The Power of a Spiritual Conversation

Not every conversation we have is---well, spiritual. While I believe that God is everywhere, that does not mean that God is in everything I talk about in the midst of my day.  "What shall we get at the grocery store?  What do you want for dinner?  Would you like butter on your toast or not?"  See what I mean?But in the course of life's seasons, we need to have spiritual conversations with people who are good listeners. Let me be clear here, most people are not good listeners. They listen for facts not feelings. The listen for what they hope to hear. They listen when it may not cost them something.A spiritual conversation is a reciprocal dialogue between two people where thoughts, opinions and feelings are share and received. It's two-way. Not one way.I wrote in The Jesus Life that spiritual conversations take place at the table where we eat our meals. They don't have to talk place in offices or on the phone.  It's never an intent when you ask someone for lunch--to share protien, carbs and water with someone. No, when you ask someone for lunch, you're really meaning, "Hey, let's get together so we can share what's been going on in our lives. It's been too long. How about next Tuesday at noon at the deli?"  That's the stuff of conversations where hearts connect and souls meet and people who are lonely become spiritual companions.Spiritual direction and soul care provide a way for people to engage in life-giving, journey altering, God-seeking and heart affirming conversations.  A session might begin this way, "Where has God been in your life this week?" or "Where have you sensed God's presence in your life this week?"  It might cause some pause and stopping to consider the question--which is good. Spiritual conversation is not run on sentences which have little or no meaning. Spiritual conversations are where the heart is engaged and is free to finally speak its mind! A good question is like an ice pick that jabs around in your frozen heart, picking at this, chipping away at that until--at last--you are finally free to say what you wanted to say all along but simply couldn't. You weren't ready. You didn't trust the listener yet. You didn't know if you'd be judged or not. When you feel safe, the heart will emerge and for some us, we have waited a long, long time to speak our minds---and to share our hearts.One pastor I have a monthly spiritual conversation with, was afraid of beginning spiritual direction. He wasn't too sure of what he might be getting into. But one of his church members gave him a gift of 10 sessions in soul care with me and now he would say, he's found a soul friend and a safe place he never really new existed.Dr. Curt Thompson has taught us that neurons are finally rewired and re-fired when a person is free to talk and feels safe to do so AND when the person who is talking senses that he is being listened to---that the person actually gives a damn about what you are saying.  Too often, we intuitively surmise that no one really cares at all about what I'm saying. So we shut up. We clam down our shells and go inward.  Yet, spiritual conversations are what frees the heart; enlivens the soul and makes a person feel healthy and whole.One of the new offerings at Potter's Inn will be SKYPE sessions where you can sign up for three soul care sessions with one of our staff and engage in meaningful conversations.  If this is something that interest you, please contact us at resources@pottersinn.com and we'll schedule a time to really talk. If you've never experienced spiritual direction or a soul care session, this could be a new beginning. It's our way of offering the heart of our life and ministry to people who live all over the world.Ready to talk?  Give is some thought and let me know. 

Living the Life You Want To Live

Does it sound selfish---I mean to ask  yourself this kind of question: What kind of life do you want to live?  Let's talk about this for a few moments today.  Do I want my life to be driven by others?  Steered by others?  Fueled by busyness?  Fulfilling lists and obligations?  How can we move into living an intentional life ripe with longings fulfilled; living with no regret and challenged by living with a greater purpose than survival?I'm thinking through some categories of how I will answer this question. Categories are really helpful to help me break this question down and really try to answer the question.For example...my health will matter in the answer. I want to be healthy. So learning to choose and make healthy choices will be important in living the life I most want to live. I don't want to die early by making bad and unhealthy choices. So, health will be a category of how I want to live. I want to live in a healthy way will mean that I must eat in healthy ways. I must also choose to invest time in my body to exercise and to move more.  So, to answer the question, of what is the life I want to live will mean facing this category straight on and make some adjustments.Here's another category I'm thinking through.  I have had many roles in my life.  I've been a pastor, author,counselor, spiritual director, husband, father, brother and son.  What roles do I want to continue to serve in for my future which is both near and dear. Some of my roles, I need to give up and other roles I will want to assume. I noticed on Facebook that one of my friends changed their title of their Facebook page to Author John Doe.  That was interesting to me to look at and figure out if I liked that for myself. I don't--even though I've authored six books now. I'm more than an author.  In the life I want to live, what roles are the most important? What roles do I sense a calling--a voice telling me to "Do this...or do that..."  What MUST I do with my one and ordinary life is the focus question.Place is another category. Where do I want to live my only life I will ever be given. I settled this question 12 years ago because I decided I wanted to live in the West...where there is drama in the panorama of what I look at. I was tired of heat, humidity and the Bible belt...so with this in mind, we moved. It was costly. We sacrificed family ties and traded them for geographical beauty.  Place matters alot to many people. Where do you really WANT to live?Community is an important category. Who do you want to live out your life with in the next 5-10 years? I'm facing this question head on now. In our move to the retreat, we're leaving being spontaneous in calling a friend and saying "Let's meet for dinner." Now, it's an hour drive. It cost gas money now and it takes time to drive down. So, we are thinking our new community will be fostered, developed and nurtured in whole new ways. We will have to re-think some things.  We're realized that every relationship that is NOT reciprocal is not a relationship we will choose to invest in for friendship sake. Reciprocal living is one of the greatest Biblical values---all the 5o plue "one another" statements in the Bible only underscores the longing to live life out with a few people who can love and be loved; touch and be touched; celebrate and be celebrated.   So this category will force me to re-think what  I will do about my groups, my dearest friends and even my church.Family is a category to think through carefully. Who really is our family?  I now live 1500 miles from my sons, my mother, my sister and my only brother. Jesus said that "Whoever does the will of my Father is my sister and brother."  That's a big statement to ponder. In my case, I have felt ties to family re-ignited. I've wanted to close old gaps. I've wanted old hurts healed. I've wanted the space between me and the ones I loved closed so that their are no longer huge emotional gaps and questions. What other categories would you suggest to think through in fostering the life you most want to live?  What have I left out that seems blatantly obvious to you?

In Search of My Tribe

Social media guru, Seth Godwin says everyone of us belongs to a tribe or we need to belong to one.  We belong to a smaller group of people who are like us and that there is a sense of belonging.  It’s a part of our survival mechanism to belong to something bigger than ourselves. No man is an island, right?  Islands brought together form an continent. Am I an island or a part of a continent. But where  and to whom do I belong? That’s the existential question that philosophers pose and poets lament about. Yet, it’s a feeling and longing as sure as love or death.  Should I belong to a specific church? Should I belong to a certain denomination?  Is my small group a safe place for me to belong? Let’s look deeper for a moment.  Where are my people and who are they anyway?  Can I find someone like me out here that thinks, smells, acts and believes the way I do?  Does belonging  mean we are the same—act the same—do the same things—look the same way? Stirring up the pot of belonging is scraping the bottom of the pot which reveals the often burned and hard to talk about subject of community that we must deal with.  Community is the place where we most belong. Experiencing community is a hint of discovering your tribe. If you’re in community, then you may know what I’m talking about by being in a tribe. It’s like my group of people I met with on Sunday mornings at my church. In many ways, these wonderful people are like my tribe—sort of. We are missed when we are not there. At least they tell me that.  We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and we bake pies when one of our parents die. It’s a way of caring. But in the end, at least for me, I am finding myself longing for some tribe that we might go deeper. We might talk about our longings and fears; our failures and be prayed over when we confess our sins. We would love and be loved; touch and be touched, care and be cared for and celebrate and be celebrated. We would pray and be prayed for. We would matter. Most of us are in the end, looking for a group where we matter. It’s the greatest obstacle to the mega-church. It’s call the “herd instinct.”  It’s where we get in and get out without being really noticed; without being really significant; without being really more than a cow herded onto a cattle car. I know that feeling. Don’t you? My tribe and the lack of a tribe makes me feel secure and at the same time lonesome for something else. I want more than Sunday School. I want a tribe—a group of men and women who matter and to whom I matter. Do you understand what I’m talking about?  Leave your comments and let’s chat…let’s explore this important subject.