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Posts Tagged ‘witness’

practical

In Colossians chapter 1 Paul emphasized the supremacy of Christ.  In chapter 2 he told the Colossians what not to do and whose example not to follow.  Chapter 3 is full of practical instructions on how to follow and serve Christ.  Let’s let the format of Colossians sink in, teachers and preachers.  There is great wisdom in leading the church this way – especially in a culture where everyone has their own opinion and instruction on what being a Christian looks like.  Here’s how Paul demonstrates:

1. Preach the gospel; magnify Christ

2. Debunk heresy, false teachers, and misinformation that is plaguing the church within your culture.  Be specific.

3.  Give practical, specific instructions for the persons you are ministering to.  I cannot stress this point enough.  Be practical. Be practical.  Be practical.  Do not stop teaching at #1.  Do not stop teaching at #2.  Be practical.

Since I have come to the second portion of Paul’s practical instruction, I have to stress the dire importance of not only these particular instructions, but equally importantly, these kind of instructions.  They are invaluable to those listening.

Today I will talk about why practical teaching is so important and tomorrow I will deal with the specifics of this text.

Many men have amazing theological minds.  They are well read and can answer almost any Bible question one might have.  They preach the gospel in its entirety and do so very systematically and extremely well.  They tell you who Christ is, what he did, and urge repentance.  They refute false ideas.  They tell you what Christianity is as well as what it is not.

Consider yourself unduly blessed if you can find a preacher or teacher like this in our culture of confusion and misinformation in the church today.  Still, if door #3 – specific, practical application – is left unopened by that good man or woman, the sheep are still left meandering for their own food on many occasions.  When we are told what to do but not how to do it, nine times out of ten we do not “get it.”  If I do not know how you apply the text in your life, I often do not know how to apply the text in my life.  Tell  me.  In so doing, you teach me.

 Sheep need stories, parables, personal accounts of when and how these truths were learned and understood by our teachers.  Otherwise, as my very practical, straight-shooting mechanic husband says, it feels a lot like someone is trying to tell us how to build a shelf.  We have step by step codified instructions, but we do not have a model.  There is no hammer in our hands.  No nails or screws with which to build.  All we have is a how to lecture and Mr. Vila and all his tools and example models have left the building.

Sheep need practical application.  Sheep need for instances.  Sheep need not only a picture of the finished framework of what the end result is supposed to look like, but also a picture of all the half built stages in between.  When we set out to put this thing called Christianity together, we need a lot of help – especially if there have been no close master builders in our lives.

Therefore, I cannot stress Paul’s example enough.  After preaching the gospel, what it is and what it is not, we must tell others how to apply it.  We must tell about when we fail.  We must tell about what overcoming has looked like in our own lives.  We must be specific and practical in preaching and teaching.

Colossians 3:17-25 is practical application of that which Paul has just painted with a broad brush.  He told his readers to set their minds on the things above and to forsake sin.  He told them to be compassionate, humble, forgiving, loving, and unified.  He said to do everything for Christ.

Now, he puts some practical flesh on the bones of his outline of spiritual disciplines.  Here’s what he says:

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters,not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Here are some real life situations, guys.  Here are the most common and important relationships you are all in.  Here’s how to act in those relationships.  Here’s how not to act.  Here’s why.

Wives, submit.  Husbands, love.  Children, obey.  Fathers, be patient.  Slaves, obey.  All of you, work hard, always.  Masters, be fair.  God will bless.  God will repay.  Trust him.

I will go further into what these instructions look like in our lives in my next article…practically.   I believe Paul did not go further because his words needed to be timeless.

That’s our job.  That’s our job.  That’s our job.

 It is the job of a good teacher to apply the Biblical text to their cultural situations and problems.  The reason we have so many knowledge infused non-action taking Christians is because we often fail to give practical instructions.  We go through the text and we stop.  We cannot afford to do that.  Christians need challenged in very specific ways.  We need very clear pictures of what a submitting wife and a loving husband looks like.  We need very clear pictures of what a rebellious wife and a loveless husband looks like.  We must use every means available.  Yes, we are the very pictures ourselves.  We are witnesses.  But we must also open our mouths and share our lives lest we live them in obscurity and fail to bring glory to Christ clenching tightly to our illegitimate right to privacy.

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“The skill of a rider is not seen in how well he can ride fast, but how well he can ride slow.” ~Rider Coach Roy

As I embarked upon my first not-in-a-parking-lot motorcycle drive, I recognized how true this statement is.  Little wonder why the place credited with the most potential for danger for bikers is at intersections.  Anyone – ok not anyone – but most people can ride forever on wide open stretches of highway, but when it comes to tight turns, stop and go traffic, starting out on a hill, or figure 8’s inside that way-too-small box at 6 miles per hour, it takes a bit more practice and skill than meets the eye.  Generally, the faster you go, and the more momentum you have, the easier it is to maneuver.  

Yesterday I pulled out of my driveway (a steep downhill) and onto the real road (just over a hill crest, narrow, country, back road that is) on my motorcycle for the very first time, and, unskillfully and dangerously turned far too wide into the wrong lane.  Acceptable if no one is coming in the other direction.  Roadkill if someone is.  Yeah.  I need more parking lot practice, not to learn to ride fast, but to learn to ride slow.  

After I foolishly convinced myself that continuing this hobby would not end in imminent death, I got to thinking…how often do I recognize Rider Coach Roy’s wisdom in daily life?  And how often do I recognize skillful slowness as a valuable asset?  And how often do I foolishly assume that multitasking at the speed of light is superior?  Like, well, never.  Right.  Way to miss the forest for the trees, Lori…er…uh…perhaps these days I should say, “Watch out for that tree!”

My thoughts turned back to my Saturday night out with Mr. Rodeheaver.  My 9 second street car chauffeur, who, I’m pretty sure caused my heart to stop dead at least twice on that exquisitely romantic tire burning session he called a date.  Fast.  Too, too fast.  Ridiculously, dangerously fast.

Being the good car guy’s wife that I am, I stood in my favorite parking lot and I scanned the faces.  Yes, this is what space cadets do when we can make absolutely no logical sense out of the endless jargon regarding nuts and bolts for hours upon end.  Do they know the truth?  How fast should I bring it to them?  How slow?

In that split second before the utter urgency overtakes me and I interrupt the fluid flowage of the gearhead galaxy with the the gospel, I pause.  Where ten years ago I’d fly in and feather homemade, wild-eyed-man-on-the-street-corner tracts through the crowd like funfetti, I stop.  I remind myself that slowness is a skillful virtue.  I wait.  I smile and extend my hand.  “I’m Mrs. Rodeheaver.  Are you into fast cars?…”

Am I maturing?  Progressing?  Or am I losing my zeal?  Declining in the good fight?  Because all too often the conversation never turns.  Even though it’s taken everything in me to suppress the truth for this one moment, I continue.  Slow is good.  Too slow is bad.  Really bad.  Ask Rider Coach Roy.

Oh!  To cease being extreme and learn to be steady!  To put away pragmatism and pine only for precision and penetration!  Practicality and passion must kiss if Christ is to have any presence in my parking lot.  This is my intersection.  I must learn to navigate and maneuver in new and better ways.  

I climb into the 9 second street car and I place my ball cap over my face.  Prayer.  Prayer will save me from my slowness as well as my speed.  I need both attributes to be skillful if I’m going to ride, and live, effectively.  Like the preacher said, it’s not ok just to begin well, we must finish well.  And I don’t want to be roadkill.  Teach me, Lord, how to drive.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXbA_A3eTGw

 

 

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ImageOut of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of movement.  20 degrees and two hours in on a 13 mile run, I was almost certain I had been the only creature stirring at that hour.

But, no, here was proof that I was wrong.  I watched as a horse ran uphill through the snow to meet what appeared to be the abominable snow person.

I couldn’t help but notice how much trouble the woman was going to for this particular animal.  On the snow covered hill sat two coolers and the master was approaching with a third.  I’m guessing it must have been food by the way the horse reacted to her presence.

Laboring not to slow to a walk, I mused.  “Why on earth would anyone be out here feeding an animal right now?” I thought. (more…)

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