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Reflections

6.2.19 Invitation to Retreat

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Sunday night, we began our journey discerning how God is inviting us to rhythm of retreat this summer. When God invites us into something, Ruth taught, we know we are wanted by God. We know we are loved by God. Ruth guided us through the Biblical basis of retreat and explored seven specific invitations of retreat: strategic withdrawal, resting in in God, a new rhythm, intimacy in God’s presence, to discern, relinquish, and recalibrate.

Then, Ruth led a helpful meditation. Which of these invitations do we sense God drawing us toward in this season? If you couldn’t be with us last night, please make some time this week to listen and join us on the journey.

Kingdom Practices
Last night was the beginning of our discerning God’s invitation. Do you sense God inviting you into a rhythm of retreat? Did one or more of the seven invitations stand out? Or maybe you are unsure. This week, would you continue to reflect on the invitation to retreat? If you heard something specific, continue to listen for how God may be refining the invitation. If you are still unsure, would you continue to prayerfully consider how you might make room for retreat this summer? How do you desire to experience God’s presence in retreat this summer?

Next week, we will get more specific with the invitation as Gail Donahue and Joan Kelley will guide us in the practical application of retreat. How do we enter retreat, what do we do on retreat, and how do we transition out of retreat? This will be a meaningful and helpful night as we settle into God’s invitation for the summer.

5.19.19 Wisdom from our memories

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What a gift it was to have Casey Tygrett with us Sunday night. Casey guided us through the important role our memories play in the formation of wisdom. “To be ready for what is to come,” he said, “we are invited by God’s Spirit to learn from where we have already been.” We learn from our wounds, our successes, and our failures in order to receive wisdom from God. Wisdom, as the great Dallas Willard once said, is the knowledge of how to live well.

After teaching, Casey led us in an Examen based on our memories. If you couldn’t be with us, please make some time this week to listen and engage our practice.

Kingdom Practices
This week, let’s continue in our Examen of memories. Perhaps there was an invitation from God in your practice of the Examen. Did you sense a way you might carry your experience in this memory forward? Or maybe you will remember this practice, and spend some time with it as God brings memories to the surface in the coming weeks. Below are the steps of this helpful practice (summarized from As I Recall).

  1. Acknowledge and rest in God’s loving presence.
  2. Identify a memory you sense God inviting you to examine. Name what you are grateful for in the memory. If it is a painful memory, you may choose to express gratitude for how God has worked out of the memory.
  3. Notice the emotions that arise as you hold the memory in your mind. Express those emotions to God.
  4. Ask God how you might turn this memory and the experience of it into wisdom for the future.
  5. Listen for an invitation. Is God inviting you to pass on this wisdom in any way?

 

4.28.19 Lovingkindness Contemplation

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It was so great to have Chris Heuertz with us last night! Chris led us in an examination of why we practice. I appreciated his teaching that we engage contemplative practices specifically because we are bad at them. We struggle with living contemplatively, and we struggle to engage the world around us with compassion. So, we practice. We don’t beat ourselves up or heap shame upon ourselves, we slow down and engage the practices that open us to God, the one who forms us

Chris then led us in a lovingkindness contemplation. With 1 Corinthians 13 as a guide we prayed, “May I be full of faith. May I be surrendered to hope, and may I be aligned with love.” Chris guided us through a six-part contemplation, praying these words for ourselves and others in our lives.

Kingdom Practices
This week, will you continue to engage this lovingkindness contemplation? Let’s carve out fifteen minutes each day this week to repeat this prayer,

“May I be full of faith. May I be surrendered to hope, and may I be aligned with love.”

Practice this contemplation in six movements:

  • First, we hold ourselves in God’s presence with this prayer. We may choose to hold it for our inner child, for a vulnerable part of ourselves.
  • Second, we speak this prayer for someone who taught us in word or in deed what it means to be compassionate.
  • Third, we use these words to hold someone we love dearly or someone who loves us dearly in God’s loving presence.
  • Fourth, we speak this prayer for someone we don’t know or don’t know well.
  • Fifth, we hold someone who is difficult for us, someone we have disagreed with, or someone who has hurt us in God’s presence with this prayer.
  • Finally, we pray this prayer for all of humanity.

 

4.14.19 Listening to God Like Children

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What a wonderful night. I love having our whole families in the room for Palm Sunday. There is something good and beautiful and true about engaging worship together with all ages. The joy, frustration, and squirminess of our kids was on full display even as Kirsten taught about kids living fully integrated lives. As adults we often split and compartmentalize life. We disconnect our heads from our hearts and bodies. We struggle to live fully integrated, and open our whole selves to God’s presence. Living compartmentalized lives keeps us from living with the awe and wonder of a child.

Kingdom Practices
As we enter into Holy Week, let’s engage the events of this week with childlike eyes. Let’s consider how we are a part of the story. Let’s pay attention to whatever emotions arise in our contemplation, and let’s feel the weightiness of this week in our bodies. Let’s walk through this week with as whole people in God’s loving presence.

3.31.19 Listening to God in Anxiety

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Have you noticed that more and more people seem to struggle with anxiety these days? Maybe you have experienced greater anxiety yourself in recent years. When I see the growing divisiveness and the pain of our sisters and brothers around the world, it is hard for me to not slip into anxious thinking. That is why I am so grateful for our time together with Nader Sahyouni.

Nader guided us wonderfully through an examination of how God invites us to respond in our anxiety. It was such a thoughtful and grace-filled teaching with helpful handles for praying during anxious seasons. We follow the example of Jesus and Paul when we pray the pattern of please, thank you, and yes.

We begin asking God to fix the anxiety producing situation. What a gift to know this is not only a welcomed prayer but Jesus himself prayed it. Of course, we see in the example of both Jesus and Paul that God may not take it away. If that is the case, we know God is working to redeem it in some way, so we pray “Thank you,” asking for the redemption of our pain. Finally, we learn to pray, “Yes,” accepting the situation.

Nader then guided us through a practice of prayerful journaling. If you couldn’t be with us, would you make some time this week to listen and engage the meaningful practice in the podcast? You can also find the prompts for prayer below.

Kingdom Practices
This week we would invite you to continue to pray through the pattern of please, thank you, and yes in your anxiety. You may journal or pray this pattern in your time of prayer. But we would also ask that you share your prayer with a trusted spiritual friend. Anxiety grows in the dark, so how might you shine a light on your anxiety in community this week?

Please
Ask God to fix the anxiety producing situation.

Thank You
If God has not fixed it, thank him for how he is redeeming it. Pray for the redemption you know he is working out, even though you probably don’t see it right now.

Yes
Accept the situation in prayer. If it’s too hard to accept, first ask for strength and courage to say yes. If it’s still too hard, ask God to show you if you’re believing any lies about it. Finally ask him for the faith you need to say yes.

3.24.19 Listening to God in Sorrow

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Last night, we continued our Lenten journey as we explored how God speaks in our sorrow. In our culture, we tend to believe being blessed means having money, talents, and influence, but is that true? Dallas Willard said blessing is to “will the good of another.” When God blesses us, we might say God is willing our good, that God is bringing the greatest good into our lives. What if the greatest good does not come from comfort?

Scripture seems to suggest there is a deep gift in our sorrow. In our pain we discover the profound love of God. It is incredible to consider the creator of the universe would stoop low and be present with us in our grief. How might God redeem our suffering in such a way that it serves our formation in Christlikeness?

Lori, then led us in the practice of welcoming prayer. This practice allows us to welcome the emotions we experience in pain, to sit with them in God’s loving presence, rather than rushing past them.

Kingdom Practices
We have two kingdom practices this week. The first is to continue in the work God has been doing in your sorrow. Are you in a season of pain? If so, will you commit to leaning into God, and not pushing through the season more quickly than God would have you move, and if you sense some invitation from God would you respond to it?

The second practice is simply to notice sorrow. As you move through your week, where do you notice sorrow, both in yourself and in others? When you do, would you choose to be present with it? Let’s not ignore or stuff it. Let’s welcome whatever emotions arise in ourselves and others, and hold them in God’s loving presence.

 

3.10.19 Listening to God in Repentance

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Last night, we began our journey together through the season of Lent. Lent is a season of preparation. We reflect on our humanity and brokenness and embrace God’s loving invitation to repent in order to be ready for the joy of Easter.

In our time together, Kimberly Pelletier helped us examine repentance. How have we sought to meet a valid need in our life with something less than God? In what ways are we trying to control that need, and how might Jesus be inviting us to let go and turn to him? Kimberly guided us in an imaginative prayer that was deeply meaningful. It was an embodied prayer, helping us connect to the Lord’s invitation with our whole selves.

Kingdom Practices
As Kimberly said last night, repentance is a turning. We turn from something we use to seek security, affection, or power to Jesus. The invitation of repentance is more than a decision. How have you noticed an invitation to repentance? How is Jesus asking you to walk toward him in this season? Will you choose this week to take one practical step of repentance?

3.3.19 The Gift of Presence

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It was so wonderful to have Trevor and Lacy with us this weekend! Last night, Trevor invited us to consider the gift of presence. We explored the real encounter that happens when we learn to be present to the presence of God in all of creation. And Lacy helped us practice with a clementine. We then explored the great gift we offer to one another, the gift of our presence.

Friends, this was such an incredible time together. If you couldn’t be with us, would you make some time this week to listen and engage the practices in the podcast? As you engage it, there are two things that will help your practice. First, listen with a clementine. This will be important for the first practice of the evening. Second, would you listen with another person? This will be helpful as you engage the second practice of the night, offering a blessing to another.

Kingdom Practices
Last night, Trevor asked us to consider the gift of presence. How might we be more present to God’s presence in ourselves, in one another, and in all of creation? Did you sense God inviting you to learn to be more present in any of these spaces? As we bring our time in the practice of simplicity to a close, and look forward to Lent, do you sense God inviting you into any particular practice during the Lenten season?

2.17.2019 Listening to God in Simplicity

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Sunday night, we continued our month engaging the spiritual practice of simplicity. I am more and more convinced this practice is essential in our journey of walking and working with Jesus. The life Jesus offers is a life of simplicity. On Sunday night, we learned about the practice, and we crafted an experiment in simplicity. We listened to how God might be inviting us to practice this important discipline. You can download a copy of the handout here.

 

Kingdom Practices
As we move into the next few weeks, let’s fully engage our experiments of simplicity. Let’s pay attention to what God is revealing in our practice. What attachments are we uncovering as we wade into simplicity? And let’s share our practices with someone for encouragement and support.

Additional Resources 
If you would like to read more about the practice of simplicity, consider these resources.

Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster
Abundant Simplicity by Jan Johnson
Simplicity by Mindy Caliguire

2.10.2019 Listening to God in Simplicity

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Sunday night was such a gift! Warren and the Judson Choir guided our liturgy and led us beautifully into the heart of God. Then we explored the spiritual practice of simplicity with Ashlee Eiland. Friends, the more I sit with this practice, the more I realize how central it is to a life with God. Simplicity, Ashlee said, helps us to mend what is disconnected in our lives. She invited us to examine: what master are we serving, what are we not leaving space for in our excess, and to what might we be addicted?

If you couldn’t be with us last night, please listen to the podcast and make time to engage this important practice.

Kingdom Practices
This week, would you continue to reflect and pray about how God might be inviting you into the practice of simplicity? What was God drawing to your attention? Was it an invitation to serve one master, to bear good fruit, or inherit eternal life? Did God bring to mind any specific space where you desire or need greater simplicity? If you struggled to identify a space, would you continue to pray and listen? Perhaps God will show you something as you listen this week.