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Following Jesus by Practicing the Word – Part Two

Recap: The Practice of The Word and Daily Devotions 

Our highest value is our relationship with God: following Jesus in daily intimacy.
Our first priority and practice that makes it a reality is the discipline of The Word of God. Why ‘The Word’? Because it’s God’s self-revelation to us. Jesus is the Living Word, God’s full self-revelation. The Bible is God’s Spirit-inspired written Word or self-revelation – having power to transform us as we daily read, study, meditate, and memorize it.

We ‘do the Word’ in these four ways – placing ourselves under the Word’s authority – by having daily devotions or “quite time” with God. Do you have a specific time and place set apart to encounter God in prayer and The Word? To the extent we consistently engage in that time and activity the Spirit progressively transforms us. The affect of a long obedience in the same direction accumulates into fruit-full growth in Christ’s mind and character.

HOW do we have a regular “quiet time” with God? HOW do we make it meaningful? There are two major reasons why many Christians don’t have daily focused time with God: they don’t know what to do (“it’s boring!), and due to lifestyle choices (“I’m too busy”). CS Lewis says it’s laziness: we allow other people/things to determine our REAL daily priorities and practices because we are too lazy to set our own – life lives us, we don’t live life! The deeper issue, of course, is spiritual sickness, lack of hunger, loss of love for Jesus. As Pedro Arrupe SJ says: “What or who are you in love with determines everything: what gets you out of bed in the morning, what you read, how you spend your time, who you relate to… fall in love with Jesus, stay in love with Jesus, and it will determine everything in your life!”

LECTIO DIVINA

The Latin Lectio (reading) Divina (Divine) refers to a tried and tested Christian practice of encounter with God in the Word and prayer. It means “spiritual reading” or “reflective and responsive reading of the Bible”. It gives a simple framework to spend 30 minutes of daily quality time with God. Rooted in the Hebrew tradition of Torah prayer-meditation, the monks from the 4th century began to practice Lectio – some for hours a day. Monk Guido II (14th century) was the first to record the framework of Lectio Divina in the four steps of lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio. I will add a few NOTES… here we go… Continue reading Following Jesus by Practicing the Word – Part Two

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Report on Pastor’s & Leader’s Prayer Retreat

I was privileged to lead a pastors and leaders retreat from 25 to 27 January, 2012. My Vineyard colleagues in the NECSA region asked me to lead the retreat on “Entering the New Year – Praying the Psalms”. What an honor for me to do that! We had 32 people in attendance. See the photos of some of the heavy dudes who came!

I gave 5 meditation inputs with handouts for personal reflection, journalling and prayer. I dealt with issues like how we enter and plan the new year, how to deal with busyness and “the tyranny of the urgent”, and above all, how to make prayer a practical priority to keep our own hearts soft and fragrant as a garden for the Lord. We are first and foremost personal followers of Jesus, working on our own spiritual formation, as leaders of God’s people. Then our primary task as spiritual leaders is the spiritual formation of our people – by inducting and guiding them in the basic practices required for spiritual growth and health. That was the overall focus of the retreat.

We kept silence for the morning and afternoon sessions to best engage in our meditation times, and then the late afternoons and evenings were for relaxation, interaction, sharing and fun! The feedback from those who attended was good – God evidently met with many in meaningful and significant ways!

I am happy to post a disk of the 5 talks (in MP3 format) with the notes and meditation sheets, so that you can set aside time and do the retreat yourself where you are. The talks and notes are self-explanatory; they will guide you through the retreat step by step. All I ask is for you to pay my costs (the disk and postage, etc) by electronic transfer or direct bank deposit. If you email me I will give you all the details.

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New Book Release – Praying the Psalms

Praying the Psalms Volume One FlyerI’m so happy to say my new book has come from the publishers hot off the press!

Praying the Psalms is the first volume of a new series by Alexander Venter. Learning to Pray will enable you to not only practice daily prayer, but also to develop a life of prayer. It’s a personal prayer journal for spiritual growth. Designed for individuals and small groups, this twelve-week program imparts the tried and tested wisdom of the most ancient of prayer books: the Hebrew Psalter. The meditation exercises will uncover the rich treasures hidden in David’s prayers, making the psalms alive, relevant and personal. As you work the psalm-prayers they will work you, transforming you into a living prayer of relational intimacy with God.

“Learning to Pray is a thoughtful and practical aid to assist you to enter the rich and wonder-filled world of praying the Psalms. No practice contributes to the spiritual development of the disciple of Jesus more than praying the Psalms – a practice that was central in the life of our Lord and has strengthened God’s people throughout the centuries.”

Bert Waggoner, National Director of The Association of Vineyard Churches, USA.

“Attentive to the Holy Spirit, Venter invites us to learn, pray and live the Psalms in authentic, life-orienting ways. With care and kindness, we are guided into a life of listening, responsive prayer that shapes our liturgos, our embodied practices in conversation with God. Venter reminds us that praying and enacting the Psalms takes practice, and he provides practical help to do just this.”

Cherith Fee Nordling, Professor of Biblical Theology at Regent College, Canada.

“You will undoubtedly benefit enormously from these meditations on the Psalms. Use it on your own, or equally, use it in home groups – either way, I think you’ll find Alexander has given us a wonderful resource for spiritual growth that will enrich your daily interactions with Jesus.”

John Mumford, Leader of the Vineyard Churches in the United Kingdom

To get a copy you can visit the Kingdom Treasures shop at http://www.kingdomtreasures.co.za/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=146&category_id=31&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1

Or you are welcome to contact me by email on contact_me@alexanderventer.com