I’ve written on this before, but the question is coming up again. Simply put, spiritual formation is a new buzzword and perspective on the one thing the Church has been doing since the very beginning, discipleship. However, this new perspective (some may even argue an old perspective) is not the kind of discipleship that you may find in many mainline churches. The discipleship programs that I see most often involve getting you to commit to attending church weekly, go to Sunday school or join a small group, tithe (can’t forget to get our money!), and commit to personal Bible study. To me, this feels a lot like the “Gospel of Sin Management” that Dallas Willard talks about in The Divine Conspiracy. True discipleship is not about ticking the right boxes and saying “I am a disciple of Jesus.” Rather there is something different that is called for. Enter the perspective of spiritual formation.Continue reading “What is Spiritual Formation?”
Something that I have been giving a lot of thought to has been spiritual formation. I’m sure some of that has to do with my education, but when, honestly, was the last time you considered your spiritual life? This month’s book, Tending Soul, Mind, and Body: The Art and Science of Spiritual Formation, published by InterVarsity Press in October 2019, seeks to open the eyes of pastors and laypeople to consider taking care of one’s spirit/soul. This book is a published version of reflections and presentations made during the 2018 Center for Pastor Theologians conference. Topics in this book reflect the fields of theological anthropology, spiritual formation, and psychology and how they can be used to look at the person as a whole; not merely physical, mental, and spiritual health.Continue reading “Tending Soul, Mind, and Body: The Art and Science of Spiritual Formation”
Just like last year, we will start this year with a book that helps us to fulfill our New Year’s resolutions. Many people say that they want to pursue having a closer relationship with God in the New Year. However, many people also have no clue how to do that. They often resolve to goals of praying more or reading their Bibles more. While these can push us in the right direction, do these practices truly push us to have a deeper relationship with God? Enter Becoming an Ordinary Mystic: Spirituality for the Rest of Us by Albert Haase. Haase is an experienced Fransican friar with experience as a missionary in mainland China and as a spiritual director. This month’s book was released by IVP in August of 2019, and it shows us that spirituality is not something attained by the spiritual elite, but is accessible for all of us.Continue reading “Becoming an Ordinary Mystic: Spirituality for the Rest of Us”
If you are reading this book a chapter at a time, this is where it might be important to remember that chapters and verses are editorial editions added much later to Scripture. This is important to note, because normally when we see chapters in our contemporary reading, that means we are on a whole new topic. Often within Scripture that is not the case. In this week’s chapter, we see a continuation of the vision that started in the previous chapter. Without that information, you may be prone to ask a lot of wrong questions about what is happening in chapter 9.Continue reading “The Book of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 9”
Man, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything on here (outside of that book review last week). Mostly this is because of school. I got very busy over the last couple of weeks trying to get all the work done I needed to, that I just didn’t have the brain space to write for this blog, for that, I apologize. Now that the school year is over, and I have a small break before my summer class begins, I think I have the opportunity to reflect on some of the ideas I have been wrestling with this past semester. Continue reading “What I’ve Been Up To”
This morning I read a blog post about the future of the Spiritual Formation movement from Renovaré. Currently, one of my majors is in Christian Spiritual Formation, so naturally my ears perked up. I had a conversation with a professor of mine, where he asked what I thought the program was all about since I am almost done (graduation December 2019!). My response was, “It helps me know how to practice my faith.” After reading this post this morning, I began thinking that this may have been slightly wrong. It is so much more than merely practicing my faith, it is a total orientation of my life. Continue reading “So What is Spiritual Formation?”
This month’s book is called Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age: Spiritual Growth Through Online Education by Stephen and Mary Lowe. Both authors are involved in furthering online education at Liberty University. The main focus of this book is how the study of ecology can help us to understand spiritual growth, and that this means growth does not only happen within the four walls of an institution. Their goal is not to justify online or residential education as the better alternative, but rather to combat the idea of “students cannot receive the same spiritual development online that they can receive at [our] institution” that seems to be prevalent in many Christian institutions. Continue reading “Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age: Spiritual Growth Through Online Education”
Sorry about the misleading title, but decided I needed to come up with something catchy.
In the book of Ephesians we find this statement from Paul, “He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, full mature adults, full developed within and without, fully alive like Christ. No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love — like Christ in everything.” (Ephesians 4:10-15 MSG).
Paul is telling us a few things in the letter, but right here he is calling us to grow in our faith. It is enough for our salvation to accept Jesus Christ as our savior, but it isn’t enough for our lives and ministries. Yes, I said it, as Christians we all live a life of ministry. God passes unique gifts on to everyone to use, but if our mandate is life is to go and make new disciples (Matthew 28:19), isn’t that the main focus of ministry? So welcome to ministry my friends, it’s a blast! So how do we grow as Christians then? I believe it come in three different ways.
First, and most importantly, is worship. Worship is not just Sunday morning church. It is a lifestyle my friends. Worshiping God with your life means to give everything to Him, and do it all for His glory. You have to seek out a connection with the Father, not just simply believe in Him. This is what lead to the uprising of the new contemporary worship style. It’s main focus is to get worshipers to connect with God on a deep emotional level. Yes we all fall in love with the worship leader, the band, the lights, and all the flashy things, but truly we should be seeking to form a deep connection with God that gives Him glory.
Second, we grow through communion with other believers. Once again, not just church! Don’t get me wrong, church is a great place for all these things to happen, but if you are only seeking the Lord on Sunday mornings, are you really a believer? Other believers can be family, friends, fellow church-goers, coworkers, that hobo down the street, etc. We could be farther on our faith journey than they are, or vise versa. But if you have an honest conversation with any believer you will grow in your faith. I will also say this, being with other believers does not have to be face-to-face interactions. It could be reading someone’s book. I have grown a ton from some of the books I’ve read. It can be social media (just like this blog!) or some other type of medium where you can hear from other people.
The third way we grow is through study. I didn’t used to care very much about Bible study. But when I started to become a worship leader, I realized I didn’t know much of anything. So I went and got a degree in Biblical Studies, and now I say to you friends “Study the Scriptures!!!!!!” The Bible is the Word of God, it is the teachings of Christ, it is the best way for us to learn about God. The Bible is the way God chose to reveal Himself to the world. So why wouldn’t you study it?
So don’t just accept Christ and say your done. We all have growth to do. Paul is saying that we should never stop learning about God. We most definitely need to seek maturity and wisdom. These things come from God. The more we know Him, and spend time with Him, the more wise and mature we can become. So let’s get out there and keep learning, if for no other reason then to get to the the reason we have life!