I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn away from your ordinances, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:100-105)Okay, here I am - in Brandon and back in my study - wading through all the catch-up stuff that needs to be done. But, before diving in, I paused to spend a few deliberate minutes with God. That's where the scripture (above) spoke to me so clearly.
It's also pretty much the theme from my weekend in Virginia, shared with over 75 men from the Disciples of Christ Church. How do we negotiate our lives? How do we live - intentionally - as children of God committed to living like we mean it; because God most certainly means it? How do we follow Jesus?
I don't want to over-do the superlatives, or to make my use of language inflationary. But, I honestly can't say enough about how positive I feel about the trip to Virginia. It's been almost three years since the release of "GET REAL: a spiritual journey for men" (May of 2007), and since then I've spoken at scores of locations in eight states; but this weekend the message came together in - I believe - a unique way.
The men at Smith Mountain Lake, from all over Virginia, owned a collective hunger for authentic spiritual growth that translated into a palpable sense of receptivity in the room when I spoke.
- It's not just that they listened... they tuned in.
- They didn't just chuckle when I said something funny - they roared.
- They didn't simply pray when we paused to talk with God - they sought God enthusiastically.
- They didn't politely chat in the small-group sessions - they poured their hearts out to one another.
- They didn't just show up for a retreat at the lake - they committed themselves, heart and soul, to moving forward in the spiritual journey as Followers of The Way.
Every time I speak, from a small group of five to my biggest crowd of around a thousand (at Palm Harbor UMC), the experience is interactive. There is a dynamic vested in any gathering of people that impacts both the spirit and the content of what I say.
This weekend, somehow, the Virginia Disciples of Christ gathering communicated openness, motivation, sincerity and love. That made it easy for me to be effective in my presentations.
I understand that, so long as I am open to faith, God uses me - in some small way - every day. But, the remarkable privilege of being the conduit for God's grace and blessing in a retreat/conference setting is both heady and humbling at the same time! I'm overwhelmed; I'm excited; I'm proud; I'm full of God's spirit; I'm full of myself; I'm motivated; I'm exhausted... and so much more.
It's quite possible that God may continue to use me to encourage the work of the Disciples of Christ - maybe even beyond the scope of Virginia. All I can say is - "Bring it on, God! I'm more than willing"....
Photo, below, by the lakeside, early Sunday morning at Smith Mountain Lake