Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jesus-Morphing at Payne Theological Seminary

Payne Spiritual Formation Students
July 2010

This morning I'm in Wilberforce, Ohio, with 28 seminary students. I'm teaching Spiritual Formation at Payne Theological Seminary. For me it is a great privilege to do this!

I've taught this course for so many years that I can easily do four days of non-stop teaching without referring to a note. The course is rooted in Galatians 4:19, where Paul longs to see Christ formed in the hearts of the Galatian Jesus-followers. I am convinced that this heart-morphing only happens, and only can happen, when one deeply and consistently abides in Christ. Human effort not only cannot accomplish this, it will eventually distort and mislead the heart. Self-striving to self-morph into Jesus-likeness will only harm one's own soul as well as the souls of others.

I just sent the Payne students out for their first hour of prayer, using Psalm 23 as their meditative focus. Here is the handout I gave them.


Dr. John Piippo

  1. The purpose of this exercise is to enter into the presence of God for the sake of deepening your relationship with God alone. My assumption is that you need God. You need to spend much time in God’s presence. And that time is to be spent in a certain way.
  2. Find a “lonely place apart.” When you get to that place, spend one hour with God.
  3. Take with you only Psalm 23 and your journal. You may also take a Bible with you. But I want you to use Psalm 23 as your focus of meditation.
  4. Leave any cell phones, computers, books, palm pilots, shopping lists, and xerox machines behind. They will be waiting for you when you return from this time.
  5. Use Psalm 23 for meditation.
  6. Your purpose is not to exegete Psalm 23, but to be yourself exegeted by the Holy Spirit.
  7. When God speaks to you, write it down in your spiritual journal. A spiritual journal is a record of the voice of God to you.
  8. If your mind wanders, you may wish to write down where it wanders to. Your wandering mind is a barometer of your true spiritual condition. Your mind will never wander arbitrarily, but always to something like a burden or a hope.
  9. When the hour is over, return to our class.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.
 1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
       he leads me beside quiet waters,

 3 he restores my soul.
       He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
       I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
       your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

 5 You prepare a table before me
       in the presence of my enemies.
       You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

 6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
       all the days of my life,
       and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.