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November 1, 2008

As I took out my flute today and realized that it’s been two months since I’ve touched it, I grieved a little in my heart. I began playing and sure enough, an airy sound came out–one that was not refined, out of practice, and probably out of tune because of the poor tone quality.

It’s been years since I’ve been in the discipline of practicing everyday. If for no other reason (probably the only reason), I miss High School is for the music…the time I had to spend playing my flute and expressing myself without words. My senior year, especially, I gave hours and hours to playing. Starting with an hour warm-up and playing on for three more hours just about everyday. I look back and can’t believe I was that disciplined. But the thing that was so vital to my playing was that I needed to do a warm-up everyday–a warm-up with the foundations of playing: long tones, breathing exercises, tonguing exercises, rhythm, harmonics, vibrato, etc.,etc.

Anyway, I was thinking on our relationship with God and how you can parallel it to music. In your walk with God you must remain in the foundations of your faith. You cannot just stop praying everyday because “you’ve arrived” or become mature or something. Rather, a sign of maturity is that you remain disciplined in the foundational things of your faith. Just as in playing– good musicians do warm-ups and don’t forget the importance of practicing fundamental things like long tones.

In our walk with the Lord, we mustn’t forget the importance of daily meeting with the Lord, reading His Word, memorizing scripture, praying, fasting, and such. Just because we’ve read the Bible through once doesn’t mean that we know it, nor does it mean that you can read it at your leisure now. Man does not live by bread alone, but from every word that comes from the mouth of God. (matt 4:4) As we go deeper with God and His Word He brings greater revelation…God uses the Word to guide us, convict us, teach us…as for prayer, why would we move forward in anything without it being backed by God?

It is so easy to lose your tone quality when playing a wind instrument. At first you stop playing long tones, then you slack off a little and quit playing everyday. Then you get like me and play every few months. You become out of practice and your sound will tell everyone. Your fingers lose their agility and you become out of breath more quickly. When you are walking with God and start to let your relationship slip, you can feel it, see it, and manifest it. As you slowly let little habits form– not reading everyday, not praying, watching TV instead of seeking God, etc. then soon enough you find yourself in a very low place spiritually.

Not to have a religious spirit over us, but we do need to have the spiritual disciplines. After all, one of the fruits of the spirit is self-control. I think that self-control enables us to prioritize and to do the things that will feed our spirit and not our flesh or carnality.

Something that I’ve been trying to understand more is how to submit my soul (mind, will, emotions) to my spirit man. This has been very challenging and yet so rewarding. We must go deeper with the Lord by allowing our spirit to commune with His spirit and submitting our soul to that communion. We do it sometimes but to live that way all the time–that’s the challenge. But God is good and He teaches us with great patience.

The great thing about the holy spirit is that he gives us joy in the disciplines. He gives us a freshness for the Word, a spirit of prayer, a spirit of worship, a joy that becomes our strength. If we do things on our own then it is wearing and we easily give up. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, our prayers fade fast, our worship wanes, and we soon lose interest. But the holy spirit ignites us. He puts a fire deep in us. We need to be filled more and more with God’s Holy Spirit.

We need to co-labor with God and use our talents for the Kingdom. Just because you’re not in full-time ministry does not mean that you aren’t in the ministry. If you are a follower of Jesus then you are called no matter where you are. Whether you’re an economist, a musician, a teacher, an engineer, a park ranger….God will use you. God gave you specific talents and passions and skills for a reason. I’ve often heard, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” May God’s glory be manifested in our lives– in everything that we do. Surrender it all to Him. This book had some great insight…

More of YOU; less of me.

So, if you find yourself slipping in your time with the Lord…get back to the foundations. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a stale faith.

And if you’re spiritually doing well but have allowed your talents to be buried, then start digging ’em back up and using them for the Lord. Get back to the foundations. Start painting again. Start writing again. Start singing again. Start dancing again. Start playing music again. Begin doing whatever it is that you’ve put on the shelf.

…and start with the foundations.

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