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Archive for the ‘Sanctification’ Category

Fasting: Why and How

I’ve had a few fasts in my life. Sometimes I fasted from food, other times I fasted from TV or pop or some other thing. Can’t say that fasting is a sure thing to spiritual breakthrough, but it positively is a biblical discipline that I would venture to guess is under practiced in the church today. I could, however, be completely wrong about this because fasting is usually an intensely personal practice. The elders at Mars Hill Church in Seattle are planning a day of fasting and they have posted some Scriptures and thoughts on fasting here.

From the above linked blog….

John Calvin said in his fourth Institutes book that fasting has three objectives: “We use it to weaken or subdue the flesh that it may not act wantonly [lacking restraint], that we may be better prepared for prayers and holy meditations and that it may be a testimony of our self-abasement [humiliation] before God when we wish to confess our guilt before him.”

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Living to Hear God’s Voice

November 6, 2007 Leave a comment

I have heard many people ask this question – and I have asked it myself many times – why doesn’t God speak to me more clearly? Have you ever wondered that? Have you ever been in a position where it seemed like everything would be so much easier if God would just speak more clearly? Most people have.

But before we question God’s speaking to us, maybe we need to turn around and ask ourselves, “Does my life look like I want to hear the voice of God?” I would offer that many times we don’t hear God clearly because the way we live plugs our ears or cuts us of from the very source of the sound we say we so desperately want to hear.

Categories: Life, Sanctification

Spiritual Growth is A Crawl

Last night I did a lot of driving and I was listening to a couple messages by a dude from this church that have been rocking me (the Salt and Light messages).

One of the things that has stuck with me is the idea that spiritual growth is not a high speed endeavor. In fact, it is more like a traffic jam crawl. Man I hate that. But I know it is true. I have experienced it. I am experiencing it. Change takes time. And usually, I want it now. Not later. You with me?

But think about it. Real growth almost always happens slowly. You can’t even see it happening. Suddenly your newborn baby boy is up and walking around. You wake up one morning and your little girl is wearing make-up and twirling around in her dress up clothes. Your first born son is riding his bike and throwing a ball further than you. You step into the shower and your stomach has become a visual impairment to your feet. The same thing is true with spiritual growth. Rarely do we see it happening. We can only measure it as time ticks on.

My problem is that I want to undue 26 years of junk build-up in two counseling sessions and a Bible study. But it doesn’t work that way. Think about the disciples. They were with Jesus, in the flesh, for 3 years and they still deserted him when it came down to it. Only years later would their growth and change be shown for what it was, and even then, some of the guys still had junk to work out (Galatians 2:11-14).

There is no way around it. Spiritual growth is a crawl that requires the perseverance, faith and trust to press on believing that this is true.

Categories: Preaching, Sanctification

Pay Attention to Your Inner Life

George Macdonald once wrote,

Foolish is the man, and there are many such men, who would rid himself of his feelings of discomfort by setting the world right, by waging war on the evils around him, while he neglects the integral part of the world where he lies his business, his first business – namely.his own character and conduct .

Powerful words. I have been here. Running to this or that or the other “good” thing, all the while ignoring the junk that was turning over inside of me. It seems easier, I think, to heal ourselves by healing the others around us. But the attempt is futile.

I can not solve my inner pain but solving yours. I can learn something from your journey, yes, but my own character cannot be healed until I face it, expose what is dark to light, ask others to walk alongside me, and start to deal with it head on. Not an easy road. Not a glamorous one. But the only other option is stagnation, delusion, fragmentation, and sometimes even death.

It is a common axiom – putting first things first – and in matters of the soul it is foundational.

Categories: Sanctification

Building a Foundation for Suffering

Had a heartbreaking conversation yesterday with the wife of one of my best friends from college. From the sounds of things my friend is going through some very deep hurt as a result of something that happened year ago. And sadly he is running from everyone who is trying to help him instead of turning back into his pain and allowing God to bring healing.

Stephanie and I were talking about it last night and I started evaluating our life and the lives of our friends since graduation in 2002. From the looks of things our pretty little Christian lives have been laced with sin and consequences and pain. Among untold trials there have been instances of adultery (both physical and emotional), miscarriages, financial difficulties, job transitions, and struggles with alcoholism.

Our faith in Christ has definitely not left us exempt from suffering and it makes me wonder how well our churches and pastors and faith-based educators prepared us for such instances of suffering.

When was the last time you saw a sermon series branded “Having a BAD DAY and Moving Past It” (copyright BTB, 2007)? Those aren’t the kind of messages I heard growing up. It makes me reconsider the importance of building a foundation for suffering into the lives of the people in our churches. Because at some point, we are all going to go through some crap, and then we’ll be left to deal with it. The question will then be – how? On our own, or with our God?

The Racism That (Regrettably) Still Lives in Me

Today at the A&W a co-worker (who is black) called to let me know that he wouldn’t be coming in tonight. It turns out that something happened between his son and some policeman in Milwaukee. Sounds like the police may have roughed the kid up a little bit, but no one is releasing much information for my co-worker was going to try and find out what’s up.

While discussing the situation with another co-worker (who is white) I found myself sort of heading down the mental trail of “another black person who thinks the while police are out to get him.” Instead of feeling empathy for the man and the uncertainty of his son’s situation, I found myself mentally debating whether or not my black co-worker was looking at the situation racially. Which is exactly what my unconscious brain filter was causing me to do.

It was such an awaking to the sin that lives inside of me and how much ‘renewing of the mind‘ I need, no matter how far along I think I have come in my sanctification. Most times I would not call my self racist. I honestly strive to live out the truth and beauty that Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians 5 and Ephesians 2. But I also have to be in touch with my depravity so that I can do the work I still have to do to become more like Christ.

Categories: Mind, Sanctification