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Resources: A Theology of Vocation

By | Books, Resources, Visions of Vocation, Visions Of Vocation Resources | 2 Comments

 

Happy Wednesday Tribe!

As promised here is a list of recommended resources to continue our conversation from last Sunday with Steven Garber about the Theology of Vocation. Here are our top picks for books, blogs and organizations to take you deeper into how our vocations are integral, not incidental to the Kingdom of God.

May you have eyes to see sacramentally this week,

Blessings,

Jenna Perrine & The Practice Team

Here Are My Hands | A New Liturgy by Aaron Niequist

This two-part liturgy is all about recapturing the holy possibility of our commutes. On the way to work, Part ONE helps you to pray “God, here are my hands. What do You want to do through me today in my job? May my hands, voice, and heart help to bring Your Kingdom here on earth.”

And on the way home from work, Part TWO helps us reflect on the day, confess our sins, forgive those who have wronged us, and let it all go.

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Recommended Blogs further reading

Recommended Organizations to connect to

  • The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation and Culture.
    Founded by Dr. Steven Garber, the Washington Institute believes that “vocation is integral, not incidental, to the mission of God in the world.”  Through teaching, writing and speaking, TWI sets for the vision that faith shapes vocation, and that shapes culture. They carry out their vision through partnerships with various foundations, businesses, retreat centers, congregations, seminaries and ministries around the world. Through their work, TWI seeks a “renewed vision of vocation and the common good.”
  • Laity Lodge
    An ecumenical Christian retreat center, Laity Lodge is dedicated to “enabling Christians to know Jesus deeply and to serve him in the everyday places of their lives.” Laity runs numerous retreats every year, some of which focus specifically on vocation, hosting gatherings for church, business and artistic leaders.
  • The High Calling
    This online magazine runs by the motto: “Every day conversations about work, life, and God.”  THC pays special focus to helping readers find God in their work, family, and broader culture.
  • WorkLife
    As their website says, WorkLife has “pioneered simple, yet impactful curriculum and tools to fuel your personal success.” The organization exists to provide individuals, churches and organizations with the tools to “find Life in work.” Visit their site to learn more and to discover the helpful tools they offer.
  • Redeemer’s  Center for Faith and Work 
    A ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, CFW is the “cultural renewal arm” of the Redeemer movement, founded to help individuals apply the gospel to their lives, connect to professionals within their field that can challenge and inspire their work, and mobilize leaders to become agents of change for the common good, through existing institutions and by creating new ones.

Sabbath as preparation for eternity

By | Books, Notes and quotes, Rhythm | No Comments

As we continue to explore the invitation of Sabbath-keeping as a community, take some time to really sit with these words from the great Abraham Joshua Heschel.  If you’re like me, you may need to read it multiple times…slowly and prayerfully.  So powerful…

“Shabbat comes with its own holiness; we enter not simply a day, but an atmosphere. My father cites the Zohar: the Sabbath is the name of God. We are within the Sabbath rather than the Sabbath being within us. For my father, the question is how to perceive that holiness: not how much to observe, but how to observe. Strict adherence to the laws regulating Sabbath observance doesn’t suffice; the goal is creating the Sabbath as a foretaste of paradise. The Sabbath is a metaphor for paradise and a testimony to God’s presence; in our prayers, we anticipate a messianic era that will be a Sabbath, and each Shabbat prepares us for that experience: “Unless one learns how to relish the taste of Sabbath … one will be unable to enjoy the taste of eternity in the world to come.” It was on the seventh day that God gave the world a soul, and “[the world’s] survival depends upon the holiness of the seventh day.” The task, he writes, becomes how to convert time into eternity, how to fill our time with spirit: “Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else.”

(Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath)

Practice Resources

By | Books, Eucharist And Mission, Music, Resources, Sermons | No Comments

A Theology of The Eucharist: Recommended Resources

What Every Christian Needs To Know About Passover: What It Means And Why It Matters
By Rabbi Moffic

This Past Sunday, Scot McKnight challenged us to understand the deep connections between our practice of the Eucharist and the Jewish practice of Passover. Who better to unpack these connections more for you than our dear friend Rabbi Moffic. You may remember him from his last visit to The Practice teaching on Sabbath – such a helpful and enriching perspective. His new book literally just came out this past February, and is written in a helpful and clear manner to Christians to help them better understand Passover. What a gift in light of Scot’s message this past Sunday! May this bless you in your learning of the Eucharist.

 

The King Jesus Gospel: The Good News Revisited
By Scot McKnight

If you really enjoyed Scot’s teaching and are wondering which of his books would be worth starting with, we have to recommend his pivotal work The King Jesus Gospel. It’s a wonderful vision of community, culture and the gospel, that will give you new eyes for gospel theology and its impact on evangelism.

Contemporary evangelicals have built a “salvation culture” but not a “gospel culture.” Evangelicals have reduced the gospel to the message of personal salvation. This book makes a plea for us to recover the old gospel as that which is still new and still fresh. The book stands on four arguments: that the gospel is defined by the apostles in 1 Corinthians 15 as the completion of the Story of Israel in the saving Story of Jesus; that the gospel is found in the Four Gospels; that the gospel was preached by Jesus; and that the sermons in the Book of Acts are the best example of gospeling in the New Testament. The King Jesus Gospel ends with practical suggestions about evangelism and about building a gospel culture.

The Story of the Lamb
Sermon By Tim Keller

In light of Scot McKnight’s exploration of Passover, we are excited to recommend this helpful sermon by Tim Keller drawing connections between the Passover Lamb and Jesus as the Lamb of God.

One of the major narrative plot lines of the Bible is the story of the lamb. It runs all through the Bible, beginning with the story of Abraham being asked to kill Isaac, continuing with the Passover in Egypt, and running through the Passover supper with Jesus and his disciples. In all of these cases a lamb is offered as a sacrifice for a debt. In John 1, John the Baptist tells us to “behold the lamb of God,” meaning to soak in and understand who Jesus is and the debt he paid for us with his death.

If you didn’t already know, our good friends The Brilliance have a wonderful song that is worth playing on repeat as we dive into our Eucharist and Mission series…

 

Introducing Scot McKnight

By | Books, Eucharist And Mission, Notes and quotes, Resources, Videos | No Comments
As most of you have seen and heard through the foray of social media, prolific New Testament scholar and theologian Scot McKnight will be joining us at the Practice this Sunday to share the first step of our journey into Eucharist and Mission-a theology of the Eucharist.
Scot first came into my life while I was attempting my undergrad in biblical studies and “required” to read his book The Blue Parakeet for a course on studying the bible. In the book, Scot encourages Christians to embrace the full bible, not just what’s comfortable or easy to read but to be challenged and convicted by the complexity, the ambiguity, the beauty and the mystery of God’s Word. Being a sophomore at the time with a multitude of questions, I remember with every page I read having this feeling of utter relief- here finally was a respected scholar of the bible acknowledging the difficult questions that can arise and yet still pushing further up and further in to the depths. wonders and joys of our Christian faith. Since my first encounter with Scot’s work, he has been a trusted guide on a host of other issues- from his examination of what the Gospel truly is in his book The King Jesus Gospel, to his powerfully clear explanation of Jesus’ call to discipleship in The Jesus Creed, to his most recent books about the church and the kingdom entitled Kingdom Conspiracy and A Fellowship of Differents.
If you too have longed for someone who understands some of those great looming questions, and yet hoped that there might still be a way forward for faith, hope, and love then I would love to encourage to check out some of Scot’s work (we’ve tagged a few resources below to help get you accquainted). Even more, if you’ve ever wanted to dive deeper into the Eucharist, to take a Sunday to swim in the stream of this magnificent and vitally important practice of both our community and the entire Christian faith, then please come this Sunday night to hear and practice the Lord’s Table with Scot McKnight as our guide.
We can’t wait to see you there!

Grace and Peace,

John and the Practice team
Communion Table

What do you make of Truth? – Good Friday Reflection & Resources

By | Articles, Books, Holy Week, Resources | No Comments

Welcome tribe! I asked our resident theologian John Perrine to share a reflection on Good Friday. John explores the weight of Good Friday and invites us to ponder Pilate’s often forgotten question, “What is truth?”


 

 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

Today is the day that the world stopped, where things went bad before they could become good. The skies darkened, the veil was torn, his body was pierced, the divide between heaven and earth collided in the death of the king who was the Son of God, who was in fact God himself, come to offer up himself, in forgiveness, mercy and love for even us who knew not what we did as we scorned and mocked him. This is that dark and mysterious day that we call good, and that we both mourn and celebrate as our Lord Jesus, the savior of the world, was put into the ground.

A few mere hours before the great euchatastrophe of the world was to take place, the man who represented the kingdom of the world had an exchange with the man who represented the kingdom of heaven concerning the question we long to answer; “What is truth?” Now in order to understand the significance of this exchange, let’s talk for a moment about kings and kingdoms. In the days of Jesus, the great powers ruled the world; Rome and Caesar, the senate and the coin, the Pilate’s and the priests. We really aren’t much different in this day and age. Be it Washington or Hollywood, the corporate office or the political party, the latest diet or the newest phone, the powers that be have a way of sticking around, consuming and controlling the swells and tides of our lives. And the powers that be, both today and in Pilate’s time leave us wondering, along with Pilate, “What is truth?”

So when Pilate enters the room, he brings with him all of those powers and politics to confront a small, seemingly insignificant man, a mere countryside teacher who has been causing the slightest of stirs. His first question wants to know if this Jesus is in fact a threat, a challenge to his rulers by claiming to be a “king of the Jews”.

Of course, as most learned who asked a question of Jesus, he received a question in reply, “Where did you learn this? Who told you who I was?”

Pilate waves this away, “Don’t expect me to understand you particular Jews, you must have done something wrong or you wouldn’t be here.”

Jesus’ answer in reply is both revealing and deeply incriminating. His kingdom doesn’t come from this world. In the book of John, the “world” is associated with evil and rebellion against God. The kingdom of Jesus however does not originate in this world, it has a different quality, a different source. In fact, Jesus points out his kingdom has been one of truth, a truth which he has brought, a truth which his followers have heard.

Pilate, of course, can only see things from a this-worldly perspective. As far as he knows, the only place you get truth is out of the sheath of a sword (or, as we would say, out of the barrel of a gun). Political ‘truth’ can so often be my truth against your truth, my sword against your sword, with those two meaning much the same thing. And ultimately, for a Roman governor, my truth against your truth, my power against your weakness, my cross to hang your naked body on. Ah, but that’s the truth. The truth that belongs with Passover. The truth that says one man dies and the others go free. Barabbas, the brigand, perhaps himself either a would-be king or a supporter of someone else’s failed messianic movement, faces the gallows as well. Somehow, through the cynicism, the casual local custom, the misunderstandings, the distortions, the plots and schemes and betrayals and denials, the Truth stands there in person, taking the death that would otherwise have fallen on the brigand.

Pilate didn’t see it at the time, the irony that his kingdom left him still unable to discern truth when it stood before him. But John wants us to see it today, in the midst of the clamoring powers of day that demand our attention and offer us no reply. This is what the cross will mean. This is what truth is and does. Truth is what Jesus is; and Jesus is dying for Barabbas, and for Israel, and for the world.

And for you and me.

Grace and Peace to you on this Good Friday,

John and the Practice team

 

Recommended Resources

Don’t forget to check out our reflections and introduction to the Stations of the Cross this Good Friday here on the blog. Here are a few other resources for you to pour through and enjoy!

Practice Resources: Dying to Self

By | Articles, Books, Lent, Resources, Videos | No Comments

This past Sunday, John Perrine led us into the difficult Lenten theme of Dying to Self. Be sure to read all about it here.

This journey of dying to self has been fraught with a lot of unhelpful teaching for most of us. For some of us the invitation to die to self has been a shaming command to kill all our desires. For others, we don’t know what to die to and what to nourish. It is a difficult but deeply important part of our spiritual formation, so no matter where you are in the journey remember –  you are not alone, let’s keep pressing on together.

We’ve gathered a helpful jumble of websites, online articles, books and videos to help you better explore the journey of dying to self. If you read one thing today I hope it’s Lynne Hybel’s article on what do we die to. I found it immensely helpful this Lenten season.

Happy Reading!
Peace and comfort to all of you,

Jenna and The Practice Team

Resources

Here are some excellent web articles worth exploring as you ponder Dying to Self

 

It should come as no surprise that our beloved Matriarch has indeed explored and wrestled well with this concept of dying to self. In this helpful blog post, Lynne shares her story of dying to self and explores the helpful distinction between what needs to die and what needs to live.

We love Pete Scazzero and the good work he and his team are doing over at Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. By clicking this link you’ll be taken to a wealth of resources that help you to identify the false self – the self we need to die to! There is a great mix of sermons, articles and exercises to help you on your journey.

The Just Life is a Chicago based non-profit that partners with churches to communicate God’s heart for Justice. As they explore where the heart of just comes from, check out this helpful collection of Scripture passages on dying to self and a beautiful prayer litany on humility.

Inherent in a discussion on Dying to Self, is growing in your own self insight and awareness. If you don’t know yourself and haven’t explored inward, how can you begin the process of identifying the old and the new self? Philosophy father Socrates once shared, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The sentiment of self reflection is important, in doing so we identify sinfulness, truth, growth and weakness. Here are some recommended resources to help you in the process of knowing yourself well, so that you can put off the old and put on the new self:

 

This book should be a cornerstone in your spiritual reading. It encourages and provides wonderful insight into knowing the true self.

As a lover of psychology and counseling – I just have to recommend this great read that essentially explores the neuroscience of sin. So helpful for the journey of dying to self – especially Chapter 12 “The Repair of Resurrection” p.221-234.

No one has modeled a life of sacrifice in this Western culture and day and age, more humbly or beautifully than Shane Claiborne. This exploration of how to be an ‘ordinary radical’ were some of the first ideas that truly challenged my journey of dying that I may truly live. A must read.

  • Click here to watch this short video by Dallas Willard is entitled, “The Cost to Follow Jesus” taken from his series ‘What Jesus said about following him.’Dallas Willard is a giant in Spiritual Formation literature and explores with great insight and wisdom how we are to weigh the cost of following Christ.

Lent – Week 2

By | Books, Lent, Music, Reflections, Resources | 2 Comments
5
Weeks until Easter

Beloved Practice family, how have you been using this season of Lent to prepare for Easter? As I think about the five weeks left between today and Easter Sunday, I still feel like there is a lot of preparation left to do. I don’t know about you, but being new to Lent can still cause me to worry that I’m not doing it well enough…not trying hard enough. When I think about how prepared I should be for Easter and how I’m feeling today…I can get overwhelmed. It can be difficult to prepare for work in the morning, let alone the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior!

In the moments I feel overwhelmed however, I have to remember, this isn’t a performance. God isn’t arching an eyebrow in disapproval every time my Lenten journey goes less than perfectly. The point is to prepare, to re-center, to use every moment I realize I’ve forgotten Lent as an opportunity to come back to the heart of Lent. Slowly, but oh so surely, we can discipline our wandering hearts to bind to Christ.

Last week, I found a tool that I think will help me focus and reorder my desires in a more concrete way. I was browsing in an incredible bookstore in the basement of a beautiful old stone church in Greenwich, when I saw a little bowl of something they called, ‘comfort crosses.’

I am the type of person that fiddles when trying to focus on the uncomfortable. If I’m anxious in a conversation, you can be sure to see me tearing my paper napkin into little flakes of paper, or fiddling with my wedding ring, or constantly tucking my hair behind my ear.

The comfort crosses caught my eye because they had completely smooth edges and were made of soft olive wood in the shape of the cross. When I picked it up, I instantly began to fiddle with it, holding and re-holding it in my hand, running my thumb along the smooth edges again and again. It was truly comforting, and it pointed me back to my preparation of Lent and to my focus on the cross.

Comfort Cross

As I’ve been setting aside time to reorder and focus my wandering heart on God, holding this little piece of wood has helped me in my practice as I’ve prayed and practiced the examen. It’s kept me focused on the cross and kept me comforted when Lent begins to overwhelm or make me anxious.

Whatever it is that can help you refocus, recenter, or be reminded of the reason for this season, I encourage you to take the risk and try it. Maybe it’s remembering to pray every time you see a clock or check your phone. Maybe each morning before you start the car or hold the keys in your hand, you can take a moment and remember the cross. Remember how that without it, we are dust, and prepare your heart to receive Christ once more in Easter.

As promised, here are a few more lenten resources for you to consider this week as you figure out your practice. Keep checking back for more reflections, opportunities and resources as we post throughout the week.

Blessings and peace to you,

Jenna

Resources

Joan Kelley and Gail Donahue would love to have you join them this week at one of their two Sacred day-long retreats.  They have a beautiful day planned with a good mix of community time and individual solitude time all around the parable of the prodigal. We believe solitude is one of those unforced rhythms of grace that is foundational to our soul health.

If you would like to join them, either Friday March 6 or Saturday March 7, just go to the website www.mylifeissacred.com and use the discount code “PRACTICE30” to get $30 off the price.

We feel that this would be an excellent opportunity for any of you seeking God in solitude, silence and reflection this Lenten Season.

I highly recommend that you sign up for this daily e-mail devotional offered by Biola University called The Lent Project. Just visit their website and you’ll understand why! It is a beautiful daily calendar offering mixed media interaction in the build up to Easter. If you’re inbox is full and you can’t commit to another e-mail, you can still visit their website and have access to all the beautiful resources there. I truly love this resource because it breaks down all the music, artwork, devotional theology and readings in a meaningful yet clear way. Sign up today!
  • Lent Reflections by The Transforming Center
    This beautiful 40 page booklet offered by The Transforming Center is designed to help small groups, spiritual friends, and individuals walk through the Lenten season together. It includes reflections by Ruth Haley Barton and  is a perfect tool to introduce people to the practice of following the lectionary through the seasons of the Church year.
  • Bread and Wine: Readings for Easter and Lent by Orbis Books
    This is a truly unparalleled collection of some of the most beloved spiritual writers reflections on the themes of Easter and Lent. A wonderful resource for daily devotionals, readings or family discussions.
  • We can hardly go a week without mentioning our dear friends The Brilliance. They released this excellent Lent EP full of beautiful songs specifically for Lent. The deep words and immersive sound would make an excellent tool in your Lenten Journey.
  • If you’re interested in something a little different, I’d love to recommend the choral music of Eric Whitacre. In particular the haunting piece entitled, “When David Heard.” If you are a fan of choral music at all then it is worth giving this piece a listen. For me it is a haunting lament that draws me back to the cross. The intent was for the choir to sound as though they are weeping throughout the music – a dark and sobering piece for Lent.

Practice Resources: And Forgive Us Our Trespasses…

By | Books, Forgiveness, Resources, The Lord's Prayer | No Comments

It is such a joy and a privilege to gather and share these resources that will hopefully take our tribe deeper and deeper into all we are learning and experiencing at The Practice. If we remember that Sunday is not the main event – rather Monday through Saturday is, lets not leave our learning, our shaping or our understanding solely to what we hear on Sunday. May these resources provide a path to  help take us all deeper into a dialogue of transformation, growth and unforced rhythms of grace.

This past Sunday Deirdre did a beautiful and profound job of guiding us through what it means to pray “And Forgive Us Our Trespasses…” Here are a few recommended books, sermons and videos to help any of you who love to connect with God this way, to deepen your understanding and expand your experience.

 

Recommended Resources

Recommended Reading

Recommended Videos

  • Les Miserables, “I Give You Back To God.” Scene
    For those of you who have read or seen any screen adaption of the beautiful novel Les Miserables, we could think of no greater picture of the father in the prodigal son, than the Priest as he interacts with Jean Valjean in this scene.As you watch, pay attention to how the punishment in this case is deserved, yet the incredible mercy of the Priest still forgives and releases Jean Valjean. In many ways, I feel that we can glimpse our forgiveness from God in this scene.
“The Prodigal Sons.” by Tim Keller 

In this teaching on the parable of the Prodigal Sons, Tim Keller shares how Jesus redefines God as Father, redefines sin, and redefines salvation. We recommend this sermon as an invitation to know the initiating love of the Father that leads us to learn to repent for something besides sins.

 

"We urgently need the mediation of another's eyes to love ourselves and accept ourselves. The eyes may be those of a parent, a friend, a spiritual director; but above all they are those of God our Father. The look in his eyes is the purest, truest, tenderest, most loving, and most hope-filled in this world. The greatest gift given those who seek God's face by persevering in prayer may be that one day they will perceive something of this divine look upon themselves; they will feel themselves loved so tenderly that they will receive the grace of accepting themselves in depth." (p. 36)

Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe

May the wisdom of those who are in this journey with us, nourish, inform and help guide you as you learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Blessings on your week!

Grace and Peace.

Jenna and The Practice Team

Good News

By | Books, Resources | No Comments

Notice. Pray. Live. Hopefully this week has been full of opportunities to notice God’s presence through his kingdom coming in the now of our everyday lives. Perhaps however, for some of us, the noticing has only led to moments of absence or places where God’s presence couldn’t feel farther away. Whether this week has been full of life in the now or not-yet, we wanted to offer an encouraging word from one of our trusted guides in what it means to notice, pray and live the kingdom of God in our lives. N.T. Wright in his new book entitled, Simply Good News, offers us an encouraging word by reminding us what the good news that we share in is all about: 

“So how might we in turn summarize the good news—both the good news announced by Jesus and the good news that his first followers announced when they talked about him later on?

The good news is that the one true God has now taken charge of the world, in and through Jesus and his death and resurrection….The good news was, and is, that all this has happened in and through Jesus; that one day it will happen, completely and utterly, to all creation; and that we humans, every single one of us, whoever we are, can be caught up in that transformation here and now. This is the Christian gospel. Do not allow yourself to be fobbed off with anything less.” (N.T. Wright, pg. 53)


What incredibly good news! The one true God has taken charge of the world through Jesus and is inviting us to participate with him in its transformation, even as eagerly yearn for Christ to come again. As N.T. Wright so eloquently urged, do not be “fobbed off” with anything less friends, for you and I have a role to play.  If any would like to read further, we highly recommend that you pick up N.T. Wright’s new book on Amazon as a great way to dive further in to the grand story of Jesus that is, quite simply, good news.
Happy Reading – and may we all continue the practice of notice, pray, and live until God’s kingdom fully comes! 

Grace and Peace,

John and the Practice team