Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”” (Matthew 3:1–2, NASB95)

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The beginning of every journey starts with the first step. Whether we are walking around the block for exercise, going to the store for some groceries, or taking that trip to see our family, every time we go we take that first step towards our destination.

In fact, when we have a place we want to go to, we are motivated to take that first step with greater enthusiasm and determination, unless of course, we are going to the dentist! Wherever we plan to be determines the inner drive we have to get there.

Good destinations cause us to pack quickly with purpose. Those places that we wish we didn’t have to visit can cause us to drag our feet and hesitate to take that first step. What’s true of our daily routine is true of our spiritual one as well.

God wants to change things for us. He wants us to have “life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, NASB95) Our option is to determine if we want it enough. Each choice in life comes with a cost. Some places we travel to cost us much on the front end – like college. Yet, afterward, if we have excelled and chosen a field that is in demand, we will be rewarded in so many ways, including financially.

The “entrance price,” so to speak, for an intimate and favorable relationship with King Jesus, and all that He longs to give us in this life and the next is repentance. We choose to do three things when we repent. As Dr. Luke recorded Jesus’ words for us, I will let the Doctor explain: “And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” (Luke 9:23–24, NASB95)

The abundance of Heaven waits for us. Discipleship is the process of drawing near to God so that He draws near to us. The cost is (1) self-denial, (2) taking up our cross daily – a journey we won’t be coming back home from, and (3) following Jesus for the remainder of our days. It’s costly, but the benefits are both abundant and eternal.

Train Them Thursdays seeks to wed the Great Commission directive of Jesus with the practice He employed while on Earth. Each nugget is meant to encourage the reader with a “can-do” spirit to realize that discipleship is something each person is both capable of and empowered to accomplish. Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, Executive Director of Eagles In Leadership, writes each thought and they flow out of decades of his tried and true field-testing in multiple settings from rural to the inner city. He welcomes your comments below.