So we begin our series on Spiritual Disciplines. I hope you have had a chance to view the video below this post. It begins with my sincere lament that I wish I had a penny for every person that has told me how they wanted to BE more like Christ but then did not follow through. Distraction was never minimized to the degree necessary to engage the Master.
Having a rule for life that consistently involves the use of spiritual practices in our life is not an add-on to being a Christian. It is the life of a Christian. It was the life of Jesus as He walked this Earth. To such an extent that if we would cut out all the places in the New Testament where we saw Jesus engaged in a discipline we would lose a good quarter of the text.
So why as the church are so few us engaged in living a Christian life? Again may I say church leaders its time to become radically intentional with your sheep. Teach on the disciplines then provide opportunities for engagement, offer encouragement for their movement towards the Biblical Christian life. One necessary step is to conduct worship services that consist of disciplines they can engage in during the service. It is time to honestly evaluate how effective a weekly Sunday message is to moving your people towards Christlikeness. In all due respect they need Christ not you and longer you continue to bloviate history from the pulpit just keeps them longer from rubbing elbows with Christ who they need. Again if you as leader have very little experience with spiritual disciplines this will be very difficult for you to do. So your first step is to slow down and hook up with Jesus through the way He showed us in the Scriptures. If we can be a resource for you in this endeavor please let us know.
I could go on for pages on the mandatory and Biblical aspects of radically embracing the Trinity through the spiritual disciplines to have a normal Christian life but I think by talking with you through the practical applications will be most beneficial.
Why the zeal for us to live the normal Christian life? So we can boast about our maturity? NO! We as the church need to move towards the life Christ showed us because we need to reposition ourselves to move with Him and only with Him and we need to restore the reputation of Christ to the culture. These critical needs in our world can only be accomplished as Christ showed us by being humble, by being intentional about our inner transformation, aware and receptive to the constant Trinitarian presence and obedient to Christ.
Richard Foster defines meditation as the ability to hear God’s voice and obey His word.
Over the past decade I began to notice as I sat in church two days a week that on Sunday we had teaching series A and on Wednesday nights we had teaching series B. Then the following week on to a new A and a new B and on and on it went. Week 1 Sunday was distracted by week 1 Wed. Then it got even crazier as the days and weeks go on and on piling up till I barely could even remember what verse was being taught let alone allow it to impact me to a level of transforming obedience. We can do better than that for our sheep church!
Another process in the so called Christian life is attempting to read the Bible in one year. I tried that also years ago. For me it became quite legalistic and totally non transforming. It’s like an assignment one must do. The focus becomes accomplishing a goal period.
Meditation is totally unlike both practices within the Christian life that sadly persist to this day. Meditation leads to transformation.
Let me give you some hard evidence that demands a verdict from my own life. If you were to scroll down on this blog you would see a series on the Character of Christ with three installments. One on Integrity, one on Compassion and one on Humility. All are transforming products of Meditation.
- EXHIBIT 1
On Integrity there are two verses Psalm 25:21 and 41:12. As the blog states I was on a day long retreat and God’s voice spoke to me concerning Integrity. He then took me to those two verses. I read just those two verses for six hours and the rest of the blog is the abundance He gave me through meditation. During that time with those Psalms I also did several other things. I listened to God’s Word, I reflected on God’s works in this case PROTECTION and PRESENCE and in the same context rehearsed God’s deeds. I reviewed my integrity issues repented and moved forward in obedience. TRANSFORMATION!
- EXHIBIT 2
With the Compassion blog it was Luke 18:35-43. It started with a lectio divina session and went on for two more days. reading and studying only this passage from Luke. This culminated with hearing God’s voice at 3am in regard to the people He sees in His church today. I believe if I had not ruminated on this passage for the time I did I would of missed His prophetic word for the church today. His Spirit kept me in Luke for the time necessary for me to reposition my life with His in this regard. Personal repentance and obedience followed this encounter. TRANSFORMATION!
The Humility piece came from Philippans 2:6-8a. Now most people start that passage and read it till the end. I could not get past v. 8a. He kept me there for several hours. In retrospect I needed to again listen, reflect, and rehearse on God’s deeds and works in that passage alone. If I would have gone on I would of been distracted away from the humble birth to the death on the cross. This is a great example of how God works with His word and meditation. I can even remember wanting to push forward to verse 8b but being very clearly told to stop at 8a. The result is the content you see in the blog. Again repentance and obedience in terms of turning away even more from external happiness was my result. In turn I for one had a very humble and meaningful Christmas. TRANSFORMATION.
In hopes you have stayed with this blog till the end I want to finish up now by offering you an application point. One for the church individually and one for the church corporately.
In Colossians 3:2 Paul writes that we are to set are minds on things above. Take this verse and meditate on it for at least an hour. A question to get you going would be: ” What are things that come from above that could be incorporated in your life for transformation”. If you wish to go elsewhere in the Scriptures that is fine.
Dedicate an entire worship service to your congregation meditating on a supplied verse or verses. Provide time for interaction in small groups or congregation wide open mic.
We look forward to hearing from you and your meditation experiences.