Monday, September 24, 2007

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grace-based discipline I long to live a disciplined life. I have high goals and expectations for myself. I so often fall so very short. As a result, for much of my adult life, I've lived in frustration and with guilt and failure as my constant companions. Two things helped lift me out of my depression. First, simply, God was gracious. He restored to me the joy of my salvation. Second, about a year after coming back alive, I read The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges; it is changing my life. Bridges introduced me to the concept of "dependent discipline." Like an airplane needs two wings to fly, we need to be both responsible and dependent as we pursue holiness. Before 2005, I knew of all these things I should be doing--good spiritual disciplines that every Christian is told to do. But, I was attempting to do them on my own power and in my own ability. Doing them well, I thought, would cause God to be pleased with this "good and faithful servant." Not doing or not doing them well would cause God to be disappointed and angry with me. For salvation I was trusting in Christ, but for sanctification I was trusting in myself. Reading The Discipline of Grace first taught me that as a believer I still need the Gospel everyday. This makes me smile. Good news. I like good news . . . Truth sets me free--day after day. Second, this book has shown me that the Holy Spirit works in me to enable me to live a life that is pleasing to God. He doesn't do the work for me . . . instead, He enables me to to do the work. Depending on God does not make my effort unnecessary--it makes it effective. I love the "thesis" of Bridge's book: "Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace." I still long to live a disciplined life, to be more like Christ, to pursue holiness. Only now, I long for discipleship that is based on God's grace. "We cannot perform our duty without the grace of God; nor does God give his grace for any other purpose than that we may perform our duty" (John Owen). This post was submitted to the Carnival of Beauty sponsored by following an unknown path. This week the theme is The Beauty of Discipline and is being hosted by Scribblings by Blair. Join us next week for The Beauty of Hope over at Sara's Stones of Remembrance.