Thank You & Goodbye

February 2, 2015

To our valued customers and fans,

Effective immediately, Goodberry is closing our virtual doors. We are deeply grateful for the churches and ministries who have used our services over the last 3 years of our business. Thank you for your support and patronage!

We’re inspired by the vision of your ministry. We’re sad that Goodberry will no longer be available as a discipleship resource tool, and want to leave you with recommendations of other services your congregation may be interested in:

Lastly, in recognition of your patronage, we’re offering Goodberry customers an opportunity for a free consultation with Goodberry’s parent company, Lanio. Lanio is a consultancy who partners with visionaries to innovate strategically in a rapidly changing world.

Please contact us with any questions or comments. Thank you again for your business.

Blessings,

John Hwang,
Founder, Goodberry

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

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!

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!

 

The Vine #005- Bill Adams

When disaster or hardship strikes, the first question we often ask is “Why?” Doubt floods into our mind and mouth, and whatever faith we have starts to falter. But there is something to be said of acknowledging God’s presence in the midst of chaos. It is not that we can understand or rationalize the difficulties before us, but there is certain beauty in the gentle profession that God is good and knows all. Confessing that God is God, and we are not. Bill Adams, who we interviewed for our newest Vine interview, understands this confession and suffering well. As director of the Disaster Response Services of World Renew, his story is one that doesn’t simply gloss over pain but one of silent faithfulness to God’s sovereignty. Come witness the calm in the storm.

The Vine #004- Kent Busman

“And God saw that it was good”–five times Genesis 1 reminds us that God created the world in his goodness and likeness. As mankind, also created in God’s image, we are called to love people, yes, but creation as a whole too. Kent Busman, the Director of Camp Fowler and youth pastor, may be of the few who really understand that. We had the honor of interviewing Kent for our fourth Goodberry Vine interview. His story is brimming with testimony of God’s love for creation and his call for us to be stewards of this precious gift. Come bear witness!

The Vine #003- Mary Hulst

And they just keep coming! We are on Vine interview number 3 now. Just published, hot and pip’n out of the Goodberry oven. This week we had an incredible conversation with Calvin College chaplain Pastor Mary Hulst. Her life journey is a true, resounding Amen to the grace of God. Pastor Mary truly knows to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and to mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12). Come see for yourself.

The Vine #002- Ruth Olsson

And just in no time, we have another Vine interview! This week we chatted with Ruth Bell Olsson, HIV/AIDS activist and humanitarian. She’s all about love. Not the mushy, there-are-no-rules kind of love. Real love. Love that sees brokenness, acknowledges it, but does not shy away from it. Just as Jesus ate with sinners, prostitutes, and nobodies, Ruth does the same. Come read her story and witness her beautiful heart.