My Spiritual Formation

 

 

 

Theology and the Practice of Christian Spiritual Formation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norine Rae 

Christian Spiritual Formation

Assignment #4: Spiritual Formation

June 28, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

            In the beginning God created…He created man in His image and gave him “free will.” God has always desired to dwell with His creation as we see in Genesis 3:8 in that He walked with man in the garden.  Genesis 2:7 states, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” This “breath of life” is so basic, yet essential to our spiritual and physical formation.  Our quest for commune with God sets man apart from all other species.  For what is theology, but the study of the Christian faith and God’s relationship to the world? It is through the study of the Word, our relationship with the Godhead and creation that we form our theology.  And it is our surrender to our savior that transforms us in our journey as we endeavor to be one with Christ. Whether theology is our choice of vocation or our preferred lifestyle we must continue to strive as lifelong learners on a goal to know Christ more and develop our character through surrender unto death as we become like Christ. Romans 6:8-13 states that,

 “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,  and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

 

Just as Christ lives His life “unto God” we too are to live our lives “unto God” thus becoming like Christ in our nature. With this Christ likeness as ‘children of God’ and “heirs” we are given our true identity, but also a responsibility to this world and the kingdom of God. Our freedom comes from our interdependence with Him, Jhn 8:36.  Spiritual Formation is a discipline towards maturity in the Christian believer as he or she is being transformed from “glory to glory.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 states, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”  Romans 8:17 declares that “…if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” The development and exploration of our identity in Christ as a “child of God” and “co-heir” to the kingdom is paramount in the power and love in which we are operating. It is crucial that Christian believers are disciplined and that their relationship with Christ empowers them so that the veil is rent. Thus this “new man” through revelatory encounters is indeed “being glorified with Christ.” 

   
   
   

Characterization Spiritual Formation

            Dr. Alex Tang quotes the Dictionary of Christian Spiritual Formation (2003, 107) defining Spiritual Formation as “the dynamics of shaping the human spirit towards maturity and consonance’.  He says that…spiritual formation in individuals is defined as the work of forming and transforming by the Holy Spirit in the process of internalization of information and experiences in an individual to develop the character of Christ-likeness.”[1] This is the goal set for followers of Christ to become mature and disciple men and to come to genuine relationship with the Godhead. As we truly believe that it is God’s “good pleasure” to love us and know us we are more able to receive this free gift of salvation and kingdom authority. We must trust that we are in a process of being transformed and changed from Glory to Glory, 2 Cr 3:18. And in this process we are given authority and permission to share our faith with others.

            Our walk with God is one of transformation and empowerment as we yield our lives and become yoked with Christ. We are new men and women who have “free will” and as the gospel of John declare, “So if the Son (Christ) makes you free, you will be free indeed,” Jhn 8:36. In The Sacred Way by Tony Jones he discusses that “true transformation happens when you practice the disciplines that life at the heart of faith.”[2] He shares that our life becomes more yielded as we practice various disciplines and we become more attuned to the Spirit thus move in the rhythms of creation. In other words, we walk in harmony with God and creation. These practices require discipline just as one who desires to excel at an instrument needs to practice. Yes, there are exceptions for there is always the miracle equation, like the savant, but to become a master musician one must spend time playing in order to improve their performance or skill. Even the greatest athletes or artists still are open to instruction or coaching. It is the same with our relationship with God and man. We must learn to submit to authority, and be willing to learn from others who are more experienced and allow others who carry more wisdom to speak into our lives.

It is the precious gift of time in His presence that is required to become like Christ. Even the simple time of reflection and silence before the Lord can be hard for some, but is essential for growth and maturity. Jones states that “it can actually be scary, lonely, and oppressive for some, but once they have peace with Christ their experience will turn to a time of peace.”[3] Thomas Kempis states that “In silence and quietness the devout soul makes progress and learns the hidden mysteries of the Scriptures.”[4] I find that when I am silent that all my senses are more heighten. What I might have missed before because of all the business and noise – in quietness, I now can see more clearly, hear more accurately, and smell more intensely. That which I did not even notice, yet was there all along, He brings it to light. “But who has stood in the council of the LORD that he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened,” Jer 23:18? The Lord brings forth revelation as we listen and heed to His word. This is a place where He molds us and changes our lenses. Our eyes are open and our ears are ready to hear what our Redeemer has to say.[5]  For our heart is prepared for new wonders and mysteries to be unfolded just as an oriental fan is opened to its internal beauty and brushed across our face with a fresh wind of His spirit. Quietness not only provides us with a greater capacity for more awareness to embrace God, but His creation as well. When we slow down our movement and rest it also gives us the ability to see and hear the wondrous movement around us.

Jones also discussed several other Approaches to Spirituality that assists the believer in the quest for deeper relationship with Christ. They include Silence and Solitude, Sacred Reading, The Jesus Prayer, Centering Prayer, Meditation, The Ignatian Examen, Icons, Spiritual Direction, and The Daily Office. In addition, he shares Bodily Approaches to Spirituality being the Labyrinth, Stations of the Cross, Pilgrimage, Fasting, The Sign of the Cross and Other Bodily Prayers, Sabbath and Service. Each of these disciplines can be fruitful for the believer in the pursuit to be one with Christ. Personally, I enjoyed our training in discipline of Ignation Examen and Ignation Meditation. These practices allow the participant to tap into the subconscious to a greater level thus allowing them to change improper habits or thinking. This visitation with the Godhead is not merely an experience, but an opportunity to participate in a deeper conscious thus providing the participant with answers to questions which they did not even realize the depth of their significance.  My personal goal in life is indeed to be one with Christ as my life is a place of His habitation and not merely a place of visitation.  Holiness, righteousness, peace and joy all are   achieved through His presence, Rom 14:17.  The discipline of Ignatian Examen can be used as a tool to aid disciples to transform their minds into proper thinking.

In the book Reimagining by Doug Pagitt, he states that “We are a physical people when we follow Jesus. We are a people of a physical spiritual formation, one that neither degrades nor ignores the mind but that melds the emotional, the spiritual, and the physical ways of being formed as the people of the Savior.[6] 1 Thessalonians 5:23 states, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.” This process of maturity with Christ is holistic in nature for it requires our total submission to kingdom authority. It cannot be compartmentalized for it encompasses our whole being.

Thomas a’ Kempis said “if you confide in the Lord, strength will be given you from heaven, and the world and the flesh shall be made subject to you. Neither will you fear your enemy the devil, if you be armed with faith and signed with the cross of Christ.”[7] The cross is fundamental with Spiritual Formation for it is our faith in the redemption power and love that sets our theology above all other faiths. Tony Jones recites a pray at each Station of the Cross and at the end of each prayer is “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen.”[8] We must not forget that it was through Christ’s death and resurrection that we have been saved. I mention this as I personally have had a magnificent and unforgettable encounter with Christ in which He actually spoke to me regarding the importance that people must realize that He (Jesus) is the only way to the Father, Jhn 14:6.  This basic truth sets our faith apart from others and some feel that we are rejecting them for our way is not wide that leads to death and destruction. Christ did not come to condemn the world, but to bring life, Jhn 3:17. But, again, He is the only way to the Father. We must stand firm on this basic fundamental belief.

In our Spiritual Formation we are not only sanctified and restored to God, but we are called to serve and disciple others so that they too may partake of His glory. As His hands and feet on the earth we display His love not only so that others may long to know Him, but to obey His word which declares that we are to be light so that the Father in heaven is glorified, Matt 5:16. Pagitt tell us that the “From the beginning, life with God has been about service. The teachings of Jesus are suffused with the invitation to be a people who love and serve our neighbors.”[9] Service should be a natural response as we become a partaker of the divine nature of God as we see in 2 Peter. 

Process of Spiritual Formation (Practice or Development)

 In this process we must die and be changed as we will see in 2 Peter 1:2-11,

“Grace and peace be multiplied seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these qualities are blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.  Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

 

            This scripture explains Spiritual Formation so well that I feel my words would bring injustice to our calling and ability with Christ to walk in our divine nature. We surely have a part to play in our Spiritual Formation and transformation. We have been “abundantly supplied” with everything that we need to walk in His fullness and righteousness.

 Romans 12:2 goes on to tell us that we are “not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, so that we may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” It is this process of transformation that makes our journey fruitful and bearable. The fruit of the spirit is in the lives of those who believe. “We cannot find our true self without first finding God.”[10] And we find God by calling down heaven to earth.  Ben Johnson’s poem reads, “Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven and have we learned to seek it in our lives? We are born, inherited the darkness, but as a child turn darkness into light.”[11] It is this hope as true believers that we shed light in the dark places of this world and that is doing so we play a part in bringing the kingdom to earth. Transformation is the key to the kingdom in that we have the keys, but many don’t know how to open the doors.[12] We need to seek God for enlightenment so that the mysteries of the kingdom will be revealed. 

We must awaken the gifts that are within us and celebrate the sweet presence of God in this place by drawing heaven to earth. As leaders and facilitators we can encourage the development of Spiritual Formation through hospitality and creativity within community.  We can provide opportunities that enhance discipleship as individuals are given ample menus in which to share their talents through dance, music, drama, film.[13] In the Spiritual Classics edited my Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin it is refreshing to see the “cloud of witnesses” that have gone before us and done well. We too can be an example for others as Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” In Thomas More’s poem A Godly Meditation he conveys so assuredly that

“Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss at right naught for the winning of Christ. To think my most enemies my best friends, For the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred. These minds are more to be desired of every man, than all the treasure of all the princes and kings, Christian and heathen, were it gathered and laid together all upon one heap.”[14]

Our Spiritual Formation is developed as we go through this process of death to self in the midst of our suffering. Is it not in this suffering that we are molded more in His image? Many hate the pain, but it is this very pain, (just as a tree when it is pruned) that is actually the catalyst to self discovery. As we draw near to Christ and experience His enduring love that surpasses our comprehension we are made full in Him and through Him, Eph 3:19. We are not to stay in our pain for “weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning,” Psm 30:5.  Doctor Peisner shared that “pain is the pathway through healing.”[15] As we run to Him (Christ) and live with Him we begin to understand the mysteries of the kingdom, Mat 13:11. We partner with Him to bring the kingdom to earth. Through acceptance of the pain we allow ourselves to release death and embrace life. It has been said that “one of the signs of Christianity is the cross and not a pillow” (unknown author).[16] We also discussed in class that if we do not transform pain than it will transform us.  Through the truth (Christ) we are set free and the layers of pain and deception are shattered.  Pain actually brings us to a place of humility and realization that we need our savior.

Jeremiah 33:2-3 declares, “Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the who formed it to establish it, the LORD is His name, ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Also we see in Isaiah 61:3 that the Lord gives us a “garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they we will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” The Lord is glorified when we prosper and see His goodness. We bring hope to the world who does not understand this joy that can only come from above. We than as light and salt share our faith through our supernatural love that has been freely given to us by God. This transformation comes as we see and hear what the Lord is doing and like Jesus we too adhere to His voice. Amid the pain and suffering we declare with zeal that indeed our redeemer lives and there is hope for tomorrow, Psa 39:7. It is from this “deep” place of searching that “deep forms deep” and the depth of our faith and knowledge of God is increased.[17]

None of this can take place if we have not had a transformed heart. Augustine of Hippo discusses this as it relates to fasting, yet it pertains to all areas in our lives. He asks us the important questions surrounding our motives. For if our heart is divided and our allegiance is to self than we may be seeking position, influence, status rather than that of glorifying God. I often check my heart and my heart condition. We are told to examine ourselves. “May God, therefore, incline our heart to His testimonies and not to gain.  For the end of the commandment is charity from a pure heart, a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith.”[18]  The Word assures us that “Moreover, I (Christ) will give you a new heart and put a new spirit with you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, Eze 36:26. Again, we must look at the heart in regards to our intimacy with God when He asks us to be obedient in giving up our treasures, Mat 6:19-21. A.W. Tozer so eloquently prayed,

“Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”[19]

 

In The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard he speaks to his audience regarding confession saying, “Confession alone makes deep fellowship possible, and the lack of it explains much of the superficial quality so commonly found in our church associations. What, though, makes confession bearable? Fellowship. There is an essential reciprocity between these two disciplines.”[20] Our heart change in knowing that we are truly loved by our redeemer brings us to a place where we are able to be transparent knowing that we can trust Him. This fellowship or communion involves humility, honesty, and submission on our part. Willard also teaches us the importance of living from the inside out. As we connect with the Father our insides are changed which in turn develop our character. It is in our deeper places of consciousness that we are transformed. We must rely fully on God for our transformation.

 God has been teaching me - even with the illustration of the frog and the stirring - that I saw in the park.  He spoke to me by quietly whispering to my spirit that the acronym meant to Fully, Rely, On, God. We must (I must) learn to fully rely on God and learn to “rest” which is a representation of faith. Isaiah 14:3 speaks of rest in that “…in the day when the LORD gives you rest from your pain and turmoil and harsh service in which you have been enslaved.” Sometimes we enslave ourselves by the business of lives and our inability to seek the quiet places of contemplation and relaxation. This can be especially daunting for those who are task oriented or driven to perfection.

Perhaps the Lord will use this difficult time to teach me as he did Nouwen as you can see from the statement that he would say to himself, “If you really want to be less visible, less known, try to take this event and use it to become more forgotten, more passed over; be grateful for the occasion. Trust that hiddenness will give you new eyes to see yourself, your world, and your God. People cannot give you new eyes; only the one who loves you without limits.”[21] There is that inherent part of me that longs to be heard and experience the stirring. Yet, I cannot help but wonder at the possibilities achieved from this place of being outside and looking on as I rest and rely on Him.

 

Purpose of Spiritual Formation  

We are shaped for service as Pagitt states so eloquently “Our yearning to be a people who love and bless the world means we understand that service extends beyond our threshold; we seek to care for those outside our immediate community with the same compassion. …this way of living isn’t an outgrowth of faith but rather the essential means to our spiritual formation.”[22] The holistic Christians’ desire is not merely that of eternal salvation, but that which transcends to a union beyond themselves in which they are determined to allow God to be the Lord of their life.  The believer is told, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself,” Luk 10:27. And secondly the Lord asks us to “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give,” Mat 10:8. Just as we cannot attain Salvation without Christ, I believe that to have this kind of love that extends beyond our personal ability requires the Holy Spirit.

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit,” Gal 5:22-25.

“The Holy Spirit plays an essential role in Spiritual Formation. At ‘conversion’ the Holy Spirit is sealed unto us as a covenant of God (Eph.1:13). The Holy Spirit is a baptizer, the Spirit of truth, empowerer, counselor, comforter and giver of spiritual gifts. It is the Holy Spirit working in our lives that leads to spiritual growth. The Holy Spirit may work slowly in our daily lives, helping us to make correct decisions in obedience to God and opening our spiritual eyes to the Truth of the Bible.”[23]

Without the spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit we would not have the empowerment needed to heal the sick, etc… But first and foremost we ought to love for “if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing,” 1 Cr 13:2. We should be compelled to learn to immerse ourselves in His presence in order to be overflowing with the Spirit of God so that we may impact those around us. Nouwen shares his feelings regarding his friends in his journal saying “I feel surrounded by the friends I am writing to and praying for. Our love for each other is very concrete and lifegiving.”[24] Like Nouwen, I am utterly grateful to God for the friendships He has given me. I see them as a tangible demonstration of His love for me.

It is such a blessing to be able to heal the sick, but all is lost without love. Hadewijch of Antwerp who lived in the 13th Century said, “Be on your guard, therefore, and let nothing disturb your peace. Do good under all circumstances, but with no care for any profit, or any blessedness, or any damnation, or any salvation, or any martyrdom; but all you do or omit should be for the honor of Love.”[25] I would rather walk in love any day if I had to choose love over the other gifts, but we are so blessed to have a “great God” who desires to bless His children abundantly, not only with love, but with spiritual gifts, 1 Cr 12:8-10.

As people of faith our desired goal should be one of sacrifice by yielding this mortal body, soul, and spirit to the Holy Spirit and to seek to please our Father who is in heaven. We call down heaven to earth as we align our spirit with the Holy Spirit and do as Christ did when he said that he only did what he saw the Father do. So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me,” Jhn 8:28.  Jesus said, “truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father,” Jhn 14:12.

It is through our works of faith that we serve the Lord with gladness. Pagitt discusses the importance of allowing “imagination, hope, and faith to find the room to get to know each other. And what they create together can be breathtaking.”[26] As we embrace the imagination and cultivate an expectation of hope and faith for the future we demonstrate to the Lord and others our genuine delight in the fullness of the disciplines available to us. The Lord is teaching me to do all things from a place of yieldedness and rest - as discussed earlier. “For His yoke is easy and His burden is light,” Mat 11:30. Willard shares that in the world system we try to produce justice, peace, and prosperity which lead us to bondage because it is done from place people under restrains. “The gospel of Christ, by contrast, comes to create a new person pervaded by the positive realities of faith, hope, and love – toward God primarily and therefore toward all men and women and creatures. From this positive transformation of the self, justice, peace, and prosperity can result as God’s rule if fulfilled in human life.”[27]

Conclusion

            Whether one were to cite  Henri Nouwen’s The Road to Daybreak  - a spiritual journey, Willard, Jones, Foster & Griffin, or Dr. Alex Tang’s article on Spiritual Formation one statement would ring true for all and that is that Spiritual Formation is a process that is achieved through the context of relationship and communion with God and His creation. It is a quest for inner discovery and development through the senses. It requires death to self, yet rediscovery of the new self who is sanctified through the blood and body of Christ. It requires obedience, discipline, sacrifice, times of solitude, rest; a spirit of gratitude. Mostly, it requires love. But first an abiding faith that above all else the pilgrim or believer knows from the depths of their soul that they are so greatly loved by our creator.  And because of this love - we - the children of God - of our own “free will” are compelled to serve Him. We are to seek Him for our unique calling, and trust Him by letting go of past failures. We must learn from our mistakes, yet move forward in the disciplines so that as spiritual guides we may immerse ourselves in His presence in order to demonstrate the power of His love through giving and forgiving. 

The more devoted we become, the deeper our longing to please Him - for we are so amazed at the magnitude of His love, and provision. Our connection with God is the answer to every circumstance in life.  It is a daily devotion to trust that there is hope, and joy, and peace, and love - found - in His presence. Whether on a pilgrimage or practicing a spiritual discipline our focus is removed from ourselves and centered on Christ. In quietness and rest we gain deeper insight into the mysteries of heaven. Willard discusses the importance of the disciplines in that they “are activities of mind and body purposefully undertaken, to bring our personality and total being into effective cooperation with the divine order. They enable us more and more to live in a power that is, strictly speaking, beyond us, deriving from the spiritual realm itself, as we “yield ourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” As Romans 6:13 puts it.”[28] We call down the heaven to earth and in our eternal perspective declare and usher in His presence. We have confidence in knowing that “He reveals mysteries from darkness And brings the deep darkness into light,” Job 12:22. Thus we are stewards of the mysteries of God so that we may love and disciple others into the kingdom, Matt 13:11, 1 Cr 4:1.

The Holy Spirit gives us the tools we need to reach inward and upward so that we can reach outward to a world in desperate need of a savior. Nouwen says that the world is searching for wholeness and that passion accomplished Jesus’ divine task on earth. We too as believers need to have such a passion that we “hand over” to God in order to fulfill our mission.[29]And the “good news” is that there is a savior and He lives in “US”! To know the love of God is a great gift and to understand your authority in the kingdom is powerful. As His vessels and ambassadors we are an expression of Christ that can bring hope to the hopeless, joy unspeakable, and faith beyond measure as He empowers us to move forward in the divine nature for which we were formed, 2 Pet 1 2-11. We are in a continued state of transformation as we grow in the glory of Christ which is our Spiritual Formation - never ending, totally surrendered, and utterly amazed by His continual goodness. 

This is just the continuation of my personal journey of Spiritual Formation and like Nouwen states so eloquently, I too “… experienced not only a desire to be embraced, but also a fear of losing my independence. I realized that God’s love is a jealous love. God wants not just a part of me, but all of me. Only when I surrender myself completely to God’s parental love can I expect to be free from endless distractions, ready to hear the voice of love, and able to recognize my own unique call.”[30] And once again, I too, like Nouwen make these promises to God – “to pray more, do everything possible to come to know Him and my own community better, and to keep writing.”[31] For this shall be my hope to draw nearer to Him as I embrace the pain, move forward in love; devoted to service for my Savior.

 

Bibliography

Foster, Richard J., and Emilie Griffin. Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings on the Twelve

SpiritualDisciplines. New York, NY: HarperColllins, 2000.

Jones, Tony. The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life.

 Grand Rapis, MI: Zondervan, 2005.

Nouwen, Henri J.M. The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey. New York, NY:  

Doubleday, 1988.

Pagitt, Doug. Reimagining Spiritual Formation: A Week in the Life of an Experimental Church.

 Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.

Peisner, Dr. Steve. Christian Spiritual Formation Lectures (June 2010)

Tang, Dr. Alex. Spiritual Formation in Individuals. 2006-2007.

http://www.kairos2.com/SF Literature-review.htm (accessed June 9, 2010).

Willard, Dallas. The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives.

New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1988.

 

[1] (Tang 2006-2007, 1)

[2] (Jones 2005, 3)

[3] (Jones 2005, 43)

[4] (Jones 2005, 37)

[5] (Peisner 2010)

[6] (Pagitt 2004, 82)

[7] (Jones 2005, 169)

[8] (Jones 2005, 142)

[9] (Pagitt 2004, 145)

[10] (Peisner 2010)

[11] (Pagitt 2004, 83)

[12] (Peisner 2010)

[13] (Pagitt 2004, 127)

[14] (Foster and Griffin 2000, 6&7)

[15] (Peisner 2010)

[16] (Peisner 2010)

[17] (Peisner 2010)

[18] (Foster and Griffin 2000, 71)

[19] (Foster and Griffin 2000, 115)

[20] (Willard 1988, 188)

[21] (Nouwen 1988, 26)

[22] (Pagitt 2004, 147)

[23] (Tang 2006-2007)

[24] (Nouwen 1988, 45)

[25] (Foster and Griffin 2000, 200)

[26] (Pagitt 2004, 131)

[27] (Willard 1988, 221)

[28] (Willard 1988, 68)

[29] (Nouwen 1988, 156)

[30] (Nouwen 1988, 74)

[31] (Nouwen 1988, 226-227)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norine Rae Cheney

Dr. Leron Heath

 Lifelong Learning for Ministry

January 15, 2010

“Understanding My Personality”

            One of the most intriguing sciences is that of mankind and understanding their actions and reactions to creation and creator.  I find myself continually surprised by these unique creatures that were formed from mere dust and a rib. And there would not be humanity if it were not for His breath. I wonder at the magnitude of this creation and how our free will sets the events of our lives in motion. Perhaps, this is in essence part of my dilemma in desiring to please Him above all things, yet be a blessing to His creation as well. Always striving to appreciate uniqueness of individuals, and longing to know the creator more deeply, more profoundly, more intimately than the day before is my greatest endeavor. For if, “there is no greater love than that a man lay his life down for his friends,” surely I can lay my life down for the one who not only created me, but love me and cared for me from before the world began. Yes, He knew me, and loved me, knowing that I was not like others, yet, so like them, for all mankind longs to love and be loved,  to plan and succeed, and to find their place in this world in which we live. These insights will be explored further as we discover how the assessments provided gave way to further revelation of who I am and where my divine purpose may take me.                            Myer Briggs Type Indicator

Completing the assessments that were provided for this assignment was enjoyable on many levels. Throughout my lifetime I have always eagerly participated in any personality tests that were offered. I have always deemed them as fun!  Part of this is due to the fact that I am an optimistic person as described in the (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), which findings indicated that I was an ENFJ (extraversion, intuition, feeling and judging). Less than three percent of the United States population scores as this personality type. This really wasn’t too surprising, but it actually excited me. I felt that I was truly unique, but this test was confirming. I often preach/teach others about their importance and distinctiveness.  It feels good to know that you are special; a rare breed.

Actually, I feel that there are many more types of people then the (Myer Briggs Type Indicator) shows. Where a person placed on the scale of the dichotomies would surely affect ones personality.  In point of fact I had to pick between the ENFJ and the ENFI because I scored the same. After reading the description provided, I selected ENFJ as it seemed to be the “best” fit.  For the most part, I was just over the middle line so I could have gone either way on the dichotomies. This was also a nice discovery for me as it is good to know that I am a balanced person. 

Reviewing the “blind spots” of the ENFJs provided me with understanding of why at times I reflect or believe how one values or sees me rather than the value that God has placed on me as His child. This is also something that I teach, and I feel so blessed to be loved by many; yet, I hurt deeply when my person, thoughts, and ideas are rejected. I am still working on this in my life.  Seeing my faults and admitting them is not difficult for me as indicated in this assessment. Perhaps that is because the Lord has worked on me in this area. I see my faults, but fixing them is another story. The fact that I am an extravert can be difficult in groups as I love to lead and share, but in my zealousness I need to be aware of others and keep myself in check as I can easily take over a group and share too much. My heart is to honor everyone and guard my mouth for my opinions are strong and one could call me talkative.  My mom always said that my ability to communicate was one of my best and worst assets. Hopefully, today I have grown and can keep this in check without putting “my foot in my mouth” to often as I am an external processor.

DVC Learning Style Survey

The findings that were indicated from the (DVC Learning Survey) were not surprising as my preference for learning is through the Auditory/Verbal Learning Style. I love to communicate and observe others address their facts and feelings on a given subject. Benefiting from their personal history, as well as research I find enlightening.  Learning through reading is more difficult for me to grasp concepts and many times I find myself reading aloud so that I might absorb the subject matter. Once I have learned the material it seems to stick – it is just learning new concepts that seem difficult at times. Yet, when I am engaged in a project or working with others my motivation is enhanced as I enjoy relationship, challenges, and learning. 

This Tactile and Kinesthetic Learning Style is provoking as I do best when physically active and “brain storming” with people. I am eager to learn from others who are more gifted than I in a particular occupation or vocation.  Organizing groups and project management seems to come natural to me. Most of the strategies listed to assist the Tactile/Kinesthetic Learner I already practice.  It is essential that I sit in the front of the room so that I can stay focused. Organization is important for me as a learner as well as being pragmatic for otherwise I would not get anything accomplished. Therefore I do not procrastinate as I would feel overwhelmed and I find it helpful that I am task and goal oriented.

This class is a challenge for me as it is all done over the internet and I am still learning how to use these systems. I love a good challenge, but can find it frustrating when I feel I’m not getting anything accomplished because I can find it. I want to figure it out for myself, but the technical problems make me question my intelligence at times. I find myself having to step away and contact someone who knows how the system functions.                                               Learning Preference Survey          

This assessment indicated learning preferences of areas of Relevance, Reflective Thinking, Interactivity, Tutor Support, Peer Support, and Interpretation.  The last three indicators  I put almost never as I felt that it was not applicable to this course since it is an on-line class, but really I learn better with group interaction as indicated from the DVC Learning Style Survey. My learning preference is similar to those of my class-mates as shown on the graft provided. Learning Styles Survey

Results from the Learning styles survey determined that I strongly agree with connected and separate learning.  My responses were on a stronger level to that of my classmates who have taken the assessment.  It would be helpful if the questions could be reviewed again as I couldn’t remember the question and could only access the graft.                                                     Spiritual Gifts Experience Assessment

Bruce Bugbee’s Assessment, page 146 on discovering our Spiritual Gifts was actually surprising to me. My scores were high in most of the gifts, but my highest results were in administration, faith, and hospitality. I would have thought it to be first prophecy, encouragement, and evangelism or teaching.  I have taught for many years and find that one of my greatest loves is to receive fresh revelation that I can in turn share with others. I have been blesses with the ability to see what needs to be done in a crisis situation or just basic projects. This gift of administration I am grateful for, but I find that using my other spiritual gifts gives me more joy. 

My lowest scores were in craftsmanship, helps and evangelism. Again, this was surprising as I am a hands-on person who doesn’t mind working hard and getting dirty. I am just better at organizing teams rather than doing the actual job.  I believe that the one who is willing to sweep the floor is just as valuable as the one who is out in front. It is the willingness that is important. For I believe that the practical is just as important as the spiritual. It is finding where you can be most effective that is critical.  Jesus said that greater works will we would do. I hear people talk about being verses doing and get frustrated at times. Perhaps, that is because I see myself as a Martha verses a Mary. There is a time to sit at the Lords feet, but there is also work that needs to be done. I believe that the key is to obey the Lord and His prompting.

Courage and Calling by Gordon T. Smith (page 10)

            As I reflect on the results from the above assessments with regard to “my calling” which Gordon T. Smith brakes down into three categories (general call, specific call, and immediate call) – I believe that each of these callings is critical in our daily lives. It is my hope that my daily walk encapsulates all three to some degree. I say this because how I go about my day should reflect Christ as His disciple. My uniqueness of character does not change my status of first and foremost His child, and His ambassador. My vocation throughout the years mostly has been away of meeting our obligations.

            The fact that I am a woman has influenced me greatly for even though I have felt a strong call on my life since I was very young, I have not followed it until the past 10 years or so as I was not sure I would be received. In other words, I had a “fear of man”, and actually an internal struggle because of scripture.   I continue to have this struggle today, knowing that I hear God’s voice and desire to serve Him, yet wanting to understand and obey His written Word as well. My strongest gifts are to teach, lead people, and the prophetic gifting.

            What am I called to or what is my “specific calling” is a question that I ask myself often. I hope that it is to be an effective teacher of His word. It is Isaiah 61, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn…”

A.W. Tozer, “The Call to the Ministry”

As am minister of the Gospel who operates in the prophet gifting I found this article to be interesting. For as I have shared earlier, I hold a strong point of view on several issues in today’s society. Yet, when I minister I am so blessed to quiet these views for the greater voice and that is of my Maker. “The orator originates his message and is responsible to himself for its content. The prophet originates nothing but delivers the message he have received from God who alone is responsible for it, the prophet being responsible to God for its delivery only.” By allowing the Lord to speak through me is such a blessing as I am not influenced by opinion or the opinion of others. The “fear of man” gets out of the way and lends to the sovereign God. I still believe that delivery is important in that we encourage and exhort.

            We are ministers of the Gospel bringing God’s message to the earth in such a way that people who do not know Him long to know Him and those that do know Him long to know Him more. “The call of God comes with an insistence that will not be denied and can scarcely be resisted.” This call is one that because I am a woman I have tried to run from- declaring that it was alright for me to preach since I was under the covering of my husband who was also ordained. But, now that my husband has divorced me to merry another where does that leave “my calling”? If it is a true calling from God and not man than am I not still called? I choose to believe that I am called. But, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” Everything within my being that has value comes from the love of knowing Him and the calling by which I have been called. Even my daddy said that he knew that I had a calling on my life when I was only two as I use to talk to the devil,  while pointing to the grown, and tell him that his place was down there and he better stay there. It is my prayer that I always hear the word of the Lord and that I bring it forth so that people not only understand, but that they are drawn to Him.

Conclusion

 I believe that Isaiah 61 is my calling, and I am eager to fulfill it as I go the churches and countries that I am invited to. I share the truth of His word where I am welcomed and received. The Lord has shown me that I am to be a facilitator and support His work as I am able. But, mostly I am called to love and show Jesus through my life daily. It is not just by what I say, but with how I live sanctified for Him. You see I am a peculiar person- for I am a true follower of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps I am not the brightest person academically, but the Lord said that He takes the foolish things to confound the wise. May be that is why He uses me – for I confound the wise.  Proverbs 4:5 Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; Love her and she will watch over you. “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding. Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her. “She will place on your head a garland of grace; She will present you with a crown of beauty.” This is my desire – to walk in this wisdom and beauty. It is to be a blessing and learn so that I may in turn teach so that others may learn and in turn teach so that all may know Him and love Him. And that they know that He loves them with a great and exceeding love that is beyond our understanding.  I am continually amazed by His love for me. These academic tools provide me with greater knowledge of myself and others so that I have the much needed wisdom to impart His teachings correctly and effectively. Not to perplex, but enlighten through revelation is my utmost goal as I go forth to the world as a demonstration of His love.

 Bibliography

Bugbee, Bruce. What you do best in the body of Christ, Revised and expanded. 2nd ed.  Grand

Rapids: Zondervan, 2005

Learning Preference Survey.  2009.

Learning Styles Survey. 2009.8

Myers, Katherine, and Myers, Peter. Myers Briggs Type Indicator. 2007

Miller, Suzanne. DVC Learning style survey. CA: Diablo Valley College, 2000.

New American Standard Bible. The Open Bible Edition, 1977.

Smith, Gordon. Courage & Calling. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999.

Tozer, A.W. “The Call to the Ministry.” God Tells the Man Who Cares, ch.17

 

*unknown publication information*: Learning Preference Survey/Learning Styles Survey.