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Central to our growth as disciples of Jesus is the deliberate investment in developing our ‘core’. This is the profound and personal relationship we have with Jesus, our understanding of the presence and leading of God in our lives. This understanding does not just happen by accident, rather it is cultivated over time through the dedication of time and effort – the pursuit of the presence of Christ –  slowing down and turning off other distractions in order to focus. The result of this practise, when done over time on a consistent basis, is a deeper knowledge of God and a higher level of familiarity with the whisper.

This Sunday is the first “Core Sunday” of the term. As a Village, we want to structure our rhythm in order that we might achieve our objectives – and so the Core Sundays exist as space, a gift of time.

Of course you could just tick some jobs off your to-do list and follow a rabbit down a hole on YouTube, OR you could find some time and dedicate it to deepening your faith.

It takes time and commitment, and it also takes planning. You might need to set an alarm, or arrange something with others, or ask someone else to watch the kids while you take an hour away to pray. Just as with physical training where a single day of sit-ups will not gift you a six-pack, a single occasion of prayer or study will not make you an instant holy guru…but the consistent following of a rhythm of dedication will develop a strong core for sure.

Below are some ideas of what you could do, with some links. You will come up with more. The important thing is to do SOMETHING. Pick something which sounds intriguing or enjoyable. Pick something which is “you-shaped” and start there. Maybe, if this is all new, grab a friend or 3 and try one of these ideas together.

As you invest in your core, may you be blessed with a deep joy as your experience of Jesus grows.

BIBLE

  • Try a study from the gospel of John
  • Read a Psalm and reflect on it
  • Pick a Bible passage from a Gospel. Read it and ask; What do you notice? What is surprising? What is challenging? Where could you find yourself in the story?
  • Read an entire book of the Bible, just like you would a novel
  • Read a single Psalm slowly and meditate on it

WATCH

LISTEN

Podcasts of teaching or conversations which are worth checking out.

  • Bridgetown Church (Portland, teaching from John Mark Comer)
  • The Cultural Moment (a discussion about faith and culture from Mary Sayers and John Mark Comer)
  • Church of the City New York (Teaching from Jon Tyson and Suzy Silk)
  • Common Hymnal (worship songs rooted in justice and hope)
  • The Danielle Strickland Podcast (discussions and teaching on faith and the pursuit of Justice)
  • NewLife Church (Teaching from Rich Villodas)

READ

Books which have shaped our conversations over the past year

  • Liturgy of the Ordinary – Tish Harrison Warren
  • Prayer in the Night – Tish Harrison Warren
  • The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry – John Mark Comer
  • The Deeply Formed Life – Rich Villodas
  • Eat This book – Eugene Petterson
  • The Very Good Gospel – Lisa Shanon Harper
  • Facing Leviathan – Mark Sayers
  • Soul Keeping – John Ortberg
  • Emotionally Healthy Discipleship – Pete Scazzero

WAYS TO PRAY

  • Use some videos and resources from PrayMK
  • Sit in silence. Listen to the world around you, to your own thoughts and emotions, and for God’s voice.
  • Pray through a Psalm
  • Scroll through your phonebook and pray for 10 people
  • Go for a prayer walk. Pray for what you see; schools, businesses, people, issues, neighbours.
  • Spin a globe or map of the world. Pray for countries where war, injustice, famine, persecution is rife.
  • Surf the Open Doors Website and pray for the things, people and places they suggest.
  • Read the Toybox Prayer Guide and pray through it.  This is a good opportunity to involve younger family members too.
  • Allow yourself to write, draw or doodle your prayers.
  • Write a letter to God. Burn it afterwards if that allows you to be more honest!

KIDS

  • Download and explore The Bible App For Kids
  • Read “I Will Follow Jesus” by Chelsea and Judah Smith
  • Write a letter to God about the things and people you care about.
  • Pick someone you want to pray God’s blessing for. Secretly leave a delicious cake on their doorstep and pray for them!
  • Read “Indescribable: 100 devotions about God and science” by Louie Giglio
  • Read some of your Diary of a Disciple
  • Check out “A really incredible feast” by Johanna Baldwin

TEENS

  • Surf the Open Doors Youth website and be inspired to pray for other teens around the world, just like you, for whom being a follower of Jesus is dangerous.
  • Try some of the Bible studies on the gospel of John – it’s easier than you think!
  • Write a letter to God. Burn it afterwards if that helps you to be more honest (ask an adult about the whole ‘burning thing’ first though!)
  • Watch the “Messages to my Teenage Self” series on Youtube from wise people in our village.
  • Surf the Tearfund Youth Magazine and get inspired about the Bible and Justice
  • Watch some of the ‘FORM(ed)‘ discussion starters…kick of a chat with some mates or on a WhatsApp group with other St Marks youth!

OTHER

  • Journal some thoughts. Much past 20 minutes of writing…that is there the magic happens!
  • Create a Gratitude list / collage!
  • Spend time confessing the things, actions and attitudes which you hold with regret. Experience the release of forgiveness
  • Encourage someone
  • Walk somewhere beautiful or new
  • Cook slow. Feast and thank God for everyone involved in every single step of the production of your meal
  • Rest
  • Cycle to a viewpoint / forest / lake. Stop to express thanks and worship.
  • Share a meal with others, and pray a blessing on your fellow dinners
  • Wake early to be inspired by the beauty of a sunrise
  • Sleep late and experience the gift of rest and refreshment
  • Do an emotion or thought audit. What are you carrying, feeling or thinking? Where is Christ in these?
  • Commit to a new, spiritually healthy habit
  • Break a destructive habit or attitude which is contrary to the way of Jesus
  • Listen to someone for half an hour. Ask them questions. Be humble and inquisitive. Pray for them afterwards and all that you have learned about them and their story.
  • Fast from food, or TV or scrolling.
  • Give generously and anonymously and prayerfully to someone / an organisation / a cause.