The End of 2009: Reflections, Resolutions, and Questions

Well another year on the Roman Calender is coming to a close.  Time keeps on moving.  In each life, good and bad, pleasure, and pain, joy and sorrow, laughter and tears and other such elements of life happen.  Each day another day where we face the consequences and curses of sin.  Yet, today is a day marked off to focus on change.  Change from one year to another.  Today is a day that people look back at significant events and make plans for what is ahead. In other words people take time to reflect on the past and look ahead to the future.   In this blog article I will take some time to generally reflect on the year ahead and look forward to what God is doing.  Please take an opportunity to pray for me as you read this post and thank God for what he has done as well.  First, I will share some personal reflections of what this year has been about for me and then will look ahead to what looking forward to in the New Year.

2009 Personal Reflections:

2009   was a year filled with much change and growth.  Looking back at an article I wrote last year looking at where I have been and where I am going it is clear the journey I had made. Last year I was focus on the pain in the lives of those around me.  My step-mother Janie Blake was in the midst of her battle of Cancer.  It is a battle won, yet not quite finished yet.  Also became aware of my brother’s mother-in-law battle with Cancer and learning that her process was one leading to death.  A death still pending.  I was beginning to grow deeper in my relationship with God.  Last year at this time I was focused on the professional goals of finishing what I needed to do to complete my professional licensure.  Last year I had commented on a need to contact others and move in forgiveness. I moved and made attempts at some levels of doing such, but still an area needing growth.  Last year’s article referenced starting a forum and eventual web-portal.  Well the web-portal has been low on priorities.  I started out the year with a list of articles to write, and failed to get to or complete many.   Yet, also had written some articles that I believe God used to touch others as well as myself. 

2009 brought some significant events into my life and the lives of those around me.  Janie was victorious in her battle with cancer.  My mother became aware of vision loss.  My brother’s family overwhelmed with the suffering of pending grief.  My wife engaging in and seeking to move into getting healing and changing and letting God work on restoring her to how He created her to be.  The church God has me at, New Joy Church went through a transition from Pastor Richard Hubert to Pastor Brian Sinclair.  A move I sense will bring the church in to a period of productive service to the King of Kings.  So lots going on in those around me. Also lots going on with me as well.

Looking back last year, I commented that 2009 was a year of change.  And good changes did occur in me.  I can say without a doubt I am not the man I was a year ago.  Sure, I have undergone accomplishing a personal milestone in becoming a licensed Psychologist. Yet, the changes run a bit different from that.  I am a person who loves stories and fiction.  I can easily get lost in watching assorted stories and movies and spend a lot of time doing so.  Yet, God has opened my eyes and ears to the depth of the messages communicated in the stories presented on television and in movies.  My level of viewing these stories has reduced significantly.  As a person who grew up with ongoing television exposure this is a significant change. 

Another change was related to changing my diet.  I was reluctant to do so. I enjoy eating the foods I eat and really was not committed to change.  I agreed to a diet manly to support my wife.  Yet, in the process God has worked on my heart to start viewing approach to food differently and changing my mindset.  I still have some changing to do and old patterns return easily, but the change is positive and it is no longer doing it because of wife’s request.

I also believe that God has me in a process of restoring voice.  I have been a person who easily engaged in matters to working to serve God and others.  It was all about what I am doing.  A few years ago, God let me know that in terms of loving God and loving other that I needed to grow and restore my voice.  Actually starting writing this blog was a part of the process but God moved in my life to the point where I he had me give a sermon. The crowd was small, the sermon was imperfectly delivered. Yet, it is a move of giving voice.  In the process God also taught me a bit deeper about what it means to love God and others deeply and what it means to worship Him in spririt and truth.  If you haven’t read the full “sermon” on that, please do go read it here: https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2009/10/26/worship-in-spirit-and-truth-how-do-we/.  God also has me back to a point where I want to find ways to serve God in the church and allow God to use and develop my voice.  So God has continued that restoration process. 

Well, there are probably other areas where God has moved and changed me but the ones mentioned are the core areas coming to mind upon reflection.  A lot more comes to  mind on what changes still need to happen and continue as continue to grow in loving God and others genuinely as a reflection of God’s love for me.

Personal Resolutions:

The biggest need for me in the year ahead is to be more intentional. Often with the blog, the forum, and whatever else God has going on in my life, matters are often taken moment by moment.  There are lists of article ideas that simply have not been written as engage in writing on things that are more topical.  There was an effort to have some intentional posts getting into element of  spiritual growth but the articles stimulated litte  discussion or audience.  Yet, they served a purpose.  So I know I need to commit to both having articles posted by certain days and work on the list and ideas on what to write about that God has stirred in me. Until I get to writing some of those matters further, the use of  the voice God has given me is still not fully functional. 

One commitment for me as well in growing with relationship with God, is being more intentional also in relationships. It starts with my relationship with God.  Much like the blog, the interactions with God ebb and flow.  There is a lack of intentional consistency.  All to easily I let other things get in the way and feed on the junk rather than spending time relating with the One who loves me beyond measure.

My relationship with my wife and family and friends also can fit the same pattern.  There are ebbs and flows.  There needs to be more intentionality of my interactions and communications with those I love.  So as I am writing this, it is clear my overall resolution and desire in 2010 is to grow in intentionality and consistency of loving God and others rather than attending to self.  Just thinking about this, the lack of intentionality ulitmately is about self-focus rather than a God-focused reflection of His love.  Being intentional involves an act of the will of where to turn my focus.  So all in all I need to grow in surrendering to God and being intentional about what He puts before me.

 Now there are hopes and plans for the year to come and ways that need to move intentionally.  Those areas really mark the questions for the year ahead.

Personal Questions:

As stated a lot is going on in the lives of those around me.  Changes, struggles, suffering, and growth all are there.  The question that comes to mind is how can I be used in ongonig ways to love and build up those around me?

Of course there is the professional question of what will starting a private practice look like and what will the year bring?

There is the question of how am I to serve God in the church he has placed me? 

Will God give other opportunities for me to grow in use of voice?

What does God want me to say and do to help others?  

What will God do with what He is already teaching me?

What will happen in the world at large as God continues to allow pieces to shift in setting the scene for the return of the King of Kings?

These are my thoughts at the moment.  Tomorrow I will post specific prayer requests for me, my family, and my church as well as some words in prayer for the year ahead.  Please take time to look at where God has brought you, what God is stirring in you for the year ahead, and consider what God is asking of you today.   And may all you readers grow in God’s love and peace in  the year ahead.

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A picture of Apostasy: Candle snuffing self out.

Last night on New Year’s Eve my wife, mother and I spent some time in prayer. We used candles and lit them for varied prayer concerns. The candles were simple table candles, nothing special. During the course of prayer, one of the candles snuffed its flame out with its own wax. After thinking it over and discussing it, it seem clear that a candle snuffing itself out is a clear picture of apostasy. Once a candle drowns its own wick in wax and snuffs out the flame, it is beyond redemption. The candle can no longer be an instrument of light. The same with any believer, who having been light with God’s Holy fire and turns from God and snuffs the light with own concerns, the light cannot be relight and no redemption is further possible.

The question is when does someone cross the line into apostasy? Clearly it comes when someone turns to something other than God toward something of self. It is an active ongoing choice. It is more than just a willful denunciation of God, for I have heard of people who have perform magic rituals against God that had not yet crossed a line into apostasy to where they were beyond redemption. Apostasy comes when some desire of self and soulish ideas take precedence over the truth of the Gospel. It is when the truth of God is exchanged for a lie, which is twisted from the truth. Apostasy is a willful choice and is based in blatant rejection of the truth for a lie to the point that the whole of self is submitted no longer to God, but rather the lie. It is not just seeking after other gods and willfully turning to them, it is rather reaching a state of disconnect from God and willful abandonment of the truth. There is a point at which a line is crossed and one moves away from faithlessness and is at the point of full disownment.

In thinking further about the candles and the prayer last night, there were many candles on the verge of drowning themselves out, yet remained lit. In the same sense there are many who have accepted deceptions and our following after self or other gods yet, the wick remains lit. They have come close to apostasy but have not yet crossed the line where the light is extinguished. There were other candles as well, some that burned quick, some burned slow, some with evident impurity, some that seemed clear but all still burned bright. So it is with those who have accepted the Light of the Messiah. We all have differences, yet all still shine the light. Our lives even continually reflect the light of the truth of the Gospel. And light did once shine from those that become apostate. There is evidence in their lives of when the light of the Gospel shown bright and the truth was reflected. Yet now the light shines no more. It is sad. Yet, in that sadness I am struck that only one candle out of thirty became self-extinguished. So while the bible promises that there will be a great falling away, those that become apostate are small in comparison to those who continue to let the light of the true Gospel shine.

The question is then where is the reader today? Have you accepted the light of the Gospel and turned from self? Have you accepted the gift of your most vile and selfish actions being wiped clean by the Cross? Have you let Jesus take on the consequences of your selfishness? If you have not, you still can. It involves simple acceptance of the gift and surrender to Jesus. It is a simple thing, yet very tough to do.

For those who have accepted the light of the Gospel? Where are you in your walk today? Are you walking in faithlessness and ever flirting with the border of apostasy and self-extinguishing the light of the Gospel? Please I pray for each reader to examine themselves before God and let God shine His light and expose the lies and impurities and all that needs to be turned from and cleansed. For while it is still Today and the light still shines, it is not too late.