Practicing Simplicity

Week 10: Sunday 15th March 2020
Third Sunday of Lent

 

Theme: Practicing Simplicity
Scripture: Luke 12:13-34

Sermon Slides

Prayer:

Give me neither poverty nor riches but help me simply put the kingdom first in all I do. Give me only my daily bread. May we learn to live carefree with the God who is most careful with us.

And in the words that the Lord Jesus taught his disciples to say:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Your Kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom,
the power and the glory are Yours, now and for ever.
Amen

Practice (from ‘How to Unhurry’ workbook, by John Mark Comer):
1. If you don’t have a schedule, start there. Draw up a week/month in the life of yours truly.
2. Then delete a few things.

  • Here’s a few easy targets that eat up heaps of time for many people:
    • –  TV.
    • –  Social Media.
    • –  Time online.
    • –  Video games.
    • –  Extra social obligations.
  • This exercise requires a clear vision of your life before God, a basic sense of his call on your life, and a sense of values. It should force you to ask, what really matters to me? What are my priorities? What relationships do I need to give my energies to? What activities are honestly a waste of my time? These are all great questions to sit in the tension of.
Learning Circle
When God speaks or nudges us very often the challenge is dwelling on what he says and following through in obedience. The learning circle is a simple visual tool to help disciples discuss and discern together how God may be speaking to us. Imagine the sorts of conversations Jesus would have had with his disciples in the gospels.

Why don’t you grab some people from your MC and use the learning circle to deepen your conversations as you reflect on this Sunday’s message.

Putting on Christ (Practically) – An Introduction to Spiritual Disciplines

Week 9: Sunday 8th March 2020
Second Sunday of Lent

 

Theme: Putting on Christ (Practically) – An Introduction to Spiritual Disciplines

Scripture: Colossians 3:9-10, Hebrews 12:11, Hebrews 5:14

Top Tips for Spiritual Disciplines (from ‘The Life You’ve Always Wanted’ by John Ortberg):
1. Always Seasonal
2. Bring your own personality
3. Peaks & Troughs
4. Can’t earn God’s love

Prayer:

Father, you are good, full of light, constant in grace, mercy, justice and love.
We are seeking to follow your Son, the one who showed us life in all it’s fullness, complexity and joy. Would you send your Spirit again to fill us up because our spirits are willing but our flesh is indeed weak.
Spirit make us more like our creator, into the image of the Son. Into the people you want us to be for our family, friends, colleagues, neighbours & brothers and sisters in Christ.
Give us fresh vision that the way of Christ is not only worth it but it is also near. Within reach. Here right now.
We receive your help this day

Amen

 

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Learning Circle
When God speaks or nudges us very often the challenge is dwelling on what he says and following through in obedience. The learning circle is a simple visual tool to help disciples discuss and discern together how God may be speaking to us. Imagine the sorts of conversations Jesus would have had with his disciples in the gospels.

Why don’t you grab some people from your MC and use the learning circle to deepen your conversations as you reflect on this Sunday’s message.

Apprenticeship with Jesus: Pruning & the Ugly Zone

Week 8: Sunday 1st March 2020
First Sunday of Lent

 

Theme: Apprenticeship with Jesus: Pruning & the Ugly Zone

Scripture: John 15:1-4, Hebrews 12:4-7, John 7:37-38

Prayer:
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me for ever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me
Psalm 13

Further Reading:
Dallas Willard interview on Spiritual Formation
Drawing Near to God When God Seems Far Away (Lecture)

 

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Learning Circle
When God speaks or nudges us very often the challenge is dwelling on what he says and following through in obedience. The learning circle is a simple visual tool to help disciples discuss and discern together how God may be speaking to us. Imagine the sorts of conversations Jesus would have had with his disciples in the gospels.

Why don’t you grab some people from your MC and use the learning circle to deepen your conversations as you reflect on this Sunday’s message.

Sabbath Rest for the Land

Week 7: Sunday 20th October

 

Theme: Sabbath Rest for the Land

Scripture: Leviticus 25:1-7 & Luke 4:16-21

 

Practice: 

Learn:

  • Read what aid agencies are saying about climate change (Tearfund, Christian Aid)
  • Read ‘Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World – And Why Things Are Better Than You Think’ by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund
  • Read ‘Just Living’ by Ruth Valerio

Pray:

  • Make a habit to pray for the world regularly, privately or in your missional community
  • Use the prayers listed below
  • Ask God to show you areas where you can bring hope in a grieving world

Produce:

  • If you’ve not used up your allowance this year, book some holidays!
  • Imagine what you would do with a short career break

Consume:

  • Use a carbon footprint calculator to find out more about the impact of your lifestyle
  • Make one change in your behaviour in October. Tell someone in church or your MC what you’ve done.

 

Prayer: Psalm 24 & A prayer for climate grief

Prayer – ‘When you pray…’

Week 6: Sunday 13th October

Theme: ‘When you Pray…’

Scripture: Matthew 6:5-15

Practice: Prayer of Examen

What?
The Examen is a simple, four step way of reflecting and praying through the day. This prayer tool outlines how to start praying the Examen.
Why?
“The Examen is an immediate solution to the problem of ‘what do I pray about?’ The answer is: everything that’s happened to you today. You might have the impression that your everyday life is the dreary same old, same old. It isn’t. Daily life is rich and meaningful. Every encounter, every challenge, every disappointment, and every delight is a place where God can be found.” Jim Manney

Practice: How to Pray the Lord’s Prayer

Further resources:

  • ‘God on Mute’ by Pete Greig
  • ‘Prayer’ by Richard Foster
  • Bridgetown Church Podcast: Prayer
  • 24/7 Prayer ‘Help me Pray’ resources

Prayer: Psalm 51 & Psalm 139

 

Rest for the body

Week 5: Sunday 6th October

 

Theme: Rest for the body

Scripture: Mark 2:23-28

 

Practice: Digital Sabbath exercise cited from https://practicingtheway.org/rest/part-five.

Below are a few suggestions for how you can limit your use of technology:

  • Decide on a window of time you will spend with your phone powered down and put away. This could be the full 24 hours of Sabbath or a few selected hours on that day. Whatever you decide, try to stick to it! (Note: nothing here is a permanent commitment, so we challenge you to try the full day!)
  • Decide on what you will and will not use your phone for on Sabbath. You might decide that you can text or call on your Sabbath, but that you will not scroll on social media, browse the web, or check email.
  • Delete the apps you waste a lot of your time on (e.g. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, News etc.). You can always re-download them after Sabbath!
  • Make any social plans for your Sabbath ahead of time so you don’t need to be on your phone the day of (e.g. schedule your call with a sibling, decide when and where you will have coffee with a friend, etc.).
  • Set limits on media. There’s nothing wrong with watching a movie or your favourite show on your Sabbath, but a binge is not likely to lead you into greater rest and worship. If you’re prone to binging, set a limit for yourself (e.g. One movie, ______ episodes, etc.)
  • Explore Sabbath activities that don’t require a phone, internet, or a screen. If you’re prone to vegging on Netflix, try picking up a book. If your family bonds over movies, try a board game or a walk in the park.

Practice: Design Your Sabbath

Further resources: 

  1. ‘Sabbath as Resistance’ by Walter Brueggemann
  2.  ‘Garden City’ by John Mark Comer
  3. ‘Keeping the Sabbath Wholly’ by Marva J Dawn
  4. ‘The Sabbath’ by Abraham Joshua Heschel
  5. ‘Subversive Sabbath’ by A.J. Swoboda

Prayer: Psalm 131

An Introduction to Silence & Solitude

Week 4: Sunday 29th September 

 

Theme: An Introduction to Silence & Solitude

Scripture: Luke 5:16  

 

Practice: 

  1. Put away your phone or any other distractions, settle into your time/place, and get comfortable
  • For most people, sitting with your back straight, shoulders relaxed, legs on the floor is a good start.

Others do better lying on their back in a relaxed position.

  • Some of you may prefer to do this exercise while walking or doing something simple with your hands, like washing up or drawing.
  1. Begin with a breathing prayer
  • Close your eyes.
  • Take long, deep, slow breaths (if you want, count 4 seconds in, 4 seconds wait, 4 seconds out, repeat).

Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth.

  • Start to pay attention to your breathing. Just “watch” your breath go in and out.
  • Release the constant chatter in your mind. Let each thought go as quickly as it comes, and just focus on your breathing.
  • Your mind will seize this opportunity to run wild with thoughts, feelings, memories, to do’s, and distractions. That’s okay. Don’t judge yourself, feel bad, give up, or worry. When you notice your mind start to wander, just recenter with a quick prayer, like, “Father…” and come back to your breathing.
  • In the beginning, just 1-2 minutes of this is a huge win, and 10 minutes is flying.
  1. Spend a few minutes “abiding in the vine”
  • Transition from your breathing prayer to “the practice of the presence of God.”
  • Notice God’s presence all around you, in you. For some people it’s helpful to imagine the Father is sitting in the chair across from you or on a throne.
  • Welcome his love, joy, and peace from the Holy Spirit.
  • If you want, open your mind and imagination to listen for God’s voice, or get something off your chest in prayer.
  • But the main goal here is simply to “be with Jesus.” Don’t feel like you have to “do” anything. Just relax and enjoy his presence.
  1. Close in a prayer of gratitude and commit the rest of your day to the Father

A few things to note:

  1. You can’t “succeed” or “fail” at this practice. All you can do is show up. Be patient. This takes some people years to master. Resist the urge to say, “I’m bad at this” or “This isn’t for me.” Don’t judge yourself, especially if you’re an overachiever type.
  1. If you’re more of an “S” on the Meyer’s Briggs, and sitting still is just death, you might want to try this while doing a stretching exercise or going on a walk somewhere quiet and distraction free (like a park or short hike). Apply the same idea to a walking prayer, and just focus on your walking instead of your breathing.

Practice from practicingtheway.org

 

Further Resources: 

  1. Ruth Haley Barton Podcast Season 5 Episode 2 Beginnings
  2. ‘Invitation to Solitude and Silence’ by Ruth Haley Barton.

Prayer: Psalm 46

Training vs Trying

Week 2: Sunday 15th September

Theme: TRAINING vs TRYING – The Spirit of the Disciplines

Scripture: Galatians 5

 

Practice: Recap on the Learning Circle questions.

This week review the follow on from the previous conversation using the Learning Circle.

Download the Learning Circle Booklet Here

Further Resources: 

John Coe – Resisting the temptation of Moral Formation (requires a free sign up/login)

 

Prayer: Psalm 1

The “With God” Life

Week 1: Sunday 8th September

Theme: Introduction – The WITH God Life.
Scripture: James 1:22-25Matthew 11:28-30

 

Practice: The Learning Circle questions.

When God speaks or nudges us very often the challenge is dwelling on what he says and following through in obedience. The learning circle is a simple visual tool to help disciples discuss and discern together how God may be speaking to us. Imagine the sorts of conversations Jesus would have had with his disciples in the gospels.

Why don’t you grab some people from your MC and use the learning circle to deepen your conversations as you reflect on this Sunday’s message.

Download the Learning Circle Booklet Here

Further Resources:

1. ‘The Divine Conspiracy’ by Dallas Willard
2. ‘The Life You’ve Always Wanted’ by John Ortberg
3. Ruth Haley Barton Podcast Season 1 Episode 1 ‘Dangerously Tired’

Prayer: Psalm 84