Editor’s Note: We’ve heard about this or that stream or pathway. We’ve seen the way the traditions have different characters, ways of expressing the life of God. We’re impressed by some Christians we know who have it all together, who seem much closer to holiness than we are. We’re yearning to enter into the God-Life, to find a space that fits us in a world of sudden challenge and change.
When I held Gary Thomas’s book, Sacred Pathways, in my hands again, I remembered the person I was when I first entered the life of spiritual formation. Eager, sometimes overconfident, often full of inadequacy and shame, I saw myself as a contemplative, wanting desperately to go apart and let the Savior whisper my name. But I was afraid: afraid of my own romantic streak, my tendency to go overboard, to fall in love exquisitely and out of love just as easily, blown by winds of change and fashion. I didn’t want the spiritual life just because it was trendy. I didn’t want it for any surface reason, a new dress to be worn because it was the latest thing.
I wanted a place to rest, to enter deeply into the Life with God. I wanted the spiritual life, and I wanted to do things right. Like the young Teresa of Avila, I longed to strike a balance: not passionately shouting my love of God to the heavens, not secretly opening myself to the Holy Spirit, not on the mountaintop, not in the dark valley, always wanting the level confidence of trusting God minute by minute and day by day. I wanted Jesus near to me, yet wondered if that was possible. Were there other Christians and believers who felt the way I did? Where on Earth could I possibly fit in?Read More Post a comment (0)
The Christian spiritual journey is one that moves us with surprising opportunities, changing invitations, and new challenges. God asks us regularly to change, to grow, to step into something unexpected. What, then, encourages us to accept the Holy Spirit’s invitations toward something new? Most of us enter the Christian faith within the context of one or two of the streams of Christian spirituality. Those streams become our “home base.” Sometimes our faith community may encourage us to explore another stream. Often our faith community suggests we stay put, or sit tight, within the stream where their comfort is highest.Read More Post a comment (0)
“Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
I discovered the Jesus Prayer at a time in my life when I desperately needed something to deepen my life in Christ.
After reading about the various major world religions, I rediscovered Jesus Christ while reading the Revised Standard Bible that my dear Methodist grandmother had given me for the confirmation I did not receive. I had wandered away from Christianity into rock ’n’ roll, but had come back after seeing firsthand that most of the stars who had everything I thought I wanted were really still very empty and unhappy. This led me to the Jesus at the height of the Jesus Movement. Eventually I ended up recording Jesus music with Sparrow Records, a company that has since become the largest Christian recording company in the world.Read More Post a comment (1)
Christian spiritual formation with children is the process by which a child learns to live their life with God. That’s right; the kid who last left his gum on your kitchen table is invited into the same life with God you are. The one who pretends to be a dog during the entire second grade, the one who sings show tunes from dawn to dusk, that one is also capable of a life walking with the God of the universe.Read More Post a comment (0)
When the editors set out to curate potential artwork for the cover of this issue, we were tasked with a bigger project than we knew. As with any issue of Conversations, we aim to connect the image on the cover to the theme of spiritual formation about which we’re asking writers to dialogue within the issue. In the case of Issue 11.1, there are galleries full of art that depict the element of water. Christocentric works. Historical paintings. Images of baptisms in rivers, or streams flowing through the Garden. We weren’t short on imagery for the topic “Streams of Living Water.” But the subtitle of this issue, that little phrase after the colon, “Celebrating the Great Traditions of the Christian Faith,” presented a bit of a conundrum in our search. That is, until we came across “Celebrant” by Tim Lowly.Read More Post a comment (0)
I first encountered Richard Foster’s description of the six streams in my coursework in Christian Formation at Wheaton College Graduate School. As a Roman Catholic studying among evangelicals, the streams concept resonated with me. In fact, the Six Streams allowed me to articulate for the first time what was happening to me at Wheaton: my studies in a stream very different to my own not only were bringing me closer to evangelicals to appreciate and incorporate their faith perspective, but were also helping me to grow as a Catholic. Here is my story.
STARTING WITH THE STREAMSRead More Post a comment (0)
A call came at an early hour on a frigid autumn morning.
“Ryan, Ted is dead. They found him in an alley in the middle of the night.”
My silent response spoke my stunned state of disbelief. Ted was a 46-year-old Native American who, together with his four-legged friend, Lucille, had survived our Denver streets for the past 15 years. In our world, he was an icon, one of those cornerstone individuals within our beloved community of the chronically homeless. The news was a punch in the gut that left me, and several others, gasping.Read More Post a comment (0)
When I began my job at Spring Arbor University, I was charged with the task of developing a masters program in the area of theological studies. I quickly dismissed the idea of starting a new seminary since there are already scores of good ones out there. However, I mused over the question, What didn’t I get while in seminary? My mind gravitated toward spiritual formation.Read More Post a comment (0)
I’ve Got Rhythm
The Irish summer sun was still just a pale rumor on the horizon when I began hearing activity in the house below us. We were on holiday visiting my wife’s sister and family, and the first morning I began learning what it meant for my brother-in-law to work as a baker. Every day the rhythm of the morning was the same: baking scones as the sun rose; deliveries in the battered white van; then out to the store to begin baking a more substantial quantity of bread and cakes. Afternoons were filled with construction work since he was building a house for his family beside the bakery. In the evenings, we were often joined by other members of the small Amish community to which they belong. Each day the rhythm ticked along with the precision of clockwork.Read More Post a comment (0)
I have a mixed history regarding the person and work of the Holy Spirit. The Methodist church I was raised in certainly didn’t talk about him (at least, not that I remember). Well, that is until a youth pastor invited a young evangelist from Calvary Chapel to come to our youth group. That meeting caused such a stir that the youth pastor decided to leave the Methodist church and work with Chuck Smith in Costa Mesa, California.Read More Post a comment (0)