Book Review

Practicing Life

Much of what we have been studying and encouraging among each other in our little church and even in my own family’s life is the experience of living transformed lives. Using this season to rightly shape how we live in light of the grace of Christ, loving God and neighbor well.

Oh the crush of things that demand you put yourself first and that attempt to hide rather than expose self-righteousness. If ever we could monopolize on wrecked schedules to start something new, this is it.

Into this fray comes a helpful book, The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction by Justin Whitmel Earley. It is primer on suggested habits for the day and for the week that we can take on to clear our head and live uncluttered devotion to Christ.

I found myself served by Whitmel Earley and his suggestions especially around use of technology and always being accessible. Boundaries benefit us and we could all use a regular Sabbath! All throughout the book there is a steady flow of gospel reminder that can anchor any of us as we live in 2020.

I really appreciated that the author is not a pastor with flexible time built into his schedule but a corporate attorney with a demanding workload.

Below are some key quotes from the book and I encourage you to take up and read, set some rule into your life, from the grace of Jesus for his glory!

“We are all living according to a specific regimen of habits, and those habits shape most of our life.”

“In trying to free ourselves from our limitations, we brought the ultimate limitation of death into the world. But Christ turns this human paradigm on its head. The way down is the way up. The way to victory is through surrender. The way to freedom is through submission.”

“We, for our own sake, tried to become limitless, and the world was ruined. Jesus, for our sake, became limited and the world was saved.”

“Only when your habits are constructed to match your worldview do you become someone who doesn’t just know about God and neighbor but someone who actually loves God and neighbor.”

“We desperately need a set of counter-formative practices to become the lovers of God and neighbor we were created to be.”

“Let me tell you what is overwhelming: a default, normal, unexamined American life. That is completely overwhelming. It’s so much to take on, and we all do it simply by not doing anything else instead.”

“The Common Rule is a different way to live. It’s meant to distill your habits, so you do more meaningful things by doing fewer things.”

“The Common Rule is made up of eight habits, four daily and four weekly. The daily habits are ■ kneeling prayer at morning, midday, and bedtime, ■ one meal with others, ■ one hour with phone off, and ■ Scripture before phone. The weekly habits are ■ one hour of conversation with a friend, ■ curate media to four hours, ■ fast from something for twenty-four hours, and ■ sabbath.”

Discipleship

The Grace of Reading the Bible with Committed Friends

The pandemic closed our preferred meeting location (a local Starbucks – suburbia has few great coffee choices.) As you can imagine then we missed a couple of months of our early morning meetings. We were forced to get creative and meet in the parking lot instead.

It has been a great way to affirm guidelines for social distancing and continue studying Scripture together.

Today we read an imprecatory psalm and thought through how we pray for those opposed to us in light of Christ. It was a rich conversation on trusting in the Lord’s care and purpose and we set out for the day with renewed determination to trust and pray.

I am thankful for these committed friends. We need them. You need them. Do what you can to find them. Open the book, and read.

Grace

Fulfilled in 2020

As we enter into a new year, we have begun a new reading plan to journey through the Bible. This morning in the first installment one word and theme jumped out to me. Fulfilled.

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing…” Ezra 1:1 (ESV)

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet…” Matthew 1:22 (ESV)

Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David…” Acts 1:16 (ESV)

God is in the business of fulfilling his promise, his word. This is how the Old Testament enriches us. We know that his word does not return empty but is accomplished. Ultimately the promise of Immanuel is fulfilled making all the other promises part of the the anticipation for a Savior. Jesus has come and he has fulfilled the law for us that by grace we would be children of God. All of God’s promises are yes and amen in Christ.

In light then of the New Testament we live boldly knowing that what God has declared will be fulfilled. He is bringing us all the way home.

As I reflected on this the Spirit brought to mind prophetic promises the Lord has given me and here on the first day of the new year the reminder of his faithfulness to fulfill.

What is it that you are anticipating being fulfilled in Jesus this year? Is it confidence in your identity in him? Restoration of relationships that have been broken? Comfort or the ruling peace of Christ in every corner of life? Ask the Lord to give you an awareness of how he is working fulfillment, rest in the grace of Christ and live. God fulfills.