Report: Spiritual Discernment for Life & Ministry, Philippines 2018
Spiritual Discernment for Life & Ministry Retreat
Cagayan de Oro, Philippines / August 16-19, 2018
Some 40 in attendance and minds and hearts truly opened to a deeper relationship with Jesus and healings in his name taking place! Thank you for your part through faithful prayer.
Five facilitators from Odyssey In Christ led the seminar last August 17-19, 2018 at Searsolin, Cagayan de Oro City. Odyssey which also means journey was explained by the OIC Director Dr. Larry Hinkle as he started the seminar during the first night. He introduced the Hebrew word "Shema" which means to listen. This was the first topic of the night as he gave a little orientation about Spiritual Discernment. To discern means to separate or distinguish. It's learning to distinguish between which is good and bad, where is love in that decision and what would love do? are the two important questions that needs to be considered when seeking discernment. He then let the participants spend some time in silence, quieting and calming their spirits in meditation to experience the Lord’s presence with what he called as the Silence And Solitude.
Gracie Johnson emphasized the relevance of using the left and right brain when discerning as this influences our understanding of the Bible and our relationship with God. "We function best when both our left and right brain activities are congruent. The function of the left brain usually deals with cognitive and rational thinking while the right brain deals with emotional and imaginative thinking. The Bible is filled with encouragement to use our right brain capabilities of imagination through story, parables, images and symbols."
The next day started with silence and solitude. As the participants entered the hall, everyone was silent while listening to the music being played and reflecting the verses flashed in the screen while being in the presence of God. In the morning, Dr. Larry Hinkle opened the session with a morning prayer praising the God of light. After, he shared about the sacrament of presence. Sacrament is defined as bringing the invisible to visible. Though God is invisible, He is always present and silence and solitude is the way to become aware of His presence. Dr. Hinkle shared more about the importance of sacrament of presence. One of them is to live in the present moment, paying attention to what you are experiencing in the moment without focusing in the past or worrying about the future. It means living in the kingdom of God today.
Gracie Johnson led the participants on a group sharing. They shared about their experiences on spiritual practices. Group sharing is vital because it helps the church to grow together and encourage each other as a community in communion with God. There are many spiritual disciplines that can be practiced in discerning God’s will for our lives. It is not about focusing on ourselves, rather, it’s looking to God – who He is and how He acts.
Jun Mugot, a church leader at GCI Cagayan de Oro shared that discernment means partnering with God in everyday decision and always putting His will first. He said, “Pause and be still with God before making a decision. Learn to discern God’s voice.” Discernment is also about the self. Being you is a gift from God. We belong to Him and our identity is found in Him. In order to love others we must learn to first love ourselves for we cannot give what we don’t have. Ronna Kris L. Casing, a member of GCI Kiara said, “It is an eye opener for me especially in discerning things that are happening in my life. It motivates me to do more and be intentional to seek God. Spend time with Him in silence and solitude.”
Alicia Davis from GCI Crossway taught about environmental discernment. The participants were asked to walk around or find a spot where they can practice being aware of the presence of God in nature. After an hour, the participants shared their experiences. The next session is spiritual reading of scripture shared by Jep Parcasio of GCI Baguio City. He shared about Lectio Divina which is a way of spiritually reading and learning the Bible. It is likened to eating that bites a small piece, chews, swallows and savors. Elpedio S. Danda, assistant pastor in GCI Iligan City said, “It brings us into maturity on how to hear the voice of God with certainty. I’ve learned not just knowing Him well but in experiencing Him as well.”
One of the spiritual disciplines taught is playing in the presence of God. So, at night the participants performed their own versions of play as a group. Indeed God is a God of humor for that night enjoyment and laughter filled the air as each group played in the presence of a loving God. The day ended with an awareness review led by Gracie for
The last day tackled Spiritual Discernment in Marriage thru Love languages by Bill Wells wherein the participants took a survey on what their love language is. "My love language is Quality Time as I like to spend time and bond with my family and go on trips and travel anywhere with my loved ones." Pastor Cristito Rico of GCI Iligan enthusiastically shared his result. We all need to feel loved and the survey allowed the participants to determine and reflect upon their love language and their loved ones as they are seeing their relationships in a new perspective. It gave the participants the understanding why some people does not understand or appreciate their actions and words of love especially if what they are doing is completely the opposite love language. The last day ended with a communion, holy hugs and smiles
Odyssey in Christ is a retreat which helped the GCI leaders to listen and respond to God thru several spiritual disciplines or spiritual rhythms. It is also acknowledging God in the process of decision making. Positive reviews were given by the participants about their journey throughout the training. Dave Mariano from GCI Cagayan De Oro concluded, "The OIC Retreat is more than just a retreat. I learned about the spiritual disciplines that I never knew. Knowing that there is power in silence. It makes us change the “our perspective” to God’s perspective." New ordained Senior Pastor Edmund Sulit of GCI Zambonga City declared, "All that I have learned during the retreat will be applied on our church, my family and my personal life."