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Category: discipleship (page 1 of 2)

The Discipline of Being Disciplined

Spiritual DisciplinesEveryone wants to be strong and many of us wish we were a bit more ripped than we currently are.  No one sets out in life and says, “I hope that I’m incredibly out of shape and the laziest person I know.”  Yet,  very often we wonder how we can drop a few pounds, tone up and get into better shape.

All to frequently the same thing is true for our spiritual life.  Our desire is to be connected in a meaningful way to God, to know Jesus and walk with His Spirit.  Yet, for far too many of us we live dangerously close to being disconnected with God.

Jesus gives us a great example in Matthew chapter 4 for what we should do in order to be spiritually fit.  Check this out.

1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'”

Matthew 4:1-4

We see here that Jesus did 4 things to stay spiritually fit.

  1. Jesus was led by the Spirit-  His ears were open to the prompting of the Spirit.  Jesus was so in tune with the Spirit of God that He followed the Spirit’s lead out into the wilderness.
  2. Jesus fasted–  Jesus stopped eating for 40 days.  He took the focus off of his physical hunger to help cultivate a stronger spiritual hunger.
  3. He memorized scripture-  Jesus knew scripture.  It was on the tip of His tongue when He needed it most.  What He had read as a boy, and a teen was buried in His mind and it infiltrated His soul.
  4. He spoke scripture out loud- Jesus knew scripture and He spoke scripture in the moments when it would be easy to give in and focus on self rather than scripture.

Typically we call these Spiritual Disciplines.  Spiritual Disciplines in and of themselves have no ability to save us, but they do have the ability to help sanctify us, or make us more like Christ.  One of my favorite authors, Richard Foster, has said, “A Spiritual Discipline is an intentionally directed action which places us in a position to receive from God the power to do what we cannot accomplish on our own.”  We don’t discipline ourselves for no reason.  We discipline ourselves so that when the time comes we are ready for whatever comes our way.

Think about it, if Jesus practiced spiritual disciplines, how much more should we?  What has been your experience with staying spiritually fit?

~Peter

 

In Times of Crisis What Do You Do?

I wrote the following post back in May of 2008.  I thought maybe we could revisit the topic…  Let’s hear your thoughts…

Time Crunch Creates Crisis

What do you think about when life is difficult?  What is the first thing that your mind does when crisis decides to pay you a visit?  Do you jump into a panic?  Do you loose sleep?  Or maybe you are the complete opposite, maybe you hibernate to get away from it all.  Endless tears?  Continual anger?  What is your response to crisis?

I’ve been reading a book called “The Man God Uses” by Henry and Tom Blackaby.  It has been a great book so far.  I am not all that far into the book.  But I had to stop and think about this line of thought that they’ve got going on here.  Check this.

“Character is not shaped by crisis; it is revealed in crisis.  When crises occur, you can discover more about yourself as you listen to the words that come out of your mouth, as you see what actions you take, and as you monitor your attitude and evaluate how Christlike it is.”

WHEW.  Better tighten your belt a few notches.

How does that resonate with you?  How have you dealt with crisis lately?  Have the words that come from your mouth and the actions that you take, and the attitude that you display all been more like Christ, or more like man?

Please don’t make me answer.  I’m sure we won’t be happy with the answer!  At least, I’m not.

But here’s the great news.  You and I are just works in progress.  Romans 5:20 reminds us that “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”  Right now you have the opportunity to turn this crisis that you are experiencing right now into a tool that molds you and makes you more like Christ.

Maybe crisis or difficult times will never be fun.  That’s probably true.  However, on the flip side, every crisis I have gone through, God has been there with me the whole time.  He has been faithful as the day is long and even longer.  So, I guess we need to think a little before we throw our hands up in anger, or go hibernate till the storm is over.  I guess there is a lot to be learned.

What do you think?  How do you respond in times of Crisis?

~Peter

Scraped Knees= Shepherding Opportunities

Bleeding KneeMy kids have fallen down- many times.  In fact it happened recently.  Noah fell and scraped up his elbow pretty badly.  When we were trying to bandage it up he said, “IT BURNS LIKE LAVA!”  Ah to have the mind of a six year old again…

My kids have made mistakes.  They have written on walls, gotten pen on the couch, spilled milk, disobeyed, talked back, and been obstinate.  They have found that there is a whole lot of life that they want to explore and boundaries that they want to push.

These are the times as parents that are incredibly hard, right?  When your kid is in pain, pain so bad that it can only be likened to “burning like fire”, you want to take that away for them.  You wish that you could bear the pain on their behalf so that they didn’t have to feel it.  When I watch one of my kids fall, my whole body cringes, not because I am hurting, but because I know that they will be.

It is hard as a parent to watch and experience your children disobey, make poor decisions, and mistakes.  If you don’t believe me ask any parent of a teenager, they will tell you it is hard!

These are the moments when parenting is tough.

It is in these moments that parents have to step in and show their children that their is a better way.  There is a safer way to get from one side of the pool to the other than by running.  There is a reason why we don’t color with markers on the couch.  There is a reason why we eat over our plates.  All of this is for a reason.

When our children disobey, as parents we have to have the difficult discussion about why obedience is important.  We have to discuss why attitude is everything.  We have to talk about forgiveness.  We must teach our kids how to say sorry.  All of these things are important to teach lovingly and graciously to our children.

The Prophet Ezekiel

The Prophet Ezekiel by Michaelangelo

In the book of Ezekiel, God speaks through the prophet Ezekiel and tells his people that they haven’t been shepherding, or taking care of His people.  God reveals the condition of the shepherds heart as well as the condition of the flock.  Neither one is doing very well.

You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the disease you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them.  They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered.

~Ezekiel 34:3-5

God speaks through Ezekiel and is trying to get the attention of those who are taking care of God’s flock, or God’s people.  This passage is challenging to me both as a parent and as a pastor.  It makes me ask the question, am I caring for the people that God has entrusted to me?

What about you? I don’t care if you are a pastor, or a parent.  A father, or a friend.  Are you lovingly guiding and caring for those that God has placed in your life?  How do you help your kids, friends, etc… know that you care?

~Peter

Play the Background

Rehab Album Cover, Here’s a follow up to yesterday’s guest post.  If you haven’t read that, go check it out and jump back here and get in on the conversation.

One of the albums that I enjoy listening to is “Rehab” by Lecrae.  (You can purchase that here.)  The whole album is great but, one of my favorite songs on the album is “Background”.

Check out his video for “Background”

It is lines like these that mess with my head…

It’s evident you run the show, so let me back down
You take the leading role, and I’ll play the background
I know I miss my cues, know I forget my lines
I’m sticking to your script, and I’m reading all your signs
I don’t need my name in lights, I don’t need a starring role
Why gain the whole wide world, If I’m just going lose my soul

I mean, for real… Why gain the world only to loose your soul along the way.  This messes with my head because to many people think that kind of thinking is crazy!  We know people who have sacrificed their family and their friends in order to step up another rung on the ladder.  We know men who have lost their marriages because they believed the lie that other women were telling them.  This may even be your story!

Lecrae throws it down in this song.  I don’t care if you are a pastor, a youth pastor, a church secretary, a plumber, a CEO, or a line cook… God honors humility.

The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.

~Proverbs 15:33

Can you say this with Lecrae: “Matter of fact, just take my pen, here, you create my rhymes”?  That means setting aside your desires, your plans and your dreams in order to follow and live by God’s desires, plans, and dreams.   That is setting down and surrendering the rights to your dreams.  Wow!  I wish that I could say that was true in my life all the time.

What is most challenging about being humble?  Or maybe even a more difficult question is, Do you trust God enough to give him your dreams?

~Peter

Guest Post: Who’s Getting the Glory?

Recently, I read a quote that stopped me dead in my tracks. The quote said this:

Too often we ask God to glorify His name with ours.

After reading it, I went back and read it again, and again. I could not stop thinking about that quote.  Then I read Psalm 115:1 which says, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name goes ALL the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.”

Then I began thinking of all the times in my life where I was guilty of asking God to glorify His name with mine. I thought of the times when I have been teaching a group of teenagers about the truths of God’s word and I want them to tell me they liked my teaching. I thought of when I put together a worship service and I nearly expected people to compliment my creativity. I thought of when I’ve desired to go on mission trips to 3rd world countries and make a difference, when deep down inside what I really wanted was for people back home to comment on my “boldness” and “willingness” to follow God. The list could go on and on. Sadly, I began to realize how often I’ve attempted to stick my name in the limelight.  I realize that doing that casts a shadow on God’s glory.

Now, I have a feeling that I am not the only one that struggles with this. One of the reasons is because our culture is full of opportunities to capture some glory…

Sports companies like Nike, Reebok, and others are willing to pay professional athletes ridiculous amounts of money to promote their line of shoes, clothing, etc.  In music/media we spend money on iTunes and other similar downloading programs which give a portion of the money to the writing artist and keep a portion for themselves. Our culture is obsessed with sharing dividends, or for lack of better terms-glory.  Now, I want to clarify: I am not trying to criticize our culture’s way of promoting products for business. What I am saying is, that’s not the way that God works.

God clearly deserves ALL the glory in our lives. It is HE who has the power to save us not the other way around! But, instead of giving God all the glory, we have been mentally programmed to try and take some ourselves. The Church is not exempt, in fact, we must be very aware of this temptation because this mentality could easily rise up within the Church. When the people of God attempt to steal God’s glory it points others in the opposite direction of God.

Is this something you’ve struggled with? Unfortunately, I have. What areas of your life do you need to re-evaluate to make sure that God is getting ALL, not just some of the glory?

Youth Pastor Crisman KoechigCrisman Koechig is the husband of his wife, Ashley. A student of Toccoa Falls College. And a Youth Pastor to his awesome students @ Family Worship Center in Indiantown, Florida.

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