Holy Week Musing: The waiting in-between of the Garden

Today thoughts go to the garden of Gethsemane.  It is the place where time was spent after the Last Supper and before the events of the crucifixion.  It is the place of Jesus sweating blood, of the disciples falling asleep, of Judas’s betrayal, and of impulse action of cutting off an ear.  It is in essence an in-between time.  A time of anticipation and waiting, for events are about to transpire. Jesus knew full well the weight and importance of what was to come. He maintained surrender through all the emotional intensity that could have held him back.  The disciples meant well but could endure.  Judas submitted to his greed and the darkness, Peter acted impulsively not grasping what was to come.  The in-between times are tough. God gave us this picture of this in-between time as an encouragement. For God is faithful.  The thing is we cannot rush the waiting, we can make things happen any quicker than they are supposed to.  Each time anyone has tried to rush the in-between waiting, the results are not good. The waiting always seems beyond endurance.  Yet, Jesus endured.  He resisted going off on his own way or doing his own thing in place of God’s plan. He submitted.  We though can be much like Judas and do our own thing out of greed.  We can be like the disciples and mean well but shut down.  We can act on impulse and move in directions that are God’s way, thinking we know the plan.  It is in these in-between times that faith is tested. It is in between times that the twists of the heart and areas of needed change become apparent.  The waiting tests and reveals what is there and what is lacking.  The in-between time is always temporary and although it seems to go on and on and will never end, the duration is limited.

Right now, in essence each of us are at such an in-between time.  We are waiting for the return of the King of Kings. We are following whatever path God sets before us and waiting for the results.  Yet, it is this time that is key. It is our response that is critical.  We need to learn our weaknesses and submit. We need to grow in faith. We need to be awake, alert, and sober minded.  We are to endure whatever intensity of difficulty we are in.  For this time is but temporary for Jesus is coming, He is coming soon.  Yes, we wait but in the waiting we are given directions to walk in truth in love, to be sober minded and alert, and to make disciples.  However that looks, God has intent to be glorified through us in whatever way He puts before us.  So as we go through this in-between time we need to keep   focus, love, and endure. This is what God asks and requires for the ways of self, betrayal, and impulse are always lurking promising short cuts and a way out of the in-between time. But this time is always for a reason, for God’s love and patience is great and His desire is for all who will come, to come.

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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.

Musings Final day #AACC conference: Engaging in Forward Movement

Today was a day where much was stirred with in me. The teachings and God’s work within my pointed to ensuring in being engaged in forward movement.  The day started of by attending the presentation of the founder of POD AACC publisher Servant One press.  This stirred up thoughts laid in childhood that some day may write a book.  Publish on Demand is a risky venture but if God is leading, there is need to follow through and engage in walking in God’s direction.

Honestly, the morning resulted in some distractions as my mind kept going to what is ahead and sorting out steps to take.  Yet, God made clear the principle of needing to walk forward in the path he sets before me.  There are steps to take to move ahead with what God has set before me, and lingering can lead to stagnation. The question is really, am I ready to do what God wants. I have had movements of lingering. Starting the blog is one such area. Yet, to move forward, there can be no lingering, as doing so does not put me where God would have me to be.

The other thought that was clear was that it is easy to be distracted. This was first evident in my being distracted during part of the time making it difficult to attend. It was reinforced by the luncheon speaker, Dr. Archibald Hart, who talked of the dangers and distractions of the day and age we are living in.  A point that struck home is that “multitasking results in 30% effectiveness.”  My brain often has many thoughts and ideas going at once. On the forum it and even this blog it has lead to varied starts ands stops of varied subject without carrying the discussion to the full conclusion.  Perhaps thoughts have reached a resolved state in my own mind, but the distractedness of the multi-threaded conversation can well result in reduced efficacy and clarity of communication.

Moving from the focus on me, there was also the reminder of the need to continually be engaging others in moving forward, becoming unstuck, being challenged.  In facilitating growth and balance there is a level of balancing listening and joining with challenging the forward growth.  This also involves adjusting and adapting to their timing as well. 

Finally, there is no true forward movement and growth without God. He is and has to be the core of all I do in helping others and moving forward in directions God leads.  That  of my self will falter and burn.  What is of him will become more clear.  Discernment is needed even in my own life to sort out which is which.

Ultimately, today was an unsettled feeling.  At the end of the conference, I stood there, watching listening, observing.  Knowing that the steps when I leave there needs to me more concerted engaging in forward movement.  God’s best for now and for those He brings my way, and to enable others to be brought my way or be touched by what God stirs within, it involves taking those steps.  So leaving was hard.  It is good to go home, but it is a hard thing. God made clear that he does not want me to sit comfortable. 

So, these are my thoughts about where God has me at the moment? Where are you?  Are you settled? Are you where God wants you to be?  Are there steps you need to take to move forward in your own life to follow the path God has before you? Are you standing still waiting for God to push you?  Now this, the journey and the steps are that of taking steps on the path with a curve you cannot see around.  The journey involves faith. God may request steps of great cost.  Perhaps it is change?  Perhaps you have already turned a corner and waiting on God.  The key is to be engaged in advancing, in moving forward.  For if we sleep, slumber and do not advance, the enemy of our souls most certainly will and will seek to kill, steal, and destroy.  So join me in being committed and intentional on engaging in forward movement.  The steps are not always easy, but God will see each of us through if we follow His commands.

Musing on the Ascension and waiting

Yesterday was the anniversary day of the Ascension. The day Jesus returned to Heaven.  He spent forty days on earth after the Resurrection teaching and explaining things to the disciples.  There are a few interactions recorded in scripture of some of the time He spent but most of it was not. Basically, the forty days were spent with Jesus really explaining the meaning of scripture to the disciples in relation to what just happened. He made sure they were on a sure ground of understanding. In the Gospel of Luke he is described as opening their minds to understand scripture. In the book of Acts he is described as teaching them about the Kingdom of God.   Jesus took time to make sure they fully understood and had full knowledge before he returned to heaven. He also gave them instruction to wait.  They were waiting for the power, the Comforter that was promised.  They waited because the knowledge itself was not enough; the power of the Holy Spirit was needed.  So the disciples waited. 

The ascension was definitely a strange day for the disciples. They had to be awe struck as they saw Jesus leave. Acts describes them as just standing there staring. They needed a message from angels to get them moving again and they followed direction.  The emotions had to be raw. There had to be pain of separation. They had forty days of joy and learning and wondering what would happen next.  The learned new insights and really began to fully understand and then Jesus left with instructions to wait.   Since they were all gathered together on Pentecost, I believe they were told how long they had to wait and the importance of the day to come. No it is possible Jesus did not spell it out and they all were together to celebrate the feast. God does often leaves waiting without the details, but I believe Jesus told them enough to know that the coming Feast something important would happen.  So they waited and prayed. Excitement and anxiety building each day for what would come. 

Waiting is difficult.  When waiting on God to act and move in His time is challenges faith. There is the mix of anxiety and excitement.  There are often encroaching doubts and questions.  Especially in relations to be sure of understanding fully what God has shown us.  The time is best spent seeking God, taking time to understand what has gone on, make preparations for what is ahead, but still it is waiting.  Often God works as he did here.  He gives us times of knowledge, learning, and growth. He then has us enter a time of waiting and preparation.  The waiting period serves to let us more deeply grasp what we learned and let it reach a level beyond just knowledge.  Sometimes the waiting is tough, particularly if we are not given specifics of when.  However, knowing the specifics does not make it any easier.  There is always a temptation not to wait, to take matters into own hands and bring about what God promises on our own.  Scripture is filled with examples of such choices.  In the days following the Ascension though we have a picture of faithful waiting. 

Ultimately we are all in an ongoing process of waiting that is undefined. Jesus has left and his return is soon. We have the Holy Spirit to direct and comfort us, to leads us in to the right paths and to build us up and cleanse us.  We have the ongoing work of salvation and sanctification going on in our lives.  Yet, the waiting gets tough.  We live in a world filled with darkness filled with pain and suffering. Each of our lives is touched with pain and sorrow.   We lose focus. The pains, doubts, and anxiety overwhelm us. God’s love and plan is questioned. We easily get distracted and lose focus.  Yet, Jesus is coming soon.   Yet, while he is in Heaven making all preparations, he is still active and he is here.  We have access through the Holy Spirit and He is here. 

So we wait and we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.  We are to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.  We can rest simply on our knowledge and what is written in God’s word. Yet, the disciples were told to wait for more. We cannot diminish or separate the importance of the Holy Spirit and His empowerment.  For if we are acting simply of our own knowledge are efforts are of self and weak. When we are following the lead of the Holy Spirit and acting at His direction, God moves in powerful ways. Sometimes we are aware and see the result, often it is unseen for we are at the time where each day is a day to grow in faith.  Waiting is really about time to grow and build faith.  In waiting we learn the limits of our faith. In waiting God causes what he has done to grow and take root.  Waiting is a really a Holy time we really struggle to grasp. The ten days that the disciples waited before being empowered by the Holy Spirit were a special, God ordained time.   The time is painful, difficult, and intense but God has a purpose.  When waiting follow the disciples lead and review, worship, pray, and prepare.  Do not retreat into fear and anxiety but look ahead and behind for the time that is coming, what God has in store is glorious.  When Jesus returns there will be no greater day. When God acts in our life in the now, it reflects that greater glory as he moves in deeper maturity and dependency on Him.

2010 Objectives and Prayer Requests

The purpose of this article is really to put down the things that God is doing in my life and the areas where hope for blessing and productivity. In this article, first I will list me objectives and desires for 2010 and then a list of general prayer requests. Feel free to contact me personally if you want any further details.

        Objectives:

Grow in my relationship with God and show love that is more complete.

Follow Gods leading over my own ideas, wants, or desires.

Be intentional in actions and choices.

Grow in showing, speaking, and reflecting God’s love in relationships around me.

Be productive at current employers. I am working for two employers, one doing crisis evaluations at a local hospital. The second is providing counseling/psychotherapy services at a local clinic. These employers provide a sound base and I want to do my best to glorify God at the places where I work.

Establish private practice. This is a key goal for the year ahead. It requires lots of steps and investment in time and money. It is one thing that really is at a beginning.

Find ways to serve God in the church congregation he has placed me. My heart right now is to be involved in some way or fashion with Men’s ministry. Currently waiting as the church and pastor know my desire to be involved in some way.

Write more intentionally and with greater consistency.

Completed planned article series such as Foundations of Strong Delusion.

In God’s time, work on becoming a father with wife.

               Prayer requests:

Brother and his family: Pray for strength, comfort, and healing. They have undergone a long ordeal of loving and caring for someone who is dying, Nancy Kimmey. The trial the have gone through during this time has been extremely difficult on them all. Pray for a sense of God’s peace during the time and that they come through the ordeal ultimately stronger and that their mourning does turn to dancing as the ordeal brings them a taste of the Joy of the Lord.

Mother: As posted on the blog before she has encountered vision lost and diagnosed with rod dysphasia. She is moving in to a new time of life. She is a strong, independent woman who know has to increasingly depend on others. Pray that she grows in being able to reflect God’s love to those that assist her. Pray that her eyes, ears, and heart be opened to see in new ways God’s glory and find ways transcending beyond self to communicate and give voice to what God stirs.

Father: Pray he gains sense of God’s leading and direction. Pray for strength and faithfulness in following God’s lead beyond own ideas of what God is leading. Pray for God ordained appointments while waiting on God’s move and direction. Pray for God’s directions to be clear and that of self to become small. Pray for provision to do what God calls and directs.

Step-mother: Pray same as above but in addition continued strength in battle. She had a victory over cancer, yet the battle continues as she has three lesions in her brain and will need further prayer. Pray for discernment and for any root cause of the cancer to be dealt with and disabled in prayer.

Step-brother Tim: He has been serving God in mission field. Pray for His service to be rewarded with fruit, whether he sees fruit or not. Pray for Him to be further built up, rooted in God’s love, and able to share God’s love with others. He is leaving on January 12th for a 2 month stay in Mexico helping build a church. He will return to North Pole, Alaska to serve an outreach radio station.

Wife: Pray for God to continue to work in her life with restoration and healing. She is working on losing weight, a difficult battle with medical conditions that complicate. Pray for strength to continue to fight the battle. She desires that we try and have a baby before the year is out, so pray for God’s will and leading on that front in His time. Pray for strength, as she is often tired. Pray for her to find joy at work, as the job is tough for her and stressful. As she is at work, pray for God’s light and fragrance be evident to all around her.

Mother-in-law: Pray for her to grow deeper with God. For her wounds to be filled with God’s love. Pray for her to be filled to the brim with God’s love to touch those around her with love both in terms of family and those around her in Maceio

Father-in-law: Pray for God to touch his heart as he serves and loves others. Pray for God to touch whatever wounds are within his heart and to see fully God at work in those around him.

Brother-in-law Lon and his family: Pray for strength, wisdom, and guidance. He is pasturing a church in Maceio, Brazil. He is pulled in many directions and the church needs to move from dependence on Him and grow in dependence on God. Pray for all of His family to grow in loving God and others. Pray that the pull and desires of self and world diminish and appetites for the Kingdom of God grow.

Brother-in-law Leo and his family. Leo is not following God and walking in the darkness. He is ruled by lusts and pride. Pray for God to send the Holy Spirit to convict and draw him to repentance. Pray for his wife and daughters, that in the pain and heartache of betrayal that they get drawn into deep relationship with God and his love. Pray for their wounds to be healed and for their hearts to be touched with the love of God.

Other family members and friends: Pray for God to move and touch them where they are, in their pains, struggles, joys, and journey of life. Pray for God’s love to be made clear and deeper in all, whether they know God or chosen to walk away from God.

Pastor Brian Sinclair: Pray for wisdom and strength to lead New Joy Church with the vision of God. Build him up with words that build up the congregation in the faith. Pray for protection for Him and His family related to the wiles of the enemy.

New Joy Church: Pray that ultimately God brings a work that frees His New Joy amidst the congregation as the church becomes further rooted in the truth of God’s word and obedient to His call. Pray for wisdom, clarity, and vision for what God has ahead. May ideas of self be clear and reduced and may we all hear and see what God is directing.

Steiger International: Pray for God to continue to use them to reach those in the darkest places of the world with the Gospel. Pray for protection, wisdom, guidance, and provision.

The Livesay’s and Heartline Ministries Hati: Pray for God to continue to reach others with God’s love in gospel in that poor and hurting country. Pray for provision, wisdom, guidance, and protection.

The Hensel’s: Pray for God to grow the new Ministry and to touch the lives of the people where they are serving. Pray that they are able to help build others in the faith and draw others unto salvation.

The Gross family: Pray for God to bless them as they serve God. Pray for healing, strength, and renewal.

Simeon’s Cry: Pray that God uses them mightly to reach Jews and Muslims for Jesus. Pray for wisdom and open eyes and hears to see and hear what needs to be seen and heard. Pray for continued and ongoing discernment.

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem: Pray that those of the nation of Israel grow in awareness of the Gospel and be brought to true wholeness as the recognize Yeshua as Mashiach.

Pray for Missionaries the world over, that they are able to draw others to turn from self to God and bring in a fruitful harvest.

And the requests for self: Pray for wisdom and guidance. Pray for ongoing growth in voice. Pray for growth in intentionality and consistency. Pray for God to draw those that he wants to use me in their lives to draw them into greater peace, learn of God’s peace, and receive restoration of heart and soul. Pray that I grow in loving God and others deeply. Pray for the blog and forum, that is serves to build others up, spread the light of the Gospel, and as led expose the workings of darkness.

    Prayer for 2010

Lord Heavenly Father, you who are the beginning of all things, you who set all things in motion. Touch the lives of all who read this that they may grow in knowledge of you. May each person who reads this blog grow in his or her response to you. May their walking in love of God and others be deeper and clearer. Open the eyes, ears and hearts to greater knowledge of Your love and your ways. Bring people into a greater sense of Your Peace and Joy. Heal the wounds of the broken, set the captives free, bring restoration to those in need. Transform each of our lives to reflect you greater. Bring us into greater awareness of our own sins and selfishness and help us to walk in repentance. Make clear to each one of us the areas of refinement you are leading in for this year ahead. Bring forth fruit as people serve you in love. Bring wisdom and discernment. Open eyes and ears of each to the ways accepted or walked in not of you. Expose the deceptions that have been embraced and the roots of the deception. Build each of us up in You. May your Kingdom grow and expand and be more visible to each of us. Help us to forgive as You call us to forgive. Help us to love as You call us to love. Bring the prosperity of further knowledge of your love and pushing forward in your ways grow with eyes toward treasures in heaven and not on the ways of the world. Thank you for the provisions that will come in the year ahead. Give each person the wisdom needed to make the choices as they come. Give strength, peace, and comfort in suffering. Give light and hope in darkness. Give clarity in fog. Give strength and direction in waiting. Pour out your love and light as all who serve you. Build what you have established, break down all that is not of you. Bring forth your harvest and fruit. Lead us in the sure path and sure ways and help us to return when we stray from your path. We thank you Father for all that you have done, for your gift of Salvation through Jesus, our messiah. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit and the ability to draw near to you, as you are on the throne. Thank you Jesus for Your love and mediating before the throne on our behalf. Thank you Holy Spirit for your ongoing presence even if at times we are muted in awareness of Your presence. We look forward to all that is ahead in 2010 and we thank you for what you have worked in our lives up to today. Above all, may Your will be done in our lives here on earth, as we seek to serve your Kingdom. All glory to your name. Your will be done. Amen!