Your session will end in  seconds due to inactivity. Click here to continue using this web page.

An Unremarkable Faith

Tuesday, January 04, 2011 | Comments (48)

Meet Larry, a thirty-six year old Science teacher. Larry married Cathy 12 years ago. They love each other and enjoy raising their two sons. Larry’s life wouldn’t hold out much interest to the average citizen. His Facebook account doesn’t draw many friends and nobody ever leaves a comment on his blog. In fact, most people would summarize Larry’s life with one word—boring. But not Larry. Teaching osmosis to junior high students, playing Uno with his kids, and working in the yard with Cathy is paradise to him. But the real love of his life is Jesus. Larry’s a Christian. He’s been walking with the Lord for more than 20 years.

Larry’s Christian friends all employ the same word to describe their companion—faithful. He’s faithful to his local church where he’s been teaching Sunday School for nearly a decade. He’s never ignored a legitimate financial need within the body of Christ. He gives sacrificially, but secretly. Larry devotes himself to his wife and family, lovingly shepherding them through every season of life with the Scriptures. He’s faithful to his job and fellow colleagues. He’s managed to share Christ with nearly every junior-high teacher at Oakwood Academy. And although they mock Larry behind his back, all the teachers respect him. It won’t shock you to know Larry pays his taxes and never misses an opportunity to serve his community. Larry’s life commends the gospel. He’s faithful, but he’s unremarkable. Or, is he?

If you’re bored with Larry’s Christianity, it’s probably because you’ve been influenced by a very different idea of the Christian life. Larry’s not radical, or wild at heart—not in the sense of taking careless risks, jeopardizing the stability of his family, or pursuing a life of adventure. You could say Larry is quite content with his station in life, a station given him by God. He aspires to live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. Sound familiar?

There’s a stubborn and influential voice within evangelicalism that seems to despise simple yet unremarkable faithfulness. Pastor Tom Lyon acknowledges that when he writes, “The value of a humble and unassuming life seems to have been eclipsed by this upwardly mobile ‘dare to be a Daniel’ brand of Christianity which elevates ambition above maturity and has seated the stable but unremarkable believer in coach class. Something is wrong here.[1]

Lyon went on to describe what he called the unremarkable Christian: “His aspirations, his thirst for notoriety, his estimate of greatness have all been changed. His horizon has come closer to home. He finds in the Bible no call to be outstanding. He is not without ambition, but his dreams have nothing to do with rising above his fellows. Unless pressed, he prefers anonymity to attention. He is steady. Steadied by grace. And one of the most amazing things about grace is how it works this even disposition.

That’s not an endorsement for ministerial mediocrity or a call to settle for small, lifeless pursuits. On the contrary, it’s is a plea for excellence—but excellence according to Scripture. A humble, Spirit-filled pursuit of greatness should characterize every Christian’s efforts in ministry, but remember that greatness in God’s kingdom is unappealing to the world, unremarkable. How does the world view your life? John MacArthur writes:

Christians are to be known for their quiet demeanor, not for making disturbances. Unbelievers should see us as quiet, loyal, diligent, virtuous people…To promote a tranquil and quiet life, believers must pursue godliness and dignity…Godliness can refer to a proper attitude; dignity to proper behavior. Thus believers are to be marked by a commitment to morality; holy motives must result in holy behavior. Both contribute to the tranquility and quietness of our lives.[2]

Here’s a thought to ponder as you go your way. Had you befriended Larry, how might you react to his faithful, yet unremarkable life? Would you advise him to venture out further, take a radical risk for the kingdom and leave behind the quiet, mundane confinements of his Norman Rockwell life? Or would you commend Larry for how he’s living, giving God glory for such a faithful yet unremarkable Christian? Remember, the handful of so-called radical, risk-taking Christians stand on the backs of men like Larry. They are only able to take their risks because the Larry’s of this world won’t, and Larry wouldn’t have it any other way.

Tommy Clayton
Content Developer and Broadcast Editor



[1] Tom Lyon, Aspiring to Live a Quiet and Peaceable Life, Banner of Truth publication, pgs, 1-4.

[2] John MacArthur, 1 Timothy (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995).


Make a Comment

Click here to subscribe to comments without commenting.

You have 3000 characters remaining for your comment. Note: All comments must be approved before being posted.

Submit

#1  Posted by Julie Andreen  |  Monday, January 03, 2011at 8:55 PM

This article could not be more timely. With books like "Crazy Love," one can easily begin to feel that "ordinary" Christianity is not enough, and that if we are not risking our lives on a daily basis in the name of Christ, going to prison for our faith, or living in a tent filled with gospel tracts, then we are not "real" Christians. God will reward a parent who stays at home to disciple their child or children, just as much as he would a missionary sharing their faith in a foreign country. Excellent piece.

#2  Posted by Joann Goka  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 12:21 AM

I want to be a "Larry"! I wish more ministries would shine a light on this subject.

#3  Posted by Ruth O'regan  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 2:09 AM

I agree, it is a timely message in light of Crazy Love, we need Christians like Larry, but we also need Christians who can sometimes do crazy things like what is described in the book Crazy Love in areas like giving to the poor and to the work of the Lord, I would say most people do not sacrificially give. Perhaps we're afraid that we'll be too poor ourselves if we do, but God is generous with those who are generous with him, that is a fact. And each one should give whatever he has decided to give not reluctantly or under compulsion but as a cheerful giver and those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly and those who sow generously will reap generously. That is also a Biblical principle.

#4  Posted by Richard Schwartz  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 5:12 AM

I certainly agree that a true follower of Christ doesn't need to live some sort of radical life, in the sense that the world terms radical. But I think it must be important to note that a truly sanctified believer will live a life that is radically different from the world, which is what I think this article is saying.

Larry won't go home to his big screen HD television and watch it for hours a day. He won't have his two brand new sports cars in the drive way of his 4-bedroom house with the mortgage he'll never pay off.

He won't spend his time or his money like his peers at the school. Instead he will be known for his voracious Bible study and incredibly unusual desire to serve the community. He will give much more than any "normal" person would consider reasonable. As mentioned, evangelism will be one of the great focuses of his life.

He won't be radical because he leaves his family to become a missionary in Africa, but he will be radical because all the resources of his life he gives to Jesus right here where he is. He will be totally different that those around him who pursue the "American dream". All his hopes and dreams will be tied up in eternity.

And this is what I think the point of books like "Crazy Love" truly are. I don't take it that anyone is saying we have to be radical in the world's eyes in order to have true faith. We just have to be radically devoted to our Lord Jesus Christ and His purposes for our life, which are outlined in the Bible, and not the world's purposes for our life, which our culture dictates.

#5  Posted by Sabina James  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 6:05 AM

This is indeed very timely. So many of my family and friends are flocking to "radical" and exciting churches. They mock the boring but quietly worshipful church I attend. Thank you VERY much for affirming those of us who have unremarkable but deep faith in our Shepherd who leads us beside the still waters.

#6  Posted by Jonathan Sokol  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 6:28 AM

That was such an encouragement. I have read many books lately that make you feel just being faithful to Christ is not enough. Of course I don't want to become complacent or apathetic but I don't want to feel bad about my Christian walk because I don't give everything I own away, or become a martyr, or go to prison for what I believe. If given the opportunity to complete one of those tasks through Christ I would count it a great blessing but I look at people like the aformentioned Larry and see great faith, a solid foundation, and I find it inspiring. This country needs people just like Larry everywhere to create a solid foundation within his own sphere of influence that God has placed him in. I am very thankful for this article!

#7  Posted by Hal Moser  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 6:40 AM

I am one of the many believers who are "influenced by a very different idea of the Christian life." As I read this blog, I literally felt the weight of guilt, caused by a feeling that I am not radical or crazy in love enough, lifted from my conscience. Larry's faithfulness to serve Christ by loving, leading and discipling his wife and children, sacrificially and secretly giving to the needs of others, faithfully teaching and serving in his local church and boldly proclaiming the Gospel to co-workers is evidence of being a radical, spirit-filled, crazy in love follower of Jesus Christ. While this should be the norm for all believers, is it true of the average believer in the United States? May we all prayerfully "dare to be a Larry."

#8  Posted by Becca Depenning  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 6:50 AM

He would be a remarkable Christian in my book, in that he is actually doing exactly what God asks of him. Sadly, we don't see much of that anymore.

#9  Posted by Justin Tilghman  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 8:05 AM

I couldn't agree more. I have really struggle with this concept. In college we were pressed to read Crazy Love, Wild at Heart, Irresistible Revolution, and others and the conversations constantly circled around how one wasn't truly living into the Christian faith unless they were radically selling everything they had, leaving home and becoming a missionary, putting their lives in danger, climbing a rock face, or something else. We would have countless missionaries come and speak and almost everyone would end with comments such as, "if you're not feeling led to move to Yemen right now you need to check your faith" (slight exaggeration haha). I'm not saying that these aren't legitimate Godly things and that people who do these things aren't true Christians, I know some very Godly people that God has called to serve Him in those ways. But what about those of us that don't feel a call to international or inner city missions? I think often times that it takes just as much faith if not more to live like Larry because you have to trust that God is using you. If you're living "radically" it's easy to see God using you, but when you live "mundanely" it's not so easy. You have to have faith that even if God doesn't do something huge with your life that the whole world will know about he will work, and is working, through your relationships with your family, friends, coworkers, and that He will make a kingdom impact with your life that may not show in this world but will be evident in eternity. Kudos to Christians like Larry for being content with where you are, who you are, and how God is using you and kudos to those Christians that God has called to live in a "radical" way as missionaries and other things. No matter where we find ourselves in life, may we continue to give God the glory through Jesus and live our lives, no matter how radical or mundane they may seem, for the glory of His kingdom!

#11  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 8:54 AM

I was reading 1 Thessalonians 4 this morning, and the text teaches exactly what this post is getting at:

"Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one."

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

The last phrase is interesting: "be dependent on no one." Unfortunately the radical life many are promoting today requires a person to be completely dependent on others for basic needs.

Thanks Tommy for this reminder!

#12  Posted by Steve Sprague  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 9:06 AM

(Matt 25:21) His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

#13  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 9:16 AM

Like Enoch, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah and etc. Yes, It's a narrow road, that Jesus said that a few would find.

That's a great blog , Tommy.

#14  Posted by Richard Schwartz  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 9:17 AM

I've been watching the responses to this blog entry about Larry and I've felt a bit unsettled about how we look at this. I can't find exactly the right words to put to my misgivings, but I want to try to communicate what I see.

Larry is indeed an example of a faithful believer. He has met all his callings to God without ever setting foot in an overseas mission field. He hasn't sold all his possessions. He hasn't risked his life for the cause of Christ. And everyone who has posted here has pointed out that all of this is ok. He doesn't have to be "radical" in order to be faithful to God.

But I see in these posts a sort of argument for the adequecy of our lives before God. We don't have to feel guilty about not doing enough for God because of Larry, I hear some of us saying. But this is where I begin to feel misgivings about where this leads.

Larry is an ideal believer. And it is very important for us to remember that the picture of Larry that is presented here is an ideal and not a reality. If we were living completely like this Larry, in total obedience to God in every area of our "mundane" lives, than we would have reason to boast. We would have no reason for guilt before God, as many have said.

But none of us are that ideal. We cannot be because we are still sinners and fall short of God's ideal servants. So while it is good to note that being like Larry is nothing to criticize, none of us can boast that we are yet like Larry, truly.

So perhaps Larry's story is a good argument for us to strive for something different. But strive still we must. And be humbled still we must under the holiness of God and how far we fall short of it, even if all God calls us to is Larry-like devotion.

We must never fall into the trap of feeling adequate before God. In this lifetime we will never be adequate... we must always strive for greater devotion. And even Larry, assuming he is human, has a long way to go.

#16  Posted by Nancy Mckeethan  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 10:19 AM

I am so excited to read this. I have been struggling with thinking I am suppose to be doing something really big and unique for God yet everytime an opportunity arises I cannot seem to find peace about pursuing it. I read the book Crazy Love and felt guilt for a month about my life and knew I could never talk my husband into selling everything he has worked for to minister to the poor. I am a stay at home mom and just last night had a moment to share with my 12 year old about bad character corrupting good character and could take him right to the scripture that is from God not me and his dad. I feel so good now bcause through this gentlemans story I can know I am right where God wants me and I do not have to feel guilty about it. Thank you for this story and I thank God bcause He has heard me and answered.

#17  Posted by Marcia Dersch  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 10:38 AM

Corinthians says "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves,but our adequacy is from God."

It is always the Lord Himself or the "Not I but Christ" that produces works that will last through His fire. Flesh wants accolades from others and the flashiest professing Christians often make me wonder at their motives. Why flaunt before others your good works,sacrifice,or even martyrdom--it is God Who sees and gives rewards for faithful service...that "no flesh should glory in His presence". I think of Annanias and Saphira...who fell dead for wanting to appear faithful with all their land money,but lied to the Holy Spirit.

That God is merciful to us the sinners is the sublime satisfaction of our souls. Possessing His presence and power in our lives in simple devotion and obedience to His Word on a daily basis--there is no joy better than that! How humanly remarkable that may appear to others or not depends on ones' understanding of His methods of using a life for His glory. Some are put out there for all to see--most are not. And that is OK--I watch the everyday,faithful loving believers-though they may not realize it. His ways are above ours.Most of us would gloat if we realized too much of our being used of Him. As with Paul's thorn in the flesh. . .to keep him humble.

Thankfully, "God is the rewarder of those that diligently seek him in faith". One day when nobody is looking for man's approval or recognition,God will justly give the well deserved rewards. . .and those who receive them will cast them at His feet. Now that is

remarkable.

Marcia Dersch

#18  Posted by Richard Schwartz  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 10:59 AM

Well, I have never read the other books mentioned here, but I found that reading Crazy Love brought me low and convicted me of much sin in my life. I realized how consumed I am with my own possessions and wealth and self-centered time-management, among other things.

I don't know if Mr. Clayton can answer this question, but is this post on Larry meant to be an attack on the book Crazy Love? Isn't this Larry living a self-sacrificial life like the one Francis Chan puts forth in his book?

I know Francis Chan is a graduate of The Master's Seminary and I've never seen Pastor MacArthur denounce what the book Crazy Love says before as being unBiblical. If it is Pastor MacArthur's position that it is, I'd like to hear so along with a more direct argument against it.

#19  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 11:15 AM

Richard,

MacArthur and the seminary to not make it a practice to follow their graduates and denounce them when they say or publish something the seminary or church would disagree with. For one thing it's not practical, for another it's not necessary (unless, perhaps, the graduate was teaching outright heresy and using his TMS background for self-promotion).

I haven't read Crazy Love, or books like Radical by David Platt, but I don't think they would point to the life described in 1 Thess 4:9-12 and pictured in the life of Larry as unbiblical per se.

I also don't take Tommy's post to be condemning the radical life. Missionaries necessarily lead radical lives. Jesus called the disciples to live radical lives. In many senses, we are all called to live radical lives--that is, radically different from the world. There are varying degrees of radical living and some are called to live at the extreme edges.

But as Tommy said, those who live on the extreme edges live on the backs of those who lead simple and quiet lives (while still being radically different from the world).

All that to say, I don't think Tommy's post is an attack as much as seeking to correct the balance of biblical living.

Of course... Tommy has the final word on that.

#20  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 11:33 AM

Why do books like Crazy Love and Radical exist? I think there are at least two reasons:

1. The authors correctly see a worldly attitude in the American church (I've never heard of an International author writing to his own people on similar issues). The American church has bought into the American Dream over and against God's Word. I was reading Acts this morning (I know, it's descriptive, not prescriptive), and I was impressed again with the phrase: "There was not a needy person among them" (Acts 4:34a). I'm certain there is enough wealth in our local American churches to make this a reality, but the mentality just isn't there (in many churches).

2. We should remember that it is very difficult for one man (especially famous men) to emphasize all Scripture equally. Certain men are known for certain soap boxes. Whether they forget or purposefully de-emphasize other Scriptures, itinerant preachers tend to strike one chord continually and it is up to the hearer to balance what they say with the rest of Scripture.

As the celebrity culture grows in Christian circles, it seems a counter-movement (if you can call it a movement) is also growing--one that emphasizes the ordinary. Don Carson wrote a book called The Ordinary Pastor in an effort to encourage the 99% of pastors who are not extraordinary. Perhaps someone (Tommy? :D) will write a book called The Ordinary Christian.

#21  Posted by Richard Schwartz  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 11:39 AM

Gabriel,

I have read Crazy Love and I was replying to those who, in this thread, spoke against the teaching in it while referring to Mr. Clayton's post.

I don't believe that Larry's story is contradictory to what is taught in Crazy Love. I also do not believe that guilt because of our inability to live up to Christ's standards is a bad thing. When we fail to be like Christ and thus sin, guilt is appropriate, followed by repentence and a seeking after righteousness through the power of the Spirit of God. But guilt is part of the process.

I don't see in Mr. Clayton's post anything that should relieve us of the guilt arrising from the type of sin dealt with in Crazy Love. Perhaps the other books are a different story.

I agree with what you said, which is that we are all called to live radical lives, and "Larry" is no exception. Francis Chan's book is meant to convict us of the sin of complacency in our "American dream" existences, and I found it to be incredibly helpful.

If MacArthur and the seminary did feel that Chan's teaching was in error, I would pray that they would make a practice of correction, as they do often with just about everyone as far I can see.

In Christ,

Richard

#22  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 11:59 AM

Richard: I agree what what you wrote except the last paragraph.

As far as I know the seminary has never corrected anyone for anything publicly.

As far as John MacArthur, his practice seems to have been to correct what he sees as threats to the Church and the Gospel (Charismatic theology, post-modernism, Contextualization, non-Lordship, false Gospels, etc.). I don't think this issue has risen anywhere near that level, and it probably never will. As a shepherd he'll correct issues like this in many of his sermons, but those don't get publicized as much.

#23  Posted by Richard Schwartz  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 12:08 PM

Gabriel: Well, we can agree to disagree about the level to which MacArthur should correct error. Crazy Love has become a huge bestseller in the church and its message is, I feel, very influential in the church right now. If such a message were totally in error, I would hope to see someone with MacArthur's influence correct it.

But all this is wasted breath, because ultimately that is his decision, not mine. But I will continue to see the absense of comment about it from him and his ministry as a sign that they don't see it as serious error, at the very least. Like you said, he doesn't seem to see it as a threat to the church and the gospel.

In any case, enough said. I'm glad we can agree on the meat of what I'm trying to communicate.

#24  Posted by Richard Schwartz  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 12:33 PM

Gabriel,

Have you read the Don Carson book? I haven't read it, but maybe I should. I'm a little unsure about the idea of encouraging believers to be ordinary. Or maybe it's just the use of the word "ordinary" that bothers me.

MacArthur's "12 Ordinary Men" was a great book because it emphasized how God uses ordinary men in extraordinary ways. I think that instead of emphasizing how ordinary we are, we should instead be emphasizing how extraordinary our God is... and thus no ordinary man remains ordinary under the influence of our extraordinary God.

In Christ,

Richard

#25  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 12:47 PM

A few faithful shepherds are from the narrow gate. Too many are

from the wide gate.

It's better to have sermons to make me guilty so I would look at

myself and confess what I did. The feel good sermons don't delight

me. I would feel not educated in the scriptures. Feel good sermons

have a empty and hollow attitude about God's Word.

That's what the narrow gate is for, a few may find it. Sad. A popular

preacher or a humble preacher. We must choose. Ask God. He will provide

answers, that's the Holy Spirit. The Helper, and our Counselor.

#26  Posted by Nancy Mckeethan  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 12:54 PM

Remember that the Holy Spirit is responsible for convicting us of sin not Fancis Chan or a book someone has written.

#27  Posted by Hal Moser  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 1:33 PM

I have read both Crazy Love by Francis Chan and Radical by David Platt. Both are sound and challenge the superficial, lifeless, self-centered, materialistic, comfortable, safe version of Christianity that just teaches people to go to church, be good citizens, focus on families, raise nice kids and display a surface conformity to selective moral standards. In the article, Larry is serving, giving sacrificially, living as an example of Christ-likeness and boldly going to his workplace to reach people with the Gospel. This is an example of the radical crazy love for Christ encouraged by these books. Don't use this article as an excuse to ignore a conscience that may be convicted by reading these books. If we feel guilty, it may be because we are.

#28  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 1:46 PM

Richard,

I have not read Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson (this is the actual title... sorry for misleading... I was going off memory).

From what I've heard it is definitely not encouraging pastors to be mediocre, but rather encouraging normal every pastors that they don't need to be superstars in order to have fruitful ministries.

#29  Posted by Richard Schwartz  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 2:29 PM

Hal,

I agree with what you said. Voiced my concerns perfectly.

Nancy,

God is responsible for everything. He is sovereign. I think it's more complicated than just to say that the Holy Spirit convicts us and the book and Francis Chan have no part in it. If I attempted to put to words the theology which applies here, I'd probably get it wrong. But I think it's ok to say that the book, Crazy Love, has at least a part in convicting me. Maybe that's theologically incorrect, but I'm not sure. I have a lot to learn.

Gabriel,

Maybe this Tom Carson is right, but I think we ought to be careful in making divisions between the "ordinary" pastors and the "superstars" because just looking at the Bible (not to mention history) God has taken the most "ordinary" people at the most unlikely times and turned them into "superstars".

Language is dangerous and powerful. If we're careful we can limit ourselves in a way that limits God.

In Christ,

Richard

#30  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 2:42 PM

The Spirit indeed is the one that convicts us, but He uses the means of His Word which is delivered in many ways including Bible reading, sermons, books, Sunday school lessons, etc.

There is an interesting tension in this comment thread:

First, Tommy never mention any book or author... so those are coming from commentors in both positive and negative lights.

Second, those who are affirming the need for the books mentioned also affirm that Larry exemplifies what those books are getting at.

Third, we all agree that mediocrity, complacency, lack of serving, lack of giving, etc. are unbiblical. No one is arguing for this kind of life-style.

Fourth, we all agree not everyone should actually sell all they have and head to wherever. But I think most of us recognize that we could be doing more than what we are, so we should be convicted by these books.

Fifth, it seems the desire by some is to not allow ourselves to look at Larry and think yes, that's me, I'm fine... no need to sacrifice any more.

I think that last point is what Richard and Hal are getting at--and I think they're right. When I read about Larry, I'm reading about a man who is far more dedicated and sacrificial in his life than I am. But at the same time I don't read about a perfect person who is unattainable.

Let us all examine ourselves, work out our salvation, do the good works we've been called to do, and walk worthy of the gospel.

#32  Posted by Hal Moser  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 5:23 PM

Great summary Gabriel, thanks.

#34  Posted by Scott Davidson  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 7:31 PM

If we use the gifts that God has given us to bring glory to His name then guys like Larry who are obedient to how Christ has called Him to minister will hear the words all genuine Christ followers long to hear. "Well done my good and faithful servant."

I myself am like Larry, I do not have the gift of speaking well, but I will share the message of Christ every opportunity that arises.

We need to share the love of Christ but we also need to show the love of Christ through our actions. Larry shows the attributes of Christ through his quiet ministry, which is something all Christ followers should strive for.

We flirt with trouble when we become "radical" or "wild at heart" because the enemy can attack our weakness.

Larry's humble attitude is refreshing yet extremely effective showing what Jesus can do in the believers life.

#35  Posted by Ryan Weston  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 7:58 PM

Wow... what? How could a follower of Christ NOT live radically. Didn't He live radically? Of course we are all His body and so serve differant functions... not everyone is a missionary... but we all have the same primary goal "make disciples of all nations." Right?

The disciples were ordinary dudes, living ordinary lives... UNTIL they were called by God to do something... ummm, well, RADICAL! We should model our lives after the followers of Jesus... after all, thats what we claim to be.

Every person who experienced direct contact with God throughout the Bible had their lives turned drasticlly radical. Noah = RADICAL. Abram = radical. Moses = radical. Joshua = radical. David = radical. The 12 = RADICAL. Saul = Radical.

I must remind all, to claim "I love Jesus" does NOT mean you actually do love Him. He gave us a clear defenition of what it means to love HIm... and there is no wiggle room there.

"Larry" does not take risks??? So, does that mean he makes sure his 2000 $$ mortgage is paid... and his 12 year old has money to buy all the "Twilight" movies? Or go see the new Harry Potter?? I am not passing judgment on Larry... I use his name figurativly.

Not conforming to the ways of the world should look radical, right?

I recommend all to read "Crazy Love" and do the study "Experiencing God".

Someone help me out here, maybe I'm not understanding smething (wouldn't be the first time)

---- I mean no sarcasm or judgment here... I will always try to "tell a tree by it's fruit" but do not want to unnecessarily offend anyone.

#36  Posted by Vinod Anand S  |  Tuesday, January 04, 2011at 11:22 PM

This is a great post and a timely one. I saw yesterday a video on persecution and was thinking that I want to do something for Christ. But this post caught me off guard. I have to be content in the situation or the places where God has placed me. I love the life of Larry. Yes the world will not notice guys like Larry and commend Him for what he is doing. Even the Churches won't, but what a joyous life he leads. I thank God for this post and wonder at His amazing Sovereign act.

#37  Posted by Vanessa Forrester  |  Wednesday, January 05, 2011at 12:34 AM

How very encouraging!!! I am a follower of Jesus and it saddens me how Christians behave and also believe they have to be a superchristian to be approved. I am a stay home mummy with two beautiful young children and sometimes I feel I do not do enough or wonder what more I could be doing more for Jesus. This made me realise that if I am obedient to God and am growning in Christ and reading my bible and most importantlly disiplining my children as the ways to the Lord, I am ok... God Bless you all x x Love Vanessa

#38  Posted by Jodie Fuller  |  Wednesday, January 05, 2011at 1:30 AM

I'm not a Bible scholar. I am an "ordinary" housewife. I work about 10 hours a week at a local school teaching American Sign Language. I am raising the last two of my four children along with my wonderful husband. We are not, nor ever expect to be "superstars" in the Christian community. My husband goes to work every night, 5-6 nights each week exactly as he has for over 30 years. He is "unremarkable" in the world's eyes, and yes...in the churches eyes at times too. Yet I can tell you that he is extremely remarkable in that He lives out his faith in fear and trembling.

I have read every response to this lovely ode to the "common man" and can not understand why we as Christians must make an issue out of a simple and kind gesture to those of us who will never fill a pulpit, never speak a sermon, never fly across the world to do third world missions, all because it isn't our calling by God. My and my husbands calling (as of now, God can decide to change it) is to raise our children, do our work, attend and minister in our local church, all with a passion that is just as deep as anyone elses that is more in the so called "Christian spotlight". That is all this article was about.

#39  Posted by Shauna Bryant  |  Wednesday, January 05, 2011at 5:04 AM

*Shauna Bryant*

My husband and I lead quiet Christian lives such as Larry's (nowhere near perfect mind you, we're only perfect In Christ), and I believe that one of the points of this discussion is that by leading this kind of life - through our faithful giving - people like our missionaries in South Africa with the Zulu tribe are able to lead the 'radical' lives for Christ. That makes us partakers with them in that more radical endeavor to promote faithfully the Gospel of the Grace of God. For we are all one body, fitted together for good works. Some of us supply the faithful giving in the Lord, while other members use that to further the Gospel. We then have likewise - together, through our different callings - worked as one, as Jesus Christ intended. That makes us all equally, In Christ, 'radical'. I hope my intended meaning is taken correctly. Basically, the seeming 'quiet' Christian life and the more 'radical' Christian life, work together as one in the body.

#40  Posted by Greg Corron  |  Wednesday, January 05, 2011at 8:43 AM

If we treasure the knowledge of the Gospel above all else, including interesting experiences, we will likely live quiet lives as Tommy described in his excellent article. A true calling to do something special does not arise out of boredom or dissatisfaction. Even Paul lived quietly for three years after his remarkable conversion. Somehow I don't think he was bored during that time.

Neither should we be content to live as conformists. But the transformation comes through testing our understanding of the Gospel (Rom 12:2). The Bible does not call us to "reinvent" our lives through brainstorming the possibilities. If we sense that our lives are shallow, we should test our understanding of what God has revealed. The depth is found in God's knowledge (Rom 11:33), not our experience.

#41  Posted by Jodie Fuller  |  Wednesday, January 05, 2011at 11:25 AM

Dear Ryan,

So, if I am to use your train of thought, the person at my church who weekly cleans our church, toilets, walls, sanctuary, etc. is not living a radical life for Jesus. Somehow he/she has missed the "radical" calling that we read about in Crazy Love and other books like them? Someone please give a definition to the terms we are using. What is meant by an "unremarkable" faith? What is meant by those calling on everyone to have a "radical" faith? Why is it that a simple calling of a person who does their best to place their lives and hearts on God's altar, yet has a different and more simple calling by God is considered not "radical"? Or not able to "radically" change the world around them with Christ's indwelling? How is it that we today believe that we can sit in judgement over another brother or sister's life? How is it that we can decide who is and isn't living a radical life? How is it that we set ourselves up above the Lord Himself and decide that the life another believer is living isn't God's desire for Him? I thought I read somewhere that the Lord looks upon the heart. Isn't it possible that the Lord is pleased with the Larry's of this world, and that this article is trying to say exactly that? Praise God Ryan if you have been truly called to live your life exactly like the apostles/disciples in that you are out in the world changing thousands of sinners lives, but most of the called are called to a one on one type of calling. The kind that has them going to work every day and ministering to the few in their relm of influence. It is wrong for us to insenuate that just because a person isn't in the "limelight" of the Christian church that they somehow are not sold out to their God and somehow live an inferior life before God.

#43  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Wednesday, January 05, 2011at 1:58 PM

We are each called to be obedient to God, which may or may not appear to be radical. Some are called to move to the other side of the world to share the gospel. Some are called to stay home and care for elderly parents. God’s leading for each of us is different and we should be careful not to judge according to the flesh (2 Cor. 5:16). Let’s keep our eyes on Christ and live to please Him alone.

#44  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, January 05, 2011at 2:20 PM

Thanks for sharing the janitor story. I was a janitor and when I

do the work, I pray and talk to God as I clean. It makes me grow

and happy.

#45  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Wednesday, January 05, 2011at 11:01 PM

Great article, Tommy.

Since it is God who providentially determines what country we will live in, what color of skin we will be born with, what sex we will be, who our parents will be, what we will do for a living, and how much we will earn; who am I to complain and desire something far different than what He has given me? If I despise my life, and am constantly seeking thrills and greener pastures, then I cannot agree with Paul, and be content in all situations.

God is not impressed by the deluge of converts we disciple, anyway, or any Herculean task we perform, because "He" is the one who causes us to will and to do of His good pleasure. What may seem earth shaking to us, such as planting churches in Tibet, or working in an orphanage in Indonesia, God simply brings balance to it all with the smallest acts of kindness, just by offering someone a glass of water.

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or WHATSOEVER YE DO, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31).”

#46  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Thursday, January 06, 2011at 6:20 AM

Great and timely article Tommy. There is much talk about being Radical and Crazy for Jesus in evangelicalism but much of what I see coming from adherents is superficial nonsense. For example...There is a "pastor" of an urban "relevant" church in Florida calling for a 21 day fast. Some folks have signed on (BTW the "pastor" has a book for sale that details the whole fast thing) and one person in particular is fasting...Facebook!! wow. I don't know but I don't recall Facebook meeting the scriptural definition of fasting but I digress.

Dr MacArthur preached a sermon at Ligonier last year regarding our purpose as Christians in this world. Folks would do themselves a favor by watching it: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/conferences/tough-questions-christians-face-2010-national/why-did-jesus-have-to-die/

Finally, John Piper wrote the following that should shed great light in what our outlook should be as Christians...if we really grasp this our lives will be greatly impacted:

"God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose." -John Piper

#47  Posted by Meryl Ugalde  |  Thursday, January 06, 2011at 10:19 AM

How strange that reading how Larry lives his life was a rush of excitement in my eyes.

#48  Posted by Ryan Weston  |  Thursday, January 06, 2011at 1:59 PM

Jodie,

Dear friend... You have missed (probably my fault) my point. I did not and do not mean to say we should live "like" anyone. My point in illustrating the lives I did was to say that an interaction with God should radically change our lives. Radical (in my mind) does not = crazy, or out of control. Again, I truley believe that all believers have their own specific purpose in Gods great plan and I thank God for everyone of them. My response was not to any individal, rather to the notion that a follower of Christ could live any life that was not radical.

As for your comment regarding judging others, we must be careful to not let the world tell us we are judgmental. That is who is putting that thought in our heads and it is wrong. There is no issue with righteous judgment. We are called to "tell a tree by it's fruit" and "make a righteous judgement". Having said that, when we look at the words Jesus spoke, he was very clear to say that we will know who His followers are not by their words, but by their "fruit". Loving Christ is to have His commands and keep them, and doing that, in todays world, is radical to me.

#49  Posted by Linda Marlow  |  Thursday, January 06, 2011at 3:11 PM

I have a "Larry" friend in my life who I wouldn't trade for anything. He teaches me the Word, he lives quietly yet forcefully for the Kingdom of God. He showed me this site. I thank God for Him. He is the gift of grace to me.I pray the Lord Jesus sends a "Larry" to every one. BTW, he has a CD on CD Baby called Clarion Seasons, Word AND music........fantastic!!!

#50  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, January 06, 2011at 3:13 PM

If this is a real life story of Larry? I am just wondering cause I may had gotten off the point on # 25. I apologize for any off the point postings. Sorry. I was wrong to judge to quickly.

Larry is sure a example of some in bible. Like Paul and etc.

#51  Posted by Renata Mileske  |  Friday, January 07, 2011at 8:22 AM

I used to be in the same boat if you will in regards to the "ordinary" life of a believer. I believed I had to go out and "look" and "pursue" what God's "calling" was for me as a "missionary" so to speak. I had made a lot of mistakes in this regard and it lead me down the primrose path where I believed "I" was in charge and "working" for the Lord.

In reality what God does is He brings it to you and there is no reason to "search" for His will. It's called divine Providence I believe. Take things as they come, if everything is taken away from you so be it, it certainly humbles you and makes you very tankful as to what you do have and need in this life. It's about Lordship in ones life and we are all on the same path just at different sign posts on the path. I certainly do believe that if there is no burning desire for missionary callings such as "Yemen" you better do a "check up from the neck up". God does "put" those desires in your heart to do those things. There is plenty to do here in our own states, towns and neighborhoods to present the Gospel to people.

Thank you for allowing me the priviledge to post.

#52  Posted by Harry Raimey  |  Monday, January 10, 2011at 4:58 PM

My family and I have recently parted ways with a charismatic church. All to often I have seen "faith" hijacked in the name of true worship and biblical study. It seems that men (and women) are all too interested in stealing glory from God instead of reveling in the gift of His grace and glorifying Him. In the name of faith I have witnessed Christians working to obtain God's unmerited favor, follow the ebb and flow of unscriptural church trends, pay homage to so-called prophets, and gasp, swoon and salivate at the the prospect of living their best lives now. Sadly, I was once held captive by the allure of a manufactured faith. I am so thankful that I stumbled upon the local radio broadcasts of teachers like John MacArthur, Allastair Begg and James McDonald. Since listening the Grace to You broacasts and the uncompromising truth of sound biblical instruction I have been able to excercise real faith. Before taking Jesus and God's word seriously I had been seeking, in the excercise of my faith, the glory of men rather than the glory of God. Ordinary Christianity is okay with me, all to often those who wish to be extraordinary do so only at the expense of comprise with the world against the standards, commandments and will of God. I wish more leaders, teachers and followers were like Larry. Doesn't God promise to exalt and honor those who humble themselves and humble those with judgement that exalt themselves-just for thought?

#53  Posted by Esther Kwerreveld-verhoeff  |  Wednesday, January 12, 2011at 12:05 AM

Larry doesn't sound that boring to me! He lives with God and loves his family, has a church to go to and be active in. He has a very active life, compared to mine ... mine is a boring rut!

Happily married (9 years), no children (miss that), taking care of our mothers (getting older and in need of our help a lot). Both my husband and I struggle with our own health as well. Husband not secure of his job, might be out any time, very stressful. No good church to call home (to Calvinistic or to Evangelical, nothing in between), listening to sermons on-line.

If it wasn't for our faith in God and His Word, knowing there's a better future waiting for us ... we might have given up on live. So thank God for His love, grace and guidance, without it we would be lost in every sense of the word!

Psalm 23 always seems to pick me up! Hallelujah!