Filed under: Uncategorized
Is this the kind of self-control we need?
Filed under: Leadership
By Walt Alexander
Is self-control merely bodybuilding?
Is it merely about training your body and possessing absolute control of it?
Is it merely about who has the biggest bench press and who can do the most push-ups?
Before it can begin anywhere else or before it can have significant impact on any other area of your life, self-control must take root in your relationship with God. Really, our relationship with God is often one of the most neglected areas of our lives. We can succeed in going to church, going to bible study, and going to various other events, but our lives alone can be totally different. We often have little or no self-control with the spiritual disciplines. We are often wallowing in laziness and apathy.
Here’s my brief history in this area:
A couple of years ago, about a year after I had gotten saved, I seriously lacked self-control. I loved the Lord and I loved to read. But I could not get up in the morning to meet with him. In those days, I had one of ascending alarms that gets louder and louder with every beep. Because I was either deaf or lazy or both, it would take me forever to get out of bed to turn it off. Many days my Asian roommate (won’t be my last either!), Andy Young, would end of screaming at me or beating on the wall in sync with the alarm. Sometimes, someone would come from another room in the house to turn the alarm off. My entire, daily life was formed around my laziness.
Also, I remember, soon thereafter, I was talking with Kevin Shipp about how I could not possibly take 8am summer school classes because it would be way too early but commenting on how I really needed these classes in order to graduate. He, being the friend that he is, remarked something like, “That’s ridiculous. You need to get up and get to work.” Looking back, this was a pivotal moment of my life. I had to choose whether to serve my lazy lifestyle or to be productive, work hard, and get things done. This moment immensely served my relationship with God, because I began to consistently seek Him in the morning. I only pray I may grow to be more and more disciplined and self-controlled. The point is: there is much hope.
So, how can we cultivate self-control in meeting with God?
Here are a few thoughts (in no particular order):
Remind yourself that reading the Bible is the primary way to know God. Romans 10:17 reads, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.” We must read, read, read to know Him. Think about this. We have a source of true knowledge of the holy, all-knowing, all-powerful God.
Go to bed early. As Howard Varnedoe has said, “The battle for the morning is won the night before.” Obnoxiously simple, but definitely true.
Set a reasonable but earlier time to get up to read. Though the Bible never says “you must read me in the morning,” in my experience and the experiencing of many, many others, the morning is the best time to read. It is when all is silent and the cries of the coming day cannot be heard (or at least can still be silenced).
Have a reading plan. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but know where you are turning each morning. The Bible roulette is no incentive to get up.
Have a place. If you don’t identify a place beforehand, it is extremely easy to place it on the backburner. Also, go to the same place consistently is very helpful, but hard for college vagabonds to do.
Filed under: Humor
It’s happened to every guy at least a million times. You’re walking through the office, or on campus, or in a shopping mall and it never fails. No, I’m not talking about bladder or bowel disorders (though those are things near and dear to my heart to discuss), and I’m not talking about the sudden urge to tear your shirt and fight for the freedom of oppressed people and to win the heart of a woman. I’m talking about those awkward interactions that take place when you see someone you know in passing.
How can we bust through the weirdness and the almost complete lack of genuine communication in those few seconds that we exchange broken cliché phrases in a pathetic attempt to meet some type of social protocol? I mean, in those moments, what we really want to say is, “Hi. I acknowledge your presence. I am glad we know each other, but I need to get to my destination, post haste. I hope you are doing well, but I just don’t have time to engage you in any type of meaningful conversation. Please understand that had we seen each other in different circumstances, I would be more than happy to engage in a fifteen to twenty minute conversation that would serve both of our souls. But, for now, shut up, walk away and get something done.”
In those few seconds you just don’t have the time to communicate all of that. I am not quite sure how to remedy this problem, but I do know that the typical “What’s up?”, “Yo!”, “How’s it going?” “Word up, bro!”, or “What it is, my brother?” does not work. I mean, most of the typical greetings in those few seconds either communicate very vaguely what you really want to say or open up the door for too long of a conversation. There is nothing worse than a “How’s it going?” to be misinterpreted as the beginning of a conversation by the person you are greeting! Then you have to figure out a way to cut the conversation short or end up counseling someone through 20 years of family and personal problems. There has to be a better way!
Please respond with suggestions for a solution to this problem. What should we say? How should we say it? How can you communicate your heart in just a few seconds?
Filed under: Devotions
by Jonathan Oldacre
Eric Simmons, a pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD, posted this excellent article entitled “Pray.” Excellent stuff!
Filed under: Devotions
By Jonathan Oldacre
You may have seen this before, but I’m sure there’s enough of you who haven’t to warrant this post. One of our heroes, John Piper, uses this “IOUS acronym… almost every day in praying for those [he] love[s].” It’s a great way to begin your time with God in the morning, or to guide your prayers for those you love as well. If you’re anything like me, you usually wake up dulled, inclined to yourself, the eyes of your heart are clouded, your thoughts are pulled in a thousand directions, and you can often lack satisfaction in God prior to meeting with Him in the morning. I usually pray this before my time with God daily, and I receive immeasurable benefits as God answers these prayers by His grace for His glory:
“1. Ask God to give you an Inclination to his Word (Psalm 119:36)
2. Ask God to Open your eyes to see wonderful things when you read his Word (Psalm 119:18)
3. Ask to have your heart United in the fear of God rather than fragmented over a dozen concerns (Psalm 86:11)
4. Ask to be Satisfied in his steadfast love (Psalm 90:14).”
Enjoy the riches of grace that await!
(Adapted from this artcle by Dr. Piper)
Filed under: Evangelism
by Travis Maples
1) Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer – because it’s by J.I. Packer and because I have seldom felt more encouraged and full of faith to evangelize than after I have been reminded of what both my role and what the role of the Holy Spirit is in evangelism. It frees you from the burden you were never meant to carry, namely changing men’s hearts and saving their souls.
2) Tell the Truth by Will Metzger —though it might not be as easy of a read as the others, it is needed in our day since there have been so many attempts to blunt or smooth over the rough edges our message. People need to hear, as Metzger says, the “bite of their condition”. He urges the sharing of the whole gospel to the whole person.
3) Speaking of Jesus by Mack Styles – because he brings decades of experience to the table. His book is packed with personal stories of what evangelism looks like in everyday life and, after all, that’s where you and I are. It’s essential to get a firm foundation in the theology that under girds action (which are what the first two are good for). But once we learn the foundational truths, it’s so helpful to hear about the actual down and dirty, nitty-gritty, messy application. He helps us learn how to turn conversations to Jesus.
4) Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman – why? Because, though I haven’t read but a quarter of it, I know we don’t put fluff in our book store at church and if that doesn’t suffice, my pastor recommends it!
Also, here are Mark Dever’s and CJ Mahaney’s recommended reading lists for evangelism.
1) Tell the Truth by Will Metzger
2) Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer
3) Speaking of Jesus by Mack Styles
1) Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer
2) The Gagging of God by D.A. Carson
3) Gospel and
Mission in the Writings of Paul by P.T. Obrien
Has anyone else read these books? If so, I would like to hear what you think about them.
Filed under: News
by Mike Plewniak
From Bob Kauflin: “This video captures one of the highlights of the WorshipGod06 Conference hosted by Sovereign Grace Ministries this past August. Ryan Ferguson shared a memorized dramatic presentation of Hebrews 9 and 10 from the ESV Bible. The power of God’s Word came through in a fresh, compelling way”
(HT: Bob Kauflin at WorshipMatters)