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Tag Archives: CHRISTIAN LIVING

How to Get Spiritually Healthy! (a study of Titus – Part 15)

In these posts, we’ve been focusing on two things:  (1) The first area:  My efforts at “returning Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 8.24.40 AMto the gym,” “doing some reps,” and getting in better shape.  So, I’ve been talking about some of the exercise machines that I’ve been using at our university’s facility.  (2) The second area we been thinking about is our study in the little letter of Paul to Titus, on the issue of SPIRITUAL HEALTH.

The LAT PULL DOWN is a machine that has you stand on your tippy-toes (real body-builders don’t use the expression “tippy-toes,” but I know my place) and grab two handles and then you pull down, using your lat muscles.  This one I can set at 120 pounds, causing all the other exercisers around me to gasp, “He’s 64!  And he’s pulling down almost twice his age on the LAT machine!”  (usually I’m the only one in the gym at 6:30 AM, but I can imagine what some might say, if they, the slackers, were there).

I’m no expert on muscle “groups,” but I’ve found my lat muscles.  I don’t think my muscles like to group together or hang out together or be seen together.  But I can simply follow the pain in the back of my shoulders and I’ve located my lat muscle(s).

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 7.45.08 AMWhich raises the issue of our spiritual muscles and our study: the Epistle of Titus, whose theme seems to be how to be SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY.

Let’s look at our next section in chapter two and list a few questions to think about –

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.  15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

These are my all-time favorite verses in Titus, perhaps in the whole Bible.  I see a lot here, but a couple of questions for us to think about:

1.  How does God’s grace offer salvation to all people (v. 11)?

2.  What are some negatives that Christianity teaches those who Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.57.28 PMfollow Jesus ought to practice (v. 12)?

3.  How do we positively live for the Lord, according to verses 12 and 13?

4.  How does verse 13 show the DEITY of the Lord Jesus?

5.  What kind of people is God seeking to produce (vv. 14-15)?

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2014 in spiritual health

 

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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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