Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pastors Meetings/Pigeon Forge

Every year in mid-January, our pastors convene for our winter meeting in Pigeon Forge. This is one of my favorite appointments in my yearly calendar as it affords an opportunity for some personal time with pastors and spouses and the content of the meetings focuses on issues that are very relevant and important in ministry. This year's theme was devoted to the pastor's spiritual life. Topics presented by our pastors included journaling, personal prayer, Bible study and devotions, and an interesting presentation by Pastor Jan McKenzie on the topic of 'spiritual formation' which in my view, was summarized in this way: if we get past the terms that concern some, as well as some practices that are not in keeping with sound Biblical theology, there is much to commend attention to the practices of prayer and biblical meditation. While never using the term 'spiritual formation' which is possibly a phrase she was not familiar with, Ellen White frequently wrote of thoughtful reflection including this oft-quoted statement: "It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones." DA pg 83. Sanctified imagination engaging the presence of God and His word. Good counsel from God's servant!

At the pastor's meetings, I was given the opportunity to present a topic of interest to me personally, and that is personal spiritual retreats, an experience that has a solid foundation exampled in the life of Christ who often withdrew to a solitary place for prayer and communion with His Father. Quiet settings in nature are great for such an experience.

The pictures above are of an afternoon walk that a few of us made to the falls just above Sugarlands Visitor Center. There was a heavy mist/light rain for much of the walk but the fellowship was enjoyable, the exercise appreciated, and the Smokies seem to have a wonderful beauty regardless of season or weather conditions.

Following this meeting I winged my way to Florida for the North American Division Prayer Conference and was blessed to be in the setting of church members and those who serve in prayer ministries who have an obvious passionate interest in seeing prayer as more than a small part of our religious experience and practice, but the life-blood - the heart beat - of our faith. There are some great books on prayer and if you're near Nashville, stop in at our Nourish Christian Book store next to the Conference Office and take a look at some of the resources for deepening your personal prayer life.

Peace and Grace in Him,

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