Say Yes – part 5 – “Stories from the Toolbox” (study and breathe)

Posted by on Dec 16, 2011 in A Plan, A Tool, Blog | 0 comments

“The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living into the depths. . . . The purpose of the Disciplines is liberation from the stifling slavery. . . . The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us. . . . They are meant to bring the abundance of God into our lives.” Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline

I wanted to share with you some Spiritual Discipline stories from my journey thus far, a few quick stories about Bible Study, Fasting and Journaling. Engaging in these activities is another great way to respond to Father God’s love. There are many more disciplines than I will discuss here and a lot more details to add. But for anyone that wants to discover more about how to live this “life up from the pit” (Jonah 2:6), “eternal life” (John 3:16), “new life” (Romans 6:4), “life to the full” (John 10:10) and “life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:19), I believe we all need to engage in these activities or add these tools to our toolbox. I want that kind of life, don’t you?

“It is a love letter.” – I don’t know when I first heard this remark, but I love it. Instead of a “to-do” list, I see the Bible as a story of all that Father God has gone through to win us back to his love, all that he will endure on our behalf, and his hope that we will choose him. I have begun to open the book anticipating specific words from him to me. He speaks to me through the Bible. Anticipate him speaking to you too! I use 2 great questions when I study the Bible no matter if I am reading one verse or a whole chapter – who are you, God? and what do you want me to do? Use these questions to get your conversation going.

“I love you more than chocolate.” – When I fast, I choose to withhold something from my normal routine as an opportunity to draw me closer to Father God or seek his direction. Sometimes I fast from things like meals or TV to create windows of time to study and pray. Sometimes I have fast from things that I realize I was getting life from other than God like caffeine, certain shows, sugar, activities on my calendar, etc. At first, fasting like many other disciplines can be quite noisy. Your body and self will fight you for it. You will hear demands and perceived rights screaming at you. One time during a 40-day sugar fast, my sister had brought over her chocolate cake. I remember staring at that cake even smelling it and knowing I really wanted to eat a piece of it. And then I remember just quietly saying to Father God – “I love you more. I love you more than chocolate cake.” It sounds silly, but it was really a moment in my life. We get ourselves in places of perceived rights or needs, and to resist them brings some rich freedom and intimacy.

“It is a written reflection of my pilgrimage.” – I can’t imagine my life without a journal. It catches the madness of my mind, the hopes that run most deep, the wisdom learned from others, and the moments I dare not forget. It also reminds me to breathe. Journaling captures the conversation between Father God and I and many times includes the other disciplines like meditation and solitude.

Like I said, there are so many more to discover, and I promise you blessing as you continue these steps of knowing him, listening to him and following his love. You will encounter these rich places of “depth and abundance” far from the chains of “slavery” that Foster described.

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3

Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline or Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life are rich reads on this subject!

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