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  • Writer's pictureDarryl Buckle

Summer Growth Plan

I don't know about you but I love the summer, not just cause I get to do warm weather lazy day types of things, but because I get a little bit of extra time to practice some of the things in the self care and soul care category.

Psalm 1: 3 describes a person who is " a tree planted by streams of water,

which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither –

whatever they do prospers.

We can't always choose where we get planted in some seasons, but we can choose how we ensure our roots are pushed down deep to where the ground isn't so affected by hot or dry weather. And for me, there are places I go, or even go-to places I have that I know help, predictably, whether I need to quiet the noise, clear my head, find my courage, or simply center Jesus.

Where do you go? What are the places or practices that help for you? It's not just you. Turns out Jesus had places like that too.

In Luke 21 you can read about some of the last days Jesus spent on this earth, before the cross. By this time in his life Jesus had shared openly with this friends what was to come. Jesus was not suprized by this. He came for this. But that doesn't mean it was easy. It doesn't mean he wouldn't be tested or even tempted to quit.

So Luke 21 gives us a picture of where Jesus went, his go-to place where he could spend time with His Father, and find strength from that rhythm.

37 Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives...

There is an almost endless variety of spiritual practices that people can develop as part of a Rhythm or Rule of life to cultivate Spiritual health, growth, or whole life flourishing.

I'll no doubt write many more post about that this summer. But to start, here are 5 plus 1 spiritual practices that have contributed most to keeping me rooted in season and out.

1. Daily rhythms of Quiet

I'd love to tell you this is the first thing on my list. It's not. Coffee and quiet for me. I read the scriptures, do the daily office and practice listening prayer. I don't want to miss if God's got something to say. I think God speaks to those who'll listen and I want to be part of what he wants to do in the lives of the people around me.

2. Spiritual Reading

I really need to post more reviews and curated content from my reading. I've got lots to learn. So I read widely. Some of what you'd expect for a pastor. Theology, commentaries, Christian living. But also lots of real life stuff. Biology, neuroscience, human performance, business and leadership. Lots of books on running and endurance sports.

A couple years ago we sat on the dock and talked about Jesus and John Wayne, and The making of Biblical Womanhood. This year it's After Evangelicalism (the Evangelicalism I grew up with is almost recognizable these days. Maybe there is something after Evangelicalism for people like us?) and maybe Upstream: How to solve problems before they happen. (although apparently i'm a little late on this one...). What's on your reading list?

Want to join me for a book club? I just reread Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas and it's still brilliant! I think I'll do a chapter by chapter if you're interested in following?

3. Connect with The Nature

I'm the worst. A nature lover and a firm beleiver in the neuroscience around the benefits of time spent outdoors. Make no mistake about it. I believe we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Forest bathing or skinny dipping. (both best practiced away from the crowds ;)). I love the smell of pine and the smell of pine loves me. Jesus pointed people to nature in some of their most vulnerable moments, so this summer you'll find me outside... fully dressed, spending time with Jesus.

4. Serve Others

You'd be surprised how surprisingly self centred people can be in their approach to growing a faith that's supposed to centre on Jesus and yer neighbours. What if this became part of what you did on the daily? Before you go to sleep at night ask yourself, "who did I serve today?". When you first wake up in the morning, what if you presented yourself to God and invited him not just to fill your day with His Presence, but to use your day in His service and in the service of others. These are the stories that make for an unforgettable summer.

5. Gather.

Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got til it's gone. IYKYK. But having a community of friends and strangers to gather with and to together delare the excellencies of God, is simply irreplaceable. The fundamental unit of measure for Ekklesia is not me, it's we. I miss you when i'm away and we miss you when you're gone. Without friends who are like family and strangers you can treat like friends, your love grows cold and your faith grows diabetic. Every cell in your body gets affected.

Plus 1. Variety

The point of having a place you go to connect with God is the comfort of predictability. Like your favourite sweater, it's great knowing you always have that with you if you need the warmth. The downside of a favourite sweater is that you might go through your life never knowing what it feels like to pull on a corduroy jacket... (All business and comfort!).

Edward Abby (He was known by his friends as “Cactus Ed.”) wrote, "In the first place you can't see anything from the car; you've got to get out of the... contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you'll see something, maybe". I know that doesn't sound all that inspiring to some of you but the point is that there are lessons to be learned and beauty to be experienced that can only be know by those willing to leave the well worn practices or paths and explore new rhythms or disciplines than those which have sustained them up to this point. So let me encourage you, you, there are probably some things you can see from the car... some things you can see and know about the life of faith from the tried and true spiritual disciplines you were raised on. But there is much to be "known" if you're willing to explore a bit. To practice disciplines like quiet, confession, creativite writing, fasting, generosity, meditation, different forms of prayer, etc etc. You might need to get out of the car and walk or run for a bit to train those muscles. But I promise you. God will meet you there too!

Ecclesiastes 3:1 famously declares, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven... and then he makes a list of the stuff of real life.

Summer is for sun and for fun and it's for faith and this year like last, I want my faith to grow, I want my heart to flourish. I'm Praying you'll find rhythms of your own, to make sure your every season is filled with faith and life to the full.

“Anything above the ordinary level is always worthwhile.”


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