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Collective Worship as a Means of Grace

3 Oct
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A couple of years ago I made a discovery that has changed the way I read the Bible. This foundational perspective shift radically altered my interpretation and application of Scripture. The beauty of this idea is that it’s so simple that it requires no special knowledge or training.

Do I have your attention? Here it is:

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Tradition!

5 Sep

 

tradition-ban


I’m going to make an assumption: that everyone reading this blog would like to grow spiritually, be more like Jesus, connect with God on a deeper level, and/or become unstuck regarding his/her relationship with God.

 

The Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” Continue reading

Med Check

22 Feb

BibleThis Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth,
but you shall meditate on it day and night,
so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.
For then you will make your way prosperous, and…have good success.

Joshua 1:8

The secret to a successful life starts with mediation according to this passage.

I lived through the 60s and 70s — the era of TM (transcendental meditation). Achieving an altered state of consciousness weirded me out. I stayed far, far away from gurus, cults, and uncomfortable cross-legged postures!

Meditation isn’t off limits for a follower of Christ, however. In fact, the Bible advocates its use – even commands us to meditate.

The English Standard Bible contains 15 verses about meditating on God, his works, and his commands.*

Before we go further, we need a definition of the term. “To engage in thought or contemplation, reflect… to think about something deeply, to reflect deeply on spiritual matters, especially as a religious act… to ponder.”

Our society is infatuated with yoga and spiritualism. When I searched the internet for “meditation” the hits, photos, and videos were overwhelmingly about eastern mysticism’s meditation practices. This led me to two thoughts – we have an incredible opportunity to engage our culture with Biblical mediation practices, and resources on Christian meditation aren’t easy to find.

Those educated in spiritual formation are vastly more qualified to write a comprehensive work on mediation than I. There are two practices that work for me, however. They are simple, easy to learn, and have affected my relationship with Jesus.

  1. Bible Reading. As I read my Bible in the morning, I ask God to speak to me. I listen to him as I read, and a verse “sticks out” to me. I read the verse in context** several times, thinking about – meditating on – the Truth it contains. My primary goal is for the Word to change my heart and life to become more like Christ. Having Truth to share with the people I will meet and situations I will face during the day is a close secondary purpose.
  2. Word Emphasis. When I want to soak up a phrase or verse of Scripture, I read it through (sometimes out loud) as many times as there are words. With each repetition I focus on one word – usually the last one – and think about why God used that word and what it means. For example:

    1. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
    2. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
    3. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  And so on, 13 more times.

Meditating on Scripture isn’t spooky spiritual hooey.

It’s Biblical.

It’s enjoyable.

It’s transformational. Not because of the skill of the meditator. But because God’s Word is powerful.

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READY FOR SUNDAY

Without transformation, God making me into his image, there is no way I can lead others into his presence. It’s not that I need to be 100% completely transformed, but that I am following after his Son; that I am pursuing a deepening relationship with him; and that I am soft, teachable clay in his hands.

What Scripture are you allowing to mold you?

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*In the search list hits 4 and 17 are negative examples of meditation.

**Context is extremely important when focusing on a single verse of Scripture. Without it we miss God’s intent and get caught up in apostasy, tangents, and ideas that lead us away from, not toward, God. The recent death of a preacher-snake handler is an example.

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