Steve Macchia Blog

Happy New Year!

Are you looking for a good-for-the-soul resolution for 2012? How about one as simple as “rest in God”? When we rest in God we put our trust – and our lives – in his faithful hands. Choosing to rest in God brings our hearts back in alignment with his loving invitation to draw near and follow him – no matter what.

Throughout the coming year we will be considering the myriad ways God initiates toward us as his dearly loved children. We will cover a variety of topics under the banner of a personal rule of life. I will be encouraging you to consider attending deeply to the voice of the Lord and his desires for you. I will be urging you to reorder your loves according to God’s best intentions for the fullness of your life in him.

In the early 5th Century, St. Augustine wrote profoundly on this subject. The following excerpt is from his Confessions (Book 1, Chapter 1, Section 1), “‘You are great, Lord, and highly to be praised (Ps. 47:2): great is your power and your wisdom is immeasurable’ (Ps. 146:5). Man, a little piece of your creation, desires to praise you, a human being ‘bearing his mortality with him’ (2Cor. 4:10), carrying with him the witness of his sin and the witness that you ‘resist the proud’ (1Pet. 5:5). Nevertheless, to praise you is the desire of man, a little piece of your creation. You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

Throughout 2012 my prayer for you is that you will indeed rest in God…for only then will your restless heart be stilled and comforted in his love. This will lead you into a life of praise that pleases God and brings joy to all who cross your pathway of faith.

Happy New Year from all of us at LTi!



Your Rule of Life

During Leadership Transformations recent celebration of our 8th Anniversary, we held an event entitled “Re-Ignited: Kindling Our Inner Fire for God.” During one of the plenary sessions I spoke about “Feeding the Neglected Soul,” and suggested five inviting ways we can nurture our souls.

The first way we feed our neglected soul is to open ourselves fully to receive the abundance of our Heavenly Father’s loving embrace (blog entry 11.18.11).

The second way I suggested is to trust in the Spirit to create from deep within us a transformative walk of faith (blog entry 11.28.11).

Thirdly, we feed our soul by leaning fully into the manifold gifts of Sabbath (blog entry 12.12.11).

Fourthly, we feed our soul by practicing life-giving spiritual disciplines in order to become more spaciously attentive to God (blog entry 12.19.11).

And fifthly, our soul is fed by discerning and fulfilling our Personal Rule of Life – defined by yours truly as “a holistic description of the Spirit-empowered rhythms and relationships that create, redeem, sustain and transform the life God invites you to humbly fulfill for Christ’s glory.”

Over this past weekend we’ve recounted new chapters of the Advent and Christmas journey, found in storybook fashion through the pages of Luke 1 and 2. Here in the biblical text we see with clarity the radical availability of the various characters who surrounded the baby Jesus. Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds, Simeon and Anna. Each received a divine touch and specific invitation to respond to the loving initiatives of God. When they answered with a “Yes!” they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to be and become all that God intended. Their delightful stories have been recounted ever since that first Christmas.

When we too hear, understand and affirm God’s unique invitation for our own life – in all its beauty, creativity, and authenticity – we see and sense firsthand the touch of Almighty God. Our path of life (Psalm 16) is to be followed humbly, generously, and intentionally in service to others. When we share the fullness of God in and through us, and in the context of Christian community, we do so for the honor and pleasure of the Lord Jesus.

As we turn the page into 2012, I’ll be devoting my weekly blogs to Rule of Life concepts. Your personal Rule of Life is about both being and doing. We’ll explore multiple topics with broad brush strokes and with specific granularity. The desired outcome is a life well lived for the glory of God. It is my hope and prayer that you will find great joy in all the visitations of God’s Spirit inviting you into the well-ordered way of faithful love and service.



Spacious Attentiveness

During Leadership Transformations recent celebration of our 8th Anniversary, we held an event entitled “Re-Ignited: Kindling Our Inner Fire for God.” During one of the plenary sessions I spoke about “Feeding the Neglected Soul,” and suggested five inviting ways we can nurture our souls.
The first way we feed our neglected soul is to open ourselves fully to receive the abundance of our Heavenly Father’s loving embrace (blog entry 11.18.11).
The second way I suggested is to trust in the Spirit to create from deep within us a transformative walk of faith (blog entry 11.28.11).
Thirdly, we feed our soul by leaning fully into the manifold gifts of Sabbath (blog entry 12.12.11).

And fourthly, we feed our soul by practicing life-giving spiritual disciplines in order to become more spaciously attentive to God. Jesus himself maintained such openness to the Father throughout his earthly ministry. He also invited his disciples to follow in his footsteps and do likewise. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31) he called, in anticipation of showing compassion on the crowds and miraculously feeding the 5,000.

The spiritual disciplines are means by which we experience the richness of the grace of God. They open us up to the wider possibilities of love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and service to others. The disciplines remind us about the “one thing” that matters most, our intimacy with God, out of which we give our lives away in Jesus’ name.

As you consider for yourself what spiritual disciplines are most life giving to your soul (of which there are dozens to choose from), let me encourage you in a small handful of ways:

a) In your prayer closet, always begin with the Word of God. Contemplatively receive the Word in a slow and deep read, embracing every word as a gift from the Father.
b) In your prayer chair, listen for the voice of the Spirit whispering in the ear of your heart. In your prayers, purposefully shift away from doing all the talking to God and tip the scale more toward listening for his still small voice.
c) In your prayer chamber, reflect on your life in Christ. Consider ways God’s faithfulness has been previously exhibited in your life and give thanks. Deem ways you can reflect the love of Jesus in the coming day(s) and walk forward faithfully and intentionally.

In the midst of a busy life, be reminded today to prioritize the care and nurture of your soul. Begin your day in that quiet place of biblical receptivity, listening prayer, and faithful reflection. As you become more spaciously attentive to God, may your soul be nourished by his empowering presence and peace.



The Gifts of Sabbath

In mid-November, the Leadership Transformations family celebrated our 8th Anniversary in a variety of ways, starting with an event entitled “Re-Ignited: Kindling Our Inner Fire for God.” During one of the plenary sessions I spoke about “Feeding the Neglected Soul,” and suggested five inviting ways we can nurture our souls.
The first way we feed our neglected soul is to open ourselves fully to receive the abundance of our Heavenly Father’s loving embrace (blog entry 11.18.11).
The second way I suggested is to trust in the Spirit to create from deep within us a transformative walk of faith (blog entry 11.28.11).
Thirdly, we feed our soul by leaning into the manifold gifts of Sabbath – both as a day set aside for rest as well as pursuing a lifestyle of spacious encounters and mini-Sabbaths with God. What are the gifts of Sabbath? Several have written about this subject (see our store for suggested readings http://www.leadershiptransformations.org/pref_books.htm#OSR ), and the rhythmic gifts that rise to the surface from writers like Marva Dawn, Don Postema, and Mark Buchanan are fourfold.
The first gift of Sabbath is “ceasing” – purposefully halting the usual activity and pace of life in order to step into spaciousness, including silence and solitude. Ceasing what you normally do in a day to create wide open space that will prepare you for heightened attentiveness to God is the goal. Ceasing is hard to do; the clutter of our inner and exterior worlds continuously fights against this priority.
The second gift of Sabbath is “resting” – allowing your body, mind and heart to slow down and receive the loving initiatives of God. In full submission and surrender, we find rest by trustingly falling into the embrace of God. In order to get to this place of receptivity we need to choose rest that’s adrenalin-free, out of which we discover a deep awareness of his gentleness toward us as beloved children.
The third gift of Sabbath is “celebrating” – acknowledging with joyful delight and thanksgiving that we belong to the family of God. In worship, fellowship, and mutual edification, the “we” of Sabbath comes alive with others who share our Sabbath longings as children of the heavenly Father. Enjoying times of prayerful worship and deeply meaningful fellowship are hallmarks of true Sabbath for the people of God.
The fourth gift of Sabbath is “embracing” – discovering afresh the richness of our desires and longings to be all that God invites us to fulfill in this life. When we embrace our calling and faithfully seek his will for our lives, we become more intentional about loving and serving in his name. The gifts of Sabbath come alive as we re-engage our world for the sake of Christ.
Leaning into the gifts of Sabbath feeds our soul and leads us into a more intimate walk with God. May it be so for you this Advent season and into the new year.
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord,” Isaiah 58: 13,14a.