Jesus, the Crane Kick, and the Spiritual Disciplines

Chris Battle Articles 2 Comments

This is part one of a three-part series titled How Then Shall We Live? Check out the accompanying podcast!


There is a scene in one of the best movies of all time.[1] It involves a teacher giving his student some work. Here is the dialogue:

Miyagi: First, wash all car. Then wax. Wax on…

Daniel: Hey, why do I have to…?

Miyagi: Ah ah! Remember deal! No questions!

Daniel: Yeah, but…

Miyagi: Hai!

makes circular gestures with each hand

Miyagi: Wax on, right hand. Wax off, left hand. Wax on, wax off. Breathe in through nose, out the mouth. Wax on, wax off. Don’t forget to breathe, very important.

walks away, still making circular motions with hands

Miyagi: Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off.

Other than being cinematic genius, this scene makes a great point: in order to succeed in anything, we need to develop skills.

This is true with our spiritual lives, too. Enter: The Spiritual Disciplines.


“A Christian spiritual discipline is a repeated bodily practice, done over and over again, in dependence on the Holy Spirit and under the direction of Jesus and other wise teachers in His Way, to enable one to get good at certain things in life that one cannot learn to do by direct effort.”[2]


But can’t we just do what Jesus did? This seems so rigid…

The problem with this attitude is that we forget what Jesus did to prepare for what he accomplished. Consider Dallas Willard as he writes, “Following ‘in his [Jesus’] steps’ cannot be equated with behaving as he did when he was ‘on the spot.’ To live as Christ lived is to live as he did all his life.”[3]

And what did Jesus do? Here are a few examples: He practiced prayer (John 17:1-26). He practiced fasting (Matthew 4:1-11). He practiced solitude (Mark 1:35). He practiced simplicity (Matthew 8:18-20). Practicing these Disciplines is what helped Jesus grow as a person. Contemplate Luke 2:52, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Did this mean Jesus wasn’t God? Of course not. It means he was also 100% man who needed to learn just as we do (check out Hebrews 5:8).

The best part is, we needn’t practice these alone somewhere in a vacuum. Richard Foster writes, “the Disciplines are best exercised in the midst of our relationships with our husband or wife, our brothers and sisters, our friends and neighbors.”[4]

If you want to get better at fighting, Miyagi says you need to wash the car or paint the fence. You do one thing and it prepares you for another.

Do you want to know God better? Do you want to be better at making good decisions that honour Him? Do you want to live life more fully and love more deeply? Then investigate[5] these Disciplines for yourself and see what God does with you.


About the Author

Chris Battle

Reflective by nature, Chris enjoys pondering life’s peculiarities while seeking after the good, the true, and the beautiful. As a passionate Christian, Chris has discovered all of these in Jesus Christ. He is a traveler, a reader, a writer, a graduate from both Columbia Bible College and Prairie Bible Institute, a Master's student, an associate with Apologetics Canada, and a husband to his lovely wife, Sara.


[1] For those of you who don’t know, the movie is Karate Kid. FYI, for those of you who attend Northview, this was written last week…so no, I’m not using a Jeff illustration!

[2] J. P. Moreland, Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), 152.

[3] Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding how God Changes Lives (New York: HarperOne, 2007), 5.

[4] Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (New York: HarperCollins, 1998), 1.

[5] The three books cited in this post are indispensable when it comes to learning about and developing the Spiritual Disciplines.

Comments 2

  1. Pingback: AC Podcast 058 - How Then Shall We Live? (Heart), Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God? - Apologetics Canada

  2. Pingback: How Then Shall We Live? (Heart), Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God? - Apologetics Canada

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