ENCOURAGEMENT FROM RENOVARÉ FOR LIFE WITH GOD
Celebrating Advent with you
OUR MISSION Renovaré USA is a nonprofit Christian organization that models, resources, and advocates fullness of Life With God experienced, by grace, through the spiritual practices of Jesus and of the historical Church. Christian in commitment, ecumenical in breadth, and international in scope, Renovaré helps people in becoming like Jesus.
OUR VISION We imagine a world in which people’s lives flourish as they increasingly become like Jesus. The Renovaré Covenant succinctly communicates our hope for all those who look to him for life: In utter dependence upon Jesus Christ as my ever-living Savior, Teacher, Lord, and Friend, I will seek continual renewal through spiritual exercises, spiritual gifts, and acts of service.
EXPRESSIONS: Contents 4 : The Christ of Christmas 5 : Books from Renovaré 6 : Essentials of Christian Spiritual Formation 8 : New Children’s Curriculum 9 : Nathan Foster Joins Renovaré Team 10 : Meet the Team 12 : Conferences & Retreats 15 : Recommended Reading 2 : EXPRESSIONS
LET TER FROM THE DIRECTOR I am so grateful to be a part of the Renovaré family at this time. What has moved me the most during it? It is the fact that our focus on relationships is what defines our ministry. I recently read an article that Richard Foster wrote about the core of the Renovaré ministry. He reminded the readers that we were building a movement, not a monument. In the same way, God sent Jesus not to establish a Kingdom made with bricks and mortar, but a Kingdom based on the movement of people’s hearts. God sent Jesus to reconcile the world to Him. This is God With Us. What does that mean for Renovaré? It means that our team remains committed to the movement, to the soul’s growth in grace, to always centering on life in the Kingdom, to focusing on people and not programs. One of the great additions to our team is Nathan Foster, son of Richard Foster. He is stepping into the role of Director of Teaching Ministries and is a gifted writer and speaker. More importantly, Nathan has become a friend in ministry, someone who exudes a peace that our team loves to be around. I believe that something special is brewing at Renovaré as a direct result of the soul of the team God has assembled here. As you read this issue of “Expressions,” you will hear more about our approach to engaging the current culture and how we bring the message to the various contexts in our world today. We continue to work on the movement. And thank you for being a part of the movement! Whether it’s through an email, a prayer request, a testimony shared, a gift given, or even a comment on Facebook, we are so glad you are in the conversation with us. As we celebrate the season of Advent, would you consider giving a gift? Your generosity is what makes it possible for us to continue to bring the message of Life With God to new places and spaces, and as we head into a new year it is just as important as ever before. Gratefully,
Rachel Quan Executive Director NOVEMBER 2012 : 3
By Richella Parham
In the midst of holiday preparations, I considered the fact that our Christmas tree was standing in the living room but not fully decorated. I thought to myself, “I feel guilty that we haven’t already finished the decorating and put all the boxes away.” And then I realized how many times over the past few days I’ve heard people speak of feeling guilty. “I feel guilty that I didn’t put up a tree this year,” or, “I feel guilty that our tree is artificial,” or, “I feel guilty that we cut down a live tree for Christmas.” “I feel guilty that I haven’t made any Christmas cookies,” or, “I feel guilty that I’ve eaten too many Christmas cookies.” “I feel guilty that I can’t give my kids what they want for Christmas,” or, “I feel guilty that I’ve bought my kids too much for Christmas.” Is there no end to it? Of course, we feel guilty because we are guilty, and we know it. The small issues of Christmas decorations and gifts simply trigger larger feelings of guilt. Every single one of us is flawed. We all come up short. Not one of us is perfect. But the very reason we celebrate Christmas is that the Lord of all Creation loved us enough to save us. He didn’t leave us in our flaws and shortcomings. The Christ of Christmas is the One who came to earth and lived as a human in order to show us what a life without shortcomings would look like. And then he gave up his life in order for us to be released from the guilt of our own sins and to live in freedom.
4 : EXPRESSIONS
I think the words of the old hymn put it best:
When Satan tempts me to despair And tells me of the guilt within Upward I look and see Him there Who made an end of all my sin. Because the sinless Savior died My sinful soul is counted free – For God, the just, is satisfied To look on Him and pardon me.
> Get our new Advent
(Before the Throne of God Above by C.L. Bancroft)
booklet God With Us at www.Renovare.us
Full of shortcomings though we are, our guilt has been taken away – cleansed by the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. Because of Jesus, we can live a life that’s no longer ruled by sin. Christ was born to give us life that is truly life. This year, may your Christmas tree be more than a symbol of beauty and merriment. May it be a tree of life for you.
BOOKS FROM RENOVARÉ 25th Anniversary Special Package Autographed copies of Wisdom Chaser and Sanctuary of the Soul.
> 2013 marks our 25th year in ministry. To celebrate, we are offering autographed sets of Wisdom Chaser and Sanctuary of the Soul for $35. Order today for Christmas!
Sanctuary of the Soul : by Richard Foster In this book of a lifetime, Foster considers the value, nigh the necessity, of a discipleship to Jesus that has experiences of and is characterized by a life of meditative prayer. Wisdom Chaser : by Nathan Foster In this deeply engaging, conspicuously unpolished chronicle of a decade of mountaineering adventures, the son of a famous father explores not only the physical terrain of the Colorado Rockies but also the emotional and spiritual terrain NOVEMBER 2012 : 5 of their evolving relationship as the two test themselves.
WHAT ARE THE
ESSENTIALS By Kai Nilsen
OF CHRISTIAN SPIRITUAL FORMATION?
My wife challenged me with a late-night question recently. She said, “As I describe your work with Renovaré, I tell people it’s a movement of Spiritual Formation. But when they ask me what I mean by Spiritual Formation, I stumble a little with my thoughts and explanation. What should I say?” Admittedly, sleep had almost descended on me, so my clouded mind groped for any words or applicable insights. Then, I thought of our daughter, whom we had just dropped off at college, and said, “Think about what we tried to do as parents to create the environment where she could grow from that sturdy 10-pound, fully dependent baby to the studious, independent 18-year-old we said good-bye to a few weeks ago.” We agreed we wanted her to know she was loved by God and us no matter what. We hoped she would discover her unique gifts and healthy ways to grow them. We placed her in a Christian community so she could experience how love and joyful service were lived out now, in this life, under God’s guidance. We decided we were living Spiritual Formation without ever calling it Spiritual Formation.
6 : EXPRESSIONS
As I struggled to put simple language around that life process, this is where I landed:
Grace is the invitation. Habit is the integration. Love is the manifestation. Life is the destination.
GRACE Can we invite one another
into a relationship with a God who loves us no matter what? A God whose generative idea created the world, whose creative vision birthed humanity, whose loving possibility recreates our hearts and souls? Can we see one another through the lens of grace, joining together on this journey with full knowledge of the ways we fall short and full awareness of God’s renewing promise, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9)? Grace is the invitation.
Over the centuries, teachers in the realm of Spiritual Formation spoke about the development of habits as the way to integrate the grace of God into our lives. St. Thomas Aquinas, in the 13th century, articulated the need for “holy habits” to pervade our lives and living.
More recently, Richard Foster and Dallas Willard echoed the voice of the ancients as they described the transforming power of spiritual practices. These practices are, in no way, a means to gain the approval of or win favor with God. They are simply activities of heart and mind that open our lives to the renewing power of the Spirit. These practices, done consistently, become habits. Our habits become a conduit for the Spirit of God to form who we are and shape who we will become. Habit is the integration.
If we want to know why we give ourselves over to God’s grace and the holy habits that allow us to integrate grace in our lives, the response is simple: love. When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus responded. “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39). Jesus embodied this living commandment when he wrapped himself in a towel, stooping down to wash his disciples’ feet. “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
WE WERE LIVING SPIRITUAL FORMATION WITHOUT EVER CALLING IT SPIRITUAL FORMATION
Renovaré has always celebrated the unique manifestations of the six Streams of the Christian Tradition (Prayer-Filled, Virtuous, Spirit-Empowered, Compassionate, Word-Centered, Sacramental). Yet, in their rich diversity they proclaim unity, for all streams originate and converge in the love of God. Love is the manifestation.
Renovaré takes seriously Jesus’ opening words in Mark’s Gospel, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15). The Renovaré community also delights in Jesus’ words about the immediacy of the Kingdom in Luke’s Gospel: “…the kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 17:21b). Though we cherish and long for life in the eternal Kingdom, we are honored and compelled to fully participate in the present coming of the Kingdom. We believe God’s Kingdom will come whether we participate in it or not. Yet, we long for the joy of engaging life with God – now. When forgiveness is spoken and received, the Kingdom comes. When we give voice to the voiceless, the Kingdom comes. When we stand in awe of and care for creation, the Kingdom comes. When we extend hospitality to strangers or pray for enemies, the Kingdom comes. When lovers love and neighbors neighbor and friends befriend, the Kingdom comes. Life is the destination.
NOVEMBER 2012 : 7
NEW CHILDREN’S CURRICULUM The Renovaré Children and Families Ministry has been a process. Like anything new, it has taken time to write the curriculum, develop relationships, and pilot the various pieces. Lacy Borgo has written the curriculum, which has been, and is currently being, piloted. At the time of printing this newsletter, we are excited to announce that we have just signed a letter of intent with a publisher. We have also been in the process of developing a leadership team to assist Lacy with teaching, writing, and administrating the various trainings and conferences to which we’ve been invited to speak. This small team has been coming together over the past few months, and we’re excited to move forward in ministry! Here’s a little synopsis of the curriculum: The overarching purpose of the curriculum is to introduce children to Jesus. The Scriptures are the anchor, and the Spiritual Disciplines are used as a means of opening the space for relationship. The structure is a grand exercise in the Spiritual Discipline of study. It is based on the people profiles found in the Renovaré Life With God Bible. These are not merely lessons to be taught – this is discipleship for children, giving them knowledge and opening the space for a Christ-like relationship with God, adults, and peers. This curriculum is different because it is about true connection. Our culture breathes entertainment. What’s worse is that our churches have bought into the “must be entertained” mindset. Entertainment has become the fast and sterile substitute for the hard work of relationships. Children are hungry for relationship. They come into this world looking for connections. They call our names to woo us, they learn to make eye contact, and they cry and giggle, all for connection. Unfortunately our driving desire to be entertained has left us relationally depleted. For this reason, this curriculum has not been written to entertain. Instead it’s been written to give children what they need, what they really want, and what they have been asking for if we were listening – relationship. Relationship with the adults who love them and relationship with Jesus who loved them so much he gave his life for them. That’s not to say that there won’t be fun, or laughter, or the exhilarating sense of celebration. A Life With God is full of these emotions. Our focus is connection, both to God and to each other, because that is what we are all seeking no matter how old we are. Be on the lookout for further news about this developing area of our ministry!
8 : EXPRESSIONS
NATHAN FOSTER JOINS RENOVARÉ TEAM Renovaré is ecstatic to announce that Nathan Foster, son of Renovaré founder Richard Foster, has joined our team. He has entered the role of Director of Teaching Ministries where he will be a featured speaker and writer. Nathan will also be developing a weekly podcast that will feature conversations with Richard Foster, Kai Nilsen, Dallas Willard, and other Renovaré Ministry Team members. “This is an interesting position; it brings together my strengths, experiences, and challenges in a really unique way. I’m excited. I’m also nervous. Rachel Quan is putting together a good team, and I sense that something special is brewing,” says Nathan. Nathan holds a master’s degree in social work and is licensed in clinical social work. He is also a level III certified addictions counselor, professor of social work, and was named 2012 teacher of the year at Spring Arbor University.
He is a sought-after speaker and teaches on Christian living across the United States. Nathan also has a musical side and plays bass in the band Christy and the Professors. Renovaré is thrilled to have his talent, knowledge, and music join our team. “Nathan is a talented, inspirational writer and teacher, and we could not be happier that he is stepping up in this role at Renovaré. He has the ability to connect with the next generation, and I absolutely believe that he will be used by God to help others grow in their relationship with Christ,” said Rachel Quan. In addition to his other qualifications, Nathan is also a respected author. His book, Wisdom Chaser: Finding My Father at 14,000 Ft., garnered a coveted starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. It chronicles the adventure of Nathan and his father climbing Colorado’s “Fourteens” together, paralleling with a journey of getting to know him – and himself – along the way. Currently, Nathan resides in Michigan, with his wife and two children, where he teaches, enjoys being a family man, and works on writing.
> Renovaré Board with Nathan Foster: Juanita Rasmus, Glandion Carney, Margaret Campbell, James Catford, Richella Parham, Kai Nilsen, Rachel Quan, and Nathan Foster
NOVEMBER 2012 : 9
MEET THE TEAM
RICHELLA PARHAM You read Richella Parham’s article on Christmas in this issue of Expressions, and now it is time to get to know her and understand why she is key to the future of Renovaré. Richella is an active member of the Renovaré Board of Directors. She has been a part of Renovaré for more than 10 years as a volunteer and Ministry Team member. Her article in Expressions is just the first of many articles you will read by Richella as she is helping us make improvements to our website, blog, and overall communi-
> Richella Parham with her husband Jack and two of their three sons, Lee (age 15) and Will (age 21). Preston (age 19) is not pictured.
10 : EXPRESSIONS
cations with you. Her goal and passion is to reach more people with the message of Spiritual Formation. She is the author of A Spiritual Formation Primer, a Renovaré resource which will be available in 2013. Richella is a teacher, writer, speaker, church leader, and blogger. Her online home is www.ImpartingGrace.com; her physical home is Durham, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband Jack and three sons.
KAI NILSEN Kai Nilsen’s article in this issue of Expressions should give you a little glimpse at the depth of future content you can expect from Renovaré. Along with Nathan Foster, Kai is currently working on our writing and conference plans for the coming year. Their work is the launching point that will serve Renovaré well for our next 25 years of ministry. Kai is the Lead Pastor at Peace Lutheran Church, a large congregation in Gahanna, Ohio. As a Renovaré Board member, he is a passionate advocate for churches working together to serve their communities and demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ. Kai also serves on the Renovaré Ministry Team and is a primary speaker at the Renovaré Essentials Conferences. In 2009, Kai completed his Doctor of Ministry degree through Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. His thesis, “Developing a Conversational Guide for Creative Life Change,” brought together his desire for people to engage life more deeply with one another and to open themselves more intentionally to the working of the Spirit in their lives. Kai is also the co-author of For Everything a Season: 75 Blessings for Daily Life. Kai and his wife Patty have four children and live in Gahanna, Ohio.
> Kai Nilsen and his family: Leif, Anders, Siri, Annika and Patty.
NOVEMBER 2012 : 11
NEWLY DEVELOPED RENOVARÉ CONFERENCES & RETREATS Book a conference or retreat for 2013 TODAY!
Renovaré conferences and retreats are led by Renovaré Staff, Board, Ministry Team, and Speaking Team members. Every community is different with different needs. We’d love to talk with you about your community and the best people to speak at your conference. To work on booking the right people for your conference, contact Joan Skulley, Director of Administration, at 303.792.0152 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more detailed descriptions, visit our website at www.renovare.us. The Essentials: The Essentials Conference is a perfect launching pad for learning more about the Renovaré Balanced Vision and starting small groups (Spiritual Formation Groups) that support people in their Life with God. Learn the basic, essential elements of a vibrant Christian life – grace, traditions, community, disciplines, and covenant. We integrate teaching, conversation, experience and worship to create a full day of insight and encouragement for anyone who needs their faith refreshed or their spiritual formation deepened. Holy Habits: The Balanced Spiritual Life: This conference is designed to help people better understand the Inward, Outward, and Corporate Disciplines that have been practiced since the days of the early Church. This event will help people understand how the disciplines are the means of God’s grace in our lives. Based on Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline. Life in the Kingdom: There is life to be had in the Kingdom! The Kingdom is immediate and real and available to all of us here and now. Christians have the freedom to simply walk into it and to partner with God in his ongoing work of redeeming and reconciling the world back to him. This is true transformation. Based on Dallas Willard’s books, Divine Conspiracy and Renovation of the Heart, this one-day conference is a great way to help people understand what Kingdom living is all about and how living in the Kingdom renovates their heart. Prayer as the Constant Conversation: Prayer is the constant conversation that leads to the deepest relationship we could have with God. Learn what prayer really is, what it really means, and how it is the key to our relationship with God. Through the centuries, many different practices have helped people better connect to their Creator and Redeemer. Breath prayer, Ignation exercises, Centering prayer, Meditative prayer, and even silence are just a few of the ways we learn to participate in the constant conversation. Formation for Families: What if our families were equipped to build homes where the Life with God is an everyday way of living? We’ve often relegated spiritual formation for our children to Sundays at church. The reality is that 90 percent of our spiritual formation takes place in our homes. We now have a way for our children to learn what it means to live life daily in the Kingdom and to know deeply the love their God has for them. Led by our Children & Families Leadership Team, this is a two-day or three-day retreat for families of every make and model.
12 : EXPRESSIONS
RENOVARÉ The Martin Institute and Dallas Willard Center Present
Conversations on Christian Spiritual Formation
Celebrating the Teaching of Dallas Willard for Pastors, Ministry Leaders and Christian Educators
FEATURING: DALLAS WILLARD AND JOHN ORTBERG The Knowing Christ conference of 2013 is designed to help Christian leaders embrace their role as teachers of the knowledge of God in Christ, with a special emphasis on knowledge for living well. Pastors, ministry leaders, Christian educators, and seminary students are particularly encouraged to attend.
SANTA BARBARA, CA DETAILS & REGISTRATION AT www.DallasWillardCenter.com or 805.565.6829 NOVEMBER 2012 : 13
14 : EXPRESSIONS
RECOMMENDED READING DONATE TODAY to receive Renovaré’s Advent Devotional!
> If you’ve been blessed by our ministry in some way this past year or throughout the years, we would be grateful for any gift you can give to close out 2012 and launch into our 25th year of ministry.
When you donate any amount to the ministry, we’ll send you God with Us, Renovaré’s Advent Devotional. Go to www.renovare.us today to donate and receive God with Us.
> You can order The Life of the Body at www.Renovare.us
NOVEMBER 2012 : 15
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