Spiritual Practices
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Does disciple-making have a future?
“Spiritual disciplines are activities in our power that we engage in to enable us to do what we cannot do by direct effort.” – Dallas Willard in The Great Omission. There is something so true about this statement.  Spiritual disciplines are the way we train to become what we cannot become in any other way: Christlike. Yet they have a bad name.  Because no one likes discipline and no one actually likes hard work.  If you plan to run the London Marathon, you don’t go on training runs in the wet grey of the London streets with the traffic thundering because...
crowd
Everyone is Following Jesus
How can you know if someone is a follower of Jesus? Answers to this question have split churches, destroyed friendships, and divided seminaries. Some believe that to follow Jesus you must only sign a creed or say a prayer. Others insist that following Jesus requires following a set of rules such as the Ten Commandments or a denominational Code of Conduct. Still others argue that following Jesus is best accomplished in a building at a certain time of week when certain activities take place, while others say that following Jesus means leaving our buildings and going to places where Jesus...
Counselling and Support
The Power of Listening
  I am a spiritual director. People share their stories with me, and I listen. People tell me things like, “You are the only person who ever listens to me,” and “I do not talk to anyone else about this stuff.” We hunger to know our truest selves and thirst for someone we can trust who will pay attention to us. I listen, looking for the mileposts that open the way to unexplored pathways. I try to ask insightful questions that open doors they have kept tightly closed, or did not even know were there. I was not always a...
voyage
Christian Imagination and Moving Mountains
The summer staff eats dinner together every night. We talk about the evening program and our days with the groups. There comes a breaking point where laughter erupts and the conversation devolves into mindless rumble. Last week, this laughter evolved into playful criticism towards me. I lead the music for the evening program and I am not ashamed to say I pick songs that are indie. You know, songs from bands that no one has ever heard of or songs originally sung in different languages? The staff complained of hearing the same songs each week, although the youth love the songs that I play and every week sing with a different group. They called me a pseudo-hipster, which infuriated...
monks
Contemplative in the City
I was not born contemplative. I was taught from an early age to believe that it is more valuable to know things than it is to learn things. Learning, after all, is a step on the path toward knowing; knowing is the result of learning. Whether at home, in school, or at church, it is far better to know the right answer than to be in the process of learning. Learning means that you have not yet arrived at knowing. Knowing is also much more fun than learning. Learning requires patience, practice, and being open to new insights. Learning means...
sprout
In Defense of “Good Times”
Hardships. Trials. Pain. Unless you subscribe to the particular brand of Christianity that purports true faith reveals itself in God-bestowed private jets, mansions, and perfect health until the day God takes you up like Enoch, these are words you likely understand all too well.  As Christ said so matter-of-factly to the disciples, in the world we have tribulation (John 16:33b). It isn’t a question of if, but of when. Whether it’s persecution or just the universal struggles that afflict every person in a fallen world (rain falls on the just and unjust alike, does it not?), life will bring us...
Detail of 'Lamentation' by Giotto
Worship in a Minor Key
Last weekend I attended a Christian event which began with sung worship. This was nothing unusual – a young guy with a guitar, songs I had heard before and sung along with  joyful songs, praising God’s power and our salvation, songs full of encouragement and truth. Yet something felt wrong – the songs were in the wrong key for me. Lent is traditionally a time when we remember two things: the forty days of temptation that Jesus faced in the desert at the start of his ministry and also the run up to holy week, the crucifixion on Good Friday. In...
rocking chairs
The Habit of Shabbat
Rest is good. We are creatures with a desire to rest built into our systems. Sure, many of us choose to ignore this part of our design, and would rather fill the Sabbath times with as many distractions as possible. But sooner or later, running our bodies like this will shut them down. Our very Creator rested, not necessarily because He needed it but as a model for how we should approach living. He also designed the Sabbath so we can reflect on our limitations, and how it is only through Him we really get anything done. “Moreover, I gave...
waiting
A Lesson From One Word
It’s amazing the power of one word. One word can heal. One word can encourage. Also…one word can destroy. Looking back into scripture, we see the example of words bringing life about. Words created what we live today…even the negative of it. So it should come as no surprise when we discover that one word spoken from our lips…or our fingertips…can demolish our character in a nanosecond. Stumbling upon this article helped me really take assessment of the words I speak, or have spoken, toward others and myself. The teacher in question here was noted as stating, in his defense of...
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