Swiftwater Journey

faith, culture, and growing up in a rapidly changing world

Journey Through Lent Week 7 March 20, 2016

Filed under: Spiritual Transformation — billmacphee @ 2:51 pm

pedro-orrente.pg_Thank you for joining with me as together we have walked with Jesus on a journey of [re] discovering the ancient texts promising God would return to Zion and bring deliverance to his people through his chosen vessel. The Gospel record and other New Testament letters have given insight into Jesus’ own understanding that he would fulfill God’s promise, but in a way no one had considered.

Today is Palm Sunday, and we traditionally use this day to celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem during Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The cries of “Hosanna” we hear today will quickly turn into threats of “Crucify him” as our week nears its end. May God enrich your Easter understanding and celebration these next few days, and may you discover anew the reality that the resurrection of Jesus simply changes everything.

Here are the final Lent Readings for Week 7 | March 21-27, 2016

 

Journey Through Lent Week 6 March 14, 2016

Filed under: Spiritual Transformation — billmacphee @ 9:33 am

read books“We are going up to Jerusalem … and the Son of Man will be delivered over … [they] will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him.” Mark 10:33-34

Here are the Lent Readings Week 6 | March 14-20, 2016

 

Journey Through Lent Week 5 March 6, 2016

Filed under: Spiritual Transformation — billmacphee @ 9:30 pm

readingSometimes it is a relief having someone else choose what we read. When I engaged the grueling journey through my Doctor of Ministry degree at Fuller Theological Seminary, Dr. Chapman Clark chose the 17,000 pages we were required to read. Yes, that is a lot of pages. But in many ways it was delightful to await the reading list at the beginning of each of the three years in the program. My tendencies often choose “safe” and predictable books and authors. But Chap pushed us into new arenas, intentionally exposing us to thoughts and paradigms new and insightful.
Our Lent readings serve a similar purpose. The journey with Jesus to the cross is not comfortable, but the chosen Scriptures lead us to the raw truth of commitment to the sacrificial and unconditional love of God for the world.
I trust you will enjoy the Scriptures chosen for you in our Lent Readings Week 5 | March 7-13, 2016

 

Journey Through Lent Week 4 February 28, 2016

Filed under: Spiritual Transformation — billmacphee @ 8:15 am

Jesus10“One can begin one’s [spiritual] quest by attending to the desires of the heart, both personal and communal. The Spirit is revealed in our genuine hopes for ourselves and for the world. How brightly burns the flame of desire for a love affair with God, other people, the world? Do we know that to desire and seek God is a choice that is always available to us?”

–Elizabeth Dreyer (quoted by Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms]

It was Dallas Willard who reminded us that while “grace is opposed to earning, it is not against effort.” The commitment to grow deeper in our love and trust relationship with Jesus is a gift from God, it is a grace. It is the Holy Spirit that prompts us to pay attention to the desire he places deep within us that longs to know and be known by the Father, through Jesus. But we don’t need to shy away from discipline, even regular and systematic attention to habits that can form our character to respond the way Jesus would if he were in our situation.

I am grateful for the way God leads me, even through baby steps, to meet with him, with my Bible open, and my heart attentive to what he wants to communicate … while on the way to Jerusalem and his cross. I am also grateful to journey with you. I trust you are enjoying our communal reading of selected texts, which I trust is prompting a growing understanding of God’s relentless action toward salvation.

Here is our Lent Reading for Week 4 | February 29-March 6

 

Journey Through Lent Week 3 February 21, 2016

Filed under: Spiritual Transformation — billmacphee @ 2:51 pm

jesus-and-disciplesLegendary theologian and author, J. I. Packer, gives the perspective of traveling a dusty road from two vantage points: the view from the balcony of a fine hotel; or on the ground level tasting the dirt and engaging in intimate conversation with fellow travelers. The invitation to follow Jesus this Lenten season, and learn from him as he relentlessly walks toward Jerusalem and the cross, is not a cerebral information-gathering observation from the safe distance on the hotel balcony. Instead it is given from the road, on the road, in the dust, among fellow and sometimes weary pilgrims.
Our Scripture reading pathway is intended to be a transformational engagement with the text — really the story — where we let Jesus talk with us, guide us, and ultimately change us. How have these Scriptures been challenging and changing you?
This third week of Lent, let’s allow the dust of the rabbi get into our clothes, even become grit in our teeth and ignite our imagination as we read this week.

 

Find your readings here: Week 3 | February 22-28

 

Journey Through Lent Week 2 February 13, 2016

Filed under: Spiritual Transformation,Uncategorized — billmacphee @ 5:00 pm

BibleI hope you are enjoying the Scriptures selected to help us begin our reading and reflection journey through Lent to the cross and empty tomb.

Remember,
Lent is a time for sacrifice and self-examination, for increased self-awareness and God-awareness, for spiritual refocus and renewing our conversion, for seeing our own need for Grace, and for opening our hearts to be more captured by Jesus’ love.

I discourage any practice in Lent that detracts from the work of salvation accomplished by Jesus on the cross. Yes, let the Scriptures push us toward humble acknowledgement that we, like Israel before us, have fallen far short of God’s ideal for what it means to be human. But by all means, let these sacred texts clarify that God is the relentless hound of heaven, pursuing you and me with an unquenchable love. He requires nor desires our attempt at appeasing him by acts that earn forgiveness.
Even this practice of reading can easily be turned into labor that makes us feel better about how God might view us. Read, reflect, rest, ponder, and let his words guide.

Here are the readings for Week 2 | February 15-20

 

Join Me Through Lent Reading the Scriptures February 9, 2016

Filed under: Spiritual Transformation — billmacphee @ 11:21 pm

The season of Lent has become encrusted with confusing barnacles of self-flagellation assuming we need to deny ourselves something to appease a God slightly ticked-off because of our less-than-holy living the rest of the year. The craziness of Fat Tuesday doesn’t help. We move through Lent toward Good Friday where we celebrate God’s initiative to provide salvation through the cross of Christ, always anticipating the good news of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, declaring there is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. Giving up chocolate or red wine may be helpful in some ways, such as the beginning of some sort of spiritual discipline, but not to gain one inch toward salvation.

Scripture Reading

The big story of God is contained in the Scriptures, and a simple, but intentional reading of relevant texts that walk us toward the cross is a good use of time during Lent. By the way, Lent means Spring, so let’s celebrate the new life Spring brings by immersing ourselves in the big story of cross and resurrection.

Here are my selections for Scripture reading during Week 1 [February 10-14, 2016], and I thank my friend Kerry Olson for choosing the inspiring quotes along the way. Come back each week for more selections.

spring readings week 1