Run To Win! The Lifelong Pursuits of a Godly Man

Every four years another Olympics begins and the whole world becomes obsessed with activities they haven’t thought about since the last games. Suddenly we find ourselves waking up early and staying up late to watch athletes pole vault and throw javelins and dive into pools. We can’t help but cheer as we watch little-known sports like field hockey and handball and water polo. What is it that compels us to watch these strange events and to cheer for people we don’t even know?

We watch the Olympics because we want to see the best of the best. Athletes do not get to the Olympics on the basis of natural talent or wishing upon a star. They do not earn the opportunity to represent their countries through parental privilege or dumb luck. They get to the Olympics by hard work, by committing their whole lives to the pursuit of their sport. They have a body that is very much like ours—the same 650 muscles, the same 206 bones, the same two feet—yet they can do things with their bodies that we can only dream of. We may not know much about high jump, but we do know that we are watching something that required thousands of hours of training. We may not know a tuck from a handspring, but we do know that it took years of painful labor to perform such an acrobatic move. They have become the best in the world because of their total devotion to their sport, because of their grueling training, because of their rigid self-discipline.

The Race

Read more: https://www.challies.com/articles/run-to-win-the-lifelong-pursuits-of-a-godly-man

Why I Am Not Atheist

https://www.challies.com/articles/why-i-am-not-atheist

The Whole Christian Life Every Sunday

~ Tim challies

A well-planned worship service is a tremendous blessing to those who participate in it. A well-planned service is not necessarily one in which the projector never flickers and the microphones never buzz, or one in which the transitions are smooth and the sermon doesn’t go long. Rather, a well-planned service is one whose elements have been carefully planned to fulfill God’s purposes for the public gatherings of his church.

How, then, do we plan our services? What elements should a service have? There are many ways to answer the question, but at minimum, the service needs to have singing, praying, Scripture-reading, and preaching. On a regular basis, if not every week, it should also have the Lord’s Supper. Each of these elements is demanded or displayed in the New Testament.

But I want to look at it from another angle that I believe can be helpful in planning our services. It’s unfortunate but realistic to assume that many people come to church on Sunday having given little thought to their faith the previous week. Many people worship on Sunday, then get busy living their lives and neglect the disciplines of the Christian life. They mean to pray, but don’t discipline themselves to actually pray; they intend to read the Bible, but allow laziness or the tyranny of the urgent to keep them away. Then a new Sunday approaches and they come to church feeling weak and needy and probably a little bit guilty.

Such people are genuine believers, but immature ones or ones who are going through those tough periods of spiritual stagnation. Perhaps they are in a difficult time in life or are deeply grieving. And in their apathy or their torment they ease off in their pursuit of the Lord, they falter in their Christian walk.

How can we best serve these people? We can best serve them by giving them the whole Christian life on a Sunday morning. We can give them the whole Christian life in miniature.

  • We can provide a call to worship in which we express the joy of worshipping the Lord;
  • we can provide a time of confession in which we privately and corporately confess that we have sinned against God;
  • we can provide a time of assurance of pardon in which we receive God’s guarantee that he has forgiven us;
  • we can provide a time of prayer in which we seek God’s favor and plead for his grace;
  • we can provide a time of Scripture reading in which we hear God speak through his Word;
  • we can provide a time of preaching in which we are taught from the Bible;
  • we can provide an opportunity to give financial gifts and in that way express generosity and experience the joy of giving;
  • we can provide times of singing in which we rejoice together as we offer praise to God;
  • we can provide the Lord’s Supper so we can solemnly celebrate together and be reminded of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf;
  • we can provide a benediction in which we are assured that God loves us and will be with us;
  • we can provide a time of fellowship in which we have the opportunity to minister the Word to one another and to be ministered to by others.

In this brief service, we have the whole Christian life neatly summed up. And as we progress through such a service, we trust that the downcast are lifted up and encouraged, that the apathetic are stirred and challenged, that the weary are fed and revived. We trust that they can take what they have experienced on Sunday morning and imitate it through the week as they live the Christian life—they, too, can pray and read and learn and sing and serve. On Sunday we give believers what they need not just on Sunday but on every other day as well. In this way our services are the training ground, the place where believers are equipped to live the Christian life every day.

Comment at: https://www.challies.com/articles/the-whole-christian-life-every-sunday

4 Methods To Organize Your Prayer Life

https://www.challies.com/articles/4-methods-to-organize-your-prayer-life

The Worst Consequence of Skipping Church

~ Tim Challies

We are a culture of convenience, of personalization, of individualism. We have a million ways of customizing our lives to perfectly suit our every preference. When things are difficult, we think little of pulling away from responsibilities, of reorienting our lives away from whatever causes inconvenience. This can even extend to something as good and as central as our commitment to the local church.

All of us who are involved in local churches have seen people waver and wander in their commitment. Most of us have had to extend the call to someone, to urge them back to participation, back to the worship services. When we do this, we often turn to our go-to text, Hebrews 10:24-25, to warn of the danger of “neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some…” We insist that those who neglect to participate in the local church will encounter spiritual temptation, spiritual decline, and even spiritual death. And while all of this is true, it is not the emphasis of that passage. In fact, when we use the passage in this way, we are not displaying the divine urgency behind the text, but our own deep-rooted individualism.

Here is what Hebrews 10:24-25 says: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” This passage does, indeed, warn of the serious consequences of skipping church, but its focus is not what we might expect through our Western, individualized eyes. This passage does not warn us that when we skip church we put ourselves at risk. Rather, it warns us that when we skip church we put other people at risk. The first sin of skipping church is the sin of failing to love others.

Gathering with God’s people is not first about being blessed but about being a blessing. It’s not first about getting but about giving. As we prepare to worship on Sunday morning, our first consideration should be “how to stir up one another to love and good works.” We should approach Sunday deliberately, eager to do good to others, to be a blessing to them. In those times we feel our zeal waning, when we feel the temptation to skip out on a Sunday or withdraw altogether, we should consider our God-given responsibility to encourage “one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” This text is not about us, but about them. This text is not for Christian individuals but Christian communities.

And, of course, our commitment to the local church is far more than a commitment to Sunday morning services. It is a commitment to other people through all of life. It is a commitment to worship with them once or twice a week, then to fellowship with them, to serve them, and to pray for them all throughout the week. It is to bind ourselves together in a covenant in which we promise to do good to them, to make them the special object of our attention and encouragement. It is to promise that we will identify and deploy our spiritual gifts for their benefit so we can serve them, strengthen them, and bless them.

Every Christian has a place within a local church. Every Christian is needed within a local church. Every Christian has responsibilities within a local church. Every Christian is to commit to the members of a local church and to love them, to encourage them, and to stir them up in zeal until the day of Christ’s return.

Rule #7: Fellowship with Godly People (8 Rules for Growing in Godliness)

https://www.challies.com/articles/fellowship-with-godly-people?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_campaign=0&utm_content=5575

Rule #6: Redeem Your Time (8 Rules for Growing in Godliness)

https://www.challies.com/articles/rule-6-redeem-your-time-8-rules-for-growing-in-godliness