The Receptive Life

"We are beggars; this is true." (Martin Luther)

Welcome to the Receptive Life

Martin Luther described the Christian life as “receptive”. It was his way of saying that when it comes to the matters of the soul, God is the one who gives and we are the ones who, simply and solely, receive.

We are beggars; this is true.

… the Gospel bids us to hold the sack open and have something given to us.

– Martin Luther

We offer nothing.

No works.

No merits.

No rationale or reason for blessing.

Rather, through faith, we cling to the works of Jesus. Like beggars, we hold the sack open and receive all of the gifts that only He can give.

The Gifts That Only Jesus Can Give

My name is Paul Arndt and I created this site to explore how God uses the ancient spiritual disciplines to deliver all of the gifts that only Jesus can give.

Gifts like …

  • Grace that goes beyond any fault, failure, sin and weakness.
  • Mercy that goes beyond anything that we can bear and holds back anything that we deserve.
  • Peace that goes beyond any human understanding.
  • Hope that goes beyond any despair that the world, the Devil and our own sinful flesh might bring.
  • Joy that goes beyond any happiness that this world might offer.
  • And the sure and certain promise of His presence.

The posts on this site are meant to reclaim the spiritual disciplines from a slavish spirit of performance. The core idea is that the spiritual disciplines are not about our activity and ascent toward God, but rather, they’re the means by which God descends and delivers to us all of the gifts merited by Jesus.

The reason that we give ourselves to the Word of God is that, in doing so, the God of the Word promises to give Himself to us.

It’s all about receptivity.

Let’s Walk Together

As a pastor/shepherd I’ve spent a lot of time walking with people through …

  • the sacred territories of Repentance and Grace
  • the backwood villages of Meditation and Prayer
  • the green pastures and still waters of Silence and Solitude
  • the badlands of Despair and Suffering
  • the Valley of the Shadow of Death
  • and the new world of the Resurrection

Hopefully, when I write about and speak of such places, you’ll hear the accent of a local – a native and not a tourist – the voice of someone who’s spent his fair share of time in the territory.

If you’re open and willing, I’d like to invite you to walk with me through some of this spiritual territory. But before we begin, let me give you …

  • a map (the lay of the land)
  • a compass (a guide and some directions)
  • a backpack (spiritual tools, materials and skills)
  • an itinerary (a schedule for next steps)

 A Map of the Spiritual Territory

For a detailed PDF of the territory, click here.

map-of-the-territory_blog

Here are the ten stations/outposts of the territory:

  • Station 1: Invocation/Prayer (Evening and Morning Prayer)
  • Station 2: Confession (Daily)
  • Station 3: The Word of God (Daily)
  • Station 4: Ten Commandments (Monday)
  • Station 5: The Creed (Tuesday)
  • Station 6: The Lord’s Prayer (Wednesday)
  • Station 7: Sacrament of Baptism (Thursday)
  • Station 8: Office of the Keys (Friday)
  • Station 9: Sacrament of the Altar (Saturday)
  • Station 10: Vocation (Sunday)

Every day I walk to and through these territories. I go as a beggar, holding the spiritual sack wide open to receive all of the gifts that only Jesus can give. I make my way to each station because in each place Jesus offers and delivers on a promise.

Here’s how it works …

  • When we get ourselves to these sacred places, the Holy Spirit connects us to the person and work of Jesus.
  • And when we’re connected to the Word of God (in the flesh, in the Scriptures, in the Sacraments), the God of the Word promises to give Himself to us.
  • And when the Triune God gives Himself to us, He promises to be with us, to fight for us, to work on, in, through and around us.

Again, everything from God. Nothing from ourselves.

It’s all about receptivity.

It’s not about earning performance points or a spiritual merit badge but about running to the places and embracing the means by which Jesus said that he would give all of his gifts.

That’s the map, the lay of the land.

A Compass: the Psalm 119 Prayer Cycle

The Psalm 119 Prayer Cycle is an intentional and structured process that I’ve developed to help you consistently get to all of the “right” places. It’s a compass, a spiritual guide through the territory.

The heart of it, as the name suggests, is Psalm 119 (one giant song, 176 verses, about the Word of God and the God of the Word).

Psalm 119 (and the prayer cycle) pulses with these three themes:

prayer,

meditation on the Scriptures,

and the promise of grace in the midst of soul-struggle.

When sin, death and the Devil disorientate, the prayer cycle helps us get our bearings. Like a compass, it points to true north. It reorientates and directs us to the following landmarks:

  • the spiritual rhythm of life (evening and morning prayer)
  • the person and work of Jesus Christ
  • the heartbeat and pulse of the receptive life
  • the continual call to live a life of repentance
  • the daily reading, meditation and memorization of Scripture
  • the Psalms (Life Happens/But the Lord is …)
  • the Ten Commandments (the way of Love)
  • the Creed (the nature and character of the Triune God)
  • the Lord’s Prayer (a guided intercession from Jesus)
  • the Forgiveness of Sins (Baptism, Confession, the Lord’s Supper)
  • and our God given and graced Vocations (the call of Jesus to follow)

Here’s a couple of Psalm 119 Prayer Cycle resources:

That’s the compass.

A Backpack: (Tools, Materials and Skills)

While traveling, we’ll need some tools and materials. I’d like to suggest a couple of essential resources that you can put in the backpack …

You’ll also need some skills. The following spiritual disciplines might take a little bit of work but with some encouragement and time they can be developed.

Think of the following skills as spiritual exercises to strengthen the walking muscles. The more you use them, the stronger they get.

Here’s a list of some of the spiritual practices that we’ll use …

  • Placing the Name and Activity of God Upon our Lives
  • Evening and Morning Prayer
  • Giving Up Control (the illusion of control)
  • The Daily Reading and Study of the Scriptures
  • Memorization and Meditation of the Scriptures
  • The Psalms: a Safe Space/Place for our Emotions
  • The Practice of a Receptive Life
  • The Gift of Blessing and Being Blessed
  • The Daily Practice of Re-Membering Your Baptism
  • Confession and Absolution
  • Examination and Preparation Before Receiving the Lord’s Supper
  • The Practice of Leaving and Returning
  • Saying “No” in Order to Say “Yes”
  • Distractions and Divine Interruptions
  • Identifying and Fully Engaging in our Vocation
  • The Freedom to Say: “I don’t know”
  • The Courage to Say: “But I do know!”
  • Embracing the Mystery of “Missing Pieces”

Again, like all types of exercise, these are going to require some work. But remember, the spiritual disciplines are not about performance points or spiritual merit. They’re simply the means by which God works and gives to us the merit of Jesus.

Itinerary: 15-30 Minutes a Day for Twelve Weeks

And so, here’s what I’m thinking. If you give me about 15-30 minutes each day, for a couple of months, I’ll walk you through and show you around the spiritual landscape of the Psalm 119 Prayer Cycle.

In 15-30 minutes a day we’ll cover a lot of territory but the pace will be comfortable – not too fast, not too slow – progress not in leaps but a baby step forward every day.

15-30 minutes a day will give us enough time to explore, yet, at the same time, we’ll keep moving toward the next station/outpost.

Let’s walk together with the promise that if we get ourselves to all of those places on the map, God will promise to do his work.

And so, here’s the itinerary that I propose.

  • Week 1: the RHYTHM of Faith (Invocation, Evening and Morning Prayer)
  • Week 2:  the HEART, CORE and CENTRAL MESSAGE of faith (the person and work of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins)
  • Week 3:  the HEARTBEAT of faith (repentance)
  • Week 4:  the SPIRITUAL PRACTICE and TRAINING of faith (“training in godliness”)
  • Week 5:  the REVELATION and CONTENT of faith (the Word of God – heard, read and studied)
  • Week 6:  the WEAPON and SHIELD of faith (the Word of God – memorized and meditated upon)
  • Week 7: the EXPRESSION and EMOTION of faith (the Psalms)
  • Week 8:  the COMMAND and DEMAND of faith (the 10 Commandments)
  • Week 9:  the OBJECT of faith (the Creed)
  • Week 10:  the BATTLE CRY of faith (the Lord’s Prayer)
  • Week 11:  the CREATION, NOURISHMENT and SUSTAINING of faith (the Sacraments and Office of the Keys)
  • Week 12:  the DAILY EXERCISE of faith (station + location = vocation)

Base Camp (coming soon)

I also thought that it might be helpful for you to have a summary page. Let’s call it a base camp. This is a place where you can go and regroup, relax and refresh yourself before the next leg of the journey.

Here’s a direct link to that page.

  • Base Camp (coming soon)

Another benefit of Base Camp page is that it allows you to journey at your own pace. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and finding that you’re “getting behind” with the daily posts, this page will free you up to walk as leisurely or as quickly as you like.

Traveling Companions

Half the fun of going somewhere is the company that you keep and the people that you meet. And so, feel free to start a conversation with me along the way.

Shoot me an email at:  paul at paulwarndt dot com

Also, why not consider inviting someone to join you on the journey. Baby step your way through the territory together. Direct them to the site and have them sign up for updates in one of the subscription boxes.

If you want to receive these posts delivered directly to your inbox, enter your email address below. I’ll do my best to make sure that whatever comes your way will be well worth your time to read.



The Receptive Life™ Two Day Retreat

During this retreat, you’ll experience a grace-centered process of spiritual formation.

In our time together, you’ll receive a detailed explanation of The Psalm 119 Prayer Cycle as well as encouragement, skills and the tools that will help you implement the spiritual disciplines into your everyday life.

The specifics dates and times of the next retreat are currently in process. I’ll keep you up to date.

Here’s a sample schedule:

Friday from 6 pm – 9 pm

Saturday from 8 am – 5 pm

 Thanks for Visiting My Site

Admittedly, at first glance, the Psalm 119 Prayer Cycle may look overwhelming. But on this site, I’ll do my best to guide you through the process with further posts. I’ll also try and offer a number of retreat options where we can talk through some of the specifics.

All the gifts that only Jesus can give to you,

Paul

All Scripture quoted on this site is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.