Living like Jesus is not something we do to get salvation. It is our salvation!
After Jesus was born we know that he grew in wisdom and stature in a normal God-designed way. We see in the life of Jesus decisions made and actions taken as a result of his education in Scripture. His regular fasting. His continual praying. The time alone he spent with God. The time he spent in Scripture. The time he spent in the synagogues, helping the needy, healing the sick, blessing the downtrodden, teaching his disciples. All of these things were formative experiences for Jesus.
And if we’re going to look like that, individually and as a church, we have to realize that there aren’t any shortcuts. Prayer, study, reflection, instruction, and experience all play a vital role in maturing us and transforming us more and more into the image of Christ. God designed these processes. And he’s so commited to them that he became human and went through them himself. To show us how.
We have to take very seriously the call to collaborate with God in this. We have to design and pursue on-going programs of spiritual formation.
Baptism should never be seen nor ever taught as the last rung on the steps to salvation. We have to go beyond simple conversion and ask the church to commit — to be resolved — to a lifetime of growing in our relationship with our Father; growing in prayer and study and the other spiritual disciplines; growing in our love and service to one another in Christ. Living like Jesus. This is our salvation.
I know you’re going to lose weight. I know you’re going to give more. You’re going to spend more quality time with your family in 2008. I know. But as we’re making our spiritual resolutions for the coming year, let’s find ways to join our God as partners in redeeming the world back to him.
May we pursue God’s Kingdom plans in humility and submission. May we reach out to others without distinction. May we honor and celebrate our differences in the Body of Christ. May we grow and mature in the faith through the spiritual disciplines of prayer and study and service to others. And may our God bless us by completing in us his work of salvation.
The Cowboys needed to win yesterday to achieve the highest single-season victory total in club history. They lost. Jason Witten needed six catches to reach 100 for the year. He got two. Marion Barber needed 19 yards to hit a thousand for the season. He lost six. The Cowboys lost their regular season finale for the eighth year in a row in miserable fashion. They finished with a franchise record low one total yard rushing on 16 carries against the Redskins. They went 0-11 on third downs, eight of those tries needing at least eight yards for the conversion. They allowed a one hundred yard rusher for the first time all year with Clinton Portis’ 104.
It’s been weeks since this team looked any good. Wade Phillips said they were uninspired and took the blame himself. But yesterday’s loss in Landover reflects the poor-to-mediocre play of this team for the past month and a half. You always want to be playing your best ball heading into the playoffs, but the Cowboys are in the middle of their worst four week stretch of the season.
And there aren’t any more warm up games before the postseason. They go into the next two weeks with a horrible taste in their mouths and nagging doubts about their legitimacy as a Super Bowl contender. Five weeks ago they were a lock to represent the NFC in Arizona. Now nobody would be shocked if they lose in the divisional round to Seattle or these same Redskins.
Romo’s thumb. The Gurode, Newman, Ratliff, and Owens injuries. The disappearance of the running game. Poor tackling in the secondary. Wade Phillips’ record as a playoff coach. All of these things now become magnified in the wake of yet another December swoon.
And to think (this is the part I really love!): most of all this hinges on Terrell Owens.
The Cowboys have not scored a single touchdown since he was injured against Carolina. Without Owens, Jason Witten’s drawing double coverage. Patrick Crayton’s drawing attention. Defenses are stacking the box to stop the run, unconcerned with the prospect of Austin Miles or Sam Hurd beating anybody deep. Without Owens, the Cowboys offense can’t go. And Phillips said last night that Owens is “iffy” to make it back onto the field for that first playoff game on the 13th.
That’s usually how it happens, Jerry. When you sell your soul to the devil, the payback usually comes at the end.
Congrats to the Patriots for their 16-0 season. It’s very difficult to get wins in the NFL. And they put 16 of them together in a row. That is an amazing accomplishment. In fact, it’s a unique accomplishment. And I don’t want to take anything away from that. But I do want to make this observation: the Pats racked up six of those wins within their own division, the lousy AFC East. That division would have to improve just to stink. The Bills, Jets, and Dolphins combined to win only 12 games this year. The Pats won 16, six of them against these awful teams.
They do not belong in the same class as that 1972 Miami team that went undefeated and won the Super Bowl. Not yet. That Don Shula squad is still the only frachise in the nearly 100 year history of the league to go without a loss all the way through to the championship. When Brady and Co. overcome the tremendous pressure and fight through the impossible expectations that do appear to be giving them trouble lately to win the Super Bowl, then and only then can the argument be made that they are the best team ever.
Speaking of the Dolphins, Bill Parcells met with the team’s GM, Randy Mueller, this morning and promptly fired him. He also canned the director of player personnel and the college scouting coorinator. He’s meeting with the coach tomorrow. If I were Cam Cameron, I’d be spending all day today updating the resume and downloading files. Won’t the Almighty Tuna conduct a three-month coach search and then declare at the end of the Spring that he’s actually the best man for the job himself? Won’t he use some sort of variation of the cooking-dinner-and-buying-the-groceries explanation?
Finally, two more Cowboys notes: my otherwise sane little sister, Rhonda, gave me a Tony Romo jersey for Christmas. It’s the super nice one, too. Everything’s stitched on. And it’s the 1961-63 bright blue and white throwback style with the single star on the shoulders that I absolutely love. But I can’t wear it. It doesn’t say Lilly or Staubach or Howley on the back. It says Romo. And while I have nothing against Romo, he does represent the current configuration of the franchise which I cannot support. I’m not sure what she was thinking. But here’s the deal. If they win the Super Bowl, I’ll wear it for a week. Every day for a week. But that’s it. That’s the deal.
And if you’re still super bummed about the Cowboys loss yesterday and the fact that the Redskins are going into the postseason as the NFC’s hottest team, click here. It’s the old Tom Landry American Express commercial from 1982. Classic. If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, you’re hopeless.