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5 Ideas to make the Rest of 2013 Splendid!

better personJuly is here, which starts the second half of 2013. If you’re like me, you probably wonder where the last six months went. New Year’s Resolutions could well be a foggy memory from the days of yore, but it’s not too late to take back 2013 and make it a truly remarkable year.

C.T Studd the former cricketer turned missionary put it well, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, / Only what’s done for Christ will last.” So either you can buckle under the pressure of work, the tiredness of making it through half the year and the seeming waste of the last 6 months, or take dominion of the rest of the year.

1. Make some plans.

Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance” What are some up-coming events, life-goals, ministry plans or devotional habits you have coming up or would like develop before the end of the year? If you knew the Lord was going to take you home before 2014, what godly legacy would you strive to use your last months to see materialise?

Whenever you create goals in any context, it’s important to make sure they’re SMART: specific, measurable, achievable & awesome, realistic and timed.

For example, “Know more Scripture” is a goal, but it’s not a very helpful goal. “Memorise 20 new Scriptures by the end of Decembersmart 2013″, on the other hand, is smart. Its specific (all the details are there), measurable (when you memorise the 20th verse, you’ve met your goal), achievable and awesome (if you consider knowing God’s Word awesome, which it is), realistic (20 verses in five months is four verses per month) and timed (it has a deadline).

5 months might seem like a long time, but remember how fast the first half of this year went. Set about two or three goals for the next few months.

2. Try out a New Ministry

Life is for good works which God prepared before hand for you to walk in them (Eph 2:10). Many of us think about ministries or activities when we plan a year. Yet, as the year advances, we frequently get stuck in ruts and routines.

use meMake the second half of 2013 awesome and God honouring by mixing things up. Try visiting sick people in the hospital round the corner, join a mission’s trip, or make a commitment to share the gospel with someone different every month. The exact activity you choose doesn’t matter as much as choosing something that will encourage you to break your current weekly routine and introduce needs and life-giving opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise have seen.

3. Grow in Knowledge

As well as shaking up your weekly routine, taking time out to learn about a topic, or a new skill can also help free you from preconceived ideas and open up a wealth of new possibilities to serve the Lord and your neighbour.

Many of us have topics in Scripture we would like to understand better, such as learning about the covenants, understanding why dispensationalism is wrong (J), or taking classes in a new skill we’ve always wanted to learn like “Biblical counselling” (of course it could be a something not directly related to the faith like a course in art or learning an instrument). The most common reason for not doing this is a lack of time, so try limiting activities like TV and Facebook and give yourself the gift of growth in the Word and usefulness.

If you’re stuck for ideas, talk to the elders at your local church or drop me a message.

4. Start up a journal

This will help you be more conscious of what’s really important to you.

The act of journaling in itself can help keep you focused on your intention to make the second half of 2013 grand. Reading previous journaling notes can also reveal things to you about yourself and God that you previously overlooked

If you are a Christian, that means that God is at work in your life, accomplishing His purposes. SIT UP AND TAKE NOTICE !!! Pay attention to His daily providences in your life. Those providences cannot and will not supplant Scripture, and they will always be insunshine accord with Scripture, if truly from the Lord. But they are indications of His mercy, love and care towards you. It seems that even the puritans used journaling to record the work of sanctification in their lives.

5. Hold fast to what is good

“Examine everything, hold fast to what is good and abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)”. The immediate context of this verse has to do with prophecies which were part of the first century church before the Bible was completed. I am just taking the principle here and saying that you should apply it in life.

Perhaps the first half of 2013 felt like your best six months yet, perhaps you feel like the next five months are a chance for 2013 to be a bit more meaningful. Whatever the case, taking regular times to focus on what’s working right now will help you develop a deeper appreciation for all the good things that God is working in you this year.

One way of doing this is to celebrate a type of thanksgiving, writing down something you are grateful for once a week and review them all at the end of the year on a special day you set aside for thanksgiving.

Sometimes, we don’t truly appreciate everything we’ve done and experienced as God works in us, until we have a chance to reflect back on how the last few months have gone. Without a written record of our experiences, we tend to dwell on the more memorable challenges of the past, rather than things that went well or blessings. Think of how so much of the Psalms are designed to remind Israel of God’s goodness to them; we would do well not to forget His goodness to us.

What are your ideas for making the second half of 2013 splendid? Leave a comment and let me know!

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2013 in Christianity, Tips

 

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Resume of Blog. Encouragment for Christians!

It is with many thoughts on my mind that I come back to writing my blog, I have been away for awhile, and have not been blogging, in this time I have: gotten married, read so much Eschatology material that I get indigestion just thinking about it, begun thinking about church polity a lot more seriously, and considering various aspects related to it, read with admiration how my pedo-baptist brothers attempt to defend their view (I am not swayed, but I admire their commitment to Scripture), read up on Theonomy, swayed in my firm grounded understanding of the ‘perfect’ in 1 Corinthians 13, and a couple of other things. Ihave decided to write about none of these things in my upcoming blogs, since I want time to think through them and let them simmer in my understanding before I go out rushing like a bull, it may be wise to always allow new understanding stand the test of a bit of time before putting them out there.

One thing I have found encouraging and I wish to encourage the Church of Christ with are the Words found in Psalms 73:25-26:

Whom have I in heaven but You?

And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (NASB).

I have found this a much powerful verse in fighting sin, and in encouraging soldiers in the fight for the glory of God. Verse 25 clearly expresses what we should feel when we realize ultimate reality, God is ultimate, there is nothing above Him, there is no explanation under Him, Thus He is the satisfaction of our most immanent desires and needs. Everything we enjoy on earth, spouses, food, cars, comfortable beds, etc, they are all just pictures of that satisfaction that comes from God, yes indeed every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights, joy gets its essence from the essence of God, as does comfort and pleasure….

So the Psalmist can go on to say that even though his flesh and heart fails, and friends, our hearts do fail, we do not love as we should, sin is so deceptive and we are so ready to run to it. Our flesh, is very weak, we all know this, we have such great plans to read more, and pray more, and fellowship more, but we crash, we get lazy, we make excuses; But praise God! He is our strength, my heart can find strength when I run to Him, my flesh can be renewed when I trust in Him. Our faith is not will-power religion, it is based on feeding from God, and trusting in God and resting in God and then acting, then doing.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2010 in Christianity, Devotional

 

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Adolescence Destruction of Manhood

The whole idea of adolescence is a relatively new idea in history, it is a side effect of the ‘modern’ method of schooling, which takes people who are physically able to be adults and forces them to wait till all the required schooling is completed. It is not the purpose of this paper to explain all that is involved in the secular view of adolescence, suffice to say it is not a biblical category (the Bible involves children, young men and older men- one ceases to be a child when one “leaves mother and father and cleaves to ones wife”), I’d like to talk about some of the negative influences this concept has had on young men specifically and make a few suggestions.

Many young Christian men today seem to be stuck in some kind of time warp, not readily letting go of their adolescent ways. This is true in the secular world as well (a movie came out not long ago called ‘Failure to Launch’ which is supposed to be a commentary on this social ill). I believe the issue stems from what we have I imposed on people’s minds during adolescence, there a young man has the ability to be an adult (physically), he begins thinking like an adult in certain ways, yet at the same time he is not given the responsibilities of an adult, he is kept protected like a child, this is where I think much confusion and the so called awkwardness stems from. So we have a young man growing up, not being discipled in the way he should (most of the time) and going into adult hood- the problem is how does he now suddenly take on the responsibilities’ he must, since he has had the confusion of adolescents? I know I am over simplifying, but bear with me as I get to my point.

A while back I challenged a young man I know, about a particularly worldy and ‘sub-culture’ styled fashion accessory, his response was “It’s just a phase I am going through”. Now apart from the strangeness of having identified the phase and then deciding to stick with it, how can a Christian man, one who is to demonstrate godliness, self-control, humility…. Christlikeness- attempt to find identity in the same place the world does? It is concerning when men are trying to defend (not to mention those who identify with) bits of the ‘emo’ culture and ‘punk’ culture or whatever it may be… It is even more concerning when men are lazy and enslaved to their entertainment. Packer said about this, “Ease and luxury, such as our affluence brings today, do not make for maturity; hardship and struggle however do”.

How we must pray for a generation of godly young men, that the world looks at and see’s something of Christ in. Men who are known because they: Love their wives, are faithful in church and work, who show some of the orderliness that is from God, who don’t shrink from confrontation, who don’t live passively- men like Joshua, Daniel and Paul, men like Jesus! Men who don’t find joy in the trivial little pleasures of a lost world that finds its identity in trying to be unique or strange or arb. Oh for men who love God more than they love themselves, who esteem God’s word as of more value than their daily food.

Think through these with me:

Do you want to be known as the strange arb guy or the godly Christlike guy?

Do you want to be seen as the sports buff, or someone with a concern for orphans and widows?

Do you want to be the silent mysterious guy, or the one who leaves and aroma of Christ in every conversation?

And even if it’s not a purposeful decision, which of the above is your flesh dragging you towards? If others think of you, what do they think of? “Oh yeah Harry, he is a Arnold fan, a anima know-it-all, a rocker, a gamer, a slacker, a ladies-man…”

If you chase after the same things the world chases, the world will never take notice of the treasure you have, the treasure of Christ. My favorite quote on manhood will serve to close these few thoughts, “The steel of manly character is forged in the fires of control and denial” – Elizabeth Elliot

 

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Calling Christians to Glorify God

I was reading through the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards this week, and I must say I found them inspirational to say the least, and also very very convicting. Hard to believe he began writing them when he was only 19. I guess we live in a far less profound and thoughtful time.

I want to consider one of them today, specifically number 4 which reads:

“Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.”

How can anyone read that and not be moved in some way? How much progress would there be in our Christian walks?The Heavens Declare His glory How much less needless suffering for doing unrighteousness would there be? But we trifle with silly things most of the time.

While I am writing this and thinking it through, I hear the echoes of my college training, the emphasis on balance, I remember sitting in classes and hearing things which would imply that men like William Carey, who gave up his life to minister in India, were wrong, and foolish. We live in an age which looks down upon fanaticism; we live in such a time of the church where radical sacrifice and effort is unexpected.

It’s like we have forgotten Christ’ words, “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 10:38-39).  Or the similar words in Luke, “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it (9:23-24).

The first thing which springs to mind is sin. Sin is that which does not ‘tend to the glory of God’, this includes, laziness, slothfulness, indiscipline, not taking responsibility, not forgiving etc… But more then that it includes our idols, this is perhaps why John ends his first epistle with the warning to keep away from idols. What are our idols? Safety, comfort, entertainment, constant frivolousness, no desire to speak or even think about lofty things? Could these perhaps be why the church is so weak in is impact in the world for the sake of Christ and His Cross?

Ask yourself the question, when last did you deny yourself anything? Or like Cain do we give of what we can spare, just inclivpart of our time we have to offer, just a bit of our money we don’t need, just a little here and a little there, instead of having our lives soaked with the Glory of God as the whole theme, so that while we study, we do it to this end, that He may be glorified. While we work, to this end, that others might see our Christian witness  and demeanor and glorify God, oh I could go on and use every example of all the conditions of life you may find yourself in.

Friends listen to the words of Paul and be resolved to do it and repent when you see yourself slacking, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.(1 Corinthians 10:31)” Remind yourself weekly, daily if need be, but don’t forget, this is our purpose on earth, and this is the most satisfying thing to be doing. To quote John Piper, “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him”

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2009 in Christianity, Devotional, Religion

 

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