Posts tagged: Spiritual Formation

Listening that Leads to Hope

By Sarah Enck on August 5, 2015

We all live in a broken world. Within our churches we interact with people who are living with depression, experiencing adultery, or have experienced intense trauma and abuse. The church is not immune to this brokenness and sin. Ministry leaders are often in roles that require a listening ear for their congregants.

Connecting the Seminary and the Church

By Darrell Yoder on August 17, 2015

I was raised in the Church. I came to faith around 10 years old in a rural Mennonite church in Northern Indiana. Thirteen years later, when I decided to go to seminary, many people around me had no idea what a seminary was (none of our pastors had ever gone), and they wondered about the value of "going to school for so many years."

During seminary, then, I was both inspired and disillusioned. I was…

A Holistic Approach to Wholeness

By Sarah Enck on October 12, 2015

Dr. Robert Lehman offers expertise as both a counselor and a ministry leader. He served on staff at several churches as a youth pastor and pastor of counseling for 16 years, and is beginning his 32nd year of counseling practice.

Space for the Heart in Seminary: Consider the Pirsig Fellowship

By Darrell Yoder on January 18, 2016

For the last two and a half years, I've had the privilege of walking with students in the Kern Scholars Program, which provides a generous scholarship and a cohort experience for students in the Master of Divinity program (M.Div.). I've been encouraged to see the way these men and women have connected with each other in their cohorts. As the above quote from one student testifies, the journey of theological…

When We Have No Words

By Darrell Yoder on March 7, 2016

A few years ago, I was invited to write for the Conversations Journal blog, which seeks to generate conversations that lead to transformation. We were discussing various things that contribute to spiritual formation in Christ. For one of my posts, I explored the role that music can play in our walk with the Lord.

I believe that music—especially worship music based on Scripture—can be one of the most…

Listening to the Voice of Creation

By Darrell Yoder on March 9, 2016

On Monday, I wrote about a time when God used music to impact me deeply and draw me closer in my walk with him. Music, coupled with God's Word, can be deeply spiritually formational. Today, I'd like to look at another practice that has been powerful for me personally—listening to the voice of creation as it testifies to its Creator.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work…

The Mystery of Knowing God

By Darrell Yoder on April 11, 2016

I find the idea of having a "relationship with God" mysterious and fascinating. The biblical story depicts humanity as created to know and walk with God, and it uses a host of metaphors to describe this relationship. God is our Father, and we are His children. He is our Husband, and we are His bride. He is our Shepherd, and we are His sheep. He is the "Living Water" we thirst for, the "Bread from heaven"…

Embracing Thorns: Spiritual Practices for Cultivating Humility (Part 3)

By Sharon Brown on August 1, 2016

Insults. Hardships. Persecutions. Calamities. These are not the sort of things we post about on social media under the hashtag "blessed." But Paul contends that these are the kinds of circumstances that reveal the glory of God.

These types of trials provide the soil in which humility can take root and flourish.

A few years ago, I heard a pastor tell a story about confronting some of his denomination's…

Confessing Thorns: Spiritual Practices for Cultivating Humility (Part 2)

By Sharon Brown on July 28, 2016

Editor's Note: This is part two of a three-part series by Sharon Brown. Click here for part one.

"Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect…

Stewarding Thorns: Spiritual Practices for Cultivating Humility (Part 1)

By Sharon Brown on July 25, 2016

Twenty-five years ago, during my first semester in seminary, I had a dream that profoundly impacted my life with God. In the dream I was applying for a job at a police station. The officer told me that if I wanted the job, I would have to bench-press 200 pounds. "Two hundred pounds!" I exclaimed. "But I haven't done anything athletic in seven years!" (That was a way of saying I'd never done anything…

Don't Lose the Wonder of Knowing God, pt. 1/4

By Darrell Yoder on February 27, 2017

If you ran the Fifth Third Riverbank Run in 2009 in Grand Rapids, MI, you received a t-shirt with a simple logo on the front: a name tag with the phrase "I Run For...." In the blank space, some people wrote the names of loved ones; others listed things like health, youth, love, etc. Each person had a different purpose that kept them going when training was hard. This question—what are you running for?…

Lent as Training in Christian Longing

By Timothy Gombis on March 1, 2017

The Season of Lent begins today. Here's a brief explanation of how this season shapes Christian identity.

The Christian calendar helps to train us in being fully and truly Christian. Many of us are used to having our brains trained to be Christian brains. We just haven't given much thought to our bodies and our loves and our longings. Most of us were raised to think Christian thoughts—that's the sum…

You Cannot Know God Without Obeying Him, Pt. 2/4

By Darrell Yoder on March 6, 2017

Last week's theme "encounter" reminds us that the Christian faith is not merely an intellectual journey nor an emotional or spiritual high. It's the day-in, day-out experience of God meeting us where we are and making Himself known to us in both mundane and miraculous ways. The Christian faith is about experiencing God's love and presence not as an abstract idea but in real life. How do we relate to…

Knowing God is About Intimacy—Not Acquaintance, Pt. 3/4

By Darrell Yoder on March 8, 2017

To really know God is to experience deep intimacy with Him through His Spirit—the same Spirit who came into your heart when you believed in Christ and the same Spirit who knows your deepest longings and prays for you when you can’t pray for yourself. This biblical vision of walking with God is not that He is a divine acquaintance but an Intimate Lover.  Knowing God is about union, security, and transparency…

Knowing God is Something You Grow Into, Pt. 4/4

By Darrell Yoder on March 27, 2017

Encounter. Obedience. Intimacy. All three of these themes can easily lead us to wonder, "How much is needed in order to know God?" They seem like really tall orders. What if I don't sense God's presence? What if I've been disobedient? What if God feels distant, rather than intimate? Do I not know God then? I'm hoping this final theme will help relieve this tension.

Waiting Well

By Brittany Stichter on March 31, 2017

Sharon Brown began this week's chapel by praying with us Psalm 130, a Psalm written by one who was waiting on a forgiving God. Sharon gently pointed out to us that, while we are frustrated when our internet takes ten seconds too long to load, we are willing to wait in a three-hour line at an amusement park. So, it must not be the waiting itself that is the problem, but instead our perception of the…

Is Christ on the Couch?

By Scott Courey on August 7, 2017

Throughout the middle of every week, tens of thousands of Christians bring their deepest life troubles to a private therapist, and most likely, keep quiet about it on Sunday morning. Here's my question: When Christians go to therapy, is Christ on The Couch? "Well of course he is! Christ goes where ever his people go"! I agree. But what I'm asking is this: Do Christians go to therapy expecting to be…

Remaining in Christ

By Bailie Rouse on November 10, 2017

This week in Chapel, Dr. Joy Bonnema spoke on how producing fruit occurs when an individual remains in Christ, and this remaining happens through love. Often as Christians, we often forget the importance of remaining or abiding in Christ. If we abide in Him, then God will call us into a deeper understanding and a more personal experience of His love. Dr. Bonnema's main texts include John 15:1-17 and…

Why is the Gospel Good News For Everyone Every Day?

By Andrew Kischner on November 20, 2017

Laurie Krieg delivered a stirring talk at the Fall 2017 Talking Points conference entitled "Loving LGBT+ People with the Gospel." She gave a captivating first-person narrative about her lifetime struggle with sexuality and her walk with God.

As she shared, Laurie described how behind every sin lies a heart idol, and so the good news of the gospel must reach into our hearts if we are to be truly healed…

The Meantime

By Bailie Rouse on April 20, 2018

This week in Chapel, Dr. Gibson encouraged students to engage in specific disciplines and led students through a journaling exercise over Acts 1: 9-11. As Christ ascends into heaven, the disciples are simply gazing at him. As the disciples look upward toward heaven, they are in the “meantime.” The “meantime” in which we are waiting is often a "mean" time, in which “one is placed in a situation where…