Week six: Unity in the Spirit

Begin Monday, February 8

Preparation

  • Recite or sing/chant Psalms 130 and 131 (I suggest you memorize these two Psalms)
  • Moment of Silence

Presence (through the Scripture)

  • Psalm reading (select from below):
    • Morning: Psalm 6
    • Noon: Psalm 58
    • Vespers: Psalm 106:44-48
    • Night: Psalm 125
  • Moment of silence
  • Scripture readings:
    • Monday: John 14:15-31
    • Tuesday: John 16:5-16
    • Wednesday: John 17:1-5
    • Thursday: John 17:6-19
    • Friday: John 17:20-26
  • Moment of silence

 Prayers

  • Prayers of thanksgiving and petition
  • Journaling and silent reflection
  • Close with the “Lord’s Prayer”

 Practice

Just what does Jesus mean by unity? Is it uniformity? What are the bare minimums for people to be “one” with each other?

Take time this week to visit with a friend who has very different beliefs than you (if you don’t have a friend like that then perhaps your task needs to be to seek out and make a friend who has very different beliefs!). Share a meal or break with this person. Make certain you have plenty of time for discussion and ask the last question in the paragraph above: “What are the bare minimums for people to be ‘one’ with each other?”

For follow up ask: “Can people who hold very different beliefs be united? In what ways? How?”

Do your best not to comment. Just listen.

Sometime following the conversation, take some solitude time and write in your journal how the conversation went. Describe what you were able to discover from the conversation. Did you learn anything? Was your mind changed in any way? How?

 

 

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Week five: God’s love…

Preparation

  • Recite or sing/chant Psalms 130 and 131 (I suggest you memorize these two Psalms)
  • Moment of Silence

 Presence (through the Scripture)

  • Psalm reading (select from below):
    • Morning: Psalm 5
    • Noon: Psalm 57
    • Vespers: Psalm 106:32-43
    • Night: Psalm 124
  • Moment of silence
  • Scripture readings:
    • Monday: John 13:1-7
    • Tuesday: John 13:18-30
    • Wednesday: John 13:31-14:4
    • Thursday: John 15:1-17
    • Friday: John 15:18-16:4
  • Moment of silence

 Prayers

  • Prayers of thanksgiving and petition
  • Journaling and silent reflection
  • Close with the “Lord’s Prayer”

 Practice

Why did Jesus wash feet: to teach a lesson on servanthood? Or did he wash feet because they were dirty?

Where are the dirty feet you encounter? Where are the needs you witness? Jesus may not call us to meet every need in the world, but not every need appears at your door or in your office or at your local street corner or market place. Think through the needs you actually witness. How can you be a servant?

Today, this week, take one step to meet needs.

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Week four: Testimony

Preparation

  • Recite or sing/chant Psalms 130 and 131 (I suggest you memorize these two Psalms)
  • Moment of Silence 

Presence (through the Scripture)

  • Psalm reading (select from below):
    • Morning: Psalm 4
    • Noon: Psalm 56
    • Vespers: Psalm 106:24-31
    • Night: Psalm 123
  • Moment of silence
  • Scripture readings
    • Monday: John 5:16-30
    • Tuesday: John 5:31-47
    • Wednesday: John 7:25-52
    • Thursday: John 8:12-30
    • Friday: John 8:48-59
  • Moment of silence

Prayers

  • Prayers of thanksgiving and petition
  • Journaling and silent reflection
  • Close with the “Lord’s Prayer” 

Practice

In your journal take a few minutes and describe just who Jesus is from your point of view. How would you describe him? What do you believe he says about himself? From your readings, what does the gospel of John say about him?

At your supper table (or any meal with your immediate family) share what you believe about Jesus. Explain just how you view him. Be certain to use words that will communicate with your children (if they are younger). From this conversation think through how you would share these thoughts with a friend or a co-worker.

This week, initiate a conversation with a friend who is either a non-Christian or someone about whose views about Jesus you are not certain. Ask him or her what is their take on Jesus. Spend most of your time listening. You can share what you’ve been discovering in your readings of John.

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Week Three: Healings…

Preparation

  • Recite or sing/chant Psalms 130 and 131 (I suggest you memorize these two Psalms)
  • Moment of Silence

Presence (through the Scripture)

  • Psalm reading (select from below):
    • Morning: Psalm 3
    • Noon: Psalm 55
    • Vespers: Psalm 106:13-23
    • Night: Psalm 122
  • Moment of silence
  • Scripture readings:
    • Monday: John 4:43-54
    • Tuesday: John 5:1-14
    • Wednesday: John 8:1-11
    • Thursday: John 9:1-17
    • Friday: John 9:18-41
  • Moment of silence

 Prayers

  • Prayers of thanksgiving and petition
  • Journaling and silent reflection
  • Close with the “Lord’s Prayer”

 Practice

Jesus’ healings were confirmation of his Messianic role. However, they were not merely proofs. They were demonstrations of what it meant for Kingdom come. The healings demonstrated what God wanted his renewed world to be like: a place where all that is wrong has been set right: the lame walk, the deaf hear, the blind see—all creation renewed, restored, and made whole.

As followers of Christ we are called to demonstrate those kingdom values. Where is the hurt in your community? Where are those who suffer? Where is creation “groaning” under the weight of injustice and evil?

Perhaps you know of places and opportunities to demonstrate God’s love and restoration in your own community. It may be providing food for those in bad economic situations, it may be visiting and being present where there are lonely people (nursing homes, hospitals, drug rehab centers), or it may be caring for the landscape in your community by working with like-minded people in cleaning up the environment. This week, plug in where you can demonstrate God’s kingdom agenda!

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Week two: Encounters

Preparation

  • Recite or sing/chant Psalms 130 and 131 (I suggest you memorize these two Psalms)
  • Moment of Silence

Presence (through the Scripture)

  • Psalm reading (select from below):
    • Morning: Psalm 2
    • Noon: Psalm 54
    • Vespers: Psalm 106:1-12
    • Night: Psalm 121
  • Moment of silence
  • Scripture readings:
    • Monday: John 3:1-21
    • Tuesday: John 3:22-36
    • Wednesday: John 4:1-26
    • Thursday: John 4:27-38
    • Friday: John 4:39-42
  • Moment of silence 

Prayers

  • Prayers of thanksgiving and petition
  • Journaling and silent reflection
  • Close with the “Lord’s Prayer”

Practice

In your journal, describe your first encounter with God. What was it like? Some people like what is called “The Four Quaker Questions” to share this experience. Get with some friends and ask the questions one at a time (everyone answers the question in a circle, then move on to the second question until all are shared).

  • What were winters like growing up?
  • How did you heat your home back then?
  • Who was the center of “warmth” in your home?
  • When did God become the “center of warmth” in your life?

Make a list of people you know who you believe have not encountered Jesus in a life-changing way. Consider our task is not to bring someone “all the way” to faith–but to move them at least “one step closer” to an encounter with God. Ask yourself for each person: “How can I move this person one step closer to meeting Jesus?”

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Week one: In the beginning…

The outline below (Preparation, Presence, Prayers, Practice) is meant to be utilized during an extended period during the day. Some people like having a morning meditation time while others prefer an eventing devotional time (some still find lunch to be the most convenient).

The Psalm reading should be selected according to this extended time period. Even so, I encourage you to participate in the Morning, Noon, Vespers, and Night offices by praying the appropriate Psalm listed below.

What does one do with the “left over psalms”? Quite simply pray the other psalms at the time indicated. If your extended devotional time is in the morning, then at lunch take five to ten minutes and pray the appropriate psalm. At supper, or on the commute home, pray the psalm marked “vespers” (or you may wish to pray that psalm during supper with your family). Then, as you retire for the evening pray the psalm designated for “night”.

Preparation

  • Recite or sing/chant Psalms 130 and 131 (I suggest you memorize these two Psalms)
  • Moment of Silence

 Presence (through the Scripture)

  • Psalm reading (select from below):
    • Morning: Psalm 1
    • Noon: Psalm 53
    • Vespers: Psalm 105
    • Night: Psalm 120
  • Moment of silence
  • Scripture readings:
    • Monday: John 1:1-14
    • Tuesday: John 1:19-34
    • Wednesday: John 1:35-51
    • Thursday: John 2:1-11
    • Friday: John 2:12-25
  • Moment of silence

 Prayers

  • Prayers of thanksgiving and petition
  • Journaling and silent reflection
  • Close with the “Lord’s Prayer”

 Practice

Take some time this week to walk around your neighborhood. At a separate time, walk around your place of employment (if possible). During these walks engage in “walking prayer”. Pray for your neighbors and colleagues. Most importantly ask God to enable you to be his presence to those with whom you work, live, and come in contact.

Pray for God’s guidance and ask that he open your eyes to see where he is already working in the lives around you. Ask for courage to join him in his work.

________________________

Week one begins on the first Monday of the year.
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Books Read in 2015

Not that anyone is asking: but I began to ask myself about my own reading habits this year. I am a reader–some might say a voracious reader.

So, I kept a log of the books read in 2015. Here they are. Most I enjoyed, some were not that good (e.g., Own the Room and Go Set A Watchman). However, I think I’d recommend most of these as worth reading (especially anything by N. T. Wright).

For what it’s worth, this represents 2015’s reading. Hopefully 2016’s list will be equally challenging and productive! If you are curious about any of these volumes, let me know!

Here’s to a future well read 2016!

Novels:

Master and Margarita, The by Mikhail Bulgakov

Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Poetry:

Ararat (poems) by Louise Gluk

Culture & Religion:

Allah: A Christian Response by Miroslav Volf

Beyond the Abortion Wars by Charles Camosy

Building Bridges: Christianity and Islam by Fouad Elias Accad

How Not to Kill a Muslim by Josh Graves

The Qu’ran

Discipleship & Christian Living:

Fight: A Christian Case for Non-violence by Preston Sprinkle

Killing Enmity: Violence and the New Testament by Thomas Yoder Neufeld

Mere Christianity by Lee Camp

Out of Babylon by Walter Brueggeman

Theology & Biblical Studies:

Everyone Belongs to God by Christoph Blumhardt

Gospel of God’s Grace, The by N. T. Wright

Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien

Now Is Eternity by Christoph Blumhardt

Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Vol 1 by N. T. Wright

Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright

The Shadow of the Almighty: Father, Son, and Spirit in Biblical Perspective by Ben Witherington III & Laura M. Ice

 Health & fitness:

Blue Zones, The by Don Buetter

 Geopolitical:

Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe by George Friedman

 Professional development:

Own the Room: Presentation Techniques by Akash Karia

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