How “Alien” Is Your Christianity?

Peter pulls no punches as he calls Christians for what they are (or perhaps what they really should be): aliens … strangers … peculiar people.

But how can that be, especially in the United States of America? Survey after survey says that upwards of 95% of Americans claim to believe in God, and fully 8-out-of-10 of every American call themselves a Christian.

You only need to take a look at our schools, our government, or our entertainment to see how “alien” biblical values are with current cultural trends. I think all of us have experienced that when we try to live by a biblical standard, people roll their eyes at us (at best) or maybe outright mock us. Perhaps the term “aliens” is not so much for what we say we believe, but how we live what we believe.

That’s why Peter calls us peculiar (1 Peter 2:9). This word means a people so focused on what God wants, that they don’t have time to worry about what the world wants. Peculiar people are so focused on “Your kingdom come and Your will be done” that they don’t pay attention to “keeping up with the times.”

Peter says that the inevitable outcomes of this peculiar lifestyle are accusations of wrong doing, unjust treatment, insults, and slander, just to name a few (see 1 Peter 2:12, 19, 21-23; 3:16).

When we are treated this way, Peter tells Christians about their alien response:

  • Love one another deeply
  • Live good lives doing good deeds
  • Do not retaliate with insults or threats
  • Live in such a hope-filled way that others can’t help to ask you about it (see 1:22; 2:12, 23; 3:15)

So… how “alien” is your Christianity? Are you doing so many good things that it catches the attention of others? Are you responding to mistreatment in a Christ-honoring manner? Do you speak with others gently and respectfully? Is your life so full of hope in your eternal home in Heaven that people can’t help but ask you for the reason for the hope you have?

Don’t worry about being popular; be peculiar. Be so alien to this world’s values that you compel others to encounter Jesus Christ as you have! 

Join me next Sunday as we continue our look at how citizens of Heaven are supposed to live while visiting Earth.

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10 Quotes From “Live Dead Life”

Joy Hawthorne is a 16-year-old living with her parents in a radically Islamic Middle East country. Live Dead Life is her personal journal that she is sharing with other students in the same setting, but I find her words compelling, challenging, and encouraging for readers of all ages! Check out my full book review of Live Dead Life by clicking here.

“I step outside my door and follow Jesus where He leads. I seek to keep my feet on the path with Jesus, knowing a great adventure awaits.”

“To go through my day for Jesus, I need to spend time with Him. I can only give for Jesus what I received from Him. That is why I need time with Him daily.”

“I discovered that it’s easier to walk with Jesus all day when I think of Him as a friend I live with and not a duty I spend time with.” 

“It takes a lot of practice to intentionally involve Jesus in all part of my day, and I often forget, but I keep trying. And maybe that’s what Jesus wants—not perfection in a moment but persistence over time.”

“To reflect the image of God to the world, I have to know what He looks like and sounds like, right? I can’t do that without spending time with Him, and so it’s through my abiding time that I see Jesus and know Him and hear His voice. As I spend time with Him, I get a picture of Him to reflect to others. Jesus in me naturally flows out of me. Abiding affects everything and everyone around me.”

“I didn’t pick this place, but I can decide how I am going to live here.”

“All I have to do is look around. I might not be perfect, but I can follow Jesus and be there for others. I can be their first Christian friend. I can live with them. I can share my heart and the Gospel with them. All I have to do is say, ‘Yes.’ Yes to whatever Jesus has for me and wherever He wants to take me, whether I feel ready or not.”

“As God gives me life, He doesn’t give it so I can keep it for myself. God gives it so I can give it back. This is my chance to express the love that He shows to me, back to Him. I have one life to spend, and one death to give, so what happens when I stop trying to steal the gift He has given and instead offer it back? What happens when I let go of my plan and follow His, no matter how inconvenient? Choosing to live dead points me in that direction, to constantly turn things over to Jesus.”

“Jesus is too good to keep to myself. He’s worth telling the whole world. He’s worth sharing with my unreached neighbors.”

“When I cry out to Jesus, God delights to give an answer, and the answer is Himself—His heart in us. Then when I cry out for more, the answer is again Himself! When I cry for a broken world, hurt people, evil things, a deep wound, or gaping holes in hearts, God delights to be the answer to my prayers. He is the answer. I was never meant to be the answer to a lost, broken world. I am just meant to be in the place God calls me to be, to be able to tell the lost that He hears, that He hasn’t forgotten, that He knows.”

More quotes from this amazing book are coming soon, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I would highly encourage all Christians to download a free copy of Joy Hawthorne’s book (the download link is in my book review).

10 Steps To Help Someone Through A Tragedy

Christians should be the best at loving others and supporting them through a tragedy. When someone’s world is rocked by an unexpected heartache like a miscarriage, a suicide, a difficult medical diagnosis, or even a hurricane, here is my list of 10 steps to help someone through this trying time. You may watch this short video, or see the list of 10 items below…

  1. Just be there for them.
  2. Listen.
  3. Listen.
  4. Listen to them some more.
  5. Don’t try to “fix” their problem.
  6. Weep with those who weep.”
  7. Don’t defend God (like Job’s friends tried to do).
  8. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you insight.
  9. Remind them of their responsibility now—your choices to go forward, how will you honor their memory, how can you help others in a similar situation, what does this make you think about your eternity?
  10. Stay in touch for the long haul (remember the birthday of their dead loved one; be them for the anniversary date of a marriage, the day their loved one died; go to those doctor’s appointments with them; roll up your sleeves and work alongside them). Use your creativity to proactively be there for them.

That’s What Friends Are For

Take just a minute to get a clear mental picture of your best friend.

Got it?

Now, think of a few adjectives you would use to describe your best friend.

Did you think of words like loyal … trustworthy … honest … loving … faithful … reliable … authentic … funny … patient ….?

What about godly? Would you describe your best friend with that word? After all, if your friend is godly, wouldn’t he or she also be loyal, trustworthy, honest, loving, and so on?

This gives us an idea of how important friendships are to God. If calling someone “godly” sums up the very best attributes of your very best friend, then that means that you can see God in your friend. And hopefully they can see God in you too!

Jesus told His followers that He viewed them as friends. He told them…

  • …how close to God He could bring them (John 14:20)
  • …how much the Heavenly Father loved them because they loved Jesus
  • …how much He was willing to do for them because of His love (John 15:9-13)
  • …how the Holy Spirit would continue to keep them close to God (John 16:12-15)

Eugene Peterson said, “Friendship is not a way of accomplishing something but a way of being with another in which we become more authentically ourselves.”

Your best friend is someone you can be completely real around, right? No games, no masks, just come as you are. And your friend still loves you completely. This is how it is with God as our Best Friend too!

There is nothing you could ever do to make God love you any less, so stop worrying! 

There is nothing you could ever do to make God love you any more, so stop trying!

Friends love us enough to be totally honest with us. That’s why Solomon said, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy only multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6).

Friends want us to have the very best, and to stay on paths that lead to success. So again Solomon wrote, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17).

Oswald Chambers tells us, “Friendship with God is faith in action in relation to God and to our fellow men.”

So be assured of God’s friendship with you. Then be God’s friend to those in your life, and allow them to be God’s friend right back to you … THAT’S WHAT REAL FRIENDS ARE FOR!

Christianity In Practical Working Order

“God has loved me to the end of all my sinfulness, all of my self-will, all of my stiff-neckedness, all my pride, all my self-interest; now He says—‘Love one another, as I have loved you.’ I am to show my fellow men the same love that God showed me. That is Christianity in practical working order.” —Oswald Chambers, in Run Today’s Race

10 Quotes From “The Broken Way”

All of us will deal with brokenness at some point in our lives. Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way is a brilliant light shining in the darkness of brokenness and pain. Check out my review of Ann’s book by clicking here.

“When the church isn’t for the suffering and broken, then the church isn’t for Christ. Because Jesus, with His pierced side, is always on the side of the broken. Jesus always moves into places moved with grief. Jesus always seeks out where the suffering is, and that’s where Jesus stays. The wound in His side proves that Jesus is always on the side of the suffering, the wounded, the busted, the broken.”

“The body of Christ doesn’t offer you some clichés, but something to cling to—right here in our own scarred hands. His body doesn’t offer some platitudes, but some place for your pain—right here in our offered time. His body doesn’t offer some excuses, but we’ll be an example—right here in our bending down and washing your wounds.”

“A Wounded Healer uses nails to buy freedom and crosses to resurrect hope and He never treats those who hurt on the inside as less than those who hurt on the outside.”

“Get busy, get distracted, and you can forget God. Forget God, and you lose your mind and your peace. Forget God, and all you remember is anxiety. Anxiety can give you God-Alzheimer’s. Forget the face of God, and you forget your own name is Beloved.”

“The art of giving is believing there is enough love in you, that you are loved enough by Him, to be made enough love to give.”

“You can be glued to a screen or glued to your schedule or glued to your stuff—and maybe that’s just a bit of lost living. You can be a slave to getting ahead, a slave to the clock, a slave to convenience, a slave to some ill-advised American dream—and maybe that’s a lot of lost living. Maybe even in a bit of brokenness, grace moves in you to get up and give to people you love and people that you’re learning to love, to go to the park and laugh with your kids or any kids, to give an elderly woman a hand and a listening ear and the gift of presence—that’s large living.”

“The world is brokenhearted and full of suffering, and if you listen to what life needs instead of what you need from it, you could fill the brokenness with your own brokenhearted love—and this will in turn fill you. … You are where you are for such a time as this—not to make an impression, but to make a difference.”

“When you are filled to the brim with the enoughness of Christ, the only way you can possibly have more is to pour yourself out.”

“The wondrous order of Christianity isn’t ‘go and sin no more and Jesus won’t condemn you.’ The order of Christ and Christianity is ‘neither do I condemn you—go and sin no more.’”

“The only way to live a truly remarkable life is not to get everyone to notice you, but to leave noticeable marks of God’s love everywhere you go.”

I will be sharing more quotes from The Broken Way soon. If you would like to be notified as soon as these quotes are posted, please subscribe to my blog. And to read other inspiring quotes I share every day, follow me on Twitter or Tumblr (or both!).

No Apathetic Christians Allowed!

Healthy love loves God and then serves God by loving and serving others. Quite simply—love loves.

But my question is how does love love?

Sometimes we can get a fuller definition of a word by looking at its opposite. So what’s the opposite of love? It isn’t hate because hate is actually the flip side of love. That means our hatred for anything that comes against the object of our love is just as strong as our love is.

The opposite of love is apathy.

Apathy means without pathos (or feeling). Specifically, without feeling that moves us to action. So in order for love to love, it needs pathos as its fuel.

For example. If you hear a coworker mention her frustration with construction slowing down her morning commute, apathy says, “Bummer!” and does nothing else. But love fuel by pathos says, “I found an alternate route that I can share with you.”

When a friend tells you about his frustration with trying to lose weight, apathy says, “Good luck!” Pathos love says, “Here’s the diet that worked for me” or “I’ll go to the gym with you.”

Love is fueled by pathos to: speak out, act out, and reach out.

When Peter was describing the ministry of Jesus, he said, “He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil” (Acts 10:38).

As His follower, we are supposed to feel the needs of the hurting and confused around us, and then let that pathos fuel our love to go around doing good:

  • When you hear someone asking for help, offer help.
  • When you see someone who is down, be their friend.
  • When you don’t see a neighbor for a couple of days, check on them.
  • When you meet someone looking for answers, invite them to church with you.
  • When a friend is sick, send a card, bring a meal, or mow their lawn.

These kinds of good deeds make Jesus happy (see Matthew 25:40) because it’s a tangible way to love God and then serve God by loving and serving others.

BE LIKE JESUS—GO AROUND DOING GOOD! 

There should never, ever be such a thing as an apathetic Christian!

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