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Developing Godly Habits . . .
03/18/2007
Scripture: Luke 5:16; 11:1-13
Track 11 of 12 in the A Transforming Church . . . Lives By Transforming Values series
Running time: 36 minutes, 37 seconds.


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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.


"Exercising Your Spirit"

Louisiana State basketball star, and NBA superstar, "Pistol Pete" Maravich scored 3,667 points in three college seasons (his freshman season didn't count) without the benefit of the three-point line. Legend has it he practiced eight hours a day during the off-season. Few players exhibited his determination and discipline.

The same can be said for legendary pianists, gymnasts, golfers or chess players. A tireless discipline is needed to hone and sharpen the basic skills for any field of endeavor. No alternative exists . . . not even having a "gift." Disciplined preparation is necessary.

Why would anyone expect less as a "disciple" of Jesus? In order to become mature followers of Christ we will need to practice following. In order to be deeper in our spiritual life we will need to dig deep into the things of God. In order to be more mature Christians we will need to invest time and energy in our growth.

This isn't a matter of creating a check-list of disciplines and working through it in a "to-do list" fashion. It's a matter or finding those spiritual exercises that most feed our spirit and investing energy in practicing them.

The list of possibilities is wide and varied. It ranges from the obvious: prayer, Bible study, fasting; to the not so obvious: solitude, silence, meditation. The practice or the disciplines is equally wide and varied. Practice occurs intentionally in increments of minutes and hours to days and weeks. Practice occurs spontaneously whenever the occasion avails itself. The key is being committed to growth.

The spiritual disciplines are not an end in themselves. They are a means to an end. Practicing such things as times of solitude (slowing down, being alone with God), silence (learning to listen), fasting (developing self-control), Bible study (renewing the mind) or any other discipline serves to develop within us the character of Christ.

His life, visible in us, is our goal. That's the end we have in view. The disciplines are the means to an end. This isn't about how many disciplines I've practiced, it's about how closely I follow Christ.

In today's bulletin you'll find a list of resources to help you. Our church library has resources. Steve Hill teaches "201", which is a study about the disciplines. The staff and elders are always here to guide you in determining which disciplines may be best for you.

We're praying you will become more like Jesus every day.

3/18/07 Developing Godly Habits
Some of you can probably relate to the fact that you wish somebody had taught you to do that at that age. That it had become a lifelong habit of yours to worship with that kind of innocence and openness. If youíre anything like me, that position of being prostrate before the Lord, where youíre actually down clear on your face, is an unusual and strange place. But a good one just the same.

What we want to talk about is really simple. We value the spiritual disciplines as an expression of your faith as your relationship with God grows. I simply want to put that into some kind of a context of what weíve been doing over the last several weeks as we come forward into this season that weíre gonna celebrate the Lordís resurrection. Weíve been talking about who we are. What do we stand for; what drives us? What are we trying to become? You know that what weíre trying to communicate to the community around us is that thereís only two things we really care about: loving God and loving people. That is our mission. We take that to be what God has us in this world to do. That our vision as a body of people is to help each one of us become more like Christ in the way that we relate to each other, in the way we relate to God, the way we relate to the world. That we would take upon ourselves much more of his character than we have now. That would be our challenge.

Weíve talked about many of our core values. We worship. We value worship, the opportunity to come collectively and corporately into worship, but to worship privately and in the context of our own homes and families and in our own private lives. Not because our circumstances havenít changed and sometimes challenge our ability to worship, but because God never changes and is always worthy of worship, no matter what our circumstances might happen to be. Weíve talked about the value that we place on scripture, that we trust Godís Word, and we encourage you to take time to be in that Word and to have that Word be in you.
We value discipleship. The kind of discipleship that means following Jesus in a way that you become transformed down in the core of your being, not just that your behavior changes and somehow conforms to that which is an expectation, but rather a transformation that occurs within you so that the life of Christ simply gets lived out; it oozes out your pores, you just donít seem to have any choice.
We value the fact that no one is beyond Godís reach, that no one should ever feel like an outsider in the kingdom. That we would practice hospitality to one another and practice hospitality to the world in such a way that we would demonstrate what it meant to live the life of Jesus among people.

We value our families. We place strong emphasis upon each generation passing the faith along to the next generation. That what you see happening in the back with children in prayer would not be something that happens alone in this building, but something that happens at your home, in your family.

We value stewardship; a caring for all that God gives us. Not just our finances but everything that God has placed in our hands, including the very world in which we live.

We value preaching and teaching that is both biblical and relevant, that brings us into contact with scripture and allows Godís Spirit to speak in and through us, to help us to become Christ- like. We value leadership that empowers us to serve, and this morning we value the spiritual disciplines. Because they are an expression of what it means to be in relationship with God. We talk about values because, frankly, values are what motivate us. We donít always put it in those kinds of terms, but the only thing we really pour our heart into are things that we take seriously, things that we think have some inherent value. If you believe your career has value to you, you pour yourself into it. If you believe a hobby is good for you, you put yourself into it. If you think that your health is important, you discipline yourself to eat well and exercise and do the things that contribute to your health. We do what we value the most.

And so we talk about values, and one of those values is the development of godly character. And thatís where spiritual disciplines come in. One of the things I need for you to know is that Iím not trying to suggest to you that these disciplines somehow will create in you something that doesnít exist; it will enhance it, it will build, it will grow it, but if you donít have a relationship with God now, the practice of these disciplines is not gonna somehow turn you into a spiritual giant. The first step is always that you have to have your own relationship with Christ established. These disciplines merely express your desire to become more like the one youíve chosen to follow. So the very first thing that has to happen is, you have to make a decision about Jesus, and that we encourage you to do at all times. But then once you have established that you want to relate to Christ, these are the kinds of things that will help you become like him. To help you to relate to people the way he related to people, to relate to God the way that he relates to God.
John Ortberg would remind us -- and those of you who have had the 201 Class here and have been through his book -- he would remind us that the goal of the spiritual discipline is simply this: to do the right thing the right way at the right time with the right spirit. To do the right thing the right way at the right time with the right spirit Ė thatís what weíre talking about. Basically weíre talking about simply establishing within ourselves something of the life of Christ. Prayer becomes one of the obvious places where that can occur. But itís not the only place. It does, however, provide for us something of a jumping-off place to talk about these things. So I want to turn to Luke 5:16, and weíre simply gonna highlight three verses that identify something about the life of Christ and his own discipline. I find it fascinating that God in human flesh chose to value certain activities as a part of his relationship with God. I figure if Jesus felt like this was important, I donít have an alternative but to think that that was important. He disciplined himself in a variety of ways; we only see in these texts one, which is the issue of praying. But it does illustrate for us the kind of discipline he poured into his life. Luke 5:16. Very interesting kind of statement that occurs almost as a passing remark. Verse 15 says, ďThe news is spreading about him all the more; crowds of people are coming to hear him, to be healed of their sicknesses, but Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.Ē Even in the midst of the rush of the busy life that he had, the needs that people were pressing in on him, he chose, Luke says, often to withdraw. To get aside, to slow down, and to spend time in the context of God. Now that occurs all through the book of Luke. If you come over just one chapter to Luke 6:12. Just before he chooses the twelve disciples, the passage we looked at earlier this year, he says in Luke 6:12, ďOne of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and he spent the night praying to God.Ē The average preacher in America spends something like eight minutes a day praying. Much less the all night thing! Yet Jesus was committed to that kind of relationship; he understood the source of his own spiritual strength. Luke 11 is the other text that highlights this for us. So much so that it was ďcatchingĒ, if you will. The disciples saw something that they really wanted. Luke 11:1 ďOne day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ĎLord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.íĒ I donít know whether it was the fact that they just saw him doing it so often, or if it was the fact that he was within hearing distance and they heard what he prayed about. I donít know if it was just being around Jesus and somehow that discipline rubbed off, and they said we want to know how to do that. Something about the prayer life of Jesus was challenging enough to them to say, ďTeach us how to do this.Ē

And so he teaches them what we have come to call the Lordís Prayer. And he reminds them, then, in Luke 11:2, ďWhen you pray say, Father, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come; give us each day our daily bread; forgive us our sins as we forgive every one who sins against us; lead us not into temptation.Ē And then he walks them into a story; itís a story about praying. And when you read that story, what you discover is that the prayer that Jesus must have somehow illustrated to these disciples, or at least he felt needed illustrated to these disciples, was that prayer was not primarily about ďmeĒ. Because the storyís not about ďmeĒ; the storyís about my neighbor. The story is about having a need that you canít meet in someone elseís life and going to the source of the one who can, in fact, meet that need. And so he talks about a man whoís gone to bed. ďSuppose one of you has a friend and he goes to him at midnight and says, friend, lend me three loaves of bread because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me and I donít have anything to set before him. The one inside answers, ĎDonít bother me.íĒ Thatís the answer youíd get at midnight at my house, by the way. Have you looked at the clock lately to see what time it is? What are you calling me at midnight for? Donít you love midnight phone calls and the first thing they say is, did I wake you? How well do you know me? A friend comes to you and says Iím hungry and you look around your house and you say, boy, I just donít have anything to offer you. Iíll go to my neighborís and Iíll ask him.

Well, he didnít get a great response, but look at verse 8. ďIíll tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, because of the manís boldness--,Ē sometimes thatís translated persistence; the idea is he wouldnít quit knocking on the door, ď--he will get up and give him as much as he needs.Ē And then you get this very familiar passage, ďSo I say to you, ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.Ē And we have so often applied that to ourselves. If weíre just persistent enough with God, God will finally get us what we want. Except that thatís not what this text is about. This text is about me helping my neighbor. So the principle is, if you donít have what it takes to meet someone elseís need, God says come to me. I have an unlimited supply of things that I can give to somebody else. You seek it from me and Iíll see to it that you have what you need to give them.

So he says which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If he asks for an egg, would give him a scorpion? If you, though youíre evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those of you who ask him? God is a giver of good gifts. This is what that looked like to me: Sunday morning, getting ready to go off to worship, to do my thing, which is to preach, the phone rings and itís the hospital, and they want me to come and handle an emergency. Thereís a young couple thatís in the hospital; their baby has died, 5 weeks old. At that point in my life Iím 22 or 23 years old; I have either a pregnant wife or one child, I forget exactly where in this context it occurred, but I know nothing about trying to help somebody in that situation. So the ten miles from my house to that hospital was that verse, ďGod, Iíve got nothing to offer.Ē

I think thatís what heís saying; when you donít have what you need to give, ask God. He will create in you what you need. And that discipline is called intercessory prayer, when youíre praying for somebody else, not for yourself.

Well, we value these disciplines, and our goal is to learn to do the right thing at the right time in the right way in the right spirit. My plan this morning is really quite simple. My plan is to encourage you, to motivate you to begin incorporating the disciplines into your life. Itís a simple thing, what I want to do. I want to get you to start training yourself for godliness. Not trying. I love that distinction that Ortberg makes in his book--some of you are familiar with it--there is a huge difference between trying and training.
Rick Neil has invited me now for months to come over and play his bass guitar in the band. Love to do that for you sometime. You wouldnít love it, but I would. You know, try as hard as I want, Iím not gonna play the bass--itís just not gonna happen. All of the effort in the world will not make that happen. I could stand there and strum harder, think harder, try harder, and it wouldnít change the fact that I donít know how to play! But Iím betting if I was willing to let Rick teach me, that several months from now I could at least find middle C--if that exits on a bass, I donít even know if it does.

I know what happened the first time a friend said, ďI want you to come run a marathon with me.Ē I said, ďHow far is that?Ē Thatís how much I knew. ďTwenty-six miles.Ē ďOh, well, sure, why not? Are you crazy?Ē At that point in my life I had run seven miles. I thought, alright, thatís nigh unto a fourth of the way; how much harder can it be? So I thought, Iíll run from my house to that church building over there and Iíll come back--14.3 miles. I thought I would die! And I was about halfway. Now what Iím trying to tell you is, all of the trying in the world would not have gotten another 12 miles out of my body. In fact, Iíve been standing, literally, on the side of the road and saying to my body, ďMove!Ē and itís saying, ďNo! Iím not going.Ē And youíre thinking, ďYou have to; youíre my body. Iím the brain, youíre the body; you do what I tell you.Ē And it says, ďYou think twice, cause Iím not going!Ē But I am living proof that if you work at it, you can get to that point and you can actually run that far. Iím not sure why you would, but you could.

Itís training, not trying. And so many of us have approached the spiritual disciplines in a spirit of trying. Iím going to try harder to be like Jesus. Iím going to try harder to be like Jesus. Iím going to try harder to be like Jesus. It isnít about trying. Itís about training. Itís about doing the right things that will develop Christlike character in you. So hereís my intention. My intention is simply to try to outline for you what some of those are, to give you some basic guidelines, and then to encourage you on the way. You see, to define the disciplines is a difficult kind of task, because there are so many varied approaches to it. But weíre just gonna just take a shot at giving you just some basics, how would this be?

A spiritual discipline is essentially anything that feeds your spirit. Itís anything that causes your relationship with God to grow. So it can be a variety of kinds of things. Richard Foster, who is probably the one who has written most about it, he and Dallas Willard, at least in recent years, would categorize them in three ways, and Iíll just divide his up for you. He talks about what he calls the inner disciplines. Heís thinking of things like this: meditation, when you would take a thought from scripture and simply mull it over in your brain. You might take a verse that you have found to be useful to you, something simple. ďTo him who loves us and has freed us from our sins and has made us to be a kingdom of priests.Ē And you would stick that in and you would just mull on it. And when you werenít doing anything else, youíd think about it, you would sit down and take time just to mull it over. ďI wonder what God means when He says He loves us.Ē Maybe you would specifically do that when youíre driving in your car. Maybe you would do that when youíre doing your housework or your busywork. Maybe you would take a specific time to just think it through.

He talks about, on the inward side, things like praying, where you discipline yourself to spend time in prayer. I suggest that there are two ways of doing it. One is a very confined, limited time where you said, for the next 15 minutes Iím going to concentrate on praying. Or, the kind of prayer that happens when you are, literally, on the roadódriving, walking, doing other thingsówhere you and God are in conversation.

He talks about this inward discipline of fasting, where you decide that you are going to do without something. Typically, in scripture, fasting is primarily about food. You stop eating for a period of time in order to concentrate on spiritual things. What youíre saying is, I control my own body. But sometimes, to be really honest with you, food is not your problem. So fasting from food doesnít necessarily prove anything. But fasting from television might. Fasting from your cell phone might. Fasting from your computer game might. There are other things that you can not do in the context of life to be able to say, ďI am allowing God control of this, and Iím not giving that control up to someone else.Ē

He talks about the inward discipline of studying, where you just study your Bible. You look at Scripture; you wrestle with it; you evaluate it. You may find a good website that has bible study tools; you may take stuff out of our library. But you begin to really pour over scripture and study.

He talks about outward disciplines. The outward disciplines for him are things like simplicity. What he means by simplicity is that you start culling the clutter from your life. You discipline yourself to say, I donít need this. By the way, if you donít think thatís a discipline, you need to come sit with somebody who likes ďstuffĒ. I read an article just this morning about a guy who thinks that if you havenít looked at a book in several years, it probably will never be looked at, and you ought to get rid of it. And Iím thinking, is he crazy? Get rid of a book?? You might someday need that. Simplicity. It would be a real discipline for some of us.

Solitude. He talks about the discipline of just learning to be alone. Do you know that some of us cannot stand to be alone? Now, for some of us, I should say this, for some of us, solitude is not a discipline; in fact, itís a curse. We love solitude, we like to be alone. We need people. But some of you canít even walk in a house without turning on a radio. You canít get in the car and not have something happen, because you canít stand the idea of being alone. And what the early Christian writers would tell you is that when you are deeply alone is when you first realize that you are never alone. But the person that youíre alone with is God. But sometimes youíve got to shut out enough of the worldís noise that you can actually have the experience of knowing Heís there.

He talks about this other discipline that he would call submission. Boy, thatís a tough one --submission. How would a person discipline themselves to actually practice submission? I mean, tell your wife to tell you what to do and then do it? You know, maybe thatís a way to practice submission, but some of you are doing that anyway. I thought about this one for me---drive the speed limit. If the speed limit is 55, donít go over 55; thatís a discipline. I canít hardly imagine that, but okay. There are some of you I want to learn this discipline. If it says twelve items or less, stay out of that line! The idea of submitting is to understand what the boundaries are and to say, Iíll stay in this boundary. Because many of us are really good at not wanting to stay in the boundaries; we just donít like the boundaries. I came out of the sixties; I know what boundaries are for---to be broken, stepped over, ignored.

He talks about the outward discipline of service. To just simply find yourself in a place where you can serve others, as a way of experiencing the life of Jesus.

Well, he has some that he calls corporate, things that we do together. For example, confession. When a small group of us get together and we openly share within us the kinds of things that weíre struggling with. Or we may go to a friend and simply confess a sin and ask for forgiveness or ask them to help us to grow. That is a discipline; itís a tough discipline.

He talks about the discipline of worship. That we place worship as one of our highest priorities; that we just decide that weíre not going to miss an opportunity to collectively gather with people like ourselves in order to come into Godís presence and worship.
He talks about a discipline of guidance, where we allow other Christian people to guide us, and that is a tough one because quite often we donít want somebody else to tell us what to do or to give us direction. There is great discipline in allowing yourself to come under someone elseís leadership and say you help me know what to say yes to and what to say no to. I have a good friend who has a guidance committee, and he never accepts any kind of outside speaking engagement that the guidance committee does not help him choose which ones to say yes to.

He talks about the idea of celebration, that, corporately, we learn to rejoice with those who rejoice, to not keep the good things in our life to ourselves, but to get in the habit of always sharing that with someone. Some of you are really good at that. Some of my very favorite emails are emails from you, celebrating something that has happened in your spiritual life. I treasure those and I value them, and you help me when you share those. I appreciate it.

Ortberg words them a little differently; those are the ones that Foster says. Ortberg says that there is a discipline of celebration, same kind of thing. He talks about a discipline of slowing. Yuck! Iíve tried that one. Itís hard! I tried it by doing this: always choosing the longest line to stand in, to force myself to slow down. (Sigh) Thatís that 12 items in the cart thing, you know? You just--you want to be busy, you want to be on the go; you donít have time to slow down. Sometimes, he says, you just need to sit down and take a deep breath and--ahhh. How is God ever gonna have a chance to talk with you if youíre so busy?

He talks about, again, the idea of confession, he talks about guidance, he talks about secrecy, he talks about reflection. Disciplines that allow us to engage with God in ways that we just havenít. There are others that arenít even listed. Some people love to journal, love to sit down and just reflect on their thoughts by writing them down. Other people believe in silence. I had a student the other day that was practicing the discipline of silence at the beginning of the Lenten season. Heís normally a very friendly sort of character, and I remember the night before in the dorm saying hi to him and he spoke to me and the next morning I said hi to him and he ignored me. It was like, oh, I wonder what I said last night. And then I saw him in the classroom and I spoke to him again and he just looked at me. And then he slid a piece of paper across that said, ďI am practicing the discipline of silence; please honor that today.Ē I need to go back and find out how that went, because I think that would be extremely hard, personally. I taught for a living. Some Sunday Iím going to practice the discipline of silence and you get to just read my mind. But thatís probably not safe.

Well, those are some of the disciplines. Let me just give you some basic guidelines, and hereís the first guideline. Get an honest grasp of whatís going on in the disciplines; figure out what they are. And what weíve done for you is given you a list of reading in the bulletin. You can check those books out. Some of them we have in our library, others we can get for you. I would think that you would want to, for example, just immediately, I canít imagine you not just immediately jumping up and saying Iím gonna take Steveís 201 class and Iím gonna go through Ortbergís book, The Life Youíve Always Wanted, and Iím gonna learn more about the disciplines. I would just think that would be an automatic after today. He ought to be flooded with requests for that, because you want to know more about them. Talk to people who are practicing the disciplines. How would you know? Well, they look a lot like Jesus, so ask them how they got that way and theyíll probably tell you.

Secondly, I would say have a plan, be intentional. This will not happen by accident. I have a good friend, Neal Windham, some of you know him. Neal teaches over at Lincoln. For the last, I donít know, dozen years or more, every Thursday afternoon he goes to Weldon Springs over by Clinton, and spends about three hours alone with God. He walks around, he journals, he reads, he prays. Once in a while, very seldom, but once in a while he takes somebody along with him, and they have a time of confession or guidance, corporate kind of worship. But heís very intentional about it. You just know where youíre gonna find him, or in this case, not find him, on Thursdays. My friend JK, itís early morning. I donít know exactly what time he starts; all I know is that every morning you can find JK in the same place, sitting at his desk with his Bible, reading, praying, listening to Christian music, singing, and he would even tell you, dancing before God. Thatís his habit; thatís what he does. Itís an intentional thing that you will carve a certain amount of your life out to do these things. Or that youíll plan for the next six weeks to slow down, to just see if you can do that. For three days, I will just drive the speed limit. Donít ask me if that I tried that one.

The third piece of advice, the guidance, that I would offer you is this, and this may be the most important thing Iím gonna say about this--guard your heart. Because we tend to fall into one of two traps when it comes to the spiritual disciplines. The worst trap of all is we become Pharisees. Ok, I did my prayer today; ok, I wrote in my journal today; ok, I did this today. And weíve got it all checked out, marked it off, got up at five, read my bible, said my prayers, wrote in my journal, ok, Iím ready for my day. And we really become legalistic about something that isnít intended to be legalistic. You gotta hear some people talk about their journals, including people like John Ortberg, who would reflect on the fact that that became exactly what it was about. And so they would write in their journal, and what they might write in their journal was something like this: I have to write in my journal today so here I am. Thatís not shaping you into the life of Jesus; thatís just making you feel guilty all the time.

The other real danger is that just because youíre practicing that particular discipline doesnít mean that I have to practice that discipline. At least at that moment. Not everybody is disciplined in the same way, not everybody needs the same things. I need to slow down, you may not need to; that may be something that youíre already quite good at; you move at a better pace than others. But maybe your discipline is something else entirely. So guard your heart against becoming self-righteous--everybody ought to do it my way or guilty. I did it today, or I didnít do it today. See thatís the other thing is, when we didnít do it today then we get mad and we give up.

Well, hereís the last thing I want to tell you. Remember the end; donít get caught by the means. Our goal is not to do disciplines; our goal is to look like Jesus. The disciplines are merely a means to an end, and the end is, we want to be shaped into the likeness of Jesus. We want to take upon ourselves more of the life of Christ. What we want to do is to learn to do the right thing in the right way at the right time with the right spirit. And thatís gonna take some training. I deeply appreciate Richard Fosterís introduction to his book on the spiritual disciplines. I remember underlining this the first time I read the book; I have gone back to it I donít know how many times over the years, this one sentence. ďThe desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people or gifted people, but for deep people.Ē Our need is not for more academics; our need is not for more giftedness. Our need is for depth of character. To begin to really look like Christ.

Ran across this story; maybe youíve also seen it. Itís about a lady in Florida. Her name is Norina. I just want to read a bit of the story to you.

When a hurricane hit South Florida, Norinaís home was one of many that was severely damaged. The elderly woman received an insurance settlement and the repair work began. However, when the money ran out, so did the contractor, leaving an unfinished home with no electricity. Norina has been living without power ever since. The astounding part of this story is that the hurricane was not Katrina, but Andrew. Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992. Norina has been living in that dark, unfinished house for 15 years. No heat on a chilly South Florida night, no air conditioning when the mercury climbed into the 90ís and the humidity up to 100 percent, not one hot shower. Without money to finish the repairs, Norina just got by with a small lamp and a single burner. Her neighbors didnít seem to notice. (I canít imagine that the power company didnít notice.) Acting on a tip, the mayor of Miami Dade got involved. It only took a few hours of work by electrical contractor Kent Crook to return the power to her house. CBS News says Norina plans to let the water get really hot and then take her first bubble bath in 15 years. Itís hard to describe having the ability to switch the electricity on. Itís overwhelming.

I just find that hard to imagine. Fifteen years with no electricity, no power. I confess to you that I can look in the mirror and look at my life and look back 15 years and I can see places in my life where I have had 15 years pass and not seen much power. Because I havenít been working at the right things. It wasnít hard for her to fix that problem; she just didnít know how to get it done. And you may take a look at your life and you may realize that youíre not as much like Jesus as you would like to be, but you donít know how to get that fixed. One of the ways that you get that fixed is you practice the disciplines. You begin to work at the life of Jesus in you, and weíre inviting you to do that.

Now let me go back full circle to where I started. The spiritual disciplines merely express a relationship with Jesus that longs to be better. All the spiritual disciplines in the world will not make you a Christian. Fast every day, read your bible, pray Ė does not make you a Christian. What makes you a Christian is to respond to Jesus personally, to be obedient to him by believing in him, repenting of your sin, and identifying with him in baptism, then living that life out. The place you start is to first know Christ. From there you begin to allow him to be shaped in you.

Weíre going to invite you to sing with us this morning, and maybe something about the words of these songs will help solidify a decision for you, either a decision to begin to practice the disciplines and become more like Jesus or, in fact, to become like him in the first place. Would you stand with me while we sing this?

[Transcribed by SM11]