Starting from Scratch: a Retreat Meditation

Starting from Scratch: a Retreat Meditation

This past weekend I had the joyful opportunity to join with a lovely group of ladies from my church with the express purpose of experiencing our God on a deeper level. The group was comprised of women of all ages who were at different stages in their walk with God. Yet despite the differences, an amazing oneness prevailed. How like the Holy Spirit to join us in Christ and allow us to sense Him in and through each other!

On Friday evening, I had the privilege of sharing the opening meditation. If you were at that retreat, you may like to revisit our focus by reviewing the meditation. If you weren’t able to join us for whatever reason, please join us here now as we explore the rest we are called to in Christ, who is our Focus, our Ground Zero, our Foundation, our All!

Actually HE IS the Christian Life! Amen!

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Jesus is the Way...the Means...and the End

Jesus is the Way...the Means...and the End

For years in my Christian walk, I asked God again and again for peace, love, forgiveness, power, ability, etc. I read all the Christian "how-to books" and listened to the Christian "how-to sermons" and messages...on Christian radio, in church, conferences and seminars...anywhere and everywhere. I began jumping on (and off) the latest "Christian bandwagon."

Then I came to the end of my trying. My health was breaking and I declared, "I give up!"  It was then that the Holy Spirit illumined my mind and heart to realize that all those things I sought were a PERSON who loved me...my Lord Jesus Christ!

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Quiet Places

Quiet Places

In his book The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen spoke of silence as a portable cell or sanctuary, a place of transformation that can be carried into ministry. Yet true as that is in active ministry, my ministry now is mainly to family and those that God brings across my path. Even when I’m with family, my heart longs for a quiet place in the midst of chaos. In my oldest daughter Karen’s home it is her sunroom, decorated in a nautical theme. I search for things in the beach painting in front of me – the shapes of the clouds, the rocks at the edge of the water that soothe my soul and help clear my mind.

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A Spiritual Father: Bread for my Soul's Journey

A Spiritual Father: Bread for my Soul's Journey

One of my spiritual fathers was still alive on this earth when I first "met" him. Henri J. M. Nouwen (January 24, 1932 – September 21, 1996) was a Dutch Catholic priest and writer who authored 40 books on the spiritual life.

Our "meeting" came in two ways. A mentor friend of mine pointed me to Nouwen's classic work, The Return of the Prodigal Son. This is an amazing book based on meditations on Rembrandt's painting by the same name. (See my previous post for a favorite quote).

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Spiritual Fathers: Dead and Alive

Spiritual Fathers: Dead and Alive

I am writing to you, fathers,because you know him who is from the beginning. 1 John 2:13,14 ESV

Since the month of June is Fathers Day month,  I'm thinking about spiritual fathers.   I've been blessed to have some.  My life has been forever enriched by being "spiritually fathered" by these people of God.

So this month, I would like to share a few of them with you. But first, let's think together about "spiritual fathering."

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Quiet Places: Shared Wisdom from a Guest Branch

Quiet Places: Shared Wisdom from a Guest Branch

Today and next time here at the Branch in the Vine, I am honored to share words of wisdom from a new friend, Mary Petzinger. Mary and I met at the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove in Asheville, NC this fall. As we shared with each other bits and pieces of our lives, we discovered that we had much in common humanly and spiritually. And our husbands also have a common interest, "Evidence of the Creator in the Creation" (Intelligent Design).

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A Spiritual Father: Bread for my Soul's Journey

A Spiritual Father: Bread for my Soul's Journey

One of my spiritual fathers was still alive on this earth when I first "met" him. Henri J. M. Nouwen (January 24, 1932 – September 21, 1996) was a Dutch Catholic priest and writer who authored 40 books on the spiritual life.

Our "meeting" came in two ways. A mentor friend of mine pointed me to Nouwen's classic work, The Return of the Prodigal Son. This is an amazing book based on meditations on Rembrandt's painting by the same name. (See my previous post for a favorite quote).

Read More

Spiritual Fathers: Dead and Alive

I am writing to you, fathers,because you know him who is from the beginning. 1 John 2:13,14 ESV

Since the month of June is Fathers Day month,  I'm thinking about spiritual fathers.   I've been blessed to have some.  My life has been forever enriched by being "spiritually fathered" by these people of God.

So this month, I would like to share a few of them with you. But first, let's think together about "spiritual fathering."

In his first letter, the fatherly aged apostle John penned a tenderhearted passage on the growth stages in a believer's life.  He describes for us spiritual childhood, then young adulthood, and finally fatherhood:

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.I write to you, children, because you know the Father.I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.I write to you, young men, because you are strong,and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.1 John 2:12-14 ESV

Did you notice that he repeats two times the exact same description of the "father stage" of spiritual growth?

"...you know Him who has been from the beginning."

"You know GOD in His pure Person...the great I AM, the Burning Bush God, Jehovah!"  Nothing else is needed...nothing else distracts.  There's a total focus on the Ever-Present God and what HE is doing...especially in the lives of people.

return of the prodigal
return of the prodigal

Henri Nouwen, in his wonderful book The Return of the Prodigal Son talks about how we are each ultimately called to be the "father (or mother)" in others' lives.

...my final vocation is indeed to become like the Father and to live out His divine compassion in my daily life...every son and daughter has to choose to step beyond their childhood and become father and mother for others.  It is a hard and lonely step to take...Return of the Prodigal, p121.

Nouwen talks about three ways to truly compassionate fatherhood:  grief, forgiveness, and generosity.  All three of these characteristics require a heart completely empty of self-seeking, a heart that steps over our own stuff  and pours itself out for others.  This is where the Father seeks to take His children as they "grow up" in Him.

I love the image of "stepping over our own stuff."  It has helped me many a time in conversation or in situations to remember that as I mature in God I must be willing to step over this conflict, that slight, the other hurt, etc.  That's the way of the Father...and the way of fathers and mothers who walk in His way on behalf of His children:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

Do you have any spiritual fathers (or mothers, for that matter) in your life?  If so, thank God and imitate their faith!  If not, ask God for some...they are treasures!  And then grow to become one!

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 ESV

*More in the coming posts about some spiritual fathers, both dead and alive :)

Jesus is the Way...the Means...and the End

Jesus is the Way...the Means...and the End

For years in my Christian walk, I asked God again and again for peace, love, forgiveness, power, ability, etc. I read all the Christian "how-to books" and listened to the Christian "how-to sermons" and messages...on Christian radio, in church, conferences and seminars...anywhere and everywhere. I began jumping on (and off) the latest "Christian bandwagon."

Then I came to the end of my trying. My health was breaking and I declared, "I give up!"  It was then that the Holy Spirit illumined my mind and heart to realize that all those things I sought were a PERSON who loved me...my Lord Jesus Christ!

Read More