Routine Maintenance

Spending time and money doing routine maintenance is not one of life’s more exciting moments. When I take my car to the garage at the prescribed intervals I pay for oil and filters that disappear under the hood, unseen. So why do it? Keeping up with ‘routine maintenance’ is a proven way to keep my car reliable and operating for a much longer time. If I let things go, there would not be any noticeable result for a while. But, neglect would eventually lead to breakdown and greater costs in the long run.

If we want to remain spiritually vital there will be some routine maintenance, some soul care, that is critically important. Keeping ourselves spiritually healthy isn’t always exciting, requires intentionality, and involves expense. We can neglect spiritual disciplines for a long time without any outward evidence. But, there are rich rewards to be found in those disciplines.

We read this in the Word: “Train (exercise) yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7)  This directive is framed as a choice we make.

Jesus says that a vital connection to Him is the key to growing in Christ-like character.  “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me. “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.” (John 15:4-5, NLT)  This, too, is a choice.  Unlike a natural branch which is permanently connected to the vine unless cut or broken off, we can sever the flow of life and become spiritually unfruitful.

So, how do we do soul care that makes spiritual growth optimal in our life?

We practice REFLECTION.

One of the basics of true prayer is time with God and ourselves that helps gain clarity of thought, to discern our true motives, and receive godly wisdom. Many Christians conceive of prayer in one of two ways:  they may repeat some words from Scripture or a prayer book; or they run off a list of needs and requests, rather like placing an order for take-out!  Yes, can pray in those ways, but true prayer engages our mind and heart with the Spirit in reflection, sometimes called contemplation. We think about the day, our words, our actions and listen for the Spirit’s inner voice.

This kind of prayer is a kind of guided introspection. We also think on God, quiet and still.  When we learn to ‘wait on the Lord’  we gain the ability to respond and grow in grace. We also become better at decision-making and problem-solving.  processes. When we engage in reflection and contemplative prayer we uncover our hidden personal biases and develop both God-awareness and self-awareness.

Jesus teaches us “Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” (Matthew 6:6, The Message)

We practice WORSHIP.

If you’re thinking ‘go to church,’ you are only partially right. Certainly a regular commitment to gathering with other Believers to worship formally  is important. Worship is not an event, it is a way of life. Worship is ‘putting God in a place of highest worth.’ 
Our words reveal our reverence for Him.
Our love for Him shows in our compassion and care for others.
Our ultimate hope in Him is evidenced in our joy, even in difficult times.

We choose who or what we worship everyday. If we serve ourselves, we become ego-driven. If we turn our mind and heart to our Father, confessing His worth (the essence of true worship) the result is spiritual life that is deep, that makes us beautiful inside and out.

We practice SERVICE shaped by LOVE.

Who doesn’t like being served?  That is normal and it great to receive love and care with thankfulness. There is a daily choice that is not always fun, that can be costly, something we do as routine maintenance: we serve!  “How can I help you?” is a question we must learn to ask, if not in actual words, at least in the way we respond to others. Giving ourselves away, taking no thought for ourselves, is a discipline, but it becomes a habit that is life-giving.

Jesus modeled the way of life for us. One day just before His death, His disciples were arguing like children over status.  His response was to teach them the principle of service. “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must become your slave. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, NLT)

There are other choices we make – simplicity, authenticity, integrity, humility – to name a few but it would take a book to explore them. I can recommend this one if you want to learn soul care, the routine maintenance of spiritual life:  The Celebration of Discipline (Richard Foster).

The word from the Word “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me. “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.” (John 15:4-5, NLT)  “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)  

Yes, spiritual vitality demands routine maintenance, choices that are regular, daily, simple, and God-focused. How about it?

(Video of this blog at this link)


My Story Your Glory

The story of me was a story of shame
Wrong turns written on every page
So many parts that were so messed up
But I love the part where You showed up
Rewriting my past rewriting my hurt
Line by line word by word
And now my story is livin proof
There’s not a chapter that you can’t use

My story Your glory
My pain Your purpose
My mess Your message
In all things I know You’re workin
One life one mission
One reason why I’m livin
All for You not for me
My story Your glory

Now the story of me is a story of grace
Fingerprints of mercy on every page
No more ashamed of the path I took
You set me free to be an open book
If even my scars are part of Your plan
Take all of my heart Lord here I am
My only cause til You call me home
Is knowin You more and makin You known

All of me all for You
Let all I say and all I do
Point to the one who changed my life
And let me speak the legacy I leave behind

Andrew Jacob Pruis | Matthew West

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Pruis Not Prius (Admin. by Ole Media Management LP)

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