Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ones Who Serve

You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  
1 Peter 2:5 NASB

In continuing our discussion on discernment, we have been looking at Henri Nouwen's three components of spiritual living: solitude, community and ministry. Ministry calls each of us to live in God's presence and to share this experience with others. Scripture defines this calling as "a holy priesthood" and every believer is to respond. Like Jesus, we are to be about God's business, to be the ones who serve. Through serving, the soul catches a glimpse of the world through God's eyes.

"God is working in us to reach His highest goals until His purpose and our purpose become one."  Oswald Chambers
In the New Testament, the Greek word diakonia translates as service or ministry. As ones who serve God, the heart-intentions should be pure; the outward-offerings should be done with humility and patience. Christians are to serve each other and those whose needs are known. These sacred acts become spiritual sacrifices with one purpose: to give glory to God. With each act of service we re-confess our faith in Jesus Christ, express our willingness to be His hands and feet, share God's love. In following God's directive to love and serve each other in the name of Jesus, His purpose and our purpose become one. ~dho


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Through All Of It!

I am on vacation this week with my family... but I have recently been listening to this song and find the words speak deeply to my soul. Like many of you, I have been through difficult times in life; maybe even today you find yourself attempting to survive through a trying situation. Give this song a listen, and I believe it will soon bring your soul comfort, too! God is always with us...through all of it! ~dho

** next week: Ministry: as we continue our study on "discernment"!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Together ~ One Lord, One Faith

Paul, while in prison writes to the Christians in Ephesus, lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 NLT

The word community identifies a group that shares common interests or beliefs, and in Ephesians the characteristics of unity identify the behaviors of a Christian community. These examples of daily conduct should be visible inside and outside of the community. While differences exist, division should not be the outcome, rather unity with a bond of peace. The definition of 'church' is the body of believers with Christ being the center. Both the individual and collective church should seek God's will and purpose, just as each member of its body. God has designed humanity to be relational, people in relationship with each other, people in relationship with God. The mutual prayers and support of Christian community enhance discernment.

Paul reminds this community (verse 4-5), "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father...". From the moment of Pentecost, the church of Jesus Christ becomes one body of believers, united in one faith, redeemed by one Grace, loved by one God. Chosen by God, we are His children, called to be representatives of His House, of His Truth, His Kingdom. From accountability to encouragement, from listening to praying, the body of Christ should champion each other in the understanding of God's purpose. The process of discernment needs community, as well as solitude. Called to live a life worthy of God's calling, community becomes the Christian's support system, friends, family, together serving one Lord, one faith in Jesus Christ. Embrace community! ~ dho

** in two weeks: Ministry, as we explore Henri Nouwen"s three areas of "Spiritual Living": solitude, community, and ministry .

Thursday, July 09, 2015

In the Silence, Empty and Full

"My soul waits in the silence for God only..." Psalm 62:1 NASB

Henri Nouwen identifies three areas of "Spiritual Living": solitude, community, and ministry. Solitude can be stressful for many people. Because we are overly busy, solitude infrequently finds a place in society. In our busy, we create an illusion of 'full' but in truth, life can be spiritually 'empty'. To be full of the Holy Spirit involves having a deep connectedness with God which fills us up in ways we cannot explain. A relationship with the Holy Spirit is dynamic in nature, and time in solitude with God allows for this to evolve. Listening for the voice of God requires times of silence. The process of discernment implies we are to wait for God, wait with a spiritual surrender and holy desire to know and hear from God. To empty ourselves of the world becomes an offering, a sacred space.

In solitude, God's presence silences the negative thoughts, reduces anxieties, minimizes critical voices. In this sacred space, God reshapes the heart, creates an openness, nourishes the soul. Meditation and contemplation of God's Holy and Living Word expands the soul. Conversations with God form, both listening and speaking. The worldview of busy and hurry loves to deflect God's voice, pretends to satisfy the soul. In the silence, let the soul wait for God, becoming both empty and full, empty of the world and full of God's presence, empty of busy and full of holiness, empty of personal agendas, and full of the Holy Spirit, empty of the 'empty noise' and full of the 'fullness of God'. Experiencing the depths of silence is necessary to find a glimpse into God's immense love. In seeking spiritual discernment, let your soul wait in the silence for God. ~ dho

**next week: Community

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Recognizing God's Voice

Make them holy - consecrated - with the truth; Your word is consecrating truth. In the same way that You gave Me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. John 17:17-18 The Message

Believing God designs a plan and purpose for each person, the question then becomes "how can I know the plan?". God's purposes and how He chooses to accomplish these are intricately interconnected. As faith matures, we develop a growing trust in the Holy Spirit, the One who dwells within the Christian. Discernment evolves as we listen to the Holy Spirit; we discover an increased awareness of God's presence. The Spirit's urging continues to invite us into a deeper communion with God. In listening for the voice of God with anticipation, the Holy Spirit reveals God's intimate and divine love for us. Embracing the profound truth that God chooses us and loves us and redeems us, redefines who we can become, gives us a new identity in the world. Just as Jesus prayed for the Disciples the night before His crucifixion, He prays for us, prays for our holiness, prays for our assigned mission.

So often, our judgmental, critical thoughts about ourselves and others interfere with sensing God's immense love. Conflicts and chaos, hate and hurt, anger and arrogance further minimize our communications with God. All these tools of Satan diminish our relationship with God. Spiritual understanding can be found when we choose to discipline ourselves with trust and love, with faith and hope. Fears begin to fade; we become less self-focused. Empathy replaces anger, and kindness melts differences. In complete surrender to Christ, we can know the deepest riches of Gods love and truth while discovering our true selves. Within the mystery of faith, we find our truest identity in Christ and the Holy Spirit dwells with us. Within this inexplicable intimacy, we recognize God's voice. Know God's love...and listen more! ~ dho