Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘spiritual discipline’

coollogo_com-105672830I’ve been thinking about what to do for Lent this year. Although, theoretically, I could start something new at any time of year, I find that seasons in the church year are good opportunity to review spiritual disciplines. Last year I managed to produce a blogpost every weekday throughout Lent and the Vicar and I had a no-screens-after-8pm fast. We found the screen ban very helpful – and did a lot of talking and reading. We did have Sunday nights off for Dr Who after the Evening Service though. And I enjoyed the more frequent blogging, but I don’t think that is on the cards in 2013.

So here is a little list of what I’m planning to do throughout Lent this year, to draw closer to God and reset my life compass:

  1. Continue reading my encouraging devotional,Taste and See: Savouring the Supremacy of God in All of Life by John Piper.
  2. No screens after 8pm again, although I may have to make an exception for writing if I’m to finish Messy Ministry by my deadline just after Easter.
  3. Write the book – I’m finding the thinking I’m doing quite challenging so far, and the self-discipline involved in setting time aside to write is very good for me. And I have that deadline to meet.
  4. Increase family devotion frequency to at least 3 times a week. At the moment we’re only managing once a week, although we’re enjoying the format, which includes reading from Sally Lloyd-Jones’ lovely devotional book ‘Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing‘ and praying from prayer diaries from The Leprosy Mission, CMS and the Barnabas Fund, all of whom are supported by our church.
  5. Did I mention finish the book? And not faff about on the internet being distracted.

sCome nearer Easter, we’ll dig out our Resurrection Eggs too. But other than that I think we’re set. I want to be realistic in the challenges I set but also stretch myself. The screen fast will be the hardest. But I’m also looking forward to the space it will bring into our lives. I’m wondering whether the Vicar and I might use this devotional book together in the time that is freed up. How about you?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Over the holidays we’ve caught up with some friends and family – a great joy. Our old mate Grinagain, who we visited last week, has a useful phrase:

Fail to prepare…

Prepare to fail.

This is a helpful reminder in many areas, but today I’m applying it to the whole of next year. I have a few big projects on the horizon, and I want to approach them well. Today I’ve been reading through old blogposts, and came across one from January 2011 with some very helpful questions from Don Whitney. This year I’ve put pen to paper with my answers. It’s scary to hold myself accountable but also necessary – I struggle with self discipline every minute of every day. Here are those questions again for anyone else who wants to tackle 2013 before it’s upon us:

Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year or On Your Birthday

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Read Full Post »

How have you begun your New Year? As ever, I got up far too late. It seems to me that New Year’s Eve, with its parties and staying-up-way-too-late-ness, is rather incompatible with New Year’s resolutions, which would be much better begun on a morning when I’ve been to bed at a reasonable hour.

So I’m glad that this year we have a few days where my resolution making has a little time to bed in before life gets back to normal. Hooray for Saturday New Years.

Our old pals the Teddies came over for dinner and a sleepover last night and Rev Ted and the Vicar very kindly cooked an enormous breakfast for us once we’d all surfaced. So we’ve not felt the need for lunch and I’ve been able to spend a little time instead reflecting on 2010 and praying and thinking through 2011. In this I’ve found Don Whitney‘s questions an enormous help, and there’s still time for you to read and pray through them too before the holidays finish.

There are more questions on Don’s website, but these are the main ones which I have been thinking through:

Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year or On Your Birthday

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?


Read Full Post »

Just in case you thought I’d given up the ghost (check the spooky Halloween reference), I am actually here. We’re back from a few half term days away in London. We were mighty pleased to return to an unburgled Vicarage, I can tell you. And the cat and fish were still alive, thanks to Beauty, who negotiated our alarm to come in and feed the animals. Phew.

Our trip began at the weekend away of St James New Barnet, where old college friend the Baker is vicar. He and his wife Girlpreacha (and their five kids) are at a similar stage to us – in their second year of incumbancy. Their church is also quite similar to ours, so it was great when the Baker asked my Vicar to be the speaker. It was wonderful to be listening to talks by my husband and not worrying about the organisation! The kids had a brilliant time with two Oak Hill Youth and Children’s Ministry students, learning  about the lost son and his older brother from Luke 15, just like the adults.

I came away particularly challenged by God to spend more time in biblical meditation. The Vicar has been bending my ear about this for months, if not years. But you know how it is. He’s my husband, so when he gets all excited about  something I confess that it does occasionally wash over me, cos he’s talking about it whilst I’m worrying about taking the kids to swimming, or getting the washing done, or wondering when we’re going to get round to painting over those patches on the kitchen ceiling where the strip lights were taken down when we moved in.

So even though I’d heard about meditation, and even read a few of the Vicar’s excellent blog posts on the subject, it took a weekend away for his wisdom to sink in properly. He called meditation ‘the middle spiritual discipline, between bible reading and prayer’, where we let God’s word sink deeply into our hearts. As a natural activist, this is a discipline which does not come easily to me. I like to read the bible and I like to pray through the issues I see around us. But I’ve seen how the ‘hard work’ (as he described it) of meditation has borne fruit in my husband’s life.  For a while I’ve envied the Vicar’s love for God and the delight he finds in the Lord, which I can see are chiefly the result of his times of meditation. So now I am resolved to incorporate this discipline into my rather haphazard devotional life. He recommended just a short time each day (he mentioned six minutes!) meditating on the benefits that we have because of Jesus (listed in his blog post). This morning I meditated on Psalm 119v33-36, which was recommended in a book I am currently reading.

The thing is, it’s the long term benefit of biblical meditation that I need and that I want. So I’m also praying for pereverence perseverance…

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: