Category Archives: Spiritual Formation

Identity in Christ

Identity in Christ

https://www.amazon.com/Embracing-Your-Identity-Christ-Renouncing-ebook/dp/B06XT2SSLM/ref=pd_ybh_a_19?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=KXNBA27SZ55AV2JXQQR6

Our identities, besides being one of the most precious things to protect from theft, crisis, or loss, are extremely important to God. The Father has given each of His children a personal identity in Christ that will shape them on their journey to heaven. If, in the process of identity formation, we ignore what God says concerning our identities, then we may expect confusion in the other three seasons of spiritual formation, from adolescence to old age (see chart below for Calling to Christ, Intentionality for Christ, and Legacy from Christ).

Robert Davis Smart

https://www.facebook.com/MyIdentityInChrist/

Embracing Your Identity in Christ:: Renouncing Lies and Foolish Strategies (Kindle Locations 116-121). WestBow Press. Kindle Edition.

#BacktotheBible

Isn’t this an adorable picture?

By far the practice of reading the bible through each year will do more than anything else to enhance your prayer life, activate your meditation or thought life, and . . .

motivate your worship life.

http://unsplash.com/@samanthasophia

“This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from  this book” John Bunyan (Author of Pilgrim’s Progress)

“A glory gilds the sacred page,
Majestic like the sun;
It gives a light to every age;
It gives, but borrows none.

The Spirit breathes upon the Word
And brings the truth to sight;
Precepts and promises afford
A sanctifying light.” – William Cowper

http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/g/l/glorygil.htm

Four Seasons of Spiritual Formation

https://www.amazon.com/author/robert_davis_smart

Our identity, besides being one of the most precious things to prevent from theft, crisis, or loss, is extremely important to God. The Father has given his children an identity in Christ that will shape us on our journey to heaven. If in the process of identity formation we ignore what God says concerning our identity, then we may expect confusion in other seasons of spiritual formation. four-seasons-chart_print

Just after birth, a child is given an identity. Identity formation, however, is a longer process. When Jesus Christ was approximately thirty years of age the Father spoke of his identity at his baptism just before entering fully into his calling. In the same way, identity in Christ ought to precede our calling to Christ. It is at this important season of identity that Satan challenges each of us, as he did our Lord. The devil’s first attacks on our Lord were aimed at his identity: “If you are the Son of God.”

The evil trinity—the world, the flesh, and the devil—is seeking to kill and destroy us in each season of spiritual formation. In the spring they confuse our identity, in the summer our calling, in the autumn our intentionality, and in the winter our legacy. The world escorts us to the pit; the flesh entices us to fall in; and the devil pushes us over the edge. “The pit,” as it were, represents a dark and slimy collection of lies, condemning thoughts, and foolish strategies designed to confuse and distort our identity formation.

Start a spiritual formation group on your campus or in your church this Fall by ordering a book designed for each season. See the following link https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Davis-Smart/e/B005SXVJI6/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

An Identity Group is the first of four spiritual formation groups designed to shape us into the likeness of Jesus Christ. It assumes that you have to begin here before asking the next three major questions of the Christian life: Where’s my place (calling)? How do I steward all my gifts, resources, and efforts with intentionality in the light of eternity (intentionality)? What inheritance, testament, and benediction do I leave behind as I prepare to cross the river of death in order to gain eternity (legacy)?

Fatherhood for Father’s Day

Fatherhood involves three things; namely, vision, life on life formation, and a story of salvation. In Deuteronomy 6:1-12, 20-21 God’s people had experienced an amazing salvation, and God emphasizes the value and importance of fatherhood.

In the Old Testament family included a wider circle of at least two generations and also servants, widows, orphans, also aliens, who were all protected under the father or patriarch’s headship. Children were named by the father and were known as his children; for example in the gospels John and James sons of Zebedee or Jesus bar Joseph.

The ideal father is God and manifested in commands concerning fatherhood, not so much in the narratives. At best, we see determined fathers like Joshua, Job, and Solomon (Proverbs 1:8), who declare that their families will serve the Lord and will listen to biblical instruction.

Since the family makes a nation and a church strong, God starts with a vision in Deuteronomy: “Fear God, you your sons, and your son’s sons that you may enjoy long days in the land and that you may multiply greatly” (6:2-3). Before having children, a man should sense a calling and a vision for children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren in the context of an experiential knowledge of God (Fear of God means just that this). In our culture we think so much about the now (secular time) that we aim and fall short of the Glory of God’s vision for our lives. Suddenly, we  find ourselves holding the little hands of our grandchildren (see photo). The time has flown bye. Fatherhood begins with vision for succeeding generations.

Second, fatherhood is life on life spiritual formation. As the word of God sets on a father’s heart, he then instructs his children “diligently” (6:7). How? By a father’s life loving on his children. When?  “When you sit in your house” and “when you walk by the way” and “when you lie down” and “when you rise” (6:7-8). Fatherhood is life on life spiritual formation or discipleship, just as Jesus called His disciples to be “with Him” (Mark 3:14). Spiritual instruction is the primary domain of the father, not the mother nor the church nor a school. It is not a classroom environment; it is a home context of life on life formation.

Thirdly, fathers must tell how they were saved by God’s mighty Hand. In fact, God tells the first Israelite fathers to make their children regularly ask the question about how papa bear and mama bear were saved. When your children ask what the meaning of all this worship and instruction is, father bear should say: “We were slaves . . . and the Lord brought us out and give us (heaven)” (6:20-21). Tell your children how the Lord showed signs and wonders in saving you from slavery to sin and Satan and idols of our culture, like money, power, and so forth. “Dad, why is our family serious about Christ in a secular culture?” Father: “We were slaves to sin and Satan, even the gods of money, work, and pleasure. But God in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, delivered us out of such darkness and brought us into His marvelous light – a kingdom of light.”

Fatherhood begins with a vision, continues for eighteen years per child with life on life spiritual formation, and constantly tells the testimony of salvation to the generations to come.

The bible doesn’t give examples of human fathers that we can model off of, but only of broken fathers in need of restoration to the hearts of their children and to God. God the Father gave His only Begotten Son to redeem fatherhood and to save both the parents and their children, and children’s children.

Rejoicing in the Lord

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

(Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Sometimes suffering surprises the Christian because God’s purposes are weightier for us than we imagined. God purposes to wean us off everything else until we realize that God is all we ever wanted. It is then that the Christian, unlike others, is empowered to rejoice in the Lord.

Habakkuk, a godly prophet, moves from tested faith in God’s goodness to triumphant faith in God’s goodness in three chapters; from fretting to rejoicing and from wrestling to triumph. The amazing truth is this: it is possible to rejoice in the Lord on the heights, while facing the deepest levels of sorrow and affliction.

What is this rejoicing and when does it occur? Rejoicing in the Lord is a leap over our circumstances when there is no more money in the bank and one’s health is in decline. It is coming to the conclusion that no matter how difficult life is in a fallen world that God is good.

Alan Gardner, a missionary in 1851, was shipwrecked with others off the coast of South America. He was the last one still living. When his journal was found after his death, it quoted Psalm 34:10: “Young lions so lack and suffer hunger, but they that seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.” Gardner wrote his last line: “I am overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of God.”

All afflictions are designed to push the believer up to the heights above his circumstances, while still rejoicing in the Lord. Although some get bitter and angry, reintroducing God (whom they did not acknowledge before) into a philosophical debate over why He permits the righteous to suffer, the Christian abides in God’s steadfast love from the first signs of affliction to the end. You become like the object you worship. Jerry Bridges in his book Trusting God wrote: “We can be sure that the development of a beautiful, Christ-like character will not occur in our lives without adversity.”

How is this rejoicing obtained? It is realized by intentionality about one’s future. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,” the man of God says two times. Just as the apostle Paul wrote from prison, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!” Why? The best is yet to come.

What Kind of Person do you Want to become?

You are what you eat? What if we changed it to “you are what you love?” Not, as Descartes put it: “I think therefore I am.” We are not fatheads (1 Cor. 8:1). Discipleship is not a matter of more information; rather it is about transformation. True Christianity is an inside-out way of transformation of the heart because out of the heart flows what we love, either good or ill. This is why to want things or people as ultimate things or people are idols of choice, but to want God as the ultimate good is freedom and blessing. https://www.amazon.com/author/robert_davis_smart

We all live and are drawn to what we want, so we are what we want most (Augustine and Jonathan Edwards). We might say that we become like what we worship (Psalm 8). To discover what we are becoming is to ask ourselves what habits are we practicing in order to get what we want. James K. A. Smith asks the following similar questions:

  1. What are the things you do that do something to you?
  2. What Story is embedded in your cultural practices?
  3. What kind of person do you want to become?
  4. To what kingdom are your habits or rituals aimed?
  5. What do the cultural institutions in your life want you to love?[1]

[1] James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazo Press, 2016), p. 55.