Monday, January 10, 2011

REMINDER: Following Christ as a disciple means following the overall lifestyle he modeled for us. It means practicing the kinds of activities and life choices he practiced. Being able to do what Jesus "would do" in any given situation is based upon living like Jesus "did live" in every aspect of life.

I - Christianity includes the "bodily" component - IN FACT -you cannot have a full Christian experience without recognizing the reality of the body any more than you could have a "full Christ" without recognizing his real, concrete bodily nature;
****There is "concreteness" to the Christian life that is often over looked.
"Incarnation" - "Cross" - "Resurrection"
SCRIPTURAL EXAMPLES: Gen 2.17,Proverbs 3.1-2, 3.7-8, 14.30, 16.24, 17.22 I Cor 15.44 Romans 8.13 I Thess 5.23 I John 4.2-3

A) When we fail to integrate our bodies by scriptural means (i.e. spiritual disciplines) into our Christian practise we lose the full power and vitality of the Christian life. WHY? Because the Christian life is meant to be lived - IN THE BODY ( II Corinthians 5, I Corinthians 15 - Philippians 1.20 " now also Christ shall be magnified in my body.")

B) When we fail to recognize the involvement of our bodies we fail to see sin’s concreteness or true nature and reality.

**** Sin and Spiritual Growth has a "concreteness" in our body that can be observed:
• Angry with your wife - roll your eyes
• Lust- hold your stomach in, change the inflection of your voice, instinctively brush your hair
• Covet/Materialism - nervous, frustration until purchase something
• Lying - feel it in our stomach…..
• Depression - sleep, facial expressions
• Over-Extended - easily mad, physical expression

II - Spiritual Disciplines are "tools" of grace that help us address the concrete reality of sin and need for spiritual growth in our life –
(Fasting, Solitude, Silence, Celebration, Meditation, Memorization, Service, Schedules) - are all concrete tools to help us address concrete problems.
*** It is vital to understand that it is "grace" and the direction of the Holy Spirit that infuses these tools with real spiritual power.

III - Spiritual Disciplines practised over an extended period of time guided by Biblical truth and the Grace of the Holy Spirit are great tools for concrete growth in our spiritual life

A) Exposes our true weakness and areas of need.

B) Allows us to bring Christianity out of the theoretical.

C) We learn to "grow" in grace

PLAN: The Power of Scheduled Spiritual Activities
Genesis 2.2-3, Exodus 12.1-2, Lev 23.6, Deut 16.10, 16.13, Acts 3.1, I Cor 16.1

A. Schedule theme to pray about throughout the week.
B. Schedule 3 quiet times: not talking at God but listening reviewing a portion of scripture or even reviewing something that was preached.
C. Schedule 1 Day of Thanksgiving: sharing your thanks, having a thanksgiving meal, journaling, praying.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christianity can only truly make a difference in our lives if it succeeds in two thing:
it must answer the problem of “Personal Depravity” before God.
John 3.3-8
Second, it must answer the problem of “Personal Development” towards God.
Romans 12.1-2

The Solution to both is met in and through Jesus Christ!
We are Redeemed/Regenerated through the finished work of Christ.
We are Transformed/Grow through the ongoing work of Christ.

MAIN POINT: Following Christ as a disciple means following the overall lifestyle he modeled for us. It means practicing the kinds of activities and life choices he practiced. Being able to do what Jesus would do in any given situation is based upon living like Jesus lived in every aspect of life.
EXAMPLE – Being able to play the piano at concert level is not based upon will power in the moment but hours of practice and “discipline.” The concert pianist lives a certain kind of disciplined lifestyle that allows him to play wonderfully in the moment. But it is the discipline that produces the beauty not just the desire or mere will power.

So then being a disciple of Christ is about pursuing a life style i.e. physical/bodily activities that assissted by God's grace produce the kind of Christ-like character we desire.

We have the faulty idea that failure is due to lack of will power when in fact it is mainly due to a lack of spiritual training.
– If I am incapable of bench pressing 200 pounds I do not blame “will power” but rather a lack of “muscle build up.”
EXAMPLE – Controlling my tongue is not just a matter of “will power” but rather a matter of spiritual training or the lack thereof.
**** Remember – that in the spiritual realm, just as in the physical, there is cause and effect.

We often try to start with the fruit rather than the seed. By that I mean that simply desiring to control your temper won’t work. Self control is the “fruit” not the seed. Loving your spouse more Christ-like is the “fruit” not the seed. Spiritual disciplines, assisted by God’s grace through the Holy Spirit, are the “seeds” from which grow the “fruit” we desire and God intends.

This Week's Spiritual Discipline: Scheduled Spiritual Activities.
**** Not by accident or emotion; but rather, a scheduled and intentional approach to our spiritual formation in Christ.
2 scheduled times of spiritual reading (scripture, biographies…).
2 scheduled times of prayer &thoughtfulness: journalling, music, quiet walk (30 minutes each).
Journal your thoughts, ideas, feelings
FINAL NOTE: Don’t be surprised or discouraged by failure. You only realize your muscles are not ready to bench press 200 pounds when you try to pick up 200 pounds!