Tag Archives: fellowship

Train

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word discipline? As a mom of three, I think of child-tears, frustration, time-outs (or worse), and me feeling frazzled and worn out. Discipline, if we’re honest, is not fun. Rewarding in the long run? Sure. But not exactly a word with a positive connotation.

So when I talk about spiritual disciplines? Well, the danger for you and for me is that we can bring this somewhat negative connotation into the conversation. But Scripture uses several words that are translated at “discipline.” One means to chastise, correct, or instruct (see Hebrews 12:6-7). But here’s some good news: God’s Word uses entirely different words to talk about discipline in terms of our spiritual formation. Consider this excerpt from my book, The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival:

trainersAs we look at the spiritual disciplines, we’re instead aiming for the concepts of gumnazo and askeo. Gumnazo—from which we derive the English word gymnasium—means discipline in the sense of athletic exercise and training. We’re talking about a spiritual sweat here: regular “workouts” that keep our faith in shape. This is the word Paul uses when he urges Timothy, “[T]rain yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8, emphasis added). This is the same connotation the writer of Hebrews intends when he prods his readers by saying, “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teachings about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14, emphasis added).

Askeo means the discipline of a master craftsman who employs skill, persistent determination, and great effort to turn raw material into a piece of art. Continue reading

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Spiritual Variety

In  a healthy Christian life, we need the “essential vitamins” — the main practices of spiritual growth that are usually heavily emphasized in church (such as Bible study, prayer, and worship). Like essential vitamins in our diet, we need these building blocks of spiritual life so we don’t become fatigued and spiritually emaciated.

But I also really need variety. I need more than only the basics to live a full and happy life. Too much of the same, same, same can get boring. God didn’t design us to thrive via rote, worn-out routine.

And the good news is that Scripture and our rich tradition of Christian spirituality throughout church history offers us many ways to grow and connect with God in addition to these essential basics! Variety can help us flourish! That’s why I’ve included a wide variety of spiritual practices in my new devotional series for women, Flourishing Faith. Here’s a quick overview of the types of practices included in the books — consider using this list to add variety to your own spiritual walk this week.

• Act: Apply Scripture’s challenges to your life through concrete action.

• Create: Use art, drawing, poetry, or another hands-on project to interact with God.

• Examine: Explore Scripture using investigation, research, and study.

• Interact: Connect with another person as part of your spiritual journey.

• Internalize: Interact with Scripture using Christian contemplation, meditation, and memorization.

• Journal: Reflect on your journey and record your thoughts in creative ways.

• Ponder: Read and think about Scripture, historical information, or an insightful quotation.

• Pray: Speak to God and listen to him.

• Symbolize: Use an experience or a common object as a metaphor to help you contemplate a spiritual truth.

• Worship: Express gratitude and praise to God.

Cultivating Vitality

Last week I posted about the drought here in central Indiana and the spiritual dryness we can easily fall into in the Christian life. There can be many causes of spiritual drought, but the main ones are probably spiritual neglect and difficult life circumstances. Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control — stuff in life that makes our schedule crazy, happenings that break our heart. Sometimes, no matter what we do, God seems distant.

But often times, we can change the conditions that are causing spiritual drought in our lives. Often the spiritual neglect or the vitality-sapping conditions in our life are under our control — and can be quickly changed by some simple choices, habits, and mindset shifts. We can flourish.

Consider these ideas . . .

Stay rooted: Connect with God through his Word. Dig in deep. Perhaps this may mean re-cultivating a long lost habit of daily Bible study. Or maybe it means changing things up and approaching God’s Word through a different angle such as Scripture meditation; memorizing a simple passage; singing, praying, or speaking Scripture back to God; reading Scripture’s narratives imaginatively, picturing the events and the thoughts and feelings of the people involved. Long periods of immersion in the Bible are wonderful, but I also contend that even just 5 or 10 minutes spent daily rooting yourself in God’s Word WILL make a difference in your mindset and your soul’s vitality.

Refresh: The main reason my lawn is dead-looking isn’t the oppressive heat — it’s the lack of rain. It needs a cool soaking of refreshing water. And it needs it again and again and again. And so do you and I. We need to be refreshed! Continue reading

Meet My Friend . . . Christin Nevins

I’m excited to introduce you to my friend Christin Nevins. Christin is passionate about teaching, ministering to women,  and leading retreats. She’s got some great insights to share about the discipline of fellowship, so keep on reading (and leave a comment to join in on this thought-provoking conversation) . . .

Christin, tell my readers a bit about yourself.

I’m a wife and mom — married to my husband Adam for 12 years. We have 2 daughters and a son. We’ve had the joy of adopting our son from India and have raised our family in an inner-city Indianapolis neighborhood for the last 8 years. Common Ground Christian Church is our church home. I’ve been passionate about ministering to women — inviting and equipping them to live into all that God dreams for them —  for a long time.  It’s a joy to be a guest on your blog, Kelli.  Thanks for the invitation!

Community is a buzz word in some Christian circles. We’re challenged to practice “authentic community” — but sometimes, I think, idealized versions of community clash with reality. Community can be messy! And we also have legitimate needs for privacy, for family time, and so on. How would you define what it means to live in community — to practice the discipline of fellowship?

Unity is where fellowship or community starts.  Maintaining unity is also probably the hardest part of living in community over the long haul. When we join our lives with others trying to love God and love people, it sounds so easy and good, but we all have our own ideas and understanding about how to live that out. Combining lives with other broken, messy people (as we all are!) also exposes our sinful nature which is the biggest challenge to living in unity. We see that throughout the Bible and throughout the church today.   Continue reading

15-Minute Formation: Your Family, Your Community

If you’re a mom, one of the most important ways to practice the discipline of fellowship may surprise you. We often long to “get away” from our kids for some “real” fellowship with adults. I can certainly empathize with that desire! And we certainly do need adult time!

But if you’re at a stage in which you’ve got kids in the house, whether they’re 2 months old or 18 years old, spending time with them can be a meaningful and significant aspect of “fellowship” in your life. Time building relationships. Time listening. Time sharing and mentoring.

And even those tough times — when your kids stretch your patience, push you to the brink of losing your temper, or frustrate you to the extreme — these experiences are part of the good fellowship can do in your life. Those tough times are opportunities to practice service, to choose humility, to exercise self-control and grace. Continue reading

Sandpaper People

Ages ago I read a magazine article with a title something like, “How Will I Be Able to Stand Heaven with All Those Annoying People There?!”

I chuckled at the title — and connected with it.

There are people within the church — both our local church and the broader global community of Christians — that will annoy us. I know there are people who annoy me. And I’m sure that some people find me quite annoying as well!

Part of the practice of the discipline of fellowship is coming to terms with this reality — accepting it and appreciating what it offers us. Continue reading

A Matter of Mindset

Relationship. It’s something we long for, something we were made for. Relationships bring us great happiness and joy in life — but also heartache, turmoil, and disappointment.

Community. It’s a buzz word in some Christian circles. It’s something we aim for and something we’re a part of. It’s an essential aspect of the Christian life. But I find it’s often over-idealized — like some pie-in-the-sky possibility that we can never quite fully attain.

And so I’ve chosen a different word: fellowship.

Essentially, practicing the discipline of “fellowship” is the same as the discipline of “community” — but I want to get away from some of the more radical or overly-idealized connotations of “community” in the evangelical subculture and get a bit more to the raw essence of what it is that God calls us to — and why we need it.

The etymology of the English word fellowship is interesting to me. Continue reading