Daily Deals: Crossway

Happy Tuesday! Check out our great deals from Crossway, “a not-for-profit Christian ministry that exists to proclaim the gospel through publishing in order to

  • Assist individual Christians and the church in growing in knowledge and understanding of the Christian life;
  • Bear witness to God’s truth, beauty and holiness, and to the Lordship of Christ in every area of life;
  • Help bring men, women, and children to Christ as their Lord and Savior;
  • Glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in every way.

by God’s grace”

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Deals today and every day at: Goodberry Deals.

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!

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.

Christian the Lion remembers

I have learned that “it is very easy to lose focus on eternal, spiritual truths when everything around us pushes us to give all our attention to our immediate, urgent, and often seemingly more interesting circumstances. But when we honor God by focusing our lives on him by serving him to the best of our ability (2 Timothy 2:15), by maintaining love and unity among ourselves (John 17:11), and by standing firm in confidence and hope in him (Hebrews 3:6), we will find that our circumstances will certainly be no less interesting…” (How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens by Michael Williams)

And for some reason, ‘Christian the Lion’ came to mind. The image of a Lion after a long time in the wild makes his current circumstance predict him as wild and dangerous; not remembering his past owners. But yet, the outcome says otherwise. He remembers his ‘owners’ and greets them! It is definitely mind boggling.

As the quote from above, we may sometimes “forget” our relationship with our Heavenly Father and “give all our attention to our immediate, urgent and often seemingly more interesting circumstances” but maybe today is a start, a start to remind ourselves of our calling to…

  • Give Him our best (2 Timothy 2:15)
  • Maintain unity among yourselves (John 17:11)
  • Offer our whole selves to Him (Romans 12:11)
  • Have firm confidence and hope in Him

Let us remember what our ‘owner’ has done for us and despite our ‘wild’ circumstances, let’s get back into focusing on our relationship with our Heavenly Father.