Hundreds gather to Nurture their hearts and souls at spiritual formation conference
By Janel Shoun on 3/7/2012
Courage in the face of failure, listening to the voice of God and the art of spirituality were among the topics explored by participants in Nurture 2012, an annual conference on spiritual formation held by Lipscomb University’s Institute for Christian Spirituality.
Speaker Glandion Carney, a spiritual formation minister at St. Peter’s Anglican Church and a former faculty member with Nashville’s Academy of Spiritual Formation at the Upper Room, told how he loved the name of the conference – Nurture – because the Christian heart needs to be nurtured as our emotional, physical and spiritual core.
Carney spoke at several sessions including The Gathering, the university’s weekly chapel service for the entire undergraduate student body. Leland Murphree joined Carney on stage and talked about the courageous life in Christ and his personal journey.
When asked what the hardest thing was about his faith walk, Murphree said, “Getting back up after you stumble. That takes a lot of courage.”
Also leading discussions at the conference was Gary W. Moon, editor-in-chief of Conversations Journal, executive director of the Martin Institute for Christianity and Culture at Westmont College and director of the Dallas Willard Center for Christian Spiritual Formation.
|Gary W. Moon|
|The Art of Spirituality|
Moon encouraged his audience to take time to stop and listen to God’s voice and provided practical ways to discern the voice of God above other emotional and selfish thoughts that may crowd it out.
“We have the ultimate life coach available to us 24 hours a day. But we often don’t take advantage of that. We don’t show up for the appointment or we won’t shut up long enough to hear his advice,” Moon said.
Moon said Christians often want to know how to tell if God is speaking to them. Pointing at passages of Scriptures like John 10, Moon offered that one can discern God’s voice based on the content of the message, the relevance of the content to today’s issues, the effects of the advice and the nature of the advice.
“One should ask if the message sounds like the shepherd’s leading voice or if it is more like a cattle prod,” Moon advised. Is it full of grace and mercy? Does it promote peace or division? Is it simple or complicated? Does it make the listener feel hope or more hopelessness?
Several sessions were also led by Institute of Christian Spirituality faculty, including Rhonda Lowry, whose “Art of Spirituality” offering featured a story of healing from Mark 5 shared through traditional hymns, painting and reflections on the text.