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101 Class Audio

Baptism 101

Communion 101

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church

Growth Spiral 101 - How we grow

Spiritual Formation 101 - Seeds of Growth

Seven Virtues

Sins and Virtues

Lust   -   Chastity

Gluttony   -   Temperance

Greed   -   Charity

Sloth   -   Diligence

Wrath   -   Patience

Envy   -   Gratitude

Pride   -   Humility

Defining a Virtue

If a vice, or sin, is a deviation, defect or excess of a rightly ordered thing, than a virtue is the perfected rightly ordered action in response to each condition of our lives. For example, if someone were in need, the vice would be greed, but the virtue would be charity. Virtue is the habitual outpouring of an internal nature which has a tendency to do good.  Virtues are practiced until they become rooted in one's soul. Although they do not guarantee sinless perfection, they become a part of our new nature which inclines us toward that good. They are not simply what we do, but who we are.

These virtues are practices that are not only rightly ordered actions, but also are defenses against the vices.  Whether we are creating a bulwark against the sins or we are exercising our morality to break habitual vices, these virtues are a valuable discipline to add to our faith.

Imagine a stick that's warped, bent askew as a result of habitual vice. It leans toward being disposed to deviance. This stick can't be straightened except that it's bent in an opposing direction, righting the wrong bias.  These virtues are equivalent to bending the stick backwards against the tendency to commit sin.

Chastity Opposes Lust

Chastity is the wisdom to recognize our lust as degrading the union of husband and wife to cheap self-gratification and degradation of the object of our lust as nothing more than something created to be used and not loved. Chastity remains pure. Acts of chastity protect ourselves and others from the disrespect of lust.

Temperance Opposes Gluttony

Temperance recognizes the need of self-control and identifies our abandonment in self-satisfaction. To temper our desires with calculation of our needs and also the needs of another we fight the bottomless belly that can never be satiated. Acts of temperance overcome gluttony.

Charity Opposes Greed

Charity desires the good of another and halts the ability of greed to grow. Because one cannot serve God and money, one can also not dedicate themselves to personal gain at the same time as making effort to give goodwill to others. Love is not an emotion but action. Acts of charity deny greed its power.

Diligence Opposes Sloth

Diligence is sustained effort against the careless apathy of slothfulness. Diligence works not on motivation but on values. It labors because labor is good regardless of circumstantial emotions. Sloth has only the value of self whether expressed in self-sorrow or self-pleasure. Acts of diligence bring profit where sloth stalls.

Patience Opposes Wrath

Patience is temperance in dealing with the ignorance or faults of others and is the self control needed in times of trial. Patience gives the opportunity for repairing relationships and for our own self control. It refuses to punish or lash out. It recognizes failure without need for vengance. Acts of patience prevent permanent damage done by condemning wrath.

Gratitude Opposes Envy

Gratitude is the recognition and thankfulness for all things in one's life. Gratitude knows that ones own self is not the source of life or its gifts. It is tied closely to humility. Gratitude can give thanks for circumstances because it knows that all things work together for good and can be redeemed. Acts of Gratitude block strife caused by envy.

Humility Opposes Pride

Humility is the realization of ones estate in life as both created in the image of God and also created to serve one another.  Humility does not self-despise or deny truth. Rather, it refuses to exalt oneself over another or above God's will. It receives correction and sees beyond it's own will. Acts of Humility prevent break in community with God and man because of pride.

To be able to gain the virtues listed above, we must practice the spiritual disciplines that equip us in these virtues.

Comment

My ID Purpose Statement

In the spirit of Romans 12:1-2...

[1] I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
— Romans 12:1-2

And in obedience to the command of Christ in Matthew 28:18-20...

[18] And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
— Matthew 28:18-20

We strive toward our own Spiritual Formation...

  • In Christ
  • By His Spirit
  • Within Community
  • According to the Scriptures
  • In Order to Love God and Others

Comment

Seven Spiritual Acts of Mercy

Mercy means to enter into another's suffering. It comes from the same word that's translated as wretched. Through mercy, we enter into someone's wretchedness, we have pity on them, we have compassion and pity for them.

These acts of mercy do not impact the corporal (bodily or material) needs, but are actually a higher order taking affect in someone's wellbeing, spiritual development, emotional health and community belonging.

These acts tear down walls between us, allowing another person who is either less mature, who has stumbled or who is desiring to develop, to have full access to us as a community and to not be roadblocked by rejection or dislike.

Combined, these seven acts represent a full spectrum of emotional and developmental helps needed by those on the journey to full spiritual understanding . Examine yourself to determine if you are fully engaging in these acts of love.

Seven spiritual acts of mercy

Counseling the doubtful

Instructing the ignorant

Admonishing the sinner

Comforting the sorrowful

Forgiving injuries

Bearing wrongs patiently

Praying for the body

Seven Corporal Acts of Mercy

Mercy means to enter into another's suffering. It comes from the same word that's translated as wretched. Through mercy, we enter into someone's wretchedness, we have pity on them, we have compassion and pity for them.

Jesus was not only a wise teacher, bring us to our full humanity, he was also our brother. He cared for the bodily needs of his neighbors. While we can teach our doctrine faithfully, we must also be sure to supply was is necessary to our fellow man.

Combined, these seven acts represent every physical need and human dignity that someone deserves filled. Examine yourself to determine if you are fully engaging in these acts of love.

Seven corporal acts of mercy

Feed the hungry

Give drink to the thirsty

Shelter the homeless

Visit the sick

Visit the prisoners

Bury the dead

Give alms to the poor

My Five Relationships

The following exercise is meant for any disciple or discipler to rehearse with one another, sincerely pondering the questions included in order to examine one's own level of interaction within the growth spiral process. This does not measure a person's development. This practice only encourages full participation in the structure of discipleship through the method of the 5 relationships outlined in scripture.  It invites the disciple to deeper engagement, which, through the Spirit's guidance will take us through the ever expanding spiral to maturity.

 

Believing that through his resurrection, Jesus Christ has become Lord over all creation...

And recognizing that he is making all things new...

Because he has commanded us to enter his family through baptism, becoming students who practice all things he taught...

We find these 5 relationships in his church to grow us, unify us and perpetuate his new creation.

 


Question 1:

Am I faithfully worshipping by raising my heart and mind to God each week with his church?


Question 2:

Have I enrolled and am actively learning in a formal education class?

 


Question 3:

Have I joined a small group community to rehearse and practice my faith intentionally?

 


Question 4:

How am I Developing my prayer habits and discovering my individual talents, gifts and passions?

 


Question 5:

Where am I using good works to build for the kingdom?

The Beatitudes

What they are not...

  • Commands - things we can do

  • Gifts - divine assistance for commands

  • Promises - guaranteed results

  • Virtues - faith hope and charity. Outpourings of our good habits

  • Ordinances - grace filled baptism and communion

  • Fruits - creations of union with the spirit

All of these are actions and helps in the kingdom mind and work. We do them because we are something. We are settled in some mindset. Settled and happy. Happy in something. Blessed. The fruit of the Spirit may be love, but the fruit of the Beatitude is happiness.  Divine supreme happiness.

Therefore, if you see these signs, you can know you have it - God’s happiness.

A blessing can't be obeyed. A blessing is a reminder of the outcome of obedience in other areas. If we obey the sermon on the Mount, the blessings in his prelude will be fulfilled. We need the Spirit to reveal these truths to us, so that, being part of who we are, they drive us to the obedience found later in the sermon.

We don’t ask if we are happy. We ask if we are merciful because if we are merciful, we know we are truly happy. Happiness is deceiving. Is it real or faux? You may not know until you find if these are who you are. If no, you must repent and believe and rest in them.  Say, yes, Lord, be it unto me according to your word.

God teach me your law, give me your fruit, fill me with virtue, gift me with abilities, practice with me your ordinances…

Then I will be merciful, hungry, meek, poor in spirit - and then I will know that I am happiest in you.

They are…

  • Blessings

    • Sayings of praise

    • Desire of goodwill

    • Invitation to a truth

  • Awakens the hearer to a truth

  • Commits the blesser to action

  • Unifies the body

Examples

  • Old testament family blessings

  • The Torah blessing or a curse

  • Abraham's promise for those who will bless or curse him

  • David's Psalms of blessing

  • Jesus blesses people and children

  • Paul’s benedictions “may the god of Peace” etc

We have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. -Ephesians

The meaning of a blessing or benediction is the offer or desire of goodwill for someone's ultimate happiness. The Father knows that we can be (and he desires us to be) supremely happy. That comes through existing in a state of adherence to these beatitudes. Those that live in this plane of existence and understanding will be able to see clearly the world and how it works and will achieve happiness.

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Three Spiritual Disciplines

Spiritual Disciplines are exercises intended to train our spiritual selves, fight temptation, properly live out the 4 desires, and create habits that will break strongholds that the deviations of the 7 sins manifest.  Spiritual disciplines produce the seven virtues because they are prepatory in nature and allow us tangible practices that are tied to the source temptation or trigger that draws us, for example, to practice patience over wrath. The disciplines allow us to practice the virtues at times when the option to deviate is not present so that when the choice in the road comes, we have prepared our spirit.  This allows us to practice humility when we aren't faced with the temptation of pride. Or perhaps chasitity when we aren't tempted to lust. Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving are these disciplines.

Disciplines and their effects

When we practice the three disciplines, we are targeting three specific areas of our composition to withstand in times of trial.

  • Prayer is the discipline of the mind, heart and will.
  • Fasting is the discipline of the body.
  • Almsgiving is the discipline of the possessions or material world.

From St. Matthew's gospel we find the three disciplines as defined by Jesus saying, When you give, when you pray, when you fast.

Prayer and the mind

Prayer, although perfectly right to be done with others and publicly, is not an outward display; nor is it a performance review with God to earn His response. Prayer is a secret and internal conversation, spirit to Spirit, communing with God, gazing upon His perfection, allowing his gracious gaze back to us to transform us through the gifting of illumination, wisdom, truth, beauty and goodness. Prayer can not generate righteousness. Prayer is a Spirit drawn activity that receives of God. It does not specialize in moving God, but in God moving us to what he has already desired for us.

Because prayer reveals, it often reveals the heart of man to see the deviations of pride, gluttony, lust etc. Prayer also teaches us why we practice chastity, temperance, and patience.

Prayer resets out mind, asking for forgiveness, forgiving others, desiring the will of God as it is in heaven here on earth. A mind desiring the bread from God with more readily be prepared to resist the bread of Gluttony.

Fasting and the body

As with prayer, fasting is not an outward display to man or God. Rather, it is once again, internally focused, desiring to starve the body of its comforts, distractions, avoidances and false satisfactions.  More fasting does not receive greater reward from God. He will not grant more grace for those that fast three days than those that fasted one. Fasting is executed in relation to the need of the one fasting and the strength of physical deviation that needs to be starved.

Fasting is a breaker discipline. It cracks open strongholds by weakening their ability to blind us. Food, for example, has the power to satisfy us, hiding deeper hungers and needs that we have. Specific comfort foods distract us from how selfish we are, but losing them flames our irritations causing us to begin to choose. Will we remain in our selfish addiction, or has it held us long enough in faux happiness? Can we instead satisfy the needs of another.

Fasting breaks our will, starves habits, flushes out true emotions, demands non-stimulation based satisfaction. It will lead us to ultimate truth that is infinitely more satisfying.

Alms and the material world

Almsgiving has the duality of being commanded as another internal, non-public activity while at the same time being a gift to someone in need thereby making it non-private in nature.  There’s no necessity in being overly literal for any of these three. There is no blessing lost if someone finds out about a fast, or sees you pray. The issue is the heart and intention of the will. Alms takes away our ability to be selfish or self indulgent because it removes from us the means to do it. Alms can be any size but they are not meant to be out of our abundance. They should affect us. While they shouldn't leave our families in want, their presence should make a discernible mark in our own ability to gather, consume or hold on to.

Alms separate us from the material world. They do not tell us that the physical world is evil, as some religious thought would, but rather they show that the highest satisfaction is the usage of those materials for our collective good and for love. Money is a wonderful tool when used to exercise dominion over the world by ordering it and making life and love flourish. Alms teach us that.

Alms separate us from fear of loss and false security of hoarding. They reorder the material world into one of participation with its things and people, halting the consuming stockpiling mentality that divides people into classes of society with varying production values.

 

 

Seven Sins

Origins

Often referred to as the Seven Deadly sins (deadly because of their destructive nature), these seven sins are not articulated specifically in a single list in scripture. The list originated in the first few centuries of the Church's existence as a formal way to categorize the capital or chief sins found in scripture.  Theologians have explained that these seven are capital because all other deviations straying away from divine, natural or moral law stem in some way from these.

Literary works by Chaucer and Dante, along with the theologian Thomas Aquinas give us a better understanding of the meaningful affect of these sins.  

Characteristics and Opposing Virtues

Each of the sins are either deviations, excesses, or deficiencies of some rightly ordered thing created by God for men. They are often listed in ascending order leading up to pride, considered to be the parent of all other sins.

In opposition to these sins, the church has called for the practice of the Seven Lively Virtues to overcome the addiction to and the practice of these destructive habits.

To understand them best, we must also understand the object of their deviation. For example, sloth would be a deviation of mankind's duty to exercise dominion over the earth, caring for it by being industrious.

Sins and Virtues

Lust   -   Chastity

Gluttony   -   Temperance

Greed   -   Charity

Sloth   -   Diligence

Wrath   -   Patience

Envy   -   Gratitude

Pride   -   Humility

Defining Each of the Sins

Lust - Lust is inordinate desire that captures the soul.  Latin writers often used the word luxuria, or luxury, to describe lavish desires for sex, money, power or glory.  Lust is often the change from nature desire to uncontrollable coveting that degrades another person's rights, property or god-given status (i.e. as a spouse of another) into something used only as a means to satisfy ones own cravings. It is sinful, in sexual descriptions, because it reduces the love of a spouse down to the mechanical physical abilities that will satiate our own sexual desires. Answering a desire can lead us to a natural good. For example, hunger must be fed. Answering a lust always leads to sin which is a  destructive alteration of natural law.

Gluttony - Gluttony is the extravagant misuse of nourishment that encourages laziness, selfishness, prideful neglect of other people who may be in need. It also exhibits a lack of self-control, no discipline, and thereby an inability to be controlled by the Spirit of God. Gluttony encourages waste and a lack of wisdom in stewardship.  In some ways, gluttony can be more than overconsumption, but can also prioritizing your food intake over another, caring only for food or being too difficult to please by desiring only the finer things. Scripture defines this person as one whose god is his belly.

Greed - Greed moves beyond the desire that is lust of pleasure, indulging in one's own insatiable desire to accumulate material goods.  Greed, like gluttony, is a sin of excess. It's sin is ingratitude, covetiousness, and a lack of care for others. It does not allow one to focus on spiritual things because they are so consumed with earthly things.  One who is greedy can move beyond legitimate means of accumulation into sinful means by way of deceit, theft, fraud, taking advantage of the poor or uninformed and even violence.  Greed looks at all people as a means to one's own gain rather than a neighbor who ought to be respected.

Sloth - Sloth is the rejection of one's responsibilities to their own spiritual condition, the physical needs of others, the labor that is necessary to authorities or employers and a general carelessness toward the practice of good.  More than laziness, sloth is meant to describe the apathy toward spiritual concerns.  This includes not only spiritual disciplines necessary for our personal growth and formation but also the spiritual acts of mercy we are commanded to practice for the sake of our family in the church.  Sloth rejects the Holy Spirit because as He calls and gifts us to His work, we refuse to utilize those gifts for the benefit of the body. Slothfulness can be a sin of the mind as well, when we object to learning God's word.

Wrath - Wrath is an uncontrollable rage that is most usually associated with vengeance or retribution. Wrath is a violent anger that rejects forgiveness, temperance and self control. It causes us to seek out harm against those that may or may not have harmed us. Wrath is hatred, and in the words of both Jesus and St. James the Apostle, murder. It may extend to the degree of actual physical violence or murder. Wrath is an imbalance in desire to repay beyond justice to which a reasonable anger would lead someone. Because it extends beyond reason, it is opposed to mercy or charity. Wrath can also be an excess of righteous judgment when the person in power punishes an innocent with the guilty, or when a punishment is too harsh.

Envy - Envy is similar to jealously or greed in it's desire for what belongs to someone else, but it goes further in that it hates the success of another, desires to see failure in his neighbor, and rejoices in the misfortune of another.  Envy craves another persons success, talents and successes. It desires to have them, hating the person that does. The envious person hopes for the downfall of another, possibly intervening in their demise. Envy also results in unnecessary sadness that results in depression. An envious person can be internally focused on the sorrow they've manufactured over someone else's success.  This sin causes divisions that result in hatred.  It is often the cause of unhappiness.

Pride - Pride is the chief of all sins, illustrated best by the story of Lucifer.  In pride, we warp the image of God in us to raise ourselves up to a superior level, above others or even God.  Pride cares only for the wellbeing of one's own self. Pride has many tributaries that lead to all the other sins listed. It's focus is on the self. Concerns for one's own image, wealth, status, power, glory or pleasure.  Pride results in envy, greed, lust, among others. Pride loves the self. It cares only for the self. From the larger overt sins down to the daily minuscule selfish acts that we commit, pride is the source of them all.  Pridefulness also acquits us of the guilt of our own sin. It promises that we are above judgment; not being accountable to God as righteous judge because we esteem ourselves so highly. Pride can also result in racism, nationalism or other discriminations. It can excuse us from our duty to God who has commanded us to love our neighbors.

Continued in "7 Virtues"

 

Catechism Lesson 3 - The Fall of Man

Question 1: Did Adam and Eve stay in Paradise?

Answer: No, God drove them out of Paradise.

Question 2: Why were they driven from Paradise?

Answer: They disobeyed God.

Question 3: His did Adam and Eve disobey God?

Answer: They ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Question 4: Why was it wrong to eat of this tree?

Answer: Because God told them not to eat of it.

Question 5: Who tempted Eve to eat of that tree?

Answer: Satan, a wicked, fallen angel.

Question 6: How did Satan come to Eve?

Answer: He use the serpent to talk to Eve.

Question 7: Did Eve listen to Satan?

Answer: Yes, she ate of the tree and gave to Adam also.

Question 8: Did we also die in Adam?

Answer: Yes, we are all dead in sin.

Question 9: What did God promise?

Answer: A Savior, to save us from our sins.

Memory Verse: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Genesis 3:15

Catechism Lesson 2 - Adam in Paradise

Question 1: Who are our first parents?

Answer: Adam and Eve.

Question 2: From what was Adam taken?

Answer: From the dust of the Earth.

Question 3: How was Adam different from the animals?

Answer: God made Him in His own image.

Question 4: Where did Adam and Eve live?

Answer: In paradise, a beautiful garden.

Question 5: What special tree was in the garden?

Answer: The Tree of Life.

Question 6: From which tree might Adam and Eve not eat?

Answer: From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Question 7: What did Adam do in Paradise?

Answer: He took care of the garden as its king.

Question 8: How did he show that he was king?

Answer: He named the animals.

Question 9: Where Adam and Eve happy in paradise?

Answer: Yes, because the served God in love.

Question 10: Of what is Paradise a picture?

Answer: Of heaven, which is far more wonderful.

Memory Verse: "O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth." Psalm 8:9

Catechism Lesson 1 - Creation

Question 1: Who is your Creator?

Answer: God.

Question 2: How many Gods are there?

Answer: There is only one God.

Question 3: Did God Create all things?

Answer: Yes, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Question 4: What did God create on the first day?

Answer: The heaven and the earth, and also light.

Question 5: What did God create on the second day?

Answer: The firmament. (Sky, space)

Question 6: What did God create on the third day?

Answer: The dry land, the grass, the trees, and the flowers

Question 7: What did God make on the fourth day?

Answer: The sun, the moon, and the stars

Question 8: What did God form on the fifth and sixth days?

Answer: The fish and the birds, the animals and man.

Question 9: What did God do on the seventh day?

Answer: God rested, and gave us our Sabbath.

Question 10: How do we know about this creation?

Answer: God tells us about it in His word, the bible.

Memory Verse: "And God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good." Genesis 1:31

 

Comment

Conversion, Baptism, Membership, Communion

For those who have moved, or are moving, from skeptic, pagan or unbeliever to a disciple of Jesus Christ, four characteristics are present.

Conversion

Also referred to as salvation, justification, being born again, or simply believing, conversion is the transition of the individual who has heard the gospel of Christ, been moved to understanding, repents and is spiritually awakened and reborn by the Spirit of God into the Kingdom of Christ so that they might conform to His image and will.

Baptism

Baptism is initiation into the family of God for one who has been converted. This washing signifies multiple new statuses as a believer.

  • Our sin and our former desires have been washed away
  • We have left the kingdom of darkness to enter the true kingdom of light
  • We have died with Christ to the old way of thinking in order to rise with him in the new
  • Though we will die, we will also be physically raised with Him
  • We are joined to Christ and his body
  • We are submerged in the Spirit of God
  • We have passed through judgment and are now justified and forgiven

Membership

All who enter into the body of Christ through baptism, are joined not only with Him but also with all others that have also joined together with him. Collectively, this church, or assembly, is the the universal body, the temple, where Christ continues His work throughout all the world.

Traditionally, members of that body covenant together in local areas for the purpose of accountability and edification of each other.

Communion

Also referred to as The Lord's Supper, the meal (along with baptism) is one of two ordained practices that Jesus Himself has commanded us to continue. As He broke bread and gave wine the night He was sentenced to death, we are commanded with the church to commune with Christ physically and spiritual by the replication of this meal.

Communion has two elements:

  • Bread - the body of our Lord, humble, broken, not fermented, free from corruption
  • Wine - the blood of our Lord, covenantal, lavish and rich, cleansing

Communion has multiple realities:

Unites us in love with Christ

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
— I Corinthians 10:16

Unites us in love with our brothers and sisters

Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
— I Corinthians 10:17

Spiritually refreshes and recommits us to the New Covenant

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
— I Corinthians 11:25

Recalls our hope in the resurrection

Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
— John 6:54

Comment

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4 Desires of Mankind

Because humans were made in the image of God (imago dei), they reflect their Creator with the same characteristics, four of which are the desires God has to give and to receive.

  • Glory
  • Honor
  • Power
  • Pleasure
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
— Revelation 4:11

Glory

Glory is the celebration of ones qualities, character, person, deeds. It is the centerpiece, the spotlight on whatever is good and weighty and valuable.

To seek to glorify God and to have ones glory found in God is right and good.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
— Galatians 6:14

To seek to receive glory from man is to be prideful and to steal glory away from God.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
— Philippians 2:3

Honor

Honor is the rightful giving of due respect, title, position or adulation to one on whom glory rests. This respect recognizes human dignity in our neighbor as well as our own selves.

It is right to give honor to God, to those in authority and to those to whom is is due. This is humble and orderly to God.  It is also just to seek honor from God, who bestows it upon those who place themselves in a position of service to Christ.

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
— Romans 12:10 / 13:7

It is unrighteous to seek honor at the expense of our fellow man, to lower him so that we may rise, to sacrifice service for praise.

46 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 47 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
— Luke 20:46-47

Power

Power is authority, dominion, influence, right and strength.

It is just to ascribe all power to Christ. He alone has authority among men. All other power is derived from His. It is right also to desire dominion over ones own sin, the strength to overcome temptation and the rights of the oppressed.

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
— 2 Corinthians 10:4

It is unjust to seek power over others to oppress them or steal from them. It is sin to resist the authority of the Holy Spirit. It is pride to seek authority for ones own glory rather than for service.

But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?
— James 2:6

Pleasure

Pleasure is the sincere enjoyment of the created world and of God.

It is honorable to seek enjoyment at the hand of God, in sexual relations as He has intended, in food and drink, in nature and in beauty.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
— Psalm 16:11

It is dishonorable to take pleasure in sin, in adultery and drunkeness and in the misfortunes of our neighbors as well as the sinfulness of others.

2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
— 2 Timothy 3:2-5

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Comment

3 Temptations

Temptation

Temptation is the arousal toward a sin through the promise of some pleasure or product.

Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

1 Corinthians 10: 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
— New Testament

3 Temptations

Hedonism

Also referred to as "the lust of the flesh", hedonism is all temptation that is concerned with our feelings of pleasure. Whether in body or mind, hedonism calls us to do that which most pleases us or satisfies us, separating us from doing the will of God which is deferring to the well being of another.

It is the opposite of love, ethical treatment of others, purity, mercy, suffering, fortitude and courage. It is the sin of the heart.

Egoism

Also known as "the pride of life", egoism tempts us to abandon obedience in search of personal might and success with no regard for God's kingdom or man's needs.

It is the opposite of faith, truth, obedience, humbleness, service, prudence and caution.  It is the sin of the mind.

Materialism

Also referred to as "the lust of the eyes", materialism is the desire for wealth, money and status that rejects the need for God or the giving away of ones self. It never rests in Christ because it is insatiable in it's desire for more.

It is the opposite of hope, beauty, poverty, sufficiency, giving, temperance and self-control. It is the sin of the soul.

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Hourly Prayer

Morning Prayer

6:00 AM or first prayer upon awakening


Mid-Morning Prayer

9:00 AM


Midday Prayer

Noon


Afternoon Prayer

3:00 PM


Evening Prayer

6:00 PM or after the workday has ended


Night Prayer

9:00 PM or at the conclusion of the before bed


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Daily Prayer

Morning Prayer

Opening Prayer

O God, come to our aid. O Lord, make haste to help us. Glory to you Father, Glory to you Lord Jesus Christ, Glory to you Holy Spirit now and forever.

Psalm

Choose one or more to read...

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Concluding Prayer

Lord God,
who entrusted the earth to men to till it and care for it,
and made the sun to serve their needs:
give us grace this day to work faithfully for your glory
and for our neighbours’ good.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Evening Prayer

Opening Prayer

O God, come to our aid.
O Lord, make haste to help us.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen. Alleluia.

Psalm

Choose one or more to read...

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Concluding Prayer

Listen favourably to our evening prayer, Lord,
and grant that as we follow your Son’s example
we may, by perseverance, yield a harvest of good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.
The Lord bless us, and keep us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.
Amen.

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Daily Examination of Conscience

The Purpose

The Daily Examen is a time at the conclusion of our day when we invite the Spirit of God to reflect with us on the previous 12-16 hours to see where we obeyed him, rejected him, bent our will to his or stubbornly continued in our own fallen and destructive tendencies. Have we thrived in love or have we collapsed in our own selves feeding our lust and pride and desires? Jesus calls us to commune with him, allowing him to cleanse us of unrighteousness and continue to make us born again.

Preparing Your Heart

  1. Go someplace alone. This is time to speak quietly and sincerely with the Holy Spirit. Other people will make this difficult if you are available to them.
  2. Slow down and pause before you start. The brain takes a moment to wind down and focus.  You could listen to a song or two if you're fidgety or anxious. Don't pray immediately.  Use the "selah" moment to slow and purposefully begin to contemplate.
  3. There is no minimum or maximum in this prayer. This doesn't need to be 5 minutes or 5 hours. Whenever you have dealt with God and are confident you have communed with Him, you will know your time is complete.
  4. Do not prepare a long prayer or list.  This is a time to ask the Spirit and allow him to draw the mind to times and events in your day. Be the hearer more than the speaker.
  5. Invite the Lord to speak to you. Ask his Spirit to convict you and remind you. He will bring all things to remembrance.
  6. Remember that the voice of the Lord is loving and desires to purify you rather than condemn you. Listen to the voice you hear as you contemplate. If it's angry and oppressive, it is not the voice of the Lord.  If it encourages you and you experience joy in having the sin purged, that is the voice of the Lord.
  7. Begin to ponder questions below. As the Lord speaks follow whatever time and path he takes you on.
  8. Confess what you see and be forgiven. Be willing to be open and honest. Follow the events of the day back to those places where you find the source of your straying. God desires to make you new if you are humble.

The Examination

Based on The Ten Commandments

My Relationship with God

  1. I am the Lord your God...You shall have no other gods before me
    • How have I treated/respected the image of God in myself and in others?
    • Where have I denied my obligations as the image bearer in God's creation?
  2. You shall not make for yourselves any carved images...or serve them
    • Is there any image I've used to define God that differs from the God Jesus shows us?
    • What image of a god have I exalted to the level of the God I know from scripture?
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
    • Have I misrepresented God in my words or actions?
    • Have I wasted my position in Christ through ignoring his commands?
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy
    • Have I participated in Sunday Worship with the body of Christ?
    • Have I submitted to being a student today?
    • Have I joined myself to others in my Christian community for growth and support?
    • Have I practiced the work of the Kingdom today in someone's life?

My Relationship with Others

  1. Honor your father and your mother
    • Do I show respect to my parents as it reflects my submission to Christ and the Father?
  2. You shall not murder
    • Have I physically or verbally accused, attacked, offended someone?
    • Do I have any outstanding grudges I refuse to forgive?
    • Is there any hatred for a brother or an enemy that I hold in my heart?
  3. You shall not commit adultery
    • Have I entered into an emotional or physical relationship outside of my own marriage or with another's spouse?
    • Do I allow myself to lust after someone that is not my spouse?
  4. You shall not steal
    • Have I deliberately deceived someone to gain from them what is not mine?
    • Have I taken where I should have been giving?
    • Did my greed control any of my decisions?
  5. You shall not bear false witness
    • Where have I defrauded or slandered another person with my words?
    • Have I given my word deceitfully in order to save face or better my own position
  6. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods
    • Have I begun to look on anything that belongs to another with greed rather than joy in that person's blessings?
    • Have I become discontent and unthankful because of another's success?
    • Do I desire the misfortune of another because of my own pride?

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What is the Growth Spiral

The Growth Spiral is the method of growth that a disciple of Jesus takes, beginning at conversion and moving through the expansion of knowledge and practice of all things that He taught us.

The Announcement

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Jesus' announcement that the Kingdom of God had burst onto earth, not in places of conventional wisdom like governments, militaries or in circles of people of high social status. Rather, the Kingdom of God, the reign of God restoring justice, equality and good, had begun in the hearts of men and women through the teachings of Christ.

(Read "What is the Gospel?")

This announcement was realized by the early hearers and became a disruptive, creative and transformative message that grew from the bottom up; the weak and poor and needy along with the willing, the hungry and the obedient bound together as a single entity and became salt and light in a world of brokenness, oppression, violence and death.

The Commission

Christ's final and great assignment was what we know as "The Great Commission". To His disciples then and now, Jesus said,

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

In today's vernacular, He told us what to do with this announcement of the Kingdom, this Gospel.

Go into all the world...

  • Initiate men and woman into the family of God and the Church through Baptism
  • Instruct them to become students of His teachings
  • Practice all the things he taught us

The Growth Spiral

Being baptized, we move to becoming a student, or a disciple in Christ's words.

The Movements

Anything that has no movement eventually stagnates. Jesus' teaching was always full of invitations.  If we are to have a successful doctrine, practice, program and outcome, we must continually be inviting ourselves into cultivating that teaching of Christ in order to further deepen and strengthen our maturity and actions.

  • Come and See - The call to consider
  • Come and Think - The call to contemplate
  • Come and Be Changed - The call to transformation

Let's Get Practical:

What will this look like? This needs to be our filter for everything. From sermons to lessons to bible studies to activities to prayer meetings to personal development to one on one discipleship, everything goes through these invitations. What are you inviting yourself/your disciple to today?

The Seed

The Seed is that basic knowledge of Christ's teaching around which we call ourselves to invitation. The early church was able to make disciples in short periods of time because they didn't learn in a linear fashion. They learned at once at the beginning the essential spiritual DNA that would slowly expand over time into a deep and mature understanding.

Let's Get Practical:

We will endeavor to provide that spiritual DNA from the onset of a disciple's journey. This will look like.

  • 101 Classes
    • Baptism and Communion Orientation
    • Introduction to Membership
    • Discipleship Objectives
    • Principles of Church Structure

The Path

The Path is the program that the church organizes so that those who are being invited to consider some portion of the seed of their faith have an outlet through which they can practice it and master it.

Let's Get Practical:

We see a simple structure of 5 relationships that the church had with each other in the New Testament.  With each person involved in each relationship, the seed of God's word was able to take root and expand rapidly and deeply within the disciples. Here we define them...

  1. Worship Service
  2. Formal Education
    1. 101 Classes
    2. Children and Adult Catechism
    3. Cyclical Classes
  3. Weekly community life and practice (small groups & prayer groups)
    1. Personal Individual Development Program
    2. Corporate Prayer Meetings
  4. Advanced Discipleship Training
    1. Elders
    2. Deacons
    3. Teachers
    4. Extended Theology Pursuits
  5. Outreach Partnerships

(Read "The Five Relationships" for even more understanding about each relationship)

 

The Fruit

The Fruit is the end or the expectation of spiritual maturity. Christ, Paul, Peter, John and others who wrote the New Testament never wonder where they were going in their faith journey. Scripture is clear where we should be maturing, what should be added to our character, how we should be experiencing God and who we are in Christ as His body.

Let's Get Practical:

We don't passively journey through Christianity, but actively practice our faith toward a specific end. The New Testament lays out clearly some of the objectives of our spiritual growth.

  • Spiritual Disciplines
  • Fruit of the Spirit
  • Gifts of the Spirit
  • Four Temptations
  • Seven Sins and Seven Virtues
  • The Great Commandment
  • Spiritual Maturity and Discernment
  • Beatitudes
  • Daily Examination

(Connect to your own personal IDP to review more)

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