Here is the entire list of the 23 Things. I hope you discovered some new practices and ideas that you hadn’t been exposed to before. Feel free to share the 23 Things with your small groups and disciple groups. Congratulations to Cary Jester who commented on the most items and wins the free book. Thanks to others for reading and commenting.
Week 1: Introduction
2. Read: A primer on Disciplines, the Holy Spirit, and Spiritual Growth.
Week 2: Solitude and Silence
3. Read: this article on solitude and silence.
4. Embrace pockets of solitude and silence today. Here are some ideas. Choose what works for you. Every time you find a pocket of solitude and silence, ask God to be with you in a special way.
- Leave the car radio off while you drive
- Take a walk around your work place during lunch
- Limit TV watching to no more than one hour
- Start a meal with everyone silent. Then have someone read a chapter from Mark before beginning speaking.
- Park farther away from your intended location to give yourself more time to reflect while you walk.
- Replay before falling asleep the day’s events and notice where God has been present.
Week 3: Prayer and Meditation
5. Explore what Henri Nouwen has to say about prayer
6. Have some fun with your prayers and Pray in Color
7. Learn what makes Christian Meditation different from Eastern Meditation
Week 4: Fasting
8. Read this interview with Scot McKnight on Fasting
9. Participate in a Week of Elimination. In the past, I have eliminated sports from my weekly schedule. If sports is not a distraction for you choose your most attractive guilty pleasure (TV shows, YouTube clips, blogs, Facebook, etc.) and eliminate it from your daily life for one week.
Week 5: Study
10. Watch Paula Gooder talk about “what the Bible is?”
11. Not everyone is bent towards reading and study. Still, you can immerse yourself in scripture through Psalms set to music by Sons of Korah (Click on Listen)
12. Who are your teachers and what are they teaching you? Make a list of your chief influencers, past and present. What aspects of God do you need to study more deeply? Develop a plan to pursue this study of God.
Week 6: Service
13. Read Philippians 2:3-11. What is one way that you could humble yourself today in a tangible way?
14. Make a list of ways that your church is reaching out to its community? Are there areas in the community that are not being reached?
15. Read this excerpt from a commencement address by Dallas Willard:
Remember to live sacrificially.
On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the thirty-fifth president of the United States. During his inaugural address, this, the youngest man ever elected president said that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.” In this context, President Kennedy issued the following challenge: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
This simple statement, delivered with great fervor, drew forth an amazing current of sacrificial giving from people. This is built into our hearts. We know it’s right. And as Christians we’re the ones who really know what it means and how it can be done.
Don’t strive to advance yourself. Let God advance you. This is a deep psychological and sociological truth as well as a profound theological teaching. If you try to save your life, you’ll lose it. Give it away. God will give it back to you. Don’t make it your aim to get what you want. Serve others. Remember, God gives grace to the humble. He calls us to submit ourselves to the mighty hand of God that, when the time is right, He will lift us up.
I need to add that it’s not safe to be a servant unless you know who you are and unless you stand before God. On the night of His betrayal, just before He shared the Passover with His disciples, …
Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into His hands, that He had come from God, and that He was going back to God. So He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him (Jn 13:3-5).
Because Jesus knew who He was, because He was secure in His relationship with His Father, He was able to do the work of the most menial slave.
Remember who you are. Keep God before you. Then serve sacrificially. When you serve others, you’re really serving God. Because you are serving God, you give the best of service to other human beings.
Week 7: Simplicity
16. Learn about simplicity from this video
17. Read Matt. 5: 33-37. This is Jesus’ instructions to avoid manipulating and misleading people through the words that we say. The goal is to be the type of person who can simply say “yes” or simply say “no.” Additional information and explanation is usually only used to make sure that others continue to think good of us.
For the next week, attempt to answer questions with a simple “yes” or a simple “no.” Avoid the urge to explain yourself constantly. Make every effort to remove verbal manipulation from your day. Work toward honest and appropriately simple language. Talk about your experiences in the comments below.
Week 8: Worship
18. Watch John Ortberg and Dallas Willard discuss worship. Watch from the 6:00 mark to the 13:00 mark
19. How often do we prepare for worship? One thing we can do is expect to meet God during worship. Next, we can pray for the worship leaders, that they may feel God’s presence and can speak and lead effectively. Third, focus on singing the songs directly to God and listening to God in scripture and preaching. Commit yourself to worship with your heart this week.*
*The idea for this week’s exercise came from the book, A Year With God, by Richard Foster and Julia Roller.
Week 9: Sabbath
20. Read this interview with Pastor and author of The Message, Eugene Peterson.
21. Sabbath accomplishes many things but the most beneficial to our use of time are the following:
1. Cultivates trust in God – Dallas Willard elaborates on this point, “When we come to the place where we can joyously “do no work” (Leviticus 23:3), it will be because God is so exalted in our mind and body that we trust him with our life and our world, and we can take our hands off them.”
2. Reshapes our week – So much of our time is shaped by our responsibilities at work and at home while other parts of our time are shaped by the technologies that we are so attached to. By receiving the Sabbath and its time of rest and worship our entire week can be shaped in a sacred direction rather than a worldly direction. We still have our responsibilities but these duties no longer carry the weight that we had previously assigned to them.
3. Eliminates Hurry – Even if the Sabbath is the only day of the week that we intentionally attempt to rest and not extend ourselves we learn to appreciate what an existence might be like minus hurry and urgency. We can learn that the world can carry on just fine without our input and activity. One hurry free day demonstrates to us that a hurry free existence is possible.
22. Read these guidelines for practicing the Sabbath:
1. Sabbath can be practiced on any day of the week. Sunday is a natural choice because it is the day that we commonly worship and despite recent developments in our culture, it is often a day that includes the fewest responsibilities. If Sunday does not work for you, choose any day that provides you with the most freedom.
2. Start small. Remember that we are not subscribed to the philosophy of more. Try spending two hours after Sunday lunch in quiet reflection, in rest, or recreation. As God enables you over time, try to extend the Sabbath to the entire day.
3. Include your family. Spend your Sabbath with family playing games, cooking meals at home, or outdoor activities.
4. Protect The Sabbath. The first thing that will happen when you decide to receive the Sabbath is that something will occur forcing you to make a choice between your commitment to Sabbath keeping and something else. Though we want to avoid turning this practice into a legalism, we do want to demonstrate conviction regarding the Sabbath. For example, I attempt to complete Weekend errands, housework, and yard work on Saturday in order to free up Sundays for Sabbath keeping.
23. Summarize your thoughts on 23 Things in the comments below.