Greetings my Emmaus Brothers and Sisters! I trust and pray that you and the members of your family are well and blessed of the LORD. It is by the grace of the LORD that I write this second letter to you as the Spiritual Director of the Louisville Emmaus Community.
When I speak with a perspective pilgrim for an Emmaus Walk, I rarely if ever mention, at least in the first meeting, that I felt the Holy Spirit calling me to fulfill my promise to God at an early age to become a missionary. I learned early on that this scares people away rather than encourage them to go on a Walk.
Instead, I share how on my Walk I became aware of my need to learn how to pray more effectively and to get involved in group Bible Study. It was obvious to me that my spiritual life was lacking in both of these areas. I have learned that our spiritual formation never ends but is a lifetime experience. Having just celebrated by 80th birthday, I can bare witness of this fact.
Growing up in the Lutheran Church, I like may others my age, participated in the catechism program. In my case at First Luther Church on east Broadway in Louisville under the leadership of Pastor Hoffman. Every Saturday morning, while the public schools were in session, we met to learn what it meant to be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course we learned the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and many other basic elements of the Christian faith. I cherish the memory of this experience which ultimately led to my Confirmation and Baptism on Palm Sunday in 1953.
However, it was in the summer of 1955 when I actually acknowledged Jesus as my Lord and Savior. The Lutheran Church Camp was held at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky that summer and one afternoon as I sat alone in the school auditorium I felt the Holy Spirit calling me to confess my need to accept Jesus as the Lord of my life and to pledge to become a missionary. As I knelt to pray, one of the camp adult leaders, a pastor, came into the room and I shared with him what God had asked me to do. He confirmed that it was the real deal!
Of course, life goes on and passes by so quickly. While attending LOUISVILLE MALE HIGH SCHOOL, I participated in the Army ROTC program and for a time I felt that a military career was what I should pursue. During that time, I had some great experiences to include marching in the Rose Bowl Parade as a member of the Color Guard with the band. As a cadet major I was chosen to command the drill corps and we marched in the Apple Blossom Festival in Washington DC.
After graduating from LMHS in 1959, I enrolled in Western Kentucky State College in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where I began seeking a BA Degree as a history major and I also. enrolled in the Army ROTC Program. Without a doubt, the development of my skills as a leader are attributable to my experiences in the ROTC programs in high school and college as well as a member of the Boy Scouts of America.
My dear mother was very active in Republican Politics as I was growing up and was the captain of our precinct. Our member of Congress told mom that he could appoint students to the various military academies and if I was interested I should sigh up for the competitive program that was offered one weekend at Fort Knox during my freshman year at Western. WOW, what an experience.
However, on my way back to the campus of that weekend I felt the LORD reminding me that I had promised to be a missionary some day. From that time on I studied to be an educator, feeling what better way to prepare for the mission field. It was during my senior year at WKU that I met Jackie Bostick and we were married on July 13, 1963 at Kerr Memorial Methodist Church.
I graduated from WKU in 1963 and was hired to be a teacher at Parkland Junior High School on 41st street in western Louisville. As I reflect on that experience it is clear that was in reality a mission field! We joke about it now but when we came to Louisville to establish our home I decided that we would attend my church and Jackie was never consulted abut that decision!
However, after one year of teaching, it became clear that I need additional training and we returned to Bowling Green where I enrolled in a graduate program and this time Jackie made the decision as to what church we would attend – Kerr Memorial Methodist!
Yes, during all this time I continued to be involved in the church as I taught Sunday School and served on various church administrative councils. I must confess, however, my motive for teaching was not for the right motive. I did it because of my pride so I could stick out my chest and in affect say “look what I know about the Bible.” Always the academician, I studied the Bible to gain knowledge to impress people not to get to know the LORD better.
After two years of graduate work I received my MA Degree and was hired to be a social studies teacher at Southern High School in the Jefferson County System. We came back to First Lutheran to worship and eventually I was selected to be the president of the Church Council. I continued teaching adult Sunday School classes. Back then I rarely sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit as I read and studied the Bible. After all, I was a very highly educated man with lots of training in teaching.
My last year at Southern High school, 1976-1977, I was chosen to be the Instructional Coordinator. It was also the year of our the Southern Association of Schools evaluation, which happened every ten years and was the program to determine a school’s accreditation. It was also the first year of the desegregation program ordered by a federal judge which included the busing mandate.
There is no doubt in my mind that the LORD was involved in leading me to invite a former graduate school classmate of mine, Dr. Robert Arvin, to serve on the visiting team for the evaluation. Dr. Arvin was the Superintendent of the Oldham County Schools and on the last day of the Evaluation Team’s visit I met with Doctor Arvin to discuss the administrative section of the program. When we finished he leaned across the table and asked if would consider coming to his district to serve as a school principal. I was shocked and asked if I could consult with my wife.
I forgot to mention that we had already moved to Oldham County in the summer of 1976. That meant I had been driving back and forth each day to Southern High School – a long and arduous trip. So Jackie and I decided to take advantage of Dr. Arvin’s offer and I became one of four assistant principals at Oldham County High School. By the way, since there was no Lutheran Church in Oldham County at that time and our two daughters needed a good youth program, we started attending Crestwood United Methodist Church.
After serving two years as an assistant principal at Oldham County High School, I was selected to be the principal at LaGrange Elementary School. When I was getting all my training to be an educator, back in the “Stone Age,” it was possible to be certified K – 12 as an administrator. I can honestly say that during the next ten years I learned the “ART” of teaching by observing some precious folks who tolerated my ignorance of what teaching was really meant to be.
It was Crestwood United Methodist Church that we became became acquainted with some folks who had gone on Walks to Emmaus in the Elizabethtown Community. We made plans to go on Walks in that Community because the Louisville Community had not been established as yet. Unfortunately, Jackie’s father passed away and we were unable to go on the Walks at that time.
Then In 1986, by the grace of God, the Louisville Emmaus Community was formed and I was invited to be a pilgrim on Walk # 1 and sat at the table of Mark. One month later, Jackie would attend Walk # 2 and sit at the table of Ruth. These Walks were held at the old Catholic Archdiocese Retreat Center which was located behind what is now Sacred Heart Academy, but back then was called Ursuline Academy. The Ursuline Motherhouse Convent was also located on the property.
The Retreat Center had it’s own chapel that we visited several times during the weekend but on Saturday night of the Walk, the leaders got us lined up and we walked toward Lexington Road and eventually came upon the chapel of the convent where we heard people singing and we thought the leaders had really messed up. As we entered the chapel, I looked up in the balcony and saw several nuns standing to welcome us to the candlelight service.
We learned that the folks who were responsible for founding the Louisville Emmaus Community were concerned that all the statues and other Catholic aspects of the chapel would be offensive to us protestants but such was not the case. It was fascinating to me that Father Bill Hartlage, who was the Cursillo Director of the Archdiocese, was asked to serve on the clergy team for Walk # 1 and gave the Prevenient Grace Talk. Father Bill would serve again on Walk # 12 where I was chosen to serve as the Lay Director but that’s another story.
As I indicated previously, my experience on the Walk revealed to me the need to join a group Bible study to get to know the LORD as he desired. So the LORD led me to enrolled in a Precept Bible Study at Middletown United Methodist Church in the fall of 1986. Men and women back then were segregated into different classes but Jackie and I studied the Gospel of John. Never in my life had I ever experienced anything like that time of intense study of the Word of God.
After Jackie’s Walk, I took her to dinner and finally worked up enough courage to tell her about the call to be a missionary. I will forever cherish the memory of her response: “When and Where!” I learned that she too had as a young teenager felt the LORD calling her to be a missionary. We had shared 25 years of marriage at that point and we were best friends, mates, lovers, etc, but for some reason we had not shared the Call!
It took us three years to go through the process of determining the mission agency the LORD wanted us to affiliate with and to go through all the training and preparation. During that time I read a lot about prayer to add to what I had learned on my Walk. Being a type D Personality, I became very attached to the ACTS model for prayer: A – Adoration (praise); C – Confession; T – Thanksgiving; and S – Supplication (intersession or petition). My prayer manual is built on this model.
I also became infatuated with the prayer life of John Wesley. According to Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book “Preaching and Preachers,” John Wesley is quoted as saying “that he thought very little of a man who did not pray four hours every day.” Wow! Wesley would not think much of me. I also learned that Wesley would rise up at 4 AM every day to seek God for the first four hours of the day. In his later years Wesley was known to spend up to 8 hours in prayer.
Wesley was such a methodical person that he prayed for a different group each day of the week in addition to praise, confession and thanksgiving. I adopted his methodology and typically I am up very early each day and go to my study with a fresh mug of Costa Rican coffee to begin my Bible reading and prayer.
I am what psychologists call a “concrete-sequential.” A person with this dominant thinking style likes predictability and dislikes working with teams or abstract ideas. They thrive in a structured environment and work well with clear directions where they are given time to learn a skill through practice and then repeat what they have learned. Consequently, my devotions follow the same pattern day in and day out.
My prayer manual has developed over the years and while we were students in language school in Costa Rica a dear friend gave me a book that transformed my prayer life. The book was co-authored by Max Anders and Kenneth Boa and is entitled “Scripture Talks With God.” The purpose of the book is to help its readers enrich two areas of Christian devotion: consistent and effective prayer and knowledge of the Bible.
Each day’s devotions begins with what I call “Focusing Prayer.” Here I am, O LORD. I am here to meet You. I acknowledge Your presence. I am going to spend this time alone with You. Help me to realize that I am in Your presence; You are with me, even though I may not feel Your presence (The Workbook of Living Prayer by Maxie Dunnam). Lord, since you are here anyway, please You go first (Devotions for Men on the Go by Stephen Arterburn and Bill Farrel, July 30, 2010). Abba Father, I belong to You! You are the Perfect Father! “Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” Matthew 5:48. There is much more in this section but I will save the details for another letter.
Next, I read a Psalm and a Proverb. There are of course 31 Proverbs so today, being October 30, I read Proverbs 30. Psalm 119 is very long so I divide it according to the format in my Bible. Therefore, today I read Psalm 119:49-56. The Bible I use was given to me by Jack and Kay Arthur, the founders of Precept Ministries, as a part of the materials we received on our trip to Israel while on furlough from our ministry in Costa Rica.
This Bible was produced specifically for Precept and uses the New American Standard translation. The Bible is so precious to me for many reasons one of which is the fact that Kay Arthur wrote a greeting on the first page and signed it. Not only were we used as God’s instruments to establish an Emmaus Community in Costa Rica, we also helped establish Precept Ministries there as well.
After our trip to Israel with Precept Ministries, we met privately with Kay in her home on the campus of Precept in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and made plans for Tom Hays to come to Costa Rica to train a group of folks in the Precept methodology. That’s when she signed my Bible. Her husband Jack passed away several years ago and she has now turned over the leadership of the ministry to her son David. Kay will be 88 years old on November 11 and she is still going strong. Thanks to Kay, I never read anything in my Bible that I don’t first ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten what I’m reading and help me know its meaning for my life.
Following the reading of the Psalm and Proverb, I turn to the ADORATION (Praise) section of my Prayer manual. I pray the following to begin my praise: LORD God, holy and reverend is Your name. I praise and worship You and Your Son, Jesus Christ. I give You all honor and glory in His name. As I meditate upon Your names as revealed in Your Holy Word, I hallow them and acknowledge You as…… (the names of God). I then offer a praise from the book “Scripture Talks With God.” Today I read Psalm 90:1-2, Psalm 17:7, and Revelation 7:12.
Next, it’s time for CONFESSION and after seeking the LORD’S forgiveness for my sins, I have several prayers I lift to the LORD to include one from Steps to Freedom In Christ found in “The Bondage Breaker” by Neil T. Anderson. There are seven prayers, one for each day of the week. I also pray one of the “Prayers For Forgiveness” from the ministry of Rev. Phil Ware, the founder and leader of Heartlight. Without hesitation, I would recommend this ministry to you. I also pray a prayer for the day from “Scripture Talks With God.” Needless-to-say, I spend a lot of time in this section of my Prayer manual!
Again following the ACTS pattern for prayer, I m now ready for THANKSGIVING, which I begin with the following prayer: “I thank You, O LORD, for Your love and forgiveness through Christ. For the sacrifice that You made in my behalf; a sacrifice that is beyond my understanding and comprehension, however, I claim the victory won at Calvary as a result of that sacrifice. Thank You, O LORD, for choosing me and granting me eternal life. I ask, as did Your servant David, “What can I offer the LORD for all His goodness to me?” (Psalm 116:12) Like David, You have revealed to me that all You want is my worship, praise, adoration and thanksgiving. Indeed, I thank You, O LORD, for all my blessings.” After offering thanks, I close by praying “Thank You, O LORD, for all the blessings I’ve received that I cannot recall at this time. I acknowledge that everything I have comes from You.
Then I turn to SUPPLICATION (petitions and intercessions) and I begin with my family by lifting the name of every member of my extended family and pray the blood of Jesus over them and their homes. I conclude this section for family with the following prayer: “O God, I pray that you would place a hedge of protection around each one of us this day in the name of Your Son Jesus. I pray that You would station Your holy angels around each one of us to guard and shield us from the attacks of the evil one. By the power in the precious blood of Your Son Jesus, I rebuke Satan and all his works and all his ways in our lives today. By the power in the mighty name of Jesus I bind Satan and all who serve him from having any power, any authority, any dominion, any means by which to harm, hurt, or influence us in any way this day.”
In my section I have labeled PEACE, I pray for a different set of seven countries every day of the month. I begin by praying the following: I pray, O LORD, that all of Your children would seek peace within their hearts, asking You to deliver them from hatred, fear and prejudice as they remember Jesus’ commandment to “love one another as we love ourselves.” O LORD God, I pray that You would begin in my heart. I pray in particular for peace to be restored in those places in the world where brother hates and kills brother.
I then pray Psalm 122:6-9 “I pray for the peace of Jerusalem; ‘may they prosper who love Jerusalem. May peace be within the walls of Jerusalem and prosperity within the homes of Jerusalem. For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, may peace be within Jerusalem, within all of Israel, within all of Palestine, and within all of the Middle East. For the sake of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good.”
The SUPPLICATION section is divided as did John Wesley, a different group for each day of the week: Sunday – those persons with heavy burden and cares; Monday – salvation for the lost; Tuesday – healing for the sick; Wednesday – the members of the congregation at Overdale UMC; Thursday – those persons persecuted for their faith, Christian colleges and seminaries, elected leaders on the local, state and national level, and pastors and leaders of the Evangelical Methodist Church of Costa Rica; Friday – pastors and leaders in the Kentucky Annual Conference; Saturday – missionaries with a variety of agencies and specifically with Jews For Jesus and TMS Global; as well as the Louisville Emmaus Community Board of Directors and our activities as a community.
I close my time of prayer with additional petitions and then I read Scripture portions from “Scripture Talks With God” for Renewal, Affirmation, and Commitment. I then read a chapter from the Old Testament and a chapter from the New Testament. Today I read Deuteronomy 29 and Matthew 6. I started doing this on my first Fourth Day after my Walk and needless-to-say, I have read through the Bible several times. Obviously I get through the New Testament faster. It continues to amaze me that I will read a passage and think to myself “I don’t remember reading that before.”
Well I hope you find this epistle helpful to you as you seek a closer relationship with the LORD through prayer and Bible reading and study. I have described (in some detail) what I have felt led to do by the Holy Spirit. Your devotional time may be completely different from mine, which is as it should be. The Holy Spirit is there to teach you.
Until next time.
PS: “If the heart can conceive it, and the mind can believe it, God can achieve it.” — Charles Pollard