Putting the "Discipline" into Spiritual Discipline

Putting The "Discipline" In Spiritual Disciplines

Why actual "Working" at something in Christianity is good.

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Possibly the some of the greatest and most freeing news ever in the entire world is that Jesus paid the penalty for our actions in full... and there is nothing we have to do to earn this payment.

You can work and work and work all your life to try and "repay" Jesus back, but it would never be enough.

You can go to all the services, give a 5 every time you see a homeless person, tithe 15% regularly, know all the songs (both hymns and contemporary), read all the books, get all the degrees, and give every single shirt you have to someone who is without.

And it would still not be enough.

While that can be difficult to grasp to some (especially new believers), it is so thrilling when we realize that we don't have to try and earn it. We can just enjoy this free gift God has given us.

And while this is so true and can never be stressed enough, sadly there has been (in my opinion) a backwards thinking that pairs right along with it:

That we don't have to work at anything in our Spiritual Life.

There's this myth going around that we don't have to work on our prayer life. We don't have to work on being more frugal. We don't need to fast (that's sooo Old Testament). We don't have to seek time alone with God.

And if we aren't good at any of these (what the Church has called for hundreds of years) Spiritual Disciplines, then that's okay because our debt is paid in full!

But there is nothing wrong with growth? And growth isn't always easy.

Tending a garden can be difficult work. Knowing when and how much to water, tilling and raking, pruning and keep animals away, keeping aware of the weather, etc.

Someone can give you all the free plants in the world, and they can even plant them for you for free. But it will take work to make them grow.

When we are saved and we accept this free gift that God has given us, that is not the end of our journey but merely the beginning. We must continue to push and grow closer towards God. And that growth comes with a price and hardship.

You might have to get up an extra 30 minutes to make sure you get your time with God. You might need to make yourself listen to Christian radio to get some of these damaging and sinful thoughts out of your head. You might need to fast every once and a while. You might need to pay your tithe at the first of the month to make sure you do. You might need to put ALL technology away to sincerely pray to God.

Yeah, it might be hard at first to make these changes.

But so is running. And then you start, and keep going, and pretty soon you are one of those weird people who actually enjoy running and can't get enough running in. They are always looking for an opportunity to run. Running has become one of their key attributes and they HAVE to do it. It's addictive.

Now, replace "running" with "praying" or any other discipline.

Hard work and discipline is different than trying to "pay back."

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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The Reality Of Cat Shows

Go in with an open mind, because cat shows may seem totally bizarre, but are incredibly fun and special.

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As a self-declared cat lady, when I decided to attend my first cat show I was hyped to pet all the kitties, and watch them do tricks, or show off their beauty. After attending a few, I know they're totally unique and amazing events that everyone should be attending.

Upon arriving, you will probably need to pay an entry fee, and maybe there's an area for donations for local animal shelters (yes, animal breeders support animal shelters!). You might be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of cats, as far as the eye can see. Having a game plan of cats to visit might seem fun, but just roaming and visiting is a lot more fulfilling, and you may discover breeds of cats you never knew you would love. Usually, cat shows will feature visiting areas for guests attending the show to view, and sometimes pet, the cats. As well as areas where cats are judged and given awards, sort of like miniature stages.

Visitor areas are pretty self-explanatory as you can roam around and look at the dozens of different breeds, of kittens and cats alike. The diversity will amaze you and the cats are all special and loved by their owner. Because cats can catch sicknesses while surrounded by so many other cats, it's important to sanitize your hands before petting, as well as asking the owner if you can pet their cat or kitten. Some may even let you hold their cat, but this would be rare and you shouldn't get your hopes up! While viewing cats, you may find some that are up for adoption and could find a new family member. Some cats are actually people's household pets, and are scored differently from a cat who was bred for its looks!

The competition side is where the cat shows get interesting. You can view any and all competitions, although there will be many occurring at a time. That's because cats will initially be ranked against the cats of the same breed as them, and within those breeds, by gender and color style. Winning best in the breed is the first step to becoming the champion of a cat show. Watch as owners get nervous and excited as the tiny plastic awards go up, showing which cat was victorious. Although all judges can be different, it's fun to see beautiful and friendly cats win awards and look pleased with themselves as their owner smiles with pride.

Later in the day or weekend, one cat will be chosen as the grand champion out of the best in breeds. Usually, fans can vote on their favorite as well, and award a special cat a top prize, although unofficial, for its cuteness and spirit. A hairless cat has won fan favorite at every show I attended!

Go in with an open mind, because cat shows may seem totally bizarre, but are incredibly fun and special. The group of people who participate will love to tell you about their amazing cat and let you in on cat show secrets. A place where cat lovers unite, what could be better?

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