2014-2015 Renovaré Christian Book Club discussion

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Ordinary Saint > Week 5,Ordinary Saint

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message 1: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Quinn | 106 comments Mod
Happy February, book club friends! This week we reflect together on Chapters 8 and 9, on Service and Prayer. There is a video on Prayer by Nathan and Richard for Renovare members at the member site.

I will pose this question as we begin our week and think about these chapters. Nathan shares his experience "looking for service that doesn't bring me attention." And he laments his lack of servant-hearted role models as a young man. As you reflect on your life, have you had many servant-hearted role models? And have you personally ever been moved to serve in ways that are completely unnoticed by others and without any recognition? What kind of impact has this kind of service had on you?


message 2: by Daniel (new)

Daniel | 7 comments My father took up the greatest role of modeling servanthood to me. He served his church and other people with such passion and did so as much as he could without people knowing who had done it. He also did so many skilled things to help out that would have cost quite a bit of money in repairs, etc., and never took a dime to help people out. There were many times when things would get fixed around the church building or at someone's house and while people would know it was dad because he was the only would who could do it, often it was done when no one was around and then people suddenly noticed something got fixed that had been broken before.


message 3: by Daniel (new)

Daniel | 7 comments I do want to mention the chapter on prayer as well. I still think Richard Foster's book on prayer is the finest I've read. I will be honest and say I think Nathan's writing, while honest, is not as skilled as his father's in many areas. But this chapter on prayer may be the best chapter I've ever read on prayer. I have rejoiced in this writing and soak it in. This is a chapter that is soaring in my spirit.


message 4: by Robin (new)

Robin | 21 comments I just finished the chapter on service, and loved it! It is all marked up with my yellow hiliter. I plan to read it again, as I see myself in this chapter. I love the idea of choosing to be last as a way to practice this discipline. I am so bad at this! Especially with planes or driving.


message 5: by Anita (last edited Feb 04, 2015 03:07PM) (new)

Anita Ruffin | 5 comments I appreciated his awareness that service requires listening. Sometimes in our attempt to serve we forget to ask what is needed and jump right in to serving mode, assuming we know the need.


message 6: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Quinn | 106 comments Mod
I have been very much appreciating the "Portraits" at the end of chapters that discuss a person in history who exemplified the particular discipline in their life. It was great to hear about Jane Addams. I don't think I knew anything about her until reading this. The sentence at the end of the Portrait was especially impacting, "she didn't just give money or serve from afar but was willing to radically alter her lifestyle to make service something she was, not just something she did." Did that stay with any of you? Have you ever thought about what it would mean personally to radically alter your lifestyle to make service a part of who you are?


message 7: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne Johnson | 17 comments Yes, it did stay with me. I highlighted it and then meditated on it for awhile, asking God what this means for my life.


message 8: by Becky (new)

Becky | 19 comments I have not previously considered service as a spiritual discipline. In reflecting on Nathan's comment that he did not have servant-hearted role models for service, I realized that the role models in my family of origin seemed to serve out of obligation or tradition or in response to others' expectations. Following this example, for years I performed acts of service with these same motivations, which led me to feel resentment and eventually burnout. Through these experiences I learned that burnout helps to bring our false motives to surface and in service we must rely on Jesus for the motivation and strength. Without Christ's motivation and empowerment, acts of service zap our strength and emotional energy.

My more recent practice, perhaps a pendulum swing in response to burnout, is to say no to most requests to aid in outward acts of service. But, I realize that it is hard for me to say no without some internal guilt. Thus I found the following helpful: In the introduction Richard writes about "indirect acts of service," such as listening, being there with someone in sorrow or difficulties, offering personal/emotional support and empathy. It seems that sometimes our culture (and churches) glorify the outward acts of service--"being the hands and feet of Jesus." But, Richard reminds us and validates the indirect, less seen acts. I am reminded that Jesus exhibited compassion and an understanding of the human condition. Not all things can be fixed by human effort, but listening and empathetic companionship extend the heart of Jesus to others. Through this reflection I realize that I am practicing the discipline of service through my counseling ministry and that I need not feel guilty about saying no to other requests.


message 9: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 27 comments For some reason, I had trouble getting through the reading last week. But in response to Brenda's first question about serving role models, I must honor my deceased father. I believe he had the spiritual gift of helps. Serving was such a part of him, that I sadly took it for granted, and only have realized belatedly, sometimes with shock and disappointment, that most people are not like him, including myself. I am grateful for his love and service. I picture him arranging the chairs in heaven...not sure if we need chairs there, but...


message 10: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 27 comments On prayer, I have been reflecting on the mother's prayer for her son who had drowned in Lake St. Louis, MO. From the ER doctor's testimony: "She started praying loudly," says Dr. Sutterer.
"I don't remember what all I said," recalls John's mother, Joyce Smith. "But I remember, 'Holy God, please send your Holy Spirit to save my son. I want my son, please save him.' And they hadn't been getting a pulse at that time, so all of a sudden I heard them saying, 'We got a pulse, we got a pulse.'"

I'm not sure how I would have responded in a similar situation. I can't see myself praying loudly in an Emergency Room. In this instance, I think God wanted the people around, not just the mother, to witness the miracle. What a gracious, loving God we have. He does hear our prayers, whether or not we see the miracles on this side of heaven.


message 11: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Quinn | 106 comments Mod
I wanted to make another comment on Prayer. I so loved reading about Nathan's relationship with Bill Vaswig and hearing how Bill counseled him, laughed with him, sat with him, and loved him. I remember Bill from my earlier days attending Renovare events and even some meetings when I was doing writing for Renovare. He was just a "normal" man who was kind and caring. I say that because in seeing the side of him that Nathan shares, it's such a reminder to me that all of us "normal" people can pray and can care for others in similar ways to what Bill did, and can impact lives greatly.

One thing I especially appreciated in Bill's interactions with Nathan was the time when Nathan told him that he often saw the hurt in people's eyes when he was out in public places. He lamented that he couldn't just pray for everyone all the time. And Bill responded that in simply raising his hand to God for these people, it was enough and God "can hold it." What a comfort and a word for those of us who have a heart for the hurting ones of our world.


Bill from Florida | 50 comments Reading about and personally remembering Bill Vaswig made me wonder who the Bill Vaswig's, Dallas Willard's and Richard Foster's are today that are being raised up? Then a subtle hint came that I could be a pray-er like Bill or have the gentle wisdom of Dallas or the deep relationships like Richard. But then something true-er rose up in me reminding me that I am not them. I am uniquely who God created me to be. So even if I never get recognition or achieve results that others acclaim or notice perhaps I can just quietly rest in being who God wants me to be today. Within that I am working with a question "Who or What do I need to learn to love next?" That challenges me to be watchful, especially for those people and issues that aggravate me the most.


message 13: by Sherri (new)

Sherri S-D | 12 comments I'm happy, Becky, that you are seeing your occupation as an act of service that gives you life. In reading your post, I realized that I grew up watching my mother, very naturally, anticipating and meeting the needs of many other people through acts of service. She was especially in tune with the elderly and parents of young children. I have recognized for some time that this was a gift she had. I do not have it. I have sometimes tried to have it, and that has led to some hilarious and some totally failed events. That's why I really appreciated Richard's words that listening, holding the sorrows of another, guarding reputations and everyday acts of kindness are acts of service. God has made me naturally prone to serve in those ways. But I also appreciated Nathan's practical efforts to grow in service by denying himself in small but constant ways. As I practice some of those suggestions, I can see God increasing my awareness of others' needs. Which leads to more prayer, more thanksgiving, more worship, more submission, more confession....Thanks for sharing.


message 14: by Becky (new)

Becky | 19 comments Thank you also for your sharing, Sherri! I too have some hilarious and failed attempts at imitating my mother! I am reminded that service was her gift, not mine!


message 15: by Joel (new)

Joel Anderson (apprentice_jca) | 10 comments Lots of good discussion over the past few weeks. And thanks Brenda for the thought-provoking questions. Nice to hear fellow members sharing their experiences and thoughts.

In the past, I've been drawn to the practice of keeping acts of service hidden. I once offered to build a website for a church, pro-bono, with the condition that they would keep my role anonymous. The pastor agreed and I got started.

Well, when the website launched the pastor was very happy and announced it on Sunday. He kept his side of the deal, but he mentioned that the website was the gift of a donor who wanted to remain anonymous. All good so far, but my guess is that his comments incited people's curiosity.

Some weeks later he announced on Sunday that I was the one who had built the website. Perhaps this was an epic fail for which I was partly responsible, but we tried. As time passed, that website grew and became the best website work I've ever done.

In going forward, I would surmise that that it's better to start small with secrecy. Whether it succeeds or fails, the journey of secret service can be the most rewarding. And there is some strange dynamic in reality which immediately tries to publicize your work as soon as you try to keep it secret. Might this be evidence of God's playfulness? :-)


message 16: by Rosalind (new)

Rosalind  | 12 comments Recently I was trying to meditate and found myself in conversation with the Holy Spirit about my role at church. It went something like this...

Me: I like to push the envelope.

Holy Spirit: Nooo...

Me: Then I want to minister...

Holy Spirit: Not even that...

Me (realizing what He wants): Oh, I want to walk humbly, carrying the presence of the Holy Spirit.

So now I am left pondering what it means to walk humbly carrying His presence, and it makes me think of those quiet acts of service people have been mentioning that are more responsive than organized and recognized.


message 17: by Louise (new)

Louise | 26 comments Joel wrote: "Lots of good discussion over the past few weeks. And thanks Brenda for the thought-provoking questions. Nice to hear fellow members sharing their experiences and thoughts.

In the past, I've been d..."

Sometimes it is better that our service is made known to others. If we make our work public, two things may happen - either we get the glory, or we give inspiration to others to do similar service and God is glorified in that way. I have been inspired by the service of others who served openly but so naturally that I am encouraged to make that a part of my life as well. These are generally quiet acts of service like visiting shut-ins (who were not known to me) but when I saw that others were doing it, I realized that it was a "thing", something that is part of the way we minister to each other with God's love and care.


message 18: by Joel (new)

Joel Anderson (apprentice_jca) | 10 comments Louise wrote: "Sometimes it is better that our service is made known to others. If we make our work public, two things may happen..."

Yes, good point, Louise. Being able to catch a glimpse of the good habits of others can open us to new ways of relating and living.


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