Archives For Discipleship

The Power of a Name

May 7, 2013 — 1 Comment

garrick-name-tagNames are an important part of life. Names are foundational to our identity – whether for individuals, businesses, churches, or other organizations. We love to hear and see our name – whether it’s on a school honor roll, in the newspaper, on a hand-addressed envelope, the side of a building, or somewhere else – (well, maybe not the police docket or detention list). If you’re anything like me, you love to see it spelled correctly.

More than that though, we love to HEAR our name. I struggle to remember names. I always remember faces, but names are a lot harder. I’m embarrassed to say that I still don’t know all the names of the people at my church, but I try hard to call people by name whenever possible because that communicates care and affection.

Schoolteachers will tell you that they always learn the names of the misbehaved kids first, so there are obviously exceptions to this rule . . . but I’d say they’re few and far between.

Let’s look at four key facts regarding names: Continue Reading…

Starting Over Again

May 9, 2011 — 1 Comment

I must confess that my wife and I have looked at many houses during our time together. Both of us enjoy walking through houses and getting a feel for the layout, the time period of construction, and if possible, a peak into the kind of life the previous occupants may have lived.

Michelle really enjoys watching almost anything on HGTV. She has a love for houses — and a keen eye for interior design. Every now and then we encounter a house that has a history. An obviously bad history. Sometimes the damage seems only slight — perhaps needing fresh paint, new carpet, or just a deep cleaning. Other times the damage is absolutely overwhelming. We’ve seen homes with faulty plumbing (and subsequent water damage), buckled floors, trashed walls, broken windows — and that’s just in the first half of the house.

Sometimes the problems are due entirely to neglect. In others, a very different story is told. In one particular case, it was clear that the previous occupants had lived together during a nasty divorce. If walls could talk . . . well, the holes in them did.

The question for the prospective buyer is a big one indeed: Where in the world does one begin to repair the damage? The options are seemingly endless, and the amount of time and money required are hard to conceive.

The same is true for ourselves — on a spiritual level. There are times when we get off track. The slide begins with a lack of attention to daily time with God (usually paired with a rationalization of recurring sin), and it proceeds to sporadic church attendance and almost non-existent personal worship. One day we wake up and realize that we are completely disconnected from the community of faithful believers that once was so vital to spiritual health and growth. A similar question begins to emerge: How does one begin to repair the damage?

The answer is perhaps not as hard as you might think. I suggest a four-step approach:

  1. Be honest with yourself — and with God. Take some time to think through the reasons for your getting out of sync spiritually. Incidentally, this may require a serious evaluation of your true spiritual condition. If you’re trying to be a ‘good Christian’ in your own power, then you’re way off base. Remember, we’re saved by faith alone — but our actions bear witness to His transforming work in us.
  2. Commit to begin again. Everybody needs a fresh start every now and then. Fortunately, the Lord’s mercies are new each morning. He constantly pursues a love relationship with us, and He will gladly help you as you re-engage by doing the things you know you should be doing. Identifying past barriers and obstacles to your spiritual growth can help prevent another such slide.
  3. Find someone to help you. I absolutely can’t emphasize this one strongly enough. While your relationship with Christ is a personal thing, you need to realize the necessity of having others to help you. I encourage you to find a couple of solid Christian friends (same-sex, if you’re married) to hold you accountable, particularly in the areas where you’re prone to struggle most. And by all means, make sure you’re involved in a Bible study class or small group that provides an opportunity for fellowship with other believers.
  4. Follow through. Realize that nothing you think about doing will be helpful until you actually do it. So many times it’s easy to identify trouble spots — even obvious solutions — and then get distracted by something else. And to be quite frank, Satan is counting on you not following through — or being sidetracked by things of the world. The reality is that only you can decide whether your relationship with Christ is really priority in your life. I happen to believe the old saying is still true: “Jesus has no place in your life unless He has first place in your life.”

What are some other things that help you get back on track when you falter in your spiritual life?