A lifestyle of discipleship will always consist of basic practices. As you grow and become more like Christ, you will find more and more that your sin problem and your desire to rule your own life goes deeper than you thought possible. Because of this, basic spiritual disciplines will always be part of your lifestyle. They keep you grounded in the reality of your identity as God's beloved child and the act of practicing them gives you an opportunity to hear God's voice and be in his presence. These activities don't change you in and of themselves. Instead, they provide the rich soil for God to do his work in your life.
There are two types of spiritual disciplines: those that we practice alone and those we practice with others (more about these in step 3). Those we practice alone are meant to enrich our relationship with our father. They reinforce our identity and bring to light the parts of our life that still resist who he's called us to be.
The discipleship lifestyle is about always practicing the basics. We never grow beyond the need for the fundamentals. Continual practice of these basics bring us back to our identity as children of God, where we rely completely on him. We've collected some of our favorite resources to help you begin this journey. If you find this helpful, we want to know your story. (CONTACT FORM AT BOTTOM).
1. Step 1: Know Your Identity
You are a beloved child of God. He loves you and wants the best for you, no matter how you feel about him. You can do nothing to make him love you less.
2. Discipleship is Becoming Who You Were Meant to Be
You are a beloved child of God. We talk about that a lot, but it's not truly understood by the majority of Christians. One of the biggest challenges facing every Christian is the struggle to grasp our identity as valued and loved children of God. But this is really the starting point of all discipleship. We put the cart in front of the horse though and believe our transformation is the starting point of the Christian life. We may not always claim it's a pre-condition to getting into heaven. But we do think and act in ways that show we want to prove we are worth something so that God will continue to accept us. The irony is that we miss God's open arms as we run around trying to prove he should open them to us. Brennan Manning said, To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means." When we put up our facades and attempts to prove our own worth, we often end up hiding our flaws and our messiness in the process. But when we truly see God's love for us that doesn't begin when we get our lives cleaned up, we begin to see ourselves in a different light. We begin to see ourselves as masterpieces. In this chapter, Gem and Alan unpack what it means to live a lifestyle of discipleship from a place of love. And it's from that place that transformation begins to occur.
3. Does God Really Like Me?
Most of us have some vague sense that God loves us. We hear that idea thrown around a lot in our churches. After all, God is love and it’s because of His love for us that He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins. But for a lot of us, this idea that God loves us remains an idea. It’s in our heads. We have a hard time getting that idea from heads down into our hearts so that we feel connected to God and His love. And that's why it's important to grasp the idea that Geoff and Cyd Holsclaw are putting forth in their book, Does God Really Like Me? Because it’s one thing to hear someone tell you that God loves you. It’s another to hear that God actually likes you and wants to connect with you. For those of us who have a hard time walking in God’s love, this realization can open doors to experiencing joy in God’s presence as he shows us who we are as His beloved sons and daughters.
4. Moving From Shame to Identity in Christ
Do you feel secure in your identity in Christ? We all want to feel the warmth of the Father’s love for us and buy into the idea that God really does love us, but it always seems like there is something in the way. We have a hard to believing that we are worthy of love. We fear that if others really knew us, that they wouldn’t accept us. Our shame of who we are keeps us from truly believing what God has said about us: that we are his beloved sons and daughters. Shame keeps us from the Father, and so we must deal with it. That’s why in this chapter Geoff and Cyd explain how shame is actually the problem behind sin.
5. Is Your View of God Worthy of Who Jesus Is?
How you view God affects the way your relationship with God develops. This is one of the components of step 1 in creating a lifestyle of discipleship, which is knowing your identity as a beloved child of God. If you are a beloved child, it means God loves you and that you hold value to him. But we often struggle to grasp this reality. We look at ourselves and see the brokenness and ugliness inside our own natures and assume no one, including God, would ever love us. And when we do that, we deny the reality God demonstrated to us in Jesus' life. In this chapter, Dave and Beth give us a bit of a spiritual direction session as we process our own views of God and how that has affected our lives as disciples of Christ.
6. Seeing Yourself for Who You Are
Your identity is, in a way, in two parts. There's who you are and who you think you are. The most important thing you can do in creating a lifestyle of discipleship is to keep your eyes on Jesus. Because it's when we're looking at him that we begin to see ourselves for who we are. And the result of that is life-changing!
7. The Journey from Perfectionism to Rest
There's a struggle at the core of your being: Are you going to rule your own life? It may sound like a good idea, but in reality human beings are terrible at ruling their own lives. God didn't create you to fill that role. Perfectionism is an attempt to reclaim the rule of your own life, believing you can do it better than God. Josh's story is a story of this exact struggle. But through that struggle, he's learning it's best if he doesn't rule his own life and to leave that position to the one it was created for, God himself.
8. The Struggle to Find Identity
What defines your identity? You answer this question all the time whether you know it or not. It can come from your parents, your spouse, your children, your career, or just about anything in your life. God created you to be his child, and everything else should flow from that. But it's difficult to allow that reality to define our identity. Chris' story is his journey from finding identity in what others expected of him to finding his identity in Christ alone.
9. Processing Childhood Wounds
Chris Heuertz's approach to the Enneagram looks at childhood wounds as a way of understanding the way your type experiences the world. These childhood wounds are often tell-tale signs that you have been disconnected from your essence, the person God created you to be. The good news is that these wounds are not fatal. Once you know your childhood wound, you can begin the journey of finding wholeness and healing in the person God created you to be.
10. Learning from the Cracks in Our Souls
Have you ever wondered why you struggle with certain sinful desires? What if I told you that the sinful, or even just the destructive impulses, you have as an adult come from wounds that happened in your childhood? Father Albert calls them the crack in our souls. And by understand why these cracks exist, we can become mindful of our weaknesses the enemy uses to tempt us into sin. But by paying attention to these cracks, we can resist the enemy and instead put on the mind of Christ so that we are transformed evermore into his likeness.
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
Most of us believe in God’s grace—in theory. But somehow we can’t seem to apply it in our daily lives. We continue to see Him as a small-minded bookkeeper, tallying our failures and successes on a score sheet. Yet God gives us His grace, willingly, no matter what we’ve done. We come to Him as ragamuffins—dirty, bedraggled, and beat-up. And when we sit at His feet, He smiles upon us, the chosen objects of His “furious love.” Brennan Manning’s now-classic meditation on grace and what it takes to access it—simple honesty—has changed thousands of lives. Now with a Ragamuffin’s thirty-day spiritual journey guide, it will change yours, too.
The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
The Divine Conspiracy has revolutionized how we think about the true meaning of discipleship. In this classic, one of the most brilliant Christian thinkers of our times and author of the acclaimed The Spirit of Disciplines, Dallas Willard, skillfully weaves together biblical teaching, popular culture, science, scholarship, and spiritual practice, revealing what it means to "apprentice" ourselves to Jesus. Using Jesus’s Sermon of the Mount as his foundation, Willard masterfully explores life-changing ways to experience and be guided by God on a daily basis, resulting in a more authentic and dynamic faith.
Abba's Child by Brennan Manning
We’ve bought into the lie that we are worthy of God’s love only when our lives are going well. If our families are happy or our jobs are meaningful, life is a success. But when life begins to fall through the cracks and embarrassing sins threaten to reveal our less-than-perfect identity, we scramble to keep up a good front to present to the world—and to God. We hide until we can rearrange the mask of perfection. Sadly, it is then that we wonder why we lack intimate relationships and a passionate faith. All this time God is calling us to take the mask off and come openly to Him. He longs for us to know in the depth of our beings that He loves us and accepts us as we are. When we are our true selves, we can finally claim our identity as God’s child—Abba’s child—and experience His pure pleasure in who we are. Brennan Manning encourages us to let go of the impostor lifestyle and freely accept our belovedness as a child of the heavenly Father. In Him there is life.
Does God Really Like Me? by Cyd & Geoff Holsclaw
We all know what it's like to feel overlooked, disconnected, and ashamed. We might believe in God's love in the abstract, but we often live our lives without experiencing it in any deep or lasting way. Pastors Cyd and Geoff Holsclaw understand this―indeed, they've felt it themselves. In this warm, engaging book, they explain from the story of Scripture that God not only likes us and wants to be with us, he also wants to work through us to bless the whole world. Filled with personal stories and simple, clear teaching from the Bible, Does God Really Like Me? applies the good news of the gospel to the shame and disconnection that we all experience in our everyday lives. God wants to be with us―we belong in his presence. And from that place of belonging, we can bless the whole world with the message of God's love.
Becoming an Ordinary Mystic by Albert Haase OFM
Do you ever feel like you are walking in spiritual circles? While we might think it would be different for a Franciscan priest, Father Albert Haase shares the same struggles. And yet he also affirms that we are all called to be ordinary mystics, who, in the words of his own spiritual director, are "ordinary Christians who do what we are all called to do: respond to grace." Learning to be a mystic is about cultivating a life with God in which we draw close, listen, and respond moment to moment. We know we will fail at times, but we can also be certain that we follow a God who never stops reaching out to us. This book offers a daily path to making the connection.
The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher Heuertz
Most of us spend a lifetime trying to figure out who we are and how we relate to others and God. The Enneagram is here to help. Far more than a personality test, author Chris Heuertz writes, the Enneagram is a sacred map to the soul. Lies about who we think we are keep us trapped in loops of self-defeat. But the Enneagram reveals both the nine ways we get lost, as well as the nine ways we find our way home to our True Self and to God. Chris Heuertz has taught the Enneagram all over the world, and has trained under some of the great living Enneagram masters including Father Richard Rohr, Russ Hudson, Marion Gilbert, and Helen Palmer. Whether you are an enthusiast or simply Enneagram-curious, this groundbreaking guide to the spiritual depth of the Enneagram will help you:
- Understand the "why" behind your type, beyond caricatures and stereotypes
- Identify and find freedom from self-destructive patterns
- Learn how to work with your type toward spiritual growth
- Awaken your unique gifts to serve today's broken world
When Faith Becomes Sight by Beth & Dave Booram
Where can I turn to see God? How can I more clearly recognize God's nearness and initiative in my life? These are vital questions if you desire to know and experience the living God. As spiritual directors, Beth and David Booram have guided many people into deeper awareness of this living, present God at work within their lives. When Faith Becomes Sight will help you grow in confidence that God is attentive to you and involved in your life as you learn to recognize God in and around you, reflect on your experience, and respond faithfully to God's presence and action in your life. Along the way you may venture across new streets and encounter unfamiliar terrain as you notice how God is speaking and what God is doing. In those silent, shimmering moments, you will be invited to greet the One who has been seeking you your entire life―the Divine Presence who is all around you.
What Does Your Soul Love? by Alan & Gem Fadling
What do you really want? What is your soul clinging to? What is getting in your way? In these pages Gem and Alan Fadling outline eight key questions that offer deep insight into how we experience soul change. These questions open the door to spiritual transformation. They help us unpack where we are stuck, where we are in pain, where we are afraid, and much more. They also reveal the path to joy and to the heart of God. Spiritual inventories and exercises will guide you, along with stories from Gem and Alan's lives and their ministry together through Unhurried Living. "Embarking on a journey of transformation involves remaining awake to a deeper level of reality that is always present," write the Fadlings. "Remaining on this journey requires a simpler, God focus. These eight questions about transformation can help us cultivate this kind of deeper awareness and soul focus. These paths help keep us on the journey of transformation. They keep us in the presence of the transforming One." This practical, personal book offers a path to understanding what God wants to reveal in your soul.
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
Brother Lawrence was a man of humble beginnings who discovered the greatest secret of living in the kingdom of God here on earth. It is the art of “practicing the presence of God in one single act that does not end.” He often stated that it is God who paints Himself in the depths of our souls. We must merely open our hearts to receive Him and His loving presence. As a humble cook, Brother Lawrence learned an important lesson through each daily chore: The time he spent in communion with the Lord should be the same, whether he was bustling around in the kitchen—with several people asking questions at the same time—or on his knees in prayer. He learned to cultivate the deep presence of God so thoroughly in his own heart that he was able to joyfully exclaim, “I am doing now what I will do for all eternity. I am blessing God, praising Him, adoring Him, and loving Him with all my heart.” This unparalleled classic has given both blessing and instruction to those who can be content with nothing less than knowing God in all His majesty and feeling His loving presence throughout each simple day.