Shaking the System

Here at Grace Community Church we just finished a four week series entitled Shaking the System. If you missed any of these -- you can listen online at www.gracecc.org/sermons.html

How did this weekend series stir you?

What questions or concerns did it raise in your heart and mind?

This past week Dave Rod gave us some ideas for personal engagement -- have you or are you planning to take any steps to personally get engaged in social justice issues?

Praying as We Breathe In & Out


By offering a simple prayer with every breath, we can be reminded "for in him we live and move and exist" (Acts 17:28).

Although rather simple, this practice requires a connection between the unconscious act of breathing and a conscious expression to God.

A Bit of History
The church has practiced breath prayer or "prayer of the heart" for millennia. The Eastern Orthodox Church, in particular, has seen breath prayer as a way of living out Paul's instruction to "pray without ceasing."



        Examples

Jesus Prayer
Take a moment to become aware of your breathing. It might help to find a quiet place -- close your eyes and notice your breathing.

As you breath in -- bring your thoughts to Jesus.
As you breath out -- express a word of gratitude or need.

For example, breath in -- saying "Lord, Jesus Christ" -- breath out saying "have mercy on me."

Throughout your day -- as you notice your breathing -- take note and express your gratitude to Jesus Christ.


Essence of the Practice
Repeat a simple one-sentence prayer.
Connect the prayer to your breathing and return to it throughout the day.
Breath prayers can be short prayers of love, gratitude, desire, surrender, etc.

Making It Your Own
Choose a scripture or spiritual truth and meditate on it for a few minutes. Consider what you recently have read, significant messages you have heard, or familiar phrases from a song. Put together a few words or a short phrase that is easy to remember and flows gracefully.

Quiet your mind and begin to recite the phrase either aloud or silently. I recommend aloud unless you are in a public location (that might be a bit too awkward).

As you breath in and out -- simply whisper or say the statement over and over. You could do this while sitting at your desk, washing dishes, taking a walk, commuting to work, during your shower... then throughout the day try to remember to recite the statement as you become more aware of your own breathing and your connection with God.

Here are a few phrases I've created based on scripture to get you started:


  • I will praise you with all my heart. Psalm 9:1
  • I trust in you for protection. Psalm 11:1
  • I wait quietly for you (breathing out) for you will never fail me (breathing in). Psalm 62
  • Help me recall what you have done for me. Psalm 77:
  • You are the God of great wonders. Psalm 77:14
  • Bend down and answer me for I need your help. Psalm 86:1
  • I come to you (breathing out) Give me rest (breathing in). Matthew 11:28
There is no right or wrong way to do this. Breath prayers are short prayers of love, gratitude, desire, surrender, etc. Try this throughout the day.


Please share your experiences. What did you try? How did it go? What did you notice?

Atrophy

The older I get, the more I realize atrophy is innate and apparent in my life.
at·ro·phyætrəfi/ uh-troh-fee-uh
  1. a wasting away of the body or of an organ or part, as from defective
    nutrition or nerve damage
  2. degeneration, decline, or decrease, as from disuse
  3. to affect with or undergo atrophy -- wither, deteriorate, or waste away www.dictionary.reference.com

Think about it this way-- the natural consequence of doing nothing is atrophy. What do I mean by this?

I like to think of myself as a runner. But I must admit my thoughts and actions don't always coincide. Most weeks I jog 3 or so times for a few miles. I am not consistent. I have not followed a routine or found a rhythm I can sustain. The result of this unintentional approach is heavy breathing, tired muscles, slower pace, and overall lack of desire. Here's what I experience: when I lack attentiveness, my body pays the price.

I think atrophy affects my spiritual being similarly to my physical condition. When I choose to not be intentional and attentive, my soul pays the price. Not because God has lost interest or lacked in intentionality and attentiveness, but rather I become disconnected from the source of living.

In the New Testament's book of Acts, Paul, one of the early followers of Christ, talks about the relationship between humans and God.


He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn't live in man-made temples, and human hands can't serve his needs – for he has no needs.
He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need there is. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
His purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him – though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist.
Acts 17:24-28 New Living Translation
Just like my physical health, my spiritual well-being requires intentionality and attentiveness. I love the image of feeling my way towards God and finding him.. I love that he is not far.

As we begin exploring and experiencing spiritual practices together, may we find God and know that he is not far.

Thinking about your world and life, what evidence do you see or what experiences have you had that prove atrophy is alive and well?

Welcome Friends!

Using the word friend for an online conversation sounds a bit too familiar. I stand hesitant yet hopeful that just maybe we will mature to call each other friend as we grow together.

You see, I believe that growth is best done when traveling together. So I am inviting you to travel with me as we delve into spiritual practices and experiences in this space I am affectionately calling SoulCrossTraining

My goal is pretty simple. Together, lets create a sacred space enabling us to experience God as we weave spiritual practices into our daily lives. Who knows what can happen when we quiet our mind and listen with our souls?

Those of you who love an adventure and don't like to look too far down the path -- you might want to skip the next few bullet points and just jump in. For rest of you who need to know where we are headed, read on.

Between now and September 1, 2008 (that's just 3 months away) we have the opportunity to:
  • explore a variety of spiritual practices
  • come alongside each other and share our experiences
  • discover a rhythm for living
  • grow in our relationship with God
See you in the days ahead!
corinne