In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
I hate those who cling to worthless idols;
as for me, I trust in the Lord.
I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.
You have not given me into the hands of the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place.
Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.
My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
and my bones grow weak.
By Kelly Ladd Bishop
Reconciliation Series: Invisibility in a Culture of Patriarchy (September 2015)
In part one of this dialogue, Laurel talked about “invisibility,” and what it means for
people to feel invisible. In part 2 we will consider ways that Patriarchy causes women to become “invisible” in the church.
The Acts 29 movement, is a church planting movement. If you go to their webpage,
Acts29.com, and click on “About,” you can read what the movement is about. I clicked through the tabs, eventually coming to, “What We Believe.” Acts 29 stands in the tradition of historic evangelical confessionalism. While we believe it is vital that the elders of each of our churches determine where they stand on doctrines of second importance, we do wish to make known our
convictions on the following five theologically-driven core values:
Gospel centrality in all of life
The sovereignty of God in saving sinners
The work of the Holy Spirit for life and ministry
The equality of male and female and the principle of male servant leadership
The local church as God’s primary mission strategy
Notice that individual churches can disagree on any issues of secondary importance… but
they can not disagree on… The centrality of the gospel, God’s sovereignty, the work of the Holy Spirit, the mission of God’s church…. AND… THE PRINCIPLE OF MALE SERVANT LEADERSHIP.
That is code for patriarchy. In other words, one of their core tenants is that men are leaders over women. This means they don’t have women pastors in their churches, or women elders. In many cases women aren’t allowed to teach men at all.
By Laurel Coolbaugh
Reconciliation Series: Invisibility in a Culture of Patriarchy (September 2015)
In Jodi Piccoult’s novel, “House Rules”, the young adult, Jacob Hunt, has Asperger’s syndrome and though quite brilliant, he will not look people in the eyes, which is a one of many resulting social issues caused by Asperger’s. The author rotates writing each chapter from one of the main character’s perspectives, so when Jacob talks about being coached in social cues by a female university student with whom he thinks he might be in love, he talks about the reason he does not look into people’s eyes when talking with them. Jacob relays that looking into someone’s eyes is like precipitating an internal explosion (not a quote). When we look into another’s eyes, according to Jacob, their thoughts and heart become transparent. Jacob likens it to reaching in and pulling out a person’s innards and exposing them. And he thinks this is uncomfortable, in the least, and shaming, in the worst.
By Laurel Coolbaugh
A friend of mine and I were having an email discussion about listening to God. She raised some good questions. My responses below are a beginning attempt to answer these questions. I think you will be able to surmise the questions without difficulty.
One thing listening to the Living God is not, which is emptying our minds as put forth in Eastern meditation/religion. Practicing contemplation/silence/solitude intentionally to encounter the Living God is about connecting with and engaging in more fully with the Fullness of God. In a nutshell, it is about experiencing the Presence of God.
What's happening in the slowing down and entering silence/solitude? I think, mostly, it is increasing our awareness to being attentive to what is going on around us and inside of us. As we become more aware, we realize both our need for God and God's Presence more acutely, in ways that may not come to our attention or may just remain in the background if we hadn't entered into silence. As an example from my life in the present, I have come to learn that I have a low lying spiritual anxiety present in me often. This anxiety keeps my soul chattering with and to God, asking, asking, asking...which has caused me to see that I am not trusting fully His perfect Presence and care. I am not truly resting when I chatter on like this. As people of God, we are to be like God and live into Sabbath rest...that is to be the state of our souls, because God lives into that rest and secured it for us in Christ. Of course, many might say, "Well, Laurel, isn't that great that you are in prayer, asking, asking, asking? At least you are seeking to communicate with God and 'pray continually'." I would answer in the affirmative to that, to some degree. But what I have seen, by God's grace, is that underneath my asking, asking, asking (almost like a mantra sometimes, the same thing over and over "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner", for example) is a disquieted soul. So, I have been noticing this and bringing it before God through journaling and prayer. I interpret this newer awareness in my relationship with God as a Parent helping their child notice a nervous tick that they exhibit but don't realize they have, and the Parent lovingly probes about the root cause. I believe that God wants us to first see our own inhibitions/obstacles so that we can bring them to God and, together with God, watch what God will do with them. Of course, as we realize our current state and bring it to God, and God mysteriously works, our faith is increased and trust deepens, and all the more, we see how "out of control" we truly are in the process.
We can become more acutely aware of ourselves and God through different mediums. I realize different things about God and myself as I walk and pray than I see when I am in God's word or with a friend or being creative or noticing nature, etc. The beauty is, God (in my experience) often connects what God is showing me through each of them, or uses them to inform the other, ultimately informing my soul about myself and God. A way that I have experienced this is through being struck by a word or phrase through Lectio Divina, then soon thereafter, hearing a friend speak to me about something in their life which brings up the same theme, then hearing a prayer which encompasses the same theme, and becoming aware of something in nature which points to a similar truth. This all occurs without my seeking it, rather noticing what God is bringing to my attention. When this happens, it is as though God is creating for me a new awareness of a thread of truth in my life in order to help me apply it. This goes back to the primary link of knowing God - knowing yourself -knowing God (David Benner writes so beautifully about this in The Gift of Being Yourself). Indeed, there are SO many layers to us, and each is significant in the knowing and relinquishing and purifying, etc. It is as though each layer provides ever deepening opportunity for us to experience greater intimacy with our Creator God.
As for physical posture and what we use to help us listen or focus, I think that is determined more by the seasonal rhythm we are experiencing at the time. There are three or four seasons of the soul (4 in one structure, 3 in another) 4 - Rest/Relinquishment/Growth/Celebration and 3 -Purgation/Illumination/Union (the latter is more of a classical interpretation). Sometimes our souls are squarely experiencing one of these seasons or rhythms, and other times, there may be overlap between seasons. All this is to say that our physical position or "icons" which help us receive/connect with God will vary with where we are in our soul-scape. As a spiritual director, I will often ask the question of a directee, "What spiritual discipline seems to be invited right now in your life through what you are experiencing with God?" One spiritual discipline might be kneeling prayer, or sitting with an icon in silence/prayer. Often, we find this out through trial and error, or through what we are desiring. A lot of times, I follow my desires, which vary quite a bit. If I land on something that seems to help me connect more deeply with God in that season, I stick with it for awhile. Sometimes, we stick with disciplines, doing the same thing in the same way in our relationship with God, for too long and they become stale. I enjoy exploring with a directee, out of what they may have just shared, what disciplines might be life-giving to them in their particular spiritual season. This is where the discipline of play has come into my life and others. I never thought of play as a spiritual discipline until I clearly sensed God inviting me into it one day in 2008-2009. Of course, play can take all different forms and mean different things to each of us. The discipline of play is akin to that of celebration, but may be a shorter time period. Play is a way to experience God's Presence intentionally while engaging in something considered more child-like or fun or freeing. I experienced a delightful time of play once during a gorgeous winter day while walking in a neighborhood by the ocean. It was as though I sensed God wanting to show me many wonderful things in the Creation surrounding me. I watched for a long time a pair of swans gliding across a pond and dipping below for food, I spent a long time gathering interesting stones and shells, like gems, to remind me of the experience. I watched the surf from several venues, and I soaked in the relative silence. That was a day that was six or seven years ago now, and I can remember it like it was just yesterday. What a gift, a soul-filling gift of time spent in God's Presence!
Because Jesus is with us wherever we are, we can learn to listen to Him wherever we are, but usually that takes training in silence and becomes, in our lifetime, a balance, a rhythm of withdrawl/engagement with people and the world around us. I think we have to learn to actively listen by just starting to be aware of what is going on inside of us and around us when we are alone and in silence. I have learned to be more actively engaged in listening to God as I have grown in my experience and trust that God is in those times of listening and awareness.
This is what the Lord says:
“In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
to say to the captives, ‘Come out,' and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’
“They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill.
They will neither hunger nor thirst nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.
This is the time of His favor and He is listening to your prayers,
He is right there with you, helping you, saving you.
He keeps you and makes you His people filled with His love to help others on this journey.
To restore what has been lost, to help those that are stuck, to bring freedom to those
needing and wanting it. Even though things look bad, desolate and barren,
He feeds us His word that brings life and love to us and to those He puts in our lives.
He is guiding us along and leading us beside living springs, whether it be in the physical or in the spiritual. He provides, He comforts, He protects. He uses His creation, His people to bring it.
Who is in your life that He is using to help and who has He sent to help you?
Give Him praise for all He is doing and continues to do in and through our lives.
May your eyes be open to see His love for you and those He puts on this journey with you.
By Elizabeth Cartier
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O Lord.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.
Psalm 36:5-9 (ESV)
What a great time I had with the Lord that cool and windy day. The clouds put on a show as you see in the photo. Our God meets us where we are and shows us more of Himself in all of creation.
His love is so big, it extends to the heaven, who know how high that is?
And His faithfulness to the clouds, how good is He to us who seek Him!
I want to encourage you to go out into nature and seek the Lord. Take the word of God with you and read it outloud, let your ears hear what the Loud is saying to you. Listen to His word, let it sink into your soul and spirit, wait on Him and listen. Give Him time. He is just waiting for you to come. He longs to commune with you, His beloved child.
The Lord met me that day by the water and gave me a tune to sing His word back to Him.
What a blessing it is to seek Him and find Him. How He loves to be found.
By Kelly Ladd Bishop
The Dialogues opened up on Thursday, October 16 with a great discussion on church and culture. The purpose of these dialogues is not necessarily to answer the questions asked, but to think together and learn from each other. We shared our own insights and experiences, while considering some thought provoking questions.
During our discussion we looked at trends in American culture, particularly that of cultural relativism, which embraces the idea that truth and ideals are given value based on their cultural context. In other words, cultural relativism allows people to define their own truth and morals. What is true for one person, doesn’t necessarily have to be true for another. We looked at some concrete examples, and considered a number of ways that various church movements have developed in response to this shift away from absolutes.
We also looked at some quotes from celebrities concerning religion, and discussed the view of the church by the “average” non-church going American. The recent events surrounding Phil Robertson of the show Duck Dynasty, served as a good illustration for some of the current tensions between certain segments of the church and the wider culture. Words commonly used to describe the church, like hateful, intolerant, and old fashioned, highlight the perception of the church and Christianity held by many Americans. We considered these, as well as a range of other reasons why people choose not to attend church.
The Barna Research Group provides the following information:
“Millennials who are opting out of church cite three factors with equal weight in their decision: 35% cite the church’s irrelevance, hypocrisy, and the moral failures of its leaders as reasons to check out of the church altogether.”
“Across age and denomination, the top two reasons people said they don’t attend church were the same:
I find God elsewhere 40%
Church isn’t relevant to me personally 35%”
(The above info is available at https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/661-americans-divided-on-the-importance-of-church#.VEFuCWeaOSo )
We struggled with the question of how Christians can be sensitive to the culture, engaged in the work of redemption, and genuinely passionate for the people around us, while still being faithful to the gospel of Jesus, and the wider scriptures. Within our culture, how can we balance our orthopraxy (beliefs on how to live), our ecclesiology (beliefs on how to “do” church), and our orthodoxy (beliefs about God, scripture, and theology)?
Our evening closed with a discussion of the following statement:
Many Christian churches are responding to the changes in cultural values by engaging in a culture war, but perhaps the war has already been lost.
We experienced a variety of reactions to this statement, and left with much to consider.
We had a great discussion, people shared wonderful ideas, questions, thoughts, struggles, and experiences, as we dug into these topics together. Thanks to everyone who participated!
Join us on Nov 13 for our next discussion: The Church of Tomorrow.
By Elizabeth Cartier
Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. John 4:13,14
This long weekend I had a great privilege of taking two very special friends out at different times to listen to our Lord in the whisper by the water. One friend I have known for years and the other I just met last month at the open house.
Two different days, two different experiences. Doesn't He know what we need when we need it?
The first time out was after the rains on Saturday, the Lord cleared the storm and everything was at rest, shimmering and still. The sun even came out .
The second time out, the sky was cloudy, and the water was active. You could hear the sound of it against the rocks.
Listening to the Lord through meditating on His word (Lectio Divina) is so powerful.
He is the living water, nothing else satisfies. He desires to give us His cup of living water, but its our choice, He always lets us choose. His cup is always the best, full of His love and mercy. And when we choose His cup, it is His love flowing in us and overflowing to those around us.
His whispers are directed to our hearts, encouraging our faith. His word renews our minds.
When we take time to be still and listen, He is more then willing to speak. And when we get out in nature and see the beauty of His creation, it refreshes us in every way.
Come be refreshed at our next Whispers By The Water on Sunday, October 26th at 1:00.
The Sanctuary At Woodville Blog
Blogs, podcasts, pictures and video from The Sanctuary staff and our partners.