When you hear the word ‘discipline’ what do you think of? If you’re a parent, you might be thinking of the last time you had to put your toddler in time out or confiscate your teen's phone. If you’re an athlete, you might recall early morning training sessions and strict workout routines. Anyone who’s ever gone on a diet might have an idea of what it means as well. When discussing the spiritual, the word discipline takes on a whole new meaning. One that, to be honest, brings a lot more joy than most of the examples listed above.
Spiritual Disciplines are defined as training that is expected to produce a specific result in our life. These results come through spiritual growth that we worked for but can take no credit for. Richard Foster describes it this way in his book, Celebration of Discipline,
“God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving his grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us.”
To put it simply, Spiritual Disciplines help us grow in our walk with God to be prepared and ready for the transformation only God can bring. The balancing act of embracing these disciplines for spiritual growth without adopting a “works-based” mentality can be tricky. For this reason, growing in spiritual disciplines is for the veteran as well as the new convert. It also means we all have something we can learn or even unlearn.
Mapping It Out
In this series, we will discuss a handful of Spiritual Disciplines that can lead you into a deeper relationship with God so that he can continue that work of transforming you “into his image” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Our hope is that revisiting these simple but powerful disciplines will enable us to go deeper into our faith and lead others along with us.
Over the next few weeks, we will discuss the following:
Is This for Me?
In short, yes! Whether you have been serving in ministry for years, or you are new to what all this means - this series is for you. While these disciplines are Biblically based, there isn’t a lot of practical instruction found inside the Bible itself. Mostly because these practices were so common that it wasn’t needed. In modern times, many of us need some practical tips along with Biblical principles. In each blog of this series, you will find:
1. Spiritual foundation for the discipline pulled directly from the Bible
2. Practical instructions churches have turned to over the years.
This series is meant to edify your personal faith and to be a resource for churches. Just as “deep calls to deep,” your own understanding of these disciplines will help others in your life to either begin or further their own journey. For a more in-depth look at each discipline, we will include further reading from both the Bible and other sources (for any high achievers out there). We will start next week with our first Spiritual Discipline - Fasting.
Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
1 Timothy 4:7-8
Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney
The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives by Dallas Willard