Thursday, April 03, 2014

Spiritual Disciplines

We can be deliberate about being better at following Jesus.

Sometimes, we need to train to be better; to fill in our gaps. We can choose to train ourselves away from these things and towards God but it takes discipline.

Though discipline is often seen as a negative word nowadays, discipline is also what propels elite athletes past their competitors.

For hundreds of years, disciplines like these have helped people to develop in their relationship with God. What follows is not a checklist for salvation (you are no more saved by these than by eating a cheeseburger) but they can help you to build your relationship with God, tune in to His spirit by them.

Disciplines of Abstinence (The don't do's)
These are ways of denying ourselves something we want or need in order to make space to focus on and connect with God.
Solitude: Refraining from interacting with other people in order to be alone with God and be found by him. (Solitude is completed by silence.) Luke 5:16 Prioritising God by removing ourselves from ‘noise’

Silence: Not speaking in a quiet place in order to quiet our minds and whole self and attend to God’s presence. Also, not speaking so that we can listen to others and bless them.  Goes with solitude.

Fasting: Going without food (or something else) for a period of intense prayer — the fast may be complete or partial. John 4:34 Matt 6: 16-18

"Fasting is a purgative or cleansing discipline that surfaces inner sin, immaturity, and stress points. For instance, when you’re learning to fast you’re likely to have problems with hunger, fatigue, headaches, low frustration tolerance, or feeling deprived. You may discover that you’ve been relying on food — more than Jesus — to provide comfort, fullness, rewards, energy pick ups, or simply having something to look forward to."

Sabbath: Doing no work to rest in God’s person and provision; praying and playing with God and others. 

Secrecy: Not making our good deeds or qualities known to let God or others receive attention and to find our sufficiency in God alone. Matt 6:6

Submission: Not asserting ourselves in order to come under the authority, wisdom, and power of Jesus Christ as our Lord, King, and Master. (Can include submitting to a person as unto Christ.) 

Dallas Willard says “Abandon outcomes to God.” To submit to God in any given situation is to refuse to try to get anyone to do anything or to make things turn out a certain way, but instead simply to be responsible (which mostly means to love God and neighbour) and to trust the Sovereign Lord.
Disciplines of Engagement (the do's)
These are ways of connecting with God and other people, conversing honestly with them in order to love and be loved.
Bible Reading: Trusting the Holy Spirit-inspired words of Scripture as our guide, wisdom, and strength for life. 

Worship: Praising God’s greatness, goodness, and beauty in words, music, ritual, or silence.

What we do with ourselves, our time and our resources is our worship.

Prayer: Conversing with God about what we’re experiencing and doing together. 

Soul Friendship: Engaging fellow disciples of Jesus in prayerful conversation or other spiritual practices.

Personal Reflection: Paying attention to our inner self in order to grow in love for God, others, and self.

Service: Humbly serving God by overflowing with his love and compassion to others, especially those in need.

So the question is: where do you want to grow? Pick the discipline that will help you grow the most in the area you want to grow most in.

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