Monday, April 25, 2011

Thoughts on Spiritual Formation from Dallas Willard

Dr. Willard hits it right on the head in 'The Great Ommission' when assessing the problem with emphasis in current evangelical spiritual formation practices.  Which of 'the latter' do you practice?  Do I? 

“Public and private worship, study of scripture, nature, and God’s acts in human history, prayer, giving to godly causes, and service to others can all be highly effective elements in spiritual formation.  But they mus tbe thoughtfully and resolutely approached for that purpose, or they will have little or no effect in promoting it.  Other less commonly practiced activities, such as fasting, solitude, silence, listening prayer, scripture memorization, frugal livng, confession, journaling, submission to the will of others as appropriate, and well-used spiritual direction, are in fact more foundational for spiritual formation in Christ-likeness than the better-known religious practices and are essential for their profitable use.”  No formula can be written for spiritual formation, for it is a dynamic relationship and one that is highly individualized. One can be sure, however, that any God-blessed undertaking of spiritual formation will include much of what has just been mentioned here.”  --Pg. 107 of 'The Great Omission"

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Grove of the Holy Wind

O Lord, My God, where are you?  I walk the beaten path tread by many before me, but I do not find you.  As I ascended the mountain, I thought; 'Perhaps you are there, waiting for me.'  There on the mountain top, I hear your voice tell me who I am, to be who you made me to be.  Yet you are still afar.  I climb a tree, but you are not there.  Distractions.  Why God?  I came to be with you; perhaps today hearing your voice is all I will get.  But deep in my soul, the Spirit groans to the Father and compels me to again follow the path of another.  But then He stops me some way along and shows me another way.  His grove is near.  As I descend the hillside, the wind stirs.  As I crush the snow with my feet, He says to me in the wind, 'Can you hear me?'  'I've been here waiting for you.  Come, sit, and may your soul be renewed by my breath.  Can you see me?  When the wind dances on the leaves?  Can you see me?  In the gentle sway of the branches?  Can you feel me?  As I rush on the wind to be with you?  Then stillness.  Quiet. Peace. Contentment.  Healing.

Then He is gone.  But a moment He was here, yet many lifetimes I would give to again feel His presence engulf me and feel Him breath His loving breath on the wind.  I hear Him again in the distance, 'I'm always here.  I know you.  And I will come to you again.  My secret grove waits for you to come and be refreshed.  To dwell with me, even if for a moment.'

Will you come?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

If Only We Christians Would Do What The Bible Says

lately I've been reading through 2 Peter 1 and trying to actually apply and pursue the attributes which Peter says will keep us from stumbling if we practice them (verse 10). They are:

5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if Christians, especially men, would practice these things and strive to know their depths, God could and would do great things through them. It's a challenge for me and I hope a challenge to whomever might read this.

Monday, May 05, 2008


It feels a bit hypocritical to talk about suffering as an American who lives a lower middle class lifestyle. As I've gone through my first year of studies at Denver Seminary, I've been really challenged in several areas, including my views of suffering. Obviously, if I were to compare my life with a poor person living in the third world or even on the streets of America, I am clearly rich beyond reason (even if I live in debt). But, does this exclude me from some form of suffering?

It is clear to me when I turn to scripture that suffering is part of the Christian life. Usually, Christian circles link this to suffering persecution from others for Jesus' namesake as the dominant, if not only form of suffering. However, It think there is more to it than this. Last week in chapel, the speaker preached out of the book of Daniel, specifically the story of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednigo (I know those are spelled wrong!), but he took an angle that I'd not heard before and really resonated with me.

Chapter 3, verses 17-18 record that the three answered that their God would save them from the fiery furnace, but even if he didn't, they would still not bow down to the golden statue. The speaker asked what would we do in the times God didn't not save us, would we still remain faithful? Most likely, these times usually manifest in suffering of some form and are hard to deal with, challenging our staying power in faithfulness to God. It is in these times that build our character and foundation of faith to carry us through to harder times.

Sometimes the disappointment of failed dreams or expectations can crush us and make us bitter. However, we must remember that God has called us to be faithful so that His purposes are accomplished and to His glory, not for our happiness or glory.

When God fails to answer our prayers or fulfill our hopes and dreams, we often feel that we are suffering needlessly. But, God never promised to fulfill the 'American dream' of material happiness, fulfillment and prosperity. Nor did He promise that what we want most will come to us. For those of us who have grown up in a culture where we are taught a form of the prosperity gospel, it is truly a form of suffering when we are hit with the realization that we may not get what we wanted. This may even come in the form of unrealized hopes or dreams for a certain direction in our lives or the realization we will have to work harder than we thought.

When this reality hits we must suffer through it and come to a place of contented trust and faith in God. We must shift our focus off of ourselves and back on to God, laying aside the things which are selfishly our hopes and dreams. This produces personal anguish and suffering, but they are necessary steps to take so we can understand the true spiritual power of suffering. This suffering strips away the unimportant and leads us to a place where we can have compassion for the less fortunate and understand in at least a detached way, what they are going through. I would hope this would then lead to a desire planted by God to care for the oppressed and suffering people in a way we do not do now.

Suffering for me may look easy as pie to someone who struggles to eat each day, but as I suffer through the loss of the superfluous and unnecessary, my eyes will begin to open to what true suffering is and will lead me to a place where I can truly serve God in a meaningful way.

In light of all these ramblings, I hope that I may develop a solid theology of suffering and rejoice amidst the pain it causes in the knowledge that God is at work to form me into the man of God He wants me to be so that I may serve Him and not myself.

Friday, July 27, 2007

What a week!!!!!

Sometimes you have one of those weeks where it seems like nothing goes right for you and you just keep getting out of bed on the wrong side! For whatever reason, I had one of those this past week. Just seemed off for a few days, then my wife got rear-ended and my car was smashed up. Her car doesn't work due to a security alarm malfunction, a good friend of mine is experiencing a really difficult time and I got a rejection letter regarding a job I had applied to in Denver! I kind of feel like I can relate to Job, albeit only in a very small way. (He had to definitely deal with more than me!)

The job thing hurt the most, cause we've been waiting 3 weeks to hear and had been thinking that was where God wanted us/me. However, my initial thoughts are that it is probably better that I'm not working full time so I can concentrate more on my school and theology training, which is the most important thing right now!

A few years ago, all these things would have crushed me, because they carry much more weight and responsibility than previous issues did. However, I look back and am thankful that God put me through what he did over the last several years, because I was able to look at that and see His provision in my life. Those experiences have helped me grow to the point where I can trust God and know that He will provide, because He has proved to do so in the past!

There aren't many things that are certain in this world...but the One thing that is certain is that God indeed works all things for the good for those that love Him, and that He is with us, even to the end of the age. Having finally arrived at a place where I can truly grasped the meaning of this (at least a little!), I can stare adversity in the face and the obstacles that look hopelessly big and dismiss their impossibility because with those that love God, ANYTHING is possible and He ALWAYS takes care of those who love Him.

At the end of a week where many would drink away the week at a bar someplace, I can praise my God for how awesome He is and walk into the scary, dark and very unknown with the confidence that He will be my Shepherd and strength! AMEN and praise be to God!!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Is the Old Testament relevant?

For many people, myself included, the Old Testament can often times seem disconnected from the New Testament. On the surface there seems to be a contradiction in how God acts in the Old and New. Since Jesus is obviously the center of the New Testament, a tempting option is to forsake all but Psalms and Proverbs when studying the Bible, except maybe for a small group study or for a sermon series! I think that part of the reasoning for this is that the OT is a bit more mysterious on one level and it really takes a lot more effort for many (including me) to understand and see the lessons that God has for us therein. All that said, I have decided to undertake the task of reading through Deuteronomy and see what cool (pardon the cliche) God-lessons I can find!

To that end, I was reading this morning in the first Chapter and found something pretty cool. In the last half of the chapter, Moses is addressing the Israelites regarding their first arrival at the doorstep of the promised land. Anyone who grew up in Sunday school will remember that the Israelites were afraid to just go in as God commanded and instead sent in 12 spies, only 2 of which brought back a good report. In the Deuteronomy account, when Moses tells them the punishment will be to turn around and go back to the wilderness, they acknowledge they have sinned and change their minds. So they decide to put on their armor and tell Moses that they are ready to fight! But, it is too late and Moses tells them that the LORD has said He is not with them. But they went in anyway and the Amorites 'came out against them you and chased you as bees do, and crushed you...'

We can see here that the Israelites, despite the many blessings and provisions God had already provided, did not have a faith strong enough to trust God in the face of such a daunting enterprise and so many unknowns. So they make the choice to reject God and choose their own path. It is only in finding out the consequence of their actions (40 years in the wilderness) that they have a change of heart to do what the LORD had required. But, alas it is too late and they fail in their human attempt to do what God was ready and willing do if they had chosen Him first. It was a bitter lesson they learned by not choosing God.

So is that the end of the story? Thankfully no, God is always faithful in His promises, even when we are not in return. Forty years later, we all know the story.

What I got out of this was the lesson of trusting God when He FIRST calls us to action. There is a difference between receiving a vision and acting on that vision. God promised the land to Abraham, but it was not delivered for several hundred years. Yet the time came and the people failed to act. This story challenged me to act when I know God is calling me to action on the vision that He has given to me. I hope that anyone who reads this passage or this blog post, will read it and be challenged to act!

God is calling us to trust Him and act when called! And that on the first time, not only after we have found out what the alternative will be. May we all be strong enough in faith do so!

God bless you and keep the faith!

Maybe back at it?

It's funny that my last posting announced that I was accepted to Regent University in August of last year, because so much has happened since then! Very long story short, My wife Stephanie and I are moving out to Denver on August 11th to attend Denver Seminary instead! We are very excited about it and know that God has something awesome waiting for us there!

It has been a tough process just getting to the point where we are moving and I kind of feel like Abraham (but maybe not as dramatic!) as we head out into the unknown.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Got word today that I was accepted into Seminary at Regent University! It's been a 2-3 month process, but it's good to have that done!