Feb 27, 2015

Jesus Teaches About Prayer

This coming week, 1 March 2015, our theme in the worship series for Lent is about “responding to the Faith Journey with Prayer.” Knowing that no one much improves on Jesus, I thought we would give him the word today in this blog post. Hear what the Lord says about piety, alms, and our spiritual discipline of the week, prayer, to his followers.

    "Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
    [2] "So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. [3] But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, [4] so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    [5] "And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. [6] But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    [7] "When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. [8] Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
    [9] "Pray then in this way:
    Our Father in heaven,
        hallowed be your name (Matthew 6:1-9).

This is a reminder of a word we need to hear for our spiritual journey during Lent!

Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
Go, Serve

Feb 20, 2015

Spiritual Disciplines: The Outward Disciplines

This week in worship we are privileged to have Dr. Zan Holmes preach for us on this First Sunday in Lent. The worship theme is around the matter of “spiritual reading,” but we really never know what Dr. Holmes with do with our congregation or where he will take us—but we know it will be remarkable!

In our Lenten journey toward the cross of Jesus, I have written briefly about how spiritual disciplines become doors to liberation. In last week’s blog I shared about the inner spiritual disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, and study. This week we turn briefly to the outer spiritual disciplines. I want to list the outer spiritual disciplines and give each a brief focusing definition:

Simplicity—reflects an inward attitude toward life that results in an outward style of life.

Solitude—is not loneliness. Rather, solitude is a state of mind that says God alone fulfills us.

Submission—is the liberty of knowing that in submitting ourselves to God and others we are truly free.

Service—the discipline that reminds us that God created us to be in love and charity with our neighbors.

The outward spiritual disciplines reveal the inner condition of our souls. When we are able to act out what is in our hearts and lives, then we are freed to be the people God created us to be. In Jesus’ life we see that he lived in simplicity, solitude, submission, and service. To be more like Jesus is to be a person who is truly a practitioner of spiritual disciplines. And spiritual disciplines make disciples.

Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
Go, Serve

Feb 13, 2015

Spiritual Disciplines: The Inward Disciplines

This coming Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) we begin the penitential Christian season of Lent. Lent is a time in which we focus and spiritual disciplines and focus on our lives before God in a systematically disciplined way. The title for the sermon that night will be “Fasting as Food for the Journey.”

Morton Kelsey once wrote, “In contemporary society our Adversary [a.k.a.—devilish things] majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in “muchness” and “manyness,” he will rest satisfied. Psychiatrist C. G. Jung once remarked, “Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the Devil.”

One of the ways to forestall noise, hurry, and crowds is to practice inward spiritual disciplines. I want to list the inward disciplines and give each a brief focusing definition:

Meditation—is the process of pushing the world back to let God in. Focus on silence and centering on God.

Prayer—not so much talking to God as listening to what God tells us.

Fasting—abstaining from food for the biblical purpose of deeper spiritual connection with God.

Study—the renewal of people involves the renewal of the mind (Romans 12:2).  Study is one method.

Individuals can practice each of these spiritual disciplines in seclusion. Each discipline helps us concentrate on encouraging and appreciating the spirit of peace that God promises those who believe and trust. Lent is the time of the year that we walk the path that Jesus walked. We walk with the one who taught us to meditate, pray, fast, and study. To practice spiritual disciplines is to put us more completely in touch with Jesus. May God’s spirit walk with us during our Lenten journey!

Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
Go, Serve

Feb 6, 2015

Courage Counts

February is the shortest month and it is worth noting that sometimes it is a small thing that has great meaning. Jackie Robinson was the first black to play major league baseball. While breaking baseball’s “color barrier,” he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. His own fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered.

Then shortstop “Pee Wee” Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career. What Reese did that day was no more or no less than we could have done if we had been in his place. The only question is: “Would we have had the courage?”

Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
Go, Serve

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