Michelle Lee-Barnewall

Some Thoughts on Work

By Michelle Lee-Barnewall Jul. 24, 2014 9:00 a.m. Church Life, New Testament, Old Testament, Spiritual Formation, Theology

I am all for weekends (even when I have to work, such as doing lesson planning, grading, or writing a blog post!). But sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking of work as the negative and leisure or rest as the positive aspect of our lives. Work can become something we need to “get through” in order to make it to the weekend; Sundays are our “spiritual” days as opposed to our “working” days that begin on Mondays, and so forth.

Read More

Praying without Asking

By Michelle Lee-Barnewall Apr. 30, 2013 5:37 p.m. Spiritual Formation

One of the exercises I have my spiritual formation students do is a prayer exercise in which they are to spend 30 minutes in prayer however they wish, but with one specific instruction – they are not supposed to ask for anything, for themselves or anyone else.

I tell them that the reason for the exercise is that while we are certainly told to bring our requests to God (e.g., Matt. 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13; Phil. 4:6; 1 John 5:15, etc.), prayer is much more than requesting things.  However, sometimes we get so accustomed to filling our times of prayer with requests that we forget to leave room to wait on God and listen to His voice.

Read More

Henri Nouwen and Being "The Beloved"

By Michelle Lee-Barnewall Oct. 15, 2012 10:48 p.m. Spiritual Formation

Recently I found myself thinking back to an article in Christianity Today by Philip Yancey in which he profiled the late Catholic theologian Henri Nouwen.  Nouwen, a prolific and well-known spiritual writer, had taught at Notre Dame, Yale and Harvard before leaving academia to be a priest in residence for a community for the disabled in Toronto called Daybreak.  On the surface, Nouwen’s decision might seem impulsive and irrational.  After all, he left teaching at some of America’s premier universities to devote his time to people who did not have the ability to appreciate his tremendous intellectual gifts, who in fact could barely understand the most basic aspects of faith.  But despite his academic success, Nouwen left those prestigious academic institutions because he felt that the busy schedule and intense competition were suffocating his spiritual life.

Read More

The Benefits of Disciplines of Abstinence

By Michelle Lee-Barnewall Jun. 14, 2012 3:22 p.m. Spiritual Formation

In The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard identifies what he calls “disciplines of engagement” and “disciplines of abstinence.”  Examples of disciplines of abstinence including fasting, solitude, silence and frugality, while disciplines of engagement include study, worship, service, prayer, and fellowship.

Read More

Blind Spots

By Michelle Lee-Barnewall May. 14, 2012 3:37 p.m. Biblical Exposition, New Testament, Spiritual Formation

Last year a well-known auto insurance company ran a creative commercial warning drivers about the importance of having good car insurance (especially theirs).  An actor starring as “Mayhem” rides on the left panel outside a woman’s car, right where her blind spot would be.   He introduces himself to the viewers by saying, “I’m your blind spot. And my job is easy. Hide big things.”  As the woman checks her left side to see if it is safe to switch lanes on the freeway, Mayhem mischievously tells her, “You’re good!” and gives her the thumbs up while simultaneously blocking her view.  Of course, there is a truck in the next lane, and the woman gets into an accident as a result of his bad advice.  The commercial ends with Mayhem urging the viewers to buy insurance from the sponsor so they can be protected from situations like the one he just created.

Read More