August/September 2016 - Vol. 87

Word of Life
                  community summer festival
Word of Life annual community summer festival
Winning the Battle in the Long Humdrum Process of Life
Why is a distinctive Christian way of life so vital for families and communities?

by Bob Tedesco

Christianity can be described and discussed in many different ways: elements, practices, theology, etc.  We can also question: “What is being saved by the work of Christ?” I would say LIFE and all that it means: this life and eternal life.  It’s not just a ‘practices’ sort of thing but life and all of its power, its energy, its creativity and inspiration...this life and the next.

We can also say Christianity is a way of life. It looks different from life in the world and people can well recognize it as different; they may mock it or persecute it but they’ll recognize it as different.

Much, indeed most of Christianity is a process. The process is sometimes started by an event. A retreat can be the event. Conversion is such an event. As a parent, I took my children to as many events as possible; and sure enough, at one of our university retreats, my son heard the Lord call him and responded. He has been serving the Lord ever since in the process of Christian life and service. Some of my grandchildren’s lives have been saved by the Lord using the Sword of the Spirit evangelistic “YES” retreats for young people.

So, Christianity is a way of life, and, for this discussion, a way of life made up of events and PROCESS.

Some Definitions and Descriptions

Events are somewhat singular; they can be milestones. We often celebrate events and remember them: birth, baptism, etc.

Process often has elements of maintenance: nourishment, hygiene, improvement, etc. Prayer, sacrifice, tithing are all part of the ongoing process of the Christian way of life.

Repentance and starting over are a part of the process.

The battle is won in the long, boring process of life. If you are a member of a church that has two hours of high worship every week: you raise the roof with praise and singing, the gospel is proclaimed, all is still will have one hundred and sixty-six hours to live the Christian life before you can do it all again. One eighty-fourth of your weekly life is in the event; the battle, the perseverance; the victories are very much in the process. This is not meant to be a “downer,” but good news: Christ has saved everyday life... we can have and experience victory in it!

Scripture often compares the Christian life to a race.
Hebrews 12:1 –“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”

1Corinthians 9:24 –“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run so that you may obtain it.”
2 Timothy 4:7 –“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Life can be scary; life can be painful; life can be disappointing; but we must stay focused. We have to: 1) fight the good fight; 2) run to obtain the prize; and 3) keep the faith.

Scriptural Examples

Mark 9:2-8  (the event)
After six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them . And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly looking around they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
Peter wants to “freeze” the event and stay there. That’s not how it works. Jesus leads the three back down the mountaintop. There’s work to be done and there is victory in a life that is lived for others.


Luke 10: 38-42
Now as they were on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing alone is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”
The Martha & Mary story is a nice example of both process and event and we’ll discuss it more in the “dangers” section.

Matthew 13: 1-9
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow, and as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.
Conversion is an event that can be endangered by the daily life process (not the Christian way of life process).  This can be seen by observing each person’s response in the “seeds” story.

cutting the wedding

Daily life examples (side by side comparison)

A wedding is an event and the married life and family life is the resulting process. No amount of grandiosity lavished onto the wedding event can guarantee the success of the process.  It might even be the case that excessive spending on the event endangers the process or might at least reflect a leading cause of divorce: irresponsible financial patterns.

The first day of school is a bit of an event that begins the long, tedious process of education which is celebrated by graduation.  In this example you have a process bracketed by two events.

Getting a job is an event. Doing a job is the resulting process.  Sometimes milestones in the process are celebrated.  You might get a 25 year watch and a free lunch.


There is a danger in trying to turn the Christian life into a series of charged events (e.g. expecting every worship service to be an exciting, high energy launch pad for living the daily life). It can be a similar danger to expect every teaching to be an inspired preaching of the Word that stirs the soul.

There is a corresponding personal danger to expect every personal prayer time to be a mountaintop experience.  We are just setting ourselves up for disappointments with these unrealistic expectations.

Another danger is not realizing that an event is happening.  Martha was so invested in the process (providing hospitality) that she didn’t realize that an event was happening: Jesus wanted to talk. Most of us would consider it an event if Jesus dropped in and wanted to talk.  Some of us would start dusting the woodwork or defrost the steaks that we were saving for just such an event.

The challenging nun...

In 1972, I had a privileged invitation to speak to a gathering of nuns at a convent. My assignment was to share what the Holy Spirit was doing among lay people and “non-churched” people with the Pentecostal experience. After thirty or forty minutes of testimony about “Jesus people,” people being healed, delivered from evil spirits, speaking in tongues, prophesying, conversions, and vocations saved, I opened it up for questions (note: I was feeling quite satisfied that I had done a nice job witnessing to this wonderful, outrageous renewal). 

One of the questions put me in my place. A little old nun questioned: “Do you mean to tell me that after serving the Lord faithfully for my entire life, there are lay people and street people having experiences that I have never had?” I mumbled something like, “Sister, I know that it’s strange for a young engineer to be speaking to a set of nuns about spiritual things, but stuff is happening!”

I believe that her firm, lifelong dedication to process may have kept her from seeing that God is sovereign. He loves street people and lay people and the undeserving. Are any of us “deserving?”

University Christian
                          Outreach winter retreat 2016
University Christian Outreach winter retreat - North America 2016

Retreats, Conferences and other Events

The Lord often speaks to us through events and by teachings, prophecies, ministry, prayer times, etc. He wants us to take Him seriously.  Events are meant to change process: to grow us, improve us, and challenge us. At a retreat, we should write down what we’ve heard; these words are called to bring reforms to our daily life. Review them Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Get a friend or pastoral leader to help with accountability to get them to happen. Reforms are often practiced. We work them into our process.

We might start by saying, “I’m going to pray ten minutes more each day.” “I’m going to say something encouraging to my spouse each day.” “I’m going to increase my tithe by 1% next payday.” “I’m going to lead prayers at mealtimes.” Don’t be the seeds that fell onto the path and were eaten, those that fell on rocky ground, or those that fell among the thorns. Don’t lose what you are given. The Christian way of life is lived mostly in the process.

Matthew 7:16-20 (NKJV)
You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them. 
Good children come from families with good process. Great children usually come from families with great process: great commitment to Christ and His kingdom...commitment in the heart, in the speech, in the actions, at meal times, and at play times. Your children know you in the process. Your event face is not mainly what they know or what they think of you.

1 Kings 19:11-12
And he said, “Go forth and stand upon the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, a still small voice.
Earthquakes, fires and winds that can break rocks are events. The still, small voice is almost as common as a gentle breeze...he speaks volumes to us in the gentle breeze of everyday life!

Matthew 7:24-27
“Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”
Choose the Rock! (Event)

Build your house upon Him (Process).
Blessed is the wise man who builds his house upon the rock!

Bob Tedesco is past President of the North American Region of the Sword of the Spirit. He is a founder of the People of God community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, and has been one of its key leaders for the past 40 years.

photo credits by Nico Angleys
 (c) copyright 2016 The Sword of the Spirit