Monthly Archives: August 2016

Fasting Is…

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We are continuing to explore spiritual practices that open up space in our lives for God to transform us more into the likeness of Jesus. Our focus this week is on fasting.

Richard Foster’s words about fasting from more than 30 years ago are still fitting today: “In a culture where the landscape is dotted with shrines to the Golden Arches and an assortment of Pizza Temples, fasting seems out of place, out of step with the times.” And yet in a paradoxical way, it is precisely the ubiquity of these “shrines” and “temples,” along with the many other things that clamor for our attention and compete for our loyalty, that makes fasting such a timely spiritual practice. The reality for Western Christians is that we have been raised to be consumers. More than that, our consumerism is consuming us, gobbling up every spare inch of our hearts and minds and lives. What we need desperately is the recovery of space within ourselves for God. What we need is to recover fasting as a regular part of our lives.

fasting is:

setting limits on what we have, so we can have more space for good.

The following two videos serve to remind us just how important the practice of fasting is for God’s people.

You Are My All In All

Here are a few simple ways to open your life to God this week through the practice of fasting:

1: Take a 24-hour break from being critical of anyone in any way. If you can’t say something nice…
2: Take a 72-hour break from media sources that tend to make you feel afraid.
3: Take a 5-day break from your favorite phone app by deleting it.
4: Take a 1-week break from eating out.

After trying one or more of these FASTING experiences, take a few minutes to reflect on how they impacted you. Do you feel a freedom from having left some things behind, even for a little while? If you find one of these especially meaningful, try making it a regular part of your daily life and using the words, time, or money you save to directly bless others.

As you try out these experiments, drop a note in the comments section about what your experience is like, whether it’s eye-opening, frustrating, bewildering, or transforming.


Fasting Playlist

This week’s playlist follows the pattern of the definition of fasting above. The first few songs focus on setting limits. The remaining songs speak of a desire for God to fill up the emptiness that emerges because of those limits.

Praying Is…

OPEN Series - Wk 1 - Praying - 082116 - SoHills.001

This morning, we embarked on an exploration of spiritual practices called Open: Creating Space In Our Lives For God. Jarrod set the stage for the series with this introduction:

Most of us, most of the time, have way too much going on. Too many situations that call for our attention. Too many challenges that we didn’t see coming. Too many commitments overflowing our calendars. In all of this “too much” we can end up not having enough space for the things that really matter. We can end up not having enough space for God. Over the centuries, Christian disciples have developed holy habits – spiritual practices – that can help us recover sacred space in our frantic, busy lives. For the next few months we’re going to explore 12 of these spiritual practices together, and we’re going to see how when we create more space in our lives for God, the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts and lives.

Here at Living the Sermon, we will be participating in this exploration as well, seeking to delve just a bit deeper than a Sunday morning worship gathering allows. In particular, we’re going to offer some suggestions for experimenting with these practices during your daily routines. And as always, we’ll draw your attention to some thoughtful resources that continue to reflect on each week’s practice and share a playlist of songs that will hopefully keep drawing your heart and mind back toward that practice as well. As you give these experiments a go in the lab that is your life, drop a note in the comments section about what your experience is like, whether it’s eye-opening, frustrating, bewildering, or transforming.

Perhaps the first practice that comes to mind for many people when thinking about what it means to be “spiritual” is praying. So often, however, praying is less about creating space in our lives for God and more about trying to squeeze God in to our already over-crowded lives. Imagine, though, that we could reimagine our approach to praying, so that it did become a means for creating space for God. We might begin to think of prayer like this:

praying is:

seeking a personal encounter with the God who alone can help us handle everything we have to face.

The following two videos offer helpful guidance toward this very goal.

Just a Little Talk With Jesus

Here are a few simple ways to open your life to God this week through the practice of praying:

1: Try saying a prayer in which you speak for the first five minutes and you listen for the last five minutes.
2: Try saying a prayer without asking for anything; instead focus on giving thanks.
3: Try saying a prayer in which your only request is for a sense of God’s nearness.
4: Try saying a prayer in a different physical posture than you usually assume when you pray.
5: Try saying a prayer in the car, by turning off the radio and embracing the quiet time.

After trying one or more of these praying experiences, take a few minutes to reflect on how they impacted you. If you find one of these especially meaningful, try making it a regular part of your daily life.


Praying Playlist

Music can be transformative, opening us up or closing us off. During each week of the Open series, we’ll put together a different playlist that will hopefully open us up to the practice we’re exploring together. Here’s the first one, focused on praying.