Art Toalston, named among the “10 Most Fascinating Southern Baptists of 2019” by the SBC This Week postcast, is a journalistic adventurer and spiritual disciplines advocate. He is on the internet at arttoalston.com; on Facebook at @atoalston; Twitter & Instagram at @arttoalston.
Art is the author of the new ebook, A Pandemic Proposal: Viral Vitality … Hope for the Human Soul (https://bit.ly/2JBukOC April 2020) and two earlier ebooks, When I Meditate: Reclaiming a Key Facet of Prayer (http://bit.ly/When-I-Meditate) and Meditation & Morality: Praying for a Better Way (http://bit.ly/Meditation-and-Morality); two discipleship resources at arttoalston.com, Pray – and Live – As Never Before and Your Soul on Scripture; and Lamp Unto My Feet: A Verse-A-Day Devotional (HarperSanFrancisco, 1997) in which 365 Christian leaders share the Scriptures that have guided their lives.
His career includes thirty-five years in communications for Baptist Press (1992-2019) and the Southern Baptist International Mission Board (1985-91) and ten years in newspaper journalism and education. As editor of Baptist Press, he led the news service to top awards from the Evangelical Press Association and Baptist Communicators Association as well as awards to individual writers. A recap of his life’s work can be read here: http://www.bpnews.net/53458/art-toalston-to-retire-from-baptist-press. This is one of his favorite articles from the past few years: http://www.bpnews.net/51935/veteran-92-took-his-last-stand-defending-his-wife.
Art was raised in a United Presbyterian church in northeastern Ohio. As a young adult, he converted to Catholicism and later was baptized in a Christian and Missionary Alliance church. After moving to Mississippi in 1977, he joined a Southern Baptist church.
He holds a Master of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in addition to an undergraduate degree in speech and journalism from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He also has taken graduate coursework at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas; Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Virginia; and Wesley Biblical Seminary in Mississippi.
“Scripture memorization/internalization and meditation have changed my life,” Art recounts. “I have been memorizing Scripture since around 2000, stirred to do so by a speaker at church. I started with the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, and have since focused on several new passages a year, about 95 in all, ranging from one verse to multiple verses. When they have slipped from memory, I have re-memorized them, repeating the process numerous times. As various realizations came to mind during times of prayer, I wrote down as many as I could, yearning to share these gleanings with others. While new birth began an extraordinary transformation of my life when I trusted Christ in my early twenties, each Scripture now is making my relationship to God all the more wondrous.” This is one of his favorite reflections on Scripture memorization: http://www.bpnews.net/49173/firstperson-lets-talk. And this is his favorite recap of the foundations of faith: http://www.bpnews.net/17467/firstperson-new-birth.
RELEASED IN APRIL 2020: A PANDEMIC PROPOSAL: VIRAL VITALITY … HOPE FOR THE HUMAN SOUL
Even amid the horrors and heavy sorrows of the global COVID-19 pandemic, there can be a distinct vitality in our souls, in our circumstances, in our relationships, in the world within our sphere of influence, and in how we each move into the future. It may not be a euphoric vitality when a prolific number of us suffer illness, and many die, in a society gripped by fear, economic tumult, and looming infections facing healthcare and law enforcement personnel and store clerks.
But still, just as our physical bodies, when well, function as they were intended to do, so too can the spirit within us. Journalist and spiritual disciplines advocate Art Toalston ventures into a vitality that can enhance our daily lives, even in a time of social upheaval and widespread grief. As long as we have a heartbeat and can breathe, why not venture forward with an optimized view of life? A coronavirus pandemic cannot alter God’s creation of the human soul.
When I Meditate: Recovering a Key Facet of Prayer and Meditation & Morality: Praying for a Better Way
* When I Meditate points to Scripture as a key source of prayer and meditation for optimum transformation of our lives by Jesus through God’s Holy Spirit.
* Meditation & Morality can be a gracious gift book for any friend, co-worker, neighbor or relative facing moral challenges, yet it also can be a source of reflection for any of us who struggle with spots of immorality in our lives.
Each ebook – available at eBookIt.com (https://bit.ly/2JBukOC, http://bit.ly/When-I-Meditate & http://bit.ly/Meditation-Morality) Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites – can nurture a reader’s intimacy with Scripture and with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Both books also can introduce a yearning soul to Jesus.
Below, this page also contains:
1) Added descriptions of When I Meditate and Meditation & Morality from eBookIt’s site
2) Paper copy information
*When I Meditate conveys this central message: It’s good to pray and it’s good to meditate.
Some Christians find this hard to believe. They know that meditation is mentioned in the Bible, but they tend to think it is a practice that belongs in other religions. When I Meditate: Recovering a Key Facet of Prayer sets forth a winsome alternative — a Scripture-based, you-can-do-it understanding of meditation as a life-changing facet of prayer. Within a biblical context, When I Meditate relays an array of insights and illustrations for an enlivened readiness to pray — and to follow Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, into tender communion with the Father and to live out his message of redemption in a world of needy souls.
Compared to religions and techniques that center on meditation, mantras, and physical postures for emptying one’s soul into an impersonal cosmos, Christian meditation, in its all-important uniqueness as described in When I Meditate, entails God’s use of Scripture to transform our minds and hearts. The riches of Scripture, when set in motion by prayer and meditation, can address any human need or yearning. Even one Scripture passage when memorized — and re-memorized as need be — and then internalized through meditation can be a catalyst for personal renewal and for conveying God’s grace by word and deed to anyone, near or far, who yearns for a vibrant faith.
For a Baptist Press article about When I Meditate, go to http://bit.ly/BaptistPress-WhenIMeditate.
Chapter 1: A definition
A Christian view of meditation
A framework for meditation can be drawn from Scripture as well as an abundance of treasures from God’s heart for experiencing his life-changing grace, whether in times of personal/social tumult or well-being.
Chapter 2: Motivations
Why I meditate as I pray
A sense of desperation to be a redemptive person can be among the motivations for meditation drawn from memorizing and re-memorizing Scripture, along with a heightened immediacy and clarity of faith; the joy of living in a milieu of God’s revelation, love, and mission; and an inner need for accountability to God.
Chapter 3: A description
Personal renewal through meditation
In addition to the peace that can result from being still with God, meditation can yield an unfolding array of experiences and realizations day by day that deepen our faith as well as our readiness to extend God’s love into all spheres of life.
Chapter 4: A beginning point
New birth: Solid footing for meditation
In an era of religious pluralism, new birth is an intellectually viable and a continuously refreshing path to an array of wholesome divine encounters with God.
Chapter 5: Suggestions
Helpful Scriptures for meditation
The fruit of the Spirit – “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” as listed in Galatians 5:22-23 – is among various Scripture passages that can become a foundation for meditation on supernatural faith; worship; prayer; and attitudes and actions related to worry, hardship, and personal relationships.
Chapter 6: A path
Scripture as a path of prayer & meditation
Scripture, just Scripture, can yield genuine moments of prayer. While it’s not the only path of prayer, it is one that can tenderly carry us closer to the heart of God.
Chapter 7: Practicalities
Issues & struggles in meditation
“I’d probably fall asleep if I tried to meditate,” “It’s too hard to memorize Scripture,” “I soon forget anything I try to memorize” – practical pointers can be provided for these and other concerns about meditation and Scripture memorization that may arise.
Chapter 8: A reason:
“Give me one good reason to meditate”
“But why?” people sometimes ask about trying something new. Reasons abound for nurturing ways of praying and living drawn from God’s counsel for daily life. Even death will be easier to face when Scripture, abounding with God’s grace, lifts our hearts during our last breaths on earth.
* Meditation & Morality can provide gentle, inspirational counsel if you have been unkind to your soul or unkind to another person.
And it can do the same for a loved one or friend.
Misguided attitudes and actions can be offset. The grip of pornography, drug abuse, greed, or any other tarnish on the human soul can be loosened. Whether a person’s struggle with immorality is monumental or only a bit troublesome, a yearning for morality can be fully worth pondering. Drawing from the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God,” Morality & Meditation: Praying for a Better Way can help hurting souls in our contemporary world envision a winsome morality that is wholesome, redemptive, and celebratory.
(To give Meditation & Morality to a troubled soul, go to Amazon’s page for this book, http://bit.ly/Amazon-Meditation-Morality, click Give as a Gift.)
The opening words of Meditation & Morality follow:
If your inner sense of morality has been tarnished or shattered by immorality, and you wish things were different, ponder this Bible passage: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
Begin memorizing these words, which were spoken by Jesus.
In doing so, you will be engaging in a form of meditation.
Even if it’s just for a few moments, or several times during the day, this simple form of meditation on the words of Jesus will begin to nurture a winsome, intriguing morality in your soul. These words will have an effect, perhaps dramatically, perhaps subtly, perhaps both, even as your struggle or your affliction with immorality may continue to fester or rage.
These eleven words can become a small ray of light at the beginning of your journey out of immorality, yet there is nothing “magical” about them. For now, let’s just say there’s a unique dynamic to them because they were spoken by Jesus.
At eBookIt.com, you can download When I Meditate and Meditation & Morality to your computer as a PDF file to print a paper copy to read or share with a loved one or friend. As a PDF file, it can be printed at home (about 50 pages) or sent to a printer at an office-type store (FedEx Office, Staples, Officemax, etc). At either book’s site – When I Meditate (http://bit.ly/WhenIMeditate) or Meditation & Morality http://bit.ly/Meditation-Morality) – use the “Delivery Format” option to select PDF (reading on PC/Mac). For e-book reader use, meanwhile, eBookIt programming entails a separate purchase for each format.