Archive for disciplines

.:: A Prayer from Solitude for My Students

Posted in adolescence, disciplines, Prayer, spiritual disciplines, Theology with tags , , , , , , on October 20, 2014 by Walter

One of the courses I teach is Spiritual Disciplines and a significant portion of that class is actually practicing the disciplines when it is feasible in class.  Today I got to share in practicing solitude with them as we dispersed across the green on campus and spent a hour in solitude on an amazing fall day.  Here is a prayer that I wrote for my students during this time:

My prayer for them is that they could be FULLY PRESENT with you God as we commune together in Solitude.

May the peace of Christ dwell in their hearts as they declutter their lives from the noise of the start of a busy week.

May they be taken to the dark parts of their souls and do the difficult work of self-reflection.

May they see you God in the delicate beauty of Autumn that is breaking through.

May their souls be still.

May they be taken from loneliness to intimacy as they experience Your Presence.

May the warmth of the Autumn sun be a gift and reminder of Your Grace.

Father, they are so busy-they had tremendous amounts of stress bearing down upon them–please come near to them in this time.

Give HOPE to those struggling with classes, grades, homework.

Give PEACE to those with problems with family, friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, roommates.

Give HEALING to those with health issues and medical problems.

Give RELEASE to those with financial struggles, job schedule issues, and those who need just another hour in their day.

As they encounter Your Presence in solitude whisper into their souls that You are Fully Present with them.

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.::What is Technology Doing to Our Souls?: No Cell Zone

Posted in adolescence, church, disciplines, Life, rant, spiritual disciplines, Tech, Technology, Theology, What is Technology Doing to Our Souls?, what matters, youth ministry with tags , , , , , , on November 11, 2011 by Walter

Several years back I had a really interesting conversation with a mom in my youth group.  She came up to me and said, “I am so tired of my daughter getting woken up in the middle of the night with her friend’s texting her.”

I replied, “Why don’t you have her charge her phone downstairs in the kitchen?”

“But it’s her alarm clock.” She said.

I thought, “If only there was some magical device you could purchase that would make a noise at a predetermined time of day . . . ”

What does it do to the soul to have ourselves connected to our phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, year after year?

According to Time Magazine Online,  “35% of Android and iPhone owners in the U.S. fire up mobile apps before getting out of bed, according to a survey by Ericsson ConsumerLab.”  Maybe this points to the fact that we are overconnected?  Do you feel like you and your students are TOO connected?  Is there a time when you or your teens is not able to be reached by the outside world?  Didn’t Jesus have to get away from everyone just so he could listen to his Father?

We haven’t set up barriers that tell technology to keep out.  This is “Me” Time or “We” Time.  I remember only having a landline in our home and having dinner together as a family, whenever the phone rang during dinner, mom would proclaim, “Let it ring! This is family time.”  Which begs the question:  Do we even still have a time like this when we just let it ring?  Do we have family time?

What if your family had a no cell phone zone?  For your fmaily it might be the dinner table, or the living room when you are all watching TV together.  For some of you it might be the bedroom.  Have the entire family charge their phones far away from their bedrooms so they can sleep without being interrupted.  Might this become a solitary place like Jesus often needed in order to refocus.

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

Luke 5:16

Over and over we see time when Jesus gets away from the frenetic pace of life so He can just LISTEN.  Is it possible that our cell phones actually keep us from LISTENING?  Might the Verizon mantra, “Can you hear me now?” have been a prophetic voice warning us that these shiny little devices would actually KEEP us from listening to God’s voice?

What other places might be Cell Free Zones for you?  Church? Restaurants? Movie Theaters? Friends homes?

What I mean is that you might still have your phone on you at these places, but you might actually turn them OFF so that you aren’t unnecessarily interrupted when you are at these places.  Simply power it back up when you are leaving and resume your connection to the rest of the world.

So I challenge you to find ONE PLACE that will be a Cell Free Zone in your world this week.  

.::Prayer

Posted in disciplines, Ministry, spiritual disciplines, Teaching, Theology with tags , , , , , , on February 4, 2009 by Walter

If I am honest, one of the disciplines that I overlook and take for granted the most is prayer.  Probably because so much of my prayer experiences have been dull, boring, hard work, tedious, etc.  I cognitively know that prayer is powerful and effective.  I have been the recipient of many prayers that I know have sustained me through some really difficult times of my faith.

This morning I was reminded how fantastic prayer can be.  My disciplines class embarked upon a Concert of Prayer where I lead them through several different modes of praying, from silent meditation to group prayer, to confessional journaling, to group artistic efforts on a white board and so on.  It is always a risky effort taking people to places where they may never have been before.  I never know how a group is going to respond to an exercise like this.  This morning I dragged myself to work through 15 degree weather, sleepy, tired with a looooooong day ahead of me.  So my own soul and disposition was left wanting.  However, after an hour of recalibrating my soul, being reminded of hos God is truly at work in this world, and seeing 40 college student give themselves so freely in prayer was indescribably encouraging.  Hearing a room filed with prayers from all corners is overwhelming and uplifting.  The things you wrote on the board were rich with depth.  Just watching you as you prayed and prayed and prayed was so amazing!  Thank you Discipline Class for such an encouraging experience and uplift to my soul.

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:3-6

.::For My Disciplines Students

Posted in Ministry, Teaching, Theology with tags , , , on December 10, 2008 by Walter

I just finished teaching two sections of Disciplines of Christian Living where we journeyed together through Richard Foster’s, Celebration of Discipline.  It was a remarkable journey were we walked down some less traveled roads of faith such as meditation, fasting, simplicity and celebration.  It was a joy being a travel guide on this interesting path.

Today was the last day of classes for this course.  In honor of them, and one last chance to point them toward God once again, I want to share with them this quote from Tricia McCary Rhodes in her new book, Sacred Chaos: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life You Have.

“Sometimes I think of the hours and days when I have shunned the Lord’s indwelling presence through ignorance or neglect or willful rebellion, and I grieve. But I understand better now that no matter how unsacred the space within me seems to be, God’s desire to make himself at home there far outweighs the waywardness of my heart. He will win. His mercies, new every morning, remind me that though I can never make myself worthy of his presence, I am freely received and fully accepted by the Beloved.

God himself has come to make our souls a haven for holy communion, a place of personal retreat–for rest or rejuvenation or desperately needed restoration–no matter the circumstances that swirl about us. This is both our hope and our destiny, for as Saint Augustine said so well, “The soul is the life of the body, and God is the life of the soul.'”