Friday, July 30, 2010

Continually Transformed

I was thinking some more about spiritual discipline.  I am an organized person.  I make lists about everything and then work to complete those tasks.  You can’t really do that with God.

You can’t put godliness on a schedule.  You can develop godly habits.  As you execute those habits you will grow in Christlikeness.   As time passes on you will discover that the things that were hard to remember to do will gradually become easier.  They become part of your routine.   You discipline your self to time in prayer, time in the Word, and time in fellowship.  As these become a habit, you begin to look forward to these activities.  You long to spend time with Christ.  you miss it when it doesn’t happen.

Remember the verse I looked at the last time I wrote.  Philippians 3:10:

10[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death”

Notice the words continually transformed that I bolded above.  Becoming like Christ is a journey not a destination.  Plan on the journey taking a lifetime to accomplish and try to enjoy the process.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What’s your purpose?

I went to the dentist yesterday.  I hate going to the dentist but it is one of those necessary things that you have to do.  No cavities – that was the good news.  However, he said I don’t floss enough.  Rats – didn’t think he’d notice that I’d been a little lax on that this summer.  I didn’t notice.  It’s one of those details that can escape my attention.  It’s a discipline.

Discipline – what an ugly word.  No one likes to talk about discipline.  It takes discipline to do those things we really need to do but don’t really feel like it all the time.

Seeking intimacy in my relationship with God also requires discipline.  It takes determination.  If I want to live my life as Christ-intends then I have to make some hard choices, do some hard work, but it yields the joy that comes from walking with Christ.

1 Tim 4:7 talks about “training ourselves for godliness.”  It is like an athlete preparing for competition.  It takes conditioning and preparation.  Also – no one else can do it for you. 

If I am training for godliness – what is godliness?  How do I define it?  I need to know what the goal is.  I think the best way to describe godliness is to be Christlike.  Not that we can be perfect – we can’t.  We can seek to make our actions and attitudes match Christ’s. 

Keep in mind that there is nothing you can do to make you more accepted by the Father. Once you have accepted Christ into your life, you are loved and accepted.  He has already done it all for you.

So what’s the discipline for…. Philippians 3:10 talks about our purpose being to know Christ.  Below is this verse from the Amplified Version:

10[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death”

So I want to be more like Christ…. that won’t happen by just hanging around a church, or thinking lofty thoughts, or memorizing more scripture.  I will take more than that.  It will take determination.  It will take discipline.  It will take focused thinking.  It will take modeling the life of Christ.  It will take hard work.  It will involve mistakes, heart-ache, and yet will yield immeasurable joy.

Want to join me and make it your purpose to really know Christ…

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Want more of the fruits ….

Do you ever read about the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5 and think something like – yeah right – who could be like that?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  Gal 5:22

Do you exhibit these in your life?  Do you have more self-control than the non-Christians you know?  Are you more faithful than the Mormons you know?  (They are always going door-to-door in our neighborhood.) 

Do you know what it is like to be filled with joy?  Do you experience peace in every day life?  Do you respond with kindness to others, no matter how they treat you?

I got mad in rush hour traffic this afternoon because as we waited to turn left at a light, dozens of cars were going past us and then cutting in.  It probably cost us an extra 10 minutes on our commute.  I was really angry – yet did it really matter?  So I was 10 minutes later getting home – big deal.

Does it bother you that God lives in you (if you are a Christian) and yet your life is not much different than the world around you? 

How can I make it different?  I can’t make myself love more.  I can’t make myself more patient.  I can’t do it myself. 

That’s why they are called fruits of the Spirit.  They are the result of a life that is completely turned over to Christ.  Spend time in prayer and talk to the Father about it.  As you develop that relationship and focus on that, the fruits will come.  Spend time with the one you want to model your life after.  The more time you spend with Him, the more like Him you will become.

Want more of the fruits ….. spend time with the fruit giver.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Which person are you?

There are people who accept Christ but really don’t want to live for him.  They are just afraid of hell.  So they say the prayer, ask Jesus in to their heart, receive their get-out-of-hell-free card, and then continue doing whatever they want.

They want just a little bit of Jesus.  Enough to “spiritualize” their lives.  However, they don’t want anything about their lives to change. 

These people haven’t genuinely repented.  Repentance involves acknowledging that you have sinned and desiring to change your life.  People who just want to “add a little God” to their lives don’t understand what God requires.  We are called to give up everything and follow Christ.  Jesus didn’t die on the cross to follow us.  He died on the cross for us to follow Him. 

If all I am seeking to do is live a moral life and go to church somewhat regularly, then I don’t really need the power of God to do that.  You only need the power of God if you desire to live a life of obedience.  You can’t live a changed obedient life on your own power.  When you seek to do everything He has commanded, you will need Christ’s power living in you. When you want to turn your back on sin and selfishness, and seek to walk with Christ, he will be there to help you. 

Do you see the difference in these two kinds of lives?  One wants to use God for his purposes.  The other wants to be used by God for His purposes.

Which person are you?


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Never alone

I’ve been reading the book Forgotten God by Francis Chan.  It has caused me to think about a couple of things.  Here’s one idea - we sometimes forget that when we have accepted Christ, the Spirit of God indwells us.  I’ve heard that lots of times but I don’t usually think a lot about it. 

Stop now and take a minute and consider it - God chooses to live in you.  You are a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.

As I go through each day, I need to remember that God lives in me.  When I get tired and stressed, remember God lives in me.  My situation doesn’t have to define me.  I have the power of God living in me.

I know this sounds really trivial but it is crucial to my walk with God.  I am never alone.  He is always with me and living in me.  I am a temple of the Holy Spirit. 


Friday, July 23, 2010

God Surprised Me

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you will know that I have had a lot of problems with my foot.  These problems have been ongoing for about three years.  I have tried several pairs of new shoes, at least 4 different types of orthotic inserts, a night splint, exercises, a walking cast (twice), a cast, and a wheel chair.  All the treatments also had to take into account the fact that I am diabetic and have to be careful with my feet.

Around Christmas, our seventeen year-old daughter started talking to us about taking a vacation this summer.  She really wanted to go to New England.  We had talked about it a couple of years ago but couldn’t seem to make the details work out for the trip.  We discussed it and talked about how fast she is growing up and it won’t be long before she won’t want to go with us or won’t be able to go with us. 

So, I started praying that God would allow my foot to get better by summer.  I really didn’t want anything to interfere with our fun.  In May, my podiatrist tried a new orthotic in my shoe.  When I went back in the first week of June, my foot was greatly improved.  She told me to test it and start walking more – on soft surfaces.  I was excited. 

We left for New England on June 27th and I was walking.  I was able to do everything we had planned – including a hike that was about 3 miles long.  (That was the longest walk I had been able to take in about 3 years.)  We went to the Baseball Hall of Fame, The Norman Rockwell Museum, Franconian Notch State Park, Acadia National Park, whale watching, a wildlife park, Bunker Hill Monument (I didn’t hike the stairs but they did), USS Constitution, toured Fenway Park, Boston’s Science Museum, Old North Church, Plimouth Plantation,  Cape Cod, and the Marine Biology Lab at Wood’s Hole.  Lots of fun but lots of walking.

All of that is to say that I prayed for my foot to get well in time to do all of this.  It did ---- and I was surprised.  Why was I surprised?  Was it a lack of faith?  Why didn’t I pray for it to get better sooner?

I still have to be careful with the foot.  It doesn’t hold up well when I walk on cement floors – like Walmart or Home Depot.  A trip there can be a real killer.

So my advice, when you pray for something, have faith, trust God, and don’t be surprised when He answers you.  He loves you and wants the best for you..

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Life is too Loud!

I work in technology.  Everyone in my line of work has a cell phone.  My phone can make calls, send and receive email from three different accounts, and send and receive text messages.  I can go on the internet, update my Facebook and Twitter accounts on it and use it as a GPS.  I can view and update my calendar and my to-do list on it.  It’s an amazing device.  When I’m done with all of that, I have snail mail from home and work to deal with.  This is very typical of the world we are living in.  It is hard to focus.  It is hard to pay attention to anything or anyone without being distracted. 

This problem can affect my spiritual life.  It is hard to really get alone and “Be Still” before God.  It is hard to close out everything around me.  No music, no TV, no PC, no phone, etc…  It is hard to intentionally take myself away from all of these things and focus on prayer, on Bible Study, on meditating on Scripture.

Jesus didn’t have all these things interfering in his life.  However, he did have multitudes of people always fighting for a minute of his time.  Somehow he was able to remove himself from the distractions to spend quality time with the Father.  He was able to do this because He chose to.  He made it a priority.  We can do the same thing.  We just have to choose to unplug ourselves from the world.

It is a spiritual discipline to be still, to listen, and to cut off all the distractions in my life.  It is in the stillness that I can develop intimacy with my Father.  Quiet my mind.  Quiet my heart.  Not think about work. (That one is hard for me.)  Focus on God. Focus on His love for me.  Focus on His faithfulness.

Try it.  I will.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I’m back and I have questions ….

I wasn’t planning to take a break for that long but I guess it was good.  I had a great summer.

Here’s some questions I have been thinking about:

1. Is my life too safe and too easy?

It is in the hard times that I have seen God work.

2. Is there a difference between knowing God and being known by God?

Would God say I know Carol Horner?  What would he say about me? Am I confident that God would say, “She’s my daughter and I love her.”  Is my relationship with God that intimate or is it just on the surface.

3. Do I believe that I live not for my own pleasure but to help people know Jesus?  Do I live like this?

Many people like to “show off” what God is doing in their lives because it makes them look good.  It is self-glorification and pride.   Matthew 5:16 says to let your light shine before others so they will see your good works and give the glory to God.

4. Am I truly seeking Christ with my whole heart and desiring to grow in obedience to Him?

How would you answer these questions?