Encouragement From The Word

A muscle you use

Someone wise once said, “Faith is not a pill you swallow, but a muscle you use.”

It’s possible that we might go to church once in a while, perhaps to get a ‘dose of Jesus’ to keep us going for a little while, in much the same way we might take a couple of Tylenol® to keep us going and mitigate the throbbing pain of a headache.  But, of course, the medicine wears off, eventually, since it’s designed to deal with symptoms, but not root problems.  After all, if your headache is caused by having had a whittling knife stuck in your temple, Tylenol® isn’t going to solve that problem – it’s only going to take the pain away for a while.

Faith is not something designed to take the pain away for a while.  Faith is a gift given to us through God’s grace that enables us to deal with the root of the pain – and so much more.   If we just show up to worship once in a while, there might be a temporary ‘high’ we receive that encourages us for a short time, but that’s not what the Christian lifestyle is about.

Faith is, as the wise person once said, a muscle you use.

One of the things I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is that my muscle mass is declining.  I see it especially in my arms, which are not called upon to do a lot of heavy lifting.  Periodically, I look at the dumbbells that I have and think, “I ought to start using those.”  Even just a few minutes every day could make a significant difference.

The same is true with faith:  even just a few minutes every day could make a significant difference.  When we read the Bible and pray at home and in small groups, and when we gather regularly with the community for worship and fellowship, we’re using our faith muscle in ways that will strengthen it – something a periodic ‘dose of Jesus’ just can’t do.

Let me encourage you today to make your faith a lifestyle choice.  Engage daily with the basic disciplines of prayer, Bible study and worship.  Engage weekly with the basic disciplines of corporate worship and community.  Use that faith muscle.  As you exercise it, it grows.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his.[a]
    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation. – Psalm 100, NLT

 

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Biblical Messages, Uncategorized

Songs in the Key of Life: Enter His Gates

Today, I began a series on the Psalms.  There are different kinds of Psalms, as can be seen on the chart here.  We start today with declarative praise, the only Psalm that says it’s about thanksgiving:  Psalm 100.  Listen here:

Biblical Messages, Uncategorized

EXPERIENCING GOD IN PRAYER: Let’s Get Physical!

In our tradition, we’re not much for physical expression.  It’s not that we think it’s wrong, it’s just a cultural thing.  “God’s Frozen Chosen”, we’re sometimes called.

But the Bible has much to say about physical expression, particularly in prayer.  In this message, based on Exodus 17.8-13 and Psalm 100, we learn a little bit about how to use our bodies in prayer, and the value of paying attention to what our bodies do in our expressions to God.

I commend to the listener’s interest a book by Roy de Leon called Praying With the Body, published by Paraclete Press.  We even tried a practice of using bodily expression in our praying of Psalm 100.  Lots of people participated; it was kind of fun!  Give a listen: