One Minute Meditation Psalm 123





What are you thankful for? I am thankful I had time to make this week's One Minute Meditation! Whatever is going on, why not take a minute (I know you have at least 1!) and give yourself time to meditate on God's Word from Psalm 123 today? Do it!
For more videos, check out www.tinyurl.com/jedipastorkentv!

Shut Up....Please, I Do Not Think You Know What Empathy Means.

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I keep my rules on my Facebook page and social media sites very minimal.  Through the years I have had to remind people that when I introduce a controversial topic, I expect everyone to honor other people, not just opinions.  If anyone...ANYONE...begins to cross that line, I shut it down. Period.  I have multiple reasons I suppose, but mainly, there are lots of pages where a person can go to get into arguments, degrade others while maintaining that you are only trying to persuade them, and basically shout to your heart's content that you are right and others are wrong.

This is not going to happen on my pages.  Period.

I have only blocked a very few.  A few I have asked simply not to post anymore.  Recently, a post generated some discussion and someone, someone I have never had a conversation with before, stopped by, addressed me with labels and then sought to tell me they empathized with me.  


My pages, across social media and the internet, are intended to foster people on their spiritual journey to know God.  It does not take much time to read a few of my posts, watch a video or two, read breath prayers, to pick up on this.  I don’t go to other pages to engage in the debate much either.  One thing I seek to avoid doing at any time, above maybe anything else, is to label another person.  Period.  Precisely because it does with Soren Kierkegaard notes, you are negating another person.  

Empathy does not do that.  In fact, I do not think we even know what it means anymore or how our words, written within the context of opposing opinions, must be carefully chosen if we want to convey or express empathy.  I want to note where the issue breaks down looking at a simple definition of empathy:
the feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions: the ability to share someone else's feelings.” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empathy)

Simple, right?  Not once you apply a label to a person.  A label is for noting the size of an article of clothing.  A label identifies something.  When you label another, in the course of conversation (especially debate), you remove the “person,” the “someone.”  I think it is worse than creating a “strawman” because labeling is directed at another human being, a person, directly.  

Yes, of course, you and I might apply labels to things we believe.  We might identify ourselves with a religious belief, a political party, a profession, but labeling removes the person from the equation of conversation.  And once you remove the person, you are no longer sharing their experiences and emotions.  You are negating them.  You are negating the person.

I am a Christian pastor, a spiritual director, a writer, a Star Wars fan, a hunter, a backpacker, and many other words with which I identify myself.  Those can be used to describe me or they can, and in a conversation, easily twisted and tainted with condescension.  In a civil discourse on a controversial subject in social media?  Don’t insult any of us...it is VERY tempting to do this and sadly, it is.

On my pages, I won’t accept it.  Period.

While at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, I recently picked up a book written by one of the monks there, Elias Marechal, entitled, “Tears of An Innocent God.”  I am slowly making my way through his writing as part of my daily time with God.  One of the words he introduces is one very foreign to the Christian faith, maybe even shunned because of its origin and connotations are given.  

The word is “Namaste.”

In his chapter, “A Beggar’s Final Words,” Brother Elias tells the story of a beggar who is dying and shares his last words with a nun, present with him, and comforting him.  As he takes his last breath, she folds her hands in the direction of the beggar and offers a gesture of “namaste.”  What is it?  In Brother Elias’ simple explanation, it is an honoring of the sacred energy of another person.  In essence, we are giving respect to the heart, soul, and mind which our Heavenly God has granted everyone with.

Namaste is not an Indian or Hindu term alone, though it might be labeled that.  It is just as confusing when anyone tries to tell a Christian from the Middle East they shouldn’t call God, Allah, though that is the word for God in their language.  

Namaste is more than a gesture, it is a way of viewing others as a person, in the way God, in the person of Jesus, looks at us and came to us.  This is one more reason I love the name, Immanuel, for Jesus, for it means, “God with us.”  God thought more of us than to label us lost, God came to us in the greatest gesture of namaste.

I will strive always to offer to you namaste, to try to live as Immanuel.  When you are with me in person or on my websites.  I will try to share your experiences and emotions and I ask you seek to give the same courtesy.  Just know, if you cannot, I may simply ask you, in the nicest way, “shut up...please, I’m trying to love you.”

Namaste.  Lord have mercy.


60 Second Sermon: Who's Got Your Back?


This week's 60 Second Sermon is up and JediPastorKen asks the simple question: Who's Got Your Back? Anyone? And for that matter, who are YOU standing with? Hmmm.... Remember, "birds of a feather flock together!"



Check Proverbs 27:17 and John 15:12-13 on http://bible.oremus.org/



#60secondsermon #goodquestion #leadership #friendship #ironsharpensiron

One Minute Meditation (Psalm 78)





Learn a simple way to meditate with this One Minute Meditation on Psalm 78. Take a minute for yourself today...really, just 60 seconds to reflect and then move forward toward a more meaningful life!  Psalm 78 encourages you to pass on the story of God in your life.  When was the last time you considered what God has done in your life and who you would share that with?



Consider reading the whole chapter of Psalm 78 this week.



Click this link to Psalm 78 http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=377753547

For more videos check out www.tinyurl.com/jedipastorkentv

God Doesn't Care About Young People...Just Saying.


Stop believing the narrative. God doesn’t care about young people.  God cares about all people.  
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I was a youth pastor for nearly a decade.  I love hanging out with children's ministries and youth ministries.  I love being involved with Scouting ministries too.  But the way society creeps up on us and influences the Church is often so subtle we’d miss it.  And, we usually do.

I have read for years about the “greying of the church” and lamentations about the pews growing older.  I have heard in every church, of every size how what is keeping the Church of Jesus Christ growing is the lack of young people.  And, yes, I do grieve the lack of young people.  I do wish there were more.

But the man who threw the great banquet in Jesus’ parable didn’t waste much time when people didn’t come.  Take a moment and read his solution...

But when you give a feast,  invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,14and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid  at  the resurrection of the just.”
15When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him,  “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”16But he said to him,  “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.17And at the time for the banquet he  sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’18But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’19And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’20And another said,  ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’21So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in  the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’22And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’23And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.24For I tell you,  none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’” (Luke 14:13-24, ESV)

We often observe how Jesus grew the Church starting with some fishermen, a tax collector and a traitor.  He hung out with drunks and prostitutes.  Yes, Jesus was concerned people would turn children away BUT even Jesus did not say the future of the church is dependent on young people.

The future of the Church is dependent on lost people being found by the grace and love of Jesus Christ.  Nothing else is going to “save” the Church...that is, even IF the Church needs saving.  My friend, Morgan Guyton has a great title for his book: “How Jesus Saves the World from Us.”  Morgan has an important prophetic voice and I encourage you to read it and prepare to be challenged but sometimes a title says it all. Maybe the Church simply needs to be saved from us.

We need to stop coming up with solutions based on false narratives about what the Church of Jesus Christ needs. I'm glad Jesus' solution to the world's problem was never dependent on an age group or ageism. There are many issues worth addressing in the Church.  I tend to not think the greying of the Church is an issue.  While I learn from young people, the mentors I trust are older people, greyed people and wrinkled folks. As a spiritual director, I have found my own life challenged and renewed by being in the presence of those older and truly wiser.  Jesus never seems to have an issue with older people.  I wonder why it is we seem to?  



The One Thing You Aren't Doing to Know God Better


We are a generation of doers.  Doing things ranks high on our list.  Now, those things don’t have to be actually productive, in fact, it may well be our doing has little to show for it.  There are easy targets to pick on, such as Netflix and Facebook.  And there are those we take for granted because they are part of society, like spending a day watching football all the way through or watching soap operas.  Are there more?  Of course, there are but this is merely a starting point, a place meditate…


What are you doing regularly that has nothing to show for it?


What does this have to do with the number one thing keeping us from a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with God?  It's this, for all our excuses for not having time for God, we fill our lives with empty hours, time spent on lesser things.


I am convinced the number one thing keeping you from the kind of relationship you say you want to have with God is you are filling your day with lesser things.  You and I are influenced in the most subtle of ways, to do “our things” we only give God time, maybe, for one hour each week.  Some of you won’t even do that.


Simon Tugwell, monk and author, wrote, “If the basic reason why God is crowded out of our lives is simply that we want to be God ourselves, then it must be so, that the very first point of conversion will be, in however small a way, to stop being God, and so leave room for God to be God.” (Prayer: Living with God, 34). It seems to me, the greatest battles of spiritual warfare are not regarding demonic possession but the ones between our “old self” and “new self.”


I am convinced making time with God is the first-best step of spiritual formation.  It is a response to God’s grace and it is a concrete way to put your trust in God.  Making specific time with God is something Jesus did as a regular habit.  Mark writes, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35, ESV)  The pattern of the early church and godly men and women through the centuries is marked by a similar attentiveness to setting aside time for God.


So if you are ready to make this simple shift in your day, don’t wait till New Year’s, do it now.  Here are three helps to guide you as you make time for God:


1. Pick a time of day.  
What time of day works for you? When do you have the most flexibility and when you are the most rested?


2. Find a spot.
I’ve have found spots like my office, my recliner, on my patio, at a campfire, and more.  You need to pick where it works best for you.


3. Use the clock.
Keep the time short, even 5 minutes can be plenty.  I make 1 minute meditations every week on YouTube that you can use too.  Don’t feel like you need an hour! The goal here is set aside the time.


You won’t grow spiritually until you make time for the Spirit to grow.  If it is your desire to take the next step, then don’t wait.  There is no better time than right now to reorient your life to God.  Make time and make it right now!


May I Suggest?

Pull out your calendar, whatever one you use the most and make a spot for an “appointment with God.”  You could write “phone call with the big guy” or something.  Get it in your calendar and reminder for the next month and see how things are working.  If you need help, feel free to email me at jedipastorken(a)gmail.com

Can't Hear God? 5 Ways To Hear God's Voice Better

I will never forget the tone of voice of my parents when they called out to me.  It was easy to tell the difference between concern, love, and frustration.  The latter usually included the use of my entire name with extra syllables added!  My own children know those differences too.  Even though they are young adults and going their own ways, our text messages even have a sense about them.

Lately, I find myself wrestling with how I am doing when it comes to listening to God.  As a pastor and spiritual director, I have had the question of listening to God posed to me many times.  It may well be one of the most common hang-ups people have with their spiritual life.  Are you having this difficulty?  If so, you are in good company.  Even those of us in the practice of knowing God struggle too.

So what is the answer for it?  My observation in reading from different faith traditions is teachers and religious leaders also have a conviction or expertise but acknowledge their tradition has acceptable differences.   It seems in Christianity, there tends to be a one-size approach taken by pastors and teachers, usually, this is unique to a denomination.  The “wrongness” or “rightness” of a practice is often judged.  I am going to try not to do that if I can help it. It isn't about a "tradition," it is about God.


Here are five thoughts I have to offer you on the subject of listening for God…

1.  Are you connected with other followers?  (Hebrews 10:25)
One of the most valuable ways we learn is to be with others in the process.  Being in school and in a classroom is a primary example of how we learn and can learn very effectively.  Working with others in our class can reinforce this.  The Bible says specifically don’t give up meeting together!  We don’t just need to meet together for rituals, we meet together because we can meet God and hear from God in the midst of being with others.


2.  Have you made time for God in your day?  (Luke 5:16)
I heard this one a long time ago and never forgot it.  It is the reminder that if Jesus needed to take time to be with God alone in prayer, then we surely do too.  Are you making time to meet with God daily?  Are you reading the Bible or sacred text?  Are you praying?  Do you have a devotional to read?  You are NOT going to get to know someone by osmosis...you MUST make time for them.  This includes giving time to be with God.  (The Upper Room is a great help).


3.  Do you experience an assurance of salvation?  (Romans 8:16)   
This is a tricky one and as I describe it, it comes to be a connection between heart and head: do you have a consistent sense of peace when you reflect on your relationship with God?  Is there contradiction or conflict in your life regarding you and God? A sense of stress or worry?  Romans seems to indicate there is a deep contentment that is more than a feeling or simple knowledge of a fact.  


4.  Do you have other “senses” in tune with God? (Psalm 34:8)
The Psalm writer points here to the idea of “tasting” to “see” that God is good.  Well, that is two different senses at play that are not connected.  John Wesley writes that we may have “had ear, but heard not,” and now we are “made capable of hearing,” but in a spiritual sense.  God’s voice we hear in commands AND invitations as well as promises and corrective words.  We hear them ALL gladly and apparently they come in different ways!


5.  Is there someone to help you? (John 3:1-21 and 4:7-19)
Jesus took time to speak one-on-one with both a religious teacher and a woman he met who was getting water.  The model of the Pastoral letters (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus) give us instructions about those who are to guide people on their faith journey.  Often we need someone farther on the spiritual journey to help us.  Even those of us who are trained as spiritual directors are to be in spiritual direction!  Having someone to help you listen for God can be one of the best things you can do for your soul.

I am far from done with this topic, listening to God.  I have heard God’s voice in varying ways throughout my life.  Contrary to some teachers, God’s voice does not lead us always to great financial blessings or fewer difficulties.  Certainly, for some, this is the case but nearly every one of Jesus’ disciples was martyred as were thousands in the early church (and in the 20th century the Church experienced its greatest period of martyrdom).  Listening to God may lead people into full-time ministry but may also lead some to other places to serve God too.  

Ultimately though, listening to God ought to lead us to self-examination and transformation of our soul so we might be more like Jesus and help lead us to transform the world into the Kingdom of God.  
May I Ask? How is listening to God changing you?  How are you changing the world?  Even the smallest signs offer us hope we are on the Way.





Images used with permission from Pixabay and NewOldStock

Author and Book Spotlight on Kathy Anderson and Recalculating

Recalculating: Walk Away from Negative Thinking with the Course-Correcting Power of Words, is an excellent book with practical application for learning to renew your mind. Negative thinking causes a great deal of anxiety in our lives and we need the course-correcting power of words to help us. The Bible encourages us to renew our minds and Kathy Anderson gives us a clear plan on how this is possible in our lives and how we can change our habits.


As we explore the Spiritual Side of our lives, Jedi Pastor Ken will highlight authors and books, like Kathy Anderson and “Recalculation” that aid in our spiritual formation. In addition, collaborations with other thought leaders in the field of spiritual formation will part of these interviews as well. Check out the links below to get your copy of “Recalculating” and go to Kathy’s website to sign up for her e-mail list and get one of her free offerings to help you recalculate!

Get Kathy's Book: "Recalculating" on Kindle Here: http://tinyurl.com/RecalculatingBook Kathy’s Website and some freebies: https://recalculatingwords.com/





The Number 1 Practice of Spiritual Formation



Do you remember the old saying that goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink?”  Yeah, not sure how far back it goes but its application fits in a lot of different environments and situations.  I’ve not ever owned a horse but I’ve owned both cats and dogs...ever tried to give them pills or liquid meds?  Yeah, it may be good for them but they don’t know nor do they care.  Cats will just as soon rip your face off.

Like so many things in our day and age, we want everything to be easy or at least palatable.  If it takes too much work, is too complex or takes too much time, we don’t want much to do with it.  In a few recent Facebook exchanges, many I didn’t engage in and one I did, the challenge to practice active listening (or active reading in this case), seemed too daunting a task for some.  It was far more convenient to label another and then tear down the straw man because no attempt was actually made to empathize (saying you “empathize” is not actually empathizing).  

This is only an example of one of the ways we, as a society, refuse to do the more difficult work of relationships.  And, it doesn’t end there.  It is something which is rolled right into our physical health and our spiritual lives.  Now, I’m not an expert in physical health so I won’t try to tackle that one but the spiritual life is where I have spent my time, effort and writing.
In one of the most popular posts on the subject of spiritual formation, John R. Throop writes, “Spiritual formation cannot be found in a ‘Five Minutes to Improved Spirituality" product. Be prepared to change the pattern of your life to practice the purposes of God.’ (5 Facets in Spiritual Formation, Christianity Today). Simply put, there is no shortcut for nurturing our spiritual growth.  Not only that, there are numerous behaviors and attitudes in ourselves and in others, that act like weeds to choke off your growth.  

I am amazed at times to see how those in other faith traditions actively practice and take on practices in their lives to seek a more fulfilling relationship with the Divine.  Muslims are steadfast and faithful in their prayers and practices.  Those who practice yoga are most often aligned with a religious tradition of Buddhism, Hinduism or Jainism and are resolute in practicing mindfulness and meditation.  Yet, in the Christian tradition, we often scoff at taking seriously those various practices which Jesus, the very Son of God, Second Person of the Trinity, taught and lived.  This goes not only for prayer but for fasting, and caregiving, and serving others.

As you can tell, I like to tackle the topic from a modern view through referencing the neutral but VERY spiritual elements from the Star Wars saga.  That isn’t easy for some to take.  It comes across as “too worldly.”  If you do a Google search of the phrase “Spiritual Formation,” you’ll find a number of sites and videos from Christian teachers being, shall we say, “over-the-top,” regarding the term because it isn’t “Biblical” enough.  They will gladly use phrases like Biblical practices, prayer practices, devotional practices, devotional habits, etc...yet these have no Biblical basis either, these phrases are simply not found anywhere in the Bible.

Right now, I am taking time to refocus my writing and ministry in this area.  It came through my life and struggles of faith and I think, it comes through loud and clear in the title of my book, “Life Sucks Seek God,” because it reflects, on one hand, the reality of our world and life, which, in all honesty, is hard and does suck many days.  And yet, there is before us the opportunity for you and me to experience the life-giving, soul-renewing, the experience of coming into a real “face-to-face” connection with God.  

It is time for us to take Paul’s words to heart more readily when he writes, “Rather,  speaking the truth in love, we are to  grow up in every way into him who is  the head, into Christ, (Ephesians 4:15)”  What we call spiritual formation, IS growing up into Christ, but we more often than not, seem to only speak the “love” aspect without speaking the “truth” part of the equation.  The truth is spiritual formation is going to deal with YOUR life CHANGING.  Your nationalism or party affiliation does not give you bonus or credit toward forwarding your relationship with God and you becoming more like Jesus.  

Luke Skywalker noted in the Empire Strikes Back, that he wasn’t afraid of the training needed to become a Jedi.  The little Jedi master, Yoda, quickly shot back, “You will be!  You. Will. Be!”  It is time to stop playing games with your faith and you forcing your small group leader, your Sunday School teacher or your pastor, to make you drink.  Just stop.  Spiritual formations number one practice, at its core, is listening to God’s Spirit.  Try the other old adage: "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." Since Jesus said when you do something to the least of the people, you’ve done it to God, then know this - sometimes the doing is listening.  When you listen to others, there is a good chance you’re going to hear God.  

So in love, shut up and give up, God is right now showing up and it is time for you to listen up.


MAY I ASK?  Are you having a hard time hearing from God?  Are people around you noting that you aren't really listening to them?  When is the last time you listened to God?  What did you hear?  What could you do differently?


Better Questions? Better Guides? Questioning as I Go a bit Farther Down the Valley of Suck


We don’t know what we don’t know.

Maybe it is because I’m getting older and the lessons of the years seem to be more pronounced, but it seems with each passing day, I am more aware of what I do not know.  There was a time when I was younger I hoped to be an “expert” on something.  

In her book, “Real Power,” Janet Hagberg talks about how our human understanding of power goes through stages.  At stage three in the process, we come to understand power through symbols.  Those symbols can be in the form of titles, cars, homes, size of your corporation, where your office might be located, any number of things can determine what you determine to be power.

But...that is ONLY stage three.  In Hagberg’s study of power, there are SIX stages, not THREE.  Yet, in our world, stage three appears to us as the top.  There has been an avalanche of articles about Hugh Hefner following his death, and he, among many others through history to the present, can be seen to have achieved this understanding of power...and gotten stuck there (here is one of the more thoughtful editorials I have found).  

Celebrities, corporate elitism, elected officials, managers, employees and, yes, clergy can find ourselves achieving and even reveling in these positions of power and influence thinking we have attained something with which to say we “made our mark,” in the world.  It is interesting to notice how this process can consume us though.  Article upon article, book upon book, lecture upon lecture, those who achieve power counsel those seeking this same power, to “surround themselves with winners!”  If the only knowledge we seek is from those who have only gone part way on the life journey, just what have we gained? Isn't that like playing only two-quarters of a four-quarter game?

Thankfully, there are other voices who managed to achieve enough of this power to recognize it needs only be one more step on the road to something far more valuable, a power worth more than things.  There is more to seek in this life than notoriety and celebrity and fleeting positions of power.  When we achieve these most sought-after positions of power, they are only temporary for eventually, someone is going to replace you.  Someone new will be elected, a new revolution will occur or the mantle will be passed by retirement or appointment.  
There are many who have seen and commented before and offer us better advice. There are true spiritual directors who journey with us and help us listen for God's Spirit.  In reading the other day I came across these words of guidance,

“Learn to walk this upward path of wisdom.  Pursue God in all things with an open heart, ready to be taught, ready to follow.  As you practice wisdom, you will notice a change in your soul. You will go beyond seeking right understanding and will pass into the place in spirit where you are simply a friend to God - a friend, I say, whose life is under the wise care and direction of the King and Ruler of all.” - Clement of Alexandria

We don’t know what we don’t know because we fail too often to listen to those who know what we do not.  I find that my journey through the valley of suck, this road which grief has led me upon, is not a road that is unknown.  It is a path neglected and ignored but there is deep wisdom here, and a place of purging and correction and redirection.  And it is here, I think C.S. Lewis pointed when he referred to the “deep magic” in The Chronicles of Narnia.  For suffering is the way of The Christ, the way of Immanuel (Isaiah 53).  I find there are few guides in our age who seem to know this path and if you can find them, they are rarely in the spotlight.  

I remember once asking a question of a teacher, “who are you reading and listening to for your growth?” It seems all the more pressing as I journey on.  Just who is guiding our guides? Who is teaching our teachers?  We may not know what we don’t know but we can surely ask better questions and seek better guides.

May I Ask: What are the better questions you are asking? Who are the better guides you are finding?






Library image from "New Old Stock" http://nos.twnsnd.co/

It Ain't All Bad In The Valley of Suck: Learning to Give Thanks


Too soon?

It is just the end of September, it is not the time for giving thanks yet, is it?  I mean, we have a day for this after all right?  I'll be the first to admit it, I am a little miffed about some things in my life.  I know, pastors are NOT supposed to put that out there are we?  Look, I heard a few grumblings about the phrase "valley of suck," so I know I can rub a few people the wrong way.  Sorry, it is not my intent.

On my journey through the valley of grieving and loss, I have met those worse off than myself.  Sometimes these folks have been bitter but more times than not, I have been amazed by the resilience and faith of so many too.  At times, their optimism has led me to simply stop and give thanks...

...and then I wonder, "why do we not do this more?"  I don't mean putting on "rose-colored glasses" and seeking some "Neverland" to live in.  But why do we always wait to list out our thankfulness till November?!?!

I grew up with a responsive reading in my church every week.  Usually, the reading came from the Book of Psalms.  And as I have been on the journey through the valley of suck, the Psalms have been a fire hose blast of inspiration and emotions that resonate with my soul.  One of those themes I find over and over again is THANKS.

How do we keep missing this?  I am at a loss as to why we in the Church have come to ignore what are words intended to remind us and inspire us to know the fullness of God's love for us?  Name any situation, and I have heard someone say, "I just don't know why God would allow that to happen?"  But when we talk about being thankful to God, the words do not come across as very convincing.

I think it has a great deal to do with our admission we are just a wee-bit prideful about taking credit for the good things.  We like to take full credit for our successes and allow God to carry all the blame for the bad.  I believe our spirituality needs to make room for the full expression of human emotions in relation to God.

The words of the writer of Psalm 105 made me stop and take heed this week and I pray it will do the same for you.  Can you...will you...stop and recognize right now, the deeds God has done for you?  The psalms are reminding us often to stop and give thanks but if we do not do it, then, it is like saying we have love but don't...we're just a banging gong (1 Corinthians 13).

A bad as the valley has sucked, the deeds God has done and continues to do, renew me and renew my hope.  I have had my heart expand to love again.  I have found the strength to be a single parent and I have seen my kids grow in ways I could not imagine.  These are just a few I can name and there are indeed more.

May I ask, what are the deeds God has done for you?  Don't wait till November to name them.  This isn't about God after all, it is about you and me and what role God plays in our lives.







How To Meditate on Bible Verses (5 Simple Steps)

Okay, there is a lot of talk about meditation. We see it on TV and Movies (the Jedi are always doing it!).  It is in the magazines we read.  BUT for some of us it is so confusing because preachers online and in their pulpits tell us NOT to follow in the ways of meditation like in Eastern religions but then the BIBLE says over and over again to MEDITATE!!!  AHHHH!  What do you do?

The Bible says to meditate and so we should but the Bible has something a little different in mind because the focus of the Christian faith is to be in a life-changing relationship with God.  We were made for a relationship with the Divine and Jesus Christ came so we could make the connection with God we could not do on our own.  

So Christian meditation on the Bible helps us listen to the Spirit of God so we can know God.  This is like the other side of prayer, not where we talk BUT where we begin to listen.  So lets stay on target with the first step:


  1. FIND A GOOD SPOT
Where are you most comfortable? Your bed? The porch? The breakfast room?  The bathroom?  (Don’t joke, it maybe the only quiet spot in the house!)  Find a place where distraction are the fewest and you can chill out.  I’ve used ALL the places I mentioned before at different times in my life and during the day.  It isn’t something that has to ONLY happen at a church building.
  1. HAVE A BIBLE, AND PAPER AND PEN
Sounds simple doesn’t it but think this one through.  A digital Bible is just fine BUT with technology comes distractions especially from social media. Think about a real hard copy of the Bible just for this time.  Get one you feel you can write in too if you want.  You don’t need an expensive study Bible but get one you understand.  There might be an idea or voice you hear too so keep something to write with nearby.


  1. PSALMS - THE CENTER OF THE BOOK
Go to the very middle of the book and you’ll show up in the Psalms.  Why the Psalms?  Well, the Psalms are the prayer book (some say the hymn book) of the Bible.  It records 150 prayers in it.  They are real and they are raw at times.  Some of them will seem like the oddest collections of prayers you’ve heard.  You may even wonder how they got in the Bible.

What I hope you’ll learn though is that just about ALL the human emotions you could have toward God are in the pages of Psalms.  From celebrations to catastrophes, form hope to despair, joy to anger, it is all in there.  

  1. READ SMALL SECTIONS (like 1-6 verses)
I’ve got a bad feeling about this...yep, because too often people feel compelled to read the whole book in one setting. Nerf herders.  Seriously, don’t even start at Psalm 1.  Start at Psalm 38.  Then go to Psalm 103.  The point is, there is not a grade here.  You can spend weeks in Psalm 119 after all!  No, go anywhere BUT keep your goal small.

Why?  Because the point here is to listen for God...to know God...to experience God.  God is not giving out gold stars for reading all of the Book of Psalms.  God wants to know you and meditation on the Bible, I have found small sections like 1-6 verses in plenty.  Sometimes longer is just fine but let this be kind of a guideline.


  1. ASK QUESTIONS.
Now I did it.  Yep, as you read keep this pattern in mind:
WHAT
WHY
WHAT
-WHAT catches my attention - good or bad?
The good is encouraging and the bad is convicting.  We need both and sometimes God wants to deal with stuff in us we’d just assume ignore.  But that is a poor way to come to meditation.


-WHY?
Just why does it encourage you?  Why does it convict you about some behavior?  Don’t look it me, I don’t know - you are the one in conversation with God now so take it to God.  Reflect on it. Think on why it is doing what is doing in you.


-WHAT does it mean?  The clearest most basic meaning matters
Here’s Your Sign!  You don’t have to over spiritualize any of it.  The most clear, basic meaning is most likely WHAT you need to pay attention to.  A study bible will just make you tempted to, well, start studying.   Don’t.  When you get the answer...you probably have the answer.


BONUS:
TOO many times people take all this and do nothing with it.  But I suspect you don’t want to do that so here is the bonus that makes all the difference...ask yourself and God one more question:

HOW do I LIVE this?  An authentic faith doesn’t stay in sanctuaries, synagogues or solitude.  You can’t love your neighbor if you don’t go to your neighbor.  You can’t love your enemy if you don’t see your enemy.  You can’t love your loved ones either!  The lessons of meditation are meant to be lived in real time and in the real world.  

There you have 5 simple steps to do Christian Meditation on Bible Verses plus the bonus, which, if made part of the habit, will move the lessons of God’s Spirit from the head and heart to our hands and feet where you can change your world.


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