Tag Archives: spiritual formation

Formed and Deformed: the Spiritual Formation of David

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Don’t Overlook The Importance of Desire in the Spiritual Life

Desire plays a critical and often overlooked role in life, including the spiritual life. Desire forges a person’s future and chooses the path they follow. Humans cannot live without desire. Were a drug to be disseminated in our atmosphere that … Continue reading

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Anger: Part of an Integrated Package

So, here is one thing we need to understand. Anger is integrated into the system – your system. You can’t go and pull it out while leaving everything else in place. When I was a kid, TVs had vacuum tubes. On Thursday, when your TV stopped working, you took off the back, pulled the tubes, went down to the drug store (where they had a tube tester), found the bad one, replaced it, and were watching My Three Sons that evening.

We might think that we can do the same thing with anger: just pull it out of our lives like one of those tubes. We want to stop being angry but we don’t want anything else to change. But that won’t work. Here’s why
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Spiritual Formation: Anything but Boring

God, according to the Bible, intends to conform humans to the image of his Son. We might think it would be boring to have a world full of people who were all the same, even if they were like Jesus. But that is to think wrongly. If everyone were like me, the world would be a boring place. In becoming like me, so many of the things that make people interesting would be lost. But in becoming like Jesus, nothing that is good is lost. Boring? It’s just the opposite. The world goes from black and white to living color – colors we have not yet imagined – as we become like Christ.

But wait a minute. If I become like Jesus – so different from what I am now – won’t I cease to be me? No. It is quite the opposite. The more I become like Jesus, the more I become myself. In fact, I can only be me to the degree that I become like him. If I refuse to be like him, I will inevitably lose myself and everything that makes me me.

Here is a mystery. If you become more like Jesus and I become more like Jesus (which, remember is God’s plan), we won’t become more like each other in a way that makes one of us superfluous. Instead, as each of us becomes more like Christ, our uniqueness becomes more apparent, not less. The good but undeveloped possibilities within each of us spring to life. Continue reading

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Committed to Christlikeness

This sermon is from Romans 8:28-30, and treats the Christian’s commitment to becoming Christlike.

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The Spiritual Workout (If it’s easy, you’re not doing it right)

St. Paul tells us to “Continue to work out your salvation…” The NIV’s translation attempts to express the ongoing nature of the present tense of the verb. This work is not something we do once and are done. The salvation inside us is so big, it will take a lifetime to work out. There is so much potential in God’s salvation that we cannot unpack it in a few years or even in a lifetime – it will take an eternity.

If we are expending no energy in our salvation workout – if we never break a sweat, never feel a doubt, never strain under temptation – we’re not doing it right. It’s like spending an hour at the gym. If we never break a sweat, never strain against the weights or get our heart rate into triple digits, we’re not doing it right. Paul did not say “Talk out your salvation.” He said, “Work out” (or it could simply be translated work) your salvation.”

The Greek root in this word is erg, which means “work.” We get words like “energy” and “ergonomics” (and even “allergy”) from this root. In the church we often hear that salvation is “by grace” and “not by works,” and that is solid biblical truth. But we need to make sure we are not drawing the wrong conclusion from that truth. We can mistakenly assume that, because salvation does not result from our work, it must not necessitate our work. That is a serious error. Salvation does not result from work but it does result in work. As Philip Melancthon put it, “We are saved by faith alone, but faith that saves is never alone.” Faith always walks in company with its dear friend “work.”

The wall of separation that has been built between salvation and work is founded on a misunderstanding (or at least a too limited understanding) of what biblical salvation is. We misunderstand salvation when we think of it only in future terms – of getting into heaven when we die. If that is all there is to salvation, there is certainly no place for work, because we all know that we cannot work our way into heaven. Continue reading

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A Mind for What Matters: Philippians 4:1-9

The first instruction, given previously and now repeated, is to rejoice always.

Really, Paul? Rejoice always? You have no idea what you’re asking. Working from home amidst a thousand interruptions. The kids are out of control. Can’t find toilet paper. Didn’t get my economic impact payment from the IRS, which I need to pay the mortgage. Will probably lose my job, which means no insurance. And you want me to rejoice?

To which Paul (from a dank, dark prison cell, where he has been quarantined for a long time, separated from friends and family, and waiting to hear the outcome of his trial, which might be death by beheading) answers, Of course! “Rejoice in the Lord always.” And in case you missed it the first two times I said it, “I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).

Many people, hearing this, simply brush it aside as unrealistic and unfeasible. When you’re having marriage problems, when you can’t stomach your boss, when your hopes have been dashed yet again, when you’re sick, and tired, and in debt, how can Paul – how can God – expect you to rejoice? It’s impossible!

Yes, absolutely. It is impossible … for some people, but not for us – if our minds are undergoing a process of renewal. Continue reading

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What Happens in Vegas

I never thought I would go to Las Vegas. It is hard for me to imagine an intentional expenditure of money that is more wasteful than gambling. Then there is the glitz and glitter of Vegas. It doesn’t interest me. … Continue reading

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Someday the Timing Chain Will Break

I own a 2007 Chevy Malibu. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s got me where I’ve needed to go. And it’s been remarkably reliable. Besides oil changes and a few minor repairs, I’ve not had to put much money into it … Continue reading

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You’ve Got to Believe It to See It

There is in Christianity an emphasis on faith that is, to my knowledge, unequalled in any major religion. In most religions, faith is presupposed. In Christianity it is demanded. In general, religions can be summed up with a set of … Continue reading

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