As we begin to consider Christian disciplines it is important to know that exercising the disciplines is more about training ourselves to embrace the abundant life of Christ and not about striving to attain some kind of spiritual credential. Practicing the disciplines does not make us holy; Christ alone can do that when we put our faith in him… and it really isn’t our holiness, but his that makes us holy. No, practicing the disciplines is a means of embracing the depth and richness of our relationship with the living God. Additionally, a dedicated practice of Christian disciplines trains us to be like Jesus as the circumstances of our lives shift or adjust. Our practice and investment in disciplined spiritual growth helps to answer the question, “What would Jesus do?”, in the moments we need that answer the most. In his book, The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard writes,
My central claim is that we can become like Christ by doing one thing–by following him in the overall style of life he chose for himself. If we have faith in Christ, we must believe that he knew how to live. We can, through faith and grace, become like Christ by practicing the types of activities he engaged in, by arranging our whole lives around the activities he himself practiced in order to remain constantly at home in the fellowship of his Father.
Practicing the spiritual disciplines and disciplines that make the Christian like Jesus Christ (Christian disciplines) brings with it a realignment of life’s priorities. It is a way of finding a source of strength outside of ourselves as a byproduct of a thriving relationship with our Creator.
Throughout this study of the Christian Disciplines I will be drawing from several sources and using a framework that is not original with me. In fact, if you’ve studied the spiritual disciplines before, you’ll notice that I am quoting liberally and really have no original thoughts of my own… well maybe a few will creep in. I will be drawing from sources like The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney, Celebration of Disciplines and its companion study guide by Richard J. Foster, The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg, and The Good and the Beautiful Life/God/Community (three separate publications) by James Bryan Smith, the Christian Disciplines Life Guide Bible study guide by Andrea Sterk and Peter Scazzero (which will serve as the primary frame work for our course of study), and various other sources, tweets, or organizations. I will always work to give credit to all sources and welcome being held accountable to do so. For further study on your own, you may want to acquire some of the aforementioned materials all of which are available for purchase online.
To round off this introduction, I’d like to share this video from Zondervan and speaker, Kenneth Boa. It is a great intro. to advise us on our approach to practicing these Christian disciplines. Please take the time to watch it and follow it up by spending some time in prayer. I would encourage you to ask the Lord to reveal areas in your spiritual life that could use some attention, maybe even redirection, and take the time to listen to what God has to say.