Video: Healthy Growth talk from 2/23/2012 @ New Joy Church

Back in February of 2012 I gave a talk at a Men’s breakfast at local church and had meant to post it and have it available for others to listen to and be blessed by. I neglected to post it but am doing so now. The theme of the talk was highlighting and overview of healthy growth from a spiritual perspective. I also put together a handout that outline the basis of the talk. You can find it here: handout. I hope you are blessed by the presentation. Fair warning I am not a polished speaker and the opening I say “from my heart a lot.”  There was also a moment in talk I lost track where I was, back tracked and repeated a segment. FYI, you will need to view this from a computer as it does not appear the video will show up if trying to view it by phone. If the video does not work for you, you can try directly viewing it at: http://www.dailymotion.com/f1354243611#video=xrn9vm

#wcaacc Day Three: Stirrings Energerize to Move from the Silent Waiting

 

Day Three at the American Association of Counselors World Conference was one that was for me a very important day and a day where God was moving in my heart and mind with stirring still being defined. The day for me started with being in a quiet reflective state. The state in part feels like where been at for the past year. During the morning session John Ortberg spoke and he talked about the “Saturday” which is really the time between crisis and resurrection. It is a time of silence where one can only wait. For me this feels like where my life has been at in the past year. I left the National Conference feeling refreshed quickly settled into a time of silence as ended up feeling stuck. No matter how often looked to restart it remained.

 

After that period timed moved to a focus really on the brokenness that exists in life. Going back to the fallen state of man who moved from full access of God’s glory into the fallen state where we now experience shame and fear. We live in a world where people are hurting and hurt. Emerson Emmerich and Wes Stafford bu Emerson in his work and bringing healing and restoration to marriages and Wes Stafford in reaching children throughout the world. In their periods of pain and silence they were activated by their faith and obeyed t shared parts of there stories of pain that God used to shape their call and direction. God and walked the path God laid before them. God activated who they were with faith. So while there was great pain, there was the restorative power of God to draw out who He made them to be. Now during the point of focus on the brokenness, including being overwhelmed with the empathetic response to pain for me the point of saturation was reached. It seemed that I was reaching my limit.

 

Then the final track and training of the day came. Mitchell Elliot spoke on a Christian perspective on emotion. He discussed thought processes regarding emotions from a biblical frame of reference. What God stirred in me was not so much related to the content, but a stirring of energy and a deep longing of moving ahead and seeing the hope and light that God clearly is at work and stirring things within others in similar but different ways than me. God confirmed this further during a mixer with the Society of Christian Psychology division of the American Association of Christian Counseling.

 

Summing up the days experience and stirrings the theme seemed to be that God works in the silence and pain and moves in the direction that is in alignment with His will and plan. He will bring into paths and ways in alignment with who He created us to be and what He does in our life. Taking steps to trust and obey move from periods of silent waiting into the empowered advance. It happens in but a moment. It happens in faith and obedience, and it happens in engagement with others. And God moves in a way always consistent with His design. For me God’s design is one of a person who bring honor to God and is used to bring people to peace and wholeness as God grows me in knowledge, understanding, discernment, and wisdom. There is no doubt in my mind that the seeds have been planted and soil tilled for what lies ahead.

Musing on Learning from History

The past exists for everyone.  We all have history.  Each and every one of us has stories of things that happened in our lives good or bad.  In our history, there are things we recall and things we do not. What we remember is important.  What we remember shows the points in time, the points in life that provided key emotional moments.  We do not always remember key moments. Most of what happens is long forgotten for what happened is simply everyday routine.  Some of what happens is due to it being to difficult and painful.

Whether we remember or not, we all have the stories of the past: known and unknown. And whatever story, for the others involved there are different perspectives of the same story, things are remembered differently.

 

As a child one of my favorite subjects was history. Perhaps it was rooted in my love for story and character. History is filled with great stories. As a child reading history triggered day dreams where would imagine what it would be like to be living that moment.  For me, the love of history really began the pursuit of understanding. Those times of day dreaming led to learning about what make people tick and how it corresponds to God.

 

God wants us to learn from history.  The Old Testament is filled with History. God gave us the history to learn and grow.  The God ordained purpose of the past, our own and others, is to learn and grow.  Not only did God give us history in the Old Testament. He set up festivals such as Passover are about a point of history. The point teaches about God’s love and power. It is history that when examined gives hope and illustrates who God is. 

 

The value of any history comes from the lessons we learn; be it personal history, family history, country history, or any aspect of the history of the world. Whatever the story, whatever the event, be it good, bad, or ugly, there are lessons to be learned. Past events can teach us about our selves, about others, and about God. Whether something was a blessing, a trial, or average day to day,  when you examine and reflect back there is value. This is true even of that which is painful. The more you learn and understand about the past, the more that history can teach. And as we learn about self, God, and others then growth, maturity, and wisdom come.

 

Part of why the value of elders is spoken of in the Bible as well as many cultures is in part because of the array of experience and history. There is a lifetime of history and a lifetime of growth. So take time, look back, review and learn.

Musings from AACC National Conference: Reviewed Foundations and Drawing Deeper

On this blog the articles of late have been touching on understanding repentance. The articles the next couple of days will be taking a slight break from that concerted focus on the subject. However, it is worth noting that the articles being right are related to that subject matter.  Currently I am attending the American Association of Christian Counselors National Conference.   Seeing how repentance is about change and a counselor is a change agent thus the relationship.  The articles being written though are reflecting my thought process at the end of the day.

The conference this year is being held in Branson Missouri at the resort Chateau on the Lake.  Branson is in the midst of the Ozarks and the meeting place is by a nice sized lake.  For me the symbolism is clear at what God is working in me.  The rock is reminder of our rock and foundation in Jesus the Messiah.  It is the source of life.  The lake to me points me to the depths of living water that Jesus provides and being brought to greater depths.  Today at the conference both elements were central.

The day started with a day long conferences that really examined the foundation of sound Biblical Counseling Psychology. It was a reminder of the Biblical view of how God has me interacting in the lives of others.  It also built upon the foundation further.  Even in reviewing what are essential basic elements of the work of coming along aside others to aide, there was growth and depth in learning others perspective even so far as understanding some church history and foundations.  There was much stirred within my heart and mind which may well be observed in shaping the writing of blog articles to come.  For now though, it refreshed awareness of the foundation and provided exhortation for building up and going deeper in what God has been doing in and through me.

The other element of the day that sticks in my mind is the large group session where Dr. Larry Crabb spoke. Dr. Larry Crabb is a man who God has used to challenge me to look and grow since first came across his writings in college.  Today, at the conference while pointing to the basics of God’s Word, he challenged with words and thoughts that pushed for a deeper grasp and growth in God.  He brought up the concept of relational Holiness, which starts with the relationship of the Godhead being perfect relationally. In other words, God is relationally set apart and whole.   God is relationally Holy. So then it becomes that an element of growth and freedom from sin is the ongoing process of becoming more and more relationally Holy.  It is take the foundation of relating to God, others, and self in love and truth and bringing it to  deeper level.  A deeper level of every fiber of every action pours out to reflect the Love of Jesus and evidences death of self.  It is the core of contentment, the seeds of His peace, the elements of His joy.  It is being at the center of what God is doing through love in truth. 

So today is a day of examining the rock, the foundation, which at the core is Jesus and then being brought to examine deeper what God is doing in my life and in turn how God enables me to touch the lives He brings to me to receive love and care.  It is a privilege to serve God and others where God has me and look forward to how God enables further impact on others, even deeper than before. 

 

Musing on the limits of our own understanding of God

Tonight thoughts came to mind about Jesus being unable to perform Miracles in Nazareth, his “hometown.”  My thoughts focused on one possible reason as to why that was the case.  Why is it that a prophet is without honor in his own town?  It comes down to a simple matter.  They think they know him.  They saw him day to day.  They had an idea of who he was and readily dismissed that He could be anything “special” for they saw Him grow up.  They thought they knew him. They had an idea of who this Jesus was, a son of a carpenter, someone who helped them roof their house, or other things a carpenter does before he became known.  So part of the reason that Jesus was not able to perform miracles in Nazareth is that no one sought any?  They thought they knew Jesus. 

Now take that concept and apply it to our own lives and theology and understanding.  It is real easy to reach a point where we think we “know Jesus.”   There are choices and decisions and conversations engaged in because of the understandings and knowledge that we have and it is based on our own teaching and experience.  We fail to fully grasp that our own experience only pertains to a part of who Jesus is.  We fall to fully even accept that our knowledge is always at best “in part” this side of eternity.  Take whatever theological construct and presentation of who Jesus is and there will be much that is accurate but also much that is missing.  So do not settle for your own understanding.  Do not think you have it all “grasped” for in so doing you limit any further growth and settle for a caricature.  

Personally, I am one that can easily fall into the trap of thinking I understand it all. My freshman year in college my mindset was such, there was much I thought I knew.  For me it even, it is easy to communicate in a way of lacking love where my tone or words can come off as arrogant or condescending because it is emphasizing what I ‘think I know” and trying to prove it, rather than sharing simply openly what God has helped me to understand.  So giving a foothold to pride and limiting growth is one trap that can come from what we know. There is another trap as well. We can miss out on some blessing because it did not fit what we know.  Personally there have been moments when reading God’s Word where come across a verse or passage of scripture and respond “has that verse always been there, never noticed it before.”   God has a way of opening our eyes, ears, and hearts to things we have not noticed.  He has a way of deepening our understanding, but we need to not settle for what we think we know.  We need to be willing to test always what we think we know.

Now in saying all this, it is important to know that God has made certain things clear and there are things that are simple to say and write, but yet we fail to grasp the depth and shades of meaning.  Part of the gaining understanding is grasping the deeper levels of things we already know.  God is continually drawing us to deeper understanding of Him, if we continue to engage in fellowship with Him. So, please, do not settle for what you think you know.  Seek God and ask Him to reveal Himself to you in deeper ways.  As the Bible says, “Lean not on your own understanding.”

Now there is another amazing thing God has shown us in the word and given us evidence of.  It is possible to overcome what we think we know and set it aside. We can grow in knowledge and truth and learn who God is more deeply.  The biggest evidence of this is Jesus half-brother James.  He was able to set aside his own knowledge of Jesus as brother and accepted Jesus as redeemer and followed Him.  The result is James had a deeper and broader understanding Jesus and the Father used James to pen words that we acknowledge as God’s words today.  So do not settle for what you think you understand, always seek and ask God to broaden the depth and breadth of understanding, for we can always grow, all of our understanding is in part.  Each of us can do a simple act, ask God to expand our understanding.  Ask God to teach and reveal that which we hold that is partial or faulty.  We can ask God for further wisdom.  If we do so God gives us this promise,  James 1:5 (ESV)  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Do you test your own understanding?

This to me is an important question to consider: Do you test your own understanding?  As a Christian and follower of Jesus I believe it is important to constantly examine what I think I understand about God and the Bible.  Now this questioning of ones own understanding is not about the essential matters of doctrine and faith, but rather the thoughts, ideas, practices, and systematic thinking about God and church.  There is a problem that can easily occur in that we can reach a point on a matter where we think “we grasp it.”  In other words being certain that we know fully what God was saying and have made an assessment on the matter and have full confidence in understanding.  Personally it is a temptation for me that once I come to an understanding to consider the matter settled.  Yet, I find God often moves to teach me new aspects or areas of a matter I had not previously grasped.  One example of this for me is the matter of unity as a church.  I have long advocated the need to understand one another and be aware of the fact that we all “got something” wrong in understanding God.  The picture to me has been that of the body of Christ often separating into the different cells of the body rather than working together.  Another picture is that of staying around those that play the same notes and instrument and missing the bigger symphony.  Then God showed me otherwise and awakened my eyes and ears to the depth and level of deception that has infiltrated the church.  There are things that previously passed off as petty and judgmental that truly is identifying significant danger that is serious.  So I find this principle at work, God often will show and lead us in one direction and then when we have engaged in the change and direction he desires, he can show us what we missed or failed to understand.  The thing is our understanding is limited and we inject ourselves and our own thoughts all too often. We also can easily rely on ‘teachers’ who we have respected and can fail to fully examine those who have taught us and impacted us to deeper understanding of God or freedom from something we did not quite understand before.  It is really important to be constantly testing everything, even our own understanding.   The motivation of that examination really needs to come from a desire to understand God and love Him better which in turn also leads to truly loving others.  Anything that comes from any other motive falls short of what God desires regarding our testing everything.  And yes, testing everything even comes down to “testing to see if in the faith. “  In other words, have I truly surrendered myself to Jesus?  Do I accept the words I have received and believe them? There are many other related questions.  So how does one test your own understanding? Start with asking God for wisdom and to reveal that which you think you understand but miss. Also ask for the Holy Spirit to reveal and open your eyes to the ways you have been deceived.  God is faithful and I can verify that He will do just that if willing to surrender you own wisdom and let God show you through His word and even through what others say.  Never be confident or settled that you “got it.”  The disciples did not get it when Jesus was with them.  He had to stay on earth forty days explaining and showing things to the disciples so they did “get it.” And even then, we needed to constant presence of the Holy Spirit to continually show us when we are off on the wrong path.  But we have to surrender and set aside self and be teachable and humble enough to turn and admit error. Remember the Bible does tells us that at our best we can only “know in part.”  So if you feel you have arrived, think you grasped it all and have no inclination to put self-understanding of God to test, you are settling for the incomplete and imperfect.

News Commentary: The 100 Club- MN Vikings players caught speeding

This week news broke that Adrian Peterson and Bernard Berrian both have been pulled over for driving over 100 miles per hour.  Now clearly this will become the source of derision and plenty of jokes will be made.  I have to think though that athletes driving the cars really fast is nothing new.

One thing I know from experience is that getting caught speeding is an intermittent thing.  You can go years and years driving fast, or in this case extremely fast and never get caught. It just takes one moment to get caught.

There are a few factors that probably play a role in athletes making such a decision. One being is generally there is some level of a need and desire for adrenaline boosts.  They operate in performance sports where they frequently have adrenaline boosts. Driving really fast boosts the adrenaline.

Another factor coming into play for some in a sense of entitlement.  The mindset is that there are two sets of rules, one for them, and one for everyone else.  Being athletes there may also be some thinking along the lines of “I have better skills than the average person, I can handle driving really fast.” So at some level they think they are better and do not need the same rules as everyone else.

There also is a general sense of invulnerability. The sense that given their strengths nothing can go  wrong and they can maintain complete control.  Also just plain thoughts that even if something did go wrong, nothing could seriously do any damage. It is the same kind of thinking that goes on with adolescent drivers.

So athletes are likely to have those factors playing a role in their decision-making. Yet, their choices are not any different from those made every day by each of us.  We evaluate the risk and potential cost of our choices and make decisions as to what is acceptable.  In fact, in our culture today there is even an emphasis on self-driven determination of right and wrong. There is even a view of morality that considers anything that refrains desire to be immoral. 

Now maybe Adrian, Bernard and all the uncaught athletes driving over 100 miles per hour can handle it. Yet, we live in a world that is assessed to be unsafe for the community at large.  Personally, there have been stretches where attentiveness to speed is lacking and have received my share of moving violations that were fair and just.  Even if the consequences were unjust or even wrong, it is still the system of authority and rules we live under, and they are applied at the discretion of the those with that authority.

As a Christian, there are is Biblical directive to submit to the authority that is place.  The rules of law are there for reasons and are not personally defined.  So Adrian and Berrian drove really fast and will receive the appropriate consequences.  They also face additional consequences related to fame of the incident being brought to attention of the public.  

Thinking of this incident and actions, it gives a reminder that each of us need to attend to our behaviors and choices.  We may think we can handle certain things, but can lose control at a moments notice. We may think it is harmless until something goes wrong. We may think all sort of things for all sorts of reasons.  We may get away with doing wrong things with a season, but consequences will eventually come. If not in this life, than the next.  So when thinking about the poor choices made of these young men, think of your self and your own poor choices, think about what you may need to choose to do differently.