Friday, March 19, 2010

Everyday Disciplines

"We engage in any kind of discipline because we believe our lives are shaped by the habits we engage in every day.  I take out the garbage so the house doesn't smell.  I balance the checkbook to make sure I have money in my account.  I exercise regularly so my blood pressure and other health indicators will stay at healthy levels and so I can sleep well at night.  All of us engage in countless small disciplines that make our lives work well.

"We can take habits too far or not far enough.  I could choose not to exercise at all.  When I do that, I stop sleeping well, I gain weight and my health suffers.  Or I could exercise all the time until it becomes a compulsion and I can't think of anything else.  Tht would be equally destructive.  Instead, I've tried to figure out the right amount of exercise for my body.  In the same way, I could check my bank balance every day or not at all.  Instead, I try to track money in a way that keeps my spending wise and under control but doesn't allow me to become obsessed.

"Spiritual disciplines are similar.  We have a lifetime to explore the spiritual disciplines and figure out what works best for us, what helps us draw near to Jesus and grow in faith.  What works at one stage of life may not be so effective at another stage, so we need to try new things from time to time.  At all stages of life, we can fall into excess very easily.  We can ignore the disciplines that might help us grow in faith, or we can become obsessed with them and go too far.

"Tony Jones, in his helpful book The Sacred Way, writes, 'The goal of Christian spirituality is to be enlivened by God's spirit.'  He goes on to affirm that the words practice and discipline are helpful terms to consider when discussing what Christian spirituality looks like in everyday life.  Since ancient times, Christians have understood that everyday spirituality thrives because of the spiritual practices or disciplines we engage in day after day and week after week...  Jones recommends that we imagine the parallels between the Christian life and learning to play an instrument or improving at playing chess.  Just as discipline and practice are equally essential in growing close to God in Jesus Christ, allowing God's Spirit to enliven us."
--Lynne Baab, "Fasting"

What spiritual habits are you practicing this week?

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