Spiritual formation is the process by which the human spirit is given a definite form or character… it happens to everyone.

This quarter, as we focus on the SOS of Discipleship I have been revisiting what it means to be spiritually formed as a disciple of Jesus. We are all formed by something: our family of origin, what we put into our minds, the people we spend our time with, and what we pay attention to. According to Dallas Willard, “Spiritual formation is the process by which the human spirit is given a definite form or character… it happens to everyone.” Christian spiritual formation happens when we intentionally create space for God to transform our lives.

History is rich with examples of individuals whose lives God transformed, and there are many practical activities we can engage in that allow us to be in a place where God can work to renew our hearts and minds.

At the start of this quarter, I challenged elementary students that as disciples of Jesus one way we can grow spiritually is through the practice of scripture memorization, not just memorizing a verse here or there, but longer sections of scripture. This allows us to understand the context of the passage and its place in God’s bigger story and to meditate on God’s word as it goes deeper into our hearts.

In my own journey of living as a disciple of Jesus I too practice this spiritual habit, and I am always amazed that even several years later I can recall the main points of a passage I have memorized. Often, the Holy Spirit brings them to mind just when I need them to encourage myself or someone else. More importantly, I can look back and see how God used my time memorizing those scriptures to transform me more into His likeness by changing what I think about, how I think, what I value, and the choices I make. One simple method to do this is:

  1. Identify a passage of scripture. I am currently memorizing Colossians 3.
  2. Start small. Memorize one verse. Say it aloud, write it down, read it aloud.
  3. Then, memorize another verse, and then another, continuing to add on.

This process often takes me months, but it is worth the labor when I see how God uses these experiences to form my spirit. There are many ways we can grow in discipleship, and I challenge our community to spend some time engaging in this spiritual practice.

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