Darren Rouanzin is the Lead Pastor of a growing church in Long Beach, California called the Garden. Darren and I (Michael) went to college together where we both met our wives, Alex and Mindi, respectively. He is a young man who I look up to and have closely followed as a pastor. He is committed to walking where the Spirit leads and doesn’t accept any result other than God's Kingdom coming to earth through discipleship. I am thankful for his experience in the Spiritual Disciplines, and I know you will be as well. Enjoy this blog by Darren on ways to live the life that Jesus wants us to have.
A simple introduction to spiritual disciplines.
A spiritual discipline is a form of training. When we take on spiritual disciplines, we are training ourselves to do the things Jesus would do without having to think about it. Training is hard, like any discipline you are developing behaviors, habits and patterns of life that don’t come naturally to you. When we talk about spiritual formation, we are talking about becoming more like Jesus. Spiritual formation is a process, a journey and is worked out in partnership with the Holy Spirit. Through disciplines, God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit we actually can become more like Jesus.
In Ephesians, Paul uses the language to describe what Christian discipleship looks like, “putting off the old self and putting on the new self.” We choose to set aside old behaviors and habits that are not conformed to Christlikeness and take up new habits that over time shape you into Christlikeness.
Think of physical exercise for a moment, working out is not natural or comfortable. When you start working out and doing things like box jumps, kettle bell swings or pushups, it’s not easy. It’s quite challenging and difficult. You have to learn the movements, then you have to develop the strength to increase the weight or repetitions for each movement, and after a while, you get better at it. You don’t do these things to get excellent at box jumps or pushups. You do these physical exercises for the outcome- to get in better shape, to be healthy, or to alleviate stress and anxiety or for some greater purpose.
Spiritual disciplines are spiritual training exercises used to develop your soul. That’s the greater purpose, to become who you were intended to be in the first place. If you want the life of Jesus, you have to adopt the life style of Jesus.
By taking on new habits or spiritual disciplines like silence and solitude, reading scripture, prayer, fasting, Sabbath or simplicity, you begin to shape your life around habits and behaviors of Jesus. Each of these disciplines has different effects and outcome on your soul long term. Fasting will over time teach you self-control as well as help you understand what motivates you when some of the most basic elements of life, like food, are restricted for a given period. Solitude and Silence give you the space needed to breathe in the life of the kingdom and develop an ear for God’s voice. Sabbath teaches your life the necessary rhythms of work and rest, among many other things. Simplicity will teach you contentment. The list goes on and on, and the effects are unlimited and immeasurable.
The point is to become more like Jesus in your everyday, ordinary life. Spiritual disciplines are part of this mysterious process.