Category Archives: Discipline

focuses on the spiritual disciplines

The Extras…my short list for recommended reading <3

I was trying to fashion this into a well-written post…but yesterday…this happened…

mom brought Sweet Caroline and the band of brothers down for the afternoon and we went to the zoo…

or were the zoo…

or both.

While she took the wild bunch on the train, Lola and Caroline sprinted across the width of the zoo to wave at them as they went under one of the observation decks.

And as I passed under those same trees and around the curve leading to the train station so I could wave them into the dock, I realized that it was just an eye-blink ago that I was the mom keeping little arms and legs contained as we creaked and squeaked along that track.

And I may have cried.

Just a little.

Because time marches on but the soul holds fast to the eternal.

Which kind of brings us to my list of books to recommend.

We are currently blessed (or perhaps overwhelmed) with copious amounts of Christian-based reading material these days.

Thanks to new publishing methods ranging anywhere from blogs, to self-publishing, to a constant stream of new books and studies from established publishing houses; there is much to choose from in all areas for women, men, relationships and church life.

Constantly.

My thought regarding these is…just like a good diet of food…choose wisely what you spend your time reading.

Select books from authors that you know are solid in their teaching or are endorsed by others that you know are solid.

Sometimes as I am reading one of these new books I realize that it is going nowhere and I have begun to do a quick flip through of some of the chapters. If I see it will continue to just be more of a diversion than a profit to my investment of time, I will feel quite free to pass along to a donation center.

If I find it is completely false in what it is proclaiming…I happily recycle it in our large plastic bin in the garage.

Garbage in…garbage out, a mind is a terrible thing to waste…you are what you read…etc…

Which brings me to the books I go back to time and again.

Classics on my shelves.

These are books that speak eternal truths from authors who loved Jesus against the backdrop of THEIR culture and time.

Because the Bible is relevant and God is the same yesterday, today and forever…yet is always doing a new thing…cause well…He’s God…

my favorite authors are the ones who didn’t write to their times..but wrote to the glory of God and so their words transcend time and culture and can be applied right here and right now.

For books on prayer I recommend:

Valley of Vision the prayers of the Puritans – if you have never read the tabs at the top of the blog (under the Journey Onward banner there are tabs that include “About You”, “My Mission Statement” etc); the one that says “Journey Onward” explains this blog’s connection to this book I love so much.

Anything written by E. M. Bounds and Andrew Murray, but particularly Murray’s With Christ in the School of Prayer and The Ministry of Intercession.

I will also include two modern books on prayer that I have read through several times each and still go back to for quotes:

Touching the Heart of God by Ernest J. Gruen

A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller

As for Christian living/developing and growth type books; I have worn out the pages of these favorites:

Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster

and additionally, an expanded study of this book and the disciplines found in…

Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney.

I would conclude with one last dearly loved and heavily marked up favorite:

Knowing God by J. I. Packer.

Those are all good places to start.

I don’t read a lot of fiction.

In fact I learned a number of years ago that is one of those “good things” that is not a “best thing” for this girl’s active imagination.

I have a tendency to move so deeply into a well-written story that I can begin living there instead of here…and I realized that it had become a form of idolatry.

However, God is all about freedom not legalism and so occasionally I let loose the grip of fear that I simply CANNOT read fiction.

Such was the case when a friend gifted me The Undoing of Saint Slivanus. This is Beth Moore’s first effort at fiction and I loved it.

A gentle visit into well-developed characters and the regional landscape of life in New Orleans…or as I would say…

New AH-lens, Lew-weeeez-eeee-ahnna.

It was refreshing and uplifting and had me on the edge of my seat.

A great, fun and inspiring read.

So that’s my short list.

Happy reading and I will see you tomorrow, you book-worm, you <3

 

 

 

 

It’s a Kingdom, not a democracy <3

Another great evangelical voice speaks out that he or she has changed positions on an issue.

Enlightened with new understanding, an announcement is made and a shift to a new “truth” is established and all of Christendom responds…

with applause if it affirms what this one has chosen to believe…

or with knee-jerk reactions and flaring statements…

or just dissolving into a new puddle of hopeless tears that the other team is winning.

Remember the old childhood games…

pick up baseball in someone’s backyard where assorted trees made uneven base lines?

Or Kickball on the playground with chalk mark x’s to designate first, second, third and home?

How about Red Rover, Red Rover?

In all of those games, the teams were usually stacked with the strong versus the weak.

Teams chosen by captains who were typically the biggest and oldest who picked their way down the remaining group to the last two pathetic and unathletic runts of the group.

“I guess I’ll take___________”

The last one, not really “chosen”, was left to follow the backs of the team as they ran off to their positions.

And that’s how we in the Church of Jesus Christ can feel when one more hero of the faith decides that they were wrong about what God said….

or that God was wrong…

that truth is a shifting thing and up for grabs depending on who is writing it these days.

But we are not playing a game on some eternal playground.

And we do not serve a democratic (and I don’t mean Democrat vs. Republican…) God.

We serve a KING.

The majority does not rule and when one or ten or a hundred or every last person on the planet decides that they can rewrite Scripture and define truth…

God is still God.

The question of your faith standing is not who is standing with you, but that YOU are standing WITH GOD.

Bolster up your faith, Church.

God has not changed.

He is the same…

yesterday, today, forever.

He will deal justly with all of us (this should make you tremble, dear ones) …

but He will do it with MERCY and with GRACE.

Leave judgment in His hands….

judgment of the world, judgment of the Church and judgment of YOU <3

Trust in Him with all ….ALL… of your whole heart…follow His teachings by spending time READING the Word you proclaim to believe.

Apply it to your own heart and life and allow it to dwell in you, transforming you and changing you according to His will.

Pray for those who are being led astray and are deceived.

Pray for yourself to remain firmly grounded even as the ground around us shakes harder.

Guard your heart and your mind as you look for the Coming of your LORD.

Be blessed today, little child of God….

He is faithful…

and He is able to sustain us in these shifting sands of time <3

 

And in conclusion….

If you hung in there with me from Monday, I am so glad you came back…

here are the last points from the sermon…

(and if you just showed up, you will have to backtrack and read Monday and Tuesday’s posts…spoiler alert…it’s worth it)

We have been revisiting the sermon from First Christian Church on Matthew 16 on the Cross…

the “Crown Jewel” of Christianity.

 

How there are facets to the Cross that help explain it’s paramount significance to what we believe and how we live our lives as followers of Jesus.

So without further ado…we will look at the last of the eight facets (plus the bonus application of these) as presented by Pastor Brian last Sunday.

6. Justification: the act, process or state of being justified (made righteous) by God

We know that all of us, every human being,  have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23

But….

[Jesus} who was delivered up because of our offenses and was  raised for our justification  Romans 4:25

Romans 5:1 Therefore [we] having been justified BY FAITH (our belief in Him and acceptance of His gift of salvation, His death in our place) we now have peace (reconciliation and wholeness with God through our LORD Jesus Christ.

7. Redeemed: purchased back; liberated, free, rescued form the consequences and rule of sin

Luke 1:68 Bless is the LORD God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people.

Romans 3:23-24 …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

Titus 2:14 – Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

8. Gift righteousness: the Great Exchange

Jesus traded His Perfect Righteousness for our unrighteousness

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God IN HIM.

We are instantly made righteous ( salvation) AND progressively made righteous (sanctification).

And this brings us to our response to the Cross which is

9. Christ Examplar –  Christ our Example

We follow Him by example, laying down our lives and living His teachings. We take up our Cross, which means we die to ourselves…our natural desires, our preferences, our wants, our rules, our ways…and we let His life be lived by example in our daily lives.

It is good to review this as a believe because it helps exhorts us to remember what He did for us and to refocus on how we want to live in response to that.

I can only think of one thing in conclusion and it happens to be the signature line on all my emails because it is the call to believers and unbelievers that the Cross of Jesus The Christ demands a response…

For the Word of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,

but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.      

1 Corinthians 1:18               <3

May God bless each of you as you let these truths sink deeper into your souls…may they guide our daily decisions as we walk this thing out on planet earth until He comes again to take us Home ….

 

 

Repetition aids retention <3

We listened to a great sermon yesterday and let me tell you, I had to just retype that intro because I first wrote that we heard a great sermon…but no..no..we LISTENED to a great sermon.

And there is a world of difference.

I am still chewing on it this morning and have decided to bless you with the Reader’s Digest version of it.

I encourage you to check out firstdecatur.org sermons sometime this week and listen to it yourself but here is Part 1 of the notes I took:

Pastor Brian Talty led us through a clear study of the different facets of The Cross and why THE CROSS is the main thing about Jesus being THE Messiah based on Peter acknowledging Him as “the Christ” in Matthew 16:13-18.

He pointed out that Peter got the “Sunday School” answer right when Jesus asked who the disciples thought He was…and how we often, in the Church, get that answer right as well…and yet like Peter, turn around and show that we have no clue what it means.

Messiah – Greek word for “anointed one”, so could be used generically for a king…but Jesus is THE MESSIAH.

He is God’s Anointed One who is the Only One who has earned the right to be both our Savior AND our LORD.

And it is all based on The Cross.

Pastor Brian then pointed out that it is paramount that we examine the Cross and what it means.

But the Cross is more than a symbol hanging over a pulpit or around a believer’s neck and so he broke it down into eight components.

1. Atonement: to cover; the quality of being at one or alike. Through the Cross, our human nature and sin have been covered over by the blood of Christ and we are seen as pure and holy.

Genesis 2:17 – but of the tree of knowledge of GOOD AND EVIL you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

Death is the result/consequence of sin. It is what happens.

1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the COVERING for our sins, and not for ours only BUT ALSO for the WHOLE WORLD.

2. Substitution: the act of replacing one thing for another

Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities; the punishment for our peace (reconciliation to God) was put on HIM and by HIs stripes we are healed (made whole, forgiven, restored, completed to our pre-sin state)

Galatians 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law; having become a curse for us

3.Ransom: sum paid for the release of a prisoner

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 9:15 And for this reason (vv. 13-14 His sacrificial death is 100% effective for the cleansing of our sins, unlike that of any other sacrifice either we could make or that could be made for us ie. the animal sacrifices of the Old Covenant Law or our own attempts to cleanse ourselves of sin and unrighteousness) He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of His death, for the redemption of the transgressions/sins under the first covenant that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

4.Expiation: to be cleansed

Leviticus 16:30 For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD>

Zechariah 13:1 In that day (the day of Christ’s sacrifice for us and the sins of the world) a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleaness.

Jeremiah 33:8 I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me.

I will give you the last four tomorrow.

But please absorb this into your heart, mind, soul and spirit.

I hear people who do not or will not understand the Cross saying things that show their ignorance…

whether it is completely disregarding what God has called “sinful” and so hardened in their hearts that they are embracing and celebrating sinful choice.

Or…somehow believing that God is expecting them to work hard, harder and even harder still to wash away their own sin.

It is clearly NOT what God has said AT ALL.

I grew up in a mainline church and loved Jesus with all my heart.

But somehow the idea that permeated all the teachings and applications reinforced the lie that God was keeping a score card…and we just needed to do our very best to make sure that in the end we had more tally marks under the “Good” than the “Bad”.

Others I know were raised believing that because they are in church, they are destined to salvation and there you go. Done and done.

It is the mystery of the Gospel…the paradox that we can do NOTHING to cleanse our selves of sin except do the ONE THING…

receive His gift of salvation by accepting that we do sin and we are separated from our Holy God and there is One, only ONE who is able and who is worthy, who paid the price that we cannot pay…

Jesus Christ…THE Messiah…

To believe in our hearts and declare with our mouths…

Jesus Christ paid the price for my sin.

He took my place.

Died for me that I might live in Him.

God bless you as you apply the Word to your Monday <3

Day 3 and I can’t think of a snappy title

As I was thinking of characters in the Bible who seemed to lack, I thought about Moses.

Oh yes, I know.

He was so close to God, his face glowed and he is a patriarch of the faith.

But contrary to the Cecil B. DeMille version, Moses did not stride away from the burning bush bursting with confidence.

God got his attention, for sure, in this most miraculous display of a bush on fire and yet not consumed by the fire (and for this I have to say Mr. DeMille’s depiction in technicolor had me on the edge of my seat EVERY. TIME.)

After Moses removed his sandals, God identified Himself in no uncertain terms and outlined His incredible plan to deliver the nation of Israel out of slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt.

He laid out some fantastic specs for the operation and even did an extremely disturbing thing with his staff when He turned it into a serpent and then asked Moses to pick the thing up by the tail and it returned to a staff.

Personally, at this point, if I had been able to pick up a serpent by it’s snakey end part… the thought of marching up to Pharaoh declaring “Let my people go” would have seemed like child’s play.

However with all this conversation and miraculous stuff going on, Moses actually suggested to God that He had made a mistake.

Asked the wrong guy.

Recruited a second stringer for a major league effort.

Because according to Exodus 4:10, Moses informs the God who created him, provided an escape from being murdered as an infant, plopped him in Pharaoh’s palace to be raised as a prince, helped him survive escaping into the desert and now had done quite a few things that certainly would convince the man He had the power….that he isn’t a very good speaker.

I have read in commentaries that he may have stuttered.

Which we all know Charlton Heston did not do.

But in the real story…the real Moses…lacked.

He lacked the confidence and the skill and the finesse and whatever he thought he would need to pull off what God was asking him to do.

Have you been there?

Maybe not rescuing 600,000 people and all their possessions and livestock out of a foreign country in the middle of the night…

but still….

something you know He has called you to do and you have assessed your ability…

and it…

just…

won’t…

cut it.

Listen to how God responds to Moses and learn.

Because God reminds him that it is GOD who gave him his mouth and GOD who gives people the ability to speak or not to speak.

And GOD would be the one to give Moses the words, the timing and all the eloquence he would need….if only Moses would trust Him.

So what are you lacking to do the thing?

What do you think God has called you to do and then failed in his assessment of your skill set, your talent, your gifting?

Believe me, I understand.

This one hits home with me every time I sit down at this keyboard to prepare a lesson or write an encouragement or tap out this post.

I don’t have what it takes, I tell Him.

He made a mistake…

or maybe I did…

because I sure never saw a burning bush or had one of my pens turn into a garter snake when I set it down.

But it’s not about what I bring to the table.

And the same goes for you.

When He calls us, He equips us.

It’s not easy…it’s not painless…it’s not without a struggle.

But we go forward.

One step at a time, placing our feet on the path and our hope in Him.

Turns out the only think lacking when we hesitate in our whole-hearted obedience is confidence in HIM who MADE US.

Let us never be lacking in that.

Let us be people who trust completely in our God because…

With God we lack nothing<3