September 2018: We may need a toolbox.
We need a toolbox. And maybe some YouTube instructions.
Soon after coming to know Jesus, I was asked to spend 30 minutes alone in silence with God. What? You’re kidding. As an average over-stimulated teenager, I was lost and bored after about three minutes. But as I stood before God in the silence and solitude, my mind slowly stopped racing and bouncing around. I began to sense the presence of God and to hear a whisper I could not attribute to anyone except the Holy Spirit. That was the night God called me into vocational ministry.
At Indiana University (BTW: greatest school on the planet), my friend and I found a small booklet by Lorne Sanny called How to Spend a Day in Prayer. A whole day? In prayer? What are you, nuts? But we accepted the challenge, took the booklet and our Bibles to a park, and with the blind leading the blind, attempted to learn how to spend a day in prayer. That one simple day changed my life.
Years ago, I attended a huge, loud, busy, excellent-but-sensory-overloaded ministry conference. I was drawn to an intriguing pre-conference option: a seminar with a delightful, wise man named Dick Hardel on “Keeping Your Heart Alive Toward God”. For three days, Dick taught a handful of us how to make sure we were feeding our souls and walking with the Lord, while striving to serve the Lord. He gave us tools to help us rest in Jesus instead of wearing ourselves out or just gutting it out for Jesus. He taught us the difference between a human being and a human doing. He trained us in love, laughter, joy, quietness, grace, rest, release, trust, fun, and freedom. Such wacky concepts! Neither Dick nor I had any idea he was planting the seeds of Psalm One Ministries. But I immediately knew by giving me these tools, Dick had changed my life forever.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6) Most people are satisfied with “good enough Christianity”. But some people hunger and thirst for more. God is ready and willing to satisfy us with His presence, voice, guidance, comfort, direction, strengthening, and joy if we will only stop and seek Him.
But how? As Henri Nouwen so accurately describes it: “Your inner life is like a banana tree filled with monkeys jumping up and down.” We may instinctively know that we need time with God, but we may have no idea how to integrate the living, active, life-giving presence of the Spirit into our full daily lives. How do I begin? What if I do it wrong? What does it look like? Won’t I be bored? Do I have to become a monk? Do I have to shave my head? What if the Lord doesn’t speak to me? Or worse: What if He does?!
All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die." Moses said to the people, " Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin." So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was. (Exodus 20:18-21)
“No way. I don’t want to let God speak to me. Way too risky. You listen. You tell us what He says. Then I can decide whether or not I want to accept it. But I don’t want to deal with God on a scary face-to-face level.”
Others hunger and thirst to learn to experience increasing intimacy with the Lord. That’s what Psalm One is all about:
  • To put your hand in the hand of Jesus.
  • To train the head, heart, and hands to all follow hard after God.
  • To add tools that can help our “monkey mind” to be still and know that He is God.
  • To move beyond information to transformation.
  • Learning Scripture from Genesis to Revelation so everything is filtered through solid truth.
  • Biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual direction.
  • Guided retreats to equip, train, and lead us to spend time in the Word, prayer, and other life-giving spiritual disciplines.
  • Being “alone together” so it’s not intimidating.
  • Experiential love, laughter, joy, quietness, grace, rest, release, trust, fun, and freedom that spill over.
  • Not just learning about these concepts, but actually experiencing silence and solitude of being that lead to peace and deep joy.
It’s not for super saints. It’s not drudgery. It’s not a luxury. It’s oxygen. But it comes naturally to very, very few people. Our culture certainly doesn’t encourage it. I need teachers and mentors to train me with example, tools, insight, strategies, and experiences in practicing the presence of God. It is still a struggle against my own “monkey mind” and the enemy to push through the wall and lean into Jesus. However, the more time you spend at Jesus’ feet, the more time you crave. I love to see the wheels turn as people experience their first Day of Refreshing. “It was wonderful, but it wasn’t long enough!” Then they come to a Refocus and Refuel. “That was amazing, but can we do a longer one?”
Do you hunger and thirst, but maybe don’t know how? Do you lack the tools that will help you enter in? Do you have the best of intentions to set aside time with Jesus, but you give up after a few minutes or it just doesn’t materialize? Would you enjoy the accountability, encouragement, and fellowship of others who are also seeking God? Come along with us in Psalm One.
“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now...Come further up, come further in!”― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle