Category Archives: Dan’s Blog

Yourself or Your “cell-f”?

The Bible describes our membership in Christ’s body as being like our own body parts—an eye or a hand, for instance. This gives us an idea of how important it is to function together as a whole. But let’s change our perspective a little: reduce your position to the level of a cell in the body. Immediately your sense of self-importance diminishes a bit, doesn’t it.
        Yet think how vital each cell is to a healthy organism. If that cell dies or becomes malignant it ceases to be useful, or may even become destructive. So it is with us as members of Jesus’ body. Though you may not think of yourself as much, you are essential to the wellbeing of the whole. How could the eye or the hand begin to exist without all those cells working together? And where would Christ’s church be without a vibrant and healthy you?

The “Jesus App”

Our smart phones have become indispensable to us, both for communication and information. When we find a great app we immediately download it; the most important ones go right there on the front page. We tend to do the same with Jesus. We know relationship with God is super important, and thus give Him priority over most other things. Yet still we demote Him to sort of “app” status—someone we go to the minute we have a need.
        It’s not surprising that we’re a bit confused, since inviting Christ into our life has become the centerpiece of today’s evangelism. Look at it from this perspective: What really happens is not accepting Jesus into our life, but that He is allowing us to share in His! He needs to be more to us than something merely added to our life. Jesus is more than an app; He’s the operating system itself!

Ignore Symptoms; Attack the Disease!

While trying to change our behavior by disciplining the body has some value, it ultimately never produces the desired result. This is because it merely treats the symptoms—not the disease itself. And not only that, it leads to heaping on a load of guilt when it fails to work. By its very nature, this strategy is doomed to failure because it simply bucks God’s design. His life flows not from the works of the flesh, but from the Spirit of God surging through our spirit.
        The same goes for depending on our intellect. But doesn’t gaining more knowledge about God mean that our heart will change in the process? To some degree it does. Sure it’s important, but that’s not what we need most! God’s strategy is centered on our opportunity to commune with Him. Genuine change in our heart results from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit bringing our spirit alive to Him.

Spiritual Life? The Sharing of God’s life

We can’t fully appreciate what it means to be alive in our spirit until we understand what it means to be spiritually dead. Being dead means that our connection to God is broken in such a way that communication with Him on a Spirit to spirit basis isn’t possible. Since the very definition of spiritual life is the sharing of God’s life, His presence within is our only lifeline.
        Christ’s death on the cross paved the way for every person on earth to experience His indwelling presence. But though He offers it as a free gift, it doesn’t just happen automatically. We receive His gift only by our willingness to turn from our own selfish desires—our sin—and then put Him in charge by making him the Lord of our life. If you haven’t already taken this step, do it now! God will keep His word. You’ll be born again and enter a life you never dreamed possible.

Our Spirit: the Dwelling Place of God

Man’s spiritual nature is God’s supreme gift, since only through our spirit are we able to commune with Him. Indeed, the opportunity for His indwelling presence is the reason our spirit exists. God actually takes up residence in our spirit as we allow Him to do so. Because He has given us the capacity of free will, God lives within us only as an invited guest.
        Our spirit has been fashioned in such a way as to provide the Holy Spirit a dwelling place within. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that within each person there is a God-shaped vacuum which only He can fill. That place is our spirit. Without the inhabiting presence of God, our spirit is simply dead—and therefore purposeless. With Him active inside us, the foundation is laid for fulfilling the purpose for which we were created.

Understanding and Embracing Suffering

Because suffering plays such a vital role in God’s destiny for us, we can’t just sweep it under the rug. It’s tremendously helpful not only understand suffering, but to embrace it as well. God wants us to experience joy and fulfillment, and even lots of pleasure as we live our lives for Him. But He did not create us for earthly happiness alone, no matter how bountiful life here might turn out to be.
        It doesn’t matter what wealth or prestige we gain in life, or even how wonderful our relationships might be. Mature Christians know that none of this holds a candle to what we’ve really been designed for. None of us are exempt from the challenges and hardships that inevitably come our way. Trials are common to all believers. But it’s certainly not due to lack of interest on God’s part. Just the opposite, actually: He allows suffering because He deeply cares about us.

From Free from the Power of Sin: the Keys to Growing in God in Spite of Yourself

God Designed Life to be Tough

Why does God allow us to encounter so much conflict and hardship in life? How does it all fit in with His plan to bring us into union with Him? Choice is the answer!
       Our redemption does not merely rest on our initial decision to make Jesus Lord of our life. It’s true that receiving Christ as Lord is the bedrock of our salvation, but our relationship with Him is built on a series of decisions we make over the course of a lifetime. And because life’s circumstances are tough, these choices are rarely easy. God allowed sin to exist for this very reason.
       If God had designed things so that it would be easy to follow Him, our choices would have little meaning. Our pursuit of Jesus, while forsaking our own selfish desires, is what He wants. And He’s created the ideal system to measure our progress: life here on earth.

From Free from the Power of Sin: the Keys to Growing in God in Spite of Yourself

As God REveals Himself…

During his Roman captivity, Paul recorded several prayers in his letters to three different churches. What’s remarkable is their perfect agreement with one another, which all the more stresses their importance for us. Each prayer begins with the necessity of being filled with the knowledge of God’s will. Paul knows this can only happen by means of revelation—God speaking His truth straight into our heart. There is no other way to gain true understanding!
       We lean heavily on our knowledge of the Bible for God’s truth. Yet while the Bible is indeed the primary means of grasping His reality, it means very little if our understanding is merely intellectual. Rather, we must keep in mind what was at the forefront of Paul’s exhortation. God Himself must be the one to impart His truth as we read and meditate. Open yourself up to His leading. He will speak if we let Him.

Sharing in Christ as Siblings

Scripture says that God “conforms us to the image of His Son, so that Jesus would be the firstborn among many brethren.” Think about the implications of this incredible statement. Considered to be His brothers? Really?
       We like to describe our faith as a relationship rather than a religion. So we talk about having a personal relationship with Jesus (sometimes kind of flippantly). How often do we stop to think about what that really means? Well, I wholeheartedly agree with the concept of personal relationship with Christ, but I’d like to add something. What Jesus has going with us is not merely relationship: it’s RELATIONSHIP—a powerful, intimate, living relationship in which we are welcomed to share in the very life of God Himself.
       But this raises a question: given the magnitude of the glory set before us, why would God create us like He did? Why this flesh with its countless problems?

From Free from the Power of Sin: the Keys to Growing in God in Spite of Yourself

Glorifying and Enjoying God

Millions of Christians have been lulled into thinking that God’s purpose for us boils down to little more than a fulfilling life on earth, with the added bonus of a heavenly reward later. With this mindset, it’s only natural to focus on what God can do for us here and now. While this belief fits in neatly with our human appetites and ambitions, it merely serves to derail our spiritual growth. This clever deception of the enemy has always been a blight on believers—all the more so in this age of prosperity.
       Life is really all about glorifying and enjoying God. But He also wants to enjoy us. In His infinite wisdom, He’s engineered a program to accomplish both goals. In what way might God enjoy us as fully as we enjoy Him? By making us His very own sons and daughters. God fashioned us the way He has, frailties and all, to accomplish this very purpose.

From Free from the Power of Sin: the Keys to Growing in God in Spite of Yourself