(Author’s note: This article was written for and published in the February 2020 edition of The Cross and Tower newsletter at FUMC Winnfield)
Jesus was a busy guy! Thousands of years later, we are still talking about his short three years of full time ministry. To tell the stories of his teachings, miracles, birth, life, death and resurrection takes 11,304 words in the Gospel of Mark; 18,346 words in Matthew; 19,482 words in Luke; and 15,635 words in John.[i] That is a total of 64,767 words to tell the story of who Jesus was and what he came to do!
Yet Jesus also found time to spend with God and apparently he did it regularly. Luke 5:15-16 reads “But the news about Him (Jesus) was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” (NASB) If Jesus was purposeful about finding time to retreat and focus on his relationship with God, shouldn’t we?
There are many good retreats such as Cursillo, Happening, Walk to Emmaus, Youth camp, and many others that help us find focused time to spend with God. I am blessed to have been to several of them. Maybe you have too. Over the past few years, I have become involved in a retreat called the North Louisiana Christian Ashram and this retreat has met yearly in Louisiana for over 40 years! In fact, the worldwide headquarters are in nearby Ruston, on US 167, near the Methodist Children’s Home.
What is an ashram? Christian Ashrams were started by the great Methodist missionary to India, E. Stanley Jones. The word “Ashram” simply means retreat. Ashram includes a rhythm of an evangelistic speaker, Aaron Brown from Joplin, MO, Bible teaching, by Jason Ramsey from West Monroe, LA, small groups, food, fellowship and more. The healing service on Friday night is always a highlight of the weekend. FUMC Winnfield member Jan Beville and I are privileged to serve on the planning team for this year’s ashram which will be February 7-8, 2020 at FUMC W. Monroe, just off of Interstate 20. This year, we are trying a new, shortened two day schedule which begins at 11 AM on Friday and concludes about 3:30 PM on Saturday. We are hoping this will make to Ashram more accessible to out of towners (like people from Winnfield) who will only have one night’s lodging expense, as well as those who are working full-time, that would only have to take a half day off work on Friday to fully participate in the weekend. But each Ashram is a come-and-go event, so if you cannot stay for the entire retreat you could come to some of the worship services or Bible study. Registration (lodging not included) is only $45 (without meals) or $75 (meals included) for the entire weekend. You can find out more about the ashram by talking to Jan Beville, Kiah Beville, me or visit http://www.christianashram.org/north-louisiana-christian-ashram.html. I have a brochure with a registration form if you would like to register for the ashram, view the schedule, or you can register at Eventbrite.com (search Louisiana Ashram- an extra fee is required).
If Jesus thought time away with God to focus on his spiritual life was important, shouldn’t we who claim to follow Jesus follow his example? I invite you to make retreat, an intentional time set apart for spiritual growth, a part of your life. And I invite you to the Ashram to help you realize that goal.
Taking time to retreat,
Kevin D. Smith