Posted by: pastortomvabeach | January 31, 2012

Thought for the Week February 5, 2012

It is hard to believe we are already into February. Wasn’t it just Christmas? The older I get the more I notice that life is moving by so quickly that it’s often hard to get hold of. The Steve Miller Band wrote and recorded a song in the mid-seventies that opens with, “time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.” There is no denying the fact that time keeps moving forward and because of that I keep getting older and the days God has planned for me on earth grow shorter.

This fact we all face is a great motivator. How often do we hear of someone who lived through some experience that should have taken their lives and, after making it through, determined to make the most of every minute of every day they had left to them? And still it often seems easy to just sit back and let time pass and miss or skip activities that help me to grow in my relationship with and love for God and for other people.

I know that to make the most of the time (Paul says, redeem the time in Ephesians) it is vital for me so set priorities. And my chief priority in this life, actually the great privilege God gives us in Christ, is growing to be like Him. Did you ever consider what a wonder it is that God wants us to be like Jesus and makes it possible for that to happen? This is what happens when we make it a priority to train ourselves with exercises that make us like Jesus.

This week I want to mention a few more of the “training exercises” (disciplines) that help us become Christ-like. I will not go into detail because the new Life Group studying John Ortberg’s book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, will cover them better than I could in this context.

The practice of celebration or joy is something that Jesus came to give. In John’s gospel Jesus said, These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (15:11) C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” Joy and gratitude actually go together and spiritual celebration helps to increase our joy. Gathering with others to sing and praise God is one way to celebrate. What do you do to increase joy and celebrate?

Other practices include finding ways to slow down enough to truly experience the life God has given us and let Him change us, which in our culture is likely something everyone needs. Along with that, practicing servanthood helps us to imitate the life our Savior demonstrated while contributing appropriately to the lives of others. Regular confession of our failures (sins) to God and, when necessary, to others helps us keep short accounts and focus on doing better. Developing our spiritual sensitivity to the Holy Spirit requires practice but is valuable in every facet of our lives.

Ortberg also recommends practicing “secrecy” which he says is what Jesus was talking about when He said, When you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. The idea being that we learn to get away from practicing our “good deeds” in order to show everyone how “good” we are.

The practice that brings all other practices into perspective is having a “well ordered heart” which Augustine suggests is loving the right thing to the right degree in the right way with the right kind of love. A well ordered heart is what transforms us from the inside out. That’s what Christianity is all about, isn’t it? That is the mission we have attempted to define by saying we want 2GO NDO by “transforming people into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.” Pursuing a well ordered heart in a biblical sense would mean doing everything as Jesus would do it.

Well, this probably seems like a lot of stuff to drop in one installment. Again, I don’t mean to give you all of the in’s and out’s of putting these exercises to work in your life. John Ortberg has done a great job of that already in the book referenced above. If you are unable to participate in the Life Group that begins to unpack the book this Sunday, perhaps you could pick up Ortberg’s book and see if some of these exercises would be valuable to you. After all, “time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin into the future.” What are you doing to “redeem the time”? Just a thought.

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