God’s ways are not our ways

In the midst of the quietness of this blog God has been at work including within the life of this writer. The center point of the growth lessons comes down to some simple words that have great depth. 

 God’s ways are not my ways.

God states the fact that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways in Isaiah 55:8.  He establishes that there are differing perceptions and directions. God says he does what He does with His intent and purpose and that it differs from our own.  We can be convinced of something and pursue a direction. We can do what we think is right. We can have best intentions. Yet, God can have something else going on. In this writer’s life there was a moment where convinced that a small group of post college young adults could be turned into a ministry. It went the other way.  Perceptions differed and God worked as he did in that moment of time but not to create some bigger ministry.  In this writer’s life there have been ideas of going to “Christian graduate school” or work in “Christian environments” that did not happen, or at least not happen as thought. Yet, in it all God had  His ways and His thoughts and His intent.

 Now here is a piece of reality. Our own thoughts and ways are self-focused.  We get  wrapped up in our own thoughts and ways, in how we think things should be.  Even when following God and trusting his promises we get sidetracked by the ways of self.  If you read the Bible you will find countless stories of people going about their own way and having their own thoughts and not trusting God or trying to bring about God’s seemingly too long delayed promises on their own. See we turn to our own ways because we think we know best or think we have the best understanding of what is best for ourselves. We have time frames on when it should be accomplished. We often live in the moment of what is happening now without the full recognition of God doing what He intends.

See God always accomplishes what He intends. In Isaiah 55:11 it is made clear that God’s words, what He puts into being always accomplishes what He desires. God’s words do not return void, ever. What he sets in motion will not be stopped, ever.  Now sometimes it may take a long time. Sometimes it may appear differently than it is. We may not always see or understand how God is accomplishing His word and His way, but what God sets out to accomplish, He accomplishes.

Yet, we often miss those facts as we are focused on what we think is good for self. He have our plans or ideas. Even in following God we can try and achieve what God put forward by our own efforts and ideas.  Our ways and thoughts need to grow each day in aligning with God’s ways and thoughts. We need to trust God always does what He says. Always.  What is best for us in spite our own ways and thoughts and the leanings of our evil hearts is growing ever more in line with God’s ways and thoughts. Now, that is the truly difficult part because it involves giving up of self, of our ways and thoughts. We want to grasp on to what we think we need tightly. God tells us even the result of a grasping.  Luke 9:24 (ESV) For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  What then is needed is the giving up, the letting go of our preferred directions and thoughts about the way things should go. We needs to simply look to be each day more in line with God’s ways and thoughts. This is ongoing, day to day, letting go of self.

Video: Healthy Growth talk from 2/23/2012 @ New Joy Church

Back in February of 2012 I gave a talk at a Men’s breakfast at local church and had meant to post it and have it available for others to listen to and be blessed by. I neglected to post it but am doing so now. The theme of the talk was highlighting and overview of healthy growth from a spiritual perspective. I also put together a handout that outline the basis of the talk. You can find it here: handout. I hope you are blessed by the presentation. Fair warning I am not a polished speaker and the opening I say “from my heart a lot.”  There was also a moment in talk I lost track where I was, back tracked and repeated a segment. FYI, you will need to view this from a computer as it does not appear the video will show up if trying to view it by phone. If the video does not work for you, you can try directly viewing it at: http://www.dailymotion.com/f1354243611#video=xrn9vm

#wcaacc Day Three: Stirrings Energerize to Move from the Silent Waiting

 

Day Three at the American Association of Counselors World Conference was one that was for me a very important day and a day where God was moving in my heart and mind with stirring still being defined. The day for me started with being in a quiet reflective state. The state in part feels like where been at for the past year. During the morning session John Ortberg spoke and he talked about the “Saturday” which is really the time between crisis and resurrection. It is a time of silence where one can only wait. For me this feels like where my life has been at in the past year. I left the National Conference feeling refreshed quickly settled into a time of silence as ended up feeling stuck. No matter how often looked to restart it remained.

 

After that period timed moved to a focus really on the brokenness that exists in life. Going back to the fallen state of man who moved from full access of God’s glory into the fallen state where we now experience shame and fear. We live in a world where people are hurting and hurt. Emerson Emmerich and Wes Stafford bu Emerson in his work and bringing healing and restoration to marriages and Wes Stafford in reaching children throughout the world. In their periods of pain and silence they were activated by their faith and obeyed t shared parts of there stories of pain that God used to shape their call and direction. God and walked the path God laid before them. God activated who they were with faith. So while there was great pain, there was the restorative power of God to draw out who He made them to be. Now during the point of focus on the brokenness, including being overwhelmed with the empathetic response to pain for me the point of saturation was reached. It seemed that I was reaching my limit.

 

Then the final track and training of the day came. Mitchell Elliot spoke on a Christian perspective on emotion. He discussed thought processes regarding emotions from a biblical frame of reference. What God stirred in me was not so much related to the content, but a stirring of energy and a deep longing of moving ahead and seeing the hope and light that God clearly is at work and stirring things within others in similar but different ways than me. God confirmed this further during a mixer with the Society of Christian Psychology division of the American Association of Christian Counseling.

 

Summing up the days experience and stirrings the theme seemed to be that God works in the silence and pain and moves in the direction that is in alignment with His will and plan. He will bring into paths and ways in alignment with who He created us to be and what He does in our life. Taking steps to trust and obey move from periods of silent waiting into the empowered advance. It happens in but a moment. It happens in faith and obedience, and it happens in engagement with others. And God moves in a way always consistent with His design. For me God’s design is one of a person who bring honor to God and is used to bring people to peace and wholeness as God grows me in knowledge, understanding, discernment, and wisdom. There is no doubt in my mind that the seeds have been planted and soil tilled for what lies ahead.

#wcaacc: Day Two summary thoughts: Changing perspectives lead to actions that can change perspectives

Day two at the World Conference of the American Association of Christian Counselors was a day the provided challenge. The key words for me were that of being engaging in changing perspectives. Now of course the questions is what is the meaning in those words and how does it related to what God stirred within me today. These thoughts are ongoing musings that are not so much about any specific teaching but a bringing the thoughts together into a perspective on what God is showing me today.

The thoughts are that each and everyone of us see things from a perspective. God has worked and operated in our life and reveal Himself to us. We have understanding. Yet, our understanding of God, mankind, self, and relationship is partial and limited. We all have growth needed in one way or another. Some growth and healing from hurt and pain. Some growth in moving into what God has called and helping others move into what God has called. God has given each of us gifts and perspective. Our eyes and ears, and hearts and minds God has opened to certain views. We need to grow in what God has given us and ask God to open our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds to a broader view.

We can easily settle for what we think we already know. We can have a knowledge that can even develop into pride and arrogance if we let it. God though has ways of shaping us in particular seasons. What God does one day and in one persons story is not necessarily the way it is for the next. God engages as He does in our lives. And while God does not change, the relationship varies in accordance with the individual not in relativistic or pliable way, but in a relational way in correspondence with how He designed us. He knows our individual design intimately and what we need for growth.

Now here is the deal, God interacts with us in a relational manner. He gives us His love. We reflect what God does in us. We take what He has done and reflect it to those around us. “We let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify God in heaven.” The reflection is a simple small light compared to the brightness of God’s glory. An encounter with God brings weight and the vision is never the same. And each of us, regardless of where we are have a response to the weight and brightness of God’s glory. There is no way we can grasp it all at once, so He gives us different and varied perspectives and lets us reflect. Each of our lives and actions are a story of revelation much like those who came before.

So, in reflecting what God has revealed we in turn touch others. For we have no other choice but to do so, because an encounter with God and his interacting with us in ways that are relationally true, there is no other response but to engage others in love and truth with what God is doing. For the Love of Christ, how he has touched us pulls us to in turn share with and engage others. In other words, we are compelled by Christ’s love. We engage in being who we are in line with what God has done and gifted. We then become salt and light, answering Gods call where we are. Not for the point of some great transforming of this temporary world, but to draw others toward a change in perspective about God to the point where they may yet choose to surrender self and become a member of God’s Kingdom. Yet, not just a member but an adopted child. Blessed only because of who God is, which gives us the opportunity to draw others toward there own encounter with the great, mighty, and heavy God of glory.

#wcaacc Conference Day One: Re-establishing Focus

 

Today the start of the World Conference for the American Association of Christian Counselors was a day that served as a good start. God already has been at work showing me, reminding me, and teaching me what I need to know today. My story and journey here is unique as it will be for the 7000 other counselors and ministers of varying forms. Each situation and story is different and what God has to teach at some levels is the same but for each individual it is different, for he created us each unique. For me today, the day was about renewed focus.

 

My day started with Dr. E. John Kuhnley with a training related to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. So the conference started for me with examining those who at a core have a disorder in focus. It was interesting that in the course of the training the comparison was made to vision loss and the nature of “corrective measures.”

 

The journey of the day continued with a training sponsored by the Society of Christian Psychologists about the Problem of Evil and Suffering in Christian Counseling. It was a time focusing on the essence of dealing with the suffering around us and those we encounter. The lecture and conversation centered on who God is and how we impact others. An awareness of God being beyond our grasp and when interacting with others, we are not about the answers but the coming along side to encourage healing and growth. The thoughts that stuck with me are related to being okay with the “I do not know” followed by having a grasp of the function of suffering and what happens when we do face the suffering of this fallen world. So in other words, we may never understand the meaning of what happens to us related to the pain and suffering we encounter in our lives and in the lives of those around us. We don’t have to understand. Ultimately suffering serves a purpose in each of our lives. Each story is unique and different and of the course we learn what there is to learn and grow deeper from knowledge to understanding. As we walk the path in thing enduring faith, God brings to further clarity at times His calling and path. Something that path is different than expectations as dreams shatter. Yet, God works, as He wills and works, in each life, for each story.

 

 

 

The day wrapped up with the opening plenary session. Before either Dr. Tim Clinton or Lois Palau spoke worship was lead by Charles Billingsly. He made a statement “The world is all of us. The only thing that separates us is the blood of the lamb.” Dr. Tim Clinton then spoke on the growing importance of faith and spirituality in counseling. He touched on Colossians 1:27 with emphasis on the last portion of the first “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” He went on to state “It’s personal. It is all about you and what God wants to do through you.” He then challenged each of us to ask God to do something special which may be a renewed calling, a being strengthen to fight, to simply do what matters before God.

 

For me the night ended with Lois Palau talking about the mysteries of union with God, the human condition, and communion with God. The emphasis was about God being with us, within us. That each day we need to start with our focus on God and Jesus in surrender. We need to abide in Him. One profound statement was “That along as God is in us, we are the power of God wherever we go.”

 

 

 

So in summing up my thoughts on this day. For me it was renewed focus. We each can easily lose focus. We can lose sight of the basics. We live in a fallen world and have a fallen sin nature. We are no different than anyone else. We are all in the same boat. The difference that exists, exists because of what God did in suffering for us. He suffered and died so that we may be made free and lived. This freedom is not to do what ever we determine but to enter into God’s Kingdom and follow His way. It is only in being aligned with God that we are whole. God moves in each of our lives in ways beyond our limited understand. We all have a a unique story. It in involves joy and sorrow. Yet, in that each of us have a path and calling. We are enabled to walk the path God puts before us because of His strength, for He is with us. Whatever we do, whatever steps we take, whatever moving forward, comes becomes of God in us. And this is the focus. Whether in plenty or want that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

 

Well those are my thoughts and summation for this first day of the conference and what God is doing. Take time to ask God to help your focus and see what He wants you to see. Accepted what you do not know and trust in God alone. For only in Him is there any strength.

#wcaacc: Prepartion thoughts- The Basics

The basics, two simple words that are often spoken with
disdain. We do not like thinking about the basics. Yet everything has a
foundation. There is no success for moving ahead without a focus on the
foundation.  It is the basics that serve
as the starting point.  It is easy to
lose track of basics and get too caught up in the subtle details that add to
the complexity. It always comes back to the basics.

For me today is a day of re-establishing the basics. Today
is a day to be grounded in who God is, who he made me to be, and how He wants
me to touch others. In this post want to just touch on a basic thought
regarding God, myself, and others.

The essential element here regarding the Basics of God is He
is my King and He is the creator. It is He who I serve.  I entered His Kingdom through the gate He
provided, Jesus. It is through Jesus that God is with me every day. It is by
accepting what God did and giving up of my self that enables me to be a member
of God’s Kingdom. The Kingdom is not of this world. At the basic level though I
serve God because what He did to set me free from my own selfish ways.

Regarding myself, it comes down to who God created me to
be.  At the heart, God made me one who is
able to touch others and help them be restored to what God created them to be.
My words, actions, and deeds are directed at building up into wholeness. The
only true wholeness is found in right relationship to the creator.  Now there is still work to be done in my life
to be more in line with who God created me to be. I have sins, hurts, fears,
and failures that keep more from being wholly at peace. Straying from God’s path
or embracing that which distracts happens all too easy.  At the basic level, as a Man of God, a member
of His Kingdom. He calls me to walk in ways bringing Him honor through engaging
in trusting and obeying . He calls me to worship in spirit and truth. He calls
me to work out my salvation and be awake and alert as walk in endurance the
path before me.  That path involves
bringing others to His peace.  At the
basic core I am a man who honors God and walks a path that brings others to
peace.

Finally, my thought go to the basics about others.
Everywhere there are people hurting. Each person has areas that they are not
whole.  We all need walking in greater
surrender. Each person around us needs a touch of God’s love. We all live in the
twisted and fallen world with the consequences of sin. We all have been hurt
and all hurt others.  We live in a twist,
broken, and fallen world.  Everyone needs
love.  Each of us also readily fall prey
to pride, unbelief, and selfishness.  We
each readily embrace the lust of flesh, lust of eyes, and pride of life.  And sadly, at the basic level, most will be
unwilling to surrender to God. Most will stay locked in darkness. Yet, even
with that fact, our encounters with others need to treat them as someone that is
redeemable. Someone that can be found. For each of us has no idea what word or
deed will impact another to set them free toward the path of wholeness. It is
God who knows the end, our responsibility is to love others. Everyone needs a
touch of God’s love. Our walk each day needs to be centered on that thought.
How is what I am doing demonstrating love.

In closing, take time to think, remember, and reflect on the
basics.  What is God in your life and who
is He. What does He want you to know and remember today. Then think about who
God created you to be.  Are you walking
the path or strayed. What is getting in the way?  Are you too caught up in examining the areas
of depth that forget to stay true to the basics?   After those thoughts then take time to think
about your interactions with others.  Am
I filled with anger and upset with others who wrong me?  Am I focused on the pain cause by others that
I forget the good?  Am I loving others in
word and deed. Am I interacting with others with love and truth?   Take time to reflect on those questions or
any other that God brings to mind. Or just simply ask God to show you what
basics you need to review and renew awareness of in your life.  Taking time to do so will in turn bring you
perspective that will bring you in align with God’s path of wholeness in your
life. Take these steps, and then rejoice and celebrate for in this is the way
of God’s peace.

Post-birthday Personal Musing: On not shrinking back and moving ahead

On Wednesday June 1st, I turned 46.  For me, this day was one following and extended vacation and rest. Now usually the time before my birthday is spent in personal evaluation and examination.  This year it was simply just disconnecting and recharging. 

This was something definitely needed. Since last September I have been in a place of feeling stuck and trouble getting going again. There have been Blog posts about re-engaging, setting goals, and the like. Usually those efforts have been followed by a brief restart and then a sputter back into silence.

 Thinking things over there have been some key areas leading to the silence and retreat. One area is the ongoing concerns for those around me and the burdens for others.  I have faced my mother losing her vision, the death of step-mom to cancer, and the varied struggles the wife encountered including a period of intense hives. 

 The other aspect is the varied responsibilities. There are things and goals have set for professional development.  Yet, in those goals there is only so much time and energy I can put into things.  There are certainly also areas of fear and other elements that help facilitate reluctance and withdrawal. 

 Upon returning back, there is a realization that at some level all that is rationalization and an empowering self not to move ahead.  Each day is an important day to be moving toward that which God calls. Either I am being obedient in moving forward or looking after self and engaging in withdrawal.

 I know that there is a lot of responsibility ahead of me. God has specific things for me to engage in.  I can either shrink back and falter or move ahead.  These are the only choices, advancing or shrinking back which results in retreat. What is a head results in a lot of felt weight that was evident upon return.  There is also some real felt pain some of which is of self, and some in the weight of what others are going through.  My call is always to come along side and step in amidst the pain and encourage growth and change.  It all starts though with me.  And with that being said, the words God has for me is that I need to be engaged in moving forward each day in submission to God and attending to and meeting up to my responsibilities.

 A verse that kind of fits with what God is stirring in me is:

Hebrews 10: 32- 39 (ESV) 32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while,and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith,and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Just even know looking at those words and thinking about endurance the realization strikes me of there being at least two types on endurance. One of which is enduring the difficulties and hardships. Standing up in the midst and not giving in.  The other is that of perseverance. The moving a head in spite of weight, difficulties, or any perceived progress. Taking steps in faith to endure with what God leads until such time as God brings forth the fruit.  So it is clear God is pleased when we stand up under struggle and continue to move ahead. Pulling back, disengaging, and shrinking back does not please God.  It is response to fear and self then depending on God and acting in faith.  Sobering and challenging thoughts for me personally.