A Liberty Grace Rule of Life

What is a Rule of Life?

In his book The Common Rule, James Earl Whitney describes what a Rule of Life is and how it can help us:

We are all living according to a specific regimen of habits, and those habits shape most of our life…

A “rule of life” is a term for a pattern of communal habits for formation … Despite our understanding of the word “rule,” a “rule of life” is much less about obeying rules than it is about finding communal purpose … taking the small patterns of life and organizing them towards the big goal of life: to love God and neighbor.

A rule of life is how we get our hands on our habits … All those who want to be attentive to who they are becoming must realize that formation begins with a framework of habits.

PracticingtheWay.org has a helpful page and workbook on developing your own Rule of Life. If you want to take a deep dive, check out God in My Everything by Ken Shigematsu.

Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Treat it like a working document that you’ll adapt and shape for the rest of your life.

This Week’s Questions

Themes

Week One: Slowing

Big Idea

Busyness endangers our souls. The answer is to make room for the one thing that matters most: to slow down and sit at Jesus’ feet.

Resources

Ideas

  • Align your schedule with your priorities. Decide what matters most to you and schedule that. Include spiritual disciplines, sleep, exercise, work, play, reading, margin. Keep working on your schedule until your schedule aligns with your values, and then stick to it.
  • Kill your distractions. Figure out what the activities and commitments — even good ones — that distract you from what matters most, and take deliberate action to cut them out of your life.
  • Take a weekly Sabbath. For one day a week, stop. Don’t engage in any work or anything that feels like an obligation. Rest, pursue God, and pursue activities that restore your soul.

Here are some of the ideas we received from the congregation:

  • Link your personality with your preferred way of connecting with God. Look for others who have a personality similar to yours, and learn how they relate to God. For instance, task-oriented people can try making time with God a priority on their task list. Unstructured people can try looking for spontaneous ways to engage with God.
  • Find a simple way to identify your priorities. Use the “to-do tournament” idea (strategy 4 at this link) to pick your top priorities, not just your top tasks. Make sure these priorities are reflected in your calendar.
  • Find your personal capacity, and be okay with it. We all have different ranges of what we can handle due to circumstances, temperament, and other factors. It’s okay to stretch yourself a little, but resist comparing what you can get done with others. Be content with what you can handle, and live within your own capacity.
  • View your time with God not as another stressor, but as a way to handle the stress in your life. As Paul Miller writes, manage your life through prayer and your relationship with him. “I’m actually managing my life through my daily prayer time. I’m shaping my heart, my work, my family—in fact, everything that is dear to me—through prayer in fellowship with my heavenly Father.”
  • Ask God for help, and not just on the big questions. God knows better and has the resources we need, so ask him for help in slowing and for making time with him.
  • Occasionally leave your phone at home. Go for a walk alone or with someone else with the goal of enjoying God and being present with him.
  • Use your mornings to set up your day, especially if you’re a morning person. “Rose in the morning" is a common phrase in the Old Testament and often the men and women who did this worshipped God first and spent time with God doing His will first. In the case of Genesis 22, Abraham started his journey of sacrificing his son, first thing in the morning. This reminds me that by walking with Jesus first thing, we position the rest of the day at his feet. Also, Jesus did this as well in Mark 1:35 when he rose in the morning to spend time with the Father.
  • Tap into the image of “walking with God.” “That visual of walking with God in the garden would be how I would think of slowing. In such a busy city we live in, imagine that Jesus is walking beside you and that perspective change already slows down my own hart rate. I heard this podcast the day after the sermon, and it speaks about this.”
Week Two: Meditation

Big Idea

Whatever shapes your thinking shapes your life, so make God’s Word your primary shaping influence by meditating on it.

Resources

Ideas

  • Take a digital fast. Choose a length of time (21 days or longer) and use tech for only essential tasks (work-related functions). Include social media in the fast. Slowly reintroduce only the technology that supports things that you value.
  • Set boundaries for your tech. For instance: take a digital Sabbath, eliminate notifications, use only one screen at a time, etc. Find what works for you. The idea is that you’re controlling your technology rather than allowing it to control you. being intentional about your use of technology.
  • Use technology to help your walk with God. “Technology provides us with many tools to help support our meditation of Scripture.” Find tools that help your walk with God rather than distract you from it.
  • Practice biblical meditation for five minutes a day — Find a list of verses to memorize — from Fighter Verses, for instance. Try to memorize a verse a week. Take five minutes each day to chew on that week’s verse, roll it around in your mind, and fill your mind with its truth.
  • Scripture before phone — “Refusing to check the phone until after reading a passage of Scripture is a way of replacing the question ‘What do I need to do today?’ with a better one, ‘Who am I and who am I becoming?’ We have no stable identity outside of Jesus. Daily immersion in the Scriptures resists the anxiety of emails, the anger of news, and the envy of social media. Instead it forms us daily in our true identity as children of the King, dearly loved.” (The Common Rule)
  • Put the Bible app on your home screen, not buried in a folder.
  • Find podcasts, songs, and social media accounts that prepare you to hear God’s Word. Listen to audio Bibles and Bible-based podcasts. When you need to focus, listen to instrumental worship songs. “Hymns (Hillsong Kids Jr. Piano Lullabies, Vol 1 and 2 are a good start) or worship songs. Being intentional about what you put in as was said on Sunday really sets up your day.”
  • Aim for progress, not perfection. “I’m not very good at meditating on Scripture and always feel clumsy. But what has helped me is knowing it doesn’t have to be perfect. Honestly, sometimes for me it is simple as looking at a verse, like really looking it and trying to understand each word in context to the verses before and after.” Keep it simple, and don’t worry about meditating on Scripture perfectly.
  • Talk to God and others about what you learned. “Praying … back to God aloud also helps me to put it in my heart. If you have a good friend, telling them about what you learned/what stood out to you and verbalizing it also helps me.”

Stories

“Yesterday my Bible verse of the day that I meditated on first thing in the morning was about asking for wisdom. I prayed and asked God for this for my day and it was so encouraging. 2-3 significant problems I had been grappling with for a while suddenly became clearer and I was able to move forward with a clear path and others were aligned to the solution. It was unexpected open doors and resulted in a very good day. So encouraging!”

Do you have other ideas? Email them to info@libertygrace.ca.

Week Three: Prayer

Big Idea

Come to God because he cares for you. Remind yourself of who he is, tell him what’s on your mind, and use Jesus’ model prayer.

Resources

Ideas

  • Kneel and pray three times a day at morning, noon, and bedtime.
  • Remind yourself of God’s presence. Use notifications to remind you that God is present with you every moment of your day. Take a few moments and remind you of his presence.
  • Tell God what’s on your mind. As one person suggests, spill your guts to God. Don’t worry about what your prayers sound like. Come to him as honestly as you can.
  • Use Jesus’ model prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, to frame your own prayers.
  • Try written prayers. Journal your prayers.

Stories

“Keep at it. I found this daunting in more ways than one. I didn’t know how to pray when I became a Christian. I modeled my prayers after others. It took practice to pray on my own. I started by prayer for people immediate in front of me. The lady sitting in front of me on the subway with a stressed out face or the homeless man at the corner. From there I branched out to praying out loud during small group and being honest in the midst of the group that I am tired, unfocused but to Him be the glory. I recently read through 22 Life Lessons on Prayer by Tim Kerr and have added reminding God of His promises. Not that God needs the reminder but that through reminding Him, we are reminding ourselves that He is sovereign overall. You just have to keep at praying and keep trying. As you practice that, you’ll slowly build a muscle for prayer.”

Do you have other ideas? Email them to info@libertygrace.ca.

Week Four: Church

Big Idea

The call to follow Jesus is a call to community. Following Jesus involves sharing your life with his followers in worship, faithful encouragement and loving service.

Resources

Ideas

  • Make it a point to show up consistently. Better yet, come early and be ready to linger so you can engage with others.
  • Sit down with someone for coffee (no matter how awkward).
  • Take the time to tell someone how much you appreciate his/her service/presence/smile (whatever). Do that for someone else next week (and so on).

Do you have other ideas? Email them to info@libertygrace.ca.

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