23 Things – Week 8: Worship

Week 8: Worship

18. Watch John Ortberg and Dallas Willard discuss worship. Watch from the 6:00 mark to the 13:00 mark

19. How often do we prepare for worship? One thing we can do is expect to meet God during worship. Next, we can pray for the worship leaders, that they may feel God’s presence and can speak and lead effectively. Third, focus on singing the songs directly to God and listening to God in scripture and preaching. Commit yourself to worship with your heart this week.*

This is week eight of 23 Things. See previous posts here and here for the first 17 things and an introduction to 23 Things. If you want to be eligible to win a free book, post a comment under each week’s session. Those who complete all 23 Things will be placed in a drawing for a free book.

*The idea for this week’s exercise came from the book, A Year With God, by Richard Foster and Julia Roller.

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Three Ways To Simplify Your Spiritual Life

Darren Lwyd through the window The urge to try...

You may think that your spiritual life is the one area that you have maintained

Are you in more than one Bible Study or small group? Are you reading more than one Christian book? Do you stress out when the list of podcast from your favorite preacher start to collect in your iPhone or iPod? If you answered yes to one of these questions, you might be overcommited to spiritual activities.a level of simplicity but is this really the case?

Here are three things you can do simplify your spiritual life.

1. Say no the next time the church makes requests for your time– We all know those people in our churches who are just a vacuum sucking up what the church dishes out without making any real contribution to the church. But the majority of us are well-intentioned and want to help in the work of the church. Every service opportunity sounds like a worthy endeavor, every event sounds enriching, and every ministry could use an extra hand.

What did Jesus tell Martha about her sister Mary? He said that Mary had made the better choice to spend time with Jesus but he didn’t say that Martha had made a bad choice by preparing for her guests.

Martha and Mary had two choices in front of them but neither one of them was a bad choice. One choice was just a better good choice. If we choose to be more selective with our work in the church we are not discrediting what we choose not to participate in but we are letting the Holy Spirit guide us to the better choice for us and God’s plan for his kingdom.

2. Take a walk – Sometimes our scripture reading and study, as well as our small group times can become too academic and full of books and mental gymnastics. We need to find time to capture the peace and stillness of a quiet walk where God can speak and we can listen. We need to recapture that connection with God that gets pushed aside by our academic pursuits.

3. Remember RPW (Read, Pray, Worship) – I am always struck by what the apostles and the early church were able to accomplish without the tools that we see as so necessary today.

They didn’t have the full canon of scripture to draw inspiration and teaching from. They didn’t have seminary degrees to guide their theology. What they did have was the Holy Spirit, prayer, and the Old Testament.

The church activities of the early church centered around prayer, readings from the Old Testament, and worship of the risen Savior. Do we really need to make our spiritual activities much more complicated than read, pray, worship?

23 Things – Week 7: Simplicity

Week 7: Simplicity

16. Learn about simplicity from this video 

17. Read Matt. 5: 33-37. This is Jesus’ instructions to avoid manipulating and misleading people through the words that we say. The goal is to be the type of person who can simply say “yes” or simply say “no.” Additional information and explanation is usually only used to make sure that others continue to think good of us.

For the next week, attempt to answer requests with a simple “yes” or a simple “no.” Avoid the urge to explain yourself constantly. Make every effort to remove verbal manipulation from your day. Work toward honest and appropriately simple language. Talk about your experiences in the comments below.

This is week seven of 23 Things. See previous posts here and here for the first 15 things and an introduction to 23 Things. If you want to be eligible to win a free book, post a comment under each week’s session. Those who complete all 23 Things will be placed in a drawing for a free book.

23 Things – Week 5: Study

Week 5: Study

10. Watch Paula Gooder talk about “what the Bible is?”

11. Not everyone is bent towards reading and study. Still, you can immerse yourself in scripture through Psalms set to music by Sons of Korah (Click on Listen)

12. Who are your teachers and what are they teaching you? Make a list of your chief influencers, past and present. What aspects of God do you need to study more deeply? Develop a plan to pursue this study of God.

This is week five of 23 Things. See previous posts here and here for the first nine things and an introduction to 23 Things. If you want to be eligible to win a free book, post a comment under each week’s session. Those who complete all 23 Things will be placed in a drawing for a free book.

Lenten Fast Update

Since 23 Things is covering fasting this week I thought it would be good to update you on how it went with my Lenten fast from Soft

Designer label for 2 litre Coca-Cola bottle

Designer label for 2 litre Coca-Cola bottle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drinks. We will do it FAQ style.

Did you make it the entire time?

No. I technically didn’t start on time because I was running in a Half Marathon and wanted a little celebratory soda pop post race. Ash Wednesday was three days before the race so I started my fast on the Monday after Ash Wednesday.

Did you eliminate all sugary caffeinated drinks?

No. Sweet Ice Tea became a new favorite but it still wasn’t a replacement and there were days when I cursed my Snapple because it was not a Coca Cola.

What helped you through the fast?

Somewhere, I read a quote from Lauren Winner that said something about whenever we are overcome with craving for the item we are fasting from we should be reminded of how our desire for God should be just as great. The fast reminded me often of how much I need God in my life.

Was it difficult?

Not as difficult as I expected. There is an amazing discovery that happens when you realize that you don’t have to meet every desire and that if you go without, the world still spins and life isn’t that bad. It is good because I am becoming less and God is becoming more.

What did you get out of it?

The biggest insight was the daily reminder of Jesus and his sacrifice. We, as Christians, do such a poor job of remembering our Lord, even during Christmas and Easter. This fast brought to my mind on a regular basis why I was doing this. Then I would remember Jesus’ sacrifice and be underwhelmed by my poor excuse for a sacrifice. It is a shame that I am so feeble-minded that I can so easily misplace Jesus in my head but this fast kept him in the forefront.

23 Things – Week 4: Fasting

Week 4: Fasting

8. Read this interview with Scot McKnight on Fasting

9. Participate in a Week of Elimination. In the past, I have eliminated sports from my weekly schedule. If sports is not a distraction for you choose your most attractive guilty pleasure (TV shows, YouTube clips, blogs, Facebook, etc.) and eliminate it from your daily life for one week.

This is week three of 23 Things. See previous posts here and here for the first seven things and an introduction to 23 Things. If you want to be eligible to win a free book, post a comment under each week’s session. Those who complete all 23 Things will be placed in a drawing for a free book.