Man, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything on here (outside of that book review last week). Mostly this is because of school. I got very busy over the last couple of weeks trying to get all the work done I needed to, that I just didn’t have the brain space to write for this blog, for that, I apologize. Now that the school year is over, and I have a small break before my summer class begins, I think I have the opportunity to reflect on some of the ideas I have been wrestling with this past semester.
The main topic that I have been dealing with is Spiritual Formation. In other words, what am I doing to be a person after God’s own heart (the main reason I started this blog)? This started a couple of years ago when I started studying how people have been practicing their faith throughout history. This led to some interesting revelations, most notably that the faith we practice today has really left spirituality behind. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to be said about all the research, logic, and philosophy that goes into our contemporary practices; I just feel that there is something missing. Enter Renovaré.
“The discovery of God lies in the daily and the ordinary, not in the spectacular and the heroic. If we cannot find God in the routines of home and shop, then we will not find Him at all.”
— Richard Foster
I discovered this group thorough conversation with a professor and reading a book by Dallas Willard called The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God. Renovaré is a group, founded by Richard Foster, that advocates for the practice of spiritual disciplines. These disciplines are practices that allow us to re-experience our spirituality and live a life of fullness in God. This is to get us away from the faith that so many of us live now, that is all head knowledge. You can spend your entire life researching and learning about God, but until you experience Him, you never truly know Him. Thank about it like this. Imagine teaching someone to drive a manual transmission car. You go tell them every single step along the way, going into all the intricate details about feeling the “bite.” You describe the difficulty in shifting gears and getting going after stopping on a hill. Once you have exhausted your knowledge, does the person know how to drive a manual transmission vehicle? Unfortunately, the answer is no (I recently learned this for myself), and the same can be said of God. We do not truly know Him until we have experienced Him.
“The orientation of the heart happens from the bottom up, through the formation of our habits of desire. Learning to love (God) takes practice.”
— James K A Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit
In James K A Smith’s book, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, he argues that the way we behave, and the habits we have, show quite a bit of what we love and aspire to be. This means that our habits display what our affections are. If we claim to be people of God, how do you show that? Is racing home from church so you don’t miss kick off on Sunday morning displaying devotion to God? Is spending all of your money, without thinking about tithing showing how much you care about the things of God? Is driving past a beggar so you can get your next hamburger, answering John’s question, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17, NASB)
I’ve been giving a lot of thoughts to my own habits and formation. That’s a lot of why I chose the book I did for this month. How does my life reflect the truth that I claim? I want to be a man that is after God’s own heart, yet I cannot allow the world to tell me what that means. I have to look to the practices that Jesus himself practiced, along with the practices of believers that have gone on before me. There is a spiritual place within our faith that seems to be gone from the mainstream version of Christianity. I do not want to know what makes a good life. I want to live the good life that is found in God through Jesus Christ.