Living My Faith Transparently

    I was reading in Psalms this morning and came across Psalm 40:8-10,

    I desire to do your will, O my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

    I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly;
    I do not seal my lips, as you know, O LORD.

    I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
    I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
    I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.

    The Lord used it to get me thinking about living my faith more transparently. David didn’t hide his faith. He lived it out by speaking of God’s faithfulness and salvation.

    Recently at work one of our clients from the Salvation Army stopped by to tell us a story about how a commercial that we had helped to create had been used by God to bring a man who had been addicted to drugs out of his sin and into repentance and Jesus’ grace. Wow! I couldn’t help but smile as she excitedly told myself and my coworkers this not really knowing or caring what any of us believed. Her faith was attractive.

    For another example, I’ve been impressed with following Pastor Mark Driscoll on Twitter. I love the way he represents his life and faith through a mere 140 characters. He tells about how proud he is of his kids, how he’s encouraged in his faith, and motivates people to serve others.

    That’s what I desire in my life. Living out my faith in real, bold, attractive manner. I know its not exactly a huge revelation or new information, but I feel like it’s what God is teaching me right now. Hopefully I’ll be able to follow others examples as I seek to model this in my life. Do you have any examples of people living their faith out transparently, please share!

      Movies with a View

      Just saw Pixar’s new film “UP” this evening and enjoyed it immensely. Some of my favorite movies are those that help you zoom out and gain some perspective on your life. Movies like these help you to realize that the trivial stuff you worry about most of your day probably doesn’t matter anyway.

      It was starkly saddening to see how quickly the main character went from a young boy, vibrant and excited, to a young man, in love with his wife, to a lonely old stodgy man.

      I don’t think I appreciate the time I have with my wife the way that I should. I can’t believe its already been three years, I already wonder if I have really made the most of our time together? Why am I always waiting for the sun to shine, or when we have more money, or the “perfect moment”?

      I’m thankful that God uses moments like these, stories like these, to capture our attention and remind us that He is Good, that he has blessed us exceedingly, and that we have a finite amount of time on this earth.

      Lord, thank you for this reminder. Would you help me to live a life that reflects yours to the people around me, help me to appreciate my wife for the beautiful woman that she is.


        One of the things I have often noticed, and often been frustrated with, is my natural discontent in almost every situation. You may have noticed it yourself in your life, whatever you seem to be doing, you think it could be better somehow. Strange, but we’re discontented creatures, never quite happy with the situation we’re in.

        I notice it especially when I’m traveling. When I’m away from home I wish I could just rest at home and enjoy some down-time. Then, when I finally get home, I get bored quickly and wish I was out doing something fun. How ridiculous is that? Shouldn’t I just be able to enjoy the situation I’m in and not always wish it were something else?

        Yes… I should.

        I was thinking about what Paul says in Philippians 4:12, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…”

        Then I read Proverbs 19:23 the other day: ” The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”

        Finally, 1 Timothy 6:6 says “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

        And I’m only quoting a few verses… Obviously, the Bible has a lot to say about being content. Oftentimes it relates to money and posessions, but I think the issue goes much deeper. We feel like we deserve more, like there’s always something better out there that we deserve. Why is that?

        Truthfully, I don’t know how to solve this dilemma of the human condition, and I’m trying to learn from the verses above how to experience “godliness with contentment.” But its not always easy.

        This weekend, I noticed a discontented attitude settling in, which was rediculous because I was up at a cabin with my family and friends enjoying the beautiful outdoors! So I worked hard to ask God to help me be content, and enjoy the situation that I was in, right there, right then. And you know what? He answered my prayer. It was an amazing weekend. Thanks Lord.

          Duty vs. Passion

          Jonny, Ross and I started a new book this week named “The Sacred Romance” by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge. I actually read it a long time ago, but don’t remember much. We’ll be reading a couple of chapters every two weeks and talking about them. Should be a good time. Our discussion last night centered around Duty vs. Passion. In the first chapter they say:

          “Frustrated by our heart’s continuing sabatage of a dutiful Christian life, some of us silence the voice by locking our heart away in the attic, feeding it only the bread and water of duty and obligation until it is almost dead…”

          Now, I think all of us would agree that living a life passionate for Christ is always going to be better than living a life only of Christian duty and obligation. No arguments there. But my question is whether there is a place for duty and obligation, and unfriendly as those words sound?

          As much as I would like to wake up every day feeling refreshed, renewed, and passionate to live my life glorifying God, the truth is that I don’t. I often wake up foggy-headed, cranky, and worried about the day ahead of me. It is often only duty that gets me into the Word and praying.

          Frequentyly I find that once I have taken the time to sit down, focus on God, and read His Word, then my life comes into clearer focus and I can live more passionately for God.

          I think the intentions of the authors are good, we should be striving to live for God passionately, but I wonder if it is accurate to be telling people that their whole life should be lived as one blazing ball of passionate energy for God? Is that even possible? Could we wear ourselves out?

          Obviously, we’re only one chapter into the book, so I cannot say what exactly the authors are envisioning. What do you guys think, is duty as important as passion in the Christian life? Leave a comment if you’ve got something to say.

            Sideline Christianity

            I know that I’m not supposed to feel this way, but I often feel like as a regular working man, I am a sideline Christian. Do you know what I mean? Pretty much my role is to sit on the bench most of the game, maybe fill some water cups or something. Pastors, missionaries, christian authors, professors, etc. are all doing the brunt work of the Kingdom, and I’m just the guy on the sidelines.

            Now, like I said, I know that its not supposed to look like what I’m picturing here. Everyone has always told me that we need working men and women in their fields representing Christianity, to volunteer at local churches and organizations, and to support pastors and missionaries through their funding.

            But let’s be realistic about time for a minute here. I spent 40-45 hours at work every week. During that time, I’m primarily thinking about my job. My goal there is to do my work, and to do it well. By the time I get home, eat some dinner, spend some time with my wife, and take care of my house a bit, there’s not a lot of extra time in the day to do the extra volunteering at the church, or spend long hours talking about Christianity with friends.

            Contrast that with a pastor or a missionary, where they spend their work hours doing work for the kingdom. Think about what they can accomplish in a 40 hour work week! Their primary goals are to develop their relationship with God, and to share that with the people around them. (Though I’m sure there are many distractions that easily get in the way.)

            I guess that just leaves me with a lot of questions… How can I not be a sideline Christian? What should my faith look like in the working world? Where is it most important that my time go?

            I’d love to hear some thoughts from some of you. Do I have my ideas backwards? Have you had the same frustrations? Am I being clear? I’ll try to post again on this topic in the near future.

              Spiritual Clarity

              One thing I have noticed in my Christian life is how rarely I see my life with the kind of clarity that I wish for, and how short of a time it lasts. I often find that I am reading a book, or listening to a sermon, or talking to a good friend during the evening and all of a sudden this big-picture, large scale view of my life, God, and the people around me comes into focus. It’s like realizing that you’ve forgotten to put on your glasses in the morning and you hadn’t noticed it up to this point.

              I feel like this tonight after finishing Velvet Elvis, a book by Rob Bell. In his last chapter he paints a big-picture view of Christianity, and of the Gospel message. You know what? It’s really attractive! I want to be the kind of person that is humble, serves others earnestly, gives generously, lives vigorously, and deals with people honestly. I want to be real with people, stop being scared of what they think of me and just love them for who they are. Really the Gospel isn’t as much about telling people about Jesus, as it is showing his love to them. How much more attractive is that? If you could do that really well, people would be banging down your door asking about Jesus.

              Yet my challenge is always remembering that clarity that I had the next morning, when all is foggy again and I stumble into my everyday routines. How can I change? How can I stop living selfishly and start living for others? What steps can I take in that direction? What is God calling me to?

              If no one else, maybe I can inspire myself with this post tomorrow…

                Activism or Evangelism?

                My roommate has been reading “God’s Politics” by Jim Wallis, I can’t say I’ve read the book, but our discussions have been really interesting over the last few days as we’ve been talking about it. As Christians in America it seems we are always trying to defend our way of life, and our right to practice our beliefs. Christians tend to stand against things like abortion and homosexual marriage. We’ll go to rallies, we’ll write letters, and pastors will devote their sermons to these things.

                Now, don’t get me wrong right away. I understand the purpose that Politics plays in everyday life and why it is important. I understand and what the Bible says about those issues, and truthfully, I even agree with most of the church folks about them. But I disagree with the pedestal that we put those issues on.

                Here’s the deal, why do we spend so much time fighting and worrying about these things when there are much more important things we could be doing? Why activism instead of evangelism? Is it simply because the enemy is clearer and the objective is straightforward? Are we actually being selfish as we march? Looking out only for our comfort and our rights, wanting the world to act in the way that we want it to?

                We have to play an interesting balance as Americans. According to our Bill of Rights we have certain rights that we can claim for ourselves. We deserve them as Americans. Yet, in Philippians we find Paul talking about Christ’s humility in spite of his right to equality with God:

                “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
                Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
                Who, being in very nature God,
                did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
                but made himself nothing,
                taking the very nature of a servant,
                being made in human likeness.
                And being found in appearance as a man,
                he humbled himself
                and became obedient to death-
                even death on a cross!”
                Philippians 2:5-8

                It seems like we would be much more representative of God if we spent more time telling the people that we disagree with that God loves them and wants to invite them into a personal relationship with himself. Why are we trying to make everyone act like Christians before they even know Christ? I know it’s simplistic, and I know that life is more complicated than the easy answers. But I feel like as Christians we need to have our priorities straight and focus on what brings the most glory to our Father. Spending time at a rally, waving protest signs doesn’t have that same effect. Put aside activism, start evangelism.

                  It Ain’t Easy

                  Several people I’ve run into lately that seem to think following Christianity should be easy. They want desperately to believe that all paths lead to heaven, and that any kind of faith is faith enough. I don’t believe this is true, but it makes it frustrating to talk to them. There’s certainly a part of me which yearns to accept everyone simply because they have faith; I hate being exclusionary. I think the tendency is to want Christianity to be easier. Religion without the conviction.

                  In the gospel of John we see a particularly disheartening day when many disciples are confused about Jesus’ teaching and desert him. John 6:60 “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ ” Many when they are confused and cannot understand God, desert him. ” ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’ ” Some people walk away when they hear a hard teaching, the rest of us admit we are confused but know that Jesus is truth.

                  What these people are hoping for is not Christianity. True Christianity cannot be mixed, the result is watered down religion without substance. While appealing, it is utterly false. People expect that they should be able to sit on the dividing line of faith and simply “lean” in one direction or another, hoping that the fact that they are on the fence will save them. Jesus has no time for this, as we read in Revelation 3:15-16. If you are neither hot nor cold then he will spit you out of his mouth.

                  Christianity is based on making a decision. It is an all-or-nothing (Romans 2:5-10). Many would say that this is exclusionary, but I think if you truly look into Christianity you will find that it is inclusionary. In the sense that we are all rejected God from the beginning, but an all-loving God is reaching out to save as many as will accept and follow Him. God is seeking to include, not exclude, it was our own decision which leads to separation from God.

                  In our modern day world of “acceptance” and “tolerance” people view Christianity as judgmental and exclusionary. Yet we cannot waver on what we know is true simply because it is a hard teaching, or because people may look badly upon us. No, not everyone will go to heaven, but everyone has the chance to. We cannot waver on this teaching on this as a Christian because it is the crux of Christianity. It is essential to understand and be able to explain clearly and lovingly.

                    Stop Trying to Be Relevant and Be Relevant

                    I have lately noticed a trend in church services, Christian magazines, Christian music, Christian culture, etc… Christians trying to be relevant. To be sure, this is a big step for the evangelical church of our parents generation that wouldn’t dance, watch movies, or step foot in a bar; sometimes they were alienated from the non-christians around them. But I worry that in our modern quest to be relevant we compromise and dilute our faith with secular culture. We try so hard to make Christianity look “cool.”

                    I think one of my biggest annoyances is that we assume that in order to be relevant to the generation around us we need to simplify our message. We need to “dumb it down.” So we replace pew Bibles with video screens, we interpret the Bible for them, and then we turn it into petty clichés. The argument is always that by doing this we will first capture a non-believers attention and then lead them into a deeper faith afterwards, much like secular advertising. Part of this makes sense to me. But by cutting down God’s word into easy-to-digest tidbits we reduce our message to nothing but more clutter.

                    Paul was relevant to his generation, without reducing his message in the slightest. You can see his “be everything to everyone” attitude in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. The difference between Paul and ourselves is that while he is finding common ground with people he is following up those relationships by preaching the gospel. An unadulterated, unsimplified, relevant gospel. You can see an example of this in Acts 17:22-34 where he finds common ground with the Athenians, their poets, and how they worship, but then turns the conversation towards the one true God and does not shy away from complications or controversies.

                    I think that people want depth in faith, they want to see that Christianity is not a mindless bunch of freaks following some tradition they invented. They want to see that it has substance. Now, this may not mean that you start discussing the intricacies of theological matters with a unbeliever, but it does mean that you don’t hold back from explaining things that they have questions on simply because it may confuse them. They are not going to understand the Christian faith in a day. I think the hope is that they will be compelled to pick up a Bible, or ask around and look into it themselves.

                    I guess as an Advertising major it’s a challenge to myself as much as anyone else. I’m just as guilty. Maybe we just need to stop trying so hard to be relevant and speak truth. Relevance will follow.

                      Is Passion a Necessity?

                      I had a great conversation with some folks awhile back about the topic of passion in our relationship with God. I feel like it was a stalemate, not that we were competing, but because I still don’t fully grasp the idea. What is biblical passion anyway? It’s only mentioned in the bible in a negative light, so why is it such a buzzword in the Christian community? Everybody seems to want passion. Worship albums are named Passion, songs are sung about it, but is it necessary?

                      Passion is obviously a strong emotion, an attachment to something which you are fixated upon. It certainly sounds like something I’d want in my relationship with God. You see people that are passionate about their careers, about their schoolwork, or their favorite T.V. show and you think “Man, I’d like that…” Passion by its nature is attractive…

                      “If you believe something, passionately, people will follow you. People hardly care what you believe, as long as you believe something. If you are passionate about something, people will follow you because they think you know something they don’t, some clue to the meaning of the universe. Passion is tricky, though, because it can point to nothing as easily as it points to something”
                      From “Blue Like Jazz” by Donald Miller

                      So even though passion is attractive, I guess I don’t want people following me simply because I’m being passionate about something. If they follow me purely as a result of that passion, they will eventually run out of passion for God themselves, get discouraged and turn away. Like the seed that fell on the rocks, sprang up quickly, and eventually withered in the sun because it had no root. (Matthew 13:5-6)

                      There have been true moments when I have felt passion for my Lord. But they seem few and far between. I want to have those moments more, I want to have people look at my relationship with God and say “Wow, I want something like that.” Not that I’d be showing off, but that God is simply working through my life and people are inspired to be a part of that too. I want to follow God with all my heart, I want to use all of my abilities to give him glory, I want to pursue him with all the strength I have.

                      But I’m not sure I have enough energy to keep that going all the time. Maybe God could sustain me with that kind of energy. But is passion something that he desires in my life? Is it a requirement for my walk? Or is it merely a fringe benefit?

                      I don’t want my relationship with God to be an emotional feeling. Emotions are temporary, they never last for very long. I want my belief to endure even when the supporting emotion is not there. My friend Norm once told me that he wasn’t sure that passion was a requirement in your walk with Christ, only dedication. He said some of the wisest Christian men that he knows have not been the most passionate.

                      So where does this Passion play a role in our Christian walk then? That’s what I’m left wondering. I cannot fully bring myself to say that Passion is unnecessary. Who wants to follow something they never feel strongly about? I suppose the answer hangs in the middle somewhere, like always. There is a certain place for it, but it cannot become the most important issue. I apologize for my stream-of-consciousness post here, I feel like I’m rambling. What do you think? Is Passion a necessity?