Archive for the ‘Journey’ Category
I owe a debt of gratitude to Brennan Manning.
A few years ago I started diving into a few of Brennan’s writings which started me on a journey that continues to challenge and transform my way of thinking and living today.
But my gratitude goes much deeper than that.
As most of you know, my dad was a pastor for more years than I’ve been alive. Over those years he preached and taught….I don’t know, probably hundreds of sermons on the love and grace of God. He knew the scriptures and concepts and communicated them well! But it wasn’t until the last couple years of his life, as he began reading a handful of books by Brennan Manning and a few others…..that my dad came to this life-altering realization: Believing in God’s unconditional love and grace is a far cry from actually trusting it, experiencing it, and allowing it to transform a person’s life.
And so my dad began a journey – a journey into grace, love, and acceptance. And that journey radically changed his life. I mean it deeply, deeply changed him. Everyone saw it! He was free. He even looked physically younger and his energy level and passion for God’s work reached a level beyond what any of us had ever seen in him before.
See, for the first time in his life (at the age of 57!) my dad began seeing himself through an entirely new set of lenses. He was being released from his constant efforts of trying to earn God’s approval and love. He was learning how to freely receive acceptance from a God who loved him just as he was – not as he should be. His days of emotional self-flagellation were over.
Brennan Manning played a huge role in the transformation my dad experienced. And for that….I’m so, so thankful.
Brennan has just released a new book. It’s likely his last (I hope not). The book is called All Is Grace. It’s his memoir. The story behind the stories.
It’s been quite a read. So honest and transparent, yet so freeing and beautiful.
You’ll catch the heart and spirit behind the book in this short snippet from Brennan’s introduction:
Over the tar of my life, I have usually been headed toward something along the lines of “professional commitments.” Or at least I thought they were. But those trips are over now. I am liv-ing in a different emotional direction. I am steering toward home, hardly a poster child for anything … anything, that is, but grace. And what exactly is grace? These pages are my final words on the matter. Grace is everything. I am Brennan the witness.
I have 10 free copies of Brennan’s new book (courtesy of David C Cook Publishing) that I will send out to the first 10 people who comment on this post. Be sure to leave your email so we can email you for your address.
PS – You can read more of my dad’s and The Orchard’s story here.
(Speaking of Jesuits, I just started reading a book this morning entitled, Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality by Jesuit priest, Anthony de Mello.)
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We would like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet, it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability -
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually – let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time,
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming in you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
What’s most important? The journey….or the destination?
How about for an artist? Is it the process of creating our art…or the art itself?
I say both are important. But I dare say that the actual journey and process of creating art or whatever it is we’re working towards, is perhaps what’s most important.
Because it’s on the journey and through the process that we become.
It’s where artists learn how to best work on their art.
It’s where we discover what works…and what doesn’t.
It’s where questions are asked. And pain shows up.
It’s where failures occur. And where character is formed.
Who we’re becoming matters. And it’s in the falling down…the getting up…the toil…the misery…and all the other “stuff” we experience in the process of creating…..that we become.
So let’s not rush it. Because what occurs before and during the creation of our art….has a ton to do with what comes after it.
Instead, let’s learn from it. Savor it. Document it. Journal it.
Better yet…share it! Create with it. Sing it. Paint it. Dance it. Speak it. Preach it. Draw it. Sculpt it. Write it.
And whatever you do…..don’t give up.
So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. Galatians 6:9 (Message)
About three or four years ago, I began reading and studying the lives of many of the great forefathers, foremothers, leaders, and saints of the church. People like Blaise Pascal, Thomas Merton, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, Teresa of Avila, Martin Luther, Francis of Assisi, Thomas a Kempis, Augustine, Julian of Norwich, George Fox, John of the Cross, and others.
As I’ve studied and learned from these people’s lives, I’ve noticed my own faith journey take on a richer and more substantial depth – for probably two reasons: One, I was raised in a Pentecostal environment that tended to put a much heavier focus on what God was doing “now” as opposed to what God had done hundreds of years ago.
Secondly, the more I’ve learned and studied these great followers of Jesus, the more I’ve come to realize that the majority of them have struggled with many similar challenges that so many of us struggle with in regards to our faith today. Imagine that! As young, emerging leaders, our struggles and challenges with faith, church, humanity, and God are really not as unique as we might be tempted to think they are.
Now of course, are some of these people controversial? Yes, of course they are! And for most of them, more so today than when they were alive. To the fundamentalists, that’s a problem. To me, it’s actually quite an encouragement.
All this to say that this weekend we are starting a new series at The Orchard entitled, “Prayers of the Saints”. The series was inspired by a music project of the same name that I discovered about a year ago from the folks at Trinity Anglican Mission (formerly Trinity Vineyard) in Atlanta. The project is a series of prayers from various saints that have been turned into songs. You can purchase the album via iTunes here.
Over these next few weeks we are going to sing, pray, and learn from these prayers. I can’t wait. They are both personally challenging and theologically rich. We’d love for you to join us. Or you can follow along via The Orchard’s podcast here.
These past couple of weeks we’ve been in a series at The Orchard called MIRRORS. It’s been a pretty powerful series so far. In fact, it’s been a completely unplanned series - meaning I’ve had no idea where I’m going in my teaching until the week of. It’s a bit of a different approach for me, but it’s the direction I’ve sensed God leading me for this series in particular. Ear to the ground….listening….watching….trusting….week by week.
So far, the overarching theme has been based on the idea that we live our lives out of the reality of WHO we believe God is….and HOW we believe He sees us.
Since most of us do not see ourselves how God sees us, we often begin trusting ourselves, others, and all the other mirrors we’re surrounded with in our lives. The result? A deep need for affirmation and approval from everyone we can get it from….and often times, an identity that’s filled with guilt, shame, condemnation, fear, low self-worth, fill in the blank.
This week I’m going to spend some time sharing some of my thoughts from the series here on my blog. I’d love to see this become a conversation. So I invite you to chime in, share your feelings, thoughts, insight, etc…
To help get us started, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this question:
How does our perception of WHO GOD IS…and HOW WE BELIEVE HE SEES US, impact our lives?
Do you believe it does? Why? Why not?
I’d love to hear from you!
Mirrors: For Me (Week One) – .mp3 download link
Mirrors: Enough (Week Two) – .mp3 download link
Subscribe to The Orchard’s Podcast. (iTunes Link)