Tuesday, October 17, 2006

FOUR FRONTS FOR SPIRITUAL VITALITY

DIATRIBE OR EXHORTATION? The following may be a bit out of place on bikehiker, but only mildly so. It's not so much a diatribe (a legitimate genre of expression) as it is an exhortation. I shared this in a recent edition of the weekly e-journal I put together for our community of faith -- "Life Together on West Morris Street." All 149 editions of LT/WEMO can be accessed at http://www.westmorrisfm.org/. Over the next 12 months, I want to frame our community life around these four fronts...and maybe a few more.

WHAT’D YOU EXPECT? Can one expect to be healthy and growing spiritually without basic, weekly personal spiritual disciplines? You know the answer. Spiritual vitality isn’t something we can store up and live off of in lean or overly busy times. Spiritual health is cultivated daily, weekly. Let us shake ourselves loose, if need be, from a “feast-or-famine,” “hot and cold” approach to godliness. Too much is at stake in our lives and the lives of those we love--who count on us--to be sleepwalking through the Kingdom. Take action today on these Four Fronts of Spiritual Growth.

1. FILL YOUR LIFE WITH PRAYER Let your longing for a deeper, more vital Christian experience begin right here. Confess your heart’s desires, tell God your hopes and hurts, bring your world into God’s presence. Hold nothing back. Then, be still and wait before your Creator, Redeemer, Healer, and King. Contemplate God’s provision, receive God’s counsel, respond with active faith to God’s direction. Now, make this your daily practice. You’ll be on the cutting edge of faith.

2. CENTER YOUR LIFE IN THE WORD Think you know it all? Heard it all? Learned it all? Think again. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” “The Word of God is living and active.” If God’s Word is on the shelf or in the passive background, it’s not lighting your way today. Today’s challenges need today’s Word. Dig into the Word again today, by all means. Read solo. Study with a partner. Reflect in a group. Explore in a Sunday School Class or Bible Study. Teach children, youth, and/or adults. Live what you learn. Share what you glean. Let the Word come alive in and through you. Without this, life can easily be carved up by counterfeits, our passion dissipated in trivia, and our focus scattered in myriad ways.

3. INCARNATE CHRIST’S LOVE IN SERVICE Every growing Christian is serving others. Serving may not be easy, convenient, apparently rewarding, recognized, or personally satisfying, but it is the way we experience Christ in others--whether homeless or abused or uneducated or depressed or clueless or arrogant or desperate or penniless. And service is the greatest and simplest way we make Christ known to others and in the world. Apart from service, we atrophy spiritually--not later, but now. How and where can you serve others--directly or indirectly--today or this week?

4. GATHER YOUR LIFE WITH GOD’S PEOPLE “There is no holiness but social holiness,” John Wesley said. Too many Christian people today are scattered and myopic, notes Richard J. Foster. Like fire lives, creates energy, and shines brightly when singular embers are close together, so with believers. “We really do need each other,” writes Reuben Welch. We belong to each other when we belong to Christ. There is in the church “a fellowship which cannot otherwise be known.” So, draw near. Engage. Be where you belong. There’s a place waiting for you at the table. The church won’t be the church without you.

A FURTHER CHALLENGE Consider how these Four Fronts for Spiritual Growth find expression in the faith community. Look at everything the church is about and does through these four fronts. What are your opportunities for prayer, Word-centering, border-crossing service, and gathering? If you are not, then why are you not addressing each of these simultaneous fronts of spiritual warfare and breakthrough? If you want help or resources for engaging in one or all of these essential fronts of spiritual vitality, please contact me. Please do not languish, make excuses or try to rationalize your way into or out of spiritual mediocrity. Seize the day, for heaven’s sake.

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