I had been a Christian for many years… almost 25 years. I was in what the Bible calls a “wilderness time.” Life was very hard. Ministry was very, very hard. Things were not working out at all the way I had anticipated. Conflict, tension, disappointments, being criticized, not feeling (even close) to being good enough…
Feeling distant from God, going through the motions of faith, putting on the pastoral performance week after week even when I felt empty inside, missing a solid support team, facing a crisis of faith. God are you real? Are you there? Do you care? Is this going to work out? Why is life and ministry so hard?
And it wasn’t like I didn’t know the Bible. I did. I was a Bible expert. I had spent 25 years learning how to study the Bible. I had advanced degrees in the Bible. I knew all the principles of exegesis and interpretation. I was a Bible teacher and a pretty good one. I knew how to find principles, lessons, and insights in the Bible and pass them on to others. I had thousands of books in my library and hundreds of them were commentaries/studies on the Bible.
And even knowing all that Bible, the first two paragraphs were my daily life.
I was in the trap that so many others are in. We were great at knowing information about the Bible and having facts about God in our head, but we didn’t know how to discover and experience God personally through the Words of scripture. While our heads were being informed, our hearts were not being transformed. This is one of the most common problems today.
As a result of that, and other spiritual deficiencies, I was in a wilderness. And God was going to keep me there for sometime.
Now, this post is not about that wilderness and all the adventures (or misadventures) that took place during that time. Nor is it about most of what I learned there.
But it is about ONE THING I learned
and one of the MOST IMPORTANT THINGS I learned.
That was the season of my life when, through wise mentors, I gained a new way of engaging the scriptures. In addition to all I had learned about study of the Bible, this was the time when I learned how to prayerfully and meditatively discern what the Spirit was saying to me through the Word of God.
This was the season when the Word of God and the Spirit of God met up in my times of prayerful reflection and I began to encounter God’s presence, God’s work, and God’s Word in deeply personal ways… transformative ways.
I learned how to hear from God through the Spirit weaving together Word, prayer, worship, silence, and reflection.
It became one of the most life-shaping spiritual practices that I use every day.
It was so transformative that a major part of my ministry, from then on, included ways of teaching others (leaders at first, but eventually anyone who was interested) in how to spiritually read the Holy Scriptures. For almost 20 years, my ability to hear and discern the presence and leading of Father, Son, and Spirit through the WORD has shaped my life and that of others.
And I thought, how appropriate that Pastor Gordon Carpenter is teaching a class on that very thing. Over the years a team of us began to teach many others at Living Word how to hear from God through the Bible. Now, one of the major ministries Gordon has at Living Word is to teach these ways to our congregation.
And another 3-week class on this begins
NEXT WEEK on Monday May 6.
But don’t wait. You must sign up right away because of the materials and room size. Gordon teaches this class several times through the year and you can always take it later. Click here to register.
But, right now with the SPIRIT series, this will be spiritually strategic for your own experience of God’s Spirit.
Grace and peace,