Posts Tagged ‘discipline’

Re-Imagine 2009

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How do you measure just how good your year was?  One of my favorite litmus tests – am I more like my Creator now than I was last January?

The short answer – not so much.

Looking back at 2008, I can see the grace-full hand of God AND the selfish sinful nature of me – ugh.  I lacked the level discipline required for significant spiritual growth in 2008.

So for 2009 instead of dreading discipline, I am choosing to celebrate it.  Each month I will focus on one of the 12 Faith Disciplines written about by Stephen Foster in Celebrate Discipline.  And each week of the month I will practice one critical aspect of each discipline and journal about it here.

The battle plan:

January-Submission

February-Simplicity

March-Solitude

April-Meditation

May-Confession

June-Worship

July-Fasting

August-Prayer

September-Guidance

October-Study

November-Service

December-Celebration

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The One Thing…

Spiritual growth.  How do I achieve this?

We all want it, right?

So what is the one thing, the one practice that will accelerate growth more than any other discipline?

In Follow Me, the second book out of the Willow Creek Association and follow-up to their incredibly insightful REVEAL research confirmed that a Christ follower who consistently stated this experienced the growth that all of us Christians desire: “I reflect on the meaning of Scripture in my life.”

Reflection.

The word itself implies a thoughtful and intentional process.  When I read the Bible, I skim.  Rarely do I reflect. As Hawkins wrote in Follow Me, ” (Reflection) is thoughtful, personal meditation that catalyzes spiritual growth.

Are we aware that no matter where we are on our spiritual journey, nothing matters more to our growth – including church services, volunteering, small groups – than time spent in God’s Word? Nothing beats the Bible.”

Want to do your part in advancing the Kingdom today?  There is nothing more strategic or effective than grabbing a passage from the Bible and reflecting on it all day.

“We’re All In This Together…”

In (tongue in cheek) honor of the release of the new High School Musical, maybe we all ARE really in this thing together.

Thank you Stephen:

In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky tells the story of the elder Zosima who says, “Truly each of us is guilty before everyone and for everyone, only people do not know it, and if they knew it, the world would at once become paradise.”

This is the humility that rises in the master’s breast to be his servants’ servant. This is the humility that refuses to judge his brother. This is the humility that rejects the hell of isolation for the paradise of fraternity, of community. I am my brother’s keeper. We are connected inasmuch as my sin is his and his love is mine. So that I am not better than this thief or that murderer, not only because of my personal guilt as a lawbreaker (James 2:10), but also because of my brotherhood with all people.

Isolation is hell; communion is paradise. “This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:25-27).

The discipline of submission calls us to become less, even the least—as a little child—to become as God became and becomes for us. Christ emptied himself to become “the least person in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 11:11). And so we honor others as better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). As we share in the life of Christ, we too become the servant of all; we lay down our lives, in life, and, if necessary, in death. As we share in his life, we become the body of Christ, one community.

Now we, you and I, are sinners. And I am the worst. But thanks be to God, Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). I am guilty before you and all men—my sin damages and destroys friendship, community, and unity. I share the guilt of everyone—we are one people. Just as Daniel prays, “We have sinned and done wrong” (Daniel 9:5). He identifies himself with his people. He does not pray that God shows them mercy, but that he shows us mercy. We do not live in a vacuum of Jesus-and-me; rather we belong to his body and share in the divine life. When one member sins, all suffer; and when one loves, all rejoice. We are connected: When we praise God, we change the world. The discipline of submission creates community. There is no community without it.

I must think of you and your interests before myself and mine or I reject the reality of our communion. We are one body. This is the truth. And if I do not understand this truth, then I must cast myself onto my knees to pray and to wash feet until I do.

On the last page of Karamazov, Dostoevsky speaks of submission and communion. He expresses it beautifully in the following dialogue:

“Well, let’s go!

And we go like this now, hand in hand.” “And eternally so, all our lives hand in hand!”

Who knew High School Musical was so theological?