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  • Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Entries in silence (2)

Thursday
May162013

Solitude and community

In my devotional reading this morning I came across this remarkable quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer about solitude and the Christian community.  Of course Bonhoeffer's context was that of Finkenwalde (the roque seminary he set up for pastors who were not willing to serve the Nazi controlled Church).  

Our Master of Theology students at Stellenbosch University have been studying what it means to have a spirituality that is missional - i.e., to have a spirituality that is alive in God's presence and discerns and acts upon the will of God in the world.  This is a world engaging spirituality, rather than a world-negating spirituality.

This is part of my current journey.

 

Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when He called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone, you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called... 
"The challenge of death comes to us all, and no one can die for another. Everyone must fight his own battle with death himself, alone... I will not be with you then, nor you with me" (Luther)
Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called—the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one member of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ.  If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your solitude can only be hurtful to you.
"If I die, then I am not alone in death; if I suffer they [the fellowship] suffer with me" (Luther)
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Life Together.

 

Tuesday
Jul102012

The freedom that comes from spiritual discipline

One of the great blessings of traveling is that it changes my regular patterns of work. While I have been busy on this trip to Malaysia - meetings, speaking engagements, luncheons and dinners - I have also not had the constant barrage of telephone calls, office appointments and the regular expectations of daily life. This has allowed me an opportunity for silence, prayer and reflection. I feel that I have sorely needed this inner space for some time now. I do live a busy life between my various roles.

In my devotional time I like to read the scriptures, pray, have a time of silent centering prayer, and also read something challenging, encouraging, or instructive, from a Christian author. Here's what I read yesterday. It was very helpful on the relationship between freedom and spiritual discipline:

When we begin to ask what the conditions of inner renewal are, we receive essentially the same answers from nearly all of those whom we have most reason to respect. One major answer is the emphasis upon discipline. In the conduct of one's own life it is soon obvious, as many have learned the hard way, that empty freedom is a snare and a delusion. In following what comes naturally or easily, life simply ends in confusion, and in consequent disaster. Without the discipline of time, we spoil the next day the night before, and without the disciple of prayer, we are likely o end by having practically no experience of the divine-human encounter. However compassionate we may be with others, we dare not be soft or indulgent with ourselves. Excellence comes at a price, and one of the major prices is that of inner control.

We have not advanced very far in our spiritual lives if we have not encountered the basic paradox of freedom, to the effect that we are most free when we are bound. But not just any way of being bound will suffice; what matters is the character of the binding. The one who would like to be an athlete, but who is unwilling to discipline his body by regular exercise and by abstinence, is not free to excel on the field or the track. His failure to train rigorously and to live abstemiously denies him the freedom to go over the bar at the desired height, or to run with the desired speed and endurance. With one concerted voice the giants of the devotional life apply the same principle to the whole of life with the dictum: Discipline is the price of freedom.

- From The New Man of Our Time by Elton Trueblood.

What spiritual disciplines do you practice? Has your experience been that as you become more disciplined your capacity for freedom grows alongside the disciplines?