Presentation on theme: "If... If the purpose of the church is to love and obey God and to love people, then this mandate also becomes the purpose of intentional disciples of."— Presentation transcript:
If... If the purpose of the church is to love and obey God and to love people, then this mandate also becomes the purpose of intentional disciples of Jesus—the Head of the Church. If Christian spirituality leads to the realization of the unique self that God envisions each one to become, then each disciple must learn to look at self deeply, while remaining in relation to God and others.
If... If Christian spiritual formation refers to the intentional, communal process of growing in relationship with God and becoming conformed to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, then disciples learn to pay attention to God in order to respond to God while paying attention to oneself and one’s chosen practices and disciplines.
Then... Based on biblical images of spiritual formation, then, disciples pay attention to a variety of responses: The Vine and the branches (Jn 15) – In what or in whom am I abiding? The Potter and the clay (Is 64:8) – Who or what is shaping me? Hunger and thirst (Mt 5:6) – What is the source of my longings?
Then... The practices of Christian spirituality become more responsive in nature rather than stagnating in a sanctifying process characterized by human striving. “The practices of faith are not ultimately our own practices but rather habitations of the Spirit, in the midst of which we are invited to participate in the practices of God”—Craig Dykstra
Assessment Tools Fruit of the Spirit Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, meekness, faithfulness, self-control To consider: What may be blocking the healthy growth of the Spirit’s fruit in life and character?
Assessment Tools Gifts of the Spirit Particular gifts are discovered and strengthened Other spiritual attributes are also practiced and developed After a while, the more balanced spirituality reveals an ever-growing responsiveness to God as disciples are being conformed to the image of the Christ
Assessment Tools Spiritual Disciplines Practices that strengthen apprentices of Jesus as they move toward spiritual balance Practices that are habit forming in a spiritually healthy way and move from “discipline” toward a more well-rounded spiritual lifestyle We will begin with the “Inward Disciplines” although it is good to remember that all of the disciplines are holistic in nature.
Meditation What do you think of when you hear or see the word “meditation”? An attempt to define A long, ardent gaze at God, God’s work, and God’s word The giving of one’s undivided attention to God The ability to hear God’s voice and obey God’s word
Meditation Why should disciples meditate? God desires fellowship, communion, and relationship The practice of meditation creates sacred space—construction by Christ of the inner sanctuary which is continually present, no matter the circumstances Spiritual formation depends on the ability to hear and obey
Meditation “Meditation has no point and no reality unless it is firmly rooted in life”—Thomas Merton “True godliness does not turn men out of the world, but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it”—William Penn The practice of meditation Spiritual Classics (6-7, 11-12) Spiritual Disciplines (172ff)
Prayer What is prayer? An attempt to define (Calhoun) Relationship with God Attention to God Divine dialogue through intentional encounter with God
Prayer Why should disciples pray? Prayer catapults disciples into the frontier of the spiritual life (Foster) To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart and there stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all seeing, within you (Nouwen) Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform his disciples (Foster)
Prayer Something to be learned (Foster) Prayer disciplines provide ways to enter into prayer (Calhoun) Breath – God becomes the “oxygen to the soul” Centering – the act of quieting the spirit Contemplative – the act of waiting with an awake heart Conversational – natural dialogue with God
Prayer The practices of prayer Spiritual Practices (204-18) Spiritual Classics (31-2, 48ff) Small Group Exercise – “Breath Prayer”
Fasting What do you think of when you consider “fasting”? An attempt to define fasting: Abstaining from food for spiritual purposes The self-denial of normal necessities in order to intentionally attend to the concerns of God (Is 58) A physical awareness of emptiness used as a reminder to turn to Christ
Fasting Why should disciples fast? To let go of an appetite in order to seek God To replace a lesser practice with something of greater value, at least for a time To remember the source of one’s sustenance To achieve a greater sense of balance in one’s life
Fasting What is fasting not? Manipulation of God Spiritual way to lose weight Appearance of piety Magic
Fasting The practices of fasting Spiritual Classics (57-61, 75-6 Reflections) Spiritual Practices (218-222)
Study What comes to mind when you hear the word “study”? An attempt to define follows: Careful attention so that the mind will move in a certain direction and experience spiritual transformation The framework with which meditation can successfully function (read, reflect, and respond)
Study Why should disciples study? To gain perspective into the reality of situations, encounters, books, etc. To learn and then to apply ○ Repetition – ingrains habits of thoughts ○ Concentration – centers the mind ○ Comprehension – leads to insight and discernment ○ Reflection – defines the significance of what is studied
Study The study of books (in this order) Understanding: What is the author saying? Interpreting: What does the author mean? Evaluating: Is the author right or wrong? How does study differ from spiritual or devotional reading?
Study The study of nonverbal “books” The observation of reality in things, events, and actions As with the study of books, begin by paying attention ○ Nature ○ Relationships ○ Oneself Learn to ask good questions
Study Spiritual Practices Memorization, 176-8 Bible study, 164-7 Contemplation, 48-51 Examen, 52-5 Journaling, 56-8 Practicing the presence, 60-2 Teachability, 82-4 Small Group Exercise – Lectio Divina