The following is from Rich Villodas, our associate lead pastor at New Life. Rich, along with Geri and two other staff, spent 5 days together at a spiritual formation academy last week. His reflections provide a unique perspective (that of an outstanding, 34 year old leader/pastor) on the application of EHS to a large growing church. Last week, Geri Scazzero, Phil Varghese and Rosy Kandathil and I, completed a 5-day intensive spiritual formation retreat. The retreat was put together by the Academy for Spiritual Formation. The retreat was in Wichita, Kansas (my first time in KS). I wanted to capture some highlights and reflections as a way to remind myself of the deep work that God did in me this week, as well as to share some learnings/highlights to our New Life community. So, here are my top 10 highlights from this past week: 1) The Faculty: Marjorie Thompson and Robert Mulholland know Jesus. I mean, really know Jesus. They have. Read more.
I received a letter recently that I wrote to myself after a 3 day retreat over seven months ago. It reminded me again that I am the most difficult person for me to lead! The following are a few rich nuggets of gold from this short letter: 1. Remember what you are all about. (In my case, it was to take 30-50% of my time to write). 2. Guard your spirit from trifles, fast from overconsuming, and forget what others think. (See “The Woodcarver” story). 3. Feel your own weight and density. There is no need to wear other people’s faces (See the poem, “Now I Become Myself”). 4. Go to the fields and be lovely. Come back when you are through with blooming. (See the poem entitled, “Camas Lillies). 5. Stay the course and be kind to yourself. For a free sermon I preached on what it means to live a life where. Read more.
Last Monday I arrived at the St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer Massachusetts for my annual weekly retreat with the 70+ monks living there. It was probably my most significant retreat of the last seven years. The following journal entries from my first day (that is until vigils at 3:30 am Tuesday morning) will give you a glimpse into my time: “The goal of this retreat is to keep company with You Lord, to be with You detached from all else, to get rid of all baggage and be cleansed of the world, and, most importantly, to listen. I am holding the following questions Lord”: How do I expand and strengthen the boundaries of my inner hermitage in order to live in deeper communion with You? What new direction and strategies do You have for me? How do I expand and strengthen my inner hermitage that Geri and might live more fully in an exceptional. Read more.
This weekend Geri and I are leading a retreat for 16 couples in NJ. It is the fruit of over 12 years of thinking about a theology of sexuality, marriage and spirituality. We limited the retreat purposefully and spent an inordinate amount of time creating a one and a half day experience in Scripture, small groups, time alone with God and emotionally healthy skills. It will be the first of 2 parts that we hope to make more permanent a part of NLF culture for all marrieds. It was a challenge for me to clear my life the last two weeks in preparation. I find myself easily pulled into larger, more “grandiose ministry”. God used her groundedness and this weekend to pull me down to earth (humus-humility) about what is really important. That is integrity in our spiritual lives and vocations — whether we are single or married. Paul makes clear that if we are skimming on. Read more.
This was my fifth retreat with the 70+ monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Massachusetts. Maybe since it was the end of my 6 weeks away from the responsibility of leading New Life, but I entered into a deep calm, silence and rhythm with their life almost immediately. One of the highlights of the weekend was a conversation with Father Kizito Kwame, a West Indian who has been with them for 49 years. He joined at the age of 17 when the monastery was at its height (1958-1960) of 200 monks. He recently returned from 10 years of serving among the 25 Trappist monasteries in Africa. A part of me so longed to remain on the mountaintop with God and not leave return to checkbooks, house, problems, needs, noise and traffic of NYC, that I complained to him for a while, shared with him this inner compulsion I often feel to be a monk, etc.. Read more.