Tag Archives: t. austin-sparks

It’s a Christian “Walk,” Not a Sprint

Walk-SandTo put it simply: The point of being a Christian is to become like Christ, the perfect human being.

If you’ve been a follower of Jesus for any length of time you know that this process isn’t easy, and it takes much longer than any of us like. We don’t call it the Christian “walk” for nothing.

So the Christian journey is a lifetime of inching closer to Jesus. Disciples know that this can be frustrating. As Paul said, we’re not what we want to be.

“So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it” (Rom 7:14-17 NLT).

We become acutely aware of this struggle during the season of Lent, which begins today with Ash Wednesday. We are sinners in the process of becoming saints. Self-help books and positive thinking aren’t the answer.

We need a living savior to give us power over our sinful selves!

“Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 7:24-25).

In the meantime, our culture of hurried living makes this process all the more frustrating. We want results now. We fail to recognize the way of Christ is much slower than what we’ve been conditioned to find acceptable.

But folks, Jesus was and is seldom in a hurry.

In his book, An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest, Alan Fadling reminds us that Jesus was relaxed and lived life day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Jesus wasn’t in an ambitious hurry.

“After waiting thirty years to begin his ministry, his first ministry act was to follow the Spirit into forty days in the wilderness. His own brothers urged him to do some publicity if he wanted to be a public figure, but Jesus didn’t bite. He seemed frustratingly unhurried on his way to heal the synagogue official’s daughter and to visit his sick friend Lazarus, who died during Jesus’ two-day delay. His sense of timing often puzzled those around him.”

Fadling says, “The Spirit of God has been working in my heart to teach me how to move at the pace of grace rather than at my own hurried, self-driven pace.”

That’s tough to hear. I don’t know about you, but I’m a driven person. We just had about 8 inches of snow fall here in Virginia, and it has thrown off my schedule. I feel like I’m always on a race against time. I’ve got things to do! Last week it was bronchitis, now it’s winter weather slowing my roll.

It’s so easy to miss the Lord in our rush to get things done.

Believe me… I understand. Whether it is something hampering my hurry, or frustration that I’m not “walking” faster in my journey with the Lord, I too must surrender myself. While I do have control over my responses to life through my choices, there is much more that I don’t control.

But I was never meant to “control” anything outside of myself. Instead, I am meant to learn self-control through the power of a Person, Jesus Christ our Lord. It is a “fruit” of the Spirit, evidence of his life at work in us (Gal 5:22-23).

When it comes to our Christian walk, T. Austin-Sparks said:

“So it is that people find the Christian life burdensome; they long to know real victory, true deliverance and the joy of the Lord, whereas they experience the ups and downs of a constant struggle. The Christian life depicted in the New Testament seems so different from their actual experience that the Devil is never slow to pounce in with his suggestions that a life of constant victory is quite impossible, so that all their hopes are but unreal dreams. Satan wants God’s people to despair of knowing His power. But there is an altogether different life, different because it is based on the entering into something already completed in Christ; not something to be attained to but rather that which has already been accomplished. It is not a standard to be lived up to, but a Person to be lived with. It is impossible to measure the vast difference between these two kinds of life. The former is one of self effort and defeat, while the other consists in enjoying the reality of Christ the power of God” (Christ the Power of God).

I pray that we will resist our culture of hurried living that makes our souls restless, and learn to find rest in knowing that we already know the One who has the power to slow us down and enjoy the very presence of God.

We are complete in Christ. Live in his love today.

D.D. Flowers, 2015.


On My Return to Vocational Ministry

Hello blog readers!

I’m still here. I’ve been sick over the last week, and the last two weeks I just haven’t been able to find time to write. I intend to pick back up with the blog series this week. Thank you for your patience.

In the meantime, I thought it was best to put together a video about my journey over the last 14 years—out of vocational ministry and back again.

You had questions, so I’m responding.

As I announced a couple months ago, I have been called to pastor an Anabaptist congregation in the New River Valley of Virginia. We now know that we will be moving after Christmas. My official start date is January 1st, and my first Sunday at Christiansburg Mennonite Fellowship is January 5th.

The following video is 25 minutes in length. Feel free to ask further questions if you’ve got them. Please follow the rules of the blog. Thanks!

Other Related Posts:

D.D. Flowers, 2013.


Talking to Jesus on the Back Porch

Have you ever struggled with prayer? You may not be quiet as analytical as I have been with prayer, but maybe you have at some point wrestled with the purpose and the practice of it—even doubted its power to make any difference at all.

Let’s be honest. Prayer is a mysterious thing. But even those of us who are willing to embrace mystery often stumble over deterministic theology (everything is already settled), well-meaning sermons on prayer that only brought the ceiling closer to you, and marque slogans like “Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes you.” It’s enough to make you want to become a Buddhist.

About 6 or 7 years ago I entered into a new understanding of my identity in Christ. I had recently come out of vocational ministry and was burdened down with a work-centered faith. In many ways I suppose it was like hitting the reset button on all the things I thought I knew about Jesus, the church, my identity, and prayer. I needed it. Ever felt like that before?

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Jesus, Matthew 11:28

If you want to experience the Lord afresh in intimate fellowship with the Father by way Jesus, then I think it’s necessary to see prayer as a way of resting in the Spirit. It’s amazing how often you can do this throughout the day if you’re intentional about it. Prayer requires intentionality.

“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.” Jesus, Matthew 6:6

While we’re told to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17), it would be wise to listen to Jesus talk about prayer as a personal retreat. The intimate times with the Lord enable us to pray continually from a renewed identity with sensitivity toward the Spirit.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Ever find yourself saying, “Was that you, Lord?” Maybe you’ve wondered, “Was that my thoughts, or was God speaking?” I’m willing to bet that you’ve been there before. We’ve all been there.

A few years ago I decided to make an intentional effort to move out of the “roaming” mode of prayer—that place where I’m skeptical about hearing from the Lord—like a bad connection. I became convinced that God speaks to us through our thoughts into our spirit.

When I finally let go of this paranoia and unhelpful skepticism, knowing that I certainly wasn’t having a conversation with myself, I then began to experience intimate moments with the Lord, and much more frequently.

I simply trusted that the Lord was listening, and that he always desires to speak to me. He is closer than a brother (Prov 18:24).

Meeting Jesus Around a Campfire

If I have a place to “go away” by myself and “shut the door” (so to speak), it’s my back porch. Over my fence looms a forest of pine trees. I enjoy creation around me as I sit next to my cast iron chimenea (Mexican-styled fire pit) at dusk. A cup of hot tea or coffee aids in relaxation.

I enter into a place of solitude within my soul, opening myself up to the Lord, as I stare into the fire and close my eyes… waiting… expecting.

I imagine the Lord there with me, I see him just as I might see the face of a loved one. The real difference is that I’m not simply visualizing or remembering. I’m creatively imagining for the sake of conversing with a real person. I’m not talking about delusions of grandeur here.

Since I haven’t seen Jesus with my own eyes, not yet anyway, I borrow the face of Christ played by Jim Caviezel in The Passion of the Christ (2004). That may seem strange at first, but it’s perfectly safe and effective.

The first time I did this I imagined myself on a beach at dusk. I saw the Lord’s face through the fire as if he’s sitting across from me. Within myself I said, “Lord.” He looked at me and began speaking with, “My son, I love you.” Those are usually the first words I hear him speak to me in prayer.

While my mind often races and seeks to be interrupted by intruding thoughts or slip into “roaming” mode, I resist the distraction and focus on the Lord—remaining in the moment as long as I can.

If I will stay open to the Lord and allow my imagination to move freely with the Spirit, I have found that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a rush of words from Christ, who is the embodiment of the Father.

Jesus Wants to Get Personal

“Though most believers are comfortable speaking of a ‘personal relationship with Jesus,’ few concepts are so greatly celebrated and little experienced.” Wayne Jacobson

I feel that I’ve only begun to experience Jesus in a fresh way. I’m what you would call an aspiring Christian mystic. What I hope to inspire with this post is a courage to try a method of prayer that treats the Lord as a real person, and a dialogue between two beings. Don’t pray like the hypocrites.

What’s keeping you from a fulfilling prayer life? Where’s your back porch? Does your prayer life suffer because of bad theology? What about your ability to creatively imagine the Lord being present in your life?

Give it a try. Take some deep breaths, close your eyes, and see the Lord there before you in the power of a disciplined imagination.

D.D. Flowers, 2013.

For more on prayer, see the following books:


My Interview on Gottalife Radio

I was interviewed on Gottalife Radio by the spirited Scotsman Kenny Russell in the Summer of 2009. If you’re not familiar with my journey out of the organized church into organic church life, you will want to listen to this interview in its entirety.

I’m sharing this interview because I do have many new readers, but also because I want to be transparent about how our lives reflect a real journey with Christ. If we’re growing, we ought to be in a constant state of flux.

My wife and I learned a great deal about Christ in community between 2006-2011. Much that we have learned through the years has been refined, as we have since moved back into more organizational forms of church life.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I’ve recently made clear here, here, and here that organized Christianity is not the enemy of authentic Christian community. Many well-intentioned folks have overcorrected in their attempts to discover a more familial church life.

While a great deal of organized religion has lost its way in attempting to market the gospel way to evangelical consumers, there is a pronounced leadership and organizational church life that is able to do great good for the Kingdom. For “organic” Christians to discount or demean these forms with talk of “good is the enemy of what’s best” isn’t helpful.

In fact, I even think it can be divisive. We should celebrate wherever and whenever Christ is being known in community and the church is actively on mission for God’s Kingdom. I have issued this challenge before.

Planting a New Church

I think it’s now time for me to follow through with a calling God placed on my life many years ago. I believe that the Lord would have me plant a new church as its lead teaching pastor.

I’m currently in an exploratory stage with intentions of planting a different sort of church in our city. I’m convinced that the Lord desires to have a fellowship that works to bridge the gap(s) between the church and academy, faith and reason, and science and theology—to create a community of radical disciples who get all of their life from Jesus, not from their theological opinions. This is especially needed in the Bible Belt of the United States.

I envision a learning church that seeks to remove intellectual obstacles that needlessly bar people from the Kingdom—a church that isn’t afraid to ask questions. The Lord wants a church that truly loves like Christ. He wants a church whose allegiance is given only to King Jesus and the upside-down Kingdom that is coming to earth.

I must confess that I’ve been deeply inspired by the work of Greg Boyd at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, MN.

I would appreciate your prayers as we venture into the unknown. I believe the Lord wants to turn the tides of pop-culture Christianity and respond to religious fundamentalism that breeds toxic cynicism, that may well be keeping an entire generation from seeing the beautiful Kingdom of God.

Please stay tuned, I’ll soon be posting more of my thoughts here at the blog, and how you can help. In the meantime, thank you for your prayers.

Enjoy the interview! Be sure to listen to the second half, that’s what I dig the most. Jesus is awesome, saints.

D.D. Flowers, 2012.


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