Christian Living · Discipleship · Encouragement

Strenuously Contending

Growing up I heard the word “strenuous” used very rarely but it was almost in relationship to some form of really labor intensive work that was going to pretty much take up my whole Saturday! I expect many of us think of the words strenuous and contend in a less than positive light. Perhaps this passage will change our thinking a bit and create in us a deeper awareness and appreciation for the things we pour ourselves into.

In Colossians 1:28-29 Paul writes to the church and expresses his purpose and passion as concisely and fervently as possible.

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

The Greek word for contend used here is where we get the word agonize. That is a pretty strong image of how fervently Paul engages in his efforts to teach and share the truth of Jesus Christ. Reading this passage I was personally challenged to think about the things that I strenuously contend for. Family, work, hobbies, church…what is it that I am willing to agonize for?

While we may not be called to the same teaching ministry that Paul was called to, it is an ongoing effort in our lives to make sure that we are strenuously contending for the things that God puts before us and calls us to engage in. We do this not in our own strength…but like Paul we do it with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in us.

Amen…

Christian Living · Discipleship · Encouragement · Worship

Rhythm and Rhyme

When you hear “eurythmics” you might, if you are of a certain age, recall that it is the name of a musical group. What you might not know is that it is also a method for teaching and reinforcing musical rhythm. According to the website Dictionary.com, eurythmics is also “the art of interpreting in bodily movements the rhythm of musical compositions: applied to a method invented by Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, a Swiss composer, aiming to develop the sense of rhythm and symmetry.” In more generic terms, eurythmics helps folks understand and develop rhythm.

Why on earth did would I bother looking that up? Well, today while watching the incredibly talented drummer at our church seamlessly and passionately play the beats that provided a steady tempo and emphasized the words and phrases of our worship song, a thought…more like a concept…went through my mind. First, I thought how awesome it is when the drummer plays a consistent, unrelenting rhythm and sets the pace of the song and keeps us in sync with the worship leader. At other times the drummer will build in volume and stroke so as to reinforce and drive home the power and meaning of the words being sung. At other times he sits silently so that the words alone have an opportunity to be heard and their emphasis allowed to settle on our hearts without interruption or distraction.

While I stood listening and being led in song, I started thinking that there is a part of our spiritual lives that is a constant presence; a personal presence that helps us to keep in sync with the Leader, to grow through steady faithful reminders; a wise comforter that provides spiritual understanding and emphasizes spiritual truths and that is always providing a spiritual rhythm…a heartbeat…in our lives. That personal, living presence is the Holy Spirit.

John writes in his gospel letter: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26)

Later he writes “…when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 15:13-15)

The Holy Spirit teaches us and guides us in truth. His work in our lives helps us to understand the mind of God himself. Much like the drummer that helps to keep rhythm and provide emphasis, the Holy Spirit works in our lives to provide a constant presence and heartbeat of God in our lives. He works in our hearts and minds to disclose the truth of God and emphasize the areas in our lives that need to grow in understanding.

Praise God for the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Christian Living · Discipleship · Encouragement

Loving Learning to Learn

As our church starts another semester of small groups in a couple of weeks, it is so exciting to see people getting more and more excited about every part of what small groups is about. The fellowship, the group study, and the commitment to loving and serving others is awesome…it is infectious.

One of the things that excites me is seeing people grow in their faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ. What excites me almost as much, is seeing people learning how to learn better. That may sound a bit odd but it is true. Seeing and hearing how people are figuring out how better to study God’s Word, how to dig in deeper and put the pieces together, how to find tools and approaches that will help them to get the most out of their time in the Bible is awesome.

So it is with each of us as we continue to grow and mature in our Christian faith that we continue to love how to learn how to learn better. We continue to commit ourselves to a lifetime of learning how to learn better, to grow deeper, and to mature from walking to running…from sipping milk to chowing down on some solid food of God’s Holy Word.

We should never be satisfied as learners; not just in what we learn, but in how we learn too. Our Lord is immeasurable and our desires should echo the words of Paul in Ephesians 3:18-19 where he prays that others might: “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

As we all continue to grow in our knowledge of Christ, let’s not get sedentary in our approach to our study. Rather, lets challenge ourselves to be better learners, working hard to become “excellent” students (Colossians 3:23-24), growing and maturing so that we might be effective and productive in our knowledge in our knowledge of our Lord and Savior (2 Peter 1:5-8).

His follower and student

Discipleship · Encouragement · Worship

A Teacher Through & Through

“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”
Titus 2:7-8 NIV

These verses are not a “stretch goal” for teachers of the Word of God. They are the model for strong, biblical teaching. They set the bar where it needs to be because the truth of God’s Word demands and deserves no less.

Christian Living · Discipleship

Wisdom and Will

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…” Colossians 1:9-10

That is what I want…I want to be filled with the knowledge of His will but want more than just head knowledge. I want to know His will “in all wisdom and spiritual understanding“. I am convinced that it is not until I have that kind of God-given knowledge and understanding that I will be able to walk and live in a way that is fully pleasing to the Lord; in a way that produces that “fruit of righteousness” (James 3:18), and that continues to increase my passion and my knowledge of God.

Christian Living · Discipleship · Encouragement · Uncategorized

Wisdom From Above

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. ” James 3:17

One of the key factors that contributes to the success of any local church leadership is the fervent prayers of the church. Great godly leaders will strive and endeavor to seek, know and obey the will of God with love, in humility, and honorably. They are deeply aware of the important purposes to which they have been called. As a church we are called to lift them up in prayer (1 Timothy 2:2), to encourage them (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and to not cause them grief (Hebrews 13:17).

I have recently been studying through James and recently found my mind focusing on the need to pray specifically for the wisdom of God for those in leadership of my own church. James writes that true wisdom, the wisdom from above…that comes from God alone, is pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without hypocrisy. A leadership team in a church that demonstrates that kind of wisdom would be a powerful, God-honoring group, capable and empowered to do great things for His kingdom.

Our prayers for those in leadership should absolutely include a fervent, impassioned plea to God for His wisdom that will be evidenced by these types of interactions and characteristics. We pray that as they lead and shepherd the “sheep” of the church, you know…all of us that are prone to wander, to be needy and messy, the ones that sometimes are more sheep-like than we care to admit (guilty as charged), we pray that the leadership is abundantly blessed with a God-given wisdom that results in their joy and unity, and in our being blessed by godly leadership as we serve the Lord together.

TK

Christian Living · Discipleship · Worship

To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

DSCN9161“To Him be the glory both now and forever.”

These words come at very end of the book of Second Peter.  They come at the end of instructions from Peter about Christian living; about growing and maturing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. They are a part of the doxology from Peter as he closes a heartfelt exhortation to his readers and in it he puts a worshipful exclamation point on his dispatch.

“To Him be the glory both now and forever.”

To Jesus be all worship, praise, and honor all the time. We often think about bowing down in worship for all eternity, but Peter reminds his readers that they are to give Jesus the same intensity and purposeful glory-filled worship in this life as we are for all eternity.

“To Him be the glory both now and forever.”

Our lives need to be living doxologies of worship to the One that has called us, redeemed us, and preserved us for all eternity.

To Him be the glory both now and forever.  Amen!