Month: July 2015

Spiritual Disciplines Reading Guide

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I am in preparation for a sermon series that begins in two weeks called “A Rhythm of Life”. I’m borrowing this title from something I learned in my master’s program about creating a rhythm, or rule of life that we live in to in order to help cultivate a God-centered identity. A part of this rule is practicing spiritual disciplines like solitude, silence, prayer, study, service, submission, and others. While prepping for this series, I’m reading The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard. If you haven’t read this book, you should. Grab a pen or a highlighter because every page is full of one liners that you’ll want to tuck away in your brain and chew on. Like this rhetorical question he asks at the beginning of chapter three:

“Why is it that we look upon our salvation as a moment that began our religious life instead of the daily life we receive from God?”

I saw this question this morning in my study and my first thought was to put this quote on Facebook. Then I got to thinking, “Why not share with my church and others the two books I’m reading and rereading in prep for this series so that you can read along with me?” With that, I submit to you to read this book by Dallas Willard, as well as Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.

Dallas discusses why the disciplines are so important. We want to be more like Christ, in fact we even expect it. We want to be more patient, kind, loving, forgiving, turning the other cheek, etc. However, we know this is unnatural and doesn’t come easy. And, we do nothing to cultivate this identity within us. Then we’re surprised that when the time comes, we react in a way totally opposite to that of someone bearing the image of Jesus Christ. This book gets at the heart of the issue with that way of thinking.

And finally, Foster’s book has been one of the most profound books in my Christian walk. Early in my adult life, I found myself burnt out spiritually and not seeing much transformation in my life. Then I came across this book and started understanding how the spiritual disciplines posture me in such a way that transformation into the image of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit was a real possibility.

So, if you’re part of the family here at Hunter Hills I hope you enjoy this series, but please know that in four weeks we can only cover so much. I would greatly encourage you to pick up these two books and read them this year. I think you’ll find that God can and does change lives and transform us into the image of the Son Jesus Christ. And the disciplines become a great tool for positioning us to receive this salvation life that Christ has promised, a life found in losing your life for the sake of God and his mission in the world.

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It’s the Simple Things

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I had a conversation with a preacher yesterday who asked me, “What’s your approach to evangelism?” Good question. I probably should have an answer for that, but the truth is, I don’t know that I have an “approach”. So I answered as best I could, and I’ve been thinking about that answer today.

In my mind as well is the fact that my wife and kids have been gone for a week, and I deeply miss them. I always (perhaps unfortunately) appreciate my wife the most when she’s gone. I know she gets tired and worn out taking care of three kids, and I know it’s easy to feel like you’re losing purpose in the midst of the daily routine of waking up, feeding kids, herding kids, disciplining kids, cleaning up their mess, etc. I find deep theology in her daily tasks, even if she can’t see it in the midst of the storm.

Sarah

(This pic is an oldie but goodie. Thankfully she has Katherine here now to balance the boys out!)

Okay, so what on earth does that have to do with evangelism? Maybe I just miss my wife too much and this is a stretch, or maybe I’m on to something, or maybe both…I’m not exactly sure, but I’m brainstorming here. For me, evangelism looks a bit like proclaiming and living the nearness of the kingdom. That sounds big and bold, but I don’t always think it is. Or maybe our definition of “big and bold” needs to shift. For the people in Luke 10, it was simply a manner of hospitality and welcoming the disciples. If you read Paul and all of his deep theology, he always goes back to the simple idea of loving your neighbor (Romans 13, Galatians 5, and other places). For my wife, it is the big and bold task of waking up each day and loving those children well. It is the big and bold task of being a welcoming and friendly neighbor on our street. It is the big and bold task of being a good friend.

So my answer to my preacher friend was simple. My approach to evangelism is to proclaim the nearness of God in word and deed by being a good neighbor. It is the simple task of loving my wife and children every day. It is the simple task of getting to know my neighbors, and being a welcoming presence in my neighborhood. It is the big and bold task of being a friendly face in all of the public spaces I go. It is the big and bold, yet simple task of loving my neighbor. It’s not big and elaborate. It’s not a defined plan. It’s the simple way that my wife models for me everyday, and the simple way that the New Testament keeps calling us back to, “love one another”.

So, no matter how mundane your life may feel today, if you choose, you are a participant in the kingdom of God. You proclaim its nearness in simple, earthy ways when you “love your neighbor as yourself”. If you’re a stay at home mom, maybe the most important thing you can do for the kingdom of God today is love your children well. If you’re a working mom, maybe the single most important thing you do for the kingdom today is love your coworkers. Dad’s, you can fill in the answer as well based on your situation. Don’t discount the simple, yet bold and big task of waking up each day and loving God and loving neighbor, starting with the neighbors in your house. After all, the law and the prophets hinge on these two things.