And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV
As Believers we are called to encourage each other on the journey. Gather is a time set apart for sacred community with a focus on developing spiritual practices that help us dive deep into what Kingdom living means in the here and now.
Gather (Merriam Webster’s)
: to bring together
: to gain by gradual increase
: to bring together the parts of
: to haul in
: to come together in a body
: to cluster around a focus of attraction
: to grow or increase
: to harvest
The definition of gather found in Merriam Webster’s online dictionary brings vision to the heart of this new ministry at Sister Talk Faith. It’s been our heart’s desire to build authentic Christ-centered community. A place that brings people together with a common heart to grow closer to God and others.
For those who of you located near us we invite you to gather with us at our shop, Picture This!, on Tuesdays at noon. We plan to meet during the lunch hour and you are welcome to bring your lunch.
If you’re a blog follower and are far from us or the day and time doesn’t fit with your schedule, we encourage you to invite others to join you. Create your own sacred time to gather with others and share.
I think she would probably agree with me. Neither of us would have imagined or conceived this sisterhood we are blessed with today. I am pretty sure if she would have had a choice in friends in the beginning, I wouldn’t have made the top of the list. I’m quite certain the idea of having a business/ministry together never entered our thoughts. But here we are.
A testament to what Jesus meant when he said, For where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am with them (Matthew 18:20). The journey of spiritual growth is one God meant for us to share with others. When I look back now I can see the faithful work God has done in me through this friendship. This is my hope for Gather… to walk alongside others on the same journey.
We Gather the body of Christ and come together, focusing on The Attraction: Jesus, and growing in our love for God and others. Oh, what a harvest it will bring.
Spiritual disciplines or exercises are things we practice as we live out our desire to grow closer to God. All are acts of obedience to express our love for God.
God has given us the disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving his grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us.
—Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline
Over the years God has led us to spiritual disciplines that have greatly impacted our spiritual lives. Some were for a season, and others have become part of our daily rhythm. We’ve discovered many through the testimony of other faithful Believers, and some Holy Spirit has led us to directly.
The purpose of all the disciplines, or exercises in this sense of the word, are meant to bring about transformation in the form of spiritual formation.
Spiritual formation does not aim at controlling action. This is an absolutely crucial point, and one that distinguishes spiritual formation in Christ from what, primarily, is aimed at in most twelve-step groups. … If in spiritual formation you focus on action alone, you will fall into the deadliest of legalisms and you will kill other souls and die yourself. … God is looking for those who worship him in truth and in spirit. We cannot fake before God. We should remember that God looks on the heart, man looks on the outward appearance. To focus on action alone is to fall into pharisaism of the worst kind and to kill the soul.
–Dallas Willard, The Great Omission
It’s important to emphasize that we are not seeking behavior modification when we talk about spiritual disciplines. They are all meant to be practiced alongside Holy Spirit for Him to do the work in us. Only God makes things grow and brings about actual change in our lives, but the disciplines are like the work we do in a garden. Tilling the soil, fertilizing, weeding, creating in our hearts and souls an environment conducive for Him to bring about growth.
… God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
2Thessalonians 2:13 ESV (emphasis added)
Each month we’ll introduce a spiritual discipline that has impacted our spiritual growth in some way. We will focus our weekly Gather time on sharing how God is using it in our lives to teach, grow, and transform us.
We Gather with an understanding of how we’ll practice living and being in this community. We call them touchstones. Guidelines for our time together. As we remember these things, community grows in its genuine desire to honor God and others.
All who come are invited to the table. Bring your faults, your joys, your failures and successes. All are welcome, but never demanded, to share. The invitation is for any, young or old, who are seeking to grow in their maturity and love of God and others.
We’ll observe confidentiality as obedience to God. We’ll recognize each thought shared is a holy, sacred gift entrusted to us.
All are invited to be as fully present as possible. There will be no saving, advising, or correcting in this place. We’ll work to respond to each other with honest, open questions instead of counsel. When the going gets tough we’ll turn our thoughts to wonder
…I wonder what brought about this belief?
…I wonder how they are feeling in this moment?
…I wonder what my reaction is teaching me about myself?
We’ll set aside judgment to listen more deeply to ourselves and others.
Holy Spirit is our greatest teacher. We’ll listen with love and compassion as others share, and to our own reactions. As we seek God’s guidance in our own personal responses and reactions, we’ll experience growth and transformation.
(Touchstones adapted from A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer)
We invite you to bring a journal to take notes when we Gather. Unlike our Bible teaching sessions, there will not be an emphasis or outline of our sessions. Instead we encourage you to be attentive to what God is speaking to you during our Gather time and note these in your journal.
The most important thing to be aware of is not what the facilitator or group member is saying, but what the Spirit is speaking to you. It may come in the form of a word, thought, reaction or emotion. Take time to jot it down. This will provide valuable guidance when you leave.
Ask yourself a few of these questions when you notice a reaction in yourself.
…Why am I reacting this way?
…What does this emotion have to do with my spiritual journey?
…What is God revealing through this thought?
…Is this connected to some wound in my past?
Over the past few years my note taking has changed. I used to listen to Christian speakers and preachers taking notes on what they said and what scripture they referenced. I approached it like my college math classes. Write down as much as you can because you don’t want to miss anything important.
Over the years my academic approach to note taking has morphed into more of a journal style writing. I listen to a leader or speaker and something happens. Maybe I feel angry over what was said, or I’m reminded of a past experience. These are the things that grab my attention and turn my thoughts upward to prayer. “Lord, why am I feeling this way? What are You saying God?”
God is faithful to answer my prayerful questions. He knows exactly what I need to hear and where to lead me. He alone understands my natural bent and the best way to reveal His truth to me. It’s true! God is the best teacher!
The wonder of Holy Spirit is His power to speak to each one of us individually and personally through a single message. When Believers gather, His voice seems to amplify. It is the cumulative power of faith which opens us to what He has to say. And He can speak to everyone present at one time. Blessing them with exactly what they need to hear. All we have to do is be open to hear His message for us.
Spiritual Discipline Introduction: One Word
The One Word spiritual discipline has become something we practice each year. It is one of the simplest ideas that has impacted our spiritual lives in outstanding ways. All you do is prayerfully consider a word to focus your spiritual growth on throughout the year.
One August morning while driving to work the radio host was sharing her experience with choosing a word to focus her faith walk on throughout the year. I was intrigued, but the year was almost over and I thought, maybe next year.
As the new year approached I was reminded of the idea and have been practicing this discipline every year. I am amazed at the insight and revelation God has used each year’s word to reveal.
I have to confess, when the sister first mentioned the One Word spiritual discipline, I did not receive it with excitement. In my pragmatic self I thought: That sounds so hokey.
But I recognized the voice of pride and prayed: Lord, if you have a word for me I’ll take it. It was only within a few minutes of this silent prayer a word came to mind. Within the course of the next few minutes, it was confirmed. Within the next week, He’d taught me some powerful lessons which grew me closer to Him.
I say this to let you know not every spiritual discipline we share with you will sound like something you want to do. It may stretch you out of your comfort zone or, like me, cause you to take a humble step of faith and lay down your pride.
The point is, if you faithfully step out in faith with a heart willing to draw closer to Him, He will be faithful to respond. He is gracious to us even when we enter into a spiritual exercise with a bad attitude and little to no grace on our part.
God’s word is creative: Genesis 1:6-28
God’s word reveals Christ in us and the world: John 1:1-2, 14
God’s word is active: Hebrews 4:12
God’s word accomplishes His word: Isaiah 55:9-11
Ideas for discovering a word:
Ask God. Seriously, ask God what word He has chosen for you, and anticipate an answer. Become attentive to any word that sticks out in some way this week. Maybe you’ve seen or heard the word over and over again in your daily life.
Listen. Be intentional about the words surrounding your life this week. It might be revealed in poetry, art, song, or during a conversation. Listen with your eyes too. It may be something you read on a sign, in a book, or in a magazine.
Seek His Word. Take a look at your Bible’s concordance or simply open your Bible up and start reading. Is there something that grabs your attention?
Consider your emotions or reactions. Is there a word stirring you to react or feel a certain way?
Spiritual formation is personal. Everyone will have a different experience with God in the process.
When we genuinely believe that inner transformation is God’s work and not ours, we can put to rest our passion to set others straight.
–Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline
Remembering our growth is all about loving God more and in turn loving others more should help us be open to one another without judgment.
We’re excited to begin the new year joining others as we travel the road of spiritual formation. Each week you’ll find our gather session posted on Tuesdays with additional posts focusing on the month’s spiritual discipline.
Many blessings as you begin the journey of One Word.