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“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

~ 1 Peter 1.8-9


First Thoughts: Biblical meditation (part 1)

By Adam Bradley

As I continue to share with you some of the things God spoke to me about whilst on sabbatical, I want to focus this week on the important but often neglected tool (or, in old money, discipline) that is meditation.

It’s amazing how, as I write the word meditation, my mind drifts swiftly to images of people with crossed legs, chanting some repetitive religious mantra. Why is it that, as Christians, we so quickly lose sight of the central place that biblical mediation has played in the lives of our forefathers (and mothers) for the last two thousand years? Take for example Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who was executed by the Nazis. When asked why he meditated he replied, ‘Because I am a Christian’. In addition to the witness of so many in the church over the last 2,000 years, we find the practice of mediation used by those faithfully following the Lord again and again in scripture – at least 55 times in the Old Testament alone! Find examples in Genesis 24:63, Psalm 63:6 and Psalm 119:148.

So what is biblical mediation?

Richard Foster describes biblical meditation as ‘very simply, … the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word‘. How does it differ from just reading the Bible?

For the rest of the post…

Proverbs 24:10 says: “If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited.”  This Proverb teaches us a very practical principle: if you have not conditioned or prepared yourself for times of difficulty, you are going to have a very difficult time managing it through your trial. You need to prepare yourself in advance. This is especially true regarding our practice of the spiritual disciplines, and the trials that we all eventually face.

A good example of this may be found in the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Eric Metaxas, in his biography of the German pastor & theologian writes of how the practice of the spiritual disciplines played a significant role in his ability to deal with his imprisonment and eventual martyrdom:

From the beginning of his time (in prison) until the end, Bonhoeffer maintained the daily discipline of scriptural meditation and prayer he had been practicing for more than a decade.  Each morning he meditated for at least half an hour on a verse of scripture.  And he interceded for his friends and relatives, and for his brothers in the Confessing Church who were on the front lines or in concentration camps.  Once he got his Bible back he read it for hours each day.  By November he had read through the Old Testament two and a half times.  He also drew strength from praying the Psalms, just as they had done at Zingst, Finkewalde, Schlawe, Sigurdshof, and else where.  Bonhoeffer once told Bethge, who was about to embark on a trip, that it was all the more important to practice the daily disciplines when away, to give oneself a sense of grounding and continuity and clarity.  And now, rudely thrust into an atmosphere intensely different from his parents’ home, he practiced these same disciplines. (Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas, p. 438)

Bonhoeffer practiced in prison, the disciplines which he had already learned and practiced in advance. It is highly doubtful that he would have fared so well during his time of trial had he not built these spiritual practices into his life beforehand.

For the rest of the post…

On Hitler, Grace, the Cross, Our Cross, Church and Life Together

1930s, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, England and the United States

“Cheap grace [false, unBiblical perversions of God’s word translated “Grace”] is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.

Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

“Costly grace, Biblical grace, is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble. It is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.”

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Bonhoeffer knew that twisting the Truth to sell it more effectively was inexcusable. For Bonhoeffer the challenge was to present the Truth as purely as possible without attempting to help it along or dress it up.”

-Eric Metaxas, Biographer

“Bonhoeffer’s church is a sect [a cult], in fact the worst sect to have ever set foot on the soil of German Protestantism”

June 1935 “Evangelical Theology Magazine”
-Hermann Sasse, prominent “religious leader” of the day

“Where the world despises other members of the Christian family, Christians will love and serve them. If the world does violence to them, Christians will help them and provide them relief. Where the world subjects them to dishonor and insult, Christians will sacrifice their own honor in exchange for their disgrace. Where the world seeks gain, Christians will renounce it; where it exploits, they will let go; where it oppresses, they will stoop down and lift up the oppressed. Where the world denies justice, Christians will practice compassion; where it hides behind lies, they will speak out for those who cannot speak, and testify for the truth. For the sake of brothers or sisters-be they Jew or Greek, slave or free, strong or weak, of noble or common birth-Christians will renounce all community with the world, for they serve the community of the body of Jesus Christ. Being a part of this community, Christians cannot remain hidden from the world. They have been called out of the world and follow Christ.”

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Bonhoeffer knew that something of this unwillingness [of the “christian churches”] to speak out with boldness [against Hitler or anything controversial] — had to do with… money. The state provided financial security for the pastors of Germany, and even pastors in the [more “fundamental” and somewhat dissenting] church would jeopardize their incomes only to a certain point.”

-Eric Metaxas, Biographer

“The Nazis did their best to portray Germany as a Christian nation. The Reich church erected a huge tent near the Olympic stadium. Foreigners would have no idea of the internecine battle between the German State-approved “church” and the [more “fundamental” and somewhat dissenting] church; it looked like there was an abundance of Christianity in the midst of Hitler’s Germany.”

-Eric Metaxas, Biographer

On December 11, as with most of his sermons, Bonhoeffer began provocatively, putting forth the notion that Christ had been exiled from the lives of most Christians.

“Of course,” he said, “we build him a temple, but we live in our own houses.”

Religion had been exiled to Sunday morning, to a place “into which one gladly withdraws for a couple of hours, but only to get to one’s place of work immediately afterward.” He said that one cannot give him only a “small compartment in our spiritual life,” but must give him everything or nothing. “The religion of Christ,” he said, “is not a tidbit after one’s bread; on the contrary, it is the bread or it is nothing. People should at least understand and concede this if they call themselves Christian.”

-Eric Metaxas, Biographer

“Then what’s the use of everyone’s theology?” Bonhoeffer asked. There were now an urgency and a seriousness to Bonhoeffer that had not been there before. Somehow he sensed he must warn people of what lay ahead. It was as if he could see that a mighty oak tree, in whose shade families were picnicking, and from whose branches children were swinging, was rotten inside, was about to fall down and kill them all. Others observed the change in him. For one thing, his sermons became more severe.

For the rest of the article…

I am praying and writing in my journal and meditating on Hebrews 3:13…

“But exhort one one another every day, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

 Oh yeah, in the background on TV is the World Series! My team, the Red Sox are playing the Cardinals.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer stressed the value of meditating on God’s Word when he was the Director of the underground seminary at Finkenwalde. Students were required to meditate 30 minutes per day on a passage selected by Bonhoeffer.

Today, I have focused on Lamentations 3:26…

“It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (ESV).

With the pressures of ministry, I found peace when I waited quietly (No phone, no Facebook, no TV, etc.) on the Lord through prayer and meditation.

How is your meditation coming? I still have a long ways to go!


To be silent does not mean to be inactive; rather it means to breathe in the will of God, to listen attentively and be ready to obey. 

~ Meditating on the Word

Leap-of-Faith-Face-FearA Soul Shepherding Devotional
“Inviting God’s touch in your soul”
By Bill Gaultiere © 2013

What do you do when you’re afraid? What helps you to face your fears and endure pain? Recently I faced fear and pain when I went through a colonoscopy without sedation or anesthesia.

The nurses kept trying to talk me into letting them give me medicine. The doctor said the pain level would be close to the pain of labor in child birth and that only one person in five hundred goes without medication. I persisted with my request and finally they said I could do it “natural” if I signed a waiver.

Why would I do this? Why willingly suffer pain and fear when you don’t have to? Avoiding the sedation and anesthesia side effects of feeling lousy and loopy for hours afterward wasn’t my motivation. Neither was it about staying awake and alert during the procedure. For me it was a spiritual exercise.

A Leap of Faith?

“We live by faith, not by sight,” the Bible says (2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV). It’s easy to say this, but do we actually do it? Do we venture out into the unknown that scares us with confidence that God will actually be with us to sustain us? Here was an opportunity for me to trust that the risen Christ truly was with me in Spirit to comfort me and give me strength.

This was not a “leap of faith.” Many think it’s a virtue to leap blindly, even impulsively, into the dark, expecting God to catch us before we fall. That’s a romantic notion, but it leads to lots of bruises! Or to playing things safe because you don’t have any real faith to leap with.

True faith is confidence in God which is based on knowledge of God and his loving care. it’s our knowledge of spiritual reality that enables us to extend beyond that knowledge into the unknown. That’s why the writer to Hebrews says, “Now faith is the substance of what we hope for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV). Substance. Evidence. Faith is tied toknowledge of spiritual reality. (See our Bible Study on “Knowing Christ Today.”)

The Power of Scripture Meditation

It wouldn’t be wise for me or anyone to endure a colonoscopy “natural” without having come to know another resource to count on in times of distress. I knew I didn’t need drugs but could be transported to an alternate reality through Scripture Meditation. I was not seeking an empty Nirvanah, but the unseen spiritual reality of God’s Kingdom. I was not detaching into nothingness, but into a personal connection with Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

It’s important to understand that to attach to the Lord we need to detach from controlling things. And there’s a lot I wanted to control about the colonoscopy! I didn’t want to experience pain for thirty minutes. I didn’t want to face feelings of fear. I didn’t want to submit to such an embarrassing, intrusive procedure. I let go of all that to trust the Word of God.

I used a “Watch and Pray” (Matthew 26:41) discipline of imagining myself undergoing the trial of the colonoscopy and as I anticipated this I drew nourishment from Psalm 91, which I had memorized years ago. I was at peace. I carried this right into my colonoscopy, sometimes breathing the words in and out, and I found that I was indeed transported beyond the medical clinic and into the heavenly realms.

As I laid on my side in my hospital bed I became like a little chick, cuddling in the soft feathers of El Shaddai, hiding under his wing. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1, NIV). I was at rest. So much so that by God’s grace I didn’t just “grin and bear it” to get through the pain, which was considerable at times, but I remained peaceful. God even helped me to be cheerful and to offer words of appreciation to the doctor and nurses during the colonoscopy!

For the rest of the post…

To be silent does not mean to be inactive; rather it means to breathe in the will of God, to listen attentively and be ready to obey.

~Dietrich BonhoefferMeditating on the Word

Jon Walker in his book, In Visible Fellowship: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s Classic Work:  Life Together, quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the danger of spending many hours in with non-believers…

Every day brings to the Christian many hours in which he will be alone in an unchristian environment. These are times of testing. These are the times of testing. This is the test of true meditation and true Christian community. 

Walker writes that The Big Idea is…

After meditating before God in the morning, we will be tested throughout the day. Bonhoeffer says this will reveal whether or not our time with God “lodged the Word of God so securely and deeply in our heart that it holds and fortifies us, moving us “to active love, to obedience, to good works.”

Walker added…

When we head into the day, we quickly see if our time spent with God in the morning or slips away. Are we walking in the reality of God’s grace or are we living in in a fantasy where we live as if we are independent from God? 

…Jesus is…Jesus consistently spent time with God in the morning and it strengthened him when he faced temptation.

…To be like Jesus…By faithfully meeting God each morning, we can enter the day confident that God is at work in and around us!

(Jon WalkerIn Visible Fellowship: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s Classic Work: Life Together, Chapter 20)

Let us take the time each day to meditate on God’s Holy Word!

September 2017
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