Philippians 3:7-14 Lectio Divina and 31 Days to Making Your Phone an Ally

{*Hi Friend!* If this is your first time here, every Tuesday a SLOW Word lectio divina comes out right here. We’re slowing down the Word so we can encounter the God of the Word in a fresh way. Want more? Subscribe on the right to receive this fresh manna into your inbox every Tuesday…along with other practical tips, videos, and letters from me about staying in the word. Another gift?  If your church follows the lectionary, you’ll be encountering next Sunday’s word and preparing your heart a few days early. Sounds lovely, right?}

Do you have this same tic? Do you subconsciously reach for your phone when you should be tuned into work? Do you have family members who give you that long stare and beg you to turn it off? Or perhaps you’re just searching for a more intentional way to live with technology?

It’s time to journey together. I’m struggling too. The truth is that our phones are slowly encroaching on our prayer time, taking over our empty minutes, and redefining rest. It’s time to get a bit bossy with them. Choose boundaries. Develop intentional practices and generally pay attention to how we’re functioning with technology.

 

I’m over at Instagram this month writing out my own wrestle with technology here www.instagram.com/revsummerjoy :

31 Days to Make your Phone an Ally, not a Bully.

Here was the takeaway from Day 1:

Get an alarm clock. This small change has been a big step to taking back my mornings. No more setting an alarm on the phone. No more losing my prayer time to scrolling groggily. It’s the best $30 I’ve ever spent to protect my mornings from the tyranny of the urgent.

 

On Day 2 I get a little bit brain science nerdy. You can read it here: Day 2, Prepare to Grow

 

Wanna join? Follow me on Instagram and lets build a community. Share with your people. We’re all struggling together. Lets walk out the solutions together.

 

What are you noticing about how your phone is encroaching on your attention and your time?

(feature photo by Death to Stock Images. Love that name.)

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Loving Cruciform

Dear friends, every Tuesday we gather for a slow meal of manna, a lectio divina, straight from this next Sunday’s lectionary. Join the Slow Word Movement and subscribe to get a free how-to video to deepen your time in the Word.

 

Ever have that feeling as you stand at the end of the high dive that you just want to watch someone else go first? He jumps, you watch the landing, and then your body remembers. You can follow.  You pull your legs in tight and the water engulfs you. No harm. No foul.

In Philippians 2, we watch the way love shapes Jesus’ body cruciform so that we too can learn to stretch out our arms to serve in true humility. Only, here’s the catch. This stretch into service doesn’t make sense unless it’s fueled by a mighty love. I’ve seen people try to shape their body into humble service and it looks ghostly, a wisp of self. It looks like victimhood.

Whereas humble Love is always voluntary.

I’m reading two books right now that go beautifully with this text.

Hidden by Sara Hagerty a beautiful book which has challenged me on every level.

Free of Me: Why Life is Better When It’s not About You by Sharon Hodde Miller which comes out next week. Woo hoo! Sharon’s chapters on when we make our calling about us and image management have been especially profound for me. Pre-buy and receive lots of goodies at Sharon’s site: Sheworships.com

Interested in a short book that will rock your world? Tim Keller’s book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness is a must read.  Check it out here. It’s always $2 on kindle.

I honestly believe that this concept of embracing others through humble love is the hardest for modern Americans to grasp. We have so much baggage along the lines of army recruiting messages like Be All that You Can Be and journals spouting, “Dream on.” But the way of love is not always victorious, it’s cruciform and it’s only Jesus who can show us how.

Blessings dear ones as you listen,
Summer Joy

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He Upholds Us When We Fall

Listen. Savor. Respond to God.

“The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all those who are bowed down.” Psalm 145:14

 

We were in a long season of exhaustion and I had lost hope we would ever make it out. Andrew and I were struggling to make it through each day. We had had three children within four years and a church plant. At bedtime I would make out a schedule of fifteen minute increments: playdoh – 15 minutes, sand play 15 minutes, snack time 15 minutes, just in order to wake up feeling armed. Every day I would crumple it up knowing it was meaningless. We were leaning too heavily on each other because there was nowhere else to lean. Until we couldn’t anymore. We were depleted. There was nothing extra. Love felt thin as one of Aunt Margie’s hand-me-down sheets, see-through, brittle.

 

And so I would lay down. On the bed. On the floor. It didn’t matter.

 

When tempers were strong and love was thin I would lay down. Knowing God was holding both of us up. He was the ground of our marriage.

 

“For in Him we live and move and have our being” from Acts 17 merged with Paul Tillichs’ “God is the ground of our being” and I would lay down feeling the ground hold us up. Because I couldn’t anymore. But I could lay down intentionally knowing God was “upholding those of us who were falling.”

 

And a strange comfort would come. Grace catches us when we fall backwards.

 

I didn’t have any answers and yet I could depend on He who was the Answer. I didn’t have the energy to stand and yet I could fall…into God’s strong arms. Because the ground always held and God always held even when I didn’t have the strength to carry us.

 

Where do you need to be held up today? Where do you feel as though you are falling?

 

 

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Renewing our View of God

 

It’s easy for us to view God through the grimy lens of our own imperfect parents. Honestly, it makes sense. It’s the only lens of love we’ve got. But the problem is that we have a horrible tendency to anthropomorphize God. We put human features and characteristics onto a perfect, holy, and all-loving God. We think he’s as fickle and capricious as those we witness walking around this solid earth.

 

We fear His love morphs with our attempts at holiness. We imagine He showers us with compassion on the good days and withdraws his love, hiding in the shadows, leaving us in the cold, when He’s not pleased.

 

This. Is. Not. God. This is not unconditional love.  Psalm 103 is a good place to sink into in order to let God share his self-revelation.

 

Listen. Savor. Pray. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him to tell you how He sees you!

 

Thirsty? Want more?

 

“The gardeners at the Center where I bought my white hydrangeas said to chop off the big snowball blooms for two full years. The roots’ establishing was more critical than beauty, she lectured, tenderly patting the black plastic base. Let them spread all their energy to the tightening, spreading roots and then, she promised, they’ll bloom strong into the years.” Read more here.

 

Want a daily practice to resting in God’s love? It’s a simple practice called the 3 R’s that can be done anywhere.

Read more here.

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Invitation to the With-God Life

Listen. Savor. Pray.

 

Are you feeling thirsty for more of the with-God abiding life? Here’s my story and why practicing God’s Presence has become one of the chief desires of my life: http://www.athirstforgod.com/tag/practicing-the-presence-of-god/

AND, by the way, did you know every Tuesday we have a lectio divina from the lectionary for the following Sunday? Come back on Thursdays (today) and pray through scripture using a lectio divina series I’m calling The WITH-GOD LIFE. We’ll be soaking in John 15 for a few weeks and then head out to the Psalms. I promise it will be strength for the journey.

Join the Slow Word Movement and subscribe to become a part of the community! I’ll be making a video on Five Simple Ways to Deepen your Scripture Meditation and sharing it right there next week. We also have a lovely Facebook Community for subscribers that’s continually growing.

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More Instructions on Prayer

Lectio divina is an ancient practice dating back to the 500’s which is a companion to Bible study. It’s a doorway to prayer, a landscaped path to relationship. Every Tuesday we listen to a gospel reading looking for bread, but not just any bread, The Bread. We’re hungry to connect not just to a new aha moment, an momentary intellectual high, but to Jesus Himself.

 

Lectio divina is a slow walk home to the Beloved where we lean in close to listen to His heart. I wonder what you will hear today? (If you desire more companionship on the journey, a free Intro to Lectio Divina video, and a private facebook group, join the Slow Word Movement by subscribing on the right.)

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Keys to Overcoming Fear of Rejection

 

 

Every Tuesday we have a lectio divina taken straight from next week Sunday’s lectionary. It’s a sort of appetizer. If there’s a second lectio in the week, I get to choose! It’s sometimes a scripture that I know will minister to struggle. Sometimes I pick it for me. Isaiah 51:12-16 was for me. It represents an area in my life that still needs more healing: fear of rejection. Yup, it’s like an onion, there are often more layers which are uncovered at different times. Verse 14 is my prayer when I’m crying out for transformation: The cowering prisoners will soon be set free. They will not die in their dungeon. Nor will they lack bread!

 

You can read more about my wrestle by clicking here.

 

Maybe you can relate. I wonder how the Lord will speak to you through these verses.

 

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Four Simple Ways to Deepen your Lectio Divina Practice

Did you know that Tuesday’s lectio divina video always corresponds to the next Sunday’s scripture if you’re in a lectionary-based church?  Want to get it slipped into your inbox? Would you like to join our private Facebook group to share with other listeners? Subscribe on the right.

 

 

Four ways to deepen your lectio divina practice:

 

  1. Get friendly with the pause button.

    Don’t rush what the Spirit may be doing. Stay present. Listen. Gather up all the manna.

  2. Stash a 3 by 5 card.

    Don’t let the seeds slip through your fingers. Write down the phrase the Spirit seems to be highlighting.  Write down the invitation. Put the card in your pocket and take it out throughout the day. Walk that truth out into your day. Look at it like a prism in your hand, turning it around and looking at it from different angles, in different lights.

  3. Write in your journal.

    When the lectio is over, continue the conversation. At its simplest, Lectio divina is using the scriptures as a doorway to prayer.

  4. Get present with Jesus through the Scripture.

    If Jesus is asking a question, take it to heart. How does that question reverberate in your own soul?

 

Now let’s try it out. Here’s Jesus’ question to us today:  

 

Let’s go deeper. What would it look like if you gained success but lost Jesus?

 

Let’s put skin and bones on that question. Think about it. Imagine your craziest, worthy-of-a-book dream coming true.

 

Go ahead. Walk around in the heady success for a bit. Who’s there? What are the trappings, the curtains, the toys, the numbers? Touch the grandness of the dream. Smell it.

 

And now here’s the most important question: Where is Jesus in the midst of this dream? Where are you? Who is at the center? Who is on the outskirts? Whose dream is it?

 

Along those same lines, what does this scenario truly cost your soul? What did it cost your soul to get there?

 

Next question: where is your true self in the scenario? No really. Where is that smallish but beloved and barefoot child of God? Is He or She plastered over with a thick mask? Does she get lost in the dream? What does her voice sound like? Is it authentic? Who is putting on her make-up, caking on a false self? Who is his tailor?

 

So, now you know that this is where I’m parking myself for the next few days. And now your turn, what word/phrase connected with you?

 

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How Meditating on our Identity Gives Courage: *SLOW Word Lectio Divina*

Find a Lectio Divina video right here every Tuesday (Yup, Tuesday. Some weeks we’ll also have a bonus on Thursday or Friday).

Join the SLOW Word Movement by subscribing on the right or pass it on to a friend.

 

Want a short 3 minute video introduction to this passage? 

 

Join me in slowing down the word and praying the lectio divina (divine word) right here:

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A Tender Birthday Message for my Father, a Story, and a Lectio Divina

Here, dear friends is a lectio divina based on the verses of Matthew 25:34-40 in honor of my father who has lived his life fueled by them.

Happiest of birthdays Dad!

 

Last year you rented an apartment in Sori, Italy, for you and mom and my family of five. We ate every night on a balcony four floors above the Mediterranean Sea, round umbrellas covering the sand in a grid in front of us. We could hear the waves as we went to sleep and the sounds of Sori awakening each morning. The bells in the church were just across the square at eye-level. We were just a five minute drive up the Ligurian coast from where I was born.

 

 

On a Tuesday morning the three of us, you, me, and mom, put on walking shoes and hiked the road to Pieve Ligure. You pointed out your bank, your favorite coffee shop where you learned to drink espresso, and the market on the corner of your street that had been turned into a bar. We passed the train station where you had stood on the platform, an American going to medical school in Genoa. I could envision you with your red beard, bellbottoms, and an open anatomy book, glancing up for the train occasionally. You were only twenty-two but determined. Your clarity on your desire to become a doctor and determination to do the work has given me the courage to take great risks for the visions God has placed in my heart. When I was sixteen and spending an hour and a half in the living room nightly at the black veneer piano, you leaned over and said these words, “You are sixteen and you can do anything you set your mind to if you start right now.” You believed in me before I even knew how.

 

 

We chatted as we walked along lanes covered with bougainvillea about how mom had made the hard decision to leave the baby with you and teach at an International school nearby. You studied your medical books during the day, learning Italian by painstakingly translating one paragraph a day and then two and then whole pages. Your stalwart perseverance still stuns me. You’d care for me for a few hours, give me a mid-morning bottle, and slip me into the pocket of the blue backpack, walking the passagiata from our four story apartment in Pieve Ligure down to the fishing village of Bogliasco. I would fall asleep to the rhythm of the waves crashing on the rocks of the riviera and you would study during naps. Last July as we trekked that same passagiata something about the waves combing over and pulling back thousands of pebbles sounded like home.

 

We talked about how our living overseas had changed the direction of our family, how hospitality to strangers had been woven into the warp and woof of our days. We talked about how the long Italian meals, spending hours at the table and lingering into the evening with half empty glasses of wine had become our family’s favorite way to share life. Most importantly, the needs of the world had come close. Like Albert Schweitzer, you invested much of your life helping meet the most pressing medical needs of Africa.

 

 

The three of us sat down at a restaurant overlooking the sea at a table set with orange glasses and grey fabric napkins, sipped cool white wine pressed from grapes grown on the terraces up the mountains behind us. We ate piles of succa della noce, a wide pasta with a creamy walnut sauce made only in that area. Forty years before you had watched our neighbor Mamonna on the apartment balcony painstakingly rub the paper thin exterior of the walnuts between her thumb and forefinger, to assure the sauce was never bitter. We sat during dinner and watched lovers dive off of rocks into the azure water below. They would pull themselves up and sunbathe on towels covering the rocks. I could imagine you and mom laying there, just 18 months after you were married, both of you brand new to adulthood. Decades later I watch you together, your small daily kindnesses of washing the dishes after a long day in the operating room, the way you talk about your loneliness when she’s traveling as if the music has gone out of the house. You have had plenty of accomplishments but your beautiful and hard-won marriage may be your greatest. You teach us to pull in close, to do the work, to love through dark days, and then abundantly celebrate coming out the other end.

 

I’ve learned much from you Dad:

 

how to curate opportunities for my children, choosing a common interest and investing time. I was seventeen when you sat with me and scratched a translation in Italian of “O Mio Babbino Caro” on my sheet music at the piano.  

 

to courageously ask questions and not to fear that they are doubt but an opportunity to deepen belief.

 

to always serve with compassion, caring for the suffering with dignity.

 

how to be a good friend. I remember you and mom flying halfway across the country to sit with a friend who was getting a bone marrow transplant.

 

to be a life-long learner. I’ll never forget how tired you were, how you would sink onto the living room couch at the end of the day wondering if you were too old to learn new technology. You were 57 and taking classes to learn how to bend the arms of a DaVinci robot with minuscule finger movements confident the tiny incisions would help your patients heal faster.

 

to always care for the weak among us. When your precious mother, my Nona, had alzheimer’s, you brought her home, giving her gentle baths in your large sunken tub, whispering to her quietly, and tucking her into the large bed in the guest room.

 

to dig daily into the Word. When I was ten you inked tiny brackets around passages from Mark, encouraging me to read the verses on my own, and then sitting at the wooden table in the kitchen to discuss it over cereal.

 

the value of time together. Thank you for renting a cottage each summer so we can bring spouses and grandchildren who run the long halls and wrestle like bears on the grass on the back lawn.

 

Most importantly? You taught me that the secret of fatherhood is lavish love. Whether it’s an extravagant four-course meal overlooking the Provencal mountains at Bastide de Gordes or the ring you had circled with diamonds and “vintaged” to fit my style, you pour out lavish love. And we all feel it Dad. You open your heart and it all pours out…and in that, you give us glimpses of the Father’s love.

 

Happy birthday. I love you dearly.

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