Walking Through Life God's Way

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rule of Life

I have recently learned of the spiritual practice of writing a rule of life. "A Rule of Life is an intentional pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness. A Rule establishes a rhythm for life in which is helpful for being formed by the Spirit, a rhythm that reflects a love for God and respect for how he has made us. The disciplines which we build into our rhythm of life help us to shed the “old self” and allow our “new self” in Christ to be formed." (taken from several authors and found at www.cslewisinstitute.org/webfm_send/338 .

My Personal Rule of Life and commitment is as follows:
- Donald Crane's Rule of Life -
(1) To Love God: In worship and declaration of His worth in every dimension of life through sharing His love through daily practice of spiritual disciplines. To rest in Him and allow for my worth to be discovered in His refuge as I confess my inabilities and total reliance on Him (Psalm 31).
(2) To Love Each Other: As an unconditionally loving and sacrificial husband, as a nurturing and encouraging father, and as a Christ-follower representing Jesus to the people around me through the virtues of faith, hope, and love (John 9.1-5 & Acts 4.29-31).
(3) To Love Life: Living eternal life in the present by trusting in Jesus through rejoicing in the sweet tastes of life, grieving the loss of life that comes through sin and walking daily with God through a daily time of reflection and prayer for a healthy spiritual life, a 4 days a week exercise routine for a healthy mind and body, a monthly afternoon of retreat and meditation, and a yearly celebration of major events and holidays (Philippians 4.12 & Jude 24-25).

Please remember these are a personal rule or guides. It is a gift from God to develop such love and dedication. I encourage everyone to develop one. The Lord blesses such discipline. For more information read, "Soul Feast" by Marjorie J. Thompson and/or "The Spirit of the Disciplines" by Dallas Willard.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, June 25, 2012

Prayer....I do believe, I do believe, I do, I do, I do....



I received this email yesterday and it is a good one to share. These ideas are from By Elizabeth Peale Allen and posted on the Guidepost Website




Ever try to make a fruit salad without fruit? Or chocolate chip cookies without chocolate chips? That would be silly, right? Even the most basic recipes have ingredients crucial to their success.
Prayer, too, has certain “ingredients” that help ensure its effectiveness and success.

1. Love is a crucial ingredient of powerful prayer. Love is the defining characteristic of God—and those who follow him. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus emphasized the importance of a loving, forgiving spirit (Matthew 6:14-15).

2. Belief and positive expectation are essential. Research has shown that patients with faith and hope heal more quickly and completely. Through prayer, God wants us to be “sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Always pray hopefully, confident that the Lord will bring about the best possible results.

 3. The language of prayer must be simple and sincere. Jesus warns against empty and wordy prayers. “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7). Bring your requests to your loving Father whenever they come to mind, but do not feel “many words” will make him hear you better. Just speak to God sincerely and confidently.

4. It is vital to pray, “Your will be done.” 1 John 5:14 assures us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” You will pray with more and more confidence and power as you live close to the Lord, seek his will, and follow his guidance.

5. Pray with others. If you have the opportunity, take part in a prayer circle or join your church’s “prayer chain.” Agree with a few close friends to pray for each other’s children, health, relationships. And don’t forget that you can pray with other Christians anytime at ourprayer.org!  Jesus promises “where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

Always praying for you. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Celebration of Discipline: Seeking Spiritual Growth



 I want to recommend this book. In this blog, I hope to bring to fruition some of the insights, “eureka” moments, and personal challenges I received by reading Richard J. Foster's book, “Celebration of Discipline.” The book is structured in a way that any believer can read it, but it also is a book that needs digestion and should not be read as a novel. In fact, I have found the book to be life changing as it has greatly increased my awareness in the area of not dedicating enough of my life to the Christian disciplines. 
 
Throughout the book, I kept asking myself, “God so desires a relationship with me, why am I so lax in responding to that relationship? Where has my heart been to be content in settling for knowing Him, worshiping Him and studying Him?” All of these are steps in the right direction, but I have not been seeking or asking the right question, “How can I live Him in all that I am?” In other words, Foster has challenged me to live beyond the typical in seeking to grasp the supernatural through working, practicing, and capturing the essence of spiritual disciplines. 
 
I gained new insight on the difference between meditation and study. I have always been taught, or at least practiced, meditation and study were accomplished as one unit. Foster details how many times Godly fixtures of scripture go to meditation. Jesus repeatedly retreats to a place to meditate and pray. I have gained from several quotes throughout the book, but the two quotes on the discipline of meditation that resonates with me are, “God spoke to them not because they had special abilities, but because they were willing to listen.”1 and “Christian meditation, is the ability to hear God's voice and obey His word.”2 He then proceeds to explain this discipline while coaching the reader to use caution. When we hear the voice of God it is always rewarding but it can also be very risky. God calls us to trust Him and get out of the comforts of being able to do it ourselves.

I have known when God has spoken to me in the past. In fact, I can report of several times in my life that I knew God was leading and speaking. I have learned from Foster's work that I need to make listening more intentional. It is not about listening for the big events or decisions that need to be made, but rather to listen in the everyday life for typical events as well as the major events. A take away learning from this specific discipline was the suggestion that meditation is to take the “words of scripture as words from someone you love and ponder them in your heart”3 and that is meditation.
The second learning to report on is the discipline of Solitude. Foster states, “Silence is one of the deepest Disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on all self-justification.”4 I have never intentionally designed a time of complete solitude for the purpose of seeking and hearing from God. I had not put together that solitude is a means for God to work and for me to get out of the way. He is our justification and when we tune our hearts and minds to his will, we become less and He becomes more. One suggestion Foster provides for solitude is to take a day away from communication5 and I found that to be something I am not sure I could do. Although, I would not think I myself as communication dependent, I find myself fearful of not being connected to the technological communications offered in today's world. Although a challenge for me, Foster is correct in teaching that our words should be few, while filled with Godly communication, demonstrating a complete dependence on God. My discipline of solitude is to separate from the vast communication tools within modern grasp and rely on Him for words and responses.

A third “eureka moment” is my need for a spiritual director. Foster states, “In the middle Ages not even the greatest saints attempted the depth of the inward journey without the help of a spiritual director.”6  I need to to have someone that I can confess, share a need, and seek advice in a way that is outside the circle of circumstance with the intent that the person will fast and pray for words of direction to offer.

This Spiritual Director is also a challenge for me. I am a private person and in the world of ministry most of my colleagues are striving to be better then the next guy or gal. That dynamic is intimidating and very threatening to share. I have taken heart in knowing that the “Spirit will never lead in opposition to the written word.”7Thus, in study of the word, I have felt, I could find the guidance on my own.

The biggest challenge for me is the desire in my heart to be more like Christ and learn to live these Spiritual disciplines in all that I am. Yet, I find myself internally in conflict with my drive to always be engaged. I relate more to Martha when Jesus tells her to calm down and slow down and bow down to listen to His teachings. The world is filled with talented people that can demonstrate on the outside the fake perception that all is under control and lead with a religious flare. I seek and want to be a Godly man that truly demonstrates a dependence on God while demonstrating and living the disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, and celebration. 
 
Foster's work has caused my thinking to change and the means of processing information for the Kingdom, my family, and for my personal walk with the Lord. It was a challenge to accept the self examination. It was worth the effort as a Christ-Follower to step up and start practicing the Disciplines for a Godly purpose.

Check this book out...it is the effort. You know I love ya, Don

1Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (San Francisco: HarperCollins 1978,: repr., 1988: repr. 1998.) 16.

2Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (San Francisco: HarperCollins 1978,: repr., 1988: repr. 1998.) 17.

3Ibid. 29.

4Ibid. 101.

5Ibid. 107.

6Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (San Francisco: HarperCollins 1978,: repr., 1988: repr. 1998.) 185.

7Ibid., 188.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Coached By My Dad to Be a Dad....

Yesterday was father's day. I had a Godly man as a father. He was dedicated, stern when needed and loving the rest of the time. He died too early. He had a unique charisma and the ability to bring people together. I am not sure he knew it, but it was a talent that most people do not have. His talent is probably why he could coach a team sport so well and with success. People liked to play for him. His teams usually won and he never truly worked the teams over with strict discipline or exercise, but He would encourage and let everyone play and then the team would rally around the entire group of people and the wins would come.

As I reflect on Dad's ability, it occurs to me that the other people who typically would compete with dad's style were the one's that truly desired more of his talent and not his wins. There were over 800 at dad's funeral that bright March day in Sunny Southern California.  His death was quick and he did not suffer. In the days to come, new coaches would be discovered and things would move along, but Dad's legacy touched people and to this day, I still get comments on what a great person he was.

As his son, Dad made sure we knew how to do things and practiced discipline in everyday life. The two top priorities he demonstrated was that he loved the Lord and that he loved my mother and us. He took us to church and lived a life of graciousness to God's people. He also made it a priority to make sure that we knew He loved us. Attending piano recitals or weddings that I was playing for, even when he did not want to. Driving me to work at Beaumont Laundry and getting up with me when I was the substitute for a friends paper route. He would sit to watch a science fiction Star Trek movie or television "something or other" even when he would have rather been watching Dirty Harry. He made sure that we knew that we mattered to him and that we should never forget it.

I sit here next to Matthew and realize that I am a dad to five this year for the very first time. God has blessed me and brought me to a new place. I don't know if dad is coaching in heaven, but I can tell you that Dad coaches me in being a dad. My desire is that my children know that I love the Lord. I also want Matthew, Alice, Nicholas, Kendyll, and Nathan to know how much they matter to me. My prayer is that God will bless me with the wisdom to live those desires everyday so they will know how truly wonderful our God is.

“Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the LORD. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:4-5 NIV

Thanks Dad, and you know I love ya, Don

Monday, June 11, 2012

determination and still determined!

“Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds — his name is the LORD— and rejoice before him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:3-4
God is serious about having a relationship with us and being our first priority in life. As we have seen, He continually told the Israelites, "I am the Lord your God." He brought them out of bondage in Egypt, kept them fed and clothed for 40 years; and led them into a land that He had set aside for them. And they responded to God's grace and provision with rebellion, distrust, and harsh actions...

In fact, they didn't respond worse then we can imagine. They grumbled and complained and even rejected God and worship other gods. Even while Moses was on Mount interceding with God on their behalf, they were creating a golden calf to worship. YET, God would not forsake His people...then or now. God was determined and still is determined to show His grace and the holiness of His great name through His people. He still intends to do the same in our generation.

"Lord, help me to never take advantage of You or Your amazing grace. You are a great God. Full of love and compassion. Thank you. I love you. Amen."

You know I love ya - Don

(This idea is explored more through, Seven Words of Worship by Mike Harland and Stand Moser.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wow! I will never forget that.... first impression!

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. - Isaiah 53:2 (Bible Gateway)

There is a great deal of emphasis in our society on looks. Every other channel is an infomercial on weight loss or skin care or some other improvement pill. People seemed to be so worried about how they look. I have also noticed that we respond to people differently depending on how they look. There is truth in your first impression.

It is said that with in your first three sentences you have been evaluated by your listener. (First impressions) What does that say about the actions of a Christ-follower? It should say that we look to Christ's example...He has no beauty or majesty and nothing in His appearance that would draw us to desire Him. Yet, after His resurrection and the transformation He makes in people's lives, He becomes the most attractive desire we have. We should look beyond the physical and minister to the heart, soul, mind, and strength.

What does this truth say about my actions? I need to work on my health and looks because the world will judge me in how I take care of myself. I need to also put my Jesus glasses on and NOT fall into the trap of being Jesus only to those who meet my preconceived notion of what is attractive.

"Almighty God, Help me to see the world around me as you see the world. Please help me not to focus on looks, but to focus on the heart and the eternal. You are a great God and it is a joy to serve. May I never take advantage of you or your attraction. You know I love you, Jesus. Amen."

You know I love you too. - Don

Monday, June 4, 2012

Run the race, Push to the End, Finish.....

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." - Acts 20:24
"Dear God, help me today to run the race with passion and to seize the drive to finish the task that you have given me. May my life testify to the good news of your love in my life. I am not asking you to bless me, but to take me to where you are blessing so that I can witness and be a witness to some of its overflow. I love you. Amen"

You know I love ya - Don