OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #239 Spiritual Disciplines for Everyday People
When I was in high school jazz band we went to the annual regional competition and discovered we had learned a section of music with the wrong rhythm. So with less than 24 hours to relearn the music, we practised the section over and over until our chops burned. We rested, and then did it over and over again until we had it right. It was hard work because we had practically memorized it the wrong way. Even still, we retrained ourselves to do it correctly and managed a second place, if I remember correctly.
In the same way that we had to retrain ourselves to play the music correctly, Christian growth and maturity involves a retraining of our thoughts and actions. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
We’re going to start a new series, this time on the topic of spiritual disciplines. Disciplines in this sense are good habits. Spiritual disciplines are regular practices and good habits which help the believer grow spiritually, transform character and relationships, and experience closeness with God. In essence, they help us retrain.
I’ve been teaching a Sunday school class this fall called, “Spiritual Disciplines for Everyday People.” My goal is to take the mystery out of the disciplines and help people put them into practice in their own lives. I don’t come at this as an expert, but as someone who has the same time challenges as everyone else. I know I should read my Bible more, pray more, be closer to God, but so many things seem to get in the way, important things like serving God and other people. This may sound familiar.
While spiritual disciplines are the good habits which help bring spiritual growth, I wish there was a different word to describe them. We all know we should have more discipline, to exercise more and eat less, to do push ups and push aways. Its hard work to discipline ourselves to do the right things.
This is where we need a change in perspective. A few years ago our oldest boy was popping caps when he hit his thumb with a hammer. We were on summer vacation at my mother’s cottage and I could hear him setting them off against a rock. Bang, bang, bang, thud. Almost immediately I heard him howl and then he ran to find me. With tears in his eyes he held up his thumb to reveal a small blood blister which had already formed.
“Cool,” I said. He stared at me as if to say, “Are you crazy, this hurts!!” I continued. “That’s the first of many blood blisters you’re going to have as a man.”
A look of wonder came across his face as he stared at the blister. “Cool.”
A change in perspective helps us to see that the goal is a closer relationship to God. The goal is not to add burden to our lives, another thing on the to-do list. When I started dating Jan, I did not say, “Oh, great! One more thing to add to my list of things to do.” That would have seemed very silly. We looked forward to every moment because we wanted to be together and we grew closer because of it. We even set aside some other things because we loved being together. That’s the perspective we need as we approach spiritual disciplines.
And so I hope this series will help and encourage you. Set aside time to read your Bible and pray, even today. Over the upcoming weeks we’ll talk about adding depth and meaning to your time with God, but Bible reading and prayer are at the heart of it all.
I hope this helps. Be on fire.
OnFire is a weekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published Oct 20, 2010. *Scripture taken from the New International Version. To subscribe or reply, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Archives are located at www.onfireletter.com. Blog located at www.onfireletter.blogspot.com