Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Simple Way to Prioritize Your Life

Put the following four words in the correct order of importance;

Work, Family, Church, God

What did you come up with?

Actually, this is a trick question.  The best option is to remove God from the list, put the other three words in any order you'd like and then place God on top of the list.  It might look something like this:
Most of us today would describe our lives as busy.  Probably too busy is more like it.  When we consider our lives as having compartments like work, house work, hobbies, family time, devotional or quiet times with God, church activities, evangelism and on and on, there is simply no way we have time for it all.  However, if we follow the picture above, and we write God over whatever category you place on the list, pretty quickly we can begin to have more time.  How can that happen you might ask.

The Scriptures teach us that "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." (Colossians 3:17).  In this verse we find the principle of writing God over our lives, in all we do.  Here are a couple of suggestions to help you realize the time you need to live a full, faithful and fruitful life.

1. Hold your life open and accessible to God at all times.  Ask Him what His priority is for you in any given situation.  This will require you to die to your agenda and replace it with God's agenda.  This may require you add a hobby to your life so you will engage a person of peace (Luke 10) and help them to learn to follow Jesus.  It may require that lay down a hobby or other activity that is distracting you from hearing the Lord and following His lead.  Whether God adds, subtracts or rearranges things in your life, you will need to learn to become flexible in some ways as you discipline yourself to follow the Holy Spirit's lead in your life.

2. Stop seeing life as a bunch of categories (work, rest, play, church etc.) and begin to see your life as a continuous story where God interacts throughout.  When we move in this direction then God is prevalent in every moment.  Whether we are pumping gas, watching a sunrise, straining to lift weights, enduring another meeting at work or spending time leisure around the home, when life is viewed as a continuous action of worship, we find rest and fulfillment.  We are no longer missing out on doing something, we are enjoying God in whatever we are doing.  

So stop categorizing and start writing the presence of God over everything you do.  Listen to His voice and follow His lead.  You will more time than you can imagine and more fruit than you ever dreamed possible.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Speaking Sound Doctrine With Our Lives

In my last post, I mentioned how the concept of sound doctrine from the book of Titus looks more like living out our faith in action than a set of truths to be proclaimed or studied.  Of course I think sound doctrine consists of both aspects but the living them out part often gets ignored.  At least two thirds (probably more) of Paul's letter to Titus has to do with living out ones faith.  Let's explore exactly what Paul writes about living out sound doctrine.

Titus 1:16
In this verse we actually find out that people with bad doctrine don't really have a life represented by good deeds.  Paul says that people with unbelieving minds are those who profess to know God but by their 'deeds' deny Him being detestable and disobedient and "...worthless for any good deed."  Apparently Jesus was right when He said you shall know them by their fruit (Matt. 7:20).

Titus 2:1
Here we find Paul encouraging Titus to speak the things that are fitting for sound doctrine.  Paul wants Titus to be urging people to know, learn and apply sound doctrine to the people on Crete.  What did Titus speak as sound doctrine?

Titus 2:2-6
Here we see Paul exhorting Titus to instruct men and women how to live out their doctrine by passing on to one another proper behavior.

Titus 2:7
Paul wants Titus to be an example of good deeds in everything he does.  This indicates an outward focus on what others need, not on getting his needs met.  Titus should be engaged in good deeds with purity in doctrine.  Good deeds and good doctrine seem to go hand in hand.

Titus 2:8-10
Paul continues to urge people from all backgrounds to live out their faith, "...showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect."  What does it mean to adorn but to put on.  How is the doctrine of God our Savior put on in every respect if not how we live out out what we believe.  

Titus 2:14
Titus is to encourage people to be zealous for every good deed.  Here is an excitement to show what is deeply in our souls through good deeds.

Titus 3:8
We should lead by example and instruct folks to be 'careful to engage in good deeds'.  We must make this choice and live it out...from out soul up!

Titus 3:14
"Our people must also learn to engage in good deed, to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful."

Which is a true doctrine for me?
To believe I need to loose 10 lbs
To actually take action and lose 10 lb?

Sound doctrine has a lot to do with how we live, not simply what we believe.  I cannot recall a sermon I've heard on that topic and yet, it seems to be so right.  Certainly how we live and what we believe go together but you'll only know what someone truly believes by their attitude to live out sound doctrine with our feet and hands, not simply with our minds.

I'd love to hear what you think...

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Sound Doctrine May Be More Than You Think

For many, sound doctrine is a set of beliefs that should be adhered to in order to be deemed as Biblically sound.   As I said in my last post, some of the best descriptions of what sound doctrine actually is can be found in the passage before us; Titus 1:16-3:8.  Helping someone become like Jesus (discipleship) usually takes years and consists of right thinking/beliefs but also, and maybe more importantly, how one lives out her or his faith.  I would rather be with people who live out the one another verses of the Bible than with a group of people who know the one another verses (memorized) but turn their nose at those in need or those who need to be restored from some sinful way of life.  Making disciples takes patience, an imagination and a whole bunch of love.  Making disciples is a lot like sculpting.

I've never really sculpted.  Oh, I've made a snake and a snowman out of Play-Do but I'm certain that artists would not recognize my work as actual sculpting.   I am however intentionally pointing out areas in peoples lives where a sharp chisel needs to be placed and then hit with a hammer to remove an edge or two.  I am attempting to sculpt sound doctrine into the lives of people.  Although I've not sculpted in marble or stone, I imagine it takes a long time and a lot of care.  Sculpting flesh is a long process that is full of joy, pain, pausing and pursuing.

In the book of Titus, Paul instructs Titus to "speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine." Paul then goes on to talk about what 'sculpting' sound doctrine in the lives of people looks like.  It looks like older men having integrity and strong godly character.  Older women are to behave in a manner that honors God and to have their conversations full of grace and goodness.  Paul also says that sound doctrine looks sensible in the lives of young men and goes on to tell how sound doctrine should be lived out in the business world, the church world and in regards to our interaction with governing rulers.  It should all look the same by the way, we shouldn't look/act one way on Sunday morning and another way in Tuesday's sales meeting.

I'm learning that sound doctrine, although full of truth and absolutes, has much (maybe much more) to do with how we live.  What if how we live actually exposes the truth of faith in our hearts?  Can we go to church each week or read our Bibles daily and not really be concerned for the poor, widows and less fortunate?  Can we simply believe certain 'doctrines' and yet live how we want?  Should we be allowing consumerism to swallow us whole without a strong fight?  Should we horde our money instead of using it to spread love and help others.  Would Jesus encourage us to save for our retirement or to help out a widow who needs new windows in her home?

Whatever you think about my questions in the previous paragraph, do become active in sculpting sound doctrine in your life and the lives of others.  Get out your spiritual hammer and chisel to add depth and beauty to the lives around you.  How we live does matter.  Faith without works is dead.  So get alive and spend your faith by living out sound doctrine.

I would love to hear what you think about this.