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  • Just call me “Broken-Record Barbara!”

    Here’s the thing. Books on discipleship are exhausting. And kind of depressing.

    I mean, not *really* because I get the point that the only way we can truly follow Jesus is by HIS SPIRIT IN US and if he is working then, ultimately, I can be at rest. (Here I go yelling at myself again. Sorry about that.)

    And yet there ARE things that we need to do. I actually have to be responsible for certain actions that enable and equip me for being a follower of Christ.

    So how do I find the balance between doing and being?

    Here I am: rapidly nearing the end of yet another book on discipleship and I find myself skipping in the same scratch on the B-side of an LP.

    This is not the fault of this author or of any of the authors of any of the very good books I’ve read on discipleship lately.

    The fault is with me (and maybe you? Tell me I’m not alone?) and my propensity to take the foundational habits that Darryl Dash is talking about (Bible, Prayer, and Worship) and to use them as vending machine buttons. It can feel like works-based righteousness.

    Bible, prayer, worship. Diligently! Consistently! And then God magically spits out what you need.  And that’s what *could* happen here if I don’t watch my heart and depend on the Lord to give me right desires.

    Again, mastering these habits (or, as Dash says, “being mastered by them”) is about rightly POSTURING yourself. How will I be able to receive God’s grace if I’m not putting myself in positions whereby I can hear from him, see him, love him, respond to him, know him and be known by him. The habits are not an end in themselves: they are a means of Grace by which the Lord intends to bless us. Not bless us with things outside of the himself. “Oh good: you’ve read the Bible. The reward for that obedience is kids who sleep through the night.” No: You read the Bible. The reward that is coming is that YOU WILL KNOW GOD and LOVE HIM MORE!

    Like Jude said in his blog, I, too, am finding that some of my reading is overlapping and pointing to the same lessons. I’m currently also reading “Flourish” by Lydia Brownback (which sounds like a stereotypically female, self-help, me-time kind of title, but it couldn’t be farther from that content-wise) and in it, the lesson is repeated that in order to flourish as disciples, we need to be self-forgetful and Christ-loving.

    And that is the point of building these foundational habits: It is not to applaud ourselves on how good we are at building foundational habits. Rather the point is to get ourselves into a position where we can love Christ more. Therefore, I should be beginning my Bible reading time by saying “Lord, show me how to love you through the Word today. Make this passage fuel my love for Christ!” This is clearly better than finishing my Bible reading with a smug check mark on the to do list and thinking of how much Christ must love ME as a result.

    I do sound like a broken record. I am a slow learner. Why do we persevere? Why do we work at the disciplines? Why do we fight for attentive hearts in our quiet times? Why do we carve out time out of a busy weekend to gather with God’s people in worship?

    Because, in doing so, we get God. Not that we’ve *earned* God. But that we *get* him. We understand him, see him, love him! And as there is nothing and no one more worthy of our love and affection and attention and devotion, I suggest we ‘smarten up’ (as my dear Dad would say) and get to the business of disciplines.

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