The Way Home

Sunrise
udithawix / Foter / CC BY

As Christians, our lives are a journey, a journey towards home. It’s no accident that world literature is filled with the concept of the journey – everything from The Odyssey to stories in Grimm’s Fairy Tales to The Lord of the Rings.

The great journeys in the Bible include Abraham and Moses, and also Paul’s missionary journeys. We all should think about these great journeys, and compare them to our own journeys home. And what is our final home, our destination? Heaven.

You should start with a reminder of Who is with us on our Journey, and I was listening to Tina Turner last night when she sang “We Don’t Need another Hero.” The chorus goes “We don’t need another hero, we don’t need to know the way home.” Well Tina is great, but that’s not true. Jesus Christ is our Hero – our Messiah and our leader – and we definitely need to know the way home to God.

I don’t think our journey through this world is easy; it’s never that. But sometimes the road is easier than others. Sometimes it’s rocky and hard and sometimes it’s awful during times of loss and suffering. But the key is to believe, to praise God in all things. The imagery of the journey is that of the King and the Shepherd: both the great and the humble.

And the end of that journey is Heaven.

There is a beautiful quote from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and it is no accident that Professor Tolkien was a Christian. “That night they heard no noises. But either in his dreams or out of them, he could not tell which, Frodo heard a sweet singing running in his mind: a song that seemed to come like a pale light behind a grey rain-curtain, and growing stronger to turn the veil all to glass and silver, until at last it was rolled back, and a far green country opened before him under a swift sunrise.”

September 2, 2015Permalink

Dissertation Done!

team-singapore-fireworks-display-from-singapore-fireworks-festival-2006I am EXTREMELY relieved to announce that I finished my dissertation for my Doctorate of Ministry. I UPS’d it this morning — 5 notebooks worth for my reviewing committee, the box weighed a ton.

Now I have to wait to see if they’ll grant me the degree or not! That process will take several more months but I am very happy that I have come this far.

August 19, 2015Permalink

Your Most Important Goal-Setting Activity

Question: What is your most important goal setting activity?

Answer: Your friendship with God!

In terms of pure goal setting, Christian goal setting shares the same techniques as secular goal setting. There is nothing wrong with that: Christians don’t operate their cars differently from non-Christians, they order off menus the same way, and they take the same medicines when they’re sick. Goal setting, like cars, restaurants and health, simply works along similar lines. But Christian goal setting is a great deal more than simply meeting objectives, because as Christians we set our goals within the context of 1) our relationship with the Risen Christ and 2) our God-given life purpose.

I am firmly in the “once saved, always saved” camp. I believe that at the moment of conversion, dramatic or not, you are a changed creature and the grace of God covers and saves you. But living out your salvation and growing in Christ take continued effort — just like any good thing does.

There are several vital practices that maintain and grow your relationship with God. I would argue that prayer, Bible study and corporate worship are the top three. Obedience is important too and so is living as righteous a life as you can muster. Other things are important depending on the individual: creativity and imagination, giving and generosity, living the spiritual gifts and cultivating the fruits of the Spirit.

I have found one method of prayer in particular to be absolutely crucial to my Christian growth. The type of prayer dates back to the early church and uses the imagination to reach deeply into our hearts and minds. This type of prayer allows Christ to touch us at our deepest levels. I call this “imaging prayer.”

February 11, 2015Permalink

The Listening Way

I lead a small Bible study and prayer group at my church. Yesterday morning one of our members was having a true crisis and did not know where to turn or what to do.

Our usual format is to come together to study a Gospel story and then in silence individually pray the story to God, allowing Him to enter into our imaginations. But I felt strongly as this sister in Christ shared the depth of her pain that we needed to do something different. I felt the Holy Spirit remind me about the Society of Friends (Quaker) meetings where the group goes into silent prayer before making a decision — for at least an hour! We had ten minutes! But I knew the Holy Spirit would bless and guide what He wanted us to do.

The group gathered around our friend and entered into silent prayer with the express purpose of listening for the word of God for her. At the end of that short time God led us to say different words — some from the Bible, some from the spiritual gifts of discernment and wisdom, and many of pure love and support.

God is so good. Don’t forget (like I too often do) to listen for the still small voice of God!

February 11, 2015Permalink

When God Talks

My best friend has the spiritual gift of prophecy. I may need to explain that a bit: Christian prophecy is not just foretelling the future, although God can grant that if He wishes. It has much more to do with seeing the power of God at work in the world, envisioning the spiritual battles that rage all around us, and with communicating the miraculous power and message of God to His people.

One of the lessons that I teach around Christian goal setting centers around Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I believe that our desires are our deepest values, the holy touchstones that God created in each one of us. One person’s values and deepest desires may be service, compassion, family; another’s may be beauty, leadership, security; still another’s may be freedom, growth, meaning. We all have them, although in our sin we can try to live them out badly! But God created the values within each individual, and He firmly tied the fulfillment of our values to our relationship with Him. (You can read more about this in my article on “The Deep Desires of Your Heart.”)

My friend’s spiritual gift and my teaching were brought together the other day. I was having lunch with my friend and she mentioned that she had been given a word from God. It had to do with hope in a financial situation, but it didn’t seem to apply to her. Maybe it was for me? She told me the message: “Be obedient and I will give you the desires of your heart.”

The miraculous part? I had never mentioned my teaching on desires of the heart to her before, and she didn’t know the verse from Psalms. She did not know the term in her own wisdom.

God did.

February 11, 2015Permalink