SpiritLines, November 2007
Greetings!
 
Recently I had a minor surgical procedure performed on my right wrist for extreme tendonitis. It took a little more time to heal than I expected. Following the surgery I learned that I, like 10% of the population, have a tendon in my arm that branches out into two distinct tendons. Therefore, it took more time for two tendons to recover than for one. During the extended recovery and healing time I felt fine; I just couldn't do much. Since I am very right handed and couldn't use my right hand, I was unable to accomplish many of the everyday activities that I usually do without thought. It gave me more time for thinking, praying, and prayerful listening. I was able to enjoy spending more time meditating on God's word, pondering God's work in my life, and giving attention to the Spirit.
               
During those few days I also read several books.  Among them, was a book recently given to me by a wonderful friend entitled The Spiritual Art of Creative Silence: Lessons in Christian Meditation by Jeanie Miley.
             
Also during that time I had a telephone conversation with a new email friend. One of the topics we discussed was Christian meditation. Through our conversation I was reminded of some of the misunderstandings, misconceptions, and misinterpretations of Christian meditation. I also was made aware of and grieved by a situation of excess that is unhealthy and potentially harmful. In thinking about potential resources to share with this friend about Christian meditation, I recalled some of the excellent teachings and personal experiences I have read and processed through the years.
            
Because of these recent experiences, my ongoing study and learnings, and the sincere quest for truth and biblical accuracy that many of us value, this issue of SpiritLines will focus on Christian meditation. Please keep in mind that volumes have been written on this topic. I will not even attempt to capture every thought or every line of reasoning that has been presented through the years. I will simply share some of the teachings and resources that have been helpful to me as I seek to "know our Lord more clearly, love the Lord more dearly, and follow our Lord more nearly" in my Christian journey.
          
As always, I welcome hearing of your learnings and experiences in Christian meditation as well.

Warmest Regards,
Wendy
 
Biblical Teachings Regarding Christian Meditation
Scriptural Uses of the Word "Meditate"

"And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening." (Genesis 24:63)

"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it."  (Joshua 1:8)

"Indeed, you do away with reverence, and hinder mediation before God." (Job 15:4)

"But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night." (Psalm 1:2)

"Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still." (Psalm 4:4)

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14)

"One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple." (Psalm 27:4)

"My mouth will speak wisdom; and the meditation of my heart will be understanding." (Psalm 49:3)

"When I remember Thee on my bed, I meditate on Thee in the night watches." (Psalms 63:6)

"I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart; and my spirit ponders." (Psalm 77:6)

"Let my meditation be pleasing to Him." (Psalm 104:34)

"I will meditate on Thy precepts, and regard Thy ways." (Psalm 119:15)

"Thy servant meditates on Thy statues." (Psalm 119:23)

"Make me understand the way of Thy precepts, so I will mediate on Thy wonders." (Psalm 119:27)

"And I shall lift up my hands to Thy commandments, which I love; and I will meditate on Thy statutes." (Psalm 119:48)

"But I shall meditate on Thy precepts." (Psalm 119:78)

"O how I love Thy law!  It is my meditation all the day." (Psalm 119:97)

"I have more insight than all my teachers, for thy testimonies are my meditation." (Psalm 119:99)

"My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may meditate on Thy word." (Psalm 119:148)

"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Thy doings; I muse on the work of Thy hands." (Psalm 143:5)

"On the glorious splendor of Thy majesty, and on Thy wonderful works, I will meditate." (Psalm 145:5)

"You heart will meditate on terror." (Isaiah 33:18)

'In the Old Testament there are two primary Hebrew words for mediation: Haga, which means to utter, groan, meditate, or ponder; and Sihach, which means to muse, rehearse in one's mind, or contemplate.  These words can also be translated as dwell, diligently consider, and heed."

(http://www.allaboutgod.com/Christian-mediation.htm)

Scriptural Uses of the Word "Ponder"

"Behold, I waited for your words, I listened to your reasonings, while you pondered what to say." (Job 32:11)

"When I pondered to understand this." (Psalm 73:16)

"I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart; and my spirit ponders." (Psalm 77:6)

"She does not ponder the path of life; her ways are unstable, she does not know it." (Proverbs 5:6)

"The heart of the righteous ponder how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil thing." (Proverbs 15:28)

"In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs." (Ecclesiastes 12:9)  

"Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying, 'Is this the man who made the earth tremble;" (Isaiah 14:16)

"Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past." (Isaiah 43:18)

"But she was greatly troubled at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salvation this might be." (Luke 1:29)

"But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." (Luke 2:19)

 SF Logo

"And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind."  Romans 12:2 KJV

The Spiritual Formation logo is designed to inspire us toward Christlikeness. Of course, in the center of the logo is the cross. Spiritual Formation is centered around Christ and the ultimate sacrifice Christ made for us on the cross of Calvary. It communicates that Christ is at the center of who we are and all that we are about. As we grow, develop, and mature it is around Christ. Wheat grows up and around the cross also indicating that all real and genuine spiritual growth is around Christ. We are born in Christ, are nurtured through Christ, and develop around Christ. We develop into Christlikeness because of our centeredness in Christ. The words SPIRITUAL FORMATION are big and bold indicating their priority. Spiritual Formation is the great goal of the spiritual life. It is our desire that in all things none other than the Spirit of Jesus Christ form us.

 IGP
Inviting God's Presence DVD and Listening Guide

Inviting God's Presence: Congregational Committees Seeking God DVD and listening guide will assist congregational committees in seeking God's presence, direction, and guidance as they make deliberations and important decisions regarding the life and work of the local church. Power is available through the Spirit.

If you are interested in purchasing this resource, you may order here. 

Our Price: $20


Transformed by God's Spirit
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Cost: $5.00

This brief DVD features numerous individuals whose lives have been enriched by God's transforming presence. Not only have their personal lives been renewed and energized, also their churches have been renewed as God worked within the hearts and lives of the people.

Appropriate for use with small groups, new Christians, seekers, prospects, church visitors, committees, and individuals. This is a great inexpensive way to share a word of hope in your community. Suggested Reflection Questions are included.

Ordering Information:
Contact Devon Bagwell, 919.459.5513,
dbagwell@ncbaptist.org 
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wmedwards@touchnc.net

 


Office of Prayer for Evangelization and Spiritual Awakening
Baptist State Convention of NC

PO Box 1107
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Scriptural Uses of the Word "Reflect"


"When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction." (Proverbs 24:32)

"And while Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him." (Acts 10:19)

Scriptural Focus of Christian Meditation

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things." (Philippians 4:8)

God's Promises:

"But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul." (Deuteronomy 4:29)

"I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me." (Proverbs 8:17)

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If one will open, I will come in and sit with him, side by side, and share a meal with him." (Rev. 3:20)

(All passages are quoted from the NASB)

The Writers Speak
 
"Meditation is focused thinking. It takes serious effort. You select a verse and reflect on it over and over in your mind...if you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate...No other habit can do more to transform your life and make you more like Jesus than daily reflection on Scripture...If you look up all the times God speaks about meditation in the Bible, you will be amazed at the benefits He has promised to those who take the time to reflect on His Word throughout the day."
The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For?, Rick Warren. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing, 2002, p. 190.
 
"A quieted heart is our best preparation for all this work of God...Meditation refocuses us from ourselves and from the world so that we can reflect on God's Word, His nature, His abilities, and His works...So we prayerfully ponder, muse, and 'chew' the words of Scripture...The goal is simply to permit the Holy Spirit to activate the life-giving Word of God." 
Satisfy Your Soul: Restoring the Heart of Spirituality. Bruce Demarest. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1999, p. 133.
 
"It is one thing to ask God for what you want. Real change happens when you ask what God wants for you."
Jesus: Life Coach: Learn from the Best. Laurie Beth Jones. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004, p. 116.
 
"It is not necessary that we should have any unexpected, extraordinary experiences in meditation. This can happen, but if it does not, it is not a sign that the meditation period has been useless."
Life Together: A Discussion of Christian Fellowship. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1954, 83.
 
"Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God."
The Transforming Habits of a Growing Christian. William D. Watkins. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2004, p. 180.
 
"Meditative experience offers the least resistance to the Spirit of God within us."
Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God. James Finley. New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 2004, p. 42.
 
"Meditation is not so much a method as it is a way of being utterly sincere in a loving stance of sustained openness to God."
Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God. James Finley. New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 2004, p. 146.
 
"You will know God's voice by what it produces inside of you as you hear it and outside of you as you live it. If it leads you to greater Christlikeness, it is from God. If it hinders your growth into Christlikeness, it is not from God."
The Transforming Habits of a Growing Christian. William D. Watkins. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2004, p. 150.
 
"Meditation is the devotional practice of pondering the words of a verse or verses of scripture, with a receptive heart, allowing the Holy Spirit to take the written Word and apply it as the living Word to the inner being...Someone has described meditation as 'the digestive faculty of the soul.'"
Campbell McAlpine, as quoted in The Joy of Listening to God: Hearing the Many Ways God Speaks to Us. Joyce Huggett. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986, p. 157.
 
"To approach God with only an incessant stream of words is a filibuster, not prayer."
Howard Macy, as quoted in Soul Keeping: Ancient Paths of Spiritual Direction. Howard Baker. Colorado Springs, Colorado: NavPress, 1998, p. 129.
 
"In the Bible the primary metaphors for praying are not speaking or doing, but abiding, waiting, watching, listening, and silencing, in the dark as well as in the light."
Active Spirituality:  A Guide for Seekers and Ministers. Kent Ira Groff. Bethesda, MD: The Alban Institute, 1993, pg. 82.

 
Christian Meditation Resources
 
Baker, John. Soul Keeping: Ancient Paths of Spiritual Direction. Colorado Springs, Colorado: NavPress, 1998.
Casey, Michael. Toward God: The Ancient Wisdom of Western Prayer. Liguori, MS: Triumph Books, 1996.
Edwards, Tilden. Living in the Presence: Spiritual Exercises to Open Our Lives to the Awareness of God. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1995.
Finley, James. Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God. New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 2004.
Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1978, 1988.
Gemignani, Michael. Spiritual Formation for Pastors: Feeding the Fire Within. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 2002
Guyon, Jeanne. Experiencing God through Prayer. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House Publishers, 1984.
Hinson, William H. The Power of Holy Habits: A Discipline for Faithful Discipleship. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1991.
Huggett, Joyce. The Joy of Listening to God: Hearing the Many Ways God Speaks to Us. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986.
Johnson, Jan. When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer. Colorado Springs, Colorado: NavPress, 1999.
Kadlecek, Jo. Feast of Life: Spiritual Food for Balanced Living. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999.
Lawrenz, Mel. Patterns: Ways to Develop a God-Filled Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Press, 2003.
Miller, Wendy. Invitation to Presence: A Guide to Spiritual Disciplines. Nashville, TN: Upper Room Books, 1995.
Ortberg, John. The Life You've Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997.
_______. God is Closer than You Think. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2005.
Rhodes, Tricia McCary. The Soul at Rest: A Journey into Contemplative Prayer. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1996.
Roberson, Kyle. "Meditation" in Soul Tending: Life-Forming Practices for Older Youth and Young Adults. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002.
Watkins, William D. The Transforming Habits of a Growing Christian. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2004.
 
Listing is for informational purposes only. This is not an exhaustive or recommended list.
Christian Meditation Helps

Suggestions for the Practice of Mediating on Scripture:

1. Ask God to Meet You in the Scripture
2. Read the Bible in a Repentant Spirit
3. Meditate on a Fairly Brief Passage or Narrative
4. Take One Thought or Verse with You Through the Day
5. Allow This Thought to Become Part of Your Memory

The Life You've Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People. John Ortberg. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997, p. 178-186.

Meditating Made Easy - Mind-Heart-Will:

(Use a selected Scripture passage or narrative.)

Mind: Look at the broad scope.
    What truths are seen here?
    Look up related verses.
    Narrow your subject.
    What is the most important part of this truth for me today?
    Tune into truth until you see clearly.

Heart: Look more intently.
    Lord, what are you saying to me?
    When truth touches your heart, stop and wait on Him.
    Spend the most time here.

Will: Make a decision, a commitment, or confession.
    How will your life change because of this?
    End with praise and worship.

The Soul at Rest: A Journey into Contemplative Prayer. Tricia McCary Rhodes. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1996, p. 40.

Steps to Hearing God:

  1. Meditate constantly on God's principles for life as set forth in the Scriptures, always striving to penetrate more deeply into their meaning and into their application for our own lives.
  2. Be alert and attentive to what is happening in our life, in our mind and in our heart.
  3. Pray and speak to God constantly and specifically about the matters that concern us.
  4. Using a regular plan listen carefully and deliberately for God.
  5. In those cases where God does not speak to you on the matter concerned take the following steps.
  • Ask God to inform you, in whatever way He chooses, if some hindrance in within you.
  • Take counsel from at least two people whose relationship with God you respect, preferably those who are not your buddies.
  • If you cannot find such a cause, then act on what seems best to you after considering the itemized details of each alternative.

Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God. Dallas Willard. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999, p. 213-215.

Aids to Meditation:

  • A Regular Time
  • Good Physical Health 
  • Emotional Equilibrium
  • Social Harmony
  • Winding Down 
  • A Suitable Place 
  • Good Posture
  • Attention to Breathing

Toward God: The Ancient Wisdom of Western Prayer. Michael Casey. Liguori, MS: Triumph Books, 1996, p. 105.

 
Book Review

Soul Keeping

 
SOUL KEEPING: ANCIENT PATHS OF SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
Author: Howard Baker
Colorado Springs, Colorado: NavPress, 1998.
148 pages

Category: Spiritual Life

 

     Soul Keeping, by author Howard Baker is one of those books to read, reread, and then reread again. It is a work that I know I'll go back to time and time again to ponder it's deep spiritual wisdom and truths. Eugene Peterson says, "If you are fed up with fast-food religion, here is a book to be slowly savored. There is sanity and holiness in these pages that will both delight and nurture your soul; soul food."
     Soul Keeping is divided into two parts. Part one, entitled "Invitation to Soul Keeping," provides an introduction and overview of the what and why of paying attention and safeguarding our spiritual lives. Baker begins by pointing out that God is always leading us somewhere. Christians are on a spiritual journey, although many of us have become stuck and are not moving forward in Christ. The soul keeping goal is to "locate the places where someone (ourselves) are stuck and to redirect the steps."  Its intent is "to reunite the individual with a clear sense of God's presence, work, care, and direction."  Paul refers to this as a "ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:18). Baker also makes the point that "we must decide who will best care for our souls - us or God." Since God is certainly more capable and trustworthy to do that, our task is simply to let Him do so. When we pay attention to the journey on which God is leading us, we'll clearly see that He often leads us through the wilderness, the desert, the fearful, and the unknown. That certainly was true of Moses, Ruth, Joseph, Jonah, Job, Jeremiah, and a host of other biblical characters. Baker asks the question, "Could it be that God is as interested in developing my faith as He was in developing" theirs?
     Part Two introduces several ancient paths to soul keeping. The paths mentioned include: Grace, the path through guilt, Humility, the path through self, Praying the Psalms, the path through shallowness, Meditation, the path through apathy, Silence and Solitude, the path through scattered living, and Spiritual Guidance, the path through "lostness." Each of these ancient paths are briefly outlined and explained.
     An excellent resource for those desiring to pay attention and nurture his/her spiritual life.

 
Upcoming Events

Walk as Jesus Walked

November 9-11
Scripture Focus: 1, 2, & 3 John
Presenter: Paul Walker
The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove
Through this study of the teachings from "the disciple whom Jesus loved," you will find practical application for living out the Gospel in your own life. 
 
Read on about this retreat...

Becoming a Praying Congregation: The Art of Teaching Spiritual Practice

November 12-14
Presenter: Jane Vennard
Oblate Renewal Center
San Antonio, Texas 
 
Do you long to be a part of a congregation - or lead a congregation - where prayer is a more comfortable part of what you do and how you talk with one another? Then this workshop is for you.  
 
Read on about this retreat...
 
Pastor & Staff Eastern Prayer Retreat
November 26-27
Speakers: Dr. Henry Blackaby, Dr. Richard Blackaby and Dr. J. Chris Schofield
Fort Caswell
Oak Island, NC
 
2008

 
Spiritualities of Creation: Knowing God and Self in a Broken World

March 9-14, 2008

This course will look at the various ways the Old Testament deals with creation, particularly in light of our broken world, a world that cries out for restoration and renewal.  
 
Read on about this retreat...

Group Spiritual Direction (Weekend format)

March 27-30, 2008
 
This class will learn about and experience a way of being together in covenanted group community that is anchored in 1) scripture using lectio divina, 2) silence using a structured process with facilitators to hold the space made, 3) prayer both silent and spoken and 4) listening to self and one another to hear over time what God might be speaking into the community for us.
 
Read on about this retreat...

Being Present
Spiritual Directors International Leadership Institute and Conference

March 26-31, 2008
Washington, DC, Metropolitan Area

 A variety of keynote addresses and small group workshops featuring such noted presenters as:
 Rose Mary Dougherty, Shalem Institute Senior Fellow and noted Author
 Matthew Linn, Teacher and Author
 And many more...

 
 
 
The Pilgrim's Way: Desert Spirituality

March 31 - April 7, 2008
2008 Pilgrimage to northern New Mexico

Read on about this retreat...
 
Discerning Forgiveness

April 24-27, 2008
 
Our class will help us attend to several voices in this debate, discern some of the complexities of timing and circumstance, claim a stance with scriptural and theological integrity, and engage in key practices to help us learn the "craft" of forgiveness.
 
Read on about this retreat...
 
Formation Thought to Ponder

"God is always more anxious to speak than we are to listen."

The Joy of Listening to God: Hearing the Many Ways God Speaks to Us. Joyce Huggett. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986, p. 226.

Holy God, I am so sorry for all the many, many times I rush into your presence and lash out my list of concerns, fears, worries, pains, and needs. I cannot recall all the many times when I took my desires, hopes, dreams, and wishes to you and then abruptly turned to other tasks or activities. It is simply dreadful how often I open my heart to you only to expect your sympathizing ear, never allowing your input and/or solace. I confess and ask forgiveness for completely dominating our relationship with me - what is on my mind and heart and never asking or allowing for your wishes. Oh God, help me to be quiet and listen. Still my heart and clear my mind that I might desire and seek you and your direction. I truly long for your word for me this day. Indeed, my spirit is yielded to you. Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.  Amen.

How and when do you listen for the voice, direction, and/or nudge of God? How do you meditate, focus, and/or listen to Holy Scripture? 

How and when does your congregation listen for the voice, direction, and/or nudge of God?  How does your congregation meditate, focus, and/or listen to Holy Scripture?