Practical and Pivotal Christian Disciplines

christian disciplines

“When you listen and read one thinker, you become a clone… two thinkers, you become confused… ten thinkers, you’ll begin developing your own voice… two or three hundred thinkers, you become wise and develop your voice.”
― Timothy J. Keller 

So often when I ask someone what they are reading or who their favorite authors are, I first get thrown a look of shock and then get met with something along the lines of “Are you kidding? I don’t have time to read.”

As a wife, young mom, pastors wife, graduate student and one who desires an organized home, I completely understand the weight of having a busy life, but I also have grown to understand the absolute importance of being able to say “no” to some things; even good things, so that we may find time for the better things.

From a young age, the importance of reading was ingrained into my life, and let me add, as a pre-teen, it was done so completely against my will. My parents had me reading John Piper and comparative religion books starting the summer I was in Middle School. Obviously as a 12 year old, it felt like medieval torture, but what I have realized now as a young adult is that what I was given was invaluable. What I learned has not only stayed with me, but it has shaped the way I think, what I believe and how I see the world.  So yes, thanks Mom and Dad for making me do things I didn’t want to do. 

Reading, as well as partaking in other Christian disciplines isn’t something that we can merely say “I don’t have time for.” They are elements of life that draw us into greater communion with our Lord and greater understanding of who He is.  I want to share several disciplines that I have found Biblical, wise and immensely helpful:

Reading solid Christian books-written both by those who are alive and saints of old.
How does one know a book is Biblically sound? Check out the endorsements on the back, reviews online and always compare it to what Scripture says as you read. 
Great authors to look for: John Piper, John MacArthur, Timothy Keller, David Platt, Francis Chan, A.W. Pink, C.S. Lewis

Fasting-Prayer is clearly powerful, but God gives us something that amplifies it’s power; it’s called fasting. It shows God that we desire His will in what we’re seeking more than food; there are many examples of this in Scripture of God revealing wisdom, direction, desires and clarity because of fasting, (Acts 14:23, Esther 4:16, Joel 2:37, Matthew 6:16-18, etc). One must remember that God’s will is always best and even if His answer is clearly “no” or “wait” through fasting, we praise Him because He knows everything much better than we do.

Reading Commentaries alongside the Bible– Learn background, context and check your own understanding to make sure the way you’re understanding is accurate. This is a fascenating way to study Scripture. 2 Timothy 2:5: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

Regular Repentance-this leads to right relationship with God. Make a habit and practice of this (1 John 1:9, 1 Peter 5:6, 2 Cor 7:9-10, Proverbs 28:13, James 5:16).

Listening to Sermons/Podcasts– Do this instead of a TV show a couple of times a week! A few of my favorites to listen to:

Pastors: Mark Driscoll, John Piper, John MacArthur, Francis Chan, Timothy Keller, Jay Childs, Matt Chandler, Chuck Swindoll, Allister Begg, Andrew Hanna (yes; I love listening to my hubby preach the Word!)
Podcasts: The Briefing by Albert Mohler, Renewing your Mind by RC Sproul

Mentorship – It takes me quite some time of prayer and watching someone before I ask them to hold me accountable or mentor me in my life.  Allowing someone to step into that role is you saying to them “I want to become like you; teach me how.” It could be becoming like them in their relationship with Christ, their marriage, their personal life, or any a number of other ways. Pray carefully over who you allow into this role, and once God leads you to the right person, be willing to submit to their Biblical leadership and teaching, even when they ask difficult things of you; challenging you and spurring you on closer to Christ.

Reading books/authors you disagree with (aka Read Junk)-This comes after all the other disciplines. Do not do this unless you are confidently grounded in what you believe and are confident you can read discerningly. If you are able to do those things, reading those you disagree with can become one of the greatest tools for growth and understanding other beliefs, as well as your own beliefs, that you have in your tool belt.
Authors to look for: Rob Bell, Richard Dawkins, Joel Osteen, Bart Ehrman

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect,” Romans 12:2. Let us together renew our minds so we may be better equipped to face our world and face our Savior.

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