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Practical Disciplines of a Christian Life

Practical Disciplines of a Christian Life

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Practical Disciplines of a Christian Life

Lunghezza:
210 pagine
3 ore
Pubblicato:
Nov 22, 2016
ISBN:
9781620205914
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Practical Disciplines of a Christian Life is for women who are looking for helpful information on how to apply the various Christian disciplines into their lives. This book will also give readers encouragement through their reading about other historical figures (through short biographical sketches) who have struggled with the same issues as the reader. Each chapter ends with applications readers can use to begin growing in the individual disciplines each chapter covers. Practical Disciplines of a Christian Life ends with a chapter which encourages readers to continue growing and moving forward in their Christian life, reminding them that it is not a one-time deal, but that they are to grow each and every day. They are to look for ways that God has moved them forward in their Christian growth by being able to look back and see where they have come from. Overall, Practical Disciplines of a Christian Life is to be an encouragement to all women who read it that they, too, can move forward in their Christian growth and they don’t have to feel stuck in place. Some Christian disciplines are a ‘trial and error’ before acquiring the knack of doing it right.
Pubblicato:
Nov 22, 2016
ISBN:
9781620205914
Formato:
Libro

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Anteprima del libro

Practical Disciplines of a Christian Life - Sharon Bahrych

Practical Disciplines of a Christian Life

© 2016 by Sharon Bahrych

All rights reserved

ISBN: 978-1-62020-568-6

eISBN: 978-1-62020-591-4

Holman Christian Standard Bible® Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used with permission by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved.

Cover Design & Typesetting by Hannah Nichols

Ebook Conversion by Anna Riebe Raats

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page

Copyright Information

Introduction

Chapter 1: Believing in God

Chapter 2: Abiding in His Love

Chapter 3: Obeying Him

Chapter 4: Trusting in Him

Chapter 5: Prayer, A Necessary Discipline

Chapter 6: Witnessing: A Day-to-Day Need

Chapter 7: Forgiveness, A Gift We Give Ourselves

Chapter 8: Embracing Joy

Chapter 9: Embodying Generosity

Chapter 10: Being a Steward

Chapter 11: Resting in His Peace

Chapter 12: Mastering Discipline

Chapter 13: Seeking Wisdom

Chapter 14: How's Your Worship?

Chapter 15: Using Your Spiritual Gift(s)

Chapter 16: The Case for Suffering

Chapter 17: Becoming Holy

Chapter 18: Battling Spiritual Warfare

Chapter 19: Putting it All Together

Notes

Contact Information

INTRODUCTION

As I look back upon why I wrote this book, I can think of an example early in my Christian life where I was told by another believer in the young adult group I was attending that the leaders didn’t know what to do with me, I was too messed up in their mind. She proceeded to tell me that I was so messed up, no one knew where to start, so they just left me alone.

Thankfully, God didn’t give up on me. Even though others didn’t know where to start in helping me learn the disciplines of a Christian life, God continually directed me to read various books which gave me the direction(s) I needed. He also directed me to be mentored by a woman who was moved by the Holy Spirit to begin praying for me when I was 20 years old. I ended up spending the next 10 years being mentored by her as she constantly showed me His love.

I was emotionally needy having never been shown love by my family of origin. I once asked my father what his definition of love was and he told me, a bed to sleep in, food in your stomach, and a roof over your head. And yet, love consists of so much more than that.

On my 25th birthday, I finally had enough courage to confront my parents and demand that they tell me verbally that they loved me. I also demonstrated to them how to give physical affection. It wasn’t until decades later that I realized how emotionally scarred they were during their own childhoods, which had led to their just surviving, day to day.

After this eventful birthday, they never let me return to my place of residence without giving them a physical hug and telling them that I loved them. They had finally come to realize how much they needed to be loved by another.

So I hope through your reading this book that you are able to acquire a small glimpse of how others have struggled through their ‘walk with God’ and it encourages you to stay on track. Many of the people I write about in this book are people whose biographies I read and were encouraged by during my own walk with God.

For example, I can remember reading Edith Schaeffer’s books and devouring Catherine Marshall’s books. Many times I would read and re-read them to receive the encouragement I needed regarding my Christian walk.

So I want you to know God loves you. He does indeed have a purpose in your life. Most of all, be encouraged.

—sharon

CHAPTER 1

BELIEVING IN GOD

For I know the plans I have for you – this is the Lord’s declaration – plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

~ Jeremiah 29:11–13

I DON’T KNOW HOW MANY times I’ve read the story of Abraham and his wife, Sarah. Abraham, who is known for his faith in God. Yet, even Abraham had his doubts at times. Abraham took matters into his own hands, as he had doubts about Sarah and him traveling into Egypt to escape a regional famine. Rather than trusting God to protect them, Abraham told his wife to lie to the Egyptians about their relationship. Because of Sarah’s beauty, Abraham thought he would be killed if the Egyptians knew they were married (Gen. 12:10–12). So instead of believing God and His promise (Gen 12:1–3, 7), Abraham believed in his own ability to keep him and his wife out of trouble.

Even still, the Lord’s plans were not thwarted. He protected Sarah, who had been brought into Pharaoh’s harem, by bringing severe plagues upon Pharaoh’s house. It didn’t take long for Pharaoh to realize the plagues were a consequence of his taking in Sarah. He called Abraham, confronted him about his lie, and then sent them out of Egypt (Gen. 12:17–20).

Even though Abraham had not believed God would protect and provide for Him while he was on his way down to Egypt, God nevertheless had His hand on him. God had made a promise to make Abraham into a great nation, and He was going to fulfill His promise. No matter what Abraham did, God was purposeful in fulfilling His promise.

So was this the only time Abraham stumbled and fell? Oh, no. Between God’s promise that he would be the father of the Jewish nation and God bringing Isaac into his life twenty-five years later, Abraham stumbled and fell several times. Not only did Abraham stumble when he and his wife went into Egypt, but he repeated this same sin when he and his wife lived in Gerar (Gen. 20:2). Then, he and Sarah tried on their own to fulfill God’s promise by having Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant, become pregnant with Abraham’s seed (Gen. 16). Was God pleased? No. Was God deterred in fulfilling His promise to Abraham, due to his sins? No.

Twelve years went by, and Abraham had an angelic visitation. He was told that he would father a child who would be born one year later. God was reminding him of His promise. What was Abraham’s and Sarah’s response? Sarah laughed at the audacity of such a thing happening to her. When the angels confronted her about her laughter, she lied and said she hadn’t. But again, God’s plans were not to be thwarted. Thirteen years after Hagar delivered her son, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham. Isaac was finally born (Gen. 18).

So, if Abraham, after twenty-five years of following God and being one of God’s prophets (Gen. 20:7), had trouble believing in God’s promises and relying on his faith in God instead of his own prowess, stumbled along the way, why do we consider ourselves any different?

Yet, many of us act contrary to how Abraham acted. We believe other Christian believers should believe God, should hold onto their faith in Him no matter what. We express empty clichés to our friends and family, saying, God will get you through this, it’ll all work out, or don’t worry.

As our friends or family members move forward, we are left to deal with our doubts, our inability to see how our own life’s troubles will truly work out for God’s good. We don’t believe those clichés for ourselves. If we go so far as to speak about our doubts in God, or worse, to say to our friends and family that we have denied God or walked away from Him, then what we receive in return is at best rebuke, at worst, judgment and condemnation.

Why are we not able to believe God and what He is doing in our lives (despite our negative circumstances)? And worse, why do our friends and family members think that it is right to condemn us or judge us?

It took Abraham, one of God’s own prophets, more than twenty-five years before he fully believed God and His promises. It wasn’t until God asked him to sacrifice Isaac on Mt. Moriah (Gen. 22), which was probably 12-20 years after Isaac’s birth, that Abraham was finally able to believe God despite the circumstances.

So why not give ourselves 35-40 years of being a Christian before we expect to have it together as far as our faith in God goes? Many times we become depressed or fearful of what is happening in our lives, and all we want to do is walk away from Him. Instead, we should just hang on and let God do His work in us. It is His responsibility to bring about what He wills for our life. It is our responsibility to rest in His peace.

I wish I had reacted with His peace in my heart during times of His testing of my own faith. But, I was no better than Abraham. I also doubted God. I also walked away from God due to my emotional hurt just like another prophet of God, Job, did (Job 30:21). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see what He was doing until years after the various incidents in my life.

John Piper is known for saying, God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him. But to get to the point where we are most satisfied in Him takes decades of following Him, stumbling, getting up again, stumbling again, getting up again, and trying yet again to persevere.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WHILE LIVING IN ILLINOIS

In 1997, I took a university teaching position in Illinois. I had prayed and relinquished my job search to God and ended up having three positions to choose from. Like Gideon, I laid out fleeces to Him and earnestly asked Him where I should go. One of my gifts is teaching, so after earnestly seeking His answer, I believed He was leading me to move to Illinois.

I never had such a horrible year, from day 1 to day 365. I cried my way through the whole year. The first day was the best day (and even it was bad); all of the subsequent days just continually went downhill. I had believed the chairman who hired me when he gave me five different verbal promises of what would happen when I arrived. My first day there, I found out he had already broken promise number one to me.

Over the next year he proceeded to break all five promises. He had told me that he wouldn’t hire a particular person as the program director, yet when I arrived I found out she was the director. Within an hour of my arrival, she had informed me that she had just arrived back from meeting with the university attorneys in an attempt to get my contract broken and send me back home. That was my introduction to the best day I had there. At the end of my one year contract, I left and returned to Denver. Any faith in God and His goodness was in shattered pieces. I wanted nothing more to do with Him.

Eighteen months after I returned to Denver, I attended a women’s mentoring meeting. (I was mentoring a 30-something woman who was dying of pulmonary hypertension and had two teen-aged children.) The women mentors would meet once a month for prayer and support. I finally decided to lay it out on the table, and tell the other women there how much I hated what God had done to me and that, due to my emotional hurt, I had walked away from Him.

After I finished sharing, there was complete silence. We had shared prayer requests, and so the leader started off praying for various requests. Twenty minutes later, everyone’s prayer requests had been lifted up, but was I mentioned? Not even once. I might as well have been wearing a big red A on my sweater that day because I became a pariah. I was shunned. No one stayed around to chat with the other women (like usual). Instead, everyone (minus one) immediately collected their things and walked out.

I thought to myself, Well, I definitely expected that. The only one who didn’t hurry away was a 35-year-old woman who was working on her master’s degree in counseling. She came over to chat and then pray with me.

I thought that the leader of the women’s mentoring group would at least call me or follow up on what I had said. I had a good relationship with her, and we usually went out and had breakfast with each other on a quarterly basis. But no, she made no contact whatsoever.

After two weeks went by, I called her. Linda told me, I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t call you and left you alone.

Linda, I want you to meet me for breakfast in the morning, I have a book to share with you. It has given me the answer to what’s going on in my life.

The following morning, Linda met me and I handed her a book, The Safest Place on Earth, written by Larry Crabb, PhD.

Linda, this book has explained to me what happened in the women’s mentoring meeting. It has also partially explained to me what God is trying to do in my life. I’m still just as hurt by God, but at least the tears have stopped.

Sharon, I’m so glad. I was at my wit’s end as to how to approach you or what to do for you. I didn’t even know whether to pray for you or not.

Five years after I left the university, I decided to attend a one-day writer’s conference not far from home. One hundred seventy-five people were in attendance. I chose to sit at a table with two other attendees. During lunch, I turned to one of the women at my table and asked her whether she wanted to join me outside to sit in the sun and eat lunch together. Jane said sure, and off we went.

We found a sunny table outside, opened our lunch boxes and proceeded to introduce ourselves. Jane told me she had come to Denver to visit her daughter for a week and had decided to also attend this conference.

I asked her where she was from.

I live in Illinois, said Jane. With that, my eyes became a little larger. Jane continued, I used to work for Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, but I’m retired now. I’m a medical technologist by training and taught med tech students.

What a coincidence, I replied. I worked for Southern Illinois University in Carbondale for a year, and it was the worst year of my life.

You did? What did you teach? Jane asked.

I was supposed to teach in the newly developed physician assistant program, but the program director forbade me from teaching during the year I was there. So I did some preliminary research and helped out with writing some of the student exam questions. I left after that first year because the dean rescinded my contract.

Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not an unusual story. It happens way too frequently in the university system, Jane said. Did you file a faculty grievance?

I nodded. It went all the way up to the chancellor’s office. He was supposed to sign off on it; I won the university faculty-wide hearing, 3-0 in my favor. But instead, he denied it.

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