As I pray about what God wants us to focus on as a church next year, I find myself settling in on one word.
Despite the on-going spelling challenge, I continue to grow in my appreciation for this word and for those who introduced it into my vocabulary. (Mike Breen, Caesar Kalinowski, Seth McBee, Jeff Vanderstelt, and many others from these Missional Community tribes)
My wife thought this word was a bit awkward to use, at first. If you agree, think of them as habits, practices, or even...systems. *gasp*
Most rhythms I think of are spiritual disciplines. But I do not know of too many people talking about rhythms that prepare us for one thing in particular.
I mean, who wants to intentionally prepare for that? Nobody, right? Who wants to preach that sermon series?
And, yet, would it not be wise to?
As I think about the direction America is heading in and the growing hostility towards Christians who take the word of God seriously (read: authoritative), we would be foolish not to ask ourselves: "Are we preparing our children and grandchildren adequately for what's coming?"
It is with this in mind that I offer a few thoughts as I noodle over this in late 2019...
How do we prepare families for future persecution with respect to suffering and self-discipline?
In addition to the basic discipleship rhythms of daily, prayerful Bible reading, some additional but less obvious thoughts include...
We don’t go looking for persecution, but…
- Neither do we avoid doing or saying things that might bring it on,
- We embrace suffering and persecution when it does come our way as if from God (Romans 8:28),
- Discipline ourselves by practicing denying ourselves things we like but do not always need (ex. Fasting food, drink, sleep, comforts, hobbies, ease; practice silence, solitude)
- Remember the sense of purpose and urgency Jesus lived with; he did rush around nor did not get caught up in “civilian affairs” (Paul’s words)
Consider what periodic rhythms you might add into your life in the coming year that would help prepare you for suffering and persecution. Then consider how you might lead others to do the same. (2 Timothy 2:2)
One final thought on all of this is to basically practice the rhythms we see Jesus teaching and practicing himself. These are also evident (though sometimes subtle) in the lives of the Apostles and early Church leaders. (See Acts and letters)
One that stands out, in particular, I'm learning from Mike Breen. It's a rhythm of retreat and engagement. Basically, it is retreating to prayer, word and remembering the Gospel message and then re-entering the mission field where we are engaging the forces of evil supernaturally as his presence resides in us.