Tag Archives: radical

The Gospel Shaped Life 2

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.  But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways.  We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.  2 Corinthians 4:1-2

We have been saved by the mercy of God and are called to follow Him.  We don’t give up when things get tough.  But we do renounce our old ways of getting things done one way or another.  We will not deceive, mislead, or manipulate.  That in itself is big.  But the biggest commitment that Paul makes here is to not tamper with God’s word to make it easier to take or to suit our own purposes.  Some people talk away the Bible by saying that it has mistakes, or that it was just written by people.

That’s not for us!  We believe that God’s word is our authority for life, that it does not contain errors or contradictions and that what it says, we will do.  We will not water it down to justify our sins, or the sins of others.  As we stand on the Word, we speak to people’s consciences, because our core problem is sin.  And our consciences are where we make the choices between right and wrong.  We do all of this in the sight of God, who sees all that we do and will one day judge each one of us for what we have done.

Tim Keller, a pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, preached a message called “The Gospel Shaped Life.”  In this sermon he talks about how the Gospel, the good news of Jesus coming to save us from our sins and to set us apart for Him, shapes our life so that it is entirely different from someone who does not follow Jesus, or who does not allow his or her life to shaped by Him.  He talked of three main things about this Gospel shaped life, though there are many implications beyond that for all of us.

First, the grace of God appears to us and He teaches us to say ’no’ to ungodliness.  That’s what Titus 2:11-12 tells us: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to life self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”  So we don’t do the ungodly things anymore, not because they will make us look bad, or for fear of being caught or any other selfish motive.  I say ‘no’ because God’s grace is in my life and it has changed my cravings and it has made me loathe ungodliness and selfishness.

Second, the Gospel sets us free from a variety of things.  Those are things like our childhood, anger at being abused or shorted, addictions, obsessions, guilt, shame, anxiety, etc.  As Acts 13:38-39 proclaims, through Jesus we are set from the things we couldn’t get free from before.  As we move away from the things that shackle us, we are free to do all kinds of things we had no energy or ability to do before.

Finally, the Gospel makes us think of ourselves less.  This is in contrast to thinking too much of yourself, or thinking you are ‘less than’ everyone else.  We just think of ourselves less and of Jesus and others more.   

Have you been shaped by the Gospel?  

(Photo from Gracecityphilly.com)


Check this out!



This is a video of the Kimyal people of West Papua New Guinea receiving the New Testament for the first time.  This is moving, and makes me think about how we take our Bibles for granted.

But there is another part to this story that is equaling moving–maybe more.  I read the book “Lords of the Earth,” by Don Richardson this last summer.  It told of the life of missionary Stanley Dale.  Stanley was a stubborn man that had lost a couple of jobs because of his bull headedness, causing conflicts with co-workers.  But he had a heart for God and a heart to see the Gospel brought to the people of Papua New Guinea.  For every mountain and tribe there was one more behind it, and he wanted to get to those people.

He was able to reach one tribe with the good news of Jesus Christ after he had drawn a line in the sand that demanded that they totally abolish their animistic ways to follow Jesus—–no mixing and matching.  Some criticized this move as being yet another way that Stanley was too narrow minded or bull headed to continue serving on the mission field.

But soon thereafter, a revival broke out and not only did that tribe begin to follow Jesus whole heartedly, but so did several neighboring tribes.  Not so with the Yali, the people group behind this video.  In 1961 Stan had made a trip to make an attempt to reach them.  They would have nothing of it, vowing to never give up their way of life and to kill the man who would try to pervert it.  Stan was shot with five arrows and he pulled them out and continued on.  One or two would fell an average man, so this man must be a god, they reasoned.

Stan did retreat and made the trek again, determined to reach them with the Gospel.  He went with a man, Phil Masters, whom he had just begun to work with.  The news of their approach spread quickly throughout the Yali tribe and they launched out an all out attack on the duo.  They could have retreated again, but Stan would have nothing of it.  Again, his dogged determination forged him ahead.  Perhaps it was from God all along, but it just needed to be tempered.

They did not run.  They could have cut off a foot bridge across a steep gorge, prohibiting the warriors to get to them.  Again, Stan would not cut it off, hoping to use it as a bridge to them, not a separation from them.  The warriors caught up to Stan and Phil and the arrows began to pelt them.  Instead of running, Stan stood there and took each one with a set look on his face.  Encouraged by Stan, Phil did the same.

As the arrows hit Stan, he pulled them out, one by one.  “He must be a god,” they thought.  Surely again, no man could live.  Finally, the two men became too weak to continue to stand and they fell that day.  The Yali cut them up and ate them, scattering their bones so that they could not be resurrected.  Cannibals have traditionally ate people so they could get their powerful spirit, making them a better warrior.  They did eventually become better warriors as a result, ones for Jesus.  What an irony.

This was in 1968.  Another missionary couple were able to make inroads in the 1990’s.  This video was made in 2011.  It took quite a while for the Gospel to reach this people group, but its impact is stunning.  Stanley Dale’s stubborn bull-headedness was tempered by God to make him able to forge to unreached territories for the sake of the Gospel.  May we all be so indomitable.

Stan and Phil could not see the result of their last stand, but we can.  I try to remember that as I sow seeds that do not have an immediate, visible result.  May I continue to proclaim Jesus with a holy stubbornness and an indomitable spirit.




Wanted: Dead and Alive

a grain of wheat.jpg

John 12:24

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.




Jesus was soon to be crucified.  He knew it was coming, but those around Jesus just couldn’t grasp what was going to take place.  Some Greeks wanted to see Jesus, and when they got to Him,  He talked about a grain of wheat falling to the ground.  Jesus was talking about His own upcoming death, but He was also telling us that’s the way we should live.   A plant doesn’t grow unless a seed dies first.  That’s a funny topic for Jesus to discuss with people he  just met, but He got to the point because His pathway to glory was through death.  And He wanted us to know that if we want to follow Him, our pathway to glory is also through death.

The Christian life is about living–eternal life, abundant life, and new life.  But it is also about dying–dying to self and losing our life so we can find it in the end.  The dying part has to do with really counting yourself dead, dead to your rights, dead to your ambitions, and dead to your life goals.  In Galatians 2:20, Paul writes “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”  In other words, “I died and now my life is Jesus’ life.”  And in 1 Corinthians 15:31 Paul said, “I die daily.”  It’s like God puts up a sign for us:  “Wanted: Dead and Alive.”

So what does that look like in everyday life?  It can mean sacrificing time and money for others, rather than just doing what you want for yourself.  It could also mean not being self absorbed, only talking about yourself and then moving on when you’re done.  Instead, you listen to others and take interest in what they have to say.  The things that God may call you to do might be hard, or even dangerous.  It could mean loss of friends and family because you’re now a Jesus follower, loss of money because what He’s calling you to do isn’t lucrative, or loss of self because it’s not glamorous in our culture’s eyes.

For some Christians, it means actual death.  A Christian guy I knew, Bart,  spent time ministering to young men in a rough city neighborhood.  He had one guy come and live with him for a period of time.  Bart wasn’t seen for a couple of days.  Two guys went to his house looking for him, and there they found him dead.  The young man had killed him and took the little money that Bart had.  As Jim Elliott said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  Wanted: Dead and Alive.

One more example:

In the biographical book, We Died Before We Came, Stephen Foreman preached a sermon before he and his wife Emily and their family left the United States to minister in a North African country.  He ended up losing his life only months later to an Al Keida gunman.  This is an excerpt of his sermon:

When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji islands, the ship captain tried to turn him back, saying, “You’ll lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among those savages.”  To that Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”  That’s my question for us again tonight.  Are you dead yet?  Dead to yourself, dead to your own desires, dead to fear?  Are we alive in Christ?  My desire is that when people see your life, when they see my life, they will see Christ, and Christ alone.  Let us live our lives as if they weren’t our own lives.   To truly be strangers in this world.  To be aliens in this world.  Our citizenship is in Heaven.

Do you have something worth dying for, living for, or moving for?