First steps on the journey of faith and community

Category: Streams of Living Water (Page 1 of 3)

February 9 — Jesus calls us to wholeness

the wholeness of the six streams

The wholeness represented by the six streams

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Matthew 5

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

holiness leads to wholeness

The Sermon on the Mount by Beryl Lewis

More thoughts for meditation

“If you seek holiness of life, I encourage you to make a good friend of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). It is an expanded commentary on the royal law of love. And Jesus’ life is an expanded commentary on the Sermon on the Mount. I find it endlessly moving to watch how Jesus walked among people, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, and bringing good news to the oppressed. Always appropriate. Always able. Always giving the touch that was needed. Always speaking the word that was needed. It is a wonder and a marvel. We see Jesus consistently doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. We see in him such deeply ingrained ‘holy habits’ that he is always ‘response-able,’ always able to respond appropriately. This is purity of heart. This is the virtuous life.

To see the vision of the Holiness Tradition in all its robust dynamic, we need to look no further. This brief look at the holiness of Jesus calls us to a more consistent life, a more obedient life, a more fruitful life. Jesus, who lived fully every teaching of the Sermon on the Mount long before he taught it, shows us the way.” (pp. 8-9)—from the Six Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster

Personally, Foster’s main stream is the “holiness” tradition. But within the Sermon on the Mount we can see each of the six streams shown in the pie chart above. The ultimate call of Jesus is to wholeness. Jesus is our guide to all of the streams; we are invited into all of them. We may emphasize one, or feel at home in one more than another, but the call of the Lord’s great message is to open our hearts to the fullness of living water. We are welcome to enter the water of life no matter how it is delivered; from whatever stream we enter we can navigate to all the rest.

What did you decide? What might be your “home stream?”

Suggestions for action

The Sermon on the Mount calls good people to examine the basis of their faith. If the basis is rooted in law and self-reliance, then the Sermon is quite a confrontation. If the basis is rooted in seeking God and in finding God when revelation is right in front of them (as in Jesus!), then the sermon has Truth in it. Examine your faith and see if it has the spark that leads to wholeness; see if God is comfortable being the object of your faith.

Read a piece of the Sermon on the Mount again. Maybe you just have time for the beatitudes (today’s reading), maybe just chapter 5, or maybe you can carve out enough time for the whole thing (Matthew 5-7). Read it as a “wonder and a marvel.” Praise God for Jesus’ living fully every teaching in it. Praise God for the ways you have seen others in your life and throughout history live it. Make plans for living it out in some way today that you can tell someone about.

For much more on the topic of wholeness, here is a professor investigating “shalom.”

Today is Richard Twiss Day! Appreciate a champion for Jesus among Native Americans at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Jesus.

February 8 — The incarnational stream

Jesus being incarnationalToday’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Philippians 2:1-11

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

More thoughts for meditation

From Chapter 7: “The Incarnational Stream”

“God is truly among us in the warp and woof of our very earthy existence. God is not distant, nor is he disinterested. ‘The world is charged with the grandeur of God,’ writes Gerard Manley Hopkins; ‘Christ plays in 10,000 places.’ We, you see, are not alone. God stoops to our need and allows himself to be glimpsed in the material world.” — from the  Six Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster

The best glimpse we’ve gotten of God in the material world is Jesus of Nazareth. He is present among us still through his Holy Spirit. We are in Christ and Christ is in us. We say in our proverbs that “Jesus is best revealed incarnationally” because we trust that God is making us into a people that actually incarnates or en-fleshes Jesus. Therefore, everyone matters, whether the world recognizes the grandeur with which we are charged, or not. Thus what we do matters, from the mundane to the most special. We are the “venue” in which Jesus is appearing because Jesus is among us.

Suggestions for action

Stretch your spiritual imaginations today by looking for ways the world is charged with God’s grandeur. Consider how you or you and the people in your cell are charged with Jesus’ presence. Name them and trust that God will use them. Consider who might like to know you and Jesus; how might they already be revealing God’s grandeur in a way unbeknownst to them?

Want more?

Foster could have included a lot more about the Catholic and Orthodox Church. The sacraments, the liturgical year, the use of icons and other art are all good examples of the incarnational stream. Here is a brief article about it: Sacraments: Meeting God in Our Own World

He could also be accused of being “light” on the incarnational value of art in revealing the mystery of God-with-us. Here is a book review from Relevant Magazine that touches on the subject: Why Art Should Matter to Christians

Encouragement from Renovare in U.K/Ireland:

February 7 — The evangelical stream

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Acts 3:1-4:31

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Evangelical church building

More thoughts for meditation

In Chapter 6, “The Evangelical Stream,” is described by Foster as the “Word-centered life.” So here’s some advice from him about how we read the Bible.

“I recommend that we make a really good friend of Scripture, reading it in substantial doses. It is far better to devote one hour once a week to Bible reading than ten minutes every day.  The popular devotional practice of a brief Bible reading each morning is a little like trying to take a shower one drop at a time. Just as we simply cannot get a shower that way, we simply cannot become a biblically saturated person that way.  So read entire sections of books of the Bible in one sitting. This is not nearly as difficult as you might think once you develop the habit.” — from the  Six Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster

The “Evangelical” stream has a bad reputation among unbelievers in the U.S. right now, for the most part, because it became obsessed with political power in the 1970’s. It focused on the scourge of abortion, but it was even more fundamentally opposed to integrated schools. Circle of Hope is composed of Bible-following people who want others to make a life-giving relationship with Jesus, like Evangelicals do. But we are not Republicans or Democrats, or aligned with anyone who gets confused about where their citizenship resides—our loyalty lives where Jesus rules, the laws of the land notwithstanding.

Suggestions for action

Is today the day you can set aside that time for extended Bible reading? How about spending your lunch break reading the Bible? You can print a section off the internet or read it on your phone if you don’t have a Bible handy.

Want to explore more of what “evangelical” means? Here is an article from the Atlantic: Defining ‘Evangelical’: Its meaning has shifted throughout Christianity’s long history and changes depending on who you ask. Why?

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