Category Archives: Dan’s Blog

Opposing Natures Within?

The struggle with our flesh is not the result of two natures battling within, but merely the conflict of two kingdoms, each pulling us in its own direction. Even though “born-again,” Satan’s domain exerts tremendous pressure in steering us toward the instant gratification of our flesh. Our humanity will always want its own way. So if we could only get over the idea that becoming that “new creature” in Christ means that we should now be immune to the lure of sin, we would be way ahead of Satan’s game of accusation and deceit.

Transformation comes from the vibrant flow of God’s life through us. This connection with God’s Spirit makes our pursuit of Him almost irresistible. We have been freed from sin and enslaved to God—Romans 6. Growth to maturity in Christ comes not merely by making our mind up to do so, but by the inward transformation of our character by the Holy Spirit.

One Kingdom or Another!

Colossians tells us that God has, “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” Being trapped in this flesh here in this fallen world makes that a little hard to believe, doesn’t it? The truth is Christ’s kingdom is much more than that glorious place we go once we die. His kingdom is here among us—a kingdom of awesome rewards and great responsibilities.

As a member of God’s kingdom we are now His children, and as such we have also become slaves of righteousness, as Romans 6 tells us. The citizens of the kingdom of darkness are those who rebelliously practice sin. They spurn what they know of God, and are by nature slaves of sin. The bottom line is that all people are either slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness—there is no middle ground between these two kingdoms.

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

Does Sin Separate Me from God?

As a Christian, does sin separate me from God? We are often taught that sin causes a separation, a rift that can only be restored when we confess our sin. Therefore, moving forward with our life in Christ is possible only when our tie with Him can be reestablished through forgiveness. Though this view seems to make sense, it’s not actually the case.

Because sin displeases God, it can’t help but affect our relationship, often causing us to run from Him. But sin doesn’t separate us from Him! If it did, it would mean that God would have to vacate our spirit each time we sin, and then come back once we repent. This hardly seems practical, since God would have to sever the very tie so utterly necessary to overcoming sin in the first place. It would mean cutting off the very resource essential to spiritual growth.

Don’t Despise Small Things

2nd Timothy says: “In a large house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also vessels of wood and earthenware, some for honor and some for dishonor.” A vessel of wood can be just as important as one made of gold. So don’t despise the small things. Whatever is suitable for the Master’s use is worthy of honor.

            Our job is to advance the gospel, no matter what role we might play in Christ’s kingdom. This always means being unselfishly united in spirit with our fellow believers. Having a heart for others, lived out through service and a cooperative spirit, is the wellspring of fruitfulness. When we commit to this goal, we inevitably find ourselves moving into God’s purpose. It may not happen with a whole lot of fanfare, but over time we wake up and realize that we are living out what God always destined us to do.

Prayer is a Two-way Street

Everything we were ever created to be is wrapped up in Jesus. Finding out who we are in Christ is the first step toward discovering His purpose for us, because a healthy sense of self-worth gives us the confidence to step out. The better we get to know Jesus personally, the more He can impart His will to us. Communing with God is essential to this process. Prayer is a two-way street—we speak; we listen; we abide in Him, and He in us.

If God has in fact prepared good works for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10), wouldn’t He need to let us know what they are? Look at all those people in the Bible whom God chose to use in one way or another. They heard from God. And even if they didn’t initially grasp His meaning, they ultimately discerned what He wanted. The desire to obey God is the key to understanding Him.

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

Are You in a Holding Pattern?

Do you ever feel like you’re in a holding pattern? Even though you may be pursuing Christ—going to church, loving God and others, and just being a good person in general—there’s a good chance that you’re still left with a sense of emptiness. The reason? Along with becoming a child of God in Christ’s kingdom there comes a genuine sense of destiny. So, if you’re living life simply biding your time, more or less going through the motions of your faith, you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself somewhat unsatisfied.

The issue is purpose. Not our eternal purpose, but the purpose God has for each of our lives here on earth. This can be very real problem, since it’s not at all uncommon for us to have a good understanding of our heavenly reality and at the same time quite bewildered as to our purpose while we’re still here.

My Shiny Thing

There was this shiny thing—actually two shiny things (one bigger than the other)—I saw it in my mind’s eye a few minutes after requesting the Lord to speak to me as I laid awake in the middle of the night. This probably sounds a bit arrogant on my part. Speak to me—just because I ask?

     Imagine me, a speck of a person existing on a speck of a planet careening through the immensity of this vast universe, personally interacting with the Creator of it all! What could be more egotistical? And yet, He will do just that for those who belong to Him.

     But what about that shiny thing? I saw it in a flash of a moment—not physically, but like it might have appeared in a dream. It was somewhat like a Christmas ornament, only bigger, pointed at the top and bottom, like highly polished silver, with a pendant of the purest gold in the middle.  

     This was the point where the Holy Spirit began to explain. This shiny thing is not a matter of physical existence, but a matter of the heart. That is, what do I set my mind on, what am I doggedly pursuing in my life, what do I value most? Pleasure? Honor, respect, recognition? Status, prestige, or even celebrity? All of which can be had through wealth, educational degrees, physical prowess, beauty, sex, corporate or political power, even relationships (family or otherwise). You name it. It’s the way of the world—and so easy to set one’s heart on. It’s our shiny thing (or things)!

    Now a very important question arises here: are they all that bad? They may, or may not be. God has created us with an inborn drive to reach for things. Keeping it all in balance is basically the issue. In Matthew 6: 31 – 33 Jesus taught:

     Do not worry then, saying, “what will we eat? or what will we drink? or what will we wear for clothing?

     For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

     But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

     At first glance this seems to be speaking to basic human needs. But if we consider the context of the entire chapter, it’s easy to see that our desires are essentially in play here. It’s human nature at its core. We tend to hold God at arm’s length, hoping we can avoid Him interfering with our plans!

Back to that shiny thing—or I should say, those two shiny things I saw. Why one bigger than the other, as if more important? Of course it’s more important! The larger one is a representation God Himself.

     And there is good reason that the Lord allowed me to see it this way. After all, the whole creation revolves around those who are to be His children (Romans 8:19 – 25). If we have been called to Jesus in this manner, how could the pursuit of Him not eclipse all other desires and motivations? He designed us with a colossal need to honor Him above all as our shiny thing!

     So, we need to get our priorities straight. Only when we pursue God with all our heart will He ever be able fulfill all He has planned and promised for us. We must not sell His purpose short!

     You are mine, says the Lord, and I want to be yours—your Shiny Thing!  Jeremiah 9:23, 24

Character Doesn’t Change Overnight

It can certainly be disheartening when we realize that change in our character doesn’t happen overnight. Yet how could being transformed into God’s image be anything but a life-long process? Transformation is designed to take place in degrees over time. It’s what being changed from “glory to glory” means. And submitting to God step by step makes it so much easier for transformation to progress the way God planned.

It’s also why we must guard against slipping back into sin when tempted. None of us is immune to falling into sin through the weakness of the flesh. This is dangerous ground, because sin stands at the head of a trail leading in the wrong direction. Once we’ve set ourselves on that badly chosen path it takes some undoing to get back to where we started from. Anyone who’s been there will tell you: “Don’t even think about it.”

Always Trying to Patch Over Sin

We resist change. We cling to doing things our own way because we’re human. So when sin crops up, we try to patch it up, rather than trying to get to the root of the problem. It’s painful to root sin out. Yes, we want to change, but it’s a lot more comfy staying right where we are. God wants to live His life through us, bringing us to a place where He can use our life to impact the world. But it’s impossible for Him to do this without first transforming our character.

Our character is who we are at the deepest level of our being. We always behave as our character dictates. Character transformed through a life of godliness always responds positively to the challenges of life. How would you rather live—on the verge of failure each time temptation comes, or in the consistent victory that godly character provides?

No Struggle in Bearing Fruit!

Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” Jesus is talking about being alive, but His emphasis is mainly on fruitfulness. A branch barely connected to the vine might get the basic nutrients needed to survive—but it won’t produce quality fruit. So if our hope is centered on a “relationship” with Christ even though it may be largely superficial, we’re only kidding ourselves.

If that sounds like you, there’s no need for panic. God has a whole lot more in mind for us. And He’s provided everything we need to be focused and productive. A branch doesn’t have to struggle in order to bear fruit; it just happens naturally. It’s the same with godly fruit. We don’t need to worry a lot about being fruitful. We just need to maintain a dynamic connection to the source. Pursue God! Jesus said, “he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit.”