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  • Conversations Journal – 2014 – April
    facilitating retreats for them One of the things I love about these retreats is that they help church planters discern a greater sense of calling in their lives by uncovering their God given mission values and vision Read More Post a comment 1 In Process on the Process of Being in Process by Robert Rife 4 comments Let no one despise your youth St Paul to Timothy Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise Book of Proverbs 13 20 Three recent personal milestones all point in some way either to age and or wisdom Read More Post a comment 4 I Am Old and I Like It by Larry Warner 4 comments I like playing the I m old card and appreciate the gradual decline of my vision so I do not shock myself every time I look in the mirror I like that my body and mind is affirming the value of the Sabbath that I no longer need to be concerned about adding to my resume and I love being a grandparent and having no children living at home But thanks to the graciousness an old man 35 years ago I know there is much more to growing old than those things I just mentioned Read More Post a comment 4 Gathering Widsom The Golden Fruit of Later Years Purchase Print Volume Purchase PDF Volume Volume 12 1 Spring Summer 2014 Section Honesty About the Journey Purchase Article PDF Format Purchase Print Volume Purchase PDF Volume 2 comments When the editors of Conversations Journal decided to do an issue of aging and passages we knew we had in our own community a voice to speak wisely and well to us In Emilie Griffin s latest book Green Leaves for Later Years she shares wisdom from her seventy five year spiritual journey Read More Post a comment 2 Conversations Guide Purchase Print Volume Purchase PDF Volume Download PDF Volume 12 1 Spring Summer 2014 Section Features Download PDF Purchase Print Volume Purchase PDF Volume BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT Click the image to download a free Conversations Guide Get Real At My Age Purchase Print Volume Purchase PDF Volume Volume 12 1 Spring Summer 2014 Section Back Page Purchase Article PDF Format Purchase Print Volume Purchase PDF Volume BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT In my early thirties my brown black hair began forming a silver streak across the front Over the years I had great fun making the most of the black silver contrast framing my face But a while ago gray hair began filling in all over my head The contrast faded I looked old Was that okay I was stuck because I had vowed I would never color my hair to look younger I d been proud that my fingernails toenail color and hair color were real I reasoned that Scripture offers positive comments about gray hair Gray hair is a crown of glory it is gained in a righteous life the glory of youths is their

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  • Conversations Journal – 2014 – March
    had hands adept at putting me back together again and a shell of a man became a man without a shell The nice thing is that I ve seen no residual mental damage The nice thing is that I ve seen no residual oh sorry Read More Post a comment 12 Fasting and Our Attempts to Twist God s Arm by Daniel Harris BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT One huge change during our lifetime is the quantity of teaching and writing on the topic of fasting In the first helpful material I ever read on fasting Richard Foster s chapter on this practice in Celebration of Discipline he noted in my research I could not find a single book published on the subject of Christian fasting from 1861 to 1954 a period of nearly 100 years 1 Today in contrast I just did a quick search online which turned up 157 current Christian books with fasting as their subject matter Read More Post a comment 0 Fasting Pointers for Newbies by Larry Warner BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT Before beginning your fast it is important to decide what will constitute your fast Typically a fast consists of only drinking water but some people will fast from solid food while drinking fruit juice hot tea and water There are also non food related fasts that can be very beneficial A fast from media can provide a large amount of time to spend with God Deciding the why behind your fast can go a long way in helping you decide what kind of fast you might make If I am fasting for the expressed purpose of spending some focused time with God then a media fast is the prefect choice for unlike refraining from eating which does not free up much time

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2014/03/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Conversations Journal – 2014 – February
    it would bring to the Church Yet as I scan the current landscape I must admit I am can be a bit disheartened I know that there are people receiving spiritual direction going on retreats diving head first into practices of silence solitude and other ancient Christian pathways that bring challenge and renewal There are wonderful opportunities for pastors and leaders to attend 1 2 year long spiritual formation journey s that expose them to life giving and transforming practices there is no end of books on the topic there are spiritual direction programs that are training individuals by the 1 000 s there are seminaries providing MA and MDiv degrees in spiritual formation and there are many seminaries even mandating all those going through their institutions to take classes on spiritual formation so that their hearts and heads may be impacted by the gospel I am extremely encouraged by those pieces but I currently do not see a corresponding transformative change within the Church Read More Post a comment 0 Embrace the People of God If you Dare by Robert Rife 2 comments October 1981 I was eighteen years old and a touring musician I was 60 pounds overweight but spiritually malnourished and a two pack a day smoker I spent most of my time with people like me living lives of pretend happy inebriated make believe I was surrounded by faces But I was desperately lonely Read More Post a comment 2 Transformed by a Place by Valerie Hess 1 Comment I have been a professional church musician for over 45 years so worship has been a major focus of my life and thinking I think a lot about the spiritual formation aspects of worship as I plan for each service What it is really being formed in

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2014/02/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Conversations Journal – 2014 – January
    own chaotic human story There surely would have been many who would have talked about her with disdain and condemnation at being pregnant before she was married to Joseph Can t you just hear her telling some neighbors or casual acquaintances Well it is not Joseph s child No we have not even slept together I have conceived this child by the Holy Spirit who came upon me And they would have replied Oh sure Mary that is a good one I have never heard that line before Shame on you And we thought you were a respectable God fearing person Read More Post a comment 1 The Torture of Hope by Debby Bellingham BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord Lord hear my voice Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication I wait for the Lord my soul waits and in his word I hope with God there is great power to redeem Psalm 130 1 2 5 7 In last year s movie The Dark Knight Rises Bruce Wayne aka Batman finds himself in a hellhole of a prison it s dark and ugly Being kept barely alive was the torment inflicted on the prisoners death would be a welcome release Surprisingly the other instrument of torture was hope Read More Post a comment 0 Disappointment and Baby Dolls by Valerie Hess 4 comments It was Christmas Eve the year I was in sixth grade I didn t believe in the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny any more but somehow Santa Claus still seemed somewhat plausible to me I would have been mortified to admit that to my peers but I privately kept a bit of faith in him mostly because I couldn t quite

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2014/01/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Conversations Journal – 2013 – December
    reality the second circle was a future ideal I told the students that their goal was to push these two circles together until they were a single circle drawn around twice Read More Post a comment 1 Holiday Syncopation by Adam Feldman 2 comments Syncopation you either love it or you hate it In musical terms syncopation is a break in the established time signature or rhythm of the song I remember playing a jazzy blues tune that I liked for a friend in college Three quarters into the tune the music broke rhythm and a couple of seconds of syncopation ensued My friend said I really like the song except for the part toward the end He was referring to the syncopation He then said It felt like a hic up Read More Post a comment 2 Two Cheers for Santa Claus by Danielle Davey BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT It s easy to deplore the excesses of American commercial Christmas with its formidable combination of Santa Claus credit cards and Toys R Us Yet sometimes I wonder if the giddy excitement my siblings and I as children felt on Christmas Eve is a strikingly good picture of the spirit of Advent the joyful anticipation of a coming gift What if the Santa Claus fable functions like one of Jesus s parables a secular story that captures our imagination and embodies what it s like to live in the kingdom of God Read More Post a comment 0 An Active Waiting by Robert Rife 2 comments There really is no better time than Advent to talk about the mystery of waiting Under the best of circumstances the delayed gratification of waiting is not something we embrace easily The culture we have built bullies us into thinking that unless we

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2013/12/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Conversations Journal – 2013 – November
    in anticipation of the fellowship time to follow My mind is aflutter with anxious questions With whom do I talk What do I talk about Will I be welcoming enough Will I seem strange I lap up the words of the benediction like milk Then I enter the fray and instead of hiding in the bathroom I pull off a successful performance But that s just it a performance A performance through which I skillfully avoid facing a deeper fear the fear of being truly known the fear that if people really knew me they would not love me In this way my core of fear remains untouched My social skills become a cunning strategy for keeping God and others at a distance mere spectators No amount of gripping and grinning reading of books or even dare I say meditation on Psalm 27 will help me if I use these skills merely to block access to my heart Thanks be to God that Jesus s yearning to know me is bigger than my fear of being known Perfect love casts out fear John writes and I think I am beginning to grasp this Resting in Jesus s perfect love I am invited to be the self He made me to be Lately I find myself led into surprising practices like intentional solitude that help me put performance aside During a solitary walk on the beach I may burst into whimsy I find myself making up names for the colors of the sky skipping rocks talking to birds singing and even if I am very brave dancing I m not performing I m just being My new true self is emerging however gingerly When I m not performing the broken pieces of my heart becoming available to the healing touch of Jesus Slowly I am able to re emerge into the world as myself offering my heart to God and to the people around me no longer afraid of being known Join the Conversation When you read Jesus s yearning to know me is bigger than my fear of being known what happens in your heart When have you been afraid of being known A Mystery Nancy Drew Can t Solve by Danielle Davey BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT I love mystery stories In grade school I admired Nancy Drew the titian haired amateur sleuth who with considerable pluck and a little help from her friends always solved the crime Later it was Hercule Poirot Agatha Christie s gallant detective with the egg shaped head and those extraordinary grey cells Others followed Peter Wimsey Father Brown and even Columbo and Monk Why are these characters so appealing Poet and critic W H Auden suggests that our delight in detective fiction is theological This resonates It is deeply human to crave justice and truth We want what really happened to be revealed We are attracted to those who can make sense of the world In a way the crucifixion of Jesus reads

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2013/11/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Conversations Journal – 2013 – October
    by Ann OBarr 2 comments My husband drives our twenty year old Toyota pickup as we crest the top of the Cascade Range at Stevens Pass on Washington State Route 2 and start downward I clutch the grip over the door The next five miles are torture for me as the road descends rapidly in elevation and I peek at the abyss to the right I m grateful for the concrete barrier at the side but would it hold us if we lost control of the vehicle and slammed against it What if our brakes fail What if a tractor trailer rams us from behind I see us flung over the side of the chasm I doubt we re going to make it The fact that we have always made it offers no comfort to me now Nor the fact that hundreds of vehicles make it every day Read More Post a comment 2 Fear Fears Love by Robert Rife 2 comments I am petrified of stray dogs I ve even been hospitalized by friendly dogs It s like they pick me out of a humans line up as the quickest distance between two points dinner and no dinner I m not particularly fond of spiders either I have a scar on the back of one hand from a small but vicious spider attack well I was only 10 it felt like that Those are the easy ones The rest get pretty complicated I am an adoptee I am told that fear is the one characteristic most endemic of adoptees specifically fear of rejection I enjoy both the status of adult adoptee and the distinction of being one who could be voted most likely to love you to death to avoid being unloved Fear is something in which I am well trained fear of rejection of change of failure of success of loneliness of Decision making my single greatest fear has been a nightmare for me whose primary default button has two questions written above it Is this safe and Is this easy Read More Post a comment 2 Day of No Fear Challenge by Jan Johnson 1 Comment As I read this issue of Conversations my thinking was jarred by Keith Matthew s article Fear of Missing Out in relation to our having to be present to our technology rather than being present to people or present to God It got me to thinking about all the little ways fear governs us In my article No Fear I d also mentioned this We may be afraid of failure but also of success rejection but also of intimacy looking unattractive but also of looking too attractive how others are looking at me or that no one notices me disappointing authority figures or being that disappointing figure myself We fear that we somehow won t have what we need or the relationships we need We re afraid that we ll get into difficult situation and God won t show up in

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2013/10/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Conversations Journal – 2013 – September
    people who had been reading these books for decades We wanted to offer something similar to people who don t have the chance to study these kinds of things in a seminary context or to be used as an introductory text in those contexts We wanted to put together a book that would explore the spiritual value of the classics as well as provide a framework for reading them in wisdom and we are excited to say we think our book does that Want more Read this interview with Kyle Strobel about his other new resource Formed for the Glory of God Learning from the Spiritual Practices of Jonathan Edwards Kyle Strobel is a husband father friend theologian writer speaker and practitioner of spiritual formation He is a Jonathan Edwards scholar and seeks to bridge the gap between the scholarly world and the life of the church Kyle is the author of Reading the Christian Spiritual Classics A Guide for Evangelicals with co author Jamin Goggin Formed for the Glory of God Learning from the Spiritual Practices of Jonathan Edwards and Metamorpha Jesus as a Way of Life Kyle has written for Relevant Magazine RelevantMagazine com Pastors Toolbox and is a frequent blogger at Metamorpha com Conversantlife com and TheologyForum wordpress com Kyle has two masters degrees from Talbot School of Theology and a PhD in Systematic Theology from the University of Aberdeen Jamin Goggin is a teacher and practitioner of spiritual formation His main areas of focus are spiritual theology historical spirituality and Christian community Jamin is the author of Reading the Christian Spiritual Classics A Guide for Evangelicals with co author Kyle Strobel He has done Masters work in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care as well as NewTestament at Talbot School of Theology Jamin lives in southern California with his wife Kristin and their two children He has pastored in churches in southern California for the past four years He is also a trained spiritual director Jamin passionately seeks to implement spiritual formation in the life of the church Jonathan Edwards Formation by Senior Editor Download PDF BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT An Interview with Kyle Strobel Can you in one sentence tell me what Formed for the Glory of God is about I ll try Formed for the Glory of God is a vision of spiritual formation and practice oriented by the God of love beauty and affection a God calling us to set our minds on things above Col 3 and follow him in the way of love Admittedly a bit of a mouthful What does it mean to be formed for the glory of God Lots of things actually Let me name several First being formed for God s glory means that our agenda cannot rule the day We do not get to decide what formation looks like God does We have to hold our hands open to the kind of work he wants to do This will inevitably run against our expectations and desires and how we navigate that experience will be central to our formation Second since God s glory is the overflow of his fullness to us in Christ and the Spirit being formed for his glory is being formed to partake in God s life This is the life of grace to become children within the Son and to partake of the divine nature 2 Pet 1 4 We become a people of love as we partake in God s life of love In other words as we are with God in all things learning to practice his presence we become formed within and for his life of love Last being formed for the glory of God is to embrace the deeply relational aspect of the Gospel loving God and loving neighbor We only know God s glory as we know his self giving in Christ and the Spirit and so the glory we partake in is always relational Why bother reading someone like Edwards or even reading about his view of formation In Edwards we find someone who was utterly captivated by God He loved to go for walks in the forest to be with God meditate on God s goodness and contemplate God s love His entire life was formed by his understanding of God s overflowing abundance of love and beauty and so his spirituality is tied to contemplation solitude and affection Furthermore for those of us who call ourselves evangelicals Edwards is our spiritual father Edwards s spirituality was forged as evangelicalism was coming into its own and in many ways Edwards s spiritual vision is the most profound and robust in all of evangelicalism This opens up doors with other evangelicals to talk about the depths of our own spiritual heritage and to use this common ground to meditate on what it might mean to live this out in our day and age Edwards in other words is the great bridge builder to talk about spiritual formation across evangelicalism What do we have to learn from Protestant classics The Protestant writers who have given us classical works in spirituality are important because of how close to home their spiritual situation is with ours For example instead of focusing on the monastery as with much of Catholic and Eastern Orthodoxy spirituality the Protestant writers took the idea of the monastery and applied it to the home The family was the monastic community who were living according to a rule of life whose rhythm of life was the bedrock of a healthy society Likewise and maybe most importantly Protestant spirituality is built on the notion that God s deep love for us has secured salvation apart from us In other words we are not the bedrock of our salvation but Christ is This spirituality is built on the hope that is freely offered in grace and therefore the notion that our entirely identity is found not on my own skill effort or savvy but in Christ is the

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2013/09/ (2016-04-28)
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