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Educating Waist-Deep in the Middle of the Streams

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.

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Shaping A Rule Of Life

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.

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Finding the Holy Spirit in All of God’s Places: The Spirit-led Journey of an Accidental Anglican

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.

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“Several Forms of Christians in the School of Christ”: How Diversity in the Church Leads Us Deeper Where We Are

Whatever would we have to talk about? That’s what I thought one evening when I was going out to dinner with my then boss, a board of directors’ member, and her husband. Tim, my former boss, is a Presbyterian minister. Katie is a convert to Catholicism, Jack’s a cradle Catholic, and I’m a cradle Quaker. We composed a rather eclectic group gathering at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. Despite the fact that about the only things we had in common were our link to the Indianapolis Center for Congregations and that each of us is a person of faith, things went better than well. From the time we climbed into the car until we reentered the hotel, the conversation was lively.

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Acts of Incarnation

Editors Note: In June of 2012, Dallas Willard presented two hours of teaching on the Book of Acts to the Renovaré Board and Ministry team at a retreat center in Colorado. Given the theme of this issue of Conversations, “Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith,” and the “incarnational” focus of Dallas Willard’s presentation, we thought you might want to listen in on part of that talk. What follows, after a brief introduction from Gary W. Moon, is an edited version of portions of that talk.

I encountered a teaching on the uniting themes of Scripture that I’ve never been able to forget. It was posited that if you step inside the Bible, anywhere between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21, you would not have to turn many pages before bumping into four retreated themes: 1) God loves people and has prepared a suitable dwelling place both as an inheritance and a place of being together; 2) God desires to be with His people in loving relationship; 3) Humanity continues to reject both the inheritance and the offer of presence and relationship; 4) God does not give up on His offer to be with the ones He loves.

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Soaked: Understanding the Jesus Life through the Six Streams Richard Foster in Conversation with Nathan Foster

Richard J. Foster originally published Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith in 1998. In this groundbreaking follow-up to Celebration of Discipline, he identified six traditions from the various movements in church history and categorized each according to their unique emphases in faith and practice.

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Reflections

Editor’s Note: Often we “swim” in a stream that is particularly natural to us, and we may not see how the other streams can be beneficial to our life with God. These reflections on the Psalms from Ken Boa help us consider how God interacts with the psalmist in multiple ways; a reminder that God’s perspective is important, and that we need to be open to other means of relating to Him. The reflection on Psalm 19 highlights how the various streams run through all of the World/Word/Way means of interacting with God. We hope that you take some time to reflect on these two psalms yourself, and consider how you’re currently relating to God, and in what ways/words/perspectives He is relating to you.

To read the rest of this article, you can purchase the entire issue or just this article through our Journal Store.

Join the Conversation- 11.1 “Streams of Living Water”

Dear Readers,

In “Join the Conversation”, we often share feedback we receive from readers on previous issues or ways that you are using the journal for your own spiritual growth. For this issue however, we reached out to our Facebook community (all several thousand of you!) with a “Call for Artwork” that coincided with our “Streams of Living Water” theme. You are one bunch of creative and talented folks! We received many, many original images of paintings, photographs, poetry—and we thought we’d share it with you here:

Be blessed by the creative expressions and reflections on the artwork of those on this journey with you!

Warmly,

The Conversations Team

To read the rest of this article, you can purchase the entire issue or just this article through our Journal Store.

Jet Fuel and Candlelight

Tonight I enjoyed several hours of conversation with a cohort of missionally focused church planters in Kansas City. After opening our time with a reading from the Book of Common Prayer, our leader invited a follow-up discussion to the prior session’s topic: A Rule of Life. While this topic may be familiar to many readers of Conversations Journal (or if it’s not, you can read more about it in Chris Webb’s excellent article), it was not as familiar to many evangelical church-planters in their twenties. Until about a decade ago, it wasn’t familiar to me, either.

You may think, Oh, that’s how spiritual formation can be, the idea du jour, a new fad in church-planting circles.

Let me reassure you, this was a very real, substantive conversation that was about more than just a Rule of Life. It started with some of these honest questions and observations:

 

  • I tried silent prayer, but haven’t gone back to it because it felt so weird.
  • Why do spiritual formation practices, and people, just make me feel guilty?
  • I feel overwhelmed at the thought of mapping all my times with God for the next year into my calendar; I’m not sure I can have a Rule of Life.
  • How do couples experience and encourage spiritual formation together? Or should they?
  • Being a pastor is like being a freshman in high school and having to run the 300-yard high hurdles. Just when you begin to hit your stride, you face with a huge obstacle, and you’re just too short. Once you manage to get over it, you barely begin to hit your stride again and there’s another… and then another… and the race never ends. (He is seated next to his wife; they have four sons, and appear under the age of 30.)

 

This is real. This is the pain, the longing, the confusion. And from my perspective, this is the opportunity to serve pastors and leaders. The needs are urgent; the time is now.  Personally, I feel called to stand as a bridge between these jet-fuel drinkers and the candle lighters.

To read the rest of this article, you can purchase the entire issue or just this article through our Journal Store.

Healing Body and Soul

Do you believe that a minister can cure disease by praying and putting a hand on someone’s head? Careful before you answer, a very similar question is on a test used by mental health professionals to diagnose psychopathology, and to affirm that particular item will increase your score on a scale that will make you appear, to state it succinctly, crazy.

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