6 02 2009

Hey guys,


I really want to encourage you all to come to our WYM Winter Retreat next weekend.  If you’ve ever wondered whether God was speaking to you or to the Church, this retreat is a great opportunity to look at the process of the Holy Spirit speaking into our lives and how we respond and make decisions.  There are so many important, and not so important, decisions that you’ve got running across your path on a daily basis.  What framework do you use to make those decisions?  Do you always know which decision is the “right” decision?  What happens when you come to the fork in the road and both paths look equally appealing?  How do you know?


Discernment – to see or understand the difference; to make distinction; as, to discern between good and evil, truth and falsehood.


It’s such a churchy word – discernment – we don’t really use it in every day language that often.  But at the same time it’s something many do on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.  You may not even realize you’re doing it.  We, as Quakers, have a fairly unique view of discernment.  Very few denominations place so much emphasis on encouraging the Body of Christ to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking in their midst.  That’s a pretty cool thing.  The Richmond Declaration of Faith, a faith statement that was written in the 1887 and recently re-affirmed by Friends United Meeting, states this:


He [the Holy Spirit] takes of the things of Christ and shows them, as a realized    possession, to the believing soul (John 16:14). Dwelling in the hearts of believers (John 16:17), He opens their understandings that they may understand Scriptures, and becomes, to the humbled and surrendered heart, the Comforter, Support, and Sanctifier…The Holy Spirit must ever be distinguished both from the conscience which He enlightens, and from the natural faculty of reason, which when unsubjected to His Holy influence, is, in the things of God, very foolishness. As the eye is to the body, so is the conscience to our inner being, the organ by which we see; and, as both light and life are essential to the eye, so conscience, as the inward eye, cannot aright, without the quickening and illumination of the Spirit of God. One with the Father and Son, the Holy Spirit can never disown or dishonor our once crucified and now risen and glorified Redeemer. (Richmond Declaration of Faith, The Holy Spirit)


It’s important to recognize that the Holy Spirit will never contradict itself.  The book Practicing Discernment Together; Finding God’s Way Forward in Decision Making is the basis for the Retreat next weekend and one of the authors, Bruce Bishop, will be joining us as our Speaker.  In that book, they make the observation that the Holy Spirit, Scriptures, and the Faith Community, when a part of the discernment process, will all be in agreement.  That’s a good judge for whether a decision is the “right” decision or not.  You’ve got three sounding boards…your own revelation through the Holy Spirit speaking into your life, the truths presenting in God’s Word, and the clearness of the People of Faith who surround you and support you.  The power of three.


In the New Testament we see many examples of how the early church made decisions.  Acts 15 is a great story of how the first Christians made a discerning decision about whether new Gentile believers needed to abide by the old Jewish customs (namely circumcision…guys aren’t you glad for the Holy Spirit’s intervention in that one!)  And in Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth he writes:

No eye has seen,  no ear has heard,  no mind has conceived  what God has prepared for those who love him”— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.  This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.  The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.  The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

(1 Cor. 2:9-16)


Praying that you may have the mind of Jesus Christ our Savior, through the Holy Spirit speaking into your life as you go about the decisions of each day.


To the King!



P.S. Internship Applications are now available for this summer.  Contact me if you are interested.  They are due March 1st.




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