Just What Are Spiritual Disciplines?

Spiritual Disciplines are merely activities that we do to enable us to receive more of Jesus’ life and power. –Howard Baker writing an introduction to Galatians in the “Life With God Bible”

Ever listen to little kids (under 10 or so) organize to play? There’s always at least one who assumes the burden of making up the rules of the game. Sometimes they spend more time discussing the rules than actually playing–or so it seems.

Then again, I know an adult who makes up rules all the time–well, actually, I know many–that include other people. Yet they may not always tell them. Then they are upset or worse if the other person doesn’t keep the rule.

Organizations and even societies make up those rules designed to differentiate outsiders from themselves.

The other day I was sitting in a nice little storefront Middle Eastern restaurant. A gentle and humble woman and her husband owned and ran it. She was so nice to us, if I lived in the town, I’d go back to eat. Oh, she was Muslim–from Palestine. Came over here for a better life. Works hard. Has a good business. Great Turkish coffee.

While sitting in that restaurant, I opened Facebook to check on something for business. But the “news” stream pops up first. The first post was a “photo” of a saying from a politician about how bad all Muslims are and how we need to ship them all back to where they originated. Someone made up one of those “rules.”

The irony was too much. When we stop labeling and start meeting, then we see that people are people. Name your group–Christian, Muslim, police, black man, liberal, conservative. Some are good. Some are filled with hate, anger, evil. Every group includes some of both.

Paul wrote Galatians to teach us how to live beyond rules. “Live for God,” he said. “The law (rules) was our disciplinarian until Christ came,” he added.

Spiritual disciplines pursued with an open, loving heart, bring us closer to Jesus and to the ability to live a life focused on God. We don’t need to focus on others and how we’re better than them. We only focus on God. Open our hearts to God. Then when we leave our prayer room or chair and live with others in a way pleasing to God.

Disciplines? Study–not to reinforce prejudices but to learn something new about God daily; prayer–to focus our minds on God; worship–for the joy of singing and praise; service–to be like Jesus was during his  ministry physically on earth.

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