Trophies of Grace

spiritual-disciplinesJohn Wesley asked…“Why are we not more holy? …and answered, “Chiefly because we are enthusiasts, looking for the end without the means.”

Enthusiasm does not make up for preparation or compensate for lack of discipline, conditioning, practice, coaching, experience, and character.

“A spiritual life without discipline is impossible.” – Henri Nouwen

“Teaching them to do all things whatsoever I have commanded you is the Great Ommission of the Great Commission.” -Dallas Willard

Spiritual disciplines are the means whereby we practice our faith… disciplines faithfully practiced allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us.  “Transformation comes with an unconditional willingness to change.” -Dietriech Von Hildebrand

Disciplines are a means of grace. Grace is God acting in your life. So the opposite of grace graceis works, but not effort. Grace is opposed to earning (or works righteousness), but grace is not opposed to effort. To grow in grace just means there is more of God’s action in your life, so you can grow more and more. Augustine said, “Without God, we cannot; without us, he will not.”

Richard Foster says that we do not know how to go about exploring the inward life. The classical disciplines invite us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm. They are classical because they are central to experiential Christianity.

“The greatest danger to the Christian church today is that of pitching its message too low.” -Dallas Willard in Spirit of Disciplines.

“Christianity has not so much been tried and found wanting, as it has been found difficult and left untried.” -GK Chesterton

Much of our culture has created a spiritual existence that is so atrophied and weakened atrophythat it is incapable of exerting prolonged, effective influence in our lives.

Atrophy is the partial or complete wasting away of a part of the body. Causes of atrophy include poor nourishment, poor circulation, loss of hormonal support, loss of nerve supply to the target organ, disuse or lack of exercise or disease intrinsic to the tissue itself.

We are enrolled in CROSS TRAINING…

Cross fitI Cor 9:24-27  You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me!  I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. –Message Bible

A trophy is a reward for a specific accomplishment. Often, the reward of the trophy is not simply in winning it; rather, those who win it cherish the legacy that also comes with the trophy.

Spiritual disciplines act in much the same way as an athlete gaining greater physical trophiesfitness. It transforms their abilities to increase their capabilities. We want to activate the grace of God in our lives that we might grow into the fullness of Christ in us, transformed into his likeness. Not from the outside (as a Pharisee) but from within (true spiritual man).

The word “discipline” comes from the same root word as “disciple.” Indeed, you might say that the whole purpose of discipline is to make disciples.

Matt 16:24-25 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

 

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About Michael Welchert

My wife Diana and I have been married since 1985 and have five wonderful children. I have been in ministry since 1980 and we currently reside in the Denver, CO area.
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