As I wordsmithed the ten descriptions of a Baptist New Mexican, my mind wandered to individuals in my life who demonstrated them. Some of them were mentors who prompted my own growth. Others were friends from the past or members of churches I pastored. Frankly, as I made the list, I was amazed at how God had worked in their lives and how that had affected me. Amazed.

God crafted humanity’s ability to feel amazement. Amazement fills an important spiritual role. Seeing or experiencing something beyond ordinary, outside normal, something like God at work, triggers that ability. Suddenly, when it happens, a person feels amazed.

Non-Christians lack a proper outlet for feelings of amazement. But, in a Christian, it functions like a spiritual latch that enables and releases worship, celebration, thanksgiving and more. Over and over, it reveals God, who does amazing works constantly.

When a saint lingers in amazement, savors the feeling and expresses it through words and actions, celebration happens. But, there is more - always!

Amid the celebration, astute saints also see the potential in God’s amazing works. They long to stay near His activity. Since amazement is pleasurable, they encourage others in whom God is working, so God can keep working. They want to see more. And, they want to experience that same work in their own lives. So, they imitate more mature saints to whose spirituality they aspire.

So, the ten descriptions of a Baptist New Mexican work like a tool helping saints thank God for growth in others, celebrate His continuous and amazing work, encourage aspiring saints and imitate more mature saints.

My amazement over the great saints along my path felt like standing at the base of a series of towering, rushing waterfalls, one by one. Each time, I felt the rumble of the power at work in them, and the mist of the falls settled on me and soaked me. As I left and moved on, both the memory and the mist’s effects stayed with me, on me. Saints living among other saints almost always encounter such people. God uses them to amaze us and change us. That is worth celebrating!

Thank. Say the names, during your own prayers, of the spiritual champions who impacted you in the past. When you think about their impact on you and feel amazed, capture the feeling and put it to work. Never waste it. Thank God for them individually. Tell others the story of their influence. Rehearse those memories in your mind. When possible, if they are still alive, thank them for the effect they had on you; be specific.

Here is a partial list of my champions. My wife, Susan. My mom and dad, Buddy and Doris Parker. My kids: Stephen, Sarah, Anna and Ashley. Gertrude Myers. Hap Glover. Harry (a boys’ class teacher). Mr. Woody. Scott Harrison. Danny Miller. Henry Brandt. Keith Thomas. Kerry Skinner. David Roberts. Dave and Kandy Burris. Lois Deuter. Gary Lawrence. James Lackey. Jerry Walker. Randy Kendrick. Jim Henry. James Trevillian. And, many more. God has used them to shape, redirect and refine me. Those saints amaze me. God worked in and through them. Without doubt, He is using others right now and adding to the list.

Look at yourself, too. Give God thanks for the changes He works in you. Look for God at work through you. Look for areas where you have grown spiritually - where God has noticeably changed you. Thank Him specifically and gregariously. You were not easy to save or transform; Jesus died and rose again for those things. Thank Him for the influence and opportunities God’s works in you generate.

Look for God’s work. Get amazed. Give thanks.

Exult. An old word used in the Bible is exult (not exalt). It meant to revel, enjoy, delight in or bask in something that is really great, something emotionally thrilling. It was an internally gregarious activity.

But, make no mistake, gregarious spiritual celebration requires neither a party nor a crowd. In fact, if a person fails to celebrate inside, no impressive decorations and no number of people around him or her can make outward celebration happen.

Sometimes, I sit back at my desk and revel at the amazing people God has put around me over time. I pause in amazement. I am often surrounded by spiritual giants, most of them not famous at all. That personal experience is celebration.

Reveling, exulting, makes a saint smile. Usually, some emotional feeling of joy wells up inside. People can feel exultation - another God-created feeling. It even makes some people physically cry, but not from sadness or despair. Rather, joy fills them to overflowing; so, they begin to leak tears of joy. Pause and exult in God’s work among and through other people around you.

Encourage. Encourage others you see striving on the journey of growth and making progress. When you see victories in their lives among the ten descriptions, applaud the accomplishment with words. Say something. Look for the potential they have yet to unleash. With words, spur them take another step forward.

“Encouraging” describes one person increasing another person’s courage with a deposit from their own resources. It describes a transfer from one person to another. Encouragement shares joy and creates new possibilities. It happens with words.

Imitate. God uses more mature saints as examples for imitation by younger saints. So, when you see someone else doing one of the ten descriptions, imitate them. If they are ahead of you on the journey, imitate them. If they have learned something you have not learned, yet, imitate them. Whenever you see God revealing Himself in someone else, imitate them. As you do, you become an “imitatable” example for others. Imitation is one of the highest forms of celebration.

One caution: use the ten descriptions to help yourself, appreciate others and build saints. Resist every temptation to use them for judging others, pointing out their shortcomings and such. As Scripture directs, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). Always spread grace; honor God’s plan.

Thank. Exult. Encourage. Imitate.

SN5063

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