Tag Archives: spiritual discipline

Spiritual Disciplines for the Purpose of Godliness | WORSHIP | 4th in Series

2 Aug

chalk doxology_opt 

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire” — Hebrews 12:28-29.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “worship?” For many it’s the music and songs typical for a Sunday morning church service. While the music and singing can create great joy, the heart of worship is about magnifying God’s name and ascribing to Him the glory and worth that only He is due Psalm 29:2.“Worship is the specific act of ascribing to God the glory, majesty, honor, and worthiness which are His,” — Jerry Bridges.Derived from the Old English “weorthscipe” meaning the “condition of being worthy, dignity, glory, distinction, honor, renown,” “worship” denotes worthiness. It is the outpouring of grateful sincere hearts to our infinetly holy God; blessing Him, praising Him, thanking Him. “It’s the response of awe for God while reflecting on…

Please click here to continue reading: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Spiritual Disciplines for the Purpose of Godliness | WORSHIP | 4th in Series.

Advertisements

Bring the Bible Home to Your Heart

12 Jul

bible2

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” Psalm 119:105

Is your desire to spend more time with the Lord –to know Him –to need Him? God has revealed Himself to us through His Word. Every page speaks His name; reveals His character. Our souls cry out for this spiritual sustenance; hungry for The Book. “Open the book to find out out first and foremost who God is…He’s at the center…He writes us a book about Himself…Develop a relationship with your Bible” –Pastor Bob Burris, Disciplines for DelightOur desire to know God increases exponentially as we discover who He is. The more we know Him the greater our heart yearns to purposefully pursue Him. Open The Book…

View the remainder of the article here: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Bring the Bible Home to Your Heart.

Spiritual Disciplines For the Purpose of Godliness| Prayer | 3rd in Series

24 May

praying hands_opt“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7b NASB)

Prayer is an expression of our heart, an outpouring of intimacy, a loving dialogue with the Father.The Word of God makes it clear we are to participate in prayer.

The remainder of this article can be viewed here:

Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Spiritual Disciplines For the Purpose of Godliness| Prayer | 3rd in Series.

Spiritual Disciplines For the Purpose of Godliness| Bible Intake |2nd in Series

30 Jan

bible

“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7b NASB)

“If I were the devil, one of my first aims would be to stop folks from digging into the Bible. Knowing that it is the Word of God, teaching men to know and love and serve the God of the Word, I should do all I could to surround it with the spiritual equivalent of pits, thorn hedges, and man traps, to frighten people off…At all costs I should want to keep them from using their minds in a disciplined way to get the measure of its message” (J.I. Packer).

Bible intake is a broad term and encompasses the many ways the Word is made known to us. “[There is] no spiritual discipline…more important than the intake of God’s Word” (Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life). This particular discipline is inextricably linked to spiritual growth and maturity; where hearts opened to the knowledge of the glory of God crave “the pure milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2-3) and yearn to know and love Him more. Our soul cries out as a “deer pants for water” and “thirsts for God” (Psalm 42:1-2). Quench this thirst by hearing purposefully, reading consistently, studying deeply, memorizing intentionally, meditating thoughtfully, and applying God’s Word accordingly.

Through Bible intake God’s attributes are revealed and His characteristics are highlighted in the Gospels through Jesus giving us access to a deeper understanding of how to glorify God and an amazing love. Seek Him, spend time with Him, obey Him, honor Him…He is jealous for us

How to Get People to Read the Bible Without Making Them Feel Dumb by Trevin Wax

“The Bible is easy.”

“The Bible is simple for a child to understand.”

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the Bible.”

I hear these and other statements at times from well-meaning church leaders and church members. The idea is to shrink the distance from us and the biblical text, to make the Bible seem accessible…with the hope that more people will read it. I think this is the wrong way to go about it. It’s just not going to happen. When we stress the Bible’s “easiness,” we lead our people into two wrong directions. Some will throw up their hands and say, “I must be really stupid because this seems very dense.” Or, even worse, we train people to only look for the easy parts, to be satisfied with daily nuggets of wisdom and never wade deep into the Bible’s waters. Either way, you wind up with people who never feel the satisfaction of studying the Bible on their own.

Instead, I suggest we be upfront about the demanding nature of the Bible.  Let your people know that it’s hard work. It’s a challenge…

Continue reading here: How to Get People to Read the Bible Without Making Them Feel Dumb – Trevin Wax

Additional Resources:

Three Tips for Better Bible Reading | Desiring God

Why Read the Bible? | Desiring God

Five Promises for Your Bible Reading and Prayer | Desiring God

3 Common Ways to Read Scripture – The Gospel Coalition Blog

Hearing Gods Voice 101 | Are YOU listening? | Connect to Women’s Ministry @TACC

 

Happy New Year!|Resolution or a Real Solution

1 Jan

tide“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” Isaiah 40:31.

According to Time magazine nearly 2/3 of Americans will make a New Years resolution. The top ten of these include 8 that emphasize some sort of a personal change designed to effect a transformation of sorts. The other 2 popular choices involve helping others and spending more time with family. Out of the myriad people making one of these commitments on January 1 2013, nearly 50% stopped pursuing their goal after the first month and only 8% successfully achieved their goal at the end of the year. This lack of accomplishment may emanate from a false hope. Pinning one’s expectation of success on the new year and unassisted effort will prove pointless.

“Believing that things will get better apart from Christ is a cruel deception. It truly is an exercise in futility. Even if bank accounts grow or fortunes appear to improve, the relief this provides is short-lived” (Jay Younts, Celebrating Insanity).

 Resolutions can be a good thing. Approach change with prayer (Philippians 4:6), wisdom (James 1:5), persistence (Galatians 6:9), and patience (Psalm 37:7a).

Lifeway Women offers the following 3 tips for a realistic approach:

Approach your goals with a healthy dose of reality. If you’re serious about making a true change, those goals have to be practical and reasonable.

Behavior modification won’t last. Only Jesus can bring true and lasting transformation…

Your own strength will ultimately fail you. …true success comes when you press hard into Jesus—through constant prayer—for a strength that only He can provide.

Whether you choose one word that encompasses a focused character change, ten thousand little moments of grace, or the typical dramatic pledge remember;

“…change takes place through faith…where our hearts lead, our emotions and behaviour will follow…look to God, to find hope and help and satisfaction in him” (Tim Chester, You Can Change).

Wait upon the Lord! Trust in His perfect timing. Do not attempt things in your own strength.

Additional Resources:

Don’t Waste Your Weaknesses in 2014 – Desiring God

On To The Next One… – Tullian Tchividjian

Hoping for the New Year | CBMW | The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

 

How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014 | Develop an Intentional Devotional Plan

30 Dec

bible

“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'” Matthew 4:4

Feast on the Word of God and intentionally satisfy a soul craving spiritual sustenance. Make and keep a daily appointment with the Lord and experience the kind of fulfillment only He can provide. Pray before you begin that the eyes of your heart will be open (Ephesians 1:18) in order to achieve a fuller understanding of the Word. Incorporate the spiritual discipline of journaling into your plan and write down passages to pray through. Keep track of how God is working in your life throughout the year. Seek encouragement and share with others in your church family or life group. Fill up on the Word to quell the hunger and quench the thirst of a soul crying out for the Lord. 

How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014 by Justin Taylor

Do you want to read the whole Bible? The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute; there are about 775,000 words in the Bible; therefore it takes less than 10 minutes a day to read the whole Bible in a year.For those who like details, there’s a webpage devoted to how long it takes to read each book of the Bible. And if you want a simple handout that has every Bible book with a place to put a check next to every chapter, go here. Audio Bibles are usually about 75 hours long, so you can listen to it in just over 12 minutes a day.

The remainder of the article, which includes great resources and tips can be viewed here: How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014 – Justin Taylor

Additional resources:

Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Read the Bible in a Year

A Bible Reading Plan for Readers – The Gospel Coalition Blog

Want to Read the Bible through in 2014? – Mentoring Moments

Bible Reading Plans for 2014 by Nathan W. Bingham | Ligonier Ministries Blog

Keeping It Real: The Truth about Authenticity | Her.meneutics |(Part 2)

12 Nov

authentic_christianity_logo

“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” –1 Peter 1:7

What does authentic Christianity mean? The following definition from Sharon Hodde Miller offers a starting point,

“First, authenticity is a discipline that requires time. It cannot be flipped on like a light switch, and it is not maintained without work…second…it can only be had in Christ.”  

Miller posits the idea that authenticity is rooted in Christ.

God opens our eyes to our sins, to the self-deception, to the things in our lives that are not of him. Then he transforms us, conforming us to the only perfect human being who ever lived. In Christ, we stop operating according to the constraints of social expectations, personal insecurities, and lies. Rather than live in ways that are subhuman, we finally live in a manner worthy of God’s vision for humanity.”

Irenaeus (an early Church apologist and theologian) noted, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive; and to be alive consists in beholding God.” Christian authenticity is expressed when the, “…divine life of God living in our soul…” (Pastor Burris) produces fundamental changes.

“There are no real personalities apart from God. Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most ‘natural’ men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been; how gloriously different are the saints.

But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away ‘blindly’ so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality; but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether.” –C.S. Lewis

We are made new and know God when we have the nature of God indwelling that accompanies believing the truth. We desire to live in fellowship with others who share this phenomena. We seek to magnify His presence through the honing of spiritual disciplines (Bible intake, meditation, fasting, prayer, and worship). Our focus and desires change and this is exuded in a real way as we seek to glorify God and share this Good News with others.

The following excerpt outlines 5 points related to authenticity:

(1) Authenticity proclaims the reality of the Bible.

In Numbers 13, God commands Moses to send 12 spies into the land of Canaan. Forty days later, they come back with fruit and a report.

Ten of the men tell it like they see it: fortified cities, strong people, and a fear of being squashed like bugs. Two of the men tell it like God sees it: “Let us go up at once and take possession for we are well able to overcome it.”

If the spies came to our churches today, which group of men would be praised as “authentic”?

Being authentic means that God and his Word define what is real.

Last Sunday, I had an imperfect experience of corporate worship. The kids were squirmy, the sanctuary was hot, and my mind wandered. That’s the truth.

But the Scripture adds an even greater truth to my experience. God, the Creator, declares that worship is good. Therefore, by faith, I declare it good too.

Whatever we say about our experiences, our report must also reflect God’s truth.

(2) Authenticity doesn’t excuse sin.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s phenomenally popular Eat, Pray, Love was the memoir of a woman seeking an authentic life. Its first page bears the motto: “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.”

But for Gilbert, living authentically includes adultery, hedonism, blasphemy, and so on.

Gilbert’s type of authenticity is easy for Christians to reject. Her sins are “obvious.” But are we on guard against more subtle sins?

Recently, in “The Double-Reach of Self-Righteousness,” Tullian Tchividjian cautioned a generation of Christians who say, “That’s right, I know I don’t have it all together and you think you do; I’m know I’m not good and you think you are. That makes me better than you.'” Pride is not authentic.

Selfishness, love of men’s praise, lack of joy can all lurk, undetected, around our authentic edges.

I have a friend who wants me to be authentic. She wants to know about my arguments with my husband, the sin of my children, and what I dislike about church. For her, authenticity seems to involve not only removing my own mask but exposing the sins of others, too. This is unkind. Everything that is done in the name of authenticity must also be done in the name of a holy Christ.

(3) Authenticity seeks the good of the Body.

In 1969, Hillary Rodham (now Clinton) gave a speech at Wellesley’s commencement. Her remarks champion authentic conversation about women’s struggles in a male-dominated world.

I have to admire her kind of authenticity, for she was promoting authenticity for the sake of a common cause. She wanted these women to be authentic so that all women could have a better life.

Christian authenticity is likewise other-focused.

We live transparently, not to unload our own burdens and thus walk more lightly alone, but to intentionally share the burdens of others and carry them to the same grace that liberated us.

(4) Authenticity honors wisdom.

Christians seeking to be authentic rightly value humility. We recognize that we are broken.

But sometimes, in our quest to avoid the appearance of pride, we question our God-given ability to shine the light of wisdom.

Singer-songwriter Christa Wells expresses this in a song: “So friends don’t take me wrong on those days when I sound too sure / Of the things I say.” Wells writes insightful meditations on the Christian life, but she is intentionally tentative.

This habit has a long root in the spirit of the postmodern age, in which all truth is elusive and dogmatism is the unforgiveable sin.

But the godly life is not merely a pooling of experiences; it is the confident application of God’s truth to individual circumstances. We have the Greater-Than-Solomon, who gives wisdom liberally to all who ask. We honor the Giver by using his valuable gift. Seeking wisdom and speaking wisdom must have a place in an authentic life.

(5) Authenticity points ahead to a perfected future.

Every pilgrimage has a final destination. Christians who are authentic about the struggles of this life should also be authentic about the perfection of the next.

In Lewis’s The Great Divorce, travelers from hell step off a bus onto heaven’s grass. It is so razor-sharp, so real, that it cuts their tender feet: “The men were as they had always been … it was the light, the grass, the trees that were different; made of some different substance, so much solider than things in our country that men were ghosts by comparison.” (p 21)

For Christians, our true self is found in Christ, and we are on a pilgrimage to become more like him. As 1 John 3:2 says: “We are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet appeared.” A greater reality awaits.

So, like Israelites singing the Psalms of Ascent, we ought to look up from our dusty feet and ahead to the even more authentic glories of Zion and her King.

That’s for real.

Excerpted from: Keeping It Real: The Truth about Authenticity | Her.meneutics | Christianitytoday.com

Additional links:

Real, Authentic Authenticity | Her.meneutics | Christianitytoday.com

Taft Avenue Community Church / Resources / Sermons

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Pilgrimage Growth Guide): Donald S Whitney: 9781576830277: Amazon.com: Books

 

 

God’s Bright Design for Your Bitter Providences|Taking Heart in Uncertainty

5 Oct

 wait

 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” –Romans 8:28

 

It should be comforting to acknowledge the supreme sovereignty of our God who works exclusively for the good of those He has called and yet in the midst of suffering or life’s vagaries we are sometimes hard pressed to recognize His hand. What the “good” is or will be is often intangible, mysterious, and hidden to us but never to God. He knows exactly what He is accomplishing and we need to cast our fears aside and rein in our anxiousness by waiting upon, hoping in, resting with, and seeking out the Lord –in scripture, in prayer, in meditation. 

“In the life to come there shall be no more mixture; in hell there will be nothing but bitter; in heaven nothing but sweet; but in this life the providences of God are mixed, there is something of the sweet in them, and something of the bitter” –Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, 125.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

–William Cowper God Moves In a Mysterious Way.” 

God’s Bright Design for Your Bitter Providences

This is the will of God, your sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

The unexpected, unexplained twists and turns our lives take create all kinds of apparent uncertainties for us. And the profound pain we endure can be so perplexing. There is so much God doesn’t tell us — so much we think we would really like to know…

The secret things are the Lord’s for a very good reason. Trust him with the mystery. But the revealed things are yours and they are glorious. Believe them and one day you’ll share God’s holiness and all the forevermore pleasures he has prepared for you…

Excerpted from Jon Bloom’s God’s Bright Design for Your Bitter Providences – Desiring God.

Eating, Body Image, and the Gospel|Find Your True Beauty in Christ

27 Sep

scale

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” –2 Corinthians 5:17

According to Womenshealth, more than 60% of American women are overweight. The publication further estimates as many as 10 million women nationwide suffer from some type of eating disorder. A positive body image can be difficult to cultivate when the prevailing world view, particularly in the United States and other Western cultures, emphasizes an impossible to achieve ideal. Photo shop, air brushing, celebrity weight gain and loss and of course the ridiculous measurements of Barbie all perpetuate a love hate obsession with food. Never mind that Barbie, were she a flesh and blood female,  “…would be 5’9″ tall, have a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, 33” hips and a size 3 shoe; she’d weigh about 110 pounds with a BMI of 16.24 which is considered underweight/anorexic (CBS). Many women have developed a love/hate relationship with food accompanied by feelings of guilt and shame. To compensate they attempt to gain mastery over their sustenance, exercise, and ultimately physicality itself by becoming more regimented. This continued struggle impedes the ability to die to self occluding the reflection of Christ. Adjusting focus from what is seen in the mirror or the number on a scale and fixing eyes on Jesus is the first step towards a Biblical body image rooted in the joy of the cross. 

Eating, Body Image, and the Gospel

Two months into my freshmen year of college, I was forced to admit something had gone terribly wrong with the way I related to food. I’d gained 30 pounds in that short time, double the stereotypical “Freshman 15” some students gain over the course of an entire school year. Deep down I knew my weight gain wasn’t only the result of unhealthy cafeteria food or insufficient exercise. I was eating constantly and compulsively for reasons I didn’t understand—and I couldn’t stop. I felt completely condemned and paralyzed with embarrassment, which I knew wasn’t helpful or biblical, but I had no idea how to think otherwise. I was stuck.

Read on: Eating, Body Image, and the Gospel – The Gospel Coalition Blog.

The Ultimate Meaning of True Womanhood| Do Not Shy Away from Theology

17 Sep

dusty-bible-600x345“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” –Matthew 7: 24-27

“Great are the works of the LORD; They are studied by all who delight in them” –Psalm 111:2

Immerse yourself in His Word that you may know Him and build not upon the shifting unpredictable sand but on the rock solid granite foundation of truth. The more you learn about Him the more you will love Him and know why you believe what you believe. The more you learn the more solid your theology becomes and standing unshakably in His truth takes on a new meaning. The more you discover about His character the more you understand why He allows trials, suffering, discouragement, and temptation. The more you read the more you grasp His sovereignty, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. The more you grasp the better you understand how to glorify God. Sit at the feet of your redeemer Jesus Christ; dive into the meat of the Bible and glean sustenance, joy, meaning, understanding, gratitude, and a love so deep it is immeasurable. 

Wimpy theology makes wimpy women.

I don’t like wimpy women. I didn’t marry one. With Noel, I’m trying to raise Talitha, who turns 13 on Saturday, not to be one. The opposite of a wimpy woman is not a brash, pushy, loud, controlling, sassy, uppity, arrogant Amazon.

Marie Durant

The opposite of a wimpy woman is 14-year-old Marie Durant when in the 17th century in France was arrested for being a Protestant, put in prison, and told, “You may get out for one phrase: I abjure.” She wrote on the wall of her cell, “I resist,” and stayed there 38 years until she was dead doing just that (Karl Olsson, Passion, [New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1963], 116-117). That’s the opposite of a wimpy woman.

Gladys and Esther Staines

Another opposite of a wimpy woman is Gladys Staines. In 1999, remember the story? After serving for three decades with her husband Graham in India, to the lepers, heard one day that her husband Graham and little Phillip (10) and Timothy (6) had been set on fire, burned alive in the back of their car. She said to the newspapers, “I have only one message for the people of India. I am not bitter, neither am I angry. Let us burn hatred and spread the flame of Christ’s love.”

The opposite of a wimpy woman is her daughter, well named, Esther. When asked by the reporters, “How do you feel about your father’s murder?” She said (she was 13), “I praise the Lord that He found my father worthy to die for Him.”

Krista and Vicki

The opposite of a wimpy woman is Krista and Vicki who together, in my church, have had 65 surgeries for so-called birth defects from Apert Syndrome and Hypertelorism. They write, “I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know them right well (Psalm 139:14).” Krista says, “Even though my life has been difficult, I know that God loves me and created me just the way I am. He has taught me to persevere and trust Him more than anything.”

Joni Eareckson Tada

The opposite of a wimpy woman is Joni Eareckson Tada, who would give her right arm to be with you. After forty-one years in the wheelchair she prays, “Oh thank You, thank You for this wheelchair. By tasting Hell in this life, I have been driven to think seriously about what faces me in the next. This paralysis is my greatest mercy.” (Christianity Today, January, 2004, 50)..

Suzie

The opposite of a wimpy woman is Suzie. Four years ago her husband (59) was taken, then a month later she found she had breast cancer, and then her mom died, and then a miracle happened. She wrote to me, “Now I see that I have been crying for the wrong kind of help. I now see that my worse suffering is my sin-my sin of self-centeredness and self-pity. I know that with His grace, His lovingkindness, and His merciful help, my thoughts can be reformed and my life conformed to be more like His Son.”

Wimpy theology makes wimpy women. That’s my assumption as I begin this message.

Wimpy theology does not give a woman a god big enough, strong enough, wise enough, good enough to handle the realities of life in a way that enables her to magnify Him and His Son all the time. He’s not big enough.

Wimpy theology is plagued by woman-centeredness, or as we usually call it, man-centeredness.

Wimpy theology doesn’t have a granite foundation of God’s sovereignty underneath. It doesn’t have the steel structure of a great God-centered purpose for all of human existence, including the worst of it.

Excerpted from: True Woman | Pastor John Piper.

%d bloggers like this: