Christian Life Hacker Recommends – d365.org, One Word, Praying In Color

I have recently come across three resources that I thought fit well with the Christian Life Hacker philosophy that more is not always better and that spiritual practices should fit our personality.

1. d365.org – This is a daily devotional site that is so simple in its approach but at the same time very powerful. First, the devotional text is broken into five sections – Pause, Listen, Think, Pray, Go. Each section is short and light on text. The Listen and Go sections include scriptures while the Think section has a brief devotional. To get to each section, you click on the next button. Just the fact that you cannot scroll through the devotional prevents our scan and click urges and allows your mind to dwell on each section a little bit longer so that it can make more of an impact. The best part is that every time you visit the devotional a musical selection will begin. The selections are pretty and reflective and help the reader awaken their more spiritual side. This resource is great for those who prefer limited reading, music, and more participatory activities.

2. Word For The Year – Dan Britton, executive vice president of ministry programs at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, has for years asked God for a word to bring focus and development for each upcoming year. Through much prayer, fasting, and scripture searching, he takes the word that God has given him and lets God show him how to live that word out over the next year. Britton, in an essay on the exercise, gives two big cautions. One, you have to let God choose the word. Two, be careful, “This exercise is not for people who want to pick a nice, comfortable word that will have no significant impact on their lives,” Britton says. “It truly is a discipline for those who want to press in and see God do great things in and through them.”

As you might have guessed, my word for 2012 is “Word”, as I attempt to live out the word that is scripture and the word that is Jesus. I like this exercise because it brings focus and intention to the entire year. I know that 2012 will be a journey through and about the Bible and I look forward to that journey. Hear more about the “One Word” exercise in the video below.

3. Praying in Color –  The biggest myth in Christian living is that we all experience God in the same way. Thankfully, God doesn’t abide by this myth as he has demonstrated through scripture that he handles most people individually. This is why Praying in Color is so welcomed. Instead of our prayers being simple words and thoughts that so often hinder us, Praying in Color lets you put your prayers into visual form. Sybil Macbeth explains,

If you are word-weary, stillness-challenged, easily distracted, or just in need of a new way to pray, give “praying in color” a try. Men do it, women do it; teenagers do it; and children do it. All you need: paper, a black pen, colored markers or colored pencils, and Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God.

Individuals commit their prayers to images and drawings that bring life to prayers and allow your spirit to work through the process of praying instead of the highly linear approach to prayer common among so many Christians. If you are more visually oriented and like to make your spirituality a little more participatory, this approach is for you.

Do Women Take To Spiritual Things More Than Men?

This weekend, I will be leading a men’s retreat consisting of about 7 guys. I began thinking about how men approach spiritual matters and whether or not women approach the spiritual life more easily than men? Here are some of my observations:

Women:

enjoy talking more than men (making sharing fears, doubts, and struggles easier)

are usually more emotional (the deep spiritual experiences may be felt more profoundly by women)

may be more compassionate (the needs of others may be much more important to them than men)

are more communal (being together with other like-minded individuals, usually other women, is important to women)

On the surface it looks like these characteristics would make spiritual formation and growth more of a women’s activity rather than men. Men prefer action and going and doing which sometimes results in skipping the spiritual aspects of the faith. So what is the balance, in the spiritual life, that men provide that creates a more well-rounded communal spiritual environment. I think it is wisdom. As I think about the women in the Bible I think of big hearts and big love. When I think about the men of the Bible, at least the good ones, I think about big wisdom and the ability to speak with inspiration from God. I am not trying to make exclusive designations here, I am just making general observations. For a family or a church to be a spiritually mature organization, it needs both the heartfelt countenance of women and the reserved, big picture wisdom of men.

Just because I am a male doesn’t make me more wise than my wife but I believe that God has created men with a proclivity towards wisdom that doesn’t come as easily for women. Just as women are more capable, sometimes, at compassion, love, and service, men posses traits and the make up to be wise and thoughtful in a profound way. Wisdom is as much a spiritual quality as compassion or love. It involves using non-physical parts of our selves such as thoughts, ideas, choices, and the will. Wisdom may be one of the most neglected aspects of the Bible. Wisdom takes up not just paragraphs of the Bible but whole books of the Bible.

Maybe if churches would talk about wisdom growth rather than spiritual growth they may have more success in attracting men to things like a men’s retreat. What do you think? Are men’s and women’s spiritual lives the same?