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Posts tagged ‘Christian Life’

Tried and True – Christian Life

christian-lifeIn Titus 1:5-9, Paul presented a well-thought-out checklist of qualities required to become a church leader.

A list he wrote for the church in Ephesus (1 Timothy 3:2-7) is nearly identical. In both, the qualifications mostly involve character, rather than knowledge or skill.

Of course, these standards make an excellent yardstick by which all believers can measure their effort and self-discipline.

Interact with God’s Word:  Titus 1:5-9

  1. Why (v. 6) is a man’s reputation of primary importance?
  2. How does how a man’s treatment of his family provide a window into his character?
  3. Christian workers and volunteers sometimes think their work so important that it justifies ignoring their families. How do these standards deal with that view?
  4. How (v. 7) does a man’s lifestyle figure into his fitness to lead?
  5. How (v. 8) can you tell if a person is wise and fair?
  6. Self-discipline is essential for achieving “a blameless life.” What are the characteristics of a self-disciplined man?
  7. The last criterion listed (v. 9) is strong belief. How strong and steadfast is your confidence in the gospel?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God for the self-discipline to enable you to live the devout and disciplined life Paul describes in this passage.

Titus 1:5-9

I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you. 6 An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. 7 For an elder must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money.

8 Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. 9 He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.

Prayer for the Week: Ask God for the resolve and discipline to be consistently faithful with routine matters in ordinary times.

 

 

Tried and True – Blokes Worth Watching

christian-lifeKey Bible Verse: What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2 ESV

Bonus Reading: 1 Timothy 1:12-14

Paul charges Timothy to select some—not all—to entrust with the ministry of gospel multiplication. So, whom to select? The criterion could not be simpler: it’s “faithful men.” A man who is trustworthy, dependable.

Paul (in today’s Bonus Reading) gives faithfulness as the reason that God chose him for ministry. Likewise, those Paul personally selected to minister alongside him were often listed as faithful. Of Timothy he writes, “he is my beloved and trustworthy child in the Lord”  (1 Corinthians 4:17).

He speaks similarly of his associate Tychicus, calling him a “faithful helper in the Lord’s work” (Ephesians 6:21).

Onesimus, Paul says, “is a faithful and much loved brother” (Colossians 4:9), and he calls Epaphras “Christ’s faithful servant” (Col. 1:7).

Of course whether someone is faithful isn’t always immediately clear. How can you tell? Phillip Jensen, dean of St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia, has a category of young men he calls “Blokes Worth Watching.” These are men to test against the descriptions of faithfulness in Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Those who measure up may be entrusted with the gospel ministry.

—Jon Dennis in Preach the Word

My Response: Who do I know who would measure up for ministry? Would I?

Thought to Apply: God has no larger field for the man who is not faithfully doing his work where he is. —source unknown

Adapted from Preach the Word (Crossway, 2007)

Prayer for the Week: Ask God for the resolve and discipline to be consistently faithful with routine matters in ordinary times.

 

 

Tried and True – Courage Where It Counts

christian-lifeKey Bible Verse: Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.  – James 4:17

Bonus Reading: Luke 12:42-47

The problem with looking to Hollywood for the image of masculinity (even those true-to-life stories of courage) is that it feeds my desire for glory. Courage isn’t only in the big accomplishments. It’s in the small acts too.

When I leave the theater and scratch the car door next to me getting into my car, my decision about whether or not to leave a note admitting my mistake isn’t glorious. Nobody will make a movie about my choice. I can hide if I choose to. But situations like this shape our courage and virtue.

Or imagine leaving the theater and returning home to a wife who is sexually unresponsive. Or perpetually angry. Or domineering. Or unkempt. The temptation to find release and fulfillment elsewhere can be overwhelming. Escape promises what reality can’t provide. Our response in that moment can be just as courageous as what we do when we decide to protect a fallen pilot or storm a cockpit.

Courage is visiting our moms and dads and caring for them as they grow older instead of abandoning them to others’ care. Courage is integrity in business when no one else sees it, or keeping my promise when I’d rather do anything else. Hollywood doesn’t make movies about this true masculine courage.

—Mike Erre in Why Guys Need God

My Response: Although no one will see, I need to practice integrity by …

Thought to Apply: When faithfulness is most difficult, it is most necessary. —source unknown

Adapted from Why Guys Need God (Harvest, 2008)

Prayer for the Week: Ask God for the resolve and discipline to be consistently faithful with routine matters in ordinary times.

 

 

Tried and True – Chance Encounter

christian-lifeKey Bible Verse: The wise, when rebuked, will love you all the more.  – Proverbs 9:8

Bonus Reading: Proverbs 9:7-12

As Lauren and I walked through Rome in the summer of 2005, we passed a guy who looked awfully familiar. “Coach Dungy!” he called out. “It’s me! Regan Upshaw.”

Regan was vacationing in Italy with his wife and children, just as we were. After we made introductions all around, Regan brought up our time together with the Buccaneers.

“Coach, I just want to thank you,” he said. “I remember how you were always talking about responsibility and doing things right off the field. Why are you on me about all this stuff that doesn’t matter? I thought.

But those things you were telling us are the reason I’m married today and why my kids are doing so well. They made no sense to me at the time, but they do now. I can’t thank you enough for staying on me.”

The next time I saw Regan was at our hotel the night before the Super Bowl. Tarik Glenn, our Pro Bowl offensive tackle, had been Regan’s teammate at the University of California, and Regan had come to see him play.

Once again, Regan thanked Lauren and me for the example we’d been to him and then joined Tarik at our chapel service. I saw a real difference in Regan—ten years after missing those appearances at that fourth-grade class.

—Tony Dungy in Quiet Strength

My Response: Do I resent or appreciate someone who points out a flaw in my behavior?

Thought to Apply: Nothing in life can take the place of dependability. Brilliance, genius, competence—all are subservient to the quality of faithfulness. —Wallace Fridy

Adapted from Christian Reader (9-10/01).

Prayer for the Week: Ask God for the resolve and discipline to be consistently faithful with routine matters in ordinary times.

 

 

Tried and True – Little Symptoms, Big Problems

christian-lifeKey Bible Verse: Those who … keep their promises even when it hurts… . Such people will stand firm forever. Psalm 15:4-5

Bonus Reading: Psalm 15:1-5

I was upset the Wednesday before our game against the Raiders, but not about our losing streak. Two players had missed personal appearances. Errict Rhett was 30 minutes late for a car dealership autograph session.

Regan Upshaw missed a fourth-grade class visit, rescheduled after missing his first appointment! I’d just read a letter from that teacher. She’d explained Regan’s first absence as a misunderstanding. Now, reading about the class’s disappointment when he didn’t show up the second time, I was beside myself.

I began the team meeting by telling the guys we weren’t going to talk football. Instead, I related the incidents involving Rhett and Upshaw. “Forget the Raiders,” I told them; “we need to focus on us—our own accountability. Obviously your word isn’t important to you if it doesn’t involve football. But we’ll never win consistently until you ditch that attitude.”

Errict and Regan weren’t the disease, I told the team, but symptoms. Too many of our guys were unwilling to give 100 percent if they didn’t think it was important. “Champions know it’s all important,” I said. “Knowing I can count on you is just as important to me as your talent. Finding excuses for not doing what you’re supposed to do is what creates a losing environment.”

—Tony Dungy in Quiet Strength

My Response: What “off-the-field” area in my life needs shaping up?

Thought to Apply: Privilege accepted should be responsibility accepted—Madeleine L’Engle (author)

Adapted from Quiet Strength (Tyndale, 2007)

Prayer for the Week: Ask God for the resolve and discipline to be consistently faithful with routine matters in ordinary times.

 

 

Tried and True – Good Faith Offer

christian-lifeWho Said It … Fred Smith Sr.

Before establishing his food packaging brokerage in Dallas, Fred Smith Sr. was vice president of operations for Gruen Watch Company and consultant to Mobil, Caterpillar, and Genesco.

Fred was a Christianity Today International board member, and a contributing editor for Leadership journal for 20 years.

As a mentor, Fred had few equals. He died in 2007 at age 91, but his sage advice can still be savored in his book, Breakfast with Fred (Regal, 2007).

What He Said … Good Faith Offer

Sanctification flows into the Christian’s life not from the pump of works to manipulate God’s favor but through the pipe of faith.  By faith he looks to the Scriptures for principles to live by.  Every time he puts them into practice, he is living by faith.

One time when I was in negotiations with the steelworkers’ union, our lawyer was convinced that they were going on strike.  Therefore he recommended that we not make an offer because it would be used as the basis for the next negotiation.

As I left home to go to the meeting, I did something I’d never done before.  I opened the Bible and read the first verse I saw: “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them” (Proverbs 3:27).

I knew what my decision would be.  Against the lawyer’s recommendation, I opted to make a reasonable offer.

To our amazement, the union members readily accepted it. So we avoided a strike.  I felt that I had been given divine guidance.

Adapted from Breakfast with Fred (Regal, 2007)

Prayer for the Week: Ask God for the resolve and discipline to be consistently faithful with routine matters in ordinary times.

 

 

Tried and True – Heart Conditioning

christian-lifeKey Bible Verse: Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.  – Proverbs 4:23

Bonus Reading: Hebrews 12:11-13

As I consulted with the leadership team of a major medical system’s cardiac care division, I was startled by what one nurse told me. Modern medicine, she said, can repair or even replace a heart and save a person’s life—but only temporarily.

“We can repair the heart,” she asserted, “but we can’t change the behavior or the environment.” Many patients return to an environment that encourages the poor eating habits that contributed to their first attack. The hearts of patients who fail to replace old habits with new ones will grow weaker over time.

Our spiritual situation is similar. Out of his endless love for us, God gave us new hearts with the capacity to hear his guidance and overcome any obstacle we face.

But he didn’t give us new hearts so we could revert to our previous way of living. He gave them so we could see through deception and choose to do the right thing. It’s up to us to change our thinking, amend our habits, make new choices, and find our path in life.

A heart, if not exercised, will weaken and atrophy. A heart that is nourished and exercised will grow healthy and strong. We exercise our hearts every day by being obedient to his call.

—Larry Julian in God Is My Success

My Response: A habit that undermines the health of my God-given new heart is …

Adapted from Breakfast with Fred (Warner Faith, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Ask God for the resolve and discipline to be consistently faithful with routine matters in ordinary times.

 

 

Live the Adventure – Christian Life

christian-life-2With Judas out of the picture, the 11 remaining disciples gathered at the mountain where the resurrected Jesus had told them to meet him.

When Jesus showed up, they all worshiped him, even those who struggled with their doubts. Then Jesus prepared them for the most exciting adventure ever with these words:

“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

  1. Before Jesus gave his disciples specific instructions for reaching the world, he said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” Why is this significant? (See Luke 10:22; John 5:19; Eph. 1:19-22; Col. 1:15-19.)
  2. Do you believe the instructions in today’s passage apply to every Christian? Why or why not? (See John 8:31-32, 15:4-9, 17:9-26.)
  3. Why is it essential to realize that we can’t live the faith adventure on our own power? (See John 15:5; Eph. 2:4-10; James 4:4-10;2 Pet. 1:2-4.)

Key Study Passage:  Matthew 28:16-20

Spend Time in Prayer: Pray for two or three men you’d like to see come to faith or live as better disciples. Ask God to show you how you might help at least one of these men on their faith journey.

Matthew 28:16-20

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[a] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Prayer for the Week: Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

 

 

Live the Adventure – Never a Dull Moment

christian-life-2Key Bible Verse: Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God.  – Luke 9:2

Dig Deeper: Luke 9:1-6

When Jesus called the disciples to follow him, the average person in the first century never traveled outside a 30-mile radius of their birthplace. These men were planning on living their entire lives fishing the Sea of Galilee, but Jesus sent them to the ends of the earth. He took them adventuring with him—they hiked the Mount of Transfiguration, sailed the Sea of Galilee, and went on long camping trips.

Along the way, they witnessed remarkable miracles on a regular basis. And they did more than witness them. They filleted the miraculous catch of fish and ate it. They toasted the water that Jesus turned into wine and then drank it to the dregs. They hugged Lazarus while he still had his grave clothes on. You can’t put a price tag on those kind of experiences, but once you’ve had them, they define you forever.

The very nature of the gospel is Jesus inviting the disciples on an adventure. To do what they’d never done and go where they’d never gone. Never a dull moment!

Jesus is calling you to the same adventure as his original disciples. He is offering you a life full of daring. Don’t you want in on the action? The moment you say yes, the adventure begins.

—Mark Batterson in A Trip Around the Sun

My Response: What adventure might Jesus be inviting me to? What would keep me from taking on this adventure?

Thought to Apply: I am discovering that in trying to find God’s will and the shape of the Christian life I have begun an adventure so great that its total completion will always be ahead. —Keith Miller (Christian writer)

Adapted from A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime by Mark Batterson and Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon. Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group (BakerPublishingGroup.com)

Prayer for the Week: Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

 

 

Live the Adventure – Join the Adventure

christian-life-2Key Bible Verse: Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12, ESV

Dig Deeper: John 12:44-46

Jesus was the quintessential adventurer. Leaving the comfort of heaven, he entered the four dimensions of space and time. He created and set out on the craziest adventure of them all: restoring broken image-bearers to himself. He didn’t do it with angel armies. He didn’t overthrow the Roman government or claim the kingship that was rightfully his.

He was a middle-of-the-marketplace Messiah, who rubbed elbows with the masses. He hung out at wells and in living rooms and on hillsides and invited anyone and everyone to join him. Jesus didn’t come with an agenda; he was the agenda. He came that he might draw all men unto himself. With his grace, with his truth, he lets us get in on the action with a life-altering invitation: “Come, follow me” (Matt. 4:19).

When Jesus invites us to do life with him, he invites us to rub elbows with those he loves: the lost, the broken, the misled, and the misfits. Just like Jesus, we need to find ourselves in the middle of the marketplace. If we are separating ourselves from the world around us, we are off mission. And even worse? We are missing out on the adventure Jesus has for us.

—Mark Batterson in A Trip Around the Sun

My Response: What ministries in my church or service programs in my community might help me more consistently “rub elbows with those [Jesus] loves: the lost, the broken, and the misfits”?

Thought to Apply: We can find and fulfill our purpose by responding to the clear, simple call of Jesus Christ: “Follow me.” He is the doorway to fulfilling our destiny, where our divine design and God-ordained purpose live in perfect harmony. —Charles Swindoll (pastor, writer)

Adapted from A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime by Mark Batterson and Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon. Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group (BakerPublishingGroup.com)

Prayer for the Week: Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

 

 

Live the Adventure – Boldly Go

christian-life-2Key Bible Verse: The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” – Mark 4:41

Dig Deeper: Mark 4:35-41

Jesus meets us where we are [and] says, “I’ve got a place for you. A new life. A new character. A new way of seeing things. How would you like to go on an adventure?”

Sometimes getting a clear view of Jesus is the greatest challenge [to following him]. Time and distance can obscure him and make him insipid.

Dorothy Sayers [said]:

The people who hanged the Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore—on the contrary; they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality. … We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him “meek and mild,” and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.

I don’t want to muffle up the shattering personality. I want to revel in it, then reflect it.

When we go adventuring with Jesus, he takes us places we never dreamed we could go [and] gives us ideas we never thought we could have.

Source of quote: A Matter of Eternity: Selected writings of Dorothy L. Sayers.

—Richard Foth in A Trip Around the Sun

My Response: In what ways has the church in America tamed Jesus? According to the four gospels, what is Jesus like? What sets him apart from other religious leaders?

Thought to Apply: “Here be dragons to be slain, here be rich rewards to gain; if we perish in the seeking, why, how small a thing is death!”—Dorothy Sayers (British crime writer, poet, playwright, essayist)

Adapted from A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime by Mark Batterson and Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon. Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group (BakerPublishingGroup.com)

Prayer for the Week: Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

Live the Adventure – Gather Experiences

christian-life-2Key Bible Verse: “But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.”  – Matthew 6:20, NET

Dig Deeper: Matthew 6:19-24

May 27, 2005, ranks as one of the most memorable days of my life, and I learned a lesson that has defined my life ever since. It was the last day of our mission trip to Ethiopia.

The date is stamped in my memory because it was one of the craziest days of my life. After a week of intense ministry, our team journeyed into the wilderness of the Ethiopian outback. We got held up at gunpoint by shepherds with AK-47s, went swimming in a natural spring heated by a volcano, and did a game drive through Awash National Park—all in a day’s adventure.

We ended the day worshiping God around a campfire. That night, tucked away in my pup tent, I was journaling about the amazing day I had just experienced and I heard the still small voice of the Holy Spirit say, “Mark, don’t accumulate possessions, accumulate experiences.” That moment, in the middle of an African game park, reshaped the way I viewed life.

That two-word mantra—accumulate experiences—is my modus operandi. It frames my life. It also frames our family. Lora and I want our kids to get in on the action, and it’s our job to engineer those experiences.

—Mark Batterson in A Trip Around the Sun

My Response: What are the benefits of accumulating possessions? What are the benefits of accumulating experiences?

Thought to Apply: The way of Jesus cannot be imposed or mapped—it requires an active participation in following Jesus as he leads us through sometimes strange and unfamiliar territory.—Eugene Peterson (pastor, scholar, writer)

Adapted from A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime by Mark Batterson and Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon. Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group (BakerPublishingGroup.com),

Prayer for the Week: Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

 

 

Live the Adventure – Designer Destinies

christian-life-2Key Bible Verse: Now you’ve got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face. Ever since you took my hand, I’m on the right way. Psalm 16:11, The Message

Dig Deeper: Psalm 16

I have come to believe that from the moment of conception, we are being formed with an adventure in mind. We were created to touch, taste, smell, see, and hear life. Our Creator has big plans for us. No settling for mediocrity. Rather, we have a high calling etched into our bones and written on our hearts.

God wants to engage us from first squall to last drawn breath and deliver us into a life he has dreamed for us. Whether our earliest memories are sailing the high seas in a steamship or walking in a kindergarten class by ourselves for the first time, the exploration of the world within us and around us is a drumbeat. And the beat goes on.

We were made to explore. For some of us that exploration is more outward than inward, like Admiral [Robert] Peary going to the North Pole. For others it is more inward than outward, like [Blaise] Pascal and his thoughts or Thomas Merton’s contemplations. Whichever it is, we were made for curiosity and more. That design drives us. It shapes our thinking and our dreams. It forms expectations of what life should be and lays the foundation of who we will become. It shapes our destiny.

I would submit it is our destiny.

—Richard Foth in A Trip Around the Sun

My Response: What specific experiences have shaped my life and faith?

Adapted from A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime by Mark Batterson and Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon. Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group (BakerPublishingGroup.com)

Prayer for the Week: Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

 

 

Live the Adventure – Defining Moments

christian-life-2Key Study Passage: Matthew 28:16-20

Who Said It … Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. He is The New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker and The Grave Robber. Mark lives on Capitol Hill with his wife, Lora, and three children. Visit him at markbatterson.com.

Mark and his friend Richard Foth, minister-at-large in Washington, DC, coauthored A Trip Around the Sun—the source of this week’s readings.

What he Said … Defining Moments

Alfred Adler, the famed psychologist, is said to have begun every counseling session by asking his clients to tell him about their earliest memory. They would share those memories, and no matter what their answer was, Adler would say, “And so life is.”

If your earliest memory is flying in an airplane to visit your grandparents, life is a journey. If your first recollection is huddling under the covers on a summer’s night as thunder claps and lightning strikes, life is a storm.

I genuinely believe our outlook on life is determined by a few defining moments when God meets us and we meet God. It’s Jacob’s wrestling match with God. It’s Moses at the burning bush. It’s Peter walking on water. Those moments are more than memories. They are the lenses through which we perceive the present and dream of the future. Those are the moments when God helps us see ourselves for who we really are.

Adapted from A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime by Mark Batterson and Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon. Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group (BakerPublishingGroup.com),

Prayer for the Week:  Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

 

 

Tried and True – Christian Life

christian-lifeIn Titus 1:5-9, Paul presented a well-thought-out checklist of qualities required to become a church leader.

A list he wrote for the church in Ephesus (1 Timothy 3:2-7) is nearly identical. In both, the qualifications mostly involve character, rather than knowledge or skill.

Of course, these standards make an excellent yardstick by which all believers can measure their effort and self-discipline.

Interact with God’s Word:  Titus 1:5-9

  1. Why (v. 6) is a man’s reputation of primary importance?
  2. How does how a man’s treatment of his family provide a window into his character?
  3. Christian workers and volunteers sometimes think their work so important that it justifies ignoring their families. How do these standards deal with that view?
  4. How (v. 7) does a man’s lifestyle figure into his fitness to lead?
  5. How (v. 8) can you tell if a person is wise and fair?
  6. Self-discipline is essential for achieving “a blameless life.” What are the characteristics of a self-disciplined man?
  7. The last criterion listed (v. 9) is strong belief. How strong and steadfast is your confidence in the gospel?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God for the self-discipline to enable you to live the devout and disciplined life Paul describes in this passage.

Titus 1:5-9

I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you. 6 An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. 7 For an elder must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money.

8 Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. 9 He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.

Prayer for the Week: Ask God for the resolve and discipline to be consistently faithful with routine matters in ordinary times.

 

 

Tried and True – Blokes Worth Watching

christian-lifeKey Bible Verse: What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2 ESV

Bonus Reading: 1 Timothy 1:12-14

Paul charges Timothy to select some—not all—to entrust with the ministry of gospel multiplication. So, whom to select? The criterion could not be simpler: it’s “faithful men.” A man who is trustworthy, dependable.

Paul (in today’s Bonus Reading) gives faithfulness as the reason that God chose him for ministry. Likewise, those Paul personally selected to minister alongside him were often listed as faithful. Of Timothy he writes, “he is my beloved and trustworthy child in the Lord”  (1 Corinthians 4:17).

He speaks similarly of his associate Tychicus, calling him a “faithful helper in the Lord’s work” (Ephesians 6:21).

Onesimus, Paul says, “is a faithful and much loved brother” (Colossians 4:9), and he calls Epaphras “Christ’s faithful servant” (Col. 1:7).

Of course whether someone is faithful isn’t always immediately clear. How can you tell? Phillip Jensen, dean of St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia, has a category of young men he calls “Blokes Worth Watching.” These are men to test against the descriptions of faithfulness in Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Those who measure up may be entrusted with the gospel ministry.

—Jon Dennis in Preach the Word

My Response: Who do I know who would measure up for ministry? Would I?

Thought to Apply: God has no larger field for the man who is not faithfully doing his work where he is. —source unknown

Adapted from Preach the Word (Crossway, 2007)

Prayer for the Week: Ask God for the resolve and discipline to be consistently faithful with routine matters in ordinary times.

 

 

Tried and True – Courage Where It Counts

christian-lifeKey Bible Verse: Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.  – James 4:17

Bonus Reading: Luke 12:42-47

The problem with looking to Hollywood for the image of masculinity (even those true-to-life stories of courage) is that it feeds my desire for glory. Courage isn’t only in the big accomplishments. It’s in the small acts too.

When I leave the theater and scratch the car door next to me getting into my car, my decision about whether or not to leave a note admitting my mistake isn’t glorious. Nobody will make a movie about my choice. I can hide if I choose to. But situations like this shape our courage and virtue.

Or imagine leaving the theater and returning home to a wife who is sexually unresponsive. Or perpetually angry. Or domineering. Or unkempt. The temptation to find release and fulfillment elsewhere can be overwhelming. Escape promises what reality can’t provide. Our response in that moment can be just as courageous as what we do when we decide to protect a fallen pilot or storm a cockpit.

Courage is visiting our moms and dads and caring for them as they grow older instead of abandoning them to others’ care. Courage is integrity in business when no one else sees it, or keeping my promise when I’d rather do anything else. Hollywood doesn’t make movies about this true masculine courage.

—Mike Erre in Why Guys Need God

My Response: Although no one will see, I need to practice integrity by …

Thought to Apply: When faithfulness is most difficult, it is most necessary. —source unknown

Adapted from Why Guys Need God (Harvest, 2008)

Prayer for the Week: Ask God for the resolve and discipline to be consistently faithful with routine matters in ordinary times.

 

 

Tried and True – Chance Encounter

christian-lifeKey Bible Verse: The wise, when rebuked, will love you all the more.  – Proverbs 9:8

Bonus Reading: Proverbs 9:7-12

As Lauren and I walked through Rome in the summer of 2005, we passed a guy who looked awfully familiar. “Coach Dungy!” he called out. “It’s me! Regan Upshaw.”

Regan was vacationing in Italy with his wife and children, just as we were. After we made introductions all around, Regan brought up our time together with the Buccaneers.

“Coach, I just want to thank you,” he said. “I remember how you were always talking about responsibility and doing things right off the field. Why are you on me about all this stuff that doesn’t matter? I thought.

But those things you were telling us are the reason I’m married today and why my kids are doing so well. They made no sense to me at the time, but they do now. I can’t thank you enough for staying on me.”

The next time I saw Regan was at our hotel the night before the Super Bowl. Tarik Glenn, our Pro Bowl offensive tackle, had been Regan’s teammate at the University of California, and Regan had come to see him play.

Once again, Regan thanked Lauren and me for the example we’d been to him and then joined Tarik at our chapel service. I saw a real difference in Regan—ten years after missing those appearances at that fourth-grade class.

—Tony Dungy in Quiet Strength

My Response: Do I resent or appreciate someone who points out a flaw in my behavior?

Thought to Apply: Nothing in life can take the place of dependability. Brilliance, genius, competence—all are subservient to the quality of faithfulness. —Wallace Fridy

Adapted from Christian Reader (9-10/01).

Prayer for the Week: Ask God for the resolve and discipline to be consistently faithful with routine matters in ordinary times.

 

 

Tried and True – Little Symptoms, Big Problems

christian-lifeKey Bible Verse: Those who … keep their promises even when it hurts… . Such people will stand firm forever. Psalm 15:4-5

Bonus Reading: Psalm 15:1-5

I was upset the Wednesday before our game against the Raiders, but not about our losing streak. Two players had missed personal appearances. Errict Rhett was 30 minutes late for a car dealership autograph session.

Regan Upshaw missed a fourth-grade class visit, rescheduled after missing his first appointment! I’d just read a letter from that teacher. She’d explained Regan’s first absence as a misunderstanding. Now, reading about the class’s disappointment when he didn’t show up the second time, I was beside myself.

I began the team meeting by telling the guys we weren’t going to talk football. Instead, I related the incidents involving Rhett and Upshaw. “Forget the Raiders,” I told them; “we need to focus on us—our own accountability. Obviously your word isn’t important to you if it doesn’t involve football. But we’ll never win consistently until you ditch that attitude.”

Errict and Regan weren’t the disease, I told the team, but symptoms. Too many of our guys were unwilling to give 100 percent if they didn’t think it was important. “Champions know it’s all important,” I said. “Knowing I can count on you is just as important to me as your talent. Finding excuses for not doing what you’re supposed to do is what creates a losing environment.”

—Tony Dungy in Quiet Strength

My Response: What “off-the-field” area in my life needs shaping up?

Thought to Apply: Privilege accepted should be responsibility accepted—Madeleine L’Engle (author)

Adapted from Quiet Strength (Tyndale, 2007)

Prayer for the Week: Ask God for the resolve and discipline to be consistently faithful with routine matters in ordinary times.

 

 

Tried and True – Heart Conditioning

christian-lifeKey Bible Verse: Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.  – Proverbs 4:23

Bonus Reading: Hebrews 12:11-13

As I consulted with the leadership team of a major medical system’s cardiac care division, I was startled by what one nurse told me. Modern medicine, she said, can repair or even replace a heart and save a person’s life—but only temporarily.

“We can repair the heart,” she asserted, “but we can’t change the behavior or the environment.” Many patients return to an environment that encourages the poor eating habits that contributed to their first attack. The hearts of patients who fail to replace old habits with new ones will grow weaker over time.

Our spiritual situation is similar. Out of his endless love for us, God gave us new hearts with the capacity to hear his guidance and overcome any obstacle we face.

But he didn’t give us new hearts so we could revert to our previous way of living. He gave them so we could see through deception and choose to do the right thing. It’s up to us to change our thinking, amend our habits, make new choices, and find our path in life.

A heart, if not exercised, will weaken and atrophy. A heart that is nourished and exercised will grow healthy and strong. We exercise our hearts every day by being obedient to his call.

—Larry Julian in God Is My Success

My Response: A habit that undermines the health of my God-given new heart is …

Adapted from Breakfast with Fred (Warner Faith, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Ask God for the resolve and discipline to be consistently faithful with routine matters in ordinary times.

 

 

Tried and True – Good Faith Offer

christian-lifeWho Said It … Fred Smith Sr.

Before establishing his food packaging brokerage in Dallas, Fred Smith Sr. was vice president of operations for Gruen Watch Company and consultant to Mobil, Caterpillar, and Genesco.

Fred was a Christianity Today International board member, and a contributing editor for Leadership journal for 20 years.

As a mentor, Fred had few equals. He died in 2007 at age 91, but his sage advice can still be savored in his book, Breakfast with Fred (Regal, 2007).

What He Said … Good Faith Offer

Sanctification flows into the Christian’s life not from the pump of works to manipulate God’s favor but through the pipe of faith.  By faith he looks to the Scriptures for principles to live by.  Every time he puts them into practice, he is living by faith.

One time when I was in negotiations with the steelworkers’ union, our lawyer was convinced that they were going on strike.  Therefore he recommended that we not make an offer because it would be used as the basis for the next negotiation.

As I left home to go to the meeting, I did something I’d never done before.  I opened the Bible and read the first verse I saw: “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them” (Proverbs 3:27).

I knew what my decision would be.  Against the lawyer’s recommendation, I opted to make a reasonable offer.

To our amazement, the union members readily accepted it. So we avoided a strike.  I felt that I had been given divine guidance.

Adapted from Breakfast with Fred (Regal, 2007)

Prayer for the Week: Ask God for the resolve and discipline to be consistently faithful with routine matters in ordinary times.