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What animals are thinking #19 (scroll down)

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Posted by on May 24, 2014 in posing

 

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TEN STEPS TO SPIRITUALITY (Step 10)

In our course, “The Integration of Theology and Psychology,” KeynoteScreenSnapz019Dr. Allan McKechnie and I have been discussing the doctrine of salvation and its implications for counselors who are Christians.  One aspect of salvation is the continuing work of God the Holy Spirit in making us like Christ.  This doctrine is called SANCTIFICATION.  The word means “being set apart” or “being made holy.”

I believe I Timothy 4 presents us with ten very specific steps we may take to advance in our becoming like Christ.  Let’s look at that passage and continue investigating those ten steps.

I Timothy 4 says,

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

The FIRST STEP we saw in this text was simply:  PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU AVOID (v. 7)

The SECOND STEP we notice is:  TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL LIFE (v. 7)

The THIRD STEP we see is:  INVEST IN THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT (v. 8)

The FOURTH STEP here in this text is:  REST ON WHAT IS WORTHY OF YOUR TRUST (v. 9)

The FIFTH STEP we see in this passage is simply: WORK HARD IN YOUR LIFE OF FAITH IN THE LORD (v. 10)

The SIXTH STEP Paul gives us here is BOLDLY PROCLAIM THE TRUTH WITH YOUR WORDS AND LIFE (vv. 11-12)

The SEVENTH STEP which helps us to become spiritual is DEVOTE YOURSELF TO THE WORD OF GOD AND THE USE OF YOUR GIFT (vv. 13-14)

The EIGHTH STEP in moving on in our spirituality comes out of verse 15  where we are told to BE DILIGENT IN WHOLLY COMMITTING YOURSELF TO YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL GROWTH.

The NINTH STEP in advancing in our spiritual growth comes out of verse 16 and it is simply:  DON’T DIVORCE WHAT YOU BELIEVE FROM HOW YOU BEHAVE!

The TENTH STEP in pursuing spirituality also comes from verse 16 and it is this:  DON’T GIVE UP FOR YOUR SAKE OR THE SAKE OF OTHERS!  Verse 16 says, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

There are so many forces which challenge the perseverance of the believer.  The tragedies of life, the questions raised by unbelievers, the pain of having our gospel witness rejected, the disappointments when God doesn’t behave the way we would like Him to — all of these can combine their forces to scream one message to us:  “GIVE UP!”

On October 29, 1941, United Kingdom (Great Britain) Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited Harrow School to to hear the traditional songs he had sung there as a youth, as well as to speak to the students. This became one of his most quoted speeches, due to distortions that evolved about what he actually said.

The myth is that Churchill stood before the students and said, “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give in. Never give in. Never give in. Never give in.” Then he sat down. In reality, he made a complete speech that included words similar to what are often quoted. Also, some believe he said, “Never give up.” That too is incorrect.  At any rate, the message of NEVER GIVE UP needs to be heard and heeded by followers of Jesus!

Questions:

1.  Scripture says that “no man lives to himself and no man dies to himself.”  We affect each other by the way we live or don’t live.  List several people that your life impacts either positively or negatively.

2.  The Ten Steps that we have seen here in I Timothy 4 are not magic or instant.  They require commitment, steadfastness, determination, and a desire to not stay the same!  How is status quo spirituality overcome by the individual believer?

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2013 in I Timothy 4

 

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TEN STEPS TO SPIRITUALITY (Step 9)

In our course, “The Integration of Theology and Psychology,” KeynoteScreenSnapz018Dr. Allan McKechnie and I have been discussing the doctrine of salvation and its implications for counselors who are Christians.  One aspect of salvation is the continuing work of God the Holy Spirit in making us like Christ.  This doctrine is called SANCTIFICATION.  The word means “being set apart” or “being made holy.”

I believe I Timothy 4 presents us with ten very specific steps we may take to advance in our becoming like Christ.  Let’s look at that passage and continue investigating those ten steps.

I Timothy 4 says,

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

The FIRST STEP we saw in this text was simply:  PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU AVOID (v. 7)

The SECOND STEP we notice is:  TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL LIFE (v. 7)

The THIRD STEP we see is:  INVEST IN THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT (v. 8)

The FOURTH STEP here in this text is:  REST ON WHAT IS WORTHY OF YOUR TRUST (v. 9)

The FIFTH STEP we see in this passage is simply: WORK HARD IN YOUR LIFE OF FAITH IN THE LORD (v. 10)

The SIXTH STEP Paul gives us here is BOLDLY PROCLAIM THE TRUTH WITH YOUR WORDS AND LIFE (vv. 11-12)

The SEVENTH STEP which helps us to become spiritual is DEVOTE YOURSELF TO THE WORD OF GOD AND THE USE OF YOUR GIFT (vv. 13-14)

The EIGHTH STEP in moving on in our spirituality comes out of verse 15  where we are told to BE DILIGENT IN WHOLLY COMMITTING YOURSELF TO YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL GROWTH.

The NINTH STEP in advancing in our spiritual growth comes out of verse 16 and it is simply:  DON’T DIVORCE WHAT YOU BELIEVE FROM HOW YOU BEHAVE!  We read in verse 16- ” Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

Is it not the case that most of us BELIEVE far more than we BEHAVE?  Our life and our doctrine ought to match each other.  There should be a harmony between what we think and how we act.

When my family and I moved to Canada (where we lived for 9 years), we got skating and hockey lessons for our ten-year-old son before we moved there.  Someone has defined hockey as “a form of disorderly conduct in which the score is kept!”  People are keeping score on our lives — and we must behave ourselves for the sake of the gospel!

Questions:

1.  In what ways do we divorce what we believe from how we behave?  What verses do you find which teach that our behavior is critical to our witness?

2.  Have you recently found yourself apologizing for your failure in behavior before others?  Perhaps a big part of our apologetics ought to be our apologizing when our conduct does not match our creeds!

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in behavior

 

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TEN STEPS TO SPIRITUALITY! (Step 5)

In our course, “The Integration of Theology and Psychology,” Dr. AllanKeynoteScreenSnapz007 McKechnie andI have been discussing the doctrine of salvation and its implications for counselors who are Christians.  One aspect of salvation is the continuing work of God the Holy Spirit in making us like Christ.  This doctrine is called SANCTIFICATION.  The word means “being set apart” or “being made holy.”

I believe I Timothy 4 presents us with ten very specific steps we may take to advance in our becoming like Christ.  Let’s look at that passage and continue investigating those ten steps.

I Timothy 4 says,

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

The FIRST STEP we saw in this text was simply:  PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU AVOID (v. 7)

The SECOND STEP we notice is:  TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL LIFE (v. 7)

The THIRD STEP we see is:  INVEST IN THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT (v. 8)

The FOURTH STEP here in this text is:  REST ON WHAT IS WORTHY OF YOUR TRUST (v. 9)

The FIFTH STEP we see in this passage is simply: WORK HARD IN YOUR LIFE OF FAITH IN THE LORD (v. 10)

When Paul says in verse 10, “That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe,” he is certainly referring to his work in ministry.  Over what did Paul “labor and strive”?  Most logically over the truth that Timothy and this congregation to whom Paul is writing would “train themselves to be godly.”

KeynoteScreenSnapz008The idea that the believer in Jesus can simply glide to glory, exerting little to no effort to become more godly is fallacious.  The terms “labor” and “strive” certainly indicate effort on Paul’s part — and ought to encourage us to commit ourselves to the serious work of becoming godly.

The seminary where I teach, Columbia International University Seminary and School of Ministry (we have very large sweatshirts) stands in the historic tradition of the Keswick movement, sometimes called “the Victorious Christian Life” movement.  We believe that the normal Christian life is a life of victory over sin.  Some in that movement stressed sinless perfectionism (which we do not hold) or a kind of quietistic living of the Christian life (which suggests that we simply “Let go and let God”).  No, we believe that growth in the Christian life involves our best efforts in cooperating with the Holy Spirit in producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Gal. 5).  We read such passages as 2 Peter 1 which says “make every effort to ADD to your faith goodness, kindness, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love” and we seek, by God’s help, to do just that.

That’s hard work — but our Lord deserves nothing less.

[We'll examine the controversial statement in verse 10 -- "who is the Savior of all people" -- in our next post]

Questions:

1.  Would you say you are working hard at training yourself in godliness?  Would others say that you are laboring and striving to become more like Jesus?

2.  How much effort are you putting into helping other believers grow in godliness?  Do you at least pray regularly for the spiritual growth of others?

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2012 in I Timothy 4

 

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TEN STEPS TO SPIRITUALITY (Step #3)

In our course, “The Integration of Theology and Psychology,” Dr. AllanKeynoteScreenSnapz003 McKechnie andI have been discussing the doctrine of salvation and its implications for counselors who are Christians.  One aspect of salvation is the continuing work of God the Holy Spirit in making us like Christ.  This doctrine is called SANCTIFICATION.  The word means “being set apart” or “being made holy.”

I believe I Timothy 4 presents us with ten very specific steps we may take to advance in our becoming like Christ.  Let’s look at that passage and continue investigating those ten steps.

I Timothy 4 says,

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

The FIRST STEP we saw in this text was simply:  PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU AVOID (v. 7)

The SECOND STEP we notice is:  TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL LIFE (v. 7)

The THIRD STEP we see is:  INVEST IN THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT (v. 8)

Verse 8 issues the challenge “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  When I was a teenager, my best friend Ronnie decided to become a body builder.  His parents were strong believers, and, as I recall, would sometimes quote to him this verse (but from the King James version).  His dad would say, “You know, Ronnie, the Bible says ‘bodily exercise profiteth little . . .”  My friend’s dad was actually misquoting the verse, because he left out the little world “a” (“bodily exercise profiteth a little . . .”).  The text is really saying, there is some profit in physical exercise, but Timothy should give his primary attention to training himself to be godly.

My wife of 41 years has really gotten into physical exercise over the last year.  At the ripe age of ___ (you didn’t really think I was going to tell you, did you?), she “spins” four or five days a week.  Spinning is riding a stationary bike going nowhere.  Her spinning class meets from 6-7 AM!  I admire her for her commitment to this exercise group.  But — and here’s my point — she gets up at 4:30 AM to have her quiet time with the Lord every day before she gets on that bike to nowhere.  That’s a commitment to something that will outlast this world!

Questions:

1.  What kind of physical exercise are you involved in?

2.  What kind of spiritual exercises are you practicing — and how have they helped you in daily life?

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in spirituality

 

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Ten Steps to Spirituality!

In our course, “The Integration of Theology and Psychology,”KeynoteScreenSnapz001 Dr. Allan McKechnie andI have been discussing the doctrine of salvation and its implications for counselors who are Christians.  One aspect of salvation is the continuing work of God the Holy Spirit in making us like Christ.  This doctrine is called SANCTIFICATION.  The word means “being set apart” or “being made holy.”

I believe I Timothy 4 presents us with ten very specific steps we may take to advance in our becoming like Christ.  Let’s look at that passage and begin investigating those ten steps.

I Timothy 4 says,

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

The FIRST STEP I see in this text is simply:  PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU AVOID (v. 7)

Verse 7 reads: “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales . . .”  Growing in grace and holiness involves choosing what we won’t give our attention to!  Paul challenges TImothy not to give his attention to “godless myths” and “old wives’ tales.”

Now, the few women who might read my blog should not be upset by the 2nd expression.  It is not meant in a misogynistic way.   Paul is not anti-women.  He is simply giving two examples of material that should not dominate the believer’s thinking, concentration, time.  (to be continued)

Questions:

1.  What “godless myths” are you aware of which should be avoided?

2.  Why should we avoid such myths and old wives’ tales?

 

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BEEN DRAGGED RECENTLY?

Been dragged recently? Thank God for His patience in carrying us along in the Christian life.

We read in 2 Peter 1:21 that “. . . prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” That was a special work of the Holy Spirit, protecting the biblical writers from error as they penned Holy Scripture.

But isn’t it true that He carries us along? In what area of your life has God been carrying you recently?

Questions:
1. How do we co-operate with God the Holy Spirit and help to “carry along” other believers?
2. Do you allow other believers to carry you along when life gets tough and you are tempted to live like a practical atheist?

 
 

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GOT HUNGER?

This commercial cracks me up!  Do you sometimes find yourself a slave to your own hunger?  Do your appetites control you?

Our culture teaches us to indulge all our passions, to seek to satisfy all our desires, to assuage our appetites.

Christianity teaches us to be men and women of great passion and appetites, but for those things that honor Him!

Questions:

1.  How’s your hunger level for knowing God?  What are you doing about it?

2.  How can we encourage each other to develop more of a hunger for knowing the Lord?

 
 

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CARTOON MONDAY! Connecting the dots YOUR way?

Questions:

1. What is it about us that we don’t want to connect the dots the way we’re told to?

2. Do you find in your life that when you ignore how GOD says to connect the dots, and you insist on connecting them the way you want to, that you don’t come out with a very good picture — of a duck — or of your life?

3. Isn’t life really a combination of dot-connecting and creative integrity? When we get the two mixed up — the absolutes versus the imaginary — WE get mixed up!

Your thoughts?

 
 

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DocDEVOS- “A Faith That Forms”

A FAITH THAT FORMS

Today’s Focus:

If “faith” refers to the content of truth which God has given us, then Christian growth comes as we learn — and put into practice — what His Word teaches.

“Faith is not something one ‘loses’; we merely cease to shape our lives by it.”  (George Bernanos)

The atheistic German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, made the following surly remark to some Christians one day:  “If you want me to believe in your Redeemer, then you’ve got to look a lot more redeemed.”

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)

The Knowledge Nugget:

A pastor ran into a former church member on the street one day.  “How are things going, Tom?” the pastor asked.  “Well, Reverend, things couldn’t be worse!  I lost my job last week, the bank is repossessing my car, and my mother-in-law just moved into our basement.  It’s enough to make a man lose his religion!”  “Sorry to hear of your troubles, Tom,” said the pastor.  “But it seems to me that it’s enough to make a man use his religion!”

It’s commonly said that “what you don’t know can’t hurt hou” — but is that really true?  If we don’t know that God is everywhere, the resulting loneliness could cripple our Christian lives.  If we know little about the doctrine of God’s goodness, then we may struggle for years, afraid to surrender ourselves completely to Him.  The doctrines of the Christian faith should not only inform us of what we need to know, but should also form us into the people we should be.

Ignorance of the truths of biblical Christianity hinders growth in godliness.  While it is quite possible to know the facts of the Christian faith but remain unchanged, the normal Christian life is one in which God uses His truth to transform us.  What we believe should affect how we behave.

Real Life Says . . .

“Churches are full of hypocrites!”  How many times have you heard someone say that?  I know one pastor who responds, “I know exactly what you mean.  But our church is big enough for one more!  Why don’t you come join us?”  That may not be the best way to attract seekers to Christ, but it illustrates the fact that all of us probably believe far more than we behave.

My parents came to know Christ through the ministry of evangelist Leighton Ford.  He once stated, “God loves you enough to accept you the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way.”  The first half of his statement illustrates salvation:  We do not clean up our lives to get saved; God takes us as we are.  But the second half of Ford’s statement is talking about growth in the Christian life.  God loves us too much to allow us to stay where we are spiritually.

But how does He shape and remold us into the image of Christ?  Romans 12:2 tells us, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  The mind is renewed by truth — and the Word of God, the Bible, is the truth we need if we want to be renewed.  Whether we really believe the truths of God’s Word will be revealed by the Christlike changes that take place in our lives.

The story is told of a band of explorers in Africa who hired some villagers to help them in their journey through the jungle.  The group set out and pushed on without stopping for several days.  Finally the tribesmen sat down, refusing to go any further.  When asked why they were stopping, the eldest among them said, “We’ve been going too fast.  We must pause and wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies.”  Perhaps we need to pause and wait for our behavior to catch up to our belief.

But Lord . . .

“Lord, forgive my arrogance in thinking that I know all I need to know, believe all I need to believe and practice all I ought to practice.   In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

To Ponder . . .

“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” (Max De Pree)

 
 

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