Answers to real questions. Q & A with the author...
Today's blog is actually an "in real time" answer to some questions that have come out of a small group from the Trinity Christian Church, meeting in Mechanicsville, Virginia. The group has formed in order to support and encourage one-another in their journey as faithful followers of Jesus. They chose "The unmaking of a Part-Time Christian" as a resource to help the group get going.
I'll post their questions and then my answers, one at a time:
Opening from the group leader: "This past Thursday we had our 2nd group discussion on‘The Unmaking of a Part-time Christian’. Had several attending that were not able to attend the first go round. Had a great time of fellowship and discussion.... We even had a neighbor from across the street... We invited him to join us next time.
Question # 1: "PILGRIMAGE"... One couple has the vision of theactual‘Pilgrims’ when discussing the word and thoughts of pilgrimage; it's a negative connotation. What other word or suggestion can you give regarding your thoughts behind pilgrimage and it’s meaning and perhaps use another word to get across your thoughts?
Answer: My working title for the book was "Pilgrim in Progress." I still believe it's better than "The Unmaking...."! It's a reminder of the famous "Pilgrim's Progress" - the book by John Bunyan that detailed the faith journey of one man, "Christian." I see myself as a pilgrim, a pilgrim making tentative progress; I'm a guy on a journey through life and I'm constantly constantly working on my relationship with God. So another good word is "journey". Jesus is my guide, so in a sense I'm already home. But - as I say in the book - I'm a long way east of Eden and I'm traveling forward, back to the Garden.
Question # 2: "Prayer w/o ceasing... This was a big topic and was troubling for several to grasp hold of. The main question washow in today’s world do we do that? We talked and I offered how prayer can look different for everyone and that for me it’s actively being aware of striving to be Christ like in your daily life.
Answer: for me, this is all about initial trajectory. First thing in the morning, being deliberate about seeking God's presence - just inviting God to be part of the day. Or, as I said in one of the new Upper room videos, "Inviting Jesus to a seat at the table of our consciousness." This sets the table, as it were, for the rest of the day. With practice (practicing the presence of God), God begins to occupy a sub-strata of our conscious selves. If we are deliberate for - say - seven days, talking time to pray once an hour, or every thirty minutes... then God begins to be more of a natural reflex than an awkward afterthought. We won't find ourselves "praying without ceasing" unless we're first prepared to invest some concentrated effort to establish new patterns. God won't force the issue - but my experience is that God is more than willing to hang around once the door has been opened, with intention... Praying without ceasing is a posture, an open door, an invitation - it's a learned response where sensing God's presence is more natural and turning to God is more reflexive. Prayer without ceasing means that God is invited, always...present, constantly... in our minds, as a matter of course... in our thoughts... more often than before.
Question # 3: Page 31: Thoughts on renewal were talked about. So…I wonder if you might comment on any of this andI’ll share with the group?
Answer: I believe that renewal is also well defined as "sprucing up", "renovation", "remodeling." We've been in this house now for 14 years. We cleaned the kitchen pretty-much every day. Once every week or so it got a more serious scouring. Then, after 3 years and then again after 10 years, we did things like paint the cabinets, replace the counter top, put new knobs and handles, add bead-board to the wall, install a new oven... etc. All that was great - restoration, remodeling, cleaning, freshening up. But then, this time last year, it was time for some radical intervention. We removed the cabinets, tore down the walls, raised the ceiling, pulled up the floor, and started from scratch.
For my spiritual journey, there's a need of daily work, weekly scouring, seasonal sprucing up, occasional remodeling, and - like it or not - even (maybe once a decade or so) some demolition and reconstruction.
Here's a picture of the new kitchen. Just for a visual!