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By: Chris Culver

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier.  Christ says "Give me All.  I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You.  I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it.  No half-measures are any good.  I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down.  I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out.  Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked — the whole outfit.  I will give you a new self instead.  In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours. – C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity 

Sunday we talked about abiding in Christ. The night before his crucifixion Jesus told his disciples, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." He tells them that it is for their joy. This is the way to joy. This is the way of all Christians, drawing on the supernatural union with Christ we have by faith in a way that his nature flows into ours and transforms us completely.

Abiding means staying, remaining, resting. And Jesus tells them how to do this when he isn't physically with them any more. He tells them to abide in his word. There are different, good approaches you could take to this important discipline. Really, the only bad one would be to not do it. If you don't have a practice of prayer and meditation on scripture, I want to give you a helpful place to start.

Take the scripture memory verse we send out each week, it's below in this very email, and use it to meditate each day. Someone from the church has written a reflection on the verse to get you started. Then, use ACTS(L) to pray through the verse. ACTS(L) is an acronym to guide us through Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication, and sometimes Lament. What does the verse tell me that I can adore God for? What do I need to confess in light of the verse? What can I thank him for? What should I ask for? And sometimes there will be something to lament or long for. This is just a help to guide our thoughts in prayer. If the Holy Spirit leads your heart somewhere else, go. Let's try it.

The memory verse for the week is Colossians 3:1-3. What can we adore God for? Christ has been risen and we have been with him! What an amazing plan to save us! Who could have thought of such a thing? You are a God that loves me so much. You are a God that is love.

What can we confess? I set my mind on things that are below far too often. I am consumed with worries and anxieties in this world. I think too little of your kingdom and I forget your love for me.

What can we Thank him for? You have tied my life to Jesus's. Thank you! None of the struggles here can touch the real life I have because this world can not touch what Jesus has done for me! Thank you for salvation.

What can I ask him for? Father, give me a vision of your kingdom. Let me learn more about you. Teach me that my identity and self are hidden with you and that can never be taken away.

These are short examples. You chew on these verses yourself. If you don't know or don't understand, ask. The only way you screw this up is by not doing it. If you do this three times a day, in the morning, a brief prayer around lunch, and before bed you will find yourself changed. It takes time, but beautiful fruit will begin to grow.

Grace and peace,