RSS

Category Archives: CHRISTIAN LIVING

Ten Steps to Spirituality! (Part 2)

In our course, “The Integration of Theology and Psychology,” Dr. AllanKeynoteScreenSnapz002 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)

Verse 7 reads: “rather, train yourself to be godly.”  Self-training is lacking these days in the lives of many followers of Jesus.  Some expect spiritual growth to happen, uh, magically.  Others look for a perfect church or an omni-competent pastor to meet their every spiritual need.  Paul puts the burden of sanctification, of becoming more like Jesus Christ, squarely on the shoulders of the individual believer.

Years ago I read a controversial, but helpful, book entitled The Gospel of Coincidence by John Boykin.  He basically said that most of what happens to us in life is a result of choices we make, choices which come out of the priorities which we set for ourselves.  Are you taking responsibility for your own spiritual life?  How’s the training going?

Questions:

1.  In physical training, there are exercises which must be practiced.  What would be some of those exercises in “spiritual” training?

2.  How do we even know what “godly” looks like?  Why is studying the earthly life of the Lord Jesus so critical here?

 

Tags: , , ,

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?

 

Tags: , , ,

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?

 
 

Tags: ,

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?

 
 

Tags: , ,

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?

 
 

Tags: , ,

THANK THE LORD FOR HIS MERCY!

Friends:

I must tell you what happened to me yesterday.  The event powerfully reminded me of God’s mercy and the fact that He does not owe me (or you) anything.

The phone call came at 4:42 pm.  A co-worker of Linda’s called to say, “Linda’s been in an accident.  Her mini Cooper is on Monticello (the main street leading into the school) and the air bags have been deployed.  We don’t know what hospital she’s being transported to.”

My heart sank!  Lin had spent the afternoon wedding dress shopping with our semi-adopted daughter Kristi.

I immediately called the local police department and they had no information on the accident.  They gave me the number of the ambulance service and I called them.  They had no record of a Linda Dixon being in a car wreck and said it might be too early to find out information, but I should call the local hospitals to find out if she had been admitted into the emergency room.

I began calling hospitals.  I remember exactly what I said to each, “My name is Larry Dixon and my wife Linda Dixon has been in a car accident on Monticello Road.  Has she been admitted into your hospital?”   My voice shook and my hand trembled as I made these cell phone calls.

No one had any information.  By this time, I had put our dog Scrabble into his kennel and was in our 2nd car ready to drive to the correct hospital.

As I sat there not knowing what to do, I prayed, “Lord, please don’t let her be hurt too badly.”  There are large construction trucks that drive too fast on Monticello and a mini Cooper is about the smallest car you can buy.  I then prayed, “Lord, somehow use us to honor You in this situation.”

At that precise moment, Linda drove into our driveway in a completely undamaged little blue car (her mini)!  I looked at her in disbelief.  She was not wrapped in hospital gauze and had no injuries!

I rushed out of my car, leaving it running, and stood next to hers waiting for her to get out.  I blurted out, “They told me you were in a car accident on Monticello, that the airbags were deployed, and that you were being taken to a hospital!  But you’re here!”

I am not ashamed to admit that I broke down sobbing as I hugged my wife.  She had not been on Monticello at all.  It was someone else’s blue mini Cooper.

Between sobs, I kept saying, “Lord, you didn’t have to do that.  You don’t owe me anything.  But thank You!”

I called the co-worker back who had first called me.  He was greatly relieved to find out he had been wrong.

God’s mercies are “new every morning,” Lamentations 3:23 says.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on July 4, 2012 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

Tags: ,

CARTOON MONDAY! Culture of victimhood?

Questions:
1. How do we contribute to a “culture of victimhood” in our Christian churches?
2. How do the spiritual disciplines (studying Scripture, meditating, silence, etc.) provide a remedy to such sad excuse-making?

 

Tags: , ,

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)

 
 

Tags: , ,

DocDEVOS: “Everybody Lives by Faith!”

Today’s Focus:  The term “faith” may refer to one’s confidence in God or, as we’ll see today, to the content of truth God has given by His grace.

“Faith does not deny facts.  It does not turn away from reality.  But faith understands that beyond the realities of this world there is a greater Reality.”  (John H. Stevens)

“Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.”  (Miracle on 34th Street)

“Dear Friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 3)

The Knowledge Nugget: The term “faith” may be used to refer to one’s trust in God and His Word (Hebrews 1:1).  We encourage people to “have faith” or talk about someone “acting in faith.”  Our confidence in life is not to be in ourselves or the things of this world, but in our Creator and Redeemer and in His communication to us through His Word, the Bible.

The term “faith” may also be used to refer to that specific content of truth which He has given to us (the Christian “faith”).  In our verse for today, Jude, the half brother of Jesus, encourages his readers to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3).  In our study of the faith, that is, of the doctrines of biblical Christianity, we are to affirm what God has told us in the Bible, then seek to present — and defend — those truths before the world.

Real Life Says . . .

But “real life” suggests that no one finally has the truth, certainly not in eternal matters.  Each person must create his or her own spiritual reality, says our world, and no person has the right to claim that only his (or her) faith is ultimately true.  Others suggest that having any kind of faith is for the weak.  The strong of this world don’t need any religious orientation to live successful lives — or so they think.

A newspaper once had a column entitled “The Answer Man.”  Readers could send in any question they wanted answered.  One question that was sent is read, “How does an elevator work?”  “The Answer Man” responded, “An elevator is essentially a small room dangling over a very deep shaft, held up by thin cables that are maintained by building employees who have tremendous trouble just keeping all the toilets working.”

This shows that everyone, in some sense, lives by what we might call faith.  No one has the FBI do a background check on the young man who serves them a burger and fries at a fast-food restaurant.  We ask total strangers for directions (although men struggle with the concept!) and trust them not to lead us over a cliff.  And we never do a safety inspection on an elevator before we use it — we just step in.

Christian faith, however, is not gullibility, wishful thinking, mass hypnosis or auto-suggestion.  Faith, as presented in the Bible, is only as good as the object in which it is placed.

In Jude’s battle plan for believers, his challenge to us to “contend for the faith” does not refer to our confidence in God, but to the specific doctrines which should guide followers of Christ.  This content of truth, this “faith” that we are to fight for, is described in a unique way.  Jude calls it the “once-for-all-entrusted-to-the-saints” faith, which means that God will never edit His truth, abridge the Word of God or change its content.

But before we can defend it, we musth know it.  And that’s what these devotionals are all about.

But Lord . . .

Lord, I don’t know all that I should believe.  Expand my understanding of, and my obedience to, the truths which You have revealed for my good and Your glory.  Help me to live today looking for ways to humbly stand for Your truth.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

To Ponder . . .

“People are driven from the Church not so much by stern truth that makes them uneasy as by weak nothings that make them contemptuous.” (George Buttrick)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 10, 2012 in CHRISTIAN LIVING, FAITH

 

CARTOON MONDAY! Making any hops?

Questions:
1. How do we judge whether we are making any spiritual “hops”?
2. How can you encourage your pastor or the one preaching in your church to stay encouraged as they ministry God’s Word?

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 4, 2012 in cartoons, CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

Tags: , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 337 other followers