Influence: How Jesus Changed James' (Son of Zebedee) Life

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By John Braland
President, IMF Board of Directors

When the church I planted was small, I chose to work as a mechanic out of my garage to earn a few bucks on the side. Sometimes I would have to fight a car part that just refused to cooperate. Whenever a bolt refused to come off or a part refused to go on I would exchange a few words with it. I’d call it names and threaten it. One day I was working on a car and Josh decided to work on his trike. He wanted to tighten the wheels or something and the bolt was a little rusty so he went to town on it. He hit the bolt with the wrench and started to yell at it like it was a person. All I could think of was what in the world was my wife teaching this boy?  
It was a lesson I will never forget. Parents, you have huge influence in your kids’ lives. Live out your faith at home and be a great example for your kids to follow. They have plenty of bad examples already, you be a good one.
James is described as one of the first disciples to join Jesus. James was influenced by his Jewish father for sure. But after listening to Jesus and seeing the miracle that he did by causing all the fish to swim into his nets he made Jesus the number one influence in his life.  James chose to follow Jesus instead of following in his family tradition. As far as we know his father never followed Jesus and probably died a devout Jew. James didn’t let his father’s religion dictate his faith.
We really do get to pick to a large degree who we let influence us. Before I let someone influence me I ask myself two questions:   
1. Does this person influence me in a positive way or serve as a bad example?
2. Does this person help me grow closer to Christ or are they leading me further from him?  
You have the freedom to choose your own life path. You may come from a family of atheists or new agers, but that doesn’t mean you need to adopt their lack of faith. You might have been raised by an alcoholic or abuse parent, but that doesn’t mean you will automatically become one. Pick your path and the people you allow to influence you based on the will of God.
On the flip side, there are others who you can choose to have a positive influence on. Start to build a relationship with them by inviting them out for coffee or ask them over for dinner. As Christians we are called to help others and one way we can do that is by letting the love of Christ shine through us.
We influence others on three levels: the logical level, the emotional level, and the serving level. The logical level means we influence others with our mind. This is why the Bible tells us that we need to always be prepared to give and answer for the hope we have in Christ. The emotional level is influencing others by sharing your passion about Jesus and what he has done in your life. Serving means people will be influenced by your actions.
Who influences you? Do they draw you closer to Christ or lead you further from him?
Are you brave enough to choose your own path and let Jesus be your number one influence in how you live?
And who will you intentionally influence? Who can you influence on an intellectual level, emotional level and by choosing to serve others?
“15But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,..” 1 Peter 3:15

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