Honing Your Spiritual Craft

Two best friends grew up playing instruments. One did right by her craft and the other let it fall by the wayside.

Hannah has been playing the viola religiously for over ten years. She understands the importance of discipline when it comes to her instrument. For her undergrad and masters she spent endless hours in practice rooms, sitting in the middle of orchestras and quartets, and standing in front of a crowd performing with the skill God gave her.

Even on vacation she sets aside time to practice, because she knows how easy it is for the discipline to slip away. And when the discipline goes, the skill follows and everything she worked for falls apart.

Take me as an example.

I took piano lessons for nine years. After high-school I went to college, free from the drudgery of practicing. I kept telling myself I would keep up the skill, and every once in awhile I would find a piano to plink out some tunes.

But over the years my memory of the songs dwindled, my coordination faded, and the natural talent my teacher said I had felt more like a rusty piece of machinery.

Hannah’s dedication is inspiring to me. She is a picture of the drive every Christian should have in their walk with Christ. Following our loving Savior takes just as much discipline as any other trade.

Why do you think His followers were called disciples? They grew to understand the difficult training in their journey with Jesus. The moment they stepped away from their world, they entered a life of developing and practicing through their faith in Jesus and their knowledge of Scripture. And they strove to live life as an iron spear, in constant sharpening.

The Apostle Paul writes in Colossians that we “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” Colossians 1:9-12

God has given us the power to be steadfast, to keep going on this journey with Him. Our faithfulness is evidence of the discipline that we walk in. The way of a disciple is guided by the promise of an eternal inheritance from our Father, our ultimate end goal.

If you want to hone your craft of discipleship, you must put in the time, fueling the dedication with the end goal in mind, just as you would with any talent or career. If you don’t, your spirituality will fray and become sparse just like my piano playing skills.

Don’t fret though, you can get it back, but it will take hours of hard work and true persistence. In the end, your perseverance will be evident as you shine with the glory and the love of God to the world.

Happy practicing!

-LJM

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Losing Weight: Body or Soul?

The two areas in my life that call for my attention and constantly undergo total resets are the disciplines of losing weight and spending time with God. Maybe you feel the same?

Losing weight seems to have a negative connotation, but we all know it’ll ultimately be for our good. Similarly, being a Christian has certain necessities, and sometimes, we fail to follow such criteria.

One thing is for certain, we’ll look in the mirror one day and say, “You have to make some changes.” Both processes can be powerfully transforming to your health as a person and as a child of God.

The spine of Christianity relies on two main elements: prayer and time reading the Bible. If you’re going to spend your life dedicated to getting closer to God, those are the keys to growing in faith, and they are both necessary for a relationship with Jesus.

If we’re talking about losing weight, no matter how many programs and products you use, you will always be faced with the bottom line: you must eat healthier and exercise more. Both areas take a lot of discipline and will affect your overall spiritual and physical health.

Prayer coincides with watching what you eat. You must constantly be aware and make choices about what you’re putting in your body. Likewise, prayer is a constant state of awareness of the spiritual realm and God’s presence with us. The Bible says to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), and in doing so, you’re feeding your spirit when you stay in communication with God.

dusty-bible

The little choices are the ones that make a significant impact and eventually, you will start to feel more cleansed and healthy.

Knowing about Jesus doesn’t make you anymore a Christian than knowing about a treadmill makes you physically fit. God has given His Word as a tool to understand Him, and if you don’t take advantage of it, the result ends up stunting your spiritual growth.

Reading the Bible can be like going to the gym. Though you may have moments when you drag your feet and make every excuse not to do it, in the end, you feel refreshed and rejuvenated knowing that you’ve done something good for yourself.

Both disciplines need to become lifestyles. They are day-to-day battles. The key is to keep pushing, and over time, you’ll start to see the changes. In the end, you’ll reap the benefits of your determination and perseverance, and the struggle will always be worth it.

God bless!

-LJM

1 Corinthians 9:24-25