Steve Macchia Blog

Choices

In a given week as I sit one on one with various leaders, I hear many stories of desolation and consolation. It’s always amazing to me how a string of spiritual direction sessions can be so varied. However, each story is a genuine reminder to me of how unique these individuals are in the sight of God.

Over the past week alone, I was struck by the choices being made that contribute to the “state of the soul” these companions are reflecting. Some choices were misguided and led to downfall, discouragement or disappointment. Other choices were spot on and highlighted faithfulness, perseverance and trust in the living God.
How is it that the choices we make are so often missed or disregarded when discerning movement toward or away from God? The spiritual formation process is often slow and imperceptible, and our choices can be blurred by the daily grind. But, our formation can also be the opposite, filled with visible and discernable transformation. When we are growing at a quickened pace and deepening our affections in alignment with a heart that longs for more of God, we indeed experience more obvious renewal from the inside out.

Those who study the history of the church have discovered that three elements are generally in place in seasons of genuine spiritual renewal: fervent study of God’s Word, concerted and united prayer, and a willingness to confess brokenness and dependence upon God. These three choices of the will are ones that each person alive today can make… and when we do, the choices of the heart will follow. This is often the time when we see individuals come alive in the love of Christ, filled to overflowing with the fullness of the Spirit.

What will you choose today? The options before you are numerous. Let me encourage you very simply: Choose life. Choose joy. Choose authenticity. Choose love. Choose forgiveness. Choose peace. These choices (and others like them) will undoubtedly lead you (back) toward God.

Join the Conversations

What choices have you made today that have affected your journey toward or away from God?
What small, daily choice do you make that no one really sees?

This entry also appears in Conversations Journal Blog.



A Disciple’s Renewal

For this week’s blog, I offer to you the following prayer from one of my favorite prayer books, The Valley of Vision….prayers from our Puritan fathers. This one is called “A Disciple’s Renewal” and I trust it will pour courage and hope into your heart this day.

“O My Saviour, Help me. I am so slow to learn, so prone to forget, so weak to climb; I am in the foothills when I should be on the heights; I am pained by my graceless heart, my prayerless days, my poverty of love, my sloth in the heavenly race, my sullied conscience, my wasted hours, my unspent opportunities.
I am blind while light shines around me: take the scales from my eyes, grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief.
Make it my chiefest joy to study thee, meditate on thee, gaze on thee, sit like Mary at thy feet, lean like John on thy breast, appeal like Peter to thy love, count like Paul all things dung.
Give me increase and progress in grace so that there may be more decision in my character, more vigour in my purposes, more elevation in my life, more fervour in my devotion, more constancy in my zeal.
As I have a position in the world, keep me from making the world my position; May I never seek in the creature what can be found only in the Creator; Let not faith cease from seeking thee until in vanishes into sight.
Ride forth in me, thou King of kings and Lord of lords, that I may live victoriously, and in victory attain my end.
Amen.
God bless you in your ongoing life of prayer…from your brother on the journey with you in Christ, Steve



Be Still

The measure of our effectiveness as a ministry is directly proportional to how well we facilitate stillness and rest. Whenever we come alongside leaders and teams we urge and encourage them to press the pause button of their busy lives and learn to do nothing well. It’s totally counter-intuitive, but one of the premier disciplines of the soul. In stillness we learn to listen, to pray, to simply be. In stillness we rest in God. In stillness we reflect on God. In stillness we receive from God.
The psalmist reminds us to be still and know that he is God. The implied assumption is that without being still we won’t get to know God. If we’re always in a state of perpetual motion and continual noise, we will in fact miss out on seeing, hearing and experiencing the fullness of God.
Summertime is a wonderful season for the soul (particularly if you live in New England and it never lasts as long as you’d prefer) and a great time to practice being still. How will you do so this time around?
Be still and know that he is God (Psalm 46:10).



Russian Iconography

The Museum of Russian Icons was founded in 2006 as a non-profit educational institution by Massachusetts industrialist, Gordon B. Lankton. The collection includes more than 400 Russian icons, the largest collection of its kind in North America, and one of the largest private collections outside Russia. The collection spans six centuries, and includes important historical paintings dating from the earliest periods of icon “writing” to the present. Located in Clinton, Massachusetts, in a 150 year old restored mill building, this museum is a hidden treasure to icon aficionados.

When my wife and I recently visited the museum with two of our colleagues, we were overwhelmed by the beautiful galleries filled with icons. Each icon was purchased in Russia and transported back to the states by Mr. Lankton over the span of a few decades. All of the icons in the collection include a biblical story, character or saint, in addition to full representations of the Last Judgment, the ladder of humility, and even Minyeia representing the saints honored throughout the church calendar.

What struck us the most was watching a video of an elderly gentleman iconographer painting an icon one laborious step at a time. Each step in the process is prayerfully and carefully considered as the icon is created on the wood one layer at a time. The technique is specific, detailed, and filled with great attention to the subject at hand. A labor of love indeed.

The history of Russian iconography comes to life in this off-the-beaten-path location. Well worth the trip, the museum is unique in every regard. If your prayers are enhanced and your faith is strengthened by such works of art, then I highly recommend the Museum of Russian Icons.

Join the Conversation

Have you been deeply moved or affected by a piece of religious art? How and when?

How is the act of creation an act of love? How is it a spiritual act?

This entry also appears in Conversations Journal Blog.