Thursday, October 20, 2011

My path to intimacy with God

For most of my life I have found myself out in front leading groups, teams, my family,and my church. As a result of that I have become an easy target for those that feel the need to tell my how they would do it differently. I have come to realize that being a leader and Christ-follower requires a tender heart but tough hide.

Even as I lead Grace Community, God has called me to lead by the way he has gifted me. With that being said, I have been hardwired to meet God in ways that others do not. I have my own personal devotional journey that draws me very close to God. I love my Savior with all of my heart, I have a deep faith that has been rooted in the cross of Jesus Christ, and grounded in his infallible Word. There are moments in my quiet time that his presence is very evident and I am overwhelmed with his love for me.

Yet I will not ever tell someone that there is one way to find intimacy with God. But many people feel the need to say that unless you preach this, do this, do that, or have this, you are never the Church or person that God wants you to be. Can we cherish the unique ways God has allowed us to meet him without imposing upon others to do it our way?

In his book Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas observed that over 2000 years, Christians had used at least nine different pathways to enjoy intimacy with God.

Naturalists are most inspired to love God out-of-doors in natural settings.
Sensates love God with the senses and appreciate beautiful worship services that involve their sight, taste, smell, and touch, not just their ears.
Traditionalists draw closer to God through rituals, liturgies, symbol and unchanging structures.
Ascetics prefer to love God in solitude and simplicity.
Activists love God through confronting evil, battling injustice, and working to make the world a better place.
Caregivers loves God by loving others and meeting their needs.
Enthusiasts love God with mystery and celebration. (The term 'enthusiast' is derived from a Greek root-word which means God-filled.)
Contemplatives love God through adoration.
Intellectuals love God by studying with their minds.

We must be very careful not to force a personal path that makes us come alive on someone else and begin to assume that our way is the only way towards intimacy with God.

By the way the path to my intimacy with God is often The Naturalist path. So when I see Ryan standing in the rain above my heart explodes. When I take a run in the woods or bear hunt in Alaska or canoe down the Potomac River I meet God!


Ryan Brillhart said...

That was the most incredible quiet time I have ever had...

Steve Mitchell said...

Dear Pastor Jim, I read your blog a lot and appreciate much of what you post. i am also a bit concerned with your entry here referencing contemplative mystic Gary Thomas. he writes and promotes some extremely troubling persons and doctrines. here are two examples among many:

Gary Thomas teaches readers to practice mantra-like meditation (repeat a word for 20 minutes – Sacred Pathways)
In Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas favorably references Mary Ann McPhereson Oliver and her book, Conjugal Spirituality several times throughout his book. Conjugal Spiritualityis a primer on tantric sex (the union of mystical experiences and sexual activity) and other mystical practices.

i think you can see why i am so concerned that many in the FGBC are being drawn towards these mystical experiences and teachings. i do not doubt anyone's motives to get close to God but when the practices are so unbiblical, i get concerned.

i would love to find any in the FGBC who would be willing to really dialogue about these things so I am writing you. please feel free to contact me at 540-904-5420 or email me at

praying for you and looking forward to possibly hearing from you, Pastor Steve Mitchell Garden City GBC Roanoke, VA