5 Things Christians can be “For”

In a culture attempting to define Christians as those “against” various issues, I’m finding it helpful to focus on what the Bible tells me to be “for”. Here’s a short list of 5:

1. The Gospel as “Good News” – The word “gospel” literally means “good news”. People don’t need help feeling miserable & condemned; they need help understanding the one true source of hope & forgiveness. Where therapy and self-help gurus come up short; Jesus actually changes lives forever and provides a way to know Him personally (2 Cor. 5:17, Romans 5:1-8).

2. Personal Character – As a follower of Christ, I need to be authentic every day. Psalm 15 describes those who dwell in the presence of the Lord as ones who:

  • Walk uprightly v.2 (having sound character and integrity, even in the “gray” areas)
  • Work Righteousness v.2 (to pursue activities that spread honorable attitudes)
  • Speak truth v.2 (consistently honest in both private life and public)
  • Speak no gossip v.3 (even the stuff spoken privately as a “concern”)
  • Speak no ill of a friend v.3 (a true friend)
  • Keep promises v.4-5a (even when it hurts)
  • Isn’t swayed by money v.5b (takes no bribe)

3. Christ-honoring Treatment of Others – Phil. 2:15 charges us “to be without fault in the midst of a “crooked and perverse generation” in order to shine as lights. That means I must look to Jesus’ model of extending grace & love, then prayerfully choose to reflect the same in dealing with others (1 John 4:7-11).

4. God’s Best in my Home – Along with God’s design for marriage and intimacy (Gen. 2:24 & 27), I need to be proactive and intentional about the environment inside my home. Our families’ speech to each other, levels of truthfulness, follow-through, time management, priorities, etc should all reflect an honest pursuit of God’s best and not mediocrity or compromise.

5. A Growing Prayer Life – Prayer is an incredible gift and the Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Whether I’m requesting help, sharing a burden, giving thanks, seeking guidance or interceding for others, the privilege of prayer is such a precious resource. It should be a regular part of my day and a natural “first-response” when issues pop-up.

To be clear, days do come along personally and vocationally requiring moral stands, but prayerful discernment is critical in approaching them. Our personal legacies are built day-by-day and I pray that mine speaks more of what I was for than what I was against. How about you?

Memo: A Little Known Fact about Prayer

Prayer is an incredible gift. As followers of Christ, we have the amazing privilege of personal conversation with the King of creation. The Bible contains many truths about prayer and three of them I was recently reminded of.

These two you probably know already:

  • Christ as Mediator/High Priest – Hebrews 4:14-16 describes Jesus as our High Priest, interceding on our behalf to God the Father. He knows what we’re facing and can relate to the pressures, difficulties, hurts and needs of life. He is compassionate and verse 16 instructs us to come boldly to the throne of grace.
  • The Holy Spirit as Enabler – Romans 8:26-28 describes the Person of the Holy Spirit as “groaning on our behalf with words that can’t be uttered”. When words fail and we are at the complete end of our ability to formulate expressions, He steps in and takes over. He searches our hearts and communicates between our limited capacity and God’s unlimited nature.

This one you may have never heard about:

  • Our prayers are held for a special moment – Revelation 5 describes when Jesus will step forward to take the Seven Seal Scroll from the Father. Once that happens, grand and powerful events will be set into motion. The heavenly gathering will worship and the Elders will bring forward golden bowls of incense. However, it’ll not be just any incense, verse 8 describes the contents as the “prayers of the saints”…wow!

I’m learning that our prayers are NEVER in vain. Think about it. Every moment spent in prayer is held in reserve to be poured out as incense before the throne of God at just the right time. Our struggles, our pain, our petitions and our praise-all poured out as a fragrant offering. Jesus describes our Father as one who desires to hear from His children (Luke 11:9-13), so even if the answers aren’t clear yet, we can know our Father greatly values the time.

“Rejoice always! Pray constantly! Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 HCSB

Life is What Happens While You’re Making Plans

That quote grabbed my attention recently and I caught myself daydreaming right in front of the person who said it (not unusual for me). How true though, life really is happening…every moment…of every day.” It was one of those reminders the Lord sent to move my thoughts in the right direction. Now several weeks later, I’m still thinking about it and considering the whole “plans and dreams” thing. It is amazing how my dreams have changed and narrowed in recent years. The trajectory isn’t lower, just different.

You see early on, I thought of trekking around the world and taking risks (and God allowed me to do some of both), but He has gifted me today with opportunities I couldn’t foresee. What I’m learning now is “husband”, “dad”, “minister” and “friend” aren’t just labels; they’re my life’s work and I don’t want to miss out while “making plans”. The Bible tells us the “cares of this world” can kill our effectiveness for the Kingdom (Luke 8:14, 1 John 2:15-17) and I don’t want to die focused on worldly goals.

Perhaps you had big dreams at one time (or still do). Maybe you had hopes for a level of significance and life turned out a bit “smaller” than you hoped? It’s probably really not (smaller that is). Chances are your scope of influence is way bigger than you realize. Do you have a spouse? Children? Co-workers? Neighbors? Extended family? Employees? Church position? Social media relationships? Sports team friendships? Regular shopping locations? Your life really is a lot bigger than you can measure.

So as you go about doing the routine stuff, here are a few thoughts to pack away in the briefcase or purse:

  • Most significant conversations aren’t planned for. They happen in the normal flow of life when there is proximity to others; personal or casual. “Quantity of time” trumps “quality of time” every time.
  • We have the power to influence someone’s day. Our daily interaction with people can be a positive testimony for Christ…or not. The same is especially true with our children and spouses.
  • Pray every day for the power and courage to represent Jesus well. Paul says we are Ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Wherever we go, whoever we talk to, and whatever we do should be within that framework.

Naturally, some days feel more successful than others, but never discount where God has placed you, and what He wants to do through you. Remember, “Life is what happens while you’re making plans.”

Memo: My Worst Enemy

There’s a guy who gets on my nerves. He comes around at the worst times, stays too long and drops negative comments. I’ve thought about punching him in the mouth, but I’m confident it wouldn’t do any good. I’ve considered serving him a no-trespass notice, but he would ignore it. I’ve even tried being nice, but it only worked for a little while. Ultimately, I was reminded of the solution in scripture.

The answer isn’t showing patience, kindness or love  and the person I’m talking about is me, or I should say, a part of me. I call him “Critical Chris”. He always seems to have an opinion and here’s what the Bible says to do with him. 

Paul wrote in Romans 6:11 “…reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The word “reckon” means to “account, consider and act on the principle of what is true”. I’m learning each day that I must meet him (Critical Chris) at the door and declare this truth: 

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” -Galatians 2:20 

My worst enemy is often myself, but thankfully there’s victory and freedom in Christ. Perhaps you’re like me and know someone similar. Maybe their name doesn’t start with “Critical…” but something like “Selfish…”, “Prideful…” or “Gossipy…” and you’re tired of them. If so, it’s time to quit playing nice. I encourage you to prayerfully claim Galatians 2:20, grit your teeth, and let him/her know they’re not welcome anymore. Chances are; someone around you will be glad to see them go too!

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