Search Results for: spirit

Pastor as Spiritual Fitness Trainer—Preparing People for Daily Discernment

By Kevin Vanhoozer

The church is the body of Christ, and its core—the community of disciples, the faith corps—enables its characteristic bodily movements: witnessing to the gospel, worshiping the God of the gospel, maintaining the health of the body, performing works of love.

To perform these movements, and to have the strength to work and keep on moving, the church needs to attend to its core. In a word, the church needs theological exercises: training in godliness.

Spiritual fitness training

I describe the pastor-theologian in various ways, but here the metaphor I want to develop is that of a spiritual fitness trainer. To make disciples is to train men and women to perform the characteristic bodily movements that enable the local church to perform its roles as an embassy of the kingdom of God, a Christ corps.

To make or train disciples fit for purpose involves certain kinds of exercise. I have in mind not simply bodily exertions for the sake of physical fitness, but all sorts of actions intended to improve a specific skill, like finger exercises for the piano, a military exercise, and exercises at the end of every textbook chapter. [One essential skill] is reading Scripture theologically in order to take every thought, and imagination, captive to Christ in order to walk the Way of Christ and become more Christlike.

Spiritual exercises

Seeing the Christian life as a series of exercises is, of course, nothing new. The most famous example is the sixteenth-century classic Spiritual Exercises by Ignatius of Loyola, a collection of prayers and meditations on what it means to live in relationship to God as a follower of Jesus.

The exercises are not bodily but interior: they are designed to strengthen not muscle but the heart, what the apostle Paul calls our “inner being” (Rom 7:22; Eph 3:16). They are recommendations for maintaining and improving the health of one’s soul: “We call Spiritual Exercises every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and . . . of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life.”1 The ultimate aim: to orient the heart to God, and to find God in all things.

Reality—the world we live in, the only world there is, the world created by God—always and everywhere presents everyone with a choice, an unavoidable “either-or”: “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Josh 24:15)

Discernment and decision

An important part of the exercises is learning to discern one’s own “spirit,” that is, the inner motivation for our actions. Hans Urs von Balthasar, a Roman Catholic theologian, believes that this emphasis on choice lies at the center of the Ignatian exercises: they’re all about helping persons to discern the heart of God, and the orientation of their own hearts, so that they choose God’s choice for them in joyful obedience.2

C.S. Lewis, though no Ignatian, had a similar concern for the centrality of “the choice” in the life of the disciple, as Joe Rigney explains: “Every moment of every day, you are confronted with a choice—either place God at the center of your life, or place something else there.”3

Reality—the world we live in, the only world there is, the world created by God—always and everywhere presents everyone with a choice, an unavoidable “either-or”: “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Josh 24:15), either the one true God (the Father of Jesus Christ) or some false god, be it money, sex, fame, power, or something else—their name is Legion.

Discipleship involves waking up to the realization that there is a choice, and we must stay awake to the lordship of Jesus Christ long enough to make the right one: to obey, and thereby to exercise, like Jesus, genuine freedom.4

***

Kevin J. Vanhoozer (PhD, Cambridge University) is Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of several books, including Faith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine and Biblical Authority after Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity, both Christianity Today Theology Books of the Year (2015, 2017). He is married and has two daughters.

This post is excerpted from Dr. Vanhoozer’s new book, Hearers and Doers: A Pastor’s Guide to Making Disciples through Scripture and Doctrine, now available from Lexham Press. See the table of contents and preview pages. This post’s title and headings are the addition of an editor.

 

What Is the Return of the Unclean Spirit in Luke 11?

There are certain passages that make you scratch your head, even if you’ve read them before.

Luke 11:24–26 is one of them.

Here’s how Joel Green, author of the Luke volume in the New International Commentary of the New Testament (NICNT), treats verses 23–26. We include his comments and footnotes so you can dive deeper into the argument and get a sense for how NICNT works. [Read more…]

How Do You Want to Grow Spiritually in 2019?

How do you want to grow in your faith, studies, or ministry this year?

If you’re like most Christians, you fall into at least one of these four groups:

  • You want to read the Bible more consistently
  • You want to explore God’s Word more deeply
  • You want a new theological challenge
  • You want to grow as a leader

To kick off the new year, we’ve handpicked resources for each of those goals and put them on sale. [Read more…]

Baptism as Spiritual Warfare

Baptism as spiritual warfare
The pastor had been preaching a series of messages through 1 Peter. When it was time for 1 Peter 3:14–22, he sincerely announced, “We’re going to skip this section since it’s just too strange.” He was right and wrong that day. As odd as it is, this passage is one of the most compelling in the New Testament—if you understand what it’s saying.
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Logos for Spiritual Formation: the Lectio Divina Workflow


Guest writer Adam B. Shaeffer holds an MA in Spiritual Formation from Talbot School of Theology and a PhD in Theology from Durham University. He is already a big fan of Logos 8.

In this post, I’ll be exploring one of the ways Logos 8 can play a vital role in our spiritual formation.

One of the primary aspects of how we change is establishing new habits, new ways of doing things, and new ways of engaging with the world around us.

Many of us have good habits, but how often do we ask if the habit could be improved? Just because our habits are good doesn’t mean that they are bearing fruit in our lives. Our good habits can actually sabotage our transformation if we do them thoughtlessly. This is, to my mind, one of the primary motivations behind the ancient practice of Lectio Divina. [Read more…]

Enhance Your Study of the Spirit-Filled Life—and Save Two Ways

Christianity was never meant to be dull, lifeless, or the mere accumulation of knowledge about God and the Bible. It was designed to be a joyful and vibrant experience through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

Your Logos library should reflect this as well. And for those desiring a deeper Spirit-filled experience, the Logos Pentecostal and Charismatic library has been curated to help empower your life and ministry with a vibrant spiritual life—and help others do the same. [Read more…]

Fighting Spiritual Fatigue with True Soul Rest

In the midst of a cacophony of noise, finding true soul rest is nearly impossible. With so many responsibilities and distractions vying for our attention, too many of us have built unhealthy cycles of rest. As a result, we burn ourselves out, striving and straining against God’s intent for our lives. In Soul Rest, Curtis Zackery reveals how our misaligned view of rest has its roots in an identity that is out of rhythm with God. [Read more…]

How to Prioritize Your Spiritual Life in Seminary

Danny Zacharias and Ben Forrest believe there are certain skills and habits that apply to anyone in a seminary context. Their new book, Surviving and Thriving in Seminary, equips students with the skills to succeed—spiritually, relationally, and academically. In this excerpt, Zacharias and Forrest tackle a temptation that all too many students fall prey to—neglecting their spiritual life.

[Read more…]

The Meaning of Shalom and the Spirit of Advent

what does shalom mean

We’re celebrating Advent by giving away dozens of free books and beautiful Advent Art. In this post, Martin Weber reflects on the peace signaled by this season of anticipation. Martin is the author of numerous books, including My Tortured Conscience and God Was There: True Stories of a Police Chaplain. He currently manages SDA content for Faithlife.

As we scramble in and out of stores for holiday shopping, Salvation Army volunteers stand beside their red donation kettles, patiently ringing their bells. They invite us to remember those who shiver outside the circle of sharing. Many pastors answer that invitation by partnering with the Salvation Army, conducting funerals for homeless men and women without church or family.

During my last pastorate, I conducted one such funeral for a man named Scottie. With his drinking buddies scattered throughout the sanctuary, I eulogized Scottie’s life as of infinite value to God and to us all—no matter what his struggles and setbacks. Suddenly like a shout from hell, drunken hollering interrupted my tribute.

[Read more…]

Kay Arthur on Balancing Ministry and Your Spiritual Walk

Kay Arthur

If you’re a pastor, scholar, or church leader, you’ve probably experienced it. You spend hours in the Word preparing sermons, Bible studies, and Sunday-school lessons. Yet even as your understanding of the Bible increases, you find yourself slipping into a state of spiritual fatigue. Your congregation or students thank you for the insight you’ve provided, for the difference your study has made in their lives. But you know God has used you in spite of the distance from him you feel at the moment. You may have crafted the perfect sermon, but your spiritual well has run dry.
In this excerpt from Bible Study Magazine’s exclusive interview with Kay Arthur, the beloved Bible-study expert shares how she maintains vitality in her spiritual life through personal quiet time and by refusing to separate her lesson preparation from her own spiritual walk.

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