I would like to take this time to state once again that if you are reading these blog posts out of order they will not make that much sense. They are meant to explain the mental, emotional, and spiritual journey that i have been going though in the process of the “story formed life” discipleship course and each step is built upon the previous.
With the whole concept of the spirit lead life being so new, the concept of spiritual disciplines became a bit overwhelming, especially since it seemed to restructure my whole picture of what they looked like and what they were for. Now that i come to think about it, i’m not sure if i really had any firm grasp on what i even thought they were for. i think i seemed to know that they made you a more spiritual person and probably helped you understand jesus and while i am still a long ways away from understanding them fully, much less practicing them, i feel like i have enough of a preliminary concept to start to incorporate them into my life in a healthy way.
I think one of the first things that was important to me was even the understand of the purpose of spiritual disciplines. the purpose of the disciplines is not to make you a better person or make you stronger but they are a training ground to make you less dependent on the flesh and more dependent on the spirit. In the past i often used disciplines to try and become stronger and in turn became more dependent upon the flesh. one of the things i realized about the disciplines is that if i am not doing them for the wrong reason i am actually counter acting the whole reason they were created and should be practiced. by “practicing” them in the wrong way i am actually working against what God wants to do in my life by making myself more dependent upon myself instead of him.
I think one of the most important passages we looked at was matthew 4 when jesus was tempted by satan after not eating for 40 days. we dialoged about this passage and concluded, contrary to natural intuition, that after 40 days without eating and probably BECAUSE of 40 days without eating Jesus was able to completely turn down the temptation of following satan’s words instead of the Spirit’s words. the reason is this. for 40 days jesus had been saying no to his flesh. that really is the ultimate issue. when we become christians we are given the spirit but we still have the flesh which will always war against the one inside us. our ability to but down the flesh and depend entirely on the spirit is the only real determining factor that we can gauge personal success on. when it came time for jesus to be tempted by satan he had been saying no to his flesh 1000’s if not 100,000’s of times already so it was not that big of a leap for him to say “NO” instinctively.
This is where spiritual disciplines take a role in our life. i know for me, personally, i am so used to being in the habit of saying yes to the flesh and no to the spirit. this happens in 1000’s of small ways every day. because of that, when the spirit is prompting me or guiding me it becomes very difficult to hear and therefore follow because i have built so many habits that are based upon saying “yes” to the flesh instead of “no.”
i think fasting is a good example but since i have been in ky i have also been able to be a part of what they call PT(physical training). i think that the reason that they practice this is a good example of the issue. every week certain members of the body get together and physically exert themselves for approx one hour. the goal is not to get stronger or work as a team, although sometimes these things are accomplished. the goal is to put yourself in a situation where your flesh is telling you to do something (in this case usually it is saying “stop”) and you can train yourself to ignore it. it is pretty amazing how these very spiritual concepts can be learned though something so mundane as sit-ups or running. at it’s essence though it becomes not that different from fasting.
these are some thoughts. this whole idea is still very new to me and i am anxious to see how my understanding of it will empower me to put it into practice by incorporating new habits but also by using existing practices that i have for this new purpose.