The Spirit of the Disciplines

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Note: These are quotes directly from the book. Most of the thoughts influenced the Spiritual Disciplines MOC and the disciplines listed there.

Table of Contents

  1. The Secret of the Easy Yoke
  2. Making Theology of the Disciplines Practical
  3. Salvation Is a Life
  4. “Little Less Than a God”
  5. The Nature of Life
  6. Spiritual Life: The Body’s Fulfillment
  7. St. Paul’s Psychology of Redemption–The Example
  8. History and the Meaning of the Disciplines
  9. Some Main Disciplines for Spiritual Life
  10. Disciplines of Abstinence 1. Solitude 2. Silence 3. Fasting 4. Frugality 5. Chastity 6. Secrecy 7. Sacrifice
  11. Disciplines of Engagement 1. Study 2. Worship 3. Celebration 4. Service 5. Prayer 6. Fellowship 7. Confession 8. Submission
  12. Is Poverty Spiritual?
  13. The Disciplines and the Power Structures of This World

1. The Secret of the Easy Yoke

  1. The sermon on the mount is not a set of principles to be obeyed apart from identification with Jesus Christ. The sermon on the mount is a statement of the life we will life when the Holy Spirit is getting his way with us.

2. Making Theology of the Disciplines Practical

  1. More than a quarter of Americans are Christians. A pound of meat would be affected by a quarterpound of salt. Where is the salt of the earth? (p.23)
  2. The vitality and power of Christianity is lost when we fail to integrate our bodies into its practice by intelligent, conscious choice and steadfast intent. It is with out bodies we receive the new life that comes as we enter the Kingdom. (…) To withhold our bodies from religion is to exclude religion from our lives. (…) Spirituality in human beings is not an extra or “superior” mode of existence. (…) It is, rather, a relationship of our embodied selves to God that has the natural and irrepressible effect of making us alive to the Kingdom of God here and now in (…?)

3. Salvation Is a Life

  1. When our presentation of the gospel fails to do justice to this basic truth about the nature of human personality, Christianity inevitably becomes alienated from our actual everyday existence. All that remains for it are a few “special” acts to be engaged in on rare occasions. (p.31)
  2. The vitality and power of Christianity 
  3. We who are saved are to have a different order of life from that of the unsaved. We are to live in a different “world” (p.37)
  4. The resurrection, not the death is the central fact of the gospels. Validating what he preached before his death, the enduring reality and openness in God’s kingdom.
  5. Jesus was not dead after all.

4. “Little Less Than a God”

5. The Nature of Life

  1. Corporate humankind to rule the earth with God–disruption of that made impossible the task that was appointed. Creation is now unwilling subject of human vanity and folly. Humanity is at war with itself and God. (Animal sacrifice) (p.52)
  2. Power over animals through the holy. We were created to govern the earth and to that specific end we were made into divine likeliness. 
  3. “True life” of assimilating and converting what’s around us vs. “false life” being molded and shaped, “A life of custom and accident” (John Ruskin) (p.59)
  4. Humans are not only wrong, they are wrung, twisted out of proper shape and proportion. (p.63)
  5. The evil that we do in our present condition is a reflection of a weakness caused by spiritual starvation. When Jesus prayed on the cross “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they do”, he was not just being generous to his killers, he was expressing the facts of the case. (p.63)
  6. Spirituality is a matter of another reality. Above all it’s not a social or political stance. (p.67)
  7. But the essence and aim of spirituality is not to correct social and political injustices. That will be its effect–though never exactly in way we imagine as we come with our political concerns. (p.67)
  8. On the other hand, the authorities will always find the spirituality of Jesus and his followers impossible to deal with, for it stands past their manipulation and control. (p.68)
  9. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (“spirit”: genuinely turned to God, “flesh”: not aligned with their spirits)
  10. The body is fulfilled in spiritual life. (p.70)

6. Spiritual Life: The Body’s Fulfilment

  1. The physical human frame as created was designed for interaction with the spiritual realm and that this interaction can be resumed at the initiative of God. (p.77)
  2. Spirituality is simply the holistic quality of human life as it was meant to be, at the center of which is our relationship to God. (p.77)
  3. “inward positive reality” + “external positive manifestation” are not two separate things but one unified process (p.78)
  4. Our success in overcoming temptation will be easier if we are basically happy in our lives. To cut off joys and pleasures associated with our bodily and social existence as “unspiritual”, then, can actually have the effect of weakening us in our efforts to do what is right (p.81) Eccl. 7:16
  5. Conversion: will and conscious intent change layer upon layer of life experience embedded in our bodies bred in a world set against or without God, don’t directly follow the shift. It largely remains the tendencies (p.86)
  6. Disciplines help by assisting the ways of God’s kingdom to take place of the habits of sin embedded in our bodies. (p.86)
  7. Flesh when occupying its proper place in the hierarchy of the universe is not inherently evil. Animal nature has its place; but when it takes possession of man, it does become an evil thing (p.87)

7. St. Paul’s Psychology of Redemption–The Example

  1. People without the new life have no choice. But we have a new force within us that gives us choice. In this sense we are free from sin, even if we are not free of it. (p.115)
  2. So we bring the “old person” before our minds, and, with resolute consciousness, we disassociate ourselves from him or her. We say, with confidence in God and our new life: “That is not, and shall not be, me.”

8. History and the Meaning of the Disciplines

  1. The activities constituting the disciplines have no value in themselves. The aim and substance of spiritual life is (…) effective and full enjoyment of active love of God.
  2. The need for extensive practice of a given discipline is an indication of our weakness, not our strength (p.138)

9. Some Main Disciplines for Spiritual Life

Disciplines of Abstinence 

(“Those who deny themselves will be sure to find their strength increased, their affections raised, and their inward peace continually augmented.”)

1. Solitude

  1. Solitude frees us, actually. This above all explains its primacy and priority among the disciplines. The normal course of day-to-day human interactions locks us into patterns of feeling, thought, and action that are geared to a world set against God.
  2. We can only survive solitude if we cling to Christ here.

2. Silence

  1. But when we’re with those we feel less than secure with, we use words to “adjust” our appearance and elicit their approval. Otherwise, we fear our virtues might not be properly “understood”.
  2. “Silence goes beyond solitude, and without it solitude has little effect. Henri Nouwen observes that “silence is the way to make solitude a reality.” But silence is frightening because it strips us as nothing else does, throwing us upon the stark realities of our life. It reminds us of death, which will cut us off from this world and leave only us and his. And in that quiet, what if there turns out to be very little to “just us and God”? (P. 163)
  3. “In witnessing, the role of talking is frequently overemphasized. Does that sound strange? It’s true. Silence and especially true listening are often the strongest testimony of our faith.” (P.164)

3. Fasting

  1. Fasting unto our Lord is therefore feasting–feasting on him and on doing his will.
  2. Actually fasting is one of the more important ways of practicing that self-denial required of everyone who would follow Christ (Matt 16:24). In fasting, we learn how to suffer happily as we feast on God. And it is a good lesson, because in our live we will suffer, no matter what else happens to us. Thomas a Kempis remarks: “Whosoever knows best how to suffer will keep the greatest peace. That man is conqueror of himself, and Lord of the world, the friend of Christ, and heir of Heaven.”” 
  3. “Hence, when Jesus directs us not to appear distressed and sad when we fast (Matt 6:16-18), he is not telling us to mislead those around us. He is instead explaining how we will feel-we really will not be sad. We are discovering that life is so much more than meat (Luke 12:33). Our belly is not our God, as it is for others (Phil 3:19; Rom 16:18; rather, it is his joyful servant and ours (1 Cor. 6:13).” (P. 167)

4. Frugality

  1. It is an injury to society as well as an offence against God when men pamper their bodies with rich and dainty foods and seriously diminish their physical and mental powers by excessive use of intoxicants. … Luxury in every form is economically bad, it is provocative to the poor who see it flaunted before them, and it is morally degrading to those who indulge in it. The Christian who has the ability to live luxuriously, but fasts from all extravagance, and practices simplicity in his dress, his home, and his whole manner of life, is, therefore, rendering good service to society.
  2. “In frugality we abstain from using money or goods at our disposal in way that merely gratify our desires or our hunger for status, glamour, or luxury.” (P. 168)

5. Chastity

6. Secrecy

  1. We abstain from causing our good deeds and qualities to be known.
  2. Secrecy rightly practiced enable us to place our public relations department entirely in the hands of God (…). We allow him to decide when our deeds will be known and when our light will be noticed.

7. Sacrifice

Disciplines of Engagement 

(Abstinence and engagement are the outbreathing and inbreathing of our spiritual lives, and we require disciplines for both movements.)

1. Study

  • We not only read and hear and inquire, but we meditate on what comes before us; that is, we withdraw into silence where we prayerfully and steadily focus upon it.

2. Worship

3. Celebration

  • We engage in celebration when we enjoy ourselves, our life, our world, in conjunction with our faith and confidence in God’s greatness, beauty, and goodness.
  • Deuteronomy 14

4. Service

  1. But I may also serve another to train myself away from arrogance, possessiveness, envy, resentment, or covetousness. In that case, my service is undertaken as a discipline for the spiritual life.
  2. Service to others in the spirit of Jesus allows us the freedom of a humility that carries no burdens of “appearance”. It lets us be what we are–simply a particularly lively piece of clay who, as servant of God, happens to be here now with the ability to do this good and needful thing for that other bit of clay there.

5. Prayer

6. Fellowship

  1. Because of this reciprocal nature within the corporate body of Christ, fellowship is required to allow realization of a joyous and sustained level of life in Christ that is normally impossible to attain by all our individual effort, no matter how vigorous and sustained.

7. Confession

  • We lay down the burden of hiding and pretending, which normally takes up such a dreadful amount of human energy.

8. Submission

10. Is Poverty Spiritual?

  • Under the rule of God, the rich and the poor have no necessary advantage over each other with regard to well-being or well-doing in this life or the next (p.208)
  • Does the fact that a person is without work or an apartment or an automobile make us treat him or her as if he or she was “different”? If so, then we have not truly beheld our own ruined condition, and because of this we cannot heartily love that person. (p.211)
  • “Royal law” of neighbourly love (p.212)
  • I have never heard someone exclaiming upon coming into great wealth “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (p.212)

11. The Disciplines and the Power Structures of This World

  • Ever-present readiness to do evil. “Vessel of Wrath”, see Rom 9:22 (p.226)
  • Individual change is the answer, not social change.
  • Liberation from fear of death is an inevitable result of living in the faith of Jesus (Matt 10:28, Heb 2:15)
  • Virtue rather than status
  • Love alone stays to find a way to obey.

Imported at: 2020-07-13T21:09:02+02:00