by Bob Arnold
The mystery of the Incarnation is unfathomable. The incomparable Christ existed before man. Yet what we see in the manager is the human face of God. God took on flesh to show us what God was like.
He came as a man, yet was fully God and by example, helped us understand what Love truly is. His ultimate sacrifice of dying on the cross was not just an act to reconcile us to the Father, but it was also His greatest gift of Love. The Christmas story continues to be written in all of us and it isn’t just one day a year.
Through His Son, He came with great desires for us to become like Him!
He Forgives us
He Cleanses us
He Enriches us
He Enlightens us
He makes us Beautiful
As the year comes to an end we want to take the time to sincerely thank everyone who has partnered with us as we continue building a community centered around growing in Christ. If you have the desire to partner with us by joining our SEEDS community or with a financial gift, Please give me a call to find out more. I’d love to hear your stories of how God is moving in your life. In Christian community we can become more like Him and continue to heal the broken-hearted by sharing the greatest gift of all . . . Christ’s LOVE!
We thank God for you and wish you a Very Merry Christmas!
Bob & Jeanne Arnold
P.S, The Meadow has graciously been given a $30,000 matching gift. All gifts through 2018 will be matched up to $30,000. This means The Meadow could be blessed to start the new year with $60,000! Please consider supporting this campaign! Your gift supports our efforts to continue to grow this community and spread His love to a world that deeply needs Christ’s compassion, and hope! Thanks again and remember to let the “Son” shine in your life today and always!
“To find the true fulfillment we so desperately seek, is to choose to walk in love—to actually put love into action by reaching out and loving others. Every day can be exciting if we see ourselves as God’s secret agents, waiting to sprinkle a little salt on all the lives we encounter. And we know that because we are deeply loved by God, we can never run out of love—no matter how much we give away. ”
Blind man at the gate
O to be open
It’s what the wise ones seek
It’s what the great souls attain
What’s a saint?
An Open One
Saint Francis and Mother Teresa were
Open to God, open to Creation, open to the Other
We’re all born open — wide-eyed and wide open
What’s an infant?
An Open One
Wonder, learning, and love come easy to a
But then we suffer the blows
And begin to
By the time we’re a teen
We’re mostly tight shut
Happy or sad
A clam inside a shell
Now the task begins
The task of a lifetime
The task of becoming
O to be open
An old one open again
Open to wonder, learning, and love
To grow open is to grow young
Much is against openness
Vested interests stake much on keeping us
The talking heads of the tight shut tell us of
Right and Wrong, Black and White, Us and Them
Who is In and who is Out
Their words are a slamming door
To live in the world of the tight shut is called
Certainty and security, clarity and conformity
It’s also death
To live there is to shrivel your soul
To die there is—
Well, I don’t know
I do know that to save my soul
I must become open
Open to God’s all-encompassing love
I cannot afford to slam the door
To shut the door on “them”
Is to lock myself in hell’s closet
O to be open
Where does the first crack of openness come from?
It could come from anywhere
A poem, a heartbreak, a sunset really seen
A song, a sermon, a mercy freely received
A birth, a death, a person fully loved
Let openness get its foot in the door
And it’ll begin to shovel in the grace
Open to the openness
The openness of God
The openness of light
The openness of love
Life is open
Death is closed
(A sealed tomb)
Heaven is open
(Its gates will never be shut)
Hell is closed
(Abandon all hope ye who enter)
Jesus is the Usher of Openness
He holds the keys of Hell and Death
To set its prisoners free
May he loose us and lead us into
The Great Openness of God
O to be open
Brian Zahnd is the founder and lead pastor of Word of Life Church, a non-denominational Christian congregation in Saint Joseph, Missouri. Brian and his wife, Peri, founded the church in 1981. Brian is also the author of several books, including, Water to Wine, A Farewell To Mars, Beauty Will Save the World, and Unconditional?: The Call of Jesus to Radical Forgiveness.
“I came to the Spiritual Development Forum at a critical time in my life. Somewhere along the way the pressures of life and ministry succeeded in overwhelming me and I had lost my way. All the right answers I had accumulated over years of ministry weren’t working anymore. The Forum and Bob’s teachings from the contemplative tradition helped reorient me. I came to see that God had an infinite supply of love to show me, not by taking me out of my struggles but by revealing his love to me through them. The Forum has helped ground me in a deeper spirituality far more stable than I have ever known. I highly recommend this path and the Forum as a guide to walking it.”
— Don Golden
Don Golden is the co-author of Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile (with Rob Bell) and served as senior vice president of church engagement at World Relief in Baltimore, Maryland. His passion to help churches help the poor and oppressed has taken him to more than 60 countries. He also served as lead pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church from 2005 to 2008. Don and his wife, Lynn, have three daughters, Emily, Olivia, and Sophie and a dog named Buckwheat.
As a church planter, and a Follower of Christ I have found the church lacking in it’s means to develop disciples that live out of a deeply rooted sense of relationship with God. As a child and teenager my spirituality was little, to none existent. When I came to know Christ at 18, I was longing to connect relationally to my Creator and I found hope in a Savior that would give His life for me and in surrendering myself to His deep love. I yearned for, and strived to find and cultivate, a deep relationship with God, but church attendance, Bible studies, and even seminary failed to deliver. I knew a lot about God, but still didn’t feel like I knew Him in a relational way.
The Spiritual Development Forum is led by people who are passionate about God and people, they are living proof that an ever growing intimacy with God is possible, and during my two year journey of development I was given: the opportunity to experiment with the ancient spiritual disciplines; practical exercises that helped me to understand how and why God designed me to be who I am, and most importantly, I was given very real means of falling more in love with God and experiencing His never ending love for me.
Rob Benson – Lead Pastor
Matt’s House Church a Re-Construction Zone
I have been practicing the Christian faith for over 40 years. When I heard about the Spiritual Development forum, privately and foolishly I thought to myself that there would be little to gain by participating. What I did not appreciate was the eclectic, patchwork nature of my world view . SDF helped me to rewrite my narrative. I actually wrote down a personal statement of faith from an amalgamation of SDF seminars.
SDF enabled me to reorganize my thoughts. It even reworked my emotional life. Beginning with some of the first lectures, I was reminded from 1st Corinthians 13 that love is the foundational element for everything else. I realized through the study of the Enneagram that for someone from the first Triad , like me, revitalizing an awareness of God’s love is critical. So my first step of my SDF Journey was to refocus on God’s love in order to fight off some of my perfectionist tendencies.
Using that framework The Forum next took me through a reworking of the process sometimes referred to as the Dark Night of the senses and spirit. I was aware that there were items in my life competing for God’s love. I identified two in particular. I needed to be cleansed of those other “lovers”, as I began to realize I am not who I had come to think of myself over the years.
In the end I created a personal creed, “Matti’s Creed “. I pull it out and read it from time to time. It is a great Refresher. It is highly personal and highly reflective. It is just what I needed at this point in my life. I don’t even know what prompted me to write it down. I cling to my personal Creed as it keeps me grounded in the basic elements of faith essential to my unique situation. I’m grateful to have it. I’m grateful to the Spiritual Development Forum.
2015 MAJ Trial Lawyer of Year
2015 Daily Record Leader in the Law Winner
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
God has a plan for your life and it is greater than you can imagine.
Pray upon the Lord for guidance and direction. He know the desires of your heart and His perfect will awaits!
Faith: It knows God can DO all Things
Hope: It knows that God desires to bring his very best to you
Love: It desires what God Desires