THIS BLOG HAS MOVED

There will be no more posts added to this blog site.

Practical Bible Teaching has moved.

Archived items up to 2/29/2012 will remain on this site, so you can go back through any of the different series we have done.

All future posts can now be found at:

PRACTICAL BIBLE TEACHING–BLOG

I appreciate your support to this point, and hope that you will continue to follow these teachings at their new home.

Have a godly day.

Dale

 

PATIENCE–How to Get It

“God, I need patience, and I need it now!”

Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. Then discovered that’s not how it works at all.

Most Christians subscribe to the somewhat facetious statement, “Don’t pray for patience.”

That statement is telling in that it shows how we think about God and His dealings in our life. It also shows why we are so slow to adapt to His ways.

God is not some cosmic genie just waiting around to fulfill our next self-centered request. We tend to think that if we pray for patience, then we will somehow see patience show up in our lives. And when it doesn’t, we develop the extremely faulty (and lop-sided) theology that “God sometimes says, No.”

The truth of the matter is that God said, Yes to your request for patience.

He gave you a parking lot on the freeway on the one day you were late for work.

He gave you a crowded store with only three bumbling cashiers open for service.

He gave you a flat tire in the pouring rain.

He gave you your little precious smearing “chocolate pudding” all over the bathroom.

He gave you your bank deposit disappearing into the ether.

And the list goes on and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Patience is a part of character. Impatience is also a part of character–or shows a lack of character. Aspects of what we call “character” are developed over time, not instantaneously manifested.

Gold in its raw form is hardly recognizable. It must be heated and hammered and separated from all that which is not gold in order for its true beauty to shine forth.

Likewise, patience is not demonstrated when all is going smoothly in your life. True patience is the quality needed in each of the scenarios listed above. Those situations are specifically designed for you to learn how to develop patience.

Pick any one of those listed, or recall your own situation from the recent past, and see how patience could have served you.

Better yet, look at how impatience serves you. Does getting upset and yelling solve the situation? Does that behavior make you happy, make you feel good? Does drumming your fingers on the counter help or hinder the cashier? Does yelling at the bank clerk find your money any faster? Does inching up on the driver in front of you make the light change any quicker? Wouldn’t exercising patience help everyone involved breathe a little easier?

Patience is not merely waiting for something. It is waiting without anxiety, without nervousness.

Patience, then, calls for that character quality we looked at earlier–self-control.

Exercising patience can bring peace to a stressful situation. Exercising patience will take the edge off people’s attitudes. When you can show patience in a situation, you help calm the nerves of those around you. When you help calm the nerves of those around you, they can get their job done better. When they can get their job done better, things will go more smoothly. When things begin to go more smoothly, you no longer need to be patient. When you no longer need to exercise patience, you will be happier.

And, after all…isn’t that really why you are drumming your fingers? You just want to be happy, don’t you?

A spiritual person realizes that everything in this life is only temporary and will soon pass. Therefore, a spiritual person has patience.

PLEASE NOTE! If this blog was sent to you in your e-mail, you will not receive many more of these. This blog is moving to a new site. To keep receiving these articles, please go to the new site, and click on one of the “subscribe” buttons.

Practical Bible Teaching is MOVING

I am moving my long-standing blog from WordPress to Weebly. I have enjoyed my relationship with WordPress, but am moving all my different internet presences to the Weebly platform. WP does not allow for audio or video uploads without significant cost to do so. Weebly allows this option for free (though I have purchased the upgrade to better suit my purposes for my other blogs and websites).
WP has many nice features, some of which I will probably miss by making this transition. But, I feel the need to have audio/video capabilities–even though I do not have anything in that format at present. I guess I should say I want the option available if I need it.
So, for the time being, I will post my Practical Bible Teaching thoughts on both blog platforms. I will probably only do this for about six more posts after this one.
I want to give those of you have been following the WP blog an opportunity to make the transition by clicking on the RSS Feed button at the new site. This will allow you to have this blog delivered to your inbox whenever I post.

Click here to get to the new site. And then click the RSS Feed to have the new site available to your e-mail.

I thank you for your interest in what this servant has to offer the Body of Christ and pray that you will continue to grow in the knowledge, grace, and love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Simple Spirituality and NASCAR Racing

The more I dig into this concept of the spiritual person, the more I realize how uncomplicated it really is.

Because of my religious upbringing, and my dedication to church work, I have kept spirituality within a religious context.

One of the favorite thoughts of the past 10 years has been the contrast of spirituality with religiosity. People say things like, “What is the difference between being religious and being spiritual?” Or, “I’m spiritual but not religious.” There has been a strong move to separate the two in our thinking and practice. This is good.

Can religion be separated from spirituality?

The answer should be an obvious, “Yes,” since we all know many religious people who haven’t an ounce of spirituality in their life.

However, the flip side is much more open to debate, because it is harder to define–“Does spirituality hinge on religion? Must one be religious in order to be spiritual?” A definition of terms is required for a meaningful discussion of these questions.

“Spiritual” is the term I am seeking to define with this series of articles. For the moment, I will leave it as “a person who manifests the positive qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (We have not yet determined if ALL of these must be present in order to be considered spiritual.)

“Religion,” however, is a bit more difficult to limit, because we use the word and its cognates in a broad range of concepts. For instance, “He is religious with his workouts at the gym.” “She is religious with her diet.” “NASCAR racing is his religion.”

The underlying/overriding idea is that of ‘regularity’ or ‘discipline.’ Due to the original meaning of the word “religion,” we can also see the idea of ‘worship’ in these various uses.

Therefore, I return to, “Must one be religious in order to be spiritual?”

If spirituality is defined as and by the characteristics listed, and religious is defined by regularity and discipline, then the answer should also be an obvious “Yes.”

Why?

Look at the list of positive qualities and point out which one comes naturally to a human. Not one. Each one of those are qualities that must be cultivated, developed over time–ie, disciplined.

Therefore, if one is to become a spiritual person, one must possess the discipline of practice in order to develop each particular quality. It is the “discipline of practice” that makes one ‘religious.’ However, it is the realm of that which we practice that makes all the difference. This is what sets most of the Judeo-Christian people apart from most other religious practitioners.

For most Christians, their practice consists of going to church, Bible study, prayer, and fellowship–commonly referred to as religious activities. For many other religions outside the three Judeo-Christian ones, their practice is focused on developing the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, etc.

This ought not to be. It should be the same for all who are seeking spirituality or godliness.

 

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On Being Gentle

Whenever I teach a yoga class, I preface almost every change in position with the words, “Now please gently…”

One time a student called out, “Why do you always say gently?”

Good question.

Gentleness is not something most Americans know much about. Our approach to life is marked by force, attitude, determination, control, tenacity, a ‘git-r-done’ mentality. While none of that is wrong in and of itself, they most often militate against any “gentleness consciousness.”

We speed down the road in a hurry to get to our next task. We jockey for the best parking space at the store. We set things down with a bang/clang. We consume our meal as if it is the “Passover” and we need to be ready to flee. Even the way we tread upon the earth lacks gentleness.  Rice Paper Walk

When we are trying to persuade another of the rightness of our opinion, we raise our voice, intensify our language or tone–not gentle.

The Buddhist practice of “ahimsa” keeps gentleness in the forefront of the practitioner’s consciousness so that all they do is wrapped with gentleness.

What do Christians have in the way of a gentle practice? “A bruised reed he will not break, nor a smoldering flax will he not put out.” (Matt. 12:20) (When was the last time you heard a sermon from that verse?)

We often see the phrase referring to the “gentle Savior,” but we rarely find a gentle disciple. Yet Jesus said, “It is enough that the disciple be as his master.” (Matt. 10:25)

Gentleness should mark the life of one who considers himself spiritual. Gentleness should be the characteristic of all that we do in thought, word, and deed.

Why is gentleness in such short supply?

In what way could you practice being gentle today?

 

 

 

Self-Control: Fruit of a Spiritual Life

The question posed from previous posts is: what does a spiritual person look like?

Within the context of our passage–Gal. 5:16-6:1–we find that a spiritual person is marked by the evidence of “fruit” in his/her life. This is taken from vss. 22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”

Now the question naturally arises, “What does this fruit look like?”

There is much discussion in today’s society about love, and what that means. Some folks actually get upset and forget to love when their particular view of love is not accepted by others. (Oh well. We’ll get it someday, I’m sure.) 🙂 For the time being, I will leave that discussion until a future post. Consequently, I will begin with the last–Self-Control.

What does self-control look like?

The word so translated, was rendered “temperance” by the King Jimmy translators; but “temperance has come to denote only one form of self-control. Therefore, it is no longer a viable rendition for the word.

However, we will begin with the idea of “temperance.” Originally, it meant “moderation.” Because of the “temperance movement,” it came to mean abstinence.

Temperance (Sophrosyne in Greek is defined as “moderation in action, thought, or feeling; restraint.”) has been studied by religious thinkers, philosophers, and more recently, psychologists, particularly in the positive psychology movement. It is considered a virtue, a core value that can be seen consistently across time and cultures (see Historical and Religious Perspectives). It is considered one of the four cardinal virtues, for it is believed that no virtue could be sustained in the face of inability to control oneself, if the virtue was opposed to some desire. It is also one of the six main categories of the VIA Character Strengths (see Major Theoretical Approaches). Temperance is generally defined by control over excess, so that it has many such classes, such as abstinence, chastity, modesty, humility, prudence, self-regulation, forgiveness and mercy; each of these involves restraining some impulse, such as sexual desire, vanity, or anger. (Wikipedia)

I hope you read that paragraph above with a conscious awareness. Did you get that? Self-control should be considered as the priority virtue, because no other virtue will stand if there is an inability to control oneself.

Wow! What a concept.

Of course, this thought is reinforced in Ecclesiastes 10:1 where we are told that a momentary act of stupidity can ruin a lifetime of achievement. We see this almost everyday, especially during an election campaign.

However, down here at street-level, we need to know how this works.

We all know people who seem to be quite loving in their nature. However, when they are pressed by certain circumstances, that love is nowhere to be seen.

Take a look at the list of the fruit of the spirit once again: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Do you know someone who seems to be patient–until patience is called for?

Do you know someone who seems to be kind, but gets upset when their kindness is not recognized?

Do you know someone who is gentle until they get out on the highway?

Are you beginning to get a picture of what self-control might look like?

Self-control is a young person’s discipline. It becomes more difficult as one gets older, having established patterns for the way they handle things. (I’m not saying it is impossible for an older person.) If you have not exercised the discipline of self-control in your younger years, it becomes extremely challenging to find it in your later years.

What area of your life do you need to exercise self-control?

What can you do to begin strengthening temperance in that area?

What one thing will you do today to move yourself in that direction?

Leave your comments below and help us all to better understand this most challenging fruit of a spiritual life.

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Spiritual Life

What does a spiritual life look like? How do we know if we are spiritual? How can we tell if someone else is spiritual?

Is spirituality really necessary? Is it necessary to know about someone else’s spirituality?

The answer to the last two questions is YES, it is necessary. The answer to the first three is fraught with difficulty. This article seeks to alleviate some of the difficulty while acknowledging that complete elimination of the difficulties is next to impossible.

The Greek word translated “spiritual” is used 26 times in the New Testament. (You can bypass this article and gain much insight simply by reading and meditating on each of those verses.)

It is necessary for us to determine what spirituality looks like, because of the passage under consideration in this series on the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 6:1 tells us that the restoration of someone overtaken in a fault is to be restored by those who are spiritual. Obviously, therefore, recognizing spirituality is a prerequisite for this tender endeavor.

I recently read someone’s comment that they point out people’s blind spots. They used Gal. 6:1 as justification for their critical nature. (I’ve known this person for more than 40 years.) Pointing out “blind spots” is not restoration, and is not being spiritual.

Gal. 6:1 follows directly after the listing of the fruit of a spiritual life, which follows after a listing of the works of the flesh. So, there is no change in thought in what Paul is writing about. He is now telling us what a spiritual person should do.

It is in the contrast of the “carnal/spiritual” where we gain the greatest insight as to what a spiritual person looks like.

You know the feeling you have when you are looking for something that you can’t really describe. You know when you see it. You also know when it’s NOT it.

The same is true here. We can tell what spirituality is not by observing the listings of the carnal person.

This is important, because we allow many people to influence our lives who are more carnal than they are spiritual. This is a dangerous practice, because what we are is imparted to others much moreso than what we say. Truth is imparted life to life, not mind to mind. (1 Cor. 15:33)

So, the evidence of carnality should be a warning. The lack of carnality, however, is not solid proof of spirituality.

Many think that because I know so much about the Bible that I am therefore spiritual. That has little or nothing to do with spirituality. I could do that simply with my intellect. Going to church regularly doesn’t prove one spiritual. Praying doesn’t prove one spiritual. Obeying the commandments doesn’t prove one spiritual. All these things may be tools to aid in the development of spirituality, but they are not proof that one is truly spiritual.

The proof of spirituality is in the visible fruit of a spiritually centered life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control.

What do each of these look like?

Is it necessary for one to possess all nine of these in order to be considered spiritual?

Post your comments below. If you like this article, pass the link on to others. If you have not yet subscribed to this blog, you can receive updates in your e-mail by clicking on one of the options on the right.

Have a godly day.

Gal. 5:22 tells us what a spiritual person looks like.