Spiritual Disciplines

    A brief outline of my spiritual journey

    A brief outline of my spiritual journey though theological “phases”:

    • Childlike faith in God in Christ, interrupted by:

    • Fear-based “conversion”, leading to:

    • Semi-fundamentalism, which (due to the faithful way my parents discipled me in the grace and love of Christ as the fulfillment of the law) didn’t last too long because of an instilled resistance to letter-of-the-law thinking which opened the door to:

    • A desperately relieved re-discovery of the grace of God in Christ, which I found articulated most clearly by Reformation Christianity, which in turn formed me in:

    • A sacramental understanding of how God ordinarily communicates himself, a profound mystery that I found pervades all of life, and I understood to be articulated by the Church Fathers, who are presently convincing me of:

    • The truly cosmic implications of a God that is not simply a being but Being itself, that loves humans by becoming a human–Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary–, that defeats death by dying on a cross, that lives to give life via union with him, in his Spirit.

    Through it all there has always been an undeniable charismatic/mystical experience of God walking with me in a million ways:

    • sometimes through intentional practices

    • sometimes in unexpected breakthroughs

    • sometimes through the right word from the just right person at the just right time

    • always somehow intertwined with his Church…

    …guiding me always and only to Jesus.

    It is not as if I am developing a greater/ deeper understanding of Jesus' “part” in God’s plan. I am only ever more convinced Jesus is God’s plan. Jesus' way is God’s way. Union with Christ isn’t an aspect of life, it is life itself.

    And what a journey it is…here’s the thing…I find the news to be better and better the more I believe the simple teachings of Jesus:

    “The kingdom of heaven is at hand”

    “Blessed are meek”

    “Turn the other cheek”

    “I have come to give life and life abundant”

    “I will draw all men to myself”

    (obviously I could go on)

    I mean it’s almost too good to be true but somehow I believe it so deeply

    Spiritual discipline is necessary for spiritual direction.

    This ESV Journaling New Testament could be a game changer for study and sermon prep

    The Productive Pastor, Chad Brooks, just posted a pic of his study notes on Instagram. I had to ask him what Bible he was using. Turns out it was the new ESV Journaling New Testament, Inductive Edition.

    I sometimes create my own version of this via copy & paste and Word, but this bound version of the New Testament text with wide margins and super-generous line spacing could really facilitate meditation, lectio divina, observation notes, definitions, etc. As such, it could also be a great volume to preach from if you wrote your notes directly in the text below each verse…certainly something to think about!

    Buy on Amazon

    Related: How and why you should keep a prayer journal

    Effort Is Not the Opposite of Grace

    Richard Foster, author of The Celebration of Discipline:

    There’s a back and forth—there is a role that we play in our relational life with God. That role is, as Paul puts it, that we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice.

    Now, how do you do that? I’d say primarily—not exclusively, but primarily—through the classical disciplines of the spiritual life. That’s how we offer the mind, the heart, the spirit, the body before God. Then, at that point, the disciplines have come to the end of their tether. There is no righteousness in them at all—none. They just allow us to place ourselves before God. The grace of God steps into that and begins to do work we can hardly imagine.

    The point of this is that I cannot change my own heart. I cannot change anybody else’s heart. That isn’t my business—that’s God’s business.

    Source: Richard Foster: Effort Is Not the Opposite of Grace | Christianity Today

    Boredom in meditation

    I suggest that you received a gift of time, time that did not have to be filled because you were already in God's presence.
    - Fr. Carl

    If you'd like humility, try praying for it.

    God gives grace to the humble. Are you developing the virtue of humility?

    This old Christian prayer–in a form of repeated petitions called a litanyhas challenged many, including me. I believe if you pray these things honestly, God will grant your request in his time. It is especially appropriate for the Lenten season; it is combined here with a prayer from my own Anglican tradition.

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    #Lent, @Twitter, and the real meaning of self denial.

    Brothers and sisters, we are now solidly into the season of Lent. Lent is that time of the Christian year where we remember own sin, our own deep need for a savior. We remember we’re made of dust, and we’re going to back to being dust. Perhaps you’re giving something up for the Lent this year…

    Christianity Today compiled a list of some of the most popular things people are giving up on Twitter.

    You know what the number one thing people are giving up for Lent is on Twitter?

    School. It’s understandable. You know you’ve been there.

    The number 3 thing was Twitter (not a bad choice).

    The 5 thing was social networking (I’ve done this before…it’s quite refreshing).

    Of course the usuals like chocolate, alcohol, fast food, and so on were popular. Then there are the people trying to be clever.

    Giving up Lent for Lent came in at number 14, and right ahead of that was simply the word “you.”

    As in, I’m giving up you for Lent (yikes!).

    Do you think there’s more to it than this?

    You know, on the one hand, I’m encouraged that the culture at large is at least aware of the season of Lent, and is at least interested in the idea of denying themselves in some way. I do wonder, however if even those of us in the church really have a clear understanding of what it means to deny ourselves the way Jesus talked about it.

    “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34 ESV)

    What does this mean? What does this look like in our day to day lives?

    Self denial isn’t giving up chocolate

    chocolate-183543_1280First, let’s talk about what self denial and taking up our cross isn’t. The kind of self-denial that Jesus is talking about is so much more than giving up chocolate for Lent. Giving up sugary snacks might be an admirable form of self-discipline and could be a way to deny an unhealthy sort of pleasure. But I don’t think this is exactly what Jesus had in mind when it comes to discipleship. I once heard on a sermon on Ash Wednesday in which a priest made this statement: “a great proposal demands a great response.”

    When someone proposes marriage to another, they are offering a great gift: their entire life. Yet, to accept this gift, you have to say “yes,” which means giving your whole life as well in response. This is how it is with God. He has made a great proposal by sending us Jesus. This proposal demands a great response. If our practice of self-denial is limited to chocolate, I’m not sure we’re getting what the Lenten season is all about…or what following Jesus is all about.

    When it comes to taking up our cross, we often speak as if merely enduring inconveniences is somehow giving glory to God. “Poor Amber has to listen to Nathan’s jokes every day. That’s just her cross to bear.” I don’t think so.

    Don’t you think real denial of self, a real taking up of one’s cross has to be more than this?

    What self denial really looks like

    When we think about denying ourselves, we often become self centered. We think about not swearing, or drinking too much or gratifying some other desire of our flesh. We deny ourselves the pleasures of the world, and we do it to try to increase our own personal holiness.

    Don’t get me wrong, personal holiness is important, but you can’t stop there. Jesus was perfectly holy, perfectly righteous, but he still went to cross. Aren’t we called to imitate him in this?jesus-485411_1280

    Jesus didn’t take up his cross for himself–he suffered scorn and shame and death for you and for me. So our self-denial has to move beyond just personal holiness become self-sacrificial in character. We have to deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Jesus for the sake of others.

    Let me offer your three examples of what it looks like to deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Jesus:

    1) Thomas_CranmerArchbishop Thomas Cranmer. Thomas Cranmer was the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of the English Reformation. It’s primarily because of him that we have the liturgy in English that we worship with today. He risked his life to reform the Church, and was ultimately burned alive for his commitment to the Word of God.

    2) Recently 21 Christians were killed in Libya by radical Muslims. Another Mass Execution of Egyptian Christians by ISIS‌The brother of two of the men prayed for their murderers publicly on television, thanking them for publicizing their profession of faith in Jesus, and saying “This only makes us stronger in our faith because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us.” This man set aside any desire for revenge and retaliation for the sake of even of those who killed his own brothers!

    3) 1966702_10201470725866286_256022291_nMy parents, Jeff & Renée. Both of them left established, comfortable careers to become missionaries in Africa. My mom was playing violin for world-class orchestras. My dad was minister of music at a large church. Things were going well. They gave up safety, security and all kinds of certainty to take their young children with them and plant churches in one of the least-reached places on the planet.

    Do these examples sound radical?

    Do they sound extreme?

    I hope so.  

    “Deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me” is a radical, extreme statement. Remember…a great proposal requires a great response. How are you living a radically sacrificial life for the sake of others?

    But…what if you are not a Reformer? What if you are not in physical danger because your commitment to the Word? What if you are not called to be a full-time missionary?

    First, you are called to be a Reformer. You are called to stand firm on the Word of God and be constantly reforming your life to that standard. And believe me, that will always entail risk. Perhaps not to your physical person (at least in the short term in the United States)…but it will entail relational risk. It will mean changing your life in ways that may be scary to you. In ways that will be unsettling and profoundly uncomfortable at first. And you are called to embrace that, and lead others into it.

    Here’s the thing: if you’re following Jesus, sooner or later will be presented with your opportunity to take up your cross and join in Christ’s suffering. I will go so far as to say that suffering with Christ is a necessary part of the Christian life. The Apostle Paul reminds us,

    The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17 ESV)

    If you are living a life of habitual risk-avoidance you will certainly suffer less. But you will also miss out on really following Jesus.

    What do you really believe?

    Please don’t get me wrong. I never want to encourage suffering for suffering’s sake. That would be sick and perverse. We don’t embrace suffering because it is inherently good…it’s not, and we rightly pray to be relieved of it. But when we are suffering for the sake of others and for Christ we can see God’s hand it in, we can see it’s worth it because of what is waiting for us on the other side.

    • Someone’s else’s life is worth suffering.
    • Experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit is worth suffering.
    • Building the Kingdom of God is worth suffering.
    • Knowing Jesus more is worth suffering.
    • Eternal life is worth suffering.

    “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35 ESV)

    This is the counter-intuitiveness of the Gospel, and Jesus is crystal clear here. What he calls us to may look like death, but only in the short term.

    Do you believe this? I mean, really deep down do you believe it? Because if you do, you will act on it!

    You remember how Paul said it…

    “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21 ESV)

    Paul believed it, and acted on it.

    In order to deny yourself, to take up your cross, and to follow Jesus you’ve got to believe the believe it deep in your soul when you pray,

    “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11 ESV)

    This is the truth.

    And this is our hope!

    And we are fools if we cave in to our own selfishness and the lies that the world will tell us.

    “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:36-38 ESV)

    This is the call and cost of discipleship:

    Not reserved, but radical.

    Not self-centered, but self-sacrificial.

    Not grudging, but giving.

    Not haughty, but holy.

    Not only a promise of life forever, but an invitation to die today.

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote,“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

    The great proposal has been made. Jesus lived and died and rose again for you and today, and he has spoken to you..

    What’s your response?

    Will you come?

    Will you die?

    Will you truly live?

    If your heart belongs to God, so does everything else

    When my wife Amber and I married each other, a lot changed for both of us in the days immediately after our marriage. For instance, we went from two separate bank accounts to one, joint bank account.

    All of a sudden someone else could see everything I was spending my money on. I remember well the days before I got married, when I could buy video games and technological gadgets without really asking anyone for permission, just because I wanted to.

    Those days are long, long gone.

    Things changed because I became responsible for more than just myself.

    Before we got married, I had a car and, Amber did not. After we were married, if someone asked Amber if she had a car, she’d say yes, of course I do. My things stopped being my things and became our things. In effect, my stuff became her stuff. And while it took some getting used to, I really didn’t mind. Why is that? Because the relationship was worth it.

    Because on a summer day in 2005, I gave Amber my heart, and everything else followed from that.

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    How a dreaded chore became a sacramental action

    Once upon a time I hated washing the dishes.

    The left over, sticky food residue was smelly and repulsive to the touch, especially after procrastinating. It seemed like a waste of time, a boring chore that had to be done every day. Everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves with conversation, entertainment, or creating more work for me by eating dessert or drinking coffee while I was still cleaning up. It wasn’t torture, but it sure wasn’t fun.

    I hated washing the dishes.

    Then I got married to a woman who hates washing dishes more than I do. We entered into our marriage with a loose agreement: she would cook, I would clean.

    Turns out she was (and still is) an amazing cook, but I wasn’t so great at consistently washing the dishes. I still disliked doing them, and still procrastinated. But I disliked it a little less, because I knew that what I was doing was contributing to the home and to the relationship we were building together.

    Over time, I came to appreciate the feeling of satisfaction that comes from doing a simple task well. The rhythm of washing, rinsing, drying, and putting away became a place to think and learn and even pray. I started to appreciate how much less disgusting it was to wash the dishes immediately after meals. I found I was especially thankful for warm water (especially in the winter) and–when we moved to place that had one–electricity for the dishwasher to take most of the hard work.

    My wife always says thank you when I do the dishes, sometimes with a hug or a peck on the cheek, and that becomes for me a sacred–dare I say sacramental– moment. The wonderful meal cooked out of love for me and the children, the washing and cleaning of pots and pans and plates, a thank you kiss. It’s all part of the liturgy of the family, and after all, a sacrament is an outward sign of an inward grace.

    Now, I know washing the dishes cannot be a sacrament in same sense as Holy Communion, Baptism, or even Marriage. Yet in some small way, washing the dishes has transformed from a necessary task, to a discipline, to even (on rare occasions) a treasured ritual.

    A once dreaded chore has become a precious, outward sign of the inward grace of being spiritually bound to my family. Somehow, washing the dishes became a sacramental action.

    Once upon a time, I hated washing the dishes. I still don’t always like washing the dishes.

    But now, I love washing the dishes.

    Stop resisting God's grace. Start resisting false gods.

    My pastor has been preaching on it. My friends and coworkers have been practicing it. It keeps coming up in conversation.


    It is a consecrated, dedicated time of rest. It is a time of remembrance of all that God has done. It is a covenant sign that we are God’s people; we do not belong to this world.

    It is a gift.

    It is not about hard-and-fast rules, but avoiding a legalistic approach has become my excuse to all but abandon Shabbat.

    It’s obvious that individuals and societies are less healthy for not observing the Sabbath. The cycle of production and consumption never ends in a Sabbath-less life. We allow our actions to be driven by an anxious-yet-subtle whisper in our heads, “what if…

    What if I don’t work today? How will I pay the bills? What if I don’t commit to this social event? How can maintain all of my friendships? What if I don’t volunteer for this church program, won’t I let my congregation down? What if I get bored?

    This is not the Life Abundant that Jesus came to give us.

    Sabbath is resistance to the false gods of anxiety, consumerism, pride, and restlessness.

    Our Spirit-filled new life in Christ is one of freedom from slavery to sin, worry, and ignorance. We are even set free from slavery to ourselves.

    We are free, and God takes care of us now.

    Practicing Sabbath is an act of faith. It is to act in trust of God’s goodness.

    As I mediate on these things, I realize it’s time for me to stop resisting God’s grace, and start resisting false gods. It’s time for me to quit submitting to the yoke of slavery and to live free. It’s time to begin taking Sabbath seriously again.

    Shabbat shalom.

    Do you also feel like it’s time to begin treating the Sabbath with more seriousness? Let me know in the comments!

    4 reasons I’m afraid of silence

    If you’re like me, you fill most waking moments with some sort of noise. Maybe it’s music, the radio, TV, Pandora, or podcasts. Too often, I find that the noise I’m shoving in my ears is my own voice.

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    This quote has been haunting me for weeks

    This quote by one of my favorite Christian authors has been haunting me for weeks.

    No short cut exists for a deeper spiritual life...the man who would know God must give time to Him.

    ~ A. W. Tozer

    Haunting me because I know it is true and no talk of “quality over quantity” can ever fully extinguish the conviction I have in my own soul that I don’t spend enough time with God.

    I know all too well (when I am being honest with myself) that the first thing to go when I get really busy is my devotional time. I’ve gotten better at holding steady in periods of moderate busyness, but when things start really going crazy I tend to simply forget. Talk about twisted priorities.

    When my mind starts going a million-miles-a-minute I just don’t yet have the discipline to quiet it for long enough. I need to work on that.

    I’m learning to rest, but it’s not easy.

    I realize that often, I’d sooner take an hour to read a book about communion with God than actually give him those same moments. I think it’s because it’s so much easier to absorb someone else’s thoughts than put in the effort to still myself enough to hear from God. Listening–really listening–often takes so much more effort than speaking.

    I’m learning that it takes a certain quantity of time to learn how to have the highest quality time.

    It’s become newly apparent to me that God wants a real, personal relationship with me and you. You and I both know real relationships require an investment of time in order to deepen and grow. Real relationships require giving up some things because being with the other person is simply worth it.

    Who could be more worth it than God?

    It won't always be pleasant, but I promise it will be worth it.

    One of best things my wife and I have done for our marriage is intentionally making time to spend together, just the two of us. We’ve learned that this is absolutely essential for maintaining the close relationship that we need in order to have a healthy marriage and family.

    We try to make time for a least a few moments each day, but sometimes we need a bit more time. So we have regular date nights where we can spend a couple hours together. Every now and then we’ll have the opportunity to spend the majority of the day together, just us. Those are treasured times.

    Of course, they don’t just happen. Amber and I have to plan them, commit to them, and follow through. Intentionally making time for each other is a discipline.

    I think that if you look at most of your relationships, you’ll find that you do this with your closest friends, mentors, and advisers. You have that extended, dedicated time for each other.

    Don't forget God.

    Do you do this for God? Do you spend time alone with God daily, weekly? Do you ever set aside a whole day or a large portion of your day just for prayer, Bible study, and sitting quietly with him?

    Every analogy breaks down at some point, but here are some ways spending alone time with God is similar to dedicating exclusive time to any relationship:

    • It's a bit awkward at first; you might not know what to say
    • This will inevitably drive you to say more than you should
    • After a significant time investment, that awkwardness will melt away to an easy familiarity
    • Silence will then often be sweet and full of meaning
    • Even after this, it will take work to maintain the relationship; you will be constantly challenged

    Tips to develop a habit of spending alone time with God

    First, determine if you’re ready to get outside your comfort zone. God never leaves us as we are. When we come into his presence we leave changed people (Tweet this). He is always at work in us. When you dedicate time to being alone with God, you are opening yourself up to a new level of intimacy with him. It won’t always be pleasant, but I promise it will be worth it.

    Schedule your time. What gets scheduled, gets done. This is–in my opinion–a fact of life. Put your devotional time on the calendar, and treat it like you would any appointment with a VIP.

    Don’t over-program. It’s great to go through a devotional book, keep a prayer journal, and perhaps even explore the liturgy as part of your personal time with God. That said, don’t forget to save a few moments to just be with him, without talking. I recommend Lectio Divina as way to practice listening to God.

    What’s your greatest challenge when it comes to spending alone time with God? Let me know in the comments!

    How and why you should keep a prayer journal

    Keeping a prayer journal has been simultaneously one of the most rewarding and one of the most difficult decisions I’ve tried to stick with.  Ultimately it’s been worth it, despite my own inconsistencies.

    What is a prayer journal?

    A prayer journal is a little different from simply keeping a diary, because the point isn’t just to record your thoughts, feelings, and observations (although a prayer journal might include those things). Instead, a prayer journal serves to record your conversations with God. Not just requests, but what he is teaching and revealing to you, and what you are saying to him.

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    Are you feeling far from God?

    Are you feeling far from God? You’re not alone. Even the greatest saints have struggled with doubt and the fear of being abandoned by God.

    Remember Doubting Thomas? Even Mother Theresa endured a decades-long loss of feeling God’s presence.

    Christians throughout the centuries have called this experience “The Dark Night of the Soul.”

    16th century mystic John of Cross is known for his poems regarding this difficult (yet rewarding) experience. In this short, 3 minute video I’ll share some insight from John of the Cross that has helped me–and might help you–to make sense of the darkness.

    5 powerful ways to keep growing when you can't find a spiritual mentor

    I’ve written about how to find a spiritual mentor, but one thing is for sure: it’s not an instant process. It can sometimes take a while to find the right person–or for the right person to find you. If you’ve not yet found a spiritual mentor, take heart! Don’t forget these five ways to continue to grow as you pray and think about who might be a good mentor.

    1) Value one-off conversations

    You may not be able to have an ongoing arrangement, but don’t forget the value of asking someone you respect in the faith to lunch every now and then. Perhaps you can make a habit of asking one person from whom you know you can learn to coffee once a week. Then remember to do more listening than talking.

    2) Find mentors in books

    I consider C. S. Lewis a spiritual mentor, even though he died long before I was born. I’ve read almost everything he’s written on Christianity and he is an author I return to frequently for reference when I come up on a theological problem. Tim Keller and N. T. Wright have also become mentors for me this way. Find a solid author that resonates with you, and begin to read all of their work.

    3) Create a life plan

    Creating a life plan is an essential way to sharpen your focus and gain clarity on how to move forward in life. There are plenty of the self-guided programs out there; I recommend Storyline by Donald Miller. Going through Don’s process will take you a few weeks, but the time investment will pay off. You’ll begin to better understand what’s really important in your life and the areas that you need to be mentored in.

    4) Find someone you can mentor

    Everyone needs a mentor and to be mentored, depending on the season of their life. Consider whether it might actually be the time for you to reach out and find someone to invest in. As I’ve made mentoring others an integral part of my life, I’ve experienced tremendous personal and spiritual growth.

    5) Continue your education

    Enroll in classes online or at a local college that will benefit you spiritually. Consider church history, systematic theology, or even a class in spiritual formation. Read blogs and listen to podcasts that will help think through spiritual issues and gain biblical knowledge.

    How have you continued to make spiritual growth a priority while you look for a mentor?

    5 practical ways to guard your personal time with God from distraction

    distractionI recently asked my Facebook friends what distracted them from their personal time with God. Here are some of the answers:

    • Myself
    • Facebook
    • Kids
    • Job
    • Sleep
    • Church (!)

    As a “ministry professional” with young children, I get most of these reasons. Every day our Western culture bombards us with demands for our time and attention, and it’s hard to say no.

    If God really is who he says he is, however, and we really believe that, we’ve got to learn to focus in on what’s really important: him. Here are 5 practical ways to guard your personal time with God from distraction. Each one takes time, planning, and commitment, but it will be so worth it.

    1) List the reasons why it's important

    Writing things down is powerful for creating motivation and making ideas concrete. List the reasons why you believe spending personal time with God through the Bible, prayer, and meditation is essential. Keep this list in the place you tend to get the most distracted (say, taped to your computer monitor).

    2) Schedule your quiet time

    Things that get scheduled get done. Make the effort to integrate your personal time with God with your schedule. Again, put it on paper! Find those 10-20 minute windows of opportunity in your day and determine to set them apart for God instead of reading articles online or socializing. Set up reminders on your phone so you don’t forget!

    3) Enlist your spouse's help

    I know firsthand how difficult it is to find any kind of alone time when you have small children. You’ll have to touch base with your spouse and see if they can help you by taking the kids for 20 minutes while you close your bedroom door or step outside to walk and pray. Don’t forget you can do this for them, too. What a great way to minister to each other!

    4) Check the Bible before you check Facebook

    This one is really simple. Just give yourself a new rule for life: no checking Facebook or social media until you’ve spent time in the Word. If you’re getting sucked into your timeline or feed and wondering where all the time went, this small adjustment will keep your priorities straight in your head and in real life.

    5) Move to a different location or a dedicated space

    It often helps me to move away from my computer for my devotional time. I don’t necessarily even have to go to a different room of the house or head out to a park (although that’s nice). Sometimes just moving from my desk to a chair in the living room can help clear my mind and “reset.” If you have the room, setting apart a dedicated space for prayer in the form of a home altar, prayer room, or closet is helpful too.

    What other ways have you fought distraction from your personal time with God?

    What to do when you feel spiritually stuck

    Do you ever feel like you’ve hit a wall when it comes to spiritual growth? Does there seem to be something missing, even though you are pretty consistent with your prayer time and you read from the Bible regularly?

    I’ve been there too. For me, the key to breaking through was trying something new…in my case, Christian meditation in the form of Lectio Divina.

    For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14, ESV)

    According Hebrews 5:12, the foundational knowledge of salvation and the Gospel should be intimately familiar. The basics have to always be there (to continue the food analogy, we still need dairy in our diet) , however as we progress in the faith it is essential to grow in your understanding of doctrine and God’s character beyond “repentance from dead works…” (Heb. 6:1).

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    If I had to choose between all the spiritual disciplines

    Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That’s where you need it! How does it get in your mouth? Memorization.
    ~ Dallas Willard (“Spiritual Formation in Christ for the Whole Life and Whole Person” in Vocatio, Vol. 12, no. 2, Spring, 2001, 7).

    3 highly effective methods for memorizing Bible verses

    There’s no doubt that memorizing Bible verses is difficult for many people (myself included!). A big aspect of the challenge for me has been that I haven’t been very methodical about memorizing. I’d simply repeat a verse a few times and hope that it stuck, with no plan for review. Going about memorizing halfheartedly like this is a recipe for discouragement and–ultimately–failure.

    Effective methods for memorizing Bible verses always involve an intentional approach to internalizing new verses and reviewing old ones. Don’t think that there is a magic formula out there for doing this without putting in the hard work.

    You’ve got to commit to the process and show up daily.

    Here are three ways I’ve found to effectively memorize Bible verses.

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