page 1 of 44)

The Continuous Call to Follow Jesus


I was recently studying the passage of scripture about Jesus restoring Peter after his denial of Him (John 21:15-19). I was studying it for another post I was writing and discovered a couple things that warrant their own posts. One was in verse 19. It says, “He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God. After saying this, He told him, ‘Follow Me!’”

Peter’s Backstory

To make the point, jogging our memory with a little back story refresher is necessary. We are first introduced to Peter in Matthew 4:18. That passage tells us that Peter and his brother, Andrew, were fishing when Jesus walks by them. Upon seeing them, Jesus tells them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At that invitation, Peter dropped his nets and followed Jesus for the next three years.

Those three years would reveal deep truths to Peter. He would learn what faith is and gaze upon the visible image of his invisible God. I can hardly imagine what it must have been like. His time with his savior would provide the conviction for Peter to say, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away” (Matthew 26:33). But Peter would fall away and fall away hard.

Peter’s Call… Again

While the other disciples fled and hid, Peter outright denied multiple assertions that he was with Jesus. After Jesus’ crucifixion, we can assume Peter did not see a way back to Jesus, because he returned to the life Jesus had called him out of. And then we see Jesus, likely on the same shore, with Peter performing the same task. After reinstating Peter, Jesus tells him, for the second time, “Follow Me!”

Jesus’ Call to Us

And, this is where Peter ends up; with Jesus offering the same call to him as He did three years prior. The good news is, He offers the same to us. No matter what you have done or how far you think you have fallen, He still says, “Follow me.” His is a call we get to answer every day. And as sure as darkness will come, His merciful call to follow Him, comes more.

photo: Flickr/Simon Matzinger

Accomplishing Your Dream: A Lesson from a Toddler Putting on Socks

Toddle Socks

One of our toddler’s obsessions is shoes, or as she calls them “pretty shews”. When I say obsession, I mean we are routinely tempted to throw them out as a means of intervention. She loves shoes. And, because she loves shoes, she learned fairly quick how to put them on all by herself. She even responds to, “wrong feet” and promptly corrects them. She is pretty much a genius. Socks on the other hand are a tad more difficult for her, so she still requires our help in that area.

A couple months ago she came into the kitchen, socks and shoes in hand, with the dream of wearing them in her heart. She walked over to us and said “Shock on. Shews.” My wife was cooking and I was doing dishes, so I responded, “Okay baby. I’ll help you in a second.” Then turned to wrap up my task. When I turned back to help her I was shocked to see that she had already put on her socks. I looked at her and celebrated, “Yay! You put your socks on!” She responded by throwing her hands in the air and declaring, “Yay shocks on!” I did need to help straighten them, but all in all, she put her socks on, with the heel mostly in the correct spot. As I stood and watched her put her shoes on, I thought about what it took for her to achieve that dream.

Okay, maybe it is a bit over the top with the dream thing, but it was something that she really wanted and she went after it. Of course there was a learning process for her, but eventually she decided she was not willing to wait for someone else in order to see her dream of shoe wearing fulfilled. The same is true for your dream. There is a point at which you have to decide that you are going to accomplish your dream, even if you do not know how.

Here are four things that I took away from my daughter putting on socks that might help in accomplishing your dream:

1. It is okay, even necessary, to watch others.

Whatever the task you want to complete, no one expects you to just know how to do it right out of the gate. My daughter watched us every time we put on hers or our socks. While we did, she talked through it, mostly just pointing and saying “Shocks on.” But, I looked at it as her asking about putting socks on and verbally walking through the process. She learned by watching someone who knew how to put on socks.

There are others who have success in the area that you want to succeed in. So watch them. Read what they write. Watch their videos. Take their courses. Email them. Ask questions. Learn from people who know what they are doing.

2. Be confident in what you have learned.

Eventually there comes a point that you have learned what you needed to. You have read all the blogs and books, watched the YouTube and Face Book videos, attended the webinars/courses and have pages of notes. But it is not enough to just know what you need to know, you also have to be confident enough in what you have learned to apply it.

There came a point in my daughter’s sock wearing journey that she had learned enough to give her the confidence to do it herself. She trusted what she had learned and applied it. In addition to transferring knowledge, a teacher should also build confidence in your ability to apply it. Stop following people who do not inspire confidence in you.

3. Do not wait for someone else.

My daughter really wanted to wear her shows, but her sockless feet stood in the way. She could have either waited and went shoeless for another five minutes, or implemented what she learned and wear her pretty shoes now. She opted for the “pretty shoes now.” She did not wait for permission or for someone else to say she was ready, and she did not wait for someone else to do it for her, she just did it. In the same way, you do not need someone else’s permission, so start.

4. Do not be afraid to accept help.

My daughter could have refused my help and instead put the shoes on over crooked socks. It would have worked, but it probably would have been a bit rough on her walking. But she did not refuse. Instead, she realized I still knew stuff about sock wearing that she did not and she accepted my offer of help.

In 2015 I launched a blog called, The Whole Man. After my first post a lady contacted me and said it was a great post, but there were some grammatical errors and she could point them out if I would like. I could have been offended, refused and went on my way, never realizing the generosity and blessing in that offer. But, I knew enough to realize that there are people that know far more about writing than I do, so I accepted her offer. Now, more than a year later, I have an amazing copy-editor and coach and my writing is so much better. And, I have gained a dear friend. People want to help, do not be afraid to accept it.

With all the technology available to us, not knowing how to do something is one of the worst excuses for not accomplishing your dream. The world is literally at your fingertips and there are people that want to help you succeed. So put on your shocks and shews and start walking toward your dream.

Does the Gospel Hurt People?

Does the Gospel hurt us? Is that its intent? In order to answer that, we need to understand what the message of the good news is.

What is the Gospel Message?

John 3:16 – 17 sums up the whole of the gospel. That passage starts, “For God so loved…” That shows the message of the Gospel begins with God’s love. God’s love is the foundation on which the good news is built; personified in Christ, realized at the cross, and magnified in His resurrection. The first reality we must grasp is that any attempt to separate or minimize the Gospel from this truth causes it to cease being the Gospel that God, Himself, delivered to us. A gospel message initiated by anything other than love, is not good news.

If then, God’s love initiates and substantiates the Gospel, what should we understand about the intent of it with regard to the possibility of it hurting us? Because God’s message of reconciliation to us focuses on His love for us, the only acceptable response to it is love. Jesus punctuates this idea by declaring the greatest command and attaching to it the second command, which He describes as “like it.”  And if loving our neighbor is like loving God, isn’t it likely that the tangible expression of our love for God is played out in the love we show for our neighbor? Not only are these the two most important commands, Jesus says that this love thing encompasses the entirety of the law and the prophets.

Love and Our Neighbor

So, does the love we show our neighbor hurt them? Romans 13:10 says, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” So no, our love does not hurt our neighbor. And, if our love of God and our neighbor is a mirror response to the love that God initiated His good news with, shouldn’t it be that His love does not hurt us?

1 Cor 13 explains this clearly. It tells us, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Love does not create an environment where hurt can exist. If then the Gospel message is wrapped up in God’s love for humanity, it cannot hurt humanity.

The Offensiveness of the Gospel

But what of the offensiveness of the Gospel. This offensiveness is wrapped up in the fact that the love of the Gospel message always moves toward the truth of true righteousness. And, true righteousness comes against our human idea of righteousness. Man’s sense of righteousness always focuses on self. The Gospel means to undo that view by focusing righteousness toward God and others, through love. This may be offensive to our sense of righteousness, but is still separate from the good news of the message.

It is also offensive because it seeks to separate you from the sin you so desperately want to hold to. It calls you out of what offends God and into His view of righteousness, which again causes offense to your “sensibility.” But still, these are responses to the Gospel and not the Gospel itself. Likewise, any other feelings you have about the Gospel or any reaction to the Gospel is not the Gospel. And, while conviction initiates from the Holy Spirit, as a result of the hearing the truth of the Gospel, and may even cause us pain, that again is simply a feeling caused by the Gospel and not actually the Gospel.

Two Men, One Message

Consider this. Two men of similar circumstance receive the same Gospel message. One man, being far less emotional, receives the message as logical and surrenders himself to God. For him it the most rational decision he could make. The other man, receives the Gospel message and is completely undone by it. He resists it and struggles with what accepting that truth will require of him. It causes him agony and he likely experiences pain. He reluctantly surrenders himself to God. In either situation, was the message the same? Yes. Did it intend to hurt either man? No. But one was hurt and one was not. Why? Was it because of the message or the man’s view of it?

The Gospel is not a product of your feelings, it’s a product of God’s love. And love does no wrong.


photo: flickr/submerged~

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