Encouragement From The Word

Reading for Formation

This Sunday at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton, I am beginning a series called, “How Do I…?” in which I will spend some time on practical tips for some of the basic disciplines of following Jesus that not everybody fully grasps.  This week, the discipline is prayer.’

One of the points I’ll make is that prayer is not only talking to God, but listening to God as well.  The primary way we hear from God is from his Word, the Bible.  We can read the Bible for information – to learn something – or for formation – to be shaped in the image of Jesus.  Each is valuable, and each has its place.  But too often, we focus on reading the Bible for information; rarely do we read the Bible to be formed.

An example of reading the Bible for formation comes in the ancient practice of holy reading, what the ancients called lectio divina.  It’s a practice whereby we read a short passage of Scripture four times, with each time having an emphasis:

Read:  what word or phrase stands out for you?

Reflect:  how does the passage impact you?

Respond:  talk to God about your reaction.

Rest:  embrace God’s thoughts for you as a result of your experience.

Let me suggest that you try that for a few moments, using the passage below.  Let the Lord speak; don’t worry about the meaning of any part of the passage in this exercise.  See if God has a word for you in this part of the Bible.

You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”  (Matthew 5.14-16, NLT)

Read.  Reflect.  Respond.  Rest.

God is in charge.

Encouragement From The Word

The Sound of Silence

The sound of silence.

For some, it is a reference to Simon and Garfunkel.

For others, it is the noise made by the refrigerator or the HVAC system.

For some, it is deafening.

For others, it is the most beautiful sound on earth.

Whatever it may mean to us, the sound of silence is a gift, whether we acknowledge it or not.  For it is in silence that we are most clearly able to commune with God as friend to Friend, as servant to Master, as disciple to Lord.  Think about it:  when you are having an intentional conversation with a close friend, you’re probably not having to shout over a loud racket, right?  When it’s a serious conversation, there’s probably no discernible noise in the background.

So why not do this with the Lord?

At times, we may wonder why we don’t hear from God; it’s less likely that God is silent, and more likely that we are not making space to listen.

As you read the Bible, as you pray – whatever shape that takes – consider doing it accompanied by the sound of silence.  You may be surprised how much you hear.

For God alone my soul waits in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 62.5-6, NRSV).