Friday, June 6, 2014

We Gotta Train

“Spiritual transformation is not a matter of trying harder, but of training wisely.”
- John Ortberg

In his book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People (which, admittedly sounds like a self-help, feel-good book. It is not. It is actually an amazing book on spiritual disciplines), John Ortberg discusses a topic that was lost on me as a Christian for many years of my relationship with Jesus. He calls it “Training vs. Trying.” 

In this chapter, Ortberg poses the following scenario. What if the US Olympic committee interrupted you and your family one night during dinner, came up to you, and said we have statistics on everyone in the US on a computer. We have checked everybody’s records -- their performance in the president’s physical fitness test in grade school, body type, bone structure, even their current percentage of body fat. We have determined that out of 200 million people that you are the best shot we have at winning a gold medal in the marathon. Congratulations, you are on team USA. First off, if this were to happen to me, team USA would be in trouble. Clearly there was some sort of mix up with the statistics, right? But let’s consider Ortberg’s scenario. Imagine how exciting that would be after the initial shock has worn off. Imagine how great it would be to take part in something bigger and greater than yourself: competing for team USA at the Olympics. What an honor?! But then it dawns on you that you have never run a marathon. You have never even ran a mile on a treadmill. What would your chances be if you had to run a marathon RIGHT NOW. We have a couple of staff members at BCC who run in marathons fairly regularly, and they say that your chances are slim to none. But what if you tried really REALLY hard? Nope, chances are you couldn’t even do it if you tried really hard. Running a marathon is no joke. It is a 26.2 mile test of your physical fitness, endurance, and mental focus. It requires training, preparation and hard work.

So now onto the point; trying hard can only accomplish so much. If you are serious about something, you will have to enter into a life of training. This is true of running a marathon, playing a musical instrument, learning a new language… and the Christian life. This is why Timothy's mentor in ministry, Paul said to train yourself in godliness. Paul also said to the church at Corinth, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” Training is essential to living a full, joyous Christian life. 

So what do we do with this? Well I suggest that we get to work. Let’s do some training. Here are 5 basic Spiritual Disciplines to get you started:

1. Celebration - practice the art of thankfulness and gratitude for what Jesus has done for you.

2. Bible Study - 2-way communication is essential for a relationship. God wants to speak to you, and His Word is how He does that.

3. Prayer - The Creator of all the universe actually wants to hear what you have to say. This is how you speak to Him.

4. Practice Slowing - Living an unhurried life in our busy culture may sound like it’s not that important, but often times God will speaks when we are still and waiting on Him.

5. Servanthood - Jesus humbled Himself, even to death on a cross for us. This is tough one, but serving one another is what Jesus has called us to do.

Also there are many great tools out there to help you understand God’s Word, learn about prayer, and assist you in these other disciplines. And check out Ortberg’s book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People. I am excited to training along side you!

In Him,
Brett Best
Worship Pastor - BCC