Spiritual Building Blocks

Did you notice that the United States Department of Agriculture recently updated its Food Group Pyramid? Actually, announcements regarding the changes have been widely heralded. They underscore the generally held understanding that good health requires good nutrition. Another important reality is brought to light in this announcement: Sometimes, even when it pertains to the basics, adjustments must be made.

Have you ever considered the building blocks of your spiritual diet? Have you reflected on whether or not your dietary choices are enabling you to consume a balanced diet? More specifically, have you given any thought to whether or not you need to make adjustments in your spiritual diet in order to support and maintain good health?

How do you get a balanced diet? While this is not an exhaustive treatment of the topic, the following suggestions might help:

Are you reading your Bible daily?

As recorded in John 8:31-32, Jesus indicated that His disciples would know the truth as a result of continuing in His word. In applying the principle involved here, it obviously involves more than simply reading. Still, it stands to reason that, at a minimum, a daily diet of reading the Scriptures is involved.

Unlike Jesus’ day, we have a plethora of options available to us. We can purchase a variety of different daily devotional Bibles such as The Daily Bible. These provide guidance for a systematic approach to reading the Old and New Testaments simultaneously. The Daily Bible is also available with companion daily devotional readings. There are several options for doing this. A Comprehensive Bible Reading Plan is available by clicking here. Another exceptional resource is the Narrative Bible in Chronological Order, edited by Lagard Smith.

There are a number of web sites that provide searchable Bibles. The most comprehensive of these sites is the BibleGateway.com. One that I use often is Today’s New International Version. Another excellent resource is The Online Parallel Bible. A number of different study aids are available at www.bible.org. The serious student can find a number of excellent study aids by scrolling down the sidebar on Milton Stanley’s blog, Transforming Sermons.

In recent years, I’ve been moving towards a preference for simply reading my Bible cover-to-cover. This is always a rewarding endeavor. I usually encourage those who choose this option, to make sure they consistently read at least one chapter per day from the gospels. This reinforces the fact that our reading is not simply for the sake of collecting additional information. We are, in fact, Christ’s disciples learning to walk in His steps!

Are you involved in a disciple-building community?

Discipleship, by definition, is an interactive endeavor. The pages of the New Testament reveal that this interaction takes place in the faith-community of Christ, the kingdom-community often referred to in the New Testament as the church. One of the missions given to those who embrace Christ’s kingdom-calling is involvement in disciple-building relationships. One of the key components of these relationships is making disciples and then teaching them to observe the things which Christ has commanded. (cf. Matthew 28:18-20)

If I’m reading my New Testament correctly, this involves teaching, but it seldom takes place in a classroom. Just as Paul was a man-on-the-go, so also was Paul’s disciple-building ministry a very mobile entity. Just let your imagination run with the full breadth of meaning in his words when he encouraged Timothy in ministry. He said, You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:1-2 TNIV). Those who seek to duplicate this sort of multiplying ministry see the value small groups. These provide us with an opportunity for interaction and in depth study in a context in which we can really develop a full understanding of the good things we have in Christ.

Saying this is in no way intended to diminish the value of the corporate worship gathering. When these are designed “so that the church may be built up” (1 Corinthians 14:26 TNIV), great strength can be gained by starting the week with our sisters and brothers in worship of our Heavenly Father.

There are a number of additional things which could be said in this regard. Hopefully these will underscore the point: Being plugged in to the disciple-building community of Christ helps us receive the balanced spiritual nourishment we need for good health.

Are you consuming wholesome, spiritually enriching literature?

Many people think nothing of spending several hours each day reading all types of literature—some of dubious value for our spiritual nourishment. Others can’t get through the morning without a perusal of the daily newspaper. Moreover, many of us think nothing of spending several hours each day before the television or in a digital-daze before our computer monitors. It is easy to spend so much time with other mental exercises that we have no energy left for devotional or inspirational reading.

Unfortunately, many people know a great deal about the life and times of a long laundry list of historical figures, but comparatively little about life and times of Jesus Christ. There is an ample supply of Christian literature available. I’m not going to rattle of a list here. The important thing for us to keep in mind is the importance reading wholesome, spiritual literature.

So, as we think about whether or not we are getting a balanced spiritual diet, each of us needs to consider these simple questions:

(1) Am I reading my Bible every day?

(2) Am I plugged in to a disciple-building community?

(3) Am I filling my cup with wholesome thoughts by reading spiritually enriching literature?

Depending on our answers to these questions, there may be some adjustments to our spiritual diets in order? If so, for the sake of our good spiritual health, we should make them.

© Bill Williams

June 13, 2006

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, Christian Living, Christianity, Church, Discipleship Training, Evangelism, Following Jesus, Life, Religion, Spirituality & Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Spiritual Building Blocks

  1. Greg England says:

    To that list, I might add: “Have you recently purchased a new guitar?” Off-the-wall humor intended, of course.

    We often balk at some of the regimen of spiritual health. We’ve all had people tell us they don’t need a church community, etc. But Jesus placed us in community and gave us the Living Word and surrounds us with those whose giftedness is needed in our lives and in whose lives our giftedness is needed. For some reason we may choose to starve ourselves rather than feast spiritually.

    As always, Bill, you write good stuff.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I agree with Greg wholeheartedly.

    Something I have found to be beneficial in my own Bible study and something I rec’d to those who come to my DivorceCare class is to read one psalm per day and pick ONE promise to cling to for that day. Usually I write it down where I can see it or carry it with me and all day long, and when things get tough during the day, I reread that one promise. I know it sounds very basic, but I can’t tell you how God has spoken to my heart through that very simple exercise.

    Recently I told a friend who was going through a hard time about this, and so she has begun to read a psalm a day and find her promise. She then emails the promise to her husband at work. And when she forgets to email him, he reminds her that he needs his promise for the day. I love it when a husband and wife share Him together!

    I rec’d this for anyone who is grieving or going through excruciating circumstances. It is quick, easy, and very rewarding….and for me….it was a literal life-saver.

    His,
    Jennifer

  3. I think discipleship is one of the most critical issues facing the church today. We have our worship wars, our liberal and conservative wars but we do not have any discipleship wars.

    You emphasis on community is great too. We, as Christ followers, must realize that we have voluntarily left one community for another . . . or one “age” for another “age.” When we voluntarily submit to baptism we let God transfer our “allegiance.”

    We need preaching and teaching about living in that community and being put on “display” by God as the new or alternative world. It is a tall order but that is why we have the Spirit living in us and our communities.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine
    Stoned-Campbell Disciple

  4. Bill says:

    Greg, Jennifer and Bobby…great observations by each of you.

    Your question about the guitar reminds me, Greg, that one of the most consistent ways God nourishes our soul is through giftedness of many in the area of music. What an incredible blessing Christian music is in my life!

    I’m reminded how impactful the Scriptures are in your comment, Jennifer. The simple exercise you mention is a reminder of this.

    Thanks for your excellent observations about community, Bobby. As I was driving to the office this morning, I was thinking about a couple specific times when the meaning of a particular Scripture was brought home in my life as a result of simply talking about it with a fellow-disciple. We are made for relationships! Christianity is nothing, if it is not community!

  5. Great thoughts, Bill. Of course, as a writer, I am thrilled that you included reading wholesome, spiritually enriching literature. Hopefully you’ll find some of that to include fiction.

    There are some other online Bibles that allow searches and commentary I thought you might be interested in: Bible Study Tools on crosswalk.com and the Blue Letter Bible.

    Becky

  6. Becky, Thanks for sharing these thoughts and resources. I really appreciate your mention of fiction. Some day I hope to write some stories that I hope people will read. BTW, I previously posted a couple of articles that touch on the topic of value of fiction. Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon!

  7. Dee Andrews says:

    I think that Bobby is absolutely right when he says “I think discipleship is one of the most critical issues facing the church today.” I have to say I am greatly appalled at the lack in depth knowledge of the encompassing “story” Bible from Genesis through Revelation.

    Oh – there are a few “pet” topics and areas many hone in on and can give you every conceivable esoteric details concerning same, but it’s been my experience that those things so many people I know focus on are usually the least necessary and needed for practical Christian living hour by hour, day by day.

    One glaring example of this that I see a lot in our society among Christians is the focus and emphasis on the books of Revelation and Daniel. A study and many, many predictions of and projections that we live in “the end times.” When excactly that is coming, who’s going to be where and what’s going to happen to them, who’s going to be lost or “left behind” and who will have a second chance or not and/or fight in the coming “battles” or not. On and on it goes. And Tom and I have had just conversations with several members of his family.

    Here’s my thinking. A radical thought for people like these, I’ve found.

    How is any or all of that going to affect my own personal day to day life in any practical way? There are so many things in the Bible that are so plain and clear that even children understand them and can practice them. Things we can do, and should be doing and concentrating on each and every day.

    Who knows when the “end times” will come, how exactly it will be, what all will happen and when and to whom and on and on? My question is – for my life, what difference does it make anyway? All I have, whether the end times come soon or not, is today and whatever I’m doing today. If I’m reading those pasages and understand God’s work in me and for me, what else do I need to worry about?

    If God decides to end this world before I should die and some great end time battle is to take place – hey – I figure He’ll let me know what to do and where and when to show up, right? If not – then all I’ve got to deal with is “known” things that God has given us for right living and when I die and leave this earth, I’ll be ready.

    Most people cannot tell you, nor do they really know, God’s story for man as He set it out for us if we will but pick up our Bibles, begin in Genesis with Adam and Eve, move on to Cain and Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, on and on, until we’ve learned the whole story and understand what it means for our lives.

    I was taught those things through dedicated teaching from my dad and mom from the time I was a very young child. My dad taught me to memorize all of the books of the Bible when I was four. He had me invite all of my neighborhood friends over one night a week and he told us Bible stories and we all learned the books of the Bible, with each child being given a Bible of his/her own by my dad.

    Boy, most kids today don’t have the kind of in depth knowledge of the Bible like that nor do most adults (that I know) in different Christian fellowships. Like I say, a lot of Christians I know seem to spend most of their time worrying over and studying esoteric subjects to the neglect of disciplined daily – practical, but life-changing – Christian living?

    Am I wrong, do you think? Too cynical, perhaps? Anyone else experienced these things? Either way, your post is an excellent one, Bill, and a reminder of the need for discipleship.

  8. Thanks for the referral, Bill!

  9. Hi Friends,
    Most churches do not have a comprehensive method of “teaching all that Jesus commanded.” They do not have a plan to produce godly men and women.
    How can we teach all that Jesus commanded?
    Let me encourage you to look at http://www.disciplebuilding.org
    Have a blessed day.
    Ken

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