Roman 12:1-2

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1-2

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Worthless Things

At this time of year, everyone is talking about the real meaning of the season and striving to live with a generous and unselfish and serving heart. The chapel speaker at school this week spoke on this very topic and used an acrostic for SERVE:

S: Single-minded Loyalty -- to be loyal to God with single-mindedness. Without such singlemindedness we become our own focus.

E: Extensive Devotion -- again, devotion to God, a devotion that overshadows all else.

R: Right Spirit -- confession is good for the soul, they say; confession allows us to reclaim the intimacy with God that allows to have the freedom to love others more than we love ourselves.

V: Victorious Life -- no more barely making it, spiritually and emotionally and physically. Christ came to give us life and life abundantly. When we live this kind of life, He overflows from up like water from a brimming cup.

E: Exalting Purpose -- My purpose is to love God and serve Him forever. I can serve Him in many ways, including serving the downtrodden around me. And the downtrodden take many forms: the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Zaccheas, the man born blind, and the paralytic, to name a few.

So today's Psalm 119 verse is vs. 37: Turn my eyes from worthless things.

Turn my eyes to what is important. Your ways, your people, your creation.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I am a Stranger

Psalm 119: 19
I am a stranger on earth;
       do not hide your commandments from me.

I am a stranger in NYC. Don't like the city. Try to avoid it. But when I am there, I need directions. I need street signs and subway signs and the helpfulness of strangers.

That is the way it is on earth, for God's believers. We need directions, road signs, and helpful friends. Most of these come in the form of God's Word. His commandments and the life principles that can be found in His Word are the necessary tools for navigating this world, its pitfalls, and my own sinful nature.

Thankfully, God doesn't hide His commandments from me.

I just have to open my eyes to read them.

vs. 18: Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chip Ingram's Book Post 2

Thinking Great Thoughts

John Locke said, "The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thought." Basically that means: if you want to know what I think, watch what I do. We know this is true. Your mother can tell you that eating peas is good for you, but if you constantly watch her throw her peas away, you won't believe her anymore.

So if I say God's will and God's ways are important but never spend time thinking about them, do I really believe it?

Ingram writes, "The thoughts we entertain in our minds become the thoughts that guide our lives."
If all I think about is what I read in the magazines at the check-out or what I watched last night on TV, then those ideas will guide my life. The petty concerns of starlets and the drama of unreality will influence me more than anything else. If I want God's will and God's ways to guide my life, then I need to think of those things at least as much as the other.

Though I have found that the more time you spend in God's Word, the more you want to spend there.

I can say I will give equal time to God's Word but the very nature of His Word is to draw me in deeper, until soon I forsake the TV to read the Bible or some other book about godly ideas. Like Good to Great in God's Eyes.

Psalm 119: 9-16
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commandments.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chip Ingram's Book Good To Great in God's Eyes: Post 1

Do you want to be good at your job? Or great?

What about as a parent, as a friend?

Chip Ingram, in the Introduction of this book, points out that when Christians are asked that question, we have no qualms about saying we want to be great.  But ask a Christian if he/she wants to be a great Christian, and we hem and haw, ducking our heads, as if embarrassed to admit that yes, we do.

How dare we be so pompous as to desire greatness when talking of spiritual things!  Of course, when talking about  secular things, it's OK to want to be great. It's just a job or hobby, after all.  But when talking about the things of God?  It is arrogant.

"Yet what is the alternative? Should be aspire to be mediocre Christians? Is it really prideful to want to honor God with lives of great faith and excellent work?" (p 8)  Ingram goes on to point out that when the disciples argued about who was the greatest, Jesus did not admonish or chastise or reprimand them; what He did was correct their view of greatness.  "We are designed to be great in God's eyes. When he created humanity, he proclaimed us  not just good, but 'very good' (Gen. 1:31).  We exist for his glory.  That kind of purpose is not served well by mediocrity or even by settling for simply being good." (p 9)

How do atheletes become great?  They practice.

How does one become great in business?  One makes wise choices and works diligently.

How does a Christian become great in God's eyes?  How do I?

I must work and strive and take it seriously.  Greatness in God's eyes, just like greatness on the soccer field, isn't going to happen by me standing on the sidelines, no matter how loudly I cheer for others.  I need to stop living a passive life, reacting to  what happens to me and around me.  I was talking with my students this week about Christians being thermostats instead of thermometers: thermometers tell you the temperature around you but thermostats set the temperture.

Guess I should take my own teaching to heart.