I’m writing this to my friends, family, and present and future readers. I believe that my books serve an important role in both spiritual formation for believers in Christ as well as foundational primers for pastors. Now, they have a great chance of being made available to those students of Scripture and ministry leaders who use Logos Bible Software.
Both Sabbatical Primers and We’re the “sons of God” . . . So What? have been made available to Logos Bible Software’s “Pre-pub” Department. If you have any inclination to help place my pastoral and spiritual formation books into the hands of readers at a reasonable price, I’d like to show you how you can help.
Simply click on the link or the photo of my collection of books here in the post or at the right in the navigation bar and that will take you to the product page. Of course, once there you can buy the books for yourself for $19.99, but that’s not necessary to help. Whether you buy them or not, simply share them using the social media icons directly under the photo of my books on the product page.
You can also simply copy and paste the URL below into your Facebook or Twitter and say something about the books. When you publish your comment, the link will place a photo of the books and the product page on your FB or Twitter so that readers can click and go to the product page to look at and purchase the collection.
When the books gather enough interest, then Logos will publish and ship them. I hope you’ll decide to help make this roll-out of the new collection available.
The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break Camp and advance into the hill country . . . go to all the neighboring peoples . . . ‘
–from Deut. 1:6-7 (NIV)
God’s people had camped with Him at the mountain where the law was given. This is also where Elijah came in a time of particular discouragement and depression. Desert mountain symbolized to early Christians a place of bondage to law and slavery (Gal. 4:24ff). At last, God would take them into the rich, green land He had promised them, the “hill country” of freedom and abundance. They would be a people, holy unto Him, a light to the peoples around them. Israel was a testimony to the One true God. They were waiting for a word from Him. They wanted guidance. They anticipated that God would answer them, but they needed to hear His command—GO—advance.
Like them, a second time in Israel’s history, God’s people waited to hear from Him. Four hundred years of silence finally broke as Messiah Jesus came into the world. At the right time, He appeared publicly to Israel and said to those who would follow Him, “Go into all the world.”(Matt. 28:18-20). This was God coming to His people to heal, deliver, forgive, restore for a reason . . . so that they could break camp and “GO.” These new followers of Messiah would be a holy people, washed clean, created to be a light on a hill, a pure people for fellowship with God and for reconciling the nations and multitudes to God.
God has been preparing a people here at New Life for the past seven years. Noteworthy that the number seven is the number of completion, the biblical number of perfection. Not that we are perfect in and of ourselves, but we have a God who is at work in our midst and He is perfecting us to be a holy people to be used of Him to minister to “all the neighboring peoples” (Titus 2:11-14).
God’s heart for us is to forget the past and move confidently ahead with Him. Some of us have been hurt or wounded in the process of becoming a people and tracking with the Lord into house-church, but now it is time to be healed and set our hearts on advancing with our Savior. For He has called us to “Follow” that He might make us fishers of men and women, boys and girls who need a Savior.
God is calling us to a deeper love, to bear with one another in love, to move on from here and to “break camp.” Now, in His Spirit and grace, He commands us to GO. Go to all the peoples in this region who need Him. Go to those who need freedom and salvation. “Forget the former things.” He is doing a NEW WORK. Do you perceive it?
We are breaking camp. We have pulled up stakes and are following our God. Don’t be left behind. He has important life-saving work for you to join Him in. But it’s in hill country of relationship, not the desert of religion.
“You will never know how hard it was to keep you boys busy,” my dad acknowledged in a moment of morphine-induced honesty following surgery for colon cancer.
“Did it ever occur to you to give us a day off?” my youngest
Dad hesitated, but only for a moment — “The thought never crossed my mind.”
“Keep busy” buzzes in my head. My daily “to do” list gives an often distorted shape to my day.
In A Sabbatical Primer for Pastors, David Alves raises his voice over the buzz. “God is taking you out of the brick making business,” he writes. With frequent references to his own story, David argues that Sabbath and Sabbaticals offer a God-designed way for me to be free from the drivenness that has served as a constant companion since my youth.
The Primer troubles me with a question that lingers like the scent of a powerful perfume: which father’s voice will shape the remaining years of my life?
–Clayton Blackstone, author of Meet Me for Breakfast and Pastor of the Advent Christian Church in Bangor, Maine
[I have revised and updated this post from a couple of years ago.]
Are your problems like other peoples’ problems?
Have you ever thought to yourself that you were the ONLY one concerned about . . . (name it).
Let’s take a few minutes and look at the 8 biggest problems people face (whether they know it or not). See where you fall out in comparison.
This is not a scientific study**. These are my personal reflections over three decades of serving people. As a busy, involved Life Coach I get lots of questions from clients, friends, and family. They all center around the following eight concerns:
1. Relational Issues. Human beings are relational. Those who aren’t are considered abnormal, and for good reason . . . they are. Men relate to women, women to men, children relate to parents, people to employers, teachers, and government. Everything in life revolves around relationship. Why are so many so bad at them? Relational equilibrium is what Life Coaches help to establish. People sometimes need a new or different perspective on their old habits of relating that aren’t working for them. Perhaps they need a new mental window to look through when they’re communicating with others.
If you want to see shallow, superficial relationships and attempts at “love,” just watch some of the contemporary reality TV programs. The problem with watching them of course is that they have nothing to teach you. Unless you learn from them that relationships need to be other-oriented rather than selfish and self-serving. Who would want a “friend” like some of the people you see on the “Bachelorette” or “Jersey Shore?” I’m hoping these aren’t the new “reality.” If they are, we should add a ninth problem to our list: Shallow Reality TV.
2. Fear of Running Out of Money. Will the money last? Will I have a job tomorrow? Most people are concerned about their income, especially the lack of income. They are concerned about expenses. He says, “She shops like there’s no tomorrow. She can’t possibly wear all the shoes she owns!” She says, “He thinks a boat is more important than renovating our bedroom or kitchen. If it were up to him, I wouldn’t have anything.”
Some have more than enough but worry that they’ll lose it. Others have just enough to squeak by today but are not sure about tomorrow. Some say they don’t care . . . and among those are the truly content and the obviously deluded. Life and death, sickness and health are tied up in these issues. FREE ADVICE: The best place to be in regard to finances is completely out of debt.
3. Health Issues. What happens if I get sick? How will we get by? OR I’m so tired of hospitals and doctors. I’m sick of sickness! How can I keep myself healthy? Many are deeply in debt through no fault of their own and see no way out. Many folks I talk with are ignorant of healthy nutrition. Others have begun to take seriously the way our food in America is raised and processed (for a real education watch the documentary Food, Inc.–you can stream it on Netflix). They are opting in on organic produce and fruits, grass-fed cattle, and free-range foul. Some worry about their health future. There are solutions that do not involve medical insurance. More and more believers I know are taking advantage of group sharing programs like Samaritan Ministries (for those who are disciples of Jesus).
4. Anxiety over Finding or Losing Loved ones. Am I lovable? Will someone care for me? Am I worth caring about? Am I perfect enough? Can I find mister/ms right? Will I ever find someone like . . . ? Love is at the center of most relationships. All but the most dysfunctional people care deeply about finding, keeping, and losing love. Yet no two people can agree upon what “true love” is. Some say there’s no such thing . . . and they have enough broken relationships to prove it. Relational issues in families, between families have escalated since the late sixties, early seventies. I’m not a sociologist, so I can’t give you the reasons for this. What I can say is that the majority of people I speak with or coach desire whole, functional relationships. Others don’t want to pay the price to change. They want the OTHER person to change. Our difficulties are always easier to blame on someone else when we’re too immature to take responsibility for the way we relate.
Abandonment, rejection, and loneliness have attacked every one of us through some relationship. Good reason exists for us all to be love-shy. Yet, people who can’t or won’t love will remain incomplete and dysfunctional. Love is after all what our Creator says we were created for. All the negative experiences are the result, not of love, but of SELF-love.
5. Religious Questions. Is there a God? Or is this life all there is? Are we alone in the Universe? What if there is a God and I’m wrong? Do I end up in Hell or Heaven? What are the requirements? Who’s right? Muslims? Jews? Buddhists? Hindus? What’s the big deal about Jesus? Why are Christians so insistent on Him for everybody? Do we really need religion? These are not problems for some, but for those who deeply examine their lives, they have to come to terms with whether they want to live a Tea Bag Philosophy of life or encounter and relate to the One who claims to be Creator, and lover of their soul. The reason Jesus is such a big deal, the reason that every known religion has had to come to terms with Him is because He claimed a relationship with God as Father. Then he rose from the dead and was seen by over 500 credible witnesses. His followers number in the 10’s of millions. Like Him, they claim that God has “revealed” Himself to them. They experience fellowship with their Father-God. Other religions make claims as well, but of a very different sort. None claims that their God is the God who is Love. No other God has demonstrated that love by reaching out to human beings to bring them into his Household. For this reason, and many others, I’m a Christian spiritual formation Life Coach.
6. Concerns about Death. What happens when I die? Of course, the obvious answer is “You’re dead. It won’t matter to you.” Don’t we just die, go into the ground, and float around as a spirit looking to hang out in a place that was special to us? Most of the cultural views regarding death are based upon a misinformed Epistemology–Most people are clueless about immortality, death, the grave, and what happens after (including, and sometimes most especially, religious people). You can change that. You can know what happens when you die. That’s why beyond the grave books are such hot sellers. That’s why Life Coaches, who also deal with spiritual formation, can bring clarity to many of these issues.
7. Global War. Aren’t we headed toward destruction of the world? Why can’t we just all live together? Why can’t we live at peace? For the same reason that people struggle with so many of these life questions. Most people look only on the surface and refuse to see the invisible, underlying realities that shape our existence. I guess they feel that they can’t impact those unseen things. So now combine misplaced Epistomology with a misplaced Anthropology. War is the result of men who are unsatisfied with what they have (greed) OR of men who think that they have to institute their religious laws on everyone else (religious legalistic totalitarianism). By the way, Christians to not believe they must institute religious laws on everyone. Quite the opposite. They fulfill and satisfied the law in their relationship to Jesus Christ. What do Imean? Take a week and read, then reread The New Testament in the Bible. Then you’ll understand.
Think long and hard over these two causes (greed and religious law) before you’re tempted to move on. The lust of man, the pride of life, and the desires that he can’t control all drive him to take what is not his or want what is someone else’s. He wants to control, to enforce his will upon others. No god offered by other religions encourages freedom or liberty. They can’t. They want to control. The One True God–Yahweh–is the God of freedom and love. A person adopted as His child, is truly free and beloved.
8. Concerns about the Future. What should I do with my life? Where are things headed? Scores of questions abound regarding the future–what it holds, how people are to face it, perhaps leverage it. The future is big business too. So naturally people wonder if it’s OK to seek out fortune tellers, palm readers, psychics, and other practitioners of divination. As a Christian spiritual formation Life Coach, I share God’s view regarding those practices. They open people to demonization by seeking future information from supernatural sources–which God has expressly forbidden (not because He’s a Blue Meanie–but for our safety). I explain that two sources are available for believers to KNOW their intended future, including preparing for unforeseen events. But that’s another post.
The eight biggest problems people voice to me seem to cover most things human. The specifics change, but the concerns seem to group together under one of the eight–relational issues, fear of running out of money, health issues, anxiety over finding or losing loved ones, religious questions, concerns about death, global war, and concerns about the future.
QUESTION: Can you think of any BIG problems I’ve overlooked?
©2011, David C Alves
**MY RESEARCH: Just to give you some context to why I know something about this topic: I’m speaking from tens of thousands of conversations for over twenty-six years as a Life Coach. The questions and concerns people bring to me tend to be repetitive. I also speak as someone who has weathered bankruptcy and am now completely out of dept. I have been divorced and have been happily married now for 32 years in my second marriage. I was lost and have been found. I was rejected and am accepted. I have defeated panic attack disorder and quit smoking and drinking decades ago. All this just to say, I’m not someone who can’t empathize with the people I coach. Character and wisdom come from weathering life’s storms, caring for others, being teachable, and taking sound counsel.
- Life Coaching Tips (womanby1design.wordpress.com)
- Why I Despise “Religion” (davidcalves.com)
- One2One Life and Parenting Coaching, LLC offers Free Parent and Life Coaching Consultations for Palm Beach County Residents (prweb.com)
- Lust, Love, or TRUE Love? (davidcalves.com)