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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An Excellent Wife I

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. Proverbs 31:10

Since the 7th grade I always knew that someday I would be married.

However, I didn’t know who my wife would be or exactly what kind of woman I would marry – at least not until 1990.

That was when my friendship with Nancy grew into so much more!

We had met in 1988 while I was a second-year student at Concordia Seminary. That year, I was joined by four of my closest friends – Kurt, Steve, Mark and Jeff.

These four men, along with myself, formed the core of the music group The Master’s Voice. We had started singing together in 1986 at Concordia Wisconsin. We were a double-quartet acapella group that sang at school functions and around the southeastern Wisconsin area.

Our largest gig as an eight-man group was to sing in Van Horn, Iowa for a District Youth event in the spring of 1987.

In the autumn of 1988 the five of us re-imagined the group as a quintet and we kept the name The Master’s Voice and sang all around the St. Louis, Missouri area.

One of those events was for a youth fundraiser at a church in north St. Louis County and that is when I met Nancy for the first time.

We became friends but that was all we were for a while. Looking back now I see a little more clearly what God was doing in our lives, but at the time I thought we were just two Christian people serving God as best we could – she as a teacher in north county and me a part-time radio guy who was trying to figure out my best seminary career path.

That path led me to take a leave from my studies and move to Nevada for a year. While there, Nancy and I wrote letters back and forth. (Letters then were what email is today. Talking on the telephone was our instant messaging.)

In 1990 I returned to St. Louis and a full-time position at KFUO as a producer and on-air announcer. Of course, Nancy and I ended up getting together and it was then that I realized that God was bringing us closer to together and I was falling in love!

I always knew that someday I would get married. Now I had a name and face to that knowing!

As we dated in 1990, The Master’s Voice was back together for one more year before the other four guys completed their seminary training and would go on to serve as pastors or move on to an advanced degree study.

By this time, the other four guys were married or about to be married. We all had “excellent” wives or wives-to-be at our side as our singing career peaked with the recording of “The Album” at Lutheran Hour Ministries studios in St. Louis.

wedding2In the late spring of 1991 I formally asked Nancy to be my “excellent wife” and in August of that year we were married!

Through my early years, God had been telling me in special and sometimes in unlooked-for ways that I would be married. Through his Holy Word in books like Proverbs and Ephesians, God was telling me what kind of woman he was going to bring into my life.

He was also telling me what kind of relationship I was going to have with my wife. Again, as I look back on all these years together with Nancy – first as friends and then the last 26 years as husband and wife – I see how our marriage has been shaped and nurtured by God to be a reflection of the relationship Jesus Christ has with his bride, the Church.

Our marriage isn’t perfect, but it is an incredible relationship of love, sacrifice, comfort, and encouragement.

And I can honestly say – with all my heart – that my life with Nancy is “far more precious than jewels.”

©2017 True Men Ministries

______________________________________

Read past devotions at the True Man Blog here.

Contribute to True Men Ministries to help keep this devotional going here.

Listen to the True Man Podcast here.

Subscribe to In My Father’s Footsteps here.