Monday, July 7, 2014

Back In Step

We're in our last day at my in law's summer place.  I took a good long walk this morning and, besides spending time with Toni and Dick & Jo, I listened, for a second time, to the message Karl Kruse shared yesterday at Crossroads in Cokato -- a message called "The Spiritual Rhythm of Prayer."  What he said is worth listening to.  You can access a recording and read a few notes at the webpage do-it-yourself#3.

Now I'm looking ahead to next Sunday.  It's traditional, and generally helpful, to look ahead.  Looking ahead to next Sunday on Monday is a part of the "rhythm" of my life.  It was nice, last week, to be able to step out of that pattern for a bit, but now it's time to step back in.

Personally, I'm not one who tends to get prepared very much in advance.  Oftentimes I'm scrambling up until the last minute to put final touches on my Sunday messages and the visual aids and handouts that we try to provide.  But it is good for me to do a good amount of praying and scripture study now on Monday so, even though I do scramble on Saturday night and Sunday morning, I'm not just putting what "I" think into what I'm getting ready.  Everything has been well soaked in the Word of God and prayer.

What are the spiritual rhythms of your life?  Do you spend time in the Bible every day?  What about your prayer life? (Look back at what Karl shared on June 6 for more on that.)  What about your body?  Do you understand that caring for your physical body is a spiritual thing?  Here are the "rhythms" that our network churches suggest we look at.
  • Bible
    - Heb. 4:14
  • Prayer
    - 2 Chronicles 7:14
  • Physical
    - 1 Corinthians 6:19
  • Relationships
    - Prov. 27:17
  • Generosity
    - Mark 1:38
At this point of my week, I haven't even looked at those scriptures--and I don't know if we'll actually use those points.  Now, on Monday, I'm just doing by best to get a start.

I have, however, looked at the main scripture reading that we planned to use when we were looking at this series in the spring -- it's John 15:1-8 about Jesus being the vine and we being the branches -- and the main point is that you and I need to stay connected in order to "bear fruit," that is, in order to do the good work God calls us to do.  Since you and I are not vines, one of the ways we stay connected with the Lord is to stay in step with Him--to live life in a way that honors the rhythms God has provided.  I can't wait to get into this further to see what it is God might have for us.
John 15:1–8 (NLT)
Jesus said: “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father..."
Being "connected" and "in step" with God is not only for preachers and church leaders.  Being "in step" is for every one who wants to do good in this world.  Unfortunately, many Christians leave the "spiritual rhythm" thing up to the professionals and pastors who are paid to do it.  That is very sad.  It leaves the body of Christ as a weak extension of the ministry of one or two human beings.  On the other hand, spiritual rhythms are not just for us as individuals--they bring us together with others as members of one body with one head.

As I said, I'm really looking forward to doing more study and prayer.  I'm also looking forward to hearing from others, either on Sunday morning or before, about what spiritual rhythms help you keep in step with God.

Now, it's time to stop writing and get to some other things that need doing.  Plus, Toni and I would like to take the canoe out one last time.

from Prairie Lakes Church

This "Do It Yourself" series is one that we're not doing all by ourselves.  The messages were worked on this spring by the "network" of churches that I participate with.  They've also been "performed" (sad way to say it, but it's true... more about that later...) previously by pastors of at least two other churches.  You can access those messages from the links under the photos at right.

from Community of Hope church
I'm thankful for their work and have gone online to listen to what they preached on these topics.  No, I didn't "copy" what they said, but I have appreciated the clarity and practicality of the messages that these churches have shared.

More planning for Sunday, July 13 can be found at do-it-yourself#4.

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