Looking Outward and Living It

Spiritual Practices go beyond the work of God in our own lives. Our faith requires us to follow and live our beliefs. We participate in God's work as we live in a way that is representative of God's heart and his desire for our world.

Think of it this way, expressive spiritual practices are activities or ways we express our faith, hope and love in our world.

Essence of the Practice

Here is a list of what might be included in the Expressive Spiritual Practices:

  • Compassion -- feeling what others feel, extending mercy and help in extravagantly practical ways.

  • Control of the Tongue -- turning the destructive way of words into authentic, loving, and healing words.

  • Humility -- becoming like Jesus in his willingness to choose the hidden way of love rather than the way of power.

  • Truth Telling -- living an authentically truthful life by speaking in a way that does not exaggerate, minimize, deny, rationalize or manage the truth.

  • Justice -- loving others by seeking their good, protection, gain, and fair treatment.

  • Stewardship -- living as a steward of God's resources in all areas of life -- knowing that everything belongs to God.

  • Care of the Earth -- the practice of honoring the creator by loving, nurturing and stewarding his creation.

(Spiritual Discipline Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun)

As I write this list I wonder how, if ever, I can live up to this standard. Then I remember it's not a standard or a list, it's a result or by-product of being connected to Christ.

Jesus says in John 15:5, Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

It is through this living relationship with Jesus we can live as expressions of our faith in our world. In the illustration Jesus is using in John 15, God is described the gardener. I imagine it this way, my responsibility is to tend to my "soil" or soul so that God can work in and through me.

Making It Your Own:

How do I do this? I need be in scripture. I need to take time to process and journal my journey with God. I need a few trusted friends to process what we are finding and what God is doing in our souls. I need to be part of community of followers and participate in worship. I need to be stretched and fed by other followers and leaders. I need to spend time in nature and enjoy God's creation. I need to see the ocean and be at the beach at least once a year. (Okay, so I don't need to, I just love smelling the salty air, feeling the breeze off the water, curling my toes in the sand, and disconnecting from the list of things I have to accomplish when I am at home. Sorry, I'm missing the beach. :) )

When I keep my soul well cared for, my life is increasingly more expressive of God's heart. I begin to care more deeply about those things God cares deeply about.

Questions To Consider or BLOG about:

What do you do to tend to your soul?

How are you doing expressing your faith in your world?

Of the list above, which one or two do you desire to grow in?


Consider carefully what you hear. Mark 4:24

I want to be a lifelong learner.

I want to be open to God's promptings and the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life.

I want to listen, hear and respond. -- well, most of the time.

Let me explain.

Just yesterday one of my friends and team members in ministry left a message with regard to a meeting our team had early that day. I usually love hearing from this friend and co-laborer. The message began with words of encouragement and praise for our time together. The message continued with a word of caution and guidance. In a direct and loving way she told me to trust our team to complete the task at hand and that I needed to really listen to the team's comments and opinions.

I listened to the message rather quickly. To be totally honest -- I "skimmed" over her words hoping to capture the key points and move on. I was half listening. Oops! I was doing it again. Then when I paused and considered her words, I realized she was right.

My default is to jump to the bottom line and PUSH ahead when the pressure is on.

I am thankful for a friend who knows me, loves me and cares enough to help me grow. And, I am thankful for God who knows me, loves me and cares enough to help me keep growing.

The first step is becoming aware of my need to change and then I must lean into the hard process of actually changing. For the past few days I seem to keep bumping up against opportunities to apply what I've been learning! I guess this is what it looks like to practice being teachable.

Essence of the Practice
  • listening more, talking less
  • refraining from snap judgments
  • an appropriate openness to new ideas, opinions, styles, and people
  • curbing the know-it-all attitude
  • asking questions that lead to a deeper God awareness

Making it Your Own

  1. Ask God to give you a teachable heart and a will to listen.
  2. Think about a time you learned something from someone who wasn't an authority or an expert. What did you learn? What was it like for you? Tell that person what you learned from them. (For example, my 11 year old son continues to teach me what it looks like to be an encourager. He gave me a high-five the other day as I walked through the kitchen.)
  3. Become aware of your compulsion to let others know what you think. Notice when you're composing what you will say next rather than listening to the one who is speaking.
  4. Get comfortable with saying "I don't know".
  5. Keep a log of the new things you are learning and experiencing with God.
  6. Who do you want to be five, ten, twenty years from now? What will you have to learn to become that person? Ask God to help you become this person. Make a list of those things you need to STOP doing and those things you need to START doing to become that person.
  7. Ask a trusted friend to help you see and hear more clearly. Invite this person to discuss your current aptitude in listening, hearing and responding. Then invite them to walk alongside you as you learn to become more teachable.

some of these ideas are adapted from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun's Spiritual Disciplines Handbook

How teachable are you?

How do you respond when you hear an opinion you don't agree with?

What are you learning about God and yourself these days?