Stop by www.DaleTedder.com and check out these updates…
Salt & Light Today (11-27-13)
Daily Devotion (11-27-13)
Recommended Reading (9-16-13)
Shepherding Souls Blog (9-16-13)
A Prayer for Today (9-16-13)
Sermons & Bible Studies (9-16-13)
Godly Manhood Blog (9-11-13
Stop by www.DaleTedder.com and check out these updates…
Spiritual Direction Blog (8-26-13)
Daily Devotional (8-26-13)
Burning Heart Blog (8-25-13)
Get SEEN (8-22-13)
Issachar’s Vigil Blog (8-21-13)
C.S. Lewis Blog (8-21-13)
Recommended Reading (8-21-13)
Sermons & Bible Studies (8-21-13)
Godly Manhood Blog (8-20-13)
Spiritual Life Checkup (8-20-13)
Prayer for Today (8-19-13)
Well, DaleTedder.com has been around for two months (Today begins month number three). I’m slowly but surely figuring out how to construct the new website and have been pretty pleased so far with the results. Please check it out when you get a chance. It’s where everything new that I’m adding is going.
Here are some recent updates…
Issachar’s Vigil Blog (August 1, 2013)
Daily Devotionals (August 1, 2013)
Godly Manhood Blog (July 31, 2013)
C.S. Lewis Blog (July 31, 2013)
Sermons & Bible Studies (July 30, 2013)
Spiritual Direction (July 29, 2013)
Burning Heart (July 27, 2013)
Prayer for Today (July 21, 2013)
Biography (July 20, 2013)
Spiritual Life Checkup (July 17, 2013)
Grace and Truth,
Check out what’s new at DaleTedder.com
Godly Manhood Blog (July 25, 2013)
Permanent Things (July 25, 2013)
C.S. Lewis (July 25, 2013)
Daily Devotionals (July 24, 2013)
Spiritual Direction (July 24, 2013)
Prayer for Today (July 21, 2013)
Biography (July 20, 2013)
Sermons & Bible Studies (July 17, 2013)
Spiritual Life Checkup (July 17, 2013)
Burning Heart (July 10, 2013)
I would love for you to stop by and check out my personal website, DaleTedder.com. There you will find devotionals, prayers, articles, and other resources that I pray will help you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Click here to read Part 1: Introduction
1. Do you have a passion to know, love, and follow God?________ In what ways? (Not sure what you mean______)
2. Do you have a God-centered life? ________ Explain: (Not sure what you mean________)
3. How often do you attend Sunday morning worship?
4. How meaningful is Sunday morning worship to you?
5. Do you have a regular time set apart for prayer? Describe your prayer life? Is it satisfying?
6. How meaningful is private worship to you? (i.e., personal devotions)
7. Do you feel you are becoming better acquainted with God (i.e., growing closer in your relationship with him) In what ways do you want know him better?________ Explain:
8. What other spiritual disciplines do you practice? How have they helped you grow closer to God?________ Explain:
9. Do you have a teachable spirit or do you resist instruction and direction from others? Explain:
As I mentioned in the previous post in this series, I would be honored to meet with you (or even correspond with you via email) to pray with you and help you discover ways in which you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and Truth,
I just started reading Gordon MacDonald’s book, Rebuilding Your Broken World. After reading only the first chapter I can already say that I love it. What compelled me to start reading it was just the day-in and day-out observations of ministry. To quote Thoreau, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” So many folks I know are seemingly hanging on by a thread but just can’t bring themselves to share their desperation with anyone. Men are especially vulnerable to this sort of thinking. The consequence, at least one, is that their world is crumbling and they’re trying to handle it alone.
MacDonald’s book is a word of hope and encouragement to folks who find themselves in such a place. We all have broken worlds of one sort or another. Our hearts break this week, for example, for the people in Oklahoma who have had their lives literally ripped apart by a force of nature. As true as that is, MacDonald’s focus is the broken worlds that come from our own doing… or the doing of someone close to us. A broken marriage, family, lost job, etc. This book is written to “broken-world people” by a “broken-world person” who has traveled that road and learned how to rebuild his world. He offers hope to those who desire to do the same.
As I work through the book, I will be sharing a few of the key ideas with some of our men at Southside. I thought I would pass these ideas to you as well. These notes will be helpful to spend some time thinking about but they are incomplete. They simply cannot capture the fulness and beauty of MacDonald’s insight… which is why I heartily recommend that you purchase the book and mark it up with a pen as you read it, meditate upon it, and pray over it.
The Lord bless you as you do,
Here are some gleanings from the first chapter…
Chapter 1: Broken Worlds
Bottom Line #1: Broken worlds are not uncommon; they can happen to any of us. And if they do, we may not be able to control the damage. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Broken world is a phrase MacDonald uses to “describe what happens when someone sustains a major blow in life that is either self-inflicted or the result of someone else’s unfortunate or treacherous performance. I’m thinking of disasters in the inner spirit, to the mind, to the body, to relationships, to reputation, or to personal usefulness.”
“Personal worlds are in many cases remarkably fragile, and they can shatter under stress much like an elegant goblet explodes under a barrage of powerful sound waves. I call people who are hurt like that broken-world people.”
“Another, more specific kind of broken-world person is the one who makes a terrible choice and deviates from standards set by God, by himself, or by the system in which he lives. More often than not, he reaps the consequences of the choice. His world breaks apart, and maybe the worlds of a few of those around him break up too as they share in the consequence.”
Three “Broken-World” Myths
1.) “Broken worlds are the exception, not the rule.” Response: “Knowing History.” Read the Bible and you will quickly observe that “almost everyone in the Bible had a broken-world experience… In fact, it’s tempting to reverse the myth that broken-world experiences are anomalous and suggest that everyone then and now will have a broken-world experience sooner or later. It may not always be the result of one’s own performance; it can be just as likely that one has to live with the consequences of someone else’s choices.”
History’s “startling lesson is that great qualities of life usually come only when the pain has begun, pain we may bring upon ourselves or pain brought by events and circumstances over which we have no control. When we fight the brokenness, or when we curse it as having no part of our existence, we forfeit the opportunity for quality growth.”
2.) “It can’t happen to me.” Response. “Knowing Yourself.” “Almost every personal defeat begins with our failure to know ourselves, to have a clear view of our capabilities (negative and positive), our propensities, our weak sides.”
[Quoting Oswald Chambers] “Always beware of a friendship, or a religion, or of a personal estimate of things that does not reconcile itself to the fact of sin; that is the way all disasters in human friendships and in human loves begin, and where the compromises start. Jesus Christ never trusted human nature, but he was never cynical, he trusted absolutely what he could do for human nature.”
3.) “I can handle anything that comes in my direction.” Response: “Knowing God’s Law.” This myth “builds on the assumption that when the time comes, we can bargain with God, manipulate circumstances and, if necessary, tough it out.”
“Stanley Jones was fond of telling audiences, you can make your own choices; you cannot control the consequences of those choices.”
“…consequences are rarely capable of being controlled. They have an energy of their own, and no one – except God – knows where the effects of a broken world are likely to stop.”
Question: Is there any hope?
“But if my personal world breaks, is there still hope? Can that broken world be rebuilt?” Yes! “God has put all the pieces in place, and the process for rebuilding has been time-tested and proven authentic.”
As I was reading God’s Word a couple of years ago, God reminded me about how awesome he truly is. I was also reminded that I have never regretted reading Scripture early in the morning, but I have absolutely regretted not reading it. Just think what I would have missed out on if I had slept in. Thanks be to God… he woke me up and encountered me in his Word. Here’s the text…
The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.  Great is the Lord in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations.  Let them praise your great and awesome name– he is holy.
 The King is mighty, he loves justice– you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right.  Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.
 Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the Lord and he answered them.  He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.
 O Lord our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.  Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.
And here’s what I learned early one morning about God…
- He reigns. (v. 1)
- He is the King, for he sits enthroned between angels. (v. 1)
- He is great and should be exalted over the nations. (v. 2)
- His great and awesome name should be praised. (v. 3)
- He is holy. (v. 3)
- He is the King who is mighty and loves justice. (v. 4)
- He does what is just and right. (v. 4)
- He is the God of his covenant people. He is to be worshipped. (v. 5)
- He is holy. (v. 5)
- He answers those who call on him. (v. 6)
- He speaks to his people. (v. 7)
- He gives laws that are to be obeyed. (v. 7)
- He is a God who forgives. (v.8)
- He disciplines his children when they disobey. (v.8)
- He should be exalted and worshipped, for he is our God and he is holy. (v. 9)
Grace and Truth,
The Ephesian city clerk was wise. He was a real leader. In the midst of an unjust riot against two Christian brothers, Gaius and Aristarchus, the clerk made a bold stand. There is no indication that this man was a follower of Christ, so I take it that his intercession was the result of special grace, while his wisdom and leadership was the fruit of common grace. As John Maxwell says, “leadership is influence,” and this man certainly had it.
First, he connected with the “Men of Ephesus” by recalling for them the ego-stroking perspective that the entire world knew that Ephesus was the “guardian of the temple of the great Artemis…” At this point he reminded them that the whole world knew of their important position, as well as the respect that such a position held (at least that was his implicit suggestion). Then he cleverly inserted a “therefore” to indicate that such an honored position in the world required decorum and order. This unnamed man saw the injustice against the two Christian brothers and was not going to allow it.
He cautioned the mob that these men had committed no crime or wrong doing at all. Message to crowd: Refined and respected citizens of Ephesus, the keepers of Artemis’ temple, ought not behave like uncouth and uncivilized barbarians. Moreover, his rhetoric seemed to suggest that because they were indeed so refined and civil, they could rightfully address any legitimate grievances with the local legal authorities. Furthermore, he told them that if they continued in such unjust unrest, they themselves would be the transgressors of civility and the law. Chalk one up for the city clerk.
After making his case he dismissed the crowd. And Acts 20:1 gives evidence that he must have succeeded in his efforts. The text reads, “When the uproar ended…” It is gratifying to see God’s common grace alive and well in the lives of pagans…even more so in the lives of pagan leaders. I wonder how Christian leaders placed in a similar situation would have handled it.
There are probably many lessons to be learned from this historical snapshot of an anonymous Ephesian city clerk, but that would require more space than this little devotion allows. I would like, however, to point out how intrigued I am with this man’s leadership. He didn’t bend and bow to the mob’s desires in an effort to gain favor with them. That’s sometimes my personal failing. The idea of putting my finger to the wind to see which direction it is blowing is all too tempting to those of us who loathe confrontation. But that’s not leadership… it’s cowardice. It’s the fear of man, not the fear of God. Equally as bad is the fact that there is no character or integrity in such weakness. The city clerk chose to do what was right – even in the face of possible opposition.
How many times has a Christian pastor backed down from a position (even a God-ordained one) because of pressure from the mob? To be sure, no one ought to die on every single hill that comes along, but there are some principles (convictions and/or values) that should be tenaciously held on to – ones that should yield no quarter.
My children don’t always know what’s good for them. They would be content to eat nothing but cotton candy and McDonald’s french fries for the next five years (come to think of it… so would I). But that would be harmful to them. I’ve been entrusted to shepherd them, and shepherd them I must. Sometimes, adults aren’t much farther down the road than children, especially when the mob mentality is at work.
God-appointed leaders must exercise wisdom and courage in such situations. For though it is usually true that “all of us are smarter than one of us” and that many counselors may surely provide good advice… that is not always the case, as the episode in Ephesus reveals. The city clerk was able to make the distinction (wisdom) and acted on what he knew was right and best (leadership).
May God give the same character and willingness to those called by his name to shepherd his flock.
Grace and Truth,
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.
One of the emphases of my life’s purpose and ministry is to “extend the Kingdom of God into every sphere of life.” I like the word “extend” because it means to stretch, lengthen, prolong, continue, expand, enlarge, offer, put forth, give, impart, and present, just to name a few. And while each of those words is similar, each represents a slightly different emphasis. That’s just what I want to stress when talking about the Christian’s mission regarding the Kingdom of God.
But in our text today, Jesus focuses on the Kingdom “advancing.” This has a military-ring to it. Jesus also says that forceful men lay hold of this forcefully advancing Kingdom. My NIV footnote says,
“They enter the kingdom and become Christ’s disciples. To do this takes spiritual courage, vigor, power, and determination because of ever-increasing persecution.”
What is described here is what John Piper refers to as a “wartime mentality.” The kingdom of heaven is forcefully advancing. The kingdom of darkness resists this advancement. We are daily fighting for our lives and for the lives of those we love and those who have been entrusted to our care. The world, the flesh, and the devil are formidable adversaries. And if we don’t maintain a war-time mentality – being ever vigilant, standing firm, being prepared, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ – then we should know that we will, in fact, suffer the ravages of war, the consequences of poor preparation and lax attentiveness, and all the collateral damage that attends war – even the loss of loved ones.
We must fight the good fight of faith. We must enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it (Matthew 7:13-14). Peter tells us that many have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness (2 Peter 2:15), which is death (Romans 6:23). So we must stand firm in the faith, or we will not stand at all (Isaiah 7:9). And we ought to know in advance that people will hate us for standing firm, but he who does stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22).
But standing firm will take a war-time mentality. We cannot assume that we are ever safe from attack. We must be ever watching and on our guard. Our Defender is strong to be sure. We draw from his strength. He continually intercedes for us, and our cause would be lost if this was not the case. We would indeed be sifted like wheat. However, as true as that is, we are still called, commanded, and expected to fight, to persevere, to press on, to grow and mature, to stand firm, and so 0n. If we don’t, we could very well wander from the faith (1 Timothy 6:20-21), and become shipwrecked (1 Timothy 1:19). Jesus had his Judas. Paul had his Demas. We shouldn’t therefore think that we’re safe and secure. Our defenses are only as strong as our diligence.
And yet our hope is not in ourselves. Our hope is in the Lord. Does this contradict all that I just said? That matters very little to me for two reasons. First, the Bible affirms this. And second, I know that because the Bible teaches it, it is not, therefore, contradictory in the mind of God. Getting my puny little mind around it just doesn’t matter a great deal to me.
Forceful men lay hold of the Kingdom of God, which our Lord is causing to advance in and through his power. And yet he calls us to take it to the far reaches of our own hearts, as well as those of our families, our places of work, community, culture, and to the very ends of the earth.
This will not be a waltz. It is a battle. The enemy shoots his fiery darts at us daily (Ephesians 6:16). He hides and waits to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). The world sends out its false teachers to lead God’s people astray (2 Peter 2:1ff). Add to that the weakness of our own frame. We may indeed count ourselves dead to sin (Romans 6:11), but sin has not yet been utterly eradicated.
And yet the Kingdom advances still.
So “be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). And to do so you must begin with faith and trust in our King, not by pulling yourself up by our own bootstraps. It will also end with faith and trust. For that matter, it will require being saturated with faith and trust all the way through. And because of his grace and your faith and trust, God will make you stand firm in Christ Jesus, our Lord (2 Corinthians 1:21). This is how we advance – or extend – the Kingdom of God into every sphere of life.
About three or four years ago I shared with my church family a revised version of a “spiritual life checkup” that I put together eight or nine years before then. Well… I thought it was time to dust it off, clean it up a little and share it once again. My plan is to share it in smaller parts so that you don’t have to read one really long post.
One thing I added to this particular spiritual inventory was an article to go along with each category. I thought it would be helpful to read something that communicates why the questions of the particular category (or even the category itself) are worth asking, reflecting on, answering, and then working on in our spiritual pilgrimage.
I hope that the checkup adds some value for you in your pursuit of spiritual growth in Christ.
Dear Southside Family,
Continued spiritual growth is a key emphasis in the Christian faith. We call it sanctification. That’s simply a fancy word that means growing in godliness or holiness. In other words, as followers of Christ, we are called to progressively become more like him throughout our lives. Becoming a Christian by repenting of our sin and placing our trust in Christ alone for our salvation is only the beginning. The rest of our lives are to be spent pursuing Christlikeness… in God’s power.
The whole Bible points to this truth, but here are a few sample-verses to make the point…
John 17:17 – Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
Romans 12:1-2 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
2 Corinthians 13:5 – Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?
2 Corinthians 5:9 – So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
Ephesians 4:1 – As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Ephesians 5:1 – Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
Ephesians 5:10 – and find out what pleases the Lord.
Hebrews 6:1 – Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,
2 Peter 3:18 – But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
This is a common theme found throughout Christian history, especially in the life and ministry of our own John Wesley. Throughout his life and ministry, Wesley exhorted followers of Christ to “go on to perfection” (i.e., spiritual maturity). His General Rules and Covenant Service (see Appendices A and B) are representative of how important this was to him.
The following Spiritual Life Checkup is composed of questions for self-examination as well as articles of encouragement and direction. Completing this will not magically or instantaneously make you like Christ. It will, however, give you some indication of how you’re doing on your spiritual journey with Christ and point to some areas in which you may want to pursue greater growth and depth.
This is completely voluntary, and thus, there is no requirement to share your findings with anyone else. However, if you think it would be helpful to seek spiritual direction with another person, I would be happy to meet with you to pray, talk about what you discovered, offer appropriate guidance, and perhaps share resources to equip you on your journey.
If you belong to a small accountability group, you may also consider sharing your results with your brothers and/or sisters in that setting. Perhaps together you can pray for and encourage one another as you seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.
One Last Caveat: Please take your time with this. Prayerfully proceed, asking God’s Spirit to guide you as you reflect on your walk with Christ, answer the questions, read the articles, etc. You won’t get extra credit for completely this quickly. Instead, I deeply desire for you to learn more about yourself so that you can better see and hear the ways in which God may be leading and calling you.
PS – a good article to read on this subject is, Your Regular Checkup by Gordon MacDonald
Please do not hesitate to let me know how I may serve you.
Your Brother in Christ,