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  • Conversations Journal – 2012 – December
    happened divorce and accidents fires and illnesses work projects going unbelievably frustratingly badly To be sure there were moments of joy and goodness but for the most part life has been tough sledding I have had to relearn the meaning of the discipline of celebration Whatever is true whatever is honorable whatever is just whatever is pure whatever is pleasing whatever is commendable if there is any excellence and if there anything worthy of praise THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS Phil 4 8 emphasis added When the darkness of grieving descends when phone calls bring more disheartening news when relationships fail the call to intentionally remember the good the true and the just becomes critical That is why celebration is considered a discipline Read More Post a comment 6 Birth Pangs by Don Simpson BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT My son and his wife are expecting a baby in March I m looking forward to being a delighted grandfather for the first time Recently we got to look at the fetus at 20 weeks through ultrasound equipment What a thrill There s something about this growing baby that is making Advent and Christmas more exciting for me this year Babies and birth are frequent themes in the Bible just as in life today It is a topic filled with joy Read More Post a comment 0 15 Minutes at a Time by Michelle Van Loon 2 comments Is this shimmering season in which we prepare to welcome God s gift to us also a time for you to reconnect with family and friends Just as many of you will I ll participate in a round of holiday church services and social gatherings I ll purchase and wrap gifts I ll bake sweet treats and cook holiday meals And again I will

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2012/12/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Conversations Journal – 2012 – November
    and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil And some people craving money have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows NLT Read More Post a comment 0 Buy Nothing Day by Jan Johnson 4 comments Friday November 23 is Black Friday the day sales begin and people shop till they drop for whatever they haven t got But thousands call it Buy Nothing Day They think this day has been hijacked by commercial forces as Christmas has The British Columbia based organization Adbusters initiated this noting that the average U S and Canadian dweller consumes five times more than a Mexican 10 times more than a Chinese person and 30 times more than a person from India Give it a rest Read More Post a comment 4 Please God Heal Her by Bob Fryling 2 comments I have often prayed for physical healing for myself and for my family members I have prayed for healing for friends and coworkers and church members and for their family members But for many years I rarely prayed for the healing of my enemies or those in competition with me Read More Post a comment 2 When Healing Comes Slowly by Sam Jolman 5 comments Deep work is slow work Its only in lifestyles as fast paced as ours that we ve been able to convince ourselves otherwise Michael Gurian Lets face it slow healing does not feel like healing It s not laden with that euphoric rush of release the after effect of a sudden breaking in from God Nor does it seem to tell a good story or at least not an entertaining one Slow healing feels more like the S word really No not that one this one Sanctification That long obedience in the same direction as Eugene Peterson has put it But sanctification isn t quite what we have in mind when we pray God heal me Read More Post a comment 5 Healing Prayer and Spiritual Direction A Match Made in Heaven by Mary Yerkes 2 comments Inner healing is foundational to spiritual formation Whether healing comes as we open ourselves to God through spiritual disciplines or while meeting with a trained prayer practitioner is irrelevant It only matters that it comes And in my experience it comes frequently during times of spiritual direction Read More Post a comment 2 Healing a Distracted Heart by Don Simpson 4 comments Many years ago I went through a time of depression and distraction in which chronic pain health struggles and pressures at work ganged up on me I was burned out I decided I needed a complete break for a few days so I checked into a retreat center run by a group of Franciscan nuns The retreat was silent except for mealtime After a couple of days of self absorbed despair and aimless inner

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2012/11/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Conversations Journal – 2012 – October
    my mom s passing I stepped outside into the thick Florida air for a few moments alone It hit me for the first time my mother was in the Lord s presence For almost all of her sixty eight years she d been a tough minded secular Jew and had always prided herself on her ability to hold a grudge Read More Post a comment 2 The Harvest and the Great Cloud of Witnesses by Brent Bill 1 Comment This is one of my favorite seasons The slanting golden sunlight cerulean skies whiter than white clouds drifting along multi colored leafs gently wafting to the forest floor and the bustling harvest in the fields as combines make their way reaping the fruit of the earth Read More Post a comment 1 My Fave Saint by Jan Johnson BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT When I first read Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ by Jeanne Guyon I wondered How did this woman acquire such a deep knowledge of God I loved her ideas about praying Scripture and beholding the Lord I wanted to be her She knew the contours of the spiritual life and knew how to interact with God So when a publisher asked if I d be willing to condense and update her autobiography I jumped at the chance Read More Post a comment 0 Called to Journey by Larry Warner 6 comments There is only one Saint that has deeply impacted my life and he continues to impact my life on a daily basis He died on the day I was born July 31 although 399 years separated the two events The two books I have written were birthed by the thoughts and insights that flowed from his quill as he jotted down notes from one of the two books he was reading Life of Christ as he recovered from having his leg shattered by a cannonball Read More Post a comment 6 I am Woman Hear Me Roar by Kelly Soifer BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT In conversations with friends over the years inevitably it comes up that each of us tends to have a favorite book of the Bible Mine is the Book of Philippians I am not sure when this attachment started but I can think of several possibilities The first Christian decal I placed in my car as a new 16 year old believer was Philippians 4 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me I also had a youth group leader who challenged us as a group of boisterous gossipy girls to change the way we acted through that lyrical passage from chapter 4 verse 8 where Paul encourages the Philippians to think upon whatever is true whatever is noble whatever is right rather than the horrible things we were saying to and about each other Read More Post a comment 0 Lessons from Julian of Norwich by Pat Russell 5 comments In 2005 40 days before Holy Week I

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2012/10/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Conversations Journal – 2012 – September
    to be a stage A microphone A piano and an audience of thousands My kingdom was a performance A show A sham Then came the stroke Now five days a week I arrive at Trader Joe s in the early dark hours before the sun cracks the horizon I push my mop up and down aisles sweep my broom into corners to collect the debris from the day before The store is quiet empty There is one audience in this kingdom But that s ok because I m not performing There is no Stage Dieter here No superman seeking to wow the masses with feats of spiritual strength I m just me Just Dieter The guy who mops the floor who bales the empty cardboard boxes for recycling who delivers the spoils to the Salvation Army There s something beautiful about this simple menial work though Take the food marked as spoils for example It s all still good The fruit is good the meat is good the flowers are good But they re not perfect Anything that has an expiration date of today cannot be put out in the store for sale And if a pear so much as rolls off the smooth green pyramid of fellow pears it gets put in the spoils pile It s not perfect anymore So the Trader Joe s employees fill shiny carts with all the perfectly edible imperfection and wheel the load back to my kingdom My last task of the day is to load the van with spoils and deliver it to the local Salvation Army where it will feed the hungry who won t care at all that their apple is lopsided that their hamburger is in the waning stage of freshness They don t care how it looks They just want to eat To me this here in the back room this is what is real Not the bright aisles of suburban shoppers making their menu selections from stacks of perfection I understand the spoils I can relate Because I too am spoils Over and over and over again I used to be packaged as perfect Back in the heyday of my church career I was a shiny unblemished apple At least that s the image I polished up and displayed to the pubic But now stripped of my talent my stage and my six figure salary I relish the imperfection I revel in the spoils As I break down these empty squares of cardboard abandoned boxes that once held and protected good more valuable than themselves I survey my kingdom and I am pleased I feed cardboard piles into the giant maw of the baler and chuckle to myself as I think I am recycled Dieter I am emptied and crumpled and stained and ready to be use again in a new way in a new life Work was hard today I am tired The knuckles of my twisted right hand are scraped raw the hand is numb

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2012/09/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Conversations Journal – 2012 – August
    each breath to breathe the Divine into me and nourish my soul and not just my oxygen supply I ve reach the place where I now hear her simple instruction Breathe even when she s not with me Then I slow down and think of a variation of an old hymn lyric Breathe with me breath of God Fill me with life anew That I may love what Thou dost love And do what Thou wouldst do Read More Post a comment 1 Lessons Learned by Jan Johnson 2 comments Both of my spiritual directors over a span of 20 years have taught me a great deal Here are the top three things that come to mind first It s OK to be quiet together with someone In the beginning I was quite chatty and my director seemed almost austere But we were meeting at the altar of the church where he served and the sunlight would come through the stained glass and I could see the communion table behind him I was amazed at these holy moments Read More Post a comment 2 What is True by Fil Anderson 5 comments The gifts I have received from my spiritual directors include their sensitivity alertness to my story both my successes and my struggles and their support as I continue my spiritual journey These soul friends have helped me identify the particular path on which God is leading me without telling me the way Read More Post a comment 5 Three Gifts by Alan Fadling 2 comments Who I m becoming and who I am is a testimony to gracious mentors in my life along the way Not all of them would call themselves spiritual directors but they have nonetheless served me as such So many of the good assumptions expectations and beliefs I hold dear I was given in mentoring relationships Read More Post a comment 2 When God Chooses Friends For Us by Christopher Brown 1 Comment In my final year of seminary my friend Mike approached me and asked if I would meet with him to pray on a weekly basis He was interested in church planting and he knew that I was interested in church planting so he suggested that we pray together to discern whether God was calling either of us to this ministry Thus began months of praying together every week through which we sensed a call to plant what is now The Upper Room http www pghupperroom com main What Mike didn t tell me at the beginning of all this was that God had spoken to him earlier and told him that You and Chris are going to plant a church together But it s a good thing he didn t share this with immediately Through patiently discerning God s call together we learned a lot about prayer and we forged a new and deep friendship Almost five years later our greatest strength as co pastors is that we pray well together

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2012/08/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Conversations Journal – 2012 – July
    through a really difficult stage in my spiritual journey My walk with God had become empty and stale and my work in ministry had become meaningless The most painful part was realizing just how much I had been stiff arming God and resisting his Spirit s movement in my life I had allowed fear to paralyze me spiritually Read More Comments Off on When We Have No Words Garden Prayers by Pat Russell Comments Off on Garden Prayers My garden has been one of the settings where I read the Second Book I call it the Garden of God s Goodness So many metaphors have come from my work in the garden but even more than metaphors when I sit on the front porch in the early morning light and watch the sunlight dance on the daisies and iris listen to the Colorado birds sing for pure joy and smell the freshness of the morning I experience a purity of Presence that orients my body and mind for another day Read More Comments Off on Garden Prayers The Second Book by Tara Owens 1 Comment Since the early church fathers and mothers nature has been considered the second book by which we can see and know our good and loving God Scripture the first book is God s clearest and nearest revelation to us But if we watch and listen attentively we can learn of God through His Creation For the month of July we ve asked our bloggers to consider that Second Book and how their relationship to it has shaped their formation and their relationship with God When we set this topic nearly seven months ago now we had no way of knowing what a tumultuous time many in the United States have experience with heat waves power outages storms and raging forest fires Creation is indeed groaning and we groan along with it As I mentioned here I and my family evacuated our house because of the fires last week We are grateful to have returned home to very little damage but we are less than 1 800 feet from the nearest damaged structure and so close to the 346 families who have lost their homes completely As you may imagine I was a bit distracted last week by these events A few wonderful posts by some very talented bloggers got missed in the melee So we ll be taking this first week of July to post a few more entries on the topic of how music has formed our souls as well I suspect the two topics will play together better than we could have planned So let s open this book together this month From the glory of waterfalls to the grandeur of mountains from the detail of the tiniest flower to the intricacies of a spider web from the power of hurricanes to the heat of fires from the cycle of the seasons to the consistency of the skies let s read of God

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2012/07/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Conversations Journal – 2012 – June
    gift on iTunes yesterday as a show of support and prayer Once again I heard God reaching out in song to hold my heart in this unstable time But when I m alone When I ve thrown off the weight of this crazy stone When I ve lost all care for the things I own That s when I miss you that s when I miss you You are my home You are my home now Please continue to be in prayer for those families who have lost their houses If you d like a way to help practically at the end of this post are links to a number of organizations who are helping victims evacuees like myself and the firefighters who are so valiantly battling the fire still burning here With great thanks Tara Owens Ways You Can Help McCabe s Tavern offering the Adopt a Fire Fighter program Customers can purchase a meal for a fire fighter and McCabe s will match it The meal their our famous house made Green Chili Mac Cheese and the cost is 8 95 These men and women are growing very tired and hungry lets give them a hot meal and a warm hug to keep their spirits up and let them know how much we appreciate them No fire fighter will be turned down for a free meal at McCabe s Wildfire Tees 100 of proceeds from t shirts purchase go to help the victims of Colorado wildfires Get Help Give Help a resource from ColoradoSprings com where you can find links to the Red Cross United Way Care Share and other organizations helping the evacuees and victims The Song of the Church by Valerie Hess Comments Off on The Song of the Church As a professional church music the attempt to a reasonable number of songs and hymns that have formed my soul to discuss in this blog post is impossible Therefore I will simply give a few highlights By the age of 5 I could sing the liturgy by heart The song of the Church sung since the time of Pentecost Monday in different languages and to different styles of music has deeply formed my soul I think liturgically On the Sundays of Advent it feels wrong to me to sing Christmas carols for example The music of the Church is my channel to the numinous the path of God into my soul The genre is immaterial though it must have integrity in both tune and text if there is one A mis match between the theology of the tune and the theology of the text frustrates and saddens me I am also very aware of the dangers of sung bad theology as it goes into the heart more deeply and is harder to rectify Read More Comments Off on The Song of the Church Praise My Soul the King of Heaven by Bob Fryling 4 comments One of our family rituals when our daughters were young was

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2012/06/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Conversations Journal – 2012 – May
    if one succeeded as a writer how bitter this necessary purgation at the age of sixty when literary success had made your whole life and you had then got to begin to go through the stage of seeing it all as dust and ashes Perhaps God has been specially kind to us in forcing us to get over it at the beginning As you know so well we have got to die Cry kick swear we may only like Lilith to come in the end and die far more painfully and later I would have given almost anything I shudder to think what I would have given if I had been allowed to be a successful writer I am writing as I do simply and solely because I think the only thing for you to do is absolutely to kill the part of you that wants success Absorbing at least some of Lewis s toughness with himself has given me such freedom I don t have to compete I can just follow Jesus I can be happy for others most of the time I can be enormously grateful that I ve been able simply to make a living as a writer What a great life I live Join the Conversation Does any part of this quote resonate with you in a venture for which you are ambitious Kitten or Thunderstorm by Larry Warner 6 comments As I think of C S Lewis quotes from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Weight of Glory immediately spring to my mind These I share with you The following three quotes speak of the tension we are invited to live in as Christians but often fail to do so namely the tension between the twin realities of God s transcendence God beyond us wholly other and God s immanence God with us Lewis communicates a God who inspires knee wobbling fear reverence awe fullness whose ways are not our ways wild but who is good loving wise gracious merciful and even playful God as friend Read More Post a comment 6 I m On Aslan s Side by Tara Owens 4 comments I m on Aslan s side even if there isn t any Aslan to lead it I m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn t any Narnia C S Lewis The Silver Chair Chronicles of Narnia 6 Recently I ve been thinking about the nature of reality Not in a deep theoretical theological way as one would chew on an interesting idea or penetrating insight With the birth of my first grandchild and my first niece the question of what the world that we live in is really like has pressed into me as I held each warm small body in my arms impossible to avoid full of heft and cry and urgency Read More Post a comment 4 Medicine from God by Valerie Hess 1 Comment My favorite C S

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2012/05/ (2016-04-28)
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