ep. 34 | Spiritual Disciplines with Brad Evangelista
On today’s episode of Journeywomen, I chatted with my former pastor and friend Brad Evangelista about spiritual disciplines. Ya’ll, I cried twice in this episode! That’s a first for me! Brad and I talked about everything from the goal of practicing the spiritual disciplines to how doing so will flesh itself out differently based on our season of life. Hello, mamas! This quote brought on the waterworks, “There’s a 25 or maybe 30-year-old mom that may be listening to this and right now one of the fruits that God is building in her life is not feelings of awesomeness, but right now he’s developing in her life spiritual grit. He’s putting calluses, spiritually speaking, on her hands, so that when she is a 55 or 60 year-old-woman 20 or 30 years from now, she’s going to be able to come alongside a young, tired, struggling, frustrated, mom and say, ‘Sister, you’re going to make it,’ and that’s the fruit that God is producing and anchoring and digging deep into a young woman’s life right now. And the thing is, I would say to that sister is just, ‘Hold on, the harvest will come in and through your life of godliness, but it takes time! It takes time.’” I hope that you guys find this conversation as encouraging and grace-filled as I did.
Can you tell us a little about who you are and what you do?
What are spiritual disciplines? What spiritual disciplines are listed in Scripture?
Why do we/should we practice them? What is the aim/goal of doing so?
How do we practice spiritual disciplines from the gospel?
How does God use spiritual disciplines to change us?
Where do we receive our desire and power for practicing the spiritual disciplines?
What is the beauty of practicing them? What is the reward?
Is there a particular spiritual discipline that you might consider to be the most important?
Does practicing the disciplines look different based on our season of life?
What suggestions might you offer to someone who is in a demanding season, like mothering little people, studying for college exams, or working long hours?
THREE QUESTIONS I ASK EVERY GUEST
What 3 resources would you recommend for someone wanting to grow in their practice of the spiritual disciplines?
What are 3 of your simple joys?
Who has had the biggest influence on your own journey with Jesus?
NOTE WORTHY QUOTES
“Spiritual disciplines are any practice that a believer does that promotes spiritual growth, Christlikeness, or sanctification… They are practices, things that you actually do, actions that a believer takes… separate from an attitude. (In his book Spiritual Disciplines) Donald S. Whitney really encourages us to get in the discipline—and that’s where that word comes from—of doing something that maybe our heart and our mind aren’t totally aligned with all the time, in order to put us in a position through habit and through discipline to posture ourselves in a way that we can be in a place where we grow spiritually and the Lord uses all these means to bring His growth and grace and the work of the Spirit into our heart.”
“If I am in Christ, nothing will make me more loved than I already am in Christ."
“We are saved by works, but it’s by Christ’s works! Nothing can be added to that. Resting in that is so important. But from that rest comes our ability to strive. If we think that striving will lead to rest, then we reverse it and we’re left trying to justify ourselves. But actually, rest, resting in the free grace of the Gospel, resting in the unconditional grace of God through Jesus Christ, then I think empowers us to strive.”
“Romans 8:29 is one of the most important verses for sanctification and striving. Paul says, ‘For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son’... Whatever you believe about those words at the beginning of the verse, we can all agree that that’s speaking of the final state of the believer, however we get there, whatever you believe about how the Lord works out his grace, that’s where believers end up… What does God say about that process? He’s saying that those whom He foreknew He also predestined, to be conformed to the image of His Son! So what God is saying through Paul there is that He guarantees not only our final place, our glorification, that we’re going to be with him, our destination, which is heaven. He is also guaranteeing the process of confirmation whereby we will actually become like Jesus. I take that to mean not just the snap of our fingers at our death when we’re with the Lord, but also the process of sanctification, becoming more like Him.”
“God guarantees that we will be conformed into the image of His Son. With that as my motivation, I want to lean into my laziness, my discouragement, with this kind of guarantee that God has said, ‘This is where you will end up,’ so fight from that place. Strive from that place. Yeah, it will never be perfect in this life, but for me that’s a place that I can strive from rather than a kind of opposite view like, ‘If you do this, then the Lord will be pleased with you,’ that can bring despair in my heart pretty quickly.”
“I think of this picture. It’s like putting yourself in a stream. Picture yourself just being muddy and dirty from a long day’s work. And you just get in a stream and the waters of God’s grace through posturing yourself--Bible reading, prayer, being in fellowship, corporate worship, hearing the Word preached, serving people, etc--you posture yourself to where you are not the center of the universe. That has a slow and gradual and often in the moment imperceptible affect on us to anchor us and to divert our eyes from ourselves. I am so prone to shrink my universe down to the subjective way that I’m feeling in that moment. And in that moment life can come crashing in, I can lose hope, and I can be very discouraged. Even if I’m not feeling the spiritual disciplines, but I’m practicing the habit of coming to my Bible regularly, practicing gathering with the church, just think about the word serving—even if I’m a believer in a local church and I’m signed up for the nursery that week—what’s happening when I’m signed up for the nursery is. . .in that moment I am actually being forced to take my eyes off of myself and to serve someone else and I actually think that, in a very ordinary way, is at the heart of discipleship and discipline. God is putting me in a situation where I am forced to consider someone else. I’m forced to think about a family who may be dealing with a fussy child. It lifts my eyes from my own belly button.”
“So how does the Lord change us as we kind of practice this ordinary, unspectacular, unromantic, gritty, sometimes begrudging spiritual disciplines in the context of a covenant community? Over the course of time we find ourselves loving Jesus more, being more committed to people that are harder to love in the local church. We find ourselves being more firmly convicted about the things we believe. We are just more stable. That produces in us a kind of gravity that external circumstances cannot knock us off of our blocks as easily. There is a kind of rootedness to a Christian that as a person who is in these regular rhythms that is really attractive. I think the Lord uses that to be a witness to an onlooking world.”
“I want to couch the spiritual life in this context: it is a fight for joy. . .If I can see my pursuit of the spiritual disciplines as a fight for joy, then I am going to actually be lining my heart up with the way that God actually made me. He’s not against my joy, He’s actually for my joy, and true joys, not counterfeit joys.”
“If you’re a young mother and you’re getting up at five o’clock in the morning or maybe three o’clock in the morning with a fussy child, or a child that needs to eat, maybe the most spiritual thing that you could do in that moment is not beat yourself up because you’re not getting to read your Bible like you want to, but to recognize that right then, you’re serving! You’re serving! That’s a spiritual discipline. You’re serving your child and your family. Maybe the most spiritual thing you can do in that moment is to not be reading your Bible or practicing some more romantic spiritual discipline. Maybe the best thing you can do in that moment is to serve that child and then to go take a nap.”
“Think about what stirs your affections for Christ and think about what decreases your affections for Christ. Have a hard conversation with yourself and do more of the things that stir your affections rather than decrease your affections.”
“When I am rooted in communion with the Lord and His saints, I am less prone to be a functional atheist.”
“There’s a kind of rootedness that comes with a person who believes the promises of God and then can act from them.”
“The Christian life is a fight. It’s a battle. Look at David in the Psalms! One minute he’s praising the Lord and then the next minute in Psalm 13 he’s like, ‘Where are you, O Lord? How long will you forget me?’ The struggle, strain, and the despairing is all loaded into what’s going on in Romans 8:29. It’s part of the way that God weans us from this world and woos us to Himself.”
“Anything that is worth it in this life involves difficulty. And you know, we serve a High Priest who is not unfamiliar with our struggle and strain. He had to be made like us in every way. As the young mom is wrestling, Jesus is not unacquainted with that struggle, that strain, and that wrestling. He had to learn obedience. This is an incredible phrase that I don’t think we can ever really fully understand on this side of eternity, but Hebrews 2 said that Jesus had to learn obedience. So think about that. The Creator God. Colossians 1 said that Jesus created everything but yet, in his humanity—this is a mystery that again we can’t fully even explain doctrinally—Jesus, always fully God, never stopped being fully God, but yet in His humanity had to learn obedience. Let that be an encouragement to a young mom who is struggling, straining, feels like she’s failing. Of course, Jesus never failed, but He endured for us all that we have to endure and is not unacquainted with our weakness. He was made like us in every way. And this season will pass. There’s a 25 or maybe 30-year-old mom that may be listening to this and right now one of the fruits that God is building in her life is not feelings of awesomeness, but right now he’s developing in her life spiritual grit. He’s putting calluses, spiritually speaking, on her hands, so that when she is a 55 or 60 year-old-woman 20 or 30 years from now, she’s going to be able to come alongside a young, tired, struggling, frustrated, mom and say, ‘Sister, you’re going to make it,’ and that’s the fruit that God is producing and anchoring and digging deep into a young woman’s life right now. And the thing is, I would say to that sister is just, ‘Hold on, the harvest will come in and through your life of godliness, but it takes time! It takes time.’”
“Just take in the Bible. Lower your expectations. Americans are so good at organizing and engineering things, and in a lot of ways even complexifying things. I would say to sisters just read your Bible. Don’t feel like you always have to study. I think sometimes we make an idol out of Bible study and certainly, it’s a wonderful thing to do, I’m not in any way saying we shouldn’t study the Bible, but I do think we have a tendency to over engineer it a little bit. Just read it! Think of it this way, as a child, how did we learn English? When we were two-years-old we didn’t have a copy of Webster’s with us, we just kept hearing that word over and over and over again and by the time we were three we understood more, and by the time we were ten we understood more, and we were just around the language. As you’re around the Bible, as you’re reading it, as you’re hearing it preached, as you’re in a Bible study, you’re becoming more and more fluent in the Scriptures. That happens over the course of time. Don’t be discouraged. Strive from a place of rest.”
“Jesus says that the Sabbath was made for man and man wasn’t made for the Sabbath. The Bible reading plan was made for men and women. Men and women weren’t made for the Bible reading plan. Don’t let that be a law hanging over your head. If you find yourself behind, just keep reading and give yourself grace! Just begin with taking in the Bible as often as you can without the need to study it verse-by-verse.”
Spiritual Disciplines by Donald S. Whitney
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burrough
A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin
Marinating yourself in an epistle by simply reading it over-and-over
brad’S SIMPLE JOY’S
Preaching the Word
The local church
The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller
The Expulsive Power of a New Affection Thomas Chalmers
Puritan Paperbacks printed by Banner of Truth
Connect with brad
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