For centuries the Psalms have served as spiritual mile markers along the highway of life in order to orient pilgrims on the Path of God. The Psalms have reminded people about God’s uncompromising love and redemptive plans for the world. They were sung, prayed and recited at fixed times throughout the morning, afternoon and evening. They were a form of rich communion with God and others. They were a corporate rhythm, a communal practice, and a compass for God’s people.
Jesus was sent here to be the Way, Truth, Life and he colorfully posted several trail-markers for his disciples to follow in the Way. Some of these sign-posts were: silence & solitude, the Lord’s Prayer, the Jesus Creed (Mark 12:29-31) and fasting. These spiritual practices or trail-markers led Jesus to the Source of all Life – to communion with God the Father. Communion with the Father led him to build a community or new kind of family. This family was then sent out on a mission to accurately reflect the love of God in Jerusalem, Judea, and to the ends of the earth.
Followers of Christ have posted many more cairns like the Jesus Prayer, Lectio Divina, and the Daily Office to assist us on our Christian pilgrimage. Some folks use words like disciplines, exercises or spiritual practices to refer to these trail markers. The bottom line: These markers only serve to point us in the direction of Living Water found in communion with God and lead us closer to loving our neighbors and world.
So, what are the disciplines for Coastal Church that will help conform us to the image of Jesus & be the people of God? What are the practices that will sustain us pilgrims on the long obedience in the direction of God? What are the mile markers that will point us in the Way of Jesus?
Coastal is a way of posturing ourselves to see Jesus and be Jesus. We often refer to this posture as “SIT. STAY...WALK”
Our friend Greg Paul speaks about PRACTICES like this in his book God in the Alley:
The disciplines involved in being and seeing Jesus are also forms of spiritual cross-training. The practice of one sharpens the ability to “perform” the other. When I speak of disciplines, though, I don’t mean exercises that are performed diligently each day for a short time. I mean the regular, intentional cultivation of an attitude, an awareness such as Paul wrote about in his letter the Philippians: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” If I am going to emulate and follow the Master, I need to watch him, listen to him, walk with him, saturate myself with him.
Reading and understanding the Bible is, of course, critically important, but it’s not enough. Jesus must be allowed to INVADE my whole life. I need to learn to wear him like a coat, carry him consciously in my heart, and LOOK for him everywhere.
Being Jesus is a discipline of ACTION. If I truly want to be present as Jesus was and is, I must choose to act in very specific ways. Theory, or doctrinal correctness, is not enough. Seeing Jesus is a discipline of stillness.
If I really want to see him, I’ll need to avoid being consumed by trying always to do things in his name, and I’ll need to learn to be motionless, intent on
BEHOLDING what is right in front of me. These two disciplines are often in tension with each other; it’s difficult to be still and active at the same time.
But they strengthen different sets of spiritual muscles, and each discipline ultimately benefits the other.
Being Jesus requires that I (we) choose to be actively present. Seeing him means that, paradoxically, in my being present, I must choose the stillness of being hidden—that is, rather than being focused on what I am doing, and seeking attention for it, I must be actively looking to see how Jesus is presenting himself in and through others. Being present the way Jesus was means that I have to abandon my own power. And seeing him in others teaches me the power of abandonment. Being Jesus is a call to give my life, as he himself indicated when he called us to pick up our crosses. But seeing Jesus opens me up to a new way to live, to a resurrected life. Being and seeing Jesus are intrinsically connected. In fact, they’re often happening at the same time.
Within the pages of this website are spiritual practices (or disciplines or exercises), which can orient our hearts, minds and souls toward unfathomable communion with the God of Creation. We consider these practices as sign posts or trail markers or cairns that bring us more into focus with the Way of Jesus.
What is Spirituality and How Do We Practice It?
Let’s be honest-the term spirituality has gotten a bad reputation in some Christian camps. Maybe it’s the fact that since the Enlightenment, intellectual knowledge, theology, and doctrine have been primary. Maybe its because the term was co-opted by the New Age movement in the late 20th century. No matter why, some Christians, evangelicals foremost among them, have shied away from this word.
However, it’s time to take spirituality back, and put the word Christian in front of it. Christian spirituality has a long and illustrious history…Any number of definitions of spirituality abound…here are two:
1.) Presbyterian pastor Marjorie Thompson prefers the more biblical phrase, “the spiritual life,” which she describes as “simply the increasing vitality and sway of God’s Spirit in us.”
2.) Brother Lawrence has a definition that’s simpler yet: “the practice of the presence of God.”
Spirituality is derived from ‘spirit’ (ruach in the Old Testament; pneuma in the New Testament), so it clearly has connections with God’s Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. The Spirit hovered over the face of the waters at the genesis of the world, gave Jesus his power to heal, gave birth to the church at Pentecost, and dwells with believers as the “Advocate” that Jesus promised. To be enlivened by God’s Spirit, then, is a hallmark value of Christian spirituality.
A unique aspect of Christianity is that because of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, we have a relationship with the Creator of the cosmos. Marjorie Thompson’s definition of “the spiritual life” goes on, “It is a magnificent choreography of the Holy Spirit in the human spirit, moving us toward communion with both Creator and creation. The spiritual life is thus grounded in relationship. It has to do with God’s way of relating to us and our way of responding to God.”
(*This section adapted from Tony Jones – Soul Shaper)
Its been said before that spiritual practices are like trail markers helping us along the Way of Jesus. In Coastal we often refer to them as the posture of SIT. STAY...WALK.
Lastly in terms of spiritual practices…
”Think of it as keeping your ears open, in ways and in places and in times of day when before you wouldn’t have thought to listen. Think of it as tuning yourself to recognize God’s voice, as becoming someone who regularly, intentionally hears.
Spiritual practices are exactly what their name suggests; they’re ways to be deliberate about matters of the soul. A spiritual practice is a tool for becoming aware of God within the normalcy of life—it injects the sacred into elements that could otherwise seem just everyday. So in applying spiritual practices, we find that the lines can be blurred between those things spiritual and what is secular: gratitude can happen when we’re mowing the lawn, worship and grocery shopping are compatible, God can be pursued on the evening commute.” – R. Bell
Coastal Community Church P.O. Box 1701 - Portland, Maine 04104 | 207.885.5820 | firstname.lastname@example.org :: following Jesus together ::