Tag Archives: Discipleship | Spirituality

The Difference Between Spiritual Mature and Not-Mature (Do You Resonate?):

“The difference between the teleioi (the ‘maturing’, ‘perfecting’ ones) and those Paul labels ‘babes in Christ, or ‘people of the flesh,’ or those dominated by ‘jealousy and strife’, is that the mature have been trained to recognize God’s power in the crucified Christ, and their spiritual maturity consists precisely in this: they rely totally on God’s life-in-the-midst of death, rather than on themselves.” (Elizabeth Koenig, “Cross and Spirituality,” The New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, p.220)

What a fantastically deep quote.

How do you relate to this?

Finally, how can we train in this way together?

Solitude, Community, & Mission | The Christian Life

The Christian walk has an important, necessary rhythm: Solitude, Community, Mission. (Influenced by Henri Nouwen)

Solitude, from Nouwen, is not loneliness but rather a solidarity of identity – it is the capacity to be at peace with God and ourselves as ones who are beloved children of God in Jesus. Solitude is not isolation either, but rather the desire to be present to God and to dwell in God’s presence that is already with us. Solitude often takes the rhythm of being alone somewhere to pay attention, but is also possible in a crowded place with many people.

Solitude, that is, knowing and dwelling securely in our identity as a forgiven, redeemed child of God in Jesus, pours us into the community of believers – the group of people with the same title as us: Beloved of the Father. The community builds and encourages one another and provides an environment of permission for love – loving God and one another and neighbor.

Strong community will always pour out into self-less love and mission. That is the imitation of Christ in outward fashion. Such an outpouring is dependent on the nurture it receives (and actual pours out) that comes from solitude and community.

This, I think, is a comforting message and a guiding thought. Contemplating this idea from Nouwen grants peace and causes anxiety in the spiritual life to fade.

Here is a quote from Making All Things New that I want to share (p.68). I believe this sums up the inner working of the text and sets our imaginations participating with God, looking to discover and create particular disciplines of attentiveness and action:

“A spiritual discipline, therefore, is the concentrated effort to create some inner and outer space in our lives, where this obedience can be practiced. Through a spiritual discipline we prevent the world from filling our lives to such an extent that there is no place left to listen. A spiritual discipline sets us free to pray or, to say it better, allows the Spirit of God to pray in us.”

 

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Who Are the Partially Evangelized? (From: Lausanne World Pulse)

Here’s an interesting, conversation starter:

“Trials, such as the McCourt’s, (from Angela’s Ashes) can be illuminating. They often display the substance of one’s character, or lack thereof. But struggles aren’t the only metric for identifying the nature of one’s faith. Other measurements include generous giving to ministry, the activity of gospel witness, and spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible reading, and participation in a local church. The last of these is especially revealing as we consider the contours of religious commitment in the U.S.

According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, over 132 million Americans identify with the Mainline Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox traditions. Sociologists of religion say that three in four of these individuals neglect church participation.

While these people generally use the designation “Christian,” they are in fact only “partially evangelized” since the person and work of Jesus remain absent or ancillary to their life. Despite exposure to the Christian tradition, the “gospel” (in terms of new life in Christ, the authority of scripture, and an active commitment to outreach) is conspicuously missing. This is precisely the need which evangelicals are poised to serve.”

What comes to mind after reading this?

Lausanne World Pulse – Ministry to the Partially Evangelized

http://ow.ly/81K61

What Would Have Happened if Mary had Denied the Presence of God?

What would have happened if 2,000 years ago, Mary the Mother of Jesus had denied the message sent to her? What if her heart was not prepared to receive it? What if, in her troubled state when the angel first visits with her (Luke 1) she disbelieves instead of anticipates?

 
Thankfully, I do not have to be concerned with the “what if’s” for Mary. Her example lays enshrined in history. Her response was faithful and nurtured by anticipation and hope.
 
What about my own hope and anticipation? What if God is today desiring to cause life from himself to take root within my soul? How might my soul be prepared to anticipate, receive and obey in faithfulness? 
 
Yours?
 
 

The True Presence of Christ With Us (The Heart of True Obedience)

(Thoughts on obedience and life with the EverPresent Jesus)

I believe it is the lack of faith in the reality that the Living Christ is always with us that deflates our courage, faith, and obedience. We feel isolated and it feels to be a burden to carry out our Lord’s will, as if he is distant from us and we that we may hear from him some time later regarding our actions. …much like hearing reading a letter a week later after you first wrote.

Rather, when we live life from faith in the reality of the Everpresent Jesus, the one who is with us and before us as a real person and presence, we have the faith that whatever is done in life is done not for Jesus but with him. Any change, healing, or hope that we walk into, we discover and realize is not from us but from the presence of God, of Jesus, the one who is with us always.

We believe and live this way, no longer preoccupied with carrying out a distant Lord’s will, but instead, by accompanying Jesus in all of life. In this way we are keeping his will because our attentions have been shaped by Scripture to be on him, which is to say, to pray without ceasing – not casting prayers to a distant deity, but keeping company and conversation with Immanuel, God-With-Us.

When we live from this state of being, this posture, we see resurrection life around us take shape, not as a result of our obedience, but because the Christ himself is present and shaping us to be ones who express life as we are healed and vivified by the Spirit. This is true obedience: to be ones who once again have been gifted the capacity to express the Image of God (that is, Jesus).

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The Life of St. Francis (What Propelled Him?)

Today (October 4) is the day we celebrate the life of St. Francis of Assisi. He’s a guy I want to learn more about – beyond the elementary stories I’ve picked up. I want to learn and experience what propelled him into some of the radical, yet ordinary decisions he made. I want to embody some of the same passion he carried within himself as God moved him along – that kind of passion that allowed him to express freedom as he followed and knew Jesus as savior and lord.

For starters on learning, I read this this morning:

A clip about Francis from www.commonprayer.net:

Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1286)

Francis was born to a merchant family in the Italian city of Assisi. As a young man, he was attracted to adventure and moved by romantic tales of knights. When he himself became a knight, Francis met a leper while riding through the countryside. Overwhelmed by a divine impulse, Francis dismounted his horse, shared his coat with the leper, and kissed the man’s diseased face. Captivated by the experience, Francis began to re-imagine his life in light of the gospel, renouncing his selfish desires and his father’s wealth. A beggar for Christ’s sake, Francis inspired thousands to walk away from worldly success and join his movement of friars who sought to renew the church in their day.

Next step for learning, this soon-coming IVP book: The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom. I look forward to its release!

Peace, friends.

 

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Ben.

An Ideal Community?

Community is a buzz word these days in Christian circles. There have been a lot of posts, books and notes about what real Christian community should be like.

I have a thought about this: Is there no such thing as an ideal community, that it just is, that community is just what you find yourself in and you’ve got to get rid of the senses of ideal in order to be full present to the people you’re currently with?

What do you think about that?