Category Archives: prayer

So, how DOESN’T God speak to us?

This post is a response to ‘Laurie’s’ comment to my “How Do You Find a Church?”

I think we hear God when we get quiet enough. When we journal. When we talk to people who have wisdom beyond our own. When we have long soulful conversations until 2 a.m. with a glass of wine (usually red). When we get close to ‘the fire.’ Times when we break our routine and open a window – preferably, but not necessarily, to the right direction. I know I often hear God when I exercise intensely. That’s why I like running by myself and never take music, those things take over the experience and I seldom hear from God.

BUT, more than any so-called Spiritual experiences I am convinced, like you, Laurie, that God just hangs out and waits for chances to tap our shoulders and get our attention. More often than not we don’t need deep spiritual wisdom from God, just a good reminder of what God taught us long ago. Typically the label on the back of my credit card that says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have.” (Hebrews 13.5) is all I need to hear from God when I want to buy something.

Is there any sense to the notion that it isn’t so much ‘how God speaks to us’ as ‘how DOESN’T God speak to us?’

After all, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies proclaim God’s handiwork. (Psalm 19.1) Sounds like it must be hard NOT to be hearing and seeing God’s presence all the time.

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Guiding Authentic Spiritual Growth

I looked at the last post [“Which is the greater danger?  Heresy or Blind Compliance”] and I had to say, “Let people make mistakes.”  I completely agree with the concept of letting people take ownership of their faith even though they will and do make mistakes.  And that ownership only happens when people learn for themselves.  But that word “for” is a big one.  It is “for themselves” not “by themselves.”

That means I don’t think it is helpful or responsible to let people wallow around in sloppy thinking or fall prey to deceptive thinking.  It happens too easily.

I’m going to start sketching out a formula for what I try to do, and I hope others will add comments and ideas and raise up examples that others have come up with.

One – Pray – The is a holy process that God’s Spirit is involved with.  It starts here, grows here and ends here.

Two – Scripture – Model a balanced approach to reading the Bible (primarily) and other writings.

Three – Vision – Supply vision for the purpose of faith and what it means to be a Christ follower in your context.

Four – Groups – Create and support opportunities for individualized learning and conversation.  Give general guidance to these experiences, but don’t manage them.

Five – Service – Encourage and give opportunities to people to practice what they believe.

Six – Listen – Leaders learn from what the larger body is discerning.  This allows the body to mature spiritually.

Start process over…

This was just a quick shot at the process… It is an inexact process and certainly full of holes.  Help me with them.  But then… maybe the holes are the faith part…

10.10.10 Read Pray Quiet

Okay, so it isn’t the “real” thing, but it is something we can all start with. Yesterday at Jacob’s Well I talked about the non-negotiable dimension of faith that we call ‘grow’; it’s learning, discipleship, education, doing the stuff you need to do to mature in your spiritual life. We always have what our creative team calls a PAW in our services, that is a ‘personal act of worship.’ A PAW is something that people are encouraged to do that takes the good intentions that people may have in the service and has them make some sort of first step towards actually doing it. (I’ll have to blog about this PAW concept later – I think it is extremely important.)

The PAW this week was to ask people to be in one of the Groups here at Jacob’s Well or elsewhere, (but I’m not writing about Groups here) and to join me in the 10.10.10 – that is committing 10 minutes to reading the Bible, 10 minutes to prayer and 10 minutes to quiet every day. You can hear the message on our website, but I don’t think it is up yet. When available this LINK will take you to it.

Now I know that millions of people have resolved to reading their Bible and crashed and burned because they couldn’t make heads or tails of what they read. And I know that this simplistic 10.10.10 formula isn’t a magic recipe for enlightenment, but we need something tangible, somewhere to start. This little dip in these three spiritual disciplines (very close to lectio divina actually, another blog that needs to be written…) reinforced by the Group Life available here at jacob’s well, and some encouragement and energy from the church as a whole, can make this simple formula have real staying power. Also, like I said yesterday, these 3 components of faith, with the right support, can take on a life of their own in people who test drive them.

At the morning service I asked people to do it, but forgot (argh…) to ask them to let us know they were going to do so by indicating it on their Communication Card (one downside of preaching without a script…) so I have no idea how many people meant to try it. But in the evening I did remember and nearly everyone wrote the 10.10.10 on their card. I can’t believe it. Oops, of course I can, that’s a God thing… I just know I can’t be that convincing.

What did I learn? 1. don’t be afraid to ask people for meaningful commitment around things that make a difference in the lives they see God calling them to. 2. People are hungry for spiritual growth and want to know what to do next. 3. We have a big job ahead of us keeping people focused on this and helping them sustain the practice until it becomes a natural (not a simplistic formulaic) part of their walk with Jesus.

Want to join me on the 10.10.10? Comment here and let me know. We’ll try to support you. Got other good ideas or stories about how this has worked (or not worked) for you? I want to hear them!

Want to know more about the 10.10.10? Check out THIS ENTRY on our website and watch for updates on what to read and how to live out this piece of your spiritual growth.