SansBlogue  
Sunday, November 25, 2007
  Discernment and making decisions
The Theologians without Borders blog mentions a new online resource/book about Decision Making and Discernment it was written by TWN's Dr Geoff Pound. Geoff is a Kiwi Baptist pastor, who among other roles was principal of Whitley College in Melbourne (Australia) having previously been a consultant to Australian Baptists. Through his own varied life journey, and through assisting individuals and communities discover where God was leading Geoff has gained wisdom about making decisions and about discernment. So now he's written the book! The material is organised into forty "days" and seven group studies. It is not called 40 Days of Discernment, probably not to infringe on someone else's copyright ;-) though the image of Jesus' "40 days in the wilderness runs through much of the book.

The material for each "day" is similarly structured containing:
Approach: This is the time to draw near to God, to collect our thoughts and tell God that we are present. There is a suggested prayer to enable us to focus our lives before God.

Scripture: This is normally a short passage but the suggestion is to read it slowly, repeatedly and meditatively, in such a way that it stays with us through the day.

Silence: With the Scripture echoing in your mind, spend a significant time listening to what the Spirit of God is saying to you.

Reflection
: This provides brief comments related to the Scripture theme and often a story to illustrate some aspect of the practice of discernment.

Journal: It is suggested that you record your changing ideas, concerns and discoveries. You might also find your experience of journaling to be like author, Joan Didion’s who said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”[1]
Don’t see this like writing an examination answer! This is for your eyes only. Get yourself a special notebook or create a discernment file on your computer if you find this method easier. You might want to work through this book at a later time and what you write this time round may be quite different from what you write on a subsequent journey. You might find it useful to doodle or draw as well as to write words.

Selecting a Souvenir: Tourists love to buy souvenirs from the places they have visited. They remind them of a person, a place or an occasion. A souvenir is something that causes us to remember or literally “to come to mind.” Each day on this journey in discernment there is an opportunity to select a souvenir—some word or image that might bring your earlier reflections to mind for further contemplation. For instance the reflection on Day 1 records the habit that Jesus cultivated of weekly worship. The souvenir you select on that day might be the succinct statement, “As was his custom.” Or on the same day you might be taken with the story of The Little Prince and select the souvenir statement of “readying the heart to greet” God. Or on Day 14 when the reflection is about Moses and the burning bush your souvenir could be a thorn (to remind you of the ordinary way that God often appears) or a sandal (to bring to mind the holiness of every place).

Prayer: A short prayer provides a springboard for your own conversation with God and with others. Prayers are often expressed with the ‘we’ rather than the ‘I’ as some may wish to experience these daily times with a friend or partner. If so, take turns and share the different tasks—the leader of the day, the Scripture reader or the leader in prayer.

Commission: At the end of your prayer time, sense God sending you forward afresh on the journey of discovery and service.
If you know someone, or better still some group, who need to work through complex decisions, or who want to nourish the gift of discernment please point them to this book. It is free and online. Geoff is talking of making PDF files available for printout, and may even offer a print version for those who want it.

Since this resource is free, there is no advertising budget, so please if you take a look and like it, make a link or tell your friends, because it's "word of mouth" that will get it used.



(The footnote links currently don't work - this was an artefact from the process of transferring the text from Word to Blogger - I believe Geoff is fixing them.)

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