“To experience the richness of life in God’s kingdom, we must reorder our lives. We need to see through the shallow promises of our culture, and we need rhythms, signposts, and practices that reorient us to another world.” Mike Cosper
My wife (Melissa) is an excellent cook. I’d much rather find myself in front of a home cooked meal from Café Crowe than any other restaurant—and not just because I’m
cheap frugal. But, there was one time when her cooking didn’t sit so well with my stomach. It was eggplant parmesan. I’m still not sure what it was, but something about this eggplant made me very sick to my stomach (to say it nicely). If you’ve ever gotten nauseous after eating a particular food, you know how it scars you…maybe forever. Even today, several years after “the meal,” the very mention of eggplant sends a shiver down my spine. It’s now “it which shall not be named” in our house.
For some people in the church, the language of “spiritual disciplines” can hit them with similar effects. Maybe those words brings on guilt or disappointment, or maybe they bring on joy and excitement. If you and “spiritual disciplines” have a long, baggage-filled history that leaves a sour taste in your mouth when you hear about them, then you might have any number of reactions to a class on spiritual disciplines.
Continue reading Spiritual Disciplines: Grace or Guilt?
“Our habits incline us to act in certain ways without having to kick into a mode of reflection; for the most part we are driven by an engine that purrs under the hood with little attention from us.” James K.A. Smith
“Without planning, we’ll practice our Bible memory just once or twice and then no more. We’ll do lots of good things, but only a couple of times. One of the great strengths of good traditions in our lives is the repetition—not something done once, then something else, then another thing altogether—but good things done regularly, dependably, until they become habits.” Noel Piper
Continue reading The Power of Habits
We’ve all had something in our life that we wanted to change, or knew we needed to change, but we never pulled the trigger. Or, we gave it a shot but gave up after a couple of days. That might be eating healthy or going on a new diet, an exercise routine, wanting to stop a behavior or pattern of behaviors, curbing spending and sticking to the budget, practicing a spiritual discipline such as Bible reading or prayer, or even just wanting to respond different than we have recently, like not responding in frustration or anger to those around us.
“When we bless God for mercies, we usually prolong them. When we bless God for miseries, we usually end them. Praise is the honey of life which a devout heart extracts from every bloom of providence and grace.” Charles Spurgeon
Would you characterize 2020 as a year of gratitude or grumbling? Did you notice complaining rising in your heart and slipping off your tongue more than thanksgiving to God?
Continue reading Make 2021 a Year of Gratitude: Cultivating the Habit of Thanksgiving
“It’s one thing to be grateful. It’s another to give thanks. Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.” Tim Keller
“I like to think of thankfulness as God’s ‘spiritual air freshener.’ It replaces the stale odor of resentment with clean, fresh-smelling air for the soul to breathe.” Gary Thomas
Gratitude is a bit like healthy eating. We all want it, and sometimes can do it for a few days, but our bad habits usually shoot us in the foot. Both take more than good intentions. They require replacing old habits with new ones. Good intentions need good habits if we want good results.
Continue reading November Thirty-Day Gratitude Reading Plan & Challenge
We learn by listening, and good listeners ask good questions. While there’s no one-way to do Bible study, one thing we can do is ask questions as we’re reading to help us better observe, interpret, and apply the text. These questions should help us discover the meaning of the passage itself (“what did the author mean?) and move us to living it out? They should not only help us understand the Bible, but they should stir our love for God and neighbor because of what we discover in it.
Continue reading Bible Study Questions
“If the Word does not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.” John Owen
Continuing the series of posts on Bible meditation, I wanted to list some practical ideas for how to do it. While meditation can be a result of reflecting on something in creation, life experiences, conversations, our future in eternity, or other things, we’ll focus on meditating on Scripture.
Continue reading Ways to Meditate on Scripture
There are things we take for granted until we really need them. Like windshield wipers. I vividly remember driving down the interstate in a downpour. Rain pounded my car. As I flipped my wipers into high-speed, they suddenly caught on one another. Not good. I pulled over to the shoulder, jumped out of the safety of my dry car, and got soaked as I separated the wipers like two fighting children. After a quick rendition of “Jesus Take the Wheel,” I returned to the road, exhaling a deep, grateful breath.
Continue reading Windshield Wipers and Confession of Sin
Here are a few practical ways to incorporate more confession into your life.
Continue reading Ways to Cultivate the Rhythm of Confession
“Confession of sin is one of the missing ingredients in the life of today’s Christian. We feel bad all the time, but often it’s over the wrong things. And when we do feel sorry for our sin, we don’t know what to do with it. We feel like we would be cheapening the blood of Christ if we confessed again. So we hesitate to repent. We feel bad, but we don’t confess and enjoy a clean conscience.” Kevin DeYoung
“Repentance is not usually a moment wrought in high drama. It is the steady drumbeat of a life in Christ and, therefore, a day in Christ.” Tish Warren
“The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.” Augustine
Confession is the acknowledgement to God of our sin, brokenness, and waywardness in order to be cleansed and restored to him. It’s an essential practice of the Christian, even though it’s often neglected or relegated to when we feel like we’ve really blown it. But with all the misunderstandings of confession, what is it?
Continue reading What Confession Is and Isn’t
What did you read in the Bible yesterday or today? What did your pastor preach on last Sunday? I know, those are hard questions. It’s not that you weren’t paying attention but we all struggle to remember things we hear and even learn. We listen to sermons and read the Bible and often move on without doing something to help it “stick.”
My point in this post is straightforward. To improve how you reflect on (meditation) and respond to (application) the Bible, try writing out your own short summary of what you just read. Or on Sundays, do this with the sermon and text your pastor preached on.
Continue reading Bible Study Tip: Summarize Your Bible Reading