Daily Riches: Soldiering On In Ministry (Ruth Haley Barton)

“One of the occupational hazards for those of us in ministry is that it can become hard to distinguish between the times when we are ‘on’ and working for God and times when we can just be with God for our own soul’s sake. We might notice that Scripture has been reduced to a textbook or a tool for ministry rather than an intimate personal communication from God to us. Perhaps prayer has become an exhausting round of different kinds of mental activity or a public display of our spiritual prowess. When we repress what is real in our lives and just keep soldiering on, we get weary from holding it in and eventually it leaks out in ways that are damaging to ourselves and to others. Times of extended retreat give us a chance to come home to ourselves in God’s presence and to be with God with what is true about us in utter privacy. This is important for us and for those we serve. …on retreat there is time and space to attend to what is real in our own lives—to celebrate the joys, grieve the losses, shed tears, sit with the questions, feel anger, attend to loneliness—and allow God to be with us in those places. These are not times for problem solving because not everything can be solved. On retreat we rest ourselves in God and wait on him to do what is needed and we return to the battle with fresh energy and keen insight.” Ruth Hayley Barton

“My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.”
Psalm 63:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you living/working “for God” without spending time “with God?”
  • Are you emotionally and spiritually exhausted? …running on fumes? …ready to melt down, blow up or burn out?
  • Are you living/ministering out of a place of emptiness? … “a parched and weary land?”
  • If your answers are “yes” to these questions, you’re in a very dangerous place. Can you make some changes? If not, what does that mean?

Abba, may my life and ministry flow out of a cultivated intimacy with you. Only you can do what needs to be done.

For more: Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Thinking, Feeling, Behaving, Becoming

In the Judeo-Christian tradition both heart (Proverbs 4:23) and mind (Romans 12:2) play a critical place in the spiritual life, but true religion can be defined (James 1:27) and measured (Mt. 25:31ff.) without regard to these things, because the spiritual life is more than just correct thinking (doctrine, theology) and proper feeling (affections, passions). True religion involves behavior (lifestyle, practices). Both heart and mind are penultimate to behavior. Life-change is always the ultimate end in view, always the goal. We know from James, that faith without works is dead (James 2:20), and from Paul that faith leads to obedience (Romans 1:5). The Bible emphasizes these works and this obedience in its ubiquitous calls for love, compassion, understanding and generosity towards others – and in giving God the affection and honor that he deserves. Unfortunately, in the churches, this call to character or Christian lifestyle is often where the story ends. We’re reminded, motivated, inspired, informed and challenged – but often left to ourselves to figure out how to make it work. Yes, be more patient, loving, compassionate. Yes, be a person of prayer, joy, grace, peace. But how? The ancient answer is new again – spiritual disciplines. By them we make space for God to enter our equation. We position ourselves to receive from God and to hear from God. By practicing spiritual disciplines we train ourselves* to be able to do by the grace of God, what we cannot consistently do now: “the right thing in the right way at the right time for the right reason.” The “riches” that I share highlight the value of proven spiritual disciplines and repeatedly remind of them – since we often know, but also forget, what is most important. And since the learning-curve of the Christian life is long (a life-time), we need to return repeatedly to these core practices – practices that you might not often hear emphasized in church (the need to slow down, the need for silence and solitude), or things that aren’t typical in your faith tradition, and not mentioned for that reason (contemplative prayer, fixed-time prayer, keeping of a sabbath). We look to God to change us, but merely looking is not enough. Nor is it enough to learn more, or try harder. Historic spiritual disciplines transcend eras of Christian history, continents, cultures and denominations. Christians of influence in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions all testify to their value. As you prayerfully interact with this blog, I hope you will find value in them as well, and that starting with me, we’ll all end up looking more like Jesus.

* “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” 1 Timothy 4:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you settled for merely more information or inspiration?
  • What you’re doing to be more like Jesus – is it working?
  • Are you actually training yourself “to do the right thing … for the right reason?
Abba, keep me moving along the journey of transformation.
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For More: The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less (with today being a rare exception). I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”