The Goal of Spiritual Discipline

I remember reading a Christian book on how to be a disciplined follower of Christ, and the first illustration came on the first page of the book, and has always stuck with me. It wasn’t only until yesterday that I was reminded of it again, bringing back memories of my continued desire to learn to play guitar, but now the stronger desire to be disciplined for the work of the Lord. Below is the story and application of it, along with a video that looks pretty close to what is described in the book. I hope you enjoy, and see the grace of God in being drawn closer to Christ by way of spiritual discipline. May we have that deep desire to be more like Christ in this life than like anything else we want to be in life.

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Discipline without direction is drudgery.

Imagine six-year-old Kevin, whose parents have enrolled him in music lessons. After school every afternoon, he sits in the living room and reluctantly strums “Home on the Range” while watching his buddies play baseball in the park across the street. That’s discipline without direction. It’s drudgery.

Now suppose Kevin is visited by an angel one afternoon during guitar practice. In a vision he’s taken to Carnegie Hall. He’s shown a guitar virtuoso giving a concert. Usually bored by classical music, Kevin is astonished by what he sees and hears. The musician’s fingers dance excitedly on the strings with fluidity and grace. Kevin thinks of how stupid and klunky his hands feel when they halt and stumble over the chords. The virtuoso blends clean, soaring notes into a musical aroma that wafts from his guitar. Kevin remembers the toneless, irritating discord that comes stumbling out of his.

But Kevin is enchanted. His head tilts slightly to one side as he listens. He drinks in everything. He never imagined that anyone could play the guitar like this.

“What do you think, Kevin?” asks the angel.

The answer is a soft, slow, six-year-old’s “W-o-w!”

The vision vanishes, and the angel is again standing in front of Kevin in his living room. “Kevin,” says the angel, “the wonderful musician you saw is you in a few years.” Then pointing at the guitar, the angel declares, “But you must practice!”

Suddenly the angel disappears and Kevin finds himself alone with his guitar. Do you think his attitude toward practice will be different now? As long as he remembers what he’s going to become, Kevin’s discipline will have a direction, a goal that will pull him into the future. Yes, effort will be involved, but you could hardly call it drudgery.

When it comes to discipline in the Christian life, many believers feel as Kevin did toward guitar practice–it’s discipline without direction. Prayer threatens to be drudgery. The practical value of meditation on Scripture seems uncertain. The real purpose of a Discipline like fasting is often unclear.

First we must understand what we shall become. It is said of God’s elect in Romans 8:29, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” God’s eternal plan ensures that every Christian will ultimately conform to Christlikeness. We will be changed “when he appears” so that “we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). This is no vision; this is you, Christian, in a few years.

So why all the talk about discipline? If God has predestined our conformity to Christlikeness, where does discipline fit in?

Although God will grant Christlikeness to us when Jesus returns, until then He intends for us to grow toward that Christlikeness. We aren’t merely to wait for holiness, we’re to pursue it. “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy,” we’re commanded in Hebrews 12:14, for “without holiness, no one will see the Lord.”

Which leads us to ask what every Christian should ask, “How then shall we pursue holiness? How can we be like Jesus Christ, the Son of God?”

We find a clear answer in 1 Timothy 4:7: “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” NASB.

(Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Don Whitney, pp.15-16 [1997])

Spanish Resources

This page is for those whom I love in Argentina and would like to be of service to them in creating a post that will highlight Christian resources in Spanish that I encounter throughout my life. As far as I know, not many exist online, and so this will be very general and not subject specific. I hope it’s of help to not only those I know, but maybe someone I don’t know that is looking for resources to look at or point Spanish-speaking to in the future. [Updated 11/1/12]

Este pagina es para las personas que amo en Argentina y quiero ser un siervo para ellos en formando este que va a enfocar en recursos cristianos en español que encuentro durante mi vida. Por lo que sepa, no existe mucho de ese tema por medio de la red, asi que ese pagina va a ser muy general y no especifico en sujeto. Espero que ese va a ayudar no solo a las personas que conozco, pero tambien a los que visitan este pagina y esta buscando recursos para si mismo e a otras en el futuro.

Soporte a la Razón, La Organización: Articulos en Español (tiene articulos especifa sobre como defender la fe, pero en la manera de evidencias)

Deseando a Dios: Articulos y Sermones de John Piper

Ministerio Hispano de Grace Community Church (Henry Tolopilo) (incluye articulos de temas diferentes, sermones, y mas!)

Publicaciones Faro de Gracia (tiene lo mejor de los mejores de libros cristianos en español)

La Apologética Presuposicionalista (pagina que tiene traducciones de Greg Bahnsen, un defendor tremendo de la fe cristiana de la forma que recomiendo y que creo es mas biblico; este sitio tiene mas recursos en temas diferentes, como evangelismo, el evangelio, y la seguranza biblica de la salvacion)

Articulos de William Lane Craig en Español (un defendor de la fe cristiana usando la forma apologetica con evidencias; tiene articulos, traducciones de videos, y respuestas a preguntas comunes de la fe)

Gracia a Vosotros (sitio del ministerio de John MacArthur y Henry Tolopilo; tiene sermones, articulos, preguntas y respuestas, un devocional diario, distintivos doctrinales, y un folleto con el mensaje del evangelio)

9Marks en Español (sitio del ministerio de Mark Dever y mas pastores que tiene articulos sobre la importancia de la iglesia, y sujetos alrededor de ese tema; mucho para aprender)

Abortion

This will be a stand-alone post with links to many helpful articles, sermons, possibly books, that are free to read online. This would be more for my sake, as I collect what I have found to be useful in dealing with people who are for abortion, or don’t see a problem with it. I hope this is of benefit to anyone who comes across this post. (Last updated 1/22/14)

Articles

Pro-Life Aristotle (interview with Christopher Kaczor on his book The Ethics of Abortion: Women’s Rights, Human Life, and the Question of Justice)

Abortion and Human Equality (interview with Francis Beckwith on the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade)

The Case Against Abortion (interview with Francis Beckwith on his book Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice)

Tollefsen Argues “A Philosophical Case Against Abortion” (interview with bioethicist Christopher Tollefsen)

Biblical Ethics: An Overview (has a section on abortion entitled, ‘The Beginning of Life and Abortion’ from the ESV Study Bible; only accessible to those who have purchased the online edition)

The 2012 Elections: Five Questions for Pro-Life Advocates by Scott Klusendorf (from equip.org)

Dead Silence: Must the Bible Say Abortion is Wrong Before We Can Know It’s Wrong? by Scott Klusendorf (from equip.org)

The Vanishing Pro-Life Apologist: Putting the “Life” Back Into the Abortion Debate by Scott Klusendorf (from equip.org)

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights (Part 1): The Appeal to Pity by Francis Beckwith (from equip.org)

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights (Part 2): Arguments from Pity, Tolerance, and Ad Hominem by Francis Beckwith (from equip.org)

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights (Part 3): Is the Unborn Human Less than Human? by Francis Beckwith (from equip.org)

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights (Part 4): When Does a Human Become a Person? by Francis Beckwith (from equip.org)

The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law by Francis Beckwith

Suffer the Violinist: Why the Pro-Abortion Argument from Bodily Autonomy Fails by Richard J. Poupard (from equip.org)

Potential Misunderstandings (1 of 2) by Matthew Lu (from The Witherspoon Institute)

Potentiality Rightly Understood (2 of 2) by Matthew Lu (from The Witherspoon Institute)

Protect the Weak and Vulnerable: The Primacy of the Life Issue by O. Carter Snead (from The Witherspoon Institute)

Embryo Ethics by Robert P. George

Pro-Life Articles from the Life Training Institute (Scott Klusendorf’s organization; the best material anywhere!)

Abort73 (most comprehensive website you’ll ever see)

Books

The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture by Scott Klusendorf (Kindle)

Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue by R.C. Sproul (Kindle)

Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments [Expanded and Updated] by Randy Alcorn (Kindle)

Why Pro-Life?  [Kindle edition only]by Randy Alcorn

Stand for Life: A Student’s Guide for Making the Case and Saving Lives by John Ensor and Scott Klusendorf (Kindle)

Innocent Blood: Challenging the Powers of Death with the Gospel of Life by John Ensor (Kindle)

Common Ground Without Compromise: 25 Questions to Create Dialogue on Abortion by Stephen Wagner

Answering the Call: Saving Innocent Lives, One Woman at a Time by John Ensor (Kindle)

Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion by Francis J. Beckwith

The Ethics of Abortion: Women’s Rights, Human Life and the Question of Justice by Christopher Kaczor (Kindle)

Embryo: A Defense of Human Life by Robert P. George

Ethics for a Brave New World by John & Paul Feinberg (has 2 chapters, 93 pages, on abortion, along with chapters on euthanasia, capital punishment, sex and birth control, homosexuality, genetic engineering, divorce and remarriage, war, and the relationship between the Christian and the secular state; wide-ranging but good intro to all of these topics worth wrestling through)

Blogposts

10 Questions a Pro-Choice Candidate Is Never Asked by the Media by Trevin Wax

The Apple Argument Against Abortion by Peter Kreeft

Human Personhood Begins at Conception by Peter Kreeft

D.A. Carson on Practical Strategies for Addressing the Abortion Issue by Justin Taylor

A Brief Overview of Abortion Facts and Counter-Arguments by Massimo Lorenzini

Why I am Pro-Life: A Short, Nonsectarian Argument by Douglas Groothuis

The Siamese Violinist by Steve Hays

In the News

The Mourdock Moment: Life, Death, and Lies on the Campaign Trail (Al Mohler)