Meditation – What? Me? How?

Image result for christian meditationThis past Sunday we talked about the importance of prayer and meditation in our journey along the Steps To Wholeness.  Those of you familiar with 12 Step groups may recognize this as Step 11.
And during Q&A one of you asked for some tips and suggestions to get started in meditation.
Thank you so much for asking that!  Important question.  Glad you poked for that!!
So…. here goes –
May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD Psalm 104:34
Someone wrote that “Christian meditation can be described as a peaceful focus on God.”
It doesn’t have to be hard work.
Neither does it have to follow a set formula.
So don’t get all worried about not getting it right.  Instead, relax, and enjoy the journey and blessings that come with growing closer to your Lord & Saviour through prayer & meditation.
Let me suggest some things about
and then
– A setting that you find peaceful might be totally distracting to me.  Where would be a peaceful place that you could use for regular prayer & meditation? A path in the woods? By your fireplace? At the kitchen table? Coffee shop? Go there.  
Don’t rush.  It’s hard to be intimate with your spouse while saying, “I’ve only got 5 minutes.”  Same here.
– Have a note pad & pen handy.
– Keep your bible open.
Pad & Pen?  You bet! Our spiritual enemy will not be delighted to see us spend time focused on our Lord and Saviour and will try to distract us in all sorts of ways (eg the item that MUST be added to the grocery list RIGHT NOW, the email we should write IMMEDIATELY, the chore that CAN’T wait, etc).  When such an “urgent” item shouts in your mind write it down, so you can deal with it later.  And, by the way, you might well discover that after your quiet time is over, they suddenly don’t seem so compelling any longer.
Bible?  I like to read a Psalm as the beginning of my quiet time; and include a piece from the life of Jesus (the Gospels).  It keeps my thoughts grounded in God’s truth – so critical!
Oh yes, and you might find yourself helped by a book of prayers by a writer that you connect with.
The pattern to follow in meditation will also be very personal.  Perhaps you begin with closing your eyes, paying attention to your breathing to calm down after getting the kids to school, and repeat a simple prayer, or maybe even the name of Jesus – welcoming him.  I suspect most of us will need some way to enter our Quiet Time, putting the rush of daily routine to the side.
There are many patterns to follow – let me suggest one that has been personally helpful.  It involves four steps, based on a daily scripture reading – whatever passage you choose to use – read; meditate; pray; contemplate.
READ – read the passage.  Don’t rush. Don’t skip pieces because you already know the story.  Take your time to let it speak to you – every word of it.
MEDITATE – think about what you just read.  What jumps out at you today? Is there something you didn’t notice before? Wonder – what message are you getting from God’s Word right here, right now?
PRAY – speak to God about what you’ve learned or heard or noticed.
CONTEMPLATE – stop talking, and just BE with the passage and its truth. Be aware that the Spirit of Jesus is right there with you.  This, now, is a bit of time not about content, not about new – just about BEING with your Lord and Saviour.
And then, after that time of four-part reading, a time of prayer.
Based on ACTS – Adoration (praise God), Confession (oops, God I am sorry), Thanksgiving (yes, God, you HAVE heard and answered!), Supplication (i.e. making requests).
True Christian meditation is NOT, as some other spiritual traditions might suggest, the emptying of my mind or the goal of losing my identity in order to be united with some cosmic force.
Instead it is me, heart & soul & mind & strength – all of me, inside and out, being open to the Living Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Welcoming the Trinity into my mind, my will, my emotions, my experiences – everything.
To only focus on emptying leaves one, well, empty.  In Luke 11:26 Jesus warns against being spiritually empty inside.  You simply don’t know what sort of “spiritual squatter” will take up residence inside!!
Does that help?
As always, if you want to dig further, feel free to drop me a note.
– Pastor Ken

The Women In Jesus’ Life: An Adultress… Q&A feedback

Last week’s teaching from John 8 got a few of you thinking, and digging into your bibles.
Which is SO awesome!  What we do together on Sunday is good and all…. but just the beginning.  There’s always more. Always deeper riches in God’s Word to be explored and treasured.
THANKS for sharing what you found!

The first came in as written Q&A response.  We shared it together during our “open mike” segment of the service.  The writer pointed to Jeremiah 17:13, “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame.  Those who turn away form you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.”
“Maybe Jesus was thinking of this?”

Which got another of you thinking and reflecting and writing.  And sending me the following in an email earlier this week:
Jeremiah’s prayer starts with:
“O Lord, the Hope of Israel.”
Jesus has come; He is the fulfilment of the OT or of the law.
Jewish leaders still hold the Law over Him and others.
They bring the adulteress to Him to see the OT law ‘fulfilled’ or applied.
Jesus rather applies the law of GRACE/LOVE
a. to the leaders: he let’s them decide
as OT leaders their names are being written in the dust, uprooted, written down as
judged not worthy, written off, not written in the book of life
b. to the woman: “You may go, too; sin no more.”
They are all free to go.
This is a visual demonstration of the OT LAW traded in for NT GRACE.
It took Jesus to do that.
Jesus is the Hope of Israel.
We don’t know how the leaders responded after this incident. (There is Nicodemus & others)
We don’t know how the woman responded after this incident.
How will we respond after this incident?
The choice is follow Jesus or keep walking in our past.

So true!
Follow Jesus, and live in his gracious love – and find eternal life.
Or go the way of rules, of judgement and find everything crumbling into dust and disappearing into nothing.
How will we respond?

TWIJL: His Ancestors – Post-sermon conversation @ KCRC

The first message in our new, post-Christmas series, “The Women In Jesus’ Life” was shared this past Sunday at KCRC.  And, there was some open-mike Q&A conversation that followed.  Also, one comment was emailed. You can catch the conversation by clicking on the link below.

But, first the written comment.  Someone wrote in:
“During the sermon it struck me that the Tamar you talked about (from Genesis 38) was a combo of two biblical Tamar’s. Is that possible? Did l hear you say she was raped? That’s not how I read the story.  It seems that her husband and then the other man were terrible, but l don’t see where the Bible tells us she was raped.  It was the Tamar, daughter of David, who was raped by her half brother.  Either way, both women had incredibly difficult lives and l find hope in both of these women’s stories.  The first Tamar had twins, double joy for her pain, one child so to speak for each lousy relationship. And one twin in the lineage of Jesus!!  I was trying to imagine Tamar’s face when she finds this out in heaven. Amazing!   Tamar 2 – we don’t really find what beauty comes from her ashes, but l wonder if she died of her shame? Maybe that’s why Absolom named his daughter Tamar, and the Bible tells us she was very beautiful, (just like her aunt). 
As someone who can identify with Tamar’s story, it helps me remember what while I don’t know why stuff, even very hard stuff, happens, and while I may never know, Jesus does.  And that helps a lot.”

Couple of things by way of response:
A. Thanks for this hugely honest and courageous sharing.  You speak on behalf of a HUGE number of women in churches all across Canada who have, somehow, lived Tamar’s story of abuse and misuse.  I SO thank God for the hope and comfort he is providing you.
B.  You are actually correct in that the Bible doesn’t name the violation of Genesis 38 as “rape.”  Here’s what I was thinking when I named it as such – the surrogate husband was asked to stand in and perform the act of a husband, to father a child in the dead man’s name. He agrees (maybe with a smile on his face). He beds Tamar, but knowing full well he’s NEVER going to do what he is supposed to do.  Takes the privilege and pleasure, without fulfilling his responsibility.  Call it what you will, I suppose – rape, incest, assault.  Something. Just plain evil and wrong!