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+ Discernment: Listening to God Dr.Bruce Hekman, the Van Lunen Center, Calvin College Twitter: hollandpilgrim.

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Presentation on theme: "+ Discernment: Listening to God Dr.Bruce Hekman, the Van Lunen Center, Calvin College Twitter: hollandpilgrim."— Presentation transcript:

1 + Discernment: Listening to God Dr.Bruce Hekman, the Van Lunen Center, Calvin College Twitter: hollandpilgrim

2 + Wendell Berry, from Given We travellers, walking to the sun, can’t see Ahead, but looking back the very light That blinded us shows us the way we came, Along which blessings now appear, risen As if from sightlessness to sight, and we, By blessing brightly lit, keep going toward That blessed light that yet to us is dark.

3 + Decisions: How Do We Make Them? Focus Process Facts Alignment Alternatives Debate Politics, power points, persuasion Risk aversion Instinct Experience Emotion Gut Assumptions Core values RationalIntuitive

4 + Decisions and Discernment Decision making has its limits. We make decisions. Discernment is given. The Spirit of God, which operates at the deepest levels of the human psyche and within the mysteries of the faith community, brings to the surface gifts of wisdom and guidance which we can only discover and name. Danny Morris and Chuck Olsen “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me.” Psalm 25:4,5

5 + Finding a new pastor… a story of discernment Framing the work of the Search Team ---”to lead the council and congregation in a discernment process. ” Inviting candidates to join a ‘mutual discernment process.” Building trust: using strengths-finder to create teams around candidates. Sharing our practice of spiritual disciplines…”what do you hear God saying to us?” Devoting meeting time to prayers of passionate detachment, wisdom, noticing without judging. Listening with “…the eyes of our heart.” Taking our time…slowing the process, even when we were excited about our #1 candidate

6 + Listening for God’s Voice “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. That is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. “ I Corinthians 2: “The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, ‘Who has known the mind of Christ so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” Romans 8:9

7 + Discernment “Discernment begins when we acknowledge the fact that we lack the wisdom we need, and that without divine intervention, the best we can do is stumble around in the dark.” Ruth Haley Barton, Pursuing God’s Will Together. “The most important prerequisite for discernment at the leadership level is that everyone in the leadership group is on an intentional journey of transformation…spiritual transformation is …the necessary preparation for discernment.” Ruth Haley Barton, Pursuing God’s Will Together

8 + A Practiced Heart Discernment: “The capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and activity of God---both in the ordinary moments and in the larger decisions of our lives.” P.10 “Corporate discernment is the capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and activity of God as a group relative to the issues we are facing, and to make decisions in response to that Presence.” P.11 “Discernment in its fullness takes a practiced heart, fine-tuned to hear the word of God and the single-mindedness to follow that word in love. It is truly a gift of God, but not one dropped from the skies fully formed. It is a gift cultivated by a prayerful life and the search for self-knowledge.” pg. 34

9 + Discernment with a Practiced Heart “Leaders who can be trusted…will be those who lead well-examined lives, who have recovered spiritual practices that liberate them from the power of their compulsions and free their energy for outward service.” Leadership from Inside Out, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson “Daily obedience establishes patterns in the heart that increase the possibility of our responding in trust and cooperating with God’s transformational work when we are faced with a season of severe trial.” Jeff Manion, The Land Between, p. 171

10 + Wisdom “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding---indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. …Then you will understand what is right and just and fair---every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” Proverbs 2: 1-5, 9-11.

11 + Wisdom James 1:5 (NIV) If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given unto him. Luke 11:9 (NIV) "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

12 + Growing in Grace “Vast numbers of well-intentioned folk have exhausted themselves in church (and school) work and discovered that this did not substantially change their lives. They found that they were just as impatient and egocentric and fearful as when they began lifting the heavy load of church and school work. Maybe more so.” “God has given each one of us the responsibility to ‘grow in grace’ (2 Peter 3:18). This is not something we can pass off onto others. We are to take up our individualized crosses and follow in the steps of the crucified and risen Christ.” Richard Foster

13 + Training vs Trying “Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and life to come.” I. Tim 4:8 “The true indicator of spiritual well-being is growth in the ability to love God and people.” Take the “Spiritual Pathways” assessment (free, on internet) Books: Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Adele, Ahlberg Calhoun The Life You’ve Always Wanted, John Ortberg The Good and Beautiful Life, God, Community, 3 books by James Bryan Smith

14 + Training for Transformation Solitude and silence – giving God our full and undivided attention. “God never gives anyone too much to do. We do that to ourselves or allow others to do it to us.” “God will, generally speaking, not compete for our attention. If we do not withdraw from the things that obsess and exhaust us into solitude and silence, he will usually leave us to our own devices.” Dallas Willard, The Great Omission Margin creates the possibility of hearing God’s voice. Engaging the Scriptures for spiritual transformation Ask God to meet you. Read brief passages. Read again slowly. Read aloud. Find a word or phrase that catches your eye or moves your heart…slowly repeat it. Pray your thoughts, desires, needs, and feelings from your meditation. Enjoy the presence of your Lord and Savior.

15 + Making Space for God The messages of Sabbath: A. Restoration: You are sons and daughters of the most high God. B. Repair: Your sins are forgiven. You have nothing to prove. C. Replenishment: God provides. Fear not! I am with you!

16 + The Dynamics of Discernment The prayer for indifference. “Not my will but yours be done.” The prayer for wisdom. “If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God.” Notice without judging. Seek spiritual direction and greater discernment of spirits. (…we need a wise spiritual friend…)

17 + Listening with the “eyes of our heart:” Ignatius on Discernment Consolation “Consolation is the interior movement of the heart that gives us a deep sense of life- giving connection with God, others and our authentic self. …the peace that passes understanding…God’s presence comforting or leading you.” Desolation “Desolation is the loss of a sense of God’s presence…dread, uneasiness, anxiety, weariness” From Pursuing God’s Will Together, Ruth Haley Barton

18 + Passionate Detachment “…make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in the spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: Who, being in nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used for his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing….” Philippians 2: 2-7a

19 + Creating a board culture of discernment….


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