One post can’t do justice to even a small slice of my spiritual journey. But here are some points I’ve been pondering that might encourage you as you look toward the new year.
PRAYER. It seems to be a fair, if anecdotal, assessment that Brazilians are more interested in prayer than Bible study, and Americans are more interested in Bible study than prayer. I’ve tried to learn more for, and practice better, my prayer life.
- Nehemiah’s quick, silent prayer is a great model for Paul’s point on prayer without ceasing. I do a lot more of them than I used to.
- Social media quickly taught me that you can’t pray for everything for everybody. Even (or, especially) prayer needs focus.
- I’ve divided my prayer focus into regions and needs, organized on my personal TiddlyWiki, since I can’t cover everything, everybody, everywhere, in one setting.
- Reading prayers from different sources suggests language and concerns that I’ve not considered before. Being careful not to let the doctrines behind those prayers turn me to the left or right.
- Praise doesn’t seem to be the natural language of our brotherhood—at least, in our public prayers. I’m working on making it mine.
- I like one-volume commentaries for the broad perspective many of them provide on the various books of the Bible, as well as works that deal with their teachings, structure, and analysis.
- Reading outside of lesson preparation is necessary. Actually, the latter ought to flow from the former, reading for one’s own growth and closeness to God.
- Context is everything. Making close connections within the text and the book brings so many blessings.
- Prof. Horner’s reading plan is good. I get so caught up, however, in details and thoughts that occur along the way, that I seldom read 10 chapters a day any more. Not sure I want to jettison the system, though.
- Memorization of Bible verses comes hard. Doing it anyway.
- Don’t tell my supporters, but I don’t have the gift of evangelism. I do evangelize, because it’s what we do as God’s people.
- The art of invitation is a large part of evangelism.
- There’s no bad time for evangelism. Every change of circumstance and situation is opportunity to share the gospel. Every moment can be used to Kingdom advantage.
- Enthusiasm makes up for a lot of bungling words. Eventually, however, the message has to be presented cogently.
- Anybody can do it. I feel like Paul talking about his conversion in 1 Tim 1.16: “If God can save me, he can save anybody” (my paraphrase). If God can use me to evangelize, anybody can do it.
- I used to think I wasn’t a real evangelist until I was getting my own contacts, and not through other people. Now wasn’t that a weird idea?
WRITING. I’m a writer. I have the gift of teaching and writing, so my friends tell me. I used to feel apologetic about it, and more so about writing poetry. No more. If God has given me a gift of grace, who am I to be embarrassed by it?
MORNING. (Disclosure: I’m a morning person.) Can you get your day started right without hearing from God (Bible) and consulting with him (prayer) first? The Bible seems to support time with God first thing in the morning. And if you’re not a morning person? Do it anyway.
NEVER DONE. Checking off a devotional from your to-do list is deceptive. You’re never done with meditating on the Word of God or speaking to him. Instead of moving on to the next item, carry these with you and let them direct your movements.
KNOW GOD. A popular book among us knocks the truth of having a relationship with God. It takes denominational doctrines to task, and I appreciate that, but it goes too far. The essence of the Way is knowledge of God. My spiritual journey consists of knowing him better. That’s what it’s all about: “grow to know God better” Col 1.10 NIRV.