Category Archives: Practices

The World is Frigid (The One Who Conquers)

The world is frigid and I wonder, year after year, how we endure these frozen, dead months. It’s not these days we endure, but ourselves and our sanity.

The cold drives us to dwell indoors more, yet those who survive these months (even thrive in them!) are the adventurers, those who head out and work in the tundra, or maybe just play there.

This one stands and yells, “You don’t keep me locked behind the gate so to breathe my own airless disease! No! Here I am, free and inhaling God’s magnificent creation! Even if my feet are frozen, I will remain!”

This is the one who has conquered.

How Old is All that is?

I grew up in Southern Idaho, a mile and a half from a small, ancient volcano that had blown a hole in the side of itself. “Tens of thousands of years ago,” they said. Mother even decorated parts of our yard with ancient volcanic rock. And when we three boys dug around we’d swear we’d find dinosaur eggs – rocks that had to have been! They were shaped just like what you’d think. (Only the latter evidence here is suspect.)

Idaho: The Gem State. Southern Idaho: the place where Yellowstone’s hot spot used to be, millions of years ago they say.

There was also a road sign on Highway 25, one of those historical markers, that talked about Prehistoric Man and ancient fossils. You’d face north east when you’d read the sign, out toward “Hunt”, a desolate, ancient desert wilderness filled with sagebrush and antelope.

I remember thinking as a small boy

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Hospitality and *Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps* by Richard Rohr (A Book Reaction)

Hospitality and *Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps* by Richard Rohr (A Book Reaction)

I learned of the Twelve Steps and Bill W through my father’s journey. Mondays and Thursdays were A.A. meeting nights; Monday at the local monastery, Thursday at his home. It was the Thursday meeting that captured my interest. I experienced it a few times as a participant and what I saw, what I experienced was nothing short of formational.

Those experiences were years ago now and upon reflection, Continue reading

A Fruitful Devotional Practice: “Examen”

A Fruitful Devotional Practice: “Examen”

“Examen” (ex ‘ah men) is an ancient practice of examination of oneself in the light of Christ. The idea is to attentively draw close to Christ, the Light of Life, who will in a singular moment illumine his great love for us and illumine the darknesses of our hearts which have failed to notice his love and his calling.

The practice is a formative and comforting practice and fits well in the liturgical prayer rhythm of compline or late-evening prayer, which is where forms of such have been practiced for many, many years.

The prayer of examen can flow smoothly in this rhythm: Continue reading

A Fruitful Devotional Practice: “Lectio Divina”

A Fruitful Devotional Practice: “Lectio Divina”

Lectio Divina is an ancient practice of reading Scripture that intends to lead the reader into a participation with the text. It is slow, filled with intent, and rich for laying one’s being toward the presence of God. I feel this is a great way to start the day.

Step 1: Lectio (Read)
This step is the simple reading and listening to the word of God. This reading is done slowly, perhaps even two or three times over a passage. The goal is to Continue reading

Relationship With Trajectory (on Mission)

It’s often said that what matters most in the ministry context is “relationships.” This answer is often left dangling.

Ritual and roots bring relationship off the edge of frivolity. Ritual and roots are relationships with trajectory. They give substance and meaning to our relationship; they are the heart and soul of claiming our true identity as a beloved people of God through Jesus.

Meditating on the Word by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Book Reaction)

Meditating on the Word by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Book Reaction)

I picked up this book in hopes for a simple guidance from a trusted source. Like he mentioned of students in a letter to Karl Barth, Bonhoeffer said, “The kind of questions serious young theologians put to us are: ‘How can I learn to pray? How can I learn to read the Bible? Either we can help them do this, or we can’t help them at all.’”

I felt like a young student of Bonhoeffer as I read along, eating up his simple answers.

The little section I resonated most with was written like a short catechism in question and answer.

1.) Why do I meditate?

Because I am a Christian.

Because I am a preacher of the word. I cannot expound on the Scripture for others if I do not let it speak daily to me.

Because I need a firm discipline of prayer. … Prayer is not a free will offering to God; it is an obligatory service, something which he requires. We are not free to engage in it according to our own wishes.

Because I need help against the ungodly haste and unrest which threaten my work as a pastor.

2.) What do I want from my meditation?

We want to meet Christ in his word. We turn to the text in our desire to hear what it is that he wants to give us and teach us today through his Word. Meet him first in the day before you meet other people. Every morning lay upon him everything that preoccupies you and weighs you down, before new burdens are laid upon you. Ask yourself what still hinders you from following him completely and let him take charge of that, before new hindrances are placed in your way.

His fellowship, his help, his guidance for the day through his Word – that is the goal.

3.) How shall I meditate?

[Meditating on Scripture is preferable to free meditation.]

Just as you would not dissect and analyze the word spoken by someone dear to you, but would accept it just as it was said, so you should accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart as Mary did. Do not look for new thoughts and interconnections in the text as you would a sermon! Do not ask how you should tell it to others, but ask what it tells you! Then ponder this word in your heart at length, until it is entirely within you and has taken possession of you.

This is not the place for the Greek New Testament, but for the familiar Luther text.

We begin our meditations with the prayer for the Holy Spirit, asking for proper concentration for ourselves and for all who we know are also meditating. Then we turn to the text. At the close of the meditation we want to be truly able to say a prayer of thanksgiving from a heart that is full.

What text, and how long should the text be? 10-15 verses and meditate on it over a period of a week. Whatever you do, don’t take the sermon text for the next Sunday!

The time of meditation is in the morning before the beginning of our work. A half hour is the minimum amount of time which a proper meditation requires. It is, of course, necessary that there be complete quiet, and that we intend to allow nothing to divert us, no matter how important it may seem.

4.) How do we overcome the problems of meditation?

The first rule is to not become impatient with yourself. Just sit down again every day and wait very patiently. Incorporate thoughts that come at you into your prayer later on; connect them to the text.

Read the same passage again and again, write down your thoughts, learn the verse by heart. …recognize the danger of fleeing once again from meditation to Bible scholarship and the like. Behind all our uncertainties and needs stands our great need to pray…

On Morning Prayer in Community

Before our daily bread should be the daily Word.

…an hour of quiet time and common devotion.

Although we are often not “in the mood” for it, such devotion is an obligatory serve to the One who desires our praises and prayers, and who will not otherwise bless our day but through His Word and our prayers.

…Grounded in the Scripture, we learn to speak to God in the language which God has spoken to us. We learn to speak to God as the child speaks to its mother.

…Above all, we should read the Psalms together. Then a not-too-modest portion of the Old and New Testaments should be read in series. The songs of the Church will place us in the great congregation of the present and the past. The prayer which one person speaks for the whole fellowship will bring the common concerns of the little congregation before God.

[Quotes, some modified and shortened, but meaning retained, are taken from Meditating on the Word by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, p. 29-41]