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This is the conclusion of the reading spiritual classic series: 

We hope that the summer of 2006 for you will be remembered not just for the World Cup or the war in
Lebanon but also for what you have learnt. It may be an overly optimistic ambition that the few hours we spent together reading, talking and eating may contribute to your learning but we pray that it may.
 Of course if we had not learnt we cannot expect you to learn. The following is a mélange of what we have learnt and what we hope you may learn. We use the analog of breathing to help you remember. When you breathe, you breathe in, hold and then breathe out. Growth in Christ is like breathing, you stop breathing you die.  

Breath in : readings 

Reading is inevitable even if we may not like it. God has chosen to reveal us in words (or Word). We must respect the originator as well as the medium the originator has chosen. We must “input” to grow.
Reading is for input and thus “breathe in”. 
 What I got from reading Lewis, Willard, Edwards, Augustine, Merton, Nouwen and the likes was that there must be is a sense of longing or passion or fervent in our faith. There must be this sense of pull towards God in our life. This was permeated throughout their writings. Of course they communicated profound truth about the spiritual life. However, it is the way the truth they communicated that was embodied in them that is truly astounding. The Christian life to them was total and uncompromising. Using the analogy used by Lewis: It is not what we left for the taxman, it is the entirely of our earnings that is at stake.  I enjoy reading and studying about God but then did I “live” him? Is my reading and studying directed towards him? Eventually am I changed? Do I have the faith that the changed me is still me? It seems if I am not changed then there is nothing at stake. And If there is nothing at stake, the study of God is purely a futile exercise. The fact that I may be toiling in futility is a scary thought. If I had learned nothing, at the very least I am re-evaluating the Christian jargons like “commitment”, “dead to self”, “alive in Christ” and “discipleship”. 

Through the contents of the reading, there should be something that moved you. If not you need to keep looking. There should be a fire/passion inside us.  

Hold : reflections Reflection is important and again we may not like it. When we breathe in we only utilize a fraction of the oxygen we take in. Unless we take a deep breathe and hold then we’ll be able to let our lungs absorb more of the air we take in. Thus reflection is like holding the breath we take in, we absorb.  

Reflection is asking the question, “What has that got to do with us?” It can be an exercise in arguing with yourself or others unless the reflections turn into prayers.Prayer may well be one of those non-negotiable in our faith. Yet ironically it is often the one practice that is notoriously difficult. We suspect the root reason is that true prayer requires total honestly and that is not exactly what we are ready for. We did a “mind sweep” exercise in one of the sessions. It was astounding to me how impure my thoughts was and even more astounding was how few thoughts go the way of God. Unless we gave time to unearth and unravel these thoughts we’ll forever be tangled within ourselves.  Prayer is a stand that we take. We are proclaiming by believing in prayer that this is the reality and not the techno-goal-oriented-instant reality that we consume everyday. By praying we are saying we put our reality at stake because we believe in the living Christ.   

Through the act of reading, you should recognize we need to set time apart for God. Some read for fun, other read for profit, we read for God. If we cannot set even an hour a week for God there is much to be said about our claim for being a disciple of Jesus. Through reflective readings we try to embody our faith in its entirety so we may be able to response when called. 

Breath out : responses In a culture of “couch potatoes” we have been conditioned to be passive. We learnt words like “whatever”, “so what” and “sure why not”. We do not like to be pro active. In fact, we do not like to response. Response is commitment. Response is putting our feet down and we stake ourselves at some purpose. That is just not cool. Yet we must, if not it would be like we keep holding our breath and we will eventually explode.   

Our faith must be articulated to become our own. That would be our response to the truth. It is like we received a message and as the originator, “Your message is so and so, right.” Our response may be to our world eventually but it must start from you. It is a conversion of “second handed faith” to a “first handed faith”. Sure it will be adjusted, restated many times before it is over. In one session we did journal writing which is a baby step towards writing you own creed.  

I remembered writing down one day, “I want to live more intentionally.” I was astounded by the profundity of that simply statement. It means I must discern what God intended for me, set a plan to achieve that and hold on to the exercising of the plan to completion. I have been at it for a year now and I am still discerning but I am holding the course because I believe that is what I need to do.   

Conclusion: routines Routines are down right boring. We live novelties. If it is not a new gadget, junk it.However, if I may call the routines “Holy Habits”, then it sounds much better. 

Ultimately, it is not whether we become “top dog” in our fields of endeavor or become “full time” ministers or become the person other think we should be. It is about become a “little Christ”. It is about how in our responses to everything that matters, from how we dress to what we ear to how we response to the news. To achieve that we need to form “habits” so by instinct we response in Jesus’ way.    If we can habitually, read, pray and articulate like we breath then we are likely to approach what God intended us to be. We long for that. We live that. We breathe that.

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