Why We Need a Place Like the CFR

We often get asked why we are so excited about the ministry of the Center for Renewal.  My immediate response is that we need a place like the Center for Renewal for the following reasons:

We have too many distractions

There are too many distractions at home or the office for me to regularly and consistently connect with God on a personal level.  We believe that to build that kind of intimacy we must get away from our place of work. Our place of work is constantly saying: “That book needs to be read.” “That email needs to be written.” “The shelf needs painting.” “That closet needs to be cleaned.”

Jesus told his disciples to go into their closets and close the door – not to clean it but   – to pray to their Father in heaven.  “Friends, get away from your work and go into your closet and close the door.” And He said that at a time when virtually no home in Palestine had a closet with doors on it. We have to intentionally put away distractions.  Listen to C.S. Lewis:

The gnat-like cloud of petty anxieties and decisions about the conduct of the next hour have interfered with my prayers more often than any passion or appetite whatever.[1]

We need a place like the CFR because our lives are filled with gnat-like clouds of petty anxieties and decisions.

We need nature

On a regular basis we need to intentionally place ourselves in the presence of nature. Adam spoke with God in the garden, in nature.

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. [2]

God’s presence and His voice were manifest in the garden in the cool of the day:

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day [3]

Zack Eswine in his book for preachers encourages us to immerse ourselves intentionally in creation:

Creation-intentionality is no waste of time because it brings us into the common presence of God.[4]

Jonathan Edwards tells of his experience immersing himself in nature when he says:

I often used to sit and view the moon, for a long time; and so in the daytime, spent much time in viewing the clouds and sky, to behold the sweet glory of God in these things.

Charles Spurgeon has this advice for all preachers:

A days breathing of fresh air upon the hills, or a few hours ramble in the beech woods umbrageous [shady- out of direct sunlight]  calm, would sweep the cobwebs out of the brain of scores of our toiling ministers who are now but half alive. A mouthful of sea air, or a stiff walk in the winds face, would not give grace to the soul, but it would yield oxygen to the body which is next best. . . .

Being at the Center, God can take the cobwebs out of your brain.

We are too busy

We are too busy with the “real” business of the church. But what actually is the real business of the church?  We need the time to slow down.  Our lifestyle is hurried.

The busyness of things obscures our concentration on God. Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. [5]

What do we give ourselves to?  Are we really that different from the world?

The world gives itself up to incessant activity merely because it knows nothing better. The inspired man works among its whirring wheels also – but he knows whither the wheels are going.  For he has found the center where all is stillness.[6]

Have you found the Center where Jesus speaks to His sheep?  The Center for Renewal can be a place where you can get away from the busyness of ministry.  Call us at  860-658-6102 or email me at retreats@cpcbarn.org

[1] Four Loves, C.S. Lewis

[2] Genesis  2:8-9

[3] Genesis 3:8

[4] Preaching to a Post-Everything World by Zack Eswine

[5] My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers January 20

[6] Paul Brunton Celtic Daily Prayer Prayers and Readings from the Northumbria Community)