Pastor Josiah stood on the platform with three balls in his hands. He threw one up, added the second and third, and soon he was juggling all three. It took concentration and effort to keep all three in the air, but he succeeded. That is the picture of a healthy spiritual life: upward, inward and outward according to Dr. Clayton Ford.
Upward means to focus on God. To deepen our relationship with the LORD YAHWEH means to worship Him, grow in His Word and honor Him. Genesis 1:1 states that “In the beginning God….” (NIV) He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. In Romans 12:1 Paul urges us to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship.” (NIV) What is a living sacrifice? It means to surrender daily to Him, the “author and finisher of our faith.” It means to release our private, self-centered agendas and yield to the LORD’s direction and guidance. Only with the Holy Spirit’s guidance can we accomplish a daily living sacrifice. Also in Proverbs 3:5-6 Solomon advises us to
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your
own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and
he will make your paths right.” (NIV)
Trusting daily in the LORD helps us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. Instead of leaning on our reason and brains, we can lean on the Master of the Universe who is omniscient and omnipresent. Doesn’t that decision make more sense?
Dr. Clay shared his experience as a pastor in Arcata, California, a small costal town above the Redwoods. For fifteen years he pastored there. One day he led a group of fifty in single file as they sang, praised the LORD and marched seven times around the town square. On the seventh round as they sang “Our God is an awesome God,” a huge flash of lightning struck and thunder exploded. The people poured out of the bars and restaurant. Pastor Clay said,”He is worthy of our praise.”
Inward means to focus on growing individually and corporately as a body. We need to fellowship and disciple others because there is power in fellowship. Christ followers grow in community as a family. It is clearly illustrated with a burning charcoal briquette. If a piece of burning charcoal is moved away from the pile, it dies. However, as it is returned to the pile of heated charcoal briquettes, it heats up again. As we fellowship in small groups, in larger groups, in meetings, we get to encourage each other, learn and work together. Pastor Clay shared a personal example of when his children were small, and their family decided to go to Disneyland. He was not excited about going but begrudgingly went. As they entered the park, a large Disney character came up and greeted him not with a handshake but a hug. At that instant, Pastor Clay knew the person inside was a believer and said to the person,”You are a Christian.” The person inside the Goofy costume took Pastor Clay’s wife’s hand and put a cross on it. Pastor Clay was the isolated coal that needed to be connected to the coal pile. In that instant it was the Goofy that encouraged him. God knows what we need, and it comes often in unusual times.
Finally, outward emphasizes evangelizing and compassion ministries. Matthew 28:18-20 states it clearly.
“Then Jesus came to them and said,’All authority in heaven and
on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples
of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have
commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very
end of the age.’” (NIV)
These verses are known as The Great Commission. We are to share with others who He is and how He has changed our lives. It is not a suggestion but a necessity since time is short. We get to be ambassadors for Christ whether we are officially or unofficially. If you know Him, you get to share Him. What a privilege, honor, and great responsibility it is. An urgency is evident in out reach since in heaven we will only experience upward and outward movement. The time is now.
People need to know that they matter. At the end of Dr. Clay’s business calls, he asks the other person how he can pray for him or her. Ninety percent of the time, he is given a request and often the person is in tears. What a way to be light and salt in this troubled world. In Acts 2:41-42, it states ”Those who accepted his message were baptized and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” The LORD added to the Christ followers day by day. The community life of the church speaks to the surrounding areas because the church is part of the message that reflects God. How is FC reflecting God to our neighbors? How are you reflecting God to your neighbors?
If there is imbalance in upward, inward and outward, the loss is evident:
-Body life without worship and outreach is just a club or gathering. Body life needs worship and outreach to effectively speak to our neighbors. We need to jump into the life of the church.
-Worship without body life lacks the corporate dimension.
-Evangelism without worship and body life becomes social concerns and issues alone.
Jesus illustrated the upward relationship as He honored His Father; the inward (body life) with His disciples and followers as He taught them how to pray to the Father and to live with each other; and the outward as He sent them out to share His love and heal the people. Matthew 5:16 states “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” All of our thoughts, words and actions are to glorify our Father in heaven.
May we daily develop our upward, inward and outward foci in a balanced life style so that we may be salt and light in this troubled world.
6/14/23-Fair Day with Carol and Walt
6/14/23-6:30 in the Activity Center-Preparing for the Next Chapter
6/18/23-Father's Day; no evening service
6/21/23-Preparing for the Next Chapter 6:30pm in the Activity Center
6/23/23-6:00pm in the Activity Center--LB potluck, worship, remembering Dave Sage, and hearing Katie Baltzley share. Please join us.
6/25/23-6:00pm worship night
Larry and Annette