#wcaacc: Day Two summary thoughts: Changing perspectives lead to actions that can change perspectives

Day two at the World Conference of the American Association of Christian Counselors was a day the provided challenge. The key words for me were that of being engaging in changing perspectives. Now of course the questions is what is the meaning in those words and how does it related to what God stirred within me today. These thoughts are ongoing musings that are not so much about any specific teaching but a bringing the thoughts together into a perspective on what God is showing me today.

The thoughts are that each and everyone of us see things from a perspective. God has worked and operated in our life and reveal Himself to us. We have understanding. Yet, our understanding of God, mankind, self, and relationship is partial and limited. We all have growth needed in one way or another. Some growth and healing from hurt and pain. Some growth in moving into what God has called and helping others move into what God has called. God has given each of us gifts and perspective. Our eyes and ears, and hearts and minds God has opened to certain views. We need to grow in what God has given us and ask God to open our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds to a broader view.

We can easily settle for what we think we already know. We can have a knowledge that can even develop into pride and arrogance if we let it. God though has ways of shaping us in particular seasons. What God does one day and in one persons story is not necessarily the way it is for the next. God engages as He does in our lives. And while God does not change, the relationship varies in accordance with the individual not in relativistic or pliable way, but in a relational way in correspondence with how He designed us. He knows our individual design intimately and what we need for growth.

Now here is the deal, God interacts with us in a relational manner. He gives us His love. We reflect what God does in us. We take what He has done and reflect it to those around us. “We let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify God in heaven.” The reflection is a simple small light compared to the brightness of God’s glory. An encounter with God brings weight and the vision is never the same. And each of us, regardless of where we are have a response to the weight and brightness of God’s glory. There is no way we can grasp it all at once, so He gives us different and varied perspectives and lets us reflect. Each of our lives and actions are a story of revelation much like those who came before.

So, in reflecting what God has revealed we in turn touch others. For we have no other choice but to do so, because an encounter with God and his interacting with us in ways that are relationally true, there is no other response but to engage others in love and truth with what God is doing. For the Love of Christ, how he has touched us pulls us to in turn share with and engage others. In other words, we are compelled by Christ’s love. We engage in being who we are in line with what God has done and gifted. We then become salt and light, answering Gods call where we are. Not for the point of some great transforming of this temporary world, but to draw others toward a change in perspective about God to the point where they may yet choose to surrender self and become a member of God’s Kingdom. Yet, not just a member but an adopted child. Blessed only because of who God is, which gives us the opportunity to draw others toward there own encounter with the great, mighty, and heavy God of glory.

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#wcaacc Conference Day One: Re-establishing Focus

 

Today the start of the World Conference for the American Association of Christian Counselors was a day that served as a good start. God already has been at work showing me, reminding me, and teaching me what I need to know today. My story and journey here is unique as it will be for the 7000 other counselors and ministers of varying forms. Each situation and story is different and what God has to teach at some levels is the same but for each individual it is different, for he created us each unique. For me today, the day was about renewed focus.

 

My day started with Dr. E. John Kuhnley with a training related to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. So the conference started for me with examining those who at a core have a disorder in focus. It was interesting that in the course of the training the comparison was made to vision loss and the nature of “corrective measures.”

 

The journey of the day continued with a training sponsored by the Society of Christian Psychologists about the Problem of Evil and Suffering in Christian Counseling. It was a time focusing on the essence of dealing with the suffering around us and those we encounter. The lecture and conversation centered on who God is and how we impact others. An awareness of God being beyond our grasp and when interacting with others, we are not about the answers but the coming along side to encourage healing and growth. The thoughts that stuck with me are related to being okay with the “I do not know” followed by having a grasp of the function of suffering and what happens when we do face the suffering of this fallen world. So in other words, we may never understand the meaning of what happens to us related to the pain and suffering we encounter in our lives and in the lives of those around us. We don’t have to understand. Ultimately suffering serves a purpose in each of our lives. Each story is unique and different and of the course we learn what there is to learn and grow deeper from knowledge to understanding. As we walk the path in thing enduring faith, God brings to further clarity at times His calling and path. Something that path is different than expectations as dreams shatter. Yet, God works, as He wills and works, in each life, for each story.

 

 

 

The day wrapped up with the opening plenary session. Before either Dr. Tim Clinton or Lois Palau spoke worship was lead by Charles Billingsly. He made a statement “The world is all of us. The only thing that separates us is the blood of the lamb.” Dr. Tim Clinton then spoke on the growing importance of faith and spirituality in counseling. He touched on Colossians 1:27 with emphasis on the last portion of the first “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” He went on to state “It’s personal. It is all about you and what God wants to do through you.” He then challenged each of us to ask God to do something special which may be a renewed calling, a being strengthen to fight, to simply do what matters before God.

 

For me the night ended with Lois Palau talking about the mysteries of union with God, the human condition, and communion with God. The emphasis was about God being with us, within us. That each day we need to start with our focus on God and Jesus in surrender. We need to abide in Him. One profound statement was “That along as God is in us, we are the power of God wherever we go.”

 

 

 

So in summing up my thoughts on this day. For me it was renewed focus. We each can easily lose focus. We can lose sight of the basics. We live in a fallen world and have a fallen sin nature. We are no different than anyone else. We are all in the same boat. The difference that exists, exists because of what God did in suffering for us. He suffered and died so that we may be made free and lived. This freedom is not to do what ever we determine but to enter into God’s Kingdom and follow His way. It is only in being aligned with God that we are whole. God moves in each of our lives in ways beyond our limited understand. We all have a a unique story. It in involves joy and sorrow. Yet, in that each of us have a path and calling. We are enabled to walk the path God puts before us because of His strength, for He is with us. Whatever we do, whatever steps we take, whatever moving forward, comes becomes of God in us. And this is the focus. Whether in plenty or want that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

 

Well those are my thoughts and summation for this first day of the conference and what God is doing. Take time to ask God to help your focus and see what He wants you to see. Accepted what you do not know and trust in God alone. For only in Him is there any strength.

Musing on Waves of Pain and Grief

 

Well, this morning learned of news that put my dad under a new intense wave of grief.  Janie’s beloved bird Vick died. My dad obviously is under a flood of grief and loss and pain.  Sitting hearing and praying this morning God impressed on me to reflect on the waves of pain and grief.  As praying and reflecting on my father’s pain as well as others in grief including: those spending today mourning the loss of David Wilkerson, those touched by the sudden lose of Darren Boogaard (former forward for the Minnesota Wild), a friend whose mother been informed of having breast cancer that spread, and unspoken others in world of pain; that each of us encounters varied waves of pain and grief.  We live in this fallen world. Many days and seasons are calm. Other times, pain and grief is overwhelming. God knows it all.  Yet, God gave us a picture of dealing with the storms and waves.  The pictures is of Jesus sleeping in the boat, at peace and content.  He is asleep for he knows the reality, the waves come and go. Now the disciples were so distraught they demanded Jesus do something, which He did to demonstrate God’s power. The storm and waves were stilled.  God is in control. 

The truth is we live in a world restricted by pain and loss.  It confines us. We have a lot of emotion around the times of pain and loss. In that storm, Jesus did indicate that it is our faith in who God is, our trust that He will see us through. All to often we easily focus on the waves.  In another picture, Peter walked on intense waves when focused on Jesus, and sunk when focused on waves.  So, God gives us an answer when we are overwhelmed and the waves appear to be that which will overwhelm and flood us. When the waters rise, when things seems to be at a point of drowning us, God is there. Cast our eyes to Him and His victory assured by the open grave.  For He is risen.

Storms are but a moment.  Stand firm in faith and endure. Looking to Jesus and looking ahead, to what is yet to come. These waves of pain and grief are but part of the preparation. We are to stand firm and endure in faith.  Pain and grief come but for a moment.  Embrace what God has before us, not to simply endure but to walking in transforming peace and joy that is found in knowledge of who God is and surrender in faith to his working through the waves of pain and grief. Sure, He could command them to stop, but doing so misses part of what God may have in store, for there is blessings and gifts in the waves of pain and grief. Meditate on God’s creation of the pearl. Something precious born out of one creatures initial irritation and pain. Now with those words said, God placed two Psalms on my heart. If you are in pain, please take time to read and thoughtfully meditate on the words and see what God has to say to you on this day while you are going through waves of pain and grief.

 

 

 

Psalms 42

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah. As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God;

for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from thelandofJordanand of Hermon, fromMountMizar.

Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.

By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

 

Psalms 69

To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. Of David. Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.

I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.

I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.

More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; mighty are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies. What I did not steal must I now restore?

O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.

For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face.

I have become a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother’s sons.

For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.

When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach.

When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them.

I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me.

But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.

Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters.

Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me.

Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.

Hide not your face from your servant; for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.

Draw near to my soul, redeem me; ransom me because of my enemies!

You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you.

Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none.

They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.

Let their own table before them become a snare; and when they are at peace, let it become a trap.

Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see, and make their loins tremble continually.

Pour out your indignation upon them, and let your burning anger overtake them.

May their camp be a desolation; let no one dwell in their tents.

For they persecute him whom you have struck down, and they recount the pain of those you have wounded.

Add to them punishment upon punishment; may they have no acquittal from you.

Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous.

But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high!

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs.

When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive.

For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.

Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them.

For God will saveZionand build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it; the offspring of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it.

Joy Comes in the Mourning

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.

Be Thou My Vision: Musings with Lyrics and Video

The Christian poem and Hymn known as by though my vision has been on my mind and heart recently.  Now perhaps it is connected to my mother’s vision loss issues but there is more to it.   If we are truly surrendered to seeing with God’s vision, eyes can be opened to things people are blind.   When surrendered to the Kingdom of God and have your eyes, ears, and heart opened to the realities of God there is awe, wonder, and fear.  You also are aware of the reality of how lost people are in the darkness of the world.  People are lost because not only are there the realities of God but the realities of evil.  People need to have eyes opened to see.  If they do not see their own sin, the lostness, the emptiness, the futility they cannot turn to the light.  Part of sharing the light of the Gospel is presenting things in such a way that they may see.   This in part is the essence of Matthew 5:16.  “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  What people do see and are attuned to, is what we say and do.  They see our reflection and if there is nothing different that makes them take notice there is nothing that will open the eyes, ears, and heart to that which they cannot. 

Yet, God as our vision is not just being aware of the spiritual realities, it is also a matter of our focus.  The things of this world including the joys and the pains can easily distract and result in a loss of focus.  When we loss focus it is easy to be swayed by fears and despairs.  We begin to sink like Peter.  So we need to continually have our vision and focus checked.  Time in God’s word and prayer is one way to have our vision and focus checked.  Another way is engaging in fellowship with other believers.  Ultimately it requires submission and exposure to the truth.   At the core even ultimately it is the truth of God’s word that checks our vision.  In particular it is the things God has outlined as being right and wrong that are checks on focus.   It is a moving outside of our own conscience to what God has revealed in his word.  Even more to the point it is the daily presences of the Holy Spirit giving meaning to God’s revelation to the specifics of what God is moving in our own life.    So ultimately these thoughts really come down to a question of how is your vision and focus? Are your eyes, ears, and heart open to the moves of God in your life?  Have you lost focus or vision?   Turn to God and make the old Irish Hymn your prayer: BE THOU MY VISION.   Please take time to think on the song and lyrics and ask God to open your eyes, ears, and heart to that which He is directing in your life.

Be Thou My Vision
anonymous, 9th century (translated by Eleanor Hull)
 http://www.rc.net/wcc/ireland/early8.htm

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
Naught is all else to me, save that Thou art.

Thou my best thought by day and by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my wisdom, Thou my true word;
I ever with Thee, Thou with me, Lord.

Thou my great father, I Thy dear son;
Thou in me dwelling, I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle-shield, sword for the fight,
Be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight.

Thou my soul’s shelter, Thou my high tower;
Raise Thou me heavenward, power of my power.

Riches I heed not, not man’s empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance now and always.

Thou, and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

King of the seven heavens, grant me for dole,
Thy love in my heart, Thy light in my soul.

Thy light from my soul, Thy love from my heart,
King of the seven heavens, may they never depart.

With the high king of heaven, after victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

Reflections 8 years after 9-11-2001

 

Well it has been eight years since the collapse of the twin towers in New York City. September 11, 2001 is a day that is now infamous. In terms of reflecting on what to write given this date my mind has been thinking about trials and spiritual warfare. Certainly the content on the blog reflects the reality that trials and ongoing awareness of spiritual warfare and spiritual battles. Certainly like on September 11, 2001 things can come unexpectedly and we can ignore the warning signs of trouble in denial. However, in praying about what to share as a reflection I believe it is time to share what was going on with me and my wife at that point in time. So enjoy this reflective testimonial story.

For us September 11, 2001 was a day not unlike any other day. The wife had called into work sick with a headache. She was still sleeping. I had gotten up and was going through my routine of searching the internet. Generally I was home during the day because I worked evening shifts. I was perusing the free for all section of www.footballguys.net forum. I had noticed there was a thread talking about collapse of two towers. MY first thought was it was a thread related to something to do with basketball. Eventually my curiosity became peaked and I opened that thread and learned of the attack on the Twin Towers and subsequent collapse. I woke my wife and turned on the television and saw the replays of collapse. My wife was filled with a sense of fear and ongoing darkness. Also at the top of our minds was what did God have ahead, would be able to have and raise children. A strong desire we both have to this day.

Well, I worked with finding ways to calm and comfort my wife and suggested we pray over the events and fears and sense of darkness. It was a battle. We sought God and asked him to reveal His love and truth, to perhaps give my wife a picture of God’s love and purpose. I don’t remember how long I prayed with her and over her and sought God. I know there was a deep sense of darkness that the wife couldn’t get through. Well God answered her prayer and gave her a vision. Now I will reveal what I remember of the wife’s report of the vision. Certainly details may be missing because neither of us wrote it down. I know the prayer over and over was to ask God to show her the light, to bring the light.

As praying this the wife said at first she just closed eyes and saw darkness, but eventually she saw light and Jesus came to her with the light. Jesus then took her away from the darkness to a place of light and rest. Most of our family was also there in that safe place of light. I think Jesus gave her direction of just calling on him to bring her to the safe place of light at anytime, but not certain of that as part of the vision at the time. The family that was in the vision included two children, the wife believes they were girls, but it was definitely two children. Then Jesus showed her the people in darkness. The darkness was deep and people were stuck in the darkness. I don’t recall if there were chains or not. I think there was but am uncertain. What there definitely was within the darkness was serpents speaking lies to people. All throughout the darkness were serpents speaking lies. There was directive to bring the light of truth to people. Now there may have been more details that I don’t recall but this was the essential point. The vision contained to things in my mind, a promise to us of two children., a directive that God’s safety and peace is just a prayer away, and that darkness is indeed foreboding and I believe even fueled by the deceptions of serpents in the dark.

We are at an ongoing war, there is always for believers the place of rest in Jesus and is accessed through him. Darkness seeks to engulf all but cannot extinguish the light, because the light is Jesus who can always bring us to a safe place and will take or burdens. Yes, trials come, towers fall, darkness spreads. Yes, evil is at work. Yes there is pain and suffering. Yet, there is not one thing in all that darkness that can overcome the light of the world and God’s love for us. He cares enough even in the midst of a dark time of great fear to give us a promise. Yet, God not only gave a promise but made clear the urgency for bringing the lost out of darkness.

A safe place of light

A safe place of light

Now eight years have passed since that time. We have not reached the point of having children yet and have had struggles and periods of darkness engulfing our marriage. Yet, God’s light remained faithful, even during our times of greatest struggle and darkness, Jesus was ready to bring us into His light. There is always hope in Jesus at the worst of times. The serpents in the dark seek to bring destruction and like Wormtongue in Lord of the Rings say things that blind us to the truth. Jesus cuts through all the fog of darkness with His light. All any need to do is turn to Him in surrender and ask to be brought out of darkness. Jesus is faithful and will gladly take any of us out of the darkness.

Now that does not mean suffering and trials and difficulties won’t happen. In fact they will, not only that but there is an enemy at work looking for any opportunity to bring destruction. We need to not be caught sleeping and ignoring warning signs. The enemy will use whatever weakness we have to bait and entrap and seek to gets us trapped in the dark and off of God’s path. Yet, no matter how deep of darkness we get Jesus can and will bring us back to the light. In fact, as a pastor from my childhood used to say, God sends his sheepdogs after us to bring us back.

Prophetic Vision: A Vision of Crown given to Kris Blake

So time ago, I don’t recall when, my mother received this vision from God.

Vision of Crowns……… 

I was outside my house, just before the sun rise and my eyes were drawn to the most spectacular array of light and color I’ve ever seen. As the sun erupted over the horizon, the colors became even brighter and more beautiful.   

Suddenly I noticed some peaks of gold, and to my amazement they began to rise. I saw they were crowns of gold filled with precious gems.    Each one was different, and had been uniquely and intricately designed. There were so many of them they reminded me of balloons rising in the sky. 

As the sun kept rising, I noticed there were also areas of shadows and darkness. In the shadows a man had built a thrown, and was sitting on it. The light over the throne was artificial light, and dull compared to the light of the son.  

When the man saw the crowns, he wanted them for himself. Even though he called all the armies in the world, and exerted everything at his disposal, he could not have the crowns. These crowns belong to the sons and daughters of the Living King.