What is Christian Literacy?

refers to the ability to use a language - to know what words means, to be able to use grammar, sentence structure, to be able to converse in that language is to be literate.

Religious literacy
means having the ability to understand and speak about our faith intelligently. It’s the ability to communicate the basic tenets of our religion.

I'm very grateful to B.U. Professor Stephen Prothero for his excellent book, "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn't." This book, along with my desire to teach the faith, served as the inspiration for this effort.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

God's Guidance

We Christians talk about God leading us. We pray and ask God to guide us. We sing about God's leading, “Lead On, O King, Eternal,” “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” “He Leadeth Me, O Blessed Thought.”  But does God lead us? And if so, how? 

Here are some of the classic ways that people of faith have sought God’s guidance:

1.    Inner Peace.
God often gives us a sense of inner peace when we are on the right path.                  
Scripture: Let the Peace of Christ rule in your hearts. - Col. 3:15
            We allow the gift of God’s peace to be our rule and guide.

2.    A Restlessness,Yearning for more.
Sometimes the opposite of #1 guides us! We have an inner restlessness, a sense that God is calling us in a new direction. Consider the calling of the first disciples. Jesus simply said, “Come, Follow Me.” There must have been something already stirring in their hearts for them to respond the way they did.

3.    An Open Door.
Sometimes God leads us by simply presenting us with an opportunity, an “open door.” The Apostle Paul seemed to utilize this method.
Scripture: I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me.  - I Cor. 16:9
When I came to Troas to proclaim the good news of Christ, a door was opened for me in the Lord.   - II Cor. 2:12

4.    Other People.
God guides us through the counsel of those who know us and love us.
Scripture: Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.
 - Proverbs 15:22

5.    Common Sense.
God leads us as we use our own reasoning and common sense.
Paul used this method as well.
Scripture: It seemed necessary for me to send Epaphroditus to you. - Phil.2:25
It seemed best to the Holy Spirit & to us to impose on you not further burden.  
- Acts 15:28

6.    The Delight of Your Heart
Often God’s will for us is found in what makes us feel most alive!
Frederick Buechner put it this way: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.”
Scripture: Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
- Psalm 37:4
      7.    Scripture and Christian Values
The Ten Commandments & teachings of Christ guide and direct our actions, as do the values that are taught in the Bible – honesty, humility, generosity, forgiveness, etc.
Scripture: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.  – Psalm 119:105

8.    Opening Our Eyes
Sometimes through prayer God figuratively opens our eyes and helps us see what was already there. Biblical scholars point out that a number of Jesus’ miracles were healing the blind, and that by doing so Christ was suggesting that many around him were spiritually blind. He came to open our eyes to his kingdom. At our discussion Betsy mentioned that service to others helps her receive God’s guidance and make better decisions, because in the act of serving she sees beyond her own little world.

9.    Walk & Trust
Instead of showing us the entire journey, God often gives us just enough light to see the next few steps. So we must simply walk and trust that God is guiding us, that God’s will will be done.
Scripture: I will return to you if God wills.  - Acts. 18:21
Asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you.    
- Romans 1:10

10. Co-Creators with God
I love the children’s books where the child helps write the story. At the end of each chapter the child has choices about what the main character will do. The child makes the choice and then reads the appropriate section. At the end of that section comes another series of choices. The child and the author help create the story that the child experiences. God leads like that, combining our choices with God’s will and grace.

Prayer: Lead us, O God. Direct our thoughts, our attitudes and our steps that we may walk in your ways and live in your kingdom. Amen. 

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