Posted tagged ‘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.

Signs You Are Growing in Grace, Part 9

May 9, 2011

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7 || Part 8

Your weekly installment of 20 grace tweets from Scotty Smith:

A sign you’re growing in grace: You park your conscience under God’s grace & when it drifts towards law, you yank it back.

A sign you’re growing in grace: You don’t guilt very easily, either as victim or agent.

A sign you’re growing in grace: No matter what anyone says about you, you realize the cross is your greatest critic & cure.

A sign you’re growing in grace: Your recovery time from irritability, resentment and smugness is getting shorter.

A sign you’re growing in grace: You don’t privatize your relationship with Jesus. You’re using more plural pronouns.

A sign you’re growing in grace: You’re thankful Jesus hasn’t just forgiven all your sins, but also all your good works.


Signs You Are Growing in Grace, Part 8

May 1, 2011

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7

Your weekly installment of 20 grace tweets from Scotty Smith:

A sign you’re growing in grace: There are things you no longer do only because of your love for Jesus.

A sign you’re growing in grace: You want to trust again more than you want to stay stuck in your hurt.

A sign you’re growing in grace: The older you get the more you remember stuff your parents actually did right.

A sign you’re growing in grace: You expect to discover more of your need for Jesus today & more of the riches of Jesus.

A sign you’re growing in grace: You define success less by how much you do in a day & more in terms of how well you love.

A sign you’re growing in grace: Less and less seems really whine-worthy.

A sign you’re growing in grace: An exponentially growing appetite for the gospel and a shrinking appetite for junk food.

A sign you’re growing in grace: You long & pray for the Holy Spirit to visit your heart & church in transforming power.


Own Your Weaknesses

August 10, 2009

During our evening service yesterday, Tom Ascol shared with the Grace family his reflections over the past 20+ years, addressing the strengths, weaknesses, and prospects for the future.  What struck me in particular was the sincerity and humility of heart exhibited in addressing the weaknesses where Tom confessed his fingerprints over the areas where the church needed to be strengthened (he did not mention, however, the fact of his fingerprints over the areas where the church is strong–which are many).  It is tempting to give a superficial examination of the areas where you are weak and consequently give an equally superficial expression of repentance by simply admitting their existence and not following through with genuine change.

Working with Tom as a fellow pastor has been an education like none other, including the fact that he is the first pastor I have known to address areas where we are we and call us to repentance–himself leading the way.  Sadly in many cases (in my past experience) the finger is pointed at other people in accusation and self-righteousness, and yet the gospel requires that we point the finger at ourselves and expose the areas where we need to repent, mature, and reflect the character of Christ more faithfully.

The prospects of the future are tied both to how we humbly and gratefully handle our strengths and how honestly and repentantly addresses our weaknesses.  A failure to own our weaknesses is a failure to recognize our need for God’s grace in our lives on a continual basis.  It is in weakness that both God’s power is made perfect and His grace is found to be sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).  The strength of the church is not found in focusing on its strengths but by focusing on its weaknesses so as to experiencing God’s grace and power.  We are to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1) because it is “by the grace of God that we are what we are” (1 Cor. 15:10).

I have been challenged afresh to examine myself not with a cosmetic approach but one of a heart surgeon.  Our Lord is merciful to hear the cries of the humble and contrite of heart and display His mighty strength in weakness.  May we own them in gospel humility that God might own our efforts to bring Him great glory.