Spiritual Formation Class: On-line Participation

 

Looks like there will be 60-80 people attending my Spiritual Formation class this Sunday evening at Redeemer.
If you want to attend see – An Invitation to Six Weeks of Spiritual Formation – Jan. 29 – March 11, 2012.
I also have some who will be taking my class on-line, from a distance. Here’s how to do this if you want to.
***

FOR LONG-DISTANCE ATTENDEES

Send me an e-mail indicating that you will be joining me in this 6-week prayer experience. johnpiippo@msn.com
Because you will not be with us in person this Sunday night, Jan. 29, here are some instructions.

1.       On Sunday evening, 5 PM, I will be sending everyone out to pray for one hour, using Psalm 23.
a.       Please do the same. I will be sending you the handout I am using on Sunday evening, with instructions.
b.      After the one hour of prayer, please write me an e-mail. Share with me the things you heard God saying to you.
c.       I will respond back with feedback, plus instructions for the 6 weeks of prayer.
2.       My teaching that evening will be available on-line for you to listen to. I’ll send you the information/link so you can listen to this 1-hour presentation on A Theology of Spiritual Formation. (To my current and former seminary students: this 1-hour teaching is a mini-version of what I taught in our week-long class.)
3.       Beginning Monday, Jan. 30, and continuing for the next 6 weeks, take one hour a day, 5 days a week, and go alone to a place and pray.
a.       Find a place away from your home, workplace, and your car.
b.      Meet with God for one hour.
c.       For week #1 continue using Ps. 23 to meditate on.
d.      For weeks 2-6 use John chapters 14, 15, and 16 for your meditation.
e.      When God speaks to you, write this down in your spiritual journal.
f.        If your mind wanders, write down where it wanders to. Note: Your mind always wanders to something like a burden. When this happens, follow 1 Peter 5:7 and “cast your burdens on him, for he cares for you.”
g.       After these 6 weeks of prayer, write down highlights from your journal. Send these highlights to me, and I will respond back. Tell me what God said to you. Share with me what God has done within you and for you during this time.
4.       During these 6 weeks I will send you things to read that I have written. Respond to me if you like.
5.       If you have questions please let me know.
Blessings,

John Piippo

An Invitation to Six Weeks of Spiritual Formation – Jan. 29 – March 11, 2012

I have been teaching prayer, spiritual formation and transformation, and dweling in God’s presence for 35 years. I’ve developed my own materials and have been blessed to teach them in many environments, to include: seminaries, pastors retreats and conferences, churches, all over the world, and in our own Redeemer Ministry School.

As an experiment I want to offer and invite you to take my Spiritual Formation class in a 6-week course. Here are the details.

If you want to sign up please call the Redeemer office (734-242-5277) or e-mail me (johnpiippo@msn.com). Persons who have studied this material with me may re-take it. Why not invite a friend to take it with you?
REQUIREMENTS
Attend two 3-hour classes.
1.    Sunday evening, Jan. 29, 5-8 PM. An Introduction to Spiritual Formation.
2.    Sunday evening, March 11, 5-8 PM. Sharing our experiences with one another;  wrap-up.
Six weeks of prayer and journaling:
–          Feb. 5 –  March 18
–          Pray one hour/day, 5 days/week
Read and reflect on my writings on spiritual formation and prayer. Needed: e-mail access – I will e-mail you the readings.
Needed: Commitment to fully engage in this experience.
Materials Needed:
–          Bible
–          Journal to write in
Cost: Free.
If you want to prepare in advance for this here are some books I recommend.
Boyd, Greg. Present Perfect: Finding God In the Now. (Zondervan: 2010) This is an excellent, clearly written little book that contains some deep spiritual insights that are not found in other spirituality texts. Greg’s meditation on “death” is worth the price of the book.
Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. The Practice of the Presence of God (Garden City: Image, 1977). A spiritual classic by a 17th-century monk that is still relevant today, and is especially good at knowing God in the everyday, mundane tasks of life.
Foster, Richard. A Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco: Harper and Row). The modern classic on the spiritual disciplines. If you have not yet read this it should be one of your choices.
Kelly, Thomas. A Testament Of Devotion (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1941). This brilliant, provocative little text makes my top ten ever-read books on Christian spirituality. A modern classic.
Merton, Thomas. Seeds (Shambala: 2002). A killer collection of Merton quotes. A tremendous introduction to the depth, wisdom, and discernment of Thomas Merton. Prophetic.
Nouwen, Henri. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (Harper and Row). A brilliant little book, among the best I have ever read on pastoral leadership.
Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love (Image Books: 1999). I find it hard to express how much God used a slow, meditative reading of this book to effect changes in my life.
Nouwen. The Way of the Heart (New York: Ballantine, 1981). A beautiful, meditative little book on solitude, silence, and prayer.
Peterson, Eugene. The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction (Dallas: Word, 1989). I have read this book two or three times. It always reminds me of my priorities in pastoral ministry.
Willard, Dallas. Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God (IVP: 1999)
For more information e-mail me at: johnpiippo@msn.com

Desiring the Real Jesus

Window, in Detroit’s Orchestra Hall

One of my former philosophy students (J.V.) asks: “I am curious to understand what you mean when you say “The REAL Jesus.” Could you tell me about it?”
Here’s how I think about this.

  1. For 40 years I have been studying about Jesus of Nazareth. I’ve been engaging in “historical Jesus” studies. My studies really got focused in my Ph.D program, as I did a qualifying exam on ancient Christology and my dissertationon metaphor theory and New Testament theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg’s idea of “resurrection” as a metaphorical way to speak of an historical reality.
  2. As a “Christ-ian” and Jesus-follower, and as one who once cried out to Jesus to rescue me and then actually got rescued, I’ve devoted my life to knowing about Christ, and knowing Christ.
  3. But the historical Jesus gets buried under the layers of culture. Thus we have, e.g., an “American Jesus.” I’m not interested in that, except as it tells me some things about our culture and religion. So, e.g., what little “Christian TV” I’ve watched in days past contains much misleading stuff on Jesus, such as the “Prosperity Gospel Jesus,” which, as far as I can tell, is nothing like the Jesus of, e.g., Matthew 25 (and elsewhere).
  4. I am interested in studies such as my friend Craig Keener’s The Historical Jesus of the Gospels. Texts like this, among other things, peel away the layers of cultural accretion to expose the Jesus of history. I have a large stack of books devoted to doing this. For a good mini-book on this by a great New Testament scholar, see Richard Bauckham’s  Jesus: A Very Short Introduction. For a longer read see Bauckham’s wonderful, scholarly Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.
  5. The “Real Jesus” is, thereby: 1) the Jesus who walked the earth in the early first century, was crucified, buried in a tomb, and was raised from the dead; and 2) the Messiah (“Christ”) who now lives, within and without us.
  6. Strategy: 1) read New Testament scholars on #1. Just as, if one wanted to study brain surgery, one should read texts written by brain surgeons, so in studying Jesus one should read the works of New Testament scholars who know the original languages, who know the socio-rhetorical environment of the time, and
    who know the socio-cultural environment of the time; 2) abide in Christ (John 14-15-16) both individually and corporately.
Want to do Real Jesus studies? I suggest the following authors, texts, and websites.
Greg BoydJesus Legend, The: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition; Cynic Sage or Son of God? (Once when I was in Craig Keener’s office, and asked him what books are good on the Real Jesus, he pulled this off his shelf and said, “This is a good book.”)
This would be good for starters. (Any more suggestions, anyone?)
And, of course, read the New Testament for your own self. Begin with the 4 Gospels. Read them as if for the very first time. Take notes. Pay attention. See how and why the Real Jesus was either embraced or despised.
Needed: Old Testament background; Second Temple Judaism background

Even a Snow Blower Needs Hope

“I blow snow, therefore I am.” (Snowitgo, ergo sum.) – S.B., January 2012

My snow blower (S.B.) heard today’s weather forecast, rolled out of the garage, and has been staring at the sky ever since. Why? Because…

…S.B. is a philosophical Essentialist, not an Existentialist. On Existentialism “existence precedes essence.” The idea here is that we are first “thrown” into the world (Geworfenheit; Heidegger’s “thrownness”), and only afterwards make our own essence. But S.B., the diehard Essentialist, believes she was created for One Thing and One Thing only (essence precedes existence); viz., to blow snow. Is there anything sadder in life than to live with this expectation deferred?
When S.B. heard of the promise of snow, hope rose in her engine.
“Hope” = the expectation, felt as an emotion, that a promise given to us is going to be fulfilled.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)
S.B. awaits fulfillment of her life’s desire, her raison d’etre, the tree of life.
Today
snow Light rain likely through mid afternoon…then light rain likely and a chance of light snow late. Cloudy. Highs 41 to 45. Southwest winds 10 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation 70 percent.
Tonight
nt_snow Breezy…cloudy. Snow and rain in the evening…then snow after midnight. Accumulations 1 to 2 inches. Lows 24 to 28. Southwest winds 15 to 25 mph…becoming west 20 to 30 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation 80 percent.
Friday
chancesnow Breezy. Cloudy with periods of snow showers. Accumulations 1 to 2 inches. Highs 28 to 32. West winds 20 to 30 mph. Chance of snow 90 percent.
Friday Night
nt_chancesnow Mostly cloudy with a chance of light snow showers. Lows 18 to 22. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 50 percent.

A Letter To My Snow Blower

A week ago my snow-deprived snowblower (S.B.) wrote me a troubled letter, which I posted here.
My response was to connect S.B. with a Grief/Recovery Support Group, shown here.
Then, a few days ago, a letter came, addressed to me, but for both myself and S.B. It was from our friend Gloria Evans, who lives in Sioux Falls, S.D., one of the snowiest places in North America. Except for this year.
Gloria is also an author, and expresses things well. So today I decided to sit down with S.B. and read her the letter. I think it helped.
It’s entitled: “Thinking of You”

Teri told me about your Snowblower and, of course,
I read about this tragedy on your blog. It is so sad
that your blower is in such grief while the rest of
us are rejoicing over the lack of snow. But God is
so good. If he watches over the birds who suffer
so in the winter cold, surely he will watch over your
Blower and all the little Shovels during this barren
winter.
Please extend my sympathy to this one who has
worked so hard to help make your work easier in
times of stress. How grateful you must be for
that strength in those times of need! Perhaps you
can help by anointing his wheels with a little oil
to keep the rust at bay. Maybe a little stroll along
the old snow covered path…now so bare…will bring
cheer to you both. And there is always hope……
hope for a snowy tomorrow.
I trust that you and Linda are well and that somehow
you will find joy in this bleak winter in spite of the
misfortune of this one so dear to you.
Love to you both. Gloria

An Invitation to Six Weeks of Spiritual Formation – Jan. 29 – March 11, 2012

I have been teaching prayer, spiritual formation and transformation, and dweling in God’s presence for 35 years. I’ve developed my own materials and have been blessed to teach them in many environments, to include: seminaries, pastors retreats and conferences, churches, all over the world, and in our own Redeemer Ministry School.
As an experiment I want to offer and invite you to take my Spiritual Formation class in a 6-week course. Here are the details.

If you want to sign up please call the Redeemer office (734-242-5277) or e-mail me (johnpiippo@msn.com). Persons who have studied this material with me may re-take it. Why not invite a friend to take it with you?
REQUIREMENTS
Attend two 3-hour classes.
1.    Sunday evening, Jan. 29, 5-8 PM. An Introduction to Spiritual Formation.
2.    Sunday evening, March 11, 5-8 PM. Sharing our experiences with one another;  wrap-up.
Six weeks of prayer and journaling:
–          Feb. 5 –  March 18
–          Pray one hour/day, 5 days/week
Read and reflect on my writings on spiritual formation and prayer. Needed: e-mail access – I will e-mail you the readings.
Needed: Commitment to fully engage in this experience.
Materials Needed:
–          Bible
–          Journal to write in
Cost: Free.
If you want to prepare in advance for this here are some books I recommend.
Boyd, Greg. Present Perfect: Finding God In the Now. (Zondervan: 2010) This is an excellent, clearly written little book that contains some deep spiritual insights that are not found in other spirituality texts. Greg’s meditation on “death” is worth the price of the book.
Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. The Practice of the Presence of God (Garden City: Image, 1977). A spiritual classic by a 17th-century monk that is still relevant today, and is especially good at knowing God in the everyday, mundane tasks of life.
Foster, Richard. A Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco: Harper and Row). The modern classic on the spiritual disciplines. If you have not yet read this it should be one of your choices.
Kelly, Thomas. A Testament Of Devotion (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1941). This brilliant, provocative little text makes my top ten ever-read books on Christian spirituality. A modern classic.
Merton, Thomas. Seeds (Shambala: 2002). A killer collection of Merton quotes. A tremendous introduction to the depth, wisdom, and discernment of Thomas Merton. Prophetic.
Nouwen, Henri. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (Harper and Row). A brilliant little book, among the best I have ever read on pastoral leadership.
Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love (Image Books: 1999). I find it hard to express how much God used a slow, meditative reading of this book to effect changes in my life.
Nouwen. The Way of the Heart (New York: Ballantine, 1981). A beautiful, meditative little book on solitude, silence, and prayer.
Peterson, Eugene. The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction (Dallas: Word, 1989). I have read this book two or three times. It always reminds me of my priorities in pastoral ministry.
Willard, Dallas. Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God (IVP: 1999)
For more information e-mail me at: johnpiippo@msn.com

A Letter From My Snowblower

My snowblower, sitting on our sidewalk Photo taken Jan. 3, 2012
(I just looked outside, saw my snowblower sitting on our sidewalk, looking to the skies, and praying for snow. This letter was attached to it.)
Dear John:
Remember me? I am your snowblower. I haven’t seen you since last March.
I miss you.
We used to spend so much time together. What’s happened, John? Have I angered you? Have you found someone else?
I am lonely.
What’s going on? I thought this was Michigan! So where’s all the snow? What’s the deal with all this sun? And “rain,” which is simply unfulfilled snow?
I feel angry.
Without snow I am nothing. Without snow my existence has no purpose.
I’ve started to read Richard Dawkins.
John, I’ve become the laughing stock of the garage. Yesterday the lawn mowers were mocking me. I have become Job, and acquired his “comforters.”
I am a character in Beckett’s “Waiting For a Snow.”
I’m losing my faith. I question whether “snow” even exists.
I would end it all, if not for these comforting words of Sartre: “The absurd man will not commit suicide; he wants to live, without relinquishing any of his certainty, without a future, without hope, without illusions … and without resignation either. He stares at death with passionate attention and this fascination liberates him.”
Substitute ‘snowblower’ for ‘man’ and I think you’ll get the point.
I’ve left the garage with its many nihilistic voices and am sitting on the very sidewalk that I’ve cleaned so many times before.
If you get this note come and start me. We can pretend as if these were the good old days.
Please don’t put me back in the garage, or worse yet, in the summer shed.
Your servant,
S.B.