One of Bay Park’s goals for 2017 is Deeper Together. The goal is rooted in our mission of “preparing fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.” There’s no way to be a growing follower of Christ, of going deeper spiritually, without partaking of the God given spiritual disciplines. Soul Food is a 5 week series exploring how we can go deeper together into God’s grace by the walking the timeless paths he has placed before us. Your soul and mine is in need of spiritual feeding so welcome aboard this exciting journey of faith, hope and love!
Celebration of Discipline – The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster
Habits of Grace – Enjoying Jesus through Spiritual Disciplines by David Mathis
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Soul Food #5//Beware the Hurried Soul
“Being hurried is an inner condition, a condition of the soul. It means to be so preoccupied with myself and my life that I am unable to be fully present with God, with myself, and with other people. I am unable to occupy this present moment. Busy-ness migrates to hurry when we let it squeeze God out of our lives.”*
“Note the difference between the two. BUSY – a full schedule; many activities; an outward condition; physically demanding; reminds me I need God. HURRIED – preoccupied; unable to be fully present; an inner condition of the soul; spiritually draining; causes me to be unavailable to God.”*
“I cannot live in the kingdom of God with a hurried soul. I cannot rest in God with a hurried soul.”* (John Ortberg)
We all say it. People ask “How are you?” We respond, “Busy, very very busy!” When you say busy, do you actually mean, “My soul is hurried”? Having a hurried soul is the quick and easy way to accomplish little in the Kingdom. That’s why, if your soul is hurried, the most productive thing you can do is STOP a.s.a.p. The solution? Silence. Solitude. Rest. Sabbath. Family. Friends.
It’s possible to be busy without having a hurried soul. Look at the comparison above. Does hurried describe you in this moment? If so, John Ortberg proposes this Jesus-like solution… “Instead of hurrying off to the next assignment, Jesus got everyone into a boat, and they went off to what was recorded as ‘a solitary place.’”*
How about 10 minutes alone in your car on lunch break? What about praying while you do work around the house this weekend? A quiet walk with your spouse?
Relax. We’re not keeping the world intact, that’s God’s job.
*John Ortberg, Soul Keeping, pg. 134-135.
Soul Food #6//Beware the Hurried Soul…Again!
Good almost noon! You are now exactly halfway through your week. You’re midway through Wednesday, the middle of the week. Congratulations on surviving so far. Looking forward to the weekend? Cannot wait for that Friday feeling? Not so fast, brothers and sisters! Remember that devotional I sent out on Saturday called “Beware the Hurried Soul”? Have you forgotten? Maybe it was a lot easier to be less “hurried” on Saturday because…well, it’s the weekend! But now – now you’re in the middle of the work week. Projects due. Kids to pick up from school. Grocery shopping. Dinner. It’s a lot more difficult to be less hurried in the middle of an insane week.
On Monday I (Ryan) ran into a Catholic priest at the gym. We were casually talking and I mentioned I was doing a Master of Theology. Suddenly he got really excited. When I told him I was ministering at a Baptist church he laughed and said to me, “Here’s one thing we can agree upon: the greatest, mortal sin of modern society is hurriedness.” I laughed at the extreme wording (and also the irony that I had just sent out Saturday’s text) but I also told him I wholeheartedly agree.
Before you get upset with me because I’m calling you a mortal sinner, please remember I’m in the same boat as you. Also, remember this sermon series is all about trying to position our souls to be in a place where we can “draw near to God.” It’s not necessarily a step-by-step plan.
Here’s an encouraging verse for you—“The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath” (Psalm 94:11). How is this encouraging? Because “when all of creation will be shaken and removed . . . only the unshakable things will remain” (Heb. 12:27). So many of the “urgent” things which boss around our souls this week will come to nothing and melt away when all that remains is the Kingdom of God.
Be busy, but un-hurry your soul. Be attentive to what God is doing around you, and through you. And, most importantly, be aware of what God is doing IN you.
Soul Food#7//Meditation as Lingering to Hear from God
Growing up in church circles I (Paul) heard a lot about the importance of having “quiet times” or doing your “devotions”—code words for personal bible reading and prayer. I’m grateful for the emphasis and encouragement given as these spiritual disciplines have proved most beneficial. The struggle I’ve had is the tendency for Bible reading to become more information-driven than transformation-driven, more content than communion focused, and for prayer to be more about the requests covered than the grace received.
Part of the problem is I never really understood the art and discipline of meditation. Meditation is reading, memorizing and praying with a desire to linger and hear from God—for the Spirit to touch our spirit. Personally I’ve really grown from memorizing, meditating, and praying through Psalm 90. It’s the only recorded psalm written by Moses. It’s deeply personal and it’s ancient wisdom is timeless. In this short but profound prayer, Moses meditates on two terrifying realities: (1) God is eternal and immoveable, and (2) we are here today and gone tomorrow.
“From everlasting to everlasting, you are God” (2b). “We are like the new grass of the morning. In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered” (5b-6).
Moses nailed it—no matter how frantic, busy or rushed our lives are, it all ends too quickly and with more grief throughout than anticipated.
Try doing this sometime in the evening tonight, or when you have a moment… Read through Psalm 90, a couple times, slowly, meditatively. Use a couple different translations. Whatever verse grabs your heart the most, meditate on and then pray through. Feel free to pick 3-4 methods below to help guide you. So you know, this whole exercise can take less than 20 minutes! Writing down your thoughts will greatly enhance the experience.
•Emphasize different words in the verse.
•Rewrite the verse in your own words.
•What does it teach?
•Think of an illustration for the verse. What picture explains it?
•How does this verse inform my prayers and worship?
•What is God telling me to do?
•How does this verse point to Jesus?
•What question is answered or problem solved?