Tag Archives: Rule of Life

Spiritual Growth, Contemplation and the Real World

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Spiritual Growth, Contemplation and the Real World. How to find God's gift when much of the world has gone mad.

The older one gets, the more one must work to grow (as in continuous growth is a necessity…and it’s hard work). That’s what I am finding.

It applies across the board:

  • If I quit working at physical health, my body will deteriorate.
  • If I quit learning, my mind will deteriorate.
  • If I quit hungering and thirsting after righteousness, my spirit will deteriorate.

Thus, spiritual growth is a mandate. I imagine that spiritual growth will last eternally, not just for my time on earth. I have long wanted to be a mature (or as Paul said it: perfect) Christian. Hopefully I arrive someday.

Here are the ways I am working on my spiritual growth. The easy ones first, then the tough one: Contemplation in the face of the real world…

I seek God’s face.

Where is He showing himself to me today? I look for his handiwork in the world around me. I look for his movement in the people around me. I look for his guidance in my own spirit. Psalm 27:8 says: When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, shall I seek.

I humble myself.

I have a friend remind me once that God is God and I am not. A great fallacy of my job as a counselor is believing that everyone must be healed and whole, that the world must be just and right…and that God needs to follow my plan for making it so. I Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…

I read God’s word.

Really. God bothered to share his wisdom in the Bible. When I keep myself current in my knowledge of his word, I am less likely to fall for the nonsense that sometimes passes as religious teaching but has nothing to do with what God said. Matthew 4:4…Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

I pray.

Often I pray a formal prayer, like the Lord’s Prayer. Mostly I pray in intercession for my nation, all those in authority, all people- especially those I care about and those who have made themselves my *enemies* (all the more important since I can’t run the universe). II Chronicles 7:14 If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and heal their land.

I listen (wait).

It’s easy to be too busy to listen, but I’ve learned he speaks in a still, small voice…even when I’m not listening. The minute I slow down and listen, he is waiting to share his love, wisdom, peace and courage. Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.

I hunger and thirst for righteousness.

When I’m hungry and thirsty for food, I engage in behaviors that will satisfy that need.When I pay attention to my spirit, there is hunger and thirst for righteousness. Jesus said that I am blessed when I hunger and thirst for righteousness and that I shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).

The behaviors that are just and right for me are: to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8). In other words, righteousness for me is doing what is right and merciful towards others (especially those who are weaker or in need) and remembering that God alone gives me the power to do so.

Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness.

I contemplate.

Currently, the most important way to care for my spirit is contemplation. There are many definitions of contemplation, so I have digested them into: Contemplation is holy noticing. Where ever I am, God is there and is. In him I live and move and have my being. Acts 17:28

When I live contemplatively, I am awake to him and notice what he is doing and being.

That’s huge. Of course it is. It is overwhelming to contemplate an infinite God.

On my latest silent retreat, I found a book that summarized some practices that is helping me grow in contemplative health.

The practices I am working on are from The Rule of Benedict and says that the contemplative life has 4 dimensions:

  1. Recognizing the presence of God in my life. I’m not any better than the prophet Jonah at running from God and I sure don’t want to be ignoring God. I simply need to graciously notice his presence. To do this, I need to ask him daily, “O God, come to my assistance…”.
  2. Accepting the gifts of others. This is easy when the gifts are lovely. However, some *gifts* are the opposite. I am learning to ask God’s assistance in accepting the fact that some others are blind, misguided or hateful. This is a gift to me when I am able to graciously notice those distasteful gifts and without joining the blindness, misguidedness or hatred, then hand it to God. Then I wait for his assistance to handle in mercy and truth the guidance he gives me. (Accepting the gift is important to me in these days, in the real world there is rudeness, greed and hatefulness that are accepted, taught and even glorified. I don’t need to be drawn into the brokenness but can speak the truth in love as God leads, then allow God to tend my heart while hoping for his healing of this broken nation.)
  3. Let go of false expectations in daily life. Step 1 on this is recognizing what a *false expectation in daily life is*! Ugh. But letting go opens me up to the submission to his will, which is the point of it all, anyway.
  4. Receive others kindly. Knowing my limitations, I can accept them. That does not mean to agree with them or kowtow to them. It does mean in the power that grace gives, I can treat them kindly.

Someday, I long to hear: Well done, good and faithful servant.

 

How to Create Your Own Rule of Life

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How to Create Your Own Rule of Life

How to Create Your Own Rule of Life

How to Create Your Own Rule of Life

What’s a *Rule of Life*?

Sometimes in my work as a life coach I have the blessing of discussing *Rule of Life* with my clients. I tell them that a Rule of Life is simply a way to organize their lives- especially their spiritual lives.

The trending ways people organize themselves are with planners, bullet journals or online calendars. But the Rule of Life was there first…by centuries.

The Rule of Life is an old term dating back to the early monastic times. I have a copy of the Rule of Life of St. Benedict that he created for his monks in the 6th century! The Rule of Life from a monastery organized the spiritual and practical activities of the people there.

These days a Rule of Life is a believer’s way to organize spiritual (and practical, if they wish) activities of the day. It is a commitment to practice spiritual disciplines.

When I first heard the word *Rule*, it got may Protestant dander up! We don’t have rules anymore, that’s legalism! I was able to settle down when I found out that the word *Rule* in Rule of Life, simply means *organization*.

The Rule of Life in the real world change with phase of life and levels of spiritual growth. My Rule changes year to year. That is a good thing. Here is my present Rule of Life:

  • Short meditation on the Lord’s Prayer before getting out of bed
  • Morning Scripture reading
  • Morning gratitude journaling
  • Morning 3 minutes silent prayer
  • Midday intercessory prayer or prayer in tongues
  • Midday prayer for the nation
  • Rosary at nighttime
  • Bedtime Ignatian Examen. Here is a link to a how I ¬†pray an Ignatian Examen.

At my current phase of life, this works for me. Here’s what makes it work:

  • I don’t get stressed if something interrupts and I miss part (or all) of the Rule. Prayer is about willful, respectful presence with God and recognizing His presence with me. I could toss the entire Rule of Life and do nothing prayerful without endangering God’s love for me and my comfort in that knowledge.
  • I don’t fall into the trap of believing there’s a *right way* to do a Rule of Life.
  • I don’t take myself or the Rule too seriously.

This leaves me free to enjoy the process.

My Rule of Life has been constructed over decades of walking with the Lord. A younger person in a different phase of life will have a much different Rule.

Here’s how to create your own Rule of Life:

Prayerfully ask yourself and ask God to reveal to you:

*Who are you? We often are so busy with the mundane or stressful parts of life that we forget that God intentionally created us. How? Why? It is good to remember…or discover. Here’s a good place to start if you aren’t sure who you are (from my coaching website).

*What do you love?¬†That is, what kinds of spiritual disciplines or devotions do you naturally enjoy? This should be the anchor of your prayer life/Rule of Life. Here’s a nice post from Renovare on spiritual disciplines to give you some ideas.

*What do you need to work on? Where are your weaknesses in self-discipline or character. Ask God for a way to pray about that. Often I will add prayerful journaling when I feel that God is working on a fear or character issue; or I will ask for Him for Scriptures to pray. Sometimes I work with a counselor, coach and or spiritual director. All of these fit into my Rule of Life for that phase of life.

For some people, their Rule of Life also includes daily activities such as chores, mindfulness or relaxation activities.

There are many ways to create a Rule of Life. Your Rule of Life will change over time and need to be flexible day by day, but when you have that Rule as a life structure, it will help you feel grounded and connect to God.

Here’s a white paper on the Rule of Life from C.S. Lewis Institute on Rule of Life.

How to Create Your Own Rule of Life