Category Archives: Christian faith

The out-living of the in-dwelling

So what does it look like if you are living your Christianity out loud?  If you are in fact living that way then other folks know that you are a follower of Jesus Christ.  What does the world see in you that tells them that you are a follower of Jesus Christ?  Paul, in his letter to the church at Galatia, wrote “I am crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20).  That single picture, a life absorbed and covered with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, is the foundation, the bedrock of living your Christianity out loud.  It seems at once complex and yet it is so simple.  It is not about what we do but rather what Christ does within us.  What He does within us is, after all is said and done, what shows on the outside.  There is no fanfare.  There are no announcements or pictures in the local newspaper proclaiming our status as a follower of Jesus Christ.  Christian character, according to Paul, is the result of the indwelling Holy Spirit, not by anything that we do or produce.  Be very careful that your concentration is on that one thing:  It is not about what you do.  It is about what the Holy Spirit does through you.  Take a few minutes and read the first five verses of the gospel of John as Jesus explains our position in living our faith out loud.  These verses are indeed the root of living your faith out loud.  Your life as a Christian is not about you.

Availability – But at what cost?

How many of us are, as Paul was, simply annoyed by our own physical limitations?  His life was of no consequence to him and his physical limitations were little but hindrances that kept him from giving more. Paul lived and taught the Gospel, nothing more or less.  Compare that thinking to the much more prevalent mode of using our limitations as excuses to not do what God wants us to do.  My suggestion is not that we should do “what” those who have gone before us did but rather that that we should do “as” they did.  How many of us assume that we are just sheep because, as a result of our perceived limitations, we do not recognize the calling to be more than that?  How often do we say that we will do anything but we impose the regulation of “Lord, you know I cannot do that…?”  Paul did what he was told to do.  Period.
 

I fear that there is a built in complacency that comes with our claim of availability.  I fear that we may find an excuse to say to the Lord that we cannot do “that thing” that we have been led to do and we hang it on some limitation, real or not.  That’s okay, at least we were available.  Wrong.  The call is not that we are to be available for only certain things at certain times and we are free to use our limitations as filters for what we are willing or able to do.

And you are doing this for who?

Am I serving God with a reserve? That’s a fair question for any of us. Have we said to God that we will do anything or go anywhere for Him and yet, in the test, are there things that we will not do and places that we will excuse ourselves from going? Have we ever been guilty of declining an opportunity to spread the free gift of Jesus Christ? How will a stranger know that you are a child of God if it is not obvious in your behaviors? Consider the words of Paul as he addressed the church at Corinth with this phrase: “I will very gladly spend for you everything that I have and expend myself as well” (2 Corinthians: 12: 15 NIV). Can I truthfully say that? That is what it takes to follow the Lord. It is important that when we believe that we are doing something for the Lord or to honor Him, we examine what our motivation really is. It is ours to disappear in the life of Jesus Christ.

Living a Christian life in that manner that can redefine the phrase, “all in.” Are you “all in” or just along for the ride? _dg

Willful Obedience

“Willful obedience” sounds a lot like “on purpose” to me. Make it a little more concise and think of it as “willing to obey.” Webster is good with that one too. A question comes up about how we know what we should obey. As Christians we often say to the Lord, “Of course I will obey you” but then we seldom stop to listen to the instructions and directives. “Sure, Lord. I am willing to obey you but I might not hear you so…” The Lord in heaven might turn the volume up a tad so you will hear Him amid the din of your life. Then again, He may not do that and instead just move on to someone who is listening. What a horrible thing to reconcile when we realize that we were just not listening when the Lord called on us. To be obedient requires an open, constant communication link between us, as individual Christians and our Father in heaven.

We would never be willfully disobedient but we so often forget about the parameters of willful obedience. We find it convenient and far too easy to turn the volume down or even to be tuned in to a different station. How do you suppose that will work out for you? Good luck in explaining to the Lord how you were just too busy to be listening at that moment and on that day. Don’t let your “stuff” get between you and the Lord. That is harsh but that is directly to the point. _dg

Saddle up… (Jn. 14:31)

Saddle up…

You are asking God for His will in your life, for his direction and control; you have listened for his call. You have kept your boots in good shape and your weapon clean and loaded. You do not know when or how the call will come but you have prayed that it will. You have prayed for direction and now it is in front of you every time you open your eyes. We have all been there waiting, telling God that we will do what He asks us to do and now it is in front of you. It is time to do the next thing. Do not ignore the order because you think it is not the right voice that you are hearing, that surely God would not ask such a thing of you. You know better. You spend time in the Word and even more time communicating with the Lord and when the marching orders come you still find time and reason to question them.

This is your mission. Your life has, at your request and by God’s molding been transformed from faith and prayer into the act of following the Lord. Obey. That one word statement says it all, obey. Garrison time has ended and the orders to saddle up and move out are here. In today’s vernacular this is not a test. This is not a drill. You joined this outfit for a lot of personal reasons but the orders come from God. You are a bit hard of spiritual hearing but you know what you heard. Spiritual hearing comes from prayer and listening. You know the voice. It may be about righting a wrong, taking care of someone or something that God has made you mindful of. It might be about keeping your own yard clean and your spiritual gear in top shape. It might be about doing what God has prepared you to do. You may not know or understand the reasons but it IS about obedience. Saddle up and move out.

Afraid of the dark (Mt. 10:23)

Listen. A spiritual darkness, a time when we do not see God at work in our lives, is a time for acute listening skills. It may well be that during this darkness is a time for you to be actively listening for God. We have all heard about active listening skills somewhere in a language class long ago. Think about listening to the speaker, of making and maintaining eye contact, of making yourself active or animated in your own speech. Respond to the gestures and tone of the speakers’ voice; be involved in the conversation. How often do we find ourselves in darkness and assume that we are the only one there? God is there – Listen even when you do not hear anything. Listen for that still, small voice.

Take care of the personal things of your relationship with the Lord and stay close by. Continuously pour out your own soul and spirit on the altar of prayer and listen. Read the scriptures and find God’s voice in them. Lights often come on as a direct result of our making sure that our switch is in the right position. _dg

Who are you listening to?

“Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die” (Ex. 20:19, NIV). So who do you listen to? It is likely that we do not intentionally disobey God, rather we simply do not listen to Him. God implies “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (Ex. 20:6). His commandments are there in the bible. Are you keeping them or are just counting on the pastor or the Sunday school teacher to tell you what you need to know, what you ought to do next. That is not a complex question but I beg you to consider your answer carefully. Who are you listening to? Be careful that you are not listening to a teacher’s embellishments of the scripture when the real words are quite clearly expressing the Lord’s message and the teacher is perhaps adding or subtracting their own interpretation to what has already been clearly said. The results of that can impact your eternity.

Why would we be afraid to have God speak to us directly, choosing rather to have a teacher or pastor speak to us? A cause for that could be simply that if God speaks to us, it is imperative that we do what God tells us to do. To do less is a blatant act of disobedience. If the pastor or teacher speaks to us it seems less final, it gives us a bit of wiggle room. They are, after all, just human and they just do not have the final authority and say. We assume that we can disobey them without disobeying God. Who are we listening to in our life of Christianity? Are we ready to have the Almighty God speak to us directly? If we are, there are no more negotiations or scheduling when and how we respond. I dare you to answer that truthfully. Much may hang in the balance of the answer. _dg

So who am I and why am I here?

My name is Dan. That isn’t who I am, it is just my name. I am more apt than not to sign my name as “_dan” or “_dg” with the underscore and the lower case letters being an intentional thing. That is some sort of self-effacing tactic because I want people to know who I am, not just my name. I want people to see what I do or say or write or love as being more important than what my name is. Who I am is not so cleverly hidden inside my words and actions. I am here, wherever that is at any given moment, because God put me here. He has a job for me to do and it is all about my living my own Christian faith out loud, letting it be ubiquitous in my life. And yes, I love words. I love it when I am able, even accidentally, to use them well, to understand them, to let them express the shape and content of my soul.

I am here to bare my soul, to share it with anyone. I invite you to know my soul through my thoughts and words for they are all I really have. _dg

Available for God 4/4 — Willing to do…

Willing to do something or to assume a responsibility… Yes, that is part of what Webster had to say about being available. This is where the “available for God” rubber meets the road. Don’t jump all over that word “do” and go charging off to the streets to hand out tracts. Your job is to follow Him, not to lead the charge. The operative part of that phrase is “willing to do” and when I prayerfully concentrate on that, I find that the Lord often puts me in the middle of an opportunity. Remember the mission statement… Jesus said, “Follow me.” That means that you have to go where he goes and do what he does. You may very well find that it turns into what you would have once described as a “dirty” job but don’t sit at home or in a church with a climate-controlled environment marveling at what a wonderful and loving man Jesus Christ was. Follow Him. Do you want to know more about what that means in your life? Hit your knees and ask that you might, without thinking about it, seize the next opportunity to go where Jesus goes and do what Jesus does. Be aware that the opportunity might just slap you in the face and your “willing to do” may just find you smack-dab in the middle of an opportunity. _dg

Available for God 3/4 — Qualified to execute the task.

Another wonderful part of salvation and being a real, live, born-again Christian is the list of qualifications that we receive as part of that. I am one who believes that our purpose can be distilled down to living a Christ-centered life, worshiping the Lord, spreading the gospel and praying without ceasing. If I can manage any of those things, the one that is most critical for me is prayer. Communication, communication, communication – That covers it. God Himself has communicated with us in the form of the Holy Scriptures. It is the word of God. Read it and pray. Listen to it and pray. Study it and pray. The word of God is your qualification to execute the task of availability to serve God’s purpose. Think of the human family structure and how the specie’s survival is based on communication between parent and child. It is even common throughout much of the animal kingdom. Prayer and study is your communication link with the Lord. Prayer and study is your qualification for the task of being available for the Lord.

Live your life in a Christ-centered fashion. There exists a profound outline for that and it can be found in the scriptures. Go to the gospel of Mark, chapter 12 and read two verses, 30 and 31. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second one is this: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31 NIV). If you will read the scriptures, establish and maintain an open communication line of prayer between you and Lord and follow the instructions in those two verses of Mark, you will be well on your way to a Christ-centered life. Salvation is free and it is easy. It is a gift. Living a Christ-centered life is not necessarily easy. Your dad was right when he told you to not expect that anything worthwhile would ever be easy. Living a Christ-centered life and living it out loud may well be both the hardest and the best things that you will ever do. To use the vernacular, it is so worth the effort.