04 July 2010
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.
Having just come through spring and now moving into the summer months, you cannot help but see growth. One of the most exciting signs of growth in the spring is when the green hue begins to appear on the skeleton-like trees. It only takes a few weeks before the trees are clothed in incredible rich green “jackets”. And then there is our garden out back: in the early spring, our two raised beds are just two black squares of dirt. Now, our raised beds are like two mini jungles, life is bursting from the earth! No Tarzan and Jane as of yet!
In this TB I wanted to talk about two areas where God is growing me. This is not to focus on me so much as it is to help you reflect on where you are growing these days. Like “mini jungles” in our back yard or trees that wear their summer “jackets” we need to be aware of where we are growing. Pondering our growth might help us figure out where we have hit a wall.
My personal growth has come in the areas of prayer and reading God’s Word.
Like many of you, I have, at times, found prayer to be the last thing I want to do, but the first thing I know I should do. My prayer journey has had seasons of great enthusiasm, and then at other times prayer has been the result of sheer discipline. I think my prayer journey began to turn a corner when I began to discover that prayer could take on many forms and that those forms could actually be happening in the spaces and places that I find myself in during the day. Yes, I still believe that set times of prayer during the day are important. However, I have been discovering that some of my most significant times of prayer happen as I am living out my day. As I begin each day, I often ask God to help me see the world as He would see it and to lead me to pray about what I see and experience as I move through the day. Thus, I have found that while driving, I will at times turn the radio off to take time to pray. As I am running (not from the police) I will allow the surroundings to prompt me to pray. My prayers at times have become short sentences, one-word expressions of praise or intercession, impromptu prayers, moving in all kinds of directions depending on what I am seeing, who I am engaging in, and how I am feeling. I have found myself praying back to God a song I hear on the radio. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a Christian song. For example, try listening to a country station - those songs will give you lots to pray about! I have found myself able to be bolder about praying with someone at the end of a conversation. It might be what is expected on a Sunday if someone comes to the front, but why not build prayer into more of our conversations during the week? Recently I have found myself awake at night and attempting to fall back asleep. I have started taking that unexpected awake time and prayed. I think God is teaching me what it means to pray constantly.
Reading God’s Word
Probably one of my biggest challenges as a pastor is to read God’s Word without an agenda. In my line of work, I am always looking for a good illustration, word picture or teaching point. When it comes to reading God’s word, I need to discipline myself to not read for “material” but read for myself. The contrast I think of is illustrated in the difference between taking a shower vs. going for a relaxing swim. Showers are “intentional”; there is a clear task at hand - in and out and on to the next event. Going for a swim, at least in my experience of swimming, involves floating in a lake (better than a chlorinated pool, I prefer fish to chemicals) on a summer day, and just feeling the wonder of water all around you.
There are times we need to get into the Word and dig, turn over every word, cross-reference, look at the original context, examine and cross-examine. However, there are times we need to allow the Word to wash over us without a need to cross-examine it. We need to soak in the Word without having to check off another one of our “to dos” for the day. Without rushing or pushing, without running or gunning, we just need to read and let God speak deeply into our hearts. Both forms of study are needed, but my challenge is to go for the “swim” more often. One thing that I have started lately is doing the bulk of my “swimming” kind of reading at night, just before I go to bed. What better material to expose your heart, mind and soul to just before you hit the lights?
Where is the patch of green showing up in your life these days?
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