Thursday, May 28, 2020

Deep Dive Spirituality Conversations–Episode 8: Psychology, Holistic Spirituality, and Our Rule of Life with Dr. Steve Stratton

This week’s episode features a rich conversation with Dr. Steve Stratton. Dr. Stratton (for bio see below) helps us think about spiritual formation through the lens of psychology. We talk about the importance of a holistic spirituality that honors us as embodied persons. You’ll also gain insights into developing a rule or way of life that honors you as a unique person created by God and helps you grow deeper into God’s grace. 

Dr. Stratton recommends these books as essential reading for spiritual formation:

Aelred of Rievaulx: Spiritual Friendship

Karen Horney Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle toward Self-Realization

Gerald May Addiction and Grace: Love and Spirituality in the Healing of Addictions 

N.T. Wright The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion

Stephen P. Stratton, Ph.D., is Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care and a licensed psychologist (KY) and counselor educator.  Previous to his full-time appointment at Asbury Theological Seminary in 2006, he served as an adjunct professor at Asbury University, where he was the Director of the Center for Counseling for 18 years.  He is a Health Service Provider/Supervisor for the Kentucky Board of Psychology.  

Dr. Stratton holds membership and leadership positions in both counseling and psychology professional guilds, and he regularly presents at the state, national and international conferences of these organizations.  He is currently Vice President for the Kentucky chapter of the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values In Counseling (KY-ASERVIC).  He also serves as an At-large member of the Board for the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS). He is a trainer and seminar director for the Prepare-Enrich Inventory (Life Innovations, Inc.) since 2010, and he is a trained facilitator of Immunity to Change workshops (Minds at Work, Inc.) since 2013.  

Dr. Stratton has provided psychological services to adolescents and adults in hospitals, community mental health agencies, pastoral settings, and college and university centers since 1983.  Dr. Stratton has special interest and training in the areas of human relational attachments, sexual/gender identity, contemplative prayer, and the integration of counseling and orthodox Christianity.  
He is part of a research team investigating the experience of sexual minorities at faith-based colleges and universities.  The book based on this research, Listening to Sexual Minorities: A Study of Faith and Sexual Identity on Christian College Campuses was published in 2018.  He is a research affiliate with the Sexual and Gender Identity Institute, where he currently helps to facilitate a longitudinal study investigating the experience of students at Christian colleges and universities across the United States who are navigating faith and gender identity.  He also serves on the Division 36 (Psychology of Religion and Spirituality) LGBTQ Task Force at the American Psychological Association.

In 2017, he received the "Distinguished Member Award" for his teaching, research, and pastoral leadership for CAPS.  In 2012 and 2020, Dr. Stratton was presented the “Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award” by Asbury Theological Seminary for “consistent excellence in the classroom.”  In 2010, he was named “Psychologist of the Year” by the Kentucky Psychological Association for “his innovative teaching and outstanding scientist-practitioner model[ing]” in the state.

He is married to Carol (Lehikoinen) Stratton, and they enjoy connections with their adult daughter, son and daughter-in-law.  The Strattons are active in relational training, experiential worship, and contemplative prayer ministries.  They are congregational leaders in worship and laity training at Nicholasville United Methodist Church.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Flowers or Fruit Trees? (Walking and Talking Spirituality #21)

Is it better to plant flowers or a fruit free? What does this have to do with spiritual formation?

It's about the balance between short term and longterm formation. We long to grow into the persons that God created us to be, but this is a lifelong and beyond goal. If we only focus on it, we may miss the opportunity of short term experiences.

How do you work out this balance in your spiritual life? What are examples of both "planting flowers" and "planting fruit trees" in your present rhythm of life?

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Deep Dive Spirituality Conversations: Episode 8: Brian Russell asks What is a Deep Dive Spirituality?

This week’s episode is a solocast. Brian talks about his personal
journey into a deep dive spirituality. 

He offers this definition: “Thriving in life through living out the love
of God, neighbor and self by offering our best self in the service of
God’s mission.” 

He discusses how to build a rule of life that honors us as embodied
souls (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual). He shares his own
practices and offers questions to get listeners started on their own
deep dive.

Resources Mentioned: 
Bernard of Clairvaux: 

Thomas Merton New Seeds of Contemplation 

Murchadh Madagain, Centering Prayer and the Healing of the Unconscious 

Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life 

Epictetus Discourses and Selected Writings 

Dr. Brian Russell is a professor of Biblical studies, an academic
administrator and a coach for pastors and business professionals.
He is the author of many books, curriculum materials, articles,
and blog posts. Interested in joining one of his Deep Dive
Spirituality groups for pastors?
Email Brian: 

Connect with him:

Twitter: @briandrussell
Instagram: @yourprofessorforlife
YouTube: Deep Dive Spirituality with Dr. Brian Russell

Friday, May 15, 2020

How is Your Soul? (Walking and Talking Spirituality #20)

How is Your Soul? How is your soul really? How would you know?
Gerald May wrote in Addiction and Grace: “How we view ourselves at any given moment may have very little to do with who we really are.”
Most of us struggle to see ourselves as God does because of shame, guilt and fear. This unholy trinity manifests in these thoughts:
I am not enough. (Shame)
I don’t do enough. (Guilt)
I don’t have enough (Fear)
But how does God truly see me? Have I accepted the reality that I’m unconditionally loved and accepted by God?
Take a deep dive into your soul and open up to God’s love.
How do we do this?
I have found contemplative practices such as centering prayer and journaling to be transformative.
Another critical element is intentional community with persons who will speak honestly and truthfully to us. This may be your life partner, a close friend, or a small group that does life together.
If you are struggling to answer the question, “How is my soul?”, reach out to me. I’ve been there and can help.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Deep Dive Spirituality Conversations #7: Dr. Bob Tuttle on the Spirit Tr...

This week’s episode features a deep dive into the spirit filled life, mentoring, and lessons from the missional work of E. Stanley Jones. Our guest is Dr. Robert Tuttle. You will not want to miss a minute as Bob offers rich reflections from almost 60 years of powerful ministry and teaching.

Bob Tuttle was born in North Carolina, the son of a United Methodist minister.  After his undergraduate degree at Duke University, he then completed graduate degrees at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and the Wheaton Graduate School of Theology before completing the Ph.D. degree from Trinity College at the University of Bristol in England.  

Bob then served churches in North Carolina and Colorado before beginning his teaching career at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.  Since that time Bob has taught at the Oral Roberts Graduate School of Theology, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky before moving to the Asbury Dunnam Campus (Orlando, Florida) in 2000.  

Though he retired in 2010, Bob still spends much of his time teaching and writing and going out once a month to teach and preach at conferences, universities, and local churches across the globe.  He has preached and/or taught in nearly every state in the US and in over 60 countries worldwide.  

Bob is committed to Christ and Church.  His understanding of the Christian faith has led him to a ministry of sharing the good news of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit available through personal faith in Him.

Bob has published over a dozen books over the years and chapters in half a dozen more.  He has a book entitled, The Story of Evangelism, A History of the Witness of the Gospel (Abingdon Press, 2006). 

His book, Shortening the Leap, From Honest Doubt to Enduring Faith (Bristol House) has been used among study groups worldwide. 

He has just published a new biography, “In Our Time, the Life and Ministry of E. Stanley Jones” (ESJ Foundation).  This was chosen as the Book of the Year by the International Ashram Board. 

Bob and his wife, Dianne, have homes in Cashiers, NC and Vero Beach, FL where they enjoy entertaining, gardening, fishing, and visiting with family (four grown children and six grandchildren) and friends.

Bob also recommends the following writings for those interested in taking the next step in their spiritual formation:

E. Stanley Jones Song of Ascent 

Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ 

Please tell your friends about the Deep Dive Spirituality Videocast. It's also available on Spotify, Podbean, and iTunes as a podcast.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Questions that Transform Us (Walking and Talking Spirituality #19)

Have you ever been asked a spiritually transformative question?

What were key questions that have shaped your journey of life?

Here are some of mine:

Rev Paul George asked my 17 or 18 year old self (1986 or 1987):
Have you ever considered the ministry?

Alex McManus challenged me when I was a young professor in
What business do you have teaching in a seminary if you’ve
never planted a church?

A few years ago, my daughter asked me:
Dad, why do you work so much?

The questions we ask ourselves play a determining factor
in our growth.

Are you open or closed to “hard” questions? 

Start your morning with some empowering questions:
For what am I grateful?

What is really bothering me?

What would make today great?

End your day with: What went really well today?

Be mindful of the questions that empower you and
questions that disempower you.

What’s on your mind today? What are some of the
best questions you’ve been asked or that you ask yourself?

#spirituality #questionsthattransform #questions #growth
#change #transformation #spiritualformation #spiritualgrowth 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Deep Dive Spirituality Conversations #6–Dr Kevin Watson on Band/Class Me...

This week’s episode features a deep dive into Wesleyan theology and
practice as it relates to spiritual formation with Dr. Kevin Watson. 

Dr. Kevin Watson is an expert on the class and band meetings used in
Methodism for intentional discipleship and growth in grace. We also
discuss the optimism of grace and its implications for living a victorious
Christian life. 

Dr. Kevin Watson (Ph.D.) is on the faculty of Chandler School of Theology
where he teaches Methodist and Wesley studies. He is also a popular
writer for the wider Methodist movement.

Kevin is the author of both academic and popular works. Here are links to
his most accessible writings on Methodist class meetings, bands,
and discipleship:

The Band Meeting: Rediscovering Relational Discipleship in Transformational
Community (co authored with Scott Kisker) 

A Blueprint for Discipleship: Wesley's General Rules as a Guide for

Christian Living 

The Class Meeting: Reclaiming a Forgotten (and Essential) Small Group


Kevin also recommends the following writings for those interested in taking
the next step in their spiritual formation:

John Wesley. The Sermons of John Wesley: A Collection for the Christian
Journey (eds. Collins and Vickers) 

Here is a link to Wesley’s sermon: The Scripture Way of Salvation 

Dallas Willard The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In

Richard Foster. Celebration of Discipline, Special Anniversary Edition:
The Path to Spiritual Growth 

You can find Kevin online:

Twitter: @kevinwatson

Please tell your friends about the Deep Dive Spirituality Conversations
Video and Podcast and leave a five star review so that others can find it.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Embracing a Soul Enhancing Lifestyle

Do you desire to live as the person you were created to be? This is the call to a deep dive spirituality.

What is the key to living out consistently the values that we aspire to live by?

How do I cultivate a series of practices that allow me to live as my authentic self most of the time?

Choose soul enhancing practices and limit our stress-relieving practices. 

Soul enhancing practices include classic spiritual disciplines (Scripture, prayer, worship) but also contemplative practices (journaling, centering prayer) and physical practices such as eating healthy food, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising.

Does your life include enough soul-enhancing practices that you are powered most days to be your best and most authentic self when you show up in the world?

Are you a pastor or spiritual leader interested in exploring new levels in your spiritual growth?

Email: to learn more about my Deep Dive Spirituality program for groups and individuals.