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In this episode, James, Richella, and Nate attempt to explain spiritual formation in layman’s terms, and address questions about fasting and struggling with feeling ill-will toward others.

[1:18] Can you explain spiritual formation in layman’s terms?

I sometimes say that if John 3:16 is the key verse for entering the Kingdom of God, for coming to faith, that Galatians 4:18 – 19 is the key verse for being in the Kingdom of God, that the purpose God has for us is to form Christ within us. A simple definition: spiritual formation is the process by which the Christian cooperates with the Spirit of God and with other Christians, with friends in formation, so that their souls are nourished, and their lives are transformed into Christlikeness.

[15:50] Fasting — I’m totally sold on the idea of fasting, and I’ve read a lot of material on fasting, and even given a few devotional lessons on fasting, yet I’m still struggling with even wanting to fast or getting the results I hope to get – an increased sense of the Lord’s presence, spiritual breakthroughs in some personal issues. I struggle with answers to prayer. Please help.

You aren’t the only one who struggles with this. It’s only grace — just another opportunity to place ourselves in places where God can change us. It’s helpful to think of this not as transactional but as part of the journey of growing, an invitation, not earning, an opportunity for the Spirit to work in our hearts. How a person fasts can vary, and it is a discipline we really need to do at the invitation of the Spirit and trust him in the journey. It may not be

[34:03] I’m experiencing greater levels of ill-will toward others, and I’m concerned about where this ill will is coming from. Do you have advice on how to handle it?

One of the practices that’s been super helpful is to pause and look at myself, because usually what irritates me about others says as much about me than it does them. Often, it’s something I don’t like in myself, something that I’m afraid of, afraid I’ll become. Sometimes ill will can be a projection. So sitting with that prayerfully is quite helpful. Which often leads to confession. And the practice of praying for others, in the words of Jesus, praying for our enemies.

In Psalm 23 we see the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. I feel contempt, I feel ill will, but I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me by still waters. What kind of sheep can lie down in green pastures? The only sheep that can do that is a full sheep, one who is satisfied, has had its needs fulfilled. He restores my soul. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow, those anxious times he feeds me.I’ll dwell in the house of the Lord forever. These are comforting, nurturing images that we can press into when we are feeling ill will toward another. If we can know that God loves us, if we can start from the position of knowing that we are loved by God, then there’s some goodwill that can filter to the surface.

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