Category Archives: Spiritual Disciplines

Like all things worth being involved in, there are disciplines. Think required reading, not punishment and being grounded.

Costly?

“Salvation is free, but discipleship is costly.” Kenneth W. Osbeck.

When I read these words early this morning I knew it wasn’t talking about pennies, inflation or returns on an investment, at least not in the general sense that we would normally expect. Discipleship cost me this morning. It cost me a half hour of sleep that nearly caused parts of me to mutiny. I did manage to get my whole self to my quiet place to spend time with my Creator and I was glad.

Discipleship is costly. That’s a nice piece of typical Christian jargon to throw around, but let’s make it a little more practical. Spiritual Disciplines are costly. That hour of Fellowship with like believers, it will cost me that time I wanted all to myself to be a bit lazy. That discipline of Sacrifice will cost me that pedicure I was so sure I absolutely needed. The need to be in Service to others will cost me time I could have spent watching the latest lineup on my favorite television network or satellite channel.

Salvation is free. There is nothing we can do to earn it. Praise God! After we have received this amazing grace gift, God calls us to get to know Him better, closer. He calls us to discipleship and that is where it can get costly. But God is a perfect gentleman, so He never forces. You can choose to practice the disciplines of simplicity, meditation, humility, frugality, confession and fasting, among others; but you are never forced to do so. Love that is demanded ceases to be love.

Discipleship can be costly, if you choose not to draw closer to God. What? Isn’t that just opposite of what I already said? Nope, not a bit. You see God has promised many things to us, powerful and wonderful things that come about in our relationship – read discipleship – with Him. Failure to be in discipleship will cost you the peace that passes all understanding. Failure to turn your lack of control over to the One who promised to give you grace whenever needed, could cost you that promotion you were hoping to get. Tossing aside prayer and reflection as unnecessary will rob you of moments of awe and praise to God; for answered prayers and moments of deep revelation.

“Salvation is free, but discipleship is costly.” A question for each one of us today is, which side of the equation am I on at this point in my life? Am I worried about the costs of my time and money? Costs to my pride, career and advancement? Or am I in that stage in my life where I worry more about missing out on the peace that comes from practicing silence and the joy that comes from the discipline of celebration?

Discipleship is costly. Tossing aside the blessings of spiritual disciplines is costly.

The God that made salvation free and available to you wants to get to know you better. Take the time to practice some spiritual disciplines today, but remember, discipleship is costly. You may even lose your tastes and desires for fleeting things and long earnestly instead for worship, submission, intimacy, guidance and study of God’s Word. You may even choose to be a life long disciple of Jesus Christ.

 

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Making it Practical

If I were to try to share many of the blessings of my few days away for pastoral family retreat, I would probably start gushing like Old Faithful. Wow. Had a chance to connect with a ministerial leader one on one about spiritual retreats. This is one of my favorite, though unfortunately not often practiced, of the spiritual disciplines. He also shared with me a getting started on spiritual retreat kit, so I have no excuse. Is there time? There is never enough time, but I will make time for what I truly value.

In the midst of all of these great presentations that focused heavily on family – pastors take care of your families – came a very practical application. Pastor Rigacci was assigned the task of speaking about making improvements. We could all relate to his charming story of how he and his wife never argued when they were dating, but somehow after they were married, they found many things to have strong discussions about.

What none of us were prepared for was his very practical demonstration. Pastor Rigacci shared very personally about how one of the arguments that keeps resurfacing in their home centers around his moustache. He keeps it neat and trimmed. His wife wants it gone. I quickly gave Mrs. Rigacci my condolences. I do not like kissing facial hair. I want to kiss my husband’s lips. I appreciate him keeping his face clean shaven, but the truth is – he wants the kisses! I’m not sure what Mrs. Rigacci’s reasons were for wanting her husband to be clean shaven, but I was on her side.

I was too slow with my iPhone to get Mrs. Rigacci’s jaw dropping stare as she watched her husband, from his position of being on the platform in front of all of his peers, reach under the pulpit he was speaking from and pull out a razor and a small towel. She was soon on her feet clamoring for a position in the center aisle with all of the other smart phone cameras to catch the historic moment. When he was clean shaven, she practically jumped onto the platform and planted two big kisses on him.

It was a simple thing, but it was demonstrated to us all that sometimes the most loving thing we can do is make an improvement that will please our spouse. Did this practical demonstration have any impact? On the way home from the retreat, my husband asked me what was his “moustache.” I had to think about it and I told him what it was and he has promised to do something about it. I think he’s hoping to be rewarded with kisses as well. That can definitely be arranged.

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Retreat?

So why does a pastoral family need a retreat anyway? They have all these perks and benefits already, right?
Now that I’m done laughing, I’ll tell you what a blessing the first meeting was – great praise and worship music with the pastoral leader for our area of Texas getting in on the musicianship himself. What followed was a power packed affirmation of pastoral families being exactly that – families. I was strengthened, encouraged and refreshed.
My next blog will be after I get back from this retreat, but in the mean time, I want to share this one thought. Retreat doesn’t always mean you are giving up. It is also a strategic maneuver to fall back to strengthen and prepare for another battle.
Have you sounded a retreat lately? Have you planned a day to get away from those things that distract you and be refreshed, encouraged and strengthened? If a day is not possible, what about a couple of hours? Go ahead, fall back and be strengthened for your next task.

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The Discipline of Celebration

I was enjoying (yes, that is an accurate statement) a book on the values of Spiritual Disciplines when I turned the page and saw a chart – a table showing the various disciplines and which well known Christian author dealing with disciplines dared to tackle that particular one. I found it very interesting that in his book, “The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God,” Dallas Willard lists Celebration as a classic discipline. Willard also noted that two of the three other authors he was charting also dealt with the discipline of Celebration in their writings.
At first glance, those words can seem incongruous. The discipline of Celebration? Children are actually some of the best instructors in this particular area. Don’t forget their birthday. Don’t forget Christmas. Don’t forget the swimming party at their friend’s house. These things are much too important to vanish from your grey matter.
When my child brings home a good report card and I don’t celebrate it, it is as if his efforts weren’t good enough. Likewise, my kids see right through me when I pretend to celebrate something mediocre or even sub-par in an effort to keep from hurting their feelings. They know very well there is a time and a reason to celebrate.
When you have one of those “God moments,” where everything goes perfect and you can almost see His signature on the day, practice the discipline of Celebration. It’s a way to stay connected.

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My secret is ou…

My secret is out – I have a problem with Wal-mart. It’s not the stereotypical women love shopping syndrome. My problem is irrational fear. You see, I’m often afraid that when I go into the store, they’ll accuse me of shoplifting because I’m using the stuff that I bought the last time I was there. Please tell me I’m not the only one who experiences this!

If you are laughing now, my husband and oldest son will tell you it’s not that funny. Karl has to wait for me to go through my purse and pockets to make sure I don’t have anything that can be mistaken for something that was obtained with a five finger discount. How bad is it? I once made my son freeze on a cold winter day because I would not let him wear the jacket into the store that we had purchased at Wal-mart a few days before. I mean, come on, more jackets exactly like that one were still on the racks. Unless I could pull out my receipt, I had no proof we had paid for the jacket. My fear caused my son to shiver in the cold that day.

It all goes back to this one fateful day when I was an independent nine years old and ready to take on the world. I was with my grandmother and another relative that drove us (grandma doesn’t drive and you don’t want her to, trust me). We went to a Woolworth’s store that was closing out in our little corner of Oklahoma. I meandered through the cassette tapes, yes I said cassette tapes, and browsed through to see if any of my favorites were worth begging my grandmother to buy it for me.

I was busy being proud of my ability to have favorite music and actually act like I knew something about the artists and albums featured. I was also very proud of my cool lip gloss. My sister and I had each gotten one for Christmas some months before and they were so cool and different from the traditional cylindrical styles. We had the ultra cool tins with a sliding tin lid that revealed lip gloss you got to apply with your finger. Now how cool is that? My world of being a music lover and proud owner of ultra cool lip gloss soon turned into a nightmare as a loud and authoritative voice behind me made me jump when it demanded I return the merchandise.

I turned to face the security guard who insisted that he saw me put a cassette tape in my pocket. Petrified, I didn’t ask to have him escort me to my grandmother and have a witness to what he was demanding, I just did as I was told and emptied my pockets. Of course the only thing that came out was my ultra cool lip gloss of which I assured him was mine for quite some time, even opening the tin lid and showing the obvious indentations in the gloss showing use for some time.

He eventually left me alone with a stern warning after which I promptly went to find my grandmother. After we had checked out and went to the car, I calmed down and told her about what happened. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my grandmother so angry before. She marched back into that store and demanded to speak with someone for terrorizing a minor without parental or guardian consent. Way to go grandma! Let them have it!

So to this day, I still make sure there is nothing that could be mistaken for illegally obtained merchandise because that terrible moment at the store closeout when I was only nine years old is vividly imprinted in my mind.

You see, I never again want to be that little girl, trembling, scared and emptying my pockets with tears in my eyes and fear in my heart.

When you stop and think about it, there are a lot of people like me, but for a different reason. Somewhere in our past, we were told that we did something very bad, which we did and the only way God would forgive us is if we tried really hard to never do it again. So we go through each day of our life, checking our pockets to make sure we haven’t left an opening for temptation. We never again want to be that little girl, that little boy, trembling, ashamed, hiding from God in that garden so long ago.

I’m still known to check my purse and pockets before I go to Wal-mart at times, but I’m learning that there is nothing I can do in order to get on God’s good side and obtain His forgiveness. There’s nothing I can do to show Him how good I can be so He’s not mad at me for sinning again. The Bible says in Romans 5:8, that while we were still messing up and having bad days, Christ died for us. He didn’t wait until we got things in order first. He died for us when we needed it most. He is all I need and I don’t have to stand trembling and fearful before God when I’m covered in the blood of Jesus.

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January 17, 2012 · 6:15 PM