Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Barriers & Bad Guys (CIC2)

I have never been in a high speed police chase, really, I have never been in a slow speed police chase either. In fact, I don’t know of a time that I have seen the sirens in the rear view mirror, muttered something unnecessary, and then pulled over. Can you imagine the intensity and adrenaline rush you must feel during that though? I don’t want to get off topic. The point I am making in this is that often times during high speed police chases there are certain precautions taken to capture the “bad” guy or gal. A police officer may start the chase, and he calls for backup, some help because this could get bad very quickly. Even with other cars involved, there is the potential that the “bad” guy gets away, so as part of the backup, many times, they will call in a helicopter.

A helicopter gives a better perspective because it doesn’t have to worry about traffic, lights, roads (or lack thereof), buildings, and other things that can hinder a police car’s perspective from seeing the fugitive. The perspective and direction the helicopter gives often helps apprehend a tricky suspect and usually brings a dangerous chase to an end with more safety.

Helicopters sure are handy.

Yesterday I talked about seeking experience in our learning and as we try to expand our understanding of God we should seek that experience with Him first and not solely from other peoples perspectives. The problem with perspective is that it can be partial. One person’s perspective might see one thing, while someone in a different location may see something else. Different perspective is great, I like hearing from other people because of the growth it can bring. However, we have to make sure that our first priority is to ask God to reveal His perspective on situation. His perspective should be our priority.

I have many friends that I seek their perspective on things. Things I need help thinking through, things I need clarity on, things that are beyond my understanding. I am striving to first pray and seek God’s perspective. I have found in that as I seek Him first I receive answers that are beyond me. If I go from there and seek others perspective, I often have confirmation and in that even more confidence as I move forward. There are matters that because God has revealed Himself in my situations I move forward as well because He has given me the assurance to do so.

In these times of God speaking His perspective there are also times that he reveals something that defies my perspective. What I mean is, judging a situation from my perspective is I can work to make rational, clear, and wonderful judgment calls. However, from where He is (that being EVERYWHERE) He shows me that there is a different plan that will work out for my betterment but I have to trust Him. I have had a lot of, “But God this is a dead end.” “Just trust me!” moments. He hasn’t failed.

If we continually rely on our understanding (or manmade perspective) of God we will find that there are barriers continually restricting us in our spiritual life. We must rely on His Spirit to guide us. We can’t figure out God (or the life He wants us to have) without God telling us, so we should stop trying to figure Him (and these situations) out without His consultation.

Are our lives able to be lived out in a godly way by our own abilities, assuming that we have not developed a completely submitted and Spiritually trained life? The most effective way for us to externally express the inward life that He has given us is to fully rely on His Spirit.

Once again, I do not suggest that we should not rely on other perspectives from other people. From books, radio, schooling, conversations, and so forth, my point is that we should not solely rely on them or even make them our primary source for guidance. We will gain greater insight from Him. When we begin to rely on others whose perspective is different but similarly restricted as ours, we begin to put up barriers on our spiritual walk. We have enough to deal with in life, we have “bad” guys running amok and wanting to kill us, steal from us, and destroy us we don’t need any more barriers.

Tomorrow we will start looking at some of these barriers.

2 Corinthians 2:10-16

Monday, November 29, 2010

Consulting the Creator (CIC1)

**I am taking a bit of what I shared yesterday and opening it up for a “blogging series” if you will. The basis of this series is to address what I call a “Christian Identity Crisis” I hope you enjoy, this is part 1.**

I am sure many of us have heard the “experience is the best teacher” quote, but I often wonder if we really believe that. I have worked many different types of jobs in my life. Usually after I work at a job for a while, certain things become second nature and I can move in the operations rather quickly. I once had a job that was titled being a “Lumper” and the job of a lumper was to unload the back of a semi and put the product on pallets so they could be stored in a warehouse. When I started, I was a hard worker, but definitely not one of the fastest. As I gained experience, my speed picked up, and I became one of the fastest in the groups I worked with.

When I started that job, I had several of the guys trying to help me to understand how different products stacked differently and the quicker I picked this up, the faster I would move. They could tell me this all day, I could have studied how to stack the different products, but when it came time for me to stack I had to figure it all out on my own. That is how my mind works. After I had had this job for a couple of weeks I could tell by seeing the boxes in front of me, how they would stack best. By my experience I became faster…and faster …and faster, did I mention this was a commission job, so the faster I worked the more money I received? This was something I wanted.

As I read through the Scriptures, I see that mankind loves to operate in some sort of system. We love to rationalize things, understand how they work, come up with an explanation, and then we like to pass it along. We like to pass it along either because it is our nature to want to pass it along or we have a bit of pride that we like to get out there to say, “Look what I figured out.” It may not be spoken that way, but we love the recognition. So we go and set up systems to understanding various things and explaining how they work, and for most things it is astounding to see what man can figure out. What we can now explain through various sciences. Man is brilliant.

However, there is one problem.

We are not the original Creator.

Nor can we explain Him in a way that we can manufacture a “plan” for those who are being “trained” in how to follow Him in the fullest sense.

I know this is the place where your skeptic sonar may be going off, but hang with me.

We have the Bible, church services, books, radio, television, and many other resources…how much do we rely on those things to understand God? We have colleges, universities, seminaries, and doctorate programs to further understand God but I wonder how much do these things lead us to rely on man’s second hand revelation and not rely on an actual experience of the living God through His Spirit connecting with our as He has designed for it to be?

There is nothing wrong with any of the things listed above, especially the Bible. I mention the Bible, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it (As I believe it to be God’s words to us), but I ask you… how much of what God’s is saying in His words to us can we understand without His revelation? God reveals Himself to us through His Spirit (2 Corinthians 2:10-16). How many of us read our designated Scripture for the day and then check it off our list and are “done” with God for the day?

Are we trained to know God but never really experience Him?

I wonder how limiting that is?

Are we beginning to look a lot like the Pharisee’s of old, that knew what was said in the Scriptures but deny the power of it because we are all about the training and not much about the experiencing?

I don’t know, and I cannot judge your personal situation…nor do I want to. I can tell you that I have been guilty of relying on other people’s perspective far too much and not seek God for His revelation for me in my journey with Him as I am on this earth. I am not saying there isn’t a place for the radio, televisions, books, and so forth; I am saying that this should not be our only source for experiencing God. We can feel the presence of His Spirit during messages, but that should not be the only time we experience Him.

He wants you…never forget that.

He is not interested in how much you knowledge you accumulate, He is interested in how much of you-you give Him.

Peace to you all. I pray that you experience God in a greater way today, may He reveal Himself to you in a new way today.

We will continue tomorrow…

For further thoughts... Mark 8:27-29, Romans 8:1-17, 2 Corinthians 2:10-16

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Perpetuation of Pain

I had kind of a bad day yesterday. It started off bad, got a little better, and then got worse. I didn’t much sleep; I woke up today and haven’t been in my normal mindset since. If I am in a bad mood my patience is very short. Today, I got a call that my wife’s car needed a jump (more good news) and I drove to jump the car and follow her home. On my way back home I am driving through a parking lot in which according to one lady’s opinion I didn’t drive to her code of the unspoken law of parking lot driving and she let me know it.

If I am being honest, to say I wanted to retaliate would be an understatement.

I drove about a quarter of a mile, biting my tongue, and realized that my parking lot friend may have had just as bad of a day as I had. Sure, there is the possibility that she was just a grumpy person that is disappointed in some miserable decisions that she may have made for her life, but she may not. So if I had given in to my impulses and said something, the possibilities of two hurting people further hurting as a result.

I have found, if I look back in the time, I have fallen into this trap often, very often.

It isn’t often a traffic incident, although, I do admit my struggle, at times, with that. What I notice in various counseling sessions, in meeting with people, in talking with people who are having trouble in their marriages, in talking to parents with children that are hard to handle is that when someone hurts their retaliation to the pain they feel is often to inflict pain. As I have often heard before…

…hurt people, hurt people.

Think of it. I am in no way an abusive to animals, but I have seen in various ways, in my various travels seen animals that have gotten hurt. How do they react? For a dog, they growl and prepare for whatever the next infliction of pain may be with bare teeth ready to bite. A cat reacts with hissing claws bare ready to slice into whatever may be attacking the cat. We as humans have different defense mechanisms, and words are often the weapon of choice.

So as we launch these verbal bombs at each other, one must wonder…where does it end? Pain perpetuates pain, the cycle continues.

I thought of my parking lot friend later today, I felt a little overwhelmed. If she were having a bad day, how could I have helped her situation? It is likely that I couldn’t. There are many who are hurting from whatever the case may be. There will be situations that I can help in; there will be those that I cannot. The point is to look for those situations that I can help stop the cycle. Whether it is by my actions or by leading others to do so…

…but I am not a good example; I am a recovering hurt person as well. I have hurt so many as well. My hope is that the Spirit will lead me and calm my angered heart in times that I am fired up. He will guide me to those that are hurting and give me words to speak that I can help others.

I appreciate your prayers in this matter as it is my hope to grow in this and work towards becoming part of the answer and not an addition to an already ominous problem.

Peace to you.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sovereign Disarray

How would we respond if God allowed a lot of confusion to enter our life? Not necessarily doubts about Him, but a lot of disruptions, a lot of matters that fly along our peripheral and they seem so flashy that we lose focus. What if there were distractions that were unavoidable and took away from your time with Him? How would we respond? Would we strive even harder to locate those precious moments that He is seeking from us? Would we get in over our heads, get frustrated, and possibly let our fuse become shorter with others?

Maybe the distractions aren’t aware of our desire to focus on other matters.

I find that I am always easily distracted. It is easy for me to lose focus in a conversation sometimes. I can be talking, and before I end a thought, I am kind of hanging out there in oblivion wondering where I was headed with the last sentence that left my mouth. In life, I am sure many of us have experienced some time of distraction. The question is…

Do we give in and let it rule us, or do we press on to find a way to accomplish the things we have set out for?

I have this wrestling match within myself at least once a week, and when I say wrestling match…I mean I get frustrated with myself to the point of becoming somewhat irritable. My life is not abnormal (I don’t think) but it is amazing how many things happen when I try to sit and focus on something. For me, I like to have quiet time and study, write, read, and meditate. I am absolutely amazed at how many phone calls, texts, random visits, and other normal things happen when I am trying to do those things.

It is also amazing how many darn good shows come one tv when it’s time for me to get quiet.

I throw that out there lest I blame everyone and anyone else and come across as a woe is me, pouty, self focus whiner. I am to blame, and that is part of why I bring this up. What am I going to do about it? Am I going to allow the distractions to rule me? Or am I going to savagely protect my quiet time? Is it possible that as I pray and tell God that I am ready to grow and get to know Him more and ask Him for deeper revelation and for Him to prepare me for that…

that He allows a...

…a sovereign disarray?

Might this be the thing that He uses to try me, to see if I will turn away and let the time of distraction own me? Or will I press deeper into Him, pressing away all those things (mind you I am taking care of responsibilities) and making time to focus on Him? I don’t want to come across as a works thing, but more of a passion thing. Is my love growing for Him in a way that I am willing to give up, or work around, the distractions…whether self imposed or not?

I have been pondering this thought for a while…and I feel like it may be a thought I ponder for much longer…

Peace to you.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Beyond Me

I believe a person of integrity is able to find a balance between knowing when to push themselves beyond their comfort zones for a greater good and when to take time to be comfortable in what they enjoy. There are those who love to go from sun up to sun down, I don’t mind that sometimes, but I don’t enjoy doing that all the time. I believe this is almost never a perfect balance, because of the pulls towards other needs, living a life that is balanced is very difficult. That is to say, that a perfect balance for you may not be a perfect balance for others. In that, people may have need of you that you cannot provide. So how do you balance?

I find this my struggle often.

I want to be a person of integrity.

I want to be the man that I am supposed to be in all my relationships, but if I have several relationships, I find that there is an overlapping need and I can fill only one or two at the most. Prioritizing seems to be an abstract thought as well, because there are many different variances as to what is the highest priority. Others have different expectations than you might and all of a sudden there is friction. Then out of guilt you may over compensate and try to meet one or two people expectations, but in that you end up throwing several people and their expectations under the proverbial bus.

What a quagmire.

I have found that this is my folly, my stumbling block, my shortcoming…but I have found, for better or worse, the best combatant for this matter is not trying to please others but to be honest. I cannot meet everyone’s needs, I never could. Christ didn’t even meet everyone’s needs…or did He? The problem isn’t so much meeting everyone’s needs as much as their wants. Many wanted Christ to rush to meet Lazarus before he died, Christ took His time. There are other accounts of people expecting something of Christ, but He did as He was led by His Spirit.

I can’t make everyone happy, I can’t fulfill your desires, and my ideas of where my time should be devoted may differ than yours. I have also found that even if I devote time to where I want to, I still falter there because many things don’t work out as I expect and I fail to meet all of my own priorities. I will strive, in this, for honesty and I am not going to be completely overwhelmed with guilt because I cannot meet everyone’s needs or desires the way they thing I should. If I fail to meet your desires, realize that I love you, it was never my intention to hurt you, I ask for mercy and grace.

For me to meet all of everyone’s desires of me…

…is beyond me.

My striving is to meet His desires for me, and I shall surely stumble, but never feel as if I didn’t do something I “should” have because I was purposefully being selfish. I ask you to judge on the side of giving me (and others) the benefit of the doubt for good.

God bless you all, have a lovely Thanksgiving!

**This is not aimed at anyone in particular; just something I have felt freedom from recently and just wanted to get my thoughts out there.