Friday, October 30, 2009

Philippians: Growing in Christ

Spiritual growth doesn’t have to be random or haphazard. Yet, it's amazing how often that seems to be the reality. Paul says some interesting things in regards to our on-going progress toward Christ-likeness.

"15-All of us, then, who are mature
should take such a view of things.
And if on some point you think differently,
that too God will make clear to you.
16-Only let us live up to what
we have already attained."

(Philippians 3:15-16)

As we continue our study in Philippians, we look at how often spiritual formation begins, as we grow in our awareness of what God is already doing in our lives.

One of the prerequistes for growth is frequently simply our ability to discern the inner promptings of God's Spirit.

Once we recognize these promptings, we can better arrange our lives in such a way that spiritual growth will be the natural byproduct.

Philippians: Training to Live Like Christ_Week Seven from Jerrell Jobe on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jim & Casper go to Church

Often we become accustomed, thus immune to the environments we find ourselves in day in and day out. Things like a scratch on the wall in the kitchen, that funky smell in the car. We were aware of them, but over time, we simply grown accustomed to having them around.

However, what the first thing you look at upon entering another's house or become aware of as soon as you sit in someone's car?

It's the same way when it comes to church, we often forget what it's like for those "visiting" for the first time. Sadly, we've become immune to the systems where we worship, the lingo has become second-nature and over time we've lost touch with what it's like for a person who doesn't yet have a relationship with Christ.

Jim and Casper Go to Church: Frank Conversation about Faith, Churches, and Well-Meaning Christian, is a book that explores this very reality. Jim Henderson (a pastor) travels around America with Casper (an atheist) to ten different churches. Their observations, reflections and conversations regarding their experience(s) in these churches is captured in this book.

As with any experience, much of it is subjective and could be debated on some levels, however, be that as it may, their reflections make for great penetrating and thought-filled conversations about what we do and why.

The Back-story to the Experiment

Opening Conversation Regarding their Church Experiences

Easy Beliefism

Hope vs. Certainty

I Wonder...

What would we do different
if we scratch everything we're currently doing as it relates to church?

What would we begin to do, that we're not currently doing?

What would we keep?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - An Online Devotional

For centuries, followers of Christ have engaged in reading Scripture reflectively/devotionally and capturing one's dialogue with God through journaling. This ancient practice once done on scrolls and paper can now be done with a keyboard and a screen. is a web app, that functions as an online devotional tool designed by Brent Minter. A few of the features include: reflections through particular passages in the Gospels, New Testament, Old Testament and Psalms. There are also guided prayers that simply help one to slow down and live life in the presence of Christ, as well as others that move one along a prayer journey starting with one's interior and then moving outward into relationships and the world around. Lastly, there is an unguided Examen, where you can choose the passage of Scripture you like and navigate your own path of reflection.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Philippians: Training to Live Like Christ_Week Six

There is a difference between trying to do something and training to do something. This week we begin to explore the difference between trying to live the Christian life compared to training ourselves toward Christlikeness.

Philippians: Training to Live Like Christ_Week Six from Jerrell Jobe on Vimeo.

Real Formation for Real People

These are notes from David Johnson's (from Church of the Open Door) opening talk at the Willow Group Life Conference.

Real change can be hit or miss.

Ron Sider notes in his book The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World? that most evangelical Christians are not different from the culture in the following areas:
  • money
  • sexual ethic
  • racism
  • divorce
Philippians - work out your salvation through fear and trembling-- not work for your salvation but work out your salvation.

To encourage spiritual formation, we typically tell our people to
  1. Get into a group
  2. Get involved in spiritual disciplines
These are standard answers and good answers. But you can be doing these things but still not be transformed. So what is the key?

Here are three I've thought of:

  1. We have to be authentic
  2. We have to be courageous
  3. There has to be grace

If there isn't an environment of grace people will never find the courage to be authentic.

Matthew 5-- Blessed are those who mourn. There are 9 Greek words for the concept of mourning. This one has to do with authenticity-- Blessed are those who start getting out here (into the open) what is going on in here (in the heart, in the secret places of life). Basically, it's blessed are those who quit pretending.

"I refuse to live in the dark anymore, I'm going to live in the light of what is true of me." People who live like that are being changed. Because they are courageous and authentic.

Grace is the only thing that has ever given us the courage to bring out in the light what we tend to hide in the dark. What if we knew there would be grace and healing about that thing we just can't talk about?

Leading from a Healthy Soul :: Mindy Caliguire at GroupLife Conf

Today at Palm Valley Church, we've gathered about 80 of our Home Team (small group) leaders to tap in to Willow Creek's GroupLife Conference via satellite. We figured it would be nearly impossible to get 80+ key leaders all the way to Chicago. However, we could get Chicago (conference) to Mission, Texas.

The following is one of the first sessions,
Leading from a Healthy Soul by Mindy Caliguire , founder of SoulCare Ministry.

Matthew 16:26

"For what profit is it to a man
if he gains the whole world, and
loses his own soul?"

The most essential key for a leader is to lead from a “healthy soul”…

I once thought that the most important skills for leading a small group included things like good listening skills, knowledge of Bible, welcoming people, willingness to guide people, communication skills, measure of spiritual maturity, etc.

Those things are important, but today my answer about most important qualification for small group leaders has changed. One quality that a leader must have if the group is going to be effective in transformation. The leader must be leading from a healthy soul.

What is a healthy soul?

Saved and alive. It has been brought to life. Whether you realize it or not, your soul has the capacity to have a quality of life. It requires nourishment.

Do you know yourself? There was a symptom that indicated that my soul was not well and I ignored it. I went through a season where I had become totally out of touch with the woman God had created me to be. Because I ignored that, I was sidelined from my own life and ministry for a season. In hindsight, this was a way God was dealing with my heart...saying it's not so much what you do for me but who you are with me.

We must recover the importance of the redeemed soul.

Following Christ should not result in a diminishing interior life, but sometimes the demands of leadership results in that.

Symptoms of Neglected Soul

  • Apathy
  • Judgemental spirit
  • Insomnia
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Isolation

Symptoms of Healthy Soul
  • Joy
  • Confidence joined with Humility
  • Safety
  • Purpose
  • Energy
  • Attentiveness

Are pace of life and healthy soul indirectly proportionally? Mutually exclusive?

We should allow the health of our soul to guide the pace that we keep. Allow your pace of life to be submitted to how God is leading you. We may need to do make some radical changes in our schedule. Biblical simplicity: God is our focus and we allow everything else to emerge from that relationship.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Geese and the Art of Team Leadership

I’ve always found the way geese fly one of God’s amazing creations. In fact, geese have become on of my favorite images as it relates to leadership and teamwork.

If you’ve ever looked up in the sky and spotted a flock of geese you will notice that they fly in a “V” formation.

It seems that God created these geese to fly in this pattern for a specific reason.

The following are some of the reasons behind why geese fly the way the do and a few reflections on what that can mean for us as leaders.

Two are Better than One:
As each Goose flaps its wings it creates an uplift for the birds that follow. By flying in the “V” formation the whole flock can
add 71% greater flying range then if each bird flew alone.

When the team is going in a common direction, it will travel quicker and higher on the thrust of one another.

Out of Sync:
When a goose falls out of formation it immediately begins to slow down and recognizing this, it moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

Each team member must recognize its need for one another and be willing to give and accept help when needed.

Shared Leadership:
When the lead goose tires, it rotates back in the formation and another goose flies in the point position.

The team is interdependent on each others skills, capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts, talents and other resources. Wise and mature leadership knows when it times to step up and lead and when it’s time to follow another.

Mutual Encouragement:
The Geese that fly in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Encouragement and support are pivotal assets to the on-going ethos of any team. In other words, make sure when you HONK that it’s encouraging to others. Otherwise keep your BEEK shut.

Never Alone:
When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and they fall down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then they launch out with another formation or catch up with the other

It is as we care for more than the end product at hand and care for the people along the way that we become strengthened, whole and infused with momentum to move forward.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Citizens of Heaven

"Whatever happens,
as citizens of heaven
live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ."
(Philippians 1:27 TNIV)

Though Phillipi
was some 600 miles away from Rome, it was still a colony of Rome. Though they lived in Philippi in Macedonia, these people were citizens of the Roman Empire. They didn’t want to speak the language of Macedonia; they wanted to speak the language of Rome. When they put their children in bed at night, they did not tell them stories of Macedonia; they told them stories of the glory of Rome.

Paul uses this unique reality of Phillipi being a Roman colony to vividly communicate to them what it meant to live as "citizens" of heaven. The good news that they could actually hope and expect to live on earth - in the here and now - as citizens of heaven.

Philippians: Citizens of Heaven_Week Five from Jerrell Jobe on Vimeo.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Transformative Element of Joy

Change is often difficult to come by. This is especially true when it comes to the deeply ingrained issues within our lives. Many resort to all kinds of tactics in hopes of making some progress. Often, these approaches to change bear little lasting change.

During these times we forget that Jesus said He actually came to "give us life." And, not just life, but "life to the full." Part of this life, as characterized by Jesus, should encompass joy.

Perhaps at times, joy is the missing component in our endeavors to undergo personal/spiritual transformation. There have been a series of experimental studies done in regards to a person's behavioral response to doing various tasks. The core catalytic ingredient causing change was simply joy and a little bit of creativity.

Experiment #1: Take the Stairs

”Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator and feel better” is something we often hear or read in the Sunday papers. Few people actually follow that advice. Can we get more people to take the stairs over the escalator by making it fun to do?

Experiment #2: Pick up Trash & Use the Trash Can
To throw rubbish in the bin instead of onto the floor shouldn’t really be so hard. Many people still fail to do so. Can we get more people to throw rubbish into the bin, rather than onto the ground, by making it fun to do?

Perhaps some of us don't so much need a more structured plan for development, rather a little joy and creativity.

What creative and joy-filled practices can you think of for personal and spiritual transformation.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Just Courage: God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian

As followers of Christ we invited to journey toward the call to live a life of adventure. Such an invitation moves us beyond a stationary position on the sidelines of life. We are invited to enter the adventure of bringing justice to this planet.

This month Christian Audio is giving away a free audio book that lays out this awesome opportunity each of us have to join in and be a part of something much bigger than ourselves. The book is Just Courage: God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian by Gary A. Haugen.

Go here to download the book for free through the end of October.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Reflection: Picking up the Crumbs

Recently, while on a morning run, I got to thinking about the pace of life that many of us become entrenched in, often without even being aware of it. We run from one appointment to another, bounce from one deadline to the next, drive from one drop-off point to the next pick-up spot (at least for those of us with children). None of this is alarming in and of it self. What struck me though is how during these times of extreme movements my life and soul so easily become shallow. In the spin-cycle of life it's so easy to become numb to the subtle promptings of God.

I've discovered (more than once - but still learning the lesson), that I need times during my weekly rhythm where I can step back and reflect on my life, how I'm doing, what's happening, as well as, where God's been present and so forth.

My early morning runs are one of these times where I simply start off with no mental agenda other than reflecting, processing and reorienting my soul with clarity and perspective.

"Those who have abandoned themselves to God always lead mysterious lives and receive from him exceptional and miraculous gifts by means of the most ordinary, natural and chance experiences in which there appears to be nothing unusual. The simplest sermon, the most banal conversations, the least erudite books become a source of knowledge and wisdom to these souls by virtue of God's purpose. This is why they carefully pick up the crumbs which clever minds tread under foot, for them everything is precious and a source of enrichment."
The Sacrament of the Present Moment

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Upside of Down

We live in a world that tells us to succeed at all costs.

“Do whatever it takes”
they say, “to get on top?”

In fact, many give their whole life to this endeavor. In Philippians chapter two, Paul paints a vivid picture of Jesus. This image, to the early readers of this text, would stand in stark contrast to the mind-sets prevalent within the city of Philippi. To more fully understand the depth of what Paul is saying about Christ, we need to track backwards a little bit into the history of Philippi itself. In doing so, this famous passage in Philippians comes alive like never before.

The following
is the fourth message in our on-going study in Philippians. In it we explore how the Apostle Paul defines success and true meaning in life and discover the upside of down.

Philippians: The Upside of Down _Week Four from Jerrell Jobe on Vimeo.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Philippians: A Prayer for All of Us_Week Three

Christianity isn’t merely a set of doctrines to be believed. Nor, is it solely interested in securing one’s eternal destination. Biblical Christianity, it’s about an organic life lived out on earth through the power of God’s Spirit. In this message, we begin to explore an ancient prayer prayed by the Apostle Paul for a group of Jesus followers. Though much time has passed since this prayer was uttered, it is as relevant to our lives today as it was 2,000 years ago.

Philippians: A Prayer for All of Us_Week Three from Jerrell Jobe on Vimeo.

The Awareness Exercise

“If you are weary of some sleepy form of devotion, probably God is as weary of it as you are.”
(Frank Laubach,
Man of Prayer)

One of the most beneficial things we can do in our walk with God, is to switch up the routine. Often, we become numbed of the monotony of our lives. As a result we slowly become less attuned to God's present activity in our lives. The following is a simply exercise to help cultivate and nurture greater sensitive to God's active involvement in our daily lives.

The Awareness Exercise (2) is a spiritual exercise to help one find God in all things. The modern understanding of the Awareness Exercise is rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, (3) especially in the exercise called the Contemplatio.

The spirituality of this exercise, the Contemplatio, is the spirituality of finding and loving God in all things. The Contemplatio assumes God's love for us and it is an aid to help us in gratitude to grow in our love and service of God. This exercise has a contemplative quality to it and is focused on our inner experience of the Trinity. How is God "drawing" me (John 6:44) in my existential awareness or consciousness? Hence, the name Awareness or Consciousness Exercise. In the Awareness Exercise we are not focused on our conscience but on our consciousness, i.e., on our awareness of what is going on in our interior experience. Thus the Awareness Exercise is related to the discernment of spirits.

The discernment of spirits is about detecting among the various influences at work within me which ones lead to God and which ones lead away from God and how I am responding to them. The Awareness Exercise, then, is a daily focused exercise of discernment in a person's life. Our focus in the Awareness Exercise is on the presence and action of God in our lived experience.

This spiritual exercise asks the questions: how has God been present to and active in me today in the people, events and circumstances that I have experienced? How have I responded? The St. Augustine's Seminary Spiritual Program states it this way: "The focus of this exercise is your growing awareness of the presence of Christ in situations, events and persons during that day, and the nature of your response to this presence". [emphasis mine]

Presence-- this spiritual exercise is interpersonal, that is, it is about the mutual presence of one person (risen Christ) to another person (you)

Situations, events and persons -- how is the presence of Christ mediated to me during the course of my day? The answer is in the persons, events and circumstances that I daily experience.

Your growing awareness -- Christ can be present to us, but we may not recognize or pay attention to Him. This exercise helps us become aware of Christ's presence and to grow in that awareness. Further, it is your awareness that is important, not someone else's. We are not contemplating the awareness of St. John of the Cross or of St. Therese, as helpful as that may be in other times of prayer.

Response -- the reason we want to grow in our awareness of Christ is so that we can live in closer union with Him, recognize His will and respond to Him by uniting ourselves to what He is doing in our life, in the lives of the people we encounter and serve, and in the world.

This spiritual exercise practiced faithfully can with the help of God's grace form you into a contemplative in action, that is, it will enable you to find God in all things and so unite yourself to the work of the Trinity in the world. The Awareness Exercise takes about 15 minutes and is often best performed daily towards the end of the day.

1. These notes for the use of seminarians at St. Augustine's Seminary, Toronto, draw heavily on the work of the following Jesuits who have written about the Awareness Exercise: John Veltri, John English, Joseph McArdle, Douglas McCarthy, George Aschenbrenner, Michael Ivens and Joseph Tetlow.

2. The Awareness Exercise is also commonly known as the Consciousness Examen or Awareness Examen.

3. It is rooted in three spiritual exercises in the Spiritual Exercises of St,. Ignatius of Loyola. These three exercises are: General Examination of Conscience (#32-43, especially 43), Daily Particular Examination of Conscience (#24-31), and the Contemplation to Attain the Love of God (#230-237, known by its Latin name Contemplatio). The first two exercises are similar to what is known as the Examination of Conscience. The Examination of Conscience is usually done in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) and focuses on faults and sins, sorrow for them, and the need to eradicate them. Hence the Awareness Exercise is broader and more foundational than the Examination of Conscience. Our focus in the Awareness Exercise is not primarily on faults and sins but on the presence and action of God in our lived experience.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Prayer: A Window into the Soul

You can learn about a person by simply listening to how they pray. Is the rhythm of their prayer rigid and saturated with words and phrases from the 1600’s. Does it feel like their talking to someone whose not actually there? Or, is it fluid and conversational.

I love the line in one of Misty Edward’s worship songs where it says,

I don't want to talk about You like You're not in the room
I want to look right at You I want to sing right to You I believe that You are listening
I believe that You move at the sound of my voice

This is how I long for my prayers to be, with the intimacy and ease of simply talking to God as if He was right there – with me. The truth is, He is. Augustine of Hippo spoke to this reality when he wrote, “God is closer to your soul than you are yourself.”

Many of us ask, “Where is God?” But that’s like asking the location of air or the direction of sunlight. The divine Presence is not a “thing” that is “out there.” Lovers abide in God and God in them. “For then the soul is in God and God in the soul just as the fish is in the sea and the sea in the fish.” (Catherine of Siena)

Every time I get into an automobile,” writes Albert Haase in his book coming Home to Your True Self. “I look at those words printed on the bottom of the passenger side-view mirror: ‘Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.’ That speaks of the divine Presence. God is closer to us than we have ever imagined or dreamt. Genesis portrays Adam and Eve experiencing the divine Presence in the evening breeze (Genesis 3:8).”

Have you ever paused long enough to listen to yourself pray?

Do you find yourself praying about the same things over and over or the same type of things?

When you pray, is there a sense that God is in another room or is there an awareness that He is right there with you?

Last night in New Community, we explored Paul's prayer for those in Philippi:

“And this is my prayer:
that your love may abound more and more

in knowledge
and depth of insight,
so that you may be able to discern
what is best and
may be pure
and blameless for the day of Christ,
with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ
—to the glory and praise of God.”

(Philippians 1:9-11)

What can we learn about talking to God (prayer) by reading and reflecting on Paul’s prayer for the Philippians?

How do your prayers compare to Paul’s?