Back from a time away

13 Mar

I took a few days away to grapple with some things. As seems to be typical, I gained more peripheral clarity than central. I came to three statements that seem to be relevant:

Hold your head up.

Let it come to you. (or “it will come to you”)

You know what you have to do. (the hard thing)

They have meaning for me (does not mean I like them!), and each came in response to a specific seeking. The first was a general “What now?” The second about a more specific “What do I do next (employment-wise)?” The last came when contemplating what has been asked of me by my denomination. I’m not done sorting it all yet.

I wrote a few things recently, and will be slowly posting them. I’ve added a new page to the home page. I’ve called it “Ideas and Dreams.” To reduce clutter I’ve moved the JH Ranch stuff to be a sub-page of the LifeLessons page. Hopefully that did not wreck any links.

I took one book along on my retreat, one a friend had lent me because he felt it might fit my life circumstance. It does. But it is in a writing style that is tough slogging for me as a visual yet cerebral person. It shares some deep and valid and fascinating insight about individual and communal spiritual discernment, and about the role of head and heart in that discernment, but does it without stories, or word pictures, or illustrations, hence my brain tread does not get good traction unless I reread or really really focus. The book is called “The Voice of Jesus: Discernment, Prayer, and the Witness of the Spirit” by Gordon Smith. His distilling of commonalities between Ignatius, Wesley and Edwards was very interesting. I’m still only halfway but will finish it because — although hard reading for me — it is very relevant and has much to teach me. It’s sort of like being near Yoda as he is softly whispering the secrets of the force –you know it’s weighty, but you have to strain to catch it.

But while at my place of retreat I picked up a laying-around book called “Catch the Wind; The shape of the church to come-and our place in it” by Charles Ringma. That one really grabbed me and resonated, and I read the whole thing in two sittings. It is quite radical, yet rings true in terms of the questions I’m grappling with — and have for some time — regarding the shape of how we do church, and how to change forms. Here are a few distilled sips:


“Change is never only about truth. It is not simply about what is best. It is far more complex than that. It also has to do with politics. And church politics is about power, privilege, status and continuity.

We cannot afford to be naive about the way in which change takes place or is resisted in church. Change should be a matter of moving ourselves and others to live more authentically as God’s people in our world. Instead, it is often a power game, where tradition wins over relevance and where present structures block new possibilities.

“… … … human institutions frequently lose their way. Over time they develop a self-perpetuating life and culture of their own. They develop powerful traditions, hierarchies, experts, resources and legitimacies that are hard to resist and change. More seriously, institutions frequently fail to live out their own stated goals and purposes and fail to serve the very people they were meant to serve. And most disconcertingly, institutions can propagandize their clientèle, controlling their lives at the point of their vulnerability, and thus create dependence.” — 40



“… An institutional dependence … guarantees immaturity. If I am well socialized into the ethos of the church, this does not necessarily prepare me well for my participation in the world… And, as I believe spirituality is the co-joining of my inner and outer world, it is imperative that my spirituality is formed in both the church as well as in the the world outside the church.” 66 – 67

I hope that gives you an idea of it. I had to leave the book there and did not type many notes. His big themes as alternative directions for church were that individuals need to take more responsibility for their spiritual growth, and that such growth happens in daily living, but he also was very big on church being community more than a place ‘just’ for sacred ceremonies. I hope to get a copy of my own to read more reflectively. He has republished it recently with a more emergent focus, so I’ll get that version. The two books were actually a good blend.


5 responses to “Back from a time away

  1. murray mcvay

    March 25, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Hi Pastor Pete,
    keep holding your head up and kep the faith, God will bring you thru this uncertian time in your life. I am only echoing the thoughts that you told me some 36 months ago. I am also going thru very stressful times and i thank God for these trial as it makes me more certian of my faith and I am still clean and sober.



  2. pastorpete

    March 26, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Thanks Murray.

    I’ll be dropping by Nightshift Ministries again one day soon.

  3. Siegfriedrj

    March 26, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    thanks much, dude

  4. David Halteman

    November 15, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    I was surfing and found your website tonight and thought I’d say hi. My daughter Becky and I were at JHR in July ’07 with you and Katrina. We were the ones from Illinois. I was re-living the adventures of the ranch as I read your story and agree it was an uplifting time with my daughter. I was hoping to see ongoing spiritual growth in Becky after the ranch but apparently the “seeds of truth” will take longer to germinate. I’m still praying God will call her to a close and intimate relationship with him through Jesus Christ. She has taken an accounting job with Kraft Foods in the Chicago area and we see her about once a month now. The reason I stumbled across your website ….. I was looking at the Scott River Lodge and JH Ranch related items for a possible retreat me my wife and I.
    How is Katrina doing? Yourself?
    A brother in Christ,
    Dave Halteman

  5. pastorpete

    November 16, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Hi Dave. Good to hear from you! Interesting that you stumbled across this blog. I get a lot of hits on the JH Ranch pages. A lot of people must to research on it before going or something. The web and Google are amazing connection makers!
    Katrina is doing very well. Our relationship strengthened a lot at the Ranch and remains strong. We talk pretty openly about many things, which is wonderful. I’ve moved over to Vancouver Island to take a position as a Chaplain/Spiritual Director at an addiction treatment facility, so I don’t see her often either. She seems to be in a happy place in life, continuing working with the mentally challenged, enjoying music (she sings in a coffeehouse folk group occasionally!).
    I am loosely connected with a group of people who have occasional discussions about starting a Canadian JH, which, if it came together, I would seriously consider.
    The Lodge would be an awesome retreat!
    Shalom and Serenity to you and yours!


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