Archive for September, 2016

But How to be Godly?

A friend recently told me that what he needed to know was not what to do to live a godly life, but how. He knew that he needed to love well, trust in God, and follow his leading. But how?

For example, he knew he needed to do what the Bible said. But that was not enough. He had concluded that his human fortitude was not going to keep him from worrying, acting lazy, and overeating. He needed to know how to tap into the supernatural to do what the Bible said.

But how?

Why Is Knowing the How Important?

Without knowing how we can’t obey. We may have good intentions, but that’s not good enough.

Knowing how to love well is just as important as knowing that we need to love well. What good does it do us to know that we need to love God and others well, but don’t know how or what it looks like?

Learning the How

We are able to know and do the how as we operate in God’s wisdom. Using God’s wisdom is how to live the Bible. We need to pray for this wisdom and he promises to shower us with it (James 1:5).

For example, many of know that God wants us to love our wives. But how? In my case, every day I ask God for his power and wisdom to love Adele in the practical details of life. Today, I included a trip to the ice cream parlor to cap off a date with her because I knew she liked ice cream. I believe that this idea came from God in answer to my prayer for wisdom to treat her with dignity and respect.

Another way we learn the how is to be mentored by someone who is doing the how. These mentors not only know truth but have applied it to the details of everyday life. Jesus taught his disciples the how largely by living with them. They got more than a sermon from Jesus. They got his deep beliefs, values and motives as he lived with them 24/7.

Another way to know the how is for us to not accept lazy sermons. These sermons stay parked on what a passage teaches, rather than also delving into the painful process of how to live it. Sadly, I think one reason we don’t get more of the how in sermons is that the pastors are not living more of the truth they teach.

In addition, we need to cultivate the habit of responding to the truth that we learn. We all have the tendency to be hearers but not doers. Just taking one simple step to obey what we have learned can help us learn the how. We begin with one small step and grow from that.

Another way we learn about the how is by reading biographies of godly men. I remember reading about the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, to learn about his secrets about how to pray. His example taught me a lot about how to be a godly man.

A final suggestion about how to learn the how is to simply try. For example, we learn to be a leader by leading. We learn to love our wives as we join forces with Jesus and love with the wisdom and power that he gives.

May we not be deceived by just knowing what we are supposed to do and think that is good enough. Without learning how to depend on God to do what we are supposed to do, we fail to be transformed. May we learn the how and grow to spiritual maturity.







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A Rule of Life

We all have a Rule of Life whether we realize it or not. This Rule is simply what we do to cooperate with God in developing an intimate love relationship with him. Every church and every Christian has one, even if it is unconscious.

We can view a Rule as a flower trellis. As the trellis lifts the flowers and helps them to grow properly, so a Rule helps lift us up to receive from God all that he has for us in our relationship with him.

Our Rule may be as simple as going to church once a week. Or it may involve a variety of activities such as meditation on the Bible, prayer, and belonging to a small group.

We are all different and our Rule needs to reflect the activities that help us to get to know the Lord the best, considering our maturity, personality, and issues. This will require a lot of trial and error.

Why We Need a Rule

We need a Rule because God requires us to participate in our own spiritual growth and transformation. Becoming more like Jesus in our hearts doesn’t just happen as we study the Bible and do ministry. We need to be led by him into what we need to do. Also, one set of activities that worked in one season of our lives, may not work as well in another.

For example, my morning Quiet Time used to be heavy on Bible reading and meditation and had little prayer in it. In recent years, it has included much more prayer as I have grown in intimacy and dependence.

As we get to know ourselves better, some of us are shocked by how little we have changed since childhood. I found that despite working very hard to grow spiritually for thirty years, I was still trying to achieve my way into worth, impress my way into being loved, and control my way into feeling secure. This happened despite studying, but not grasping that “you are precious, you are honored, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4, paraphrased). So, we need a Rule that helps us break through the lies and bad habits that control us and allows God to transform our thinking, feelings, and habits of the heart.

We need to be intentional and proactive in living the life we were meant to live. “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step” (1 Corinthians 9:25-26, NLT).

How to Develop a Rule of Life

In developing our Rule, may we remember that our ultimate goal is to love well (1 Timothy 1:5). It’s not to increase our Bible knowledge or to save souls. These are secondary goals.

We need to get to know ourselves to determine if the fruit of the Spirit is increasing in our lives. If not, we need to make some adjustments in our Rule that better connects us to God’s presence and power.

A good way I have learned to get to know myself better is through my feelings. Through my sadness, fears, and joys I have gotten better acquainted with I believe and depend upon to live life. I have been shocked at how much I have been and still am controlled by lies- and yet I have seen much progress in trusting and living in the truth. Growing in self-knowledge like this has only become part of my Rule in recent years as I have grown in appreciating its importance.

Our Rule needs to help us partner with God in living a balanced life. Therefore, some broad categories of activities could include

  • Connection to God Through the Word and Prayer
  • Rest
  • Work/Activity
  • Relationships

May we seek God for guidance in developing a Rule. Let’s make conscious what our Rule is now and determine if God may be leading to make a change or two. Let’s win the race of life by “seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) by following our Rule.



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