Module Eight: Justice and the Inner Life

OVC Essentials Spring 2020 Module Eight: Justice and the Inner Life

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    • #64594
      Leah St. Pierre
      CAFO Staff

      Summarize and discuss (from the content this week) the importance of care for the whole person, how it relates to caring for vulnerable children, and your personal experience with that connection. What new or reinforced commitments do you take away from this week? What spiritual, physical, or social-emotional practices or habits would have the greatest impact on your life, family, and ministry?

    • #64767
      Connie Becker
      Participant

      Remember to treat our vulnerable children how we would want our personal children treated if we were in the same situation! See them as individuals who need the love of a family.
      To work more intentional in making this happen in our works.

    • #65946
      Olivia Milliner
      Participant

      During these uncertain times, this focus on self-care and inner health has revealed itself to be even more important. I was really impressed by the commitment IJM has made to facilitating spiritual health for the leaders in the organization, as well as all the employees. The example of Mother Theresa really resonated with me too. During this time of social distancing and quarantine, it was a great reminder that God is STILL working, even if we are not. Going forward, I would like to make the commitment to build quiet time with God into my daily routine! It is something I have always wanted to do, but struggle to make the time commitment. During this time, I would like to spend time in the Bible, as well as practice silent time (which does not come naturally). Especially now, I want to focus on integrating gratefulness into my prayer time and reflection time. God is still working good throughout the world, and I want to improve my inner life by focusing on His good works and giving Him praise.

    • #65990
      Marsha Baker
      Participant

      Wow! I had no idea how bad I needed this Godly refocusing right now.  It was so good for my heart be reminded self care and connection with God are ok and an absolute priority.  For me its been a slow-fade, especially the past few weeks with the virus and I know this was a timely small whisper from God. Everything we do in caring for these kids comes from our hearts and they must be healthy and connected to the God, the Father, of all these kids! I have set my alarm to specific time to stop no matter what each day and be quiet with the Lord and our BTCM team has committed to praying together twice a week.  I know these things will be transformational for us, the kids, and God’s work.  Grateful for this class and topic!

      • #66191
        Emily Tiner
        Participant

        Love your idea for a timer, Marsha! I’m definitely going to start doing that. I have heard that idea before but never implemented it. But I think it would be so healthy and really help refocus throughout the day. You’re heart for Jesus is so amazing :).

    • #65991
      Mindy Russell
      Participant

      This is such a unique time in history. For many, ministry, work, and home life are awkwardly meshed together like never before. But no matter how our days and calendars are filled, we are called to abide in the true vine. Our connection to Christ will affect every other connection in our lives whether in the next room or across the world by screen. In this season of life I have three littles under age 11. My husband is a media/worship arts pastor and my ministry is in the non-profit world. Work doesn’t stop just because we aren’t in our offices. I am thankful for the reminder to keep my self connected to Christ so that I can be useful to and patient with my little tribe. Prayers for all of you as you work through this in your own jobs and lives.

      • #65993
        Olivia Milliner
        Participant

        I agree with you Mindy! I’ve been finding it hard to focus with all these aspects of life combined 24/7. I think this week’s content was important to give us perspective that no matter what is happening in the world around us, our spiritual health and our work for the kingdom doesn’t fade. It’s more important than ever! People in ministry like you and your husband are so important to keep sharing hope to an anxious world. Prayers to you and your family!

    • #66023
      Pam Taylor
      Participant

      Out of all of the content we have encountered so far, this week was one that impacted me deeply on a personal level. As a ministry leader for many years, I know very well how it feels to be on the brink of true burnout. The content this week was a much-needed reminder for me personally about the critical need for self-care. I speak to others about self-care frequently but often feel like a hypocrite since I often overlook this for myself. Jedd’s reminder about the sabbath rest was so powerful and is a practice I plan to begin for my family. In addition, the concept of taking time in solitude is something I would also like to begin. I truly appreciated Jedd’s heartfelt vulnerability as he explained the need for these practices in his own life. Thank you for including this content in this course.

      • #66299
        Katrina Brown
        Participant

        Pam, I totally agree with you. This module content has been by far the most impactful for me and a true whisper from God. I am used to taking lots of introvert time, rarely intentional solitude- this module reminded me of my need for intentionality. I also appreciated Jedd’s leading in these practices in his life.

    • #66024
      Holly Freitas
      Participant

      It hit me during this week’s material that we will probably miss this time of quiet after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. To be honest, it took probably the first 2 weeks to settle in to a rhythm and 4 weeks until I am enjoying the “down” time. Don’t get me wrong, I am working. A lot. But, I’m not in nearly the same hurry and I finally feel like I have time to read and ponder. This time may be just what we need to find new “space” in our lives for prayer, solitude, and the giving over of ourselves to God that is required to sustain us in this work and over the long haul.

      • #66167
        Margaret Hoffer
        Participant

        Holly,

        I agree that for many of us, this has forced us into more quiet time and times with the Lord.  My family was just discussing how we want to integrate many of the disciplines we have been “forced” to adopt during this time into our regular lives.

      • #66187
        Ana María Sanchez
        Participant

        That´s amazing Margaret! I have had the same conversation with my family. Personally not everybody in my family has a close relationship with God and this quarantine has allowed us to study His word, to come closer to Him and to come closer as a family, as believers. It´s amazing to see how God is working in our families. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • #66028
      Debbie Douce
      Participant

      I have often said to myself and our team, “You cannot give what you do not have.” I had no idea that this is a statement from Mother Theresa who I’m guessing experienced much pain and compassion fatigue on the journey to stating this truth. In my journey I have  been burnt out , more than once. But God in His mercy has continued to love me, to teach me and transform me, and to remind me what is my job and what is His. Whenever I try to do His job, such as thinking it is my responsibility to make all things well, I am in trouble. I agree that there is great danger to ourselves and to others when we try to pour out of an empty well.

      Walking in the rhythms God intends for us is HIS GIFT. I love that! He delights for us to drink from His Spring, and to give out of that Spring which is abundant and life-giving, a well that will not run dry. Jesus said to the Samaritan women, If you only knew the gift God has for you…you would ask me.” In Luke 11:13 Jesus exhorts, “How much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” The “how much more” is so hopeful!

      That said, I am still learning to walk in God’s rhythms! I resonate with this week’s material, that this is a continual decision. I am learning to identify those signals that tell me I need to  stop and pay attention to my own emotional, spiritual and physical health. This is not only important for me personally and to the vulnerable I have the privilege of loving, it is important to role model this to my team and even to my own adult children. I deeply regret that we didn’t intentionally welcome in God’s gift of the sabbath weekly with our kids.  “When you know better, you do better.” So, I know better now. It is never too late to put into practice what God is teaching me and gently encouraging me to do. I want to STOP, welcome in the gift of the Sabbath, enjoy His REST. Disconnect from what is wearying me, and connect with what is life-giving.

       

       

      • #66037
        Connie Becker
        Participant

        I so agree Debbie. I know this principle but I still get caught up in the business of life. Doing as I’m praying, which is good. I need to focus more on the daily rhythms of solitude, silence and just being still so I can rest and hear better from the Lord. I also love that looking at rest and solitude with the Lord is a Gift not a daily ritual!

      • #66179
        Amber Allan
        Participant

        Debbie!

        You wrote so many impressionable things in there and I wish I could respond to each one individually but that would make this post veryyy long. Thank you for quoting the story of the Samaritan woman and the verse from Luke. It is so easy to get caught up in the rush of it all that we forget we too are God’s children and he desires to give us good things if only we would stop, recognize, and ask. Your connections to those two pieces of scripture helped drive home exactly what God was speaking to me this week. Thank you for that!

      • #66182
        Debbie Douce
        Participant

        Thanks so much, Amber. Your words encouraged me today. Blessings from Quito!

    • #66036
      Connie Becker
      Participant

      I Have read many books on prayer which covers this in great deal, sad how easy we get caught up in life even knowing the truth of this! I was blessed this week after going through the classes I received a call from someone who needed this beautiful nugget of truth. I love how God uses what He is speaking to you about to also help someone else!

      I loved the example of sequoia trees. I love trees and have been blessed to go and see these beautiful giants! They are so tall but to learn how they start from a small seed and there roots go so much deeper and spread out 100 miles. That struggle to battle through the ground searching for the nutrients they need and spread out to give it the stability to hold up the tree. God is so good at giving us examples, a picture to keep in our mind of the righteous are like a tree whose roots spread out by the waters. Jeremiah 17:8 Also how they can weather the struggles of the forest and how we can too when we are deeply rooted in our Father.

      Isaiah 43:7 We are created for God’s glory! Only way to do that is spending time and being filled with Him and I love that the product of that will be loving people more and helping the vulnerable. Love what Jedd said, the world needs to see the joy, peace and purpose Christ gives us, needs to see people living that out.

      I recognize it in me when I am getting stressed and can’t get things worked out or people don’t seemed to understand what I’m trying to do. That is a trigger for me to step back and recognize I’m trying to do it on my on. One of the quotes was Silence is a place where wait on God in the midst of the great unfixables of our lives. I’m a fixer but I’m learning to let God either fix it or direct me in how He wants it fixed.
      Great classes this week!

    • #66123
      Trent Taylor
      Participant

      For someone who plans on dedicating their future to helping vulnerable children through ministry, this week’s module was crucial. I will definitely utilize these strategies as I continue to help vulnerable children. I believe resting on Sabbath is very important because this gives us the time to relax, recharge, and focus on God, family and oneself. I also think that solitude is beneficial for many people. I think taking time to rest is so important because if we do not take the time to care for ourselves and pour all we have into others, we will not be as efficient. If we want to make a significant impact in the lives of vulnerable children, we need to make sure we take care of ourselves.

      • #66164
        Ryne Isaac
        Participant

        I think it’s necessary for all ministry, but even more so working with vulnerable children. I thought being a part of a church plant was the hardest thing I had ever done….then I fostered and adopted! It’s a whole new challenge and without inviting God in through regular daily, weekly and yearly rhythms I don’t know how you could do it.

    • #66163
      Ryne Isaac
      Participant

      I really enjoyed this week because it has been personal journey that I’ve been on over the past few years. I had people close to me make decisions what disqualified them from ministry for at least a short time. I began to evaluate what systems I had in place to finish well.

      Sabbath has been a huge practice for our family. Actually, I’m getting this done right now so that we can move into sabbath in about an hour! I’ve also been adding monthly days of silence and solitude. Thankfully my schedule allows for me to be able to do that on Fridays when my wife and children are at work and school.

      I’ve just begun reading Ruth Haley Barton and I look forward to diving into more of her work.

      • #66193
        Mindy Russell
        Participant

        Ryne,

        My husband and I have seen these same things from some of our brothers and sisters in vocational ministry. The disciplines of sabbath and solitude are the life blood to ministry. We have seen how burn out, moral failures, and doubt are able to grow and thrive when the connection to Christ suffers due to the busy work of ministry. Wise words. Thank you.

    • #66166
      Margaret Hoffer
      Participant

      I loved the topics of class this week.  I am so guilty of often overworking and becoming more focused on what God is using me for and less focused on God, who is actually doing the work. I loved the topics of spiritual disciplines and especially the call to solitude and silence daily.  These are things that I inconsistantly implement and need to do regularly.  I also loved the idea of a Sabbath, both for me and for my children.  I have seen many people working in ministry burn out and I think this week is critically important to be able to serve well.

      • #66178
        Heather Hall
        Participant

        Margaret–I too struggle with being more focused on what God is using me for than I am focused on him.  In addition, I can often be more concerned with what God is working on in me and afraid I’m not doing enough that I get too focused on my “report card” than I am on basking in his love for me, which is ultimately what will transform me.

    • #66177
      Heather Hall
      Participant

      I really enjoyed the content for this week’s topic, as I always find it refreshing to receive permission to not always be productive/efficient—that is not even the goal.  Essentially, the take-home message is that in order to have any sort of longevity in working with vulnerable populations, you have to live and work out of the overflow.  Even more importantly, the overflow is what transforms you into the person that God wants you to be, not just to accomplish something for him, but in order for you to have the abundant life that he designed you for (as promised in John 10:10).  As Ruth said, the best thing you can do for others is to bring them your transformed self.

      As for my personal experience with this connection, this is definitely something that I have to be very mindful of, intentional with, and disciplined in.  I am naturally a “doer” and grew up in a “doer” household.  When I first started working at a health department, I worked through most of my lunches and stayed after work for an hour or more.  Over time, I finally started to realize that in order to stay energized and fresh for my work, I had to create some boundaries for myself and be okay with things getting done later.

      For me, the practice that I need to reinforce is solitude, especially in the outdoors.  I am someone who very much loves the outdoors, but I often minimize the effect the outdoors has on me because I often even have something that I am trying to accomplish when I am there (i.e., a jog, reaching a certain viewpoint, etc.).  I think that this is one of the practices that would have the greatest effect on me because it would help to clear away the chatter (my own included), and I think it would ultimately allow the other practices to be even more effective because my mind/heart would be in a better place to receive from them.

      • #66183
        Debbie Douce
        Participant

        Dear Heather,

        Great insight and self-reflection! The body of Christ definitely needs many “doers” who are willing to step in, work hard and get the task done. It sounds like you have also learned through experience the importance of setting personal limits and even being okay with not finishing that list. Something that has helped me to keep in perspective this tension is to remember that my worth is not in what I do, but in who I am. First and foremost, your value is because you are God’s girl. And because you are HIS, He delights in spending time with you, and there is no other goal but that one. Being with you.

         

    • #66180
      Marsha Baker
      Participant

      Pam- I hear you and truly feel like this content was perfect timing to remind me of the important things to not get back to a place of burnout.  Prayers for you as well!

    • #66184
      Ana María Sanchez
      Participant

      John Nix, Co-Pastor of The Orchard Church, told me once: your ministry is going to be as strong as your time with God. Even though I believe it with all my heart, whenever I m under stress I have noticed how it´s easier for my brain to just get things done through a to-do list instead of looking for God to pour over me, and I have found my self doing things for God without God more than once, both on my personal life and on my ministry.
      The content of this week brought me back to the core of our life as Christians. Despite the fact that I have spiritual habits and routines, I realize there´s so much to work on yet. And even though it sounds like a lot, the trued is that it’s not. When I think about adding solitude and a sabbath to my life with Jesus, I feel refreshed already. I just wanna coddle under the presence of my Saviour, and that´s what I believe makes all the difference. It’s crazy how much I enjoy being with God and still how much I forget it when I´m under stress. At the same time, I think I have never dedicated an entire week to reflect on that like now so I have hope, I believe next time I won’t skip it that easily. The content of this week really help me to take some important decisions and gave me a lot to think about.

      • #66186
        Amber Allan
        Participant

        Wait, John Nix was the one that told you that!?!? Also, beautifully written, Ani!

      • #66188
        Ana María Sanchez
        Participant

        Thank you Amber! You´re so kind, your ministry partner is so lucky to work with you.

      • #66190
        Emily Tiner
        Participant

        wow, so beautifully put Ana!  I love this and agree so much. It’s funny to me that when we get overwhelmed or stressed, we start getting away from time with the one that takes that overwhelm and stress away thinking that we don’t have time or we’ll get behind. He is such a great place of rest :). I’m excited and encouraged for you! Yay Jesus.

    • #66185
      Amber Allan
      Participant

      This week’s reading was so rich for it wasn’t so much facts or studies to take note of but it required great reflection and contemplation. I found myself most impacted by Jedd’s article for Christianity Today and Gary Haugen’s interview.

      At the end of Jedd’s article he writes, “We must not underestimate the stakes. Worse than quitting is persisting in giving without love. We may continue to serve, but with passionless eyes and cold touch.” This one quote is what impacted me the most and what I imagine I will carry with me for years to come. We don’t draw near to Jesus because of all the things he does or can do for us. We draw near to him because of the one thing he did out of his immense love for us. It’s the same thing in relationships. My greatest memories of my parent’s aren’t filled with things they did for me. What I remember is the way my mom greeted me with a smile and a hug that felt like warmth in the middle of winter. That is what I want to be for a child or a friend, not just someone that came and filled a need, but someone that through genuine love will lead them to the one who can truly love and save them for all of eternity.

      It’s not easy to stay connected to Christ in a world that tells you to keep moving, but Gary Haugen’s interview helped explain why it’s so important and how it can be done. Being more intentional with prayer times on a personal level is the first place I’ll start. I’ll do things like setting alarms to draw me back to God at times throughout the day where I usually fall away. As for ministry, I have already started to insist on stopping to pray during meetings when making decisions rather than hoping more discussion will lead to a self proclaimed conclusion. At the end of the day I think it just comes down to recognizing the power of the prayer and valuing the incredible access we have to the creator of the universe.

      • #66337
        Philip Douce
        Participant

        Amber, thanks for your post. I also resonated with what Jedd  wrote: “We must not underestimate the stakes. Worse than quitting is persisting in giving without love. We may continue to serve, but with passionless eyes and cold touch.” I have written in my journal of special quotes : “Worse than quitting is persisting in giving without love”. Yup, I have done that… giving without love because it had to get done… you know for the big picture. I loved what you what you said you wanted to be for a child…me too! good post Amber!

        “That is what I want to be for a child or a friend, not just someone that came and filled a need, but someone that through genuine love will lead them to the one who can truly love and save them for all of eternity.”

    • #66189
      Emily Tiner
      Participant

      This week’s content was so good for my heart and such good reminders of what matters most as I continue to get fired up and more passionate about the gift of ministry God’s put in front of me. My husband and I have been reflecting over the time when we were youth pastors as I’ve been reading through this content and what I’ve learned this week has rung so true during the time we were youth pastors for two different churches at one time. As we reflect, the times when we felt the most stressed or when we weren’t seeing as much fruit in what we were doing, was when we were focused more on ‘the program’ and what needed to be done, on creating events or keeping with a schedule, or even ‘good things’ like having a message ready to share. We ended up getting burned out big time after about 5 years. Yet, the most fruitful and impactful times we had with the kids and the times when we felt as if our relationships with the kids were really thriving and we were seeing them get excited about Jesus and healing from the trauma they were experiencing at home, wasn’t when we had great programs or great sermons, but when we were prioritizing just enjoying Jesus and getting quiet with Him even if that meant not having as much other stuff ‘put together’ but relationship was prioritized. (both individually as well as when we would meet for group and take time during the 2 hours we were together to just sit in solitude and listen to Holy Spirit and then get together and talk about it).

      The most impactful thing I read from this week’s content was, “Here we see the ultimate gift of solitude. Beside it, all other gifts pale: a growing nearness to God Himself. He is the first and the final good. And to know Him, not merely theories about Him, is the one true wellspring from which every aspect of apprenticeship flows. Our choices to be fully present, attentive, incarnation, authentic, concrete…all spring from what we come to know of God’s heart toward us.”

      It’s nearness to us He wants. It’s US He wants. Our hearts and our friendship. Closeness and really knowing and understanding His heart towards us. He’s so relational and is the best friend, the best Father, and the best counselor. And the more we spend time with Him, the more that naturally will emulate and flow out of an abundance of who we are in Him and there won’t have to be striving and stress (because it’s HIM doing the beautiful work and not on my own strength). What Jesus has invited us into is so beautiful and weightless and lifegiving. So to answer the question, I think just taking more time to sit and listen and just be with Jesus is my biggest takeaway and reminder and something I want to implement more of in my life especially as I am again in a season where I’m working with a ministry that is heavily involved with the lives of vulnerable children.

    • #66211
      Holly Freitas
      Participant

      Emily, this is a beautiful post!

      I’ve copied your last paragraph because I need to read it. Again and again. It is us HE wants. Not our stuff, not our fabulous ideas about how to fix the world, not our discontent or exhaustive pace to make things better. He wants US and He wants us to know HIM, in ways we never can when we are spinning our wheels for Him (like He really needs us me to do anything for Him), so that what flows out of our heart and souls is more like Him. And the gift He gives is Sabbath and solitude with Him. What remarkable and amazing grace.

      • #66397
        Mandy Haffer de Ramírez
        Participant

        Couldn’t agree more! Thank you for your reflection, Holly, I need the words Emily shared each and every day, too. Appreciate you ladies’ hearts and thoughts!

    • #66298
      Katrina Brown
      Participant

      This is such a strange and beautiful time in this season and I more than ever believe spiritual practices are important to sustain us during this uncertain time. I recently left my job at a non-profit due to burnout. My job was emotionally very difficult and at the time I think I believed that if I could just push through the week and rest a lot on the weekends, then it would sustain me enough. Yet, I wasn’t truly resting on the weekends, and I wasn’t caring for my soul at all. I love the quote used this week, “you cannot give what you do not have.” I now know these to be words of wisdom and to ring true for me.

      After reading through all the content from this module and hearing Jedd speak, I immediately implemented intentional rest into my life and restructured the way I engage with rest. My husband and I began having a weekly sabbath (unplugged) and it was the first time I can remember in a long time feeling truly rested. Our day was purposely not scheduled and we took several long walks talking about spirituality among other things. There was a space for listening and just being in God’s presence without needing to fill the time or space. I believe this sabbath time set aside is imperative to my life, marriage, and outpour. When you have experienced burnout and then true rest, there is a stark difference between the two- I feel like now that I understand the deep need to rest in Jesus, I can’t let that go. I feel like I have so much more capacity to pour out because of that intentionally of solitude I am taking. Now I feel like apprehensive of the future fearing it would bring more burnout and instead very excited for what God will bring into my life as I have the capacity to engage in it.

    • #66336
      Philip Douce
      Participant

      Real truth never changes. This module has reminded me of the truth I live in and out of, the importance of nourishing and caring for the inner person. I have come to realize that I do better when life is more consistent, I can establish healthy rhythms. However, when things change… so do my rhythms and they seem to go out the window and it take me time to establish again. Lately my life has so much change and inconsistency it is hard to establish any rhythms of healthy inner care. I do know and believe the importance for the health of the whole person. Not only as we continue to work with vulnerable populations but for life in general. This module has given me again motivation and tools to move forward in not neglecting all parts of me, especially my relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

       

    • #66396
      Mandy Haffer de Ramírez
      Participant

      Thinking all I “needed” to learn about in this course was working with vulnerable children, I was quite surprised when the content of this week convicted me like a strong punch in the gut.

      First, the concept of <b>prayer-less striving</b>. Ouch. Between taking this course and another course simultaneously, working, parenting, and now helping our daughter with her schooling from home for more than two months, many days of quarantine my focus has become getting things done and checking things off the list. I have found myself worn thin, including and especially with our foster daughter. And why wouldn’t I be? Like this week reminded us, “We cannot give what we do not have.”

      A quote that stood out was, “We’ve grown numb, weary, and as uninspiring to others as we are uninspired.” This describes much of how I felt just last week. How can I see renewal in others if I am not first seeing it in myself?

      Second, the concepts of solitude and Sabbath. In one of the pieces we read this week, it said, “Solitude is not isolation.” This is helpful to think about. Right now, we find ourselves interacting essentially with no one, yet isolation is something that has been forced upon us and chosen by others, whereas solitude is something that we choose to be both emptied and filled. Finding daily and yearly solitude or even observing the Sabbath have been severely on the back-burner in my life for longer than I care to admit. 

      More than anything, this week has lead me to hard thinking and intentional conversation with my husband, both about how to implement solitude and Sabbath for us personally, as well as how to incorporate a concept like that of the 30 minutes of solitude done by IJM in a leadership role we will potentially be pursuing in the next 6-9 months.

      • #66407
        Carlos Ramirez
        Participant

        Wow thank you for sharing Mandy Ramirez, I agree with you sometimes  “We cannot give what we do not have.” We just feel like sometimes want to help everyone but we can’t but if we change one life we know that we are doing a change in the life of that child.

    • #66406
      Carlos Ramirez
      Participant

      I have learned a lot in this course one of the things that stood out to me is that we need to treat vulnerable children like we would our personal children to be treated, We all are children of God so we need to love each other like the way He love us.

      In this time of quarantine I have learn from our foster daughter she teach me every day with her past with all she has going trough, I have learned that we all are children of God that it doesn’t matter what she did in the past that for God’s eyes she is perfect and that we need to give her our love like the way Jesus love us so she can remember every day that she has a purpose in this world.

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