“Practice these things”

Posted Jan 11, 2019

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Daily Scripture

1 Timothy 4:8-16

8 While physical training has some value, training in holy living is useful for everything. It has promise for this life now and the life to come. 9 This saying is reliable and deserves complete acceptance. 10 We work and struggle for this: “Our hope is set on the living God, who is the savior of all people, especially those who believe.” 11 Command these things. Teach them. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. Instead, set an example for the believers through your speech, behavior, love, faith, and by being sexually pure. 13 Until I arrive, pay attention to public reading, preaching, and teaching. 14 Don’t neglect the spiritual gift in you that was given through prophecy when the elders laid hands on you. 15 Practice these things, and live by them so that your progress will be visible to all. 16 Focus on working on your own development and on what you teach. If you do this, you will save yourself and those who hear you.

Reflection Questions

Don Shula coached the only unbeaten Super Bowl champions, the 1972 Miami Dolphins. He once said, “You take on what's right in front of you. You want to do the best you can with the opportunities that you have.”* His comment captured well the essence of what Paul told his young friend and protégé Timothy about life. Be confident; do what’s right in front of you. You cannot be a “winning” Christian without continued learning, growth and experience.

  • Scholar N. T. Wright said, “For genuine godliness… you need to go into training just as much as an athlete does…. We expect and want to be told that ‘spirituality’ is simply the sense I have of being in God’s presence, surrounded with his love, sensing a transcendent dimension in the affairs of everyday life. It comes as a shock to be told that it’s something you have to work at—and something, moreover, which will take the same kind of hard work as going into training for athletics.”** Are you “in shape” or “out of shape” spiritually?
  • You do not exercise to win your doctor’s approval, but because you want to be healthy. And you don’t train spiritually to win God’s love (you always have that), but to build inner strength for a growing Christian life. Not sure how to “train” spiritually? Click here for a list of spiritual practices many Christians in the Methodist tradition (as well as most others) have found helpful.


Lord, whatever my physical circumstances and condition, help me spiritually to be more of a “gym rat” than a “couch potato.” Give me an inner hunger and thirst for your righteousness. Amen.

* Quote found at https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/don_shula.

** N. T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: The Pastoral Letters. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, p. 47.

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Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group and a men’s group, and serves on the curriculum team.

Our Small Group of parental volunteers with CORis (Church of the Resurrection Inspiration Singers) is starting a study of Christian Heroes to learn how their faithwalk can inspire our own journey.  One of our 1st discussions will focus on famed hymnist Fanny Crosby, author of over 8,000 hymns, including favorites like “Blessed Assurance” & “To God be the Glory.”

Fanny was born in 1820.  At 6 weeks old she became ill & an unlicensed doctor prescribed a treatment that resulted in blindness.  Fanny’s Father passed away shortly thereafter and, as her Mother worked as a maid, Fanny’s Grandmother became her primary caregiver.

Fanny did not wallow in misery with her predicament & developed a great talent for writing verse.  One of her 1st poems, written at the age of 8 included these stanzas:

Oh!  What a happy soul I am!
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy,
That other people don’t!
To weep & sigh because I’m blind,
I cannot nor I won’t.1

A well-meaning preacher once remarked later in her life that it was shame she could not see, since God had given her so many other wonderful gifts.  Fanny replied that she wouldn’t want it any other way – now the first face she would see would be that of her Savior, Jesus Christ.

So, what might Fanny’s life story have to do with today’s Scriptural challenge?  (From your lips to God’s ears – Editor.)  One of Fanny’s habits, encouraged by her Grandmother, was to memorize Scripture.  She would memorize five chapters of the Bible per week.  (Yes, chapters - not verses.)  Even as a child, she could recite all 4 Gospels, Proverbs, & the Pentateuch from memory. 

Sadly, science has confirmed that adults no longer have the ability to memorize facts, figures, or phrases like high school students.  (Really?  What study? Editor) Um, I can’t remember where I read it – DL. (Sigh – Editor.)

Aside: I like the old comic of a gathering of The Forgetful People Support Group.  A man introduces himself, “Hi.  My name is Wally & I am forgetful.”  The group shouts in unison, “Hi Carl!”

But, what if we bucked the alleged trend & tried to memorize Scripture this coming year?  How might this spiritual practice help us in our day-to-day routine?  Let’s take a few quick examples:

  • What if we memorized 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – Rejoice always?  How might placing this simple phrase at the forefront of our mind shape our attitude as we waited in that interminable line for coffee or read some snarky comment on social media?
  • What if we tried 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray without ceasing?  How could this reminder to commune with God throughout our day, not just as we got up or went to bed, add perspective to a medical appointment or stressful job meeting?
  • Or what if we meditated on John 11:35 – Jesus wept?  Noting that this verse occurs in the midst of the mourning of the death of Lazarus we could mull over several possibilities:  Maybe Jesus was weeping because His dear friend was dead, or perhaps Jesus was emotionally impacted by the mourning of Lazarus’ sisters - Mary & Martha, or maybe Jesus, saddened by the human condition that was terrified of death, knew it didn’t have to be this way.  Imagine how different our day might be if we contemplated these grand ideas instead of obsessing over the latest market gyration or that gossipy breaking news story?

Wow.  We’ve already memorized 3 Scripture verses & the day has just begun.  This is going to be a great year!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m trying to remember which rock band recorded the song, “Pinball Wizard.”  (The Who? Editor.)  Sigh.  That’s why I’m looking it up – DL.  (Sigh – Editor.)


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