LEAD! C.7 Silence and Solitude

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In Which We Withdraw From The World To Draw Near To God

The modern world considers solitary confinement and enforced silence as among the worst long-term punishments — with good reason; it is a terrifying thing to be cut off from the consolations and diversions of society. And yet, the very severity of that terror hints at the fertile spiritual soil to be uncovered when we deliberately cultivate time away from the distractions of ordinary human life…

Memory Verse: “Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.’ “Luke 4:42-43 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • 7. Solitude
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • 10. Silence and Solitude
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • 7. Security: “God Encircles His People”
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • 2. Solitude: Creating Space for God

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LEAD! B.5 From Pride to Humility

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In Which We Humble Ourselves Before God and Our Elders, Who Exalt Us

This week we shift our study of wisdom from the “theological virtues” (faith, hope, and love) to what might be called the “blessed virtues” from the Beatitudes. We will follow Peter Kreeft (below) in contrasting them with the Seven Deadly Sins, beginning with Humility vs. Pride:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:3

Pride is the first and deadliest of the deadly sins. It can be defined as “trusting our own name rather than God’s” — relying on our own character and identity as the ultimate authority.

In contrast, humility is recognizing the painful fact of our own poverty of spirit, so that we empty ourselves in order to receive our heavenly King.

Assigned Reading
  1. Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue

    • 6. The Beatitudes Confront the Seven Deadly Sins
    • 7. Poor in Spirit vs. Proud at Heart
  2. Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
    • 8. Pride, Humility, and the Fear of the Lord
    • 3.2 (Truth) Example: Proverbs about the Tongue

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LEAD! B.4 From Folly to Love

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In Which We Are Rescued from Our Folly by God’s Love

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Love is the primary virtue of the Heart. It is both a Decision that gives rise to Emotions, as well an Emotion that gives rise to Decisions — and it needs both to thrive. It can be defined as “the ability to pursue another’s glory — even at the cost of your own.”

Love is particularly needed by the Fool, whose emotional damage drives a cycle of self-punishment disguised as the pursuit of pleasure. The only way out is to purify our hearts by receiving God’s love and forgiveness, to the point where we love Him more than the false gods we’ve served — and discover what it means to genuinely love ourselves…

Assigned Reading
  1. Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue

    • 5.C (Love) The Three Theological Virtues
  2. Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom

    • 6. The Fool

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Death, Part I: I Am Crucified With Christ

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Hi God.

“Hi Ernie.”

Is it time? To die?

“Always. Every day is a good day to die.”

Tell me what I must do

“Place your happiness and your life here on the altar, then step away.”

Shouldn’t I tie it down?

“You cannot tie cords so tight you cannot untie them. Only I can do that.”

Very well. Father, I give you my life, my happiness, my will and myself. [laying it on the altar]. I will do only that which I see you doing; when I do not see, I will ask and wait.

“Do you mean that with your whole heart?”

Probably not. But I mean it with all the heart I have, and can give. I give up the right to fight my own battles, or even to pick them. The right to defend myself, and shame my enemies. The right to, well, do whatever I want. What I want; the right to make independent decisions that are heedless of God’s desires.

All this and more, I give to you, O my God.

“That is enough. Now step away.”

[Read More] for my experience of being crucified with Christ.

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