Lectionary readings:  Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12 Lectionary Calendar (Cycle C) and guidance for using the lectionary This Sunday officially marks the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of the season of Epiphany—the “showing forth” or “the revelation” of God’s presence to unlikely people in unlikely places.  On this…

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Lectionary Readings for December 22, 2012: Micah 5:2-5a; Psalm 80:1-7; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-55 Advent Calendar (Cycle C) and guidance for using the lectionary In the fourth week of Advent we begin to move beyond waiting and preparation to a deeper sense of the immanency of Christ’s coming. Anticipation is high. The fourth Sunday of…

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Lectionary Readings for December 2, 2012: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-10; I Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36 Advent Calendar (Cycle C) and guidance for using the lectionary Apparently American consumerism has reached a new low. As one news article described it, “The gravy was still warm. The Dallas Cowboys were still in uniform.  Thanks were still being given across the…

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The seasons of the church year are meant to teach us something about the spiritual life we need to learn.  Beyond mere information about the spiritual life, they offer us the opportunity to practice some of the key disciplines of the Christian life and to do it together as a community of faith. The Advent season,…

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Twenty years ago, as a young minister in my early thirties, I hit a wall in my spiritual life.  I was exhausted.  I was driven.  I was disillusioned. I had sucked every last bit of marrow out of the dry bones of traditional quiet times, noisy church services, chatty small groups, and Christian self-help books.…

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“If you know you are the Beloved, you can live with an enormous amount of success and an enormous amount of failure without losing your identity. Because your identity is that you are the Beloved… the question becomes ‘Can I live a life of faith in the world and trust that it will bear fruit?’” –Henri…

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Note: The following case study from the NEW Pursuing God’s Will Together is fictitious and yet it is all true.  Everything that happens at “Grace Church” is based on the real life experiences of leadership groups from various churches and organizations, highlighting some of the questions and issues that invite us to embark on the journey…

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Discernment, in a most general sense, is the capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and the activity of God—both in the ordinary moments and in the larger decisions of our lives. The apostle Paul says that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can discern what…

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Editors note: Last year on Good Friday Christians from around the world prayed together using our Stations of the Cross Prayer Guide. A few of the locations from which people prayed include: Malaysia; Sanabu, Egypt; Heilegenkreuz, Austria; Aberfoyle, ON Canada; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Madagascar; Pretoria, South Africa; Auckland, New Zealand; Hong Kong; Philippines; Suffolk, England;…

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Lectionary readings for February 22, 2012: Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5: 20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21  Lenten Lectionary (Cycle B) Calendar “Yet even now, says the Lord, repent and return to me with all your heart.” –Joel 2:13 Today is Ash Wednesday—the beginning of the Church’s observance of the Lenten season. Ash…

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Part 3: Martin Luther King series

Part 1: Opposites in Fruitful Harmony Part 2: Inner Strength for Outer Action “Every genuine expression of love grows out of a consistent and total surrender to God.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the most striking aspects of Dr. King’s life and ministry was his commitment to love as the most durable power…

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Part 2: Martin Luther King series

Part 1: Opposites in Fruitful Harmony “Admitting the weighty problems and staggering disappointments, Christianity affirms that God is able to give us the power to meet them.  He is able to give us the inner equilibrium to stand tall amid the trials and burdens of life.  He is able to provide inner peace amid outer…

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Part 1: Martin Luther King series

We shall meet your physical force with soul force.  Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you… One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves.  We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be…

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Lectionary readings for Epiphany, January 6:  Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2: 1-12 “They set out; and there ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed…

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Dear Friend, God’s richest blessings to you in this New Year! As we begin 2012, my heart is full of gratitude for the faithful support of our friends in 2011. Through your commitment to prayer and generous giving, God has sustained us and enabled us to keep moving forward in response to his leading. This…

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Lectionary readings for December 24, 2011: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14 (15-20) “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all…” Titus 2:11 Christmas Eve signals the beginning of the feast of the Nativity—the celebration of God with us.  Advent, the season of waiting, is coming to a close as…

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Lectionary readings for December 18, 2011: 2 Samuel 7: 1-11,16; Luke 1:46b-55; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Luke 1:38 Most of us don’t think of indifference as being very positive. In fact, we tend to identify…

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Dear Friend of the Transforming Center, Greetings to you this Advent season! During Advent we practice the spiritual discipline of waiting—waiting for the coming of Christ not only in the ancient world of the Biblical story, but in our own lives now. We become aware of those places where we long to experience Christ’s presence…

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Lectionary readings for December 11, 2011:  Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John…he himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.  The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:6-9 In…

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Lectionary readings for December 4, 2011:  Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8 “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness,…

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Read these Lectionary readings for November 27, 2011: Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9; Mark 13:24-37 “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be…

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Editors note: During the launch of the fall ministry season, we offer you part 5 of our eReflections series encouraging you to establish spiritual rhythms that will strengthen the soul of your leadership. Click on the link to read part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 of this series. “Decision making has its…

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Editors note: During the launch of the fall ministry season, we offer you part 4 of our eReflections series encouraging you to establish spiritual rhythms that will strengthen the soul of your leadership. Click on the link to read part 1, part 2, and part 3 of this series. “A leader is a person who must take…

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Silence and Word, Stillness and Action

Editors note: As we head into the fall ministry season we offer you part three of an eReflections series to encourage you to pay attention to the spiritual rhythms that will strengthen the soul of your leadership. Click on the link to read part 1, part 2, part 4, and part 5 of this series.  …

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Solitude in Community

Editors note: As we head into the fall ministry season we offer you part two of an eReflections series to encourage you to pay attention to the spiritual rhythms that will strengthen the soul of your leadership. Click on the links to read part 1, part 3, part 4, and part 5 of this series. “Let…

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Busyness

Editors note: As we head into the fall ministry season we offer you an eReflections series to encourage you to pay attention to the spiritual rhythms that will strengthen the soul of your leadership. Click on the link to read part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5 of this series. “We are blessed with…

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Sacred Rhythms

“Many of us have more clearly developed plans for finances, further education, home improvements and physical fitness than we do for our spiritual lives.” —Ruth Haley Barton An Interview with Ruth Haley Barton What is the significance of the phrase “sacred rhythms”? Ruth Haley Barton: The phrase “spiritual rhythms” is a way of talking about the…

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Lectionary readings: Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:24-34; I Corinthians 12:3b-13; John 20:19-23 This week we celebrate Pentecost—the incarnate and risen Christ present to us in a new way through the gift of the Holy Spirit—enlivening, empowering and transforming us to further Christ’s redemptive mission in the world. Pentecost signals the beginning of Ordinary Time—not because it…

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“The way of possibility is the way of going through.” John S. Dunne It’s a good thing Easter is a season and not just a day because some resurrections take time.  Like the coming of spring, some resurrections happen gradually; they are not overnight sensations. And yet somehow, we need to experience these as miracles…

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“Nothing that has not died will be resurrected.” C.S. Lewis I remember leading a retreat for pastors some years ago in which we talked about that place in the spiritual journey (variously called the Dark Night, the wilderness, the movement from the false self to the true self) in which there is a very profound kind…

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“The spiritual journey is not a career or a success story.  It is a series of humiliations of the false self that become more and more profound.” Fr. Thomas Keating I agree with this statement. I don’t like it… but I know it is true.  And it makes me wonder if any of us are…

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Lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21. “Yet even now, says the Lord, repent and return to me with all your heart” Joel 2:13 Today is Ash Wednesday—the beginning of the Church’s observance of the Lenten season. It is a space in time in which we…

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Join Ruth Haley Barton on March 22nd at 2:00 EST for a Conversation on Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. Ruth will guide you through the “How Is It With Your Soul?” assessment for leaders and then explore solitude and silence as crucial disciplines for strengthening the soul of your leadership. Sponsored by David  C.…

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“Every genuine expression of love grows out of a consistent and total surrender to God.” Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the things that disturbs me most about the way we talk about spirituality and related themes in evangelical circles today is the way we often create false dichotomies between being and doing, prayer and…

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autumn tree cover

A Biblical and Theological Perspective Following is a brief summary of the core beliefs that form the foundation of our approach to spiritual transformation (spiritual formation). Christ Formed in Us. Spiritual transformation is the process by which Christ is formed in us …for the glory of God, for the abundance of our own lives, and…

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Lectionary readings for January 6, 2011: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-23; Matthew 2:1-12 “Christians of the future will either be mystics or they will not be.” Karl Rahner Today is the feast of the Epiphany—the day when the Church commemorates the journey of the wise men to seek the Christ child.  On this…

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Lectionary for Christmas Eve: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14 (15-20) Lectionary for Christmas Day: Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4 (5-12); John 1:1-14 Tonight marks the end of Advent and the official beginning of the Christmas season.  Throughout this evening, in various candlelight services and intimate family gatherings around the world, we…

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To celebrate the launch of the expanded edition of Invitation to Solitude and Silence we’ve posted a series of video clips from an interview done at Mountain Christian Church. In this expanded edition of the award-winning book, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, spiritual director Ruth Haley Barton guides individuals on a step-by-step journey into solitude and silence and NOW also…

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Lectionary readings for December 19, 2010:  Isaiah 7:10-16; Psalm 80:1-7; 17-19; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25 Ruth Haley Barton “Sooner or later, if we follow Christ we have to risk everything in order to gain everything.  We have to gamble on the invisible and risk all that we see and taste and feel.  But we know…

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For December 12, 2010 Ruth Haley Barton “The desert of which I speak is a desert of the spirit: a place of revelation, conversion, and transformation.  A true revelation is a very disturbing event because it demands a response; and to respond means some kind of inner revolution.  It involves being ‘made over,’ being made…

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For December 12, 2010 Ruth Haley Barton “Our spiritual life depends on His perpetual coming to us, far more than our going to him.  Every time a channel is made for Him He comes; every time our hearts are open to him He enters, bringing a fresh gift of His very life, and on that…

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“You will find the living God in the pages of the Bible.  You will find him also just exactly where you are.” Mother Frances Dominica Guidance for your Lectionary reading, November 28, 2010 Print off the following Scriptures so that you can move away from your desk and settle into a place that is conducive…

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Rev. David Hughes When we submit our lives to what we read in Scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s.  God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves.” – Eugene Peterson I can still remember the first…

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“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community.  He will only do harm to himself and to the community…But the reverse is also true: Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.  Only in the fellowship do we learn to be rightly alone and only in aloneness do we learn to…

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