Liturgical Audit

We know that habits do something to our hearts. But have you ever stopped to really take a look at the habits and routines of your life...?

You have a say in what you decide to love. You have a say in how you curate your heart. 

PRACTICE 

Make a list of the things you regularly do. The rituals, rhythms, routines that make up your daily life. 

Then, see if you can figure out what they are doing to you. Specifically to your heart. 

Identify ONE - and cut it out. Get rid of it. 

Here's the key: REPLACE it with a one of the practices of Jesus. (see Notes + Quotes for a complete list of these) 

Keep track of what is happening to your heart as you cut this habit out. What is changing? How are you feeling? What are you noticing? 

Gathering #3 (Why, What, How) Notes + Quotes

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In case you missed the first gathering, or just want a refresher of some of the main takeaways, we've curated some of the most memorable notes + quotes for you to reflect on. 

Listen to the audio of Gathering #3

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

 Acts 20:24 "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace."

Galatians 5:7 " You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?"

1 Timothy 4:6-8 "If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."

Notice the central role of discipline. Over and over Paul comes back to this metaphor. 

The Spiritual Disciplines: Why, What, How

WHY--

Information + Inspiration does not yield transformation

Knowing something is not the same as doing something, which is still not the same as wanting to do something. 

What we love in our hearts has a far greater effect on how we live than what we know in our head. 

How do we change what we love? PRACTICE. Because the things we do, so something to us. 

Definition of the heart: "The fulcrum of your most fundamental longings - a visceral, subconscious orientation to the world."  (Jamie K.A. Smith)

"Because we are what we want. Our wants and longings and desires are at the core of our identity, the wellspring from which our actions and behavior flow. Our wants reverberate from our heart, the epicenter of the human person. Thus Scripture counsels, 'Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.' (Prov 4:23). Discipleship, we might say, is a way to curate your heart, to be attentive to and intentional about what you love. Discipleship is more a matter of hungering and thirsting than of knowing and believing. Jesus' command to follow him is a command to align loves and longings with his - to want what God wants, to desire what God desires, to hunger and thirst after God and crave a world where he is all in all - a vision encapsulated by the shorthand 'the kingdom of God.'" (Jamie K.A. Smith)

One of the primary tasks as a disciple of Jesus is learning how to curate our heart  - how to point our loves and longings in the right direction. 

Practice: take a liturgical audit which is available here.

You have a say in what you decide to love. 


WHAT--

Definition of a discipline: any activity I can do by direct effort that will eventually enable me to do that which, currently, I cannot do by direct effort. 

The spiritual disciplines are practices based on the lifestyle of Jesus that create time + space for us to access the presence + power of the Holy Spirit, and in doing so, be transformed from the inside out. 

They include: silence + solitude, prayer, fasting, Bible reading, living in community, Sabbath, and simplicity. But you could add to that list - worship, teaching, the bread + cup, repentance, gratitude. 

"The disciplines are activities of the mind and body purposefully undertaken, to bring our personality and total being into effective cooperation with the divine order. They enable us more and more to live in a power that is, strictly speaking, beyond us, deriving from the spiritual realm itself, as we 'yield ourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness unto God,' as Romans 6:13 puts it." (Dallas Willard) 

Spiritual disciplines are how we abide in the vine with Jesus. This is the center of our spiritual life and transformation! 

We play a role and partner with God - but it's not an even partnership. He does the heavy lifting! 

Disciplines are a means to the end. 

"Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty." (Frank Hubert, Dune


HOW --

Following Jesus isn't about trying really hard, but training really hard. 

Six thoughts about smart training:

Smart training takes a balanced approach

Smart training takes into account your personality

Smart training takes into account your season of life 

Smart training takes into account the need of the hour

Smart training isn't afraid to do the hard work

Smart training takes into account the need for repetition

All of this will take time. But, can you imagine the day when you will look back and realize "Wow, I wasn't like this before...?"

Joy is found in being fully present in everyday life.

"Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, 'Do it again;' and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, 'Do it again' to the sun; and every morning, 'Do it again' to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we." (G.K. Chesterton) 

Gathering #2 (Habit) Reflection Questions 2

When there is something you want, you work hard to get it.

Nobody wakes up one day and runs a marathon. It takes planning and dedication. In the months leading up to a race, a runner will change everything about their life in order to be able to cross the finish line. Their diet, sleep schedule, and, of course, amount of exercise all change. For months, runners will increase their weekly miles and daily distances. They will cut out certain social obligations or pleasures all for the sake of accomplishing their goal.

Following Jesus is much like training for a marathon. This is why the author of Hebrews encourages his readers to

“...lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and…run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1b-2)

Apprenticeship to Jesus requires practice. Christlikeness doesn’t happen overnight. As we daily learn to allow his life to become our own, our desires and priorities change. It isn’t something that we can do partially. No marathoner can cut their training in half and expect the same results.

Practicing the way of Jesus isn’t something that happens only when it’s convenient or culturally acceptable. If life in the Spirit is what you desire, then it will require your full devotion.

Have you sat down and considered what it will cost you to devote your life to being an apprentice to Jesus?
What are you holding onto?
What aspects of your life do you have trouble submitting to God?

Submission, or lack thereof, is ultimately an issue of trust. The amount to which you trust God will determine the ease to which you submit and surrender your life to him.

Do you trust that he cares for you?
Do you trust that he has your best in mind?
Do you trust that God can provide better for you than you can for yourself?

Trust isn’t easy, but wholehearted devotion to Jesus is impossible without it.

Ask the Lord to reveal to you the areas in your life that you have trouble submitting to him. Surrender those things or areas to him and ask him to walk with you as you learn, day by day, to loose your grip and trust him.

Gathering #2 (Habit) Practice

By Ali Bray

I have been following Jesus for just about my whole life. That adds up to be more than 3 decades. But, over the past year I have realized that for many of these years I have missed a critical part of what it looks like to truly be an “apprentice” of Jesus. I have definitely acquired a lot of knowledge, spent time in prayer, had quiet times and been a part of church communities. 

But, there are these practices that are a part of Jesus’ rhythm of life that I am seeing with new eyes. And, honestly, these practices have not been a regular part of my daily/weekly/yearly rhythm. 

I was stopped in my tracks by a statement John Mark made in one of his messages: 

“If you want the peace of Jesus, you have to adopt the lifestyle of Jesus.”

So, true confession…I am in the process of learning how to reorient my life around these practices that Jesus modeled so well. 

And, well, it is not always easy. One challenge I have realized is that I am not just working with my own schedule. I am a working mom and have this family that I love dearly, but who complicate all things to do with calendars and schedules. But, this family…well, lets just say they raise the stakes for me. I do not just feel responsible for my own journey of developing these spiritual disciplines.  I feel responsible for how life in our home will shape my children’s spiritual disciplines. 

One of the tools that we have found to be helpful is something called the Daily Prayer of Examen. We did a 30 day challenge where we tried to do this prayer as a family every day for 30 days. We did not have a perfect track record, but we did find our rhythm and it has become a practice that we love. The bonus: when done at night before bed, it gets the kiddos relaxed and ushers in bedtime with a bit more ease.

If you are going to try it, commit to doing it a few times over the course of a few days or weeks.  The first time you try anything new can feel awkward. It should be expected!  (Yoga…Surfing…Baking a pie without experience…). Give yourself grace in the process. 

Daily Prayer of Examen

The “examen” is a method of reviewing your day in the presence of God. It is a time set aside for reflection guided by the Holy Spirit.

Silence all technology & dim the lights.

Light a candle as a symbol of God’s presence with you. You may even want to say, “We light the candle to remind us that God is with us in this place, at this time.”

Be silent. Take a couple deep breaths.  “Lord, I know that you love me and that you are with me right now.”  You can also breathe in the name of Jesus, or one of the names of God (“Jehovah Shalom” is my favorite), and as you exhale say, “You are here.”

Guided by the Holy Spirit, review your day with gratitude. “Lord/Holy Spirit, help me to be aware of your presence and blessing in the people and experiences I have encountered today.” Sit and wait as you listen.

Were there any hurts today…ways you were hurt, or others were hurt in your presence? “Lord/Holy Spirit, help me to see the moments today where there were wounds or hurts.” Sit and wait as you listen.

Ask for healing for any places you were hurt, and ask for forgiveness for any hurts you may have caused. “Lord, today was painful. Heal this …”

“Lord, forgive me for those moments when I have fallen short, times when I have not shown love. Show me your ways.”

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see your needs for tomorrow. Listen to God. Tell Him anything else you need. “God, I thank you for being with me today. This is what I am thinking about with tomorrow…And, this is where I need you tomorrow…”

Repeat this prayer for a few days and see what happens as it becomes a natural habit in your life. 

Gathering #2 (Habit) Reflection Questions

Change is something of a buzzword. It’s something we clamor for, a cry of the masses. It’s the reason we rally behind movements, march in the streets, and establish resolutions. We all want to see things change, but it seems like our desire doesn’t line up with reality.

Why is that?

Why do we get excited about seeing transformation—in our community, relationships, and ourselves—only to see our excitement dwindle to disillusionment?

Maybe it’s because change is hard.
Maybe it’s because we’re easily distracted.
Maybe it’s because on a deep level we don’t believe genuine change is even possible.
Maybe it’s all these things and more.

When it comes to your life, do you really believe that change is possible? Don’t rush to give the quick Christian “Yes." Take an inventory of your life, your experience with the church, and your journey as an apprentice to Jesus. Are there areas in your life that you’ve yet to let Jesus transform? Are there places where you’ve wanted to see change, even done everything you can to change them, but feel stuck?

The things we do shape the person we’re becoming. Our habits—both conscious and unconscious—form us. Who are you becoming? Who do you want to become?

Take some time (15, 30, or 60 minutes) and be still. Ask the Lord to show you the things in your life he wants to transform. As He guides your thoughts, ask Him for the strength to begin to make the necessary steps to submit those places to Him. Trust that His way is better than anything else and that change is truly possible.

Gathering #2 (Habit) Notes + Quotes

In case you missed the second gathering, or just want a refresher of some of the main takeaways, we've curated some of the most memorable notes + quotes for you to reflect on. 

Listen to the audio of Gathering #2

The point of discipleship is to become like your rabbi. 

Tranformation = "metamorphosis"

"A profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism as from the caterpillar to the pupa and form the pupa to the adult butterfly." 

Is this kind of change possible? If so, how?

"Spiritual formation in the Christian tradition is a process of increasingly being possessed and permeated by the character traits (of Jesus) as we walk in the easy yoke of discipleship with Jesus our teacher." Dallas Willard

Spiritual formation isn't a Christian thing; it's a human thing. What are you being formed into?

Two myths: 

  1. All you need to do is know the Bible. 

  2. You don't need to do anything. It's all God. 

Is transformation possible? Yes, but it's not inevitable. 

Who are you becoming?

What were your favorite takeaways? Anything we missed that you've been reflecting on? Share in a comment below. 

 

Gathering #1 (Hurry) Notes + Quotes

In case you missed the first gathering, or just want a refresher of some of the main takeaways, we've curated some of the most memorable notes + quotes for you to reflect on. 

Listen to the audio of Gathering #1

Being an apprentice is a whole life endeavor. 

To be an apprentice of Jesus is to organize your life around 3 goals:

  1. Be with Jesus
  2. Become Like Jesus
  3. Do what He did. 

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (The Message) 

This is an invitation to an unhurried life.

In this truth lies the secret of the easy yoke: the secret involves living as (Jesus) lived in the entirety of his life – adopting his overall life-style… Our mistake is to think that following Jesus consists in loving our enemies, going the “second mile,” turning the other cheek, suffering patiently and hopefully – while living the rest of our lives just as everyone else around us does… it’s a strategy bound to fail. (Dallas Willard)

If you want to experience the life of Jesus, you have to adopt the lifestyle of Jesus.

A yoke is a work instrument. Thus when Jesus offers a yoke he offers what we might think tired workers need least. They need a mattress or a vacation, not a yoke. But Jesus realizes that the most restful gift he can give the tired is a new way to carry life, a fresh way to bear responsibilities… Realism sees that life is a succession of burdens; we cannot get away from them; thus instead of offering escape, Jesus offers equipment. Jesus means that that obedience to his Sermon on the Mount (his yoke) will develop us in a balance and a ‘way’ of carrying life that will give more rest than the way we have been living. (Frederick Dale Bruner) 

Jesus was never in a hurry. He was always ready to stop and slow down with people. 

Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

Dallas Willard

We are too busy to live emotionally healthy and spiritually mature lives. 

We are distracting ourselves into oblivion.

Today, a number of historical circumstances are blindly flowing together and accidentally conspiring to produce a climate within which it is difficult not just to think about God or to pray, but simply to have any interior depth whatsoever… We are distracting ourselves into spiritual oblivion… pathological busyness, distraction, and restlessness are major blocks today within our spiritual lives.  (Ronal Rolheiser)

10 signs of hurry-sickness (Ruth Haley Barton)

Irritability, hypersensitivity, restlessness (when we actually do try to rest we can’t calm down), compulsive overworking, emotional numbness – we just can’t feel, escapist behaviors, disconnected from our identity and calling, not able to attend to human needs, hoarding energy, slippage in our spiritual practice

Hurry is a form of violence on the soul. 

The solution isn't more time. The solution is slowing down and simplifying. 

Four practices to slow down your life:

SABBATH 
SILENCE + SOLITUDE 
SIMPLE LIVING 
SLOWING DOWN THE OVERALL PACE OF LIFE

Practicing the way of Jesus needs to be something we put on our schedule. 

Inner peace is achieved when our schedule aligns with our values. 

Joseph Covey

What were your favorite takeaways? Anything we missed that you've been reflecting on? Share in a comment below. 

Gathering #1 (Hurry) Reflection Questions

At our first gathering we passed out bookmarks that are meant to be reminders and guides for you. Below is the content from this piece, so you can take some time and reflect on this experience. 


Find space where you aren't distracted. Turn off your phone. Take a deep breath and calm your heart. Say a quick prayer to invite the Holy Spirit to guide you as you engage these questions: 

1. Read Matthew 11:28-30 Go slowly, allowing the word to "read you." Consider and confess how you feel most burdened. Where is your soul most restless? Invite Jesus to teach you a new way and pace of life. 

2. Dallas Willard writes:

"Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day, You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life."

Where is hurry most present in your daily reality? What are a few practical ways God is inciting you to slow down and match your pace to Jesus? 

3. Take a moment to pause. Wait...beyond what feels comfortable. What has become most clear to you in this time of slowing down? What is one truth you need to claim or reclaim for the weeks to come? 

Check back for more reflections, thoughts, and stories from Gathering #1. 

What is THE WAY?

RECLAIMING OUR LIVES

We live in an age of endless options, and endless distractions. In the midst of it all, it seems easy to forget what it means to truly live, to be fully human, to step into our original design. We were created to live abundant lives. Jesus came to show us the way.

Together, through monthly gatherings, we will discover how our lives were meant to be lived - in Jesus, with Jesus, empowered by Jesus. Each month will offer a simple, biblical, counter-cultural call toward foundational growth as an apprentice to Him.

This blog will be a place to share stories and provide resources for you as you work through this practice in your own life. If you would like to share your story - how God has met you through this content and during this process - please send us an email! Check back after the first gathering for follow-up resources. 

Join us on Thursday, January 26 (7pm at Vanguard University) for the first of 5 gatherings led by John Mark Comer.

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