I remember growing up to be disciplined was a bad thing, more often than not to be disciplined in our house meant that you were you were in trouble. I remember we would run away from our parents, but we knew that we were going to be disciplined, and it was going to hurt. I know some people think that you shouldn't spank your children, they don't like it, but this kind of discipline gave me incentive to not participate in that activity again. It was because of the "rod of correction" that I learned some of the biggest lessons in my life, though I had to learn them the hard way.
In our spiritual lives we often face the same struggle, we hold onto a lot of stuff from before our salvation and that makes it extremely difficult for us to obey. Or, when we become Christians we think that "freedom" means "freedom to do our own will." While we are free, free from sin, free from fear of death (see Romans 3), as we've discussed God's will is to conform us to His will. To do that He needs to bring us to a place where we can truly listen.
Conformity: It's not all bad.
In school students are taught to conform to the schools academic standards, at home we are expected to conform to our parents belief systems or rules and at church we are expected to conform to the expectations of church government. Some times this demand for conformity becomes too much and we get a Demand for Purity, something we just don't want to do it, so we rebel against conforming. In high school it was popular to say "I'm not a conformist," the funny thins was, in saying that we were conforming.
Conforming to God's will is not a bad thing, it actually becomes a blessing, friendships deepen and we are blessed by those we interact with instead of turned off by them. By conforming to the will of God we turn ourselves off to our selfish desires and learn to listen to God, we lay them down and take up the example of Christ (Philippians 2:5-11). To conform to Christ, that is the call of the Christian, to glorify God through that conformity, to become like Him, this is a great blessing.
Spiritual Discipline: Something we need
When I began to study Spiritual Disciplines I didn't want them, in fact I hated them, I thought I was doing just fine without them. I was introduced to them through a book given to me by my older sister named Godology: Because Knowing God Changes Everything by a man named Christian George, after reading this I hope you will seek out a copy of this book. I read over a period of about two years, at a time in my life when I was still recovering from the spiritual abuse I suffered the last year and a half of high school.
Finally, in the spring of last year, God brought me to a place where I had no choice but to practice them. I was living in the dorms with one other guy for two or three weeks before moving to Denver for the Denver Urban Semester. Since the other guy worked I didn't see him much, so I had a lot of solitude time and a lot of time to think. In those two weeks I got to see God's hand in my life, I could see a direction, but I didn't know what that direction was. In Denver, when I learned to be quiet, that direction became very clear after walking the Labyrinth, suddenly Discipline was something I needed.
Application: A Fountain of Blessing
When I started to apply these disciplines, practice them, live by them, things began to change. Something in my spirit was transformed, I believed I was loved, not just believed but knew, and because of my increased love and faith in God I started to get closer to Him in a way I never thought possible. I was truly able to heal and lay down everything, my will, my friendships, my life, it all went to God. Then there was an increase in the depth of my friendships, I found I could really love people, no more walls, no more false fronts, I want nothing but what God wants. More importantly I felt for the first time that Romans 5:1 made since, I actually felt like I had "Peace with God, through Christ Jesus our Lord."
This was a new knowledge for me, and it grew and grew and I wanted more and more of God. I also had peace with others, I could listen and not stir up trouble, instead of people rolling their eyes when I spoke I was removed from the situation long enough to know what was going on. This allowed God to work in those friendships in ways that I will never understand, and He's still working in them.
Am I say that by applying these disciplines we won't have a need or a want or that life will be perfect. By no means, instead I am saying that we will be much, much better off. These things are hard, but as we are silent God will speak, when we practice Solitude He will meet us, when we practice meditation scripture will come alive. When we pray God listens, when we do art we see the beauty of God, when we practice God's presence we catch a glimpse of His holiness, when we walk a Labyrinth God reveals His heart and so on and so forth.
In Spiritual Disciplines God is the one working, we have no control over God, He is totally Sovereign (Romans 8-9). These things help us to connect to God in such a way that we can focus on that Sovereign nature of God and His Sovereign will for our lives.
I Love you all
God Bless You
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