Posts Tagged 'Spiritual Growth'

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You're Starving and Not Just for Dinner: On Feasting through Fasting


 


“One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet” (Proverbs 27:7).

How often I’ve experienced this! Hunger enhances our ability to enjoy food—both physically and spiritually. Many of my most inspiring biblical insights and encouragements have come from being so engrossed in Scripture, that I unintentionally skipped meals.

Physical hunger is a powerful motivator. It is also a fitting illustration of the intense level of desire we should have for God, his word and his will. Sometimes, however, we experience difficulty sustaining a fervent desire for the things of God. It happens to the best of us.

What are we to do when the spiritual feast that is set before us loses its attraction? The same as if it was a literal feast: We allow hunger to work in our favor until the feast is once again enticing. Fasting has a marvelous ability to strip us of worldly affections, distractions and dullness of heart. It’s not “fun” in itself, but it can lead to a richness of intimacy and satisfaction.

This may seem paradoxical, but the Bible is full of such paradoxes.

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The Big Fundamental: On Tim Duncan and Spiritual Maturity


 


Last Monday, Tim Duncan, one of the all-time basketball greats, retired after 19 seasons in the NBA. He finished with five championships and host of other accolades. He’s probably the best power forward ever.

Much has already been made of his unselfishness and high character on and off the court. But when it came to actually playing the game, he was a man of fundamentals. He will be remembered for his classic bank shot. It’s a shot that many kids learn early in their basketball training but then leave behind for the beauty and glory of three-point swishes. For most players, the bank shot is what you accidentally do when your shot misfires, and at the last moment, you yell, “Bank!” — as if you meant to do it.

But Tim Duncan meant to. He made his living on bank shots. And for big men, there tends to be a monopoly on dunking the ball (think Shaq and Dwight Howard). Duncan made his enduring quality a shot that seventh-grade kids can master. But they never showed up on the highlight reels. Instead, the alley-oops and the 3-pointers are shown over and over and over. And we should enjoy those things — because those things are nearly impossible. Only a handful of people on the planet can make those crazy shots or dunks. And so those clips go viral, each click proclaiming our awe. But the bank shot won five championships, built a winning legacy and became one of the best of all time.

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Summertime and the Reading’s Easy: Reading Lists from ATN Contributors


 


Summer. Its last two letters are the first two letters of the word “reading,” so, naturally, they go together. If you’re looking for some new titles to read in the hammock, at the beach or around the campfire this summer, the contributors at All Things New have got ya covered. That’s a book pun, FYI.

Stephanie Carney

Little Women, Little Men and Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott
I'm reading through every Louisa May Alcott book this year. I consider her to be America's Jane Austen and have chosen her as my “mentor author” for the year.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, Mandy by Julie Edwards, the Mandie series by Lois Gladys Leppard, Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
These books are on my family’s read-aloud list for the summer. It's one of my favorite activities to do with my kids. We're focusing more on classics and “old” books.

The Carolina Heirlooms series by Lisa Wingate
The Prayer Box is one of my favorite reads, but I haven't read the other six entries in this series. I love “beach reads” even if I cannot be on a beach, and the Carolina coast ranks at the top of my favorites.

Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling by Andy Crouch
Well, I have to have at least one non-fiction book. *sheepish grin* However, I am very much looking forward to this read.

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A Table in the Wilderness: A Guide to Getting Away with God


 


On Sunday, May 1, Pastor Mitch Majeski and the rest of the Summitview pastors informed the congregation that he would be taking at least a three month sabbatical. I am excited for this time that he will be taking and think that a broader discussion on the role of extended times away with God has largely been lost amid the fast-paced living in our culture.

Why should Christians take extended breaks and spend it intentionally seeking God? Are there biblical or pragmatic reasons why these should be a part of each Christian’s normal routine?

Whether your daily devotional times with God are nil, five minutes or 60 minutes, a longer and more intentional time with God helps clear the mind, soul and schedule of pressing concerns. We all tend to live in the “tyranny of the urgent” (to borrow the title from Charles Hummel’s booklet). What is most pressing today can become the only thing ever on our radar. Often, our day’s pressing concerns can deviate us from the work that we’ve been given by God to do. Extended times with God refocus us on his priorities, not the urgent task list calling our name. If Jesus regularly spent time away with his Father to hear his voice and commune with him, how much more for us, who aren’t sinless nor have had eternal fellowship with the Father!

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You’re Starving, and Not Just for Dinner


 


Summitview’s theme and focus this year is summarized in a single word: “Feast.”

But what does that mean to us practically? Is it merely a nice, mental construct to temper our propensity to neglect the spiritual disciplines or to help alleviate our guilt by assigning a label to our renewed good intentions? No. We are taking the word as an imperative verb, not a noun. We are calling people to a year-long, intentional, heightened indulgence upon those things that will richly nourish and fortify our souls.

Why? Because there is a need. The American rat race has taken its toll. And because God freely invites us to such an abundant table. The Bible is filled with sensory imagery meant to entice us to the feast-like relationship that God intends for us to enjoy in this life, and to whet our appetites for more.

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