Tag Archives: Spiritual Renovation

The Bleak Winter Sun

The bleak winter sun
fights to display its light, its warmth
fighting through a soft layer of
middle-gray clouds.

They, like a mouse nest blanket
try to warm the earth,
taking the sun’s role
(a prideful move).

I watch down here,
down on this windy earth
and
experience the duvet of pride.

[This same rat's nest clogs my soul.]

I yell within,
“Move out of the way!”
(Repent!)
…nothing changes.

I measure:
Spring will come,
spring will come.
Things will be

made right, made new.

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

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]

What is, “Competence in Spiritual Theology?” (inf. by Thomas Merton)

I’m reading *Thomas Merton: Twentieth Century Wisdom for Twenty-First Century Living* by Paul Dekar this morning. The phrase, “competence in spiritual theology,” just came up (p.38). I’m pausing to explore how I would define competence in spiritual theology.

Often, competence sounds like the master of many elements and the ability to merge them together into one practice (like a doctor’s ability to know many cures). In spiritual theology, the adverse seems true: competence in spirituality is the mastery of one necessary thing (Luke 10) in order to enter into the many elements of life with the single necessity at the front of one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Simply put: competence in the spiritual life is the capacity for a free flowing love of God expressed in prayer and work (or interaction with others and creation). Competence comes as being set free from the rule of anxiety, judgement of others, empty speaking, and other expressions of dead-living.

How do you nurture competence in spiritual theology?

Nurturing true life will always start with Jesus. Our first step in nurturing is to know Jesus; to live, we pursue the person of Jesus as the Gospels introduce him.

The slow introduction to Jesus will find us receiving an invitation to, “Come and follow.” Through obedience (the life lived by grace through faith in the person and works of Jesus), we will find ourselves entering the practice of willing (or seeing) only one necessary thing, which is the true reign and presence of our loving Father who intends to make all things new.

This awakening, which is nurtured only when we’re walking with Jesus and in the likeness of Jesus, will reveal to us our degree of “competence,” or rather, the degree that we truly are awake to the presence and reign of God in the present moment.

The True Presence of Christ With Us (The Heart of True Obedience)

(Thoughts on obedience and life with the EverPresent Jesus)

I believe it is the lack of faith in the reality that the Living Christ is always with us that deflates our courage, faith, and obedience. We feel isolated and it feels to be a burden to carry out our Lord’s will, as if he is distant from us and we that we may hear from him some time later regarding our actions. …much like hearing reading a letter a week later after you first wrote.

Rather, when we live life from faith in the reality of the Everpresent Jesus, the one who is with us and before us as a real person and presence, we have the faith that whatever is done in life is done not for Jesus but with him. Any change, healing, or hope that we walk into, we discover and realize is not from us but from the presence of God, of Jesus, the one who is with us always.

We believe and live this way, no longer preoccupied with carrying out a distant Lord’s will, but instead, by accompanying Jesus in all of life. In this way we are keeping his will because our attentions have been shaped by Scripture to be on him, which is to say, to pray without ceasing – not casting prayers to a distant deity, but keeping company and conversation with Immanuel, God-With-Us.

When we live from this state of being, this posture, we see resurrection life around us take shape, not as a result of our obedience, but because the Christ himself is present and shaping us to be ones who express life as we are healed and vivified by the Spirit. This is true obedience: to be ones who once again have been gifted the capacity to express the Image of God (that is, Jesus).

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