Ordinary Discipleship

14
Oct

Addicted to Likes: Obsessive Comparison Disorder

Are you obsessed with what people think of you? Do you assess your personal value based on whether you are keeping up with the Jones’ or by how many likes you get for a Facebook post? Those external assessment tools can be such a slippery slope because they, more often than not, drains you of the joy and perspective God has made each of us to enjoy. If we switched our criteria and used the opinions of those who know us best, we would have to look to the one who created us. When we do that we see that we were and still are so valuable that God would choose to die for us. We are so worthy that God wants to have a personal relationship with us. We are so loved that God is willing to look past our faults and shortcomings and welcome us as His beloved children. Isn’t it time we stopped letting our possession, appearance and friends/family define who we are. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Digging deeper:
Genesis 3:1-7; Psalm 139:1-16; John 3:16; 8:44; 10:10; 2 Corinthians 11:14; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 2:9

Do something about it:
Spend so time in God’s Word. Do a word search on “God’s love.” Find a verse that really describes how God feels about you and post it somewhere you look, everyday. Read it out loud each day and remind yourself that you were worth dying for.

07
Oct

Feed Me: Worship

The word “worship” has become a buzzword in the Christian church. We attend worship. We listen to worship. We’ll say that worship was great some days, or that worship was off on others. We may consider that worship is just a Sunday thing. But that’s not what we see in scripture! It isn’t about music. It’s not about a group of people. It’s not a place that we go, or a service that we attend. Worship is a verb. It’s a response. In fact, worship is a response that affects every aspect of our daily lives.

This word “response” infers that it doesn’t begin with us! To respond to something, means that there was an action taken by something or someone outside of the one responding, first. In other words, in order to have a response, there first had to be an outside stimulus! So, worship is our response to four things: 1) who God is, 2) what God has done, 3) what God is doing in our lives, today, and (4) what God is going to do for us.

As we better understand the nature of God (that he is all-powerful, yet humble – even dangerous, yet full of grace and love), the more we respond in true worship to who he is. As we better understand the Gospel (the gift of Jesus Christ the Word, fully man and fully God), the more we respond in true worship to what he has done for us. The more in tune with realizing the work God has done, the more observant we are in seeing what He is doing in our lives, today. Finally, the more we understand the eternal hope that we have for the future (that Christ will return and will not leave us in our current state), the more we respond in true worship to what God is going to do for us.

Digging deeper:

Isaiah 40:28-31; Psalm 19:1-4; Psalm 100; John 1; 4:24; Philippians 2:6-8; 1 Corinthians 15; Romans 1:20;

Do something about it:

(1) Take a closer look at the every day things you do and ask God to point out opportunities for worship. (2) Expand your idea of worship, by taking time to recognize what God has done in his creation around you. (3) In response to who God is, what He has done for you, and because of the promise of what he is going to do for you, find time to READ, PRAY, FAST, SERVE and in all of this, truly Worship our Creator.

30
Sep

Feed Me: Serve

When you think of the term “service” what do you see? Does the picture of menial, low status and laborious activity come to mind? For many, service is something we have to or should do, but it is not necessarily what we want to do. Because it seems to banish us to the unimportant and mundane we tend to think that our participation in such activities lowers our status.

Ironically, some of the great thinkers and theologians have a different perspective. Richard Foster writes, “Service banishes us to the mundane, the ordinary, the trivial. It empowers us to say ‘no’ to the world’s games of promotion and authority. It abolishes our need/desire for a ‘pecking order.’” Jesus himself taught his disciples that, “The greatest among you should be like the youngest, (B)  and the one who rules like the one who serves, just as  (W) the Son of Man  (X) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His  [n] life a ransom for many.”
The irony or these quotes is that they seem to be telling us that there is great benefit and even unsolicited status and reward that go along with an act of selfless service. That seems counterintuitive to what the world teaches but directly in line with what our faith teaches. The question is, “Which do you choose to believe?” Maybe the can be found by taking a step of faith and looking for the opportunities to serve at home, at work, and even in your neighborhood. You might find that it moves from something you should do to something you want and need to do.

Do something about it:
(1) Take a closer look at the every day things you encounter and ask God to point our opportunities to serve. (2) Expanding your idea of service to include: guarding the reputation of others (cut back on gossip), put pride aside and allow someone to serve you, actively seek to show common courtesy and hospitality, take time to truly listen to others, and when given the opportunity to help directly, consider how you can help bear someone else’s burdens.

Digging deeper: Matthew 20:20-28; Luke 6:38; John 13:5-20; Romans 12:1,2; 9-13; 1 Peter 4:7-11

23
Sep

Feed Me: Fast

In a culture where the landscape is dotted with shrines to the Golden Arches and an assortment of pizza temples, fasting seems out of place, out of step. Why would anyone want to abstain from food unless it was for health purposes or for losing weight?

If we were truly made in the image of God, then we must believe that He made our bodies to need and even desire food. If that is the case, then fasting would not only seem counter-intuitive, but unhealthy, unless there is another, more important reason to fast.

A good place to start is the Bible. In it we see record that fasting is a frequently mentioned practice. It was not only oft-mentioned, but regularly practiced by Biblical pillars like Moses, Elijah, Esther and Paul. Even Jesus, God-incarnate, not only encouraged it, He also practiced it. If God Himself considered it important than why don’t we? If our Savior and Lord encouraged His disciples to practice it, then it must be important. It must have spiritual benefits that supersede health and diet. Understanding that we are not only physical beings, but we are also spiritual beings, made in the image of God. Because of that we not only need to feed the physical part of us, we also need to feed the spiritual part. How are you feeding your spiritual body? Could fasting be another way of doing just that?

Do something about it:

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1). If fasting is something we want to know more about, what better way to understand it than to take a step of faith and practice it? Set aside a time when you can safely abstain from food and drink (other than water) and ask God to teach you why fasting is an important part of your spiritual journey.

Digging deeper:

Daniel 9, Luke 4:1-13; Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14-17; 17:20-22; Acts 13:1-3; 14:19-23

16
Sep

Feed Me: Pray

Scripture is the most concrete source of spiritual food for us, but prayer may be the most central source of nourishment. We’re not born knowing how to pray, so be free of the burdensome expectation that you should be able to sit down and pray for 4 hours. Prayer in it’s most basic sense is direct communication with God. What we forget is that good communication has to be two-way. It has to be as much about listening as it is sharing. The deepening of any relationship begins with clear, honest, two-way communication.

One key benefit of prayer is that you put yourself in a place to receive the gift of God’s grace. This is the broader purpose of all disciplines, and the specific purpose of prayer: it puts us in contact with the Giver of Grace in such a way that our hearts and wills begin to be transformed. It starts with the small and gradually grows larger in effect. Don’t’ begin with expectations of moving mountains; begin with expecting to listen, hear and be transformed.

Do something about it:

We’re not born knowing how to pray, so be free of the burdensome expectation that you should be able to sit down and pray for 4 hours. Start with 4 minutes. Put yourself in a place to receive the gift of God’s grace. Remember that prayer is “communication.” Good communication has to be two-way, so consider setting aside time to just be quiet and listen to what God has to say to you.

Digging deeper:

Daniel 9:1-9; 2 Corinthians 3:6 (also see pages 2,3)

09
Sep

Feed Me: Read

What are you hungry for? When asked that question our mind usually takes us to food. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that hunger is not just about food. There are other things that we hunger and thirst for that we either directly or indirectly seek.

In the book of Ezekiel, God instructs the prophet to take and eat the scriptures. The passage tells us that when Ezekiel consumed the scrolls (scripture) and it says, “and they were as sweet as honey in my mouth.” God was not only trying to get Ezekiel to consume something that He knew would provide sustenance to the prophet, but this sustenance would be a source of food for those who Ezekiel was sent to guide.

Are you feeding your soul? If food is something we need to stay healthy, physically, what are we doing to stay healthy, spiritually?

Do something about it:

We are usually good at planning out our meals. Some of us have even trained our bodies to give us warning that it is time to be fed. Isn’t it time that we are that intentional about feeding our spiritual hunger? If you have not already established a regular habit/time of reading scripture/praying/devotion time, start by setting aside a five-minute block of time each day. Work to make it regular. Once you establish this as a regular practice, look for ways to extend that time.

Digging deeper:

Ezekiel 3:1-4; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; Matthew 4:4; 5:6; John 1:1-4; 4:31-38; 6:35