Spiritual Disciplines: Be Enthralled With the Good Portion

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 0
If you’re like me you love podcasts of all kinds. Christian podcasts, scripted fictional podcasts, and sometimes even a good true-crime podcast will keep me entertained for hours on end while I complete day-to-day tasks around the house. 

But if you’re also like me, you’re terrible at disciplining yourself, especially with spiritual disciplines. It’s easy to start disciplining yourself and then fall off the wagon within a few weeks of thinking you’ve mastered the art of whatever discipline you're practicing. This can be incredibly discouraging and often leads us to give up disciplining ourselves altogether. 

Podcasts and spiritual disciplines probably mean nothing to you together, but I promise it will all make sense. 

This week I listened to the Podcast “Let’s Talk” starring Melissa Kruger, Jackie Hill Perry, and Jasmine Holmes. The episode was called, “Spiritual Disciplines in Busy Seasons”. Although their style is very much like an open discussion, I believe they offered some really great insight into practically putting into motion spiritual disciplines especially when our day-to-day lives seem to get in the way.  

Their discussion was so good this blog is probably going to be 80% counsel from them, but I hope what they have to say, in addition to a couple other resources, and what is contributed by me will be helpful to you. 

Another resource I will be referencing is a book called The Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney, which was also mentioned in this episode of “Let’s Talk”, and was a book I read back in college. It’s also the book my church is currently going through during our Wednesday night bible study at church (things have a way of just working out, don’t they?) 

First off, what are spiritual disciplines? In his book, Whitney lists out the following: Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, service, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning as spiritual disciplines. Whitney said, “Spiritual disciplines are those personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth.” So, many others could be added to this list, but these are great to get down first! 

I, just like you’re probably thinking right now, didn’t know half of those disciplines even existed, but each of them equip us to grow in our relationship and walk with Christ. Don’t worry though, my goal isn’t to give you a paragraph on each discipline and leave you on your merry way (you’ll have to read Whitney’s book for that), but rather to show you how spiritual disciplines are best applied in general and what obstacles stand in our way of practicing said disciplines. 

For instance, an obstacle we face is the weight of discipline. It’s hard and sometimes because we have not been taught how to be disciplined so we end up just chasing our tails. Oftentimes we are weighed down by the pressure and the work that is disciplining ourselves in general whether that’s eating right, working out, waking up early (I feel a little called out with this one), or getting ourselves on a routine of any kind. It’s painful, hard work, and not so fun especially in those beginning days, weeks, and months. The same is true for spiritual disciplines. 

“When we talk about spiritual disciplines, the goal isn’t misery,”  said Kruger. “The goal is a soul that works right.” She later added,“Sometimes we think that it should feel good every time and that’s what actually makes us stop from doing it.” 

If there’s anything that rings more true in my life, it’s that comment right there. So the encouragement is to press on. Keep disciplining yourself even though you may not feel so “spiritual” or as on top of things as you may think you should feel. The goal is more than just practicing any discipline, the goal is Jesus himself. 

John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” 

Jesus is more interested in your heart than he is with how perfect your discipline may be. All he asks is that you abide in Him and he will do the same, giving you the strength and the wisdom to press on.

Spiritual disciplines are non-negotiables because “God demands our heart and our mind” as Jasmine Holmes explained. It is that abiding in Christ that brings us to a place of need for Jesus, not where we simply cross something off of our to-do list, but as Holmes described it - to a place where we feel like we could not survive without that intimacy and daily intake of Christ. In doing so we must guard ourselves from tendencies of pride and legalism. 

“I choose to remember that I’m doing this to know a person. I’m reading so I can know a person, I’m praying so I can speak with a person,” Perry added. “So, when it becomes about intimacy, and knowing Jesus, and doing the things you need to do so you can grow in your love for Jesus then you actually get distracted because now you’re not even thinking about yourself enough to say, ‘oh, I’m doing this so I can be this person.’ It just literally becomes about Jesus at that point.”

Because, as Whitney and these women warn us, spiritual disciplines can easily be driven by idols. Our “discipline” can become legalism, a means of people-pleasing, and an act of shame without the joy that is getting to know the person who is Jesus. They listed things like unbelief, self-sufficiency, ambition, pride, and busyness as additional idols that keep us from growing in our relationship with Christ. 

They brought up an interesting point that shame and despair (of feeling as if we have failed at being spiritually disciplined) often shuts us down to the point of not doing anything, never trying to discipline ourselves, and never reaching out to Christ for help or for that relationship. It’s the ever-hungry void that feeds on Satan’s lies and our stagnancy. It feels like overwhelmingly heavy chains that keep from our passion to draw near to Jesus. 

“The cure is the thing that you’re running away from, because the more that you learn about God, the more you learn about who He is, the more you learn about who He loves the less opportunity despair has to take root in your heart,” said Holmes. “So, just keep in mind that shame can be a tool of the enemy to keep us from going to God. It turns into the very thing that’s going to heal you is the thing that you think is going to destroy you, but that’s how Satan has always worked.”

“Underneath the despair are some idols,” Perry explained. “It should be concerning to you or alarming to you if you can continue your day-to-day life without any spiritual disciplines. That should alert you to where am I that this doesn’t concern me that I haven’t met with God, that I haven’t read his Word. I claim to say that I’m in a relationship, but I’m not doing the things that will help the relationship grow and flourish.” 

Kruger even suggested that sometimes our Christian actions can actually keep us from knowing Jesus. I think everyone, myself definitely included, is guilty of this to some degree. Sometimes our people-pleasing, busyness, and even our service in the name of God can look Christian. Service is important and is a spiritual discipline, but if we aren’t actually spending any time with God in our personal lives and the motives for our Christian service are sour, then our discipline is without real purpose. It’s all hollow if Christ isn’t who we’re running to through our spiritual disciplines. A passage Kruger, Holmes, and Perry brought up really speaks into this sin and comes from Luke 10: 38-42. 

It says, “Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’”

Martha, although thinking that her busyness, her work, and her people-pleasing was righteous and justified, missed out on the intimacy that was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Mary set her priorities from the beginning, deciding that the most important thing in that moment was to treasure and soak in every word of the Messiah. 

We often miss out on the best portion, that intimacy with Jesus, and the joy of knowing and learning more about our God because the idols ruling in our hearts tell us what’s more important. “Our goal of spiritual disciplines is not to be perfect, we already lost that a long time ago,” Kruger said. “Our goal is to have a pattern of life that’s growing towards God.” 

So be enthralled with the good portion, with Jesus himself. See spiritual disciplines not as a chore, but as a means to know your Father in heaven who commands your heart and your mind to Him. 
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A Call to Pray: GiveSendGo's Prayer Messages Feature

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 1
Good afternoon!

I’m Alex Shipley - GiveSendGo’s new Director of Communications! Yesterday was my first day, so I spent most of my time exploring GiveSendGo’s website and getting to know more about what makes this organization so special. 

I’m writing this post to share one of my favorite features on GiveSendGo! 

I really appreciate the ability to write prayer messages to someone running a campaign on the site and I’m sure most of you value this feature too (in fact, maybe that’s why you chose GiveSendGo!). I think this feature is an excellent way to keep God at the center of our endeavors, especially the ones we claim are for His kingdom. Prayer is always the first step we should take before doing anything else and sometimes it’s the only thing we can do, so I find this feature so vital and encouraging!

Plus, there’s nothing like the feeling of knowing someone, let alone dozens or even hundreds of people, are praying for you!

Prayer is key to our faith. In fact, it’s the vehicle in which we make our requests and supplications known to God, our Father (although he already knows our every need even before we ask). Paul says in Ephesians 6:19 to “pray at all times in the Spirit” and in 1 Thesselonians 5:16-18 he says, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. 

This feature, along with GiveSendGo’s values, is what sets this organization apart as we are also called to be set apart from the world. So, I invite you to actively pray for those using this site (and even those who are donating to active campaigns), whether that’s writing out a prayer message on someone’s campaign or taking some time out of your day to actively pray for that person(s). 

God Bless, 

Alex Shipley
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GiveSendGo Is Not a Political Pawn. It's Time We Told Our Story.

By: Jacob Wells and Heather Wilson on | Comments: 7
GiveSendGo Is Not a Political Pawn. It's Time We Told Our Story.
by Jacob Wells and Heather Wilson

We have always believed in a higher purpose, and that belief drives us in nearly all we do.

As committed Christians, we believe that purpose comes from God. Every decision we make, every task we complete, everything we build all serves God’s higher purpose in ways we can only begin to comprehend. It was this conviction that led us to start our crowdfunding website, and we say without hubris we’ve been blessed to see God work his purposes through our platform.

In light of fraught events in our country’s recent political life, our site has been drawn into the fallout from the horrific attack on the Capitol Building in Washington on January 6th. We feel the record needs to be set straight.

First, we do not condone the use of violence for political gain, and we unequivocally condemn those who threatened the lives of our elected leaders and the police officers who were simply doing their jobs. Nor does our site exist solely for the accused rioters to raise legal funds for their defense. Contrary to what some have implied, GiveSendGo isn’t only online to serve as a haven for accused insurrectionists. While it is true that GiveSendGo is being used by those who have been charged in the attack, those people are Constitutionally entitled to a defense whether we like it or not. More to the point, those campaigns are only a fraction of what our site is about.
We believe God’s purpose for our site was never to be a political pawn. As with all things, God’s purpose is far greater.

We started GiveSendGo with the belief that even though money is a necessity in this life, it does not fill the God-shaped hole people have. We wanted a platform that would offer people a place to fundraise for the things that are important to them, all the while sharing the Hope we know is found in Jesus.

In the years since we founded the site, we’ve heard testimonials and success stories from thousands of ordinary people who were able to use our site to raise the funds they needed. These people have raised money for adoption, medical expenses, disaster relief, missionary-related efforts, and so many other endeavors that have made the world a better place.

Since having just another “funding me” platform is not the ultimate goal, we wanted to add features that would set us apart. We made it a point to add a prayer feature to our website that allows generous givers the ability to offer prayer support to those on their journey. Even something as small as a prayer notification can sometimes make the difference between persisting and giving up.

Not only do we allow others to offer prayer, GSG has a team of Prayer partners that will call each campaign owner and offer prayers for them right over the phone. We have collected countless stories from people who were touched that we would care so much about them and their campaigns.

We felt called to start this site because we know this life can be hard, but above all we want to share the Good News that we do not have to go it alone. That was, and still is, our purpose. And we believe with all the conviction in the world that this purpose is greater than any short-term political agenda the Left or the Right wants to throw on us.
We aren’t saying all of this just to sell people on Our point is to make people understand that our platform is about bringing people together and making a difference, however small, in the lives of others.

Jacob Wells and Heather Wilson are siblings and the cofounders of
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