Making it a Way of Life!

Well, we’ve finally come to the end.  We cannot believe it, but our year-long Spiritual Life Group season is coming to a close Sunday night.  Beginning in November our Sunday evening worship format will shift back to an all-church Worship Assembly with special lessons and activities.  This week, on our final night in our Spiritual Life Groups, we are asking you to spend some time reflecting on the past year… the things that worked and the things that didn’t.  The discussion guide may provide you some closing thoughts to consider and possibly some questions to ‘throw out there.’  They are questions I’ve had over the years, so maybe they’ve come up in your group, too.

Have a great group… we are looking forward to next year (which we’ll be talking about in the coming weeks) and encouraging our Families to Grow for Him in 2018!

10-29 Making it a Way of Life

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The Corporate Disciplines

As we continue our review of the spiritual practices, this Sunday we want to look at the corporate disciplines, those practices which we engage in together with the church.  Pay particular attention to the “why” of these practices in Scripture.  I believe you’ll notice that on top of them honoring God and edifying ourselves as we practice them… each of them also serve the purpose of building up the body of Christ.

I’ve noticed Hebrews 10:25, for example, being used as a club to beat people up who miss a church service or something.  However, I believe you’ll notice that the admonition there (“Don’t stop coming together as some are doing, but encourage one another daily… and all the more as you see the day approaching.”)… is focused on encouraging each other.  The corporate disciplines are those practices which encourage one another as we practice them together.

This week, watch the short ‘intro’ video done by my friend, Patrick Mead, several years ago for Winterfest as an introductory way to talk about these disciplines.  We need each other!

10-15 The Corporate Disciplines

The Outward Disciplines

This week we continue our efforts to pull together this year’s focus on growing in Christ through the classic spiritual practices.  Last week we reviewed several of the “Inward Disciplines” (according to categories described by Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline).  Today, we want to look at the Outward Disciplines… those practices which we “live out” in our lives… practices such as service, submission, sharing our faith, etc.  Once again we ask that you reflect on your practices throughout this year and at how the Lord has used these lessons to challenge you and to grow you.

Please share your stories!

10-8 the Outward Disciplines

The Inward Disciplines

This week we begin a month-long effort to wrap up our year-long study of the classic spiritual disciplines.  We will be reviewing and reflecting on the practices discussed throughout the year with the aim of evaluating how helpful they have been to us.  For the most part, their helpfulness in making us more like Jesus will be determined by our commitment to them and the regularity in which we practice them in our own lives.

How have you grown spiritually this year?  How have these Christian practices helped you to grow closer to the Lord and more like Jesus?

10-1 Inward Disciplines

Engage

Last week we talked about the principle of being ‘separate’ and distinct from the world fro the sake of Christ.  Indeed, God calls us out from the world to be different from it- the concept of holiness which we’ve talked a lot about this year.

This week we want to look at the other side of that practice, the practice of Engagement with the world.  While, yes, we are to be different, we are also to actively engage the world for the sake of Christ.  He calls us to be “salt & light” in a dismal and dark world.  That requires we become active participants in our world with the goal of making it better and brighter.  This week, look to the example of Jesus how he constantly and intentionally engaged the world and the people of it so that he might bring about a change in their lives.  And let us follow His example!

Have a great group.

9-24 Engage

Separate

This week our spiritual discipline is Separate, as in the verb… ‘separate yourselves from the world.’  It has long been the struggle of God’s people to be ‘in the world but not of the world.’  God has placed us in his fallen world and called us to engage it in the name of Christ, but He has also most certainly called us OUT from it.  Even the derivation of the word from which we get the word CHURCH means “those called out”.  What are we “called out” from?  The world.

We are a chosen people called out from the world for a purpose.

Next week we will look at our call to engage the world, but first we must consider if we are truly different, distinct, a ‘peculiar’ people.  Then, and only then, are we ready to go out into the world for the sake of Christ to be agents of salt & light.

More next week!

9-17 Separate

Sharing your Faith

One of the greatest disciplines for spiritual growth is also one of the most feared among even folks who’ve been a Christian for years… the practice of sharing one’s faith.  Maybe it is because it is such a personal thing, often we are reluctant to open ourselves to sharing Jesus with others.  Yet, this is precisely what our Lord has commanded us to do.  Disciples make disciples.

This week we want to explore the discipline of evangelism and while our groups might get into particular methods, the focus is really on encouraging each one to overcome whatever obstacles may be in place and become a disciple who shares his or her faith with those we come into contact with.

May God bless you in your group time this week!

9-03 Sharing

Secrecy

If we’re not careful the practice of these spiritual disciplines, which we have focused on all year, COULD become a source of prideful arrogance in our service to God.  That’s the painful irony in any act of service we do for God, that it becomes a source of pride which would elevate us above others, in our own minds.

The discipline of secrecy seeks to counter that temptation by encouraging these religious acts of service be done in secret… “without the left hand knowing what the right is doing.”  Certainly without others knowing, so that they cannot become deeds done to impress others instead of acting out of simple service to God.

This week we wrap-up our look at Simplicity, by emphasizing these acts of service and these spiritual practices are simply done for an audience of One.

8-27 Secrecy

Submission

Again this week we delve into another quite counter-cultural spiritual practice… the discipline of Submission.  Often we misunderstand submission because we are so immersed in a heirarchical, authority-driven society where those “over” us are accustomed to enforcing their will on us and those “under” them are accustomed to having to submit.  That isn’t what we are talking about!  If any of you have ever had a boss (and that’s most of us) then we know that it is quite possible to outwardly comply without at all having the inner heart of submission.  The practice of submission as a spiritual exercise emphasizes the latter, not the former.  That is, having the inner heart of submission as it relates to one another.

Scripture says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  Truly it is Jesus who models this for us, as he not only submitted himself to the will of the Father (against his own best interests) but fully surrendered himself to men who took his life from him… and all of this for our sakes at no personal benefit to him.

Check out the above video by my friend, Johnny Markham, from the College Hills church in Lebanon and preview the discussion guide before diving into your group discussions Sunday night.  Be blessed.

8-30 Submission

Solitude & Silence

This week we are sharing a video from a friend of ours which was made for the Winterfest conference a few years ago.  Steve’s discussion of his practice of solitude is a good introduction to this week’s Life Group discussion on the twin disciplines of Solitude & Silence.  Our lives today are filled with such hectic, fast paced and NOISY days that it is instructive to take a queue from Jesus and purposefully set aside time to simply be still, be silent and be alone… to “unplug” from the noise of our lives for a time in order to “re-plug” into God.

This week’s practice encourages just that.  We encourage you this week to explore in your small group how Jesus sets this example for us, but also how the spiritual practices of Silence & Solitude can draw you nearer to God and how you might implement it into your daily and weekly walk with God.

Download the discussion guide:  8-13-17