Lectio Divina

The discipline of reading God’s word can often be a challenging habit to stick with, especially during this busy time of year.  I often find myself making excuses or reading the text without actually absorbing any of it.  I’m guessing many of you likely run into similar issues.  So how do we combat the roadblocks we face when it comes to studying the Bible?

One method we’ve come to love here at Goodberry is a practice called Lectio Divina.  Perhaps the greatest reason we love this practice is because of how it views scripture as greater than text to be studied, but as the Living Word of God.  The origins of this practice date back to the third century and have monastic roots.  What an incredible gift that we can still benefit from this method today!

Traditionally, the practice has 4 movements.  I would love to share these movements with you, as well as include a few suggestions that have helped me in adapting this practice.  Prior to beginning, I suggest finding a quiet, comfortable spot for reflection.  I typically prefer to be outdoors, though any space with limited interruptions will be best.

  • First Movement:  READ

    • This movement involves selecting a text to read.  Perhaps you have a daily bible study plan that you follow, or are reading through a particular book of the bible.  For this intent, I would recommend a shorter text, maybe 1 or 2 verses.  Simply start by reading through the text.  I often will read it several times, even saying it aloud once or twice.  A slow recitation of the text will allow you to absorb the content more fully.  A caution here is to avoid quickly jumping into interpretation or discovering meaning.  That will come later.  Simply focus on what is written.

  • Second Movement:  MEDITATE

    • This movement is focused on allowing the text to come to life before you.  Don’t be tempted to analyze just yet, but leave room for the Holy Spirit to intervene and consider the text from different angles.  Are there certain words or phrases that stand out to you?  Chew on them.  Consider why these words are resonating in your heart.  The passage may illuminated in new ways before you during this movement.

  • Third Movement:  PRAY

    • The third movement is all about savoring the text.  This an opportunity to come before God and thank Him for the living and active word that He has given you.  Share with Him your feelings, your questions, your doubts, your needs.  Ask for meaning.  This practice of communing with God will open your eyes to the specific truths you are reading.

  • Fourth Movement:  CONTEMPLATE

    • The final phases of this practice involves digesting the word of God.  In this form of prayer, your only role is to listen.  You have had a chance to read the text, speak it’s meaning to you, and seek the truth.  And lastly, you have the chance here to hear the word of God speak.  Listen for the whispers and the roars of the words to speak.  Your silent prayer expresses love for God and a respect for His word.

May you be blessed as you read God’s word!  For more information on the practice of Lectio Divina, please check out these great resources available on our website:

Lectio Divina:  Contemplative Awakening & Awareness

Lectio Divina:  How To Pray Sacred Scriptures

Discovering Lectio Divina:  Bringing Scripture Into Ordinary Life

Daily Deals: Cyber Monday

Here at Goodberry, every day is Cyber Monday!  We’ve scoured the web to bring you the best resources at the best prices.  Today we’re featuring 23 books from B&H Publishing!  Take a look and find the perfect gifts for those special folks on your Christmas shopping list.

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Get these and other deals every day at: Goodberry Deals.  Be sure to sign up for daily deals in your inbox to get the best deals at your fingertips and act while they last!

Encouraging Vulnerability


A few years ago, Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, delivered a compelling Ted Talk on the Power of Vulnerability.  This talk has stuck with me as the importance of vulnerability in developing relationships is a topic that keeps resurfacing, especially when it comes to forming effective small groups.  The potential benefits of small groups are endless, but they must have the key elements of comfort, communication, and trust.  And these are all things that must be cultivated.

Small group leaders occasionally miss the mark, thinking that these things will just grow as the group goes along, but it is important to pay attention and invest to create the best possible environment for growth.  So where do you start?  Brown’s findings suggested that the people who were living wholeheartedly simply had the courage to be imperfect.  “They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.”

For our purposes, perhaps the best place for your small group to start is in discovering who God says you are and how He feels about you.  In order to be vulnerably authentic in who we truly are, and to ever relate to others, we must first look to our Creator.  Start with this simple reminder in 1 John 3:1 which says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!”  Generate a discussion on how these truths match up with how we feel about ourselves, or what sort of impression we feel we must give off in our Christian communities.  I would even suggest creating a covenant of vulnerability in your group – solidifying your commitment to growth together.

A small group community can be an excellent haven for our humanity to emerge and for our quest to become more Christ-like encouraged.  Remember to encourage vulnerability, for Ephesians 5:13 says, “everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.”


Consider checking out the following resources for your small group:

Thankful Thursdays

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Goodberry!  We pray that you are enjoying this wonderful time of year.  We also wanted to let you know that we are so thankful for the opportunity to serve you.  We feel very blessed today and wanted to share a message with you before we head out to fill ourselves with stuffing.

As Thanksgiving is a designated holiday to extend thanks, a large topic amongst staff here in the office is gratitude.  Gratitude is much more than a simple act; it is a practice and habitual discipline.  It requires a sort of mental re-routing and forging new connections between synapses.  Though gratitude does require work, the benefits are endless.

Perhaps this would be easiest to illustrate with an example.  Last summer I worked with a family who I really admired for a myriad of reasons:  their parenting styles, their servant-leadership, and for the ways they incorporated faith and fun.  Kelly, the mother of this family, is often the genesis of these family habits.  For example, she felt a few years ago that she wanted to personally be more thankful.  She wanted to train herself to not take things for granted and to not only appreciate the gifts around her, but to recognize more things as gifts.  So, Kelly devised a plan.

The first step was digging up a white board and writing “Thankful Thursdays” on the top of it.  Each Thursday morning, before her girls woke up, She would write down something she was thankful for and would leave it in their bedroom.  When the girls woke up, this message of their mother’s gratitude was the first thing they would see.  They were, of course, encouraged to add their own messages to the white board.

Kelly discovered that this habit not only helped her to detect the blessings before her, but it also reflected a spirit of gratitude which radiated amongst her entire family.  It became easier to identify things to be thankful for.  Setting a positive tone for the day also helped to alter the mindset of her family.  When you begin the day thankful for what you have around you, it creates a positive lens which acts as a filter for how you view and perceive things.

Essentially, gratitude is a mechanism for recognizing the Divine presence in our lives; it is a mode of celebration.  Gratitude becomes much more than saying thank you and becomes its own form of giving.  In other words, it perpetuates the cycle.  Think about giving someone a compliment, for example.  Not only does the person receiving the compliment feel acknowledged, but the compliment giver also receives a surge of positivity as well.

Will you join us on this Thankful Thursday?  Start by encouraging those around your dinner table to share what they were most thankful for this year.  Practice gratitude along with us by checking out the following resources:

Gobble up the gratitude, friends!

Daily Deals: What’s the Dealio?

A poem for this fine Wednesday:

The deals of the day are here for you, Check them out, you won’t be blue!
Goodberry gives you the best resources around, Trusted publishers and the best authors to be found,
So read on, and fill up your minds, That’s the delio, so here are the finds!

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We’ve got 37 deals featured today, to be exact.  Get these and other deals every day at: Goodberry Deals.  And if you’re lucky, more poems. Be sure to sign up for daily deals in your inbox to get the best deals at your fingertips and act while they last!

Wright On

Goodberry lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan – a city home to great community, faith, food, art, and fun.  One of the perks of the area is a tremendous focus on faith and education that is open and accessible to the public.  For example, Calvin Theological Seminary recently partnered with Mars Hill Bible Church to host N.T. Wright for a free public lecture, and thousands of people showed up (Goodberry staff included).

Goodberry currently features nearly 100 N.T. Wright works, so as you might imagine, we were thrilled at the opportunity to learn more.  Wright is the retired Bishop of Durham and currently serves as a Professor at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews in Scotland.  Wright is typically a proponent of traditional views and theology on some topics, but has also produced many controversial works to date.

This particular lecture was entitled “The Big Story.”  The main premise of the lecture was that the Bible, as we have it, is full of different levels of story.  And while it is important that we learn each layer of the story, it is also essential to recall the big picture.  Wright argues that the main theme is the faithfulness of God.  Wright echoed the challenge and charge he believes the resurrection to be – a call for us to recognize and propel the new creation within us.  God is faithful, and instead of focusing on just getting through this nasty world and leaving it (as most Western traditions tend to do), we ought to recognize that God’s Kingdom is here and now.

Wright concluded the lecture with a series of recommendations for how to address the world with the faithful love of Jesus:

  • We need a rediscovery of memory.  This story is not just about “me and Jesus;”  it is about all of creation.
  • We need a rediscovery of imagination.  The arts are the way into the very center of truth.  We need to put up signposts to the future world here and now.
  • We need a rediscovery of nerve to live this story in the postmodern world.
  • We need a re-expression of the personal message within the larger one.

It would be difficult to capture every thought that Wright shared in his hour long lecture.  In fact, many of us who attended shared a need for more time to process – but it was a great platform to build off of.  We’re excited to learn and seek along with you and wish to encourage you to continue seeking and living out God’s purpose for you.


Check out the following works by N.T. Wright to learn more along with us:

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, The Resurrection, And The Mission Of The Church

After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters

Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision

The Kingdom New Testament

Wright on!


God is Grey

The mission of Goodberry is to help Churches be disciples and make disciples.  That’s a pretty large responsibility and undertaking given the vast denominational differences, needs of the church, and varying stances on several issues, but we hope to be a resource that encourages dialogue, presents both sides, and points people toward God.

I believe that one of the things that allows us to do this as an organization is the discipline of questioning.  We’ve found that there can be danger present in saying that being a Christian is black-and-white, or that the Bible always gives us definitive answers to all of the questions and debates we face.  Being a disciple of Christ often calls for radical life change and open-mindedness that allows you to both see God’s truth and experience His love.

So how do we respond when we’re confronted with a question, or have been wondering something ourselves?  Where do we turn to find truth?  It’s easy to ask others, or even just to spout off our own opinions.  Sometimes, pressing the pause button might be necessary.  It might be more God-honoring to go through a mental checklist of sorts:  Are we sure?  Have you checked?  What has time spent in prayer revealed to you?  What information does the context of that particular verse provide you with?  Are you reading the Bible with an open mind, or is your interpretation clouded with your own biases/agenda?  What about those topics that aren’t even discussed in the Bible?  How do we know what to feel or think to that extent?

The circles us back around to the discipline of questioning.  To clarify, questioning doesn’t allude to doubting faith or turning away from God.  Rather, it involves principles outlined in Matthew 7:7 – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  These practices are essential to discovering truth.

This discipline is one that I have personally been living out recently.  The beautifully frustrating and liberating thing that I’ve found in the midst of the questioning is that God is sometimes grey – not black and white. Often times this leads to more questions than answers, but you see, the beauty is in the process; it’s what God intended all along.  In the midst of the process, we are changed.  We have the opportunity to stand next to God and look through His lens.  How astounding is it to realize that God isn’t just somewhere far off in the distance, but that His word is living, alive, and active?  God dwells in and among us.  When we seek Him out, we grow to be less concerned with the answers and more concerned with the heart of God.  Maybe this is what G.K. Chesterton was getting at when he said “the poet only asks to get his head into the heavens.  It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head.  And it is his head that splits.”

Perhaps it would be easier (and debatably better) if the Bible was an actual comprehensive moral code, or if God answered our prayers with undeniable words carved in immutable stone tablets.  Or, would this actually be worse?  Would eliminating the mystery eliminate part of our relational ability with God?  Would we perhaps be missing out on the beauty, creativity, and artistic nature of the divine?  Remember that Jesus spoke in metaphors.  There are some truths that can only be fully expressed in song (the entire books of Psalms, for example).  The Bible is essentially a puzzle full of parallel, paramount context and culture, and intentionally decorated with poetry.  Jesus was less of a logician and more of an artist, and I would argue that the best pieces of artwork are shaded.

Donald Miller puts it this way:  “black-and-white, either-or thinking polarizes people and stunts progressive thought.”

Maybe it’s time we set our judgments and demands aside.  Maybe it’s time to realize that polarity doesn’t exist with God, because His love (and creation) is present on all points of the spectrum and extends to every corner of the earth.  Will you join us in asking, seeking, and knocking?  Let’s read.  Reread.  Pray.  Double check.  And ultimately, rest in the shaded grey in order that God may fill our hearts.

The Golden Circle for Ministry

Here at Goodberry, it is our mission to help churches make disciples, and we believe that creating a strong local community is a great step to doing so.  We’re excited to announce that we’ll be sponsoring our second Meetup Event here in Grand Rapids!  Please consider joining us for an evening that promises to deliver all you’re after:  philosophy, people, and of course, (free) Panera!  We hope to share best practices for ministry leadership and discuss relevant tools and resources at each Meetup Event.  The topic this round is Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” and it’s application for ministry settings.

You’re Invited: Thursday, December 5th, 2013 at the Goodberry office

Who else will be there?:  Small Group Attendees, Small Group Leaders & Facilitators/Coordinators, Bible Study Leaders/Teachers, Pastors & Church Leaders

Learn more and RSVP at our Facebook event page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/221939714649985/