Spiritual Practices

Series Introduction: Life by the Spirit

Do you ever find yourself asking the question “Is this it? Is coming to church on Sundays and attending a life group during the week all there is to life with God?”

For many of us, we struggle with the same things day after day, week after week, year after year. We long to grow in our relationship with God, but we’re not really sure where to start. We don’t see the transformation we hope for in our lives.  It can be tiring. And discouraging.

Can God really change us? Can he transform our hearts, our desires, our character?

The reality is, we are all being formed, or changed, all the time. We don’t have to make any conscious effort to be shaped. The structures, norms, and narratives of our culture shape us whether we actively recognize it or not. And here’s the thing, some of our cultural norms and narratives are actually in direct opposition to the narrative of the gospel.   

In this series, we will look at the life God desires for us and the fruit of his Spirit he is wanting to develop in us (Gal. 5:13-26).  Life by the Spirit involves engaging in intentional spiritual practices. Spiritual practices are not about adding another good deed to your list of “should do’s” if I want to be a good person or a “good Christian.” Spiritual practices are about resistance—they are the constant and necessary resistance to and rejection of another narrative that says:

“Self is sovereign.”
“Never settle for less.”
“You are what you produce.”
“I am my image.”

These are the waters we swim in. We may not consciously believe any of these statements, and yet, they shape us. They form who we are becoming. As followers of Jesus, it’s important for us to realize that we are shaped not merely by what we say we believe, but by what we actually practice. God’s invitation to us is to live “by and in step with the Holy Spirit” (Gal. 5:25), that we might fulfill our mission to love and serve God and one another. This is the focus of our series.

Series Overview

  • June 9 – Life by the Spirit
  • June 16 – Worship
  • June 23 – Fasting
  • June 30 – Sabbath
  • July 7 – Community

Recommended Resources

YouVersion Reading Plan: Life by the Spirit

Our hope in creating this reading plan is to provide you with something you can read and practice EACH DAY as we learn together what it means to walk in step with the Spirit and engage in practices that help us to resist some of the unhelpful cultural narratives we find ourselves swimming in.

For those of you who prefer to listen to audio, everything in the reading plan is recorded so you can tune in as you’re driving to work or going about your day.

To find the plan, download the YouVersion Bible App, search for “Blackhawk Church” in the plans, and choose “Life by the Spirit Scripture and Practices.” Invite your life group, family, friend, or neighbor to read with you and you can discuss what God is teaching you along the way.

If you are unable to access the Bible app, you can download the pdf of the reading plan here.

Next Steps Blog

Subscribe to the Next Steps blog to get a weekly blog post filled with recommendations of books, podcasts, and other website resources for each spiritual practice.

Books about Spiritual Practices

The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciples for Ordinary People, by John Ortberg

Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation, by Ruth Haley Barton

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, by Richard Foster

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, by James K. A. Smith  

Books/Articles/Podcasts about the Holy Spirit

Open to the Spirit by Scot McKnight

Gospel and Spirit by Gordon D. Fee

Personal Actions of the Holy Spirit// Crossway

We believe in the Holy Spirit… // EFCA podcast

Theological Primer: the Holy Spirit // The Gospel Coalition