Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Worship Seminar, Foster, Chapter 3 - Prayer - Preparing for Thursday, April 2

Chapter 3, Prayer
We're slightly moving away from our syllabus listing for Thursday, April 2.  For this session, closely and carefully read only the Foster, chapter 3 - Prayer.  This is a very significant reading.  Again, give it a close and careful read.  Then, journal the following:

The Discipline of Prayer - Chapter 3
1.  Review the references early in the chapter to those who "viewed prayer as the main business of their lives" - Martin Luther, John Wesley, David Brainerd, Adoniram Judson, John Hyde, and others. Find brief biographical information on one of these individuals. Insert this information in your journal with Foster's statement about that individual's prayer life.

2.  From this chapter create 3 fill-in-the-blank statements which we'll use as questions later. Here are some examples on how to make it look. Do include the page number and locaton:
A.  We are working with God to determine the future. (page 35, last paragraph)
B.  The beginning point in learning to pray for others is to listen for guidance. (page 39, middle)

3.  And,  . . . from our brief solitude exercise during Tuesday's class, journal your experience and what matters were brought to your mind as you were quiet before God.  How did this exercise go for you?  What "activity" did you do?  Be honest . . . How did you use your phone?  Any other thoughts/insights?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Worship Seminar - Chapter 7 - Solitude, Preparing for Tuesday, March 31

AS A FOLLOW-UP to our last session:
In the early portions of the the "Submission" chapter, especially pages 110-111, Foster comments (several times) that each discipline has its corresponding freedom.  A portion of our final exam is to create a chart that lists all the disciplines and indicates the liberation or corresponding freedom that the discipline produces in us.  Therefore, let's use this opportunity to begin a file in your computer that looks something like the table of contents page.  Next, go back to our previous Foster chapters (*** below - Simplicity, Submission, Service - to begin filling in the corresponding freedoms.  In addition, list a corresponding Scripture from the chapter that relates to the freedom.

The Disciplines - Corresponding Freedom - Corresponding Scripture

Solitude - reading for this session . . . you'll discover several possibilities in the writing.
***Submission - the burden of always needing to get our own way (and, add Scripture)


As we continue, keep going back to complete this chart, listing the "freedom" for each discipline!

Foster:  The Discipline of Solitude - Chapter 7 
Miller:  Chapters 14  . . . 
bring both these books to class on Tuesday!

As we move deeper into the Disciplines, the simplicity of just reading the chapter becomes paramount to understanding the deeper implications of the freedom.  Therefore, read Foster, chapter 7, first in its entirety, then move directly to Miller.  After your full impressions are set from reading, then begin your journaling:

1.  Foster distinguishes a meaning of solitude when he says, "Solitude is inner fulfillment. Loneliness is inner emptiness." Continue and expand on this by offering a detailed "compare/contrast" between the two writers.  What is Miller's approach?  What is Foster's approach?  How do they agree?  How are they different?

2.  Practicing Solitude:  An Exercise:
Page 105 is the section "Steps into Solitude" . . . a number of exercises are given, for example: "take advantage of the 'little solitudes' that fill our day."  Choose an exercise, then "practice" it.  Journal about your experience.  (AND, if you prefer to "create your own solitude exercise" . . . Go for it!  Then, share about your exercise session.)

3. Have you experienced a "dark night of the soul" as described by Foster? How did this affect you? What did you learn?
(If this question applies to you, I invite you to share this in your journal.  Writing about it will be a way toward healing and a way to process your own thoughts.  What you journal will remain in confidence.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Worship Seminar - beginning Foster & Miller - Read this post first!

Our next gathering is Thursday, March 26.  Even with that amazingly awesome introduction I gave you to the process we'll be following, start fresh here and carefully follow along!  This will remain the top post until we meet on the 26th.  There will be three additional posts below this one, resulting in a total of 4 new journals to work through as we prepare for our next gathering.

Our semester has developed in such a way so we can focus on each discipline individually. This will result in a much fuller and richer experience for us to experence each spiritual discipline.  Dive into this process with intent.  Immerse yourself in the exercise of each discipline.

Re-introducing the process:

Coming to us "in the second half" of our semester is the Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, indeed, a classic.  Foster challenges our approach to Christian disciplines in a way that helps us define worship as "way of life."  Beside Foster, we place readings from Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, which offers us a very honest and refreshingly human view of many of these same disciplines.

For this session, the reading is:
1.  Foster, Chapter 11, Worship
2.  Miller, Chapter 17, Worship

Journal and Discussion:
1.  Our approach to journaling Foster takes an interesting turn - most chapters will include exercise(s) related to that discipline to assist you in stretching your spiritual muscles around the particular disciplines.  For this chapter, choose one idea from the "Steps into Worship" (page 170 in most editions) that you think would be especially helpful for your practice of worship.  Try that idea and afterward write down whether and how it affected your worship experience.
2.  Compare (and contrast) Foster (chapter 11) and Miller (chapter 17).  What, if any, is the common ground?  What do you come away with from each author?

Soli Deo Gloria,
Gerald Chafin

Foster: Chapter 6 - Simplicity

As we continue working as an "online class" for a few sessions, this is the second of four posts that will help us be on schedule with the syllabus by the time we meet next on March 26.  Here are a few recommendations to assist you:
1.  Use the actual class meeting time as an opportunity to immerse into a single discipline.
2.  Don't schedule a marathon session to do all these at once.  Take each discipline by itself so that you can fully experience the "exercise" (i.e. the "weight lifting") that goes with it.  
3.  Remember that you will find several of the exercises strange, maybe even somewhat odd to you.  That's normal and even part of the process of growing deeper . . . and, part of the interesting discussion we'll be having when we get back together!
4.  The best experience for fully appreciating the discipline is to simply read the chapter first without any concern regarding what you will journal.  Take in the discipline itself.  Underline, highlight, put your thoughts in the margin.

We now move to encounter our first full section:  OUTWARD DISCIPLINES.  
This reading is Chapter 6:  Simplicity, page 79 in most editions. 

Journaling for The Discipline of Simplicity

What kinds of obstacles to simplicity are you most likely to encounter in your daily routines or way of life?

Foster discusses 3 inner attitudes of simplicity (page 88) and 10 controlling principles for the outward expression of simplicity. List these, then comment on which of these resonate most with you?

PRACTICE of SIMPLICITY: Set aside a "separating the wheat from the chaff" session. Pray for guidance, and think through major areas of responsibility, commitment, or desire in your life, probing for insight into how the practice of simplicity could help you clarify what is important and weed out what is not. Write down your observations and share in your journal.

Foster: Chapter 8 - Submission

This is the third of four posts that are moving us toward our next gathering, Thursday, March 26.  By now you have a good pace going as well as a good understanding of how we're approaching the disciplines.  Review the recommendations in the second post, above, for how to fully take-in each discipline.

For this session, the reading is Foster, Chapter 8 - Submission, page 110 in most editions.
Read the entire chapter first, then begin your journal.

The Discipline of Submission

What are some of the false or distorted versions of self-denial that masquerade as submission?

What fears or anxieties hinder you from joyfully experiencing the discipline of submission?

PRACTICE OF SUBMISSON: Review the "seven acts of submission." Choose one act to include in your day.  Journal your experience.

Foster: Chapter 9 - Service

This is the final post of four in "catching up" with our syllabus.  On Thursday, March 26, bring both the Foster AND the Miller books with you to our session.

Foster, Chapter 9 - Service, page 126 in most editions
Miller, Chapter 5

1.  In this chapter, Foster lists nine “types” of service in the marketplace. In your journal, list these with a very brief description/comment.  (Although these are not clearly marked, the signal is, "there is the service of.....")

2.  Miller (yes, switching books) describes a unique ritual of penguins.  At the top-half of page 57, he ties it all together.  Has the "radar" inside you ever prompted you to something that you can't exactly explain.  Describe your act of service (ah, there's the connection you were wondering about - the "what does this have to do with that" concept) in your journal. 

The Practice of Service:
Choose only one of the following:
1. Of the nine “types” of service in the marketplace, share when one of these acts of service was given/performed for you. In other words, when have you received a gift of service.  Is receiving more difficult than giving?
2. Act on opportunities to practice courtesy by looking at them as acts of true Christian service rather than just polite cultural rituals. Reflect on how this perspective affects your experience.
3.  Slow down long enough to practice the service of listening in a context in which you might normally rush on past while preoccupied with tasks.  Journal your experience.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Welcome to COMMON METER:  a distinctive merging of the definitions of common and meter to create a multi-layered meaning of these words.  Our purpose is to observe the rhythms of faith-life that we share.  Indeed, "what is most common is truly most personal."

COMMON METER is composed here to bring together my academic and ministerial endeavors.  As conductor of the Lindsey Wilson College Singers, I will share insights about our concerts and touring.  And from the unique ministry of connecting churches to Lindsey Wilson College, this location will provide a "thought-full" place for LWC students participating in the Worship Seminar to engage with the pastors and ministers of music from churches we visit.  Throughout the 2014 spring semester we offer the opportunity for students and ministers to interact about the topics we encounter during class sessions.  Posting will begin in late January.

More about "Common Meter"
Meter is a term used in music and in poetry. In fact, "common meter" is an important term in hymnology; it is meter at, meaning the alternation of eight and six syllables per line or phrase. For example, the hymn O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing is based on common meter:
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace.

Notice that the first line is 8 syllables, the second line is 6 syllables, the third line is 8 syllables and the final line is 6 syllables. Ta-da!  Thus, the stanzas of this majestic hymn are in common meter -

Truly, one aspect toward a deeper connection to our faith-life is discovering our common meters.
Soli Deo Gloria,
gerald chafin
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