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ARTICLE 2- OUTWARD DISCIPLINES

Simplicity, Solitude, Submission, Service

We do not need to go far to experience the chaos, catastrophes, and competition that are plaguing the world we live in.  As a result of all the “noise” many believers are fearful, confused, and overstimulated.  Some are yielding to the world’s system of using things and superficial relationships to give them a false sense of security. However, all those things will inevitably fail us. There are outward disciplines that Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline challenges us to develop in order to keep our lives grounded on the Unmovable Rock.

Simplicity.  The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle (p. 79).  Be aware of the subliminal promise in many ads and stores that purchasing their product will bring you happiness.  Don’t buy into the notion that anything can fill the void in your life that only Christ can fill. We ought to be able to enjoy our possessions without letting them possess us.   The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”.  There are certain attitudes that will allow you to live a life of simplicity. First, acknowledge that all that you possess has been “added unto you” by God.  When we feel that we are our own Source, we become anxious and afraid. Secondly, realize that as the Source, God is able to take care of all that He has given you.  Lastly, be willing to give and share what you have with others.  These attitudes, coupled with self-control, will help you avoid the addictions and unnecessary accumulation that many in our world find themselves overwhelmed with.

Solitude.  Solitude is inner fulfillment. Solitude is more a state of mind and heart than it is a place (p.96).  How do you feel about being away from others and in a silent place? Many people are afraid of being alone or experiencing silence.  Developing this discipline does not require you to be away from people, but to have an inner calm even in their midst.   However, silence is necessary to developing our relationship with the Lord.  As a matter of habit and during significant events in His life, Jesus would often move away from the crowds in order to commune with His Father; we encourage you to do so as well.

Submission: unfortunately a controversial word. There are many who have painful emotions related to that word. However, Biblical submission focuses on the ways in which we view other people which involves mutual submission. Ephesians 5:21states, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”  This mutual submission causes us to constantly desire and act toward the good of our neighbor and not just our own. This leads us to the final of the outward disciplines:

Service. The type of service we are called to is not self-righteous service.  Self-righteous service is done as a result of human effort, is impressed with that which is recognized by man, focuses on being rewarded, is consumed with results, discriminates whom to serve, will only serve when there is a feeling to serve.  Needless to say, self-righteous service is destructive and does not produce fruit that will remain. Some of the greatest and most fulfilling opportunities we have will come as a result of true service; don’t miss out on those opportunities.

It may seem quite challenging to begin to practice these disciplines, but give yourself grace; change does not come overnight. Regardless of where you may be in exercising these disciplines, realize that you have a Helper, the Holy Spirit who is willing and able to help you if you only ask. Here are some questions that will help you examine yourself in these areas:
Are there some ways you can simplify your life? Are there purchases you have made to fill a void in your life? How can you practice a sense of quietness and being in the moment this week? What is your attitude toward submission; do you need emotional healing from a situation that caused you pain? In what ways can you increase your level of service to others?  As you answer these questions, find a trusted and mature believer who can help you navigate any areas of your life where you may need additional help and counsel.

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