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Spiritual toolbox part 7: the Daily Audio Bible

In Bible, Spiritual Toolbox on August 15, 2011 at 7:35 pm

 

How hard can it be to stick to my inspirational Bible reading everyday! No time, too tired, no patience, bad concentration, ‘naah, I don’t want to read the line of descendants, or Leviticus: it’s all too tedious!’ and the biggest deception: I can live my life in my own strength, I don’t really need this old book anyway…

Since 2006, I have been listening to the Daily Audio Bible (DAB) on the internet or on my mp3-player or iPod. Lying in bed, listening to Brian Hardin reading the Bible to me, with his slightly husky, friendly and soothing voice to a backdrop of calming meditational music and adding great little devotionals at the end of each podcast.

I witnessed the DAB growing from being one guy behind a mic with a few hundred listeners, to a movement of faith, community and mission with the daily Scripture reading in its epicenter.
Currently there are DAB podcasts in English, Hindi, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish…DAB podcast for kids (English) and DAB Proverbs.
So many lives are being touched continuously and increasingly by the Word of God. Prayer is going around the world around the clock via the Windfarm‘, the prayer and worship network of DAB (with a radio channel).
The internet forums are lively and crowded with people from all over the world, every nation, every tongue praying for each other, giving out encouragement and hope, spreading the gospel to one another, being family.

God is using the internet and new technologies for His glory. Brian just obeyed, when God told him in 2005 to go podcast the Bible.

Daily Audio Bible and its community have meant so much in my life, but suddenly, 1,5 years ago I stopped listening and my faith life had reached a very dry season. I withdrew slowly from Jesus and my life became increasingly self-destructive and painful. Something had to change.
A few months ago I started praying again and reading some snippets of the Bible, it was a good start…

A few weeks ago I got an email from an American DAB family member asking me to organize a DAB family get-together at Schiphol Airport Amsterdam (where I live), because Brian and his awesome wife Jill would be having a lay-over before returning to their home in the US, as well as Mike and Jason from the mission’s team. They were just returning from a mission in Africa.

And so it happened. It was a truly warm and inspirational and loving encounter with the DAB leader Brian and I also loved meeting awesome sister Jill for the first time. She is an amazing singer (Jill Parr – Me again) and her lyrics have helped me through many times.
Humble, loving, caring and sweet I found the both of them.

Family members from all across Europe flew in or drove by: from Scotland, England, Germany and the Netherlands.
Instantaneous connection took place, hugs were exchanged.

It was short but sweet!

I am so happy to be part of this community (again)! Yesterday I recommitted to listening to the DAB podcast. I was walking with my dog along a typical Dutch landscape: water, windmills (Windfarm!) and grass, with a backdrop of a fiery, passionately red sunsetting glow spun out across the sky.
I felt the Holy Spirit really living in me and moving me once again, washing over me and rekindling in me the love of Jesus and His living Word.

You won’t regret it if you’ll give it a try to listen.
Go to www.dailyaudiobible.com

‘After a week you’ll notice something shifting inside. After a month you’ll WANT to be in the Bible. After a year you won’t look in the mirror and see the same person. You will have been changed from the inside out.’

Please leave a question or comment below, suscribe to this blog via email or rss, or forward a link to this blog to people who might like it. Thanks so much! God bless.

Spiritual toolbox part 6: Silence and rest

In Jesus Christ, Spiritual Toolbox on June 20, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Far from home is a perfect place to start – Switchfoot (song: Golden)

Part I: Struggle to be silent

Silence, peace, rest, prayer, all states I cannot seem to be able to be in at the moment.

There’s always the urge to do stuff, be productive, be active.

There’s always fear of failing, of praying and it not being good enough or simply not enough, so I choose not to pray at all…

There’s guilt, confusion, procrastination, distraction.

The truth is: it is never enough. Jesus died for us on a pole and there isn’t anything we can do to pay Him back. That is called grace.

We may rest in His love and be with Him, broken and flawed as we are. Like the cat in the picture above, just lay back and enjoy the love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Here’s my prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus,

I love you so much, and I want to be with you so! Please teach me anew how to pray and be silent and restful without measuring and condemning its amount or quality, please take me out of my inertia and dryness, my guilt and my fear of failing in simply being your child, of drowning in things to pray for and then not making a start at all….

Fill me anew with your Holy Spirit. I also pray for my friends and family to fill them too and touch us with your love and grace.

Let me rest in your approval and love for me everyday more. Give me patience to be still and listen to your voice.

In your mighty and victorious name

AMEN

Part II: practicing silence

Wikipedia gives this definition of silence:

Silence is the relative or total lack of audible sound. By analogy, the word silence may also refer to any absence of communication, even in media other than speech.[1] Silence is also used as total communication, in reference to non verbal communication and spiritual connection.

A silent mind, freed from the onslaught of thoughts and thought patterns, is both a goal and an important step in spiritual development. Such “inner silence” is not about the absence of sound; instead, it is understood to bring one in contact with the divine, the ultimate reality, or one’s own true self.[2] Many religious traditions imply the importance of being quiet and still in mind and spirit for transformative and integral spiritual growth to occur. In Christianity, there is the silence of contemplative prayer such as Centering prayer and Christian meditation.

Basil Pennington, one of the best known proponents of the centering prayer technique, has delineated the guidelines for centering prayer:[5]

  1. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, relax, and quiet yourself. Be in love and faith to God.
  2. Choose a sacred word that best supports your sincere intention to be in the Lord’s presence and open to His divine action within you (i.e. “Jesus“, “Lord,” “God,” “Savior,” “Abba,” “Divine,” “Shalom,” “Spirit,” “Love,” etc.).
  3. Let that word be gently present as your symbol of your sincere intention to be in the Lord’s presence and open to His divine action within you.
  4. Whenever you become aware of anything (thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, associations, etc.), simply return to your sacred word, your anchor.

Enjoy the age-old silence prayer techniques, but be careful not to judge yourself on whether you use a technique or not. Remember to just be. That’s enough. You’re good enough. Be a cat, cats don’t fret over being good enough…;-)

Spiritual toolbox part 5: Lectio Divina meditation

In Spiritual Toolbox on May 10, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Lectio Divina

What is it?
The first time I heard about Lectio Divina was two years ago on a silent retreat. I read this book by Anselm Gruen: ‘Bronnen van spiritualiteit’ (sources of spirituality) which handled the topic of this ancient Benedictine meditation practice.

Daily life in a Benedictine monastery consisted of three elements: liturgical prayer, manual labor and Lectio Divina: a quiet prayerful reading of the Bible. This slow and thoughtful reading of Scripture, and the ensuing pondering of its meaning, is their meditation. This spiritual practice is called “divine reading”, “sacred reading”, or lectio divina

Lectio Divina has been likened to “Feasting on the Word.” The four parts are

  1. first taking a bite (Lectio),
  2. then chewing on it (Meditatio).
  3. next is the opportunity to savor the essence of it (Oratio).
  4. finally, the Word is digested and made a part of the body (Contemplatio).

What do you need?

  • the decision to take some time out of your day every day, for example 20 to 30 minutes.
  • a candle, an image or an icon of Christ or a Bible to look at
  • a dedicated space to sit down comfortably
  • a passage from the Bible
  • pen and paper

How to do it?
Preparation

  • Sit somewhere comfortable (like on a pillow) and breathe slowly.
  • Close your eyes or keep them open. Do whatever gives you the least distraction.
  • Be silent.
  • Be present to God/Jesus and focused on Him alone. If you experience thoughts, imagine throwing them in a stream of water and letting them float along.
  • Accept all your present emotions: stress, restlessness… They are present. Accept them and they will lessen.
  • Greet God, thank Him that He loves you. Open your heart to Him. Trust that He wants to be with you too.

Meditation


Lectio (reading)

  • Read a small passage from the Bible out loud.

Meditatio (reflection)

  • Start pondering a word (or a few words) from the text that particularly speaks to you. Chew and re-chew it so that it can do something to you. It is more important that the word is doing something to us than that we do something to the word. Let the word sink into your heart.

Oratio (response)

  • Every time you are distracted, you speak the word in order to let it bring you back into silence. Then be silent. Be focused on Him, be present in the moment, you don’t have to do anything. Let your heart speak to God.

Contemplatio (rest)

  • Let go of your own ideas and plans. And you can go deeper: let go of your holy words and thoughts. Simply rest in the Word of God. Listen at the deepest level to God who speaks within you with a still, small voice.

Conclusion
Conclude with a simple prayer of thanksgiving, greeting or signing yourself with a cross: in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Of course all of this takes practice. I personally find it really hard to take the very first step to find the rest to actually sit down and be quiet. I often feel a fear of failure or an urge to be busy. I ask God to help me with this and to grow in intimacy with Him despite my own thoughts and feelings.

What are your experiences in Christian meditation? Please feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter.

Sources:

  1. wikipedia.org
  2. ‘Nieuwe wegen, oude bronnen’ by Victor van Heusden (‘New paths, old sources)
  3. United Church of Christ
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