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Archive for August, 2008

Making Routine Your Friend

August 26, 2008 Leave a comment

With summer quickly concluding, the routine of fall activities will soon be upon us.  This is bad news for a lot of folks, because they hate routine.  They consider it dull and an obstacle to what they think their lives should be.

Well, if you are among those who despise routine, I challenge you with a thought: how you approach your routine has a powerful effect on what your life will become.

The power of habit has been acknowledged for a long time.  As it’s been said, “First we make our habits, and then our habits make us.”

So true.  And because it is, it’s important to think through our routines a whole lot more carefully than we’re inclined to.  Who you are is largely determined by the habits of your routine.

If your routine involves lots of TV watching or web surfing (both passive activities) it will shape you in one way.  But if your routine is made up of activities intentionally chosen to enhance your personal growth, it will shape you in a different way altogether.

One common example of this principle is in the area of exercise.  People who make physical exercise a part of their routine are generally happier, healthier, and better able to cope with the stress and changes life brings.

An often overlooked area of our routines involves those exercises that mold our spiritual development.  And it’s safe to say that neglect here has played a big part in the overall spiritual decline evident in our society today.

These spiritual exercises need to be restored to our routines if we hope to see spirits renewed and souls strengthened – as well as the fabric of our society recovered.

The most basic of these spiritual exercises are Bible reading, prayer, worship, and service.

Reading the Bible as part of one’s routine grants God’s vision for life.  It reveals the grace of God that strengthens the heart. It provides the wisdom and understanding necessary to live in hope.

A routine that incorporates prayer maintains God’s perspective on our lives, and keeps us from being enslaved by the fleeting distractions of our age.  It serves to help us yield ourselves to God’s purpose for our lives, rather than be fixated on our own.

When worship is part of our routine – particularly corporate worship with God’s people – we find ourselves lifted beyond ourselves.  Through worship, God restores us to Himself and makes us fit to serve Him.

When service to others is a deliberate part of our routine, it delivers us from our tendency to be preoccupied with ourselves.  It sets us free from fear and worry and brings us into fulfillment.

Together, these disciplines are the most powerful means available for redeeming lives and cultures.

The routine you possess may appear dull, but within it lies one of the greatest opportunities to see your life – and the lives of others – altered for good.

Whether you realize it or not, your routine is shaping your life.  Take time to evaluate what your routine is shaping you to be.  And as you do, modify your routine in a way that makes it your ally and friend.

Categories: Seed for the Harvest

Restoring Self-Government

When people speak of “government,” they typically have in mind politics or entities like  Congress.  But a right understanding of “government” is much broader than civil officials.

God has ordained three governments: family, church, and civil (or state).  Each of these has its own particular role under God.

The family is the original and most basic of all orders.  Husbands and fathers are to be the “heads” of the family, with their wives as helpmates and children walking in obedience (Eph.5:22ff;6:1-3). Within the family itself, God’s most basic commandments are taught and learned (Dt.6:6-9).

The government of the church is to be led by elders.  The function of these elders is not to lord it over others, but to shepherd those entrusted to their care (1 Pet.5:1-4). By grace, they are to maintain God’s righteous standards and equip believers for the building of His kingdom (Eph.4:11ff).

The civil government is to be of limited authority and function.  According to the Bible, the civil government’s role is that of a minister of justice (Rom.13:1-4).  In this capacity, the civil government is charged by God to protect life, liberty, and property, so the citizens of the land can best fulfill their God-given callings.

All three of these forms of government are subject to God.  Jesus is the ultimate ruler as the King of kings and Lord of lords. Consequently, all who head various earthly governments are accountable to Him.

This gives those who are under these governments recourse when the rulers over them misuse their authority.  A wife, for example, is under no obligation to listen to a husband who demands she does something wrong.

The same holds true of church members and citizens when they are directed to do something that is unrighteous or unjust.  In the end, “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

For the different earthly governments to work effectively and promote a stable society, there must be another form of government being practiced: self-government.   Without self-government, families become restless and dysfunctional, churches become compromised, and the state assumes more and more power as it seeks to maintain order in a society undergoing collapse.

Understanding this is essential if we are ever going to address what ails our own society with any effectiveness.  While most attention is given to what might be done by the civil government to restore the fortunes of our culture, the real answer lies in restoring self-government among our families, churches, and citizens at large.

When the individuals of any society are enslaved by their impulses and desires, there is disorder of every kind and in every place.

Accordingly, the biggest contributor to any society is he who is able to rule his own spirit.  He is better than he who can conquer a city (Pr.16:32).

We need to quit looking to the civil government to solve problems that can only be solved by self-government.  And we need to look more to the One who can give us a spirit of self-control (2 Tim.1:7).

Categories: Seed for the Harvest