Mother’s Day: Honoring Mother- Rising Up and Calling Her Blessed

Today is Mother’s Day. It is the day in this culture that is set aside to Honor Mothers.  It is a day where we are encouraged to express value to mothers. In general the concept is to honor those who you are a child of and those who you have children with.  The day is one in which Proverbs 31:28 (ESV) “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” is practiced. The verse covers both those who you are a child of and those who you have children with.  In context that verse is referring to what occurs in the life of a virtuous woman as described in Proverbs 31.  Honestly, most mothers fall short of the standard described in Proverbs 31.  There are things done that hurt and cause pain and miss the standard of virtue. Yet, even so, there is the need to honor. There is the need to attend to that which is of virtue.  The actions described in Proverbs 31 are really about proclaiming the virtue and giving witness to the good things, the virtuous actions.  It is really giving acknowledgement to the good that has been done.  

Personally, this writer does not yet have children. There are hopes, plans, and dreams of the same.  Yet, on this day, with no children yet, there are words to say to life up the woman who will one day share the joy of bringing children into the world. There is honor in the steps she takes while awaiting the time of bringing children into this world. Admittedly each day the time gets shorter, but the time taken is of worth and value so that we both may be of virtue in raising children.  So, this writer is proclaiming that his wife is a woman to be praised and valued.  I honor her.

Now, as to this writer’s mother; there has been no one who has more impact on the man I’ve become then her. She engaged in much care and nurture. There were many actions taken that shaped my life course and development.  She is even the one who identified and encouraged my life call and profession. She sacrificed on many levels to ensure that me and my brother had what we needed.  It is certain, that my awareness of what she poured into my life is only partial for many things actions taken that were well beyond the awareness of a child (and yes, even beyond awareness of an adult child.)  My mother did so much to love and build me up that it is need of honor and this writer greatly appreciates what she is done.  My mother is one to be honored and blessed for the value of what she put into my life is beyond measure.

Now, for the readers of this post, please take time to consider the mother’s in your life.  Praise them and rise up and call them blessed. Do so today, and do so beyond such days of cultural expectation. Find the things of virtue and honor that shaped you, and make it know, for as you bless, you in turn are blessed. 

Musings on the New Year: Digging Deep and Advancing

Well 2010 has came and went and 2011 is now here and under way. For me there are two words that have been resonating and seem central to what God is doing in my life. These words started even back during Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New Year but seem to be at an apex. The two words are deep deeper and advance. For me these are key to whatever change is coming in the year to come. For all those that read this blog want to challenge you do the same.

Now granted, some of you may be thinking “Um, Tim, your articles and musing can already get deep enough, you encourage going deeper?” Well, the answer is absolutely, for no matter the appearance of depth, compared to the greatness and awesomeness of God the depth is still shallow. Going deeper involves letting God’s truth sink to the depths of my heart and soul. It is drawing deeply from living water. It is being root and grounded at a deep level on God’s word and truth. No matter where we are there is more depth to be found. Take a quick look at Luke 6:48 (ESV)
he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
In all my time going over the verse, talking about it, even teaching on it the “dug deep” part is missed. We focus on the rock versus sand, but the rock is down “deep.” Here is the reality, sound and sure faith is one that is deep, for there is support and surety in depth. Whatever we do, whatever fruit we hope for, whatever may be ahead is only sure by becoming deeply immersed in God’s truth. So ask the Lord God to show you ways to grow deeper.

The other word that comes to my mind is advance, moving forward. This is key for me for there is much ahead. The past year was one of a lot of preparation complete with assorted trials in my life and those around me. But God calls not just to prepare and passively sit by. He does not call us to dig deep and rest. He calls us to move ahead, move forward. Again with the thoughts of advance, God leads me to some other words of Jesus in Matthew 11:12 (ESV)
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. These words perhaps lose significant in the English for we may think in the terms of physical violence and force of will. But if you take time to consider the words, it really speaks to an intensity of moving forward and grabbing hold of that which God sets before us. It is true for walking into God’s kingdom and true for our moving about in the areas God directs us to engage. One way to put the phrase may be the Kingdom of heaven is “Wild” and those energized will seek to seize it. This involves no sitting passively by, it involves energy to grab hold of that which God puts forth, which is not predictable. Now scripture is filled with many action words and directions that entail the seizing such as “reap, sew, love, rise up, take up” and so on. This is a concept beyond “Carpe Diem” of seizing the day. God does call us to live in the moment, but the moment is saturated in Him and His will. And here is the deal, in the moving forward, in the advancing we need one another. We need support and encouragement. For it is easy to get twisted and deceived and there are many traps and we need others to speak us the truth and help us back on the path when we could no longer “grasp hold” and go flailing about on our own way.

My hope and prayer as you read these thoughts is God stirs in you awareness of areas to dig deeper and move ahead. Also please do feel free to check in with me related to my digger deeper and advancing. The starting point is what is God stirring in you. It is a new year, new day, new chapter, and a new beginning. Let God move you deeper and then seize what God has before you and then buckle up, for serving God is always a wild ride.

Video Selection: On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand

Well God has brought a new song into my mind during this time.  My heart is heavy for my Dad and Janie Blake.  I feel ongoing immense emotional pain but know that anything here is but fragile and temporary. All hope rests solely on Jesus the Christ.  There is nothing else that stands.

Personal Musings: Feeling stuck in “mud”

Well, it is time for an update of where things have been. The blog has been strangely quiet since returning from the AACC National Conference.  It is not personally what I expected or anticipated. As left feeling recharged, refreshed, and energized.  On the Monday following the conference returned to work and work it was, as the it was the busiest morning for me at that job ever.  My second job also was very busy.  So jumped in full steam. By the middle of the week there was what was thought by me to be some allergy issues but ended up being a head cold that is even now still lingering.  There are still all the thoughts and promptings that occurred and are being developed but rather than moving forward it seemed got stuck in mud.

What does that image mean, getting stuck in mud.   Well the kind of being stuck in mud here pertain more to reaching a point in a path that is filled with mud and that progress is difficult.  Here there was a sudden being overwhelmed upon return followed by an ongoing drain that made it difficult to progress.  Some of that is the physical nature of things where there is an ongoing viral infection that slows down.  Rather than ramping up and broadening all the steps that need to be done, it was more a time being slowed and in that time thoughts simmer and process. In other words it is meeting with resistance from what is beyond self, and resistance from within self pertaining to issues of fear, faith, and health.  There is much work ahead, still much preparation to be laid, but time is getting to the point where some serious pursuits and work needs to be done.  Let  me review a little bit of what some of that entails.

1.  Getting the framework set and established for making a push to market private practice and generate clients.  There has not been a whole lot of push forward on that front since was hoping credentialing would go quicker and would be able to add the private practice office with little difficulty.  Credentialing is in itself like moving through mud or pour molasses.  Just a lot of patience needed and not much that can be done.  Yet, there needs to be some networking that goes on with local churches that needs to begin and it starts with getting website up.  Some of what I need done is at the help of others gracious enough to help with the things I do not have the knowledge of, and making sure my communication is clear. Once all I need help with is done then need to spend some time getting the base web content up.  The other steps are getting the printing of letterhead and business cards done so can actually send material out promoting self.  None of these things are enjoyable for me and come with resistance.   These things need to be done. 

2. There is a felt prompting to take the article:, into a book that may use the newly forming POD publishing branch of AACC to publish. It is a task and process that is specific and work needs to be done to get started.  My good friend Craig even challenged to consider signing up for NaNoWriMo as part of getting moving. The challenge did not feel right, but the fact is needed to get through own personal resistance and get started on the project whether or not it ends up something beyond my putting it together. 

3. There is still the ongoing goal of writing more intentionally for the blog. Need to set and stick to some personal goals in all of this. And perhaps that is a good starting point, is sitting down and setting objectives to work through these resistance areas of life and to make progress.  But I am well aware of need to be more intentional and consistent.  I think for awhile the objective was writing everyday, and while did that for awhile it may have been more than appropriate, resulting in falling by the wayside when there is took much going on. This is especially true if spend time working on a “book project.” The other aspect is that really have felt led to have a separate blog focusing on Christianity and Mental Health that is overall different with a particular focus on those issues.  It will serve in part as a way of marketing for private practice, as well as get some thoughts out there on what true sound Christian Mental Health theory and practice is. 

So in writing this, it seems clear that in order to make moves through the resistance and mud need to have a few things happen.  One for me is setting some established personal goals. And honestly that is difficult for me. The resistance to personal goal setting goes back to days at Chapel Hill Academy when faced a “self paced” educational system with a process of self-determining goals and meeting those goals.  The final year of my time there, I loaded up a ton of detention for failing to follow through with goals as became tired of there whole way of doing things. 

So what can you the readers do to help me?  There are a couple things. Pray for God give me strength and encouragement to fight through my own areas of resistance.  Some of the resistance is the externals such as waiting for credentialing and the recent health issues. The other is emotional resistance due to fears, work load, and the rest.  In order for there to be any progress though, cannot sit and be passive. The temptation is to simply sit back, engage in the varied distractions, and move from one day to the next.  Yet, doing such would result in a lack of productivity.  So pray for me to grow through that area and meet what God desires.  The other thing people can do is to give words of encouragement.  If there is silence, drop me a line.  If you see me, ask me how doing setting and making goals.  And feel free to challenge and push me to give and meet varied goals.  For I know one thing is clear, that it is easier to move through periods of resistance when there is either encouragement or even help. 

Let me close this bit of personal musing with a question?  How are you in your own lives and in moving toward that which God has prompted within you? Are you slowed down due to resistance?  Have you stopped any progress? Have you gone silent?  Even what are the resistance areas in your own life and what are they tied to?

Musings from AACC National Conference: Reviewed Foundations and Drawing Deeper

On this blog the articles of late have been touching on understanding repentance. The articles the next couple of days will be taking a slight break from that concerted focus on the subject. However, it is worth noting that the articles being right are related to that subject matter.  Currently I am attending the American Association of Christian Counselors National Conference.   Seeing how repentance is about change and a counselor is a change agent thus the relationship.  The articles being written though are reflecting my thought process at the end of the day.

The conference this year is being held in Branson Missouri at the resort Chateau on the Lake.  Branson is in the midst of the Ozarks and the meeting place is by a nice sized lake.  For me the symbolism is clear at what God is working in me.  The rock is reminder of our rock and foundation in Jesus the Messiah.  It is the source of life.  The lake to me points me to the depths of living water that Jesus provides and being brought to greater depths.  Today at the conference both elements were central.

The day started with a day long conferences that really examined the foundation of sound Biblical Counseling Psychology. It was a reminder of the Biblical view of how God has me interacting in the lives of others.  It also built upon the foundation further.  Even in reviewing what are essential basic elements of the work of coming along aside others to aide, there was growth and depth in learning others perspective even so far as understanding some church history and foundations.  There was much stirred within my heart and mind which may well be observed in shaping the writing of blog articles to come.  For now though, it refreshed awareness of the foundation and provided exhortation for building up and going deeper in what God has been doing in and through me.

The other element of the day that sticks in my mind is the large group session where Dr. Larry Crabb spoke. Dr. Larry Crabb is a man who God has used to challenge me to look and grow since first came across his writings in college.  Today, at the conference while pointing to the basics of God’s Word, he challenged with words and thoughts that pushed for a deeper grasp and growth in God.  He brought up the concept of relational Holiness, which starts with the relationship of the Godhead being perfect relationally. In other words, God is relationally set apart and whole.   God is relationally Holy. So then it becomes that an element of growth and freedom from sin is the ongoing process of becoming more and more relationally Holy.  It is take the foundation of relating to God, others, and self in love and truth and bringing it to  deeper level.  A deeper level of every fiber of every action pours out to reflect the Love of Jesus and evidences death of self.  It is the core of contentment, the seeds of His peace, the elements of His joy.  It is being at the center of what God is doing through love in truth. 

So today is a day of examining the rock, the foundation, which at the core is Jesus and then being brought to examine deeper what God is doing in my life and in turn how God enables me to touch the lives He brings to me to receive love and care.  It is a privilege to serve God and others where God has me and look forward to how God enables further impact on others, even deeper than before. 


Joy in True Service

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. God gifts each of us gifts for the building up of others. This gifting is to touch both those who are in God’s kingdom, and those still lost in darkness.  He has made each of unique in terms of personality and through the Holy Spirit gives gifts beyond what He given us naturally.  Today, the reflection is that there is true joy in serving God in accordance with how He has gifted you.  It is evident when my wife is playing the piano and worshiping God.  It is displayed in my life when sitting with someone and helping them work through the difficulties of the heart and soul.  Serving God in accordance with His giftings brings joy.  The joy that comes, comes not from the gifting or the service. The joy comes from using what God has given to love and build up others.

Now perhaps you are reading this and it is not yet clear to you what God has called you to do or the ways he has gifted you.  A good starting point is finding the points of service that when you act in love and serving others you have an inner sense of joy. The joy may even be beyond what makes sense. For some it may be serving the hurting in lost in Haiti, for others it is giving and meeting needs, for others it is teaching God’s word.   God has created each differently and when we are operating true to how God created us, there will be joy in the spirit.

Video Selections: Christmas Shoes by Newsong

Just recently learned of Newsong’s Christmas Shoes song.  The song was released on the Album: Sheltering Tree in 200 and reportedly influenced by a story that had been circulating on the internet.  In 2002 CBS made the story into a movie and Donna VanLeire wrote a novel based on the story. The story has touched many over the years. It is not really known if the story is real or fictional.  Yet, whether the story is simply parable or really occurred, the message is still powerful.

It is interesting that I had not really run across this video or the song before, but have this year.  This year my brother, his wife, and child are having a difficult time as the mother of my brother’s wife is dying and is due to die any day now.  The contents of the song also seem related to the giving challenge God led me to issue. The challenge was to give in such a way to build up others, reflecting God’s love.  So please take time to watch this video and pass it on to others. Maybe you have seen or heard the song before. Maybe you saw the movie or read the book. Maybe you received the initial internet story.  Maybe like me this is the first you are aware of the story.  Regardless, take time to watch the video and let God speak to you.

The words/story:

It is almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line tryin’ to buy that last gift or two not really in the Christmas mood. Standing right in front of me, was a little boy waiting anxiously pacing round like little boys do. And in his hand he held a pair of shoes. His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe and when it came his time to pay I couldn’t believe what I heard him say
“Sir, I want to by these shoes, for my mama, please it’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size. Could you hurry, sir Daddy said there’s not much time you see Moma’s been sick for quite awhile and I know these shoes would make her smile and I want her to look beautiful, If Mamma meets Jesus tonight”
He counted pennies for what seemed like years. Then the cashier said, “son, there’s not enough here.” He searched his pockets frantically then he turned and he looked at me. He said, “Mama always made Christmas good at our house through most years she did without. Tell me sir what am I going to do somehow I’ve got to buy these Christmas shoes.” I just had to help him out, and as I laid the money down I never forgot the look on his face when he said, “Mama’s gonna look so great”
I knew I’d caught a glimpse of heaven’s love as he thanked me and ran out. I know that God had sent that little boy my way to remind me just what Christmas is all about.


FYI: The CBS movie can be viewed online here:  You will need to download the DIVX movie player to view it tough.

A Giving Challenge: A Response to Black Friday

Today, the day after the national celebration known as Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday.  It is the day most retailers either make profit or end up losing money for the year. It is a day that has become known for the start of the “Christmas shopping season” where promises of deals and discounts abound. 

In our culture the Christmas Holiday has come to be about giving gifts to one another.  The tradition is supposed to be reflective of the gift of Jesus coming to earth so that we might be able to be reconciled with the creator. It was the ultimate display of love.  In turn, the giving of gifts has become symbolic of love, and how much or how expensive the gift reflective of our love.  Love has become something bought and paid for, rather than acted upon.  

Now I appreciate the custom of giving gifts and enjoy both giving and receiving. The focus is often about understanding those around us and giving them something they want or need.  Good givers know the person they are giving and match well those wants and needs.  Sometimes the gifts given are simply reflections of self.  Yet, the way we give is incomplete. It is done in love and may touch the person you care about. But what is given can readily be forgotten or discarded.  The question for me is how to give that truly reflects God’s love.  The answer as a starting point is to give in a way that not only touches a person but actually builds them up in an area of deep need that may not even be expressed.  It requires identifying and responding in a way that elevates the person wholly.  The giving touches a part of their self: strength, heart, soul, or mind.  It is something that goes beyond what is readily apparent and touches a person at a deep level reflecting God’s love.

So here is a challenge. How about turning the giving to others to be more than supplying a want or need in a persons life this season. With the love that you want to demonstrate truly find a way to build up those you love.  Find a way to touch them and supply something missing that goes beyond shallw desires and perceived needs of self.  Take time to reflect and pray and identify a way to bring a lasting blessing rather than a consumable item readily disposed or set aside. Find something that build up their hurt in the midst of where they are at, that touches the self with love at a deep level.  Also the challenge will be do not just do it for those that you love and care about ,but also find someone in the community that you may or may not know and touch them with a piece of love that reaches a level that builds up what is lacking. Let God lead you to touch either those that you know, those that you are aquainted, or those that you did not know at all.  Above all find a way to give to touch others that reflects God’s love as a genuine reponse to His gift to us that has touched us completely.

Now perhaps this challenge resonates with you but you feel overwhelmed with the prospect and do not know how to start.  Well here are a few steps on engaging in such giving. 

Step 1: Depend on God. Start with prayer. Turn these actions over to God first and for most. In order to be a true reflection of the gift or Jesus, everything starts with God.  Make this act of giving an act of worship and bring God to the center.

Step 2: Identify who to touch with these blessings.  Make a list of people that God puts on your heart and start praying for them. It might be a good idea to identify who in your family God wants you to bless, who in your circle of friends/acquaintances, who in your church, who in your workplace, who in your community, and even who else somewhere else in the world.

Step 3: Explore how.  Start praying and thinking of ways to touch these other people.  What are the areas that need building up? Perhaps you know they struggle with fears, how do you touch them?  Perhaps they faced significant loss?  Ask for wisdom from God in how to meet these needs and listen to His voice.

Step 4: Act on how you are lead.  It is one thing to perhaps think about giving in such a way, it is another to actually follow through. Please do follow through with at least one person.

Now this type of giving may involve money, but the better and more touching way of building up those you know involves no money.  This type of giving can serve to truly function as a reflection of God’s love.

Please feel free to leave comments about your response to this challenge and what God’s does in your life in relation to it.  Feel free to post comments here on the blog or in addition on the forum in this thread:

I can tell you God led me to give in such away about five years ago know. I was lead to write a blessing which resulted in prophetic words to people in my family and members of a small group at my church.  God has stirred up in my heart today to find ways to give in such a manner this year as well as encourage others to do the same.  I look forward to seeing and hearing what God may do and who he touches.  Please pass this article to those you know as well.  If you receive a link to this via email, pass it along. Let’s see genuine response to God’s love giving this year, building up those with gifts of blessing.