All posts by meadow4

His Love Never Runs Out

“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. ”
Joyce Myers

If and When We Change

“Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change.”

  • Richard Rohr

O, To Be Open by Brian Zahnd

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
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
Child

But then we suffer the blows
And begin to
Close

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
Open

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
Tight shut
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
BAM!
Tight shut!

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
(Ever unfolding)
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

brianzahndmainbookBrian 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 WineA Farewell To Mars, Beauty Will Save the World, and Unconditional?: The Call of Jesus to Radical Forgiveness.

The Pressures of Life and Ministry

“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

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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.

Why God Designed Me To Be Who I Am

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

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Matti’s Creed

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.

M.M. Paavola
2015 MAJ Trial Lawyer of Year
2015 Daily Record Leader in the Law Winner

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Faith, Hope & Love – Live Your Dreams

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

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

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Just Drop the Blanket

Just Drop the Blanket: The Moment You Never Noticed in A Charlie Brown Christmas  – by Jason Soroski

This week A Charlie Brown Christmas aired on national prime time television for the 50th time. In a world where the latest greatest technology is outdated in a matter of months, and social media trends come and go in a matter of days, 50 years of anything becomes quite meaningful.

I am a fan of all things nostalgic and all things Christmas, and so when the two are combined I am hooked, and the Charlie Brown Christmas special falls squarely into that category.

I was in the first grade back when they still performed Christmas pageants in schools (less than 50 years, but still a very long time ago), and our class performed a version of the Charlie Brown Christmas. Since I was kind of a bookworm and already had a blue blanket, I was chosen to play the part of Linus. As Linus, I memorized Luke 2:8-14, and that Scripture has been hidden in my heart ever since.

But while working so diligently to learn those lines, there is one important thing I didn’t notice then, and didn’t notice until now.

Right in the middle of speaking, Linus drops the blanket.
Charlie Brown is best known for his uniquely striped shirt, and Linus is most associated with his ever-present security blanket. Throughout the story of Peanuts, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally and others all work to no avail to separate Linus from his blanket. And even though his security blanket remains a major source of ridicule for the otherwise mature and thoughtful Linus, he simply refuses to give it up.

Until this moment.  When he simply drops it.

In that climactic scene when Linus shares “what Christmas is all about,” he drops his security blanket, and I am now convinced that this is intentional. Most telling is the specific moment he drops it: when he utters the words, “fear not”
Looking at it now, it is pretty clear what Charles Schultz was saying, and it’s so simple it’s brilliant.

The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears.

The birth of Jesus frees us from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves.

The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to Him instead.
The world of 2015 can be a scary place, and most of us find ourselves grasping to something temporal for security, whatever that thing may be. Essentially, 2015 is a world in which it is very difficult for us to “fear not.”

But in the midst of fear and insecurity, this simple cartoon image from 1965 continues to live on as an inspiration for us to seek true peace and true security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found.

READ PART 2 OF THE STORY

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Are Our Desires Too Weak?

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

-C. S. Lewis

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