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.

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Video Selection: As We Gather & The Steadfast Love of Lord Never Ceases

Well as nearly as soon as posted the previous song  God brought into my mind “The Steadfast love of the Lord Never Ceases” based on Lamentations 3:22-24 which is what we hope for. It is a response to deep suffering, deep pain coming from the core and ultimately medicated “gall and wormwood.”  It is on God’s unending love which is demonstrated by Jesus coming to earth, enduring all pain and suffering, giving his live to us that we may have eternal life which is found in being in relationship with the Holy God.  Ah, yes, the steadfast love of the Lord NEVER CEASES!  His mercies NEVER come to an end. They truly are new every morning for God is always faithful.  As the previous video/song indicated, our hope is on nothing less than on Jesus the Christ. His coming to earth and dying so that we may be free.

Memorial Day 2010 Musing

Today was Memorial Day, which is a day to Honor those have died in battle serving the country and serve in the armed forces. It is understandable and respectful to honor and pray for those serving in the military. Yet for Christians the fact is we really do not belong to any country but the Kingdom of God and sometimes we can lose that perspective. Personally, it is a good time to reflect on those who have served the Kingdom of God well. Last year on Memorial Day some specific Martyrs were honored in this thread: https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/in-memoriam-christian-martyrs/. This year want to emphasize all those that have gone before us. It is a good time to remember the past and the great crowd of witnesses and use it to inform are present and let us prepare for what is ahead.

The list of those that have gone before us is long and great going back to Abel and way through various people. Many who are well known, many more who are not known. What do they all have in common, the stood firm, they abide in faith, and they serve God’s kingdom well. Take a read of Hebrews 11.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets– who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated– of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

 

The long list here in Hebrews 11 is just a small portion of the great crowd of witnesses, those who have gone first and stood firm in faith. They are all regarded to be people who walked by faith. They all believed that God exists and rewards. In other words believed God is who He says He is. Now it is important to note that in the list of these people of faith they had not received yet that what was promised. They stood pain, suffering, and torture. Sometimes delivered, sometimes they did not. Ultimately the focus of the faith is not on what they measured or felt but on the surety of God. It was not about what happened in the here and now on this tangible earth. It was not even about nations or places. It was about God. Learn from the great crowd of witnesses, for while they may have stumbled and faltered at times in their lives, they stayed the course.

Examining the great crowd of the faithful, we find encouragement to stand firm. We find direction that informs us of what it takes to stand firm in the faith, to persevere. In this day and age it is easy to get upset over God failing to meet some personal desire in a way or time of your pleasing. We can easily focus on things of self. The focus though needs to be on God and God alone. God does reward; God does provide; God loves us deeply. What helps us to stand firm, today is not losing focus that it is not about us, but about God. It is not about our own ideas, but God’s Kingdom. It will get difficult and hard times are coming. Any one of us is called and marked with a life as a Martyr, and even if not, we will all face pain and suffering. Difficulties are certain. But God’s faithfulness is more certain, for He will turn all things together for the good even if you do not see it.

So upon looking at the great crowd of witnesses and letting it inform our choices, when we look ahead we know that difficulty is coming. The great crowd of witness suffered much we will not be different. So right now it is a time of preparation. It is time to grow in faith and knowledge of God, for there is a time come soon of testing and trial. Deception will be at every turn. Darkness will grow and reign. Good will be called evil, and evil good. Yet, we are to stand firm. We are to be sober minded, alert, and clear. This comes from growing in God and growing faith. You grow in faith through growing in relationship with God. There are many obstacles that come, many traps set, and falling asleep is easy. But God’s call is for us to endure. Perhaps, before the time of trial and the seventh week some who are faithful will be removed and spared further trial, but do not focus on this hope. Prepare to endure till the end. Make your faith and calling sure. Test yourself and continue to root out and discard all that is untrue. Continue to let the Holy Spirit cleanse you and draw you more clearly aware of the ways you fall short in loving God and others in a pure and whole way.

So in summary, in the Kingdom of God learn from those who have gone before, the great crowd of witnesses. Let them shape your step and path today with a call to draw nearer to God and prepare for what is to come. God is in control but victory is already won. God is faithful and His reward is sure. It will be a privilege to receive His reward and then lay it back down at His feet (see a vision reported on this blog.) We serve in surrender to the Greatest commander: the God of Love. And if by chance you do not, now is the time, surrender to the King of Kings.

Video Selection: Be Still MY Soul/What A Freind We Have in Jesus- Selah

Be Still My Soul/What A Friend We Have in Jesus

 Selah

Be still, my soul: The Lord is on your side.

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;

Leave to thy God to order and provide;

In every change He faithful will remain

Be still, my soul: Thy best, Thy heavenly friend

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul:

The waves and winds still know (still know)

His voice who ruled them

While He dwelt below

Musical interlude:

Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Be still my soul.

Lakeland Aftermath: An analysis of observed responses:

Well, the furor over what has been called the Lakeland outpouring has died down as Mr. Bentley has stop ministering and the martial issues are coming to light.  This article will not be focused on any of the things recently exposed but rather how people have reacted to these events. In analyzing the reactions, the analysis perspective comes from weighing the evidence of Lakeland and Mr. Bentley and finding it to be a great deception where by many were exposed and invited works of the enemy.  In terms of identifying the varied categories of observed responses, there may be labels used that may seem harsh but are meant to be descriptive and not meant insult anyone. If you see yourself in any of these labels, please pray and seek God and ask God to show you the truth and expose any lies or areas you need to change. We all need to examine ourselves daily, moment by moment.  The starting point of the analysis will be the point where all accept the phenomena presented at Lakeland and else where as being from God and move along a continuum.

 

The Ravenous:  The people who respond in this manner are seeking after the experience.  They are seeking to fill their lusts for more power, more experience.  Many of these people view themselves as seeking more so they can serve God better, but ultimately it comes down to seeking to fill the lust of flesh, lust of eyes, and pride of life.  They rally to the cries of “Come get some” and “More, more, more.”

 

The Desperate:  These are the people who have legitimate hurts and pain either physically or emotionally and find themselves drawn to somewhere where they are told someone can help them.  They are desperate to hear, see, or get a touch from God.  Some of these people may feel God has abandoned them in whatever form of suffering they endure.  These people are focused on what they lack and look to this special place where one of special anointing may give them an answer or touch that fills the lack.

 

The Wounded Servant: These are people wounded and injured by others related to the deception but stay where they are and reach out to others in surrender to God.  These people are isolated, wounded, and have little support. They would have difficulty being aware of any deceptive teaching they may latch onto in their service to God.  

 

 

The Naïve: These are the people who just simply take people at their word. If someone says something is of God and there are experiences to support the claim, they accept what is happening at face value. They follow where they are lead. They do not test, examine, or question. 

 

The Special: These are the people who report having a special relationship with God. They rely on mystical or esoteric experiences. They have their understanding and anyone bringing any questions to the contrary obviously just don’t “get it.” 

 

The Defensive: These are people that have both accepted events and happenings without question but also actively seek to defend. These are people who consistently utter threats such as “touch not God’s annointed” and “don’t blaspheme the Holy Spirit.” They find ways to spin every evidence in order to engage in what they consider proper defense. They see any confrontation or criticism as an attack to be defended.

 

The  Spinners: Similar to defenders. Basically they engage in rhetoric and find ways to spin the meaning of what is said and find ways to make excuses for wrong teaching or behaviors.  Sometimes the spinners may be sincere in their understanding, but often may just be practicing rhetoric.

 

The Connected: These are people who claim that based on personal knowledge of people involved and their own personal experiences with similar phenomena that they know God had to be working regardless of any evidence to the contrary. 

 

The Seekers: These are people simply seeking God and the truth in the instance. God can and will meet them because those that seek God will find him.  A difficulty exists though in that those that seek and find God in the midst of deception can attribute the deception for the reason they met God. They also may view criticism of the circumstances where they found God as seeking to invalidate what they experienced.

 

The Pushers:  These are people who have a theological investment in what they see happening. These are similar people to the The Connected.  These people value the theology and doctrine promoting the deception and have difficulty accepting any opposing view and fill look for ways to dismiss any presented evidence.

 

The Users: These are people behind the scenes, folks that stand to gain from the event.  What they care about is how the event effects them and how they can use it to improve their own standing and/or agenda.

 

The Ignorant: The are the people that just simply are unaware of what is happening. It doesn’t cross their sphere or circle of life and don’t know what is going on. 

 

The Fence Sitters:  These are people who simply don’t know one way or another whether there is truth. They see good and bad and cannot be sure one way or another. They hear both sides and feel caught in the middle.

 

The Passive:  These are people who know what is going on, know of possible dangers, but express belief that if it is not of God it will die off. These people also may have perspective that what is going on isn’t impacting their life directly so it isn’t really important. 

 

The Betrayed: These are people who used to believe what is being pushed by the deception, recognize it and stand strongly against it. Often they will stand against it in their own strength.  This category of response is similar to how you see ex-smokers interact around smokers.

 

The Obsessed: These are people who don’t accept what is going on but cannot stop reading information on what is happening. May even watch multiple hours of what is happened all to spot ever last bit of error.  Documenting and reading and viewing the event and deception becomes their sole focus.

 

 

The Paranoid: These are people who initially recognize deception and warn others but they begin seeing deception everywhere.  Rather then doing in actual discerning of what is true and what God is doing in people’s lives, they see deception even where there is no deception.

 

 

The Sidelined: These would be the people who recognized and discerned truth, warned people they cared about and left it at that. They didn’t speak out because of a lack of trust in their own discernment or listening to other voices telling them they could be wrong.  They protected their own interests but did nothing to expand their concerns to the church as a whole, including intercessory prayer.  

 

 

The Fighters:  These are people who are angry. They see the church being hurt and sheep being led to slaughter. They see it as their duty to fight for the sheep.  Often times they will use rhetoric, manipulation, satire, and other weapons of the flesh in the name of fighting for the truth.

 

The Self-Righteous: These are people who think they are better then others. They think they understand what is going on completely and will mock others for not understanding, even if their perspective is extreme.  These people think they are better then anyone else, and other would be if that just understood and “got it.”

 

The Concerned: These are people who see or discern the deceptions and express concern. They may actively engage others warning them of the errors but really are concerned about the people involved and work to reach out to any that may listen. They also spend time in prayer but their main response is to reach out to others, sometimes with direct confrontation. These people are truth tellers.

 

The Intercessors: These are people led to pray for the truth, for the sheep being led to slaughter, for God to work His will in the midst.  They seek to do and follow as God leads but primarily are engaged in prayer.

 

The Faithful: Those that hear the deception, examine the truth,  and seek to walk in love. They avoid confronting or fighting  in the flesh and walk in step with God’s leading.  They surrender to God in the matter and follow as God leads.

 

Now unfortunately, we all probably have reactions that are not helpful.  We all would serve best by being faithful and following as God directs, yet we can easily falter and land in other responses that are more self-directed. There of course can be mutliple categories of response not mentioned in this article.  We each can actually respond in a multitude of categories or shift from one area of response to another.  One minute being faithful, the next being a fighter, the next being self-righteous.  The step to being truly faithful is surrender to the King of Kings. We need to constantly examine ourselves and find the ways we are being self-directed and reacting out of ourselves in the name of the Kingdom of God.