August 24, 2019

Another Look: Seasons and Paths of Formation

Hopewell Tree in 4 Seasons

Another Look: Seasons and Paths of Formation

Little children, I’m writing to you because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus’ name. Parents, I’m writing to you because you have known the one who has existed from the beginning. Young people, I’m writing to you because you have conquered the evil one. Little children, I write to you because you know the Father. Parents, I write to you because you have known the one who has existed from the beginning. Young people, I write to you because you are strong, the word of God remains in you, and you have conquered the evil one.

• 1John 2:12-14 CEB

• • •

One fact I did not understand when I was younger is that life is made up of different seasons and circumstances that can virtually define any given time in life, or even the entirety of your life. I could hardly grasp that I would be called to adapt and change and learn and respond differently — sometimes for extended periods of time — regarding aspects of life over which I would have little control. I still find it hard to deal with change and disruption of my plans and expectations. And if this is true of me, one who has lived a relatively trouble-free life, what of others who have faced monumental challenges and tragic life-altering situations?

A lot of “discipleship” does not take this into account either, but comes across as generic and all-purpose, a program for all audiences — read your Bible, pray, get involved in church, find places to serve.

What they never tell you is that you and life, God, work, relationships and the way you think about all these things and what you need to flourish in life and love is different at age 22 than it is at 35 — very different at 50 or 65. Discipleship programs rarely, if ever, let you in on the secret that you may have to trudge through vast swaths of wilderness in your life, hungry and thirsty, exhausted and threatened by heat stroke. Nor do they talk about the challenges of good times and the temptations of prosperity and the successful seasons of life and the fact that they may or may not contribute to one’s personal growth.

They also don’t take into account that each person has his or her own inner landscape, climate, and weather — that life with its seasons and circumstances looks and feels somewhat different to each individual.

There is a conformist tendency in institutional religion which suggests that because we’re all in this together, we must learn to deal with life in basically the same manner. This effectively disregards the apprenticeship approach Jesus took with his disciples and the apostles’ insistence that we live in the freedom of the Spirit.

This presents a great challenge for ministers and congregations who want to encourage spiritual formation in their churches. Taking each person’s unique situation into account and responding with grace and edifying love can be daunting.

Brothers and sisters, we ask you to respect those who are working with you, leading you, and instructing you. Think of them highly with love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are disorderly. Comfort the discouraged. Help the weak. Be patient with everyone. Make sure no one repays a wrong with a wrong, but always pursue the good for each other and everyone else.

• 1Thess 5:12-15 CEB

There are many aspects of church life in which we are called to be formed in Christ together — worship through Word and Sacrament and catechesis, to name two — nevertheless all of us must also learn to walk in newness of life as individuals who have died and been raised up in Christ.

As a parent, one of the most surprising things I had to face was how different each of my children would be. I had to learn how to balance giving attention to their individual stories with composing our larger family story. This is the same challenge the church faces. There is no one-size-fits-all discipleship “program.” Run as fast as you can from any church that gives you the impression they think there is.

Another false notion about the seasons and circumstances of spiritual formation is that they lead to perceptible progress in the believer’s life. As though there is a definable pattern of personal development. Over the years, the spiritual life has been likened to a journey. That suggests a road with recognizable landmarks and destinations. It has also been envisioned in terms of climbing a ladder. And though Protestants have usually been suspicious of the ladder as advocating a system of meritorious works, even they find it hard to leave behind as some leftover relic from medieval theology. Mission statements of many contemporary churches are quite explicit that they expect certain measurable evidences of “growth” to become apparent in the lives of their members.

However, in Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit, a book of Henri Nouwen’s teachings on the spiritual life, we read this different perspective:

The movements of the Spirit, Nouwen observed within himself and in others, tend to come in cycles throughout our lives, with only a broad and hardly predictable progressive order. Instead of stepping up to higher and higher stages, as if achieving one stage leads to the next level and the next, we tend to vacillate back and forth between the poles that we seek to resolve. We move “from fear to love” and then back “from love to fear,” for example in a dynamic process that is never complete. Rather than resolving the tensions once and for all, the movements continue to call us to conversion and transformation.

As I’ve said before, this leads me to be reticent about promoting the idea of “growth” or “transformation” as though this is something that can be clearly observed or that “progress” can be marked as an unambiguous fact. As Nouwen himself writes:

After many years of seeking to live a spiritual life, I still ask myself, “Where am I as a Christian?” — “How far have I advanced?” — “Do I love God more now than earlier in my life?” — “Have I matured in faith since I started on the spiritual path?” Honestly, I don’t know the answers to these questions. There are just as many reasons for pessimism as for optimism. Many of the real struggles of twenty or forty years ago are still very much with me. I am still searching for inner peace, for creative relationships with others, and for a deeper experience of God. And I have no way of knowing if the small psychological and spiritual changes during the past decades have made me more or less a spiritual person.

…it is of great importance that we leave the world of measurements behind when we speak about the life of the Spirit.

Seasons come and seasons go. We travel onward in our journey with Christ. Where we are on the road at any given point in time is debatable from our point of view. What we can know, and what we must cling to, is that Christ has called and enabled us to be with him on the road, that he is with us, that he will not forsake us, and that he picks us up every time we fall.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.

• Psalm 37:23-24 NLT

Comments

  1. Steve Newell says

    I believe that the Steve Taylor said it best in his song “I want to a clone”.

    I’d gone through so much other stuff that walking down the aisle was tough but now I know it’s not enough
    I want to be a clone

    I asked the Lord into my heart they said that was the way to start but now you’ve got to play the part
    I want to be a clone

    Be a clone and kiss conviction goodnight cloneliness is next to Godliness, right?

    I’m grateful that they show the way ’cause I could never know the way to serve him on my own
    I want to be a clone

    They told me that I’d fall away unless I followed what they say who needs the Bible anyway?
    I want to be a clone

    Their language it was new to me but Christianese got through to me now I can speak it fluently
    I want to be a clone

    Be a clone and kiss conviction goodnight cloneliness is next to Godliness, right?

    I’m grateful that they show the way ’cause I could never know the way to serve him on my own
    I want to be a clone

    Send in the clones
    Ah, I kind of wanted to tell my friends and people about it, you know
    What?
    You’re still a babe you have to grow give it twenty years or so ’cause if you want to be one of his got to act like one of us

    Be a clone and kiss conviction goodnight cloneliness is next to Godliness, right?

    I’m grateful that they show the way ’cause I could never know the way to serve him on my own
    I want to be a clone

    So now I see the whole design my church is an assembly line the parts are there I’m feeling fine
    I want to be a clone

    I’ve learned enough to stay afloat but not so much I rock the boat I’m glad they shoved it down my throat
    I want to be a clone

    Everybody must get cloned

    • Steve-R-TLR-1’s work is greatly appreciated by The Computer. 😉

    • That’s great!

    • Rick Ro. says

      Oh, my… what great satire! And I’ve never listened to any of Steve Taylor’s music before, so I pulled several songs up on YouTube just now… Brilliant! Why have I never listened to him before!?!?!?!

      • Steve Newell says

        Steve Taylor is not main stream Christian pop music. He is alternative music. I was listening to his music from the 1980’s. There is no one like him. Christian radio won’t play he. My favorite is “Color Code”.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          In 1980s CCM (before it all turned into 7/11 “Jeezus is My Edward Cullen” worship(TM) knockoffs), Steve Taylor built up a cult following within the CCM community of the time. (Including “Guilty by Association”, the first-and-only song putting Bill Gothard under scrutiny.) His best-known song was “Meltdown at Madame Tussauds”.

          His CCM career ended in 1994 with “I Blew Up the Clinic Real Good”, a song from the point-of-view of an abortion clinic bomber. After that, Steve Taylor was The Antichrist. (“WE HATES IT! WE HATES IT FOREVER!”)

          I understand he had to quit performing after that and has been working primiarly behind the scenes in both musical and video production. (Including the movie version of Blue Like Jazz.)

          Don’t bother searching Wikipedia; the only Steve Taylor (musician) there isn’t him.

  2. Christiane says

    growing older, leaving the material world behind and moving into a more spiritual awareness?
    but is that what really happens?

    I read the works of Thomas Merton who sought ‘solitude’ as a monk, but what happened to him?
    whatever ‘awareness’ is, whatever ‘spirituality’ is, Merton’s experience points to the awakening of his realization that, as a result of ‘coming away’ from the ‘world, he had instead found an answer to his place IN the world . . .
    but what he learned was not what he had expected at all:

    ““In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.””

    do we have to ‘come away for a season’ before we can begin to ‘see’ what is all around us as it was meant to be seen? for some of us, yes;

    but for others there seems no respite from the troubles of this world, but by enduring them with patience over time, find themselves changed by that slow, steady endurance, so that they may begin to look out on the world with a humane compassion for its wounded, a gift of compassion shared from the living heart of the Incarnated One

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > growing older, leaving the material world behind and moving into a
      > more spiritual awareness? but is that what really happens?

      Clearly not. Attend a ‘public engagement’ meeting about anything.

  3. senecagriggs says

    Brothers and sisters, we ask you to respect those who are working with you, leading you, and instructing you. Think of them highly with love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are disorderly. Comfort the discouraged. Help the weak. Be patient with everyone. Make sure no one repays a wrong with a wrong, but always pursue the good for each other and everyone else.
    _________

    And then there’s the internet mob often seen in the comments on the “Discernment” blogs.
    ___________

    I tell you brothers and sisters, I need grace.

    • Christiane says

      there’s a story there . . . . what happened?

      I have no right to ask, so only respond if you want to, senecagriggs, but it sounds like you could use some ears to hear you

  4. “There is no one-size-fits-all discipleship “program.” Run as fast as you can from any church that gives you the impression they think there is.”

    I have. Problem is, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere else to run TO.

    • I agree – at least around me there does not seem to be any place to run to.

      My only hope is to go toward Jesus – “where else can we go, you have the words of life” (my poor paraphrase)

      I do like the idea of a journey towards Christ-likeness. But we all seem to start from different locations, so the progress towards or the landmarks that we see will often be different – no one size fits all.

      Yet I know people who have their life mapped out – in your 20’s you do X and it looks like…., in your 30’s you move to Y, in your 40’s it is Z, and onward. And they seem to find comfort in that.

      I never fit their mold (or never wanted to?) which ended up frustrating for me and them as they provided their wisdom and counsel to me. When the “elders” start coming to you unsolicited saying, “let me give you some advice. You need to do….” – asking them to explain why often leads to unhealthy discourse.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > I never fit their mold (or never wanted to?)

        Same,

        > which ended up frustrating for me and them as they provided their wisdom and counsel to me.

        Yep. My younger self too often failed to recognize when the same words were used by different people with different meanings; resulting in a false belief we were more on-the-same-page than we were. Some of the responsibility for that rests on me.

        > When the “elders” start coming to you unsolicited saying, “let me give you some advice.
        > You need to do….” – asking them to explain why often leads to unhealthy discourse.

        Yep.

        • re: same words different meanings

          I find it a fun exercise to ask people what they mean when they use the word “gospel.”
          So many people in the church just look at me funny and say – “well, the Gospel – you know”
          When I respond with I know what I understand it means, but what do you understand it to mean? They usually tell me they are late for lunch and need to go.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            This why conversation is hard – and most young people are really terribly bad at it 🙂 .
            You really do have to start with essentials which many people find tedious.

      • Rick Ro. says

        –> “But we all seem to start from different locations, so the progress towards or the landmarks that we see will often be different – no one size fits all.”

        I have an analogy for this that I’ve stolen from a friend and morphed into my own. He once said that we’re all like cruise missiles, that cruise missiles have built-in wobble so that they’re always correcting themselves on the way to the target, in our case life eternal with Jesus.

        I then told him that I thought his analogy could be even further expounded! We are all like cruise missiles with a final target of life eternal with Jesus, but… BUT…

        1) We’ve all been launched from different sites
        2) We’re all on different flight paths and trajectories
        AND
        3) We’re all on different STAGES of those different flight paths

        In other words, none of us will see the same exact thing at the same exact time. Your experience probably won’t be mine, or at least… not at this exact moment.

  5. “The patience of the saints” is touted highly in the book of Revelation. One of my old mentors used to say, “it takes T-I-M-E!” That is season upon season upon season upon season upon… There is simply no alternative except in extraordinary cases. Sometimes it seems interminable but that’s why patience is one of the virtues. Progress is hard won.

  6. As I’ve said before, this leads me to be reticent about promoting the idea of “growth” or “transformation” as though this is something that can be clearly observed or that “progress” can be marked as an unambiguous fact.

    As in, Weak on Sanctification? (let the reader beware…)

    You know, I’ve rarely if ever heard sanctification taught, except as outlined in a theology course. It occasionally comes up in passing, usually in a Sunday class by somebody enamored of discipline, obedience, submission, etc. They will not use the term “good works,” but it amounts to the same thing. Although the doctrine is assumed, the word “sanctification” rarely is mentioned.

    The most depressing (for me) sermons that I’ve heard from my now-retired pastor was when he was preaching through the Deadly Sins and got to the one on Sloth. I was already having some frustrations about not getting things done, work- and family-wise, as well as having disagreements about church politics, and this little sermon gets dumped on me as a guilt bomb. I know that wasn’t the pastor’s intent, but I could barely drive home safely.

    • Rick Ro. says

      –> “I was already having some frustrations about not getting things done, work- and family-wise, as well as having disagreements about church politics, and this little sermon gets dumped on me as a guilt bomb.”

      Getting preached AT is never fun. And frankly, “preached AT” sermons typically focus on one thing: “YOU’RE NOT DOING ENOUGH!!” (I just heard one of these myself.)

      -> “I know that wasn’t the pastor’s intent…”

      Are you SURE about that? Because it’s my experience that most guilt-trip sermons ARE intended as that, especially if the pastor is a little to gleeful (or over-emotive) as he delivers them.

    • Dakata Girl says

      For Reference: 1 Corinthians 1:30 New King James Version (NKJV)

      30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—

      So sanctification is no more a “work” for a Christian than is our justification (righteousness) or redemption. All are the work of Christ in us by grace. I think this is one of the most comforting verses in the Bible. It is all clearly not up to ME,. thank God.

      • When Christ is our sanctification, that’s a good thing. But too often the “doctrine” of sanctification is assumed to be something we’re to work toward, to strive for, and too often it leads to pride and division. A poor understanding of it can get in the way of grace and become a false gospel. The 1 Corinthians verse and your understanding of it is good. Thanks for putting it into perspective.

        I mentioned “Weak on Sanctification” above (let the reader beware…). That’s a reference to an earlier blog by Chaplain Mike, which you can find linked over on the side of this blog.

  7. Burro (Mule) says

    The feminist/neo-pagan paradigm of Maiden/Matron/Crone as a pattern for a woman’s life has always appealed to me. In it’s broad overlay it describes very well the arc of a female life, and gives it unexpected dignity at its end. Add to this the wisdom from India that a man should be a warrior in his youth, a magistrate or a merchant in his vigorous middle years, and a sadhu (think starets or sage) in his age, and you add the male component.

    I’m probably going to catch all hell for this, but I think the Church frustrates young people by expecting them to be too Godly. Youth should be time of joy and energy, of finding your way in to the world, and establishing your place in it. Expecting all of our young men and maidens to be Andrew Bonars and Saint Clairs frustrates both them and their elders.

    • Hell, even the Amish allow for a little rumspringa in their young adults Granted, once they get baptized, it gets really locked down really quick…

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      You won’t catch any hell from me; I think you are correct. I credit much of my pile driving through Evangelicalism and coming out the other end on an upward trajectory to the “pagan” wisdom received through by Scandinavian heritage; it helped me always keep slightly off-angle from the worst of Evangelicalism.

      Seasons have their own distinct virtues, just as the season of the Earth. Youth has vigor, courage, and innocence. Middle-age has cunning, knowledge, and friendship. Elders have long-memory, patience, and compassion.

      There is far more room for diversity[*1] of kind and place in this imagining than what is drawn by White Suburban Evangelicalism.

      [*1] the seasons themselves and their concomitant virtues may come to different souls sooner or later, in different measures, and linger for greater or fewer days according to need, nature, or providence.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      It gets kind of personal here. I had a friend, a young Puerto Rican fellow. I mention that because Puerto Rican Evangelicalism is, if anything, even stricter, more ascetic, more “Holiness”, and more hoopla-oriented than Suburban White Evangelicalism. Ray had “gotten saved” and wanted to spend evey moment in church. This caused an issue with his pretty young wife, who wanted to go dancing with her formerly dashing husband.

      “She’s only 19,” I remember telling him. “You’re only 22. If you don’t do this now, you’ll regret it when the children start to come. You can drink ginger ale.” The Puerto Rican church folk were scandalized by my advice. Going somewhere with the express purpose of dancing to salsa music was not something they approved of, even if liquor was not involved. He listened to them, not me, and she left him 8 months later.

      • Rick Ro. says

        We were discussing this exact thing in men’s group this past Saturday, looking at this chunk of scripture in Luke:

        “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

        Talk about a chunk of scripture that can be abused and used as a club and be exactly the OPPOSITE of Jesus’ intent! A person could point to this and tell your friend Ray, “Bravo for following Jesus command! You put God and Christ over wife and family!!!”

        Please, Lord… have mercy on us all…

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          That verse and “The poor you will always have with you” (Mark 14:7).
          They are in dead heat for dumbest thing God ever said; they are a gift to the malevolent which will never stop giving.

          > have mercy on us all

          Indeed.

          • Rick Ro. says

            I began the discussion with the caveat that this section in Luke is one of my least favorite because it has words coming out of Jesus’ mouth that don’t sound anything like Jesus, words that can be used in very unhealthy ways. Even the follow-on verses about “doesn’t a builder make sure he has the funds to finish his tower before starting to build and doesn’t a general–if he sees he is outnumbered–ask for terms for peace” seem so very unlike the “gotta have faith” theme of the entire Bible.

            • “Even the follow-on verses about “doesn’t a builder make sure he has the funds to finish his tower before starting to build and doesn’t a general–if he sees he is outnumbered–ask for terms for peace” seem so very unlike the “gotta have faith” theme of the entire Bible.”

              Which, tangentially getting back to the OP, is an indicator that not everything said in the Bible is equally applicable to everybody at all times.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says

              Does the entire Bible have a theme of “gotta have faith”?

              Rereading the old testament without Evangelical glasses, and The Big Man seems to, if not like, then respect, the resourceful and the clever: Joseph, Ruth, Rahab, Jacob, David, Esther,…

              • Rick Ro. says

                LOL. That’s true too, and I admit that I don’t agree with my own statement. There are clearly moments when Jesus implies, “You have a brain! Use it!!!”

          • Burro (Mule) says

            I have heard it said that “the poor you shall have with ye always” was not a prophecy, but an accusation.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says

              I agree it is such – but I’ve heard it used most often – and pretty darn often – as a shrugged dismissal.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        🙁

      • You’re such a liberal!

        • Burro (Mule) says

          That’s a pretty strong insult, but not strictly true.

          After all, fascists drink and dance as well.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            I had a dog who loved the Soviet National Anthem. He’d howl along to it while strutting back and forth across the room. That and the Witch King’s theme from the LOTR movies. Otherwise he showed no interest in music. So weird.

            Fascists and various totalitarians make some pretty good music.

          • Oh no, you liberals don’t fool me for a second. Next thing it’s soda pop for everyone! I still love you as a brother but I’ve got my eye on you.

          • Robert F says

            After all, fascists drink and dance as well.

            But they like to shoot their guns while their doing it….

    • Robert F says

      Add to this the wisdom from India that a man should be a warrior in his youth, a magistrate or a merchant in his vigorous middle years, and a sadhu (think starets or sage) in his age, and you add the male component.

      Wisdom that only men in the upper castes of Indian society could follow. The vast majority, peasant men, had no such path; they worked their entire lives in the fields, prayed to their household gods, and hoped for reincarnation into the upper castes.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        Yeah OK, 98% of the race was born into obscurity and suffered 40-50 years in complete obscurity and grinding labor, then passed away without fanfare, like a candle flame going out. You seem to delight in pointing that out as if it mattered.

        Great holiness can be obtained by such people. I recommend the movie Amal to you.

        • Robert F says

          I have no doubt that such people can live lives of great holiness, and that they are more likely than the privileged to live truly holy lives. But it is a holiness not subsumed under the archetypal patterns you outlined, which were imagined by and designed for the privileged few, who always think more highly of themselves, including their ways of holiness, than they should, and who were the ones who got to write the hagiographies after their own image.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I’m probably going to catch all hell for this, but I think the Church frustrates young people by expecting them to be too Godly.

      As in the phrase “More Godly than God”?

      Bad enough I grew up with constant expectations of Perfection, but that only got supercharged when Christian Fellowships(TM) stepped in. At that point, God was Demanding UTTER PERFECTION 30+ hours a day or Hell.

      It almost killed me.

    • Patriciamc says

      I get what you’re saying, but I wish we could find a better word for an older woman than “crone” since a crone is by definition an old, ugly, and sinister woman.

  8. Christiane says

    Hello ADAM,

    I try to image a soul with DNA from the naturally free ‘reindeer people’ of Scandinavia trying to fit into the fearful lock-step box that is described by refugees from ‘white suburban evangelicalism’. It doesn’t work too well.

    I don’t know from the various tribes within evangelicalism, but the ones at the fundamentalist end seem so fearful and exclusive and ‘on guard’ against wolves in sheep’s clothing. But, if they WERE ‘of Christ’, would they be SO fearful, so afraid, so condemning of ‘the others’? I don’t think so. The fundamentalists appear to be just another fear-controlled cult.

    Treasure your heritage from a people whose sensitivity to nature brings them closer to God. Pagan? The poor fundamentalists could use some time among such ‘pagans’, if for nothing more than to learn from nature what it has to teach them about their Creator.

    Your Saami DNA is a source of strength. . . . . . a blessing. 🙂

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > But, if they WERE ‘of Christ’, would they be SO fearful, so afraid,

      This, a thousand times this. For awhile, at least in my corner of the world, the fear was deeply sublimated, the separatism caged. Changing times unchained it; sad.

      > I don’t think so. The fundamentalists appear to be just another fear-controlled cult.

      Yep.

  9. Dana Ames says

    Somewhere in Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s writings I read this, and promptly copied it into the front of my prayer book. It was cool, refreshing water that restored something inside me, set me free from much of the perfectionism that is part of who I have been (and was augmented in different but related ways growing up Catholic and spending +30 years as an Evangelical).

    “To keep us in simplicity, God may hide our spiritual progress from us, and it is not for us to measure ourselves.”

    This does not mean that we pay no attention, nor that we should not try to understand the season in which I may find myself. It does mean that I don’t have to stress about it. I can simply put one foot in front of the other and do what is needed now. Freedom!!!

    Also, Fr Stephen:
    https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/glory2godforallthings/2019/05/22/the-soul-is-a-mirror-2/

    And in the comments on that post:
    Fr. Stephen Freeman says:
    “When St. John writes, “It does not yet appear what we shall be,” and when St. John’s Revelation tells us that Christ will give us a new name, it would seem that we do not yet actually know ourselves (the soul), or, at best, are only mildly acquainted with it. The undesirable consequences and influences are not becoming part of who we are. They influence who we are, or who we shall be, but ultimately only as fire refines silver or gold. The fire does not become the silver or gold, nor are silver and gold defined and determined by their experience of fire.”

    Dana

  10. Robert F says

    My seasons keep getting all mixed up. Whatever one I’m supposed to be in now, I’m pretty certain I’m not in it. I don’t know if I’m well-seasoned or not, but I do know that a lot of meat tenderizer has been applied to me at this point, and yet I continue to get more and more leathery.

  11. senecagriggs says

    “d that’s when Hunter Biden’s small, private equity firm called Rosemont SENECA Partners gets a $1 billion private equity deal with the Chinese government, not with the Chinese corporation, with the government. ”

    __________

    Different SENECA ; I’m still broke.

  12. Yes, lots of the Christian world’s fads seem like so much “THIS ONE TRICK!” clickbait. Toronto blessing, missionality, Bethel, Hillsong, etc. All of us lazy Westerners looking for a quick fix that won’t take too much effort (intellectual or otherwise).

    I’m guessing if God made time, it’s because he’s not into quick.

    I’m past half-way through my journey, and I haven’t got any further in my ambitions than to be “faithful in small things”.