Formation and Life-Long Spiritual War

“Circle me, Lord. 
Keep protection near and danger afar. 
Circle me, Lord. 
Keep hope within. Keep doubt without. 
Circle me, Lord. 
Keep light near and darkness afar. 
Circle me, Lord. 
Keep peace within. Keep evil out.

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Formational Anguish

 

I know nothing about child birth and the pain of intensive labor. Thank you, Jesus. Oh, I was present when our children were born, but I was not the conduit through which those beautiful babies entered the world. That pain-filled drama was reserved for my wife. She alone understands anguish of childbirth, I do not. No man can comprehend what only a mother experiences. Push. Hold. Breathe. Push some more. Hold. Breathe. That is why I find Paul’s imagery in Galatians 4:19 incredibly odd. He speaks of formational anguish. The back story is fascinating. 

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If Only There Were Formative Listening

If only we took James’ sound advice to heart, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger”. It is not just current politics and the polarization that is evident in our culture that stoke the fire of disagreement and condemnation, but that same disagreement, condemnation, and polarization exists even among Christ-followers. Let me start with what James is saying. 

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Formation and Books 2

I am a book addict. No surprise there. No Twelve-Step Program would sufficiently treat and rehabilitate my reading dependency. Books, in the capable hands of the Holy Spirit, have been instrumental in my long apprenticeship with Jesus.

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Formation and Books

Francis Bacon’s timeless reading recommendation: “Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”

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Formation: You and Your Bible

Bible thumper. Bible worshiper. Bible pounder. Bible drunkard. Scripture slave. Scripture prisoner. Scripture bully. Word wacko. Word weirdo. Word wing-nut. Gospel gunslinger. Gospel fanatic. Gospel fundamentalist. All these words and others often define the culture’s view of someone who uses or speaks of the Bible as God’s Word, as God speaking to us.

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Formation and the Sword

“For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).


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Formation, the Word & Vacation: Part 3

I have been back to work for a week now. Hobbling mostly. The knee surgery has slowed me down considerably. I have been less than patient with the recovery time and necessary therapy. I prop-up the left knee from time to time, ice-it, and try to press on at work. I do my assigned knee stretches that must be designed by someone from the New York City Rockettes. I do those stretches begrudgingly. Even as I craft this blog I hear myself sighing. What does any of that have to do with spiritual formation, the Word, and my vacation?

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Formation, the Word, and Vacation - Part 2

Vacation is nearly over. I have found myself preoccupied with returning to work, upcoming calendar commitments and preparing for soon-to-arrive teaching and preaching assignments. Sue has reminded me not to rush back into the routine prematurely. There are still a few days left on my vacation time. She is right, of course. Sue is inevitably right most of the time. If she were a Major League Baseball player, she would have a batting average of 900-plus! My miserable batting average, on the other hand, would be somewhere around 250.

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Formation, The Word, and Vacation

The older I get the more I value the time away and the need to re-focus my thoughts. Many of you know I am an introvert by personality. I need unplugged time to recharge and renew my soul. The grace of time away from work is something I cherish. I am indebted to our Eastview leadership team and the wisdom behind the gift of vacation.

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Formation’s Foundation: A Word Breathed-Out and Beneficial

The critics and cynics would want me and others like me to stop all this Word of God talk. The lens through which many view the world includes the notion that the Bible was written by ordinary and imperfect people who borrowed narratives from other cultures and cut and pasted them into a less-than cohesive story to manipulate and control people. There is, of course, a warped element of truth in that skewed worldview.

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God’s Word, Word-Intake and Soul Care

The last three blog posts have centered on what a younger friend of mine calls “a school of Scripture.” People pester me sometimes to be more visible, to become more public, to talk more about how I cooperate with the Holy Spirit in living as an apprentice of Jesus. I tend to resist such invitations. I sense nothing from God that would lead me to believe that I need a publicist or a lighted stage. Nothing about the will of God has alerted me to believe that He desires for me a more viewable life. If He wants to elevate something I have said, done, or written then He will have to make it much clearer to me. 

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Formation, Ezra and My Ancestors

Sue and I just returned from a 2,000 mile-bucket-list-trip. We wanted to see where my ancestors landed when they first came to this country. We made our way to Jamestown, Virginia, with a slight detour to southern Indiana for our granddaughter Maddie’s sixth birthday.

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Words, the Word, and Formation

When I write these days, I am back in my first-grade art class with crayon in hand wanting to express life as I saw it. My writing attempts now remind me of my drawing attempts then. As a child, I longed to color well. I ached to capture on paper what I so deeply loved on the tablet of my heart. The clear picture I had stored there seemed unable to migrate from my heart to the blank canvas in front of me. I tried. Oh, how I tried. 

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