Thursday, February 9, 2017

“…From Strength to Strength…” The Journey Begins

Embarking on any journey involves planning as well as a certain amount of discipline in order to ensure success.   Yet, the word “discipline” gets a bad rap.

Isn’t it true that upon hearing it, our default thinking goes immediately to the negative and embraces a tone of harshness, severity…sometimes even chastisement?  Yet the word simply means instruction or training.  It’s the type of training that develops self-control, character, orderliness and efficiency.  Who among us would not desire those qualities in our lives and in our journeys?
There are also such things as Spiritual Disciplines.
These are tried and true practices that will forge character.  By intentionally setting them in place, we actively make space for God in our hearts and in our lives. 
These practices can be as simple as:
  • Resolving not to look at your phone in the morning until you’ve opened the Word of God;
  • Walking past that darling pair of shoes on the sale rack.  You’d love to have them.  You certainly don’t need them;
  • Refraining from giving your opinion while having lunch with the girls…even though you have one.  Holding back words that don’t need to be said is a discipline; 
  • Setting a timer on your phone mid-day to stop, listen, and just “be” aware of the Presence of God.

Or they can include ones that are more radical, such as:
  • Intentionally pulling away for a time…or times…of solitude and silence;
  • Fasting one day a week on a regular basis;
  • Putting Scripture memorization back in your life as well as setting goals and making yourself accountable to someone for that commitment; 
  • Taking the Sabbath seriously again by worshipping, resting, unplugging!
The Message paraphrase of the Bible captures Christ’s invitation in Matthew 11:28-30:
“Are you tired?  Worn out? Burned out on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it.  Learn the forced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” 
Give it some thought.   If you sense the Lord’s invitation, start small…start gradually.    You will be carving out sacred space that will create spiritual rhythms for your journey.  These will take you: “…from strength to strength.” 

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