The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed... - Luke 6:49
Ballast is the weight at the bottom of a boat that keeps it upright in the water. Without ballast, a small wave can cause a ship to roll over. Ballast, weight, burden, load, gravity, pressure, etc. are good things because they keep us upright. Just as a ship's crew can foolishly choose to lighten the ships load so it moves faster in the water, we can chose to reject wisdom and throw off divine ballasts we perceive are holding us back. Keep in mind, God-given ballast does not hold us back, it holds us up, but that doesn't stop us from getting ourselves free.
In his book, "No Silver Bullets," Daniel Im suggests three ballasts that both the Bible and social science tell us are necessary for Christians to mature in Christ These ballasts are necessary if our faith is to continue growing and we are to continue becoming more like Jesus. These ballasts keep us from toppling over and wandering away from the path of following Jesus. What are the three? Just a warning....you will not be surprised. They are: 1) Reading the Bible; 2) Attending worship service at your church; 3) Attending small classes or groups that study God's word and encourage each other's faith (from "No Silver Bullet's" kindle location 1220).
John Wesley, the 18th century church reformer (; included these same ballasts in what he called the means or ways God's power flows into our lives. He used the terms, "searching the Scriptures, the Lord's Supper, and Christian conferencing." (1) (I admit that last one sounds funny to us today). You can find these ballasts in the Bible as well, check out Acts 2:42 as one example. Now the important question, "What ballasts, what weights, what "burdens" are those who call themselves followers of Christ mostly likely to throw off because they get in the way, hold us back and/or are "unnecessary"? The answer is: Daily Bible reading, worshiping weekly and committing to small group discipleship.
In the bible the word for God's glory (kabod), literally means weight. Those who give glory to God, give him ballast, reverence, honor, respect. They respect and therefore learn and follow his word and his ways. The decision to keep or toss God-given ballast, is a decision between two glories. When we toss aside the God-given ballast (weight, glory) it is because we think something else is more glorious. When we choose to go do something else on Sunday instead of worshiping God with our church family, we glorify and honor that something else more than God (the same goes for what we choose rather than reading God's word and being in discipleship relationships). Our choice brings us apparent freedom, but it's a freedom that is missing God's glory. It is a freedom that lacks the loving ballasts God has given to us. The choice you make will determine whether you stay upright or topple over when life tosses its waves at you. The wise person, therefore, keeps a God-ballasted life.
Keep Pressing On,
- Pastor Tim
We don't always see it, but the way Jesus served God's mission was radically different from his contemporaries. For example, Jesus chose his disciples. The normal or correct practice for rabbis of the first century was to wait for a disciple to come tot he rabbi and ask for permission to follow him. Jesus turned that around going out to people and asking them to, "follow me." Not only did Jesus choose his disciples, he allowed women to be part of his team, another first century no-no. In the story of the sisters, Martha and Mary (Luke 10), we see Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. This means he was teaching her. Jesus discipled and trained Mary and other women to be leaders in his church. No other rabbi allowed women into their classrooms. These are just two of many examples from Jesus' life.
The statement says, "God is still speaking?" I believe this is true, but the full picture is this: God has spoken and is still speaking. Hebrews 1:2 tells us God has spoken to us through his Son. Hebrews 4:12 says the word of God is alive and active. God is still speaking to His people through his word and with the help of the Holy Spirit. What God speaks to us will always agree with His word and remind us of Jesus' commands (John 14:26) in order to empower us to live in obedience to Jesus' teachings found in the New Testament. God is still speaking, teaching us, rebuking us (that's a hard one), correcting us and training us in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). I hope that in my teaching and preaching I have not implied that God as stopped speaking. Rather, He has spoken and his words which are alive continue to resonate to his people (those who listen). The question for us then is this: Are we striving to listen to what God says or are we hearing what we want to hear? When Jesus spoke he said things like, "Love your enemies," "Pray for those you don't like," "Include people outside your normal circle of friends in your life," "Make disciples," "Take up your cross," "Do not live for yourselves," "Serve others," "Visit the sick," "Care for the needy," "Give," "Seek first my kingdom," etc. If you are not hearing these things when God is speaking to you, you are not hearing God speak..
Keep Pressing On,
The glory of Christianity is followers of Jesus being transformed into Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. When we become like Christ and are the real presence and do the true work of Christ in our world, then our friends, relatives, acquaintances, neighbors and co-workers (FRANCs) will notice. Heads will turn and more, it is our hope, will be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Here is what Jesus says in Matthew 24:12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold (NASB). Here it is in the NLT: Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.
Normally, when we read this passage, we think outside. That is, we look at the decay and lack of godly love in our culture and say, "Yep, Jesus was right." If only the passage said, "Only the love of non-Christians will grow cold." But it doesn't. We must also look inside. As people become more lawless the sleeping pharisee in us wants to rise up and throw stones. Christians can be heard saying and many are thinking, "They get what they deserve, serves 'em right, hope they get the chair, ship 'em back, etc."
If that had been Jesus' thinking He would have stayed in heaven, sitting in His recliner/throne, watching Netflix on his 50 inch LCD tv or He would have gone fishing. But He didn't, His love had not grown cold, He came to seek and save the lost.
1. Pray - Lord, give us hearts to love like Jesus.
2. Read Carefully a portion or chapter in the NT
3. Share - What did you read and what is God teaching you about loving others?
An excerpt from our district superintendent, Steve Babby's, report to our annual district conference on July 9th:
"Although more attention has been given to our pastors in spiritual and leadership development, fewer of our churches showed growth than in previous years. This is very perplexing! This is not an issue isolated to our district - it is one that is showing up thourght evangelical Christian churches [according a Southern Baptist denomination major study]....
Our ministries are good at continuing to do business as usual. What is needed is our hearts broken to see individuals in our communities come to know Jesus Christ as Savior. Our passion and desire should be: A spiritual awakening in our communities, our churches, and our nation."
To that end let us....
1. Pray for spiritual hunger
2. Read carefully a chapter or portion in the New Testament
3. SHARE with the group ("reply to all") your thoughts on on Dr. Babby's comments. Do you agree? What is God laying on your heart?
I once had an older Christian tell me how she "witnessed" to her unsaved nephew and his wife who happened to be staying at her home. When come in late from their "carousing" she would be in the living room, sitting in her rocking chair, facing the front door with the Bible on her lap. Giving them the stink eye for Jesus, she thought, would convict them. (The sad reality is that she was asleep when they came home and probably thought, "The Bible must be boring if it makes autie fall asleep every night).
What's your picture of Jesus? Is he waiting for you with the stink eye and with those guilt ridden questions, "Where have you been?" "Why haven't you been spending time with me?" "What is wrong with you?"
Or do you picture the Jesus of the New Testament, always happy to see you and saying, "Come to me, you who are weary....(Matt 11:28-30)."
Which Jesus do you want to spend time with? Which Jesus do you want to come home to?
1. Pray - take a moment to thank God for today and ask for His help to follow Jesus.
2. Read slowly a paragraph or more in the NT and ponder its meaning
3. THIS ONE IS DIFFERENT - Share, if you feel led: What you learned and/or what God is up to in your life and/or what you'd like the group to pray for.
Why do spiritual disciplines and guilt always go hand in hand? When did not praying enough or reading my Bible begin to trump the grace of God? The last promise Peter made to Jesus, before Jesus' crucifixion, was, "I'll never deny you." The last time Peter saw Jesus, before Jesus' crucifixion, Peter had just denied him three times. Then, after Jesus resurrection, Peter decides to go fishing. When Jesus shows up we expect a scolding, the hammer is going to come down on the rock (Peter's name means "rock"). Instead, Jesus treats Peter and the other fishing disciples to a buffet breakfast (John 21). What gives? Grace.
In the church we both give and receive "drive-by-guiltings": Why weren't you at such & such event, why didn't you volunteer, etc. This causes us to project upon God similar drive-by-guilting behavior. Remember, "in Jesus we have become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our guilt has been removed.
If we do spiritual disciplines or devotions out of guilt or to prevent guilt, we are trying to make ourselves righteous. And this may be one reason we sometimes find ourselves wondering, "Where is the joy of my salvation."
Pray - "Lord help us to believe that you have made us and see us as righteous. Help us believe that You love us, that through the forgiveness of the Blood of Jesus we are perfect and pleasing to you."
Read and ponder 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Here is the proof that God wants us to live eternally: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4, NASB). God is preserving our lives now so we can be with Him forever. Our hearts and character, which will be with us forever, are being shaped to serve/worship God for eternity.
2. Read Carefully a chapter in the New Testament, listening to what the Spirit is saying.
3. Share. What did you learn, how is your walk with Jesus going.
Keep Pressing On,
- Pastor Tim
How did Paul deal with hump day (Wednesday)?
He tells us in Philippians 3:12-14, "...I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
Let us not grow weary or give up our pursuit of being with and becoming like Christ.
2. Read Carefully a chapter in the NT, listening to what the Spirit is saying.
3. Share with your group what you learned and how your walk with Jesus is going.
Keep Pressing On,
I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.
- William Carey
My name is Tim Kirkes. I am honored to be the a child of my heavenly Father, the husband of Lisa, the father of two boys and the pastor of San Dimas Wesleyan church.