MODULE 7 RESOURCES
ASSIGNMENT: Read the Introduction to Awareness essay below, and then complete the Examen practice 5 days this week. Come ready to discuss your experience with your discipler at your next meeting.
Introduction to Awareness
By Megan Koch
Read 2 Kings 6:8-22.
Elisha is a prophet. Prophets listen for the voice of God, and help bring people closer to the heart of God. At this point in the story, Israel is in a conflict with the Arameans, and they’re outmatched. However, God is actually telling Elisha the enemy’s battle plans. That keeps Israel one step ahead, and the King of Aram is convinced there’s a spy in his army. The king realizes he’s not dealing with a spy, he’s dealing with a prophet— and now he’s out to get Elisha.
The Aramean army surrounds the city, intent on trapping Elisha. The text says,
“When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. ‘Oh, sir, what will we do now?’ the young man cried to Elisha. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ Elisha told him. ‘For there are more on our side than on theirs!’ Then Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!’ The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire,” (2 Kings 6:15-17, NLT).
The king saw Elisha as a threat, and out of that fear, he pulled out all the stops to get rid of him. But the thing is, even if he did capture Elisha, he’d never be able to trap God. The king focused on what he could see with his eyes, but Elisha and his servant saw more. Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened to see a fuller picture of reality, and he did. In light of all those horses and chariots of fire, the Aramean army didn’t look so terrible. So we need to ask ourselves: where are we looking? And how are we looking?
We need to ask God to open our spiritual eyes so we can see the world like he does. The Apostle Paul prayed like this all the time. In Ephesians he writes, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe,” (Ephesians 1:18-19a). When our eyes are open, we can see God’s love and his power at work in the world, right here among us. God is with us, and he’s fighting for us. Too often we see one without the other, but we can’t separate them.
As disciples, we must learn to see everything through Jesus; the good and the bad. We live with confidence that God is making things right—no matter how things look on the surface. Disciples see hope where everyone else sees a lost cause. We see beauty in the ugliest places. We have a fuller perspective of what’s going on. Our sight and perspective motivate us to live by faith, not fear. We understand more than what meets the eye, because we see everything in light of Jesus. We see sunsets, work, play, people, social media, art, war, and our breakfast cereal through Jesus. Disciples experience
everything through Jesus. He is here and we know it. That’s the power of awareness.
God is everywhere—but that doesn’t mean we always see him. If we want to see what God is doing, we’re going to need to put our whole lives into it. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me,” (Jeremiah 29:13, NLT). The New International Version (NIV) says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Here is the key: we often pray and ask God to show up, but the fact is, he is already here to be found. God gives us a wide-open invitation. If we don’t hold anything back, he won’t either.
We want God to help us with the battles all around us. We want him to show us what he’s doing, and take care of it all for us. We want God to be our protector. If someone is against us, we want God to work in their life and reveal the truth to them so they can have a change of heart—but we don’t always invite God to change our hearts first. How often do we seek divine help, without actively submitting ourselves to God?
You see, if we want God to take care of all the things going on around us, we’re going to need to let him take care of what’s going on in our own hearts. If we want God to guide us as we navigate the everyday circumstances of life, and we want him to fix what’s going wrong in the world, we need to first listen when he tells us what’s wrong with us. That’s the deal. When we can’t see God or hear what he’s saying, we are quick to say he’s distant and silent, when really, we’re the ones far away and closed off to what’s happening.
If we want some of God’s help, but not all of it, if we’re holding anything back— something is in the way between us and Jesus. We can’t see clearly until we hand it over. We can’t ask God to help us see what to do about something outside ourselves if we want to stay blind to what’s going on within us. It just doesn’t work that way. Perhaps we only see a little because we’re only surrendering a little. Remember: we will seek God and find him when we seek him with all our hearts. If we want God to show up in our lives, we have to want to see everything he has to show us.
In a way, our level of God-awareness is linked to our desire for self-awareness. We say we want to hear God’s voice, but do we really want to hear everything he has to say?
Disciples live connected to Jesus and they know it. Jesus is not only near us, but with us. As we submit ourselves to God, his light wins over our lives. Jesus has always been present, but we haven’t always seen him. He has always been speaking, but we haven’t always heard his voice. God is here to be found. We don’t need to seek mountaintop experiences to see and hear him. In fact, we experience God most easily within the events of our everyday lives. That is the essence of awareness: Opening up our eyes to see him at work in the most unseemly of places.
In his book, Hearing God, Dallas Willard writes, “God is not looking for a holy place. Places are holy because God is there”. This place where you are, right now, is a holy place. God is here, and he’s eager to meet with you. Are you eager to meet with him? Are you willing to see everything he has to show you?
By Megan Koch, Jesse Skidmore, & Jake Thurston
“For it is not knowing much, but realizing and relishing things interiorly, that contents and satisfies the soul.” ― Ignatius of Loyola
The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius is a classic Christian text compiled from the
16th century. Ignatius created this strategic, practical journey out of his own ministry as a priest and church leader in the Jesuit order. These practices were created as a practical "pathway" to encourage priests to encounter Christ and become more like Him. These exercises are an invitation to be formed and perfected by interaction with Jesus. It is only by doing something with Jesus that we move from knowing about Him, to knowing Jesus Himself.
When we know Jesus, we come to know ourselves rightly. He shows us who we
really are and who we are meant to be. A disciple who truly understands who he or she is will never settle for less than the full life in Christ they are offered right now. Disciples live in alert understanding of the present Kingdom of God right here, right now. It’s about becoming in tune with the thoughts, decisions, and actions that lead toward God. This sounds very grand, but it is indeed possible, and even expected of you as a follower of Jesus. This kind of life is rooted in the regular practice of becoming still, quiet, and obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit throughout your days. When Jesus speaks, respond. When Jesus gives you a command, do it. When Jesus invites you to enjoy your life, take Him up on it. You’re a disciple who’s aware of his presence and promptings.
The Ignatian Prayer of Examen is an ancient, five-step exercise in observation, awareness, and orientation. Any form of examen prayer is a pathway toward greater awareness of God and yourself. Prayers of examen are regular “checkups” for your soul, so try to make a habit of this!Traditionally, the Prayer of Examen is practiced twice daily; at midday, and in the evening, and only takes 10-20 minutes. As it is with most holy habits, the power and effectiveness of this exercise is found in simple, daily repetition. For now, begin by practicing the examine nightly before bed, or another designed time during your day. If it helps you to journal throughout the exercise, do it. Otherwise, just talk this out with God. Keep the following exercise on your phone or write it on a note for your nightstand.
NIGHTLY PRAYER OF EXAMEN
TURN ON THE LIGHTS. Become aware of Jesus in the room with you. Close your eyes
and see him there. Invite him to light up your day and guide you through it however he
NAME WHAT’S GOOD. First, practice gratitude. What are you immediately grateful for? Where did you see Jesus today? Name it. Get creative. There’s more than you think.
REVIEW THE DAY. Ask Jesus to walk you through the main points of your day, from the moment you woke up until right now. Invite Him to reveal it to you from His perspective. Pay attention, and don’t skip over the parts you’d rather not revisit. If it helps you keep track, make quick notes of the events in your journal or notetaking app.
OWN IT. Did any part of that review trigger hurt, confusion, anger, or regret? Own what wasn’t good. Offer it up to Jesus. Ask Jesus why you did what you did, or why that thing bothered you so much. Where was God during all of this? Once you think you have an answer, pause for a minute, in case Jesus wants to show you something under the surface. Do what you need to do to hand over control, forgive others, and get forgiveness yourself. Text an apology if you need to. Don’t leave it for later. And remember: not all problems can be resolved by the end of the night, but they can be surrendered. Do that now.
LOOK FORWARD. Look ahead to the next day in light of Jesus. Anticipate the coming challenges or the things you’re excited about. Remember that tomorrow night you’ll return here again to review the day. How will you want to have lived it? Decide to live that way right now. Surrender the coming day to Jesus before it’s even happened, ask Him to be present, and go to bed, or continue with the rest of your day.
Assignment: Watch and take notes over the video, “Restorative Prayer,” by Pastor Megan Koch located below. Afterward, go back to your timeline from Module 5. Based on what you learned in the video, consider how Jesus may have been present in some of those past wounds. Journal some notes to share at your next meeting.
Restorative Prayer, with Megan Koch
ASSIGNMENT: Read the essays Finding God in the Workplace and Finding God in Rest located below. Journal notes to share when you discuss these in your next meeting.
ASSIGNMENT: Read the Sharing Jesus essay located below as you begin Module 8: Hospitality. Come ready to discuss it at your next meeting.
Finding God in the Workplace
By Phil Wiseman
We do not make it very far into the Bible before we encounter the topic of work. Work is a part of God’s plan for the people he created:
Then God said, "Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground." (Genesis 1:26 NLT)
Notice this phrase: “They will reign.” Humans are made in the image of God, and God has commissioned us to reign over the earth for God. In ancient times, it would be common for a king to establish a vice-regent to represent him in a particular part of the kingdom. The vice-regent would reign over that portion of the kingdom in the name of the king himself. Something similar is happening here. God places his people on earth to govern it for Him.
This is very different from other ancient stories of creation. In ancient Babylon, for example, they taught that the gods created humans, but as slaves instead of royalty. According to the Babylonian myths, humans were forced to dig trenches for the gods and serve them food. This was the point of their existence.
With God, our work is that of royalty. In other religions, our work is that of slavery. Which view of work do you have? A Biblical one, or a Babylonian one?
When we work in any capacity, we are fulfilling our creational mandate: to reign over the earth. Whether you’re a truck driver, a waitress, an artist, a parent, a teacher, or a doctor, you are contributing to the functioning and flourishing of God’s creation and people. This is no insignificant thing. You are God’s vice-regent. This is God’s world, and we represent him here. Our work is inseparable from that calling.
It might be difficult for you to locate the presence of God within the work that you do, especially in your day job. Whether you think it’s true or not, the eight hours a day you spend at work can feel godforsaken. How do we uncover God’s presence in places like that?
In Genesis 20, Abraham and his wife Sarah are traveling through a strange, foreign land called Gerar. Abraham, scared for his own life, is afraid that when the locals see how beautiful his wife is, they’ll kill him and take her. So he lies to them: he says that she’s his sister, not his wife. They do take Sarah away, as he predicted, but they let him live (this is admittedly not Abraham’s finest hour).
Sarah ends up in the palace of King Abimelech. However, before he lays a hand on her, God shows up to him in a dream and tells him that if he touches her, he’s toast. Abimelech promptly returns Sarah to Abraham and asks him why he didn’t tell her that she was his wife. Abraham’s response is insightful for us:
"Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife” (Genesis 20:11 NLT, italics added).
In other words, Abraham came to a place that was strange and scary, and he assumed that God was not already there. But Abraham was wrong. God was active and alive in Gerar, and the fear of God was in that place—as we see in Abimelech’s response.
We all have work to do here on earth. Perhaps yours is more difficult than you’d prefer. Just remember this: God made you to be his royal representative in the work you do and the places you do it. What’s more, God is at work alongside you.
So let’s not make Abraham’s mistake, thinking that God is not alive and active in our places of work. Rather, let’s view work as worship: all of the work you do is God’s call to represent him for the sake of his kingdom.
Finding God in Rest
By Phil Wiseman
If you’ve read the essay, “Finding God in the Workplace,” then you’ll already know that there were a number of “creation stories” in the ancient world. These stories often had similarities to one another. The Bible’s story of Creation, which is found in the book of Genesis, shares some of these similarities. However, Genesis also has some very important differences.
In these other creation stories, the god would often create the world, and we would then expect the god to create a palace or temple upon a mountain. The god would then dwell within that temple and declare it holy.
In Genesis, we see God finish the work of creation, and right when we might expect Him to create a temple or palace for himself, he does no such thing. He does something completely unprecedented. Instead of creating a holy temple, God creates a holy day.
On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. (Gen. 2:2-3 NLT)
Abraham Heschel points out that whereas God did not create a palace of space, he creates a palace of time. And unlike those other so-called gods of the ancient world, our God invites us to join Him in that palace.
That’s right: those other “gods” created palaces to themselves where they could be served by human slaves. Our God? He created the weekend.
God is not like us. We believe that the things we do and the things we produce are what add meaning to the moments that we live. God understands that it is the other way around: it is the moment that adds meaning to the things we produce. Our obsession with production has robbed us of the very means of encountering God: time. We meet God in time, and if we don’t make time, then we won’t meet God. That is why God created his “time palace”—also known as Sabbath.
Recall your discussion on Sabbath from Module 3. Sabbath is simply a set amount of time, typically reserved for an entire day, to “rest” and be with God. It’s not to catch up on extra hours or work, do errands, or fill it with more activity. Sabbath days are literally days set aside for us to rest—to do our favorite hobbies, be with the ones we love, spend time with God in refreshing ways, and ultimately fill our time with life-giving activities while having God alongside us the entire time. That’s how we abide in God’s “time palace.”
But in our workaholic culture, the practice of Sabbath has fallen to the wayside. A.J. Swoboda says that our forgetfulness of Sabbath has caused us to become “perhaps the most emotionally overworked, spiritually malnourished people in history.” If this is the case, then finding time to meet God in rest is a matter of utmost urgency.
Maybe it’s time for you to meet God in rest. After all, Sabbath forms one of the most foundational aspects of the Old Testament. It is the bedrock upon which our faith is built. Why? Because God knows that if we don’t ever stop to simply be with him, we won’t have a relationship with him at all. And that, of course, is the whole point of everything.
Perhaps it’s time for you to enter God’s palace of time.
By Phil Wiseman
Module 8 is all about hospitality. For a Christian, this means welcoming people into the family of God. At the heart of this is sharing the good news of Jesus Christ—or, “the gospel.”
PART 1: WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
There is a word that Christians often say but rarely define: the word “gospel.” What exactly do we mean by it? In the Bible, the word used for “gospel” simply means “good news.” This Greek word, euangelion, is not unique to the Bible, but is used in many places to proclaim all sorts of news that was considered “good.” For example, we have ancient writings celebrating the “good news” (or “gospel”) of Caesar Augustus after he had just won a great battle. Often, this word was used to announce the fact that a ruler had just won a battle, and their kingdom was therefore advancing.
This context helps us make sense of what’s happening when we see Jesus preaching the good news, or gospel:
Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God's Good News. "The time promised by God has come at last!" he announced. "The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!" (Mk. 1:14–15 NLT)
In other words, Jesus is proclaiming the fact that God’s kingdom is advancing, so we’d all better get in line with it! The battle is being won, with the decisive victory being the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
With this in mind, perhaps we can attempt a simple definition of the gospel:
The gospel is the good news that God’s kingdom has come through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, who now rules over all. Therefore, we can be forgiven for our rebellion and enjoy a life with God in His kingdom.
Now that’s good news!
Go to the next slide for Part 2.