SterOIDS

SterOIDS

Written by Ryan Miller- A follow up to his sermon a few weeks ago

 

I realize I’m milking the acronym.

Anyway.

This post is primarily to serve as a follow up to my talk the other Sunday.  I don’t want to, as I said, “drop you on your head” if this method of study is something that could serve you well and play a role in your growing relationship with the Lord and his Word.  And so, this post is meant to serve as a continual reminder on this blog for you to come back to anytime you might need it.

That said, let’s jump into it.

The official method, as previously stated, is called the ‘Inductive Bible Study Method’, or, as I was taught it, the ‘OIA’ method.  O stands for Observe, I stands for Interpret, A stands for Apply.

However, as I put it last weekend, I developed a slightly altered method – primarily for the sake of myself and my struggles to apply a verse in a practical way day after day to my life – but also, I think, to help make the method a little bit easier to teach to the youth to maybe get it to stick in their heads.

So, my method, as you may remember (and via the cheesy title of this post), is called the ‘ROID’ method.  Spiritual steroids.  Our way of feeding ourselves daily with the Word.  They make us stronger…you get the picture.

R – Reflect

O – Observe

I – Interpret

D – Dwell

——————————————–

Reflect

  • What has God done in my life recently? What is he teaching me?

I recommend keeping a journal by your side and writing as you go.  Or, for the more verbally inclined, perhaps even speak out loud or audio journal what the Lord is doing in your life.

I gave this as my example for Reflect during the sermon:

The Lord is teaching me to surrender.  He teaches me often by cementing key words on my soul for periods of time.  And right now my word is “surrender”.  He’s teaching me to surrender my desires, my wants, my preferences – not for a life less, pleasure-less life – but for a joy filled life.  A life full of Him.  The Holy Spirit has been more real to me in this season than I’ve ever experienced.  Before, the Holy Spirit was more of a concept – a divine part of the Trinity that I didn’t understand or try to understand.  But now, through His grace, I feel that I’m starting to get it – what it looks like to commune daily, hourly, minute-by-minute with the Spirit.  Because, honestly, I don’t feel like I have a choice anymore.  There’s too much the Lord is calling me to do, even currently, for me to do alone.  I need community, yes, and I am incredibly grateful for all of you (spoken to those present during the sermon but including all you who are part of Heritage) and for those who are not present who are my heavenly family and have been invaluable in keeping me sane and encouraging and pushing me towards the Lord.  Y’all who are here and who are not are truly invaluable and I cannot do life without you or others like you.  That said, at the end of the day, I/we are the Lord’s and first and ultimately we need Him.  I love Catherine (my fiancé), and I am incredibly excited to marry her in 20 days Lord willing, but she – like Jeremy said last week – is not my God.  I love my parents, who are here, and am grateful for all they have done and continue to do for me – but they are not my God.  And on and on.

Observe

  • What do I see? Where do I need more understanding?

We looked at Ephesians 2, verses 8 and 9:

For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

  • We see that salvation is by grace, through
  • We see that salvation is not our own doing. In fact, it’s completely a gift from God.
  • We see that we did no work for this salvation. Or, rather, we see that the Ephesians, the saints in Ephesus whom Paul is writing to (Ephesians 1:1) – and therefore by default the saints who have followed in their footsteps (ie those of us who have believed as well) – have been freely given this gift of salvation.  Of eternity with God.

Why?

So that no one may boast.

Now, after jotting down what we see, we would ask some questions (if any) that might help us further understand the passage.  For example:

  • What is grace?
  • What is faith?
  • What have we been saved from?
  • Why is it important that no one may boast in salvation?

…to name a few.

The questions are endless here.  This is a time for you and the Lord (and whomever else you might be joining in study) to build your relationship by asking questions.  By going deeper.  By getting to know him more.  And then by being willing to listen.

This is the crux of relationships.

Yes, relationships are heart.  But they are also head.  They also require knowledge in order to hit our hearts deeper.  Relationships require further increasing knowledge in order to further increase our affections.  Knowledge and affection go together.  Time spent, coupled with increase of knowledge, is a formula for a good relationship that hits the heart.

Now, we move on to Interpret.

Interpret

  • Answer the questions that have been asked! (If there are none, we can move on to Dwell)

Answering the questions that have been asked can be done through a variety of methods.

Two tools I highly recommend for answering questions:

  • ESV Study Bible (there are a variety available)
  • Blue Letter Bible (BLB) app – has useful commentaries and even words in the original Greek so that you can no longer say “It’s all Greek to me!”

There are a multitude of other tools that can also be used to help answer questions and go deeper.  These are just two that I have used myself that I find very helpful for growing in my knowledge of – and therefore affection for – the Lord.

Dwell

  • How can I take this passage with me today?

If we aren’t communing with the Lord day-by-day – even moment-by-moment as well as we are able through his power – we lose focus of what is to come, of the eternity waiting for us.  We lose sight of what is most important.

We get bogged down in the menial, in the non-eternal, in the struggles of our present moment and we forget that we have an eternal hope, a glorious purpose that we are called to live in light of every single day.  We can only do this through the Holy Spirit’s power.  We can only do this by learning to speak with him and by learning to listen to him as we work through our days, striving our best to be faithful through his power.

——————————

In summary the method is this:

R – Reflect

  • What has God done in my life recently? What is he teaching me?

O – Observe

  • What do I see? Where do I need more understanding?

I – Interpret

  • Answer the questions (if any) that have been asked!

D – Dwell

  • How can I take this passage with me today? What is the Lord teaching me?

 

I’m thankful for all of you.  I’m deeply grateful for the time that the Lord has given me with Heritage Fellowship and pray that I will have many more opportunities to interact with y’all in the future and stay in touch as we are able.

May we grow in our knowledge of God’s Word and in our affection for him as a result.

Love you all,

Ryan

Pleasure vs. Pleasure

Pleasure vs. Pleasure

Written by Ryan Miller

Sin calls.  It tempts.  It whispers.  Sometimes it roars.

But it’s all around.  Everyday.

As the apostle Paul says, “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” (Romans 7 21)

And I can relate.  So much.  I know you can too, especially if you are following Jesus.  If you aren’t, I guess sin isn’t really tempting you.  It just has you.  But you feel it’s pull.  You just don’t care as much as those of us who have a continually Christ-refined conscience.

Point is, sin calls – it extends the promise of pleasure.  And, in actuality, it is pleasurable.  To paraphrase Matt Chandler, the problem with sin is that, just for a moment, it does indeed satisfy what it promises to satisfy.  It brings legitimate pleasure.

But then it’s gone.  And in place of the brokenness that preceded the sin is a slightly deeper and darker brokenness than before.  We roll down the hill, come back up in a rush for a moment – just a moment – of pure ecstasy, and then we go careening straight back into the darkness from which we came.  Only this time we go a little bit deeper.  And the next time deeper still, the darkness seeming darker and longer until we eventually succumb completely to the increasing comfort of the blackness.

So how do we combat this?  How do we possibly defeat sin?  Is it not somehow possible?  Do we, as Matt Chandler has said, “white-knuckle it, try harder and manipulate (our) environment”¹ until we finally, through the sweat and tears of agonizing personal anguish, put sin to death?  Can we?

If you’re a Christian, if you’re a human, you know this is impossible.  It simply cannot be done.  Yet look at the world around us friends!  You would think white-knuckled, whitewashed morality is the way to go.

But no.  There is a better way.

How?

Fight pleasure with pleasure.

What?

Let me explain.

To quote John Piper’s ministry statement, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”  And when God is glorified in us, sin cannot be front and center in our lives.  There is no room for sin to be indulged when the Lord is actively being glorified.

So what do we do?  Simply, seek pleasure in the Lord.

We fight not by putting pleasure to death.  Rather, we redirect.  Or better yet, we direct our natural pleasure-seeking souls in the correct direction.  True north.  We win by allowing the Lord to direct our gaze, our emotions, feelings, and desires to him, the Lord of Heaven and earth.

Is this easy?  Heck no!  Remember (if you can bear it) that we are sinners.  Jesus had to die and bear the wrath of his Father to save us because of how broken and despicable we are.

Yet take heart brothers and sisters, even as I sit and write these words to my own heart: the Lord longs for his children to experience joy in him.  In relationship with him.  It’s what we were made for.  It’s what we are made for.  Not for the stifling of pleasure.

The Lord did not create us to have deadened souls.  He created us to have eternal joy and communion with him.  He sent Jesus to make new all things – to restore and redeem everything, emotions and pleasures included.

My prayer, dear friends – eternal siblings in the Lord, if indeed you have been called – is that we would make pleasure our aim.  God-glorifying, God-centered, pure, unadulterated pleasure.  Let’s love one another, communing with each other and our Creator as often as we possibly can, being restored, renewed, and refined in his glorious grace and all-consuming fire.

Love you all, imperfectly as I can.


¹https://www.tvcresources.net/resource-library/sermons/a-theology-of-struggle

Crowd Follower or Disciple?

Crowd Follower or Disciple?

Written By Ryan Miller

 

And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.  Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.

John 6 2-3

Jesus is being followed by large crowds.

Why?

Because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.

There are crowds following Jesus because they are hopeful; they are hopeful that Jesus might heal them of an ailment, that he might make their lives better in some way.

They want the incredible free gift of physical healing that he has to offer, not understanding their need for his incomparably greater free gift of eternal salvation.

As Jesus sees these crowds following him, he goes up onto a mountain with his disciples.  But the crowds don’t let him alone; they just keep on coming (John 6:5).

They are starved for a miracle.

And then, after Jesus gives them a miracle (John 6:5-14), the people are so excited that they want to forcefully make him king (John 6:15) so that they don’t have to deal with the oppression of the Roman government anymore!

But Jesus didn’t come to be a worldly king.  He came for much more than that.

So he withdraws himself somewhere in the mountains to get away from this worldly starved people.

When I read these verses a couple weeks back, I was kind of struck by the seeming contrast between the crowds following Jesus because of what he could do for them, versus Jesus’ interaction with his disciples.

When I see the crowds following Jesus because of what he’s doing for the sick, I feel this sense of desperation.  There’s this sense of group mentality, of a longing for meaning and purpose, of dissatisfaction.  There’s a lack of real commitment and a desire for immediate gratification.

 

And then when I see Jesus going up on the mountain and sitting with his disciples, I get the feeling that they are a team, that they are on a mission together, and that discipleship is about to happen in the best of ways.  It feels like a committed group – a group determined to live life with each other as growth takes place.

And I feel the contrast.

I hope you can feel it too.pexels-photo-288583


I want you to be honest with yourself right now.

If you call yourself a Christian…

  • Would you say you are part of the crowd of “Christians” who follow Jesus because your family and friends do and/or because you can get something out of it (i.e. feel good about yourself, feel like you’re doing “the right thing”, etc.)?

Or

  • Are you part of the smaller crowd of Jesus’ disciples who follow him because he is Lord and Savior, because he has asked you to take up your cross and follow him (Matthew 16:24), because you love him with all your heart, and because he has the words of eternal life (John 6:68)?

Before I move on, I want to interject that it’s “okay”, in a manner of speaking, to not currently be in the place where Jesus has become your life treasure.  It’s “okay” to be a part of the crowd who just wants something from Jesus, and that’s it.  It’s “okay”, even, to not care at all about Jesus.  It’s even “okay” to hateJesus, or think he doesn’t exist.

What makes it not “okay” is if you think you are good where you are – if you think that nothing needs to change.  Then you’re not okay.  In fact, if that’s you, you’re probably headed to the wrong side of eternity.

Sanctification (the process of being made more like Jesus) takes time.  A lifetime, in fact.

Meaning: You’re not meant to be perfect in this life.

You can try as hard as you want, but you’ll never achieve it.  It is completely impossible to live a perfect life on this earth, as I think we all know.

And yet, we are called to pursue Jesus – the only perfect human being to ever walk this planet.  We are called to follow him and to increasingly allow him to take us to a place of surrender.

We will always have sins.  We will always have things we are holding onto that are apart from what the Lord desires of us.

But they are never okay.

We are called to constantly put these things to death, through the power of the Spirit, and to become increasingly more like Jesus.

Now, I don’t want you to read all that I just said and think that I don’t struggle with sin and with loving Jesus because I write a blog and I sound convincing.

I struggle.  A lot.  As some of you who might read this will certainly be able to attest.

I can’t genuinely say that I love Jesus with all my heart, and frankly I sometimes question if I can even say I love Jesus.

I struggle with the abstractness of what it means to have a relationship with him.  I struggle with sins that I can name, and sins that I can’t name, on an hourly basis.

Even today, I feel that I’ve already failed – and will continue to fail – in my struggle against my flesh and the powers of this dark world.  In my struggle against Satan.

He wants to kill me.  He wants to kill us.  He wants to take us to Hell.  He wants us to suffer eternally.  He promises us the world, yet leaves us short of eternity.

And we never find fulfillment in what he promises.

All we ever do is want more and more and more of the emptiness he offers that leaves us craving more.

Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t leave us in our sin.  He delivers us.  He has delivered those who profess faith in him, and he will continue to deliver us daily from our sins as we lean further and further on him.

In John 10 28, Jesus says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

No one will snatch them out of my hand. 

You can’t lose your salvation once you’ve gained it.  Jesus made sure of that.  He just promised it.

However, for those who have not professed faith in Jesus, you are stuck in your depravity and sinfulness – along with everyone else on this planet who hasn’t put their faith in Jesus – until Jesus comes and take you out of it…and then you are washed white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).

If you are his child, you are completely righteous before God.  OLord help me to believe that!

How I struggle to believe.

 

pexels-photo-208371



I want to share with you some song lyrics that I wrote a while back.

Perhaps you can resonate with them.

My heart is still so cold,
it’s like it’s still made out of stone,
God, why do I persist in trying to make myself known?

My brain knows what’s up,
but my heart just ain’t down,
to take up both my hands and throw away this worthless crown.

So I keep on fighting,
and I keep on striving,
and I keep on trying,
cause my heart won’t die,
and I need you now as much as ever before,
cause’ it’s a daily war to check myself at the door.

May we not have hearts of stone! But rather hearts that love the Lord with all we are, with hearts that are willing to follow him wherever he leads.

For more from Ryan: http://www.thriveintheword.com

 

Related Resources:

 

Maranatha

Maranatha

Written by Ryan Miller

Christianity doesn’t really cost me anything.

Can you relate?

Paul was persecuted.  Killed.  So were all the apostles except John, who miraculously survived being boiled alive.

Jesus, of course, killed.  God poured his wrath upon his son.  Upon himself.  For me.

And what does my faith – this belief that I’ve been freely given through God’s incredibly sacrifice – cost me?

Not a whole lot.

Can you relate?


I was at Winter Jam a little over a week ago and it struck me that, at least in the south, Christianity is still popular.  It’s still cool to be a “Christian”.  It’s still cool to stand up on a stage and proclaim the gospel to a bunch of middle school kids in a way that is slightly humorous, but well scripted and well spoken.  It’s still cool to rock out in the name of Jesus.

No, these aren’t the quickest routes to fame.  But they’re not too shabby.  Added bonus, we get to feel good about ourselves.

We don’t have to sing about drugs or sex or money.  We can sing and talk about Jesus and make it all sound real good and we’ll still get a bunch of people patting us on the back and telling us how convicted they were by our sermons, or our blog posts, or how they cried because we sang, with only minimal backlash that doesn’t really hurt all that bad because of all the praise that drowns it out by the people around us who feel so much better because of what we’re doing.

Of course, so do we.

Otherwise why would we do it?

But what happens if we actually have to stand up for what we believe?  What would this country look like if every single so called “Christian” acted like the one’s we see in the Word?  What if we didn’t fluff our way through life?

What if following Jesus actually cost us something?

What if Christians got killed in this country for proclaiming the name of Jesus?  Would you still call yourself a Christian?

And so I question my own faith.  Not the existence, but rather the genuineness.  The trueness of it.

Why does my faith, my “Christianity”, look so different from what I see in the Bible?  Why do others?

Why is self-marketing mixed in with glorifying Jesus?

Why do the artists at Winter Jam have to tell us what booth they’re at and how much their t-shirts cost and how we can get a free CD if we buy one after their set?

What if that’s not really glorifying Jesus?

Sure, the money is probably being used for good things.  And sure, the gospel is being spread.  And I don’t want to deny that.  Because Jesus will use the good news no matter how it’s portrayed.  The Holy Spirit will change lives despite our weaknesses.

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.  The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.  The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.  What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.  Yes, and I will rejoice, | Philippians 1 15-18

But what if this isn’t all there is?

What if all our culture’s talk about gospel tracts and how to get people in our church doors and retain them isn’t what Jesus died for?  What if the music and preaching and service we do actually don’t mean a dang thing if there’s no love behind them?  If the Holy Spirit is not moving through us?

What if giving our bodies to be burned is actually meaningless if not for love?

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. | 1 Corinthians 131-3

Then it sounds like we would all be damned.

For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. | from Romans 14:23

I don’t want to imply that we stop spreading the gospel.  That the artists are Winter Jam are all doing their self-promotion for the wrong reasons.  Because I don’t know their hearts.

All I’m saying is it didn’t sit well with me.

And yet I can point the finger at myself.

Even as I write this post, I’m being tempted with the thought of being popular.  It started out okay – I really felt like I was writing out of the Spirit – but now I’m not so sure.  Because I’m thinking and analyzing.

What if this offends people?  What if there’s something in here I shouldn’t say?  Doesn’t the Bible talk about getting good counsel?  Maybe I should have a bunch of people read this and comment before posting it…

But what if they don’t think I should post it?  What if their judgments are out of fear?  How do I know I can trust them?

More to the point of this post, why do I sit idly by as those around me continue in their sin?

Why am I not compelled to share the gospel and love deeply those around me who don’t profess the name of Jesus, even those who clearly are not following Jesus, though they claim his name?

Why does it seem that so much of what I say and do is about being liked rather than about being obedient?  Why don’t I radiate love for Christ?  Why doesn’t my life look radically different from the world around me?

Why don’t I feel a deep, passionate love for my Savior?  Why is it all so in my head?

Why am I such a hypocrite?

Popular Christianity is sitting less and less well with me with every passing day.  Including my own passivity and lukewarm-ness.

I don’t want to just fit in.  And I know there’s more to a relationship with Jesus than what I’m currently experiencing.

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, | 2 Timothy 3 12

Yet we try to affirm persecution in our own lives to justify being a faithful disciple.  To justify being saved.  Since that’s what Christianity has become all about.  Personal salvation.

“Oh yeah, I’m persecuted for Jesus.  I got attacked on Facebook just the other day.”

Yet the “persecution” most of us experience for Jesus probably isn’t really persecution.  I can largely affirm this in my own life.  I don’t know if there’s a single thing in my life right now that I would say is persecution for the name of Jesus.

And maybe I’m just being an idealist.  Maybe – probably – some of the difficulty I go through mentally is persecution from Satan because he knows I’m striving to follow Christ.  I’m certain there’s an aspect of spiritual warfare that is being waged on my life.

But a lot of my struggles could just be my own sin.  My own stupidity.

Is there such a thing as “little versions” of persecution?  Is the world a bit of a different place than it was in Bible times?  Sure.

But really we’re probably just justifying what we really want to be persecution so it affirms that we are actual believers.  Most of us at least.

Forgive me if you’re one of the true who is persecuted because you’re actually following Jesus.  But of course you will forgive me.  Because the Holy Spirit is alive in you.

Should not our lives look radically different from those around us, my professing brothers and sisters!  I speak also to myself.

I just feel so inundated with the modern American version of Christianity around me that I’m a little confused on what it means to spot, or be, a genuine believer in this dark and depraved world.  Forgive me Father for being lukewarm.

Why is the line so thin between Christian and non?  What if most of the people around us are actually damned and we just can’t see it because of our own blindness?

What if there’s more to following Jesus?

I guess that’s all I’m really saying.  That I know there’s more.

Perhaps you can relate.


If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. | John 15 18-20

Though persecution is promised, my desire is not to seek it out, nor should it be yours.  That would be sadistic.

Rather, I want to seek to live like Jesus.  Genuinely.

And persecution is promised to those who desire to live a godly life.

What will that look like?  I don’t know.

Intense hate speech?  Property damage?  Physical damage?  Martyrdom?  When did that become such a novel idea?

Probably when Christianity became lukewarm and popular.

Maybe it’s time for a change.  Maybe we should actually start following Jesus for real.

I don’t want to be afraid.  I don’t want to fear.  I’m tired of being afraid of what people think of me.

More importantly, I’m tired of being numb.  To the reality of the sacrifice of Christ.  To the incredibly beauty of the glory of the Father.  To the supernatural movement of the Holy Spirit.  Which, as one of my pastors spoke about last Sunday, is the only way we will ever truly see change.  It’s the only way we will ever see life.  Dying to self through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Because, as he said, if the Holy Spirit is not present, life will just be miserable.  It will just be a bunch of rule following for the sake of earning something that can’t be earned.

For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. | Ephesians 2 8-9

And maybe this post will do nothing.  Maybe everything will continue status quo.

But I doubt it.

Because God is real.  God is alive.  The Holy Spirit is alive.  Jesus is alive.

And I pray that we will all truly experience Him.

Is Your Spirit Fed?

Is Your Spirit Fed?

 

Summer of 2016 I went to my second Leadership Project, an almost 8 week event put on by Campus Outreach with the purpose of growing closer to the Lord through work, evangelism, discipleship, and community.  It’s an incredible experience, one that I highly recommend you attend if you have the ability (or something similar).  It’ll grow you closer to the Lord like few other things will.

During my second Project, I was a room leader, meaning I was responsible for the general direction and spiritual guidance/leadership of a handful of guys.  I started with two, had five mid-way through the Project, and ended with three, so it was an eventful summer.  To add to the chaos, I took an online physics class during Project so that I could graduate almost on time, since I failed an intro physics class during the spring of my senior year due to a general lack of self-discipline and a generally negative attitude towards school.

Needless to say, it was a busy summer.


In my experience and time with CO, one thing that has become very evident is CO’s excellence at discipleship, which also remains true at LP.  At Project, they provide leaders for every group of people, or, at minimum, solid accountability and consistent community for all.

Part of being a room leader at LP – while being a spiritual leader myself – was being under the guidance of what is called a team leader, i.e. the next person up on the spiritual ladder of leadership.  The team leader’s, in turn, are spiritually and practically accountable to the Project director of their same gender.

The team leader for me, and for the other three room leader guys on my team that summer, was a guy named Landon Tucker.  I want to specifically call him out because he’s the primary man whom God used to change my heart towards the Word.  And, though it’s only through God’s grace that Landon was used, I still desire to give Landon the shout out he deserves for being faithful to what the Lord called him to.

[Landon, if you read this, I know it’s been over a year and a half, and I know I’ve mentioned this to you before, and other people – probably multiple times – but thank you again.  Don’t mind me calling you out one more time for your faithfulness 😃.]

As a room leader, part of my job, as I mentioned, was being primarily responsible for the hands-on discipleship and spiritual growth of my room while on Project, which, admittedly, I’m sure I failed at in many ways.  That said, part of leading a room spiritually includes growing spiritually from a personal perspective as well.  We, as people, can only really teach what we have experienced and been taught ourselves.  In other words, I am only able to truly push others towards Jesus – or anyone or anything else – out of the overflow of my own heart and my own personal growth.

But during LP 2016, I was not where I needed to be to effectively lead other guys spiritually, and it became apparent to my fellow leaders during our weekly leadership meetings.  Specifically, I wasn’t getting in the Word every day.  I wasn’t saturating myself with God’s word on a regular basis, which is A) pretty much a requirement for leader’s in CO and B) it’s a necessity for spiritual growth.

And I was failing at it.  And I got called out for it.

I don’t remember how it went down specifically, but I was asked at one of our D-group meetings how my personal time in the Word was, and I had to admit it wasn’t regular and it wasn’t where it needed to be.

How many of you have found yourself in this exact situation, whether with the Word or with any other discipline or general life habit that would be good for you, whether spiritually or otherwise?  I imagine many of you can relate to where I found myself.

Thankfully, I had accountability.  I had partners walking closely with me as we pursued the Lord together.  I had fellow young men right alongside of me, walking with me, struggling with me, pushing me to be “better”, i.e. more faithful.  Pushing me to obedience.  Pushing me to focus less on myself and more on the Lord.

They challenged me on my lack of daily discipline in the Word.  They challenged me to do it.  Which was great.

But this particular meeting was not the first time I had been challenged.  And, honestly, the previous challenges hadn’t really done anything of lasting value, and probably wouldn’t have done anything had everything stayed the same.

But Landon stepped in.  He took the challenge to the next level.  He got a little bit angry.  He didn’t coddle me.  He didn’t continue to gently recommend I do what I should’ve been doing.

In his personal walk with the Lord, he was in the Word every day – and I’m sure still is – and spoke out of a heart that had experienced the joy and the fruit that spending time alone with the Lord every day can bring.  He spoke out of his own personal conviction and experience.  He led me as the Lord had called him to do.

And it stuck.

He basically said, “Listen man, it’s unacceptable that you’re not getting in the Word every day.  You can’t feed others spiritually if you aren’t feeding yourself (a pretty common phraseology amongst CO folks).”

He compared getting in the Word every day to eating.

“What happens if you don’t eat every day?”

I get hungry.

“And if that continues for a long time?”

I die.

Hmm.  Good point.

That’s what happens spiritually if I don’t get in the Word every day.  That’s what happens spiritually if you, the reader, don’t get in the Word every day.  First you get spiritually hungry.  Then you die.

Or, for those who aren’t regularly feeding yourselves with the Word, perhaps you were never spiritually alive to begin with.

I know that last sentence may sound harsh, but I want you to consider with me: What are the only words we have access to that are said to be divine revelation from the Father?  The Father we claim to follow?  The words of the Bible.  The words “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

If we aren’t reading these words as often as we possibly can, how are we going to grow?  How are we going to be fed spiritually?  We won’t!  We’ll die!

By God’s grace, Landon didn’t just stop at challenging me.  He took it to the next logical step.  He made a plan.  He asked our group who would be willing to get up early with me and when.  It was settled that I would get up with one of the guys in our group, Henry, at – I believe – 6:30 in the morning on a day that week, which seemed preposterously early to me at the time.

But that morning changed my life.  The Lord did something in me that morning – through Landon, through Henry – that stuck.  I’ve been in the Word every single dang day – save two – since then.

Who would’ve thought that’s something I could have ever said!  Not me.

But it’s not something I even bat an eye at now.  It’s expected.

And let me be clear that I did nothing to get my heart to this place.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  I mean that.  The Lord did something supernatural in me through his Spirit and through his sons.

And that’s what I want for you.  I want you to be in the Word every single day with me.  I want you to be fed spiritually every single day.  Otherwise, we’ll die.  And I don’t like the sound of that.

And might I add that morning’s are a darn good time to spend time with the Lord.  To paraphrase the director of my first project, “No one wants to be around me, and I don’t want to be around myself, if I haven’t spent time with the Lord first thing in the morning.”


To finish, I want to challenge you to join me.  I challenge you to go deeper.

If you’re already in the Word every day, that’s phenomenal.  Keep at it.  Keep being faithful.  Keep seeking ways you can continue to soak up God’s word and God’s people.  Push yourself further.  Whatever the Lord is calling you to, whether it be prayer, scripture memory (personal growth area!), reading the Bible in a year, reading the Bible quicker than a year, etc.  Whatever it takes to be faithful to what the Lord has called you to do.

If you are not in the Word every day, and you call yourself a Christian, you’ve got to get there.  I think this is imperative.  I don’t want to sugarcoat it.  This needs to happen in your life.

Listen, I don’t know where you’re at.  I don’t know how busy your life is.  I don’t know if you’re actually saved or not.  Only the Lord knows.

What I do know, however, is what I’ve already said: Without feeding on the Word of the Lord (think “eat my flesh and drink my blood” from John 6:53-57we will die spiritually.  I might even argue we would prove ourselves to not be his children if we cease from consuming, or never consume in the first place, his words.

Yes, prayer is incredibly important.  Yes, community is super important.  Yes, there are other areas of importance.

But I think this needs to be the beginning.  Soaking in the Word needs to come first.

I do want to add that I’m hardly perfect.  Some mornings – even this one – I struggle to get in the Word.  My mind is a million other places and I just flat out don’t want to start my day in his presence.

But the Lord is good.  I know he will meet me this day.  I know he will draw near to me, and as a result I will to him.

If you need help, find accountability.  Pray about it.  Ask the Lord to change your heart.  Talk to me if you want.  I’d be happy to hold you accountable.

But do something.  Don’t hold back.  May this be the day – the moment – that your life looks different.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. | Psalm 37 4

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. | Matthew 6 33

As Paul ended his letter to the Philippians, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your Spirit.”

Written with love,
Ryan

 

For more from Ryan: http://www.thriveintheword.com/