Coming back from my first (and probably only, at least for a long time) trip to Europe, I came with a few great takeaways. One was content from this book: Building a Discipling Culture. The basic premise is that Jesus’ most foundational teachings can be easily transferred through naturally occurring geometric shapes. By developing a language of discipleship around these shapes, we can develop a culture of continual, radical discipleship, a high-invitation, high-challenge culture in which people look like Jesus.
The first shape they teach is the “Learning Circle,” in which you enter into a moment of breakthrough. God is always speaking. The problem is that we’re not often listening, and we’re even less likely to be processing His voice in such a way as to allow ourselves to be transformed by His power and goodness. Any positive or negative encounter can be an opportunity to enter into the Learning Circle. All you have to do is realize that this moment is a “kairos” (a word for a moment of time in the original Greek) moment in which God is speaking, and instead of just passing it by, you slow down to process two questions: 1) What is God saying to me? and 2) What am I going to do about it? As often as you’re willing to detour into this circle to receive what God is saying (repent) and do something about it (believe) is as often as you’re going to grow. This is a fantastic concept that demystifies “hearing God’s voice” and makes it a daily practicality. Here’s a brief testimony of one of my first encounters with the Learning Circle.
In Paris, we had just gotten off the fast train coming back from London and we were planning to get to our Airbnb place just before dinner, but we had to take the Paris subway to get there. As we stumbled through the station with all our luggage, a Van Gogh caught my eye and I started envisioning thoughts of the future.
Suddenly, worry flooded my emotions, and I heard myself saying, “I want to be rich.” I schemed a few ways that I could climb the corporate ladder and get to a better paying job or maybe make some investments that could pay off monthly. Just as rapidly as those thoughts entered my mind, I was quieted by another voice saying, “Do you think that you could start this journey in faith and then suddenly switch to figuring it out by yourself?” It was the voice of the Holy Spirit, reminding me what an insane idea it was to try to live a life worth living without dependence of the Father of Lights.
Moments later, as we we departed on a metro train from Gare Du Nord station, I felt two men brush past me and realized my wallet was gone. In the following 30 minutes or so, they were able to make four transactions totaling nearly $2,000US on my debit card.
All I felt was total peace (knowing that God was going to take care of me) that passed the understanding (of knowing HOW He was going to take care of me).
God took me through a process called a Learning Circle just before my card got stolen, and I’m so happy He did. I’m still not sure what will happen with that $2,000, but I’m sure that God is good, and He’s promised to always provide. Instead of forcing it, I can take this to heart: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG).
Moving forward, it’s going to be a lot less about me scheming, and a lot more about trusting Him to provide everything I need in His way and His time.
For me, the process went like this:
- Observe: I’m saying something that’s not consistent with God’s Truth (i.e. I need to be rich, so I won’t have to be afraid of tomorrow).
- Reflect: Why am I saying this? There are some areas of my life which I haven’t fully trusted God. Or perhaps, I did in the past, but have decided to give up that area of the Promised Land of faith (Joshua 1:6-9)
- Discuss: This happened after the fact with my wife, but in the moment, became an internal discussion between that still small voice and I (Isaiah 55:11).
- Plan: “How many of you by worrying can add a single day to his life?” (Matthew 6:27). I’m not going to worry anymore. When I do begin to worry about this stuff, I need to slow down and spend time reflecting on the Truth of God’s Word. It’s definitely okay to assess and plan for the future, but I need to be able to catch myself and decipher if I’m doing it through the hopeful eyes of faith or through the hopeless eyes of worry.
- Account: I’ve told this story to a few close who I’ve given access to hold me accountable. They can see things like my daily attitudes, bank accounts, and long-term planning process (James 5:16).
- Act: Now, it just comes to taking thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5).