The Spiritual Formation Retreats of the past two weekends, one in Olympia, WA and the other in Crestline, CA afforded me an opportunity to reflect and converse with a number of Emerging Journey participants around this simple poem, “Fire.” It is often very simple images that can cause us to think or re-think where we find ourselves. Amidst all the stuff of life—demands and tasks, relationships and expectations, intentions and decisions, etc—we often need perspective. This poem provided many a window into their pace and their work and their attentiveness in life.
Simply allow this poem to stir your thoughts as you read it aloud 3 or 4 times …What jumps out?Where does this poem take you?
Fire What makes a fire burn is space between the logs, a breathing space. Too much of a good thing, too many logs packed in too tight can douse the flames almost as surely as a pail of water. So building fires requires attention to the spaces in between, as much as to the wood. When we are able to build open spaces in the same way we have learned to pile on logs, then we come to see how it is fuel, and the absence of fuel together, that make fire possible. We only need to lay a log lightly from time to time. A fire grows simply because the space is there, with openings in which the flame that knows just how it wants to burn can find its way. by Judy Brown
Sam M Intrator and Megan Scribner, editors, Teaching with Fire: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003), 89. Possible Questions for Further Exploration: • When did you learn to start a fire? What do you remember of these early lessons? • What in the world does this have to do with your life of faith? • “So building fires requires paying attention to the spaces in between, as much as to the wood”, what are some of the things you are being invited to pay attention to today? • Where is there” breathing space” in your life? in your family’s life? in your community’s life? in your team?
I was recently reminded of the importance of the work we do here at VP3 while re-reading a short column by Pastor Gordon MacDonald entitled “Leader’s Insight: So Many Infant Christians” (October 1, 2007, christianitytoday.com). MacDonald’s thoughts flow from his musings upon a quote by Martin Thorton, which begins this article. Thorton observes,
“A walloping great congregation is fine and fun, but what most communities really need is a couple saints. The tragedy is that they may well be there in embryo, waiting to be discovered, waiting for sound training, waiting to be emancipated from the cult of the mediocre.”
A friend sent a video clip this week that has got me thinking. It introduces a fairly recent book on leadership entitled Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (HarperBusiness, 2010). Co-author Liz Wiseman was interviewed at a recent conference in which she summarized the findings of the research that is reflected in the book. At the core is the distinction between two kinds of leaders: (1) multipliers and (2) diminishers.
One of the gifts of the past couple months has been our move of offices. We had been on the look out for a more suitable office space when Sioux Falls Seminary invited us to utilize some space they had available. They have been very gracious to us with affordable office and storage space, as well as the use of their classrooms for various trainings and gatherings we will host in the future. Just in August we were able to host here on our turf a Facilitator Training Retreat for Emerging Journey facilitators. We find ourselves deeply grateful to get to share in the unique life of this extended Sioux Falls Seminary community and ministry (www.sfseminary.edu). We are coming to learn and appreciate the rhythms of the administration, faculty and students as well as the work of Sioux Falls Psychological Services and the Heritage Foundation. We trust that these new offices here will strengthen our capacity to provide transformative and in-depth processes that help churches invest in the maturing of their adult believers. Our offices can be found on the east hallway of the main level of the building. If you are in our neck of the woods, stop on by… 2109 S. Norton Ave Sioux Falls, SD 57105.
“So what’s defining you nowadays?” Each fall Emerging Journey groups come upon a discussion of this question in Session 5: Paying Attention to Character. We each answer this question not so much by filling-in-the-blank on a piece of paper, but by living it out with our lives. For it is amidst the demands of the everyday that we reflect a working definition of who we are. Much, if not most, of the time we are not conscious of our working definition. It operates below the surface of our thoughts and intentions, our priorities and relationships. Spiritual writer Henri Nouwen insightfully points out that we typically live out an answer to this question in one of three ways (1) I am what I do (2) I am what others say about me, or (3) I am what I have. In a series of talks given in the early 1990’s Nouwen unpacked the way in which God is inviting us to understand and claim a truer identity as loved children of God. Allow Nouwen’s words on these series of video clips to stimulate both thought and prayer around how you are currently defining yourself…and how God’s Spirit may be inviting you to embrace your true identity as a loved child of God (Ephesians 1:3-6). Blessings…
We thought we would begin to more regularly capture some of the thoughts, concerns, and activities of our life together as the VantagePoint3 community. May our blog conversation serve to be a deepening and igniting influence among an extended community of people who seek a more relational approach to life and ministry today… It has been over ten years ago now that Randy and I traveled to Eastbourne, England for the International Consultation on Discipleship. We continue to be gripped by our recollection of John Stott’s keynote words that Fall 1999 on the state of the Church. Stott remarked,