Exercise

1 Timothy 4:7-8
“But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”

If you are like me, you have probably seen a great number of motivational quotes posted on your Facebook wall. Things like “Pain is only weakness leaving the body” – “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – “It’s never too late to become what you might have been” – or “just do it”. While many of us might benefit from a little more exercise, ALL of us will benefit from a little more godliness. Paul is not suggesting that getting in better physical shape is a bad thing, but is contrasting it with the benefits of being in better spiritual shape. He speaks of the profitability of godliness.

Godliness is a term which means to be living in a way that is well pleasing to the Lord. The godly man is one who is not considering his personal happiness, comfort, or his own wishes, as the determining factor in his decision-making. Instead, he is making decisions based upon what God has revealed in His Word. Often, when faced with a conflict, an impasse, or a fork in the road, we are tempted to make our decisions solely based upon our own desires. That will often lead us away from what God has for us. The godly man will look into the Word to determine what God has to say on the subject and ultimately make decisions that will be well-pleasing in the Lord’s eyes. Paul speaks of the great benefits of living such a life.

First, he says godliness benefits us in this life. Many of the trials, pains, and scars we endure, are self-inflicted. They have been caused by getting off track and doing things our way, instead of God’s way. If we trace some of our difficulties back to their source, we will find they started with a decision to do what we wanted, instead of submitting to God’s Word. It is wonderful to know, God can always pick up the pieces of a broken life and do great things with it. We need only think of Legion, the naked, demon-possessed man who lived in the tombs, to see that God can always repair a shattered life that is surrendered to Him (Mark 5:2-15). However, it is also important to remember, much of the hardships of life can be avoided by surrendering all to Christ, and determining to live in line with His Word.

Second, he says godliness has great benefits in the life to come. While much of what heaven will be like is still shrouded in darkness, we do know that entrance into heaven is reserved for those who have trusted Christ for salvation. Jesus said He alone was the way and that no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). We also know, while entrance into heaven is a free gift received by faith, treasures are stored in heaven for those who live committed to Christ. Paul spoke of crowns that were awaiting the righteous. I do not pretend to know all the mysteries of heaven, but I do trust the words of Christ, who exhorted us to live this life in a way to be rewarded in the next.

Let’s be sure to commit ourselves to a daily exercise program that includes reading the Word, doing what it says, prayer, fellowship with other believers, and looking for ways to serve the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

Faithful In All Things 

Exodus 24:5
“Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord.”

“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” I am quite certain most of us have heard this little slogan. The lesson in it is, there is no way to get a job done properly, unless you alone are the one to do it. I would guess each of us could supply loads of empirical data that would support such a statement. We have all given a task to another, only to find they proved less than qualified to accomplish it.

While it is necessary for a person to prove themselves faithful before they are given opportunity for ministry, it is also true, God’s method of  expanding ministry is to give it away. Moses was not a one-man-band who did not allow others opportunity to serve. Instead, he spread ministry by putting it into the hands of others.

Although the names, physical descriptions, and occupations of these men are not disclosed, we do know, they were less than qualified for the task. The one adjective used to describe them was that they were young. Young, in many cases, could be used synonymously with the word inexperienced. The basic idea is, Moses chose guys who might seem unqualified for the job, in order to raise up another generation given to the service of the Lord. Moses was not alone in this approach, Jesus and Paul were both known for giving ministry away.

I think there are two simple applications to draw from this text. First, we should seek to become a person that others would want to include in ministry. If we know those serving the Lord are always looking for faithful, although perhaps inexperienced people, we should seek to be faithful. Second, if we are involved in ministry, we cannot try to hold on to it. Instead of viewing it as “our ministry”, we should see it as “His ministry”, and be looking for others to team with, and ultimately, to pass things on to.

Pastor Jim

Greatest Joy

3 John 4
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

There are many things that fill us with joy. Some of them are quite simple, like seeing a rainbow, or when our team wins. Others are much deeper, like our wedding day, or the birth of a child. John lived a long life and, no doubt, had his share of experiences that produced joy, making his statement here all the more valuable. He states, of all the things that have brought a smile to his face, nothing can compare to knowing his children are walking with the Lord.

As parents, we desire what is best for our children. It is natural for us to want them to have what we have, and more. We want them to have a happy childhood, get a good education, and make healthy choices as adults. While it is natural for us to want our children to succeed in life, making a decision to follow Christ, is the most important goal.

If we want to see our children walking with the Lord, we cannot leave it in the realm of the desire. Passing on Biblical values and a Christian witness, must be our chief priority. However, each individual must make his own decision for the Lord. Even the best parents have children that walk away from the Lord (Adam and Eve backslid, as did the Prodigal Son). That being said, there are things we can do to increase the odds, and provide an atmosphere which is more likely to produce godly children. Below is a list of ideas that should be demonstrated in our homes.

1. A godly example – Children learn more by what they see, than what they are told.

2. A healthy marriage – One of the best things you can do for the spiritual health of your children is to invest in your spouse.

3. Daily devotions – First, you need to have them yourself. The more you grow in the Lord, the better you will be at instilling godliness in others. Second, find a way to share the things of God with your children. Read the Gospel stories to them before bed.

4. Church attendance – God designed the church as a place for us to grow in Christ. Get the children plugged into age appropriate classes at church. They might not enjoy sitting next to you in service, but will love being in class with other children.

5. Serve the Lord as a family – Don’t force the children to do what they hate. Find an area of service they will enjoy, and commit to serving as a family.

I understand there are some parents who are grieving because, even after all their efforts, their child has chosen to walk away from the Lord. Do not live under condemnation for all the things you think you did wrong. Instead, receive the forgiveness that Jesus provides, and PRAY DAILY for your child. God is in the business of reconciliation, and He loves our children more than we can ever imagine.

Proverbs 22:6

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Pastor Jim

 

Raising Leaders

1 Chronicles 24:4
“There were more leaders found of the sons of Eleazar than of the sons of Ithamar, and thus they were divided. Among the sons of Eleazar were sixteen heads of their fathers’ houses, and eight heads of their fathers’ houses among the sons of Ithamar.”

Webster’s dictionary defines a chronicle as “a historical account of events arranged in order of time without analysis or interpretation.” The main purpose of 1Chronicles is to give an historical record of the nation of Judah. This chapter focusses on the descendants of Aaron, the priest. While it may seem less than devotional to read a list of names, I think it is worth noting, that a system based on heritage would require a huge emphasis upon raising the next generation to follow the Lord. If Israel was going to remain as the people of God, then the priests would have to raise their children to love, trust, and obey the Word of God and the God of the Word.

The death and resurrection of Christ has ushered in a new covenant that is no longer based on heritage. We become a child of God, and a priest in our home, the moment we place faith in Christ. This, however, does not diminish the need to raise our children to love, trust, and obey the Lord. We should make it our chief aim to train up our children in the way they should go so when they are old they will not depart from ways of God (Proverbs 22:6). Some basic tools to help us do that include teaching them the Scriptures, setting a godly example, and being sure our home is filled with an atmosphere of grace.

Pastor Jim

 

Heroes In Training

1 Chronicles 12:15
“These are the ones who crossed the Jordan in the first month, when it had overflowed all its banks; and they put to flight all those in the valleys, to the east and to the west.”

As I read through 1Chronicles, I am struck by the heroic actions of those who served alongside king David. His reign led Israel to the height of their success as a nation, and resulted in establishing peace with the surrounding nations. This success was not accomplished alone, but was a result of heroic men who stood tall in the midst of great difficulty and opposition. This seems to always be the case. One person put it this way, “Heroes are not born they are made”, and it is clear it is the circumstances they faced that made their actions heroic. In other words, Heroes are made when men and women stand up against insurmountable odds and risk their own lives for the sake of others.

Those who have studied heroism, have found that the people who are most likely to take heroic steps are those who have been trained in helping others. For example, a person trained in CPR is more likely to step in and help a person who’s not breathing, than someone without any training. Our training in helping others will often spur us to act, rather than run or freeze in a crisis, even if we have never faced that particular problem before. Simply put, we can train to become a hero. As I look at this text, I am particularly encouraged by the training of David’s mighty men. Since their heroic act was crossing the swelling waters of the Jordan River, we can be certain they trained by carefully studying the pages of God’s word. It was in the quiet moments alone with God,  and while sitting with others, being reminded of God’s victories in the past, that stirred faith in these men to tackle the obstacles in front of them.

In many ways, the future is uncertain; we are never sure what difficulties we may have to endure, but we can prepare for them daily, by spending time in the Scriptures. Paul reminds us that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The more we familiarize ourselves with our Bible, the more likely we are to become a person who will act in heroic selflessness when difficulties arise in our own lives, or in the lives of others.

Pastor Jim

Parenting

Proverbs 29:15
“The rod and rebuke give wisdom,
But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”

Proverbs 29:17
“Correct your son, and he will give you rest;
Yes, he will give delight to your soul.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1265.jpgBefore becoming the Pastor of Calvary Chapel Vero Beach, I spent eight years teaching in the classroom. The first five years I taught in middle school and the final three in high school. Those years proved to be both a wonderful experience and an excellent training ground for raising my own children. My first year was interesting to say the least. I was 23 years old and newly married. I had little experience dealing with preteens, except for the fact that I had been one. My approach in the classroom could have been called the “whose your buddy” method. I attempted to be the cool teacher, who never gave out detentions, office referrals, or parent contacts. The result was chaos. After a few months, I spoke with an aunt who had been in education for years. When I asked for her secret to order in the classroom, she explained that she did not have disciplinary problems, because she had a standard the students understood and she stuck to. Soon after, I observed another teacher who clearly stated the classroom standards and kept to them. When a student misbehaved, she did not become emotional, losing her cool and raising her voice, she simply pointed out that he was breaking the rules, and disciplined accordingly. Those experiences transformed my ability to instruct the children. Instead of spending all my time, energy, and prayer life, dealing with discipline, I was able to teach.

Solomon points out, this same principle should be applied to the home. We have all seen children misbehaving and parents doing nothing more than warning them to stop. As the child continues, the parent raises the level of his voice, until the parent has completely lost his cool. Soon, he begins to scream at the child, perhaps even grabbing the child forcefully by the arm, to snatch him up and leave without further embarrassment. If we are honest, we have not only seen that parent, but we have been that parent. The secret to successful discipline is having a clear biblical standard for our children. The result will be spending less time agitated and upset, and more time instructing and loving our kids.

Allow me to give a few guidelines. First, our standard is based upon how our Heavenly Father treats us. He is ever merciful and forgiving, and understands we are prone to failure. Never does God condone sin, but He is always ready to lovingly restore us, when we fail. One common failure among parents is, putting standards on children that they themselves could not keep. Second, when we must exercise discipline, this should become a teaching time. Instead of allowing our emotions to take over and reacting in anger or frustration, we want to clearly point out how our child has misbehaved. We must explain what the Bible says about proper behavior, consequences, and forgiveness. This is a critical time to hug and pray with our children. Finally, we must be sure the punishment fits the crime. Are we upset at our child because his behavior was wrong or because it embarrassed us in front of our peers? I have seen parents horrified at their child because they bit another child in Sunday school. While it is wrong to bite other kids, in some cases, the parents were more embarrassed by how that made them look, than at the infraction of their toddler. I have even known parents to stop coming to church because of the embarrassment. Keep in mind, your child’s behavior is not always a representation of your parenting. After all, God’s kids ate the forbidden fruit. Don’t discipline out of embarrassment, but discipline with kindness and affection, for the infraction that has been committed.

Pastor Jim