THE YEAR OF THE DOJO
The Year of the Dojo? Cheesy? Maybe. But we're hoping you won't forget it.
Our theme for 2018 at City View Church is the spiritual disciplines/practices. We are going to take the year and practice a number of Spiritual Disciplines together. Our goal is to move the church from a lecture hall to a dojo, where we practice the ways of Jesus together.
Take a few minutes and look at the recommended resources, listen to the introduction teaching if you were not at our gathering on January 7 (this will get you caught up), and read what the plan is for this year!
WHY THE DOJO?
There is often a misconception in the church that transformation will come to the Christian life quickly, like a zap from heaven or something. But, the more one grows as a disciple the more one understands transformation takes time.
The other problem we face today is the idea that information on its own will lead to a transformed life. While we are not seeking less information, the teachings of Jesus make it clear that his way is to be practiced (Matthew 5:19).
Simply put. You are not a basketball player by reading a book on basketball, or even watching games regularly. You become a basketball player by practicing, getting in the gym, shooting free throws and three pointers and working on your basketball skills.
So why do we think we will be transformed as disciples purely on the basis of having more information? For most of us our discipleship to Jesus does not have an information deficiency, there is simply a lack of practice.
With this is mind, we have been led to practice the spiritual disciplines in 2018 together. As Mark Scandrette suggests, "Perhaps what we need is a path for discipleship that is more like a karate studio than a college lecture hall."
We hope you can join us in the dojo!
INTRODUCTION TEACHING ON THE YEAR OF THE DOJO
HERE'S THE PLAN
as a community we are going to practice a spiritual discipline every four to six weeks (ten-twelve over the year)
on this site you will find an introduction and other resources on how to practice the particular spiritual discipline we are engaging at that time
we encourage you to practice the particular discipline throughout the month
when you gather in community groups we encourage you to discuss how the spiritual discipline is going and what you are learning (questions will be supplied on this site)
throughout the year at our Sunday gatherings we will hear stories of how people are practicing the disciplines
RECOMMENDED READING ON THE SPIRITUAL PRACTICES
Our spiritual practice for November is Silence & Solitude.
Silence & Solitude is simple. It’s intentional time in quiet to be alone with God and ourselves.
Throughout the gospels we see Jesus practicing Silence & Solitude all the time and as we grow as disciples in a frenetic, over busy, and stressed out culture, we believe this practice will draw us into God’s rest and love.
Here’s How You Can Practice This
Make intentional time, at least three times a week, for silence and solitude in God’s presence.
Let’s Get Practical
Silence and solitude is in relationship with practices like Lectio Divina and Listening Prayer and you may want to incorporate these together.
Below is a practical outline/exercise in how you can incorporate Silence & Solitude into your week (taken from www.practicingtheway.org):
1. Identify a time/place that works well for you
Time: For most people, first thing in the morning works best. You’re rested, fresh, and the day is young. For others, a more optimal time slot is when kids are napping in the late morning, or on a lunch break, after work, or before you go to bed. Feel free to experiment until you find the right fit.
Place: Find a place that is quiet and as distraction free as possible. A comfortable chair with a blanket and candle nearby works well for a lot of people. Weather permitting, a park or nature reserve are also a good bet.
2. Set a modest goal
Beginners: It’s better to start small and work your way up. We recommend you start with ten minutes, 3-5 days a week.
Intermediate: If you already practice silence and solitude a few times a week, consider upping it to every day.
Advanced: If you already practice silence and solitude daily, consider upping your time (to, say, an hour), or just giving your time a high level of focus.
Then, for the 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 laundry or drawing.
2. 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 sieze 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 a home run.
3. 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.
4. Close in a prayer of gratitude and commit the rest of your day to the Father
A few things to note:
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.
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.
Our spiritual practice for the month of October is Lectio Divina. Lectio Divina is the practice of spiritual (“divine”) reading. We have spent significant time over the last couple of years focusing on what the Bible is, how we got it and how we can read it effectively. Now, the practice of Lectio Divina slows us down as we read the text, drawing us into meditate and reflect on what we are reading.
The goal over the month of October is to practice Lectio Divina three to fours times a week.
How do I practice this? Listen to the introduction teaching below and use the exercise guides for both group and individual practice.
From August 12 to September 29 we are going to practice emotional health as a community.
How are we going to do this?
1. We are going to use Pete Scazzero's book The Emotionally Healthy Church as a guide.
2. Over seven weeks we are going to walk through Scazzero's seven principles to emotional health.
3. We are also going to offer mid-week podcasts and study guides that highlight the seven principles to emotional health.
4. We also encourage you to take the assessment/inventory to identify where you are at in regards to emotional health.
7 Principles of Emotional Health
1. Looking Beneath The Surface
2. Breaking The Power of The Past
3. Living In Brokenness and Vulnerability
4. Receiving The Gift of Limits
5. Embracing Grieving and Loss
6. Making Incarnation Our Model For Loving Well
7. Slowing Down and Leading With Integrity
We live in a culture that is flat out busy. The demands of work, the over involvement in extra curricular activities, and the constant pursuit of more has left many on a hamster wheel of exhaustion. There is also the tension that, in many ways, this kind of life has become a badge of honour in our cultural moment. When someone asks how we are doing our immediate response tends to be, "busy!" as if this was a good thing.
What about followers of Jesus? Should our practices reflect something different?
Our spiritual practice for June and July is the ancient discipline of Sabbath. We are encouraging our community to set aside one day a week for rest and worship.
You will find a number of resources here that will help lead you into what Sabbath is and how you can practice this!
Recommended Reading on Sabbath
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus introduces three core spiritual practices:
Prayer in Matthew 6:5-15 (which we practiced from January 7-Febrauary 13).
Fasting in Matthew 6:16-18 (which we practiced from February 14-April 7)
Generosity/Charity in Matthew 6:2-4 (which we are going to practice in April and May)
Our practice over April and May is generosity. We are encouraging our community, every single week for the next wight weeks, to give money and resource away.
Dru did an in-depth teaching on generosity and how are going to practice this together. You can listen to it on this site!
We encourage you to be intentional about exercising generosity. You can do this a few ways:
Partner with some of the project both locally and globally that we love as a church that are listed here.
Give to whatever you want! We know many in our church are connected to organizations that are doing good.
Many give of their resource to the ongoing weekly work of our church. If you do not participate regularly, we encourage you to join in with us! We believe that we are apart of a community that does good within our city.
Our hope is that we could practice our way into loving to be generous. Here’s a couple things to keep in mind:
We encourage you to practice generosity even if you feel like you don’t have a lot. The beauty of our community is we have a wide rage of economic positions. We encourage everyone, even if it is something small, to participate throughout these eight weeks.
We encourage you, if you have kids, to get them involved. Make a contribution together. Give them some options of what you could give towards and bring them into the conversation.
FASTING - FEBRUARY 13 - MARCH 30
From February 13 - March 30 (the season of Lent leading into Easter) we are practicing the spiritual discipline of fasting as a community. We agree with Phillis Tickle when she declares that “fasting is far and away the most misunderstood, maligned, and misused” spiritual discipline.
WHAT IS FASTING?
It’s pretty simple.
Fasting is simply refraining from food or water for a designated period of time.
Note that there is a difference in abstaining something for Lent and fasting. Fasting always has to do with food and water.
It's a great question. Why would we, who have a never ending source of food and water at our disposal, give up food and water?
Here are few reasons (described in the audio above):
1. Fasting is an act of whole body worship
2. Fasting is a discipline against sinful desires
3. Fasting responds to a sacred, grievous moment
4. Fasting creates a greater awareness of God
5. Fasting stands in solidarity with the poor
6. Fasting yearns for the kingdom of God
HOW ARE WE GOING TO DO THIS?
The way we are going to practice this discipline is by inviting you to enter into a weekly rhythm of fasting from sundown on Wednesday evening to sundown on Thursday evening for the next six weeks.
This means you can have dinner on Wednesday evening and then fast through to dinner on Thursday. If these specific days don’t work for you, that’s absolutely fine! We encourage you to pick another day throughout the week.
We believe God is going to do a great work within us over these next bunch of weeks. Hope you can join in!
RECOMMENDED READING ON FASTING
Our first spiritual practice/discipline for 2018 is Fixed Hour Prayer (also know as the Daily Office). Fixed Hour Prayer is simply spending time in prayer and reflection three times a day (morning, mid-day, and evening) for ten minutes each time. From January 7-February 13 we are encouraging everyone to engage in this practice.
On this site you will find and introduction on Fixed Hour Prayer from Phyllis Tickle, an introduction podcast from Dru on how to implement Fixed Hour Prayer into the rhythm of your life, as well as suggested reading and apps that will help you in this journey.
INTRODUCTION PODCAST ON FIXED HOUR PRAYER
In this podcast Dru takes some time to talk about Fixed Hour prayer, including referencing resources like the Common Prayer App (for your phone) that can act as guide for morning, mid-day and evening prayer and reflection. He also takes a few minutes to talks about the roots of Fixed Hour Prayer and hlghlights Brother Lawerence and his formative idea of practicing the presence of God.
INTRODUCTION TO FIXED HOUR PRAYER BY PHYLLIS TICKLE
Fixed-hour prayer is the oldest form of Christian spiritual discipline and has its roots in the Judaism out of which Christianity came. When the Psalmist says, “Seven times a day do I praise You,” he is referring to fixed-hour prayer as it existed in ancient Judaism. We do not know the hours that were appointed in the Psalmist’s time for those prayers. By the turn of the era, however, the devout had come to punctuate their work day with prayers on a regimen that followed the flow of Roman commercial life. Forum bells began the work day at six in the morning (prime, or first hour), sounded mid-morning break at nine (terce, or third hour), the noon meal and siesta or break at twelve (sext, or sixth hour), the re-commencing of trade at three (none, or ninth hour), and the close of business at six (vespers). With the addition of evening prayers and early prayers upon arising, the structure of fixed-hour prayer was established in a form that is very close to that which Christians still use today.
Fixed-hour prayer is also commonly referred to as “the divine offices” or “the liturgy of the hours,” and from the time of the Reformation until very recently was held almost exclusively as a part of Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican Christian practice. With the re-configurations and re-alignments within Christianity during the last years of the twentieth century, however, there came an increasing push on the part of many Christians from within every sectarian division of the faith to return to the liturgy, or work, of being Church on earth. As the service which was most completely the people’s service in first-century Christianity, the observance of fixed-hour prayer began to emerge once more as the desired discipline for more and more Christians.
Because of its long and elaborate history, Christian fixed-hour prayer has developed over the centuries a number of conceits. For example, within Orthodox and Roman Christianity, the hours until very recently have been more often observed by monastics and clergy than by laity, a direct violation of their origin as an office of the people, just as they have been as often chanted as spoken, a rich custom that is none the less not a liturgical necessity. In addition, over the centuries the keeping of the hours has also developed a now cumbersome number of tools and assists. For one not reared within the Orthodox, Roman, or Anglican traditions, these “books of hours” or breviary volumes can prove daunting. THE DIVINE HOURS offers a solution to all these problems by making the liturgy of the divine offices accessible immediately to anyone of any station or ability who wishes to assume its discipline.
RECOMMENDED APP FOR FIXED HOUR PRAYER
RECOMMENDED READING FOR FIXED HOUR PRAYER
COMMUNITY GROUP QUESTIONS
Throughout our time practicing Fixed Hour Prayer we encourage you to participate in a Community Group. In our groups we will take time to reflect on these questions when we get together:
1. Is Fixed Hour Prayer a new practice for you or have you practiced something like this in the past?
2. If you've been practicing Fixed Hour Prayer with us, how has it been going? Have you found it easy to practice this? Hard? What has your experience been like so far?
3. How are you practicing Fixed Hour Prayer? For example, have you selected the same times to practice each day or is it different each day for you? Why kind of rhythm are you experiencing?
4. Do you have anything to share with the group about what you are learning though Fixed Hour Prayer. If so, take a few minutes and share.
5. What has God been speaking to you about through these times of prayer? Are they times to simply abide in His presence or do you feel like you are receiving specific things?
6. Do you feel like your prayer life is developing through practicing Fixed Hour Prayer. If so, how so?
7. Have you been using the Common Prayer App? Has this been helpful? How is it helping you?
8. Is there anything else you would like to share from this expereince?