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Posts Tagged ‘classical disciplines’

It is a coolish late spring morning where I live.  As I slipped outside into the early dawn my shorts and t-shirt provided slightly less warmth than I needed, but the beauty of the pre-sunrise sky drew me in and kept me from going back inside.  As I walked I meditated upon my study the night before on spiritual growth and the classical disciplines which help us in that growth.  As I look back on my life I can see that it has been a series of growth spurts and plateaus.  It is probably much like a tree which grows rapidly during the spring and summer and then rests through the fall and winter.  I suspect we all have “growth rings” of a sort.  I recognized two other things.  Deeper intimacy with the Lord and increased practice of one, and usually more, of the spiritual disciplines were present during the times of growth.

There is an essential order to the process.  It is crucial that we recognize and keep before us the goal of our life, the goal of spiritual growth is to grow in our intimacy with the Lord.  Jesus’ death on the cross was not simply so that we could go to heaven one day.  No, His death was to remove the curse of sin which separated us from the Father and opened the door to a life of intimacy with Him.  The curse is removed immediately, but intimacy comes over time as we collaborate with the work of the Holy Spirit inside us.  So the essential order is 1) accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, 2) make intimacy with God our primary goal in life, 3) practice those activities which lead to greater knowledge of and intimacy with the Lord, and then 4) experience all the benefits, privileges, and responsibilities of a life surrendered to Him.  The benefits, privileges, and responsibilities begin showing up as soon as we begin our spiritual journey, but what I experience today is so much more than what I did when I was a young Christian.

I had been exposed to small doses of the classical disciplines over the first couple of years of my faith walk by more mature believers, but the real breakthrough came when someone gave me the book, Celebration of Discipline – The PATH to SPIRITUAL GROWTH by Richard Foster.  It is succinct, well-researched, and written in a way that I could easily understand.  I recommend it to anyone seriously desiring to grow spiritually but unsure what steps to take.  In the near future I suspect my posts will include things we discuss in our Home Group since we will be studying this over the next three months.  I am very excited because I sense the Lord wants to do something new and fresh in our group and in me.

As I continued to walk outside a shiver hit me due to the chill in the air even as my excitement was building.  I stopped and turned to look at the sunrise just as the sun was becoming visible through the trees on the horizon.  Immediately the chill was gone and I sensed a warmth on the outside that mirrored the warmth I was feeling on the inside as I had been meditating and praying to the Lord.  In that moment I was struck by the fact that as we look to the Son, Jesus, and grow in intimacy with Him, God the Father draws us into His warm embrace and fills us with His grace more and more.

At Pentecost, God poured out the Holy Spirit upon the disciples as tongues of fire.  So it is when we make it our life goal to live in intimacy with Jesus, the Holy Spirit will warm us with His Holy fire.  The closer we get to Jesus, the more we surrender ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us.  His fire is a refining fire though.  It will burn up the chaff in our life – those things that are not God’s best for us.  But with the purging and refining comes something so much better, so much greater – a deeper, richer faith and an intimacy with the Lover of our Soul that we were created for.

And that, my friend, is glorious!

Go forth to be blessed and be a blessing to someone God puts in your path today!

A pre-dawn sunrise viewed from our SC home.

A pre-dawn sunrise viewed from our SC home.

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