Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How to Kill a Mouse...

One writer notes an experiment done with mice a few years ago. A researcher found that it takes a high dose of amphetamines to kill a mouse living in solitude. But a group of mice will start hopping around and hyping each other up so much that a dosage twenty times smaller will be lethal - so great is the effect of "the world" on mice. In fact, a mouse that had been given no amphetamines at all, placed in a group on the drug, will get so hopped up that in ten minutes or so it will be dead. "In groups they go off like popcorn or firecrackers,” the writer observed. (The Life You've Always Wanted, John Ortberg).

There are times in our lives, when we simply need to pull away from everything that surrounds us and find a place of solitude. A place to reflect. A place to reconnect with ourselves and our God.

Throughout the Gospels we frequently find Jesus doing just that - pulling away - to a place by Himself. He understood what the experiment with the lab mice demonstrate, though there's strength in numbers, there are times we simply need to spend alone.

For the past couple of years I've recognized this to be especially true with me. In the rhythm of my life, I need times alone to re-center, focus, get clarity on where I'm at, what I'm doing, how I'm spending my time and perhaps most importantly, time to simply be with God. Sages of days gone by called this solitude. Last year I spent several days in an old log cabin located on a Christmas tree farm up in the Thumb of Michigan, next to the middle-of-no-where. But that's what I wanted. That's exactly what I needed. No snazzy coffee shops to run off to. No allurement of techy stores. Simply dirt roads, trails, wooden floors, a fire place, my bible, journal and the presence of God. I've done these trips alone and with the companionship of a friend. I've found these times key in gaining insight and clarity into the big picture of my life, family, ministry, etc... I'm doing things right now-this fall as a result of some specific direction God gave me last fall while I was away.

Regardless of who we are, where we're at or what our personalities are, we like Jesus need times of solitude.

Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue
to be entangled in the illusions of the false self."
(The Way of the Heart, Henry Nouwen)

Solitude is not merely a therapeutic place. Rather Nouwen says,"it is the place of conversion, the place where the old self dies and the new self is born, the place where the emergence of the new man and the new woman occurs."

Officially Fall has just begun, but it has been one busy-run thus far. I've had several mentally/physically energy and time consuming projects that I've been working on... All that being said, I'm especially looking forward to this Saturday's One-Day Spiritual Retreat.

If it's been a while since you "pulled away" from all the other mice, this Saturday may very well be just what you're needing...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Journey Encounter - Desert - September 07

This past week, we went on a journey.

We hauled in 51 tons of sand into our gym and turned it into a desert with a 15 foot waterfall and a stream flowing through it.

Something happens when we pull away from our familiar surroundings. We become more sensitive... More sensitive to who we are... Who God is... What He's doing... And, what He is speaking into our life.

This past Wednesday night we designed a desert for this very purpose, to pull away from that which has become familiar and enter into a desert place.

Here are some shots of what it looked like...

If you're interested in seeing the Desert in the making you can see it here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Way of the Heart - A One Day Spiritual Retreat

During the 4th & 5th Century there arose a community of people desperate to encounter the Voice of God. They sensed that their daily lives had become so cluttered with business that God’s voice was getting drowned out. As a result, they journeyed to the desert places of Egypt to intimately pursue and engage the Living God.

September 29th we will engage in a similar journey on a one-day retreat to the desert places of the Indiana Dunes.

This retreat is designed to facilitate greater intimacy, rest and attunement to the Voice of God in your daily life. It will be a combination of group facilitation and personal reflection and experimentation.

The FAQ's
  • Departure: From Calvary Temple Saturday morning at 8:30am.
  • Return: by 5:30pm.
  • Lunch: Bring your own bag lunch.
  • Register: by Thursday, September 27. (click here to register online)
  • Cost: $0.00

What to Bring...
    • BackPack: You will want something to put your bible, etc in as you walk about.
    • Chair: Bring a light-portable chair that you can carry. You may also want to bring a towel to sit on.
    • Food: Bring something to eat, snack on and drink...
    • Mp3/CD: You may want to bring a portable Mp3/CD-Walkman with some music that is conducive for you focusing on God.
    • Bring: Your favorite writing utensil and small Bible.
    • Provided: You will be provided a journey guide for the day. The journey guide will outline schedule, activities and have ample space for you to journal.
If you have any questions email me.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Journey Encounter

Shakespeare said, “All the world is a stage.” Jesus often utilized elements of the world around Him as visuals when teaching. Last spring we engaged a number of questions, what if we could create a journey that would take us through the last hours of Jesus' life? As if we were there... with Him... What would we see? What would we hear? What would we feel? What would a multi-sensory and interactive environment be like...?

With the help of over forty people, we designed eight different spaces, representing eight different places along Jesus' last journey. We wrote a script for the journey, recorded it and edited audio/music tracks to accompany...

The journey started in the Upper Room and ended in the Tomb. Over four-hundred people took part in the journey. The responses were overwhelming. We saw fourteen-year-old boys come out in tears. We saw hardened agnostic eighty-year old men come out showing similar tears. We concluded that for many an environment like this could facilitate as much spiritual formation as a ten week class or small group. It caused us to begin to rethink the context that spiritual transformation can take place.

As a result, we are doing it again. We're actually doing it twice this fall. We're calling it Journey Encounter.

Journey Encounter is a unique gathering where the whole environment is the stage. It’s an atmosphere that engages all of the senses. These journey's will explore the world of Scripture, seeking to encounter God and experience personal/community transformation.

The first Journey Encounter this fall is Wednesday, September 19. The night is going to be called Desert.

Throughout Scripture and even history, significant things transpired in the desert. We believe that God is going to do something just as significant in the desert we journey onto September 19th...

Imagine... Over fifty-tons of sand...a community of followers...and the Voice of God...

It's going to be and experience like no other...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fall Blitz...

I'm beginning to feel the press of everything swinging into Fall gear.

Last week a group of guys and myself (The Forum) began our plunge into a nine-week conversation and book dialogue. I'm pretty amazed at what has already began to take place in such a short time. (More on all that later...)

Also, all of our other fall Growth Environments here at Calvary Temple kicked off...

Last week, I officially became a student again. Something that I've been wanting to do for quite some time, but time it seems, is always of the essence. Finally, I decided, an enormous amount of down-time isn't coming my way anytime soon and I'm not getting any younger, not to mention a little motivation from above... I'm enrolled at Spring Arbor University and currently working towards a Masters in Spiritual Formation and Leadership. After a week of orientation and interacting with other cohorts online, we jumped full-swing into our first class this week - Into into Christian Spirituality. I've been spending every spare moment and late into the evenings reading, typing, re-typing, some more reading, analyzing my personality-preference and primary means and modes of connecting with God. Perhaps a little more naval-gazing than I typically partake of in a given week, but it has been extremely thought provoking as I rethink what spiritual formation is and how our journeys with God transpire. Did I mention there are some really cool people in my class?

Last on the docket, at least for now, is the up coming Journey Encounter. I'll write more about this soon, because this is going to be an encounter like none other... A team of us have been brainstorming this night for the past four months. It happens two weeks from today, September 19, and my to-do-find-build-make list is all the way out my office door and down the hall...

In the midst of all this busyness, I read something recently that keeps coming to mind as I re-tabulate what's my to-do list...
"Somewhere we know that without a lonely place
our lives are in danger.
Somewhere we know that without silence
words lose their meaning,
that without listening
speaking no longer heals,
that without distance
closeness cannot cure.
Somewhere we know that without a lonely place
our actions quickly become gestures."
(Henri Nouwen,
Out of Solitude)