Reflections on Spiritual Disciplines

REFLECTIONS: Category One

Part One

Reflection reawakens and rehearses the reflector’s mind based on what the individual has learned and experienced and serves as the survey tool to evaluate the learner and communicates to the educator the percentages of the materials learned by the reflector or the student; therefore, the reflection truly communicates what I have learned and experienced while doing the holy experiments in the textbook.

            As we Christians journey daily in our walks with God, it is expedient that we humble ourselves before God and surrender to him our lives, tasks, and families. These three areas are paramount when it comes to Christian daily devotional lifestyle. Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6–7 NIV). The first holy experiment in the textbook lists mindfulness, thankfulness, and welcoming God into your next task. This scriptural passage in Philippians 4:6–7 correlates with the listing in the holy experiment that corresponds to what we do daily in lives with reference to tasks and family. Primarily, I should learn and practice to be mindful when I am approaching God in prayers. The mindset in prayers is important because God will not answer the double minded individual’s prayer; therefore, mindfulness in prayer life serves as the determinability how God answers when we Christians pray.

            The second aspect of our prayer lives is that we should learn to be appreciative or thankful to God of what he has done for us and what he will continue to do for us or our family; therefore, thankfulness or thanksgiving serves as the second determinability how God answers prayers. Many times in our devotional lives, we only petition God instead of thanking him of what he has done for us and family.

            The third area of our devotional lives which the holy experiment lists is welcoming God into your next task. Many of us hastily wake up from bed in the morning and get into our vehicles without praying or welcoming God in what we are going to do daily. It is expedient to commit to God what we are going to do in the places of our employment so that God can bless the works of our hands. Mindfulness, thankfulness, and welcoming God to our next daily tasks are determinability for God answering our prayers coupled with faith. These things learned from the holy experiments have shaped my views on the prayer life.

Part Two

The materials presented in various exercises in “Prayer: The Adventure” speak on spiritual disciplines with reference to meditation, praise, thanksgiving, confession, petition, and his presence. Understanding and applying these spiritual disciplines to one’s Christian life and ministry journey are vital to the Christian spiritual formation. In meditation which involves our intellect, creativity, and will, thus calls one to be focused spiritually and physically. In term of spiritual focusing, we are required to drawn the picture of God in our mind. Our ability to draw the picture of God in our mind is the gateway to overcoming distraction in the physical environment; therefore, focusing on God in the midst of distractions in the physical environment is directly proportional of being spiritual disciplined in term of focusing or meditating. The role of the intellect, creativity, and the will are vital to embody this spiritual imagination called meditation. The intellect has the reasoning capacity to capacitate the human creativity allowing the humans will to make decision. The intellect is the center of creativity; therefore, there will be no creativity unless the intellect initiates the created things in the mind. The created thing projected by the intellect to the creativity film is called the picture of God which should give the will power to believers when it comes to decision making how we live this Christian life. In the imagination exercises, I learned that we human beings get distracted by our internal and external environmental activities when something has happened like in the case of the burning bush and the voice coming from the burning bush; however, the bush is not consumed. Such episode calls for our attention with reference to the nature of the happening. Such happening does not only elicit strange happening, but it also creates anxiety in the person who encounters such episode. Anxiety is not all bad because it can be used to direct our focus and made us take the appropriate decision. In these exercises, I learned that in meditation, I need to learn to be focused spiritually and allowing my intellect to be controlled by the Holy Spirit; as the result, the image of God which is influenced by creativity will be projected influencing my decision controlled by the will. That’s being said, Jesus is the individual I will answer and sense that he is the visitation of God being projected on the creativity film to allow me make the proper decision to serve God resulting into Christian spiritual formation. No one serves God in total obedience as the Christian without receiving revelation of God. We are saved today and are living for God because we once received a revelation about God enabling us to remain his presence. True spiritual formation resulting to the practice of spiritual disciplines in the Christian life is the result of revelation we received from God. No one comes to God except God reveals Jesus to him or her (John 6:44; 14:6).

Part Three

On the assignment “Celebrating the Disciplines,” I have chosen meditation and prayer exercises. Prior to this assignment, I have long contemplated starting a nongovernmental organization under the church in Liberia; however, how to start the organization with reference to who will help me register and incorporate the NGO has been the problem; therefore, I started praying how to begin and for God to send the appropriate individual who knows how to start a nongovernmental organization and runs it because I do not live in Liberia. Such move is a form of ministry related to agriculture, education, and community development initiatives. As the visionary of the ministry, I felt that God is not only interested in our spiritual health, but He is also interested in our physical, cognitive, emotional, and psychological health. The birth of the idea has been the result of meditation. Knowing that meditation is a spiritual imagination that can birth vision when the visionary thinks about a situation, event, or things, it should involve the intellect, creativity, and the will of the visionary. In the process of meditating, there were images that flashed to me that gave the idea to enable me write a handbook for the nongovernmental organization explaining the mission, objectives, the shared values, core beliefs, and the methodologies the nongovernmental organization will use to accomplish her mission in the time frame. Meditation and prayer assignment exercises in the textbook have become alive and practical to me in dealing with anxiety involving starting an organization in the nation that I do not live; however, I feel obligated to contribute to my country; though, I do not live presently at domicile. While doing this assignment, I chose Philippians 4:6–7 as the based scripture to meditate and to pray during the course of the week. Meditation and prayer work together in order to birth an innovation or spiritual vision that changes lives. Doing the assignment has become practical with the present situation in Liberia with reference to starting a nongovernmental organization. Meditation gives a deep meaning to the person who is meditating for a cause and opens an horizon of ideologies how to start a cause that was projected on the mind through the power of intellectualism, creativity, and the will influenced by the Holy Spirit. As I meditated and prayed, I was able to drive a proposed plan of action for the agricultural program in Liberia for the ongoing NGO being organized.

Part Four

Understanding self in the Christian journey and the Christian life is vital to spiritual self-regulation that is also directly proportional to Christian spiritual formation. During the class teaching time in the traditional classroom setting approach and the pre-recorded videos presentations, I learned a lot about myself how well I have grown over the years in the areas of spiritual disciplines with reference to prayers, the study of the word, fasting, and among others. During the teaching, I was being reminded of what I have stopped doing with reference to spiritual disciplines and what I needed to reinforce in my spiritual life as to attain continued Christian spiritual formation. The spiritual formation is the ongoing process and no one gets to the final until Christ returns; then, the believer will be complete in him (1 John 3:2, Romans 8:18–24). The Christian life with reference to Christian spiritual formation is the journey and believers will not get there unless, Christ, the perfector of our faith returns to take us to glory. It is called the final glorification.

            With reference to relationship with God, I was being reminded during the teaching session that there is a need to reinforce other areas of spiritual disciplines like prayers and fasting. The Holy Spirit was speaking to me in these areas that I have downplayed in my Christian life. I have fallen short in these areas for the past years as compared to previous years in ministry. The fall in these areas have been overshadowed by business in the work places; however, the fall in these areas of spiritual disciplines should not be attributed to work because I have the choice to schedule my work’s activities as to provide time for the spiritual disciplines taking into consideration the significance of my spiritual life and ministry. The class has served as the reminder so I can go back to these spiritual disciplines of prayers and fasting. I believe that neglecting these disciplines as the Christian is the direct act of refusing Christian spiritual formation which is detrimental to the spiritual health of the believer. One’s failure to practice prayer and fasting is equated to spiritual suicidal. Prayer and fasting are the foundation of the Christian life and ministry. Jesus fasted and prayed for forty days before he was empowered through the power of the Holy Spirit; eventually, he began his ministry which lasted for a short period before his death; nevertheless, his ministry within a short period of time accelerated and made an impact to the Roman Greco community of his days. Acts 10:38 tells us that God anointed Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit who went around doing good because God was with him. As Christians, we need to be involved consistently in the spiritual disciplines of fasting and praying. This course reawakens me to reinforce my fasting and prayer life which I have stopped doing the past two years.

            The spiritual inventories which serve as prelude to the class, examined my spirituality in Christ. The questions answered on the inventories examined my Christian character indicating to me my strengths and weaknesses. These inventories serve as spiritual examination tools to survey the Christian life with reference to obedience, Christian personality, the practice of faith and conviction, the Christian morality in ethical behaviors, the knowledge of God, and the Christian life and foundation. The exercises in the textbook and the inventories initiate the awakening of the Christian responsibilities and call my attention to Christian stewardship. We are made and called Christians in the world with the purpose to represent God’s kingdom rule as the kingdom of priests and the holy nation, to proclaim his kingdom through the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of mankind through evangelism, and to live out the gospel that are representative of his attributes communicable to humanity such as holiness, goodness, meekness, self-control etc. The inventory exercises did help me reveal my character in God pointing those things that I need to work on as the believer in order maintain continued Christian spiritual formation in Christ.

            The simplicity that no one lives the Christian life through self-initiated and self-generated effort is evident and indicative in the Bible and confirmed by mankind through the deeds of the flesh as the result of man’s depravity. The simplicity of explanation is layout in one of the textbooks “The Fruit of the Spirit: The Garden of God. The fruit belongs to the Holy Spirit; therefore, the Holy Spirit is the individual who produces the fruit in the believer as the believer yields to the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:16–22).

            The completion of the holy experiments in Hudson’s book was reflective of what I experienced during previous years in the family and ministry’s lives. My responses to the holy experiments have been included in this document to explain my experiences. Hudson writes, “Decide upon the shape of your little affirmation.” I write, “Lord Jesus I realize that I sometimes stumble and fall. Today I ask you to strengthen me in this Christian journey. In your name I believe that I can do all things through you who strengthen me (Phil 4:19).”[1] This holy experiment focuses on mindfulness. In prayers we should be mindful when praying. The prayer of recognizing our inadequacy and our failures before God is necessary in our walks with God as we make effort through the power of the Holy Spirit toward gradual Christian spiritual formation. It is through his grace we are able to stand in the face of trials or temptations that tend to overshadow our walks with God and eventually become predictors to Christian stewardship. Hudson in his book did delineate on thankfulness explaining the necessity of thankfulness in prayers. He writes, “We can decide to embark on this way of gratitude immediately. Delight in those small rituals of everyday life that are usually taken for granted.” I responded, “Lord I thank you for your goodness toward me and my family. Many have fallen sick and taken to the hospital and even died; fortunately, you continue to protect me and my family and have given us good health and place to sleep when so many have fallen sick and become homeless. You have given us money to pay our bills and have placed us in the position to help family members abroad who are in need. Lord, I thank you for your goodness.”[2] In many times Christians pray, we forget to give thanks to what God has done and will continue to do for us. Many people pray and petition God instead of given thanks to him. Gratitude should be one of the contents in our daily ritual as Christians when we begin to pray. The tendency to be mindful in prayer as Hudson puts it in the first experiment in his book on page 90 should lead to thankfulness or thanksgiving. Going through these experiments in the book was spiritual awakening to my devotional life when it comes to meditation and prayers. The third experiment in Hudson’s book reminds us Christians that it is necessary to commit our daily tasks to God; unfortunately, due to business in our works’ corners, many of us as Christians horridly leave our premises and jump into our vehicles without recognizing that we need to pray in order to commit our daily tasks to God so he can bless the works of our hands. Hudson writes, “Before you begin that task, welcome the Holy One into whatever you are about to do.” I responded, dear Lord, I commit my daily tasks into your hand today as I walk out of my house into the work’s environment.[3] The reading of the textbook and the completion of these holy experiments have been helpful and served as the spiritual catalyst to produce spiritual momentum resulting into spiritual acceleration.

Reflections: Category Two

Part One

The materials completed in Prayer: The Adventure, pages 63 to 105 center on thanksgiving, examination, and confession. These spiritual disciplines like thanksgiving, praise, and confession go on simultaneously when believer initiates one. Before we pray as Christians, we should acknowledge and appreciate God of what He has done for us and what He will continue to do. Equally so, we cannot proceed with prayer without confessing our sins. We must acknowledge and recognize our inadequacies before God before petitioning Him for our needs. This tells us that prayer is a chain connected interchangeably and one prayer synapses, interwovens, supports, and complements the others. This is how naturally prayer is through what we communicate with God in personal or corporate manner. According to the text, primarily, praise focuses on God’s attributes and his blessing. When we celebrate God because of what He is and what He has done and will continue to do, we remind Him of what He has decided to do for us. I use the word ‘remind’ not because God forgets, but I use it in the sense that God has told us that we should always ask, seek, and knock and the door will be opened and eventually our prayers will be answered. The exercises completed in the textbook under thanksgiving place emphasis on the spirituality, family, work, personal, community, and natural issues. While thanksgiving seems to be the beginning of the prayer life, it correlates with habit, trouble, happiness, and healing. The Bible tells us that we should give thanks in everything. We should give thanks in good time and in bad time. Thanksgiving is the source of power in the believer’s life when the believer faces adversity. In 2004 in the Republic of Guinea, I was sitting in my tent in the refugee camp. A call came from the UN’s office that I and my family members were needed in the office; innocently, we did not know the reason of the call; nevertheless, we proceeded to the office. Upon our arrival, we were interviewed by Mr. Kevin, the Protection Officer. It was an interview to be resettled in Canada under the Asylum Program. Unfortunately, we did not pass the interview because my Step Mother did not answer the questions correctly. We left the office discouraged. When I arrived at my tent, my neighbors asked me the outcome of the interview; in response, I made them understand that God was in control of the situation and I immediately began to thank God for His goodness and for the outcome of the interview. After thanking and worshipping God for His intervention into the situation, I heard someone outside asking, “Where is Jallah?” I immediately jumped outside and asked what the problem was? He told me that the Protection Officer needed me and my family at the office; however, my Step Mother should stay home. We proceeded to the office. Upon our arrival, he made us understand that he has reversed his decision; however, he has cancelled my Step Mother on the document and she will not be traveling with us. Thanksgiving and praise are highest form of prayers. We celebrate God through thanksgiving and praise and when God is celebrated, He leaves His throne to visit our situations in various dimensions. The manifestations of His visitation can become miraculous where healing, breakthrough, deliverance, and among others become realities.

            The exercises completed under praise, thanksgiving, examination, and confession remind me of the miracle God worked in my family life when we were denied to travel; miraculously, God reversed the situation and pressed on the heart of the Protection Officer to call us back. Everyone in the refugee camp admitted that it was God because it was impossible for Mr. Kevin to deny someone and then call him or her back to reverse decision. Mr. Kevin was labeled by the refugee’s community in both Ivory Coast and Guinea as wicked individual. He denied several people that were to travel to Canada, Australia, and America on the Refugees Resettlement (P 3) and the Asylum Program (P 2). To be considered by Mr. Kevin after denial, it has to be God. The Bible says that the heart of the king is in the hand of God (Proverbs 21:1); therefore, this scripture was confirmed.

Part Two

The material items discussed in Hudson’s book from pages 54 to 89, I termed them as spiritual exercises under practical theology. By simplicity, practical theology is defined as the doing theology which is directly proportional to spiritual doing or spiritual exercises. Every topics discussed in the book have the corresponding holy experiments termed as the spiritual exercises that are connected to practical theology. When someone becomes a believer especially, the believer who wants or desire to become disciple naturally practices these spiritual exercises inherently through the power of the Holy Spirit. The individual Christian is empowered to experience these exercises supernaturally because the person carries the Holy Spirit who produces His fruit in him or her called the fruit of the Holy Spirit or the fruit of righteousness recorded in Galatians 5:16–22. In this light, every true believer is a practical theologian by doing the will of God through obedience.

            The spiritual exercise of spiritual friendship happens to believer during the formative year of the Christian life and continues onward until the believer grows to become like Christ while imitating other grown or mature Christians in the faith. When I became a believer in 1985, it was through spiritual friendship I became to learn Scriptures, pray with other believers in home and in the church, and paid a visit to my Pastor and other believers who were mature and stronger in the faith than I did. We need one another through corporate worship to learn and to grow spiritually in the word and in obedience.

            The next spiritual exercises discussed and practiced in the holy experiments are solitude and silence. They have to do with separating oneself and going to solitary places to pray. This occurs sometimes during personal fast and prayer. At the formative stage of my Christian life, these exercises became part of my Christian journeys with Christ. It is necessary to separate and to seek God in prayer. It can be a time of hearing the voice of God especially when one is isolated from other members of the family and significant others while being with the divine being.

            The next spiritual exercise mentioned in the book is suffering with neighbor which many Christians might not choose due to the nature of the suffering. No one wants to suffer or die with another believer who is scheduled to be executed because of believing in Jesus Christ except by the help of the Holy Spirit who gives special grace. It takes God’s grace to die as the martyr. When we decide as Christians to choose the path of discipleship; then, will we be prepared to suffer with others as they suffer for Christ?

            The fourth categories of the spiritual exercises discussed with the corresponding holy experiments include confession, listening, and conscious living action. The Christian prayer life is characterized by confession. The primary action believers take during prayer time is to confess sins committed before praise and thanksgiving followed by petitions. It is the natural order by which the believer talks to God. During the time of meditation, believer listens to God; therefore, listening to God is the act of meditation. In meditation, we listen to what God is speaking to us about a particular situation. What we hear from God about ourselves, God and others can lead to consciously loving ourselves, God, and others. God will always tell us to love Him, ourselves as we love others.

            The last spiritual exercise discussed with the corresponding holy experiment in this assigned reading is discernment. Discerning of spirits is the gift of the Holy Spirit that the believer receives from the Holy Spirit to enable him or her tells the difference between the Spirit of God and contrary spirits. Listening to God during prayers can lead a believer to hear from God and gradually develop the spiritual ability to discern and to make sound judgment concerning a particular situation. Conclusively, the completion of these holy experiments remind me of my Christian responsibilities with reference to Christian stewardship and Christian spiritual formation.

Part Three

The practice of Ignatian Examen reminds our responsibility to sin and depravity before the Holy Spirit. It informs us that sin is right at our door and if one is not humble, we would be taken captive by sin unknowingly. When I speak of taken by sin unknowingly, I do not mean that we do not know if we are doing the wrong; on the contrary, the tendency for us to develop remorse will be difficult; therefore we could take pleasure committing the sin that so besets us. The overcoming Christian spirit is empowered by the Holy Spirit knowing that no one can live the Christian life in his or her power except through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in our lives is the individual who emphasizes, teaches, directs, and reminds us of our shortcomings and makes us develop remorse in order to take the right direction that is within the confines and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Ignatian Examen reminds me also that thanksgiving is a spiritual exercise that believers should practice in good time and bad time. We should practice thanksgiving in order to thanks God of His doing in our lives despite the nature of the unfolding circumstances whether good or bad of the nature; realistically, it is difficult by the human nature to give thanks in the situation that is traumatic and frustrating in the case of tragic event involving the death of the loved one. It takes the Holy Spirit for the people of God to give thanks in such situation; nevertheless, God asserts in his word that we do so according to Scriptures.

            The Ignatian Examen reminds us of our plan and priority before God. It teaches that we should be humble to present our daily plan before God because God is the individual who should direct our plan as believers. The Bible declares in Jeremiah that many are the plans of the man’s heart; however, only the purpose of God will stand (Jer. 19:21). Man can plan; however, when it is not in the plan of God, it will fail; therefore, anything we do in lives with reference to decision making in politics, business, family life, marital decision, ministry, and among others should be prayed for and presented to God for examination. The Ignatian Examen practically reminds me that everything that I decide to do; I should acknowledge God who enables me to make sound decision.

Part Four

Being a Christian does not require the practice of ritual or dogma; however, it involves recognizing one’s sinfulness, repenting from them, believing the Son of God, and accepting Him as the Lord and Savior; on the other hand, for the Christian to gain spiritual formation to gradually grow into the image of Christ, requires the practice of spiritual disciplines, self-examination, confession, accepting the cost of discipleship, listening to God, involving in corporate worship, and discerning to know the difference between the voice of God and the voice of Satan. During the completion of the assignment in the textbook, the above mentioned lists were learned which serve as the elements of the thesis statement for this piece of writing; therefore, I will delineate on each of the above listed lists in following paragraphs:

            The practices of thanksgiving and solitude and silence are disciplines necessary for Christian spiritual formation. Thanksgiving being a component of prayer truly becomes a spiritual discipline that we use to express our gratitude to God of what He has done for us and will continue to do. Thanksgiving is a weapon we use to change things in the spiritual realm when the enemy is attacking us. When we thank God in the midst of the unfavorable happenings in our lives and families, God can move in different dimensions that we do not understand. He might move on our behalf to bring quick deliverance like healing us from our illness or intervening on our behalf to give us answer with reference to material attainments or traveling breakthrough that we have prayed for some years ago. The things I have mentioned in this text sentence have been experienced and they serve as living testimonies.

            In 1988 I got very sick and I had to briefly drop out of school to seek medical attention. I was taken to various clinics and hospitals in Liberia; unfortunately, there was no diagnosis obtained despite of numerous tests carried out; however, I was actually sick. It was said that I was bewitched through African signs; therefore, I was asked to go to my township so that the elders of the town could do some sacrifices on my behalf so I could get well. According to sources as the result of sorcery carried out on my behalf, I had taken a wrong path by becoming a Christian when I have a background of becoming a Zoed (witch doctor), stated sorcerer. In response to the request to have this trip made to our township, I refused to do so because I was a Christian at the time, two years old in the faith. I continued to take prescription medication and at the same time going for prayers every Sundays whenever an altar call was called in the church. When the Liberia civil insurrection started in 1989 and rebels began to capture major towns and cities from government troops, I no longer had access to medications. I stopped taking medications for the unknown condition and depended on God. The Lord miraculously healed me in 1991 after the war had intensified. In 1992, I fled Liberia and headed to the Republic of Guinea, the neighboring country situated and bounded by Liberia on North. Once I fled Liberia in 1992, I had no desire to return; therefore, I began to write scholarship letters to Canada and America for school as the result of the desire to travel in order to further my education abroad while in the refugee camps. I was a refugee in exile and had lived in Guinea and the Ivory Coast for over twelve years of stagnation; nevertheless, despite of the desperation experienced in refugee camps, I had the faith that the Lord was going to take me somewhere better though the place of betterment was never conceivable as the result of the present condition my family and I faced in Laine Refugee Camp, Republic of Guinea. I had tasted, smelled, felt, seen, touched, heard, and communicated with Mr. Hardship. I had lived in the desert and experienced isolation from the outside world. I had eaten bulgur wheat, corn beef, and all sort of foods that refugees can eat in order to survive. Despite of these experiences, when the fullness of time came, the Lord answered my prayer and brought me to America in 2005 miraculously under the Refugees Resettlement Program. The Lord answers prayers when believers pray believing what they have asked for. The Lord healed me in 1991 from the illness that was never diagnosed and made me travel oversea in 2005. If we could have at least 50 percents of the believers of global populations who believe in prayer and pray believing what they have prayed for, they could control the affairs of the world today; unfortunately, I am of the opinion that we don’t have that percent yet.

            Self-examination and confession go hand in hand. It is expedient to self-examine ourselves when praying. On many occasions, we stumble and fall; therefore, self-examination is prescriptive and serves as the tool to spiritual diagnosis. Apostle Paul admonished the believers at Corinth to self-examine themselves to see if they were in the faith (2 Cor 13:1–5). David the Psalmist asked God to search him (Psalm 139:23). In the absence of self-examination, Christians might become pride to admit their shortcomings and refuse to confess sin. Most Christians tend to attack Satan in their prayers when they stand vulnerable to the attack of the devil as the result of their continued disobedience toward God and His Word. How will you attack Satan when you are practicing what the devil does? This is hypocritical and leads to spiritual suicidal and could lead to physical death of the ostensible Christian. Apostle Paul admonished believers in Ephesus to put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10–24). Christians should be cognizant that they are faced with spiritual war; therefore, the Christian life is an identity associated with spiritual virtue and the enemy will seek the believers purposely to destroy that virtue (holiness). He does so by gradually introducing sin through gradual temptations that appear to be simple by insidious strongholds, calculated arguments, high things set up against the knowledge of God, the thought process, and disobedience. Christians should be aware of these devices that the enemy uses to defeat the Christian. Pretense in the Christian life is dangerous and many people who attend churches might be found in this category. Even Pastors who stand on the pulpit and preach, some are found in this category of pretense.

            The cost of discipleship as deliberated in the textbook is the spiritual tool that tests the Christian experience and creates the avenue for Christians to build spiritual resilience in the midst of trials or temptations. Paul writes in Romans 5:1–5 that through justification in Christ by faith, Christians have peace with God that enables them to gain access by faith into this grace that enables them to stand. The grace obtained from God enables or empowers Christians to stand in the face of provocations and to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God through suffering that produces patience, patience; character, character, hope; and hope does not disappoint the believer due to the love of the Holy Spirit believer has or carries. To put this passage into the nut shed, the cost associated with discipleship as mentioned in the passage allows believers to walk in grace in order develop spiritual resilience resulting into Christian spiritual formation. The ultimate is that believers should grow and become Christ like individual through trials, hardship, temptations, and a sure hope (expectation).

            Believer growing and becoming Christ like individual is the ongoing process in the Christian life; therefore, to remain obedient, the believer should listen to God in order to maintain the continued Christian spiritual formation. Listening biblically to God is doing His will or obeying the Scripture. Listening to God is the spiritual exercise that is associated with obedience. Believers should listen to God through total obedience in order to maintain spiritual formation in Christ. When believers listen to God, they become sensitive to His voice intuitively, by vision, or audible voice; in this light, they develop the spirit of discerning. Many Christians follow the wrong voice because they have not practiced or learned spiritually the difference between the voice of God and the voice of the devil. There is a danger involved for those who pray with the mindset to seek spiritual power from God when they have not learned to listen gaining the spirit of discernment in order to differentiate between the voice of God from the voice of the devil. One of my spiritual Sons prayed and fasted for forty days in order to gain spiritual power from God. At the end of his forty days fasting and praying, he had a dream and a woman appeared to him with a cat head. After the dream, he heard a rushing wind which came from the water entering through his window and eventually he felt something entering his body like a thorn like object. After this episode, he began to hear funny voices into his ears and started to prophesy. According to him, he knew that this voice was not from God; however, he still prophesied. These prophesies came from the evil spirits that entered him after the forty days fasting and praying. He became demonized; as the result, we had to conduct exorcism on him to cast out the evil spirits that inhabited him. During the prayer, the evil spirits manifested as dogs, bats, owls, and pigs. He sought power from God and received the wrong one from the devil. It is never advisable for the believer to pray for spiritual power.

            In conclusion, the practice of spiritual disciplines, self-examination, confession, the cost of discipleship, listening to God, involving in corporate worship, and discerning to know the difference between the voice of God and the voice of Satan are contents of materials learned in the textbooks while doing the various exercises coupled with the holy experiments.

Reflections: Category Three

Part One

As we Christians journey daily in our walks with God, it is expedient that we humble ourselves before God and surrender to him our lives, tasks, and families. These three areas are paramount when it comes to Christian daily devotional lifestyle. Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6–7 NIV). The first holy experiment in the textbook from Pages 90 to 136 lists mindfulness, thankfulness, and welcoming God into your next task. This scriptural passage in Philippians 4:6–7 correlates with the listing in the holy experiment that corresponds to what we do daily in lives with reference to tasks and family. Primarily, I should learn and practice to be mindful when I am approaching God in prayers. The mindset in prayers is important because God will not answer the double minded individual’s prayer; therefore, mindfulness in prayer life serves as the determinability how God answers when we Christians pray.

            The second aspect of our prayer lives is that we should learn to be appreciative or thankful to God of what he has done for us and what he will continue to do for us or our family; therefore, thankfulness or thanksgiving serves as the second determinability how God answers prayers. Many times in our devotional lives, we only petition God instead of thanking him of what he has done for us and family.

            The third area of our devotional lives which the holy experiment lists is welcoming God into your next task. Many of us hastily wake up from bed in the morning and get into our vehicles without praying or welcoming God in what we are going to do daily. It is expedient to commit to God what we are going to do in the places of our employment so that God can bless the works of our hands. Mindfulness, thankfulness, and welcoming God to our next daily tasks are determinability for God answering our prayers coupled with faith. These things learned from the holy experiments have shaped my views on the prayer life.

Part Two

The reading assignment in Prayer: The Adventure, from pages 105–139 discusses petition and practicing the presence of God. Under petition, the Lord’s Prayer is sub-themed with six corresponding exercises listing the prayer points for the various categories that relate to the Lord’s Prayer’s theme category. Primarily, the rules of petitioning are layout followed by the Lord’s Prayer. Under “Holy is Your Name” category, I listed prayer items of missionaries, denominations, and ministries and so do as the other categories in the exercises to theoretically complete he exercises followed by prayer as the requirement for practice as indicated in the assignment. The name of God being holy indicates His transcendence over the subject mentioned object of the prayer. God’s name is holy; therefore, He requires that missionaries, denominations, and ministries bear His holy name by what they do that reflects the holiness of God by representations.

            In exercise two, “Your Kingdom Come Down” category resonates with the social and cultural problems humanity faces on the daily basis. Giving these social and cultural problems to God is acknowledging God’s kingdom reign on people who face these problems. That’s being said, we are required by default to surrender to God so He can influence the lives we live on planet Earth. Humanity should surrender to God to enable her overcomes these social and cultural problems (sins) that confront her daily alienating her. Submitting to God’s kingdom reign is directly proportional to allowing His will to be done. This brings exercise three, “Thy Will Be Done” category to conclude God’s kingdom reign on humanity. As we remain in His presence through total obedience as the result of His influence, we stand in the position to ask God for our daily bread bringing exercise four “This Day Our Daily Bread” category. While asking God for our daily bread, we should have forgiven people who have wronged us so that the Lord will also forgive our wrong doings. This brings exercise five “Forgive Us Our Debts, As We Forgive Our Debtors” category. Knowing that the devil will always tempt us in order to take us from the presence of God, we are to ask Him to deliver us from the evil one during temptations. This brings exercise six “Deliver Us from the Evil One” category. The completion of these exercises in the textbook simplifies the categories of prayer we should offer to God during devotional life. This prayer is called the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible; however, it is actually the disciples’ prayer as the result of the prayer’s pattern. With reference to practicing his presence, the content outlines three spiritual disciplines. The disciplines include meditation, prayer, and fasting. These spiritual disciplines are seen in the six levels known as the practicing the presence of God. These levels include listening through the day, simple prayers, the daily office, fasting, seasons of prayer, and practicing the presence of God.

            The issues of petition and practicing the presence of God are demonstrative of how we offer prayer and conduct ourselves before God to be heard. This is summed up with “communicating properly with God so he can hear you and answer your prayer.” The completion of the assignment speaks volume to me the necessity and practice three disciplines in the Christian life for continued Christian Spiritual formation (2 Cor 3:17–18).

Part Three

            The reading of the five chapters in the selected books in the Bible helps me survey the essence of resilient faith, the nature of the supernatural, the power of miracles over nature, the power of exorcism exercised over demons, and the struggle between God and the diabolical dimension.

            Resilient faith is the faith that operates in the midst of obstacles. The individual who operates in the resilient faith does not listen to the external rudeness in the sense that it deafens the sensitivity of the Spirit. This is one of the reasons that resilient faith does not fail because it is generated in the individual through the power of the Spirit.

            The nature of the supernatural in term of miracles is beyond human understanding. This is the reason miracles cannot be explained neither understood because it derives from God. Miracles are characteristic of God who works beyond the scene and that which are incomprehensible in the human arena of thinking. God is infinite in his doing, wisdom, and in His moral and immoral attributes; therefore, He cannot be understood or fathomed because He is so high that one does not go on top; he is so low that one does not go beneath; and He is so wide that one does not go around. He has no beginning and no ending.

            The essence of exorcism exercised over demons and demonic power is the reason of the anointing carried by Jesus and those who believe in Him. The gift of exorcism can operate in believer’s life at anytime as the believer avails himself to spiritual disciplines leading to gradual transformation in the likeness of Christ. Spiritual transformation occurs in the believers as believers allow themselves to be shaped by God through the exercise of spiritual disciplines of prayers, fasting, holy living, silence and solitude, and the list goes on.

            Apostle Paul writes, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his images with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:17–18). The verb phrase “are being transformed into” is metamorphomoumetha as transliterated in form. It comes from the infinitive verb “metamorphoo” in Greek, which signifies, to transform. Metamorphoo is the change that occurs after an individual has been with the Lord. Such change has to do with the inner reality of the believer. This transformation is expressed leading to transfiguration. Believers are being transfigured. The action is a passive present perfect continued tense, an action that began when an individual gives his or her life to God and continues in the present until an individual grows and matures into spiritual maturity. The science word “metamorphosis” is defined as the series of changes that an insect undergoes to become a complete adult, comes from the Greek word “metamorphoo.” The same manner metaphorically an insect changes through biological phenomenon, the same manner believer changes allegorically in the Spirit to spiritual formation in Christ. The Christian life is a crisis movement and no one can by-pass the stages to become Christ like individual. The deeds of the flesh must be put to death through surrender to the Holy Spirit daily (Gal 5:16–22).

            The theological contest between the prophet Elijah and the false prophets of Baal indicates the struggle between the high thing set up against the knowledge of God (2 cor 10:3–6). Elijah proved his God through the demonstration of spiritual power and the manifestation of the supernatural and eventually executed the 150 prophets of Baal after their failure to reveal their god during the contest. Elijah revealed his God by fire (1 Kings 18:20–40).

            In conclusion, the nature of the resilient faith, the essence of the supernatural, the reality and demonstration of exorcism, and the struggle between God and the diabolical are seen in the passages of the imaginative readings. The time spent reading was the time of spiritual discovery of biblical truths that are inerrant, inspirational, credible, absolute, and reliable.

Part Four

In this reflection, the subjects of resilient faith (Mark 10:46–52), the sufficiency of the supernatural (Acts 3:1–10), the superiority of miracles over natural phenomenon (Matt. 14:22–33), Jesus conferred power demonstrated through exorcism (Luke 8:26–39), and God’s transcendence nature over creation and superiority contested are highlighted (1 Kings 18:20–40).

            The encounter of blind Bartimaeus with Jesus and his aspiration to receive his sight was hindered by some elements of the audience that Jesus was ministering to during the tenure of his ministry (Mark 10:46–52); nevertheless, in the midst of obstacles that blind Bartimaeus faced, he did not recant announcing his request to Jesus that he wanted to see. He directly addressed Jesus as the Son of David. In often times, we petition God regarding our earnest desires or needs through prayers chains; in opposition to our desires, the enemy usually plays mind games with believers to disbelieve God what they are asking God for. In such situation, believers face obstacles through their mind whether they should believe Satan or God’s report. When I got sick in 1988 and having sought medical intervention, but everything appeared vague, I had to trust God for my healing in the midst of the obstacles of disbeliefs that I faced at the time that could lead me to recant my faith in God. What blind Bartimaeus faced in his days is contemporary to what believers face today when it comes to the exercise of faith over obstacles and desperations. In such situation like blind Bartimaeus’ scenario, the resilient faith is the one that overcomes obstacles through the grace of God.

            The encounter of Peter and John with the lame bagger proves the sufficiency of the supernatural over human predicaments (Acts 3:1–10). The lame man has sat occasionally at the Gate of Beautiful to ask people for alms entering the temple. During this blessed day for the lame man, he divinely encountered Peter and John entering the temple and eventually asked for alms. The apostles responded in different manner. Instead of giving him material things, they gave him Jesus through healing him and bringing his predicaments to an end. Sometimes what we ask in prayers as believers might not be in the plan that God desires for our lives; therefore, God might not grant us what we are asking for. He will grant things to us for our betterment at the time that suits our immediate needs; therefore, it was in the case of the lame man who was asking for alms instead of asking for healing. He was complacent about his condition and was asking for things to fill his belly. If we pray to God for the request with preconceived knowledge and tend to force the request based on self-aggrandizement to help God answer our prayers, God might allow His permissible will agenda to materialize; however, we will pay the consequences of our actions. The Israelites asked God for a king and received one (1 Samuel 8); however, it was not in the plan of God for them and they therefore suffered the consequences of their actions. The request of the lame bagger to receive money from Peter and John and their response to the lame bagger proves the sufficiency of the supernatural over human predicaments and materialistic gratifications.

            The walking of Jesus on the water and man’s desire to emulate Jesus and the backdrop man experienced due to fear and lack of faith and Jesus’ response proves the superiority of miracles over natural phenomenon and nature coupled with man’s shortcomings (Matt 14:2–33). The hesitancy of man to undertake a project or to pray to God and believe what he has asked for is the fear that he will fail or does not believe that God will answer his prayer. The bottom-line is one word called ‘fear.’ This is the reason the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul in Philippians 4:6–7 and reads, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Prayer is the primary substance that should be offered to guard the hearts. The hearts contain the mind, the will, the soul or the spirit. The mind is the thought pattern. The will is the center of decision making. The Spirit is that which communicates with God. Knowing that the mind contains the intellect, the will, and emotion, scripture has emphasized that the mind should be renewed through the word of God (Romans 12:1–5). If the mind is renewed, spiritual formation becomes the reality (2 Cor 3:17–18). When believers are gradually transformed to become the Christ like individual, they will think and walk as Christ does. This helps believers deal with anxiety and consequently walk in faith. Peter sunk into the water due to the fear that he will sink. What he thought is what he gave birthed to. Anxiety changed his walking on the water to sinking into the water. Believers are admonished in scriptures to guide the heart. It is from the heart that comes the issues of lives. Your heart cannot be bigger than your ministry, business, or anything you plan to become. The superiority of miracles over natural phenomenon and nature is scripturally documented and validated.

            The encounter of Jesus with the demoniac indicates the superiority the kingdom of God has over the kingdom of darkness (Luke 8:26–39). Jesus meets the demoniac who lives in the grave yard. The demons begged Jesus to have them sent into pigs. Jesus commands according to the request. Jesus is asked to leave the vicinity as the result of the strange happening. Jesus’ conferred power is exercised and validated through exorcism as the result of the anointing he carries (Luke 10:38). Jesus has conferred the same power on believers through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Believers are empowered to cast out demons from the demonized individual through the power of the Holy Spirit. Believers will do greater works than these because Jesus has gone to the Father (John 14:12).

            The encounter of Elijah with the false prophets of Baal indicates that there is no true God besides the Creator of the heaven and the earth; hence, all others that claim deities are idols and therefore are powerless. This sends message to religious groups in the world who do not worship or serve the true God who has created the heaven and the earth. The contest between Elijah and the false prophets of Baal and the end result proves that there is no true God besides the God of Elijah, the Creator of the heaven and the earth.

            In conclusion, the subject of resilient faith, the sufficiency of the supernatural, the defilement of the natural phenomenon by miracles, the exercise of exorcism over demons, and God’s transcendent power and superiority over the agents of gods are contested and validated. The God of the Creator of heaven and earth is incomparable to deities in the world.

Category Four

PART 3

The subjects of the practice of spiritual discipline of prayer, recognizing one’s weakness and allowing the Holy Spirit to take over, the expression of character by action, the taming of the tongue to speak blessings to people, the dying to self in order to please God, and the extending of hospitality to others who hate you are highlighted in this document based on the holy experiments completed in the textbook and other piece of materials studied that is related to the assignment.

            The issue of praying our feelings with reference to the spiritual discipline of prayer is vital to maintaining the balance between our emotions and the move of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life during prayerful moment. The balance can be maintained when the believer identifies and names the feeling that is within him or her. Such feelings could have draining and depressing effects on the individual [1]. Feelings such as anger, sadness, envy, joy, and among others should be expressed to the Holy One in prayers. Building the honest feelings and sharing the feelings with God will find a renewed closeness to God and will impart additional strengths for every day task and channels the energy within the believer’s feelings into creative action.[2]

            Anger is one of the feelings we experience when someone has hurt us with reference to relationship breakdown, business transactions, the bridge in contract, or disappointment. Such episode can elicit a feeling of anger due to hurt. The continued expression of such anger can lead to trauma that can result into illness. In 2012, myEx- wife went into the act of adultery when things were difficult on us financially. At the time I have just begun the master degree program at the seminary and didn’t have the full-time job. America was still recovering from the economic recession and things were not better with us financially; however, my wife placed me under financial burden whenever she visited the supermarket. I had little children and became fearful that should I divorce her; my little children will be at risk emotionally to be depressed. These metal images brought me anger and sorrow. I soliloquized whenever I walked into the street of Charlotte. Every time, I went to pray, I had to express my anger while speaking to God about my situation. I realized that as I expressed my anger during prayers, I got closer to God and became to depend on him to secure my children and to direct my decision during the dilemma. Most of the decisions I took in the midst of desperation were guided by God’s leading.

            Sadness, envy, and joy are part of the human’s emotions. These emotions or feelings should be presented to God during prayers. Sadness is one of the feelings that resonate when loved one dies. I have had two episodes where loved ones died. A boy and girl child that I loved dearly died in 1996 and 1999. The two were relatives’ children; however, I was too closed to these children. With reference to envy, it can be bad when it has no connection to divine envy. When people become envious, they have the tendency to enter into competitions with others. For example, a pastor who sees his friend doing better in ministry may envy to be like him or surpass him or her. Such envy can be negative or positive based on the motive. Giving our envy to the Holy Spirit will help us to guide our hearts in the right direction because out of the hearts come the issues of life (Proverbs 4:22–24). Among these feelings discussed, joy is known to be positive because it comes from the Lord. When we express joy to the Lord in prayers, we get spiritually awakened and moved to do greater things in his service based on intentions and motivations. The joy expressed becomes our strengths in the time of troubles. Such troubles could be illness, setbacks, or deaths of the loved ones.

            The subject of practice of spiritual discipline of prayers with reference to praying the Psalms is vital to relating to the Holy Spirit through praise, thanksgiving, and developing vocabularies that are used to intimately connect us with some aspects of our own lives experiences[3]with God.

            Praise is the vehicle that takes the believer to the presence of God. In praise, we express who God is; therefore, praise unveils the attributes of God. Praise magnifies God’s incomparable power in the universe. Praise is horizontal in the sense that during praise, we express the attributes of God while we interact with one another in service. When we magnify God through songs of praise, we are praying the Psalms in the service. Most songs of praise about God are found in the book of Psalms.

            Thanksgiving is the post activity carried out after praise. During thanksgiving, we express our gratitude to God what he has done and will continue to do for us. Thanksgiving appears to be the interlude between praise and worship; hence, thanksgiving becomes the vehicle that takes us to the altar where worship of God takes place. We find ourselves in the presence when we are in worship mood expressively. During thanksgiving and worship, the book of Psalms is being prayed. The acts of praise, thanksgiving, and worship are the acts of praying the Psalms, the spiritual discipline that helps the believer’s spiritual formations.

            The praying of Psalms helps us to develop vocabularies that are connected to our feelings which enable us to express our emotions to God that helps us to develop intimate relationship with God. Sentences such as “You are wonderful, you are loving, and you are merciful” and so on help us to know who God is and draw us closer to him. It is a spiritual experience we encounter daily when we pray the Psalms through praise, thanksgiving, and worship.

            The subject of the practice of spiritual discipline of prayer is essential to praying the Lord’s Prayer. Praying the Lord’s Prayer is the act of praise and petition. The Lord’s Prayer indicates the pattern of prayer as recorded in Matthew 9:9–13. “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom comes, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” This pattern of prayer recognizes the sovereign rule of God and his influence on planet earth. The pattern of prayer is the praise recognition of who God is and his influence acceptance. “Give us this day our daily bread.” This pattern of the Lord’s Prayer is petitioning God and recognizing him as the source of everything we possess. The dependence realization that without God we are nothing manifests true humility by conscience as we self-examine ourselves and pass the score. The act of self-examination is actualized when we allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit. As Proverbs 4:22–23 states, “Guide the heart because out of the heart comes the issues of life.” Our heart cannot be bigger than the vision, the ministry, or any projects we decide to undertake. All are guided and regulated by the heart, which seems to be the center of the human’s physical and spiritual life.

            The recognition of one’s weakness and allowing the Holy Spirit to take over is essential to journaling one’s inner struggles. The guidelines layout in the holy experiment are useful tools for journaling one’s struggles. The guidelines include finding a quiet place that is free from distractions and asking the Holy Spirit for courage to read honestly the condition of one’s heart, reflecting on temptation intent to sabotage one personal integrity to harm one relationship with God, and turning to Christ using one’s imagination in order to invoke the rising presence of Christ.[4] The effective use of these tools involuntarily and intentionally documenting one’s experience might help direct one’s action how one relates to God when it comes to recognizing his holiness and attempting to live in obedience through the power of the Holy Spirit as one surrenders all to Jesus. The sinful nature that becomes barrier to destroy the relationship one has with God can be dealt with when one surrenders the sinful nature to God by yielding to the Holy Spirit to control how one lives. Sin can be overcome completely when one decides in his or her heart to leave the wrong doing and to surrender to Christ.

            Recognizing one’s weakness and allowing the Holy Spirit to take over is vital to overcoming evil with love.[5] The holy experiment in the textbook requiring practice is important to the Christian life for spiritual formation. To grow spiritually and to mature bringing glory to God in order to be in right standing with the Holy God requires forgiving people who have wronged us in the past. Keeping malice in one’s heart for people who have wronged us in the past is he direct act of keeping oneself under captivity which is dangerous to the unhealthy relationship between us and God. One of the ways to demonstrate this is caring for the individual when they have needs especially the individual who had wronged you in the past. Render assistance financially to the person who has under-looked and talked at you before as if you were not a human being. The secret of forgiving people and assisting individuals who have dehumanized you before through words is that you will be blessed and God will always use you as channel of blessing in people’s lives. The holy experiment actually resonates with me because I find myself in the cross-road or the middle of it. People who have wronged me in the past have always sought assistance from me. The tendency for people to seek assistance is the result of forgiveness. I recognize that I myself am weak and I am vulnerable too when it comes to hurting people through words or direct act.

            Recognizing one’s weakness and allowing the Holy Spirit to take over is giving oneself to intercessory prayers. Adopting the habit to pray for people who have wronged us is the gateway of allowing the Holy Spirit to use us in order to deliver people from sickness, demons, and among others. Whenever we avail ourselves to God in this manner as intercessors, we can be used by God dramatically and powerfully. Every intercessor should be a forgiving individual. It is not possible to carry people in one’s heart maliciously and be an intercessor.

            The expression of character through action is necessary for witnessing without words.[6] Attentiveness and quietness are virtues for the Godly character that convince listeners and speakers to take notes of you and to determine what substance one is made of. What one is made of and what one is, is expressed through the lifestyle that manifests that character. In this holy experiment, witnessing without words is tied to fasting in this context; however, I want to extend this discussion beyond fasting. We are admonished in scriptures to be quick to listen, but slow to speak. Metaphorically, this statement can also apply to our response to temptations. How we relate to temptations when they come determines how well we escape the temptations and live this Christian life. In Matthew, we are admonished as Christians to allow our light to shine before men so that they can see our good works and glorify God who is in heaven. It indicates that our lifestyle with reference to good character expression is tied to the testimonial life we live here with respect to bringing glory to God through the lives we live as Christians. What believers do in fasting and practical Christian living is expressed in witnessing without words.

            The expression of character through action with reference to biblical obedience gives birth to divine openings.[7] In the holy experiment practice, divine openings have to do with being alert to sense the opportunity to meet people who have been prepared by God to benefit from one’s ministry. It is tied to offering prayers in such direction. In this junction, one’s character expression through behavioral obedience and the exercise of mission evangelism to win souls for Christ is tied to divine openings. Philip sensed divine openings and ministered to the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26–40). Peter and John sensed divine openings and healed the bagger at the gate of Beautiful (Acts 3).

            The expression of character through actions can resonate with one’s testimony. During testimony, one expresses what God has done for him or her. Testimony expresses God’s character with reference to what God is capable of doing and consequently inspires others to believe God. Someone may say, “If God did this for him or her, he can do the same for me.” When believers testify about God’s goodness through testimony, it inspires and encourages others not to recant the faith. Testimony adds to our convictions and energizes one to continue the faith because it is a personal experience. When God healed me in 1990; then, I have the conviction that God does heal beyond all reasonable doubt.

            The subject of stewardship compels one to pledging to tithe. Tithing in the Bible is the commandment given to the Church with the corresponding blessings and curses based on one’s responses (Mal 3:10–11). Despite of the corresponding rewards tied to tithing, tithing should be practiced by all without the mindset of being rewarded. If we treat tithing as the responsibility; then, God will bless the works of our hands; on the contrary, many do not treat tithing as the steward’s responsibility; rather, it has been treated as the reciprocal duty. You give to God; then, God will give to you. This is one of the reasons prosperity gospel preachers do manipulate the audience in order to draw money from the people’s bank account.

            The subject stewardship tells us about divine ownership. It means we belong to God including our possessions. The lives we live should be surrendered to God including the riches God has given us. When we understand this truth about Christian stewardship; then, we will surrender to God in total obedience and surrender the resources to God what he has given us. This is the beginning of the spiritual and materials prosperity. True prosperity begins with spiritual prosperity. If the spiritual gives birth to materials prosperity; then, it is the true prosperity that will last (Joshua 6:1–10).

            Taming the tongue to speak blessings to people is halting harmful speech. Halting our harmful speeches begins with an honest acknowledgment of how we speak.[8] We are admonished in James to tame the tongue. The Bible describes the tongue as the little member among our body parts; however, it is the dangerous and has the potential to set the whole city onto fire. That is practically true based on the nature and activities of people who gossip and spread disinformation in the populations. This example can be seen with the President of the United States who spread disinformation about the election he lost to Joseph R. Biden and made baseless claims that the election was rigged. Over ten thousand of his supporters matched to Washington D.C to protest with the slogan “Stop the Steal.” The disinformation spread by him through tweets and the Stop the Steal’s website built by Rogers Stone, his ally, misinformed and misled his supporters to protest. The tongue can be misused. It can destroy and build depending how we use it.

            In the holy experiment, we are instructed to keep a daily journal regarding what kind of unkind words we speak and have them recorded. Journaling such activity during the week and examining where we are spiritually enables the believer to re-adjust the temperament in order to act or speak properly to people; however, the method the writer has proposed in the holy experiment according to the textbook is good; on the other hand, it will take the Holy Spirit to enable us keep the ordinance regarding how we speak to people. If we depend on keeping check on ourselves, we will miss the mark and become keepers of laws and might ignore the grace of God; therefore, we should take caution in this area.

            Communication is a skill that everyone should learn in order to address the social and cultural-emotional aspect of the human beings; unfortunately, many people lack communication skills when it comes to written and verbalization on the broad spectrum. It is necessary to examine what we speak and write before submission of the communication. Taming the tongue to speak blessings to people can be a blessing day to someone whom we have interacted with. The Bible declares that soft word turns away anger and heals the bone (Proverbs 15:1). Many problems in marriages and business contract can be solved if we know how to communicate with one another. How do you talk to your wife, husband, and children? Often times, many of us had failed in the past as the result of anger when our spouses began to hurt us. I know what I am talking about because I have been there before. If we put on the spirit of humility and forgo our ego, we will be able to repair the broken relationship especially when the individuals in the marriage predicament know, mature, and know they are coming from. It is always good to take a retrospect of oneself before making a decision that will affect the parties involved because decision comes with accountability and has repercussions.

            Taming the tongue to speak blessings to people is the direct act of offering encouraging words in the midst of desperations.[9] Counseling skill is necessary to calming down the situation that might escalate. De-escalation is needed and will require counseling skills with experience to calm down situation that might get out of hand. Many commotions will be avoided if people know how to use words of encouragement when one party becomes angrier; unfortunately, many people lack self-control and can easily grow out of proportion when there is a conflict.

            Dying to self in order to please God requires centering prayer. To center prayer, requires choosing a phrase or word to use during prayer. Such word could be “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.” or “God of consuming fire.” Prayer needs to be centered in order to address the particular issues confronting one’s Christian life.

            Dying to self in order to please God requires relinquishment.[10] Relinquishment is the act of laying down everything that has happened during the day and giving to Jesus all the day’s mistakes, stupidities, tensions, pressures, and demands.[11] When one has done this, he or she will rest in Christ or in a renewed spirit, strength, and the grace to live the Christian life. Dying to self is the complete dependent on God for the resources requires living the Christian life. Relinquishment is tied to humility and obedience.

            Extending helps to others who hate you is the practice of hospitality and forgiveness.[12] When we extend hands of fellowship to have others joining us on the table ministry, we share our food with others and they feel at home with us. Sharing our belongings with others in materials, cash, and others indicate Christ-centeredness. Extending helps to others who hate you is praying for our enemies. Naturally, when people hate an individual, it can be difficult for the individual to forgive except if the person carries the Holy Spirit. It is difficult for the unregenerate individual to forgive. There exists always the spirit of retaliation. God is absent; therefore, bitterness is inevitable. The test of true religion that is from God is the tendency to forgive your neighbors when they have wronged you. Which religions among the eleven religions of the world that teaches, preaches, and practices forgiveness? From study, Christianity is the only religion among the eleven religions of the world that does such.

            The completion of these holy experiments in the textbook gives me an overview of the Christian responsibilities with respect to practical obedience, the search of eager desire to attain Christ-likeness, the practical use of the exercise of scriptures through the holy experiments to live to the scripture, and the dependent on God to attain spiritual formation in Christ.

PART 1

The practice of spiritual discipline of prayer as we approach God can resonate with praying our feelings when we are hurt. This is natural when we come to God with hurt emotions such as anger, sadness, or being envious by default. In such a praying mood, we are moved to express our feelings to God in prayers in the form of petition, declaration, and confession based on our situation. I experienced such episode in 2012 when I had a family crisis which twisted me inward and outward. I was enrolled in school doing the master degree program at the seminary with educational, family, and ministry’s goal set with time frame when my Ex-wife began to give me problems in the home. I could not understand why she was posing me problems when it came to the use of money in the home. We had some financial problems and we could hardly pay our bills on time. America was still in economic recession and one hardly fined a job. Every time my Ex-wife happened to be at Wal-mart, she would call and asked me that she saw certain items on the shelves she wanted them when she did not have the money in the bank to buy them. I would respond and like her know that we did not have sufficient money in the bank; therefore, buying such items could put us behind making us not to pay our bills as scheduled and I did not want us to be behind with our bills. She would quarrel with me and would go ahead to purchase the items ignoring the fact that we did not have sufficient cash in the bank to buy such items especially when it was not budgeted to do so. Having been aware that I would know anytime she took money from the bank because I was doing online banking, she went to the branch bank and asked Customer Service to change the password I used to log in for accessibility. After changing the password, a notification email came into my inbox notifying me that an email password has been changed. I asked if she had been at the bank to change the password. She answered me verbally without any respect. At this time, my Ex-wife had started a relationship out of States and I did not know. Since I could not log in for the online banking, I went to the branch bank and asked Customer Service to print out the bank statements. After the print, my Ex-wife had withdrawn several withdrawals that could amount to $6000.00 and plus from the business account. Our mortgage was outstanding; however, she refused to let any money out from the business account so we could pay the mortgage; unfortunately, I could not withdraw any money from this account because she refused me to put my name on the account though the account belonged to both of us. I had to use my student’s loan to pay the mortgage because I did not want the mortgage company to foreclose the property. She did not care at all due to materialistic lifestyle and the love for money coupled with the adulterous lifestyle. I became traumatized and withdrew from the registered courses at the seminary. I got sick due to this trauma. The woman continued her adulterous lifestyle and destroyed the family, the ministry, and everything I have invested. I was thinking about my children; unfortunately, the woman did not care and she continued to drag my life into the grave. Having such hurt emotions while praying to God is a spiritual experience. It is a spiritual experience because our emotions need to be expressed before God to let some of trauma alleviated. The emotions can be expressed when we tell God our circumstances in prayers and ask for his intervention. The disadvantage with such prayer is hurt feelings associated with emotional breakdown; nevertheless, such feeling should be expressed before God to have some reliefs. What I call practical forgiveness in the midst of hurt emotion is when someone who hurts you does not show any remorse; anyhow, one should forgive to be right with God. Obedience to God in such situation is crucial when it comes to forgiving someone who is sinning against you without remorse. My experience with God during these days of adversity was that I found myself to let go what my Ex-wife had done to me and consequently I experienced peace of mind despite of the prevailing situation. I felt abandoned, betrayed, and abused by the woman because the woman did not show any remorse during the past years we have lived together. I could not believe that a woman who had been in church and had been a wife of the Pastor would behave in this manner.

PART 2

The first picture shown on the return of the prodigal shows the Father opening his arms to welcome his son despite what the son had done to ravage his wealth. This is how God welcomes the sinner when the sinner has decided to leave sin and to submit to God’s lordship.

Rembrandt - The Return of The Prodigal Son, Size 11x14 inch, Canvas Art Print Wall décor

The second picture indicates the healing hand of God. The cross in the hand shows and signifies the healing, deliverance, forgiveness of sin, provision, security, and the salvation Jesus has provided for sinners when he died on the cross. The cross became a place of death; however, it has now become a place of salvation.

Reenactment Of Jesus Christ Crucifixion With Human Hand Nailed.. Stock  Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image. Image 86801327.

The third picture shows the location where Jesus prayed before dying on the cross to purchase our salvation. The Garden of Gethsemane was a place of prayers to prepare Jesus for his death. It reminds believers that prayer is the remedy to the problems believers face daily. Every believer should have the Garden of Gethsemane. Prayer is what believer should live by daily to overcome obstacles in this life as believers face Satan and his demons.

Jesus Christ Praying In The Garden of Gethsemane Christian image 0

The fourth picture indicates the glorious journey forward. The journey is the journey towards victory in Christ. The journey of obedience and overcoming victory to eternal life is established. The journey of gradual spiritual formation in Christ is established (2 Cor 3:17–18). We are being transformed to ever increasing glory as we all contemplate the Lord’s glory who is the Spirit. We gain freedom in Christ because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Portrait of Glory... | Beautiful nature, Beautiful landscapes, Nature  photography

[1]Trevor Hudson, Discovering Our Spiritual Identity: Practices for God’s Beloved. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2010, 105.

[2]Ibid., 105.

[3]Ibid., 107.

[4]Ibid., 117.

[5]Ibid., 120.

[6]Ibid., 120.

[7]Ibid., 132.

[8]Ibid., 156.

[9]Ibid., 171.

[10]Ibid., 174.

[11]Ibid., 174.

[12]Ibid., 180.


[1]Trevor Hudson, Discovering Our Spiritual Identity: Practices for God’s Beloved. Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2010, 95.

[2]Ibid, 97.

[3]Ibid, 99.