Beyond Words

The Major Imperatives Within Mature Discipleship

stacked rocks

“At a certain age our lives simplify and we need have only three phrases left in our spiritual vocabulary: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” –Morris West Gratitude is the ultimate virtue, undergirding everything else, even love. It is synonymous with holiness. Gratitude not only defines sanctity, it also defines maturity. We are mature to…

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Practicing Relinquishment: The Enneagram Goes on Retreat 

“Every movement toward the humiliation of the false self, if we accept it, is a step toward freedom and inner resurrection.”  – Fr. Thomas Keating  Many of us have no idea how addicted we are to human striving, hard work, and performance-oriented drivenness until we actually stop. This may be one of the most shocking…

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Retreat: Invitation to a Counter-Cultural Practice

 “I have lived too long where I am reachable.”–Rumi It is a wonderful thing to be invited—especially when the invitation is particularly well-suited to our needs, our desires, our delights. A gifted communicator receives a significant invitation to speak on a topic that is important to them. An artist is commissioned to create banners for…

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Retreat: The Gift and Necessity of Time Away with God

 “If we don’t come apart for while, we will come apart after awhile.” –Dallas Willard Brad is a pastor whose church is going well. Attendance at weekend services is growing steadily, and they have just completed a building project that is enabling them to grow and provide a variety of ministries to meet needs within…

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Part Four: Reenvisioning the Promised Land

Leadership Lessons from the Life of Moses

“We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.” —Bishop Ken Untener Strengthening the soul of your leadership is a journey that begins, continues and ends with a tenacious seeking after God in the crucible of ministry. It is an invitation to stay connected with your…

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Part Three: The Conundrum of Calling

Leadership Lessons from the Life of Moses

“Calling is a much abused word today. In the church it can be little more than a pious euphemism for doing what we feel like doing. Such abuse is brought to celebration in the secular culture, when doing what we feel like doing, attained by any way we feel like doing it, seems often to…

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Part Two: The Power of a Well-Timed Pause

Leadership Lessons from the Life of Moses

“Spiritual leadership springs forth in grace from our very desire for God’s presence. This does not take effort or striving.  It takes courage, a kind of showing up, attentiveness.” –Gerald May Moses remained in a solitary, non-public existence for a long time. It was as if—in some deep and fundamental way—he just let go. He…

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When Leaders Lose Their Souls

strengthening the soul of your leadership artwork

“For what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Matthew 16:26 (NLT) I want to talk to you about the soul—your soul, my soul, and the soul of our leadership. When I refer to the soul, I am not talking about…

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Staying Awake During Holy Week

Lent reflections week 5

Lectionary readings and guidance on using the lectionary Good Friday: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 22; Hebrews 10:16-25; John 18:1-19:42 “Stay together, friends, don’t scatter and sleep. Our friendship is made of being awake.” Rumi In her book Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris comments that in a monastery, Holy Week is “a total surrender to worship.” This surrender allows for a greater…

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Lent: Dying That We Might Live

Lent reflections week 5

Lectionary readings and guidance on using the lectionary Fifth Sunday in Lent: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-12; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33 “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24 I’ll never forget walking to lunch with several…

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Love, Lent, and Leadership: Fashioning Your Own Wilderness

ash wednesday and Lent

Lectionary readings and guidance on using the lectionary Ash Wednesday: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 First Sunday in Lent: Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15 “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where for forty days he was…

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Epiphany: Who am I now?

Guidance on using the lectionary. Lectionary readings for January 7, 2018: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12 Epiphany originated in the Eastern Church in the third century as a feast on January 6 to honor our Lord’s birth and baptism. It ranked with Easter and Pentecost as one of the three principal…

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Fall Garden

In fall the garden is spent having given its all. Cucumber vines lie exhausted on the ground Tomato plants list to one side Cornstalks stand dignified and empty Sunflower faces droop earthward, shades of their former selves. All that has not been claimed lies moldering in the dirt— a bruised tomato, a forsaken pepper… a…

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The Darkness of Indifference

Charlottesville

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.  The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” –Elie Wiesel Remember when the question, “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” was a point of conversation? …

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On the Road to Becoming a Transforming Church

Becoming a Transforming Church retreat

“Nondiscipleship is the elephant in the church.”  – Dallas Willard Oak Hills Church was founded in 1984 with seventeen people in rented space at a strip mall in the “quickly growing but still quaint” little suburb known as Folsom, CA. Original members walked the streets, knocking on doors, inviting people to come to this brand new…

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What Kind of Church Are You?

becoming a transforming church

“Eventually, someone looking for a church home will ask some variation of this question:  So what kind of church are you?”  – Kent Carlson Recently while signing books at a conference on spiritual formation, a sharply-dressed woman approached who seemed to have no interest in purchasing a book. Instead, she marched right up to me…

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The Loneliness of Leadership

tree

Moses said to the Lord, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me…If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here.” Exodus 33:12, 14 Any leader who cannot endure profound levels of loneliness will not last…

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Observing Lent: Seeing What We’re Missing

Lent-2017

Lectionary readings for Fourth Sunday of Lent Cycle A: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41 Guidance on using the lectionary. “Spiritual masters often refer to a kind of “dread,” the nagging sense that we have missed something important and have been somehow untrue—to ourselves, to others, to God. Lent is a good…

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Returning to God with All Our Hearts: Preparing for a Holy Lent

Ash-Wednesday-Lent

Lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday Cycle A: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; II Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 Guidance on using the lectionary. I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating…

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Epiphany: In Celebration of the Journey

Guidance on using the lectionary. Lectionary readings for January 6, 2017: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72: 1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12 “A good journey begins with knowing where you are and being willing to go somewhere else.” Richard Rohr Today we celebrate epiphany—the “showing forth” or “the revelation” of Christ in the world. Epiphany takes its themes…

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Can You Hear God Now? Your Most Important Leadership Role

What is Spiritual Leadership?

Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.  Those who are spiritual discern all things…  1 Corinthians 2:14-15a A pastor told me that his church had outgrown their facility, so they were asking,…

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Advent 1: The Importance of Waking Up

Advent Week One

Lectionary readings for November 27, 2016: Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Rom 13:11-14; Matt 24:36-44 Click for complete Advent calendar (Cycle A) and guidance on using the lectionary. “God comes to us like the sun in the morning—when it is time.”—Carlo Carretto, The God Who Comes My favorite time of any day is the pre-dawn moments before the…

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Advent 2016: Enlarged in the Waiting

Advent 2016

“Of all types of waiting, the waiting of pregnancy is most like the waiting that we do during Advent. The waiting of pregnancy is like the waiting we do for God.” – Wendy Wright For four years my wife and I were eager to have a baby. At first, naturally, we tried like everyone else. After…

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Election Day 2016: Lord, Teach Us to Pray…Today

Election Dat 2016: Teach us to pray today

“Lord, teach us to pray…”  ~ Jesus’ disciples in Luke 11 Ok, I admit it.  I’ve been discouraged, grumpy and even a bit depressed this election season, as I’m sure many of you have been. Perhaps the most accurate way to describe my state of mind and heart is that I have experienced desolation, in…

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From Decision-Making to Discernment: One Leader’s Experience

spiritual discernment for groups

“If we are not pursuing the will of God together in fairly intentional ways, what are we doing? Our own will? What seems best according to our own thinking and planning? That which is merely strategic or expedient or good for the ego?” —Ruth Haley Barton Years ago I remember watching the doctor who invented…

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First Things First: Practicing What We Preach

Practicing What we Preach

“A leader is a person who must take special responsibility for what’s going on inside him/herself, inside his or her consciousness, lest the act of leadership do more harm than good.” –Parker Palmer By the time you get this, I will have begun an eight-day silent retreat.  During this time, I will not have access…

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A Roadmap for Spiritual Formation

“The way to spiritual wholeness lies in an increasingly faithful response to the One whose purpose shapes our path, whose grace redeems our detours, whose power liberates us from crippling bondages of the prior journey and whose transforming presence meets us at each turn in the road.” – M. Robert Mulholland Spiritual formation has become one of the major movements…

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Holy Week: An Invitation to Walk with Christ

Guidance on using the lectionary. Lectionary readings for the Liturgy of the Palms: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-20; Luke 19:28-40 Lectionary readings for the Liturgy of the Passion: Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49 “Could you not stay awake with me one hour?” Matthew 26:40 Holy Week is a bizarre juxtaposition of…

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A Cruciform Journey into the Cruciform God

Guidance on using the lectionary. Lectionary readings for March 13, 2016: Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:4b-14; John 12:1-8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 A journey into God may be the best way to describe Lent and Holy Week. Of course, it…

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Lent: Help us Find Our Confession

Guidance on using the lectionary. Lectionary readings for March 6, 2016: Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 God, help us find our confession; The truth within us which is hidden from our mind; The beauty or ugliness we see elsewhere But never in ourselves; The stowaway which has been smuggled Into the dark…

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Ash Wednesday: Crossing the Threshold into Lent

Guidance on using the lectionary. Lectionary readings for February 10, 2016: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 “‘And yet even now,’ says the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart…’” –Joel 2:12 Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Church’s observance of the Lenten season—six weeks…

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Lent 2016: Ready or Not—Here it Comes!

Lent

Oh God, let something essential happen to me, something more than interesting or entertaining or thoughtful.  Oh God, let something essential happen to me, something awesome, something real.  Speak to my condition, Lord and change me somewhere inside where it matters.  Let something happen which is my real self, Oh God. —Ted Loder This year,…

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Christmastide: If You Want

Lectionary readings for December 25, 2015: Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4 (5-12); John 1:1-14 Guidance on using the lectionary. St. John of the Cross If you want the Virgin will come walking down the road pregnant with the holy and say, “I need shelter for the night, please take me inside your heart, my time…

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Learning to wait with Jesus

Lectionary readings for December 13, 2015: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Phillipians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18 Click for complete Advent calendar (Cycle C) and guidance on using the lectionary. “If we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” – Romans 8:25 No matter how disciplined, organized and prayerful you are, you never outgrow waiting. Tracts of humanity wait: for…

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Entering Advent: Hurry Up and Wait!

Lectionary readings for November 29, 2015: Jeremiah 33: 14-16; Psalm 25: 1-10; 1 Thessalonians  3:9-13; Luke 21: 25-36 Click for complete Advent calendar (Cycle C) and guidance on using the lectionary. “Unto you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.  O my God, in you I trust.”  Ps 25:1, 2 “Hurry up and wait!” Usually this statement is laced with…

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A different kind of calendar

“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 time I heard the…

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Solitude: In God for the World

“Wherever there is something in our life that is not conformed to the image of Christ, there is a place where we are incapable of being all God wants us to be with others … a place where our life with others is hindered and limited and restricted in its effectiveness and in its fullness…

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Part 4
: Then They Told What Had Happened on the Road

Part 4 - Experiencing Transformation in Community

Note: As we conclude this eReflections series, we congratulate all those who completed the Life Together in Christ Community Challenge. Our hope is that the way you engage in community will never be the same! If you didn’t participate, but would like to in the future, let us know. That same hour they got up and…

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Part 3: The Nature of the Spiritual Journey

You can also read Part 1 and Part 2 of this eReflections series. Then he said to them, “How foolish you are, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26) If you ask people to…

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Part 2: Welcoming the Stranger

Part 1 of this eReflections series can be found here. Part 3 can be found here. “While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’” —Luke 24: 16,…

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