Hearing the Voice of Jesus: Spiritual Discernment
Thanks to our friends at the Center for Spiritual Formation for, once again, allowing us to make their excellent events just a bit more snazzy----rows of books under our blue tablecloths seem to be a "value added" extra for any cool conference. That we get to hang around serious folks seeking a greater sense of God's will and get to hear the speakers they bring in, well, that is extra for us! What a great day we had with Gordon T. Smith, former dean of Regent College in Vancouver, BC.
We've followed Smith's work for years, and have sold books on consigment for his appearances before. I loved his book Courage and Calling which explores not only the dynamic doctrine of calling and vocation, but offers deeply spiritual processes for discerning a call to a particular career area. His book Beginning Well was one I described at a website review years ago; it makes the case that the early years of a new converts spiritual journey are important, setting the stage, as such conversions do, for a lifetime trajectory. It is important, for those of us who do evangelism, mentor youth, or guide others in Christian growth to "get it right" early on. I really appreciated his fairly novel insights in that very thoughtful work. (That the C.S. Lewis Institute mentoring program in DC has picked it up as a required text for their people assured me that it really is as good as I thought.)
For the "day apart" with the Center for Spiritual Formation, Smith assured us of God's love. That wild and extravagent claim is the foundation for wise decision making, and he made the case with impeccable teaching. He was a top-class speaker, very thorough, interesting, funny. He blessed us with nice comments about booksellers and commended our work to his audience. It was a day well spent. May we recommend two of his most recent, the first of which is an excellent (rather Protestant) introduction to the classic discernment steps of the Ignatian method (or here) (man, you'd think this CMA pastor was a Jesuit!**) See his wonderfully rich The Voice of Jesus: Discernment, Prayer and the Voice of the Spirit (IVP; $15.00.) His other new one is called The Holy Meal:The Lord's Supper in the Life of the Church (Baker; $11.99) where he argues that communion is an important sacrament that has usefulness in our discernment and decision-making. Fascinating and highly recommended.
**Well, he's very well read, and besides Ignatius of Loyola, he commended, especially, Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley. How's that for being ecumenical! On lectio he commended Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book.
Check out Gordon's current work with reSource Leadership, helping third world seminary librarians and other such audacious efforts, thinking that raising money for books can change the world. Bless him!