Posts Tagged ‘spiritual formation’

Back on the Journey

January 10, 2011

Somewhere during the last year. I quit writing. I shifted my prayer life. I decided I needed to read the whole Bible from cover to cover. I have read the whole text a couple of times, but felt a need to do it again. That is not for me. I read the text, got things out of it. However, I am not an Interstate traveler, sometimes I like to poke around a bit, see what else is off the road. So, my spiritual formation seemed to suffer. I returned back to Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants. It is an old stand by that I have been using for 15 years. It is quaint, outdated, and not hip. It is a compass, when I am lost I return to it to reorient myself. For me that is extremely useful, and I appreciate that.
Isaiah 49:3-4 (NRSV)
3 And he said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
4 But I said, “I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my cause is with the LORD,
and my reward with my God.”
I think some of the problems of my own spiritual journey is the desire to be effective primarily, successful secondarily. There is a measure that churches have. Baptisms, budgets, and butts in seats. The 3B’s. They are important, because pastors can be real lazy or misguided at times.
But, my journey as a pastor is about developing a relationship with Jesus. If I as a pastor work on my relationship with Jesus then my work becomes more doable. Not easier, but doable. When I work to succeed or be more effective, none of which are bad, but when I say if I measure my faithfulness by success then I fail to meet Jesus. Then God becomes controlled. That does not work. I have worked at wanting to be more useful, but maybe the life of faith is deeper than that…to be bound to Jesus in such a ‘warm’ way that I do not wish to go anywhere else.
This morning I came in from my run, showered still very chilly. I crawled back into bed to warm up. Prayers could wait a bit. I nodded back to sleep and woke to my wife warming my frigid body through snuggling. I chose not leave the bed but to rest in the peace and the warmth of the morning with my wife. To be bound to God in such a way that I never wish to stray nor wish to disappoint. To be loved and to love Christ is the goal. I have heard that a million times, but I finally getting to believe it. It is not about changing the world, but loving the savior. In the cold dark days of my spiritual walk, I long to find that place with the one who loves me best of all.


The First Core Spiritual Habit: Pick Up and Read

April 8, 2010

When I was a teenager, I opened up my leather bound King James Version bible given to me by my grandparents.  I tried to read from Genesis, but soon got lost in thou and thees of the Old Testament.

I looked to know the stories of Jesus.  Who was this guy?  His story is more important than the old stories.  So, I noticed that the four gospels of the New Testamet were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (They are in reverse alphabetical order if you need a memory trick.)  I wanted to read one, so I looked at which was the shortest.  Mark.

I read through Mark and felt good about it.  It started me on to reading the others and more of the Bible.  When I got to college and took my first class on the New Testament.  We picked up with Mark.

I have grown to appreciate Mark and it is my favorite.
Bill Tenney-Brittain wrote how to begin reading the Bible for spiritual formation.  I found his insights quite good.

The First Core Spiritual Habit: Pick Up and Read.

As a follower of Jesus or one who is curious about Jesus.  I encourage you to pick up the gospel and begin there.  I have provided a reading plan and background on Mark below.

Introduction to the Gospel of Mark.


Mark was most likely the first gospel written.  Scholars give two key reasons, being the shortest of the gospels and most of the stories found in Mark are found in Luke and Matthew.  It was most likely written around 66 AD.  This was right before or during the war between Israel and Rome.  It also was a time when the apostles were dying and they wanted to keep the story alive. 


Mark is fast paced and a quick narrative

He uses many literary devices, but two are particularly interesting.

1.)   Movement-Mark has two feeding stories, 5 thousand and 4 thousand.  One takes place in a Jewish area and the other in a Gentile area.  He has parallel healing stories and  one is Jewish and one is Gentile.  Why might Mark do this?

2.)   The Messianic Secret-You will notice that Jesus will tell almost everybody be quiet about who I am. Why might Jesus want people to be quiet?


There are multiple endings.  Mark 16:8 is the ending of the gospel, but it is incomplete.  The scholars suggest that either Mark left it that way as a mark of genius…it ends with a conjunction  “and….” as if to say the story is still being written.  Or, a page got missing early on in a manuscript.  You choose.


Reading of the Gospel of Mark starting April 5


How to read the Gospel of Mark-don’t parse every word and sentence.  This is a good story.  Read it like a novel, but feel free to underline something seems important to you.


Day one

Mark 1:1-2:12

Day two

Mark 2:13-3:12

Day three

Mark 3:13-4:34

Day four

Mark 4:35-5:43

Day five

Mark 6:1-6:56

Day six

Mark 7:1-7:37

Day seven

Mark 8:1-8:26

Day eight

Mark 8:27-9:29

Day nine

Mark 9:30-10:31

Day ten

Mark 10:32-10:52

Day eleven

Mark 11:1-12:44

Day twelve

Mark 13:1-14:11

Day thirteen

Mark 14:12-72

Day fourteen

Mark 15:1-16:8