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                       Written by Wendy Minton Edwards, Spiritual Formation Coach

Office of Prayer for Evangelization and Spiritual Awakening
Baptist State Convention of North Carolina 

 

SpiritLines, January 2009
In This Issue
Biblical Teachings
The Writer's Speak
Reading Resources
Reading Helps
Book Review
Christ the Living Water Retreat
Upcoming Events
Formation Thought to Ponder
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Spiritual Reading
Greetings! 

Happy New Year! Blessed 2009! 
 
The calendars have been changed and the pages turned.  Now we find ourselves adjusting to a lot of new. Everything I try to do these days takes longer than normal because a new file always has to be made, new lists formed, and new projects attempted. New hopes and dreams claim our attention. New goals affect our choices. Just yesterday a colleague wisely said "no" to cookies because of a new commitment to lose twenty pounds.
 
One new commitment I've made for 2009 is to read more. You may be thinking that is strange since most people know of my longstanding belief in and commitment to reading. Yes, I am a reader - always have been and always will be. But my reading was greatly reduced in 2008. Instead of my normal 75-100 books a year, my year end reading list for 2008 only included 22 titles. My declining eyesight has made less realistic my practice of reading a page here and a page there whenever and wherever I have a minute. Oftentimes my free mental moment has passed by the time I find my glasses and get focused. Aging eyes quickly become teary and blurred. These eyesight issues hindered me all last year. So I'm recommitting myself to addressing these issues in the ways I can in order to get back on track with reading. I love reading because I love learning and because it has proven to be one of the most productive avenues of spiritual growth for me.
 
My 2009 reading commitment is not just to read anything or everything. My commitment is to spiritual reading because the first and foremost commitment of my life is to Jesus Christ. Spiritual reading helps me to see, hear, feel, understand, and experience the presence of Christ in new and fresh ways. It helps to keep me focused and connected. It helps to keep God's voice in my heart and mind. A friend who lost his beloved wife a few years ago told about his young adult daughter watching old family videos during the recent holidays. She told her father that she was beginning to forget how her mother sounded; beginning for forget her voice. So the mature young woman set down with old family videos and spent some time gazing upon and listening to her departed mothers' voice to help her remember. And that's exactly what spiritual reading does for me. It helps me to remember and celebrate the voice of our Lord and Savior.
 
Spiritual reading speaks to the what and how of reading. It is reading spiritually nurturing literature that enriches and challenges the soul and fosters one's relationship with God. It is also reading holy Scripture in a slow, reflective, and thoughtful manner. It is reading for inspiration more so than for information. It is reading with the eyes of the heart more so than for the crevices of the brain. 
 
Join me this month as we take a look at one spiritual practice (spiritual reading) that has great potential to help make ourselves available to the ongoing work of God. 
 
Warmest Regards,
Wendy
Biblical Teaching Regarding Spiritual Reading
 
"After the victory, the Lord instructed Moses, 'Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua..." (Exodus 17:14 NLT)
 
"Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, 'All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!'" (Exodus 24:7 NASB)
 
"And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes." (Deuteronomy 17:19 NKJV)
 
"When all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing." (Deuteronomy 31:11 NIV)
 
"Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law-the blessings and the curses-just as it is written in the Book of the Law." (Joshua 8:34 NIV)
 
"There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them." (Joshua 8:35 NKJV)
 
"He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law." (Nehemiah 8:3 NIV)
 
"They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading." (Nehemiah 8:8 NASB)
 
"Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it." (Joshua 1:8 NLT)
 
"For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD..." (Ezra 7:10 NIV)
 
"On the second day of the month, the leaders of all the families, the priests, and the Levites met with Ezra the teacher. They gathered to study the words of the Teachings." (Nehemiah 8:13 NCV)
 
"I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways." (Psalm 119:15 NLT)
 
"I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 1:13 NIV)
 
"Study the Scriptures, and you will learn that no prophet comes from Galilee." (John 7:52 NCV)
 
"But the truly happy people are those who carefully study God's perfect law that makes people free, and they continue to study it." (James 1:25 NCV)
The Writers Speak 
 
Books"It is the attitude we bring to spiritual reading that allows God to transform the text from interesting words to words with power to change our very being. That attitude is an expectation that we will, through the words we read, be encountered by the loving presence and radical challenge of the living God."
Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life. Marjorie J. Thompson. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Know Press, 1995, p. 28.
 
"Resting and reflecting on the God encountered in Scripture is encouraged in Psalms and Habakkuk with the word selah, which occurs seventy-four times. Though it is often dismissed as a mere musical notation, most commentators agree that selah was inserted at points where the singer or psalm readers should pause so listeners could reflect."
When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer. Jan Johnson. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Navpress, 1999, p. 45.
 
"Leaders should determine to spend a minimum of half an hour a day reading books that feed the soul and stimulate the mind."
Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer. J. Oswald Sanders. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1994, 102.
 
"When it comes to reading Scripture, the key question is not 'how much' but 'how.'"
The Life You've Always Wanted. John Ortberg. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997, p. 182.
 
"Studying the Bible (informational reading) provides fuel for meditation (formational reading), which changes the way we see."
Savoring God's Word: Cultivating the Soul-Transforming Practice of Scripture Meditation, Jan Johnson. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004, p.113.
 
"Behind the words we study there is always a Word to encounter."
Heart and Soul: A Guide for Spiritual Formation in the Local Church. Larry L. Peacock. Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1992, p. 13.
 
"Reading (biblical text) is the soul's food, light, lamp, refuge, consolation, and the spice of every spiritual savor. It feeds the hungry, it illuminates the person sitting in darkness; to refugees from shipwreck or war it comes with bread. It comforts the contrite heart, it contains the passions of the body with the hope of reward."
Peter of Celle, Selected Works, trans. Hugh Feiss, Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1987, p 135.
 
"When I do spiritual, as distinct from informational, reading I approach the text as a life message...A shift has to take place from myself as master of the word to myself as servant of the word. It is now I who am the disciple; the text is the master."
Steps Along the Way: The Path of Spiritual Reading. Susan Annette Muto. Denville, NJ: Dimension Books, 1975, p. 28.
 
"When we come to the Bible with the mind only and not the heart, we separate the written word from the revealed Word - Jesus Christ."
Life With God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation. Richard J. Foster. New York: HarperCollins Books, 2008, p. 72-73.
 
"We can read the books of Law for spiritual transformation by asking, 'How can I live my life in a way that is faithful to God's covenant relationship with me?' For Christians, this does not mean that we follow Old Testament laws. It does mean that we learn God's law of love in Christ and seek to live in faithfulness to it."
Life With God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation. Richard J. Foster. New York: HarperCollins Books, 2008, p. 89.
 
"When we sit down to read, we can start with a few minutes of prayerful silence. We can still every motion that is not rooted in the desire to experience God's presence in our reading, waiting until we sense that inwardly we are quiet, hushed, and expectant."
Life With God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation. Richard J. Foster. New York: HarperCollins Books, 2008, p. 32.
 
"In scripture, we encounter God coming to us, addressing us, penetrating our garbled, distorted, debasted word, seeking to speak us forth as God's word into the world."
Shaped by the Word: The Power of Scripture in Spiritual Formation. M. Robert Mulholland. Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1985, p. 64.
Spiritual Reading Resources 
  • Augustine, Saint Bishop of Hippo and Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Hungering for God: Selected Writings of Augustine. Upper Room Spiritual Classics Series I, Nashville, TN: The Upper Room, 1997.
  • Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us. Downers Grover, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005.
  • Dean, Kenda Creasy and Ron Foster, ed. Soul Tending: Life-Forming Practices for Older Youth and Young Adults. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002.
  • Foster, Richard J.  Life With God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation. New York: HarperCollins Books, 2008.
  • _______. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. New York: Harper & Row, 1978, 1988.
  • Hinson, William H. The Power of Holy Habits: A Discipline for Faithful Discipleship. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1991. 
  • Johnson, Jan. When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer.  Colorado Springs, Colorado: Navpress, 1999.
  • _______. Savoring God's Word: Cultivating the Soul-Transforming Practice of Scripture Meditation. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004. 
  • Mulholland, M. Robert. Shaped by the Word: the Power of Scripture in Spiritual Formation. Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1985.
  • Muto, Susan Annette. Steps Along the Way: The Path of Spiritual Reading. Denville, NJ: Dimension Books. 1975.
  • Ortberg, John. The Life You've Always Wanted. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997.
  • Sanders, J. Oswald. Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1994. 
  • Thompson, Marjorie J. Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Know Press, 1995.
  • Whitney: Donald S. Simplify Your Spiritual Life: Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2003.

Listing is for informational purposes only. This is not an exhaustive or recommended list.

Spiritual Reading Helps
 
Rules for Making Your Reading Worthwhile and Profitable (Literature)
  • What you intend to quickly forget, spend little time reading. The habit of reading and forgetting only builds the habit of forgetting other important matters.
  • Use the same discrimination in choosing books as in choosing friends.
  • Read with pencil and notebook in hand. Unless your memory is unusually retentive, much gained from reading is lost in a day. Develop a system of note-taking. It will greatly help the memory.
  • Have a "commonplace book," as they are called - a book to record what is striking, interesting, and worthy of second thought. In that way you will build a treasure trove of material for future use.
  • Verify historical, scientific, and other data.
  • Pass no word until its meaning is known.
  • Vary your reading to keep your mind out of a rut. Variety is as refreshing to the mind as it is to the body.
  • Correlate your reading - history with poetry, biography with historical novel. For example, when reading the history of the American Civil War, take up the biography of Lincoln or Grant and the poetry of Whitman.
Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer. J. Oswald Sanders. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1994, p. 106.

 
Spiritual Reading (biblical text)
  • How is what I'm reading true of my own life? Where does it reflect my own experience?
  • How does this text challenge me? What new direction does it offer me?
  • What must I change to put what I am reading into practice? How can I incarnate it, let this word become flesh in my life?
You might also devote special attention to sections that upset you. What is the source of the disturbance? Do you want to argue theology? Are you turned off by cultural differences? Or have you been skewered by an insight that would turn your life upside down if you took it seriously? Let your journal be a dialogue with the text.
 
Hungering for God: Selected Writings of Augustine. Upper Room Spiritual Classics Series I, Saint, Bishop of Hippo Augustine and Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Nashville: The Upper Room, 1997, p. 92-93.
Book Review 
 
BooksLIFE WITH GOD: READING THE BIBLE FOR SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION
 
Author: Richard J. Foster with Kathryn Helmers
New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008.
206 pages
 
 
 
 
 
     "Transformation takes place as we discover that in surrendering to how God chooses to speak through the Scriptures, we are no longer so attached to our concerns and our anxious needs," says authors Richard Foster and Kathryn Helmers in Life with God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation.
     In Life with God Foster and Helmers describe the spiritual life as the "with God life" which is defined as "a form of rest - not the absence of effort, but the absence of self-effort." In other words, God has made clear to us throughout history and reminded people over and over that "I am with you." The authors outline numerous biblical characters whom God reminded of His presence, such as Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Haggai, Paul, and others. Therefore the question for us - Will we be with God?
      Foster and Helmers believe that one of the best ways to "be with" God is to read Scripture for transformation. Reading for transformation is not exactly like general reading for information. Life with God provides numerous tips and suggestions for how to read and digest Scripture in a manner that turns it from the written word to living word within us. The authors state, "When we read humbly, in a constant attitude of repentance - that is, turning away from our own perspective to seek God's perspective - we will begin to grasp the spiritual riches that God has made available to all humanity in the written word." 
     One bonus Life with God offers is a chart summarizing fifteen expressions of spiritual formation within the biblical text. Each listing includes biblical background, God's specific action, specific individuals involved, human reactions, type of mediation, locus of mediation, social context, and spiritual disciplines involved. This chart alone is worth the price of the book.
     An excellent resource for the serious Bible learner.
Christ The Living Water: Drink Deeply Retreat
Books
 
March 30-April 1, 2009
 
Hollifield Leadership Center, Conover, NC
  
Lodging, Meals, and Retreat Fee - $250.00
Partial scholarships available, contact Wendy Minton Edwards, 1-877-459-1766 or wedwards@ncbaptist.org.

Monday, March 30
3:00 - 5:00 - Arrival and Registration
5:30 - Dinner
6:45 - Welcome, Introductions, & Announcements
7:15 - Presentation: Living Water is Necessary
8:00 - Drinking Deeply
8:45 - Small Group Gathering
9:30 - Fellowship

Tuesday, March 31
7:00 - Morning Prayer
7:30 - Breakfast
8:30 - Presentation: Living Water is Cleansing
9:15 - Drinking Deeply
10:00 - Break
10:30 - Small Group Gathering
12:00 - Lunch

Early afternoon to be spent in personal quiet time, reflection, and rest.

4:00 - Presentation - Living Water is Satisfying
4:45 - Drinking Deeply
5:30 - Dinner
6:45 - Presentation - Living Water is Healing
7:30 - Drinking Deeply
8:15 - Small Group Gathering
9:15 - Fellowship

Wednesday, April 1
7:00 - Morning Prayer
7:30 - Breakfast
8:30 - Presentation: Living Water is for Sharing
9:15 - Drinking Deeply
10:00 - Break
10:30 - Small Group Gathering
12:00 - Lunch and Farewell

wedwards@ncbaptist.org.
Sponsored by Spiritual Formation
Baptist State Convention of NC
Listing is for information purposes only. This is not an endorsed, exhaustive or recommended list.  
   
You: God's Unfinished Story
January 13, 2009
Avila Retreat Center
711 Mason Road
Durham, NC 27712-9229
919-477-1285; Avila1983@nc.rr.com
Presenter: Jimmy Weaver
Donation: $30
Praying the Hours: A Silent Beach Retreat
January 25-27, 2009
Fee: $125/night (with meals) Deposit $10 by December 29, 2008
Led by Cathie Powell; Sponsored by: The Anchorage
PO Box 9091, Greenville, SC 29604
864-297-5308, www.theanchorage.org
Money as Enemy and Friend of God
"...no one can serve two masters." (Matt. 6:24)
February 10, 2009
Fee: $30 (includes lunch) Deposit $10 by Feb. 3, 2009
Led by Robert Miles and Camp Wynn
Sponsored by: The Anchorage
PO Box 9091, Greenville, SC 29604
864-297-5308, www.theanchorage.org
Prayer - Our Connection with God
February 13-15, 2009
Avila Retreat Center
711 Mason Road
Durham, NC 27712-9229
919-477-1285; Avila1983@nc.rr.com
Presenter: Loretta Brady
Donation: $130
Unfinished Business
February 20-21, 2009
Avila Retreat Center
711 Mason Road
Durham, NC 27712-9229
919-477-1285; Avila1983@nc.rr.com
Presenter: Dr. Carol Jablonski
Donation: $95
The Jesus Way: Recovering the Lost Content of Discipleship
Renovare International Conference
June 21-24, 2009
Eight general sessions with talks by Eugene Peterson, Richard Foster, Emilie Griffin, Chris Webb, John Ortberg, Dallas Willard, and others.
Conference Location: San Antonio, Texas
Renovare
8 Inverness Drive East, Suite 102
Englewood, CO 80112-5609
www.renovare.org/2009ic.htm; Fax - 303-792-0146
Formation Thought to Ponder
 
"Don't forget about your leaders who taught you God's message. Remember what kind of lives they lived and try to have faith like theirs. (Hebrews 13:7 CEV)
 
Holy God, thank you for all the many saints who have walked with you throughout time. Thank you for the ways you have worked within lives and changed people, used people to do your work and exegete your teachings. Thank you for the many people whom you have spoken through. I celebrate and rejoice in your mighty ability to speak truth through your limited and finite children. O Lord, you have used many to shape me. You have convicted and challenged me through many biblical, historical, and contemporary spiritual writers. I am grateful for each and every one of them. O Lord, slow me down and make me listen. Help me to discern and heed your voice through the teachings of your servants. Amen.
 
What are you reading and studying to help you discern God's teachings?
What spiritual writers is your congregation reading and studying to help you corporately discern God's teachings?
Wendy Minton EdwardsWendy Minton Edwards
4684 Sheep Pasture Rd.
Spring Hope, NC 27882
1-877-459-1766
wedwards@ncbaptist.org
 
 
   
Office of Prayer for Evangelization and Spiritual Awakening
Baptist State Convention of NC PO Box 1107, Cary, NC 27511
800.395.5102, www.PrayNC.org