A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we, thine unworthy servants, do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us, and to all men. We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all, for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.

And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful; and that we show forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

by Edward Reynolds (1662)

Son of Encouragement

A Man Named Joseph

Joseph was a Jewish Christian who lived in the first century. While he wasn’t extremely rich, he was a landowner. He lived in a time and place in which many of the early Christians were greatly persecuted.

One of the things Joseph did to help his fellow Christians was to sell his land and give the money he made to the group of believers in Jerusalem. However, not only were the early Christians being stripped of their money, their very lives were being threatened for following Jesus. Therefore, Joseph traveled the land to encourage those believers and to persuade them to keep on keeping on in their commitment to Christ.

He was much loved and though you’ve probably never heard Joseph’s name, the early church knew him well. He was highly regarded among them. In fact, he was so highly considered that the leaders of the early church assigned him the job of teaming up with a recent convert to the faith, a fellow who had been known for stirring up a great deal of trouble against the early church.

This new convert had been a great persecutor of the early church, but now, seemingly out of nowhere, was a disciple of Jesus. Understandably, the men and women of the early church found it difficult to trust this man.

What this new convert needed desperately was for someone greatly loved and trusted to come alongside him and help him build bridges to the rest of the early church. That’s exactly what Joseph did. In fact, Joseph did such a thorough job that he was eventually eclipsed by the mighty work God did in and through the life of this new disciple. This new disciple of Jesus became one of the most influential missionaries and theologians the Church, in any age, has ever seen.

Perhaps you have figured out who that “new convert” was. It was Saul of Tarsus who became the Apostle Paul. However, you may not be quite as sure of Joseph’s identity. Maybe you know him by his nickname: Barnabas. The name “Barnabas” meant, “Son of Encouragement,” and that’s exactly who Barnabas was. He was a great encourager.

Come Alongside Of

One of the primary definitions of the word, “encourage,” is “to come alongside of.” That’s exactly what Barnabas did.

He came alongside those in the early church when they needed money. He sold his land and gave the profits to the early church in Jerusalem.

He came alongside the persecuted believers and lifted their spirits with the message of the Gospel and by reminding them of the hope they had in God.

He came alongside Paul when he was distrusted and disliked by so many folks and helped to bring reconciliation and trust between Paul and the early churches.


Stay tuned for Part 2

Appreciating C.S. Lewis

In an effort to communicate my appreciation for, and my indebtedness to his life and writing, I decided to put together a post sharing resources on C.S. Lewis to help others find these treasures on Lewis. I told my wife not too long ago that I really do think I could spend the rest of my days reading his books, as well books about him. His contributions across various spheres of Christian life have been vast. He speaks to me as very few others do.

I’m no Lewis scholar. I’m a rank amateur at best. But I am a fan who is trying to learn more about him. And while I can’t cite every fact about his life or how he influenced such-and-such school of thought, I find myself returning to him time and time again… whether it is his fiction, nonfiction, letters, or poetry. For that matter, I usually have a biography of Lewis somewhere near my bedside table.

Below are a few links to websites by folks who really are Lewis scholars and who have contributed in helping us think about how Lewis may serve us as a spiritual guide, among other things. I have also included links to websites about his friends, his influences, and those who have been greatly influenced by him. Enjoy.

Joy and Truth,
Dale

Courses on C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy by Michael Peterson (at biblical training.org)

The Life and Writing of C.S. Lewis by Louis Markos (at Great Courses)

C.S. Lewis by Knox Chamblin (at Reformed Theological Seminary)

Mere Christianity by Christopher Mitchell (at C.S. Lewis Institute)

The Screwtape Letters by Jerry Root (at C.S. Lewis Institute) 

Letters to Malcolm by Marjorie Lamp Mead (at C.S. Lewis Institute)

Theology of C.S. Lewis by Andrew Hoffecker (at The Gospel Coalition)

An Introduction to C.S. Lewis (at Hillsdale College)

Influences on the Thought of C.S. Lewis by Jerry Root (at Logos.com)

C.S. Lewis Foundation seminars

Websites and Organizations

1.) C.S. Lewis Institute – Bonanza of great resources. Check out their publications, Reflections and Knowing & Doing. They have great curricula on two Lewis books as well as many audio messages you can listen to or download.

2.) C.S. Lewis Foundation – Another bonanza. Lots of great resources including an online journal and blog.

3.) The C.S. Lewis Review

4.) Into the Wardrobe

5.) Diana Glyer’s website

6.) Mere Lewis.org

7.) C.S. Lewis at Harper

8.) C.S. Lewis Society of California

9.) Narnia Web.com

10.) C.S. Lewis & Public Life

Websites with lots of articles about Lewis

1.) Catholic Education Resource Center

2.) Books and Culture

3.) C.S. Lewis, Literature, and Life

Inklings and Other Friends of Lewis Related Sites

1.) The Kindlings and Earl Palmer Ministries

2.) Peter Kreeft

3.) Ralph Wood

4.) American Chesterton Society

5.) The Tolkien Society

6.) The Inklings

7.) Mythopoeic Society

8.) George MacDonald Society

9.) George MacDonald Info Web

Daily Surrenders

The Dilemma

No person fails on purpose. Yet, spiritual, and moral failures abound. A few years ago, I taught a lesson to my church’s men’s group which focused on temptations men face. The workbook we were using quoted C.S. Lewis on this subject and was a turning point for many in the group. Lewis wrote,

It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the person away from the light and out into the nothing… Indeed, the safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

The truth communicated by Lewis rang true. It reminded me of something a former mentor of mine once said. He emphasized repeatedly that compromise comes through the smallness of our daily surrenders.

It’s giving up that little bit of personal conviction each day. It’s the little piece of candy no one will ever know you ate. It’s watching that program or visiting that website when you are all alone. You get the picture.

Usually the first surrender to “small, insignificant sins” makes it easier to fall prey to them again and again. The damage comes from the “cumulative effect” Lewis was pointing to. Few people wake up in the morning planning to sin spectacularly later in the day. Yet those daily surrenders build up over time. Give a little ground here and there and before you know it, you’re in trouble. In fact, you become practically unrecognizable, even to yourself. You didn’t plan for this to happen, but those daily surrenders were enough to do the trick.

The Solution

Therefore, we must be vigilant. We need to work from the foundation of knowing who we are in Christ. We need to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). Those “daily surrenders” needn’t reign over us. The same Spirit who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead dwells in us as well.

Yet, we also need to exercise the self-awareness that recognizes those areas in our lives wherein we are weak. Every person ought to ask himself or herself: Am I being less watchful in some areas of my life than others? Even the small, seemingly insignificant areas? Am I overly confident I would never again fall prey to that particular temptation? A member of my church used to remind me often, “to be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

If you want to avoid those small daily surrenders, then pray for God to deliver you from temptation. But don’t forget to do your part. Name those temptations in advance. Talk with a godly person you trust and ask them to hold you accountable. Renew your mind daily in God’s Word. The Apostle Paul shared God’s wisdom on this point when he wrote in Philippians 4:8-9,

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What are you thinking on?

Walking Points

  • What are those areas in your life that tempt you the most?
  • How do they usually “sneak up” on you?
  • What are some ways you can see such temptations before they get to you?
  • What are some practical things you can do to resist them once you’re confronted with them?
  • Set an appointment today with a Christian brother or sister and ask him to pray for you and to help keep you accountable.

Prayer

Merciful and patient Lord, I don’t want to sin. I don’t want to “fail on purpose.” Yet I confess to you that I have not always put in place or practiced those wise spiritual disciplines that would draw me ever closer to you and protect me from the snares of the devil and my own fleshly weaknesses. Please forgive me and renew me. As David cried out, put a right spirit within me. Give me such a desire for you that turning away from you would be the last thing on my mind. Give me greater Spirit-enabled self-discipline and self-control to practice those means of grace you have given to your children to help us conform more and more to the likeness of your Son, our Lord and Savior. For it’s in his name and for his sake I pray. Amen.

So What?

So What?

Related to the previous post on a person’s worldview, we may well ask, so what? Who needs consistency? Who wants to think that deeply about such things? Seems like an academic exercise in navel gazing.

And yet, to live a life that pleases and glorifies God, the Christian ought to prayerfully and intentionally put together a biblical world and life view. To live a life of love for God and neighbor will require a life that is lived faithfully according to that worldview. Furthermore, a godly person will also want to pass that view of life on to family members, as well as to other disciples.

I once read that a person’s worldview is as practical as potatoes. Far from being purely an academic or philosophical pursuit, a person’s view of life has a “real life” shaping effect. Only as one interprets the world through the lens of a Christian worldview, will that person be better able to see how he or she ought to live and bear a faithful witness to it.

Writer George Barna has written for years on the sad news that there is virtually no difference between Christians and unbelievers in what they believe and how they live their lives. The one exception, he notes, are those believers who consciously hold a biblical worldview. Does that describe you? Do you hold such a worldview? Feel free to reach out to me and I’ll do my best to help you move in that direction.

Walking Points

  • Have you ever thought thoroughly about what you believe as a Christian and how it plays out in your daily life?
  • Of the five elements of a godly person’s worldview, which one are you most familiar with? Least familiar with?
  • Talk with one or two Christian brothers or sisters this week about the five key elements of a worldview to discover more about how you view life.
  • Then, pray about getting together regularly with these folks so you may grow in your understanding and application of God’s Word, for it really does apply to every sphere of life.


Prayer

All-wise and all-knowing God, you are the Lord of heaven and earth. Nothing truly makes sense apart from you. Forgive me when I try to live in your world as though you don’t exist. Whether it’s the way I view the universe and my place in it, the moral decisions I make every day, my values that I pass on to others, how I understand where I came from, why I’m here, and where I’m going after death, please help me have your true and eternal perspective on all such matters and not that of the world around me. Let my thinking, speaking, and living be radically out of step with the prevailing culture that surrounds me, but give me greater love for those who are a part of it, so I may reach them with the grace and truth of your Gospel. And Lord, I pray that the things I believe will make a genuine difference in the way I live my life, so that I may be holy, even as you are holy. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

12 Point Profile of a Holy Person

J.I. Packer’s book, Rediscovering Holiness, is an extraordinary book. Holiness is a topic that is near and dear to Wesleyans (at least, it used to be… and still ought to be). It certainly was to John Wesley, and Packer “tips his hat” to both Wesley brothers throughout the book.

Of particular interest in the first chapter was Packer’s distillation of J.C. Ryle’s “12 Point Profile” of what a holy person looks like. It’s fantastic! I thought I would share bits and pieces of his list with you below. The Apostle Paul encourages us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves to see if we are “in the faith.”  I can think of no better list with which to measure yourself than the following excerpts from Ryle. 

I pray the following truths will bless, encourage, convict, and lead you to greater holiness in your daily life. Print this out or write these on an index card and prayerfully reflect upon each one. You don’t get extra credit for hurrying through this list. So, take your time and let the Spirit do his work as you meditate upon each one. Let the truth of it really sink in and move in and through you.


1.) Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find his mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgment, hating what he hates, loving what he loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of his Word…

2.) A holy man will endeavor to shun every known sin, and to keep every known commandment. He will have… a hearty desire to do [God’s] will, a greater fear of displeasing him than of displeasing the world…

3.) A holy man will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. He will not only live the life of faith in him, and draw from him all his daily peace and strength, but he will also labor to have the mind that was in him, and to be conformed to his image (Romans 8:29).

4.) A holy man will follow after meekness, longsuffering, gentleness, patience, kind tempers, government of his tongue.

5.) A holy man will follow after temperance and self-denial. He will labour to mortify the desires of his body, to crucify his flesh with his affections and lusts, to curb his passions, to restrain his carnal inclinations, lest at any time they break loose…

6.) A holy man will follow after charity and brotherly kindness.

7.) A holy man will follow after a spirit of mercy and benevolence toward others…

8.) A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He will dread all filthiness and uncleanness of spirit, and seek to avoid all things that might draw him into it.

9.) A holy man will follow after the fear of God. I do not mean the fear of a slave, who only works because he is afraid of punishment… I mean rather the fear of a child, who wishes to live and move as if he was always before his father’s face, because he loves him…

10.) A holy man will follow after humility. He will desire, in lowliness of  mind, to esteem all others better than himself. He will see more evil in his own heart than in any other in the world…

11.) A holy man will follow after faithfulness in all the duties and relations in life… Holy persons should aim at doing everything well, and should be ashamed of allowing themselves to do anything ill if they can they can help it… They should strive to be good husbands and good wives, good parents and good children, good masters and good servants, good neighbours, good friends, good subjects, good in private and good in public, good in the place of business and good by their firesides.

12.) Last, but not least, a holy man will follow after spiritual-mindedness. He will endeavour to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand… He will aim to live like one whose treasure is in heaven, and to pass through this world like a stranger and pilgrim travelling to his home. To commune with God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of his people – these things will be the holy man’s chief enjoyments.  He will value every thing and place and company, just in proportion as it draws him nearer to God…


Lofty standards indeed, but biblical ones all the same. How are you doing when you compare yourself to this list? I always feel the need to counsel people who read such lists that if you are squirming as you compare yourself to a list like this, let the conviction you feel do its work, but not condemnation. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). But that verse is not a “get out of jail free card” that relieves us of our pursuit of holiness.

Instead, like Pilgrim learned in Pilgrim’s Progress, the crushing experience he had as he climbed Mount Sinai was more than he could bear. He needed the Cross. He needed his enormous bag of sinful burden to roll off his back and into the empty tomb. So do we. Let Ryle’s list, and others like the Sermon on the Mount, some of the Apostle Paul’s lists, etc., encourage you to run to grace and the forgiveness and strength available to us there in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Thanks be to God.

Purpose-Driven Israelites

A Clear Purpose

 “Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.”

With these words from Deuteronomy 11:1, God, through Moses, gave Israel a purpose. Her purpose was to “love God and obey him… always.” That’s a pretty clear purpose. Solomon summed it up like this in Ecclesiastes 12:13,

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.

But there’s more to it. It also included a “here’s what it looks like” portion. If the Israelites would be obedient to God, they would take possession of the land – the Promised Land – which God had set before them. Obedience would be tough, the risk may be great, but God assured them it would be worth their effort. More importantly, he promised to be with them always and never forsake them. In Deuteronomy 11:11-12 we read:

But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. [12] It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.

Love and Obey

The blessing of obedience to God’s covenantal commands was that Israel would get this coveted land and more. The curse of disobedience was that she wouldn’t… and more.

Obedience is an essential part of purpose. We can’t wiggle out of it in the New Testament, even though we know we are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. Why? Because Christ reminds us multiple times in John 14 and 15, as well as in 1 John, that an expression of our love for him is doing what he says… it’s obeying his commands. This is to our Father’s glory, that we bear much fruit (John 15).

What would be the point of knowing God’s purpose for your life – the very reason for which you were created – if you didn’t pursue it? It’s only as we reveal our love for God by obeying him that we experience God’s blessing for our lives – which may take on a variety of manifestations as we travel down the path of righteousness.

But can any of us hope for more than the knowledge that the eyes of the Lord are continually on our purpose, from the beginning to the end? And it’s as we trust and obey God’s commands and pursue that purpose that we find ourselves aligned with his will for our lives, which is blessing enough for any of us.

Thanks be to God.

One Hundred Godly Men

The Mission

I’m on a mission. I’m searching for one hundred godly men.

John Wesley once wrote in a letter…

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth.” (From a letter by John Wesley to Alexander Mather in 1777)

For Wesley, “preachers” didn’t have to be what we call professionals. Instead, the proclamation of the Gospel and the witness of and for God’s Kingdom was to be done by every person who follows Christ. The undergirding biblical witness of Wesley’s words inspires and provokes in me a strong desire to see one hundred godly men in my community fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God. If such a faithful fellowship of one hundred brothers in Christ could be cultivated and encouraged, it would transform our little corner of the world for Christ.

A Grand Vision

Is this too grand a vision? Thomas Chalmers once said, “No matter how large, your vision is too small.” In other words, nothing is impossible for God and therefore, we must dream big. I believe this vision for one hundred godly men is well within the reach of a sovereign and gracious God. Of course, my desire is not only for my community. Instead, my prayer is that bands of one hundred godly men will spring up in countless “little corners of the world.”

The Nature of the Call

This is not a call to nominal or cultural Christianity. It is a call to what John Wesley described as Scriptural Christianity (what I have referred to as Kingdom Discipleship). Following Christ in such a way steers clear of halfhearted and mere intellectual belief in Jesus. Instead, it’s the terrifying and exhilarating call of discipleship our Lord warned must be responded to first by counting the cost of following him daily. This does not produce a privatized or compartmentalized faith. Instead, it develops a faith that is passed from one person to another, from one generation to the next. As salt and light, this faith permeates every sphere of a person’s life, in homes, workplaces, communities, cities, and, ultimately, the world.

The Real Counterculture

I once heard pastor and writer, Tony Evans, preach these words,

  • As the man goes, so goes the family
  • As the family goes, so goes the church
  • As the church goes, so goes the community
  • As the community goes, so goes the city
  • As the city goes, so goes the state, the nation, finally the world

This, I believe, is nothing less than Scriptural Christianity, than Kingdom Discipleship.

Our world is in great need of such men of God, for they are truly, in our day and age, the real counterculture and one of God’s primary provisions for a lost and hurting world. Such men are ambassadors of the King of kings, and therefore, minister and bear witness to the kingdom of this world under his authority and according to his agenda. They have no message but his. And not only are they called to proclaim this message, but they must also live it out before a watching world. The motivation of their mission is love for their Lord and their neighbor.

Join Me

This mission to find such men is part of God’s call in my life. Through Bible studies, small groups, one-to-one discipling, mentoring, spiritual direction, counseling, and writing, I am prayerfully working to help and encourage available and willing men become the kind of men God has created, redeemed, and called them to be. I believe God is calling you to be such a man. Join me on this journey.

How Do You See the World?

2 Corinthians 10:5 – We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Puzzle Pieces and Movie Scripts

Everyone has a worldview. It may be well thought-out, logical and coherent or it may be loosely thrown together and disorganized, but everyone has one. Quite simply, a worldview is your philosophy or view of life – a way of looking at the world around you.

Think of the cover of a puzzle box. If you were to dump all the puzzle pieces on the ground without seeing what the picture on the cover looked like, you would have a pretty hard time putting the puzzle together. Similarly, life presents us with thousands of questions and issues which are like pieces to a puzzle. Without the right worldview to follow, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to know where and how all the pieces fit.

Or, think of a worldview as a movie script. The late Francis Schaeffer said that life is like entering a very long movie that has already started and then learning that you have to leave before it ends. In such a situation we would be significantly lost without some outside help. Schaeffer suggested that the Bible gives us the script of the whole movie. Therefore, even if we have missed the first part of it, and even though we will have to leave before it is over, we can still see how we fit into the big picture. A Christian will want to have a biblical worldview because that will be the view of life that will most closely corresponds to reality.

Elements of a Worldview

What are the key components that comprise a person’s worldview? Let me briefly mention five of the most important elements that ought to shape a Christian’s view of life.

1.) The first aspect of a worldview is your view of God: Does God exist? Is God personal or impersonal? Is there only one God or many? Does God require anything from us? What is the nature of God? It has been rightly observed that a person’s answers to these questions will be the greatest influence on the way a person thinks and lives.

2.) Secondly, a worldview focuses on the issues of purpose, value, and ultimate questions, such as: Are miracles possible? Is the universe all there is? What is the purpose of our existence? Why does something exist rather than nothing? Is there objective meaning to life?

3.) The third area a worldview addresses is the question of knowledge. It seeks to answer how we know what we know. What is the authority upon which a person should base his or her claim to truth or morality? Is each person the measure for right and wrong or is there an objective standard? A person lives each day according to the way he or she views knowledge – whether it is recognized and acknowledged or not.

4.) Fourth is the issue of ethics. How do you make moral decisions? Are you bound by what God has revealed or by cultural convention or laws? Are some acts really wrong or merely inconvenient?

5.) The last major element of a worldview has to do with the nature of humankind. How do you view human beings? Are we basically good? Are we basically sinful? Is there such a thing as sin? Are we grown-up germs caused by evolution or do we have real purpose and design? What happens when we die?

These are the significant elements which make up one’s worldview – and again – we all have a worldview whether or not we are conscious of it.

I’ll ask, and try to answer the question, “so what,” in the follow-up post to this one.

What’s Your Reputation?

He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. (1 Timothy 3:7)

You have probably heard the definition of character as, “who you are when no one is looking.” You could also say that character is who you are when those who know you best are looking.

In the second chapter of The Measure of a Man, Gene Getz looks at what it takes to build a good reputation. This is rather a tricky area because some folks may enjoy a good reputation superficially because they’re able to reasonably fake it before people they don’t know well and with whom they associate only on an occasional basis. But living a life that builds a good reputation is hard to fake on a regular basis with those who know you best… such as the members of your family.

Let me hasten to add that the expectation here is not perfection. As one person I recently read put it, the idea here is direction, not perfection. The question is: Are you moving in a Christlike direction in your life? Is that your intention?

In our Scripture, Paul recommends to Timothy that the kind of person he should be looking for to exercise leadership in the church ought to have a good reputation. Christians are charged with hypocrisy enough as it is. And even if the charge isn’t always accurate, the mere perception can derail a life or a ministry. Worse still, we don’t want to misrepresent our Lord before a watching world.

Getz suggests that Timothy was such a person… a man with a good reputation. He highlights these three  indicators…

1. People were saying positive things about Timothy.
2. More than one person was saying these positive things about Timothy.
3. People in more than one location were saying these positive things about Timothy.

It seems wherever Timothy was and whomever he was with, Timothy was a godly man living above reproach. Thus, he enjoyed a good reputation.

Ask Someone

Getz suggests that if you really want to know your reputation (as it relates to your genuine character) ask someone who knows you best. This might sting a little, but it’s a good way to get an honest and accurate perception of who you are… and it will go a long way in helping you become the godly person you want to become.

Ask Yourself

Just as important, we occasionally need to conduct a personal assessment of who we are and what we’re about. Getz suggests asking yourself the following questions (these are great questions, by the way)

1. Do more and more people select me as a person to share their lives with?

2. Do people trust me with confidential information?

3. Do my relationships with people grow deeper and more significant the longer they know me and the closer they get to me? Or do my friendships grow strained and shallow as people learn what I am really like?

4. Does my circle of friends grow continually wider and larger? Do an increasing number of people trust me?

5. Do people recommend me for significant or difficult tasks without fear of my letting them down?

The point in all of this is not to build a reputation by duplicity and manipulation. To be sure, there are plenty of people doing that. Instead, our goal should be that as we grow in godliness, the authenticity of our increasingly Christlike character will be made evident to all. And that’s how we can represent our Lord well in this world.

Ultimately, those of us who are in Christ are seeking to advance the glory of our Lord’s reputation, and not our own. But we can’t avoid the connection that our reputation will be linked to his, so let us live lives above reproach and for his praise and glory.