22 March 2005

Focal Points

Recently, I've been challenging myself with what it means to be devout. A lot of it stems from watching the churches I've belonged to flounder, flourish or falter. Even in my own witness I realize how much disdain for religion I have these days. Replaying conversations in my head it seems I am still carrying venom for religion deep inside. Truly I've been trying to rid myself of these thoughts but I can't seem to feel secure in my acceptance of the church.

Before anyone jumps to conclusions, let me say I am a Believer. I am definitely a man of Faith. In my day to day I follow a Judo-Christian belief system. My knowledge of religion and doctrine is pretty vast (compared to most). My world view is primarily based on my interpretation of Scripture, everything flows from that source. Hopefully that clarifies my standing.
But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.
-- I Corinthians 4:19
This is the heart of the problem; the religion that we practice. Most ministries and churches I've known are not building faith in God, but building a following in the 'church' and 'theology'. By this road comes only despair and powerlessness. Does this mean we forsake organized religion? Not I. The evidence to gather as believers is much too strong to ignore. How do we keep it from becoming about church instead of God?
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
-- Isaiah 55:11
We have to be careful not to get into the frame of mind that God cannot accomplish anything using the church because the church is fallible. If individually we are walking faithfully then a word here or there in season will be the seed to accomplishing God's will in that situation. It is not for us to look for results, but to be faithful to what God has given; He then does the rest.

It seems we need to build up better habits and foundational teachings within the church. We need to focus on the foundation not the frosting. Self-discipline is choosing to work instead of wasting time, to study instead of sleep, and to pray instead of play. Not lazy in thought, word, or deed.

Here are the focal points I personally use.
1. Study. You need consistent time to be in God's Word. Reading, learning, ingesting.
2. Apply. You need to consistently apply God's Word to your world view, and your world view to your actions.
3. Pray. You need to be talking and listening. Without ceasing, in all situations.
4. Share. You need to pass on what you learn. The best way to be sure you have really imbibed something is to teach it to someone else.
All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
-- 1 Corinthians 9:25

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