Faith Matters: Retreat aims to help find your song

What’s your song?

For more than 40 years, Father Matt Linn has helped people find their life song or purpose and has focused on integrating physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

“Everybody comes into the world with a song in their heart where they can make a difference and a special way of receiving love and life,” said Linn, of Minneapolis. “There’s not another Mother Teresa. There’s not another anybody. You have a special fingerprint. You have a special voice, a special DNA, a special mission.”

On Jan. 24, Linn will lead a parents retreat on “What is My Song?” from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Academy’s Mother Hall, 3050 Kleinert Ave.

Linn will also facilitate a Spanish retreat about “Finding the Life in Our Lives” from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 26 at Joseph’s Academy.

Both retreats are sponsored by the St. Joseph Spirituality Center.

The fee for the parents retreat is $20. The fee for the Spanish retreat, which includes lunch and a healing Mass, is $40. Pre-registration is encouraged. Call (225) 383-3349 or go to stjocenter.org.

Linn has presented courses and workshops at the center and other Louisiana areas for years. He is a member of the Association of Christian Therapists with advanced graduate degrees in sociology, anthropology, spirituality and theology.

“He brings just a wealth of information,” said Dianne Hanley, executive director of St. Joseph’s Spirituality Center. “He’s going to bring years of experience that will really touch hearts, because he has a real heart for this particular kind of work.”

“What is my Song?” comes from the African culture, Linn said.

“When an African woman wants to conceive, she goes out and listens for that song and what’s special about that child and sings it ... and then teaches it to their village and that person has that song all their life, and they can continue to go back to it every time they are near getting into something that is not their true self,” Linn said. “It’s like finding what is your true self, what’s the special way you are unique and nobody else is like you.”

Linn, 71, will teach parents how to guide their children to find their unique purpose. But, he added, it’s important even for adults to find their song.

“The earlier you find it, the happier you’re going to be and the happier you can make the decisions that go along with it,” he said.

The Spanish-conducted retreat will focus on examining and deepening the experiences of life and help point people to what God intends for their lives. The retreat will offer a lesson on examin, a simple practice that helps people move closer to the heart of Christ and open their hearts more fully to the will of God.

“If people do that, then they can grow from everything that happens in their life from things that are positive to things that are negative and dealing with them as they come up rather than swallowing them up and have them be the things that keeps choking life,” said Linn, who has been speaking Spanish for about 20 years.

Linn has helped write 22 books translated in more than 20 languages (all in Spanish) with more than 1 million copies in English. Books include the children’s book “What’s My Song” and also “Healing Life’s Hurts,” “Healing the Dying,” “Good Goats: Healing Our Image of God ” and “Healing Our Future.” Go to linnministries.org for more information.

First things First

The first of the year has gotten off to a prayerful start at Bethany Church.

After spending the “First Week” in prayer and fasting, Bethany welcomes speaker Jude Fouquier for this weekend’s services and three more dynamic speakers for the three-night First Conference starting Monday.

“It’s a real great time for our church and we’re excited about the speakers coming in,” said Wayne Brown, a pastor at Bethany. “We’re really excited about those guys coming in and really having a time of renewal and revival for our church.”

The First theme is taken from Matthew 6:33: “ But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Fouquier, pastor of City Church in Ventura, Calif., will participate in services at 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday at the Bethany South Campus, 11107 Honore Road in Baton Rouge. The 11 a.m. Sunday service will be simulcast to the North Campus, 13855 Plank Road in Baker.

The First Conference is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday at the South Campus.

Damon Thompson, of Damon Thompson Ministries of Leesville, S.C., is Monday’s speaker.

Tuesday’s speaker is Jentezen Franklin, senior pastor of Free Chapel Worship Center with locations in Georgia and California. He is a New York Times best-selling author.

Daniel Kolenda, president and CEO of Christ for All Nations of Florida, of Orlando, Fla., will close out the conference on Wednesday.

For more information, go to bethany.com or call (225) 225) 570-4520 or (225) 771-1600.

Bad Sunday school?

The title of Samuel C. Williamson’s debut book — “Is Sunday School Destroying Our Kids” (Beliefs of the Heart Press) — may be eye-catching, but the author admits that the book really isn’t about Sunday school or its teachers.

The book’s subtitle, “How Moralism Suffocates Grace,” is a more accurate description.

“It’s about our daily need to remember grace. If we want heart-changing joy and heart-changed morality, we need grace,” Williamson writes.

Grace is a major part of the Gospel message, and the Sunday school curriculum — particularly those highlighting “faith heroes” and stressing good morals — hinders that effort, he writes.

“What’s so bad about the Sunday school lessons? Nothing. Except that they lie about God, they lie about these ‘heroes of the faith,’ they lie about the Bible, and they lie about the Gospel,” he writes.

Williamson, who heads Belief of the Heart Ministries in Michigan, said healthy morals are lacking in many of us and probably not preached enough from the pulpit, but they are not the gospel of Christ.

“Most religions believe in mostly the same moralities. So what distinguishes Christianity? Preaching moral performance isn’t why Jesus came. He came to free us from the power of sin, not just the actions of sin; he came to bring supernatural change in our hearts, a rebirth,” Williamson writes. “We need the Gospel. And the Gospel exceeds mere morality.”

For more, go to BeliefsoftheHeart.com.

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached at (225) 388-0238 or email trobinson@theadvocate.com