Monthly Archives: November 2010

Gleanings: Wonder

Madame Jean Guyon (1648-1717) helped me years ago to discover the sense of wonder which must attend any spiritual formation.  She wrote, “If knowing answers to life’s questions is absolutely necessary to you, then forget the journey.  You will never … Continue reading

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Listenings: “Cave In”

Everything stops when miners are trapped in a cave in.  The world prays, and the mining company literally “moves heaven and earth” to reach those who are entrapped.  The whole world pays attention when it hears the words, “Cave In!” Martin Luther … Continue reading

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Connections: Jan Richardson

As I get older, I am increasingly convinced that spiritual formation is better viewed as an “art” than as a “technique.”  Jeannie has taught me more about this than anyone, and I see her creative, right-brained spirituality expressing itself every day in … Continue reading

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The Holy Gospel: November 28,2010 (Year A)

Read:  Matthew 24: 36-44 Meditation:  “Keep Watch!” Christmas pageants and parties may blunt our realization that the Christian year begins (in all three lectionary cycles) with Christ’s second advent, not his first.  We tell the Gospel story against the backdrop … Continue reading

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Ponderings: Gratitude

Thanksgiving Day seems like a good time to reflect upon gratitude.  In his book, Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen wrote, “You have to celebrate your chosenness constantly.  This means saying “thank you” to God for having chosen you, and “thank you” … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Perspective

We’ve spent quite a bit of time interpreting Acts 20:28 in relation to pastoral ministry.  We end our examination with Paul’s reminder that the church has been “obtained with the blood of His own Son.” Exegetically, this is the grand story … Continue reading

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Gleanings: True Holiness

Francis Schaeffer influenced millions of people in the 1960’s (and beyond) with influential books and his ministry center at L’Abri in Switzerland.  Near the end of his life, he gave a retreat for clergy, and I was given copies of the … Continue reading

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Listenings: Something Has Gone Wrong

In establishing Christlikeness as the essence of the spiritual life, we have come to the place where we can discuss “de-formation” as well as formation.  In lifting up Christ as the goal, we also see that we do not represent … Continue reading

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Connections: Max Lucado

I have recently returned to the writings of Max Lucado.  I read him more often years ago when he began to rise in popularity.  I did not leave him because of any problems with him, but because I entered into … Continue reading

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The Holy Gospel: November 21, 2010 (Year C)

Read:  Luke 23:33-43 Meditation:  “One Marvelous Story” We divide the Gospel story into daily and weekly segments so that we can “read, mark, and inwardly digest” it (Wesley’s phrase for lectio divina).  In doing so, we feed on the Word in … Continue reading

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Ponderings: The Great Paradox

A recent reading in Max Lucado’s Grace for the Moment caused my mind to return to a train of thought which I have had more than once in the past.  I’ll let Max’s words launch this week’s ponderings: “The more … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Role

I have practiced ministry in the generation that has seen a shift of definition from that of “pastor” to that of “executive.”  In the early eighties the phrase “ministry as management” came on the scene, and from that time, the … Continue reading

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Gleanings: Meditation

My favorite definition of meditation comes from Evelyn Underhill, “Meditation is thinking in the presence of God.” We often think of meditation as some kind of altered state, but in the Christian tradition it is a natural state connected to … Continue reading

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Listenings: The Christian’s Pattern

Spiritual formation establishes the pattern: revelation + response = growth.  But where do we go to find out what it looks like?  Across the centuries, one answer has remained central:  we look to Christ.  This is not a simplistic “Jesus … Continue reading

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Connections: Susan Muto

Dr. Susan Muto is arguably one of the best-known Roman Catholic teachers and writers on the Christian spiritual life in the world today.  For many years she worked alongside Father Adrian Van Kaam at the Institute for Formative Spirituality at Duquesene University in … Continue reading

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The Holy Gospel: November 14, 2010 (Year C)

Reading:  Luke 21:5-19 Meditation:  “A Time for Testimony” The greatest witness we can make for Christ is when things are at their worst.  We have come to a place in a lot of contemporary Christianity where our testimonies often cluster … Continue reading

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Ponderings: Broader Life

I have been nurtured within a tradition that emphasizes the “deeper life.”  Maturity is connected to ideas of increasing development—“going deeper” into things.  I have received many insights and blessings from this perspective of Christian growth. But I have come … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Stewardship

The atom is an amazing thing.  It can be used to generate electricity or to make a bomb.  It all depends upon the motive underlying its use. Similarly, the phrase “my ministry” can bring death or life to the clergyperson.  … Continue reading

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Gleanings: Time For All Things

In his book, Time For All Things, Charlie Shedd wrote, “God will never ask you to do more than you can do; people will.” This simple sentence has washed across my life, like waves hitting the beach—time and time again reminding me of … Continue reading

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Listenings: Revelation

Last week, we emphasized the fact that spiritual formation is essentially our response to grace, and that the human will is necessary in the formative process. This week, we simply want to remind ourselves that while the will is necessary, … Continue reading

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Connections: Basil Pennington

I may be introducing some of you to a new friend, but I hope you’ll take the opportunity to get to know him.  Basil Pennington is one of the best-known Cistercian monks and writers of our time.  Taken from this … Continue reading

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The Holy Gospel: November 7, 2010 (Year C)

Read:  Luke 20:27-38 Meditation:  “Needless Speculation” Apart from the fact that this lesson is another example of the attempts of the religious leaders to trap Jesus, it is also a clear teaching that there are some things which are beyond … Continue reading

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Ponderings: No “New Testament Christians”

I want to spend one more week on the idea of how we mistakenly idealize the phrase “New Testament.”  In the previous Ponderings we looked at how the “New Testament Church” was not much different from our churches today. This … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Locality

The Pauline “flow” of ministry is from self to flock—from the wellsprings of inner life to the actual location in which we find ourselves assigned for ministry. The inner life is where we find the strength for ministry; the flock is … Continue reading

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Gleanings: Perspective

Francois Fenelon’s statement, in his book Christian Perfection, about how to engage in our life’s activities has been helpful to me:  “We should try to begin every undertaking in the vision of the pure glory of God, to continue it without … Continue reading

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Listenings: No Automatic Formation

Hopefully, we have said enough to establish the fact that authentic spiritual formation is rooted in God—the God who loves us.  We have also tried to lay the foundation for understanding that our formation is more related to unhurried growth than … Continue reading

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