#AACC World Conference: A focus on renewing faith

Today I am headed off to the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference. The theme for the conference this year is renewing your faith. Today as prepare to head to Nashville for the conference there is a definite felt need of renewal and renewed faith. Last year went to the National Conference and felt refreshed but when returned things just stalled for me. There was a distinct reluctance to leave as the conference ended. Still do not have finger on exactly what happened but at each point where attempted to re-engage forward movement in my life it was met with quagmire. The thing is when had left in my mind there were several goals, things that wanted to focus on but each attempt at setting and meeting goals led to little follow through. This stall was seen in many areas of my life. For example, there are several blog articles that were started but never completed or published. They sit unfinished on drive. So today I will leave with a prayer of renewal of faith. There is a need to be not just refreshed but energized to move ahead in all areas of my life.

As sit here just sharing my thoughts as embark on the steps needed to take in order to leave, it occurs to me that the conference begins tomorrow, September 28th. It is the start of Rosh Hashanah, the New Year in God’s festivals. So it is a perfect day to start a conference with the focus of renewal of faith. It is a time to take a good look at what is going on in my life and what to need to change in mind, heart, and action. My thoughts will be posted during the course of the conference on this blog and occasional quick comments on my twitter account @peacebringer. Please take time to pray for me during the four days of the conference and time in Nashville.

Now before close this post it is good to begin with brief musing on renewing faith. Those two simple words have a lot of depth of thought. Renewal can be connected with revive and awakening. It is a recharging and coming alive again. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen per Hebrews 11:1. It has two components assurance and conviction. It is being confident and sure. It is knowing that he who promised is faithful. When faith needs renewal there has been a loss of confidence and surety at some level. There has been a loss of vision or a focus on the barriers of what is ahead. It may even be simply overwhelmed with the task and barriers ahead that the confidence and surety become diminished. In some way the endurance and resoluteness has become diminished by whatever barrier or battle. There is a loss of strength and loss of focus. Even a lack of mental toughness. There is something that happens that leads to a lack of finishing strong. As am writing these thoughts the collapse of the performance of the Minnesota Vikings football team the last three games enters my mind. The perseverance wanes and the result is a faltering. My mind lately has already been stirred to think more of what is an enduring faith. Well, it has to start with the basics. The basics come down to who God is, who he made me to be, and where God is leading to Impact others. At the basic level a renewal of faith will entail being refreshed in confidence and surety in those areas.

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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.

Personal Musing: When things compound

Well, on the verge of getting moving forward when ended up with a new influenza infection resulting in any momentum that was restarting slowed.  Many of what I wanted to get moving forward on and getting back to continued to be on the back burner.  However, one thought notice is that this viral infection was another in a series of compounding events that built up to make it difficult to engage and move forward.  It is the compounding of things in and of themselves minor that can wear one down.  In essence, the more things that can compound the higher the level of “felt suffering” or as we like to call it, stress.  It is one bit of pressure compounding another and so on.  We all have periods in our life where we experience such pressures.  Now, in the long run such moments and seasons of life do strengthen us, for it is under pressure that we grow.  It is times like this that can reveal areas of self that need to be turned from or grow.  It is under such periods of time that we can be aware of things that were doing, ways of interacting or doing that are  not in line with serving Jesus.  It is the ways of self, the routines we get comfortable with even if we know it is just not quite right but have come to have it as acceptable and no big deal.   See, here is the deal, just as what might be considered minor “personal suffering” when taken in whole with other issues will be harder when compounded with others, is it not or sin and selfishness and acceptance of what we consider minor just a reflection of deeper issues.  When sin compounds and builds on sin it becomes far more than one issue.  This is part of why all sin is sin, there is nothing minor.  For it all compounds and before God, even what most may consider no big deal, to Him is corruption and twisting and will only compound with other things that might not be considered no big deal.  So what are your thoughts?  Are you in a period or season of compounding suffering?  Do you have things in your life you consider to be minor and no big deal?  What do you need to turn from in this season, this time?

Personal Musing: Renewing voice out of silence.

Yes, I have been silent.  Silent for far to long.  I know there are others in other places who have gone quieter of late.  The question really is where is this silent coming from. Am I shrinking back, am I resting, or have I been simply stuck.   Perhaps it is looking at the tasks ahead, the responsibilities, the difficulties and losing perspective. Perhaps there is some needed rest to take on what lies ahead.  For what is ahead in not easy.  There are more responsibilities ahead.  There is need to buckle down and proceed ahead.  The question though is really have I gone from a point of resting to build up and move ahead to the disengagement of sleep.  There will be blog articles soon musing on rest, sleep, and slumber.  But as for me right now, today, where am I.  I am not where I meant to be.  I had many plans of what I was going to do.  I was going to get started on book writing. I was going to get private practice from being in a holding pattern to sewing seeds toward moving forward.  Now, in all this pulling back, there has been some forward movement. My client load at the clinic picked up strength and near a full load.  Another question is am I walking in faith and under God’s authority in His Kingdom, or am I letting others have authority. 

I need to dwell more on what it means when I go silent.  For there is no shortage of words could have written and it is a loss that certain things I had in mind, such as musing on love over Valentines day did not happen. And that is not write.  So why am I shrinking back.  I could say I am just being at rest, but in retrospect what may have started with rest may have progressed to the point of slumber. I need to write and explore those areas more.  The other is what responsibility means to me.  There is a lot of reluctance with me tied to responsiblity.  There is too much not getting to things until it is necessary. There are many other things.  

So the point is, if I have reached a point of slumber, of that is which is beyond helpful and necessary to that which impedes, then I need to wake up, rise up, and go forward. For the times we are in call for us to be alert, sound, and engaged. Please forgive me for the disengagement.  While I can justify it with many things related to life, it is not following what God has asked of me.  And I think God is making me aware that If I don’t follow through with the things he sets before me, I can miss out and will weep over what could have been.  So how about the rest of you?  Anyone shrink back, pull back, go silent, go from rest to sleep or slumber?  For no matter where we are, God is there to give us what we  need.  I feel lack of strength, lack of motivation.  I feel like I am near a point of taking on too much or even pulling myself in multiple directions. But for what God calls me to, there will be enough, it is all in His time, if I follow. If I lag, or falter, or hold back I can miss. And if I react out of self even doing what I think what God wants but of own accord, it will cost me dearly.  At any rate, here are the tasks I need to commit to.  Please do drop me emails, pm’s or words to see progress. Here is one thing I know, it is helpful to set measurable objectives and review progress.  Treatment plans in counseling are all about measurable objectives.  Things can move forward toward. 

1.  Renew daily time in God’s word and prayer.

2.  Blog at least once per week.

3.  Spend time on private practice website at least once a week until finished.

4. Get started writing project by working at least once per week.

Things I need to complete within the next week are taxes and liability insurance.

At any rate, the time has come to wake up, renew voice, and start moving, a bit at a time.  Please check on me and see where I am and how I am doing. As one of the big things that is true, is that I know I need to support and encouragement of others.  As much as God has me stepping into messes and being concerned for others, he has not made me or anyone else capable to so doing without others around us.  Also please let me know how I can support you, be it here, be it in email, be it at a forum, be it in person at church. Please let me know what I can do.

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.

Musings on Personally Perceived Strangeness of this Christmas Season

Many things are on my heart and mind and it is all in general very connected. We are at the time designated to celebrate God’s birth, His incarnation. The focus is on family and sharing love through gifts and fellowship. For me this time, this season is strange. Currently am moving in and out of feeling my own pain and connecting with the pain of those around me. Currently my brother and his family is in town. It is uplifting to spend time with them, knowing that they have come through a tough time with the death of my sister-in-laws mother from breast cancer and their issues with dealing with her father. They also are caring for their son, Anant, who embodies a joyful creativity even at four going on five years old. All this is rather normal. Here are the things that have gone to make this season strange.

If you are a follower of this blog you know that the central portion of the strangeness is the health of Janie Blake. When Cancer returned a few years ago, she reported having a word from God, “you shall live and not die.” Then she went on to engage the battle and appeared clear of cancer cells, only to have them reform to the point where her very life is in jeopardy. It was a shock hearing the news back in mid-October and even more shocking the rapid degradation of her health. Today is first I have seen her since stopping by to help the clean in preparation for her brother’s visit. The sight was heart breaking. For I really appreciate how God has used Janie in my life and the life of those I love. Yet, what God’s sees is even beyond what I see. He knows His will and His plan. He is always faithful to what He promises our job is to surrender no matter how things look. It means letting go of our will for His. He can heal. He can restore. He is the one that makes all things new. We submit to Him alone. I really want Janie around, but that is up to God alone. There is life here and greater life in His presence.

Janie’s health is not the only aspect of the strangeness of this year. There is my mother’s ongoing vision loss and going through a process of learning. She deals each day with great pain and loss while focusing on learning how to function without depending on vision. My mother has endured and survived through a lot of suffering in her lifetime. Now she faces this challenge. Yet, I know God is using this to strengthen her and use her in the lives of others. He has given her special moments one of which will eventually share on this blog, as it likely connects to all that has been going on. Now, my mom’s vision loss is nothing new. It has been ongoing. But it is one more dynamic to the strangeness of this year.

Now not all that is going on is dealing with health and illness. For my wife has been going through and interview process for a potential promotion to service manager. My wife really does posses natural talents that would make her a great manager. Her prayer has been for those interviewing her to see what God wants them to see in her. Her heart she simply wants whomever they promote to be someone that will build and strengthen the team. We know it is in God’s hands and the promotion would be a great blessing to us. As I am writing this, in my mind the elevation of Daniel standing out over all others in Babylon would fit, if that is God’s will for Liz. We simply await the answer, hoping one thing but surrendering to whatever the outcome.

In my own life, still am working through matters of reluctance and holding self back. Yet, my workload is increasing and there are things on the horizon, yet many obstacles still stand with my-self being one of the obstacles. There is the ongoing question as get busier whether I can take on more or how can I find ways to improve all together. There are lessons learned as always in this process. The key principle to all here is coming back to surrender. There is much we cannot see in terms of what is ahead. Some like my mother have to learn to operate without sight. My stepmother appears quickly headed to death. My brother and his family already faced loss, may face more, are loving and building up their adopted child who is God has made as one who is joyfully creative in the midst.

So it is a strange season, this year. There is hope of seeing God give blessings and doing amazing things. There is the need to move beyond the visible. Ultimately, it is surrender to God regardless of the outcomes, walking not by our sight, but depending on Him alone. For He alone is the Rock. He alone is our safety. By Him alone to we stay or go. By Him alone do we rise or fall. He is the one who gives life or takes it. Yes, our choices and actions play a role we can walk His path and walk his way or go our own. One leads to life, one to death. God allows us our choices and then simply calls for surrender and walk the way He leads even if it seems impossible. There will be barriers from inside and outside. We want to make everything about us, but it is always about God and His glory and purpose which ultimately is to show and reflect His love in pain, in sorrow, in struggle, in fear, in reluctance, in anger, in pain, in joy, in blessing, in hope and so on which is all in His life in us.

Personal Update: Time to Refocus, Renew, and Move Forward

Okay folks. Admittedly I let myself begin to get mired down and disengaged rather than moving forward. It is easy for me to find plenty of things to “fault” for my retreat into silence. The falling back is quiet the opposite of the varied ways feel led. Perhaps it was feeling and knowing the struggle against reluctance that was approaching following the AACC conference. Hard to really put a finger on it. Now in this all, in spite of my reluctance and difficulty moving forward God still is moving things forward. Connections have been made and relationships renewed and refreshed that will result in getting pieces further in place. Overall, today is a day to begin the personal process of refocusing on what God has before me and on him, renewing what God has already started, and moving forward on that which he has stirred.

Goals:
1: Renew personal growth, study, and time with God (Once start slipping on daily time and filling with other space, it is tough to get back up and restarting.)
2: Refocus on Blog Writing (Start the mental health blog and be consistent with writing for both)
3: Return to facilitating forum discussions. Without my ongoing input the forum has gone very quiet.
4: Get started with book writing project.
5: Follow up on own with credentialing
6: Get private practice website operational
7: Start individual marketing of private practice
8: Build efficiency will current jobs, which also involves moving past reluctance.

Oh and sorry that this blog article is not well thought out examination of these subjects, as it is more just a personal reflection of what I need to do. Each day have choices to make. Move forward or stay in the muck. Now admittedly it is difficult to get up from the muck once got stuck. It takes work but it is a necessary thing to avoid further difficulties. In wrapping this post up, where are you in your own walk and journey? Are there issues you know you need to address but are avoiding? Are you at a “stuck” place? Are there things you know you need to move forward on but facing both external and internal resistance? Are you falling short of your own intentions? Did you face set backs, difficulties, or failed expectations that make it tough to move forward? Hopefully in this blog and other things to come there is seen growth and others are encouraged from the journey of the posts on the blog, on the forum, and anywhere discussions become engaged. Please also if I go quiet for an extended spell again drop me comment or word of encouragement.