Silence and Solitude

Silence and Solitude

My wife, Carly, and I went on a trip last summer to hit most of the National Parks in Utah. We were in a deep need to retreat from the business of life. For the most part, the parks were very busy.

As you enter Zion National Park, you are immediately winding through roads for about 3 miles until you hit a road called Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. You need to hit this turn off about 4:00am if you want a decent parking spot near the best trailheads. There was one less popular hike that I remember taking called Emerald Pools.

Emerald Pools was short and not super strenuous. There is a lower, middle, and upper pool with water flowing down to the North Fork Virgin River. When you reach the upper pool, you are surrounded by cliffs and beautiful scenery. If you are lucky, you’ll see wildlife as well. When we arrived at the upper pool, we were able to experience a deer walking peacefully on the steep hillside.

I experienced God in a new way that trip. In the silence away from human interaction and the business of life, I was able to be renewed by taking in God’s creation. There is much to be learned from being in solitude to focus on God’s voice. Spiritual disciplines like this keep us in the presence of God.

1 Kings 19:11-12 says, “The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”

When we intentionally set aside time to be alone in silence, we can tune out the “winds, earthquakes, and fires” of our life to hear the gentle whisper of God. It is important to find a time and place to quiet yourself before the Lord. It is important to protect that time. A pastor I know once said, “The habit of bowing in the quiet place prepares you for standing in the difficult place.”

I challenge you to intentionally practice the discipline of solitude. Find a time this week to bow in the quiet and be renewed to do the work to which God has called you.

Pastor Austin
Youth Pastor

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168 hours

168 hours

Disciplina |Latin|: order of life, knowledge in a field of study, discipline.

I was the guest speaker in a class today for Theology and Christian Ministry students. My subject matter was discipleship, which is very fitting considering the series we’re in. Specifically, my role was to facilitate a discussion about empowering families in their discipleship at home.

Let’s be honest. These kids are getting a four-year degree at a very high-quality Christian university. They’ll leave to become pastors, ministry directors, or work in the non-profit sector in a ministry-minded role. They’ll pay…a lot of money for this. This is no knock on the university. I’m still paying for my education. It’s not a political statement on cost of education, it just is what it is. And private universities cost even more!

So these kids will leave with a four-year degree to get *maybe* 2-3 hours a week with their people. I was speaking primarily to future youth pastors and children’s pastors. They’ll get a captive audience (they hope) for an hour or so on Sunday, and an hour or so on Wednesday. That’s if their church has multiple gathering opportunities and if families attend every week.

So, there are 168 hours in a week. Are they getting that degree in order to leave 165 hours of their student’s lives unaffected? Hardly. Much of their training needs to be spent in how to help their people connect with God in those 165 hours. How to give parents tools to lead their families. How to help parents feel confident to have deep spiritual conversations at home. How to be a resource so parents and kids can rely on them when the time comes, but how not to be crutch so that parents and kids take ownership of their own spiritual maturity and faith development.

If they’re spending $100,000 for three hours a week, they’re doing it wrong.

Discipleship, the process of being shaped into Christlikeness, is a daily investment. It’s disciplina, the way we order our life. I reminded them that they have to help their families understand that discipleship exists in every facet of our lives. Parents, when you discipline your kids, you have an opportunity to show them Jesus. When you celebrate with your kids: Jesus. When you lament with your kids: Jesus. When you do homework with your kids: Jesus.

Faith is more caught than taught. So, for starters, Jesus has to exist in our attitude and way of life. Our kids will become aware of the way Jesus seems to be at the center of everything we do. As our kids develop their own order of the way their life is put together, they will naturally put Jesus at the center of it, too, because that’s how they were raised. Discipleship is more than doing a Bible study together at home. It’s about forming our interactions around our relationship with Jesus.

But there are definitely some more formal aspects of discipleship that I talked with the students about. How to help parents feel confident to lead their kids in studying scripture, for one. How to help parents develop healthy devotional habits for their family. Disciplina is also knowledge in a particular field. So, yes, we order our lives around Jesus, but we also set aside time to learn and grow through regular avenues of study.

Last year, we developed this guide so parents could follow simple steps to lead their children in a bible study. This works with any age. Honestly, if we have adults who are learning to study scripture on their own, this guide would be very fitting.

The conversation about discipleship is broad and deep. It’s happening in the church. It’s happening in our universities. And hopefully, if we’re doing our jobs right, it’s happening at home! Families, it’s not too late. It begins with one conversation in which you point to Jesus, even in simplest way. Start there, and build on that. We’re here to help you along the way.

Pastor Kyle
Family Pastor



Colossians 3:13  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

We heard a message from Colossians 3 this week as we began our new series: Shaped. We’re looking at the ways God actively forms us into his image. This is discipleship. This is who we were created to be: a people in the image of the Creator.

We sang a song on Sunday called Holy Water. It’s a song about how sweet forgiveness is. It is so sweet and freeing to live forgiven, but it’s also sweet and freeing to be the forgiver. One of our necessary responses to a forgiving Savior is forgiveness, as we see in Colossians 3:13. But what if forgiving people isn’t that easy?

I have two daughters and, contrary to popular belief, they’re not perfect. They fight. They argue. They argue over some things that are…ridiculous. Ree-dic-you-lussss. Some of our favorites in the past have been: who is sitting there, who gets to push the elevator button, who has to do piano practice first, who is sitting there, who gets the last yogurt, who gets to choose the next episode, and who is sitting there.

These little spats are *usually* resolved quickly, and everyone is given the opportunity (read: forced at threat of death) to apologize and forgive. We talk about kindness with our words and actions, and we move on.

But what if the grievance is much, much bigger than that? What if the thing you’re supposed to forgive was life-altering? What if it was traumatic? What if you’re not done suffering from it? What if you just don’t feel like forgiving? It’s not always as cut and dry as Colossians 3 might make it sound. But it is as necessary as Colossians 3 implies.

Forgiveness, like Christianity, is a process. You can become a Christian in a moment. You accept Jesus’s love and forgiveness. You invite Jesus in as your Savior, King, and Friend. Boom. You’re a Christian. But all Christians know it doesn’t stop there. That’s what this Shaped series is all about. You don’t just become Christian. You keep becoming Christian. (From the Greek – Christos, meaning “anointed one” and the Latin suffix – ianus, meaning “belonging to.” So, Christian literally means “belonging to the anointed one.”) When you belong to Jesus, it happens in an instant, but the relationship grows and deepens for the rest of your life.

When you forgive someone, the process can start immediately. You can say the words. You can even really mean it. But when the trauma is deep, or the impact of their trespass is still being felt, forgiveness is going to end up being a real commitment. It’s a commitment to growth. It’s a commitment to getting healthy. It’s a commitment to finding our value and definition in Christ rather than in the person or incident we’re trying to forgive.

Forgiveness is work.

The good news, though: this is not something we’re expected to do on our own. God has gifted us with his Holy Spirit because we are not strong enough to forgive deep traumas and just turn our backs and pretend they never existed. We’re going to need the Spirit’s help, guidance, wisdom, strength, and perseverance as whatever we’re called to forgive raises its ugly head again and again.

But if we don’t actively choose forgiveness, we will live with this roadblock in our chest, in our brain, in our life and eventually we’re going to run into it. It will keep us from fully becoming who we were created to be, and from fully embracing the love-laden plan God has for us. Forgiveness is a necessary part of being shaped into the image of the Forgiver.

So settle in. This forgiveness is going to take time. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take love love love love love. But you are not alone, and you have been called to this. Let the Spirit guide you and your church family walk with you as you are led to forgive.


Pastor Kyle
Family Pastor

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