ESTABLISHING SPIRITUAL RHYTHMS

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As followers of Jesus, we celebrate the redemption of our positional standing with God because of the finished work of Christ on the cross. The gospel reminds us, in verses like Ephesians 2:8-9, that Jesus rescued us, and we are saved by Him when we believe that it is so. However, when we speak about eternal life or the reality of heaven, we usually only do so regarding the “later on.” Jesus, in John 17:3, speaks about eternity differently. “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” The word know used here is in the present tense. This truth matters for our lives now. Our souls have a deep longing to experience a depth of connection with God while here on earth. The message of Jesus and the writers of the New Testament continually refer to the significance of praying for and living in hopeful expectation of life “on earth as it is in heaven.”

God designed us to be fulfilled by Him, alone. He created us to be in communion with Himself forever. The question many of us have is, “how can we experience this?” Sadly, I’ve spent far too much time thinking that I needed to work to earn a deeper connection with God. I need to remember that I cannot manufacture this type of relationship. In light of this, we need to learn to posture ourselves to receive what God has and intends for us. One way we cease our striving and straining in hopes to be more connected to Christ is to establish spiritual rhythms or disciplines in our lives.

The view of many that I’ve talked with about this is that the spiritual rhythms are optional, or more akin to “extra credit” for the Christian. However, the rhythms or disciplines are a gift from God as a pathway to the communion we desire to have with Him here on earth. Our hope doesn’t lie in the act, or, rhythm alone, but in the God that we seek to connect with through them. Richard Foster once wrote, “By themselves, the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done.” Establishing healthy spiritual rhythms can help us to gain perspective and hopefulness in our lives.

An excerpt from Soul Rest (p. 181-182)

When we establish a sustainable practice in our rhythms, we will experience the benefit of a proper and accurate view of ourselves. The rhythms humble us as we attempt to engage with them. When we participate in spiritual practices, we realize the need for the sustenance and direction that comes from the Spirit. In our strength, we are unable to accomplish the desired outcomes that accompany the rhythms, but by His power, we can grow in intimacy with Him. As we lean in, we can get better and better in any area in which we subject ourselves to practice and preparation.

Practicing the rhythms will also be a catalyst for inner work. They cause us to go inward to examine our hearts, down to the root of who we are. I think most of us want to engage with the truths of the Bible and live a life filled with goodness and peace. Many of us, though, are hesitant to commit ourselves to the inner work that it requires for this to come from a real and genuine place.

Even as we are hopeful for the Spirit to do something supernatural to help refresh, restore, and guide our steps, we need to do all we can to make ourselves available to this occurrence. There are various disciplines and rhythms that we see represented for us in scripture, such as prayer, meditation, study, fasting, and contemplation, and there is much to be said about each. It is vitally important that we become intentional about our engagement with the rhythms, seek and expect a substantial encounter with God in them, and determine sustainable ways to incorporate them into our lives.

Click here for a devo to assist you in starting to practice spiritual rhythms.

A PLACE TO PROCESS

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If you are serving or leading in ministry in a voluntary or vocational capacity, sometimes you can feel cynical, dry, frustrated, disillusioned, and lonely. Rather than pushing through and hoping things change on their own, or making a decision that could be harmful to you or those around you, I’d love to be a person with whom you could process.

Let me first say; I’m just a beggar trying to show other beggars where the bread is. I’ve not “achieved” anything, other than recognizing that I cannot sustainably live this life solely in my strength. Also, I’m not “above” any of this, but I do know what it feels like to feel alone and afraid to admit the truth in this area.

I’d love to chat with you:

If you feel lonely, and you don’t know who you can talk to.

If you’re looking for someone to process your feelings with, and you feel like no one will be able to understand or relate.

If you are not sure who might be a “safe place” to process your pain with.

If you have questions or doubts, and simply want to express them to another person.

If you feel empty and are expected to give out spiritually to others.

If you’ve grown secretly resentful toward the people or ministry you are serving.

If you feel like you want to quit but the security of your salary or status of your position is too difficult to walk away from.

If you don’t know how you feel about God, and yet your work is under the auspices of serving Him.

It is too easy to choose to disregard the feelings you have as embarrassing, (“no one can know I actually feel and think this way”) insignificant, (“I can continue to do my work although I feel this way”) or fleeting(“these feelings and thoughts will go away on their own”).

This doesn’t have to be the case. Too many people are trudging through their daily response to the “call of God” in ministry. We say things to ourselves like, “ministry is hard, so it’s not about me always feeling happy and fulfilled.” Both of those statements are, indeed, true, but there is a source of joy and meaningfulness that can be a reality in the midst of our serving.

The weight of the responsibility to serve or lead others in ministry while personally in a deficit spiritually is more than the human heart can handle. Resentment, bitterness, frustration, judgment, and disconnection are practically inevitable.

The number of pastors, leaders, or ministry workers that have resigned, burned out, made detrimental choices that have hurt themselves or others is alarming, at best. For many that serve in ministry, the feeling of loneliness can be too much to bear.

I don’t mean to be presumptuous in any way, but I’d be honored to be a listening ear and a source of conversation if you are walking through a difficult season. Send me a message, note, email, or whatever. I’m more than happy to connect.

I know we may not know each other well, if at all, but know that you don’t have to walk through this season alone.