When it seems every one else if grabbing for all that he or she can get; it’s easy to conclude that maybe we give up too much to become followers of Christ?
The truth is, we did “give up” a lot. For instance, we gave up death for eternal life (Rom. 6:22-23). We cave up Satan’s kingdom for Christ’s (Col. 1:13). We gave up the role of a slave to sin for inclusion in God’s family as a co-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:15-17).
You may have something the Lord wants from you. It could be an attitude or an action or both. Perhaps you made a promise in the past and just haven’t followed through.
Take some time right now to ask the Lord if there’s something you’re holding back that’s hindering your relationship with Him. If he brings something to your mind, then determine to give it to Him right now.
Maintaining God’s plan for you will often mean saying “No” to pleasure. It may mean saying “no” to an immediate pleasure and trusting God to meet your needs. Take inventory of your life. If a temptation needs to be resisted, resist it. If something is hindering your walk with God; deal with it. Ask God to renew your commitment and to use your life to bring glory to Him.
Write down five difficulties you have experienced in trying to live in a Christian manner? How do you think you might best cope with these?
You can take an inventory of how your life has been impacted by the lesson’s of “Quality of Life Training,” and review if you are pleased with the changes that took place. You can review whether you have made an honest effort to free yourself from the tyranny of your past, personal control over your life. You can review whether you have begun to treat your God, others and yourself with more respect. Each day you should be taking pleasure in meeting new challenges and in finding new ways to fulfill God’s plan for your life.
You should have met with obstacles during these lessons, and you should have done your best to deal with them without feeling in control of all aspects of them. You should no longer have a need to be in control. You should be learning to role with the punches, and more importantly, you should be learning to forsee problem areas and avoid sin.
You should be able to look back over the time you have worked on the “Quality of Life Training Course,” with a quick satisfaction. And you should be looking for and to the coming future with a sense of excitement and keen anticipation, knowing that you and Your Father can handle whatever He brings to you in His Plan.
Share what your feelings are of your change or progress?
Obedience sets us before God in such a way that we can be transformed and confirmed to the way of Christ. William Penn said “To be like Christ, then, is to be a Christian.” He was centered in God.
Jesus invited people to share his yoke, adding that his yoke was easy and his burden was light. We too are yoked to One who is training us. Our only task is to keep in step with him. He chooses the direction and leads the way. As we walk step by step with him, we have lost the crushing burden of needing to take care of ourselves and get our own way, and we discover that the burden is indeed light. We come into the joyful, peaceful life of loving and obeying.
By its very nature, this course is never complete and over, because it is an invitation and pointer to growth and change. Whether you have worked systematically through this course, or simply participated in it here and there, we hope and pray that you will continue to heed the invitations to personal growth and upbuilding in the body of Christ, the Christian church manifest in your local congregation of the faithful. We encourage you:
•to follow up with your trainer if selected,
•to talk with others about your responses to the exercises or in class discussion (Homework)
•to seek opportunities to share in silent or directed prayer retreats for further teaching and reflection, and, most of all,
•to identify life issues and priorities about which you need consistently and persistently to be in prayer and training – be bold in setting yourself a training program and goals for growth in your relationship with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Meyer spells out this thought: “When we want to know God’s will, there are three things which always concur – the inward impulse, the Word of God, and the trend of circumstances. God in the hearts, impelling you forward; God in the Book, confirming whatever He says in your heart; and God in circumstances. Never start until all three things agree.”
Write a letter to God. You might want to have your letter contain any or all of the following areas:
•Thanking God for the experience,
•Planning with God, how you are going to use the skills and insights you have gained.
•As King God the questions or guidance about living that are still unanswered for you.
•Ask God to continue empowering you for your service to him.
God has a leadership role for each of us. We need to seek his will with all of our ability, and the grace to be obedient to his heavenly vision. And as a result of that we will receive a vision of what he is calling us to do with our lives. When we worked together caring for the problems of others as if they were our problems, we demonstrate Christ’s example of putting others first, and we experience unity.
“Your life in Christ makes you strong, and his love comforts you. You have fellowship with the Spirit, and you have kindness and compassion for one another. I urge you, then, to make me completely happy by having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and being one in soul and mind. Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own. The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had:
“He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to become equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had and took the nature of a servant. He became like man and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death.”
How would your life change if these verses were fulfilled?
“Whoever does not accept the Family of God like a little child shall not enter into it,” Jesus says. From children we can learn again to delight in nature, to accept each other, to reach out in joy and in our need. From children we can learn again to approach our Father in Heaven without fear and to accept our equality with Jesus.
“The righteous are like a light shining brightly; the wicked are like a lamp flickering out.”
Why are you a Christian?
The Council of Trent’s Decree on Justification states that “all men” are called to be sons or daughters of God with Christ (chapter 2), but they can freely reject this family (chapter 5). We reach this decision through the help of the Holy Spirit. The process of passing from the Child of Earth and sin to a member of God’s family is called justification (chapter 4). God through Christ provides grace (divine help) to assist us (chapter 7).
Share a time when you were particularly conscious of the presence of God a time when he was very close to you.
This concept as well as the concepts of religion; consist of all of the realities (attitudes, convictions, emotions, rituals, beliefs and institutions) we deal with the existence of the universe, earth and humans, it’s creation (the start), its purpose (Why), its orderliness (How), and its spiritual involvement (the beyond in the midst of life-Bonhoeffer) through faith in a God.
“The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to your father, deference; to yourself, respect; to all people, charity.
Write the story of Jesus from your own perspective, focusing on how that story communicates to you the reasons why we Christians live the way we do?
Man was created by God in his own image. One of the most important aspects of this, is the free-will God has provided us, This free-will allows us to choose to be God’s child or Earth’s child. This free will has to deal with our Earthly Nature. This Earthly Nature was given to us so that we could have a choice. But even more important is the fact that our earthly nature, gives us some thing to overcome and conquer so that we can earn and receive as a reward, being “God’s Child.” By choosing and earning it, it becomes something that grows deep in our heart. Something that we desire with all of our heart. It becomes the most important thing in our existence.
How ready do you feel to go out and exercise uniquely Christian living and relating?
In that case, we will be able to join God’s family, with the love and adoration that we need to have, in order to give God the Glory he deserves. This glory we owe him, must be the most important aspect of our existence. It must be what we desire with our whole heart, being and spirit. Without that all encompassing aspect of our existence, the Glory to be given to God, we can not join Him as one being, one family and our ultimate purpose and destination.
Since we must overcome our Earthly Nature, we cannot trust our spontaneous inclinations for they are too often directed toward hurting others and ourselves, or exhalting ourselves as “Glory to Man.” Our perception of what is right is so distorted that even when we honestly pursue it, we often fail.
God understands our plight, however, and that is why he has given us the Scriptures. God’s holy Spirit uses our prayerful study of the Bible as a means for renewing the image of God within us. Consequently, the Scriptures remain essential as a guide to how God wants us to live.
God wants to protect us while we learn holiness and teach us how to love Him and His Family. Toward that end he has given us both his Word with it’s commands, instructions and its prohibitions and his Holy Spirit to apply the Word to each of us. If we respond to the Holy Spirit and trust God, that Word serves as a map to guide us back to our true purpose.
“Christianity is not a voice in the wilderness, but a life in the world. It is not an idea in the air but feet on the ground, going God’s way… Fidelity to duty is its root and branch. Nothing we can say to the Lord, no calling Him by great or dear names can take the place of the plain doing of His will.”
The Christian life is to be a life liberated from our earthly nature and sin, and into harmony with God and his family. As we respond to the subtle work of the Holy Spirit, we learn to love as God has commanded. “We love because he first loves us” (1 Jn. 4:19). That is the essential expression of Christianity. True freedom is living fully and completely to the glory of God by living as his child. Only in this way can we love our neighbors and ourselves as God intended.
1.Decide not to be depressed.
2.Do not accept defeat.
3.Reject selfishness and grief.
4.Add up your joys never count your sorrows.
5.Become a servant of God.
6.Accept the comfort of God, which he offers through his control.
How might your living be different since you’ve studied this course?
We must neve loose sight of the fact that he is our God. This means that we must submit our will to his will. The importance of a full commitment to him, and the individual plan for each person. Each person who commits to the plan, and live’s in obedience to it will experience God’s blessing. Each of us in responsible to accept the plan and live by it.
“We will be like our God; if our god is pleasure we will be soft, if our god is money we will be hard, if our God is the ultimate one, we will reach life’s ultimate fulfillment.”
“To be content with little is difficult, to be content with a lot is impossible.” (Anonymous)
What are some of the insights you have gained in studying “God’s Training Program?”
As we grow we understand the character of God and Christ our model. But our growing understanding does not automatically make us Christlike. There is also an element of will, of submission to our training plan.
(1 Clement 17:1-2)
“How blessed and wonderful, beloved, are the gifts of God.”
“Life in immortality! brightness in righteousness! truth in full assurance! faith in confidence! temperance in holiness.”
Once we recapture our childlike nature, free from defenses we can begin to be faithful in all of our relationships and to have a good “family” life. The following verses contrast take piety with true humility and contrasting kingdom values with worldly values, and provide standards of conduct.
Jesus looked at his disciples and said,
“Happy are you poor; the Kingdom of God is yours!
“Happy are you who are hungry now; you will laugh!
“Happy are you who weep now; you will laugh!
“Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insulent you, and say that you are evil, all because of the Son of Man! Be glad when that happens and dance for joy, because a great reward is kept for you in heaven. For their ancestors did the very same things to the prophets.
“But how terrible for you who are rich now; you have had your easy life!
“How terrible for you who are full now; you will be hungry!
“How terrible for you who laugh now; you will mourn and weep!”
Which set of values do you and your family buy into? Why?
We have happiness to look forward to, but we must have humility in accepting it. Don’t let pride in your achievement cut you off from God.
“… For everyone who makes himself great will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be made great.”
But we must not be so humble that we do not provide the spite to human “the salt.” If Christians make no effort to affect the world around them, they are of little value to God.
“You are like salt for all mankind. But if salt loses its saltiness, there is no way to make it salty again. It has become worthless, so it is thrown out and people trample on it.”
How does what most people in the world prize compare to you?
God expects us as his children, not to remain as babies. He wants us to become his responsive and thankful grownup children. He desires not merely to change and train us but to live in mutual love with us. For this he must open our eyes to himself as a person so that we can live trusting him, and walk with him as a friend. Who we are totally committed to him, we become like him; his personal love becomes our guide.
How can you put what you have learned, into action within your Church?
This course is an attempt to wake you up to the glorious privilege of being a child of God – the privilege of loving him. But knowing God takes work and training. Any deep relationship take great effort. No good marriage or friendship is ever formed by people who do strictly what they want when they want. Why did Jesus foretell Peter’s denial? He wanted Peter to understand; that he was not ready to go with Jesus. He had lessons, hard lessons to learn on earth. Like Peter we have unfinished business here. God is not done working on us. Nor is he done working, through us, on his other children. We must wait and train.
What is unique that you as a Christian will bring to your hurt and broken world?
God’s purpose in the universe is to establish intimacy with those who love him, so that we can join him in heaven and provide and enjoy mutual love and glory. He gives himself to anyone who will love him and obey him. For those with serious love – love willing to commit and trust totally – he will return love beyond all they could ask or think.
To get to this point we have work to do, learning to complete our training and allowing him to change us in preparation for our graduation to heaven. We need time, for there is much to learn and much to change.
The Children of God are to take heart and go fourth with determination. Their mission is to be the salt that gives common life its Savior, they are to be like a light shining in a dark place. Their job is to form a “spiritual guide,” whose acts of mercy and charity radiate through the world (Matt. 4:1-16). God’s kind of love is directed outward towards others, not inward toward ourselves. It is possible to practice this love only if God helps us set aside our own desires and instincts, so that we can give love while expecting nothing in return.
(1 Corinthians 13:2-7)
“I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains – but if I have no love, this does me no good.
“Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.”
Which of these do you need to work on?
To live as God’s Child means living in true fellowship with one another, accepting forgiveness of our sins through Christ, and following in his footsteps. This is the old Gospel which is ever new; through it we have passed from darkness to light, from hate to love, from sin to forgiveness. We cannot claim to love God and live like pagans.
We must not loose our Purpose: “God’s Glory and Praise.”
“Stand up and praise the Lord your God; praise him forever and ever! Let everyone praise his glorious name, although no human praise is great enough.”
How can you share with others the gifts you received in this course? Who are some of the people with whom you would like to share what you have received?
He chose you as his child; will you deny him that pleasure? Will you fail to follow his Training Program?
“Accept the teaching he gives; keep his words in your heart. Yes, you must humbly return to God and put an end to all the evil that is done in your house. Throw away your gold, dump your finest gold in the dry stream bed. Let Almighty God be your gold, and let him be silver piled high for you. Then you will always trust in God and find that he is the source of your joy. When you pray he will answer you, and you will keep the vows you made. You will succeed in all you will do, and light will shine on your path. God brings down the proud and saves the humble. He will rescue you if you are innocent, if what you do is right.”
What can you do?
He is there for our needs, love, and sustenance.
“What the mystery and doctrine of the Trinity mean when all is said and done, is that the God who created us, who sustains us, who will judge us, and who will give us eternal life is not a God infinitely removed from us. On the contrary, our God is a God of absolute proximity, a God who is communicated truly in the flesh, in history, within our human family, and a God who is present in the spiritual depths of our existence as well as in the core of our unfolding human history, as the source of enlightment and community” (Catholicism – Richard P. McBrien, X. 361).
In one sentence what have you learned from this course?
He is there to provide guidance to our true vocation.
“To have a vocation from God is to know oneself called to be a saint, not in the sense of having superior moral or mystical capabilities, but as one who has gained a new relationship to the world. In scripture there is but one vocation, common to all Christians: to become the children of God and to live as such. Called to believe the mighty acts of God, men must also – since they have not been removed from the world – live in responsible obedience to God wherever they may be.
“It is at this point that vocation has ramifications for men’s work. It is not by their work that men are saved. The gifts of grace and of faith are from God. Nor are these gifts given in varying degrees. All those who receive, receive equally. The Reformation denies all hierarchies of Spiritual status. There is a universal priesthood of all believers.
“This means that there is no God – preferred work. The clergy have not entered upon labors which assure their superiority to the commonality. Nor, on the other hand, is the clergyman any more accountable to serve God responsibly in his work than is any Christian in his” (Christian Service).
You now have a personal relationship with God. You have a intellectual and emotional relationship. And in addition if your church provides you with the Eucharist, you also receive Christ’s body and blood, soul and divinity. You now have the ultimate relationship possible, on this earth, with your God.
What distinctive gifts have you discovered in yourself during this course?
Then when we graduate to our home and family in heaven, we shall be able to say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith;” and we shall hear Christ say to us “well, done, good and faithful servant.”
The Be Happy Attitudes
“Happiness-that deep inner strength that is made up of courage, faith, hope, and peace. Mix them together, and you have happiness!
Happiness-the courage to hang on in the face of severe adversity!
Happiness-the faith that God will have the last word, and it will be good!
Happiness-the hope that even though you can only see the shadow, someday the clouds will clear away and the sun will shine again!
Happiness-the quiet sense of self-esteem that comes when you know you have done your best.
Happiness-the assurance that you have been merciful and kind to enemy and friend alike.
Happiness-the quiet assurance that God will be merciful and kind to you too.
Happiness-the beautiful belief that this life, no matter how difficult it may be, is not your final destination.”
What have you learned about yourself as a Christian and about your relationship with God during this course?
We have provided you with what we believe are some of the essentials. Some of them may disagree with what you have received from your current religion. We do not wish to take you away from your current religion. We simply feel that it is vital to your growth to receive the truths we wish to call your attention to.
“My conclusion is as follows: one has the right to disagree when one has a duty to disagree, in the name of a recognized truth, whether this is historical biblical truth… and the duty can only be that of the truth” (Father Yves Congar, O.P.-Roman Catholic Theologian).
How have you already used what you have learned in these lessons? Describe in some detail if you can?
Here you are at this point of our journey together. Is this just the beginning? The beginning of a lifetime of living in a more distinctively Christian way? A way you perhaps could not have begun to imagine at the start? God has taught you, loved you, equipped you, matured you within your growth plan. We expect this growth plan to continue and improve.
Phyllis C. Michael
If there’s a breeze, a worthy breeze,
A kite can fly quite high;
Up, up above the earth it sails
Wind-anchored in the sky.
If there’s a God (there is a God),
His arms won’t let you fall;
They will sustain, they will give hope
He loves us, loves us-all.
Then trust in his unfailing power,
Give him your every care;
Lean back and rest upon His breast,
He’s there, He’s always there.
How do you expect what you have learned to be most helpful in your everyday life?
Now is the time for action, and in that sense the course is “seeing you off at the station.” Your journey will be the result of God’s action and your commitment. We are excited to have been a part of your journey so far. You should be thrilled and expectant for what the rest of the journey will be. Our prayer is that you have found in this course, the start of the guidance you will need on the journey.
We hope you will look forward, anticipating how God will us your skills and weaknesses, your life, your love. You say “Good Review” to the course, and say “Hello” to a future filled with growth in God’s plan, toward the ultimate reward, joining God and his Family in Heaven.
This course has provided you some basics to consider and put into action. But at this point, it is all a waste; if you do not maintain this plan. It is absolutely essential that you actively participate in a church and a religion. They will provide you with the maintenance support to this plan. Do it, and I’ll see you up there. May you always be a Child of God.
“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, the sunshine warm upon your face, the rainfall soft upon your field. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.”
If you find, that after studying this course, you are still having a difficult time coping with life, please seek professional help (e.g. Local Ministers, Local Mental Health Programs, etc.). These Courses, are not intended to replace professional Help.
If someone is angry with a leader, reconciliation might look impossible. But God can melt the hardest heart. Leaders can be stymied when people refuse to cooperate. But God can change people’s attitudes overnight. There are times when even the most powerful CEOs in the world can do nothing but retreat to the privacy of their executive office, pray, and let God work. When Nancy Reagan was diagnosed with a malignant tumor and had to undergo a mastectomy, her husband, though he was president Ronald Reagan, realized that even being the most powerful executive in the world had its limits. Commenting on that day, Reagan confessed: “For all the powers of the president of the United States, there were some situations that made me feel helpless and very humble. All I could do was pray – and I did a lot of praying for Nancy during the next few weeks.” The stark truth of life is that it is filled with situations that can only be overcome by God’s power. Leaders are intimately acquainted with stress. Leadership and pressure go hand in hand.
O heavenly Father, I reach out to your guidance and will. Fill me with a special wisdom so that I might always choose to follow the right path. Shine your light before me so that I will never stray. Amen.