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May 19, 2023Liked by Jonathan R. Bailey

I identify with this on so many levels. Thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom! I’m so looking forward to the book!

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Thanks Leila. I appreciate the feedback/encouragement ... and enjoy working together on this stuff with you.

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Jan 4Liked by Jonathan R. Bailey

Wow. Hi Jon, I just discovered you and your work this past week and have been, already, immensely blessed by what you do. I am on a formation journey myself, learning new ways of becoming like Jesus. I grew up in the Latino Pentecostal church, and while it helped me embrace a greater awareness of the Holy Spirit's work in the world, it also felt so much like you describe - transactional. Altar calls were the hallmarks of Sunday services and I often envisioned them as "spiritual resets," where I could repent and move on. Little attention or care was given to the gradual work of formation and I am so grateful God has brought me to this point in my life where I have found the richness in the entire mosaic of the Christian tradition. Now, you can find me at a monastery on the weekend, a Catholic mass during the week, and an evangelical gathering on Sunday, and I don't feel sinful in doing so! Thank you for your words, they have been life-giving.

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Joey ... reading your message made my day. It's wonderful to hear how you've stumbled upon my work and found it to be a blessing in your journey. It's so encouraging to see how you've grown beyond the transactional aspects of faith to a richer, more formative experience. Thank you for sharing this with me, and I hope we continue to find inspiration and growth in our shared path towards becoming more like Jesus.

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Jul 8, 2023Liked by Jonathan R. Bailey

Hello Jonathan, I just discovered you yesterday on Substack. Thank you so much for your posts. I've already read several and have gotten so much out of them. I love the way you describe transactional vs. transformational Christianity. I never looked at it from that angle before but it makes so much sense to me. I so want to be transformed by Christ and am so frustrated with the slow growth. Is there a book you'd recommend as a starting point? I've been a struggling Christian for several years. Got saved in 1982 and although I've grown a lot, I know there is so much more God has and wants from me. I am not familiar with the 3 fold way but can see how it has been part of my walk with the Lord even though I didn't have a name for it. I have been a Renovare online follower for several years now but moreso lately as my desire for Christ seems to be intensifying lately. I have several of Dallas's and Richard's books but honestly have finished few of them. I'm 64 and it seems like after putting in a full day's work, my energy is drained. I do try to read some on Sunday's but generally bounce from book to book and never finish one. I'd love to hear your recommendations and again, thanks for sharing. Jo-Ann

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Hi Jo-Ann ... thanks so much for reading and commenting ... and the encouraging words. You made my day! I'm glad to hear that the distinction between transactional and transformational Christianity was helpful. It made a huge difference for me at the time :)

Hmmmm ... I wonder what would be a good book ... let me offer you a few and see if any resonate:

1) I really like this simple book by Richella Parham called A Spiritual Formation Primer: https://renovare.org/books/spiritual-formation-primer

2) This was a big help when I was starting out with Spiritual Formation: Revolution of Character by Dallas Willard: https://www.amazon.com/Revolution-Character-Discovering-Spiritual-Transformation/dp/1576838579

3) This is a helpful book about little practices we can do anytime throughout our day. It's from a wonderful author, Tish Harrison Warren, The Liturgy of the Ordinary: https://www.ivpress.com/liturgy-of-the-ordinary

Also, another idea may be to set the books aside, and just try a simple practice, something like a breath prayer for 3 min ... or fasting a snack once a week ... or even just faithful napping, while trusting in God. All of these can be simple ways to live more God-centered. Nothing spectacular – just simple, gentle, and easy ways of growing in friendship with God.

I hope some of this may be helpful. If not, let it drop to the ground.

Let me know how you're doing every once in a while!

May Jesus ever live and reign in our hearts!

–Jon

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Jul 11, 2023Liked by Jonathan R. Bailey

Thanks Jonathan. I will definitely check those out. I look forward to following your posts and your journey as well. Thank you for using your gifts to help me and others. I pray you’ll be encouraged to know the Lord is using you. May the Lord reward you and be your reward. God bless. Jo-Ann

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May 25, 2023Liked by Jonathan R. Bailey

I’ve been waiting for this! Having been part of the threefold way , one of the Uber privileged group to get a third year at renovare, I am super excited to read the rest of your book, knowing in part what is to come! Can’t wait. Thank you for the preview. How I wish I’d known this before I unwittingly passed on the transactional way to my kids…. Transformation through training and moment by moment abiding is not only THE way, but the most beautiful way. Beauty, they say, will win the world. May it be so.

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Hi Lynnette ... so grateful for your participation in the Threfold Way course through Renovaré. That was a special 11 months for me too!

You're right, it is indeed a beautiful way! May Jesus be our all in all. Peace to you.

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May 24, 2023Liked by Jonathan R. Bailey

Oh I have been waiting for this! Not only is my story so like yours, if I wasn’t considerably older than you, we could have been going down the same aisles!! There are trigger songs that if I hear anywhere, I look for an aisle simply cuz it was a default through early twenties! Really fast forward, after dipping in several various streams (nod to R. Foster), I have since 2018 encountered my own stumbling out of the wardrobe into Narnia! The contemplative way and the discovery of more treasures than even Nicolas Gage in National Treasures! I have never felt more fully alive and can truly say, “aha! This is how it works!”. Ever since your “pithy little booklet” The Eternal Journey came out, I have hit repeat on it every 30 days and have ordered more times in bulk as a hospitality gift to everyone who enters my home! So yes, I am apprenticing under the greatest Artisan ever and even wear an Id bracelet with the word magnanimity on it ( my gift to myself in 2021) to remind me that after my husband went Home suddenly to us in 2016, just a year and a half later, I would be embarking on the greatest adventure I had ever experienced! To my 7 year old self walking the aisle at Rice Temple Baptist Church, I would say, “ oh child, you have no idea how faithful Your Father is to see you finished this walk!” Thank you a gazillion times Jonathan R. Bailey! I can’t wait for your book to find its way to my home and heart!

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Gosh! This is so encouraging Beverly ... thank you for sharing ... and thank you for ordering so many Eternal Journey booklets and sharing with friends. It's so heartening to hear a little about your transformational story. We are kindred spirits! There are so many people who have experienced what you and I have gone through. Like you, I'm so grateful to be on a new path. May we keep walking, and in the words of St Francis de Sales, "Let us always have the fires of charity burning in our hearts!" Grace to you.

P.S. I know exactly what you mean by "Trigger songs." 😊

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May 19, 2023Liked by Jonathan R. Bailey

Just one of the things I treasure about you and your writing, Jonathan, is how clearly you explain the points and perspectives you are trying to convey. Your explanations of spiritual constructs (e.g. VIM, Three-Fold-Way) are not just presented cognitively. Through your clarity and repetition (i.e. saying the same thing but in a different manner each time), I am able to absorb your teachings in my heart and body, as well as my mind. The style of Christian living you present becomes real and possible. Thank you and thank God for you. Very much looking forward to having your book in my hand.

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Alice, reading this message brought a smile to my face ... almost a tear! As a writer, it's nice to know when people connect with the words I put into the world. Thank you. It's a gift. May God be our all. ❤️‍🔥

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Hello, Jonathan! (I'm part of the Atlanta Renovaré cohort and enjoyed a few meals in your company this past March.) I just finished reading your "Longing to Change" post and wanted to comment.

Thank you for sharing your story here, for describing some things so very familiar to me and now, I'm noticing, familiar to my kiddos as they grow up with a very similar approach to Christianity in our particular church community. I appreciate how you articulate the missing component in the context of Dallas's VIM model, and then how you invite reflection on the Threefold Way, which I'll admit to being unfamiliar with (other than having encountered the archaic language before--as I know floats your boat! =P).

I am in pain reading your stories, because they return me to my own pain. Such a desire for change, and such guilt, and such dearth of someone to show me the way. I really appreciated you painting the picture of your father reading, with his soft music, and the coffee, and how you enjoyed being in that space with him.

Is this Threefold Way an older way of describing what Dallas writes about in "Renovation of the Heart," Surrender-Abandon-Contentment-Participation, or something like that? Is it related at all to Henri Nouwen's three movements in "Reaching Out," to our innermost self, to our fellow human beings, to our God? I haven't taken the time to compare and ponder, just blabbing first thoughts.

I look forward to reading your book and seeing how you draw out the wisdom of our brothers and sisters of centuries past into something eminently understandable. I'm glad God captured you with Dallas's quote, and that this has sent you on the voyage it has. I'm curious how the learning you've done over the past twenty years has shaped the way you raise your kids. I feel like by the time I wrap my head around everything I'm learning, I may be able to influence my grandchildren. :P

Thanks again for sharing this!

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I'm back Sarah.

The Threefold Way is a broader and more ancient articulation of the three essential stages of transformation. What Willard suggests with Surrender-Abandon-Contentment-Participation would definitely correlate, probably best to the purgative experience. In Reaching Out, Nouwen explores the transformational journey from the relational context, which is helpful and an interesting angle. From my studies, the Threefold Way is the broadest expression of the Christlike journey. I would think of Renovation of the Heart and Reaching Out as works that zoom-in on specific aspects of that journey, giving us more granularity, which is a wonderful thing!

At the beginning of my learning, my study was more self-focused. Transformation was my project, which is a typical purgative experience. I don't feel a lot of guilt about that, it's simply how we all begin our journey – self-centric instead of others-centric. But I will say that over time, I've noticed a change. Not drastically, but there's a difference. My learning seems to be leading me to deepen relationships, especially with those closest to me, like my kids and wife. Ultimately, learning or study should lead us to love. If it doesn't, then we're missing the point. But we have to actively wait for all of this. Transformation, by its very nature, requires time. And this is one of the important ways the virtue of patience is cultivated within us.

Here's something to keep in mind: It's not so much your transform-ed presence that influences your kids. It's your transform-ing presence. You don't need to arrive at some particular transformational destination to have a positive affect on your kids, to be on the journey (in front of them, with all the ups and the downs) is enough. It's powerful. Grace to you.

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Hello, Jonathan! I read your response immediately and then was buried in the busyness of school year endings and family visits from far away. Thank you for your thoughtful reflections here. I especially appreciate what you said about transform-ing presence. That echoes the comforting picture of you in your dad's studying presence. I want to understand more of what you write about here and continue to look forward to that with your book. =)

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So good to hear from you Sarah ... I remember a few of those meals ... that was a fun week for me. I wanted to say quickly how much I appreciate your thoughtful note. Thank you. I'm going to sit with it a few days and then respond more fully. In the meantime, I hope you have a restful weekend. Talk soon. Peace.

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