February 26, 2024
Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Disciplines

Solitude

Solitude is one of those spiritual disciplines that is quite challenging for me. But more and more, I am convinced of its significant value in my life. What I commonly experience is a flood of thoughts and distractions the very moment I pursue quiet and solitude before the Lord. I am like the disciples, attempting to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus. Tiredness can also wash over me as I seek to slow my mind and body and listen to the Lord’s voice. Jesus’ example of solitude When reading the Gospels, you can’t miss the fact that Jesus spent time in solitary places.1 See Matthew 14:13, 23; 17:1; Mark 1:35, 45; 6:31-32, 45-46 and Luke 4:42; 5:16; 6:12; 9:10. Often times, these “escapes” into solitude were early in the morning or withdrawing from the crowds of people vying for His time and attention. What this shows me is… Read the whole post
Prayer, Spiritual Disciplines, Book Reviews

Set times of prayer – a discipline of preparation and love

I have recently finished listening to Tyler Staton’s book on prayer – Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools: An Invitation to the Wonder and Mystery of Prayer. I listened to Tyler Staton preach on the topic of the Lord’s Prayer at a leadership retreat a few months ago. Both his passion for and his experience in prayer impressed me.1 You can listen to these same sermons on the Bridgetown Church’s website. I did not expect this in such a young pastor. In his book, I was further intrigued by his emphasis on the importance of daily set times of prayer. He pointed out that both Jesus and the early church practiced regular times of prayer each day. Jesus and his prayer life Over the years, I have noticed that the Gospels (and particularly Luke) often note that Jesus gave himself to prayer. At this baptism, before he begins a busy… Read the whole post
Stress Management, Spiritual Disciplines

Staying on top of things

A few years ago, I was planning for an upcoming “boot camp” for new field leaders. Our boot camps are two full days of training but hardly “a place or undertaking that resembles a military boot camp especially by requiring one to endure intensive training or initiation”.1 Merriam Webster definition #3 for “boot camp. But then maybe we should ask the participants, not the trainer! In preparation, I asked these new field leaders and their directors what topics they would want us to cover. I gave them a list of topics we had covered in previous years. Someone suggested “how to stay on top of things”, something not on my list. In subsequent years, participants have almost always selected this topic as something they want to address at boot camp. The difficulty of staying on top of things This suggestion initially surprised me, but it immediately made sense. New field… Read the whole post
Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Formation, Stress Management, Prayer, Self-Feeding

Feeding your soul in a time of crisis

In my last post, I reflected on our new status as refugees from Ukraine. I talked about some of the ways that God had prepared me for this crisis and was helping me process this new reality. The processing continues. We have not given up on the hope that we may be able to return to Ukraine and resume our ministry there. But we are seeking to deal with the possibility that we may not. Today, I want to reflect on what has sustained me through this time of crisis, even when the future is so uncertain, and answers to my questions seem so far away. How do I feed my soul when God does not seem to answer our prayers? A personal crisis Without a doubt, what all of us see depicted on the news is far more catastrophic than my personal crisis. Yet the possibility that our cross-cultural… Read the whole post
Character, Finishing Well, Spiritual Formation, Training, Spiritual Disciplines

Exploring Spiritual Formation: Discipline

The Problem I hate discipline. But I love what it does for me. When I see the word, I think of how I felt each time my parents punished me for my transgressions. Yet those episodes helped me learn right from wrong. And when I heard the gospel, I knew I was a sinner in need of a Savior. Though it was painful to admit my sin, I’ve loved what repentance and seeking the forgiveness of God have done for my life. Despite the benefits of discipline, the word itself can cause discomfort. As I talk with others about engaging in the spiritual disciplines, many say they feel an inner resistance to the concept due to the connotations of the word. There is, however, more to discipline than punishment. Here is a brief review of some concepts attached to “discipline.”… Read the whole post
Spiritual Disciplines, Hardship, Spiritual Formation

Exploring Spiritual Formation: Contentment

This is the fifth of a series on “Exploring Spiritual Formation” by Lynn Karidis. The Situation Pasta. Again. Don’t get me wrong, I like pasta. At least, I used to before it began to show up on my dinner table multiple times a week. Now I’m not so sure. My predicament is no one’s fault but my own. I’m the one who stocked the pantry for our shelter-in-place experience. It’s true I’m discovering how many ways one can use pasta to feed the family. But my discontent is troubling me. After hearing about the thousands of people who’ve lost their jobs—and seeing hundreds of cars lined up to receive help from food banks—I feel a bit foolish for complaining about anything that shows up on my dinner table. Though my dilemma is real, I want to avoid responding like the Israelites did while wandering in the wilderness.… Read the whole post
Finishing Well, Spiritual Formation, Stress Management, Spiritual Disciplines

Exploring Spiritual Formation: Burnout

The Situation You love Jesus. You’ve dedicated your life to serving him. You’re loyal, diligent, and you work hard. It’s not unusual for you to check your email after hours, and you’re even willing to work on your day off, if necessary. Lately, it seems like it’s necessary a lot. You’ve been known to sacrifice for the good of the team, and you often give up time with family or friends to tend to others in need. You’re usually willing to take on extra projects. Sleep is a luxury. Exhaustion is a constant companion, and you can’t remember the last time you took a vacation that didn’t involve a visit with a supporter.… Read the whole post
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