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

______________________________________

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.

 

This Is About God

“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But he knows the way that I take….”
Job 23:8-10a

When this devotion was originally published, St. Patrick’s Day was just about a week prior.

One of the most famous of St. Patrick’s writings is the prayer known as “St. Patrick’s Breastplate.”

Part of that prayer says,

Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ behind me, Christ within me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ at my right, Christ at my left

What an incredible prayer and confession of faith! We go nowhere without Christ! What sweet comfort this is!

But in chapter 23, Job makes a more dismal confession.

He does not see God in front of him or behind him. He does not see God on his left or on his right.

Job – understandably – feels totally alone.

No Christian need ever feel this way since Christ has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

But everyone feels this way at some time or another.

The reality is that for those who fear (believe in) God, there is no such thing as being totally alone.

We may feel like we are, but we truly are not. God is always with us.

Again, Jesus promised, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Both Job and St. Patrick are correct. Christ is always with us. God will never leave us.

And even though Job has this feeling of profound absence, he also confesses that he’s not really alone!

“But he [God] knows the way that I take….”

Job’s confession is to be our confession – that this isn’t really about us but about God!

The rest of this chapter in Job is a prime example of what you will feel if you focus more on yourself and what you are going through than on God who is your Redeemer and Savior.

We simply cannot trust our feelings.

It may feel like God is not with us when we are going through trials and tribulations.

But it simply isn’t true! God is, always has been, and always will be, with us!

When you feel lonely, when you feel – in your heart – abandoned by God, remember this truth:

Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20).

It is during times of despair that we need to trust in God the most that “he knows everything.” Job is our model of this kind of faith.

©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.

Temptation

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

That’s one of those “they-isms.” You know:

“They say you should not swim at least a half-hour after eating.”

“They say you should never discuss politics or religion in polite company.”

“They say the more things change the more they stay the same.”

I don’t know who, exactly, “they” are, but they are correct; when it comes to the devil’s schemes to tempt us to sin, he tends to not be too creative. He uses the same temptations over an over again. But I guess he sticks with what works!

Image courtesy of photobucket.com

The devil started tempting people way back when there were only two people in the world. He approached Adam and Eve and tempted Eve to disobey God. The devil had a three-fold temptation scheme (in Genesis 3:6)

1. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food…” (Hunger)

2. “and that it was a delight to the eyes…” (Attraction)

3. “and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise…” (Wisdom)

I’ve noticed that I’m tempted to sin when I’m hungry. I’ve stolen candy or some other snack from my sons when I’m hungry (please don’t tell them until I’ve had a chance to repent and ask their forgiveness – I’ll do that right after I finish this).

But hunger doesn’t just have to be about a lack of food. People are tempted (and rather successfully) to sin when they have a hunger for power, possessions or money.

Attraction is also used by the devil to tempt us to sin. Eve was tempted by the attraction of the fruit. Now, I’ve never been tempted to sin by how a fruit looks. Even the most gorgeous apple, orange or watermelon only makes me think, “That’s a nice piece of fruit.” But everybody is different. And we all have that weak point where attraction to something or someone can be used by the devil to tempt us to disobey God.

Wisdom is a very subtle point of temptation for the devil. In a world that seems to be increasingly lacking in wisdom, it may not seem like the devil is using this one all that often. But “knowing more” can be, and is, used. Some of the highest rated TV shows are those that promote “knowing more” about celebrities, politicians, and knowledge. These can – and are – used by the devil to tempt people to disobey God.

The devil is crafty. And when you look around today – not to mention throughout history – you see a track record of hall-of-fame temptation levels by the devil.

And the devil set his goals of temptation pretty high in that he even tempted the Son of God – Jesus Christ!

Where Eve was tempted with the idea that forbidden fruit was just as good to eat as all the other fruit, Jesus was tempted with food after having been on a fast for over a month. This is a hunger of a different kind. The devil, perhaps, is tempting Jesus to give in to physical hunger. If Jesus does that, He will have broken His fast, something He had set out to do for specific reasons, and doing it by giving in to a lost and condemned creature. Instead of listening and following Himself (God) He would be listening and following the devil – and this would be a sin.

The devil’s second temptation was to question Jesus’ wisdom in putting His trust in His Father. The devil uses God’s Word against Jesus here, just as he used it against Eve (“Did God really say…?”). Surely this was foolish on the devil’s part. Who would trust God more fully and intimately than God’s only Son? Yet, the devil does it.

The final temptation is that of power. While Jesus knows that the world is His by virtue of being the Son of the Creator, this temptation is more subtle. How Jesus fights off this temptation is important. Jesus must fight it off without giving even a hint that He might accept the premise that the devil has some claim to the world. And this Jesus does successfully.

Temptation is something that we all face. The devil tempts us to sin because we are God’s children. He hates everything that has to do with God and he wants to destroy our relationship with God.

Jesus teaches us how to fight against the devil’s temptations and win. Know and use God’s Word. Every time the devil tempted Jesus, Jesus responded by quoting God’s Word.

Jesus fought this battle and won. And by His death and resurrection Jesus gives us the power to also fight and win our battles of temptation.