The Discipline of Meditation
About 25 years ago, I read Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Many consider this book to be a classic guide to spiritual growth. Christianity Today even named it one of the top ten books of the twentieth century. The topic of Foster’s book, and the spiritual disciplines he talks about in it, came up in our small group recently. Spiritual disciplines have been used as tools throughout history to help us focus on God. Foster says they allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us. “Life-change”, or transformation, is what we really want to see for everyone at Hosanna! So, I thought I’d give you a few thoughts on just one of these spiritual disciplines.
Foster categorizes twelve spiritual disciples into 3 categories. The Inward Disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting and study. The Outward Disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission, and service. And the Corporate Disciplines of confession, worship, guidance, and celebration. In our small group, I gave an assignment for everyone to pick just one of these disciplines to focus on for the next few weeks, and to report back at our next meeting. We could choose one that we were good at, or one we felt we needed to work on. I chose meditation. (Since my wife had to miss that small group session due to a prior commitment, I assigned to her submission and confession. Just kidding.) I’m not too sure why I picked meditation. Probably because I’ve recently felt like I wasn’t slowing down enough to hear the voice of God during my quiet times.
Come and See and Come to Die
As we are in the midst of our Followers Wanted sermon series here at Hosanna!, I’m reminded of the call Jesus gave his followers. Jesus called people to follow Him, but depending on where they were, He slightly modified His call. As we talk about in GROWlink, there are different spiritual seasons that people find themselves in at different times in their lives, and God may want you to press into the season you are currently in, or He may want you to pursue a deeper devotion to Him. Here are five ways Jesus calls His followers to greater levels of commitment:
Come and See- Awakening
Jesus’ followers were so amazed at His love and power, they were constantly telling others to just come and see. When Philip first encountered Jesus, he told Nathaniel about him, but Nathaniel questioned if anything good could come out of Jesus’ home town of Nazareth. Philip simply told him, “Come and see,” (John 1:46). Later, a Samaritan woman encountered Jesus at a well and after an amazing conversation about her past and the coming Messiah, she went and told the people to come and see a man who told her everything she had ever done. Jesus is always calling us to discover new and amazing things about Him. His qualities are boundless and eternal, so even though we know Him, there is always more to experience. This is especially true if you are in the Awakening season of your walk with Christ. Follow the advice of the Psalmist when he says “taste and see” that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).
The Refining Season of Change
As the GROWlink concept tells us, people are in different spiritual “seasons.” One common season people often go through is a season of refining marked by trials, doubts and questions. I’ve gone through several of these short, refining seasons in my life and most of them dealt with the issue of change.
One thing I’ve learned in life is that change is going to happen. John Maxwell says “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” In every season of change there is potential for growth. But, it’s scary. Mary Shelley, in her famous novel, Frankenstein said, “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” Change casts us into the foreboding sea of the unknown, and for a person like me, who loves to be in control, that can be very difficult. Yet, I believe that it’s how we deal with change that determines how long we stay in that refining season.
The twelve disciples may have experienced a bit of refining due to change when Jesus sent them out on their own in Mark 6:7-13. The Apostle Mark writes:
When I was nine years old, my friend Peter asked me if I wanted to join his family and some other classmates in a project. His parents supported a local congressman running for re-election, so the plan was to drop off campaign brochures door-to-door in North Minneapolis. As a second grader with not much else to do, I agreed. Now, before you begin to question the wisdom of my parents letting me go wander around North Minneapolis for an afternoon with my friend, please remember that this was the early 1970’s and things were probably a bit safer back then.