Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I heard a sermon by Matt Chandler of the Village Church in Dallas, Texas today and a part of it was regarding the importance of community and discipleship and I wanted to share it with you.

I’ll tailor his illustration to a true story for in life.

A while ago, I had a desire to pick up the guitar and be able to play it like Dave Matthews. I got one as a gift for Christmas when I was 16 and had the intentions of picking it up and just doing it. I began to pick, pluck, and awkwardly try to move my keys long the neck of the guitar with no success. All that came of a couple of years of this was my being able to play jingle bells and frustration. The sounds that were coming off of the guitar were void of rhythm and melody and brought my family to the brink of wishing the torture would stop. If someone were to put sheet music to a Dave Matthews song in front of my I would not be able to do it. It doesn’t matter HOW bad I wanted to be able to play it…It doesn’t matter HOW disappointed my family was that I couldn’t play it…It doesn’t matter HOW much it bothered me that I wasn’t the musician I wanted to be…It doesn’t matter that my friends would say, “Oh man, I can sit down and just rip that one out.” I WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO DO IT. It wasn’t until someone older, wiser, and further down the road in their musical journey came to me and began to teach me. He taught me fundamentals. “Here’s the neck of your guitar.” “Here’s the fretboard.” “Here’s the E String.” “Here’s how you hold a pick.” “Here’s how you strum the strings.” “Here’s the best strings to buy for your skill level.” “Here’s where you put your fingers.” Slowly, this man began to feed me more and more technical things. I would watch as he did it on his guitar and then I would try it on mine. It came awkwardly…slowly…and embarrassingly at times. I learned how to transition from one cord to another. I learned how to strum well. As time went on, victories would come my way…and increasingly, this teacher would challenge me to do better, try harder, practice more and would hold me accountable to a higher standard. Today, though I am no musician, I am able to pick up a guitar and play it with relative ease. When I look back on that time of awkward beginnings and frustrating nights of playing, I often think about the teacher that cared enough to invest into my life. He cared enough to see me improve and to achieve my goals. He sacrificed some family time, money, and lots of energy for no gain of his beside the satisfaction of seeing a young man be who they want to be. That is what discipleship is. If he had not made these sacrifices, I would have either given up or would still be picking “Jingle Bells” and full of musical frustration. Paul writes in Titus 2:1-8 as instructions to the church, 1But as for you, teach what accords with sound] doctrine. 2Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands that the word of God may not be reviled. 6Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. As friend of Jesus, we should be being invest into by the “older men and women” in the church…while investing into the “younger men and women” ourselves. We have to seek this out because it rarely will just “happen” on it’s own.

This is discipleship. This is community.

In love,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Section taken from "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas Kempas sent to me by a friend. Solid.

So long as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering and temptation. Whence it is written in Job: “The life of man upon earth is a warfare.” (Job 7:1.) Everyone, therefore, must guard against temptation and must watch in prayer, lest the devil, who never sleeps but goes about seeking whom he may devour, find occasion to deceive him. No one is so perfect or so holy but he is sometimes tempted; man cannot be altogether free from temptation.

Yet temptations, though troublesome and severe, are often useful to a man, for in them he is humbled, purified, and instructed. The saints all passed through many temptations and trials to profit by them, while those who could not resist became reprobate and fell away. There is no state so holy, no place so secrete that temptations and trials will not come. Man is never safe from them as long as he lives, for they come from within us – in sin we were born. When one temptations or trial passes, another comes; we shall always have something to suffer because we have lost the state of original blessedness.

Many people try to escape temptations, only to fall more deeply. We cannot conquer simply by fleeing, but by patience and true humility we become stronger than our enemies. The man who only shuns temptations outwardly and does not uproot them will make little progress; indeed they will quickly return, more violent than before.

Little by little, in patience and long-suffering, you will overcome them, by the help of God rather than by severity and your own rash ways. Often take counsel when tempted; and do not be harsh with others who are tempted, but console them as you yourself would wish to be consoled.

The beginning of all temptations lies in a wavering mind and little trust in God, for as a rudderless ship is driven hither and yon by waves, so a careless and irresolute man is tempted in many ways. Fire tempers iron and temptations steels the just. Often we do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows us what we are.

Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks.

Someone has said very aptly: “Resist the beginnings; remedies come too late, when by long delay the evil has gained strength.” First, a mere thought comes to mind, then strong imagination, followed by pleasure, evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against him.

Some suffer great temptations in the beginning of their conversion, others toward the end, while some are troubled almost constantly throughout their life. Others, again, are tempted but lightly, according to the wisdom and justice of Divine Providence, Who weighs the status and merit of each and prepares all for the salvation of His elect.

We should not despair, therefore, when we are tempted, but pray to God the more fervently that He may see fit to help us, for according to the word of Paul, He will make issue with temptation that we may be able to bear it. Let us humble our souls under the hand of God in every trial and temptations for He will save and exalt the humble in spirit.

In temptations and trials, the progress of a man is measured; in them opportunity for merit and virtue are mad more manifest.

When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to be fervent and devout, but if he bears up patiently in time of adversity, there is hope for great progress.

Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently overcome by small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness in small trials, they may not presume on their own strength in great ones.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Video Test