Jesus, cast a look on me. Give me sweet simplicity. Make me poor and keep me low. Seeking only Thee to know.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Celebration of Discipline

So my sweet friend,Morgan, loaned me a book called Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. I found an opportunity today to flip thru it and
The first paragraph reads..."Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people."
Oh yea.
This is my kinda book.
Foster goes on to explore how he sees that people are hindered when it comes to connecting with the Holy Spirit. We are not talking religion here. We are talking about the Holy Spirit.
"The slavery of ingrained habits" (don't you love the way those words flow together??) is part of the problem. "Willpower will never succeed in dealing with the deeply ingrained habits of sin. As long as we think we can save ourselves by our own power, we will only make the evil in us stronger than ever." His writings on this topic take me back a few weeks to the awesome sermon my preacher, Jim, gave on the power of the Holy Spirit.
"'Will worship' may produce an outward show of success for a time, but in the cracks and crevices of our lives our deep inner condition will eventually be revealed. Jesus describes this condition when he speaks of the external righteousness of the Pharisees. 'Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks...I tell you, on the day of judgement men will render account for every careless word they utter' (Matthew 12:34-36). You see, by dint of will people make a good showing for a time, but sooner or later there will come that unguarded moment when the 'careless word' will slip out to reveal the true condition of the heart. If we are full of compassion, it will be revealed; if we are full of bitterness, that also will be revealed."
This is so true. I have seen it and lived it in my own life. You may know people who attend church regularly, sing the hymns, bow their heads for prayer. They may even have a christian symbol on their car. But when the going gets tough their reactions are not "Christ-like" at all. I used to be that person. In hindsight, I thought going to church would make me a "good person". But I did not know Jesus and therefore the Holy Spirit was not guiding my thoughts, words, and deeds. And when things didn't go my way-wATCH oUT! I was a force to be reckoned with; let me tell ya. And at the time I thought I presented myself as a "strong woman". Ppfffh. Give me a break. What I was presenting myself as was a hypocrite. And I did a pitiful job of representing a follower of Christ.
Have mercy.
On this day, I am better than I was then. I still have much more growing to do but I praise the good Lord that I am not the woman(or lack thereof) that I used to be. He has indeed created in me a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

My brother, Paul, and I had a discussion recently about striving to be more Christ-like and yet knowing that it is impossible for the flesh to accomplish such. Which is why I had to share the following passage from Celebration of Discipline with him...
"When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human powers of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realisation: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received. The needed change within us is God's work, not ours. The demand is for an inside job, and only God can work from the inside. We cannot attain or earn this righteousness of the kingdom of God; it is a grace that is given."

Romans 5:17 (The Message)
15-17Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man's sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God's gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There's no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man's wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?

In The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he makes it clear that grace is free, but it isn't cheap. The grace of God is unearned and unearnable, but if we ever expect to grow in grace, we must [adhere to God's disciplines].

I so look forward to exploring this book and being conscious about applying God's disciplines to my daily life.
My sweet brother, Paul, whom walks closely with Christ was quick to point out that when I completed this book it would be a good idea for me to check my understanding of it with the Bible. This is so important. It can be easy to begin focusing more time on, say, Max Lucado's words or Beth Moore's words or any other author than the time spent studying God's word. And although these books may reference the Bible and/or may dissect the Bible; it is still just Max's words. Beth's words. Tom, Dick, or Harry's words. God's word is the ultimate authority and reading His word can and is a very personal experience between you and your creator. What God reveals to me in scripture in uniquely for me. In essence, the Bible is the only book we need to read.
However :), I am curious to read more of Richard Foster's thoughts on living a disciplined life for Christ.

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