Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

05/01/2019

Randall Caselman

 

Spiritual Disciplines

 

  I hope you agree that spirituality is a discipline, worship is a discipline, godliness, Christ-likeness, conforming to His image, walking-as-Jesus-walked are disciplines.

 

  Henri Nouwen tells us that a spiritual discipline is any activity we do that provides space and posture that helps facilitate our hearing the voice of God calling us to be more and more like Jesus, to a closer walk with the Father.

 

  Some people sync-up with Jesus by feelings. Feeling people are subjective. They make decisions based on principles and values relating to people and relationships. They value peace, unity, harmony. They dislike conflict. You will hear those who operate with this personality trait to say, "I feel" that something is so.

 

  These folk are always busy in kingdom work, they seldom take time to rest, may not even know how to rest. In fact, they are frequently found thinking: "I feel guilty because I'm not doing something."

 

  To those who are feelers, God is saying: "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 48.10). We need to take more time alone with Jesus. We need to hear Him say: "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6.31). “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11.28). It's called solitude: A walk in the park, time spent in nature, practicing a Sabbath rest, spending extended time in prayer, time alone in meditation. "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed" (Luke 5.16). Oh, to have a quiet mind and feel His peace and presence! Amen? Indeed, becoming like Jesus, spirituality, worship, are disciplines; taking time to stop and emotionally sense God's presence.

 

  There are those who only operate with their head. Thinking people are objective. They're often heard saying."I think" in response to a question. They make decisions based upon facts, principles, values, they hold to be truth as taught in God's Word. Thinkers judge situations and people based on cold hard facts. Frequently, there is no allowance made for forgiveness, love, mercy, grace. Thinkers are problem solvers, analytical, critical, rational, logical.

 

  Sometimes those who are guided by facts alone tend to be more intellectual, yet somewhat impersonal, cold, harsh, judgmental.These folk need to consider circumstance and situation. They need to reread and digest such Biblical narratives as: Jesus and the woman at the well. The prostitute at Simon’s house, The woman taken in adultery. Perhaps read again Jesus' narrative of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. Here it is church, the love, mercy, and grace of God can't always be seen in law, truth, in a set of cold hard facts, but can be seen in how God deals with our individual sin failures. Read the narratives again! Rightly so, thinkers, those who rule from the head, need to understand that there is: a way, a truth, a life to be lived by God's Word. But also understand that when we, or others, fail to live as we should; we must have the heart of our Father God and judge circumstances and people according to His love, mercy and grace. Amen? Indeed, conforming to the image of Jesus, spirituality, worship, are disciplines.

 

  There are those who experience God with their heart. They are emotion driven, passionate, warm, gentle, and empathetic people. They are highly sensitive individuals. They can become stressed-out easily. They are thin-skinned, easily hurt. Heart driven individuals, like feeling driven people, seem to be more subjective than objective. That means that sometimes happiness, sadness, anger, replace truth and logic because they are primarily emotional beings and may not operate logically. We must be careful here that we do not allow our own heart to rule over the heart of God.

 

  These people are likely to be heard saying, "I didn't get anything out of today's church service, I didn't like the songs, the sermon, etc." Of course the question becomes; do we gather to please God with our worship, or do we gather to please and worship self? God-pleasing worship is always right – And if it doesn't please us, we need to change. The problem is a heart condition. Ours! "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23.7). "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5.8). Ephesians 6.6 speaks of our not pleasing ourselves or others, but pleasing God by doing His will. "I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify Thy name for evermore" (Psalm 86.12).

 

  We must know this, that the heart of genuine worship is worshiping God from the heart. And not only are we to worship Him in our assemblies, we are to worship Him in lifestyle: "In view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12.1 NIV). "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2.22).  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1.27). Gotta ask the question, how can we read these verses and not understand that spirituality, conforming to the image of Jesus, and worship are disciplines?

 

—Randall Caselman