Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Writing about the approval addiction and the spiritual discipline of secrecy, John Ortberg ("The Life You've Always Wanted") discusses the dangers of seeking the approval of others, being unduly affected by criticism, comparing ourselves to others, etc. He writes:

"Away from the winds, the earthquakes, and the fires of human recognition, I can hear again the still, small voice, posing the question it always asks of self-absorbed children: 'What are you doing here?' Too often I reply to the voice by whining about some of my own Ahabs and Jezebels. And the voice gently reminds me, as it has reminded thousands of Elijahs before me, that I am only a small part of a much larger movement and that at the end of the day there is only one King whose approval will matter: 'It is the Lord who judges me.'"

May I live for His approval alone.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bible study . . . how easily it becomes a duty to check off my list each day rather than a transformational exercise whereby my life is opened to the Holy Spirit to make me like Jesus. Pride or guilt are often the result of reading the Scriptures as an end in itself rather than a means to an end.

In one of his messages, David shared some very practical helps for Bible study.

Every day as I read the Scriptures, I'm referring to his "contexts of application" to open myself for change:

Global--how does this change my view of the world?
Political--what does this mean for me as an American?
Social--how does this impact me as a member of my local community?
Relational--what does this mean about my interpersonal relationships?
Personal--how does this change me?
"Discipline" is a dirty least it feels like it sometimes.

Our current Sunday series on "Formations" includes emphasis on the spiritual disciplines. It's been good for me to revisit a couple of the classics on that theme written by Foster and Willard.

David's devotional on Formations and one of our members both reminded me that Ben Franklin had about a dozen "disciplines" that shaped his life and to which he gave credit to much of his success. He concentrated on one each week. His weren't necessarily "spiritual" disciplines.

I'm having mixed success in a similar approach to the list of 13 disciplines I mentioned in my sermon a few weeks ago. I'm committed to the process.

1. Bible study
2. Prayer
3. Worship
4. Fellowship (sharing life in community, Acts 2, the "one anothers")
5. Good works/service
6. Giving
7. Evangelism (I just finished the book our Life Group is studying about this--it's been really helpful: "Just Walk Across the Room," by Bill Hybels)
8. Fasting
9. Solitude
10. Silence (in order to listen to God as well as to not talk too much, saying the wrong things, words that are defensive, retalitory, unkind, critical, condemning)
11. Secrecy (not sharing my perceived good works, etc.)
12. Simplicity (doing less, buying less, keeping less, eating less, etc.)
13. Chastity

Thursday, April 03, 2008

In preparation for my sermon in the Formations series, I'm reading a great book by John Ortberg, The Life You've Always Wanted.

He references a scene from Homer Simpson in which the fundamentalist neighbor was asked by Homer where he'd been. He replied, "We went away to Christian Camp. We were learning how to be more judgmental."

Ortberg retorts, "Where is that camp, and why is it so well attended?"