The Blog

10 Jan

Spiritual Guidance in Unexpected Places: Dante and the Helical Journey

In my work as a spiritual director, I am privileged to accompany people on their spiritual journeys. Along the way, I have learned that help and guidance can come from unexpected quarters. One such example is Dante Alighieri, the 14th century Italian poet.*

Dante’s most famous work is The Divine Comedy, in which he takes an extended tour of hell, purgatory, and heaven (Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise). Dante was probably the first person to write from this perspective and certainly influenced many who followed, including C.S. Lewis and his book, TheGreatDivorce.

Dante helped me frame some core principles that have been a tremendous help on my spiritual journey and may be helpful to you:

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03 Jan

Entering the Inner Sanctuary: An Invitation to  Contemplation

In Minnesota, where I was born and raised, we would joke that we experienced only two seasons: winter and road construction. January and February were the coldest months, with temperatures well below zero degrees keeping us indoors at all times, even during recess at school.

Despite my dislike of the intense cold, there was something about winter that I loved. My perfect picture of serenity was to sit by a crackling fireplace, wrapped up in a cozy blanket, sipping hot cocoa and reading or contemplating life, while soft flakes of white slowly and steadily blanketed the ground in snowy insulation. Those heavy snows would create a kind of quiet that was almost palpable. The silence was deafening—and wonderful.

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26 Oct

Taking Your Thoughts to God: The Power of an Evening Examen

Why is it that the minute we lay down, everything unresolved in our lives comes to the surface? Every mistake we made that day, the reliving of that argument and what we wish we had said, the regret with how we should have parented that child differently but now it’s too late, the running of numbers to see how the bills will get paid, and on and on.

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24 Oct

Called to Listen: Engaging the God Who Speaks [Resource]

If you go back through the Gospels and study all the different ways Jesus instructed his followers, surprisingly you won’t find a single passage outlining the best Bible reading plan. Though Jesus often quoted scripture and clearly emphasized its importance and authority, he never held it up as the primary way his disciples should hear and receive God’s truth.

What he did instead is simply remarkable—he gave them his Spirit.

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27 Sep

Praying With Expectation

Have you ever thought about whether you actually believe prayer is effective? I had a sobering moment a few years ago when I realized that my belief in prayer was very weak. I prayed at meals, prayed with my kids, and prayed over prayer requests sometimes, but I realized that deep down I didn’t have much confidence that my prayers would actually change anything.  

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25 Sep

Blessed by Listening to the Holy Spirit: A Vignette From World Wide Conference

It was the final night of the World Wide Conference and worship was pushing well into the night. Around 11 pm, I stood up to head to my room when I suddenly felt the Spirit draw my attention to a girl across the room and say, "Go pray for her." I paused for a moment. I was tired. My body wanted rest. This girl was a stranger. And I wasn't getting a sense of what I might pray for her.

In that moment I had a choice. I could not deny I felt a tug at my spirit. I felt free to make my choice, but I knew that if I obeyed, I would probably be blessed to see God do something.

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30 Aug

Living in the Cycle of Grace: The Confession of a Burned-Out Missionary

It was an intense season of ministry—a season where I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to “get results” and impact people around me for Christ—and also a season where it wasn’t really working. Depression, discouragement, and burnout were lurking. And underpinning it all was confusion. Hadn’t God called me to ministry? Why weren’t things going differently? I felt defeated.

Perhaps you’ve been there too—trying so hard to accomplish and live into the things you feel called to, but losing your sense of life in the process.

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24 Jul

Where We Begin to Change the World: The Love of God

I first arrived in Kolkata, India in the quiet hours of the early morning. The calm on the streets was strangely incongruent with the chaos that would follow; it was as if the deserted street had to catch its breath before the onslaught of another day.

Once the city awoke, overwhelm and sensory overload became my normative experience. Kolkata is a city bursting at the seams with people, movement, noises, and smells, all of which left my head spinning. In addition, everywhere I looked there were signs of need and poverty. By the end of my first week on this short exposure trip, I was questioning how any person wanting to catalyze change in this setting could hope to make even a small dent.

Where would one even begin?

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15 May

Moving With God: Deeper Than Optimism, Hope Is a Virtue

Poverty is in front of my face.
I cannot move it.

Every single day I wake up and I go to bed looking at poverty and misery.
And I suffer when I see how people suffer.

I feel so helpless to solve these problems.
I get angry that people don’t work to solve their own problems.
I lose my hope that things will ever be different.

But God answered me in my hopelessness and gave me a new understanding.
God said, “Jose, in this kind of ministry, you have to live out hope from virtue, not optimism.”

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03 May

Finding Your Way to Water in the Midst of a Soul Drought [Resource]

I want to drink God, deep draughts of God.
I’m thirsty for God-alive.  

Psalm 42:1 (The Message)

A few years ago, I was flipping through magazines for a project when I stumbled upon a photo from National Geographic that grabbed my attention. The photo showed a country in extreme drought or perhaps a river bed gone dry; the scorched earth was so withered and parched, it had formed thick cracks stretching in a web for miles in all directions. That ground had not seen water in a long, long time. I sat back in my chair at the stark realization of how perfectly (and disturbingly) this picture depicted my soul at that time.

All of us will find ourselves in seasons of “soul drought” at some point.

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CRM works to create movements of committed followers of Jesus in nations all around the world. This blog captures our stories, learnings, photos, videos, and more. Welcome!

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