True Man Podcast

I recently sat down with Craig DeMartino and he shared his incredible story of tragedy and triumph.

You can hear him tell his story on the True Man Podcast.

A Visit with Craig DeMartino – Part 1

A Visit with Craig DeMartino – Part 2

A Visit with Craig DeMartino – Part 3

True Man Podcast home.

Living Authentically

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:16

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
James 1:22

When Jesus walked this earth two thousand years ago, he spoke about the Kingdom of God and loving others. He taught the way to God, which he ultimately revealed to be himself. And he healed, cast out demons, and raised the dead.

To put it more simply, Jesus spoke and then backed up what he spoke about by doing it.

He said to love God and then actually, visibly, loved God. He said to love your neighbor and then actually, visibly loved his neighbors. He said to even love your enemies and then he actually, visibly loved even his enemies, even why they were in the process of killing him!

We are then told to imitate Christ.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1).

Craig DeMartino climbing in Wonderland of Rocks (Joshua Tree National Park), California (photo by the author).

This past weekend, Craig came to speak out our church. Those who have read this devotion for a long time know of Craig and his story. But if you don’t, you can learn more about Craig here.

During the telling of his story, Craig said something that really hit me in the heart.

He talked about actually living your faith.

I can tell people about God and Jesus and the Gospel. And I do tell people about God and Jesus and the Gospel.

But unless I visibly live the truth of God, Jesus and the Gospel, I’m failing in the Great Commission that Jesus gave me (and all Christians) to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching them.

Craig works, plays, and hangs around a lot of different kinds of people. Some are Christians, like he is. Most are not. One of his best friends is actually an atheist. Another is a Mormon.

Craig doesn’t shy away from talking about Jesus and his own faith in Christ with even these friends.

But Craig admits that if he didn’t live his own Christian faith authentically – actually, visibly loving God – then he would not be any kind of witness to Christ, especially with them.

Craig says that these friends watch him very closely. They watch how he goes about their mutual passion for climbing (they are rock climbing partners). But they also watch how Craig treats his wife, is raising his kids, and whether Craig actually goes to church (instead of just talking about it), reads his Bible, and prays.

Living authentically is the phrase that came to mind when Craig was talking about this. And it convicted me. I don’t always live my Christian faith authentically.

Especially in the morning! I was called out on this by a dear brother just recently. “I stopped saying “good morning” to you since you tend to be grumpy in the morning.”

And it is true. I do tend to be grumpy in the morning. And I’m sorry! I apologize to you that has witnessed this in me! And I thank my friend – and God – for pointing this out!

I want to live my Christian faith authentically – at all hours of the day and in front of anyone I meet.

Please pray for me to do this – which I can by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Means of Grace (God’s Word and Sacraments).

And I’ll pray for you to do this as well.

We’ll live our faith authentically together and I pray that God will change people’s hearts in some way through our actually, visibly, loving God and loving our neighbors!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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What We Do When We Do Church – Offering

2 Corinthians 9:7

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

The first mention of an offering being brought in the history of the world is the one brought by Cain – first son of Adam and Eve.

St. Paul would later admonish us to give cheerfully.

That’s what this devotion is all about – cheerfully giving!

The previous devotions in this series are:

Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise
Part 9 – Scripture Readings
Part 10 – Sermon
Part 11 – Confession of Faith

After confessing sins, singing hymns, hearing God’s Word and the sermon and confessing the Christian faith, it comes time in the worship service to “take the offering.”

This can be one of the most misunderstood parts of the worship service.

“There they go again, asking for money!”

I’ve heard that mumbled and grumbled many times in the last twenty-plus years.

Yes, the offering is a time for the participants in worship to give money to the church. But what is that money for?

Well, I believe that it is supposed to be for the mission and ministry of the congregation and the Church at large. Operating costs, staff’s salary, mission projects – both local, national and international.

It boils down to this: the offering is a time when a member of a congregation or other participants in worship can be actively involved in missions and ministries.

How much should you give? The Bible uses the word “tithe” a couple of times – 35 times in the English Standard Version, actually.

“Tithe” means “ten percent” of what you have.

But more important than a set number is the state of your heart when you give.

Are you giving under compulsion? This Jesus warns against, just as He does against giving in order to get some investment on your return.

Like everything else in our lives, the state of our heart can help us determine whether we are giving as God intends for us to give.

The Bible uses the word “cheerful” – which could more accurately be translated as “hilarious.”

Have you felt like that when you last gave to the church?

And it doesn’t just have to be money you give, by the way.

You have been given other things by God. You have been given time. You have been given talent. Some have been given more treasure than others, more time than others, different talents than others.

I have two friends who have been given numerous talents, but they share one: taking pictures.

Richard and Craig both are talented in different ways – one makes music, the other climbs and teaches others how to climb. And they both give to God in these areas.

souther1

copyright Richard Souther

tmm1
copyright True Men Ministries

But they also share a talent of taking pictures – and they give to God in this area, too. These pictures are ones they have taken that I believe give great glory to God.

In a way, these are also their offering to God.

What can you give?

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The Experience of Pain

“And they all lived happily ever after.”

That’s a good ending to a good story.

But is it true?

I think it is, for the most part. I think it is based on what we mean by “happily.”

For a Christian, it might mean that heaven is awaiting us. It might mean that we will live forever with Christ in paradise. It might mean that we live – in this life – with the joy of the presence of God in our life.

I’ve heard from several people that have gone through sickness or injury about how God got them through, calmed their hearts and minds. How they had a sense of peace because they could feel the presence of God with them.

But I’ve come to realize that being a Christian doesn’t mean that this kind of happiness comes automatically. Sometimes it works out that God changes your circumstances to give you happiness. But sometimes, God changes your perception of happiness to fit the circumstances you find yourself in.

I think that’s what has happened to Craig.

Craig loves to climb. He climbs with ropes carabiners, and he climbs with just his hands and feet (bouldering). He’s also really, really good at climbing – as is his wife, Cyndy and their two children.

One day Craig was climbing with a friend in Colorado and, through a misunderstanding and miscommunication, he ended up falling.

Statistics tell the story – that if a person falls 10 feet, they have a 10% chance of dying, and if they fall 20 feet they have a 20% chance of dying.

Craig fell 100 feet. Statistics tend to not lie.

But Craig did not die. He fell straight down, starting out horizontal, but about half-way down he hit a tree branch and it turned him vertical. He hit the ground practically standing straight up. He landed on his feet at nearly 55 miles per hour.

His story is told in “After the Fall” – which he wrote with Bill Romanelli.

Craig is honest about his Christian faith and where he was in his relationship with God before and after the accident.

Craig says, “I thought about how I had worked hard to fit God into my life where it was most convenient for me, and wherever there was a conflict it was as if God was just the kid I played with because he had cool toys. I saw how I had always put my faith and trust into my own body, and the fall had taken away the one thing I had put the most stock in, myself” (After the Fall, page 51).

During his recovery and rehab, Craig documents how sometimes he felt that God wasn’t there. I’ve heard this called the “Silence of Heaven” and I know from experience that it happens. Not that God isn’t there, but sometimes He’s not saying anything. I wrote about this in what I called “The Silence of Heaven.

Craig says it this way, “But as the weeks went on [after leaving the hospital and was going through rehab], the apparent absence of God became like a huge hole. I kept thinking God would keep guiding me, and He wasn’t. Where I should have seen his hand at work all around me, instead almost every experience was a muddled collage of good and bad, as if joy and despair were waging war inside me, and to the victor would go my spirits” (After the Fall, page 80).

Planet of the Apes Wall 1This is what Craig is teaching me: that while God is always in my life, and is always there through good times and bad, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to have a life that is all “sugar plums and lollipops.” Craig has taught me that life will have pain. God in my life doesn’t change that. But God in my life does change how I deal with the pain.

It helps me to remember this: because Jesus endured pain – the pain of the cross and death itself – I can deal with pain, too. Jesus forgives me all my sin and restores true life to me. Jesus restores the life God intended for me to have. In doing this, Jesus never promised that I wouldn’t have pain or trouble or disappointment. He promises that I will have Him! And He promises that He’s preparing a place where all that stuff will never be experienced again – heaven.

Thank you, Craig, for reminding me of this!

Who’s Side Are You on?

Photo by Craig DeMartino

“The Lord is on our side!”

As a so-called Christian nation, some in the United States have invoked the Lord to our side in our nation’s battles.

This happened in the Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln was asked which side God was on in the Civil War. He responded: “I am not at all concerned about that, for I know that the Lord is always on the side of right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.” (Abraham Lincoln’s Stories and Speeches, J.B. McClure, ed. [Chicago: Rhodes and McClure Publishing Co., 1896], pp. 185-86 – taken from http://www.proconstitution.com/under_god/ accessed August 11, 2011)

Long before the American Civil War, Joshua faced a crucial battle. It was the first battle in what would become known as the Conquest of Canaan. If anyone can claim that “God is our side,” it surely could have been the Nation of Israel under the command of Joshua.

It was God who said:

I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6:7).

But was God on their side? Really?

Like Abraham Lincoln, the people of Israel would have been better off considering themselves on God’s side instead of the other way around.

By Joshua’s time, with the people having crossed the Jordan River some forty years after the exodus from Egypt, God makes sure Joshua understands who’s on who’s side.

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” Joshua 4:13-14

It seems to me that God is telling Joshua that He is not on Israel’s side, nor Jericho’s side. He’s not on anyone’s side. He didn’t come down to take sides. He tells Joshua that He’s come down to take over.

This is an important lesson for me to learn. I need to see myself as on God’s side and not God on my side. I must – through the power of the Holy Spirit – realign my thinking and my life to being on God’s side.

Jesus paid the ultimate price – His very life – to put me on God’s side.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life (Romans 5:10).