Spiritual Maturity: Thanks
God made all of us on purpose. We are happy when we obey that purpose. We become happier the better we understand and live out that purpose.
We share many purposes with other people, because God made us the same:
- Our bodies are happy when we eat healthy, rest well, and use them as they were intended.
- Our souls are happy when experience beauty.
- Our minds are happy when we discover truth.
- Our hearts are happy when we share love.
Joy is happiness of the spirit. It is the deepest and most important kind of happiness. But there are two very different ways our spirits can be happy.
This is a song I wrote back in 1996 in my post-college, pre-Apple days in Pasadena, California. It was for a girl I knew — heck, it fit pretty much all the girls I hung out with and/or was interested in during that decade.
I also sang it during a “Christian Connection” (online dating site) cruise back in 1999, just before I met Sandhya. By God’s grace I got to perform for the ship talent show. I said I was part of a Christian singles group with 80 women and 15 men — and I was having a *great* time! (as was reported almost daily on the ship’s TV :-).
“But being single wasn’t always fun and games — and that’s why I wrote this song.”
boIn Which Diligently Searching God’s Word Leads Us to Truth
Few disciplines are as essential — or as dangerous! — as studying the words and works of God. Used in the wrong spirit, theology can become a heavy burden or a useless distraction (cf. Matthew 23:4). But when taught by the Holy Spirit, God’s word becomes the very source of life itself (cf. Luke 4:4). The challenge to us, as to Timothy, is whether we will apply God’s word rightly…
Memory Verse: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” — 2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)
In Which Our Desires Are Tamed As Our Hearts Are Purified
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” — Matthew 5:8
Though sometimes a synonym for sexual desire, or conversely any kind of consuming passion, we will define lust as the idolatrous pursuit of sexual/romantic excitement or fulfillment. In other words, trusting “eros” instead of God to validate who we are (our “name”).
Though far from the deadliest sin, lust is certainly one of the most popular, and (except for pride) the most difficult to defend against — especially, though not only, for men.
The opposite state from lust is purity, having a heart wholly focused on God. The pure heart is one that recognizes we can only find true wholeness by submitting to God’s name — which is essential if we are ever to see His face.
Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue
- 12. Pure of Heart vs. Lustful of Heart
- Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
- 3.7 (Wise) Example: Proverbs about the Tongue
In Which We Are Rescued from Our Folly by God’s Love
Love is the primary virtue of the Heart. It is both a Decision that gives rise to Emotions, as well an Emotion that gives rise to Decisions — and it needs both to thrive. It can be defined as “the ability to pursue another’s glory — even at the cost of your own.”
Love is particularly needed by the Fool, whose emotional damage drives a cycle of self-punishment disguised as the pursuit of pleasure. The only way out is to purify our hearts by receiving God’s love and forgiveness, to the point where we love Him more than the false gods we’ve served — and discover what it means to genuinely love ourselves…
Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue
- 5.C (Love) The Three Theological Virtues
Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
In Which Our Character is Conformed to God’s Name, Via The Pursuit of Wisdom
In our first twelve-week series on Theological Foundations, we focused on what it means to be “baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit“, moving from sin to sanctification as the body of Christ entering into His Kingdom.
In this our second series, we focus on how we can appropriate that “name” in our own lives — as well as those of the people we lead and serve. This is the essence of Christian Character, the second leg of our “LEAD” tripod (the third and final one being “Skills for Service”, coming in Spring 2009).
The goal of character formation is to bring our “whole person” into alignment with the “whole name” of God — His identity, character, and purpose. We can define the whole person using the “triplet” model below, which has:
- Our Spirit at the center…
- … working through our Heart, Soul and Mind… (cf. Mark 12:30)
- … which together produce Emotions, Reasons, and Decisions…
- … that manifest in actions of our Body
While all models are imperfect, and there are many other ways to picture the human psyche
, this diagram will help us understand the role of Wisdom in character formation — and how we fall short…
Apologies for the pretentious title, but I wanted to challenge myself to identify and reorganize the lessons we covered in last year’s leadership class into a coherent prescription for facing down “Ministry Killers”. The idea is that each of these “steps” would be a single “life lesson”, but that together they provide the “full armor of God.“
What do you think? Did I miss anything important?