Discipline

Posted: October 7, 2011 in Blog
Tags: , , , , ,

Years ago I read a book by Don Whitney called the Spiritual Disciplines. This book was given to me through the church I was attending–it was awesome to say the least. The book was not terribly engaging from a reading standpoint, but the content was excellent.

This book introduced to me for the first time the idea of exercising spiritual discipline. Discipline in diet, exercise, along with other areas was not foreign to me. The concept of being spiritually disciplined seemed to remove some of the mystical ideas I possessed regarding the Christian life. The removal of these ideas was good, as pursuit of Jesus is not simply jumping from one mystical and emotional experience to another. Following Jesus Christ is supernatural and it is to be a daily experience through the Word, prayer, and fellowship with the saints, while seeking to do His will. Through the spiritual disciplines my heart became focused upon Jesus and the glorious grace of God like never before.

Essentially, spiritual disciplines are the disciplined routine of reading Scripture, studying Scripture, praying and journaling all in an effort to seek God; just to name a few. (If you want a more thorough treatment of the topic I suggest purchasing and reading Whitney’s book). However, with the praise of discipline comes the pitfalls of discipline. Cultivation of sterile and heartless devotion whereby one thinks they are close with God because of their disciplined life can be a result. I must admit I have fallen into that sterile routine at times.

So, do we then abandon the spiritual disciplines? May it never be. If I have abandoned the mystical-spiritual-experiential side of things, because they are a trapping, then why not abandon the trappings of discipline? First, let me note that I have not abandon seeking to experience God in supernatural ways. In all of these things, mystical experience and spiritual discipline, it must be remembered that they are to be held in proper relationship to the Word of God. I do not abandon the supernatural experience with my Savior, but I seek to have it defined through what He has revealed, rather than what I presuppose or even have culturally absorbed. I also do not abandon the spiritual disciplines because of my cold-heart. The problem with spiritual disciplines, the same as for seeking to experience the mystical, is the heart of man in relation to these things and not the instruments themselves. My problem is me and not discipline.

Scripture is replete with ideas that require an active daily pursuit of the things of God, (i.e. spiritual disciplines). Do not be lax in the things of God, but if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts. Seek God why it is still today. Listen to the voice of God while it is speaking loudly. Where do we hear his voice most clearly? In the Bible. Those who are followers of Christ must actively consider Jesus, keeping their eyes upon Him alone, listening to and obeying His Word, (cf. Heb 3). Brothers, those who share in the heavenly calling, discipline your hearts in prayer, in the Word, in fellowship. When your heart grows cold, do the hard work of heart work and repent for the forgiveness of sin.

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