Category Archives: A Fresh Start

Simplicity

It is said that when Saint Augustine died, he had nothing but his writings and few clothes. Everything he had belonged to the monastery. To practice simplicity does not require a vow of poverty, but it does suggest moving away from a lifestyle that is focused on possessions into a lifestyle of less. Doing more with less means having fewer things around us to care for so that more of our attention may be toward God and people. If I didn’t have to mow the lawn, that’s forty minutes I could give to something else. But we must be careful about extremes. Because it is during that very forty minutes that I can often be in solitude and silence with God as I follow my noisy mower, oblivious to everything, except the row of grass that I am cutting. It’s about attitude, and asking: Can I do without this thing?”

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Singing

            The Bible is filled with singing! To sing the praises of God is what many of the Psalms are all about. Singing as a form of worship (all of these disciplines should be seen as worship) whether alone in your prayer closet or among your fellow disciples is a key discipline. On key, off key, whatever kind of joyful noise you can make, worship the Lord in singing! And don’t think singing is just praise, we can lament in song as well as we can praise, but in either case, rejoice always!

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Silence

To be silent in today’s world may be the hardest, yet most rewarding of the disciplines. This simply means not talking. When tempted to talk, one should pray. Like many such disciplines, to begin with a shorter period of time and then increase the amount of time is wise. In silence, one seeks to hear rather than to speak. This is not the same as an attempt to empty one’s self, for any emptying of our heart and mind needs to be intentionally filled by God with His Scriptures. So silence may well be tied to one of the  prayer disciplines. But, quietness so you can hear is the key. Therefore, having your Bible open and ready is wise.

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Serving

If we run a search for the word ‘serve’ in the New Testament, it would take us quite a while to read all that is said about it. (Reading and studying the uses of the word ‘serve’ in the Gospels may be a helpful thing to do as a Bible Study discipline.) Serving is a key to living the life of following Jesus. To serve well, it would be helpful to identify the gifts and talents that God has given us. However, it’s important to be careful to understand that joyful serving  comes from loving and therefore serving God. Serving for its own sake, or if motivated by guilt, may lead into a works mentality. As an aspect of the fruit of abiding in Jesus, serving can bring us closer to God as we recognize it is Him working through us for His kingdom.

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Reminders to Pray

This is an easier discipline. Choose five or six Scripture texts that you would like to regularly pray. Copy and paste these verses in your electronic calendar as reminders every hour or so through the day. On your devices that are tied to your electronic calendar, as they pop up on your screen, take that moment, stop for that moment and intentionally talk to your heavenly Father using that Bible text. There is a list you might find helpful in the chapter on “Praying Scripture.”

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Sabbath

This discipline was important enough to God for Him to model it on the 7th day and include it in the 10 Commandments. Among those commandments, this is likely the one most often ignored by Christians. To take a day off is biblical and wise. In a sermon on Sabbath, I could probably come up with lots of reasons why it’s a good idea, but here are two: We need a day off because we were not created to work non-stop. God rested on the seventh day to demonstrate for us what He later commanded. The second reason is to show me that I am not God (like the need for sleep shows I need proper rest). Only He is omnipotent. You and I need rest. But Sabbath is not just a day off. It should be intentional. Read the chapter on Sabbatical to adapt ideas about purposeful Sabbath. Add an extra discipline or two to your sabbath. Be sure to engage in activities that bring you joy. Sabbath is to be enjoyed, not just endured! Oh, yeah, you pastors, Sunday is not your sabbath.

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