Posts Tagged ‘The Jesus Way’
The Jesus Way Conference – part 4
Recovering the lost content of discipleship… (Final Session and going home)
So, let me tell you about the awesome blessing my King showered upon me today before I share highlights from this morning’s final worship session. Okay…we dismiss from the conference sessions and I head back to the hotel to complete check-out. I get my bags and make my way outside to find a ride (either shuttle or taxi) to the airport. I had saved $20 for this ride; I knew the shuttle cost eighteen dollars, but thought I’d check taxi rates only to find they were $22 – $25. I started back inside the hotel to order up a shuttle when I heard a gent holler out his window, “Hey need a ride somewhere?” As it turned out it was a fellow pastor at the conference who lives in San Antonio and he offered me a ride to the airport at no cost, AND I got a wonderful conversation about what Jesus was doing in his life and ministry (pray that God would bless and lead his church plant – his name is Jerry www.bluejeanchurch.org). Thank you, Jerry, for the ride and the Jesus conversation!
Next, I arrive at the airport and get through check-in and security; I stop at the gates display to find my flight when I look over my shoulder to see Pastor Joshua Choonmin Kang standing next to me! I turned to him grabbing his hand and thanked him for his ministry and blessed him for being an inspiration and mentor in my own spiritual journey. It was wonderful to meet and offer a blessing to him. I’m floating along pretty good about now and thought I’d grab a salad or something with the $20 that Jerry saved me, so I stopped by one of the many eateries in the airport. I ordered up a salad and looked for a place to sit when my eyes locked on Eugene and Jan Peterson! I stepped over to their table and asked them if I could join them for lunch. We had a wonderful conversation reflecting on the awesome morning of shared worship we had just left. We talked about family, ministry, and the Jesus Way! What an incredible joy to be able to converse with these incredibly gracious and humble servants of God; so winsome and down to earth. I learned a lot just sitting with them for the short time we had; both of them asking me questions about my family, my ministry, my children, and genuinely caring enough to try to take the time to get to know me for a minute…just a Jesus minute…experiencing the unity that comes from the kingdom of God…here…now. Man! The gift of conversation and caring is enormous as it relates to “what God is doing in the here and now…” I thank you, Lord Jesus, for this lesson; and thank you for the privilege of it coming from the Petersons.
Ok, so back to the final session…
We started this morning with liturgical readings, singing, and chanting ending in a celebratory rousing Celtic praise chorus with interpretive dance. I was simply blown away by the presence of God delighting in the worship of His people. I could barely utter words as tears just streamed down my face shouting hallelujahs and “I Worship You” to my King. Following our worship we heard testimony from Juanita Rasmus. One word; outstanding! I was touched by her authenticity and “rawness” as she let 2500 people peer into her soul and see some of the glorious work that God has done in it. Juanita introduced John Ortberg who shared some concluding thoughts about The Jesus Way. Oh my…was this some good stuff; again, my mind just started working double-time and my thoughts were fused with the words that John was sharing. While he didn’t use these words, the sum of his message was “i”Crucified, and for that, I can relate (no wonder my soul was resonating with his words). What follows is my interpretation of John’s words which my heart seized upon. If I have taken anything out of context, I apologize, but this is what my soul was hearing as it was “cracked” and the life of Jesus was flooding in. My notes follow:
You are not your project; you are God’s project. The Jesus Way is the way of the Spirit. His message is icrucified!!! I love you Jesus!
Out of your belly will flow living water-the belly is a deep place; it is the most inner place…the locus of our soul. To be cut off from the Spirit of God is to be on the cusp of death. The Bible begins with the story of a river and the Bible ends with a story of a river. JESUS IS THE RIVER! Jesus desires to run through us.
Our culture is capable of enormous deception…our church is part of our culture. What does that say? How often do we quench the Spirit of God when He is leading? When we shut Him out even a little, then we shut Him out a lot…we grieve, offend, and quench the Spirit.
Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and all your strength…
People should have the freedom to experiment with their spirituality and the disciplines because spiritual maturity is handcrafted by God and not mass produced by man.
A “round table” conversation with Chris Webb, Eugene Peterson, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and John Ortberg followed John’s talk on The Jesus Way. We ended the session with more worship with the community; an awesome ending to an awesome 4 days! I have much to take home and God has already started new work in my soul. I fully submit to Him with renewed vigor. God, Lord Jesus, may it be unto your servant (me) according to Your will. Always, and forever, I am Yours to do with as You will. Love, Your servant, Jeff. [Amen]
The Jesus Way Conference – part 2
Recovering the lost content of discipleship… (Midday report)
This morning started with worship in prayer -morning prayers.
Focus: “Worship in the biblical sources and in liturgical history is not something a person experiences, it is something we do, regardless of how we feel about it, or whether we feel anything about it at all. The experience develops out of the worship, not the other way around. Authentic worship means being present to the living God who penetrates the whole of human life” Eugene Peterson -The Jesus Way
“My life is listening, God’s is a speaking.” Thomas Merton -Thoughts in Solitude
We began our worship with breath prayer from Psalm 36:8 and then continued with a responsive prayer and singing of Psalm 95 along with “Come, Worship the Lord.”
This was the first time that I experienced the collective praying of the morning office with 2500 plus people. I have to say it was very powerful and moving. I have been using the Daily Office and the Book of Common Prayer as part of my individual-personal disciplines for a couple years now, but praying together like I participated in this morning with the larger community was really great. There is something supernaturally connecting with the body of Christ when we come together unified in our worship of God.
Take, O take me as I am;
Summon out what I shall be;
Set your seal upon my heart,
And live in me. [Amen]
The first general session and message today was, “Worship: Elijah and The Jesus Way.” Our speaker was Emilie Griffin. One word; “Wow.” No, make that two words; “Simply Awesome.” What an incredible privilege to hear this woman speak. Here are some of the shared thoughts on worship from Emilie Griffin:
Quoting Jesus, she shares; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Great place to start when considering worship…don’t you think? She went on to quote Eugene Peterson from The Jesus Way; “Authentic worship means being present to the living God who penetrates the whole of human life.” Then she unleashed this barrage which is still rocking my heart…
- We should travel the path of Elijah with singleness of focus; embracing what God has given us.
- The hallmark trait of Elijah was his undivided heart; this is a heart of worship…undivided.
- We should be completely surrendered to HIM (Jesus-God).
- We cannot control the experience of God. We should not cling to the experience of God , but we should cling to God Himself. (She brought to our memory the Transfiguration and the disciples’ desire to build shelters to mark the experience. She also highlighted remembrance and reclaiming are very different in their definition)
- We cannot package God, but we can depend on Him for everything.
- Elijah constantly accepted what was given him by God…(solitude, silence, submission, surrender, guidance, and transforming grace)
- If we do not have desert spaces in our lives, we would do good to make desert spaces for ourselves. We need the desolate spaces of solitude to hear the still, small voice.
- We should be able to embrace the hardships that come to us…as God gives them to us or allows them to come to us. Deliverance is always imminent.
This is just a thumbnail of what was our morning. Wow! Thank you Lord for inviting me here.
I am just returning from my first individual workshop of the day (my second will be in about a half hour from now. I don’t have a lot of time to share about this, but it was “Creating a Personal Rule of Life: Lessons from St. Benedict.” I am VERY glad I chose this session and attended it. I will be spending much time with my notes, following up with the presenter (Stephen Macchia), and working to craft a personal Rule of Life for myself as well as the community that I serve.
I will share more this evening…until then, LIVE THE KINGDOM!
The Jesus Way Conference
Recovering the lost content of discipleship…
I arrived in San Antonio, TX for the Jesus Way conference on Sunday around noon. It’s now 9:30pm on Monday night after the first FULL day of main sessions and workshops. The metaphor of “taking a sip from a fire hose” is an understatement for what I’ve experienced the last 36 hours or so. I’m still digesting the sessions and information that has been shared. I think the greatest joy I’ve had so far is the true ecumenical heart and unity that I have sensed among all the people. This is an international conference, people are attending from all points of the globe; even more impressive is how fully represented the Christian people of God are. Every denomination and flavor of Christianity is here…I think. Anyway, to the sessions.
Sunday night was our welcome and first session; our speaker was Eugene Peterson author of the Jesus Way. Eugene was introduced by Max Lucado who shared a scripture meditation and beautiful story illustration around Jesus’ calming of the seas from the gospels. I can’t say what I enjoyed most from Eugene’s talk because I just love listening to him. He is one of my favorite Christian writers of all time, certainly my most favorite living authors. The general session ended and we adjourned to our respective hotels. While waiting in line for the elevator, I had the privilege to meet Eugene and his wife, Jan, they are very charming people.
I have written here on numerous occasions about Joshua Choonmin Kang and his wonderful book Deep-Rooted in Christ. This morning I had the joy of getting to hear Pastor Kang myself; he was the lead-off speaker for our first general session today. Although Pastor Kang speaks English, we were told he is more comfortable speaking Korean. I was able to hear his talk twice today…once in Korean and once through an interpreter and it was great both occasions. The topic of his talk was Abraham and the Jesus Way. The highlights of the talk were the correlation of Mt. Moriah to Sinai to Mt. of Transfiguration to Golgotha. Another point brought out during the talk was the length of Abraham’s journey and the connection with spiritual formation. Pastor Kang said; “spiritual formation doesn’t happen in a day, it takes a lifetime…” I’ve got lots of notes that mean a lot to me, but the context of their content is all in my head; for that, I recommend (again) Deep-Rooted in Christ by Joshua Choonmin Kang.
My workshops were awesome! My regret is that I will only be able to attend four workshops and there is a huge amount of them offered. My first workshop was titled “How we lost the way: Learning from the Historical Neglect of Spiritual Formation.” One word: Fabulous! I loved this session and found it fascinating as well as enlightening. I have a few leads on some more resources and reading I would like to investigate to help me understand this more. The importance of it will be helpful in reaching the people God has called me to minister to.
Workshop number two was; “Entering God’s World: The Kingdom of God as an Ever-present Reality.” It was led by Glandion Carney. The most delightful part of this session was the openness of people sharing their personal experiences with and in the living of God’s Kingdom. After the session, I was able to speak personally with Glandion about training as a spiritual director. God is so good!
The next general session was led by Randy Frazee and Chris Webb. Chris serves as the current president of the Renovare’ Group. He spoke with us about “imperfection,” David, and the Jesus Way. The last general session of the day was introduced by James Bryan Smith and led by Dallas Willard. Uhhhhh, I’ve got scratched notes and furious short-hand things all over my notebook. Dr. Willard shared with us about “Servanthood” and the Jesus Way. LOTS of awesome stuff from Dallas during this session.
I know I haven’t said a lot about the conference specifically, but I’m having a wonderful time enjoying the people of God and great inspiration. I look forward to the next couple days. Live the Kingdom [Amen]
In preparation for the Renovare’ conference in San Antonio next Sunday, I’m reading Eugene Peterson’s Jesus Way: A Conversation on the ways that Jesus is the Way. As with everything I’ve read from Eugene Peterson, I love this book. This is the third book of the Spiritual Theology Series which includes other titles; Eat this Book, Christ Plays in 10,000 Places, and the latest…Tell it Slant.
The Jesus Way has beaten me up a bit with some of the thoughts that have been stirred in me. I’m still pondering them and letting the Spirit speak to me about some of the areas where I am guilty of trying to “shape” the Jesus Way into the jeff way. I hate it when I do that. I hate it even more when the Holy Spirit brings it to my attention…sigh.
I read a section that really stirred my soul today and I felt affirmed in my own calling. This following excerpt is from Chapter Five of the Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson. Here he is speaking about the role of a Prophet and using the life of Elijah as a comparison example (pps 119-120):
The task of a prophet is to say the name God correctly, accurately and locally -Yahweh, God alive, God personal, God present. Here. Now. Elijah did that-magnificently. But there is more to the way of a prophet than God. There is also the neighbor.
One of the bad habits that we pick up early in our lives is separating things and people into secular and sacred. We assume that the secular is what we are more or less in charge of: our jobs, our time, our money, our opinions, our entertainment, our government, our house and land, our social relations. The sacred is what God has charge of: worship and the Bible, heaven and hell, church and prayers. We then contrive to set aside a sacred place for God, designed, we say, to honor God but really intended to keep God in his place, leaving us free to have the final say in everything else that goes on outside that space.
Prophets will have none of this. They hold that everything, absolutely everything, takes place on sacred ground. God has something to say about every aspect of our lives, the way we feel and act in the so-called privacy of our hearts and homes, the way we make our money and the way we spend it, the politics we embrace, the wars we fight, the catastrophes we endure, the people we hurt and the people we help. Nothing is hid from the scrutiny of God; nothing is exempt from the rule of God; nothing esc apes the purposes of Gd. The ground is holy; people are holy; words are holy: Holy, holy, holy.
Prophets make it difficult for us to evade God or make detours around God after we leave church or temple or synagogue. Prophets insist on receiving God and dealing with God in every nook and cranny of life. As it turns out, in most of those nooks and crannies there are neighbors. For the prophet, God is as real as the next-door neighbor; the neighbor is as real as God. The neighbor, in fact, gets equal – well, maybe not quite equal, but equally serious – billing with God. Elijah brings the same unrelenting intensity to the cause of Naboth as to Yahweh.
Praise God for His gift of the prophet to His people.