Friday, April 30, 2010

Mark Galli's Whisper of Grace

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Photo by iStock
The Whisper of Grace
The whirlwind of the self is not easily tamed, even by religion.

Click Here My Top 5 Books on Doubt
Picks from John Ortberg, author of author of 'Faith and Doubt.'

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Critique Schooling Paradigm as Spiritual Formation


In the last century, certain concerns have arisen concerning the effectiveness of the schooling-instructional paradigm, especially in Christian spiritual formation in Christian faith communities. It is the aim of this article to critique whether the schooling-instructional paradigm are still effective as the chief means of pedagogy in Christian faith communities in Malaysia or whether a new formative approach is needed. The strength of the schooling-instructional paradigm is in gathering people together in one place specifically for the imparting and acquiring of content or knowledge.

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Snapshots from Japan (2)

Sakura or Cherry Blossoms on the grounds of Osaka Castle

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Book Notes on I, Sniper

This 2009 novel about former Marine Corps sniper Bob Lee Swagger is the best of the Sniper stories by Stephen Hunter so far. It has a well developed plotline which makes for interesting reading with plenty of information about guns, politics, commentary on journalism, sniping and the sniper community thrown in.

Aging but not aged, tougher than steel Bob Lee Swagger is called out of retirement to help his friend FBI assistant director Nick Memphis to solve four murders. This brought him into confrontation with several young well trained mercenary snipers and high tech snipering equipment.

Worth reading.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Marvel Superheroes Stamps

This collection is published by the Australian Post. Unfortunately I am unable to find the month and year of publication. I loved it as it has 10 of my favourite comics superheroes.

Who are the favourites of your favourite among this 10 Marvel superheroes? My list in descending order is this
  1. Wolverine
  2. Daredevil
  3. Hulk
  4. Spiderman
  5. Elecktra
  6. Captain America
  7. Thing
  8. Silver Surfer
  9. Storm
  10. Iron Man
What's yours?


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A Smorgasbord

Here are some gems from the Leadership magazine.

An interesting take on a missing leadership quality by John Ortberg. I think it is known by another name by the church fathers.

Leader's InsightToday's Most Devalued Virtue
Why is a once honored leadership trait now despised?

What's the most undervalued, under-discussed commodity on the leadership stock exchange today? What's the item that is currently on no one's list of desired qualities in a leader that once would have been consistently in the top four?

| Finish the article |

A reminder from Gordon MacDonald about anger management.

Leader's InsightThe Volcanic Spirit
One eruption can contaminate your inner space for a l-o-n-g time.

I—and millions more—had never heard of Eyjafjallajokull, the Icelandic volcano, until it blew up a few days ago and belched ash and dirty ice into the atmosphere at a rate of 750 tons per second. Now, days later, this ugly volcanic "garbage" floats over much of Europe and is the cause of thousands of flight cancellations. Entire national economies are being humbled by this unexpected event.

| Finish the article |

A more critical looking at organic church...beyond the hype.

This Week in Leadership CHURCH LIFE
The Dirt on Organic
Small volunteer-led congregations are gaining popularity and making an impact. But they require more spadework than you realize.

I tried it; I started an organic church.

It began in my living room in 2005 with a small group of Milwaukee 20-somethings—most of whom wouldn't be caught dead in "church." Then I pitched the idea of doing church where the rest of life happens: in living rooms, kitchens, Starbucks bistros—anywhere solid conversations could take place. The people grew, the group grew, the number of houses grew, and off I ventured into the world of organic churches.

| Finish this article |


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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Paul Long on Just Do It!

Another superb meditation from Paul Long

Just do it (spiritual formation on the run)

Busy - busy - super busy. More than busy - also stressed ... so re-centering time! This is a chapter in which my ramblings are long overdue ... :-)

Chapter 28 of Alex Tang's Spiritual Formation on the Run

First the chapter, then my ramblings ...

I have always been fascinated by the Desert Fathers and Mothers
who lived in the fourth century. These men and women left behind everything they had to live in the hostile deserts of Egypt, and later Syria and Palestine. The desert is a deadly, unforgiving environment. In the day, the sun bakes the land mercilessly while the nights are freezing cold. Yet these people left behind comfortable, secure lives and loved ones to live alone in the desert. They moved there to fight the demons in the desert, and the demons within themselves. Like Jesus' temptation in the desert, these elders sought the purifying furnace of the desert to encounter God. Though we are separated by 1500 years, cultural, social and linguistic differences, the teachings and sayings of these elders have much to teach us.

A brother said to Abba Poemen, "If I give my brother a little bread or something else, what happens when the demons spoil these gifts by telling me that it was only done in order to please people?" The old man said to him, "Even if it is done to please people, we are still obliged to offer what we can." He told the following parable.

"Two farmers lived in the same town. One of them sowed and reaped only a small and poor crop, while the other did not even take the trouble to sow and, as a result, reaped absolutely nothing. If a famine comes upon them, which of the two will find something to live on?" The brother replied, "The one who reaped the small poor crop:' The old man said to him, "So it is with us: we sow a little poor grain, so that we will not die of hunger."

Abba Poemen has given us two important lessons on serving or ministry. First is that no matter what we do, it will always come out of impure motives because of our fallen nature. There is no such thing as pure altruism. Everything we do will be tainted by our sinful nature. Somehow, pride and a desire for power, glory and affirmation will dog our every action. Does this mean we do not do anything? Abba Poemen said even if our motives are impure, we still need to serve others. This reminds me of the disciples who complained to Jesus that some people were baptising people in His Name. Jesus' answer is illuminating - so what, they are also doing God's work! (paraphrased Mark 9:38-39)

The second lesson is that we have to sow even if the harvest will be meagre. In the parable, Abba Poemen did not elaborate on the soil condition in the town. The soil must have been so infertile that the second farmer did not even bother to sow. Yet the elder said, "So it is with us: we sow a little poor grain, so that we will not die of hunger." There are times when our service seems to fall on such hard ground. For all that we put into our labours, the outcome is so discouraging. We became frustrated because we do not see the fruit of our labour. Those whom we serve do not appreciate us. Our loved ones misunderstand our calling. We burn ourselves out in an effort to generate "results." As we look at our own service or ministry situations, we maybe tempted to give up like the second farmer. Jeremiah, often known as the "weeping prophet;' never did see the fruit of his labour. In spite of his preaching, his people refused to repent and he saw the destruction of his beloved country. Yet Jeremiah persisted until the end. Explorer and missionary Dr David Livingstone made one convert in all his years of hard work in darkest Africa. Yet his explorations opened the way for others to follow, and the years after his death saw the opening of Africa to see the Light.

Abba Poemen's message is simple: Just serve the Lord as faithfully as you can. Sometimes we can be so hung up on the whys and wherefores that we lose sight of our calling. We are called to be faithful servants.


WARNING! The following ramblings meanders even more than usual ...

I think one of the problems I have (that many will identify with) is that it is hard for me to say NO. I tend to say YES quite readily, and then much farther down the road (from hindsight) I wonder if it would have been wiser to have said NO.

What's good is that I have generally figured out the areas where I will almost always say YES to. So at least since I know, I can be more aware - theoretically that is. But maddeningly this is not necessarily the case! Perhaps it is not the wisest thing to do to share what they are! LOL But perhaps just two as some elaboration is needed for this post to make sense.... The first is opportunities that will open doors for kingdom related work. And the second is when good friends ask for help. So now you know two, so please don't abuse this knowledge! :-) The trouble is of course that even those two general areas cover a vast variety of situations and really, it is hard to say NO in these two areas.

An additional problem I have with saying YES is that the more I do, the harder I work and more involved I become, the more the chances of becoming over worked, stressed out, distracted and / or misunderstood. Yes, even in what would seem clearly to be doing positive things and God's work. My list of "good things" I have done and am doing (or trying to do) that is causing me stress gets longer each year. :-(

My problem is compounded further in that it is frustrating for me that often for all my best intentions, there are some situations where my motives are questioned (rather unfairly). Just makes me want to give up. Sound advice that many will give is to ignore your critics ... Easier said than done as my God given temperament is such that I have a tendency to OVER-REFLECT. criticisms stay in my system for a long time. What is good is that if properly considered, analysed and prayed over, there will always be opportunities for improvement and spiritual growth. What is bad is ... hmmm do i even need to spell this out? :-)

I would have preferred a chapter titled. JUST DON'T DO IT! A chapter that will give me more reasons to pack up my bags and join a monastery or something like that! Problem is, of course, joining a monastery will present a different set of challenges where the basic issues of life will present themselves in a new form.

I have a love hate relationship with the phrase "JUST DO IT". :-) Not because I have anything against Nike, but it reminds me of the title of one of my own sermons that will not let me go - a sermon on the Good Samaritan. And of course after months of abiding this chapter, it keeps coming back to my mind (oh foolish me to keep a file on this topic on my desktop as a reminder that it is a project that is still pending :-)) Then of course I had to preach a sermon last week on The Lost Sheep and Lost Coin (Luke 15:1-10) ... and guess what my next sermon is on? The Prodigal Son *sigh* :-)

Okay, what has helped me. First is that no matter what we do, it will always come out of impure motives because of our fallen nature. Somehow, pride and a desire for power, glory and affirmation will dog our every action.

That is liberating (though it sounds strange) - and I am currently listening (and re-listening) in my car the Pastor to Pastor CDs on Personal Holiness.... (oh the irony). I struggle so much with the reasons why I serve. Why I say YES. I want my service, my relationships to be pure and unconditional. Yet I don't want to fall into the trap of substituting works and service for grace. It is liberating because I think I finally get it (hope there is no relapse! :-)).

It's okay to want to set an example for others. It's not necessarily pride - though a bit of pride is in a way involved.

It's okay to blog about my life and joys and successes, and to preach using positive personal lessons I am learning .Yes, there is the danger of becoming puffed up but it is also truth in real life. It's okay for me to be tired and discouraged and even a bit grumpy (occasionally). It's part of being a flawed human, and it's okay as long as I also repent and learn and grow to be a better person in Christ.

It's okay for me to grab hold of the many opportunities that have the potential to further the kingdom of God. Yes, even positions that put me into positions of greater authority than I am fully comfortable with. It is a good thing to be willing to serve in such positions when one enters with a deep awareness and fear the temptation of power and glory.

The second lesson is that we have to sow even if the harvest will be meagre.

It can be discouraging to plod on and not receive encouragement. It is worse when the silence is only broken by criticism and negativity. But the harvest imagery is so precious. Galatians 6:9-10 has been in my mind a lot the last few years. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

BTW, there is a connection between Galatians 6:9-10 and the areas in which I tend to say YES ...

After nearly 20 years in full time vocational ministry, I look back and see many failed projects, but just as many successful ones. Not necessarily successful in terms of the original goals but definitely successful in terms of relationships built. These may have been by products but I see these now as the most significant.
I need to keep this in mind in the many current projects / activities I have said YES to. I need to remember my calling and focus is built around Christ and to be people oriented.

Abba Poemen's message is simple: Just serve the Lord as faithfully as you can. Sometimes we can be so hung up on the whys and wherefores that we lose sight of our calling. We are called to be faithful servants.

Other Paul's reflections

Keep in Step
Why the Hulk should be red not green
How expensive is your church?
How heavy is your burden?
Shout to the world
The silence in the noise
Omission and Commission
A Burning Bush

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Monday, April 26, 2010

The Jesus Prayer

Prayer is something we talk about a lot but seldom practice. Few of us have set times of daily prayers and even fewer keep to them. Our most intense period of prayers is when we or our loved ones are in grave needs. After that period is over and the crisis resolved, many of us find it difficult to lead a consistent prayer life. For many of us, the concept of persistent prayer blows our mind. The reason is that many of us find it difficult to pray for long periods without running out of words or repeating ourselves. What do we pray about when we have gone through our “prayer lists”? Many of our prayer lists are actually “want lists” or “shopping lists” to be presented to God. Yet the apostle Paul unapologically asks us to pray “unceasingly” or “continually”(NIV) (1 Thess. 5:17).

One of the prayers which I find most helpful in helping me to pray unceasingly is the Jesus Prayer. The Jesus Prayer was a common prayer of the early church. This prayer is still a favourite prayer of the Orthodox Catholic Church or commonly known as the Eastern Orthodox Church. The apostolic church was a single church until 1024 when it was split into the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Catholic Church by an event appropriately named the East-West Schism. The Protestant movement, of which the Presbyterians are one of the inheritors, came out of the Roman Catholic Church. In many ways, the practices of the Orthodox Catholic Church reflect the practices of the early church.

The Jesus Prayer in its commonest form is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This prayer has two essential components. The first is the acknowledgement of the supremacy of Jesus Christ as described in the great Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11. The second component is the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, in which the Pharisee demonstrates the improper way to pray by exclaiming: "Thank you Lord that I am not like the Publican", whereas the Publican prays correctly in humility, saying "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner" (Luke 18:10-14). The Jesus Prayer is a prayer addressed to God asking for mercy.

The Jesus Prayer is also known as the prayer of the heart. The Song of Solomon's passage from the Old Testament “I sleep, but my heart is awake” (Song of Solomon 5:2) declares that for persons in love, their beloved is never far from their hearts. The analogy being that as a lover is always conscious to his or her beloved, people can also achieve a state of “constant prayer” where they are always conscious of God's presence in their lives.

The prayer is repeated slowly and prayerfully. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Repeatedly proclaiming the divinity of Christ and asking for mercy is not vain repetition. It is different from chanting a mantra or a self help technique. It is “continuous” worship in invoking the name of Christ and acknowledging our dependence upon Him. Mercy here is not just for salvation only but also for our spiritual well being. Unlike mantras, the Jesus Prayer may be translated into any language.

Initially you may need to find a quiet place to pray the Jesus Prayer. To pray the Jesus prayer is to repeat “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner” as many times as your time period allows. Gradually, as you become more used to it, you find you will be able to pray it while you are doing other things. The Jesus Prayer may be prayed anywhere. There are no special postures associated with it.

In this multi-tasking form, you can pray unceasingly while you do other things. People who have been praying the Jesus Prayer for many years will tell you that they are able to work, play, love and rest while part of their minds are praying the Jesus Prayer. There is also a story told that when a certain devout Orthodox Church lady was coming out of anesthesia after an operation, the surgical nurses heard her praying the Jesus Prayer before she herself became fully conscious!

The spiritual teachers of the Orthodox Church claim that initially you pray the Jesus Prayer but soon the Jesus Prayer prays you. The continuous invoking the Name of God and petitioning for mercy has a power effect on our spiritual formation. It makes us sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and empowers the “renovation of our hearts.” The Jesus Prayer is one prayer I pray constantly and I sincerely invite you to pray it too.


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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thomas Merton on Distractions

Suppose that my "poverty" be a hunger for spiritual riches: suppose that by pretending to empty myself, pretending to be silent, I am really trying to conjole God into enriching me with some experience - what then?

Then everything becomes a distraction. All created things interfere with my quest for some special experience. I must shut them out, or they will tear me apart. What is worst - I, myself am distraction. But, unhappiest of all - if my prayer is centered in myself, if it seeks only an enrichment of my own self, my prayer will be my greatest potential distraction. Full of my own curiosity, I have eaten of the tree of Knowledge and torn myself away from myself and God.

I am left rich and alone and nothing can assuage my hunger: everything I touch turns into distraction.

Thomas Merton
Thoughts in Solitude, 93

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Help, Someone Hacked My Website!

Someone hacked into my website Kairos Spiritual Formation a few days ago and Google and Firefox showed this dreaded message everytime someone try to access my URL.

This is the first time I heard of an "attack page." An attack page, I found out is, when someone hacked into your website and install some malicious software that either changes your website or redirect your readers to other websites. I immediately emailed my website host server which immediately replied that it has nothing to do with them.

I next tried to find out the extend of the attack by using Google Webmaster Tools Diagnostic. It was very helpful in identifying all the codes that the hacker/hackers has inserted into my website. Then followed many tedious hours of deleting the said code from my website. Thank God that I was able to remove all these code because Google and Firefox restored access to my website.

I felt sad and disappointed that people will do something like that. It is like someone breaking into your house and desecrating it. Kyrie eleison.


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PADERI-Run With The Horses 3



15-18 JULY 2010 (Thursday-Sunday)



Welcome to another PADERI “Run with the Horses” annual conference. This is the third in our series of conferences for pastors and Christian leaders in pastoral ministry. The theme calls us to seek the Lord as we reflect on pastoral development and renewal in Malaysia.



Because of sin and psychological brokenness, all of us carry baggage of some kind into our ministries. Many pastors and church leaders are unaware of, or unwilling to face up to their own insecurity, brokenness and weakness. Careful analysis of our human condition is needed to help us arrive at a proper self-understanding. This enables us to move towards healing and wholeness. In dealing with these issues, Dr Barker will seek to integrate psychological analysis with biblical and theological insights.

Dr Monty Barker will address the whole area of our psychological brokenness and how these become our baggage that we carry into our lives, marriages and ministries. Our concern is to provide pastors and lay leaders in the church opportunity to process our own upbringing, growing-up years, and subsequent life experiences! Dr Barker will speak over four sessions.


The Bible expositions will focus on the Fatherhood of God in the Christian life. To know that I am God’s child, loved, forgiven and accepted, is the most important identity of a Christian in the New Testament. It is also key to healing and wholeness in the Christian life, precisely because it addresses critical issues such as our personal identity, insecurity, fear of rejection, confidence in prayer and spiritual authority. Rev. Hwa Yung will have two sessions with us.



Emeritus Consultant Psychiatrist

Dr Monty Barker graduated in Medicine in 1960. He then specialised in Psychiatry. For over 40 years he combined treating patients, directing clinical services, teaching undergraduates and training post-graduates, as well as speaking to theological students and pastors. He has lectured in Britain, Europe, South Africa, the United States and India. His special interests have been enabling non-psychiatrists and those in medical, caring professions and pastors to identify and help those suffering from Depression, Stress and Burnout.

Dr Barker is married to Rosemary and they have two adult children and one grandson. He is now retired, and spends a portion of each year teaching and conducting seminars in seminaries and churches in India, where he has taught every year since 1989. He has visited Malaysia twice. He and his wife worship at Christ Church, Bristol.


Hwa Yung is the Bishop of the Methodist Church in Malaysia. He has worked many years as a pastor and seminary teacher, served as the Principal of Seminari Theologi Malaysia (STM), and later was the founding Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia, Trinity Theological College, Singapore. He is engaged in various ministries locally and internationally, and is a member of the Congress Management Committee for the 3rd Lausanne Congress, Cape Town 2010. His wife, Bee Teik, trained as a doctor, now works as a writer and spiritual director. They have three adult children.



Reformed Perspectives Magazine Volume 12, Number 17

Reformed Perspectives Magazine Volume 12, Number 17 (April 25 to May 1, 2010), is now available. The following articles are featured in this issue:

The Doctrine of the Word of God
The Sacraments
By: John M. Frame
Webpage PDF Word

An Article
By: Scott Schuleit
Webpage PDF Word

Fifth Sermon on the on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
An Article
By: John Calvin
Webpage PDF Word

Our Sins Infinite in Number and Enormity
An Article
By: Edward Payson
Webpage PDF Word

The Rent Veil
God Seeking Temples
By: Horatius Bonar
Webpage PDF Word

The Bondage of the Will
By: Martin Luther
Webpage PDF Word

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Book Notes on The Kingdom Life

Alan Andrews (ed.), (March 2010), The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation, Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

It is heartening to note that there are many new books on spiritual formation that moves beyond teaching spiritual disciplines and a contemplative life to engage on the theology of (Christian) spiritual formation. In September 2002, a group of theologians, pastors, authors and church leaders got together to form the Theological and Cultural Thinkers (TACT) group to serve as a think tank on spiritual formation. This book which is a collaborative effort of some best in the field which reads like a list of who’s who in spiritual formation and discipleship: Dallas Willard, Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, Keith Andrews, Bill Hull, Keith Meyer, Peggy Reynoso, Paula Fuller, Bruce Demarest, Michael Glerup, Christopher Morton, Richard Averbeck and Alan Andrews.

TACT defines seven process elements of spiritual formation and three theological elements in this book. Each of these elements is expanded upon by one of TACT’s members as a chapter in the book. The process elements of spiritual formation are:

Element 1:

The gospel of the kingdom is the realm of God’s active goodness in forming us in Christ as we follow Him. The kingdom of God is grand, majestic, and full of beauty. We come to understand the kingdom by repenting and simply becoming apprentices of Jesus in His kingdom.

Element 2:

Spiritual formation is rooted in relationship with God and one another. Communities of grace and trust open the door to gaining permission to share truth among fellow believers and the unbelieving world.

Element 3:

Spiritual formation into Christlikeness involves an intentional public, personal, and communal commitment to living as Jesus’ disciples who are being transformed into His image in all aspects of our lives as we learn to obey His commands.

Element 4:

Spiritual formation is a lifelong pursuit of being conformed to the image of Christ from the inside out and not a matter of external activity alone.

Element 5:

Spiritual formation is a continual process of transforming the whole person, including the healing of woundedness and rebellion, by the power of God, not to be confused with mere technique or program.

Element 6:

Spiritual formation occurs when God, in His grace, invades the destructiveness of suffering that result from the fall of man and uses the pain of suffering that results for His redemptive purposes in His people. There is also unique suffering that shapes the formation of believers as they enter into the call to love a lost world and the inevitable suffering that result from that love.

Element 7:

Spiritual formation in Christ is a process of growing in kingdom living and participating in God’s mission. This begins with our personal reconciliation with God and results in an irrepressible manifestation of God’s good news. Disciples of the kingdom labor in community for reconciliation with God and one another as a central priority of mission. They also pursue justice and compassion for all people and work to correct institutional sin inherent in human structures.

The theological elements of spiritual formation are:

Element 8:

The theology of spiritual formation emerges from the Trinitarian nature of God – relational, loving, gracious, mutually submissive, and unified in will.

Element 9:

Spiritual formation takes place by the direct work of the Holy Spirit, regenerating and conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ as the Spirit indwells, fills, guides, gifts, and empowers people for life in the community of faith and in the world.

Element 10:

Spiritual formation is based upon the Bible as God’s reliable and authoritative revelation. The Bible, our primary source of truth, guides and informs the use of spiritual disciplines and models of spirituality as they have emerged worldwide and throughout time.

These key process elements of spiritual formation as highlighted by TACT is an intentional lifelong process that transforms with suffering as one of the agents of learning and with healing of “woundedness and rebellion” of a person from “inside-out” to the image of Christ. This involves “kingdom living and participating in God’s mission” and is lived out in communities and in relationships with others. The basis is the nature of the Trinitarian God and is the direct work of the Holy Spirit with the Bible as God’s revelation. While it is crafted by Evangelical authors based upon churches in the United States in North America, it nevertheless represents most of the universal elements of spiritual formation. Unfortunately they are not able to totally dissociate themselves from their cultural context of individualism. While there are references to the community, the process elements are more suited for spiritual formation in individuals who together with other individuals undergoing the same process are involved in building communities and missional ventures rather than the communities themselves have a role in the formation It is about “persons-in-communities” rather that “persons-of-communities.” Communities, especially Christian faith communities should have a bigger role to play in the TACT perspective.

A comparison of TACT’s elements of spiritual formation may be made with A Call to Spiritual Formation drafted by another study group on spiritual formation and proclaimed during the Renovaré International Conference in June of 2009, at San Antonio, Texas, USA. ( accessed 20 July 2009)

Christian spiritual formation is the process of being shaped by the Spirit into the likeness of Christ, filled with love for God and the world.

God calls us all to become like Jesus. Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”* We experience this abundance of life – here and now – as our passions, character, understanding, and relationships are increasingly aligned with those of Christ. This lifelong transformation within and among us is the continual gift of God’s Spirit. We are called to be renewed into the likeness of Jesus – but we do not always fully embrace this calling. Sometimes we seem content to be known as “Christians” without intentionally engaging with this work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Other times we desperately long for a new way of life, wanting to grow in our walk with Jesus, but needing help and encouragement. We, therefore, commit to pursue passionately and to receive joyfully God’s grace to be more fully transformed into the image of Jesus Christ (John 7:37–39;*John 10:10;Romans 8:29;1 Corinthians 11:1;1 Corinthians 15:49; 2 Corinthians 3:17–18;2 Corinthians 4:16–18; 2 Corinthians 5:16–21;Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 3:16–19;1 John 3:2;1 John 4:17)

As we are rooted in Jesus and in the kingdom he proclaims, we are progressively transformed. Jesus is the center of all life and history, both the source and goal of all creation. God shaped this universe as a place where the love and life of Jesus Christ might flourish. Because we are formed in the divine image, we have the capacity to receive and express this life and love. Although human disobedience corrupts the divine image in us, God still forms a people able to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love their neighbors as themselves. Jesus makes this possible through his life, death, and resurrection. In him we experience a restored relationship of love with God and one another, and continual transformation into his likeness. We are becoming a reconciled and renewed community which is both the goal and the substance of life in God’s kingdom. This is the good news we proclaim with joy to the whole world. (Genesis 1:26–28; Genesis 3:1–7;Proverbs 8:22–31;Isaiah 42:5–9;Jeremiah 31:33–34;Mark12:28–34;John 1:1–18; John 13:34–35;Romans 5:9–11;Romans 8:1–11;Romans 8:19–23;Ephesians 2:11–22;Colossians 1:9–23;1 Thessalonians 5:23;1 John 2:7–11)

Our engagement with God’s transforming grace is vital. Renewal into the image of Christ is not a human attainment; it is a gift of grace. God mercifully uses all our experiences, including our suffering and trials, to teach and transform us. Even so, transformation requires our involvement and effort. We need to make ourselves available to the Holy Spirit’s work in all our life experiences, particularly through intentional engagement with historical Christian disciplines, including Word and sacrament. These practices open us to the presence and grace of God. As a result, we become, through time and experience, the kind of persons who naturally express love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. (Matthew 5:43–48; Matthew 11:29–30; Luke 6:40; John 7:38; John 15:5–17; Romans 12:1–2; Galatians 5:16–25; Philippians 2:12–13; Philippians 3:12–16; Titus 2:11–14; Hebrews 5:13–6:1;Hebrews 12:7–13; James 4:7–8;1 Peter 2:2;1 Peter 4:1–2)

Spiritual formation happens in community. As we long to know and follow Jesus and be formed into his likeness, we journey with those who share this longing. God is calling the church to be a place of transformation. Here we struggle to fulfill our calling to love. Here we learn to attend to the invitations of God’s Spirit. Here we follow the presence of God in our midst. Spiritual community is the catalyst for our transformation and a sending base for our mission of love to the world. (Matthew 18:20; Luke 6:12–19; John 17:20–26; Acts 2:42–47; Romans 12:4–8; 1 Corinthians 12:1–7; Galatians 6:1–2; Ephesians 4:1–16; Hebrews 10:23–25;1 Peter 2:4–10)

Spiritual formation is, by its very nature, missional. As we are formed into the likeness of Christ, we increasingly share God’s infinitely tender love for others. We deepen in our compassion for the poor, the broken, and the lost. We ache and pray and labor for others in a new way, a selfless way, a joyfilled way. Our hearts are enlarged toward all people and toward all of creation. (Isaiah 60:1–4; Matthew 5:14–16; Matthew 28:18–20; John 3:16–21; John 20:21–23; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Galatians 6:10; 1 John 4:7–21)

We invite all people, everywhere, to embrace with us this calling to become like Jesus. By God’s grace, we will seek to become lovers: lovers of God, lovers of people, and lovers of all creation. We will immerse ourselves in a lifestyle that is attentive and responsive to the gracious presence of God. We commit ourselves to the community of Christ’s beloved, the church, so that we can learn this way of love together. We entreat you to join us. (Matthew 5:1–10; Matthew 13:44–46; Mark 1:15;Luke 9:23–24;Romans 12:1–2; 2 Corinthians 6:1; 1 Timothy 6:11–12; Revelation 21:2;Revelation 22:17)

The elements of A Call to Spiritual Formation are similar to those suggested by the TACT group. Again, the weakness seems to be the lesser role of the Christian faith communities as compared to the role of the individuals involved. The role mentioned is that the “church to be a place of transformation. The church or Christian faith community is not just a place for transformation but should be a transforming agent itself. Unlike the TACT group, the drafters of A Call did not give any theological grounding except numerous biblical references. For more details, see my Critique of A Call to Spiritual Formation

This book The Kingdom Life deals mainly with defining the nature and process of spiritual formation. The question a discerning reader will ask is how these process elements of spiritual formation may be applied in a church setting. In the epilogue, Alan Andrews and Christopher Morton mentioned some guiding principles of what they called ‘spiritual-formation church.’ These guiding principles are:

Guiding Principle 1:

Spiritual formation occurs in believers as they engage in intentional personal formation, community formation and missional formation. These three dimensions of spiritual development must not be compartmentalized or separated but organically connected.

Guiding Principle 2:

The center of the spiritual-formation church is Jesus and His kingdom. The Bible is a Christocentric book. Jesus’ primary message was about the immediate nearness and availability of His kingdom to us.

Guiding Principle 3:

Every spiritual-formation church must be rooted in the soil of the lost, the vulnerable, and the least.

Guiding Principle 4:

The spiritual-formation church should seek to create an environment of grace that welcomes everyone who will come to the “rivers of living water” (John 7:38, NASB) that resides in the culture of God’s kingdom.

Guiding Principle 5:

The spiritual-formation church must seek to reach, teach, and practically engage the people in spiritual formation. This means intentional spiritual formation must be the central passion of the church.

Guiding Principle 6:

Equipping people for ministry is critical to the health of the spiritual-formation church.

Guiding Principle 7:

The spiritual-formation church develops new leaders for the advancement of the gospel and the spiritual formation of the people of God.

Guiding Principle 8:

The Bible uses multiple metaphors to describe the people of God, but the primary descriptors are organic – for example, body and family (p. 301-312).

Andrews and Morton pointed out correctly that “intentional spiritual formation must be the central passion of the church.” The central passion of the spiritual-formation church is the place for “intentional personal formation, community formation and missional formation.” This implies that the spiritual-formation church is not just a place where believers practice the spiritual disciplines and be missional. It means more than that. The question to be asked is whether the present institutional church with its formative practices is the ideal model for spiritual formation and discipleship to take place. Is there a need to reorganize the formative practices and even the structure of the church itself? These are important questions if the central passion of the church is intentional spiritual formation.


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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ken Robinson on Schools kill Creativity


Speakers Ken Robinson: Author/educator

Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.

Why don't we get the best out of people? Sir Ken Robinson argues that it's because we've been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies -- far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity -- are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. "We are educating people out of their creativity," Robinson says. It's a message with deep resonance. Robinson's TEDTalk has been distributed widely around the Web since its release in June 2006. The most popular words framing blog posts on his talk? "Everyone should watch this."

A visionary cultural leader, Sir Ken led the British government's 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, a massive inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy, and was knighted in 2003 for his achievements. His latest book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, a deep look at human creativity and education, was published in January 2009.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Eugene Peterson on Spiritual Theology

I always regard Eugene Peterson as one of the modern masters of spiritual theology. I am sure he does not think of himself that way. He was one of the few early Evangelicals who was into spiritual theology before it became popular. He is the Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology of Regent College, Vancouver, Canada. His earlier books are still worth reading. These five books of a conversation on spiritual theology together are Eugene Peterson's magnum opus on the subject.


Jesus is God incarnate, a God who is immanent and transcendent. In this book, Peterson shows an immanent Christ that is present in us all and in creation. This forms the framework for the rest of the books on spiritual theology


The book is about the Bible and how we as Christians are to understand the truths that are in it. Peterson, the author of The Message which is a modern paraphrase and translation of the Bible is in a unique position to show us what teaching and learning from the Word of God is about. He challenges us from mere cognitive understanding to propositional truths to assimilating and living it out the Bible - hence eat the book.


How we do as disciples of Jesus Christ behave and live in this world is the subject of this book.


Languages are important media of communications. In this book, Peterson takes on the way we understand truth and how our culture limits our understanding. Peterson shows us the way Jesus uses languages to teach his disciples.


This is the final book in the series. Peterson wraps up his discourse on spiritual theology by exploring what spiritual growth or spiritual formation involves.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

On scandal and scandals

The latest from Thinking Faith... scandal and scandals
Recent headlines about clerical sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have focused largely on the way in which the Church has handled claims of abuse and on the postulated link between abuse and mandatory celibacy for Catholic priests. Psychologist Brendan Callaghan SJ looks closely at these aspects of a tragic situation, asking how the Church has arrived at a place of such suffering, betrayal and anger.

Read >>


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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reformed Perspectives Magazine Volume 12, Number 16

Reformed Perspectives Magazine Volume 12, Number 16 (April 18 to April 24, 2010), is now available. The following articles are featured in this issue:

The Doctrine of the Word of God
Teaching and Preaching
By: John M. Frame
Webpage PDF Word

A Romans 13 Exposition
Church and State
By: Mike Milton
Webpage PDF Word

An Article
By: Scott Schuleit
Webpage PDF Word

Fourth Sermon on the on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
An Article
By: John Calvin
Webpage PDF Word

The Rent Veil
God Seeking Worshippers
By: Horatius Bonar
Webpage PDF Word

The Bondage of the Will
By: Martin Luther
Webpage PDF Word

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

TEDS: Growing Organs Engineering Tissues


Speakers Anthony Atala: Urologist

Anthony Atala asks, "Can we grow organs instead of transplanting them?" His lab at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine is doing just that -- engineering tissues and whole organs (bladders and, soon, kidneys) using smart bio-materials and cutting-edge techniques.

Anthony Atala is the director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where his work focuses on growing and regenerating tissues and organs. His team engineered the first lab-grown organ to be implanted into a human -- a bladder -- and is developing experimental fabrication technology that can "print" human tissue on demand.

In 2007, Atala and a team of Harvard University researchers showed that stem cells can be harvested from the amniotic fluid of pregnant women. This and other breakthroughs in the development of smart bio-materials and tissue fabrication technology promises to revolutionize the practice of medicine.

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Two Chairs: Process of Spiritual Formation


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Resurrection Living

Practice Resurrection: God’s Calling; Our Living

Text: Eph. 4:1

Sermon Statement

When God’s calling and our living fits, we are growing up in Christ: God’s calling; our living. We can only appreciate fully the wonderful gifts of God if we are living our lives in a worthy manner.

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download |sermon (pdf)|Powerpoint (pdf)|mp3|


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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Good to Great to Godly

This Week in Leadership VISION & DIRECTION
Good to Great to Godly
Corporate wisdom means "getting the right people on the bus," but spiritual leadership requires something more.

"We need more structure in our decision making. Without that discipline, we'll never accomplish anything."

"We're a church, not a business. We need to rely on God. We can't operate like the corporate world."

| Finish this article |

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Life is not a straight line

In his book A Sweet and Bitter Providence, John Piper offers these thoughts about God's providence:

Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback. And the point of biblical stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.
John Piper, A Sweet and Bitter Providence (Crossway Books & Bibles, 2010), pp.101-102


Friday, April 09, 2010

Virtual Mentor: The Ethics of Obesity

Are obese people discriminated against? Is there a professional bias towards obese patients? These are very relevant questions that needs to be answered.

Virtual Mentor :: American Medical Association  Journal of Ethics |
(For best results, view as HTML or request text version from

Virtual Mentor. April 2010, Volume 12, Number 4: 253-356. Full Issue PDF

April 2010 Contents

Medical Ethics Confronts Obesity

From the Editor

Obesity Takes Center Stage
Fatima Cody Stanford
Full Text | PDF
Virtual Mentor. 2010; 12:256-257.

here are some selections

Weight-Based Stigma and Physician Bias
Commentary by Lawrence J. Cheskin, Scott Kahan, and Gail Geller
Full Text | PDF
Virtual Mentor. 2010; 12:258-262.

Does Pediatric Obesity Indicate Child Neglect?
Commentary by Todd Varness
Full Text | PDF
Virtual Mentor. 2010; 12:263-267.

Weight-Related Denial of Insurance for an Infant
Commentary by Nancy F. Krebs
Full Text | PDF
Virtual Mentor. 2010; 12:268-271.

Weight Bias in Health Care
Natasha Schvey
Full Text | PDF
Virtual Mentor. 2010; 12:287-291.

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