Retreat/In-House Conference Retreat 6:
Spiritual Disciplines: Arranging my Life for Transformation by God
Session 1: How Transformation Occurs
In a world hungry for genuinely transformed people, disciples of Jesus can become the kind of people who resemble Jesus in character: blessing enemies, going the extra mile, not grabbing the credit, never judging anyone. With a vision of this kingdom life in mind, disciples of Jesus then develop the intention to let God transform them and finally adopt the means of doing so. Within the Holy Spirit’s power and activity, we practice spiritual disciplines that train us to live in the ordinary circumstances of life with an extraordinary interaction with God.
Choose from the following options for other sessions.
Option 1. Solitude and Silence (90 minutes teaching & exercise)
Being busy has become a sign of importance, but to trust God is to move away from this addiction to productivity. Instead, we follow Jesus’ habit of solitude, which quiets the distractions and soul-cravings and teaches us to be attentive to the voice of God. Suggestions are given for various ways to practice solitude and silence followed by a break for questions.
Option 2: Service and Secrecy (45 minutes)
Service that flows from someone well-practiced in solitude is done with the heart of Christ. Because it is not done for show (but often in secret), we grow in humility and dependence on God, as tasted in an exercise on the Good Samaritan passage.
Option 3: Simplicity of Speech (45-60 minutes)
Our mouth seems to have a life of its own as we use words to manage and control people and situations. We first examine motives behind our many words and then small, practical ways to be “quick to listen and slow to speak,” blessing people with our words.
Option 4: Coming Clean: Confession & Reflection (45 minutes teaching & exercise)
Confessing sin is not a miserable task. Instead it creates conversation with God that frees us from guilt and helps us sense God’s love more deeply. Following the pattern of Psalm 51, we plan next steps in moving toward Christ. When we’re occasionally led to confess to others, we learn to be more authentic with others.
Option 5: Study (45 minutes teaching)
While formal schooling may have tainted the practice of study for many people, we can be retrained to enjoy the wonder of learning. The attitude of a student of Jesus is to “pay attention to how to listen” and “to welcome with meekness the implanted word” (Luke 8:18; James 1:21). Specific suggestions and an exercise are given for embracing Scripture and taking it into the mind.
Option 6: Worship & Celebration (45 minutes teaching & exercise)
Complementary to study is worship. Study without worship leads to arrogance and worship without study creates fluff. Worship teaches us to respond to the truths of God, to move away from self to focus on the beauty and majesty of God. This closes with an exercise of reading and embodying Psalm 145.
Option 7: Scripture Meditation: Experiencing Jesus(60-75 minutes teaching & exercise)
Studying Scripture is familiar to many, but not so familiar is the natural step 2: meditation on Scripture. Instead of dissecting the text, we enter into it and savor it so that it penetrates the depths of ourselves and shows itself in our behavior. The exercise includes an introduction to several kinds of meditation, usually entering into a gospel scene with Jesus and experiencing him as most people have not done before.
Option 8: Practicing the Presence of God (45 minutes)
Prayer has become a complicated activity to many, but in its simplest form it involves praying at all times in life’s ordinary circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Specific suggestions are offered with learning practices such as “breath prayers” and “picture prayers.”
Option 9: Redemptive Community & Its Disciplines (60 minutes)
To love others means to be truly with them and to receive them. This happens through practicing disciplines such as confession, worship, study, service, and practicing the presence of God. Welcoming strangers and listening to others in a deep-hearted, fully attentive way create community that moves others and ourselves forward in Christlikeness.
Option 10: Frugality (45 minutes)
Simplicity comes to our life as we abstain from acquiring stuff to make ourselves look and feel better. Simple, realistic expressions of this discipline help us develop a satisfied heart that really believes that God is enough.
Option 11: Fasting (60 minutes)
Experiments in doing without food (or certain foods such as chocolate) or media (especially TV) are about relying on God and aligning ourselves with the reality of the kingdom of God. They invite us to be strong and cheerful when we don’t get what we want. But we never fast unless God draws us to do so.
Option 12: Welcoming Strangers (60 minutes)
Welcoming strangers is holy business, part of Old Testament law that Jesus emphasized by saying that to welcome a stranger was to interact with him. Let’s examine who our “strangers” are, why we don’t welcome them, what it would like to do so and how that forms our soul.
Option 13: Submission & Sacrifice (60 minutes)
Many believers quit going to church because power struggles turn them off. These disciplines teach us to give up power and refuse to push people, to move away from self-absorption to respecting others. As a result, we experience true spiritual power.
Option 14: Simplicity of Service: Purpose in Life (60 minutes)
Unless we learn to say yes to what breaks our heart that breaks the heart of God, service easily deteriorates into overcommitment and activities that seem to make no difference. Understanding God’s redemptive purposes helps us focus on God-motivated avenues of service.
Option 15: Intercessory Prayer (60 minutes)
As part of the abiding life, intercessory prayer forms our character, teaching us to care more about people instead of simply “fixing” circumstances. Praying beyond our limited world teaches us to live in oneness with God and become people of deep compassion.