From Creation to Salvation

From Creation to Salvation

In recent years, it has been my joy to serve as pastor to a wonderful and gifted young lady named Lita Cosner.  It has also been my joy to read her new book—From Creation to Salvation: What Jesus and the New Testament authors believed about Genesis.  I must admit that her dedication line caused me to get a bit choked up when I first opened her book.  She writes, “Dedicated in memory of my great-grandmother Lois Brown (1916-2011) in the hope of the resurrection which will reunite us in the presence of Christ.

The foreword is written by Dr. Kenneth Gentry and in his opening words, he writes the following:

Christian once cleverly complained: “If God through that creation was so important, why didn’t he put it closer to the front of the Bible?”  This amusing query speaks powerfully to the significance of creation in Scripture: the Bible actually opens with this doctrine…In this insightful, practical, and compelling book, Lita Cosner demonstrates why it is impossible for the truly Bible-believing Christian to deny recent, six-day creation (7).

The book itself is arranged into two main sections.  The first section is centered on the doctrine of creation in the New Testament and the second section is focused upon Adam in the New Testament, which as you can imagine, begins with the historic Adam and ends with the Last Adam—Jesus Christ.

All through the book, Lita connects the dots from creation to salvation.  In her opening line, she writes, “If you don’t understand the doctrine of creation, you can’t properly understand the doctrine of salvation” (11).  Interestingly enough, Lita begins with an emphasis upon the Son’s role in the work of creation as revealed to us in the pages of the New Testament.  This is a theme she picks back up in full in the fourth chapter.  What was somewhat veiled in the Old Testament has become unveiled in the New Testament.

This book also begins with a focus on the connection of other key doctrines to the doctrine of creation.  Lita writes, “Creation was also used to ground practical doctrines as well.  Question so marriage (Matthew 19:1-9) and order within the church (1 Corinthians 11:2-12; 1 Timothy 2:8-14) were decided based on details of creation” (20).   This is a critical point of consideration, especially for those who minimize or seek to deny the doctrine of creation.

In the second section, Lita begins with an important focus on the historical Adam.  Unfortunately, over the years many liberal interpretations have been accepted which denigrate the authenticity of the progenitor of the human race.  Not only does this view do violence to the real human named Adam—it does violence to the Word of God.  Lita writes:

This is transparently an attempt to salvage Christianity in the face of what they view as the ‘fact’ of evolution and its obvious discord with the book of Genesis.  But Christianity, unlike many other religions, is built on events which are claimed to be historical (115).

In her final section, she covers a great deal of ground in a short number of pages.  However, without being rushed, she deals with important themes such as Jesus as the promised offspring who would contend with the serpent’s offspring, the ability or inability of Jesus to sin, the defeat of the serpent at the cross, Jesus as the Last Adam, and how the last enemy—death itself is defeated by Christ.

As a form of conclusion, Lita writes the following:

There are many views of Genesis that are considered to be within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy today; some take Genesis to be almost entirely mythical, while biblical (‘young earth’) creationists take it as entirely historical, and there are many views in between.  But the ‘gold standard’ for a Christian view on anything should begin with the question, ‘What did Jesus believe?” We have seen that Jesus believed Adam and Eve were created in the image of God at the beginning of history, and they were the first married couple.  Jesus believed righteous Abel was the first martyr, and He believed Noah’s Flood was a global catastrophe that killed all outside the Ark.

Not only do I believe this is a good book for the local church, I believe it’s a great resource for the home.  Is your group looking for a good book to read over coffee on Saturday mornings?  You need to consider Lita Cosner’s book.  It’s not academic and non-practical.  In fact, she does a great job of condensing rich biblical truths into a theologically accurate and practical book.  The church needs more ladies like Lita who have a passion for truth.

Buy it (and review it) on Amazon

 

“The Shack” and What It Says about Evangelicalism

“The Shack” and What It Says about Evangelicalism

In 2008, William Paul Young wrote a book titled The Shack that was instantly a best-seller.  It ascended to the top of the best-selling lists (including the New York Times and Amazon), and like many successful books often do, it has now morphed into a movie.  The book originally written as a Christmas gift for a family has sold over 20-million copies and become one of the top 70 books in the history of printed books.

Recently the trailer for the movie based on Young’s book was released.  The movie itself is set to be released in 2017, but the hype and anticipation has already started to build.  That’s to be expected when you have people like Eugene Peterson making statements such as, “This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” did for his. It’s that good!” [1]  To be honest, the trailer for the movie was greatly appealing and demonstrated a high quality that will likely be very successful.  Why should Christians be concerned?  What lessons can be learned from the success of The Shack that might help us all moving forward?

A Word About the Book—The Shack

The book itself demonstrates the fact that William Young is a good writer.  Through the use of written language, Young captivates the reader with masterful descriptions of mysterious theological subjects and doctrines.  This is always a wonderful way to teach the Bible and has long been employed by men like John Bunyan and C. S. Lewis, but in the case of The Shack, the teaching is sub-par, or to use the language of Albert Mohler in his review of the book back in 2010—”sub-biblical.” [2]

The book is based on the story of a man named Mackenzie (goes by Mack) and his encounter with the godhead following a horrible tragedy where his daughter (Missy) was brutally murdered in an old shack after being abducted during a family vacation.  Although Young tackles some very difficult subjects related to human tragedy, in his attempt to point people to God, he instead points people to an African-American woman named Papa (who transformed at one point into a gray-haired man), a middle-aged man named Jesus who was of a Middle-Eastern descent, and a small woman of Asian descent named Sarayu.  This is where things derail from the biblical theology tracks in an epic train wreck.

Like many books that become popular in evangelicalism (such as Heaven is for Real), when people are captivated by the emotion of hardship or tragedy, they’re often willing to accept the false teaching that walks through the open gates of their heart like a Trojan horse.  Although William Young is a gifted communicator, what he communicates about God in his book The Shack is simply not true and it’s heresy.  Therefore, no matter how his skill is with the English language and his ability to captivate his audience, if what he speaks isn’t true and if it violates the God of holy Scripture, we must avoid it.  Although the movie can’t be reviewed, what can be accurately predicted is that no matter how well the acting and production of the movie is—the stench of heresy is already detectable from a distance.

A Call for Christian Discernment

Heavenly tourism books have become widely popular within the evangelical community in recent years.  It seems that if one wants to be successful in the area of fiction and non-fiction, if a story can be captured about a person’s trip to heaven (or in this case – to a shack) where he or she interacts with God and returns to tell the vivid story with eye-popping details, it’s a sure recipe for success.  This is a lamentable fact, and one that the evangelical church must come face-to-face with (Prov. 15:21).

As the psalmist declared in Psalm 119:66, we as God’s children should long for clear, controlled, and robust discernment.  Since the Scriptures are God’s Word and the church is “a pillar and buttress of truth,” we must be able to “guard the good deposit” that has been entrusted to us (1 Tim 3:15; 2 Tim. 1:14).  Therefore, laziness when it comes to biblical truth has no place in the church of Jesus Christ.  There’s no reason a book like The Shack should find its way to the top of best-selling lists by the help of the Christian community.

Lessons to be Learned

Early in 2016 I was preaching in a conference held on the campus of a large Southern Baptist Church.  Between sessions, I was given access to their library and coffee shop area where I could read and pray.  As I browsed around the bookshelves, the paradox of evangelicalism was apparent on the shelves of this church’s library.  On the same shelf separated by just a few books were two very different books by two very different authors—Sara Young’s Jesus Calling and Paul Washer’s The Gospel’s Power and Message.  This is where we are as evangelicals, so long as Jesus’ names is used or the title contains Christian vocabulary, it’s readily received and granted access to the local church’s library.

Lessons to be learned from The Shack and other heavenly tourism books that fall into this same category are numerous.  There are far too many lessons to learn than I have time and space to mention, but one noteworthy lesson is—doctrine matters.  If we attempt to teach the Bible with stories, illustrations, anthropomorphism, and humor, that’s wonderful, but those stories, illustrations, anthropomorphisms, and humor must be communicated with theological precision.  We don’t want a surgeon operating on us who has been guilty of medical malpractice, and that same principle is true when it comes to those who teach us the Bible.

This successful book that boasts of Christian theology presents an inaccurate view of the Trinity, reverses the masculinity of God into a feminine goddess, denies Jesus of His sovereignty as a member of the godhead, and maligns the proper understanding of the Holy Spirit.  One of the core errors of the book is the improper understanding of submission and a rejection of Trinitarian hierarchy.  It seems that there is a constant imbalance and misunderstanding of the roles and relationships between the members of the Trinity throughout the book and certainly will be played out in the movie.  Tim Challies concludes in his thorough review of The Shack back in 2008, “Overall, I had to conclude that Young has an inadequate and often-unbiblical understanding of the Trinity.” [3]

In one scene, Jesus poked his head into the dining area to inform Papa that he had put the tools they would need just outside the door.  Papa thanked Jesus, who kissed him on the lips and left out the back door.  Where do we ever see Jesus informing the Father of anything in the Bible?  In another scene, Jesus communicates the following to Mack:

Papa is as much submitted to me as I am to him, or Sarayu to me, or Papa to her. Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way.

If that’s not bad enough, Jesus goes on to communicate another ancient heresy to Mack by saying, “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions.” Jesus continues by saying, “I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, my Beloved.”

Mack responds to Jesus, “Do all roads lead to Christ?” Jesus then provides an answer that points to universalism—“Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.”  The answer to Mack’s question is an obvious rejection of verses such as John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 that teach the absolute exclusivity of Christ.  Jesus doesn’t travel down the road of Mormonism to find people.  Sure, Jesus can find lost sinners anywhere, but to suggest that “those who love” Jesus come from every system that exists is a tragic error. To communicate that Jesus doesn’t want to make anyone a Christian is a tragic mistake, and to teach people that Jesus wants to “join us” in our transformation into sons of Papa is a reversal of roles.  Jesus is sovereign and we respond to Him.  We love because He first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19).  This book, although celebrated by many Christians is an anti-Christian book and will subsequently become an anti-Christian movie.

One final take-away that we must learn from such books and movies is that God has one primary method of delivering His revelation to us and it’s through holy Scripture.  To bypass the Bible and learn about the Trinity through The Shack is to do yourself a great injustice and the results will be catastrophic.  God has a proper and fitting revelation of Himself, and He has unveiled that glorious revelation in the pages of sacred Scripture—not The Shack or any other book like it.  Ancient mysticism has crept back into the church in our day, and unfortunately it’s widely popular.  Why not just come to know God, true Christian theology, and a proper response to the deepest human suffering by reading God’s book—the Bible?

Indictments to be Received

The success of The Shack is a true indictment on the shallowness of mainstream evangelicalism.  The church is not only called to evangelize the world with the gospel, she is also called to have biblical discernment.  That lack of concern when it comes to understanding the Bible and the core essential teachings of Scripture among many evangelical Christians should bring about great concern.  When bookstores, even Christian bookstores, are willing to peddle books like The Shack and other sub-Christian titles, we should be greatly concerned. Albert Mohler writes:

The Shack is a wake-up call for evangelical Christianity…The popularity of this book among evangelicals can only be explained by a lack of basic theological knowledge among us — a failure even to understand the Gospel of Christ. The tragedy that evangelicals have lost the art of biblical discernment must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine. [4]

A further indictment must be centered on the pulpit in the evangelical church today.  Christians, if taught properly each Lord’s Day from the pulpit, would detest such books as The Shack.  If robust teaching was the common diet, books like The Shack would be so unsuccessful that a movie producer wouldn’t give it a second thought—because in his mind he needs the evangelical church to buy tickets to watch it.  Therefore, when the pulpit is shallow, dysfunctional, and sub-Christian—you can expect the people to crave that same type of entertainment.

Pastors guard your people by telling them the truth.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, please make the movie version of this heretical book far less successful by staying home.


  1. Statement by Eugene Peterson can be found as a glaring endorsement written on the front bottom of the paperback version in most cases.
  2. Albert Mohler, “The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment” [accessed 12-4-16]
  3. Tim Challies, “The Shack” by William P. Young [accessed 12-5-16]
  4. Mohler, “The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment” [accessed 12-4-16]
Perseverance in the Spiritual Disciplines

Perseverance in the Spiritual Disciplines

This summer, we have been reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness. The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.  Today marks the end of this study and I trust it has been profitable to your soul.  If you would like to add to the discussion, as always, post your comments below.

The Role of the Holy Spirit

In this section, Don Whitney reminds us that the Holy Spirit makes us more like Jesus through the Disciplines. It’s not our effort in the Disciplines that produces the change.  Don Whitney quotes D. A. Carson in a needful warning regarding the pursuit of godliness.

D. A. Carson warns, “What is universally presupposed by the expression ‘spiritual discipline’ is that such disciplines are intended to increase our spirituality From a Christian perspective, however, it is simply not possible to increase one’s spirituality without possessing the Holy Spirit and submitting to his transforming instruction and power.”

The point is clearly made in this final chapter that no matter how dedicated a person is in practicing the Spiritual Disciplines, without the Holy Spirit the effort will be in vain.  However, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the child of God will have a desire for godly pursuits.  Don Whitney writes, “Wherever the Holy Spirit dwells, His holy presence creates a hunger for holiness” (290).

The Role of Fellowship

One of the most important statements in this book is found on page 293 as Don Whitney writes, “No one should read of these Disciplines and imagine that by practicing them in isolation from other believers he or she can be as Christlike—perhaps even more so—than Christians who are active members of a local body of Christ” (293).  He goes on to write, “One obvious reason we can’t take the Spiritual Disciplines and become spiritual recluses is that many biblical Disciplines—public worship, united prayer, participation in the lord’s Supper, serving other disciplines, and more—cannot be practiced without other Christians” (293).

No matter how dedicated a person is regarding the Spiritual Disciplines, they will never reach true godliness apart from the local church.  The point is, we need one another for fellowship and we need the corporate worship and service as a means of Spiritual Discipline in our lives.  What a critical mistake it is when people pursue godliness apart from the local church.  Consider Acts 2 and the fellowship of the early church.  Consider 1 John 1:3-4 and the mention of fellowship.  Consider Hebrews 10:25 and the necessity of assembling with the church.  Consider the model put forth in Titus 2 for the older people to train the younger people within the church.  You can’t pursue spiritual maturity while remaining disconnected from the local church.  It’s an impossible and fruitless pursuit.

The Role of Struggle

Don Whitney reminds his readers, and appropriately so, that the Christian life is not an easy life. He seeks to encourage us all by warning us of the struggle that accompanies the Christian life.  Paul makes this point clear as he writes in 1 Timothy.

1 Timothy 4:7-8 – Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; [8] for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

1 Timothy 4:10 – For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

When we hear sermons and read books where people suggest that the Christian life is easy if you follow a certain rules or steps along the way – they’ve missed true Christianity.  Read the New Testament. Look at the struggle. Look at the hardships. Look at the challenges. Look at the tears. Look at the death. Look at the persecution. Look at the discouragement. Look at the pain.  Christianity – real Christianity – is not an easy journey. We must discipline ourselves for the race of life.

Chapter 17 of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith is on Perseverance. In paragraph three, the statement reads:

In various ways-the temptations of Satan and of the world, the striving of indwelling sin to get the upper hand, the neglect of the means appointed for their preservation-saints may fall into fearful sins, and may even continue in them for a time.  In this way they incur God’s displeasure, grieve His Holy Spirit, do injury to their graces, diminish their comforts, experience hardness of heart and accusations of conscience, hurt and scandalize others, and bring God’s chastisements on themselves.  Yet being saints their repentance will be renewed, and through faith they will be preserved in Christ Jesus to the end.

Catch up in this series:

Opening Article
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12

Questions to Consider:

  1. Would you be godly? Then practice the Spiritual Disciplines in light of eternity.
  2. Would you be godly? There’s no other way by through the Spiritual Disciplines.

This is the final post in this study of Don Whitney’s book.  I trust that you have found it profitable to your soul and challenging at the same time.  If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can do so through the following:

Where to Buy the Book


Spiritual-DisciplinesIt’s quite possible to find the book in your local bookstore, but you can likewise find it online.

I look forward to reading this book with you this summer.  All that’s required of you is to purchase the book and read chapter 1 before June 2nd when the first article will appear here on the blog.

Ephesians 4:11-14 – And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.

Learning. . . For the Purpose of Godliness

Learning. . . For the Purpose of Godliness

This summer, we are reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness. The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.

In the previous chapters, Don Whitney has outlined the specifics of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting and other spiritual disciplines of the Christian life. What exactly is taking place when we read the Bible, meditate on Scripture, and pray? Essentially, these disciplines should lead us to godliness and a life that reflects the glory of God.  In this chapter today, we look at the subject of learning.  Much of our worship and service to the Lord is done with our mind.

Learning Characterizes the Wise Person

Don Whitney does an excellent job of pointing to the wisdom literature and reminding us that wisdom is something we must learn.

  • Proverbs 9:9 – Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
  • Proverbs 10:14 – The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.

Don Whitney writes, “Learning is a lifelong Discipline, a Spiritual Discipline that characterizes the wise person” (274).  Just as it is with anything else in this life, we must put effort into learning wisdom.

Fulfilling the Greatest Commandment

Don Whitney writes, “There is an intellectualism that is wrong, but it is also wrong to be anti-intellectual” (275).  To love the Lord our God with all of our mind is essential to the Christian faith.  To neglect Him with our mind and pursue everything else under the sun would be an unwise pursuit.  Don Whitney quotes R. C. Sproul as stating:

God has made us with a harmony of heart and head, of thought and action. . . . The more we know Him the more we are able to love Him.  The more we love Him the more we seek to know Him.  To be central in our hearts He must be foremost in our minds.  Religious thought is the prerequisite to religious affection and obedient action. [1]

Learning—Essential for Increased Godliness

Don Whitney quotes Martyn Lloyd-Jones as saying, “Let us never forget that the message of the Bible is addressed primarily to the mind, to the understanding” (quoted on 277).  If we are to increase in godliness, we must increase in learning.  We must grow in our knowledge of God, and in order to do that, we must learn some things about God.  To neglect learning God is to neglect the knowledge of God and it will result in a stale Christian life that’s joyless.

Learning is Mostly by Discipline, Not By Accident

Don Whitney writes, “As every dust ball gets bigger the longer it rolls around under the bed, so every mind picks up at least a little knowledge the longer it rolls around on the earth. But we must not assume that we have learned true wisdom just by growing older” (278).  Just as every marathon runner reaches the finish line by the consistent discipline of training and preparation, so it is with the Christian.  We can’t expect to grow in grace if we are not growing in the knowledge of God.  Learning requires discipline – not laziness.

Learning in a Variety of Ways

Don Whitney provides some helpful considerations regarding the different learning methods. Some people read well and others don’t. It helps to know how to learn and each person will be different.  Although some people may learn best through audio and lecture formats, everyone must read.  In fact, we must consider the reality that our God did not send us an .mp3 of the His Word.  He has communicated it to us in written format.  Don Whitney writes, “I’ve always found it true that growing Christians are reading Christians” (281).

Catch up in this series:

Opening Article
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11

Questions to Consider:

1. Will you discipline yourself to become an intentional learner?
2. Where will you start?
3. When will you start?

Next Week: Next week, we will turn to chapter 13 and look at the subject of perseverance in the disciplines for the glory of God. Read ahead and think through the content of that chapter, and we will gather here next week to discuss what we’re learning.

Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.


  1. R. C. Sproul, “Burning Hearts Are Not Nourished by Empty Heads,” Christianity Today, September 3, 1982, 100.
Journaling. . . For the Purpose of Godliness

Journaling. . . For the Purpose of Godliness

This summer, we are reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness. The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.

In the previous chapters, Don Whitney has outlined the specifics of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting and other spiritual disciplines of the Christian life. What exactly is taking place when we read the Bible, meditate on Scripture, and pray? Essentially, these disciplines should lead us to godliness and a life that reflects the glory of God.  In this chapter today, we look at the subject of journaling.  Consider the importance of handwritten journals that trace a spiritual journey.

Explanation of Journaling

Don Whitney explains, “A journal (a word usually synonymous with diary [1]) is a place (tangible or digital) in which a person records information important to him or her personally for preservation or consideration.  As a Christian, your journal is a place to document the works and ways of God in your life” (249).  It’s essential to note that God never requires His children to keep a journal, so it’s not sinful to refrain from practicing this discipline.  However, when you consider the benefits for the individual Christian as well as the treasure of wealth it will be for future generations, it’s really an easy choice.

Value of Journaling

Consider the value of a well written journal written by your grandparents.  What would you do to have such a book to chart their spiritual journey in the faith?  How important would that be to you and your children?  Don Whitney provides a list of eight specific values for the discipline of journaling.

  1.  Help in Self-Understanding and Evaluation
  2. Help in Meditation
  3. Help in Expressing Thoughts and Feelings to the Lord
  4. Help in Remembering the Lord’s Works
  5. Help in Creating and Preserving a Spiritual Heritage
  6. Help in Clarifying and Articulating Insights
  7. Help in Monitoring Goals and Priorities
  8. Help in Maintaining the Other Spiritual Disciplines

The powerful evangelist of the First Great Awakening, George Whitefield, is not only remembered for his power in the pulpit, but for his faithful and spiritually rich journaling.  It’s quite apparent by his journal why the Lord chose to use him to shake the world with the gospel of Jesus.  Each day, he would record his activities.  He would then evaluate them by the following list:

Have I.

  • Been fervent in prayer?
  • Used stated hours of prayer?
  • Used ejaculatory prayer each hour?
  • After or before every deliberate conversation or action, considered how it might tend to God’s glory?
  • After any pleasure, immediately given thanks?
  • Planned business for the day?
  • Been simple and recollected in everything?
  • Been zealous in undertaking and active in doing what good I could?
  • Been meek, cheerful, affable in everything I said or did?
  • Been proud, vain, unchaste, or enviable of others?
  • Recollected in eating and drinking?  Thankful?  Temperate in sleep?
  • Taken time for giving thanks according to (William) Law’s rules?
  • Been diligent in studies?
  • Thought or spoken unkindly of anyone?
  • Confessed all sins?

Ways of Journaling

Depending on style and preference, there are many different ways to keep a journal.  It can be done in electronic format on a computer, a blog, or some electronic software where it can be archived and accessed.  The value of such electronic journals is centered on the fact that the notes and entries can be searchable.  OneNote is one good resource that can be kept private and organized for later access.

Hand written journals can be done on almost any size and style of notebook.  From leather journals and moleskins, to loose leaf paper (the preference of Don Whitney), a journal can be kept and archived away for future use and access.  This practice enables a person to write by hand and this does a couple of very important things:

  1. Concentration:  Something happens in a unique way in the human brain when a person writes by hand and thinks through the process while writing.  This concentration enables us to remember in ways that are often better than when we type.
  2. Connection to History:  How many daily practices such as reading the newspaper and writing journals by hand will our children overlap with their grandparents and great-grandparents?  This is one way to allow this overlap in a unique and helpful way.
  3. Handwriting Development and Improvement:  In many schools today, the art of handwriting is disappearing.  While cursive has been on the way out for a while now, even the non-cursive standard handwriting is starting to lose out to the computer and electronic device.

Catch up in this series:

Opening Article
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10

Questions to Consider:

  1.  Consider the fact that any level of journaling will be a fruitful experience.
  2. As with all the Disciplines, journaling requires persistence through the dry times.
  3. As with all the Disciplines, you must start journaling before you can experience its value.

Next Week: Next week, we will turn to chapter 12 and look at the subject of learning. Read ahead and think through the content of that chapter, and we will gather here next week to discuss what we’re learning.

Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.

Silence and Solitude . . . For the Purpose of Godliness

Silence and Solitude . . . For the Purpose of Godliness

This summer, we are reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness. The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.

In the previous chapters, Don Whitney has outlined the specifics of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, worship, evangelism, and service to the Lord. What exactly is taking place when we read the Bible, meditate on Scripture, and pray? Essentially, these disciplines should lead us to godliness and a life that reflects the glory of God.  In this chapter today, we look at the subject of silence and solitude.  In a world full of noise, we need to be alone with God – sometimes.

Explanation of Silence and Solitude

Don Whitney writes, “The Discipline of silence is the voluntary and temporary abstention from speaking so that certain spiritual goals might be sought” (224).  As Whitney points out, the silence is not for mere quietness alone, but for the purpose of reaching goals in Bible reading, prayer, and journaling.  Don Whitney goes on to write, “Solitude is the Spiritual Discipline of voluntarily and temporarily withdrawing to privacy for spiritual purposes” (224).  No matter if the period of solitude is for a few minutes or a few days, the purpose is always centered on a God-glorifying goal as opposed to a fleshly desire to be self-serving.

Valuable Reasons for Silence and Solitude

  1.  To Follow Jesus’ Example
  2. To Minimize Distractions in Prayer
  3. To Express Worship to God
  4. To Express Faith in God
  5. To Seek the Salvation of the Lord
  6. To Be Physically and Spiritually Restored
  7. To Regain a Spiritual Perspective
  8. To Seek the Will of God
  9. To Learn Control of the Tongue

Don Whitney writes, “One reason why the dual disciplines of silence and solitude can be so thoroughly transforming is because of how they help connect us with the other Spiritual Disciplines” (236).

Suggestions for Silence and Solitude

Don Whitney writes, “Here are some practical helps for making silence and solitude less a mere longing and more a reality and a habit” (238).

  1. “Minute Retreats” – Prioritize small segments in a day where silence and solitude can be achieved.
  2. A Goal of Daily Silence and Solitude
  3. Getting Away for Solitude and Silence
  4. Special Places
  5. Trade Off Daily Responsibilities

In the memoir of the first missionary from America, Adoniram Judson, we find this story:

Once, when worn out with translations, and really needing rest, he went over the hills into the thick jungle, far beyond all human habitation. . . . To this place he brought his Bible, and sat down under the wild jungle trees to read, and mediate, and pray, and at night returned to the “hermitage” [a bamboo house he’d built at the edge of the jungle].

Don Whitney writes, “Why would he [Adoniram Judson] break his routine for this prolonged period of silence and solitude?  His biographer says it was ‘as a means of moral improvement by which the whole of his future life might be rendered more in harmony with the perfect example of the Saviour whom he worshipped'” (246).

Catch up in this series:

Opening Article
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9

Questions to Consider:

  1. Will you seek daily times of silence and solitude?
  2. Will you seek extended times of silence and solitude?
  3. Will you start now?
  4. Will you commit yourself to the Disciplines of silence and solitude?

Next Week: Next week, we will turn to chapter 11 and look at the subject of journaling. Read ahead and think through the content of that chapter, and we will gather here next week to discuss what we’re learning.

Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.