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Drivenness . . . Giants . . The Shack . . . Emmaus

2008 February 4
by Mike

“A common characteristic of driven people is that, at some point, they forget the purpose.” Mark Buchanan

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We had a house full of happy Giants fans last night. All right, not exactly Giants FANS; just people who either didn’t want the Pats to be 19-0 or were tired of AFC wins in the Super Bowl.

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Last week I read The Shack by William Young. Words like these from Eugene Peterson have to catch your attention: “When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize, the result is a novel on the order of The Shack. This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!”

Mack, the grieving father who is burdened under “The Great Sadness” (of losing his daughter), receives an invitation to return to the shack out in the Oregon woods where his life was upended. The novel takes a rather bizarre twist at that point; but it spoke powerfully to me — about God, about incarnation, about evil, about freedom, about prayer, and about reconciliation.

– – – –

Included in my sabbatical break will be a Walk to Emmaus. I’ve heard such good things about the experience. Anyone want to share what that time meant to you?

79 Responses leave one →
  1. Carolyn Dycus permalink
    February 5, 2008

    Mike, I’ll be the second one to second Uncle Steve’s advice. BUT, if you are still reading these comments, I’ll add my 2 cents:

    My Walk re-filled my heart with joy. That’s what I had prayed for, looked for, but couldn’t latch onto after our Lanny’s death. No magic formula during my weekend but simply the intimate connection with GOD, the Holy Spirit’s saturation of every detail that weekend, gave me the precious “yes” answer to my prayers…at least that is the only explanation i can give for singing His praises with a bright heart day after day (and to this day ) when my Walk was completed. Joy.

    Enjoy, dear brother!

  2. February 5, 2008

    I think you should take a sabactical and WALK away from comments for a while. Think of them as unsigned letters…god for the commenter becasue it get it out, good for you because you don’t read them!

  3. stos permalink
    February 5, 2008

    I went on Emmaus walk #82 in NCNYWTE, Boonville, NY. I had no clue that I would be sooooo changed spiritualy. I was a changed person. I have since become a Lay Speaker and a servant to Christ Jesus. Even giving Sunday Services on two occasions. If going on the walk was spiritualy the next best thing is to serve on team. Walk #85 I served on team and was lifted higher then I was during my original walk. People have said that this is a cult……Since when is being a Christian considered being in a cult. We have walk #86 coming up in a month and I encourage anyone interested to get there. Check your local Emmaus or Ultrea web sights and do it. You will never regret it. Praise Jesus

  4. Kathy S permalink
    February 6, 2008

    Mike, Even though you are on a sabbatical, your example of seeking God in every way you can teaches us and encourages us. God bless you on your walk, not just your Walk to Emmaus but in your ongoing spiritual journey. Peace and love.

  5. February 6, 2008

    I never heard of this place before, but now I would like to go. Some places on earth are thin places, this seems like one of those.

    http://www.matthewsblog.waynesborochurchofchrist.org

  6. February 6, 2008

    Mike,
    Thank you for sharing about your real walk to Emmaus. I will pray for you during your walk.

    I have never walked down the actual road where he did so I can give no supernatural experiences.

    I have walked the road though many times brother. I was in ICU about a year ago or so now. I had been a Christian nearly 20 years and minister. I had a horrable night. I surrendered my life completely over to Jesus Christ. Everything. It gave it all over to him. I surrendered my life (all the things I thought I could keep from God) family(my wife,and all children) finances(bills. I knew that he was a God who was bigger than I was ever dream or imagine), and ministry (I could no longer do it myself; I needed him to be a part of it, to be in complete control of it). In that ICU room my eyes were open and I could see and and I said for the first time in my life, “Surely weren’t my bones durning with in me as I prayed and surrendered. My bones.” A nurses aid then entered the room at 3:00 a.m. and said, “Do you mind if I pray with you?” “I said, O.K”. He placed his hand on my head, the other on my left leg which was the weakest during the disease. The hand that he placed on my head was a supernatural hot. Nothing like I have ever in my life experienced before. I prayed. “Psalm 103 “God you are a God who forgives all of our sins and heals all of our diseases.” I could feel my leg getting stronger. Then he place his hand on my chest and prayed for blessings for my family, that generation curses be broken, for “spiritual gifts” to come up on me. “He prayed annointing”. As he was praying tears were running down my face. I could feel a supernatural warmth like never bore in my life.

    Was I healed instandly? No. It was quicker than others. I do not boast but in Christ. In what he can do. The first thing in occupational therapy was “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

    I say this now because I am now facing health difficulties again. Migraines that are unbarrable. I am asking seeking prayer requests from as many Christians as I can because God does not see us as we see our selfs. We see ourselves as Ultra-Conservative, Conservative, Middle of the Road, Progressive, Liberal. God see’s us as the beautiful creation he has made. Christian. So please pray for me.

    You can click on my blog and learn more.
    But the deal is I have been having severe migraines for 2 straight weeks. All most no sleep because of the pain, even with pain medication. Keep me in your prayers.

    I guess my point is: We all can have Emmaus supernatural experieranes when we real, authentically surrender our will over to His. Jesus will open our eye and will see Him. The bones will with us and we will never be the same again.

    I love you Mike.
    I am praying for you as you have your Sabbattical.

  7. February 6, 2008

    I am praying for you, preacherman! I pray you are healed once again by our mighty Healer.

    As to the Walk, I went on the college version called Chrysalis in 2001, and it was by far one of the best things I have ever done and has played an incredible role in my spiritual formation. There were no divisions, no labels, and it truly embodied the body of Christ-no walls, no barriers, just the same love for a God who has saved us. I have never felt so prayed for, or so much love poured out on me in such a short, but meaningful period of time.

    I did not know much going into it, which is the way I wanted-and I am thankful. I only anticipated a time to encounter God and form bonds with other sisters in Christ-which continue today, and that is what I found. It was perfect timing in my life, and it blessed me tremendously.

    I truly pray that it will be a refreshing and blessed time for you and all that participate. May you feel the love, grace, mercy, and peace of God rain down on you in tangible and beautiful ways. May you see the community and body of Christ in a new and powerful way.

    De colores and may all of your fourth days be filled with blessings of God!! :)

  8. Lisa permalink
    February 6, 2008

    Cult – are you serious?!? Someone form our background calling anything a cult absolutely blows my mind!


    On to more important matters…

    Wow – The walk is different for everyone but let me tell you what it did for me, a girl raised in the COC and been a member of for 44 years. It gave me confidence of my salvation! Something I sadly never had before in our fellowship. HOW SAD! DID YOU HEAR ME! —- CONFIDENCE IN MY SALVATION! Now that is life changing! All of you people ask yourself – have you lived your life in fear of judgement day or death? Come on be honest. Well I can honestly tell you that my walk gave me something back that Satan has stole from me and so many of my brothers and sisters. God reassured me that I am HIS baby girl and he loves me like crazy!

  9. clint permalink
    February 7, 2008

    have a great weekend Mike

  10. February 7, 2008

    clint
    Feb 7th, 2008 at 7:58 am

    have a great weekend Mike

    AMEN!! :)

  11. Kyle permalink
    February 7, 2008

    I must admit I am pretty unfamiliar with Emmaus Walk (as a ministry) but it sounds interesting to me. I have become pretty open about a lot of things that I didn’t used to be but I still have a hard time going to some traditions for growth.

    For instance the Baha’i faith may have some valuable teachings. But I certainly don’t believe they are obedient to the gospel and as such I wouldn’t want to allow their teachings to begin to shade my understanding of God.

    So if that is the extreme, where do we draw the line? I happen to see quite a divide between Methodists and most other protestant and evangelical groups but I’m sure there are many that don’t see it the same way. What I’m asking is how do I discern whether it’s a good idea to go and listen to a speaker or a weekend retreat or work in a mission with those of different traditions? I’m not pre-supposing the answer here, I’m really interested in how others draw lines in their lives.

  12. Brian permalink
    February 7, 2008

    Sadly, Kyle, I don’t think a lot of people draw a line anymore.

  13. clint permalink
    February 7, 2008

    Kyle, great question, if it is sincere God will lead you into all truth.

    We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:12-14

  14. February 7, 2008

    By the way, Brian-in all sincerity-I had my Bible open the entire weekend and asked many questions; and by no means was I turned away-but rather embraced, encouraged, and acknowledged for studying and being a student of the Word.

    I don’t know where you are coming from, but what you described is not what I experienced by any means. I read what you quoted entirely differently than you perceived it, and pray that one day you, too may be able to see the beauty in the broader community where there is not a need to compromise your beliefs.

  15. Kyle permalink
    February 8, 2008

    Katherine,

    I think I see the beauty you speak of in a broader community but how far does it stretch. I mentioned the Baha’i faith earlier not because I think they are bunch of crazies, but I find their teachings somewhat valuable to the world. It’s just that they equate Jesus to Mohammed and Moses and Krishna. That stuff is too much for me and for all the personal satisfaction it might give me to experience unity with those folks, I think God would be very angry with that. So are there some principles you would apply in determining what teaching you will listen to and adhere to? In our tradition there are some who would say only the non-institutional preachers are worthy, still more that will listen as long as church of Christ is on the building. I think many here are accepting that there are some good teachings in the broader evangelical community. I’m just curious how far that community extends for different people.

  16. japierpont permalink
    February 8, 2008

    Mike – check out the NYT article today –

    In Bronx School, Culture Shock, Then Revival
    By ELISSA GOOTMAN

  17. February 8, 2008

    Kyle and Katherine –

    May I chime in here for a moment with my idea on how far we “stretch” out to other fellowships? Here is my criteria:

    Belief in the following, to me, core beliefs and indisputable:

    1-God exists in three persons in one: Father, Son, Holy Spirit

    2-God is our Creator and is enthroned in Heaven

    3-The Bible is God’s inspired Word, infallible and Spirit breathed in original manuscripts.

    4-Jesus Christ is both God and Man, only begotten Son of God.

    5-Jesus lived a perfect life on this earth, was sacrificed for our sins, died, was buried and rose from the dead, and sits on the Throne of Mercy until He returns for us.

    6-Salvation of eternal souls is a free gift of God, given through belief in, and obedience to Jesus as the Savior.

    7-Jesus established HIS Church and according to Acts 2, adds to the Church those that are being saved. He does, not us, iow, He will judge who is being saved, not us.

    8-The world will know we are His by our love for each other and how we care for the less fortunate, as we answer His commandment to teach everyone, everywhere about Jesus and salvation through Him.

    Broad brushed, but there you have it. Simply put, call on the name of Jesus as LORD and Savior and then be obedient to Him and His commandments to us. These are immutable to my way of thinking. Anyone that holds to these “core” beliefs is co-heir with me in Jesus. All else are externals to me.

    Sorry to interfere in your conversation, but felt a need to butt in. :)

  18. February 8, 2008

    God created all people. Why should we draw a line and separate any? Isn’t that arrogance of the highest form? And God put us all on one small planet. Isn’t it obvious that we have to live and work together to keep our planet habitable?
    The Baha’i teachings give specific tools to help do that.
    Besides, Baha’u’llah merely claimed to be the return of Christ so that we, all humans together, could build the Kingdom of God one Earth as it is in Heaven.
    And what the Baha’is have done so far has shown that it is possible. And every Baha’i has proved that by rising above the barriers (which are all human limitations) between people, we can work together in amazing ways.

  19. Kyle permalink
    February 8, 2008

    Duane, I wasn’t trying to start a discussion about Baha’i nor was I trying to offend anyone else’s religion. I’m just not a Baha’i kind of guy.

  20. Linda permalink
    February 9, 2008

    The attitudes and arguments here are the very reason I left the CoC. When you divide yourselves and divide other believers Satan wins, he wins by you wasting your time and focus and enhancing the dividing lines that God hates. Read the first 5 books of the bible and see, it is not a story about man at all… it is a story about God and how man needs to relate to and glorify God. Your conversations are such a waste of time and fuel to Satan’s causes, taking the focus off of an awesome God and putting it on what you think. I’ve not been on an Emmaus yet, but I’ve seen the experience change and heal lives. Its a kingdom thing, read what Jesus said about the kingdom being like a fishing net, full of all kinds of things. But for those of you who are dividing… check you back, because Jesus said the ones who are do do the dividing are the angels… if you don’t have wings you better start doing your job of fishing again and leave the angels the job of dividing!

  21. Cheryl Cunningham permalink
    February 9, 2008

    Mike,

    I am so thankful you are going to experience the warm embrace that is the Walk to Emmaus! I went on my own walk in 1995 at a time when I was deeply unsettled, burdened by a deep depression, and was questioning everything in my life. I went tired, depleted, and with nothing to offer..only wanting to see if the experience could do for me what it had done for my sweet husband Rob. What I experienced there was the overwhelming embrace of love by the Body of Christ and God’s unending grace…experienced in a whole new way and shown so clearly and abundantly that I was filled with a joy I had never known in my life. I discovered there that the weight that was crushing me was my own sin and unforgiveness of past hurts and pain I felt were unjustly caused by others. I was able to lay all those burdens down, leaving them at the foot of the cross, and walk away filled with the Spirit instead of pain. My life has never been the same since. I am still a devoted member of my native faith heritage (C of C) that I love dearly, but I have embraced a Body of Christ far larger and my life is richer, and more holy because of those Godly people. I thank God everyday that he blessed me with the Walk experience. Now, these many years later and having served as a team member many times, as a lay director, and even as a board member, I can tell anyone who asks that the ONLY aim of the Walk to Emmaus is to draw people close to the heart of God and to propel them back into their church and their world to serve Him. There is no discussion of traditions or beliefs… Catholic, Methodist or otherwise…just the encouragement to love God with all your heart and to represent him in this world! If only we would all just do that and hush up about all the rest we yap about!

    I love you and I am praying renewal beyond what you could have asked or imagined. It may come in a bolt or over many days, months or even years, but it will come! We love you brother, keep on walking!!

  22. Amy Boone permalink
    February 9, 2008

    Just reading through some of the comments again this morning… once again, I’ll hold my tongue about the comments. The one item in the original post which has gotton few comments is info on The Shack. I think the comments above would be different if the commenters had just read The Shack. Not sure how else to say it…. READ IT!

  23. February 9, 2008

    Have you read it yet, Amy? I just started it last night and am about 110 pages into it. Would love to know your thoughts about it!

    And Mike, I’m still recommending that Pat Conroy book I mentioned in comment #1. 8-)

  24. Amy Boone permalink
    February 9, 2008

    YES, Matt! I was speechless when I finished it a couple of nights ago. My current thought is that I want to just go back to the beginning with a highlighter and start the whole book over. I want to see the deeper layers and mark them. I found it stunningly inspired. The first part was almost too scary for me, but then…. what can I say…

    Here are two of my favorite quotes:

    These are both God speaking about Jesus’ humanity…

    “Only as he rested in his relationship with me, and in our communion– our co-union– could he express my heart and will into any given circumstance. So, when you look at Jesus and it appears that he’s flying, he really is… flying. But, what you are actually seeing is me; my life in him. That’s how he lives and acts as a true human, how every human is designed to live– out of my life. A bird’s not defined by being grounded but by his ability to fly. Remember this, humans are not defined by their limitations, but by the intentions that I have for them; not by what they seem to be, but by everything it means to be created in my image.”

    “You don’t play a game or color a picture with a child to show your superiority. Rather you choose to limit yourself as to facilitate and honor that relationship. You will even lose a competition to accomplish love. It is not about winning and losing, but about love and respect.”

    I had to put the book down several times because my eyes didn’t come with windshield wipers and I had to wait for the mist to clear! I thought it was brilliant.

    Let me know if you liked it!

  25. Bob R Northeast Arkansas permalink
    February 10, 2008

    Mike,
    A wonderful new sense of Grace…is how I would best describe my Walk.

    Having only been a member of the C of C for 15 years let me just say there is nothing denominational or pushy about this awesome 72 hour renewal. I was also in the middle of a 6 month sabbatical when I went on the walk after several of my friends from church suggested that I go. Let me just say I am not one to slow down very long to smell the roses or to hear God speaking to my heart for direction…but at the Walk to Emmmaus I experienced this last October, it has re-energized my relationship with my friend and savior Jesus Christ. It’s strange going through the spiritual motions every week involved in ministry but forgetting God’s GRACE and just remembering the true relationship He wants with me. IT WAS GREAT…don’t let anyone tell you different.

    Your brother in Christ from NE Arkansas.

  26. February 11, 2008

    Matt and Amy,
    I just finished this weekend. Well ok almost read it without stopping. It is brilliant in every sense of the word.

  27. Christian permalink
    June 8, 2010

    The Emmaus Walk is a cult that almost broke up my marriage.

  28. Katie permalink
    May 1, 2012

    So, I am behind on the game. My apologies. My walk was 107 in October of 2006 through the Northern Illinois Emmaus Community. I wasn’t fully back on the train of Christianity, but I was back on the road to the station. I had jumped off in 1993, and had a long faith journey back. Before I went on my walk, I consciously chose to serve others because it was the right thing to do. After my walk, I served others because it is what I am asked to do. I didn’t think that it would change me, I was just doing it. Recently, a friend asked me why I was shouldering the burden of my sins myself. I thought on that for a long time. I thought on it while driving my kids to choir. I thought about it while folding the laundry, doing the shopping, putting my youngest down for a nap. Then, while “Helping my fellow church members worship through song” (my way of thinking about it) as I had done for the past 4 years, it dawned on me: Hey, yeah! I actually believe these words. They mean something to me. Wow, God, you’re sneaky. Wouldn’t you know it, no sooner did I get back on the train (helped by the hand of Jesus), I was called by the Lay Director of our chapter to serve on the next women’s walk.(this past weekend) I was asked to be a part of the Agape Chapel. I’ll reveal something to you about this “cult”. Wanna know what we did? We prayed. There are speakers. We prayed for them to do well on their talks to the pilgrims. We filled coolers with soda and water. We prayed for pilgrims and their families and friends. We cleaned up the meeting room every night. We prepared communion. We gave to them because someone had done the same for us and we wanted to provide that Grace for others. Wow, how cultish is that? EEK! Run away! Wanna know what is secret? *come here, I don’t want everyone else to know* What we keep secret are the prayers from the community and pilgrims. There can be very sensitive information in those prayer requests. We keep secret what the pilgrims have told us in confidence about why they are there. We do keep secret some fun things too. We see it as “gifts”. So do fraternities and sororities. They aren’t considered mainstream cults. If you are afraid to learn more about how to receive and reflect God’s Grace, then the Walk to Emmaus is not for you, and I for one am sorry for that.
    Mike, I hope your walk was deeply amazing for you. I hope you get to visit with your community often. If you are ever in the Chicago area, let me know and we will see if we have a gathering coming up. You are always welcome. Anyone is. We don’t bite, or speak in tongues or talk to snakes unless it is part of a talk. (that was a joke, you guys.)
    God Bless
    Katie

  29. Katie permalink
    May 1, 2012

    Oh yeah, The Shack. I started it in the fall of 2008 when I was pregnant with my youngest. It was part of a book group. I missed some meetings and they finished it without me. I wound up having my daughter 3 weeks early by c-section. I only mention this because the book was with me in the hospital, so I finished it there. It still leaves me a bit unsettled, but I think that is a good thing. It makes me think about my faith and why I believe what I believe. It resonated with me in many ways. If someone asked me if they should read it, I would say “yes” but don’t do it lightly. Be prepared to be uncomfortable, but don’t put it aside. Finish it. Pretty amazing.
    Katie

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