This week, author and spiritual director Ruth Haley Barton sat down with Brandon, Kevin, Rachel, and Liz (one of our volunteers) to have a conversation around silence, solitude, and navigating spiritual disciplines. Ruth opens up about her journey through spiritual direction into solitude and silence and offers practical tips around how to engage with God’s invitation into that discipline. Ruth also shared about her new book, Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest: From Sabbath to Sabbatical and Back Again.
If you’re interested in diving a little deeper into the practice of silence and solitude, you can join us for a four week Practice Lab on October 30 from 1:30-3:00 pm. You can register here.
Ruth Haley Barton (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the founder of the Transforming Center, a ministry dedicated to strengthening the souls of pastors, Christian leaders, and the congregations and organizations they serve. A sought-after teacher, retreat leader, and trained spiritual director, Ruth is the author of numerous books and articles on spiritual life.
Educated at Northern Seminary, the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, and Loyola University Chicago Institute for Pastoral Studies, she has served on the pastoral staff of several churches including Willow Creek Community Church, and is a Professor of Spiritual Transformation at Northern Seminary.
Introducing: Ruth Haley Barton - 3:06
- How Ruth Haley Barton cultivated the practice of silence and solitude in her own life.
- Moving towards becoming an author and spiritual director.
- The invitation to silence and solitude.
A structure for intimacy - 19:26
- Navigating the push-pull phenomenon of integrating the spiritual disciplines.
- What engaging with silence and solitude can look like across different life stages.
- Talking through preconceived notions around silence and solitude.
Silence and Solitude in real-time - 37:00
- Processing the counterbalance of mountain and valley experiences in our own faith journeys.
- The reimagined definition of productivity and success.
- Ruth shares a little about her new book.
- Practical applications to try out in your own time (including a guided minute of silence)
- Kevin, Brandon, Rachel, and Liz debrief about their conversation.
- Ruth Haley Barton’s Website
- The Transforming Center
- Invitation to Silence and Solitude by Ruth Haley Barton
- 1 Kings 19 - The Story of Elijiah
- Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest: From Sabbath to Sabbatical and Back Again by Ruth Haley Barton
- The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)
- “...whatever we're experiencing in the early parts of our journey into solitude and silence, it's pretty normal. And that it's not a quick fix: discipline, solitude, and silence are not the quick fix. It is a long obedience in the same direction. And then we begin to see the results eventually.” - Ruth Haley Barton
- “If you're feeling the push-pull, then you know you wanna press through. And it's not so much about should, as much as it's about touching the deepest desire of your heart, which is to have a real relationship with this person and to keep doing the things that help you to cultivate a real relationship. So you wanna drop down to the deepest desire that you have in this relationship and towards this person. You're not gonna press through because of "ought and should", you're gonna press through because you know it's gonna be good for your relationship if you go ahead and push through. And that's really different than odds and shoulds.” - Ruth Haley Barton
Join Kevin, Brandon, and Rachel on the podcast as they revisit last week’s sermon and process what it means to remain. They also talk through the importance of slowing down and letting go of the overreliance on efficiency in our fast-paced world.
There’s no shortcut for the formation of the soul - 8:33
- The myth of easy everywhere.
- The god of efficiency.
Remaining - 16:47
- Mutual indwelling with Christ
- What it means to remain in him.
How do we know if we’re abiding? - 26:40
- Discipline joins desire.
- Practicing the presence of God.
- Digging into the Rule of Life.
“Some things are worth work, are worth effort that are harder to get to. I think that transition statement I used in there was just like,there's no way to short circuit the formation of our souls. And when we map that myth of technology onto spiritual formation, we come up drastically short. But it just takes time. Like there's just, there's no shortcut for the formation of a soul.”
Resources & References
- Last week’s sermon at CPC
- A Turkish sausage dish (for anyone wanting to try one)
- Tech Wise Family by Andy Crouch
- Amana Colonies - Amana, IA
- John 15:5
- The Cultivated Life by Susan S. Philips
- Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
When you hear the word community, what do you think of? The popular TV show? Your neighborhood? Your church? This week, Dan is back on the podcast as he expands on Sunday’s message, and explores what a community in Christ looks like with Kevin and Brandon.
Exclusion & Inclusion - 2:27
- Kevin and Brandon look back on middle school.
- The Apostle Paul’s take on inclusion
- Examining the dynamic of early Jews and Gentiles.
Breaking down the walls of hostility - 13:53
- Where is our identity coming from?
- How the TV show Lost illustrates our identity shift.
- Discovering your uniqueness in Christ.
Looking at community through the lens of new creation - 29:44
- Why do we sometimes resist community?
- Discipling from a private faith towards faith in community.
- A new family in Christ, and why we should ‘lean in’.
- “I think Paul is trying to say that you're gonna always have this hostility and this separation, and as many good intentioned people, secular people who are trying to, you know, tear down those walls. It's the gospel that tears down those walls. That's where the unity is found under Christ…” - Dan
- “The gospel allows a way to work through all layers of sin. The individual that needs that transformation uproot the ways in which we base our identity on walls of hostility…” - Kevin
- “…Jesus comes in and he creates a new humanity. I think sometimes we think we have to completely get rid of who we were. You know, we use some of Paul's language, you know, the old self we're like, ‘Oh no, I'm not that person anymore’. But in reality, like what you guys are talking about, this is us bringing who God created us to be, those pieces of, of who we are and bringing them into alignment with God's new humanity”. - Brandon
- “…what we're being discipled toward here with this becoming the people of God, is that it isn't private. It's public, it's community. We cannot grow, uh, unless we are in community.” - Dan
Resources & References
- Ephesians 2:11-13
- 1 Samuel 8 - Israel asks for a King
- Lost (TV Show)
- Alone (TV Show)
- Seinfeld (TV Show)
- M*A*S*H (TV Show)
- S.H.A.P.E Test (example)
- Philippians 2
What do you want? This may be a question you’ve asked yourself or have been asked before. Sandy, Rachel, and Brandon sit down to process what this question means as they reflect on week two of the Becoming Series.
What do we think we want? - 1:50
- Sandy, Rachel, and Brandon explore their answers to Kevin’s question this past week.
- Examining how Jesus asked others this question.
Our heart’s true desire - 15:14
- Is God’s presence enough?
- Our strongest desire vs. Our deepest desire.
- How our thoughts play into our desires.
Identity shift - 25:00
- How false narratives can shape us
- What it can look like to open ourselves up to the dimensions of the Holy Spirit.
- An invitation to rest.
- “We see the crossing of the Red Sea. The whole idea of leaving Egypt and watching that happen. And we see God in the midst of all of this, his presence changing Pharaoh's hearts, all of that. And yet I still don't think Moses gets it after the Lord says, ‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.' And I think that is a very interesting idea to think about in the sense. Is God's presence enough? And can we rest in that? Because if God's presence is enough, we're fully trusting that, and we're not worrying about, well, how am I gonna cross the Red Sea? - Sandy (16:31)
- "You need to curate your heart. You need to worship well. Because you are what you love and you worship what you love" - James K.A. Smith
- "To follow Jesus is not the impossible task. It's, the easy or light way". - Kevin
Resources & References
- An encyclopedia
- Gushers Fruit Snacks
- The On Purpose Person by Kevin W. McCarthy
- John 1:38
- Exodus 33
- You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K.A. Smith
- Life of the Beloved - Henri Nouwen
Intro/Outro: You're listening to CPC Together, a podcast by Central Peninsula Church in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Brandon: Hey everybody. Welcome to CPC Together. We have a different episode today because we kicked Kevin out of the room.
Sandy: Kevin? Kevin. Where is Kevin?
Rachel: Bye Kevin.
Brandon: I think, um, I don't know actually. Do you guys know where he is? Are we supposed to say? Probably not.
Sandy: Probably not. He's at a conference.
Rachel: Kevin's off at a week at the spa.
Brandon: He deserves it man. He's been putting in the hours, dude.
Sandy: I know he has.
Brandon: The only person who puts in more than Kevin lately is you.
Sandy: Well, as I was explaining to Rachel yesterday, my job depends on everyone else getting their job done.
Brandon: Isn't that a fun place to be? Yesterday's sermon was all around. What do we want? And as we're in this kind of vision series, talking about what we're gonna do as a church and how do we. Um, okay, what's the word? not belong. What is the, What is the become? Become. Thank you, . I was gonna go a few more B words before I was gonna go beyond.
It's become, um, as we're in this series that we're calling Become and it's really about becoming the people of God and what does that mean for us? He asked us in this, uh, third week, right?
Sandy: Second week.
Rachel: Oh yeah, it's the second week. I was like, Yeah, it's third and the second week.
Sandy: The third week is on Sunday.
Brandon: Thank you. Um, still in Iowa time.
Sandy: That's okay.
Brandon: In Iowa. It's the third week. They're ahead. Um, anyway, so he asked this question that, uh, that I think is really kind of, you can go as deep with it as you want, but what is it- what do we think we want? Or- Or what do you want? And you said, Jesus is all huge on this question. So before we go deep into that question, I wanna ask you guys, looking through your life, is there anything that you were super convinced that you wanted? You were like, I know I want this. I know this is gonna be like whether there's a material thing or whether it's food or a house, or whatever it might be. Um, a job, whatever that you thought would, you know, bring something and then when you got it, it just totally let you down?
Rachel: I, Okay, this is kind of exposing, but have you guys ever heard of Hatchimals?
Rachel: So, yes. I think I was like a sophomore in high school. No, a sophomore in college when I found out that Hatchimals were a thing and every year my parents like to do like stocking stuffers for Christmas. And like Christmas gifts and they always ask us what we want, like, I don't know, like Chapstick or something. But for years in a row I would ask for Hatchimals cause I just wanted to like see what would happen.
Brandon: So this was back like in 2020?
Rachel: Yeah. Yeah. Last year. And then last year a friend finally got me Hatchimals cuz they found I'd been asking about them forever. And then I looked to the packet. And I didn't actually open it. I like wanted it for so long, but then when I finally had it, I wasn't, weren't excited about it. There was a new best thing.
Brandon: So I, if I remember right, cuz I think that Charlie was super . I think Charlie was super into these, uh, listener by the way. Charlie is eight. Um, anyway,
Sandy: And don't bring Rachel Hatchimals. (laughs)
Brandon: But it was a, isn't it an egg, like a giant egg?
Rachel: They have different sizes. Yeah.
Brandon: And then what does it do? Like how does it, How does it, do you have to do something to it to get it to hatch, or what does it,
Rachel: There's some that you put in water, I think.
Brandon: Oh, okay.
Rachel: Um, but then over time it just like hatches an animal.
Sandy: And it's, How does that work? Rachel? You gotta explain this. I think we need to get a Hatchimal just to understand how this works.
Rachel: I still have the unopen box.
Brandon: Oh, you never opened it?
Brandon: How did you know you didn't want it?
Rachel: I got it and I think I was just like so happy that I had it, that I just, it was so thoughtful that they got it for me. That was enough in itself. (laughs)
Sandy: Do they, do they know you've never opened it?
Sandy: Cause now they're gonna know.
Brandon: You know what? I think we need to, Sorry, . I think we need to have an opening party. Yeah, maybe. Yeah. That'd be kind of anticlimactic to do that on a podcast, but-
Rachel: Cause you can't see the hatching, but you could hear it maybe.
Brandon: So it didn't really deliver-
Rachel: like second childhood-
Brandon: no, but you don't really know. I feel like, Rachel, I don't wanna like, I don't wanna shame you for your choice here, but. But I feel like you don't even know if you wanna hatch 'em all cuz you didn't actually open it. Yeah. What if it would bring you such great joy and satisfaction?
Rachel: I, I guess I'll never know until next week. We can do a party.
Sandy: You know, I always thought I wanted to be a teacher, so I go to college, do the college thing. That's what I'm gonna do. Be a teacher. And I fooled around too much in college that I didn't get into their credential program, so I was in big trouble.
Rachel: Oh, no.
Sandy: So I took an internship at a church for youth ministry, but then I had the opportunity to go teach at a high school here on the peninsula, which will remain nameless and I taught there for a year, probably one of the hardest jobs I've ever had in my life. But it did not, It was like, Oh, this is not cracked up.
What it, what I thought it would be. Yeah. I'd rather hang out with kids over a Coke than grade their paper or confront them about plagiarism, Oh gosh. From this thing called an encyclopedia. Uh, you guys probably don't even know what that is,
Rachel: Pre Wikipedia.
Sandy: So I was pretty disappointed in, in your idea of being a teacher.
Yeah. You know, it builds up in your mind and just, Nope.
Brandon: There are some things that I just can't relate to, and that is people, I mean, my wife's a teacher. Yes, she is. I can't, I just can't imagine it. I mean, youth pastor think
Sandy: can, I think it's one of the hardest jobs on the planet .
Brandon: Oh my gosh. And I think now after having- watching my wife teach for, I don't know what, 10 or 12 years or whatever she's been teaching for. I realized it's not really the students that are the biggest challenge. It is the parents. It's the parents. And I imagine maybe youth ministry might sometimes be the same way too.
Rachel: Oh gosh.
Brandon: One year for Christmas, I was super obsessed as I- when I grew up, I always wanted, uh, Gushers, like their marketing, the Gushers fruit snacks. It worked on me like this flavor, you know, the flavor burst would burst. Yeah. Whatever. And, and my parents just didn't, you know, they would never buy that kind of stuff. . And so as I got older, I was like, I want, I would, I want to go buy myself some gushers, whatever.
And I, I went through these little, this little phase, which is kind of like my MO. I'm, I'm always on a phase with something. Um, and I went through Gushers phase and so one Christmas. I just told my whole family, I said, All I want for Christmas is Gushers. And, and people get so mad, like, What? That's all you want? Is like, seriously, don't gimme anything else. I just want gushers. I got just boxes and boxes and boxes of gushers and made myself so sick.
Rachel: Oh no! Yeah. Were you gushing ?
Sandy: Gushing. Oh, that's good. That's good.
Brandon: Oh God. I think it, it brings up, you know, the point that like what we want, Kevin was kind of saying this like, what we think we want isn't always what we want. Mm-hmm. , Right? Like Sandy, you were talking a little bit about this. , uh, journey, uh, about soul care. Mm-hmm. . Um, and you've been, you've been realizing this for yourself, like when you were confronted with that question.
Tell, tell us a little bit about that.
Sandy: Yeah, so I had the opportunity to be in a cohort with about 30 other pastors in the Bay Area, uh, during Covid. And so we met outside in Livermore in this barn. Some days it was hot, some days it was freezing cold. But the very first question we get asked is, what do you want?
And it's a haunting question. Yeah. I mean, Jesus asked that several times in the gospels, but the one I'm thinking of is in John one, where John's disciples start following him, start following Jesus. And Jesus asks them, What do you want? And I, I. To Kevin's point on Sunday, we don't always know what we want.
And I went down a journey for almost a year and a half trying to answer that question because there's all kinds of things I want. Yeah. I want a cabin in Tahoe, you know, I want a nice house on the peninsula, you know, all the comforts of the peninsula life, you know. . Those are all things I want, but that's not what Jesus was really asking.
And, and as I was going through spiritual direction during the, that year, you know, my spiritual director would, would often say those things aren't bad. Those are, those are desires. That's okay. Yeah. But it's trying to figure out the core of what
Brandon: you want. That is a profound question. I just, now, as you were talking, I just remembered this thing that I did with, with Katie when we were first, we were first dating and we were trying to get to know each other.
And this gives you an insight of how, how annoying it would've been to date me . But like I had just talked with, uh, , this kind of, I don't know, I guess he was like some kind of a business guru. And he gave me this book that was big back then called The On Purpose Person. Have you ever heard of this book?
Sandy: No. Uhuh.
Brandon: So The On Purpose person, it's one of those, um, cheesy business books that's written. In like a story form, you know, where it'll have like a guy and he goes through and the story teaches you all these business principles mm-hmm. Or whatever. Mm-hmm. and I guess for whatever this guy was saying, and, you know, I got to think I was like 22 at the time, and, um, He was saying like, you need to make sure that you're doing things on purpose and you need to figure out what you really want.
I don't think, to my knowledge, I don't think he was a Christian. Hmm. Um, and so I read this book anyway, long story short, it basically says like, every time you go into a room and you slip, uh, turn on a light switch, You ask yourself, that's supposed to be the thing that you ask yourself, Am I doing this on purpose?
Hmm. And is it an alignment with what I want? Hmm. Um, and so at the end of the book, basically what they make you do is they make you list in like the five major categories, you know, like education, um, what finance career. Spirituality and relationships. I think that's the main five. And they make you just list out, I wish I could find this stuff.
List out everything you want. Mm-hmm. , like what you talked about, Sandy, like Yeah. All of your desires, Right. In each category. Right. So in finance, it might be like, I wanna be a millionaire by the time I'm 30. Right. You know? Yeah, I already missed that boat. . Maybe 40. I'm gonna be 40 next year.
Sandy: Maybe 60 .
Brandon: Anyway, um, you list all of them out. Okay. So just imagine, and you're supposed to like, it's, it's crazy how hard it is to really get in touch just with this like superficial level, what do I really, what do I want? Like what are all the things I want? If you could just dream big. Yeah. List them all out. And then in each category you do like, um, a tennis tournament.
So you say, Oh, interesting. Okay. If two of my financial desires are one, I wanna be a millionaire before I'm 30 and one, I wanna have enough money to buy a Ferrari well, Like you can decide like which, which one you want. If I'm a millionaire, I might be able to buy Ferrari, but if I have enough money to buy a Ferrari, I might not still be a millionaire, so maybe I'll choose millionaire.
You know? So that one wins in that case. Mm. And this whole process takes quite a while. Yeah. And it comes down, you know, and eventually you start turn, you start tennis tournament in the categories. Interesting. Spirituality, relationships, you know, that kind of thing. Yeah. And the idea is that there's no judgment in this whole thing.
Mm-hmm there is- what- in the ideas you get down to, what do you absolutely want the most? Yeah, so I do this whole thing. Katie and I have been dating for like, you know, three months or something, and I was like, Katie, I, I really need you to fill out the what I want survey. And she's like, What is this? I'm like, We need to decide if you're an on purpose person or not, and you need to fill out this whole thing and see if our core wants are you know-
Sandy: are the same-
Brandon: what we actually want.
Rachel: Oh God.
Brandon: But it was this huge long exercise to figure out what you really, really want. I don't know how effective it was or whatever, but it was certainly really interesting. I just, I just randomly thought about.
So Rachel, what is it like when Jesus is asking like, what, what is it that we want? Why do you think that- to you, why does that seem like such an important question? Like what is the thing that Jesus is getting at and why does he seem to ask people this question over and over again in scripture?
Rachel: Hmm. Yeah. It's interesting that that's how he chooses to encounter so many people, even when it seems like what their answer is going to be is . Obvious cause it might not be as obvious to that person like I even think of when he asks, um, the blind man, like, What do you want? And in my mind I'm like, Well, of course he wants to see. Yeah. Like why would you ask that question? I think it's something that he's maybe confronting even at like a deeper level of what do you want? And even, I guess in a way, like are you living in alignment with what you want or act? Are you actually desiring what you say you want or is it something you've maybe just said for so long?
Brandon: Yeah. You mentioned Sandy, something that'll like Exodus, that, that gives us maybe a little bit of an insight if we were really gonna get after what, what our heart's true desire is.
Mm-hmm. without doing a giant tennis tournament of everything we want in the world. Yeah. um, What is, what was that?
Sandy: Well, um, it's a, it's the piece in Exodus, uh, I think it's thir- 37. Is that it? 37. 33. 33, yeah. Exodus 33. And Moses is having this conversation with the Lord in the tent of meeting. And you know, Moses keeps, keeps asking, Who are you gonna send with me?
Who are you gonna send with me? You know, these are your people. Who are you gonna send with me to? In all of this. And the Lord replies, My presence will go with you and I will give you rest. And you know, I, I find it fascinating for Moses being in a place where he didn't feel he could do what God was asking.
But I'm not so sure he thought God was gonna actually be there for him. Mm. Even prior to this, we see the crossing of the Red Sea. The whole idea of leaving Egypt and watching that happen. And we see God in the midst of all of this, his presence changing Pharaoh's hearts, all of that. Hmm. And yet I still don't think Moses gets it after the Lord says, "My presence will go with you and I will give you rest".
And I think that is a very interesting idea to think about in the sense. Is God's presence enough? Yeah. And can we rest in that? Because if God's presence is enough, we're, we're fully trusting that, and we're not worrying about, well, how am I gonna cross the Red Sea? Mm-hmm. .
Brandon: Yeah. I see that, um, that particular thing about Moses and, and really like so much of the Old Testament is us saying, God, this is what we want. This is what we want, this is what we want. And God's saying, No, it's not. I mean, it's not what you want. And in some cases, God gives it to people, you know? Yeah. Like I think about, was it Malachi where they wanted the king and they're like, God, we need a king. We need a king. It's like, I'm your king, right? , right? Like, No, no. We need like a real king. A real king. Give us a real king. And he is like, Okay, I mean, guys isn't gonna bring you what you think you want.
Sandy: But even, even in our scripture towards the very beginning of God's story with his people, he's talking about this idea of rest. And then Kevin again talked about, you know, come all ye who are weary. Yeah. And I will give you rest. Yeah. Yeah. My yoke is easy. My burden is light. Hmm. So this whole idea of I think really answering and struggling and going after that question, what do I really want? Hmm. There's a piece of that. When we wrestle that down, I think there's some rest in that.
If, If we really are honest about our core desire. Yeah, yeah. You know, and I think we all have, Oh, I want this or I want that, but, Hmm. But there's this piece of God's presence and this piece of when we're in his presence, when we're fully trusting him, when we're allowing the Holy Spirit to do the Holy Spirit's job in our life, there's rest in that. We don't have to worry about what's coming on Sunday.
Brandon: That's what are you worried about, Sandy? (laughter)
Sandy: What's coming on Sunday?
Rachel: Yeah. I feel like it does tie in with trust, cuz I even think of, maybe it's a silly example, but I went to. Joanne's fabrics with like my cousin and her two year old daughter.
Brandon: That store's my worst nightmare, by the way.
Rachel: Yeah, there's a lot in there. . It's, yeah. Yeah. Very creative space. But she saw this toy that she really wanted and her mom said no, and I thought that was gonna be like the end of the conversation.
And her mom then stopped to like get down at eye level and have this really long conversation with her. At least it felt long maybe in my like, not so kid, but like kid. And she said, I know you really want that toy, but I need you to trust me that I know what you need. Yeah. And that I know what you want, but that you don't need that right now.
Mm-hmm. And it's like, it is so much to do with trust, I think of even knowing that the like strongest versus deepest desire, like God knows our strong desire mm-hmm. , but he knows our deeper one. Mm-hmm. and sometimes we don't even realize like what that deeper one
Brandon: is. It gets really confusing. Like I was even thinking about the story with, um, Jacob and Esau in the Bible.
Hmm. Uh, when, when Jacob goes out to hunt, Oh no. Esau goes out to hunt and Jacob is back at home and Esau comes back, he gets lost in the woods and he's like absolutely starving. And he comes back and. You know, Jacob gets all sneaky and it's like, I'll gimme your birthright. I'll just give you this. If you, if you, you know, gimme your birthright, I'll give you this stew that I'm making.
And like none of us reading that story, all of us are gonna be like, Don't give that up for soup, or whatever gross thing he's making. Like, what are you thinking? But in that moment, like his most immediate, strongest desire is to eat. Mm-hmm. And so he's willing to trade almost anything, anything for it, for that.
And I, I feel like that's such a good picture of how we, if we are not intentional about, about what we love, but what we really love and what we want to really love. We are just kind of, we kind of become victims of our. Of our desires and our immediate desires. Yeah. And we, we can wander. I mean, I certainly resonate with the idea that you could just wander through life chasing things that you think you want.
And there's so many people, um, that live their life that way. Um, I think, and it relates to the what Kevin said, um, and I'm curious how it struck you guys that we're not primarily thinking things. , we're loving things. Hmm. Which is interesting because I think we like to think of ourselves as thinking beans.
Sandy: right? Well, yeah. We're in one of the, this population, in this little patch of land we call a peninsulas, probably one of the smartest, most influential group of people where knowledge is God. Thinking is God. Yeah. Yeah. And where we live and that shapes us and forms us and forms our identity in such huge ways.
Yeah. That we, we don't even know
Brandon: it. And because we think that thought is the most important mm-hmm. thing, we don't consider what we love, or like the question that we're asking, we don't really consider. What do you really want? Yeah. Hmm. Like knowledge becomes the top thing. But if we're primarily loving things, uh, we really kinda start paying attention.
Yeah. To what we love. Yeah. So what do we do then? Let's say, let's say, and I love his analogy that he used about, um, you know, if you wanna become a musician, you know, you can't. Say, I wanna become a piano player one day, and then suddenly you can, You can play like where I wanna love how to, I don't know.
That's a bad example. I wanna love something. You can't just come out and just make yourself love something, right? Mm. Um, so what are we supposed to do, like let's say, let's say, Rachel, that I want to, Well, let's just say that I wanna sign up for this thing, You know, I wanna sign up for what God is saying.
I wanna love God. Okay. to me, waking up tomorrow and saying, Okay, God, I love you now. Like, that's not really the answer. So how, how would you describe, you know, what's like the next step for me? Hmm.
Rachel: Yeah. I think the way that, I think it was James K. Smith, his quote about curating our hearts, where he acknowledged that discipleship or following Jesus and becoming like Jesus is a matter of hungering and thirsting more than knowing and believing. So just changing what you know or believe about God might not be the next step, but I think being open, um, Kevin had that dimension or the chart of the dimensions, and it's opening every aspect of who we are to God and to the work of the spirit.
Um, and that does include our mind. It does include our thinking. Like we still, we still do think about things, but it's opening every dimension. So our, our social lives, our body, our mind, and then our spirit, which is at heart and our will. But I think the first step even is just being willing to be open.
Cause even when you think of, Okay, what does it mean to open my mind to the spirit, it's still that reality of, okay. Intentionally allowing, not myself, but allowing the Holy Spirit to kind of show me areas of my heart where I desperately need Jesus and areas of my heart where I'm seeking after the things I think I want but don't really want.
Sandy: I think it goes along those lines of those false narratives that we believe about ourselves or those false narratives that have shaped us in who we are and what we do and how we react. And in that sense of when we're opening ourselves up to the Holy Spirit for that kind of like heart work, mind work, life work that's like, that's huge.
It's massive because you're, you're, you're moving your identity away from the things that have shaped you from the world and hoping that God's gonna show you. No, no. You're, you're, you're my beloved. Good old now. And, um, Rachel and I have been reading Henri Nouwen reading Henry, a lot of Henry now in these last few months.
Yeah. But coming back to, I'm a child of God. Hmm. I am loved. I am a beloved child of God. And when we start believing that and thinking that that changes our whole, those false narratives get rewired into something new. God redeeming that stuff.
Brandon: Yeah. Saying,
Sandy: saying yes to that is, It's a big deal. It's a big deal because it changes everything.
Brandon: And I would dare to say that at the risk of offending, uh, people that may be listening to this. I think that it's actually pretty easy to exist pretty, on a pretty deep level in the church, in church world, and not really have to say yes in this way. Yeah. Um, and I say that maybe this is me just, you know, projecting onto everybody. It might just, it might just be me, but you know, you're talking to a guy who is a pastor's kid who was raised in the church, who has existed in the church, who started working for a church when I was pretty young. And, um, I, I was telling you guys earlier, it's like, it's kind of embarrassing how far I've been able to come without really having to confront myself with that question. Do I want to say yes to the Holy Spirit for me saying yes was when I prayed, you know, the-
Sandy: Prayed the Sinner's prayer-
Brandon: Prayed the sinner's prayer at East Iowa Bible camp
Sandy: 10 times to your, your whole middle school and high school school years.
Brandon: Yeah. There was a lot of re dedications and that kinda stuff. And I don't wanna minimize the moment where you-
Sandy: Yeah. Cuz those are all touch points in your faith journey.
Brandon: Yeah, yeah. They're, yeah, they're mountain tops and there are moments where I wanted to, you know, follow Jo follow. Jesus and I, I would usually, in an emotional moment. Yeah. I would say, God, yes, I wanna follow you. Yeah. Yes. God. You know, I'll, I'll give you, I'll, I'll try to love you with my heart, soul and mind, you know?
Hmm. Um, but I feel like, I feel like there's another step when you, when you're like, kind of opening yourself up to God and be like, What is there in me? What do you see in me that's different? Mm-hmm. , you know, if I. , uh, Sandy, I wanna learn what you do and, and learn the communications world. You'd say, Oh, that's cool.
Let's set up a meeting and be like, Yeah, let's do that. And then a year later I say, Sandy, you know what I'm gonna, I, I realize I never really did anything with that. I wanna rededicate myself to following you In the communications world, it would mean so much. It would be so much different for you. If I finally came to you and said, Sandy, I want you to look at what I do.
Yeah, in the communications world, I'm probably stretching this . Show me what I need to do. to, uh, like, what am I doing that is actively fighting against being a communications? Yeah. Well, first of all, Brandon, you don't use computers. Oh, . Okay. Well, I need to start doing that. You know what I mean? Like, so one, like the heart is there in the first one, Right?
But the second one is like, Okay, here's here's me, God. Yeah. And that que- I mean, have you guys, I know that you, I, I know both of you. I know that you've been here, but I'm wondering if, if either of you have any, any story from your past where that you'd be willing to share, um, of maybe when you've had to do that, maybe when you've kind of got to a moment where you're like, I don't wanna surrender this part of my life to you, or, or this dream to you, or this job, or whatever it might be. Do you guys have anything? I can edit out the silence while you think.
Sandy: And a hush fell over the crowd.
Rachel: I think in general, like with my relationship with God, it had always been so safe that I don't think I ever gave God like the opportunity. Not that he needed my permission. Yeah. But like the opportunity to have those touch points. So even in like my quiet time with him, it would be like just a little bit of journaling, a little bit of reading, and then maybe some silence, but more just me like, I don't know, again, trying to talk at God.
Hmm. But then I think the more that I allowed him to, like when things would come up, when he'd bring to mind something that I didn't want him to touch. And when I finally like sat in that or brought that to someone else and they're like, Yeah. That's probably something to give a little bit more thought to.
Um, I think when I finally allowed God to touch it, it wasn't as safe anymore and I didn't like that . Sometimes I still don't, but it felt a lot more freeing because then I wasn't trying to like keep it for myself or, yeah. Once God like started to work in those areas mm-hmm. , um, it was painful, but it was moving me more in line with what he wanted for me. Even if it wasn't safe in my mind.
Brandon: Yeah. So how do we open ourselves up to, to the dimensions of the holy? How do, how do we open up all the dimensions of ourself up to the Holy Spirit? How do, how do we, how do we start that journey?
Sandy: I think, I mean, just even for my own self in these last couple years, I think it, it comes down to being truly honest with yourself and saying, Do I wanna go on this journey? Do I really wanna go on this journey? Mm. Am I gonna say yes to this journey of what Jesus might show me? What the Holy Spirit might open up in my life? Because that's kind of a scary thing. If, if, if we as believers say, Yeah, I open my, I've got open, open handedness with my life, Lord, do as you please.
That's scary. Hmm. If, if we, if that is truly our heart's desire, this, that's what we, we say, we, we might say we want it, but do we really want it? Yeah. Hmm. And I, and I think that, that is, struggling with that question is a start and, and doing it not just by yourself, but with people who know you. community and, and it comes back to being authentic with your community, I think in without judgment as well from your community.
Because I think when we wrestle through these hard things, we, we go through all kinds of emotions and thoughts until, you know, God's working in us. It's a process. It doesn't happen. overnight, and it's, if we're honest, a lifelong process. Hmm. So I, I think wrestling with that question first is a, is a next step truly, truly being able to answer that question, not just the good old Jesus answer.
Sandy: What do you want? Yeah. Yeah. My heart's desire is to have what Jesus wants. We can say that, but-
Brandon: which by the way, when I did my tennis tournament, that was mine and I felt very... righteous and holy after I did that.
Rachel: Yeah, of course.
Brandon: Yeah, of course. I had to, I had to tennis tournament a lot of other ones. Yeah.
You know? Mm-hmm. , I, I remember someone talking about, um, saying, That's really good, Sandy, and saying, saying that like you're, There's a few, there's a few ways that you can get insight into what you want, because like you said, we're not always aware, right? Um, however, there are people in our life. Yes, there are, but there's
Sandy: no question they would love to point those things out to you.
Brandon: Especially I will tell you both if you have. They will tell you what they think is most important to you. Yes, yes. Um, but even if you don't have children, I've heard it said like what your calendar, your calendar has a lot to say. Mm-hmm. about what you are saying that you want. Yeah. What your life says that you want, you know?
Yeah. Because like in the case of my tennis tournament, my core desire really was Jesus. And I believe that was real and authentic, but my life didn't really reflect that at that time. So like, what does your calendar say? What does your wallet say? Mm-hmm. , you know, the things that you spend your money on and the things that you spend your time on.
Um, and that's a, Yeah, we probably all have someone who will tell us honestly, and it's whether or not we want to ask that question.
Sandy: Well, and that's, and I think that's, that is where all of this, I mean, this. . I'm really excited about where we're going because I'm hoping, and part of my prayer is that we as a, a church body are gonna do this in community.
Sandy: And that, you know, there will be authenticity happening. Intentional authenticity happening, and vulnerability. Not my favorite thing to do. Hmm. But, I- I would guess that's not a lot of people's favorite thing to do either. Yeah. But we have a real cool opportunity to open our lives up in a very different way to the Lord and to our community in this. And it's gonna revolve around authenticity.
Sandy: Authenticity to the Lord. Authenticity to our community, Authenticity to our family and friends. That's not easy.
Brandon: Yeah. No, that takes a special kind of commitment. Like you're willing to kind of, you're willing to do the work. Um, and I love where, where Kevin, speaking of doing the work, I love where he ends. Well, he ends with this idea of, of delighting in the, in the Lord. Mm-hmm. and he says, "To follow Jesus is not the impossible task. It's, it's the easy or light way". Yeah. I mean, and when we think about all these things, there's a, there's a real, there's something that happens in my soul that's probably the same thing that happens when I think about like, okay, um, I really need to get into physical shape. You know, like, all I can think about is the pain of what I'm going to have to do, all the changes I'm gonna have to make. Hmm. Um, all the sacrifices I have to do. Um, and it can be a little bit overbear or over, what am I thinking of? Not overbearing. Overwhelming, overwhelming, overwhelming. Um, and let's, let's talk to that person right now that's listening a little bit.
You know, the person that's listening to this and being like, How do I unravel what I want? Hmm. How do I start chasing what I know is my soul's desire? Like they're looking at the road ahead and like, how do I even do this? Um, what, what did we learn from Sunday that would change, Um, maybe the paradigm of how we're looking at this.
Rachel: I think even just that encouragement, that that reminder that Sandy gave a little bit of go if, like, this is a, a long journey, it takes. and even what Kevin was talking about with love, like learning to love God or learning to love anything, but especially learning to love God takes practice. And I like hate what we brought up that quote again about like, grace isn't opposed to, um, earning? No. Is it-
Brandon: it's not supposed to. Efforts earning. It's a, It's not oppos to effort. It's opposed to earning.
Rachel: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. He said it's not about earning, but effort is still involved. and I think even just acknowledging that God is faithful and that the spirit, the spirit's work in our life is Sure. I just even think of, um, something that was in the curriculum too, but Kevin had written that, um, that the wind shouldn't be considered a random act like when you're talking about the sailboat example of how the captain still has to hoist the sail and, and have everything in place, but it's not the captain's job to make the wind blow.
Um, it's just for the sail to catch the wind when it does. And what it says here is the wind shouldn't be considered a random act for as certain as the wind blows. So too, can we be certain that the Holy Spirit will also move? So I think there's encouragement in the fact that it's a partnership, like we're not doing it alone, and that it is a journey and it is practice. We probably, we'll have times where it's really hard, um, but we're not doing it on our own.
Brandon: I mean, I don't wanna dismiss that it, that there is probably gonna be pain and discomfort because Yeah. You know, depending on where you're at, like turning from the way you've been doing your life, your whole life, like turning from that, like, I don't wanna minimize that. That's a big deal.
Brandon: You know?
Sandy: I mean, when we, when we talk about silence and solitude, when we talk about Sabbath, I mean that's gonna poke at everything, the Peninsula values. Hmm. And when we talk about how am I going to arrange my calendar around that? Mm. I mean, that is, I struggle with that every week-
Brandon: Yeah. Yeah.
Sandy: -doing that. , it's a struggle and it's like, but it's also an invitation. Mm. It's an invitation to this rest that God talks with Moses about. It's this invitation to rest that Jesus tells us about, and when we're obedient in those things, that rest is real. And it is so comforting. And it honestly shapes your mind in a different direction if we're willing to go there.
Brandon: Hmm. Yeah. I, I, I think, like, you know, Kevin says, when, when Jesus talks about my yolk mm-hmm. is easy in my burden is light. I love when you went into this whole thing, um, that yoke is that it means a set of teaching. Mm-hmm. . , that, that, that word, that root word is, is the same as disciple. Is that right?
Rachel: For learn? Yeah. Mm-hmm. the word for learn.
Brandon: Which means it's an interactivity. Um, and it's a learning not just on knowledge, which is what we talked about. Cause we're not primarily thinking things. Right. But it's a learning based on doing, on walking. Yeah. On interacting with your teacher. Yeah. With your rabbi Jesus.
Yeah. Who by the way, is gentle, and is humble. Yeah. And like what you said, Sandy, that's where we find our rest. Mm-hmm. . So I think the, as we look at this, you know, even use the, the exercise analogy, like to think about what it would be like, um, to align ourselves with the principles of being healthy. You know, like mm-hmm. not think about the pain it's gonna take to get me to a place where I have to go, where I wanna run five miles, but think about. , what's it gonna be when I walk up a set of stairs and don't want to throw up ? Yeah. Yeah. Or like in, in the Jesus thing. Like what's it, what is it gonna be like when our desires are more aligned with his mm-hmm. And how much more rest is our soul gonna have? Mm-hmm. . Yeah. How much more can we really delight in the Lord? I mean, when we come in and we sing worship songs, how much more is that gonna light us on fire when we're really worshiping and we're not just coming in tired and worn out and just doing church.
Sandy: Yeah. You know? Yeah. And how much is that gonna change people who look at us? What is gonna be different about us? Hmm. In our authenticity as we are doing these things. Hmm. And allowing God to change our souls. Yeah. And our spirits. What's, what is, I mean, it it's that whole idea coming back transformed people transforming the peninsula.
Brandon: Yeah. Otherwise, we're just offering them ourselves.
Sandy: Yeah. And it, and it's not a list of, Oh, I gotta do this, I gotta do that to be transformed. That's, that's not what Jesus is inviting us into. He's inviting us into, "You're my beloved. My yoke is easy, my burden is light'. And when you experience you're gonna change, you're gonna be changed because of that. Uh, because of him, Because of Jesus. I was gonna say because of me, but I didn't, That sounded weird. . I meant Jesus. You know? Yeah. And that's, there's something irresistible about that. Hmm. Something very irresistible.
Rachel: Yeah. And it's cool because the more that he changes us, it's not that it's something that we have to manufacture. Yeah. On our own. Um, Kevin was talking about how it becomes habituated into our very way of being. Mm-hmm. , like I even think of the blessing, those who curse you. Example of like when someone cuts me off on the 101. Yeah. Maybe this is a silly example, but-
Brandon: That never happens to me.
Rachel: You just straight bless them all the time? You never cursed them? (laughter) But yeah, it's cool that yeah, we're not left to our own devices and that as Jesus works in us, it, it starts to become something. Is naturally part of mm-hmm. , How we live.
Brandon: Yeah. Habituated. I, I think about, um, you know, not, not being able to leave the house before you brush your teeth. Mm. Like the, it feels like something's wrong. Mm-hmm. if you leave the house before doing that, you know, because it's so ingrained. Yeah. Um, your whole body's oriented around a person. that brushes their teeth and ultimately, hopefully has good oral hygiene.
Yeah. Well, I wanna leave as we kind of wrap this up. . Our, our hope really is that you engage this with us as we continue to go, um, all on this journey together. Um, if you're not in a small group, like now's the time. I was just talking to a friend who's like, Hey, how do we get a sign up for a small group? And they send to the website like:
Sandy: cpc.org/community .
Brandon: Exactly. Um, I just told him to go to the website. That's right. I didn't have the, the, uh, you know, community part. I'm sure he'll find it. Um, But seriously, this is not just, you know, like a shameless plug for groups. It's not like we have, The reason we want you to get in a group is because we change together.
This is something that, you know, it's more potent, it's more powerful, um, to have other voices speaking into your life. And so we don't want you to live and try to do this, um, in, in isolation. But, but as we consider what we're talking today, I just hope you'll consider, um, as you're listening to this and as you go through the rest of your week, And, um, as we go through this series together, really engage this question.
Like, get in there, like, ask the people that you know will be honest, be brave. Just be brave to ask the question. We're not even asking you to do anything about it yet. Just what do I want? And if you don't know, maybe ask some people that are close to you, Hey, what does it look like? What does it seem like is the most important thing to me?
Hmm. Um, which by the. is also a way of saying, what are you worshiping? Yeah. Um, and the other question that I want you to consider after, maybe you get through that whole, or, you know, it may, it may take a year and a half to get through that question, but as you, as you start realizing, well, here's some of the things that I'm following.
Here's some of the narratives that I think, um, I want, uh, are you willing to open that up to the Holy Spirit? Are you willing to open that up to God? And as you spend some time, um, With God. Did you start thinking about that? Maybe you're starting your own practices of silence and solitude. Start. Start just engaging.
Am I willing to open up these pieces of myself, these elements of of my humanity to Jesus and allow him to start shaping it? Let's just start there. Don't even start with, what do I have to do? Just start there. Am I willing to start that journey and let the Holy Spirit enter in that process?
I, like you Sandy, I'm so pumped at where this is going and, um, it's, it's weird, but I've never been in a church where we've decided in this way, let's follow Jesus together.
Sandy: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know we opened up with that, that phrase from John. But you know, when Jesus asks them what you want and then they, there's a little dialogue and then Jesus says, "Come and see. Come see. Come hang out with me".
Brandon: I feel like we should end with the, uh, Spice Girls. Tell me what you want.
Sandy: Want what you really, really want.
Rachel: I'll tell you what I want. (laughter)
This past weekend, Kevin kicked off our upcoming series Becoming: Apprenticeship to Jesus. Today, Kevin and Brandon talk through what that apprenticeship looks like in our modern context, and how we can allow the countercultural ways of Jesus to transform us.
How’s the water? - 1:24
- How the things we’re unaware of shape our reality.
- Perception of the good life vs. the reality of the good life.
- Intentional and unintentional spiritual formation.
What it means to follow - 17:45
- Jesus had a formation experience too.
- Take up your cross, give up your allegiances.
The goal of apprenticeship - 27:33
- Be present with the person who is discipling you and participate with him in what he is doing.
- Why are we starting with silence and solitude as our first spiritual discipline?
- Touching on the role of the 3 other spiritual disciplines.
- “We absorb, we swim in waters, that project a good life, but they're doing something to us and there has to be a different way to live.”
- “...Any movement towards the way of Jesus is not it's, it's actually a counter formation. We're counter-forming against the way the world is forming us.”
- “It's in following Jesus, we are revoking or at least diminishing all other of our identities, not to where they don't exist. Cause God created us with the particularities that we have as men or women or whatever ethnicity we come from, heritage, all of that's important for sure. It doesn't diminish or flatten that. But it does move all of those things to say, like, we now have a new fundamental allegiance in identity. It's not in being male or female. It's not in being American. It's not in being you know, a CEO it's not in any of those things. It's now what matters is this in this that we are in the family of God, that is first and fundamentally our primary allegiance. And if anything else bumps its head against that. It has to be dealt with.”
Resources & References