Spiritual Disciplines

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My Favorite Books

Posted by on 09 Feb 2012 | Tagged as: Spiritual Disciplines

In your light do we see light.

Psalm 36:9

“My Favorite Books”  is a new page that I have added to The Glorious Deeds of Christ blog. All the books listed have stretched my theological thinking, deepened my love for Christ, or expanded my understanding of Holy Scripture. Some titles I read as a young Christian serving in the Agape Force ministry, others as new Charismatic just experiencing the spiritual gifts, and still others, I read this past year after thirty years of ministry.

I have been helped by many Evangelical, a few Roman Catholic, and some Eastern Orthodox writers. Within Evangelicalism, I have read Wesleyan, Reformed, and Charismatic works. My list is an on-going project: I will be adding more titles and sections throughout the coming year. Also, I hope to annotate the list in the near future.

If you would like to add a book of notable influence in your Christian life to my discussion, go to the comments section, leave the name of the book, its author, and the reason why that book blessed you.

May the Holy Spirit continue to encourage us through the writing ministry of others.

Commit your life to the serious reading of books, and your life will be enlightened.

Tony Reinke, Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books (Crossway, 2011).

No iphone App For That

Posted by on 18 Jul 2010 | Tagged as: A. W. Tozer, Discipleship, Spiritual Disciplines

No Short Cuts

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

John 15:15

We get impatient, we do want it all now. We are spoiled by all our high speed technological gizmos. As twenty-first century technology addicts, we have electronic devices that give us everything and everyone at our disposal. With the touch of one finger, we talk to Africa or order lunch across town.

However, we stop “walking in the Spirit” the moment our battery fails, a program locks-up, or an application fails to load. We complain when the internet is down and when our phone coverage is not 4G perfect. We want everything to work NOW with no glitches. Otherwise, we have a hissy fit and make sure that the appropriate customer service representative knows our frustration. We dismiss our bad behavior as genuine concern for the benefit of other customers who might have the same problem. We fail to see that our impatience is sin.

In many ways, our attitude toward technology has been transposed into our relationship with God. God must answer our prayers instantly in no more than a few kilobyte seconds. No waiting list for us: our needs must be prioritized, and therefore, ranked first in the Kingdom. Our prayer life is a series of one-liners: we treat God like a Facebook friend or Twitter account.

However, there are no speedy shortcuts to developing a relationship with God. Prayer, study, meditation, fellowship, and the sacraments cannot be performed with an app or a touch on a screen. God is more concerned with developing a relationship with us than he is answering our wishes and desires instantaneously. No iphone application exists as a shortcut for an enduring relationship with God.

In my creature impatience I am often caused to wish that there were some way to bring modern Christians into a deeper spiritual life painlessly by short easy lessons; but such wishes are vain. No short cut exists. God has not bowed to our nervous haste nor embraced the methods of our machine age.

It is well that we accept the hard truth now: the man who would know God must give time to Him. He must count no time wasted that is spent in the cultivation of His acquaintance. He must give himself to meditation and prayer hours on end.

So did the saints of old, the glorious company of the apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets and the believing members of the holy Church in all generations. And so must we if we would follow in their train.

A. W. Tozer, God’s Pursuit of Man (Camp Hill, PA: Wingspread, 1950), 5.

Spontaneity vs. Discipline

Posted by on 28 May 2009 | Tagged as: A. W. Tozer, Sanctification, Spiritual Disciplines

new-river-bank-barn2

Sloppy vs. Focused Spiritual Life

Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.

1 Tim 4:7 (NASB)

Our fleshly, sinful nature takes our basic needs and turns them into obsessions. Our flesh (i.e., fallenness) yearns the govern us and divert us from intimacy with God. Our flesh cries out for attention and desires to rule our lives. Our sinful nature is an idolatrous over-desire that arises from our being: a heart that is afraid of disappointment, fears that God will be unfaithful, worries about unmet needs, and yearns for control. Discipline is not the favorite word of our flesh (Prov. 23:12 NASB). Discipline says to the flesh, “No more control.” Discipline looks to the Holy Spirit to work in us what Christ did for us on the Cross. The Holy Spirit imparts sanctifying grace to enable us to say, “No,” to worldly passions and unrighteous desires (Titus 2:11-14). Freedom is the reward of disciplined trust in the Holy Spirit. We depend on his grace to make godly choices and there we find release from the flesh’s bondage.

‘Discipline’ has become a dirty word in our culture . . . . I know I am speaking heresy in many circles, but spontaneity is greatly overvalued. The ‘spontaneous’ person who shrugs off the need for discipline is like the farmer who went out to gather the eggs. As he walked across the farmyard toward the hen house, he noticed the pump was leaking. So he stopped to fix it. It needed a new washer, so he set off to the barn to get one. But on the way he saw that the hayloft needed straightening, so he went fetch the pitchfork. Hanging next to the pitchfork was a broom with a broken handle. ‘I must make a note to myself to buy a broom handle the next time I get to town,’ he thought . . . .

By now it is clear that the farmer is not going to get his eggs gathered, nor is he likely to accomplish anything else he sets out to do. He is utterly, gloriously spontaneous, but he is hardly free. He is if anything, a prisoner to his unbridled spontaneity.

The fact of the matter is that discipline is the only way to freedom; it is the necessary context for spontaneity.

John Guest cited in Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 236.