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Crucible of Parenthood
By |   August 21, 2014 |   in Blog, Parenting & Formation |   3 Comments

At just 4 years into the wild jungle of parenting, I write this with no claim to expertise, but rather as a kind of field note from within. My three boys are still toddlers, yet in this short amount of time I have come to learn that God uses the experience of parenthood as a means of transformation. I like to call it the “crucible of parenthood”. A crucible is something designed to put you to the test for the ultimate purpose of creating something good. Children are a blessing; they are also a means of our formation into Christlikeness—if we are willing to embrace what God is doing in this work.

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Seeing Jesus
By |   August 18, 2014 |   in Blog, Parenting & Formation |   BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT

Since my friend Dallas Willard died, I’ve found myself doing things that are “out of the box.” As a self-employed person I’ve tried to stay focused on writing, teaching and spiritual direction. No distractions! But as part of DW’s advisory council, I watched him do tangential things because (I thought) he wasn’t staying focused! Why? Because he loved God (and listened to God) and loved people (and listened to them).

So besides volunteering weekly at the Samaritan Center (a drop-in center for the homeless), I now also teach a Bible study there. It’s intriguing to teach these friends of mine who are moved by Jesus’ encounter with the demon-possessed boy because most have had seizures and they (and I) have seen others lie on our concrete, writhing in seizures. A few have died.

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Listen for What Finds You

Editor’s Note: At the end of July we had some significant troubles with our website and blog (as you may have noticed). As a result, a few pieces on August’s topic didn’t make it online during our month on Silence. Perhaps God was asking us all to take a break and find silence offline rather than reading blogs? Perhaps. But we didn’t want you to miss these poetic words from our non-conformist blogger friend, Robert Rife.

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With the topic at hand, at the risk of sounding overly clever or non-conformist, my post-modern poet aims at a metanarrative. In addressing silence, I am seeking it. Sometimes it’s not more information that’s needed. Sometimes we just need to sing.

 

Listen for what finds you

 

Listen loudly for the stirring glass

of day, unknowing. Her constancy

rewards your swelling incontinence

of spirit, grey and unraveled. She lowers

her eyes in hithering glance.

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Your Child’s Spiritual Mentor
By |   August 4, 2014 |   in Blog, Parenting & Formation |   1 Comment

Parents are, by nature, spiritual directors to their children. Intentionally or not, gifted or fumbling, believers or not, a parent is a child’s first spiritual mentor. The reality of parents as spiritual guides to children is so critical, in my mind, that I co-authored a book on it: “Habits of a Child’s Heart: Raising Your Kids with the Spiritual Disciplines” by Valerie E. Hess and Marti Watson Garlett (NavPress 2004).

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Simplicity: An internal stance of the heart
By |   July 19, 2014 |   in Blog, Simplicity |   BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT

When people think of simplicity their thoughts often turn to clearing out cluttered closets, garages, sheds…places where stuff has accumulated with the passage of time. However, when I think of simplicity I believe that a good place to start simplifying our lives begins in the area of disorder attachments. Often our hearts are so filled with disordered attachments that things like love, service, even the simple enjoyment of the things of life are buried under the oppressive weight caused by unceasing pursuit of those things we believe our happiness are contingent on having, keeping or not getting.

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Jesus Prayer 2.0

By |   July 18, 2014 |   in Blog |   BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT

About halfway through the Lenten season it happened without warning. I was sitting quietly in my living room when suddenly I was knocked off my feet by a rogue wave of desolation. Not only did this rogue way knock me off my feet I could feel it dragging me in to a tumultuous sea of despair. I felt helpless to do anything. The strength of the wave was beyond my ability to withstand – it was overwhelming me! I could feel my strength draining, like Peter I was sinking, the dark waters of despondency were rising and I was helpless, seeking to tread water but without success, the inevitable was clear, I was going to drown.

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The With-God Life

One of my directees runs an organization with 330 staff and a large budget. He is in and out of meetings all day and constantly interacts with people. He asked me, Is it really so important that I talk to God about things—even little things—all day long? My experience is that this continual conversation throughout the day makes life so much richer.

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What Twelve Step Has To Say About Transformation (And Why We Should Care)
By |   July 14, 2014 |   in Blog |   2 Comments

First, a confession: I gulped when the editorial team assigned me this article. They spoke bluntly: “Every church lobby should have a sign that says, ‘Go downstairs for change; stay upstairs to stay the same.’” When I winced, they explained that while real change happens in twelve-step programs, there seems to be a lack of change happening in the sanctuary. Finally one editor said, “We want to focus on the fact that there’s real honesty and acceptance in the basement (where Alcoholics Anonymous, otherwise known as A.A., meets) as well as an understanding that transformation has to be worked out.”

If you'd like to read this article in PDF form, please click here.

If you’d like to read this article in PDF form, please click here.

I’ve believed these things for decades, but I never expected a Christian magazine to address this topic. So hold on to your hat while we examine the grace drenched content, approaches, and methods of the twelve-step movement that facilitate a radical change of life for narcotics users and neurotics, online gamers and embezzlers, and those who manage pain by eating too much, drinking too much, or chasing women. In a twelve-step program’s safe atmosphere, these people and many others come face to face with their inner selves and throw those selves on the mercy of God day after day.

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Silence in a Digital Age
By |   July 3, 2014 |   in Simplicity |   BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT

Years ago, I spent several weeks traveling throughout Japan. I vividly recall the polluted, cloudlike darkness hanging over the larger cities and the constant struggle involved in breathing the smog-filled air. Glass-sided booths lined Tokyo’s streets, available to pedestrians feeling desperate for fresh air. I remember coming out of one, hoping I’d make it to the next booth without choking.

The memory of my ducking into those human-size fishbowls to escape the toxic air is a fitting metaphor for the digital world we live in. Without recognizing what’s happening, the constant stimulation by my devices will kill my soul as surely as the toxic air in Japan would have eventually killed my body.

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The Simple Life
By |   July 1, 2014 |   in Simplicity |   1 Comment

I have a hard time remembering how I communicated with people ten years ago. How did I set up a meeting before the Internet or check in with my kids before cell phones? How did I look up information, order a book, or map out driving directions? It is hard to recall what it meant to phone a group of people, leave messages on their home answering machines, wait for them to call me back, and then call everyone a second or third time. Often, it took days to arrange something. Now, a group e-mail goes out, everyone hits “reply all,” and voila! Dinner date reserved or meeting set up. The Internet is such a gift.

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