What I’ve Been Up To

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. Continue reading “What I’ve Been Up To”

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The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction

4560Most people (especially Americans) live incredibly busy lives. With so many demands on our time, is it really any surprise that our spiritual lives tend to suffer? This month’s book seeks to combat that. It is The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distration by Justin Whithel Earley from InterVarsity Press. This book was published in February of 2019, and I chose to take a look at it and practice during this past season of Lent. Earley is a lawyer by training, but has experience as a missionary in China. He leans heavily on his experience of living a busy lifestyle, and overcoming that with a concious decision of living his life so he did not miss the things that were most important to him. He writes this book very similiarly to how you may find a rule for a monastic lifestyle, such as The Rule of St Benedict. He takes this style and presents it with a contemporary setting so it can make sense to the average reader of how this applies to your life today. You do not have to move to a monastery or a convent to practice the rule that Earley suggests.

“Since we’re too tired to make any good decisions, we’re extremely susceptible to letting other people — from manipulative bosses to invisible smartphone programmers — make our decisions for us.”

The Common Rule is broken up into eight different habits: four daily and four weekly. All of these habits are designed to help you realize you are not God and cannot possible accomplish everything, while also focusing you on the things that matter in life. The habits are: kneeling prayer three times a day (daily), one meal with others (daily), on hour with phone off (daily), Scripture before phone (daily), conversaition with a friend (weekly), curate media (weekly), fast from something for 24 hours (weekly), and Sabbath (weekly). Earley writes chapters that explain each habit, why they are important, and how he practices it in his own busy life. However, the warning with adopting rules and habits, is that we not become legalistic. Humanity is to quick to make ideas into laws that we must live by. Earley suggests that we keep our focus on Christ and love for others, then the habits will naturally fit. He also includes and epilogue where he talks about what happens when you fail your practice.  Here he shows how easy it is to slip into a mentality of giving up, but it is important to keep that focus of Christ.

“Those are the kind of habits with cultivating — little habits of love, not carried out for success, not carried out to prove who you are, but cultivated because of a longing to love God and neighbor.”

I essentially have 2.5 full time jobs, while also trying to blog, raise three childen and love my wife. I know many people probably just exlaimed and the crazy person that is writing this review, but honestly I found this book so helpful. Like other rules, you find having a set liturgy and pace to your life makes everything feel much more managable. I enjoyed the way that Earley writes about these spiritual disciplines he has been cultivating within the lives of his family and his community. The thing that I found most helpful was the Resources section at the end of the book. This is designed to be a reference guide to remind yourself of the habits, while also helping you implement them into your life. I found myself often turning to it for help in trying to figure out how to put these habits into my day. I think that this is a good book for any busy person to spend a week with. I found the content easy to get through in a week, but it can lead to a lifetime of closeness with God. Pick it by clicking on this link, and learn how to break through your busyness and lean on God.

So What is Spiritual Formation?

I had a conversation with a professor of mine, where he asked what I thought the program was all about since I am almost done.  My response was, “It helps me know how to practice my faith.” After reading a post from Richard Foster this morning, I began thinking that this may have been slightly wrong. It is so much more than merely practicing my faith, it is a total orientation of my life.

This morning I read a blog post about the future of the Spiritual Formation movement from Renovaré. Currently, one of my majors is in Christian Spiritual Formation, so naturally my ears perked up. I had a conversation with a professor of mine, where he asked what I thought the program was all about since I am almost done (graduation December 2019!).  My response was, “It helps me know how to practice my faith.” After reading this post this morning, I began thinking that this may have been slightly wrong. It is so much more than merely practicing my faith, it is a total orientation of my life. Continue reading “So What is Spiritual Formation?”

Serving Others and Worshiping God

Apparently I need some more discipline in my life as I’ve missed a couple of these posts!

The last couple of posts I did regarding, spiritual disciplines, were all about giving something up. First, it was about living a simple life of modesty so you could live in such a way that you could be a blessing to others. Then, it became about fasting and teaching your body and mind to live in a way that was focused on God. This post is not about giving something up. Spiritual disciplines are about training, and that doesn’t mean to cut everything away. Ask any athlete what training is like, and it will sound like a lot of adding onto what they are already doing. Continue reading “Serving Others and Worshiping God”

Getting Closer by Giving Something Up

Last week we talked about what it meant to intentionally live a life of simplicity and modesty, so you can do more in service to God. The spiritual discipline of frugality is all about training your desires to see that you do not need as much as you think you do and to be responsible with the resources God has chosen to bless you with. This week’s discipline seems to follow nicely because now we will be giving up something we actually do need, in order to train our focus to rely completely on God. Continue reading “Getting Closer by Giving Something Up”

Can You Give That Up?

It’s still a new year and I love taking a look at these disciplines to try and be closer to God. I find that every year I say that I am going to be closer to God but don’t really feel like I make progress in that direction. Last week we took a look at prayer and meditation. I felt like that was an easy place to start, as many Christians equate those practices with getting closer to God. This week, we are going to take a look at something that might be counter intuitive. This week we will look at the spiritual discipline of frugality. Continue reading “Can You Give That Up?”

Are You Even Listening?

A spiritual discipline is an action we do to become more like Christ, that we need God’s help to accomplish. They may start out easy, but like any type of discipline, they will become harder as you mature in their practice. This week we will look at a couple disciplines that probably appear on most (if not all) lists of disciplines that I have seen: prayer and meditation.

As I promised last week, the “Christian Living” posts are going to be about spiritual disciplines as we make moves to be closer to God in the New Year. You can type “list of spiritual disciplines” into your favorite search engine, and everywhere you look will have a different list; some are the same, some are different. The opinion that I keep is that a spiritual discipline is an action we do to become more like Christ, that we need God’s help to accomplish. They may start out easy, but like any type of discipline, they will become harder as you mature in their practice. This week we will look at a couple disciplines that probably appear on most (if not all) lists that I have seen: prayer and meditation. Continue reading “Are You Even Listening?”

Intro to Spiritual Disciplines

Starting to take a look at spiritual disciplines

In case you have not heard already, last week began a whole new year. Everyone’s calendars (provided you still have one of those things) either turned to the first couple months of a new year or you had to replace it entirely because it is now 2019! Every year the media gets flooded with posts and articles about setting new goals or New Year’s Resolutions. I tried really hard not to add to the myriad of voices discussing this topic, but I just can’t help myself. If you are anything like me, the words “I’m gonna be closer to God this year” have at least crossed your mind in the past week. One good way to do this is through spiritual disciplines. Continue reading “Intro to Spiritual Disciplines”

Why Study the Bible?

Many Christians today have access to a Bible. We live in the great and glorious world of the internet, and there are many version available for free online. There are a great many Christians that own at least one version of the Bible in print, and several that own many copies. Many of us know the books of the Bible, and can even recite a few verses from memory. Many of us know how to read our Bibles, but how many of us actually know how to or what it means to study our Bibles? Continue reading “Why Study the Bible?”