Category Archives: seeking understanding

Creating a check list?

On a plane recently I read a business article about the importance of pilot’s checklists to flying. The author asserted that we could learn from their use of checklists in our daily work life. What I took with me was this: Rhythm in daily life is important. This is as true to personal spiritual development as anything else.

I’ve been trying to urge personal spiritual development in fellow disciples for a long time. Recently, in conversations with leaders younger than I, they have asked: “So tell me what you do.” This (and a lecture I just heard*) has happened enough to cause me think it worth writing down.

We’re all different, and work in different ways. But, by sharing what has helped me, perhaps some adaptation of some part(s) of it will enrich your own spiritual development.

For a good long while now, in the morning, before all else [1], with coffee in hand, I have tried to practice the following, or some variation:

First, I sit in a familiar place and just read my Bible reading plan. [2] I’ve found that reading the Bible moves my soul into a place where I’m better prepared to meet my Father in heaven. These are his words, they are his prayer language.

Then, I go to a list of very familiar Bible texts (it’s a list I keep on my phone). These texts point me to the Lord’s greatness. These are particularly God focused verses chosen to point me to him. Here is my first verse of meditation that I slowly read to help me look to him: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬) There are numerous others that I collect and add to my list that point my focus to him.

I slow down. (Sometimes I sing or chant them.) This adoration / worship using Scripture begins to turn my focus to him. I’m beginning to adore him.

Then, I pray prayers of adoration using these same familiar texts. [3]

Now, I’m ready for a set prayer of confession. (I personally use an Anglican general prayer of confession.)

I follow this with a moment of silence.

Then, I recount with my Father some of what I am thankful for.

I pray for my family.

Then, I give My Father more glory by telling him of his greatness and wonder, contemplating his attributes.

Then, I pray for my friends and colleagues.

Finally I ask him to guide my thoughts and words through the day.

Every day is not the same. Some days my worship takes precedent. Others it’s confession. Another day the focus is on praying for some need that I’ve heard about. But, my variations come after I have focused on him through reading his word and worshiping my Father.

It’s like starting the engines in the correct sequence, pushing out from the gate, taxing to the runway and then taking off… this is on the take off checklist.

Then, once airborne, the focus of my time with my Father varies each day, because I’m with him, and he can carry me where he wishes, all day long.

_____________________________

* Tim Keller – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/preaching-christ-in-a-postmodern-world/id378879885?mt=2&i=1000084252405

[1] Both Spurgeon and Mueller taught me to converse with my Father before any human, every day. Bob Alderman taught me not to read so much from man and more from the Bible. So I never read human writing in my time with God. (I do read human writing, just not in my dedicated time with my Father – I want no distractions.) Sometimes he will bring something from Lewis or someone to mind, by my focus is on him through his word. We ought not substitute even the greatest theologians or devotional writers for time in God’s word as we worship our Father.

[2] There are a million of them. I’ve follow M’Cheyne for years. There are many plans that are less intense that will help you get started.

[3] In the lecture mentioned above, Keller points out the importance of familiar texts. I need to be resonating with the Scripture, not trying to figure it out as we do with Bible Study. This is really important if you’re just learning the Bible and are often unsure about something you read. That investigation to figure stuff out is important to do, just not at this point in morning worship.

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Comparing is seldom, if ever, helpful…

There’s a lot of comparing going on. I guess this is nothing new. Helpful comparing and contrasting of methods and ideas can be healthy and helpful.

But too often, our insecurities cause us to not compare methods and ideas, but compare ourselves – our person – to others who we thing better than we.

This is not helpful. Indeed it is counter productive and can be debilitating.

We should always be thinking about ideas and methods, but recognize that those ideas and methods are not us.

We disciples of Jesus are created, gifted and guided by God. When we replace relationship with our Father and wisdom from above with a book, a blog or a podcast, we’ve begun to learn leadership from the led, not the leader.

I remind myself of this:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Consider the great accomplishments of Paul. He recognized it was the guiding hand of God he followed.

So, fellow disciple, as you love to read books and blogs about leadership and ideas and methods, be sure to balance that input with input from a healthy dose of your Heavenly Father through a disciplined life of personal spiritual development.

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Ordering our ways

“So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.”

Ok, don’t focus on the “became mighty” bit, instead, note that this was “because.” The blessing from God resulted from this: “he ordered his way before the Lord his God.”

Today, I’d suggest if we want God’s blessing, we should be intentional about the spiritual disciplines which train our hearts and minds. This is how we may order our ways before our Father to honor him and give him glory.

This ordering will help us practice the presence of God. What greater blessing could there be?

(2 Chronicles 27:6 ESV)

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He knows, guides and loves us.

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!”

And so begins a deeply comforting Psalm, #139.

It is a Psalm that is based on the greatness of God. Our loving Father, who never leaves us, who orders our days, and knows ours hearts better even than we. Go to him with the Psalmist and ask:

“And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

How great is our God!

Psalms 139:1, 24 ESV https://www.bible.com/bible/59/psa.139.1,24.esv

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Invitation to contemplate the greatness of God

One of the incredible comforts of God is who he is, his nature, his attributes, his character.

The angels sing “holy, holy, holy” – how fabulous that will be, to hear and see! But that’s then, this is now.

So, the wisest thing for me each morning is to dwell with my father and contemplate his greatness and his steadfastness. See, that steadfastness is rooted in God’s holiness.

And so, with David I cry:

“Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes.

I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies!” (Psalms‬ ‭119:124-125‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

To contemplate and grow in my knowledge of God, what a joy!

Each morning, to begin each day reading his word, hearing his voice, speaking my heart and receiving forgiveness after confession, what a joy, what a privilege.

How can I forsake such an honor?

How can I ignore such an invitation?

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Don’t just ✅ the box…

Sometimes I’m told that people feel that “having a quiet time” or “doing their devotions” feels like checking a box.

I get that.

So what?

I would even suggest that ESPECIALLY then is it important to be reminded of God’s promises.

Indeed, when we just ✅ the box, we are actively cultivating a heart to love God’s word, so that we can agree with the Psalmist:

“Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:49-50‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My hope is is the Lord, not my devotions. They are just a tool to ready my heart to hear and have life!

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Stumbling…

We stumble because we’re human. As disciples of Jesus, I thank God that it is not my skill, ability or strength that enables me to go on. It is Christ in me…

consider and be thankful, fellow disciple….

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

‭‭Jude‬ ‭1:24-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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