Disciplines of the Faith: Coming Soon to The Thin Plac

I have a long history of quitting things that are hard for me. Specifically, anything that requires an ounce of physical coordination/athleticism. Coming from a family that has infiltrated almost every sporting team in our area, I stuck out like a sore thumb. It was partially lack of effort but in truth, I was also just really dreadful and I knew it from a young age. I hated making a fool of myself and sports were a sure fire way to do that. So when I got a little older and came across the passage where Paul tells us to beat our bodies into submission and train like an athlete, my eyes just sorta glazed over and I flipped back to the poetic expressions of the psalmist. As I’ve grown in age and spiritual maturity, I’ve realized the wisdom in cultivating spiritual disciplines that help develop my faith. I set goals and routines for virtually any other area I want to see growth—my faith should be no exception. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, ESV Discipline. It often reads like an icky word. We bristle and try to find a more loving term to use. Some people prefer using spiritual practices. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that term, I fear that we lose some of the intensity of what we called to do as believers. Discipline sounds serious because to discipline yourself is a serious pursuit. If we are to become disciples of Jesus, if we are to pick up our cross and follow Him, if we want to cultivate holiness in our lives, spiritual disciplines must be apart of our walk. As part of this year’s pursuit of holiness, I am vowing to realign my days to beat my body into submission. So I’m starting a new series this upcoming week, on disciplines of the Christian faith. We will be looking at a long list of things, from prayer to fasting to service…

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My Marriage Isn’t Enough For Me (But It Points Me To Christ)

A few months ago, my husband and I were driving down the side of a mountain in Hawaii listening to the song, “Die a Happy Man” by Thomas Rhett. (Those of you who dislike country music can cringe now.) I was holding Hubby’s hand and was feeling butterflies about the joy of marriage and how happy being married to him makes me (most days). It was a rare moment of marital bliss. I couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful. Until Hubby’s voice broke the silence with a quip about how stupid the song was because no one could be anyone’s all. Horror came over my face as I realized that my perfect little moment was shattered. But of course, he was also right. Marriage is one of the most beautiful unions God has ordained. From the very beginning, God said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone and out of Adam, created Eve to be his wife and companion in the work God had given Mankind. Anyone who has been married for more than five minutes can tell you that it’s not a walk in the park or one big long sleepover with your best friend but there is a sweet union unique to marriage that comes from the deep vulnerability and commitment that the covenant of marriage brings. But yet, my beautiful, covenantal marriage isn’t enough for me. My husband is wonderful, but there are some things in my life that, through no fault of his own, he will fail me in. And there are many, many ways in which I fail him. We are human. Our lives here on Earth are marred by the sinful nature we were born with. My heart was born with a hole that no person on Earth could fill. My heart was made for companionship and, the partnership and love I share with my husband is a beautiful gift. But it’s not the end of the story. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. -Ephesians 5:31-33, esv Because Christ is enough. And He is returning for us, the Church, His Bride. One of…

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New Year, New Creation: 3 Ways to Embrace Your New Identity in Christ This Year

Each January, our society overflows with flocks of people determined to remake themselves. When I worked at a coffee shop, January was always the slowest month of the year. But inevitably, by the beginning of February, all of the resolutions to become someone new had faded away and it was business as usual. The self-resolve to avoid sugar, to go to the gym, to be less predictable, had fallen by the wayside as everyone resumed the roles of who they had previously been. As believers, our renewal is not simply a yearly resolve, it is a constant process of being changed and formed into the image of Christ. It’s not a fad, it needs to be a lasting, rooted pattern in our life. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 1 Corinthians 5:17, ESV If we are in Christ, He is the foundation of our life, a life that is being remade into a new creation. So as we grow more into the new creation this year, let us not grow weary and burn out after only a few weeks. Here are 3 ways to help embrace your new identity in Christ: 1. Know it’s Not Your Will-Power That’s Going to Bring About Change  We need to be committed to change. We need to let go of our sin and to embrace a life of holiness. However, unlike other resolutions, the resolution to embrace our identity in Christ isn’t something we can simply will-power into happening. It’s something that can only happen through the power of the Holy Spirit. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. – 2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV The Holy Spirit will transform us. We cannot transform ourselves. His conviction in our life is the best accountability partner we could ever ask for. He will keep prompting our hearts, convicting us of sin, and transforming us into the image of Christ. But as we run this race, we need to remember that this transformation is not something we’re walking through alone. 2. Fix Your Eyes Upon Christ From the moment your eyes open in the morning, fix them upon Christ. Therefore, since we…

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Don’t Crap on My Perspective: What This is Us Taught Us About Listening

Last night’s episode of NBC’s hit show, This is Us, made me feel all the feels. After an emotional mid-season finale that ended with Kevin in rehab, we were all encouraged by the strong show of support by the family, going to visit him after his first month away. Randall was a show of strength, saying over and over that he was going to support the brother who had been there to support him. But then, they waltzed into the room with the counselor and things got icky. Kevin started bringing up problems from his childhood that hurt deeply. He said they were a family of addicts and had generations of alcoholism that contributed to his addictions. And his family, the beautiful family we see each week, he said they made him feel like a fifth wheel his entire life. Things quickly deteriorated from a supportive family to a yelling match that ended with half of the family walking out of the therapy session. But something beautiful happened. They came back together and Randall, despite being deeply hurt by his brother’s words, acknowledged that Kevin might have a different perspective and that he needed to listen to that perspective. Friends, we need to listen to each other. Even when, perhaps especially when, we think someone is in the wrong. We can become so preoccupied with correcting a wrong opinion, with preparing our next zinger, that we fail even to take time to understand what someone else is saying. Problems cannot be addressed if we don’t dig them up from their root. If we ignore the deeper issues, if we don’t take time to understand what someone is feeling, we will keep coming back to the relationship to find weeds popping up, destroying the beautiful thing we want to grow. Kevin was hurting and Randall saw that. I have no doubt that there will be future episodes where, at a more appropriate time, Randall addresses his perspective on what Kevin said in therapy. But in this episode, he realized that it wasn’t the time or the place. He realized that he needed to stop, put his perspective aside, and step into Kevin’s shoes. Even when we know someone is wrong, it is to our benefit to listen to them. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” – James 1:19, ESV…

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I Want to be Holy (But It Might Get Messy)

Unlike last year, I’m not making any new resolutions for my year. I’m not trying to lose weight or to double down on my minimizing. There is not a grand overhaul of my life that will occur in the coming year. I am not going to jump on a bandwagon, embracing the latest diet craze, I am simply going to be more holy. God has called us to be holy. We are to be set apart from the rest of the world and made distinctive as a nation of priests. We are saved by grace but that’s not the end of the sentence, God also predestined us to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. Through His saving grace, we aren’t left in our sin but are given a new life and are changed. But as a Christian, I am a deeply broken person. Part of what unites us as Christians is the deep understanding of the brokenness around us and inside of us. We long for the restoration that we are incapable of bringing about ourselves. “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” – 1 Peter 14-19, ESV Holiness is the standard we are held to. Even as God Himself is holy, we are called to be holy.  I would rather focus on my sinfulness. Not because I like being a sinner, but because I can fulfill that expectation. If I admit that the goal is holiness, it I strive through the power of the Holy Spirit to be transformed into the image of Christ, then I have to confront my areas of failure. Failure, shortcomings, sinfulness, it all has to be confronted head-on. I have to own my mistakes and trust in God’s ability to work completely in my life to make me holy. Each area I fail to own…

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