Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Strengthening Our Foundations

Reopening the Leaning Tower of Pisa in 2001 followed an expensive $25 million renovation and kept it closed
for a dozen years. During that time workers removed 110 tons of dirt from beneath the tower, stabilized the foundation, and corrected sixteen inches of tilt. The sandy soil lacked the stability needed to sustain a monument of the weight of the Pisa tower, leaving it tilted heavily to one side.
Walking side-by-side with Christ minimizes the effects of eroding foundations like the shifting sands beneath Pisa’s tilted Tower. When Jesus returned with Peter, James, and John, from the Mount of Transfiguration; they found a large crowd in a noisy confrontation. The disciples who stayed behind had been unable to heal a boy with an unclean spirit. A troubled dad had sought their help, but their spiritual formation was such that they could do nothing but await the return of Jesus.

Upon returning, Jesus healed the boy. When finally alone with the disciples, the disciples asked Jesus why they could not heal the lad. “This kind can come out only by prayer,” Jesus concluded (Mark 9:29).             

Prayer adds spiritual dimensions into one’s spiritual formation, enabling one to walk with Jesus and serve in simple trust. Upon returning to Capernaum, Jesus asked what they discussed so diligently while they were walking. When they did not admit their competitive spirits, Jesus went to the source of their striving by gathering them around him and describing the true greatness of leadership.

You want greatness? Serve others! Wait at the end of the line! Assist the least among you (33-37)! Strong spiritual formation results when prayer rises upward out of deep trust in God, Christ becomes our bulls-eye--the target at which we aim (38-50).  We become our message (39). We compliment others, rather than compete with them, because we serve in his name. We anticipate a full and fair reward for each, and the cups of cold water we give in his name make our message more important than the messenger.

This living the life—orthopraxy, brings its own rewards; whereas breaking fellowship--offending the child--offends God. Disciplined living reduces the torments of clinging hindrances, improves behavior, and increases our delight in God’s presence. Following are a daily dozen for disciples wanting to correct the tilt caused by shifting sands.

Confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10; Philippians 2:11).
Depend daily on the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18; Acts 11:8).
Pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17; Luke 18:1).
Search the Scriptures daily (John 5:39; Acts 17:11).
Attend public worship regularly (Hebrews 10:25; Psalm 50:5).
Invest liberally without grudging (2 Corinthians 9:7; Luke 6:38).
Prioritize Jesus’ mission (John 4:35; Matthew 38:19-20).
Deny self and live for others (Matthew 20:26-28; I John 3:15).
Witness to someone daily (Acts 2:42).
Grow in grace (I Peter 3:18; Ephesians 4:12-16).
Memorize a Bible verse (Psalm 119:11; Daniel 12:3).
Carry your Bible as a travelling companion (Titus 1:2; Philippians 2:16).

Taste the full flavor of being at peace with one another, united in purpose, and powerful in sharing His-story. And remember: second best always costs more than it saves.


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