The Basin and Towel

with Indispensable Churches and Tending the Light


Formational Prayer

Asylum Quilts

IMG_2300 IMG_2294

Not too long after we finished the “Essentials” seminar at Ashland – which emphasizes that one of the components of healing is “community” – my wife and I had the opportunity for a little vacation to Columbus, Ohio.  Before we headed home we decided to make a stop at the Ohio Historical Center, just to look around.  I was completely dumbfounded by this exhibit of quilts done by residents at the Ohio Asylum for the Insane in Athens, Ohio in the mid-1900s.  These remarkable works of art and craftsmanship – done as part of the physical therapy program and then given to other residents – exhibit a beautiful mix of healing components that we as caregivers might well consider in our own ministries:

gathering into small groups (since it is well-known that it is difficult to quilt alone);

working on some project together keeps the hands (and maybe the left brain?) busy, leaving the right brain free to talk with others (and it’s also well-known that quilting in a group is not a silent activity!)

working on a project together might give participants a sense of working toward a visible, tangible goal

the idea that the quilt would be given to another resident might make the project and the effort seem all the more worthwhile, and result in a sense of accomplishment but also a greater sense of well-being among the recipients:  “We not only did something together, we did something good together for someone else!”

What other healing factors might you notice about a project like this?  Is there a way you could encourage this kind of project more often in your ministry?




At the Formational Prayer Essentials Seminar Part 2

If we resemble Jesus enough to allow the woman of ill repute to break the bottle of perfume at His feet (Luke 7:36-50), soon others like her will be lined up around the block, each bearing their own bottle of perfume to break as they cry their hearts out for gratitude at the mercy of Jesus we are showing them.

If we are instead like the Pharisees who are around Jesus trying to prevent the woman from approaching Him and breaking the bottle, others who may have brought their own bottles to break will learn that they will be shamed if they do so.  They will keep those bottles hidden and, perhaps, stop coming altogether.

If we receive the broken and the breakers, the wounded and the wounders into the church with the mercy of Jesus, soon word will get out and others will come bearing their own sins and wounds and brokenness, knowing that here is a place where they can receive healing and forgiveness.

If we insist on public shaming of the broken and the breakers, public condemnation of church leaders who “fall” or “fail,” soon word will get out and others who have their own sins and wounds and brokenness will learn to keep their sins and wounds and brokenness to themselves.  The church will not be a safe place for them to be, and eventually, perhaps, they will stop coming altogether.

At the Formational Prayer Essentials Seminar March 2014 Part I







Terry Wardle talks about DUCK theology and DANCE theology.

DUCK theology goes like this:

  • God is angry because we have sinned.
  • God’s holiness compels Him to pour out His wrath on us; i.e., God is against us.
  • Jesus comes to stand in the way of God’s wrath and to absorb it all like a lighting rod.

In other words,

  • you are Damned,
  • you are Unloved,
  • you are Corrupt, and
  • God wants to Kick you to the curb (= DUCK).

Then He asked the question, “Or was the coming of Christ aimed at us, the great gift from the Father given to destroy everything that stands in the way of entering the fullness of His love and embrace?”

This is DANCE theology.  In other words,

Jesus comes to the cross so that we can fully enter the love of God that we could never enter on our own.  That is,

  • He Delights in you,
  • He Adores you and accepts you,
  • He wants to Nurture you,
  • He Cherishes you,
  • He wants to Encourage and Embrace you and Extend to you the treasures of His kingdom (=DANCE).

So it occurred to me that DANCE theology is when Jesus says to the woman at the well, “I will give you so much living water that you will never thirst again,” whereas DUCK theology is when God says to Noah “I will give the world so much water it will drown the earth.”  People get stuck on the “cruelty of God” when they hear the Noah story and some other Old Testament stories, and maybe it’s because they are DUCK theologians even if they claim not to believe in God.  Whereas the book of Hebrews tells us that now that Jesus has come, everything that God has said in the past is to be filtered and understood through His Son Jesus – and His conversation in John 4 about water is clearly shot through with DANCE theology.

And a further implication of His DANCE theology is that when He and the woman uncover her marital history His offer of living water still stands!

Amos, John, and You and Me

Readings for July 15, 2012 / Revised Common Lectionary:  Amos 7:7-15, Mark 6:14-29

One of the discouraging things about undertaking any new ministry is that, while you seem excited and all “visionary” about the possibilities, others just don’t seem to care.  It takes a long time for your ideas to catch on, if ever.  Pastors new to their congregations come with good ideas, but they fall on deaf ears.  People go to seminars, like Formational Prayer Seminars, and see the exciting ways in which God is working in the ministry of Formational Prayer.  Then they go home to stony faces or glazed-over eyes or unresponsive boards, and get discouraged.  So they come back to the next seminar (or email some caregiver like me, or maybe the seminar office) and ask what they can do to get a ministry started in their congregation.  How can we move people and get them motivated?  There are a lot of techniques, I suppose, that will help, but in these two readings especially there is at least one possibility that we almost never consider.

Perhaps we should begin by saying, seek the voice of the Holy Spirit to discern just what your calling is.  Not just “pastor” or “formational prayer caregiver” or whatever other ministry you may want to undertake.  But what is your calling in the place you have been called to?  What is your calling in this kairos?  What is it that the Lord needs you to do, has called you to do, is giving you the gifts to do?  His calls to Amos and to John, and his messages through Amos and John, were very specific.  Both of these men could have asked “why isn’t anyone excited about my message” when in fact their messages were intended to upset their ultimate targets – and upset them they did!  In Amos’ case he was lambasted by the priest at Bethel; in John’s case he lost his life because of his calling.

I truly pray that neither you nor I lose our lives because of our callings as pastors, or caregivers, or formational pray-ers, or whatever ministry we may be in.  But we know that others have been martyred for their testimony, and so maybe you’re OK with that.  What we don’t expect is cold silence or unreceptive gazes.  But before we get upset and wonder what’s wrong with these slow people, stop and spend some time in the company of the Holy Spirit and try to learn what it is He is calling you to do.  It may not be what you think and expect.

Formational Prayer and the Holy Spirit

Dear friends in Christ,


I rejoice with our gracious God that you all made it to Ashland for the Summer Intensive and the Formational Prayer Seminar this week!  I know that some of you had some struggles to get here, and some issues that caused you to wonder about the wisdom of leaving home for a week.  So did I!  But look how wonderfully gracious our heavenly Father has been to us already!  


How He has sent the Holy Spirit among us already yesterday and today!  The Holy Spirit has called us together and gathered us in this place.  You and I made some decisions to be here, and some plans about how to get here, but it was the Spirit who called us to be here.  He gathered us by road and air, by car and airplane.  He stood in the way of our obstacles, and perhaps for some of us He even pushed us through those obstacles.  He has been building us into His community of healers on the healing journey, and we are eager to be present with Him this week as He works on some wondrous healings that we know He has in store for many of our participants.


And I think He has already begun some of the healing that you may have needed as you came.  Perhaps it hasn’t been a spectacular healing; perhaps it’s only been little by comparison even with some healings you’ve experienced in the past.  But I believe that He has already touched your life and your heart and your spirit in ways that you have needed, whether you knew it or not.  And I pray that throughout this week He will remind you again and again how precious you are to Him, how wonderful you are in His sight, and how much He yearns for your complete healing and total joy in His presence.


May you feel some of that joy this week!


Chris Cahill

Formational Prayer and Jesus

As you are heading to Ashland for the Formational Prayer seminar this week, I want you to know something about you and Jesus:  everything He did, He did to forgive your sins and give you life with His Father forever.  That means that as you come to Ashland you can be assured that

  • you don’t owe God anything for any of your sins
  • Jesus has completely wiped clean any accusation at all against you, whether from Satan or from anyone else
  • anything that any person may hold against you means nothing to Jesus, who loves you with an unimaginable love
  • in His resurrection He has trampled on the gates of hell and broken them forever – there is no way you can become imprisoned there again
  • He can and does call on legions of angels to surround you with His protection while you are away from home this week
  • wherever you may be hurting or wounded, He knows those wounds intimately; and it is by His wounds that you are healed – that’s another promise of His
  • He will strengthen your faith in every aspect of your participation this week
  • He will surround you with a community of believers so that, like the 99 in the wilderness, Satan will hesitate longer to attack any one of us because of the mass of us gathered together
  • if you don’t have the opportunity to hear it tomorrow in worship, hear it from me now:  as a called and ordained servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by His authority, I tell you that all your sins have been forgiven you, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
  • He has given you and me the Holy Spirit as His pledge and guarantee that all these promises are true.

I’m looking forward to seeing everything that our generous Lord Jesus will be doing for you this week!

God bless us everyone!

Formational Prayer and the Father

This Sunday coming up is the Sunday of the Holy Trinity in the church year.  It’s also the day in which a number of folks leave home and family to spend a week at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio for seminars in Formational Prayer.  If you’re one of these folks, this post is for you:

As Christians, we believe, teach and confess our God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Apostles’ Creed says “I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”  Martin Luther said that this means that God not only has created everything in the world, but every part of what makes you and me human beings – eyes, ears, and every part of you.  He’s given you everything you need to support your body as well as your life.  And He doesn’t just hand over these things to you, then sit back and watch.  No, He keeps giving you everything you need, “daily and richly,” for no other reason than that He loves you.

As you’re getting ready to head for seminars at Ashland this next week (or, whenever you’re getting ready to go away for a while), it’s easy to get caught up in the worries of what needs to be done before you leave, what will happen while you’re gone, and what you’ll need to do when you get back.  Maybe these exercises will help:

Do a mental survey of your body, as many parts, pieces, senses and functions as you can think of.  Thank God the Father for making these all for you and for preserving them even when you are unaware of Him.

Do a mental survey of all the “stuff” you have (food, clothing, house, home, pets, family, material possessions).  Thank God the Father for His generosity in giving you all these, and for renewing those gifts to you every day, even when you aren’t home to enjoy them.

Why does the Father do this for you, daily and richly and generously?  Because He owes it to you?  Because He feels guilty about Eden?  Because you’re worth it?  or just because He loves you with an incredible love that passes your every imagination and understanding?  Yes, that’s it!  Spend some time praising Him for that love!  And let Him take care of all these things for you while you are in Ashland next week!

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑