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Celebration of Discipline

Last night a small group of people - including myself - finished a three month journey together. Our main focus was to help one another become better disciples of Jesus Christ. And, to aid us in our growth we practiced a weekly discipline - some habit or behavior intended to make us more aware of God's activity in our life.

And what I want to tell you is that every single person in the group last night shared how life-giving this journey was. What's more: many people came to discover that practicing our faith does not have to be drudgery and deadening.

For various reasons (some true, some false), spirituality has been associated with most things negative. It is often characterized as strict, boring, drab, dry, serious and harsh. We tend to think of burlap undergarments, piles of ashes and stale bread.

But, in reality true spirituality is the exact opposite of life-killing. True spirituality is life-giving.

"Spirituality is not a pious pose. It is not a 'Thou shalt not'' it is 'Thou shalt.' It flings open the doors into the eternal blessedness, energies and resources of God."

The confusion often comes because we assume that practicing spiritual disciplines means we will lose our freedom, our spontaneity, our joy. But what people forget is that spiritual disciplines are not the goal of spirituality. We do not read our Bible, pray or go without food for a day just to prove that we can. And, if we do that is when spirituality becomes death-dealing.

In reality exercising ourselves spiritually is very similar to physical exercise. While the practices and disciplines of a tennis player may seem drab and harsh, the result is the exact opposite. The stronger and more "trained" the body becomes the more enjoyable the sport becomes. So it goes with our spiritual life. Our training leads to more and more life and energy.

You should have heard the laughter and life in the room yesterday afternoon. The ethos was celebration. So should it be whenever we gather and seek to become better disciples.

Maybe you'll join us for the next journey. I hope so.



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