Archive for November 2016

Spiritual Practice #8: “Intentionally Seek to Integrate Your Life in Christ with All Areas of Your Life”

November 30, 2016

integratedDuring Advent we reflect upon and prepare for the coming of Jesus. We remember his birth and make sure our preparations are on track for his return.

So why did he come? And what can we expect the second time around?

The Jesus whose birth we celebrate, and whose return we anticipate, is Jesus Christ, or Jesus the Messiah. Messiah is a Jewish word that basically means Savior/King. In other words, Jesus means to save and he means to rule. His intent then and now is to reclaim this world as God’s kingdom. He wants to restore all things according to God’s original design (Acts 3:19-22). He intends to make all things new.

Christ is King and he is Lord. This is the fundamental truth of the Christian life. Christ himself qualified us to enter his kingdom, but now each Jesus Follower is called to apply themselves to learning what it means to live under the Reign of God. (more…)

Spiritual Practice #7: Move Towards Greater Financial Integrity and Generosity

November 23, 2016

blessedLet’s talk about money. We all know that money is necessary – for all sorts of things. I think we also know that money can be dangerous. It can put our spiritual lives, our relationships, and our emotional, mental and physical lives at risk. The apostle Paul isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know when he says, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

But money can also be a very good thing. It can serve good and even holy purposes. Generous giving is even mentioned as one of the spiritual gifts (Romans 12:8). So while money can become a curse, it can also be an incredible blessing. (more…)

Spiritual Practices 5 and 6: Having Spiritual Conversations with Believers and Those Not There Yet

November 16, 2016

spiritual-conversationI apologize for not getting out a post last week about our fifth spiritual practice: “Engage in Honest, Authentic Conversations with Other Believers.” Let me say something about the spiritual practices in general. The only way any of these spiritual practices can really work is if we want to do them.

For example, most days I spend a few minutes practicing scales on my guitar. (Don’t worry, that’s not one of the nine practices.) It’s something I enjoy doing because I love the sound of a guitar and because I’d like to improve my playing. What doesn’t work is comparing my guitar skills with Tim Sawicki’s, for example. Then my inevitably small signs of progress can seem like a waste of time.

Likewise, it would be completely off the mark for any of us to compare our spiritual lives with the spiritual lives of other people. Jesus is our teacher, and each of us is his very personal disciple or student. We’re all wired differently — by his design. It’s also not going to work to treat these spiritual practices as obligations or requirements. Like I said earlier, at some level, we have to want them, or at least want the life they point to. (more…)

Spiritual Practice 4: Identify and Use Your Spiritual Gifts

November 2, 2016

bodyOn Sunday, which happened to be Reformation Sunday, we talked about faith – faith as gift, as trust, as faithfulness, as risk, as obedience, as perseverance, and finally, as freedom. This week’s spiritual practice zeros in on one of the most important and specific ways we exercise faith. The apostle Paul writes:

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

So it seems that there are particular ways God assigns each of us to exercise our faith. And those ways and ministries aren’t the same for everyone.

But here’s the deal. We’re going to be hesitant to invest time and energy to explore and use our gifts in the body if we don’t have much faith in the body. There are so many things we can do with our talents and gifts and lives, and if we don’t believe that the church, the local church, is that big a deal, we’re going to understandably be cautious about directing very much of our time and talent there. Our motives for not engaging may be selfish – i.e. there are the things I want to do with my life – or they can be unselfish – i.e. I believe there are better, more efficient, more effective ways for me to make a difference in the world. (more…)