John Stott

July 27, 2011

John Stott died today in London.  Christianity Today is featuring a number of Stott-related articles.  This particular quote is from an interview in 1996.

From Christianity Today:

What are the current causes of evangelical fragmentation?

We fragment over what we regard as issues of principle, but often the real reason is personal, isn’t it? When we’re afraid, we withdraw into our own fellowships and ghettos with like-minded people where we feel secure. I’m aware of that fear in myself; it’s part of our basic human insecurity. We’re looking for contexts in which we can be supported rather than questioned.

I’m afraid that in some cases the cause of fragmentation is worse than that—it’s a simple matter of ambition. There is a great deal of empire building among us. The only empire in which we should be interested is the kingdom of God, but I fear some people are building their own.


Desire for more

May 30, 2011

Ruth Haley Barton on desire.  Love it.


Another interesting article about church and spiritual formation by Ruth Haley Barton:

Cultivating a Culture of Spiritual Transformation in your Church or Organization.

When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong sooner or later does.  Outsiders, on observing this, conclude that there is nothing to the religion business except, perhaps, business – and dishonest business at that.  Insiders see it differently.  Just as a hospital collects the sick under one roof and labels them as such, the church collects sinners.  Many of the people outside the hospital are every bit as sick as the ones inside, but their illnesses are either undiagnosed or disguised.  It’s similar with sinners outside the church.

So Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior.  They are, rather, places where human misbehavior is brought out in the open, faced and dealt with.

…Wisdom is not primarily knowing the truth, although it certainly includes that; it is skill in living.  For, what good is a truth if we don’t know how to live it?  What good is an intention if we can’t sustain it?…Prayer is foundational to wisdom.

Grace for today…

May 14, 2011

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post this video…

I also couldn’t figure out how to find just the video so here’s a link to the Jesus Creed blog where I saw it.  It’s the clip in the middle of the page.

“The sinner is not the one who uses a lot of grace.  The saint uses more grace.  The saint burns grace like a 747 burns fuel on takeoff…because everything they do is a manifestation of grace.”

Aaron and I have recently taken up triathlons.  5 years ago we were in a small group in Wisconsin where most of the other members were active in triathlons and even Iron Man triathlons.  I had never been around such a concentrated interest in racing.  Nor had I EVER entered any sort of race after high school.  I’m no runner and the people who were runners intimidated me.  I had more expertise and interest in theology and relationships – which I also deemed more important.  So that’s where I focused most of my time and energy.  But in the last year or two I’ve experienced physical, spiritual and emotional fatigue like I’ve never known it.  After spending much time and energy being frustrated and exploring my spiritual and relational deficiencies, Aaron suggested that we to try living more healthy lives to see if it would help.  (This is an understatement.  He’s always been a health advocate.)  Sleep, water, healthy eating and exercise are among the things we’ve attended to.

I am not where I’d like to be in honoring God with my body but it does feel great to know I’m moving forward.  I have noticed some progress in the other areas of my life as I’ve worked toward my goals in racing.  And it’s fun.  I actually really like doing triathlons! 

I used to be stuck in a dualistic understanding of body and soul.  Body is temporary. Soul is eternal.  So of course I should focus on the soul and other souls.  However, the resurrection of Christ in bodily form and biblical references to our own bodily resurrection – living in a New Heaven & New Earth rather than our souls floating in the clouds – calls for a holistic understanding of who we are as spiritual/physical beings.  Our bodies matter.

The following excerpts are from an article entitled:

Flesh-and-Blood Spirituality: Honoring the Body as a Spiritual Practice

 by Ruth Haley Barton.  She is a spiritual director & writer and focuses on soul care for Christian leaders.  The article is worth the read, but I pulled out a few excerpts in case you just want a taste.

Beginning with the Biblical account of creation, all the great themes of Scripture affirm the significance of the body as a place where the presence of God can be known and experienced. First God created the physical, material world and called it good. Then God created humankind in male and female bodies in order to more fully reveal diverse aspects of his own being and called it “very good.”  No matter how far we might have drifted from God’s original intentions for humankind, the creation story alone points to the fact that all of human experience is somehow connected to who God is and all of it holds the possibility for abundant living, the experience of grace and the imprint of the divine.

In addition to whatever ambivalence we might feel about experiences we have had in our bodies, dualisms that are embedded in our religious traditions have created a false dichotomy between the spiritual realm and the material world, leaving us “an ambiguous legacy” regarding the body. Even as I write this article, a prominent Christian leader has recently gone on record with this dichotomous view.  In opposing Christians’ use of yoga, he says, “Yoga begins and end with an understanding of the body that is, to say the very least, at odds with Christian understanding. Christians are note called…to see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine.  Believers are called to meditate on the Word of God.”[i]

On the other side of the equation, an excessive and misdirected focus on the “perfect” body in secular culture along with disturbing levels of irreverence regarding human sexuality, has made it all the more difficult to know how to relate to the body in a spiritual way. These conflicting and ultimately unhelpful perspectives point to our need for learning how to honor our bodies as part of our spiritual practice.

Listening to the Body

Our bodies have much to tell us if we could only figure out how to listen. In fact, oftentimes God speaks to us through our body. Most times, our body is the first to know if we are overcommitted, stressed, uneasy or joyful, and when we need to attend to something that is causing us pain or disease.

Paying attention to what gives our body and our spirit a sense of life or drains life from us can help us stay connected with God’s guiding presence. When we honor my body by “listening” to tension, discomfort, lightness, or joy and wonder, and ask, Now what is that about? often God speaks into that awareness with truth and insight that proves very helpful over the long haul.

Praying in the Body

While we might think of prayer as an activity that engages us primarily on a soul level, the Scriptures tell us plainly that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and a temple, after all, is a place of prayer and worship. Prayer is primarily about deepening our intimacy with God and intimacy develops as we bring more and more of ourselves into God’s presence—including our bodies.

Bodies can be hurt, violated, broken, and even killed—but God chose to partake of it all.  It was in a body that he came to us. Even now, Jesus chooses not just to be present to us in spirit but to be incarnated in another body—us!—the Church! It, too, is glorious and strong and full of youthful vigor at times.  Other times it is vulnerable and broken and aging.  But all the time it is Christ’s body and it is the way he has chosen to be present to this world.  “Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which he looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world…Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”[v]

Who knows but that the practice of honoring our physical bodies might also lead us to the practice of honoring and being Christ’s body in the world?

When we pray, our posture and our bodily position can be an important aspect of our communication with God. To settle into a relaxed and comfortable position, letting go, allowing a chair to fully support your body, breathing deeply in a way that releases tension, can be a very tangible way of telling God that we are bringing our whole self into his presence—body, mind and spirit. With our body we are telling God that we trust him and rest in him and are available to him.


John Ortberg and Gabe Lyons sat down at Catalyst 2010 to discuss everything from Gabe’s new book to spiritual formation.

Dallas Willard talks about the subject of spiritual growth, the church, and our responsibility when it comes to formation.

You have only One.Life to chase, find, and live your dream.  Let your One.Life be consumed by the dream.

“…Here’s how to determine God’s will for your life: Go where your gifts will be exploited the most.” – John Stott

The only thing that “exploits your gifts” or that taxes you to the limits or that fills your soul or that challenges you to live the dream the most is following Jesus.

Uprising MEN!

August 17, 2010

I have an exciting announcement to make:   we’re adding a guys group!

Dale and Beth Phillips are AWESOME and they totally resonate with our vision for participating in a safe, transformational community where we can be real and learn more and more what it means to live in the freedom of God’s grace.  Dale will be leading this guys group. If you haven’t met Dale & Beth before, I promise that you’ll love them!  

There are a number of things that will change because of this exciting development. We’re not totally sure what shape Uprising will take this year, but this is where we’re starting:
 * We will continue to meet as individual guys and gals groups at the Phillip’s and Wenburg’s homes…for the most part.
 * About once a month we’ll get together with the guys group for gatherings that will include some teaching, but also be focused on small, mixed gender group interaction.
 * We are going to share our name! Rather than trying to come up with additional guys and a large group names, we decided that it works best in the interest of future students to call it all Uprising and have brother & sister small groups.
 * We are going to have a Co-ed retreat! The retreat will be a 24 hour(ish) retreat starting Saturday morning, Sept. 18th and go until Sunday the 19th.
 * Uprising, as a ministry, will focus on college students.
 * Dale, Beth and I have an office downtown and we look forward to having you on over!

To get the guys group off to a good start, we need your help. Please read the following note from Dale and pass along whatever seems appropriate to any guys you think might be interested.  You’re also welcome to invite or re-invite ladies to Uprising.  It will feel different this year, I believe, and I’d love for us to get off to a fresh start on 9/2!  Consider “Invite Friends” as the challenge implicit in this post!

 **Thursday, 9/9 will be our Kick-Off night when we meet all-together for food & fun. We’ll also introduce the Phillips’ & the Wenburg’s and just let people know about Uprising and the retreat.**

 I’m so excited to see what God does with Uprising and Hastings College this year!


Greetings Ladies of Uprising!
I’m Dale Phillips.  We believe, in answer to your prayers, my wife and I are being led to come alongside and begin an Uprising group for guys.   Beth and I live just a couple blocks from HC on East 7th. We have had a heart for and interest in our Lord’s work in the lives of students at HC for many years.
 To give you a quick glimpse into a bit of our journey:
 -we came to Hastings 31 years ago when God opened the door for me to pastor a church in town.
 -through the years of serving in that role, we were blessed to minister to students who came to the church;
 -for a number of years we were given the chance to lead a study on campus;
 -the Lord led us to step away from pastoring and to begin a ministry venture called CareActor;
 -through CareActor we have sought to communicate dynamic truths through the dramatic arts: to lift up the
 story of the CHRISTian faith by ‘standing before people’ to present stories;
 -one of the unexpected results of CareActor was that it pulled us away from opportunities to minister with
 and to HC students;
 -earlier this year we added a dimension to CareActor of ‘coming alongside’ persons to encouraging them in
 living out their life-stories;
 -with this dimension, we are being led to once again make ourselves available to students on the Hastings
 College campus by becoming a part of Uprising in launching a ‘brother’ Uprising group.
 On 9/2, when you’ll be having your first meeting with Uprising at Andrea’s, Beth & I are inviting men students from HC over to our place for food & to begin conversation meant to encourage each in living out our stories in relationship with our Maker through Christ.
 Then on 9/9 we will be getting the Uprising groups together for the first time at a time and location to be announced.
 Ladies we need your help!
 After being away from campus for basically 8 years, we’re starting over in meeting & building relationships with students on campus. Would you be willing to help us get the word out to guys you know who might be interested in deepening spiritual formation in and through community and in finding and fulfilling God’s dream for them in the living out of their life-story.
Please let them know they are welcome to come on 9/2 and/or invite them to come along with you on 9/9.
What Uprising for guys will end up looking like we can’t exactly say. Our desire isn’t to give it a shape and ask God to fill and bless it. We want more than anything to discover with you where our Lord is going in this and to join Him.
 Thank you so much for any help you can give us. We are looking forward to meeting you AND to Uprising HC 2010-2011!

 Seeking to Follow The Shepherd,
 Dale and Beth

Shattered Dreams

April 6, 2010

Could it be that…?


Shattered dreams open the door to better dreams, dreams that we do not properly value until the dreams that we improperly value are destroyed.  Shattered dreams destroy false expectations, such as the “victorious” Christian life with no struggle or failure.  They help us discover true hope.  We need the help of shattered dreams to put us in touch with what we most long for, to create a felt appetite for better dreams.  And living for the better dreams generates a new, unfamiliar feeling that we eventually recognize as joy.  ~ Larry Crabb