Category Archives: Spiritual Formation

Living Interactively With God

In my sermon today in the series “Be the Message” I drew on the wisdom of Dallas Willard and his work on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and the “attitudes that ought to be” (or Beatitudes).  Willard said that living a good life, or being a good person, is learning to live “interactively with God”.  He suggests that this is what Jesus is speaking about in his famous sermon when he describes persons who are “blessed.”  Jesus does this by offering a quite unlikely list of 8 different characteristics: poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted (for righteousness sake). Those who live in this way are “blessed” or content because they are in tune with the things of God, the ways of God, and the will of God.  They are living “interactively” with God.

That may seem to us a high bar of a goal.  Perhaps even unattainable in our own merit, and therefore unreachable.  But it’s the life that Jesus modeled, and the life that he calls us toward.  A friend, having listened to the sermon, commented that living interactively with God today might be thought of as having a 24/7 FaceTime encounter with God. Continue reading

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Discovering What God Has in Mind

One of our dear more mature members (let’s just say she’s in her 10th decade on this earth) remarked to me Sunday as she left worship: “I ask the Lord every morning what he wants me to do today.  He generally has something in mind.” She put in two sentences what I had just tried to say in about a twenty-five minute sermon.

As we strive to “be the message” by finding God’s purpose for our day . . .  week, month, year, life . . . we would do well to begin with her question: “What do you want me to do with this day (week, month, year, life) Lord?”  But, having asked the question, we then need to be in a listening posture to discover what the Lord has in mind. Continue reading

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What is true worship?

I have been attending worship services since I was about two weeks old.  Most, but not all, of these have been services in a Baptist tradition (an American Baptist tradition).  But this does not mean that this worship has been similar.  I have worshipped, and led worship, that might be considered “traditional” – with hymns, responsive readings, pastoral prayers, and sermons preached from the pulpit.  I have worshipped, and led worship, that might be considered “liturgical” or high church/high steeple – with printed and spoken liturgy, pipe organ, written prayers, robed clergy and choir.  I have worshiped, and led worship, that might be considered “contemporary” – with praise bands, choruses, video projection and clips, a preacher standing among the people, extemporaneous prayers and a few “amens” from the congregation.  I have worshiped, and led worship, that might be considered “contemplative” – with Taize music and chants, long periods of silence and prayer, warm visuals, candlelight and quiet background music.

These services have occurred in the humble country Baptist church of my upbringing, suburban and urban sanctuaries, modern worship space, a new church start that met in an exercise facility, outdoors under the stars and in a cave, in old rustic chapels at camp and in state parks, and in the beautiful sacred space at 3300 Fairlawn Drive in Columbus, Indiana.  The places contributed to the worship experience, of that there is no doubt; but not more so than the people.  I’ve worshipped in small groups, medium size groups, and large groups; with family and loved ones, covenant members of the same congregation, and complete strangers.  I learned to worship sitting next to my Grandmother and my parents, my attention being directed to the hymnal, the sermon, or the prayer.  I have been blessed to collaborate on worship with some truly gifted servants of Christ. Continue reading

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Eyes to See as God Sees

The prayer focus for today on our FBC Columbus prayer calendar invites us to pray “to see as God sees”.  Let’s stop and think about this for a moment.

What does God see?  Everything.  All things. Each one. From the smallest to the largest, the least to the greatest.  God sees all.

How can we possibly see all that God sees? Continue reading

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More Than Just Another Week

Palm frondsHoly Week begins this Sunday, April 9th as Christ followers all over the world observe and celebrate Palm Sunday and cross the threshold into the week of Jesus’ Passion.

To much of the world it will be just another week.  Cable news networks will squawk about government investigations and stream “breaking news” banners across screens. World governments will flex muscle and attempt to wield influence over war torn and troubled lands.  Everyday folk will get up, go to work and try to make a better life for themselves and their families.  Children will go to school.  Spring will make another run at grabbing a toehold and offering weather to match the calendar.   And, in the midst of all that and more, we will remember and revisit the path our Savior walked during his last days and hours in Jerusalem.

It’s a pilgrimage journey we are invited to make during this week. Continue reading

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