Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Holy Week: The Maturing of the Apostle Paul Has Life Lessons For All of Us


I HAVE TO SAY, OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS,  I've not been in the best of spirits. That's often to be expected during the annual period of Lent. The good news is, over the past few months, a far deeper subject than my/our unpleasant condo situation has gripped me:  I've become deeply and genuinely interested in learning more about the life of the Apostle Paul and his amazing missionary journeys preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the Roman Empire.  You will recall that Paul, the Jewish Pharisee who condemned new followers of The Way, had a dramatic on-the-road-to-Damascus experience where he was struck blind and met the risen, living Christ.  His life and conversion are chronicled in the Book of Acts and also in his many New Testament Epistles.  It is a topic worthy of several lifetimes of study and application.

My current obsession with Paul is literally saving my sanity and inspiring me beyond my wildest dreams.  Praise God for this gift, at this time.

When a pastor recommended  Neil Cole's book, Journeys to Significance, several weeks ago,   I immediately put it on my top-ten reading list and ordered it from Amazon.  After receiving it,  I threw it in the back seat of my car hoping for a good time to read it while on a road trip to Texas. Finally, this week---Holy Week---I have sequestered myself far away and am reading this book--- literally one of the most significant  reads of my life.  Haven't been able to put it down and don't want it to's that good and instructive---truly.

If you think you've reached your maximum maturity level (I certainly don't!) or that the Apostle Paul began his missionary journeys at some semblance of  high-level maturity, then don't kid yourself,  please think again.  All of us----especially those of us who call ourselves Christians---can and should continue learning and maturing until the day we meet our maker. It never stops, nor should it.  God didn't put us here to make us happy all the time, so much as to form us into maturing individualsk who know what love is and can make a difference in this dark and darkening world, now groaning, waiting for the return of Christ.

This is ostensibly a book about leadership for church leaders.  However, it is a book for anyone who desires to learn more about genuine leadership that begins and ends with the leading of our Lord.  The only true maturity for any of us is from the trials,  tribulations, loneliness, fear, sufferings and inspirations of the Holy Spirit. As Cole states,  God's  paintbrush strokes on our lives and unique destinies began before we're even born.

I simply cannot say enough good things about Neil Cole's book though it is not for everyone, especially those not consciously on a spiritual journey.  Some criticize Cole for inserting too much of his own autobiographical
material within the context of Paul's life and journeys.   I don't,  and really got and identified with one of Cole's basic life decisions:  to live life as an adventure and learn, learn from it and our many mistakes, rather than just reading about the mistakes and adventures of others and avoiding pain and involvement in life.

I leave you to read about the book yourself, if you're so drawn.  As for me,  I am deeply grateful to Neil for helping me continue to understand the trials and tribulations of Paul and how it relates to my own life adventures in and out of suffering leading to greater aliveness.  Trying too hard to protect ourselves from pain  deadens our lives and makes us much more superficial, dull and unauthentic.  If you want to finish well and be deeply wise, then you will do well to read Cole's marvellous book to continue your journey.

Thanks for coming by, as always.

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