I believe we all possess an internal “homing device” similar as in animals such as birds, butterflies, salmon, etc. in which we as man subconsciously seek someone or something to worship. St Augustine says it well in his quote “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” There is no ultimate peace or satisfying fulfillment in life for man until this restless energy rests solely in accepting in faith Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and follow his teachings in Scripture with the appropriate obedient actions. Man with his inventions and selfish motives has buried, eradicated, and depressed his ability to enjoy this communion with the Trinity. I refer you to Ravi Zacharia’s book“Counterfeit gods” for greater details of this downward spiral in a culture lost in the “slough of despondency” as described in Pilgrim’s Progress, I believe to be the most published allegory ever in history.
An apology to you as readers is in order now as the basis for this whole post is based on a book likely none of you ever read, yet anyway. I first read it last November at the suggestion of my eldest son Ben to give me me further insights into considering a possible career as a Life Coach. It may seem unfair to have you read how this post now, about how this book has impacted my thinking and you don’t even have a clue what it’s about nor will I even attempt to summarize it. Matthew Kelly has written many books and I have referenced several of them prior. This one, The Dream Manager, as for many who have read it, will tell you it permanently changes them, for the better, and again, I’ll not even try to summarize that phenomena.
When I finished the book, and was reflecting on the quick read as an allegory, I realized I too would never be the same. You already know of my auto accident September 18th and its spiritual significance. Now I am experiencing virtually another quantum leap by this Dream Manager book literally pouring gasoline on my flaming passion for teaching and enhancing communication skills at all levels for individuals of all ages, in business settings as well as in church revitalization. And Kelly has written more of similar consequence, the one I lean on heavily in the remainder of this post, is “The Seven Levels of Intimacy” as the primer for all communication skills. Ok, the apology is over and we’ll resume the effects of these two books.
Perhaps you ask the question: Who, What, When, Where and How does one begin this “communion” or “encounter” with the Trinity, namely God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Traditionally, such an encounter can be as moving as Saul on the Damascus Road as recorded in Acts 9, or as abnormal as after an earthquake in a Philippian jail found in Acts 16, or as strange as Howard Storm’s NDE (near death experience) in a Paris Hospital while waiting for surgery transforming him from an avowed atheist tenured art professor to becoming a pastor as described in the “Imagine Heaven” book by John Burke. Or it can happen, as with me during 5th grade summer Bible school one evening with my parents in our living room before I went up to bed, Better yet though, what is your story?
There is no scarcity of books being written for growing the Kingdom and I am sure Kelly is well aware his business books exhibit a unique dual message; spot on for secular business wisdom as well as a unique unspoken Christian foundation for life. Similarly, I believe Jesus’s ministry of love is exemplified best by being a “faith facilitator” as opposed to being a “dictator” when we consider practically how the Christian faith is to be effectively encountered, especially in this culture. So, how can we best fulfill Matthew 28 to “Go therefore and make disciples?” First, you must know the term “disciple” to me implies significantly more “interactive involvement,” going far beyond that merely of making “converts.”
I see the initial action bottom line from The Dream Manager book as encouraging readers whether in the marketplace or a church, to first, just write down their dreams. Most people find this simple task very difficult. I also happen to believe the process of dreaming and the realization of those dreams as witnessed in Kelly’s allegory, are best achieved among people actively taking St Augustine serious when he said “our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
Persons satisfied living in the consequences of their poor choices whether in relationships, habits, addictions, finances, etc. are continually struggling to survive rather than thrive. Such people may laugh or scoff at dreamers until they too miraculously catch a glimpse of their restless hearts finding their spiritual rest. True, they may still be struggling to survive but now with a glimpse of rest, perhaps for the first time ever in their life, they can visualize Hope, the end result or the payoff, for “hearts resting in you!”
And in time, these little flames of Hope as found among these “hearts resting in you” will transition from merely “struggling to survive” to “learning to thrive,” all accomplished by simply understanding the divine plan and allowing our built-in homing device to find our rest in you. And often Hope matured, ultimately leads to pure Joy. So simple, but yet, so very profound.
So just how does this happen? I believe ultimately Joy can be found because dreams when conceived in a loving and caring atmosphere emphasizing the Hope that lies within us, will then be verbalized & shared positively changing not only the dreams originators, but everyone else who hears and witnesses the transitions. In time, the circle enlarges to their friends and family and hopefully you too will be included as the dream facilitator.
In the book, Kelly solicited material dreams from the Admiral employees, and truth be told, the non-material dreams arrived later, though well before the fifth anniversary of the employees enjoying their initial success. Did you notice how soon the successful dreamers realized, that it was imperative for them to share their vision with other employees and family including even grandchildren and great grandchildren? And true, initially it often was just for the“goodies” but I am detecting, the successful dreamers soon realized, there was something much bigger and rewarding here being played out though I’m not sure many of them could have verbally identified the dynamics of this process.
But then, let’s back up and just consider how often do we fully realize the scope of God’s blessings to us each and every day? Too often, I’m totally oblivious! The bottom line of our consideration for this post and of these two books is the social dynamic of the exuberant sharing of our dreams as certainly being worth our examination for strengthening the foundations of all communications as well as growing and maturing both business and kingdom efforts, expansions, and enterprises.
This is the moment I need to point out there is another dimension in this intricate communicative process that Matthew Kelly shares in his book “The Seven Levels of Intimacy” (TSLOI) where the seven are identified as Cliches; Facts; Opinions; Hopes & Dreams; Feelings; Faults, Fears, & Failures; and Legitimate Needs.
Closely related to and on the heels of these seven levels, Kelly offers us these eight Journeys that we may begin though generally we are not even aware we’ve begun or are in pursuit. But as we mature in our communication skills and later review our progress, we will realize we are indeed enjoying the fruits of our labors. For example, Kelly says these Journey’s will transport us from: the Shallow to the Deep; the Irrelevant to the Relevant; the Illegitimate Desires to Legitimate Needs; Judgement to Acceptance; Fear to Courage; False Self to True Self; Loneliness to Profound Companionship; and Isolation to Unity. Note how the above transitions of process “flesh out” the TSLOI. By connecting the dots of these forms of communication as outlined above, participants pursuing either their personal or corporate dreams whether in the marketplace or the church, I predict will eventually realize “our hearts were restless until they found their rest in you.”
At this point I need to share some church history rather than more dream allegory. Yes, Peter preached and and on one day three thousand were saved. In recent centuries in this country, we’ve experienced such revivals. Perhaps on certain continents this still occurs. And I fully believe God could do it tomorrow in North America if he so chose. As always the question on the table right now is what are we to do or be right now in response to the Great Commission? There is an unparalleled opportunity here for the church to grow, especially in a culture such as ours fraught with the pain of abuse whether racism, sexual, family, or even being denied housing, health care, employment or educational opportunities, etc. not even to mention the media circus that relentlessly pervades our lives socially and politically.
However, an “unparalleled opportunity for the church to grow” is not what I’m hearing and reading about in and around church circles today. I hear of “hospice care” for aging congregations, dwindling youth numbers, even now the “maturing” of congregants, formerly the financial backbone of a congregation, whom are loosing interest and no longer attending regularly. Neither have I mentioned the lack of Hope and Joy so readily observed I’m told,in nearly every congregation. Dying social clubs are really hard to maintain, let alone revive. This paragraph provides more than enough “example” of what we are being led to believe today is the “new reality” for the church now and into the beyond.
May I suggest an alternative to the above disparity and gloom? Simplistically the difference is whether you see your glass as half full or half empty. Truthfully, it is that simple. It is all in our perspective. The trillion dollar question though is what has happened to our Christian perspective? Either on the corporate organizational level or even sadder, for the individual congregant faithful all his life but now spiritually lonely without joy? How did we evidently get so corrupted so quickly? You may say it happened almost like a computer virus; suddenly it just appeared! Actually, not! Scripture has been predicting this falling away. We have been derailed by a host of devilish “good” ideas on many fronts, rather than now focusing specifically on “God,” and abiding in His word and offering our obedient actions as we worship Jesus, our King.1
I hear you saying, ‘Merlin, come on now. It will take much more than merely perspective to revitalize the church.’ Yes and No. Yes as said by Francis Chan in his book ‘Letters to the Churches’ on pg. 48 when he says “it is imperative that we differentiate between what we want and what God commands. Not that desires are all bad, but they must take a back seat to what He emphasizes.” Consider Paul’s words from I Cor 1:17 “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, less the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” Continuing in I Cor 2:1-5 “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
Continuing in this vein, I quote Chan again on Pg. 52 “We’re not doing people any favors by pretending they are at the center of the universe. Either people will be awed by the sacred or they will not. If the sacred is not enough, then it is clear that the Spirit has not done a work in their lives. If the sheep don’t hear his voice, let them walk away. Don’t call out with your voice. By catering our worship to the worshippers and not to the Object of our worship, I fear we have created human-centered churches … Many of us make decisions based on what brings us the most pleasure. This is how we choose our homes, jobs, cars, clothes, food, and yes, even churches …. In essence, we want to know what God will tolerate rather than what he desires….Ignorance feels better than disobedience … Scripture is to be our starting point, not desire or tradition … What would please God most?”
So yes, we may have much to change, but first we must understand God’s desire for our worship and then change accordingly. No, as I said prior it is quite simple, largely perspective. Let me begin by stating I find most Christians are quite negative in their outlook on life except for maybe that hour or two on Sunday when they show up in church. Let’s assume you get can get a significant discussion started about technology and our culture, and I virtually guarantee you the average Christian over 50 will remind you of our country’s “glory days,” the rampant loss of morals, lack of integrity, etc. and all the negatives they are against. Seldom if ever, do we hear what really excites them about the opportunities Christians have today to be a positive witness for Jesus Christ on so many fronts. What a glorious time indeed it is to be alive and be faith facilitator!
Do you understand better now what I’m getting at when I say it’s largely perspective? Unfortunately, the prevalent doom and gloom in the minds and attitudes of many Christians when not within the walls of the church, whether subconscious or overt, is too often a spiritual downer to everyone these negative Christians meet. This scenario is not scriptural nor desirable at all. Such negativity comes either from the negative influence of culture, or individual spiritual laziness and the subsequent lack of empowerment. I compare this negativity much like traveling to new surroundings without the comfort of GPS whereas the empowered faith facilitators are totaling enjoying their guided trip within their spheres of influence.
I pray you enjoy your discipleship journey into your uncharted waters until “your restless heart rests in Him.” As said prior, this will be a Journey through the Seven Levels of Intimacy and then progressing from the:
Shallow to the Deep,
Irrelevant to the Relevant,
Illegitimate Desires to Legitimate Needs,
Judgement to Acceptance,
Fear to Courage,
False Self to True Self,
Loneliness to Profound Companionship,
And Isolation to Unity!
These eight destinations deserve your mental “savoring,” then dreaming, and if you do get inspired, YOU will want to read the book and then implement the ten steps at the end, getting you well down the road towards becoming Kelly’s best-possible-version-of-yourself while helping others become the-best-possible-version-of-themselves as well!
Blessings as you too begin to dream about becoming the-best-possible-version-of-you in the peace and rest only God can provide as YOU GO FORTH FACILITATING DISCIPLES>>>> Merlin