Archives For Spiritual Formation


— Henri Nouwen, in Life of the Beloved (pp. 25, 26, 30-31), writes to his friend Fred, a secular Jewish man from New York who asked Nouwen, “Why don’t you write something about the spiritual life for me and my friends?”

Ever since you asked me to write for you and your friends about the spiritual life, I have been wondering if there might be one word I would most want  you to remember when you finished reading all I wish to say. Over the past year, that special word has gradually emerged from the depths of my own heart. It is the word “Beloved,” and I am convinced that it has been given to me for the sake of you and your friends….

Yes, there is that voice, the voice that speaks from above and from within and that whispers softly or declares loudly: “You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.” It certainly is not easy to hear that voice in a world filled with voices that shout: “You are no good, you are ugly; you are worthless; you are despicable, you are nobody — unless you can demonstrate the opposite”….

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signs of life

The resource that has most influenced the way I’ve approached disciple-making in the last two years is Building a Discipling Culture (BDC) by Mike Breen and Steve Cockram. Here they introduce LifeShapes – simple geometric forms that make profound truths about the way of Jesus accessible and portable. The idea of using shapes may seem cheesy, but it works. Once these frameworks got in my head, I couldn’t forget them!

Except for one shape: the Heptagon.

Besides being a word that I’d probably never use in a sentence otherwise, I found the ideas housed within the Heptagon to be quite fuzzy. It was the hardest of all the LifeShapes to get my mind (and life) around.

Then my 3DM Coaching Huddle leader, Jeff Saferite, opened my eyes to it. I suppose this is as it should be – in discipleship it’s not enough to read a book about discipleship and try to understand the concepts. Discipleship happens as we see the truth embodied in the life of another person, we imitate what we see, and we find ways to integrate that truth into our own lives.

It turns out that the Heptagon is a very helpful tool for evaluating the spiritual health of a person or a community of people. It’s a great framework to reflect on if you want to give yourself or your ministry a spiritual check-up.

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Wilderness photo

Last week in Part 1, I offered the realization that I’ve been in a wilderness time lately. I also shared some insights I’ve gained on the wilderness theme with the help of a book called The Land Between by Jeff Manion.

Here are the rest of my takeaways about journeying through the wilderness.

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Wilderness photo

I just finished a really good book called The Land Between by Jeff Manion. It’s the best book I’ve read in a while. It’s also probably the best book I’ve ever read on the wilderness/desert theme in Scripture. Okay, it’s also probably the first.

The main reason the book resonates with me is because I think I’ve been in a wilderness period lately myself, particularly in my church planting work with Storyline.

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When we moved into our first house three years ago, my parents bought us a baby live oak tree as a house-warming present. My dad came over and we planted it in the front yard together. We drove stakes into the ground and tied supports to the tree to keep it from falling over. It was probably 7-8 feet tall at the time.

I was pretty excited.

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