Tag: Spiritual Formation (home)

A churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. "I've gone for 30 years now," he wrote, "and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me I can't remember a single one of them. So I think I'm wasting my time and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all." This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher: "I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me those meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!"

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Church, Preaching, Spiritual Formation

How do you solve a personal problem? Let's say you have a fondness for gossip or quarreling. How do you stop? Or suppose you have a life-controlling addiction to alcohol or drugs or sex. How do you get free? Sometimes the answer is something that seems totally unrelated. For example, in the middle of winter when your feet are cold, you may try putting on thicker socks or a blanket. Still your feet may be icy. One secret to warm feet is to stop focusing on your feet and look at your head. That's right, go to the other end of your body and put a hat on. Although your neck and head have only 10 percent of your body surface, in the cold that's where you lose a whopping 30 percent of your body heat. Having nothing on your head is like opening a window in your house in the dead of winter. If you keep that heat in your body with a hat, your blood will carry it down to your toes. In the same way, when people have problems, spiritual leaders often recommend that they do something that sounds unrelated-- such as read the Bible, pray, go to church, or focus on serving other people. These seemingly unrelated things bring grace to help overcome problems.

permalink source: Craig Brian Larson, PreachingToday.com
tags: Authority, Spiritual Formation

In the spiritual Iife, the word discipline means 'the effort to create some space in which God can act.' Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you're not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied. In the spiritual life, discipline means to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn't planned on or counted on.

permalink source: Henri Nouwen, "Moving From Solitude to Community in Ministry", Leadership Journal Spring 1995 p 81
tags: Discipline, Spiritual Formation, Balance

A man walks into a pub and orders three pints of Guinness. The bartender gives him a strange look and then sets them down. The man drinks the three pints, pays, and leaves. He comes in the next day and does the same thing. The bartender asks, "Why do you order all three at once? I'd be happy to bring them to you one at a time." The man replied, "Oh--it's my brothers. When we were younger we swore to always order our drinks together. Now we live far apart, and so I keep the tradition up as best I can." Every day for months the man came in and ordered three pints, drank them, paid, and left. One day he came in and ordered two pints. The pub fell silent as the patrons realized what this meant. The bartender walked over slowly and set down the two pints in front of the man. "Let me be the first to offer you my condolences," he said sorrowfully. "What? Oh, you've misunderstood. No one's dead--I've just given up drinking for Lent!"

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Holidays, Spiritual Formation

English explorer George Mallory dreamed of conquering Mount Everest. He organized an expedition, but it failed. A second attempt also failed. A third expedition, launched after the most extensive preparation possible, was most tragic of all. An avalanche killed Mallory and most of his team. Back in England, friends invited the survivors to a banquet honoring Mallory and his valiant group. At its close, a surviving team member stood and looked around the room at photos of Mallory and his slain comrades. Then, in tears, he turned to face a huge picture of Mount Everest behind the banquet table. "Mount Everest," he said, "you defeated us once, you defeated us twice, you defeated us three times. But we shall someday defeat you, because you can't get any bigger, and we can!"

permalink source: Citation: Mark Sutton, "God's Man," as seen in Men of Integrity (Sep/Oct 2002)
tags: Character, Persistence, Change, Spiritual Formation

Do spiritual people live their faith? Bob Thomas, Daily Journal March 12, 2003 As the season of Lent begins, millions of Americans re-examine their spiritual health. I think this is an excellent season for churches to diagnose their spiritual effectiveness. What percent of your church members would say they are "spiritually committed," with an "inner peace from God" whose faith has given them "hope, meaning and purpose in life," yet who also feel "the need to experience spiritual growth" in their daily lives? Remarkably, a new Gallup Poll reports that 79.8% of Americans would say yes to these questions which measure an "Inner Commitment" to God, a vertical relationship with Him. Now a tougher yardstick which measures an "Outer Commitment" of faith. What percent of your church members feel God is calling them "to be involved in the lives of the poor and suffering," who actually give their time "to serve and help others," whose "first priority in spending money is to support the work of God," and whose friends and neighbors would affirm that your church members truly "love God"? Nationally, a big 69.5 percent of Americans would say that their faith is being lived out in service to others. Would seven of 10 of your church members agree? Probably. In fact, among weekly church attenders, 91 percent have the Inner Commitment, and 85 percent are living their faith in service. But among those who rarely attend, only 53 percent feel the same spiritual commitment to God and 41 percent live to serve others. "These findings are thrilling," said George Gallup Jr. in a press conference this week. "We now have a measure of the relationship of the love of God and love of neighbor. These factors are more important than any economic or political factors. What drives this country is faith. And the deeper the faith, the greater the impact in one's life." Religiously inactive people would probably disagree, and would predict that relatively few active believers are also living their lives in service to the poor and the suffering. Of course, we have all known people who say they love Jesus, but who are more self-indulgent than serving. However, hypocrites are the exception to the rule, according to America's first "Spiritual State of the Union 2003," a new poll by the Gallup Organization and the Center for Research on Religion & Urban Civil Society at the University of Pennsylvania. Next year and in subsequent years, there will be a similar "Spiritual State of the Union," released at about the same time the President delivers his State of the Union address. However, when Rev. Scott Jones, pastor of Grace Community Church in Tempe, AZ, worked with Gallup to develop a deeper measure of the spiritual maturity of Christians - the results were not so encouraging. While 75 percent believe in the God of the Bible and that God is involved in their lives, only 42 percent say they "take unpopular stands when my faith dictates," 34 percent "have an inner contentment even when things go wrong," 28 percent regularly study the Bible and a slim 22 percent assert, "I control my tongue." Also, only 44 percent hear God calling them "to be involved in the lives of the poor and suffering" and "allow other Christians to hold me accountable for my actions." A mere 31 percent say their "first priority in spending money is to support God's work." It gets worse. Only a fifth of Christians keep their "composure even when people or circumstances irritate me," and a thin 19 percent think they are known "for not raising my voice." Scott Jones asked 30 key questions of his own congregation, developed with Gallup, to measure ten core beliefs, ten core practices and ten virtues. What he found was that the professed beliefs of his church members had very little to do with their Christian character. "It is easy to believe something, but is harder to put it into play," he says. "What's needed is spiritual transformation." To promote that he scrapped his sermon focus. "We were answering questions that no one was asking," he confesses. "Why are so few sermons on practical issues?" He created a "Spiritual Formation Calendar," and began preaching less on what people should believe, and more on how they should become more patient or gentle, for example. Would you like your house of worship to ask probing questions on the spiritual health, practice and virtue of your church members? It might make your sermons more relevant! Michael McManus is a syndicated columnist and a weekly contributor to The Daily Journal. He may be reached at 9311 Harrington Drive,Potomac, Maryland 20854.

permalink source: Daily Journal of Kankakee, IL
tags: Hypocrisy, Culture, Spiritual Formation

Passionate Spirituality: desire, discipline, doctrine, delight

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Spiritual Formation, Christianity

One of the blunders religious people are particularly fond of making is the attempt to be more spiritual than God.

permalink source: Frederick Buechner
tags: Legalism, Spiritual Formation, Christianity

Once when I was in the Himalayas, I was sitting upon the bank of a river. I drew out of the water a beautiful, round stone and smashed it. The inside was dry. The stone had been lying a long time in the water, but the water had not penetrated the stone. It is just like that with the "Christian" people of the West. They have for centuries been surrounded by Christianity, entirely steeped in its blessings, but the Master's truth has not penetrated them. Christianity is not at fault; the reason lies rather in the hardness of their hearts. Materialism and intellectualism have made their hearts hard. So I am not surprised that many people in the West do not understand what Christianity really is.

permalink source: Sadhu Sundar Singh, excerpted from Wisdom of the Sadhu, the Bruderhof Communities website
tags: Evangelism, Apathy, Spiritual Formation

If a farmer doesn't plant seeds, he will never harvest a crop. It doesn't matter how weed-free his ground is; he must also plant and cultivate good seed.

permalink source: Gary Oliver, clinical director of Southwest Counseling Associates in Denver. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 1.
tags: Virtue, Spiritual Formation, Fruit Of The Spirit

In the book The Ascent of a Leader, Bruce McNicol and Bill Thrall tell of a woman who has a dream where she wanders into a shop at the mall and finds Jesus behind a counter. Jesus says, "You can have anything your heart desires." Astounded but pleased, she asks for peace, joy, happiness, wisdom, and freedom from fear. Then she adds, "Not just for me, but for the whole earth." Jesus smiles and says, "I think you misunderstand me. We don't sell fruits, only seeds."

permalink source: Bruce McNicol and Bill Thrall, The Ascent of a Leader (Jossey Bass, 1999);
tags: Discipline, Spiritual Formation, Fruit Of The Spirit

The four basic spiritual needs (T. Morris) • I need to feel unique (I need to believe that I am special) • I need to experience union with Someone who gives my life purpose • I need to be useful • I need to be understood

permalink source: heard this from Harvey Herman
tags: Spiritual Formation

A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.

permalink source: Ralph Waldo Emerson
tags: Worship, Spiritual Formation, Call To Worship

Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.

permalink source: James Allen
tags: Vision, Spiritual Formation

In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.

permalink source: Eleanor Roosevelt
tags: Choices, Spiritual Formation

If your religion does not change you, then you should change your religion.

permalink source: Elbert Hubbard
tags: Apologetics, Religion, Spiritual Formation

All men are ruined, are ruined on the side of their natural propensities.

permalink source: Edmund Burke, 1729-1797
tags: Sin, Virtue, Spiritual Formation

I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.

permalink source: John Locke
tags: Wisdom, Sin, Spiritual Formation

No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb.

permalink source: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fireside Chat, December 29, 1940
tags: Politics, Wisdom, Sin, Spiritual Formation

One does what one is; one becomes what one does.

permalink source: Robert von Musil, 1880-1942
tags: Discipline, Spiritual Formation

I care not much for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.

permalink source: Abraham Lincoln
tags: Religion, Spiritual Formation

We aren’t what we eat. We are what we don’t shit.

permalink source: Hugh Romney
tags: Spiritual Formation

The virtue of a man ought to be measured not by his extraordinary exertions, but by his everyday conduct.

permalink source: Blaise Pascal
tags: Virtue, Spiritual Formation

If you could once make up your mind in the fear of God never to undertake more work of any sort than you can carry on calmly, quietly, without hurry or flurry, and the instant you feel yourself growing nervous, like one out of breath would stop and take breath, you would find this simple common sense rule doing for you what no prayers or tears could ever accomplish.

permalink source: Elizabeth Prentiss
tags: Time Management, Stress, Spiritual Formation, Balance

Self-esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves.

permalink source: Nathaniel Branden
tags: Character, Spiritual Formation, Self-esteem

Waste no more time talking about great souls and how they should be. Become one yourself!

permalink source: Marcus Aurelius
tags: Spiritual Formation, Ambition

Character is a by-product; it is produced in the great manufacture of daily duty.

permalink source: Woodrow Wilson
tags: Character, Spiritual Formation

Assume a virtue as if you already had it. --

permalink source: Shakespeare
tags: Virtue, Spiritual Formation

A real Christian is an odd number. He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen; talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see; expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another; empties himself in order to be filled; admits he is wrong so he can be declared right; goes down in order to get up; is strongest when he is weakest; richest when he is poorest and happiest when he feels the worst. He dies so he can live; forsakes in order to have; gives away so he can keep; sees the invisible; hears the inaudible; and knows that which passes knowledge.

permalink source: A. W. Tozer
tags: Spiritual Formation, Christianity

Build on your strengths and your weaknesses will be irrelevant. -- Peter F. Drucker

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Excellence, Spiritual Formation

You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so, you learn to love... by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves.

permalink source: St. Francis de Sales
tags: Love, Spiritual Formation

Our calling and purpose as followers of Christ is to love God completely, to love self correctly, and to love others compassionately.

permalink source: Kenneth Boa
tags: Love, Relationships, Spiritual Formation

You cannot run away from a weakness; you must sometime fight it out or perish. And if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?" -- Robert Louis Stevenson

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Character, Personal Growth, Spiritual Formation

The way to grow in holiness is to be around people more holy than ourselves. We hear their stray comments and absorb their judgment of what’s important. We listen to their prayers and find that God is bigger than we’d thought. -- Oswald Chambers

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Holiness, Discipleship, Mentoring, Spiritual Formation

Earth is crammed with heaven And every bush aflame with God But only those who see take off their shoes. -- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Holiness, Spiritual Formation, Environment

Think often on God, by day, by night, in your business, and even in your diversions. He is always near you and with you; leave him not alone. You would think it rude to leave a friend alone who came to visit you; why, then, must God be neglected: Do not, then, forget him, but think on him often, adore him continually, live and die with him; this is the glorious employment of a Christian. In a word, this is our profession; if we do not know it, we must learn it. -- Brother Lawrence

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Spiritual Formation, Meditation

A dead ministry will always make a dead people, whereas if ministers are warmed with the love of God themselves, they cannot but be instruments of diffusing that love among others. This, this is the best preparation for the work whereunto you are to be called. Learning without piety will only make you more capable of promoting the kingdom of Satan. Henceforward, therefore, I hope you will enter into your studies not to get a parish, nor to be polite preachers, but to be great saints. -- George Whitefield

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Ministry, Personal Growth, Spiritual Formation

However much we may wish it, divine perfection does not set in at conversion. But divine infection does." -- Gordon Fee, Christianity Today, June 17, 1996, p. 22

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Salvation, Personal Growth, Spiritual Formation

Whatever we learn to do, we learn by actually doing it; men come to be builders, for instance, by building, and harp players by playing the harp. In the same way, by doing just acts, we come to be just; by doing self-controlled acts, we come to be self-controlled; and by doing brave acts, we become brave. -- Aristotle

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Character, Habit, Practice, Personal Growth, Spiritual Formation

If God does not enter your kitchen, there is something wrong with your kitchen. If you can’t take God into your recreation, there is something wrong with your play. We all believe in the God of the heroic. What we need most these days is the God of the humdrum, the commonplace, the everyday. -- Peter Marshall, Sr.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Spiritual Formation

In the morning fix thy good purpose; and at night examine thyself what thou hast done, how thou hast behaved thyself in word, deed, and thought.

permalink source: Thomas a Kempis
tags: Discipline, Spiritual Formation

The trouble oftentimes with religious people is that they try to be more spiritual than God himself.

permalink source: Frederick Buechner
tags: Religion, Legalism, Spiritual Formation

To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.

permalink source: Mother Teresa
tags: Ministry, Spiritual Formation

...Father John Hugo talked of work, ‘That physical work was hard, mental work harder, and spiritual work the hardest of all.

permalink source: Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography, HarperCollins, 1952, 1997, pg. 199
tags: Work, Spiritual Formation

Whenever you find any statement in Christian writings which you can make nothing of, do not worry. Leave it alone. There will come a day, perhaps years later, when you suddenly see what it meant. If one could understand it now, it would only do one harm.

permalink source: C. S. Lewis
tags: Spiritual Formation

More than once I have been told: "If you want to succeed with me, severity is no use. You will get nowhere unless you are gentle." But I know that no one is a good judge in his own case.

permalink source: St. Thérèse of Lisieux
tags: Self-awareness, Spiritual Formation

God made me realize that His mercy does not grow weary of waiting for some souls and that He enlightens them only slowly. So I took good care not to anticipate Him.

permalink source: St. Thérèse of Lisieux
tags: Patience, Evangelism, Spiritual Formation

If people behave in new ways, eventually theit attitudes change in the direction of their actions. Indeed, numerous studies have shown that one of the most effective methods for altering attitudes and values is by producing a change in behavior.

permalink source: Albert Bandura, social psychologist
tags: Change, Values, Spiritual Formation

"gradually the inner man conforms to the outer" an ancient way of expressing the truth that you have behave your way into a belief. Smile and you get happy.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Spiritual Formation

I am who I choose to be. I always have been what I chose… though not always what I pleased.

permalink source: Lois McMaster Bujold, "Memory", 1996
tags: Choices, Spiritual Formation

One of my favorite stories is of Teresa of Avila. She's sitting in the kitchen with a roasted chicken. And she's got it with both hands, and she's gnawing on it, just devouring this chicken. One of the nuns comes in shocked that she's doing this, behaving this way. She said, "When I eat chicken, I eat chicken; when I pray, I pray."

permalink source: Eugene Peterson, "Spirituality for all the wrong reasons," http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/003/26.42.html
tags: Prayer, Spiritual Formation

Characters do not change. Opinions alter, but characters are only developed.

permalink source: Benjamin Disraeli
tags: Character, Spiritual Formation