It just occurred to me that 16 years I ago I was pastor of a church that met in a furniture store in Garland, Texas. Even though I had made up my mind it was time to leave, I had no idea where I would go or what I would do next. A year later I was the senior pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, IL. Sixteen years ago today I had never heard of the town or the church, and I had no thought (or desire) of ever living in the Chicago area.
Two months ago I celebrated my 15th anniversary as pastor at Calvary. It amazed me when I came to the church in 1989, and it still amazes me today. Over the last few years, I have learned a lot about discovering God's will. Mostly I have learned that there is no secret formula that can guarantee you certainty in the tough decisions of life. But I've also learned that "when you need to know, you'll know." Ten years ago I wrote a book called The Road Best Traveled that described what I had learned to that point. Last year the publisher asked me to revise and update it, using only six chapters from the original book. I found the project fascinating for several reasons. For one thing, it's always revealing to read what you wrote years ago. In many cases I described stories that were unfolding in my life that were not yet finished. Now with the advantage of hindsight, I have much better view of why things turned out the way they did. And I have learned a great deal in the last decade--about myself, about the Bible, and about God and the way he work through the circumstances of life. As many others have said, I'm didn't know in advance what the last ten years would bring. Life is better lived the way it comes to us, one day at a time.
The book is called Discovering God's Will for Your Life. It's a short paperback that you can read in an hour or so. I intentionally filled each chapter with stories so you can connect the biblical teaching to your daily life. Here are the six chapters:
1) Does God Still Guide?
2) Sense and Nonsense About God’s Will
3) Don’t Get Fleeced!
4) Dreams, Visions and Supernatural Signs
5) How to Make a Tough Decision
6) The Most Important Ingredient
Each chapter ends with discussion questions and a section called "Going Deeper." This is not a book meant to be read at one sitting. You will gain more from it if you read it a little bit at a time. I designed it so that Sunday School classes, small groups, discipleship Bible studies, and couples could study it together.
Early in the first chapter, I tell readers that my book cannot answer all their questions, but it will point them back to the Lord who has promised to guide his people into the future. The secret of knowing God's will is knowing God better. If that sounds right to you, you might want to check out my new book.
To sign up for Pastor Ray's free weekly sermon email list, click here. You can find his daily weblog, online sermons, travel schedule, and other resources at www.keepbelieving.com. You can write Pastor Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org.