Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas

In my journey of following Jesus, I have met many who have been fairly certain their way of worshipping and praying is the right “way” to worship or pray and that other ways are wrong.   I have also met many, and myself included, who have been frustrated as they struggled with the concept of the right “way” to pray, struggled with connecting with God, or have felt out of touch with certain forms of worship.  Why, for some, does connecting with God seem so easy, but for others, it is not?

Then I found Gary Thomas’ book Sacred Pathways.  The ideas Thomas presents in his book were introduced to me at a prayer retreat.   They intrigued me.  As soon as I returned home, I ordered the book.  I further explored Thomas’ concept of Sacred Pathways and discovered that 1. I am not alone in my frustration; and 2. our frustration may stem from the misconception there is a right “way” and a wrong “way” to worship and pray.

For my struggling, frustrated journeying friends, this book is for us.  It can also be for the other group, but they may have to approach it with an open mind.

Gary Thomas presents the idea that God has created each of us uniquely and in doing so, we each have a unique way of loving Him.  He identifies nine different spiritual temperaments,  nine pathways of connecting with God.  Each of these temperaments contribute to the body of Christ and each of these temperaments, I think, teach us about the beauty and complexity of God’s heart.

As I eagerly read Thomas’ book, I quickly identified my dominate temperament.  I also found that I had one or two other temperaments that were somewhat strong as well.  Thomas encourages us to find comfort and confidence in worshipping God in the unique way in which He has designed us.  He provides ideas to further explore worshipping God in our temperament and offers examples of others who share the temperament.  Additionally, he provides cautions for the temperaments, where worship might become something destructive, lead to where our Heavenly Father did not intend.  He also exhorts us to explore the other temperaments as a means to supplement our own journey on our pathway and to better understand those whose temperaments are different from our own.

The Nine Pathways are:

Naturalists – loving God out of doors
Sensates – loving God with the senses
Traditionalists – loving God through ritual and symbol
Ascetics – loving God in solitude and simplicity
Activists – loving God through confrontation
Caregivers – loving God by loving others
Enthusiasts – loving God with mystery and celebration
Contemplatives – loving God through adoration
Intellectuals – loving God with the mind

Personal note: While Thomas combines creativity with the Sensates, I would break out a tenth temperament:

Creationist – loving God in creating.

Whether music, art, dance, sewing, woodworking, writing, gardening, baking, or any other form of creating, I think we join with our Creator in the creation process and that it, in and of itself, is another form of worship.

If you have been experiencing a dryness in your time with God, or if you have longed to have the rich spiritual walk you see others experiencing, then this book is for you.   Be assured that our Heavenly Father is inviting you to experience Him in the unique way in which He has created you.  Come, pray and worship, delight in the Father who delights in you.

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Re: Refresh


Hugs.
Smiles.
Gentle rain.
Great books.
Cool breezes.
Silver moons.
Soft blankets.
Jingling bells.
Shared meals.
Crackling fire.
Quiet sunrises.
Autumn leaves.
Baby’s laughter.
Playful puppies.
Sand in the toes.
Bubbling creeks.
Crimson sunsets.
Sparrows singing.
Fresh baked bread.
Snow covered trees.
Encouraging words.
Drifting snowflakes.
Sunday afternoon naps.
Winding, wooded paths.
Waves sloshing on the shore.
And so much more. What refreshes you?

“…for God gives rest to his loved ones.”
Psalm 127:2b

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Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey

Yancey’s book, Prayer: Does it Make any Difference, is a game changer for me. I love this book and it’s one of the ones I recommend to others. Prayer can be so challenging. What is it? Does it work? Does it matter?

The book is an excellent follow up to EM Bounds’ book Power through Prayer.  In his book, Bounds contends that we don’t see God’s power because we don’t seek God in prayer.  But Yancey’s book asks the question, what about when we do seek God, and we still don’t see His power?

What about when we do pray?
When we cry out to Him.
And we cling to His promises.
But heaven seems silent.
Our prayer goes unanswered
And we wonder why.
What is God doing?
Why does He not answer?

Reasons haunt us.
Did I not pray enough?
Confess enough?
Believe enough?

And we end up with broken dreams, broken hearts, broken promises.
What then?

That’s where Philip Yancey takes us – to that place of what and why?
What is prayer?
And why do we pray?

From the perspective of a fellow sojourner, Yancey walks us through this thing we as Christians are called to do, this thing called prayer. Throughout the book, he shares the personal prayer testimonies of everyday people as well as quotes and wisdom from many “giants” in the faith.  His first section, aptly called “Keeping Company With God” takes a look at us, takes a look at God, and brings us together in relationship.  Yancey then moves on into the mysteries of prayer, drawing us into discovering the prayers that Jesus prayed, and the prayers that he did not.  He also invites us to peer into the prayers of Old Testament men and women, exploring the idea, “does prayer change God?”

When I reached the section, “Prayer Dilemmas,” I found that my reading of the book had been quite timely with certain events in my life.  With a friend’s diagnosis of cancer, we rallied with family and friends around her, praying over her, claiming promises of healing, carrying her to the feet of Jesus, like the four friends who carried their friend on the mat, expecting answers, hoping for miracles.  And when we faced unanswered prayer, we wondered why.  When we sought healing and it did not come, our hearts were broken.
In the midst of it, I marveled that I was in the book’s section of prayer dilemmas.  How I appreciated Yancey’s words of wisdom and insight, his chapter on living with the mystery of unanswered prayer and asking the question of what we ought to pray for.  As I wrestled, like Jacob, with a God I could not comprehend, I took curious comfort in the fact that I did not wrestle alone. Throughout history, God’s people have wrestled, pondered, questioned, this thing we as Christians are called to do, this thing called prayer.

And in the end I found, that really, all I can do is crawl up next to my Father’s heart and trust that He is good, even still.

My biggest take away. Jesus believed in prayer. He prayed. He prayed a lot. Since he prayed, I will, too.

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Re: Remember

The last couple of years have been bittersweet as I watched my parent’s health decline and sat vigil with my sister as they passed from this world to the one to come. First my mom, in May of 2017, then my dad in January 2019.
We laid their remains to rest in July, knowing, believing in the resurrection that will occur. Trusting they have already gone ahead of us and are experiencing the hope of glory in Christ Jesus.

Since I live in Texas, and not Pennsylvania where they are buried, I decided to make a little memorial garden for my parents under some oak trees in our front yard. It’s still a work in progress as I tend new plants and continue to add items. I planted three Texas Mountain Laurel because I love their scent. And I have to figure out how to keep the deer from eating the Asiatic Jasmine. I added a stone bench and placed an angel plaque of my mom’s on a tree stump (which fit perfectly). I hung an owl wind chime and set up a couple of metal owls I repainted, both from their home. I also included a painted stone of a cardinal have a couple of bird houses with nests in them. I should also add the bird feeder. My parents loved feeding and watching the birds. Except blue jays. My mom yelled at them, shooed them away and called them pigs. The things we remember.That God is God and there is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:39)

What is it about remembering that’s important to us? Why do things have importance to us because they once belonged to or were given to us by someone we loved? Why do places echo with memories made there with those we loved?

Why do our brains have the capacity to store memories? Why are some memories so strong, with the ability to recreate emotions. And why are some memories forgotten?

What things should we try to remember?

A search on remember in Scripture (NLT) came up with 264 results.
We are instructed to remember specific things.

  • Remember God is God and there is no other (from Deuteronomy 4:39)
  • Remember the things the Lord has done in the past (from Isaiah 46:9)
  • Remember the wonders and miracles he has performed  (from Psalm 105:5)
  • Remember God has identified us as his own (from Ephesians 4:30)
  • Remember, the Lord forgave us, so we must forgive others (Colossians 3:13)
  • Remember that the Lord will give us an inheritance as our reward, and that the One we serve is Christ (Colossians 3:24)
  • Remember what Jesus told us: He is going away, but will come back to us again (from John 14:28)

These are just a few of the things we’re called to remember. And there’s many more on how the Lord remembers us. Spend some time remembering this week. Remember the things God calls us to remember, things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, because then God’s peace will be with us (from Philippians 4:8-9).

 

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Power Through Prayer by E M Bounds

It amazes me to think, and I had to constantly remind myself as I read, that this book was written at the end of the 19th century, over 100 years ago.
Even then, EM Bounds, in Power Through Prayer, cried out for men to pray, chastised men for disregarding prayer, criticized men for neglecting the vital ingredient in serving God.

For all our technology, we are not any different than those who have gone before us.  There have always been things that have kept us from and distracted us from the greater work of prayer.  I think that the problem we have with prayer is a condition of our falleness rather than the state of the world around us.

How often have I struggled, faltered, rushed, forgone time alone with my Father.  Here I am… open the door, He says.  But off I rush, wondering why I am failing, wondering why there is lack of power in my life.  Anything done without prayer – a real seeking the heart of God, prayer – is done in my own strength and with my own ideas, not His strength, not His ideas.

If we want to serve, if we want to impact the world for His Kingdom, we need His anointing.  God’s anointing is His pleasure to put us to work in His plan with His power because we have diligently and persistently sought His heart.  The apostles appointed deacons to serve so they could devote themselves to prayer.  But did the deacons also find prayer important?  Do some positions require more praying?  Or are we all called to pray and our service, our ministry, our work is the overflow of that time spent with the Father?  EM Bounds aims his book at preachers.  I am not a preacher, but I can replace the words preacher and preaching throughout the book with other words: teacher, teaching; leader, leading; disciple maker, discipling…

The power of prayer must be at the heart of every role if it is to have eternal impact and not just earthly good.  To spend time with the Father is to learn His heart and to know it is good; He is good.

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