National Be With God Day

On July 17, you should have eaten a Hot Dog while getting a Tattoo. You should have done this because that day was both National Hot Dog Day and National Tattoo Day.

Recently, I was trying to explain Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Bastille Day to one of our daughters. As I haphazardly tried to teach her I realized that humans have a penchant for marking days and finding deep meaning in anniversaries and special occasions.

I would like to declare a special day for today – National Be With God Day. We have religious holidays and national holidays and ridiculous holidays. But what if Christians set a side a day a year to be with God? Not to go to church (though some may want to), not to perform some ministry task or service project (though some may want to), and not to just pray (though some may want to). What I am talking about is just a day dedicated to be with God in all the ways that you can. Here are some ideas to fill your day with God:

person holding pen and planner

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  • invite God into your day by asking him to join you in your activities
  • consider a promise from God and adopt that promise as your mantra for the day
  • spend 10 minutes in nature noticing everything you can about God’s creation
  • be with God before being with your phone. Create a habit of talking and hearing from God before talking and hearing from anyone else
  • take the slow lane and drive the speed limit, reminding yourself that Christ is with you and hurry and busyness are often ways to avoid being with God
  • examine your day – where was God present? how open were you to his presence?when did you miss the mark?
  • cut something out of your routine to allow more space and reliance on God. This could be cutting out a meal or the media you usually consume or an activity that is usually scheduled for that day. Rely on God for your fulfillment and not external things
  • set a timer on your phone so that when it goes off you can remember to thank God for all the blessings that are provided for you
  • read a Psalm, not for deep knowledge but for comfort and encouragement. Let the words soak over you to bring you inspiration

I promise you that if you commit a day to be with God, you will find an activity or practice that will impact your day and bring you closer to God. In the words of Jan Johnson, “Do what you can and not what you can’t,” and see where God takes you as you dedicate 24 hours to being with Him.

It might be one of your favorite days of the year.

 

Try This Meditative Exercise

I posted this three years ago. It was part of a series of posts on the practice of Christian meditation. Back then, mindfulness wasn’t even the buzzword it is now.

The lack of response from Christians regarding their own historical practice of meditation and mindfulness is concerning. Grown Up Christians have so much to bring to the table on this topic but we are largely silent. Maybe republishing these posts will help spark some thought and discussion.

You have read this post and this post and you think you want to try this meditation thing. Let me give you a simple exercise for you to do.

Right off the top of my head, I can think of some meditative verses that we can use.

“Be still and know that I am God”

“Speak for your servant is listening”

“My peace I give to you”

“Abide in me and I will abide in you”

“Be Holy, as I am Holy”

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”

First, take a verse and repeat it once. Next, pause and imagine your life reflecting the truth of the verse. That is all there is to it. Try this for 10 minutes and then do another verse tomorrow.

Let me give you an example of what I am talking about.

Say we choose to do “My peace I give to you.”After repeating the verse a few times, I am going to imagine what Christ’s peace is all about and what it would look like in my life if I was inhabited with the peace of Christ. What would be different about my life? What habits or behaviors would no longer have a hold on me? How might my relationships be impacted? Be grateful for Christ and his outpouring of gifts.

Pretty simple and intuitive, right? Try it now and tell me what God is teaching you through this exercise.

My Experience With Meditation

 

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I posted this three years ago. It was part of a series of posts on the practice of Christian meditation. Back then, mindfulness wasn’t even the buzzword it is now.

The lack of response from Christians regarding their own historical practice of meditation and mindfulness is concerning. Grown Up Christians have so much to bring to the table on this topic but we are largely silent. Maybe republishing these posts will help spark some thought and discussion.

So I started meditating regularly at the beginning of this year. As I mentioned in the last post, the podcasts I was listening to kept bringing it up. I knew that if these atheistic practitioners were getting benefit out of their version of meditation, then what kind of benefit could I get from not just slowing my breathing and focusing my mind but actually inviting God to be present, to speak, to work in me in a powerful way.

I knew I needed help with where to get started, so I picked up Richard Foster’s book, Sanctuary of the Soul.  I wrote down all of the methods and practices that surfaced in Foster’s book, from praying a Psalm to beholding nature, and committed to try one of these practices for 10 minutes a day.

The practices are not as important as the fact that I am intentional every morning at encountering God. I spend much of my time beholding God’s glory and greatness. Sometimes that leads to confession on my part, sometimes that leads to an inspired task to do later in the day, and sometimes I just try to savor who God is and am in awe that he cares anything about me.

I am not really that good at it. It takes much of my time just to be able to get my mind from going in a million different directions. I have extended past 10 minutes many times, not because I am having a wonderfully rich experience, but because I wasted so much time on getting my mind to slow down in order to focus on God.

Something has changed since I started practicing meditation.

I can’t really explain it. What I can say is that it has given me a place to return to during my day. I take the calmness and the assuredness I get from God during my meditation to the rest of my day. I am not swayed as much by the swivel of good and bad that an ordinary day brings, because I know, from my time with God, that I am loved and that God is a great God. That knowledge alone consistently teaches me to trust God in all circumstances.

I can say with confidence that I wouldn’t be relaunching this blog and writing consistently if it wasn’t for this intentional practice of meditation. I can say with confidence that some of the successes I have had professionally and personally have come from this practice.

It is not a magic exercise, but it has given me such a sense of God moving and working in my life that my faith has grown and I have learned to listen and trust God in a way that hasn’t happened in years.

Meditation has been a game changer for me. It can be for you as well.

Next time, I will provide a brief method of meditation that you can try.

Should Christians Meditate?

Cross, Symbol, Religious, Christianity, Jesus, Catholic

I posted this three years ago. It was part of a series of posts on the practice of Christian meditation. Back then, mindfulness wasn’t even the buzzword it is now.

The lack of response from Christians regarding their own historical practice of meditation and mindfulness is concerning. Grown Up Christians have so much to bring to the table on this topic but we are largely silent. Maybe republishing these posts will help spark some thought and discussion.

Yes. I am going to talk about meditation.

No. I haven’t tipped over into a woo-woo land full of rocks, colors, reincarnation, and chants.

I want to introduce/reintroduce meditation as an important practice among Christians. Before you get nervous and confirm all of your fears regarding me and all of this spiritual life talk, let me explain why I think this is important:

  • Meditation is a mainstream phenomenon that is extremely popular among secular creatives, productivity gurus, business types, and blog heroes. Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, Brian Koppelman, and Chase Jarvis are using meditation and are spreading the message of this practice on their popular web platforms and podcasts. These people have thousands of followers who are hardwired to practice any tactics that are brought up in blogs, podcasts, or books. There needs to be a Christian response to this.
  • Meditation app, Headspace, has 3 million subscribers and celebrities like Emma Watson, a favorite of my daughters, calls it “genius.” A third of these subscribers are under the age of 30. Other meditation apps, such as Calm, are also very popular.
  • Christian meditation is so different and counter to the type of meditation found among the people and apps above that the message embedded in its practice needs to be spread more widely and with enthusiasm.

While the type of meditation practiced by the secularists and the New Age dabblers is primarily an exercise to empty your mind, Christian meditation is an exercise to fill your mind with God.

One practice seeks nothingness, the Christian practice seeks abundance, one practice seeks suppression of thoughts and feelings, the Christian practice seeks redemption of thoughts and feelings.

You may be asking, “Isn’t my scripture reading and my prayer life my way of filling my mind with God?” It helps but our approach to these tasks often fail us. We can’t help turning scripture reading into an academic study that begins to remove the chance to encounter God. Having a “prayer list” makes this exercise more of a task to complete rather than a chance to commune with God.

So, we need an intentional practice that is solely for the purpose of providing space for God to speak and for us to listen, for God to reveal himself and for us to behold his Glory, for God to forgive and for us to savor his mercy.

Secular meditation leaves everything up to the individual to achieve some kind of peace or fulfillment. Christian meditation is an opening for God to touch every aspect of our self. Which option sounds more appealing?

Next time, I will discuss ways that meditation has helped me over the past few months.

 

Perseverance Is Not A Dirty Word

This year has been a time of perseverance for me.

What is interesting about perseverance is that most of the time it is a choice. The desire to quit and give up and stop toiling is right there and much more attractive than persevering through hardship, suffering, and uncertainty.

Really, what is there to gain from perseverance?

On the surface, nothing. At the moment, pain is most likely still present, deep challenges and obstacles appear stacked up and never ending. There doesn’t seem to be any way for this pain and these challenges to dissipate or to improve. This is why perseverance is a choice, because circumstances often present a clear path to immediate ease of pain and relief from suffering. Yet, many of us choose perseverance! Why should we? What prompts us to think that being long sufferers or steadfast is going to get us anything? Shouldn’t we just cut our losses and find a new path?

The Bible doesn’t see perseverance as something to avoid but to embrace. In fact, perseverance seems to be an essential part of our Growing Up. Paul, in a letter to the Christians in Rome, says that we should “glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” James uses even more elaborate language. He says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

man standing near mountain

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If we are to believe these great men of God and writers of his holy scriptures, then character, hope, blessing, and some kind of great honor known as the crown of life is promised to those who persevere under suffering. Truth be told, if you began to analyze characters from the Bible you would find story after story of perseverance and endurance in their faith. From Abraham to John, one of the great themes of the Bible is how true faith in God is tested and strengthened through perseverance.

These reminders illustrate to me that I hinder my growth and maturity in my Christian life when I refuse to persevere. If I choose not to persevere, then I could be choosing to miss out on all that Christ has in store for me.

So, I need to sacrifice my current comfort, my near pleasures, and my quick fixes for the promise of abiding joy, strength of character, and anticipated good outcome sometime in the future. This is hard work, and some days I don’t think I have it in me, but I feel called to persevere to obtain the best that God has to offer.

What are you being called to persevere in?