PASTOR’S PAGE: THE ESSENTIALS

Welcome to Pastor’s Page: The Essentials. Here you will find discussions on relevant topics impacting you and your leadership. Topics from Friendship to Marriage, to Soul Care, to Shepherding and issues current within the culture that are strategic to your ministry today. It is our prayer that you will find this a valuable resource for you and your leadership. Our goal is to not replace the Holy Spirit in your life but to increase the influence of the Holy Spirit in your life. Our emphasis will painstakingly be on the essential of the BE in your life and not the DO, in other words that all your DOING be driven by your BEING.

SOUL CARE

Why is Soul Care critical to a vibrant ministry? I look at my soul as I do my liver. Yep, you read right. Why? What does your liver do? It filters all the good, bad and ugly we take in. Now if we excessively take in bad our liver begins to deteriorate, e.g. excessive alcohol consumption. It begins to be worn down and cannot catch up and regenerate itself in a way to be healthy. Now look at our soul. Everything we think, say and do is effects our soul. Our thought life and our feelings drive our CEO, the heart. The body is outsourced to the heart and is the component of the human system that watches, listens and acts as told to by our mind and heart. All of this passes through and is taken in by our soul. Now the more we neglect our soul which is truly our wellspring of life and death the more our life reflects mediocrity, duplicity and ultimate soul ruination. Remember the Fuller survey from 2007.

  • Seven hundred fifty-six (756 or 72%) of the pastors we surveyed stated that they only studied the Bible when they were preparing for sermons or lessons. This left only 38% who read the Bible for devotions and personal study.

If you extrapolate this percentage it begs the question what are the majority of pastors doing to care for their soul? What is taking the place of nourishing your soul on the Word? On the face of it it all looks good, but in the long term it is deadly. You are caring for your people and whatever time left your spouse and your kids. What’s missing here? YOURSELF Jesus’s way is the easy yoke so I in no way want to be something in this blog He would never be. Most likely you are saying to yourself right now that all this resonates truth to you but where in the world am I going to find time to care for my soul? And, if I could what would it look like? Before I unpack a few paths, I need to ask you are you also thinking about the need to ask permission of your elder board for time for yourself? I know that is a big one and involves being vulnerable in a way you may not feel safe, but in reality  your only other recourse is to  continue to go on and be one of the eight hundred two (802 or 71%) pastors that stated they were burned out, and  battled depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis.  That is clearly between you and Jesus but for your sake take it to Him in prayer then act with His power along the way for your soul care. Paths to consider.

  • A monthly day of prayer with other pastors in your area.
  • A day of silent prayer at a retreat center.
  • A day where you take a  Psalm and sit with it for several hours listening to the Holy Spirit speak new life in your soul from it.
  • A day of Examen where you confess your sins and hear the restoring words of the Master redeem you and your ministry.
  •  Abstain from work and engage in a day of sabbath rest.
  • A daily time in the Word sufficient to hear something fresh for you to take along with you for the day.

Enter into His easy yoke and His Kingdom and begin to understand the basics of the care for your soul.

 


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PASTOR’S PAGE:THE ESSENTIALS

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A Lifestyle for Abundance

When one considers the discipline of fasting, food comes to mind almost immediately. I have found in practical application that fasting is far more than about giving up food. In fact I have found the hosts of other practices to give up are a much more effective means to long term spiritual formation to Christlikeness. Most food fast involves a desire to move the hands of God to meet a specific need we may have. Now before I go on this type of fast is necessary and should not be forsaken but here we are dealing with means that lead to a default position in life of taking on the character of Christ. For our purposes denial of self is the key to spiritual formation to Christ and it must be for life not two weeks or forty days, etc.  So what am I talking about?  In this culture today one of the greatest distraction to knowing and living in God’s Kingdom or will I see and have experienced is what I call the gods of the culture: media, electronic devices, sports and entertainment which takes in a host of sub gods such as on demand, cable news, movies, texts etc. Now here as well let me be clear there is no legalism in these apprentices’ bones. I loathe legalism! Embrace all of these as you wish and you will not go to hell. OK? OK!  But you’re inside life your soul, mind and heart will be so much less alive and diminished than what Jesus intends for you.

So the use of abstinence and fasting to move forward as an apprentice of Christ for me involves a very wise and discerning use of the gods of the culture. Let’s look at how I apply these in my life.

MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT

It is very difficult for me to attend a movie at a public theater. My issue is what fills my mind and comes before my eyes prior to the movie that I have chosen to see. Previews filled with gratuitous sex, language and violence. No I am not goody too shoes but just as we should be wise and discerning about the foods we eat we must be wise about the images that go before our eyes and fill our minds. Again if you wish to go to movies filled with sex, language and violence do it BUT do not expect those experiences to move you towards a person with a mind and heart like Christ. If we truly desire to be that person then we simply do not willfully sit before such images. So my movie going is pretty sparse for a host of reasons. Hollywood gives an apprentice of Christ a poultry number of movies to pick from. Just think if there were more people who call themselves Christians whose posture was that of an apprentice of Christ when attending movies what movies would be coming out of Hollywood.  Sadly Christians and non-Christians movie going behavior is not much different.  The thoughts above pertain to your TV as well with pay-per-view and ON DEMAND including Sports, etc.

Then there is cable news, current events, politics, disasters, mass shootings, etc. In regard to these all we need is basic information not a feast of letting these events soak up in our mind and steal our peace, joy, and hope. Get the information then as an apprentice of Christ get on your knees.  Paul writes in Phil 4:8 “ Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Doing this brings us the peace, joy and hope as the reality and desire for our lives that Jesus came to Earth to show us and give us. So turn off the TV! I learned long ago when you tell someone not to do something you must give them an alternative. When you turn off your TV read an uplifting book, memorize a verse of scripture that will help you take on the character of Christ, be still do nothing and know that He is present, play with your kids, talk to your family (how novel), go serve the marginalized in your community, eat dinner at the table with your family (again how novel), etc.  Again you can freely sit and listen to the story of the man who just wiped out a classroom of kids for hours on end and have your soul greatly diminished and your hope stolen or you can understand what happened in a matter of a few minutes then abstain and pray and do other activities in line with Phil. 4.  Just getting the information will be hurtful enough to soak in it is disastrous for our soul, mind and heart.

ELECTRONIC DEVICES

I hope by now you clearly see and understand that we are telling you to abstain from the culture for real abundant life not to avoid hell.  IPhones, iPads in an apprentice’s life are wonderful devices for a limited purpose, not for what we actually see around us. Just watching families in restaurants, malls and even in church makes me so sad, the entire time eating, shopping and worshipping the eyes are attending to and the fingers are hitting the device. From a natural point of view this is just plain rude. From a spiritual view living as Christ would live this is relational ruination.

 Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote “The first service one owes to others in the community (both our biological and church family) involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them.  We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them, so often Christians, especially preachers, think that their only service is always to have to “offer” something when they are together with other people. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking. Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking even when they should be listening. But Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either; they will always be talking even in the presence of God.”

Need I say more? People desire people to be fully present when they are with one another. So put down the phone and do a novel thing talk to one another at meals, in the evening, etc.

To do otherwise is a distraction from hearing God and hearing one another. It is an activity that says all I care about is me, and it shows contempt for those we are with and moves us away from being Christ like to those around us.

The apprentice of Christ desires to hear from the Holy Spirit through a constant, intimate relationship. A life obsessed with culture will not keep you from heaven but will keep you from knowing and living for Christ which leads to a life full of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. If people who call themselves Christian would be intentional about their transformation to Christlikeness there would be more people wanting to know Christ in this culture, than the next big thing in the culture, for Christ would truly be THE BIG THING!

 

Adapted from GRACE IS NOT OPPOSED TO EFFORT by George Ackron available on Amazon.com KINDLE & PAPERBACK.

http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Not-Opposed-Effort-Applications/dp/1492215589/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386685224&sr=1-1&keywords=Grace+is+not+Opposed+to+Effort


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Dallas Willard- An Apprentice of Christ

Dallas Willard Apprentice of ChristIn 1999 I was so past burnt out from being a senior volunteer leader at a large mega church in the Midwest for the past fifteen years, leading hundreds of men and couples in a vibrant small group ministry. I would ask myself daily why the habitual sin, why the feeling that God has abandoned me and at the same time why all the fruit (we measured fruit by numbers in the environment I was leading in) in the ministry ?

Then in the fall of 1999 we had our yearly Small Group Coaches retreat and it was announced that Dallas Willard would be speaking. My exposure to Dallas at that time was casually scanning his Spirit of the Disciplines book when I had time to read. What I read I liked and I was greatly anticipating hearing him speak.  The retreat began and Dallas began to hold court. I was mesmerized by his countenance and authority when he spoke, I called it Spirit power bathed in humility. He began opening door after to door to the way out of my dilemma as he spoke of The Golden Triangle of Spiritual Transformation. After the first session I asked our Pastor who ironically at that time was John Ortberg to introduce me to Dallas. I remember exactly what he said so enthusiastically  “George, I want you to meet Dallas Willard.”  Well that was the beginning of a long friendship and mentoring relationship that hit the” pause” button Wed, May 8, 2013.

I would not meet up with Dallas again till 2003 at a Renovare conference but from that point on we would meet at least every 12-18 mos at a conference or exchange emails.

Dallas was the inspiration behind the forming of Renovator Ministries in 2005 and he knew it and would offer me encouragement by email.

In 2004 my wife and I traveled to Open Door Church in Minnesota for a three day conference with Dallas. Prior to the conference I arranged to meet with him for some 1:1 time and that is where my understanding of this man really began to take shape.  Also I will never forget almost the first words out of Dallas’s mouth as he began to speak . “In the next three days I want us to memorize  Colossians 3:1-17.” A hush came over the crowd, he paused as always then said “You can do it.”

Dallas Willard was and is to this day the only mortal that has ever been FULLY PRESENT WITH ME  whenever we met to converse.  You always had a sense he was listening to the Holy Spirit as he was speaking and listening to you. He taught me to do this and it is the key to being authentic in all our social relationships.

Dallas always had time for me, he always answered any question I had by email with a thoughtful and thorough response.

In 2007 at a Renovare conference in Atlanta a board member and I had engaged in a leisurely lunch with Dallas and we talked at length about one his favorite subjects -bringing spiritual formation to the church. His conversation was rich with hope and faith that soon the church would truly see what Jesus was speaking in the Gospels on life now in the Kingdom.

One of my fondest memories was of him and Jane at the 2006 Renovare conference in Denver. Another board member and I  were having dinner outside near our hotel and we looked up  and here coming down the street locked arm in arm is  Dallas and Jane , he glanced towards me,  and gave me a smile and wave and kept on walking.

In 2010 Dallas came to Wheaton, IL to speak. One of my board members who was extremely depressed and awash in hopelessness attended. At the end of a session I asked Dallas to speak and pray with him. Again it was like no one else was in the room but my board member and Dallas. He took him by the hand put his arm around him and they talked and prayed as the Spirit led. My board member came to me later and said “George, he is the real deal.” Very true but quite an understatement.

In 2011 the last time I spent any time with Dallas we were at the Aprentis Conference in Wichita. I was with another board member whose daughter had been murdered in the fall of 2010. I brought him to Dallas and informed him of what had come upon my brothers house and asked him to speak and pray with him. Upon hearing what had happened you would have thought it was Dallas’s daughter as he immediately entered into the pain my brother was experiencing and once again as far as Dallas was concerned no one was in that room but my friend, and The Holy Spirit.

In my last conversation with Dallas again in 2011 in Wichita I was holding a Lectio Divina spiritual exercise in the room right next to where Dallas was conducting a workshop. About five people had registered for the exercise but by the time it started we had over 10, which is about max for a meaningful Lectio. I was ecstatic. After it was over I went next door and ran up to Dallas and told him that we had maxed out the Lectio time going head to head with him. He looked up at me and said “Wonderful George and I am sure what happened in there was much better than what I did in here.”

In 2012 I learned that THRIVE a group out of East Peoria, IL was going to hold a tribute to Dallas and Jane. I had a family commitment and could not go. I drafted a tribute letter based upon what I believe to him summed up a person truly formed to Christ  and it was read to Dallas at the gathering, it sums up what Dallas Willard has shown me and has meant to me, here is that letter:

                              June, 2012

Dear Dallas:

On behalf of myself and the Renovator Ministries board I send you our greetings, may this day be one of your most treasured memories.

I am unable to be with you and Jane today due to a family commitment but may I offer from my heart to yours the following.

From the first time John Ortberg introduced you to me and my wife Bonnie at a Coaches retreat in 1999 to our last time together in Wichita last year our interactions have always been one where it was clear you knew you had been raised with Christ who is seated at the right hand of God and that your mind and heart were always set on things above in light of the fact that you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. As such you know that when Christ, who is your life, appears you as well will appear with Him in glory. In all our interactions you are one who truly demonstrates the putting to death of all that belongs to the earthly nature and have rid yourself of anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language. You demonstrate to all you encounter the putting on of the new self because you are renewed in knowledge in the image of the Creator. As God’s chosen, and dearly loved you have clothed yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. You bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances you may have toward another. You demonstrate the putting on of love for you know that it is love that binds them altogether in perfect unity. More so than any other man I have ever met you let the peace of God rule in your heart for you know you were called to peace. And you are thankful. Oh how the word of Christ dwell so richly in you as you teach and gently admonish us with all wisdom, speaking, not singing, the psalms to us with such gratitude in your heart. All of the above leads to the spiritual end of an apprentice of Christ that in all he does, whatever in word or deed is done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him.

So you see my dear brother what you admonish your students to read and memorize wherever you go to teach, YOU TRULY LIVE!  Can more be said that this about a man.

Much love and blessings to you on this wonderful day!

George Ackron

RENOVATOR MINISTRIES

Of course a thank you email followed within a week or so.

When I learned of his illness in  February I wrote him the following:

Dallas:

I learned as many did last weekend of your illness.
I am praying for your continued joy and peace in the midst of this trial.
Please know that due to your body of work the church has come alive and we will all carry on the truth of God’s Word that you have taught so faithfully.
Much love and blessings my mentor and my friend.
A few days later in the midst of battle he was able to write me:
Thank you George. May God carry us forward together.
Dallas
And now he is with his Master, CONTINUING his eternal rest and KINGDOM NOW LIVING that he modeled everyday of his life.
As for us, THE BODY OF CHRIST, must go forward together with the message of how Jesus wants us to live. He is our MASTER we are his APPRENTICES.
georgea:  always and forever an APPRENTICE OF CHRIST!


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Returning Joy to The Church

Joy

I often times think about Jeremiah and how he must have felt so alone so often. I know that feeling. For some eight years now I have been fervently listening to the Holy Spirit in regard to His frequent direction that He gives me for what the church should be today. So why me? I guess because He sees the HOLY discontentment in my heart and knows I will listen.

But maybe I am not alone. A week ago a new book arrived that I was asked to read and possibly endorse. I have not been able to put it down. It is called JOY STARTS HERE and will be available soon to everyone.  It has many nuances that steal our joy and conversely are the source of our joy. In all aspects of these nuances it looks within the home the school and the church.

When I began reading the assessment of the church in relation to joy and how that joy can be restored I instantly shed all my feelings of aloneness in this regard. These authors get it! Not only do they get it they practice it as their day in and day out life and work. Alleluia!

Basically it all revolves around cultivating the PRESENCE OF GOD in all of LIFE. They call it Immanuel Moments and say it should be pervasive in all of life as a joy restorer and joy giver. Now when it comes to the church the means they employ for Immanuel moments is story telling.

In the chapter on A Joyful Church Identity they write:

“Yet to propagate shalom (PEACE) to other people in church and community they (US) need to know what happens when we experience God is with us in painful places. This requires learning to tell the story of what changed when we experienced Immanuel and returned to joy. TELLING THESE STORIES NEEDS TO BE A NORMAL PART OF CHURCH LIFE.”

Where is this happening today? Sunday morning cannot continue to be a place that indulges your dull habit and gives you a false sense of happiness. It must become a place of TRANSFORMATION, of knowing the presence of God in your midst through these Immanuel moments. Sadly the AMERICAN CHURCH WE demand today needs OUR help. It needs to be told to STOP what is presently taking place and to START helping us be in the Presence of God through Immanuel Moments- The source of our Peace and our Joy.

Now if you attend a large church your only hope of this ever happening is to go small. Gather together 10-15 individuals who are DYING to LIVE. Those who have a  HOLY discontent and begin intentionally cultivating the presence of God through Spiritual practices leading to Immanuel moments. Then come together and tell of His greatness in your life, worship, pray and serve others as HE leads. Alleluia, that will be  a TRANSFORMATIVE community!

Want  to get started? Know of a few others who are DYING to LIVE? Come together give it a shot!  You do not need to be impulsive and march out of your church but you could start up a small community and begin to experience transformation then let the Holy Spirit show you the way forward.

We can encourage you in any way you would like online or in person.

We also posted a few weeks ago a general outline on these communities who are immersed in His presence:

http://www.renovatorministries.org/implementing-churches-with-a-contemplative-nature/

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

 

georgea@renovatorministries.org

 

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Implementing Churches With A Contemplative Nature

 Contemplative Life

THE NATURE OF A CONTEMPLATIVE CHURCH

  • Discipleship evangelism: Making apprentices of Christ and letting conversion happen.
  • Devoted entirely to the spiritual formation of those in attendance.
  • Emphasis on encouraging the sheep to participate and not spectate.
  • Emphasis on the treasure; the Trinitarian presence of God, not the vessel; all the other stuff.
  • Worship bathed in periods of reflection and listening.
  • Intercessory prayer and storytelling within the gathered time.
  • A strong missional component to the needs of the marginalized within each community
  • Help people get heaven in them now as they await eternity.
  • Help people lead their life, their actual existence, as Jesus would lead their life if He were they.

THE MISSION OF A CONTEMPLATIVE CHURCH

  • Help people get heaven into them now as they wait eternity.
  • Help people lead their life, their actual existence, as Jesus would leas their life if He were they.

PLANTING A NEW OR TRANSFORMING AN EXISTING LOCAL CONGREGATION

 

A NEW PLANT

  • Identify a group of 5-10 like-minded apprentices of Christ and begin to meet within the nature and desires above.
  • Meet literally wherever it is feasible.
  • Build in to new shepherds for the sheep as we multiply.
  •  Birthing and multiplying a new community of 25-30.
  • Training existing elders and overseers what it means to be an apprentice of Jesus
  • Immersing the now apprentices into the Trinitarian presence inhabiting and enclosing the community.
  • Intending and arranging for the inner transformation of apprentices; teaching them to do all that Jesus commanded.
  • Keeping an aura of expectation before the community to do as Jesus did and taught.
  • Constantly put before the community the how or means to fulfill the expectation.

AN EXISTING CONGREGATION

  • Training existing elders and overseers what it means to be an apprentice of Jesus
  • Immersing the now apprentices into the Trinitarian presence inhabiting and enclosing the community.
  • Intending and arranging for the inner transformation of apprentices; teaching them to do all that Jesus commanded.
  • Keeping an aura of expectation before the community to do as Jesus did and taught.
  • Constantly put before the community the how or means to fulfill the expectation.

 

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Noise, Everywhere, Noise

Is your life this noisy?

Is your life this noisy?

Did you catch the blog we posted on our FB page from this guy named Miguel and his mission trip to the USA? In case you did not here is the link: http://www.pathwaysinternational.org/?p=5348

SPOT ON would be an understatement.

He notes that everywhere he went there was NOISE, even in church. In church he notes even “thoughtful” pauses are all but extinct and all awkward silence must be filled. Then he hits it out of the park with this statement ” A constant state of distraction is the best defense against transformational attention.” WHOA!  The American Church!   AND when I say the American Church I mean YOU & ME- not a building, not a managerial team, not a senior pastor, not the elders- YOU & ME!!!

All of the above are just pragmatically giving YOU & ME what they perceive we want NOISE AND EXCITEMENT and THE NEXT BIG THING!  Miguel then offers the supposition (perhaps) most people do not want to listen to their own consciences, or to that every loving, gentle, and beckoning voice of God.

Then Miguel ask a couple questions:

1. If Jesus sheep hear His voice, then why are so many of them not?

2. What would you suggest are some good noise cancelling devices?

I find it beyond interesting to prophetic that this guy has be on mission in another country for some time and comes back and is taken by the NOISE level in every environment he experiences.

So church more and more I see us at the crossroads in the midst of a culture that is not merely broken but broken to the point that the pieces of the brokenness are crumbling. Do you want NOISE or do you want JESUS in your communities of faith. Do you want to be entertained or do you want direction and guidance for life through obedience.  I need to say here if you choose the entertainment you are not living in sin and bound for hell but you ARE missing the voice of God through great distraction and when you miss God you are truly nothing. Harsh? Just paraphrasing  a verse that is RED in my Bible. John 15:5 “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

That is why The Holy Spirit has put in me a fire to help birth and plant churches without NOISE. Interested? How can you not be? Churches full of life and power through anointed worship, fresh stories from our walk with Jesus in  Word and Spirit, intercessory prayer and outreach to the marginalized.

This starts with YOU & ME period! Talking and networking then meeting and multiplying.   Meeting anywhere and everywhere. Communities of 20-30 people multiplying not adding. What a revival and revolution for Christ.  A force of NOISE cancelling devices- The Contemplative Church.

If you live in the Phoenix, Atlanta or Chicago area we have resourceful people who can encourage you and resource you programmatically-  you need very little money if any.

It all starts here: georgea@renovatorministries.org

 

 

 

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The Power of Easter

In my time of solitude and scripture meditation in preparation for Resurrection day this week I was brought back to what I believe is the most amazing statement of our reality by a disciple.

In 2 Peter 1:3-4 Peter writes:

 His divine power has given us everything we need for  life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Think about how often we have been told that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us now. Resurrection Power!  Though we have been told that we seem to focus every year on the “new life” aspect of Easter and the fact that we will never die. But what about the here & now? Does Christ resurrection offer us anything for NOW! Peter boldly proclaims absolutely!  How about EVERYTHING WE NEED FOR LIFE AND GODLINESS!  What is left out of everything?  Nada!

Drilling down in this verse we see there is a requirement for having the power that gives us everything we need for life and godliness- KNOWLEDGE!

So Peter makes it pretty clear knowledge of Christ equals power.

Now if the Word of God to to you is more than a good read or an occasional truth for life but God’s truth for all of life then I am going to want all the knowledge I can handle of the Trinue God so I can walk in His divine power to live and live a godly life.

So what is the HOW of knowing God?  We know the Trinue God by ABIDING. We abide by being in relationship with another. When we are in a constant, intimate relationship with another we begin to KNOW them more and more at a deep level and to a large extent we take on some of their characteristics for the good and bad.

Now what totally rocks my world is the next verses 5-8.

  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your  faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The manifestation of the divine power is not more worldly influence but fruit and virtue in accordance with the character of Christ. Our power and prosperity from knowing Christ is the fruit of the Spirit. But as Matthew 6:33 states when we SEEK FIRST HIS KINGDOM we not only get His fruit and righteousness but as needed worldly influence comes along not because we are a CEO of a large company(which we may be) or have fortune but because we have the aroma of Christ oozing from the Fruit of His Spirit.

So again we are drawn back to the MEANS of KNOWING and ABIDING as Jesus modeled in the New Testament. A routine of daily exercise. Deep times in the Word reading and listening in submission to the Holy Spirit, Prayer that involves as much listening as speaking and to listen well you must be silent and in a time of solitude. These are just the basic exercises for guidance and direction. This is the way we change our thoughts and feelings and choices we make in life to align with God’s will. There are many others that are in the archives of this ministry blog that you can access anytime.

So why do I want to acquire the Knowledge of Christ to manifest His character and power? To boast? NO-to live the life of abundance that Jesus desires for His children so as to make a difference in this world abandoning our self-centerdness and control and living for others first in the midst of God’s will for our lives.

The power of the resurrection is a life of humility, denying  self and living in His will day by day as we abide.

Now this is not what we learn living day by day and is a posture we resist because it is not our nature and look at the result living for ourselves has brought upon us, external happiness and internal emptiness.

Jesus has provided your way forward, His power awaits. Do you have the courage to rise from your mediocre life this Easter?

georgea

 

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A Pathway to a Life of Simplicity

Solitdue: a pathway to simplicity

In a “my way or the highway” materialistic world within the church and the culture, I feel like Jeremiah writing this. But like Jeremiah, I strongly feel I am being obedient to the Spirit’s leading towards simplicity and submission from times of Solitude and Meditation.

The lack of a life of submission and simplicity abounds. The mantra of 21st Century life that is prevalent : I am the captain of my ship and look at my glorious crib, car and toys. I have made it!   Sadly this attitude is reinforced everywhere you look. Even churches today have bought into this lie with fountains, escalators, latest and greatest sound systems, larger and larger auditoriums.

A Model of Simplicity

Why has a life absent of submission and simplicity become so attractive. Simple! It fills the God created emptiness inside of us for a season. The culture  has been told God, if He exists at all, is insufficient for our needs and the church sadly teaches to a large extent only the truth that He is the resource for our future. What about our LIFE now?  I know a woman who has been a servant in the church, in small groups,bible study fellowship, etc that has the need whenever empty and depressed to shop and spend to get filled. Jesus is her way and her truth but sadly not her life.  All the complicated manifestations of materialism RUN OUT AND NEED TO BE REFILLED. That is why Jesus told the Samaritan woman in John 4:7-15

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Don’t you love her last comment:” SIR GIVE ME THIS WATER SO THAT I WONT GET THIRSTY AND HAVE TO KEEP COMING HERE TO DRAW WATER!”  She got It! Why don’t we! Why don’t we hear “Jesus give me your living water of Love and Joy and Peace so I will have no need to acquire everything that lifts my spirits temporary and leads me to spend to excess month after month.” or ” Jesus help me to abide and submit and realize a truly abundant life”. Why don’t we hear that?

We don’t hear that because it is not spoken of in our church meetings, it is not testified to by others and because it is not reinforced it is simply not believed. Hearing is believing! We believe Jesus is the way and truth because we hear it. We doubt He is the LIFE because few if any speak it. So we go to empty cisterns where the secular world will gladly speak of “self” and materialism hourly for our consumption.

I have a dream of a New Testament church where every week people get up and talk about how Jesus is their life and path to submission and simplicity and the Fruit of the Spirit. One after another, story after story. A church full of intercessory prayer and contemplative worship bringing you into the presence of God. A church where the well of living water is spoken about and overflows into the minds and hearts of the congregation. A church that becomes contagious with people dying to self and stuff and becoming a raging fire of LIFE!

God is stirring me to plant several of these churches throughout the US. We will need like minded and like hearted people hearing a similar call to join us.  Would you pray and if the Holy Spirit is speaking to you in this regard lets plow forward together in  a new row in His garden.

Only people connected to the Trinue God, living out His call and purpose in this world will be agents of transformation , living a Kingdom life now that in Matthew 4:17 Jesus said He came to bring.

 

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Lectio Divina – A Powerful time of Spiritual Direction

Lectio DivinaLectio Divina or Divine Reading is a tried and true approach to meditating on passages from the Bible. It is the taking of God’s Word  deep into our hearts and lives. It’s a special gift of grace given to us by the Holy Spirit.

Lectio Divina can be done individually or in groups.

Jesus proclaimed the Gospel and His mission in Matthew 4:17. He then showed us how to live in the Kingdom Now!

Primarily Jesus embodied and taught from the Old Testament Scriptures, especially the Psalms, from years of meditating on them – probably in the fashion and spirit of what is now called “Lectio Divina.”

We have no doubt that Jesus not only studied the Scriptures, but that he also engaged personally and deeply with them.  We know from the Gospels that Jesus memorized Scripture and this led him into meditation, prayer, and soul talk with others. And we see in the Word  his times of solitude and reading the Scriptures in a quiet, contemplative, and personally reflective way to hear and communicate with the Father.

From Jesus’ profound way of praying through the Scriptures came astounding wisdom, compassion, and power.  Wisdom, compassion and power  the Apostles demonstrated in the way they  followed the Master’s example by studying and prayerfully absorbing the Old Testament Scriptures and the Gospels. Many believers engage the Bible only with their minds interpreting what they read and learning what they should believe. But what about our heart and the choices it causes us to make driven by our thoughts and feelings? The Word of God needs to work it’s way into all the parts of our human system so that we are formed more and more into the image of Christ. For a detailed description of how God’s Word needs to penetrate our whole being check out Renovation of The Heart by Dallas Willard.

Paul wrote “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16). For Scripture to interact deeply with our mind, heart, soul, and body  requires that we read it reflectively, prayerfully, and in conversation with others. One way to let God’s Word dwell deeply in us to use  “Lectio Divina,”

So how do we engage in the spiritual exercise of Lectio Divina? In Lectio Divina we read and re-read a Scripture passage slowly and prayerfully as a means of furthering our intimacy with Jesus and submitting to his kingdom rule in our lives. We approach the living Word of God ready to hear the Lord speak to us, anticipating that the historical and inspired text will be freshly applied by the Holy Spirit to  our lives today.

                                       Lectio Divina Shared in Community

  • Listening for the Gentle Touch of Christ the Word.

    1. One person reads aloud (twice) the passage of scripture, as others are attentive to some segment that is especially meaningful to them.
    2. Silence for at least 5 min. minutes. Each hears and silently repeats a word or phrase that attracts.
    3. Sharing aloud: [A word or phrase that has attracted each person]. A simple statement of one or a few words. No elaboration.

 

  • How Christ the Word speaks to ME .

    1. Second reading the same passage by another person.
    2. Silence for at least 5 minutes. Reflect on “Where does the content of this reading touch my life today?”
    3. Sharing aloud: Briefly: “I hear, I see…”

 

  • What Christ the Word Invites me to DO.

    1. Third reading by still another person.
    2. Silence for at least 5 minutes. Reflect on “I believe that God wants me to . . . . . . today/this week”.
    3. Sharing aloud: at somewhat greater length the results of each one’s reflection. [Be especially aware of what is shared by the person to your right.]
    4. After full sharing, pray for the person to your right.

 

Now of course if you are doing this exercise individually there would be only at time of pray with yourself.

Be aware that you will fall back into translating the meaning of the scripture without submitting to God. Lectio Divina cultivates an attitude of humility and submission to God. You get out of the way and you open yourself to be spoken to and transformed by God.  You will find that he brings his life and direction to your life through Word and Spirit.. The disciplined way of reading slowly and prayerfully helps you to listen to the Lord.

Practicing Lectio Divina over time gives us the bonus of cultivating an attitude  of submission before the Lord which is the key to every aspect of taking on the character of Christ and the Fruit of the Spirit outlined in Galatians 5:22-23.

If you have more questions or thoughts please contact our Lectio Divina facilitator: jsimon@renovatorministries.org

OR- post on FB or our comment here.

Abide!

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