A great introduction to spiritual disciplines written from the site The Art of Manliness.
Spirituality without discipline moves in hapless fits and starts; it is sporadic, dependent on fluctuating feelings and external circumstances. It requires little to no effort, but also produces little to no sustained growth, and thus little to no fruit.
This is as true for the “spiritual but not religious” as for those who do consider themselves religious, or at least nominally adopt the trappings of a faith. They may go to church every week, maybe even pray every night, but their spirituality has been almost completely stagnant for years. They go through the motions, but don’t really discipline themselves, and thus only produce the barest of fruit. They’re like the people above who “work out” without real purpose, and without putting forth much effort. They may be getting a tad healthier, but their physiques look exactly the same as they did two years ago when they first joined the gym.
For the soul to strengthen, it has to be trained in a consistent, deliberate way. Just like your physical muscles, it needs something to push against, it needs resistance. If you really want your spirit to be able to soar to adventurous heights and explore the profoundest of depths, if you really want it to possess power — if you really want it to be free — it paradoxically needs some structure. It needs discipline.
We assume every Christian has a Bible that looks like this one — worn down, marked up, and paired with a journal stuffed with multicolored spiritual reflections.
But that’s often not true. Many Christians find it difficult to get into a daily habit of Bible reading. So this week John Piper addressed four common causes of Bible neglect in the Christian life, like: “I don’t read my Bible because . . .
. . . it seems so irrelevant to my life.”
. . . I don’t have time.”
. . . I go to church every Sunday.”
. . . I find it confusing.”
What follows is a slightly edited (and abridged) transcript of his answers.
Powerful article on what we give and why we give. Please check it out!
The poor may not have wealth, but they have dignity. I’ve met people without electricity or running water who swept their dirt floors daily, pressed their clothes neatly, walked miles to work on muddy roads, dodging sewage, and never had a speck of dirt on them. They value their own worth, we should too.
It’s time to think about not only what we give and how we give it, but also why we give it. Just because it makes us feel better (and cleans out our garage at the same time), doesn’t mean it’s the best for those in need. Perhaps we should look a little deeper into our hearts and wallets when we can say, I don’t have money to give to the poor, but I have a lot of stuff. Maybe we need to buy less stuff, so we have more to give?
“We’re not giving what we’re called to give, unless that giving affects how we live—affects what we put on our plate and where we make our home and hang our hat and what kind of threads we’ve got to have on our back. Surplus Giving is the leftover you can afford to give; Sacrificial Giving is the love gift that changes how you live—because the love of Christ has changed you. God doesn’t want your leftovers. God wants your love overtures, your first-overs, because He is your first love.” —Ann Voskamp