The Scenic Route {A Sneak Peek}

Hello everyone! This is just a sneak peek. I’ve been working on writing a book. The book covers the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines and believe me, they are far from being dry or boring! Each chapter will provide practical tips on how to live out the Spiritual Disciplines even with the busiest schedule! For now, here is the opening chapter, just a little introduction. I hope you enjoy the read! At the end, I would love to know what you think :D.

First, I would simply like to say thank you to my Weekly Critique Group and my friends who helped proofread and edit the following.

It’s no secret, I LOVE to drive. Whether going to the grocery store or driving across the country, it doesn’t matter as long as I’m behind the wheel. Sometimes, it’s about getting there within the shortest time, rushing to reach my destination with the fewest stops and little or no delays. Other times, it’s simply about taking in the views around me as I drive. While in the city, I marvel at the architecture of the tall buildings, admiring the creative art decorating the plazas. I thank God for the gift of such creativity He has given us to allow so many to live and enjoy one area…though trying to slow down and take in the city, poses a slight traffic problem. In the country it’s so very different, as driving through the winding back roads, windows down, music up, my hand dancing out the window, and the wind through my hair, I feel like the pace of my whole being has slowed down. My eyes search the trees looking for wildlife, stopping at scenic vistas, to take in all of the beauty of God’s creation, and thanking Him for creating all of this for our enjoyment. It’s in taking the scenic route that I truly fall in love with driving all over again, not wanting my journey to end or to return to the normalcy of living…or driving. This is also true with living out the Spiritual Disciplines. However, before we jump in with both feet, I want to share something with you that is vital for you to know.

The Spiritual Disciplines are not required for salvation. Yes salvation was paid for by the highest price, but for us to attain it…there are no complicated hoops to jump through, prerequisites, or impossible requirements. This is a free gift given to us simply because of the unconditional love of God. His Word tells us…

  • For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~John 3:16
  • Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” ~Acts 2:38
  • Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved… ~Mark 16:16a
  • For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of Godnot by works, so that no one can boast.  ~Ephesians 2:8-9
  • For {God} will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. ~Jeremiah 31:34b
  • “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~Matthew 28:19-20
  • Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.// “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” ~Matthew 25:34,40

To get from here to eternity, Christ is the most direct route…in fact John 14:6, reminds us that He is the ONLY route. No stops in-between, pure and simple: believe that Christ died to earn forgiveness you could never pay for on your own, turn away from your sins, be baptized, and live out your faith. I wish I could make things “harder” for those who prefer a challenge, but God’s free gift to us, just doesn’t work that way.

My salvation is secure and I love my Jesus…but I want more, I want to fall deeper in love with Jesus every day. I want each moment to be permeated by His presence. You know what the crazy part is?  Jesus wants the same thing!  He wants to spend every passing moment with us!!  He wants that kind of one-on-one relationship with, His creation. After speaking everything else into existence, God stooped down, formed man out of the dust of the earth, and filled us with His very own breath. He didn’t just make us; He formed us in His image!  Genesis says that God walked in the garden. He didn’t present Himself to them as a giant, lofty and unobtainable; though if He wanted to, He very well could have. Until the fall into sin, Adam and Eve enjoyed an up close, personal relationship with their Creator. Even after sin entered the world, God still desired this kind of relationship with us, but our sin kept us separated from His presence. God already knew we would not be able to overcome our sin, we would not be able to make things right, so God made a promise, “And I {God} will put enmity between you {Satan} and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel,” Genesis 3:15. God promised to send a Savior, His own Son, to crush the work of the devil and rescue us from our sinful condition. This is the only way we could enjoy an up close and personal relationship with God once again.

Before the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Old Testament tells us a great deal about the temple and the sacrifices needed to cover the sins of the people; a mere shadow of the complete sacrifice offered once and for all people through Jesus Christ. Aside from all of the sacrifices needed, inside the Temple there were two rooms: the main room, called the Holy Place and a very special place called the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was separated by a thickly woven curtain. Only one person, the High Priest, could enter this room, and only once a year, to offer a sacrifice on behalf of the people. Behind this curtain, is where God resided and was His presence among the Israelites, but because of their sin, they were separated from Him. This changed when God fulfilled His promise spoken in Genesis 3:15 through His Son, Jesus. As Christ breathed His last, this curtain was torn in two {Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, and Luke 23:45}. The separation that stood between God and His people had been made clear through the perfect sacrifice for our sins, drawing us into a place where we could meet with God one-on-one, up close, and personal, just as Adam and Eve did in the cool of the garden.

So what does this have to do with the Spiritual Disciplines?  Well, think of the Spiritual Disciplines as the scenic route of our faith…

Are they required for your salvation? Not at all, because this is not works based righteousness. The Spiritual Disciplines do not replace Christ as our path to eternal life, there is no “power” in the disciplines themselves. It’s the same with the sacraments of Baptism and Communion. The power isn’t in the water, bread, or wine but it’s what GOD does through them, that gives them power.

Do the Disciplines provide you with opportunities to deepen your faith and draw closer than ever to your Lord and Savior?  Absolutely, they help put us in a place where God can cultivate our faith. Think of yourself as a farmer. You can do everything in your strength to make your seeds grow. Plant them in good soil, water them, and provided them with ample sunlight, but in the end, only God can work the miracle within the seed to make it sprout life. In the same way, we can place our hearts before His Word, lift up our voices in prayer and praise, but in the end, it is God who works through the Holy Spirit to change our hearts and mature our faith.

Do you need to be a spiritual guru in order to enjoy the benefits of the Spiritual Disciplines?  No way!  The Spiritual Disciplines are for every believer to use and enjoy. Over the course of this study, we will examine the primary Spiritual Disciplines and learn different ways to put them into practice. So what exactly are the Spiritual Disciplines?

According to Richard Foster, and other Spiritual Discipline leaders, there are traditionally three areas of Spiritual Discipline. The Inner Disciplines are intended to foster growth from the inside out and can be done without anyone else even knowing what we are doing. While the Outward Disciplines affect the things we do that can be observed easily by others. Lastly, the Corporate Disciplines are meant to be enjoyed with other Christians as we build up the body of Christ, His Church. We will explore each one in turn, identifying what they are, learn a little bit about their history, and some ideas on how to put them into practice in our own lives. In the meantime, let us begin our journey with a prayer.

Heavenly Father,

Who am I that You would look at me?  Who am I that You would know my name, when I sit and when I rise?  You are the Creator of all things seen and unseen, yet You care for me so much that even the hairs on my head are numbered. As we begin this journey together, we ask You to lead the way, clear a path through our hearts and make us new through Your Word and the study of the Spiritual Disciplines. Allow this time to be an opportunity for us to fall in love with You all over again, as You call out to the deep places in our hearts. We ask this in Your Son’s precious name, Amen.

This little activity is simply to serve as a personal plumb line as we get ready to dive into the Spiritual Disciplines.

  1. What do you already know about each of the Spiritual Disciplines?
  2. Next to each of the Spiritual Disciplines listed below, write your initial reaction to what you think that discipline entails.
  3. What would make you hesitate from trying any of these disciplines?
  4. Do you think any of these Disciplines would be particularly hard or easy? Why or why not?

 The Inner Disciplines

  • Meditation:
  • Prayer:
  • Fasting:
  • Study/Quiet Time:

The Outward Disciplines:

  • Simplicity:
  • Solitude:
  • Submission:
  • Service:

The Corporate Disciplines:

  • Confession:
  • Worship:
  • Guidance/Being open to the Holy Spirit through Godly counsel:
  • Celebration/Rejoicing together:

I hope to share with you sections of the next chapter which covers meditation. If you would like to receive those snippets, be sure to subscribe to my blog by adding your email address at the top right of the page.  In the mean time, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment below! Thank you!

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16 thoughts on “The Scenic Route {A Sneak Peek}

  1. Thank you for writing something so, “awe” inspiring! I started reading your blog last week as part of Melissa Taylor’s online study. I was truly inspired by your words and as you can see I am back. I find myself anxiously awaiting updates from you. Thank you for sharing your faith and knowledge about our wonderful God. Blessings in Christ, Wendy from Pittsboro, North Carolina

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    1. Wendy, I’m so glad you’ve stopped in again :D! It is my JOY to share ways we can all grow in our faith! I hope to see you again soon! In the mean time, feel free to peruse my old posts.

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  2. Heather, I never thought of the differences in our spiritual disciplines as being inner, outward, and corporate. That, my Friend, is brilliant to the core. I cannot wait to see what God brings out of you and this new writing venture. Hugs!

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    1. Thank you Donna! Whenever you stop by, it brings a smile to my face :). Richard Foster is the one who divides the disciplines into those three categories; at least that’s the first place I saw them separated that way. I’ve had so much fun trying different techniques with meditation and prayer {the first two on my list}. I look forward to digging into the rest as I go along.

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  3. Great Job Heather. I have enjoyed getting to know you through the study with Melissa. Good luck on your book. I have been working on my book for awhile but haven’t finished it. Good luck

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  4. Heather, this is FANTASTIC!!! I started reading your blog last week and I love the content. I can’t wait for you to finish the rest of the book. I will be praying for you as you continue your writing. Blessings to you!!!

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  5. I had always heard that Foster’s book was difficult, even for seminarians. You make the concepts so clear! It’s going to be a great book!

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  6. Love your take on Spirtual Discplines. I have done Don Whitney’s book on Spiritual Discplines and try to pick it up at least every other year if not more! This year has been tough. 🙂 … love how you categorized the discplines! Can’t wait to read more!

    Praying for you and your writing and for God to provide the perfect publisher for you!

    Love ya and can’t wait to meet you in July …. just booked my airline tics!!!

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  7. I’ll be in line to buy this. What a great study… you are incredibly gifted in building our faith with deep wisdom coupled with approachable simplicity… THAT is a GIFT! xoxo

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  8. Hi Heather. I’ve heard of spiritual disciplines, but never seen them laid out like this. I’m excited to see what you write about them. What a wonderful study this would make. Thanks for letting God use you in such a great way!

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  9. Heather, I cant wait for the book to come out. I will definitely be in line to buy this. This would make a great study. Thank you

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  10. Heather that was so well spoken and I can not wait to read more! You have a way about putting things in perfect perspective for us to grasp. I hope to be able to do this study sometime soon!

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  11. I’m here from your post on the She Speaks group. Thanks for sharing it! Way to jump in and go for what God’s put on your heart! Sounds like you have a very practical and relevant idea. Did you ever read Ruth Haley Barton’s Sacred Rhythms? It really opened my eyes to the spiritual disciplines idea – especially how to have a sabbath as a mom of young kids! Who knew?? 🙂

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