#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.

Post-Christmas Musing: The Essentials of The Way-Faith, Hope & Love

My mind has been going back and forth over what to write in relation to the Christmas Holiday this year.  The celebration has come and gone.  Now I recognize that the Christmas season is definitely a mix. By tradition and works of Church we celebrate the Incarnation alongside the celebrations of the world.  Boundaries get blurred, things get mixed, and perspective can shift from God’s Holy work to that which is of self and our own desires.  In fact at times, the season can be about getting what we want. The reality is that the focus should be to grow more and more in alignment with walking in what God wants, living in surrender.

As previously stated, this Christmas season has been a strange one for me and my family. There is an ongoing mix of grief and hope.  My sister-in-law suffered the loss of her mother in the past year.  My step-mother is quickly slipping away while hope remains that God will bring restoration of her health.   My mother continues to cope with her loss of vision, which continues to fade. My wife hopes to receive word on Monday of being promoted to a Service Manager position at her employer but prepared for the potential disappointment. And for me, there is my ongoing care and love for all of the above as well as thoughts, plans, dreams to transition to a functioning private practice.  In all these circumstances God is bringing the three essential elements of the Way to mind: Faith, Hope, and Love. 

It is worth noting that these essential elements are NOT about having desires met. Rather, it is about growing in each aspect through God-centered surrender.  It is always all about God, yet we can easily make it all about self. In each of the essential elements there is a risk, much like this season, can be a mix. There can be self-focused or Christ-focused faith, hope, and love. The key difference is where is the attention drawn, the actions or acts or benefit to self or the ongoing pointing to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Now that being said, let us examine each element of The Way a little closer. 

Faith: It is a word quickly spoken and easy misused.  There are many who make proclamations that faith is some self-actuated behavior that if the right words or thoughts are engage in, then what want will happen.  However, such thoughts are more about self-assurance and gratification then about growing in dependence on God.  Rather, Godly faith is faith that remains when all seems darkest. Godly faith is such that  “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:” Job 13:15a (KJV).  Faith is keeping focus on God and His ways knowing that “He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23b (ESV). Faith is always keeping focus on what God has laid forth at all costs and without any visible evidence. Recently on December 21st there was a solar eclipse on the longest night of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere.) Now we know that the darkness will fade and morning comes but if we did not know that fact when the darkness comes and light is blocked, there would be much fear.  The struggle here is always to be focused on what God says even when things look worst, or things are very difficult.  Walking in faith is having full assurance in God, that no matter what the appearance, He will remain faithful.  And His faithfulness are not about the appearance in certain results or turning things to our desires in our time or fashion. Rather, it is always about His way, His time, and His actions that bring glory to Him. 

Hope: We all have hopes and dreams. We have desires. However, these hopes, dreams and desires can be for much apart from God and His will.  The true hope is when our hope is focused on the things of God.  Such hope is not easily swayed by the vagaries of life. Rather, such hope rests on the knowledge and surety of who God is.  Yet, we are always torn between having the hope  “built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness” and hope that all will fall in line with our desires while at the same time knowing we don’t always get what we want. Yet, when there is true hope, hope that is founded on Jesus blood and righteousness, hope that is based on the surety of God and his promises and plans, the hope always is right.  For God and his hope and faithfulness are not based on what is visible, what is seen as many have gone to their graves without seeing the fullness of God’s promise yet received and walked in it daily.  There is a great could of witnesses. So our hope, when in God never disappointments even if things to not appear to match how we think it will work out. As God does things His way which more often than not does not match what is expected, for what He does is far greater than any of our expectations for His ways are perfect.  So, the key is to have more and more our desires and our hopes to match what God is doing which is always about untangling the twists that come from a sinful world and being shaped and restored back to what God intends.  Ultimately, the true hope is to be fully restored and in line with God.  And, true hope is resting in knowing that God meet our desires and needs in his way. He knows us intimately so our hope can be sure that God will give from His abundance, in accordance with His will, as we walk His path.  And His ultimate gift, the ultimate hope, the ultimate gift is that which endures: His love.  In His love is all, and in His love is life everlasting. So whatever we hope for, whatever we want, whatever we desire the point of it all in God’s time and frame is drawing us closer to Him. For with God, all things are possible and He moves us ever toward that which is beneficial and draws us in alignment with Him.  And it is resting in the hope based on Him that can carry us through the dark times, knowing that God keeps His promises in His way and that His ways are not our ways.  True hope is hope in who God is and that regardless of circumstances for good or bad, God has the best in mind.

Love: Ultimately, we all long for pure love. We want to be valued, be safe, and secure. We want to know we matter.  Yet, in this life we can often focus on our lack of being loved. Fact is none of us live up to God’s standard of loving, and we all want to be loved as God loves us.  We all have hurts and pains that get us twisted up and in turn we act in ways that hurt others, in turn twisting them up. We lack being loved wholly, leaving us not only broken but resistant even to true love, for the pain results in fear.  So we grasp on to what we know. God’s love is beyond that which he grasp. God’s love is greater than the “something other than” love to which we cling.   God’s love always brings us to restoration and wholeness.  God’s love never changes.  God’s love endures forever. Yet, we often fail to grasp God’s love, twisted by the varied bits of harm that comes, concluding that love falters, but not grasping true love.  We exchange our limited love for limited love; self for self.  Yet, the love of God is shown in love for others.  The love of God is shown in giving up that which is adored and valued for the benefit of others.  True love comes with great cost.   True love is found in surrender to the point of surrendering our very lives.  Living in love is working to the good of others and pointing them to the truth, so the sins of self and others caused wounds and twists and distortions, can be made right.    Now it is important to note, that while our love is faulty and frail, every action we take that reflects God’s love results in lasting reverberations that have long lasting impact. However, that impact has it limits as our love in not ever enduring, but it lasts far beyond our scope or vision.  He action of moving beyond self, of considering others better than self points to the one True way which is Jesus.  He that set aside his divinity, became a servant and suffered in every way yet remained untwisted and whole, and set aside His life so that all who come may live.  Oh, what marvelous love that is beyond our perception in every way for we only really know limited, self-focused love that falters.  We can taste God’s love, know that it is good but our experienced is distorted and partial for God’s love is far greater than comprehension. 

Now taking these thoughts back to reality, back to life on this earth as currently know it.  Again pointing to surrender as watch those I love hope, struggle, heal, slip away, suffer, grow, and live whatever God has come their way.  There is one sure foundation in all, that no matter what happens and however what happens is perceived, that God is working to draw me into ever deeper understanding of Him and growing my ability to walk in true faith, hope, and love. And this is the essence of “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13 (ESV) which is that God the enables what we are unable, so in all these circumstance the possibilities and direction belong to God and God alone.  Whether blessing or sorrow; mourning or dancing, it is all in His hands and for His will for no matter what, He is faithful and His love endures forever, blessed be His name. All Glory to the King of Kings! Hallelujah! Amen

News Commentary: Jeff Dubay Update-Exchange one prison for another.

Well the Star Tribunehas reported that Jeff Dubay has been sentenced to 180 days in the workhouse for his drug related offenses.  Judge Smith also gave him a stiff warning that the next step is prison.  He had failed to follow through with the diversion program and substance abuse court and had failed twelve drug tests while missing eleven. 

Jeff sadly turned to cocaine to fill the emptiness inside after finding the truth in Ecclesiastes that what he had chased after was ultimately all nothing.  He lost everything including now his freedom for his drug.  Perhaps his lawyer is right and his moving to Brainard, Minnesota away from his drug connections would be the answer. However, this is often not the case for people who have turned to drugs for an answer.   Here it is moving from the prison of addiction to actual time in jail.  It is the told bottom of self.  

Jeff Dubay’s struggles are not uncommon and we all think we are good enough.  The mindset is that if you just have enough strength and will power and drive to succeed, you will do what it takes to be successful and avoid anything that can drag you down. Yet, each of us at one point or another turn to something to feel the emptiness.  It does not matter whether what is turned to is socially acceptable or not, but it is something that is an attempt to fill what Blaise Pascal called a “God-shaped vacuum” inside us all. The true satisfaction only comes when one is in right relationship with God. The only way anyone can get right with God is through Jesus the Messiah by turning from self and accepting the gift Jesus has to offer.  If you want more details on turning to Jesus please read this page: https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/how-to-become-a-christian/. Please don’t wait till you reach bottom to look to turn to Jesus.   The consequences and problems will still exist but there will be peace and the driving emptiness will be no more.

Now for any who struggle with addiction, including Jeff Dubay. I strongly recommend getting involved with the Teen Challenge treatment program.  They will deal with both the addiction issues as well as the connected spiritual issues.

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Please see this post for most recent thoughts and update: https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2010/01/12/addict-lost-in-addiction-and-the-pathway-to-death-1-12-10-update-on-jeff-dubay

Comments regarding Ted Haggard’s return to pulpit

Recently came across an articleabout Ted Haggard returning to the pulpit at Open Bible Fellowship in Morrison, Illinois led by his friend, Reverend Chris Boyd.  Ted used the time to admit to being captivated by sin, yet at the same time pointing to how he had been sexually molested as a child. According to another article, Ted Haggard did go into detail about the cost of sin, that it leads to destruction.

    It is sad to see anyone fall and we all need to pray for God to work to heal his wounds.  God can certainly use a man truly broken to touch others.  However, there are comments by some referenced in the articles that are concerning.

    First of all, it is concerning that the impetus for sin seems laid on the fact that he was sexually molested as a child. Now, any way we are hurt is devastating, but we should never point to our wounds as the reason we surrender to certain temptations. Now, granted certain wounds can lead towards certain sins.  There are in fact common ways people often sin in response to assorted wounds.  Yet, the sin is still the sin, and the responsibility falls not with those who created the wounds, but for ourselves. 

     In my own life, it would be real easy to point to various wounds as a reason as to why certain sins are appealing. However, the reasons why are really irrelevant and most often in reality an attempt to justify the sin or minimize my own responsibility. It is the attitude, of yes I sinned, but maybe I wouldn’t have if not for this past wounding. Such an attitude is not a true brokenness that leads to true repentance. 

     Another area of concern was related to quotes from Leo Godzich, who has been meeting Mr. Haggard weekly as part of the restoration process. 

 “If all men are honest, all men are liars and deceivers,” Godzich said. “Once someone is gifted and called, that is something they generally cannot escape. They will be used in that regard again.”

“True redemption occurs when someone is fulfilling a destiny and purpose in their life.”

Now, yes all men are liars and deceivers. We all falter in many ways, but the emphasis seems to be placed on the gifting and charisma that Mr. Haggard possesses.  The second statement really highlights the emphasis.  “True redemption” is “fulfilling and destiny and purpose?”  Where is that found in scripture.  Redemption is not about filling destiny or purpose.  Redemption is about surrender to the King of Kings.  Redemption is about the debt being paid for our failures.  It has nothing to do with filling any destiny or purpose, it is not about any action on our part whatsoever.

    The tying of redemption to good actions and filling a purpose, is more in line with the way and mindset of the world.  Such a line of thinking fits readily in to the story of the recent two hour episode of  the television show 24, titled Redemption. The world views doing good and using skills to serve some greater good for humanity as redemptive.  The reality is nothing is redeemed. All our good actions, all our serving others, all our engaging in any form of loving behavior does not redeem for our evil and selfish behaviors.  This is why we need true Redemption which only comes through Jesus paying for our sins and taking our place. 

     True redemption is not  Jesus taking on the identity of the unlovable, broken,  and outcasts of society. It is Jesus taking on the sins, the wrong, the evil, and selfishness.  At any point, each of us need to be aware of our own sinfulness.  In reading what is reported about Mr. Haggard, some how the depth of the need of dependence and surrender to God may be missed.  The reality of that situation is not for us to know, but given the quotes from a key player in his restoration and the pointing to past wounds gives reason to be concerned that true brokenness and repentance are being missed, let us pray this is not the case. Let us pray that those Mr. Haggard surround himself with are not so caught up in his talents and gifts that the miss the deeper issues and that Mr. Haggard misses true healing and restoration as a result.  

News Commentary: Learning from the Fall of Jeff Dubay

     In the Twin Cities, news recently broke of sports radio personality Jeff Dubayrecent arrest for drug possession. Initially there was misunderstanding regarding which drug he was charged with possessing, it ulitemately ended up being crack cocaine.  Yesterday, Jeff Dubay was terminated from KFANand will no longer be heard on the airwaves.  This incident followed Jeff Dubay taking a leave during the summer. Upon return we learned his wife was divorcing him. Perhaps many suspected he had gone to treatment or a connection to drug or alcohol, but it was all speculation until recent events. 

       The story of the fall of Jeff Dubay is really no different then many other stories.  Jeff Dubay simply is a man whose profession was entertaining the public, and as such, his fall became public.  So the question is why, is there something inherently broken in Jeff Dubay?  He had everything and lost it all do to drugs, how could he have let that happen?  Well, Jeff is really no different than any of us.  Ultimately he found that upon getting all he wanted (the wife, the house, the boat, the cabin, Gopher’s Hockey championships) it in the end meant nothing.  At some point, be it triggered by stress at home or triggered by nothing Jeff Dubay turned to crack cocaine.  Again, no different then any of us. It is very common for people to turn to alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, sex, television and so on to cope.  We settle for something that medicates temporarily when what we wanted ends up not fulfilling the emptiness.  As it says over and over in Ecclesiastes, “All is vanity, a chasing after the wind.”  Mr. Dubay had expanded his kingdom and within the perspective of this world had set himself up to have a nice life complete with all the toys. 

      Some may point to and argue that some people just cannot handle stress.  Some people are just genetically predisposed toward addiction.  Jeff has let known on air that he has ADHD. So, Jeff clearly had to be a broken person in order to make these choices.  However, these choices are made frequently by people without any broken part.  It may be easy to focus on how Jeff’s brain might work differently as an excuse, but it really comes down to making a choice.  However, more and more in society, excuses are looked for regarding destructive choices.   Jeff Dubay is no different then many people and ultimately we all can easily make destructive choices when faced with meaninglessness or even a threat of losing part of our own kingdom. 

       Some may be thinking, how could Jeff Dubay have possibly returned to the drug after treatment or even put himself in such a position.  The fact is, once an addiction sets in, reason leaves the door.  The compulsive methods of coping are traps that once hooked, people have trouble getting free.  Actually, any sin, be it compulsive or not, is a trap.  It takes daily fighting the battle and resistance in order to become free.  And freedom apart from the grace of God comes very difficult indeed.

    Alcoholics Anonymous recognizes the role of faith in recovery, but falls short by relying solely on faith.  It doesn’t matter what you believe in, just believe in something outside yourself.  As long as you confess, repent, and reconcile it does not matter what Deity you have faith in.  However, there is really only one to truly have faith in,  Jesus the Messiah.  Faith in anything but Jesus will fall short and ultimately one form of false peace is traded for another.  True peace only comes through true reconciliation. True reconciliation only comes by turning to the one and true God.  Our sins and addictions have consequences not just in this life.  Jesus paid the dept.  He took the punishment.   He can set us truly free from all that ensnares.  However, we need to submit by an act of the will and accept Jesus covering for our imperfection and selfishness.

Now, it is public knowledge that Jeff Dubay is not religious. He has talked on error of his thoughts that it is all about individual strength.  His lack of religious belief was discuss many times in his buying his on air partner a Jesus bobble head doll.  So, given that Jeff Dubay doesn’t not yet know Jesus, I pray that God reveals himself to Jeff as he goes through this time of brokenness.  Jesus is the true answer for freedom and reconciliation.  Now, turning oneself over to Jesus and surrendering to the King of Kings does not mean that life will always be easy and there will be no suffering, rather it means that in spite of any storms around us, we have access to true peace.  True peace rests in being right with God and knowing that what lies ahead transcends any current circumstance.