Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘spiritual formation’

I do the connecting, and then God does the perfecting!

SOURCE:  Jan Johnson

Rowing or Sailing?

Transformation into Christlikeness and the Christian life in general seem like a lot of work to many people.

They may even think: 

There must be more to this life than trying;

God must be disappointed in me;

It feels like I live a double life (a public Christian life and a secret life of pain, disappointment, or failure);

No matter how hard I try, I don’t seem to measure up to the standards I know are right and good.

In fact, most of us have experienced the weight of knowing all the things we should be doing and not doing, and the exhaustion of being behind where we think we ought to be. Giving more and trying harder seem to be the only alternatives. As a result, a lot of people give up hope of becoming more of what God wants them to be, because they have no idea how to add any more to what they are already doing.

With that approach, the spiritual life is like rowing a boat (by yourself!). You do your best to persist, even when it is hard. You go to conferences, study, and get involved in serving. You try to do the right things, but never get as far as you think you should.

At times you may even feel as if you were issued only one oar and so you keep going in circles. Some find themselves rowing against the current and going more backward than forward. When they ask for help they seem to hear: “Row harder” or “Do more” or “You are not dedicated enough.”

There is another way in which the wind does most of the work. Sailing. In sailing we learn how to align the sail with the wind and let the wind take us places we could never get to (or imagine) on our own. As we learn how to interact with the sail, we see forward movement because the wind (the Spirit) is doing the hard work.

The sailing approach is spiritual formation, which works from the inside out, relying on the Spirit. Instead of forcing myself to say the words, “I forgive you,” I learn how to engage with God so my heart truly forgives. I can then express the forgiveness from my heart. Instead of only acting as if I love my enemy, I interact with God so that God can change my heart so I actually love them. I demonstrate the life of God because of who I am, not in an effort to override who I am. This changes where I focus my efforts. My task is to learn how to let God work on my heart, rather than trying to do what I think is the right thing to do.

We no longer depend on willpower to override contrary feelings and inclinations, with repeated cycles of repentance and re-dedication: Stability/Failure/Repentance/ Stability. Instead we participate with God to move our inner life forward in ways we cannot manage by our own willpower and effort. The results? Deeper intimacy and trust in God. Scripture comes alive. Internal healing and growth become our normal everyday experience. Life is increasingly seen the way God sees it (through the eyes of heaven).

Formation is then relational.

It is, as many of you have heard me say: You do the connecting, and then God does the perfecting.

The connecting occurs as we glimpse that vision of life in the kingdom of God where I live in companionship with God and rely on God every minute. I use spiritual disciplines (as God invites me) to connect with God. The change in my character then flows out of living a life with God that is rich and full, challenging and adventurous.


Much of the above is adapted from David Takle’s excellent DVD course, Forming, ( with his kind permission.

Being Formed Into The Likeness Of Christ

SOURCE:  Bill Bellican

The spiritual journey of nurturing an intimate relationship with God encompassing heart, soul, and mind is known as spiritual formation.  God takes us on this journey that we might be more and more conformed to the likeness of his Son (Rom 8:29).  To do this, the Word of God mandates various truths about God which we are to embrace:  (1) The triune God is Truth (Jn 14:6; 14:17; Heb 5:6; 6:18);  (2) We are called to worship God based on the truth (Jn 4:24);  (3) God wills that we should be sanctified (1 Th 4:13) and set apart as holy in his presence (1 Th 3:13).

In light of this mandate, what follows are the thoughts of various theologians and Biblical scholars to give us food for thought along this journey:

Did I reach a (spiritual) destination but miss the journey?  Christ and being like Him is the destination, but what happens to us along the way is important, too.  Getting to heaven is a by-product.  The important thing is being changed (more like Christ) along the way.

The destination is toward Christ with Christ.  He is with me as I move toward Him.  As I move toward Christ, I get closer to others also moving toward Christ regardless of where they are coming from.

God’s goal for us is not to help us to act different; His goal is to help us be different.

Church membership is not (spiritual) maturity.  Maturity is more about how much one has changed more than how much one knows.

As followers of Christ, we hold the hand of Christ looking for someone else’s hand to grasp.  We provide this connection to put the individual’s hands in the hands of Christ.

Christ will help us with the pain that impedes our journey, but He will not help us with the pain that enhances our journey . . . only He knows the difference.

We must learn to cherish the suffering that conforms us into the image of Christ.

Make up your mind to the prospect of sustaining a certain measure of pain and trouble in your passage through life.  Trouble and perplexity drive us to prayer, and prayer drives away trouble and perplexity.

I still understand so little, but then we are not called to understand everything about God, only to attend Him by drawing near to Him.

We don’t have anything but the moment.  The task is to be present with the Lord in the moment.  We must surrender second by second.

Christians are not to be so much quitters as starters. I need to quit quitting. Our focus needs to be on hungering after what God wants rather than merely quitting what he doesn’t want.

Jesus Christ didn’t save us to lollygag in His love for the rest of our lives.  He has a lost world out there that needs saving.  We have forgotten that God didn’t call us merely to enjoy Him but to serve Him.

I suspect that the difference between a person of seasoned prayer and one of smaller prayer experience is the amount of time they spend talking rather than listening to God.  Silent togetherness is better conversation than chatty concord.

Praise is our gift to the Almighty.  For all He has given us, gratitude is the only gift we can give back.  His sacrifice was the cross; our sacrifice is the sacrifice of praise.

Healing Prayer: A Definition

SOURCE:  Adapted from Healing Care, Healing Prayer by Terry Wardle

Healing prayer can be defined as a ministry of the Holy Spirit, moving through a Christian caregiver, bringing the Healing Presence of Jesus Christ in to the place of pain and brokenness within a wounded person.

A ministry of the Holy Spirit: Healing prayer is thoroughly dependent upon the Presence and Power of the Holy Spirit. He initiates, directs and empowers the entire process.  Thus the recipient of healing and the caregiver must not only understand the work of the Holy Spirit, but be surrendered to His infilling and empowerment each step along the way.

Moving through the Christian caregiver: Healing prayer is not a technique controlled by the caregiver.  It is a transformational ministry of the Holy Spirit, with the caregiver serving as an instrument of His activity.  The spiritual vitality and emotional maturity of the caregiver are important and integrated aspects of this healing process, and must be submitted to the Holy Spirit.

Bringing the Healing Presence of Jesus Christ: People need more than solutions to their problems.  They need to experience the love and acceptance of Jesus Christ in every aspect of their lives.  His Transforming Presence strengthens and satisfies as nothing else, the one true Source of healing for broken people everywhere.  Through healing prayer, the Holy Spirit uses a caregiver to position hurting people for what Jesus alone can give.

Into the place of pain and brokenness: Life experiences often leave deep wounds that compromise personal well-being.  Left undressed, these hurts give birth to false beliefs, emotional upheaval, and behaviors that are ultimately destructive.  During the process of healing prayer, both the source and symptoms of core woundings are brought into the light of Jesus Christ, where He alone can set people free.

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