Physical exercise has some value… Spiritual exercise is valuable in every way!

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by Calven Celliers

The apostle Paul and his circle of acquaintances were well aware of the culture of training and athletic games in the Greek world in which they ministered. His letters were peppered with references like “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training….  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly” and “…press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” and “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown [wreath] of righteousness….” Paul clearly had a lot of respect for physical training, but in one particular verse its evident where his ultimate values lay. Paul learned the importance of staying spiritually strong and the benefit of developing spiritual habits in his life, like spending time in the Scripture, prayer and daily worship. Paul understood the importance of staying spiritually fit, especially in the face of opposition, and he knew this would be good advice to a young man like Timothy. So he wrote to Timothy saying:

Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it.”

(1 Timothy 4: 8 & 9NLT)

We all know it’s crucial for healthy living to eat nutritious foods and exercise, but today’s verse reminds us it’s even more important we stay spiritually healthy. Training the physical body has definite value for this life. We benefit from a healthy body during our time on earth, but staying spiritually fit offers benefits now and for eternity.

Physical training requires you to push yourself to do your best. It takes exercise with focus and intensity over time to get you fit. Consistent training increases strength and stamina and the ability to win.

It’s no secret, most days I simply don’t feel like exercising. Whether it’s because I’m tired, unmotivated, or just darn right lazy, I’ve learned that if I don’t intentionally make it a priority and form habits to purposefully add exercise into my day, I won’t make the time. We are the only ones who have control over setting priorities in our lives. If we don’t intentionally make staying spiritually fit and spending time with God of utmost importance, then it won’t happen. And without habitual spiritual nourishment, we will never be spiritually fit and strong.

Professor of biblical spirituality and associate dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Donald Whitney comments that,

Spiritual disciplines are those practices found in Scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are habits of devotion, habits of experiential Christianity that have been practiced by God’s people since biblical times. They are activities. They are not attitudes. Disciplines are practices. Spiritual disciplines are things you do. They are not character qualities. They are not graces. They are not the fruit of the Spirit. They are things you do. So you read the Bible. That is something you do. That is a spiritual discipline. You meditate on Scripture. You pray, fast, worship, serve, learn, and so forth. These are activities. Now the goal of practicing any given discipline is not about doing as much as it is about being: being like Jesus, being with Jesus.

How is your devotional life? What does it consist of? Is it enough to help you get spiritually fit and keep you fit? How do you train yourself for godliness? I look at it as a series of exercises that you do daily and weekly that get you spiritually fit and help you maintain that fitness, and even move beyond it to the next level. It involves knowing God more intimately, and learning to enjoy Him more fully. When it comes to ministering to other people on Jesus’ behalf, you’re able to hear what the Spirit is saying and follow what He says. We form habits in our spiritual lives that help us stay strong, thus having the inner motivation to live out outward actions that glorify God.

If you need to restart your spiritual exercises, I encourage you to set up for yourself a spiritual training regimen. And keep at it until it becomes regular, a discipline so to say. Then increase. If you’re already established in a daily devotional time, think about increasing the time and intensity a bit.

 

God bless,

Calven

Continue Reading Physical exercise has some value… Spiritual exercise is valuable in every way!

Our Friend Jesus

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by Luke Kincaid

Last night Cammie and I watched a documentary on one of the first successful game streamers who went by the name of Reckful. It was one of those documentaries that made you feel as if you knew the person by the end of it. Byron “Reckful” Bernstein sadly took his own life on 2 July at the age of 31 after struggling with depression for a large portion of his life as a result of the tragic suicide of his older brother when Byron was very young.

One of the saddest parts of this happening is that he seemed to be doing so much better in recent months and this honestly seemed to come as a shock to those closest to him. The reason I wanted to share this with you is that just because people seem to be doing alright on the outside it doesn’t always mean they are. I sometimes go through down patches in life and there are days when it is easier to say things are okay even when they are not. The problem with this is that it is only detrimental to try and go through difficult times by yourself.

It’s essential to share our burdens with those closest to us. We all need a friend to talk to and if you find yourself going through an emotionally difficult time and are not wanting to speak to anyone you know – start by speaking to Jesus. He is the friend we all need, who can help us through difficult times. I love how Got Questions says the following about Jesus fulfilling this role in our lives:

“The Lord Jesus Christ gave us the definition of a true friend: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:13-15). Jesus is the pure example of a true friend, for He laid down His life for His “friends.” What is more, anyone may become His friend by trusting in Him as his personal savior, being born again and receiving new life in Him.”

 Upon believing in and following Jesus He is there to help. So please if you are going through an emotionally difficult time and need to chat to someone – don’t try and go through it alone – reach out to a close family member or friend you can trust or one of the pastors and we will try our best to help. But also, right now in this very moment, reach out to Jesus and speak to Him as He is already there with you in this trying time.

 

Much love,

Luke

Continue Reading Our Friend Jesus

Leadership

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by Dave Griffiths

Early at the start of 2020, the world as we know it, began to change. Normal has been replaced by the “new normal”, whatever that is, and the essential need for leadership is apparent to any thinking person.

But what is a leader? What makes a leader? Is it Rank, Status, Clout, or Style? Is leadership automatically the CEO, or President, or Head of State?

According to Jesus, the truest kind of leadership demands service, sacrifice, and selflessness. He said, 

“The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many,” (Matt. 20:25-28).

Today, these are not characteristics most people associate with leadership, but they are essential qualities of a biblical approach to leadership.  A biblical approach is the only approach that Christians should consider.

Most people fear the end of the world is coming when a virus of this magnitude affects the entire world, but they have no idea what the word Eschatology means! And our world leaders aren’t going to elaborate or suggest that we should be waiting for the glorious return of our Saviour.

Our culture today, is crying out for solutions, formulas, one, two or three-step programs to answer every human need. Jesus said “I am the Way” the only way. (John 14:6).  We can count on Him in every situation.

All Christians in every kind of leadership, are called to remember that the leadership role is a spiritual responsibility, and will one day be called to give an account (Matt. 25:14-30).

To put it simply, leadership is influence. The ideal leader is someone whose life and character motivate people to believe and to follow. The apostle Paul was a dynamic leader, and still leads, having written most of the New Testament. Acts 27 and 2 Corinthians show Paul at his best as a leader. He was a true example of a Christlike leader.

A real leader is an example to follow, not just believe, and the best example to follow, as Paul knew, is the one who follows Christ. Paul measured his own success as a leader by a single criterion: he had kept the faith, meaning that he had remained faithful in following Christ, and that he had kept the Gospel intact. He had proclaimed the Word of God faithfully wherever he went.

I take this opportunity to thank you, New Harvest, for your leadership characteristics. Leadership that is all about character, honour, decency and faithfulness. Leaders that are Christlike.

 

Love to all our fellowship. One day we will meet again, together, and it will be wonderful to lift our voices in praise and thankfulness.

Dave.

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Remembering the Good

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by Graham Mol

On Sunday 24 May, a few minutes before we started the live stream of the Sunday service my wife told me to smile as she took a picture (which you can see included this blog post). After she took the picture I asked her why she had done that to which she simply replied, “For the memories.” I remember being so touched by that. I really appreciated what she had done. As it turned out, this was the last time I preached from my lounge as the lockdown level restrictions on churches would change the following month and we’d be back streaming the services from NHCF again. This part of the adventure, the figuring out how to set this all up and having Candice step in as my “technical team” has ended now but I will always treasure those memories. Never in my life would I have ever thought I’d preach from my own living room!

It seems odd to say that I have memories to treasure from this difficult time we as a nation are facing. I’m not saying that it’s all good, in fact so much of it is really bad, upsetting and traumatic. The pandemic and the lockdown it necessitated have been heavy burdens to bear and I know that many have struggled far more than I could even imagine. Yet in the midst of all the sadness, fear and turmoil, we all have special moments to treasure. The “silver lining” in the dark clouds that is so often spoken about. It is good that we treasure these small blessings. Maybe for you it has been the extra time you’ve spent with your family or the opportunity to really dive deeply into God’s word, enjoying His presence even in the solitude. Maybe you’ve found a new sense of peace in having to slow down, only now acknowledging the frantic, unsustainable pace that was ruling your life.

In Philippians 4:8 Paul has this to say:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

It is good for us to remember the positive things. To keep hold and treasure those special moments. To look for and appreciate the blessings amidst the storm, the little glowing lights in the gloom. When we humans remember the past, we tend to dwell on the good things and forget the bad. That is why the “old days” always seem to be the “good old days”. While we should heed the wisdom of the Teacher in Eccelsiastes as he says, “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions,” (7:10); it is not necessarily a bad thing that we tend to remember the good rather than the bad. The good things, the treasured moments, can be a wonderful reminder of God’s faithfulness, goodness and kindness to us. The fact that we don’t remember the bad as much means that those things no longer hold sway over us, bringing us down. So I encourage you to think of the good and to give thanks to God for small mercies, silver linings and hidden blessings amidst the difficulties we face.

Lastly, I’d like to give a “shout out” to Caryl who, by sharing her reflections from her rooftop this morning, inspired me to write about this topic. I can recommend you go check out her video (LINK).

 

God Bless

Graham

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