OUR SOUL ENCOMPASSES
Last week PK introduced us to something called “SOUL CARE”.
He explained that the Soul encompasses 3 things (in concentric circles):
- Our WILL (our intentions, what we decide we will do and will not do)
- Our MIND (our thoughts, our feelings, our values)
- Our BODY (our behaviors/actions, our physical sensations, our habits)
The SOUL is wrapped up in all of these. So each one of these things affects the health of our soul…Physical sickness, traumatic experiences, encouraging words, what we eat and drink, what we watch, what we read etc. So because the SOUL is prone to becoming unhealthy (whether you are aware of it or not), it needs to be cared for and PK went through several suggestions for how to care for the SOUL. One of the recommendations he gave was Develop New Habits.
I’d like to unpack and expand on that idea this morning.
CARING FOR OUR SOUL
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.” (Deut. 4:9a)
Watch yourselves closely = “Keep your soul diligently”. We need to be actively evaluating ourselves. How do I know what a healthy soul looks like?
Maybe there’s someone in the Bible who is an example of someone who kept their soul well, who had good, maybe even GREAT, habits. Where could we look? Who would be a person like that? JESUS!!! (Jesus is our EXAMPLE). Read any of the 4 gospels and you will see a great example in Jesus of how to live. Jesus even directly calls us to follow his example in Matthew 11:29-30. “Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”
What is his “yoke”?
In Judaism of this time, the “yoke” meant the lifestyle wrapped up in the commands of the OT Law (Jews were encouraged to take on The Yoke of Torah) So Jesus’ “yoke” would consist of fulfilling the commandments he taught:
- Give to the poor
- Love your enemy
- Do not lust
- Deny yourself
- Don’t be angry with your brother
- Do good things for people who hate you
- Honor your parents
- Forgive those who betray you
- Don’t be afraid
- Make disciples
SO EASY, RIGHT????
Here we’ve hit our problem. His “yoke” should be EASY, but we find it BURDENSOME. He seemed to think we should find this easy to do, but that ain’t MY experience. You ever watch someone do something and they make it look so easy?
Maybe they are so difficult and we’re so frustrated because we’re just trying to copy Jesus’ public actions without any regard to copying his private life (his practice schedule). We need to follow the pattern of His OVERALL life, not just the HIGHLIGHTS. Dallas Willard says, “The ‘on the spot’ episodes are not the place where we can, even by the grace of God, redirect unchristlike but ingrained tendencies of action toward sudden Christlikeness.”
We can’t behave “on the spot” like Jesus did if the rest of our life looks like everybody else’s. This approach is to put the focus of our life on making good fruit, which we can’t do. BUT—To pattern our whole life after Jesus’ whole life is to put the focus on becoming a good tree. Stop trying to make good FRUIT, and focus on becoming a good TREE
Matthew 12:33-35 – Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is known by its fruit. Offspring of vipers! How are you able to say anything good, since you are evil? For the mouth speaks from what fills the heart. The good person brings good things out of his good treasury, and the evil person brings evil things out of his evil treasury.
What this idea means is that when you totally accept the life Jesus invites us to follow Him into, things like generosity or loving people who hate you will seem like the only sensible thing to do. So what was Jesus way of life? What was his practice/training routine that prepared him to lead a powerful public ministry of teaching and healing and compassion and service?
Well, he exemplified what these days are called “spiritual disciplines”. Dallas Willard, who has been quoted a few times in this series, has written much on this so let’s look at his definition of what a discipline is:
A Discipline is something that is in MY POWER to do that enables me to do what I CANNOT do by direct effort. And of course “what I cannot do by direct effort” pretty much covers everything Jesus taught. Disciplines are activities, not attitudes. Disciplines are things we do, not character qualities (not Fruit of the Spirit)
Typically, these disciplines are divided into two categories: Disciplines of Letting Go and Disciplines of Activity.
DISCIPLINES OF LETTING GO
Solitude is the practice of purposefully spending regular extended periods of time WITH God and WITHOUT other people and distractions. It is a time to get alone and rediscover your own soul. It is NOT an opportunity to catch up on your reading or podcasts or Grey’s Anatomy.
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10) Jesus himself frequently withdrew to the wilderness and prayed. (Luke 5:16)
Another discipline that completes solitude is SILENCE. Makes sense!
Two types of silence:
- Getting away from noise (including worship music)
- Not talking (so much of our talking is arranging how we appear; also not talking helps listening)
PK emphasized last week the importance of eliminating hurry for your life. Solitude and silence are STONG antidotes to a life of hurry.
Here I mean withdrawing in some significant way from (actual) food.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. (Luke 4:1-2)
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” So the disciples began to say to one another, “No one brought him anything to eat, did they?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to complete his work. (John 4:31-34)
This discipline QUICKLY reveals to us how much of our peace depends on the pleasure and comforts of eating. Fasting is a way of FEASTING on God and is very often paired with prayer.
How does this help us? How do headaches and a growling stomach help me? Dallas Willard says, “Fasting teaches us that we have the resources to be sustained and to continue to be strong and good, even though we don’t get what we want.” Do you struggle with frustration and anger, even rage, when you don’t get what you want? Try a regular pattern of fasting. Fasting teaches you how to suffer happily.
This isn’t one you typically hear about.
Here we abstain from using money and possessions in ways that merely gratify our desires OR our hunger for status or luxury.
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. (I Tim. 6:6-9)
Simple living is to purposefully stay within the bounds of good judgment so that we can use what we have for God. It involves reasonably differentiating between needs and wants. To properly understand this discipline we should understand the difference between use, possession, and trust. How we USE our money and things is where the problem is that we’re trying to target. It is wrong to condemn someone just for POSSESSING money and things. You have to possess things, before you can use the for God’s purposes. And TRUST in money is universally condemned throughout the Bible. Simple living fights against hurry and anxiety and feeling the panicked need to keep up and to keep working harder and harder and harder to get the money and the things that will make you feel good, and valuable, and safe. Simple living may involve you purposefully going through your home and pulling a Zacchaeus (“Look, Lord, half of my possessions I now give to the poor” Luke 19:8)
Shauna Niequist says, “I’m amazed at how many things are ultimately connected: I like living in our home more when it’s less full of stuff. I find it easier to get dressed in the morning when I have fewer choices.”
DISCIPLINES OF ACTIVITY
Now let’s look at a few Disciplines of Activity
In this discipline we purposefully place our minds fully upon God and his kingdom by engaging ourselves in the written and spoken Word of God. As such, this is the main counterpart to solitude, and you may find it easiest to enter into once you have begun reaping the benefits of solitude and silence. Before that, our minds are often overloaded with hurry and distractions. Read. Listen. Think. Ask thoughtful questions. Spend time thinking about what you see in Jesus, in the written word of scripture, in others who walk well with Jesus, and in every good thing in nature, history, and culture.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. (Phil. 4:8)
Make an effort to learn regularly from good teachers who can lead you deeper into the Bible and make you more capable of studying well on your own. [Spiritual Growth Hour classes]
WORSHIP (Luke 4:8; John 4:22-23)
The study of God’s Word and his works in our world naturally leads into the next two disciplines. In worship we think about and express the greatness, beauty, and goodness of God. The result of this is to assign worth to God. In your study of God’s word you will see his love and sacrifice, in his works in lives around us you’ll see his love and power, and in everything we good and lovely and excellent, we see the overwhelming creator…and our worship flows out of that. But it is purposeful—you need to purposefully study and purposefully examine the Word and the world and LOOK. Worship is OUR PART. That is the discipline. And out of THAT worship flows…
CELEBRATION (John 2:1-2; Eccles. 3:4)
Celebration focuses on the greatness and goodness of God TO US! Typically, this means to that we get together with other people who love God to eat and drink, and sing and dance, tell our stories about what God has done for us.
Eccles. 3:4 tells us there is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to DANCE!
The discipline of celebration is the GREAT antidote to despair and doubt, and is the beginning of real gratitude.
The Disciplines are God’s counterbalances to misaligned lives.
Hebrews 12:1 says, “…we must get rid of every WEIGHT and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us…”
It is not always sin that gets us misaligned. Dallas Willard said, “The disciplines often work in areas of our lives where it is not a sin to carry on the way we are doing, but it is unwise.”
BY: Brian Olson
To listen to this message online or to learn more about The Warehouse visit our website at www.thewarehouseoc.com