A little Food for Thought

What if you woke up this morning and had everything/only all that you thanked God for yesterday?

“Thank you” are words that are slipping away from our culture, both verbally and non-verbally.  In many cases, they are slipping away from our prayer life as well.  It costs nothing to be grateful, but it might cost everything if we continue to ignore His blessings.

May you be blessed today according to His Will.

Delayed Obedience

Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.

So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:7-12)

The call of God is a process. Whether it is a call to vocational Christian ministry (i.e., the pastorate) or the calling to another vocation, the initial prompting, ongoing preparation, and necessary affirmation in God’s call are spread out over a lifetime.

My own calling to vocational ministry probably came most clearly to me when I was 16 years old. The clarity of this call was affirmed by my local church pastor who, to this day (over thirty years since that initial sense of calling) still serves as an encouraging voice to me.

However, my own desire to define God’s calling on my life lead to several years of misery on my part as I tried to chart my own course instead of submitting fully to His will.

A turning point in this struggle came when I placed a desperate phone call to another pastor in the wee hours of the morning during my freshman year of college. I explained to him that I was struggling with my calling and that I was so miserable that I had not been able to sleep adequately for weeks.

His response was quick and simple: “All I can advise you to do is to remember that delayed obedience is disobedience.” He then hung up, leaving me even more frustrated. This frustration lasted until I honestly confessed to God that, although I had initially embraced His calling to ministry, I had gone off track by seeking to define His calling in my own terms. I had postponed full surrender to the direction of God’s Spirit. I had delayed my obedience until I accomplished what I thought I needed. I was disobeying!

Over 25 years later, I cannot claim that I have always immediately obeyed God’s call. Nor have I always immediately responded to God’s corrections or change of plans. However, I can attest to the peace and fulfillment that comes when we, with the help of God’s Spirit, say “yes” to His plans for our lives.

I continue to learn and appreciate the benefits of saying “yes” sooner rather than later!

Prayer for the Week:

“O Jesus, I surrender myself to you,
take care of everything! Amen.” (Don Dolindo Ruotolo)

Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.

Unforeseen circumstances!

We are sad to announce that we will not be able to offer our marriage seminar on October 5 &6, due to unforeseen circumstances.  If this was something you were considering or would like to attend in the future, please contact us and we will keep you updated.  Thank you for your understanding.

In This Together; Why we worship in His church

In This Together

Posted in:

Coffee Break

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” (Gen. 2:18)

In the context of a recent conversation with a student about theology, we discussed the difference it makes when our approach to the Bible and theology emphasizes individuals or the community. Of course, God cares about both. God created us as unique individuals and cares for our individual needs. However, we often overlook the fact that God created us for community.

We are built to be part of a community: namely, the community of God known as the Church.

This pattern begins in creation itself. Human beings are the image of God together: “So God created humankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). What some translations refer to as “man,” “humankind,” or “humanity” is not about a specific individual gender. Rather, it is human creation itself that comprises the “image of God.” Humanity is incomplete if we think of it simply in individualistic terms (“it is not good for the man to be alone”).

This passage has been used, even in Scripture, to make important statements about marriage, but the passage is about even more than that. Non-married people are also part of the “image of God” described in Genesis 1:27. The bigger emphasis of this passage and the greater narrative of all of creation and redemption is that we are built to be in community: we are in this together!

The implications are many, but John Wesley highlighted a few in his ministry during the great revivals of the eighteenth century. For Wesley, salvation is not simply about being right with God; it is also about finding a place in God’s community (the Church). In fact, God teaches us who we are really created to be by placing us in a community that teaches, encourages, corrects, and gives us a broader perspective in regard to the bigger picture of God’s kingdom.

This is one reason why we not only worship God individually and privately, but also together as the body of Christ when we gather in harmony to sing, pray, give, proclaim, and encourage. We are built for this.

In fact, trying to participate in the Kingdom of God without participating in the community of God gives us an incomplete faith, since it is only by allowing ourselves to participate in God’s community that we can most fully participate in the image of God and discover why we were created.

An old country song proclaims, “Me and Jesus got our own thing going.” That kind of statement is popular in our overly-individualized and self-focused culture, but it is not the message of the Bible. The “thing” that Jesus and I  have “going” has everything to do with my Spirit-led connection with and participation in the community that God calls us to—God’s own community, the Church.

Prayer for the Week:

Almighty and ever-living God, ruler of all things in heaven
and earth: Hear our prayers for this church family. Strengthen
the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent.
Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring
us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (from The Book of Common Prayer)

Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.

Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.