This year (2007) marks my 30-year anniversary of coming to Christ. I met Him at a Lutheran camp on a confirmation retreat weekend. Even to this day, I can remember much of that evening.
I’ve kept my eyes, ears, and spirit open over that time, storing away what I’ve learned. Obviously, what I share here isn’t the sum total of all I’ve learned, just some basic truths God taught me that inform my every day.
I hope these observation get you thinking and praying. Most of all, I pray that they are a blessing that brings lasting fruit for the Kingdom. Thanks for being a reader.
In no particular order…
- Love God. Love people. It’s that simple.
- Anytime we interact with another person, we should ask the Lord, In what ways can I help this person grow closer to You?
- Christians who take time to observe the world around them see God and gain wisdom.
- The most worthy lessons of the Kingdom take the entirety of one’s life to fully learn.
- You are never more alone than in an unfriendly church.
- God could directly feed the widows and the orphans with manna from heaven, but He instead chose us in the Church to bake the bread through the resources He’s already given us and then distribute it.
- The world is tired of hearing Christians talk about the Gospel; they want to see it actually lived.
- In the end, nothing in life satisfies but Jesus.
- It’s a terrible indictment against men and young people in the American Church that old women are praying most of the intercessory prayers.
- Always lead with love. Love should precede every act we perform in the name of Christ and love should be the finale.
- Small home groups are fantastic for relationship-building, prayer, and sharing, but usually not the best venue for serious Bible study (especially if they’re co-ed).
- Admonish an adult once, perhaps twice, then turn the issue over to the Lord in prayer. Never hound people.
- We won’t find ourselves transformed, much less change the world, if we pray less than an hour a day.
- Most Evangelicals have little or no understanding of the Holy Spirit.
- The American Church needs to learn a truth Ben Franklin uttered at the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “We must all hang together, gentlemen…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.”
- Too many Evangelicals long to see Jesus thrash those they view as heretics rather than help them come to a better understanding of truth.
- One of the most easily seen fruits in mature Christians is that they pray for people who oppose them rather than complain about them.
- A simple truth we constantly forget: Do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
- If all other aspects of Sunday meetings were removed, prayer would be the one untouchable, yet we spend less time doing it in our meetings than anything else.
- The mature Christian is more concerned with being loving all the time than being correct all the time.
- Each of use should know our neighbors’ names and the names of their children. We should also know their birthdays, if possible, because the card we send might be the only one they receive. And that’s a powerful witness.
- It is a sign of our trustworthiness as Christians that other people seek us out when they need help. If that’s not the case, then something is wrong with our witness.
- There is no shame in confessing a need, especially before fellow believers. That’s one reason why the Church exists.
- Many of Evangelicalism’s most intractable problems would vanish if we adopted the confessional booth.
- We must start seeing discipleship in terms of an entire lifespan and not what we can accomplish in the moment.
- Preaching is most effective when it’s lived by the preacher.
- We do a great disservice to families in our churches when we split them up the second they hit the lobby.
- If we wish to see the American Church be all She can be, then let’s welcome persecution.
- A youth minister’s primary responsibility isn’t to teens directly but to their parents. A good youth minister teaches parents how to teach their own teens, leaving the bulk of the responsibility to them.
- The way we so easily judge people offends the One who said, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”
- We are too obsessed with heretics and not concerned enough with understanding what their heresy says about our own shortcomings and failures.
- It costs us nothing to judge others, but an enormous amount to walk beside them and help them grow.
- Bible study works best when led by highly-trained, Scripturally-knowledgeable people who have lived what they believe.
- Busyness is crippling the effectiveness of the American Church, but no one wants to fix the root causes because doing so would call into question the very nature of our modern society.
- True love is laying down our plans and schedules to help a person in need.
- One of the worst things a Christian can be is unteachable.
- God never rescinded His first command to Man: Steward the Earth.
- The man who recognizes the goodness of God in nature and sees Christ in the stranger has the more complete theology.
- A man is only as deep as his prayer life.
- A message every church in America should learn: You never have to advertise a fire.
- The more we restrict God in what He can and will do, the more He’ll honor that restriction.
- The Holy Spirit is a gentleman; He only shows up where He’s gratefully invited.
- Our neighbors should know that our houses are always open to them.
- Love truly does cover a multitude of sins.
- If we haven’t died at the cross, we’re worthless to the Kingdom.
- Who we are in secret is a better gauge of our spiritual maturity than who we are in public.
- Not seeng results in prayer? Better check how grateful we are to God for the little things He gives us.
- We never know enough of someone else’s story to judge them perfectly. Better to listen carefully, then admonish…carefully.
- No great, wise saint of God started out that way. We never know at what stage we meet one of those future saints, so we must always be gracious when interacting with others.
- The perfect recipe for helping someone grow in Christ: Six parts love to every one part admonition.
- God makes all things beautiful in His time, not ours.
- If there were no people, there would be no reason for the Gospel.
- If we are unwilling to help others work through the admonitions we give them, we should instead remain silent.
- On Judgment Day, God will be far less concerned with how well we knew the Scriptures than how we practiced what we knew.
- Too much of what we supposedly do for the Kingdom comes from the arm of flesh, not from the power of the Spirit.
- There’s no reason each of us can’t lead at least one person a year to Christ.
- Most churches never once consider what it feels like to be an outsider, which is why so few visitors take root.
- Most of the West has heard about Jesus (even if they’ve heard incorrectly), which is why our practice of our message is as vital as our pronouncement of it.
- A person may have perfect doctrine and a form of religion, but if he doesn’t care about his neighbor, it’s all for naught.
- The reason we learn the Scriptures is to be equipped for every good work.
- The more tender my heart is toward the least of these, the more tender it is toward God—and vice versa.
- We minister best from the overflow of our Spirit-filled hearts, not from being poured out until empty.
- For some reason, we stopped making heaven the ultimate destination.
- Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers labor in vain.
- We make an idol of the nuclear family if we raise it above the needs of the household of Faith.
- If a fellow Christian has a financial need, forget about buying that plasma TV. And remember this: someone is always in need.
- The first thing the new Church did after being filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was to see that no one among them lacked for anything.
- Fear drives almost all human failings. The opposite of fear is love.
- You can tell the effectiveness of a church’s discipling program by noting how many of the leadership staff came from within.
- A king’s ambassador, when sojourning in a foreign land, is the full representative of the king and wields his complete power and authority. Never forget that we are Christ’s ambassadors.
- We perpetually underestimate Satan’s wiles; at the same time, we underestimate our authority over him in Christ.
- Most lost people aren’t consciously looking for ways to sin; they’re only trying to get by.
- You and I have benefitted greatly from the prayers of others, but most people have never had someone pray for them.
- Because our God is a God of beauty and truth, we Christians need to honor our artists and intellectuals as much as our pastors and preachers.
- Most of the Lord’s finest servants labor in obscurity.
- We Christians should spend every day working to depopulate hell.
- We may know what it means to be a sinner, but few of us have appropriated what it means to be a saint.
- Our communion meals should be feasts as big as we eat on Thanksgiving Day.
- Wine is the drink of celebration, not Welch’s.
- A church-hopper is a carrier of dissension.
- We need to treat our pastors as imperfect fellow laborers, not as Grand Exalted Poobahs.
- Without the Lord, we can do nothing.
- If we Christians stopped worrying about what others think of us, the Church would be transformed and the world along with us.
- We spend too much time trying to keep our youth from sleeping with each other and not enough time teaching them to be husbands and wives.
- Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.
- We were all born to serve.
- American Christians are more concerned about what’s in their bank accounts than in their treasure chests in heaven.
- Joy can only well up in a grateful heart.
- Gossip destroys anyone it touches.
- In Christ, there is no shame or guilt.
- Christians who pray prayers with enormous faith get enormous results.
- If we don’t reach people with the Gospel before they are 21, most will never come to Christ.
- We have not because we ask not.
- It is best to think of the Scriptures not as what we can read through in a year, but as what we can read through in an entire lifetime.
- We come to Christ full of holes. Whatever hole we forbid Christ to fill will instead be filled by the world.
- If we’re discipling correctly, no Christian in a church should be irreplaceable.
- A community of Christians is only as strong as its weakest members.
- If our lives are filled with everything but Christ, then we are impoverished indeed.
- We are all dust.
- God is always nearer to us than we believe Him to be.
Blessings! Have a great day.
58 thoughts on “100 Truths in 30 Years with Christ”
FANTASTIC list!!!! AMEN & Amen to that!
Thanks, Amy! Many of these lessons have come at a cost and through much inner wrangling.
“Wine is the drink of celebration, not Welch’s.”
Did you know that the owner of Welch’s gives 90% to The Lord?
Thx for sharing. Yet I wish you could have pointed out particularly Scripture verses that have changed you over the last 30 years. I think a few of the points you shared can be provided with a scripture reference. Just a thought. Hope you appreciate it and don’t get discouraged by my comment.
I’ll give you a few truths I learnt over the last 5 years:
1. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble”
2. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1)
3. Jesus said “These things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11)
4. “He made him to be sin who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”
5. “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord”
6. Before God can use a man he has to crush him –A.W. Tozer (I guess a reference to a verse in Is. 53: “it pleased the Lord to… crush Him”)
If Tozer was referring to Isaiah 53, I would kindly suggest that the context of Isaiah 53 sheds light on the particular thought mentioned. Verse 5 does not say that he was crushed so that God could use him. He was crushed for our iniquities.
I think it’s a mistake to see Isaiah 53 as a model for how God treats us. It is, in fact, a description of what Christ bore on our behalf — so that we would not have to.
A few Scriptures are in there, albeit without citation. All of them are based on what I understand of the Scriptures, too, so the ideas here are Biblical all through. I may do a post in the future with the exact citations that have had the most impact on me.
I think this is the right phrasing of the Tozer quote:
And on that bit of wisdom, I would agree. Many of the 100 items listed above I learned through painful lessons.
To quote your phrase elsewhere in this comment thread, you and I will have to part company on that perspective 😉
Nevertheless, good list. I probably can affirm about 90% of this list. I appreciate you sharing it.
This is great, Dan! Thanks for sharing. A loud “Amen!” to nearly everything. Along with that, I have a few questions and comments:
19. If all other aspects of Sunday meetings were removed, prayer would be the one untouchable, yet we spend less time doing it in our meetings than anything else.
I have communicated with my elders and others about the need for more emphasis on prayer during Sunday worship, but I’m curious about why you think prayer is the one untouchable. It is untouchable, but why more so than Scripture and worship in song?
27. We do a great disservice to families in our churches when we split them up the second they hit the lobby.
Dumb question: What are the alternatives for Sunday school and worship time?
29. A youth minister’s primary responsibility isn’t to teens directly but to their parents. A good youth minister teaches parents how to teach their own teens, leaving the bulk of the responsibility to them.
I don’t disagree, but how can a youth minister accomplish this? I can’t see too many parents being open to this instruction.
56. There’s no reason each of us can’t lead at least one person a year to Christ.
I don’t think this is fair. We all have the obligation to live out and share the gospel; we should all be witnesses, regardless of whether we are particularly gifted in inviting others to accept Christ.. But whether someone actually accepts Christ is dependent on the Holy Spirit. It’s our job to be faithful — we are responsible to bear fruit, but not for the results of it. Also, circumstances vary greatly. Not everyone is always meeting new people and developing the kinds of relationships with them that lead to explaining salvation.
65. We make an idol of the nuclear family if we raise it above the needs of the household of Faith.
I’m not sure that I disagree with what you believe about this, but I don’t know that I’d word it this way. Without strong families, the household of faith is weak. We see the results when pastors and others put too much emphasis on the work of the church and not enough on their families.
68. Fear drives almost all human failings. The opposite of fear is love.
You may be completely right, but are you sure fear is much more responsible than pride or selfishness?
I’ll try to address your comments as best I can in limited space:
Prayer is the language of heaven. The Kingdom operates through prayer. We are to pray at all times and in all places. Losing prayer is like going deaf and mute. I don’t believe anything else carries such loss. They can take our Bibles away and keep us from gathering together for worship, but if we lose prayer, we’ve lost our hotline to God.
There are hundreds of ways we can address this splitting of the family at church, too many to go into here. I may write on this later based on a radical family ministry revisioning from a paper I wrote at Wheaton that caused quite a stir in the Christian Ed department.
One simple expression of this: house churches.
This is also part of that Wheaton paper I mentioned. It’s also a difficult problem that requires that we re-examine how we lives our lives within a modern industrialized culture. Because of the way we live daily, many of us have jettisoned our God-given responsibilities. It may be very hard to teach our children based on the lifestyles we’ve chosen to adopt, but we must still teach them.
I suspect that many parents don’t teach their kids the Faith because they aren’t skilled in teaching and have limited understanding of what they are teaching. A youth minister would address that issue. His/her reason to be is not to build one more wall between youth and their parents, nor to create a sub-group within the church. True family ministry is possible, but only if we stop splitting the family up and handing them over to “specialists.”
Dave, we’ll have to part company on this. I think my comment is very fair. One person a year. One. If we’re not making disciples, then we’re not doing what the Lord commanded us. If our lives are so hectic and we are so isolated in our little Christian cliques that we’re not meeting non-Christians, then we need to alter how we’re living.
Have I led 30 unbelievers to Christ in 30 years? Not that I can say with all surety. But I also look at my life and realize that I’m not trying very hard to do so, either. Think about this: what if we spent the amount of time planning to reach three or four lost people every year in place of the time we spend planning a family vacation?
See? That kind of thinking doesn’t even register with us because helping people meet Christ isn’t all that important to us. Unsaved people are an inconvenience to us, so we form a shell around ourselves and keep our light hid under a bushel.
Yes, it is God alone who is responsible for leading people to Christ. However, He chose to work through us! If we don’t do what He asks of us, He’ll go around us. And if you look around the USA and examine the abysmal state of evangelism here (every study done has shown that churches are largely shuffling around members, not making new ones), then note what is happening in China and elsewhere, you can’t come to any other conclusion than we are in danger of “losing our lampstand” here in the US.
I worded it as I did to cause some cognitive dissonance to readers. We don’t tend to think of people outside our nuclear families as family, but in Christ they are.
And yes, some people in ministry have the opposite problem. But I would say that the other 99% of us just don’t think outside our little tract houses in the suburbs. Other Christians are “other Christians,” not family. We need to change that way of thinking.
Also, the Lord says that anyone who leaves nuclear family for the sake of the Gospel will be blessed. You won’t hear James Dobson trumpeting that truth, though.
I also believe that a nuclear family that is not open to those outside it is not a healthy family anyway.
Pride, selfishness, and fear are so tightly bound that it’s hard to break them apart. People are proud because they fear. People are selfish because they fear. You can reverse those, too. I placed fear higher because the highest expression of Christian living is love and the Scriptures say that perfect love casts out all fear. Fear is also more primal than the other two.
I hope those answers help. Thanks for asking them.
Thanks for putting the effort into your 100 truths, they seem well thought out. Just my 2 cents on #68:
Desire to be like God drives all human failings. Fear is an emotion of not being God while still doing the previous. The opposite of fear is peace. The opposite of love is apathy.
I personally agree #56. there is no excuse for those who don’t win souls. we are ambassadors and light to the lost world and we will give an account to God if we don’t reflect his love and forgiveness to them. Respectfully I would say one a year is definitly better than none at all. God saved me out of deep sin 35 years ago and I am driven not out of obigation but rather by His mercy that endures forever and His endless love for the people of this world and for me.If we will to pay the price to walk in the light with Him, people will gravitate toward us and ask for the reason of the hope that is within us. That my brothers and sisters is not works but a GOD GIVEN delightful pleasure and uplifter of our souls and is the greatest miracle that our Heavenly Father ever created huuuuuuuuuu! thank you Lord. Be Blessed in Him everybody.
Thanks so much for this. You’ve been a Christian about twice as long as I have, and it’s so important and helpful to have more experienced people sharing their wisdom….
Remember one thing, though: I may be twice as old as you in the Lord, but it may have taken me twice as long to learn the lessons you learned in half the time! God teaches people at the rate they can handle.
How true it is brother. I am now 70 years of age I’ve known Him 35 years and rolling. I am not retired but refired. I at this late time in my life am moving into His purpose for what He has called me to do. It has nothing to with how long you’ve confessed to be a christian, but rather when you became a partaker of His cup and walked in the place where He walked to save us from our sin daily. We are in Him and we go where He goes and nothing can take us from Him. Rev. 12:11 they overcame by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony and love not their lives unto the death. Have a blessed day. Jim
You have learned well.
But I still have a lot more to learn!
The learning never really stops does it?
I see your point and thank you for pointing it out to me. To be fair here with Tozer, I said “I guess” because I couldn’t find the exact citation. However I can see some scriptural basis for that quote. I think of Joseph for instance. Perhaps the word ‘crush’ is a bit of an overstatement…
wow! thanks for sharing that. great stuff, that I plan to pass along.
What have you learned in your walk with Christ?
It ain’t about me. IT AIN’T good English but true. bless you.
Thank you! I may have to print these out and post them on my wall.
Dan- great post! If we all took the time to really examine our Walk with the Lord- and what we have learned- It would be my hope that the lists would be as long. I have been a Christian all my life- almost 46 years. A so called “Cradle Christian” who up until recently really started to live it. I have studied it, read scriptures, even led a soul to Christ, served as a minister-in many capacities, and in the end, left that particular church due to some of the things and atributes that it is displaying now. It took a rude awakening to realize that it was working. I didn’t feel the Heavenly Fathers presence there- not in the service, not in the studies, not in the liturgy, not even in the Congregants. For many, it was a Sunday only affair. That isn’t what its about.
I am now learning to live what a Christian life is about- both within and out of the Church meeting hall. As a community, we do things together- we help those who are in need- not just those whom might be of this particular faith, but those who may be downtrodden, and perhaps of no faith.
Right now, I am making Leper bandanges to send to someone who needs them …
In anycase-This is a much more fulfilling life- a true Christian life.
Living it is truly much more rewarding than going through the liturgical motions every Sunday.
N.B. I used to play the organ in a Lutheran Church. 🙂
I very much appreciate your list. At a time when I am going through a real crisis in what I believe after being a Christian as long as you it is humbling at best. Wish I could say that I have learned as much. The saddest part for me is that after being crushed over and over again I am only more hardened. Pride, self sufficiency, an unwillingness to go through anymore has made me apathetic and lukewarm at best. I so admire those Christians like yourself who have only grown through their trials. I on the otherhand have not. The most frightening part of it is that I have come to this after 30 years and where will I be after 30 more? How do you re-ignite the flame? Sorry for rambling. I really do enjoy your blog and you did inspire me. Thank you!
I hope to be around when you post your 100 list in 2037. It will be interesting to see if your presepective changes and if you have other items to add to your list as you “work out your salvation” and continue to mature in Christ. Blessings!
Great food for thought. There were many things that resonated with me, but I as particularly draw this one:
(Not sure what happened to the formatting on the last comment. Sorry about that)
Great food for thought. There were many things that resonated with me, but I as particularly draw this one:
11. Small home groups are fantastic for relationship-building, prayer, and sharing, but usually not the best venue for serious Bible study (especially if they’re co-ed).
I agree with that observation, especially since I have struggled with it in the last few small groups that I was involved in. Bible study itself in a so-called “bible study has taken the form of reading a book other than the Bible or going through a pre-packaged study. Neither involves much Bible study other than some passing references. In other instances, the Bible study has been reduced to someone giving their opinion from the notes below the line in their study Bible (I cringe when someone says “my Bible says… and they are reading from the study notes below the line! That isn’t your Bible!).
Anyway, all ranting aside, are there instances where serious Bible study can take place with more than one person in a non-academic setting?
I’m finding it increasingly difficult to find anyone who is truly interested in doing a deep dive into scripture (without the exclusive use of study Bible notes!).
Thanks for sharing the list.
I’m currently leading a small group (in the young adults group) at my church. The group is co-ed with about 20-25 people. We usually spend part of each meeting in worship, prayer, study, and fellowship. Our group seems to be similar to the ones Dan has observed, where it’s difficult to bring the study to a deeper level.
As a leader it’s hard to know how to focus the group. Should I spend most of the time teaching? Or just open it up for discussion? I try to balance between the two so there is actual teaching and not just a facilitated discussion, but also an opportunity for people in the group to interact with each other, talk about their experiences, etc.
I’d love to hear any thoughts people have on what makes for a fruitful bible study.
Wow! Where do I start? This is absolutely GREAT, Dan! I’m currently reading through the book of Proverbs and this reminds me so much of that book. So I think I’ll call this “Dan’s Proverbs.” I definitely am going to point my blog readers over here to this post. In fact, I think I will try to pick out my top ten favorites out of the 100 here. And I think that will be quite a job–to select only ten.
A great list … thank you!
Great Post, Dan — well thought out list, something more of us should spend some time on, and even perhaps a closer look toward how well we fare in applying what we have learned to our lives.
I am not too good at expressing my thoughts on paper but I think I will try my own list also. :> )
Both convicting and encouraging…thanks!
Good post. Enjoyed reading through those. Some made me think.
Great stuff, indeed.
With my 20th anniversary on the horizon, I’ve been encouraged by your example to formulate a similar list.
I’m also going to link to your list on my blog to encourage others to compile one for themselves.
I really like this list but I do have to say with number 16, that many Evangelicals are like this but so are a lot of Christians from major denominations. This is cruel no doubt but there are a lot of people out there who call themselves, Catholics, Lutherans Baptists, Pentacostal, etc. that have a mean streak.
Thanks for a great list and God Bless You!
really like your list. Re: leading people to Christ. I believe the Holy Spirit leads people to Christ. We can be the tools. I don’t believe that we can “make” people come to Christ, but we need to disciple people, that’s for sure.
My eyes are filled with Tears… I am in my early twenties and born again for a few years now, but at this very time all I feel is emptiness. I know God is my Answer, but why do I not turn to him?
Please pray for me.