Posted tagged ‘Spiritual Disciplines’

Gospel-Centered Spiritual Formation: Spiritual Disciplines

May 4, 2012

So far in this series, I have provided a little background, the triperspectival framework, and the role of gospel forms in the development of the diagram I created to illustrate what I’m calling gospel-centered spiritual formation.

Role of Spiritual Disciplines in Gospel-Centered Formation

Now we have come to the role of spiritual disciplines in gospel-centered spiritual formation. What I’ve done with this approach is create subsets of disciplines that correspond both to the triperspectival framework and particular “form” of the gospel.  The reason spiritual disciplines are intrinsically connected this way is to correct the bifurcation of gospel centrality and formative spiritual disciplines. The former tends to focus on delight (gospel), and the later tends to focus on duty (disciplines). But duty can been an overflow of delight when we discover how spiritual disciplines are cultivated in light of the person and work of Jesus Christ.  In other words, they are not exercises of spiritual growth as much as they are exercises in gospel application (leading to spiritual growth).


Gospel-Centered Spiritual Formation: A Little Background

April 23, 2012

I never heard about spiritual disciplines until I took a class on it while in college. In those early years of my spiritual development, I was directed to books like Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, and Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines. As a lifelong athlete training who loved to train for physical fitness, I really liked the idea of spiritually training/discipline for godliness.  I am grateful for this period of time in my life where I was not only taking the call for spiritual growth seriously but also the call to gospel ministry.

Fast forward four years, and I am ending a four-year stint in youth ministry and entering seminary.  It was at this time that God began to work deeply in my about the sufficiency of the gospel, and more specifically understanding how my union with Christ changes how I live as a Christian.  When I looked back at the intentional efforts of being spiritually disciplined, I realized how little attention was being paid to the gospel. For whatever reason, the gospel was absent from a lot of the literature pertaining to spiritual disciplines, and the consequence (in part) was that the gospel was assumed in a lot of my spiritual development.

Over the past 2-3 years, there has been a renaissance of gospel-centered literature, and for that I’m extremely grateful. I have attempted to argue for years that the greatest need in evangelical life is the recovery and rediscovery of the gospel. In the midst of all the excellent literature coming out on the gospel, I have not seen anything written on the relationship of gospel centrality to spiritual disciplines. They appear to have two different approaches to spiritual formation, angling in two different directions for living the Christian life.

And yet I don’t think that must needs be the case.

I have recently thought about this, in particular how the gospel-centered life and importance of spiritual disciplines work in concert for a believer’s spiritual formation. The result is a triperspectival diagram that I want to break down for your consideration.  For now, I’m simply going to post the diagram. In the coming days, I hope to explain it in detail for those interested in my attempt to bridge the gap between gospel centrality and spiritual formation through a triperspectival framework.

Ephesians, 2008, and a Memory Moleskine

July 1, 2008

NOTE: After having printed out the sections of Scripture, I realized that the margins were a bit wide (they could work if you cut the pieces of paper really tight).  I went and updated the margins and made necessary adjustments to make the text fit more comfortably in the moleskine.  So if you downloaded the older version, you may want to scratch that and download this updated version.

After the interview with Andy Davis last week, and then hearing him preach on filling your life with Scripture, I was really convicted by the fact that I have been hit and miss for the past couple of years when it comes to memorizing Scripture. I would memorize a passage or chapter only to forget it the next month, and as a result, the Scripture I put to memory found little application in my life (such as in witnessing, personal sanctification, counseling others, etc.).

Consequently, I have been thinking over the past couple of days about what I can do to change and grow in this area. I want to memorize Scripture with a focus on retention and reflection that will return by way of application and ministry to myself and to others. As of next week (July 6), 26 weeks remain on the 2008 calendar–a perfect time to memorize a book of the Bible. I have chosen to take on the book of Ephesians because it is (1) reasonable length, (2) gloriously doctrinal, (3) and intensely practical.

I realize that Andy has a 26 week plan for Ephesians in his booklet, An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture, but I tweaked mine just a bit to allow room for sustained review. Here is my schedule plan that I drafted earlier this morning:

Week 1 :: Ephesians 1:1-6
Week 2 :: Ephesians 1:7-14
Week 3 :: Ephesians 1:15-23
Week 4 :: Ephesians 2:1-9
Week 5 :: Ephesians 2:10-16
Week 6 :: Ephesians 2:17-22
Week 7 :: Ephesians 3:1-6
Week 8 :: Ephesians 3:7-13
Week 9 :: Ephesians 3:14-21
>> Week 10 – Review 1-9
Week 11 :: Ephesians 4:1-8
Week 12 :: Ephesians 4:9-16
Week 13 :: Ephesians 4:17-24
Week 14 :: Ephesians 4:25-32
Week 15 :: Ephesians 5:1-6
Week 16 :: Ephesians 5:7-14
Week 17 :: Ephesians 5:15-21
Week 18 :: Ephesians 5:22-33
Week 19 :: Ephesians 6:1-9
Week 20 :: Ephesians 6:10-17
Week 21 :: Ephesians 6:18-24
>> Week 22 – Review weeks 11-21
>> Week 23 – Recite weeks 1-22

>> Week 24 – Meditate, Pray, and Rejoice!

Some of the weeks have fewer verses than others, but I think all in all it balances out. Week 10 is dedicated entirely for review of chapters 1-3, which breaks the book (and schedule) down in half. Week 22 is review for the second half, and week 23 reviews the entire book. Week 24 is simply devoted to praying through the book, meditating on it, and thanking God for the journey through it. Two weeks are unaccounted for in this plan (24 weeks when there are 26 left in the calendar year), but I figured Thanksgiving and Christmas week could represent those weeks. 🙂

So what do you think? Look like a good plan? Anyone else interested in the journey?

To keep the verses before me, I have put together what I am called my “memory Moleskine.” I recently purchased a three-pack of “Cashier Pocket Ruled Notebook” from Moleskine. One of them is my “getting things done” book for the month, another my missional moleskine (more about that later), and the other my memory moleskine.

On the left side of the memory moleskine, I am pasting a typed-out version of the text, broken down in the sections of Scripture mentioned above. The font size is 10 point, and I am using the English Standard Version. On the right side of the moleskine, I am dividing the page into two sections: the top half focusing on “review” and the bottom half focusing on “reflection.” Under review, I will mark the number of times I review the passage along with the corresponding dates. Under reflection, I will write notes and observations I glean from dwelling in the text (such as themes, truths, etc.).

I plan on taking some pictures and posting what the memory moleskine set up looks like. But the goal is to constantly have it with me and before me throughout the day. The small, thin cashier moleskine is perfect for carrying in your pocket or purse (ladies only, man purses not allowed).

Anyone planning on doing this and using the ESV, you can download my doc (see note above) which has the sections already set up to print. All you will have to do is cut the pages and paste the texts in the moleskine.

So that’s the plan. Now it’s time to get started. Anyone interested in joining in, let me know. May God’s Word be hid in our hearts and worked out in our lives.

NFC IX: Andy Davis on “The Importance of Filling Your Life With Scripture”

June 26, 2008

I hold in my hand a miracle.  The Bible is a miracle, and I challenge you to give me any definition of a miracle that our Bible does not qualify.  It was the Word God sent, for faith comes by hearing so that we might be saved.  James 1:17 – God chose to give us birth by the word of truth.  The Scriptures are able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15).

There are elect people who have not been justified yet; there are justified people who are not finished being sanctified.  The finish line of salvation is the resurrected body; therefore, we are not finished yet, and we are in danger every hour.  We need the ministry of the word of God every hour.  The doctrines of grace, the five points of Calvinism have been precious to me most all of my Christian life.  Most believers are aware of the “p” of tulip–the perseverance of the saints.  But I have come to have a different view of perseverance over the past couple of years.  It is much more dynamic; Jesus continues to save me, continues to project me until I am brought to glory.

(I missed a great exposition on our dependency upon the Trinitarian work of ongoing sanctification in the life of a believer to keep one in the faith through perseverance wholly as a divine work of grace.  I was taking photos as this time).

The ongoing ministry of the Word keeps our faith in Christ strong.

Text: John 15:1-8 (click)

The centrality of this message is abiding, remaining, and dwelling in Christ.  This fruitfulness comes only from abiding in Christ, and abiding in Christ does not come apart from abiding in the Word of God.  Look at verse seven and eight:

7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

I want trace out this theme of the centrality of the Word.  Then I want to speak generally how this will be beneficial and helpful, and giving practical helps in studying Scripture.

1.  Eternal life comes by the Word (3)

“You already clean because of the Word I have spoken to you.” We must be washed by Jesus or we do not go to heaven.  Nobody’s will is stronger than Jesus’.  Clean means justified–to be pure in the sight of God.  God is looking on us as clean–he sees us pure and clean in Christ because of the word spoken to you.  Rom. 5:1–we have peace with God; Heb. 10:22–hearts sprinkled and consciences cleansed.


NFV VI: Don Whitney on “Reforming Through Discipline”

June 26, 2008

About Don Whitney:

Don Whitney has been Associate Professor of Biblical Spirituality and Senior Associate Dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, since 2005. Before that, he held a similar position (the first such position in the six Southern Baptist seminaries) at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, for ten years. He is the founder and president of The Center for Biblical Spirituality.  Prior to his ministry as a seminary professor, Don was pastor of Glenfield Baptist Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), for almost fifteen years. Altogether, he has served local churches in pastoral ministry for twenty-four years. He is the author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (NavPress, 1991), which has a companion discussion guide. He has also written How Can I Be Sure I’m A Christian (NavPress, 1994), Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church (Moody Press, 1996), Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (NavPress, 2001), Simplify Your Spiritual Life (NavPress, 2003), and Family Worship (Center for Biblical Spirituality, 2006). His hobby is restoring and using old fountain pens.


This issue has been addressed on repeated occasions, and now there are many people in this room who teach on this subject of church discipline.  When this conference began 26 years ago, it would be hard to find one church who practice church discipline, but now there are dozens who are doing it.  There is always the need to teach again the doctrines we hold dear, especially the doctrine of the church and focusing on the change that needs to be brought in the reformation of the church.

Reformation always begins with teaching.  The goal of church discipline is restorative, not punitive.  It is not “banning people from the church” (as the Wall Street Journal puts it).  The goal is to restore a believer to righteousness.  We want to bring them back, to heal the breach, to restore them in love.

Let’s look at Matt. 18:15-20.


Founders Podcast 2: Interview with Donald Whitney

June 24, 2008

This morning, I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Donald Whitney to discuss spiritual disciplines and the 2008 National Founders Conference. In the interview, I asked Dr. Whitney about his pilgrimage in the study of spiritual disciplines, how to cultivate spiritual disciplines in challenging and demanding times, his work at the Center for Biblical Spirituality and at SBTS, and finally the work of personal and formative discipline in the practice of church renewal and church planting.

The total listening time is approximately 42 minutes.

>> Download: FP2 :: Interview with Donald Whitney (at 08FNC)