NO MORE BAND-AIDS

IMG_4188While on the phone recently with my wife, I noticed drops of water coming down from our kitchen ceiling.  Needless to say I had to end the conversation and figure out what was going on.  Not being a handyman, I reached out to our handy neighbor.  He immediately saw that the ceiling was drooping. (How did we not see that?)  As he poked a hole in the ceiling, the little drops of water became a downpour.

In order to find out where the leak originated a larger hole had to be created in the ceiling.  Once the leak was found, an even greater hole had to be created in order to fix the leak.  Eventually, after going through all the home insurance protocols, our pipes and ceiling are now fixed.  At the time of this writing, we were still waiting to repair the bathroom where the leak came from.  At least the hole in our ceiling is gone.

 

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Some people believe it was Blaise Pascal who said that there is a “God-sized hole” in all of us.  If so, where did that hole originate?  It goes all the way back to Adam and Eve.  When they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, a “hole” was created in their souls, and in their relationship with God and one another.

As Blaise Pascal did say, everyone tries to fill the hole with “everything around him or her, seeking in things that in themselves cannot help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”

As a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, they could not approach God.  However, God came to them.  That is the picture of grace.  Now, because of their sin, we are all separated from God.  None of can approach God on our own.  However, nothing prevented God from coming to us, which He did in Jesus Christ.  That is the gift of grace.

Unfortunately, like Adam and Eve, pride, or perhaps guilt, makes us all want to hide from the presence of God.  We may try to hide from Him by convincing ourselves that there is no hole – no problem – nothing to be fixed.  Pride can also convince us that if there is a hole, we can fix it – we can find happiness, value and purpose without God.  Turning to other sources, or relying upon our own ingenuity, we attempt to fix ourselves.  All we do though is temporarily apply band-aids in an attempt to hide our deep holes and eternal wounds.  Instead, what we need is life-transforming surgery that only God can perform by His grace and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

In order to begin the healing process, to allow God to begin restoring and healing us, more often than not, let me suggest that the best place to begin is the Bible:

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged
sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and
attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4.12)

In the Bible, you will encounter the Truth regarding the source of your brokenness, your emptiness, your void, your lack of purpose and value.  You will also discover the solution, the promise by God to bring healing and restoration to you through the gift of life found in His Son Jesus Christ.  As you read the Bible, the Holy Spirit will indeed convict you, not just of your sinful nature, but also of your inability to make things better on your own.

The Holy Spirit will then begin drawing you out from your hiding, out from the shadows, out from the darkness of your guilt and shame.  The Holy Spirit will then prompt you to confess your broken and sinful condition, not in an attempt to please God, but as a response to the God’s being poured into your soul by the Holy Spirit as you feast on God’s Word.  You will then begin seeking God in your time of need, asking Him to forgive you,  heal you, save you, redeem you and restore you.  His Word is true:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins and
purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1.9

No band-aids will bring the healing we all need.  No band-aids can permanently fix the hole in each of us.  Only the grace of God can restore us and reunite us with our Maker and one another.  Unfortunately, many preachers today continue to offer band-aids to people when what they need is the Great Physician.  Sermons often end up providing self-help solutions, offering a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” that only compound the problem.  As a result, many people leave church on Sunday mornings filled with guilt instead of overflowing with grace.

Here is an interesting thought:  Could that be why so many people then inflict pain on others, judging the behavior of others, and in turn creating a bigger hole in that person’s soul?  After all, “hurt people, hurt people”.  Is that why even Christians are quick to point out the flaws of others?  I’m not sure that’s what the Apostle Paul meant when he referred to “speaking the truth in love”.

Yes, people need to hear the truth – they need to confront and acknowledge their own sinful nature.  They also need to know that we are all equal at the foot of the cross.  We are all flawed, broken, sinful people in need of grace.  People also need to know that they will never be able “to-do” enough on their own to please God.  As the saying goes: “There is nothing you can do that will cause God to love you any less.  There is nothing you can do that will cause God to love you any more.”

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life
has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8.1-2)

Even though Christians have been saved by God, they continue to live with a hole in their hearts because of the ongoing guilt and shame, self-condemnation and self-loathing that resides within them.  There is an emptiness that lingers in their souls because they know they will never live a perfect life.  They will never be able to do what the preacher tells them to do, or stop doing what the preacher tells them to stop doing.

It’s the same battle the Apostle Paul faced:

For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7.15

I know: “no one is righteous, not one”.  We are all guilty of sin, and we need to come before God with a contrite heart and humble spirit and confess our sins.  Yet, we are also invited, because of the blood of Christ, to come before “God’s THRONE OF GRACE with confidence, so that we may RECEIVE MERCY AND FIND GRACE to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4.6)  The church should be the one place where people are able to remove their band-aids and experience the presence and life-transforming power of God.  Church should be a place where flawed people love other flawed people, where broken people offer healing and forgiveness to other broken people, where grace is given and received in the name of Christ.  Sadly, that is not always the experience.

So why then do people go to church on Sunday mornings?  It could be they are well aware of their brokenness and shortcomings.  They show up to church with an awareness of the hole that exists within them due to their sin.  They show up on Sunday mornings, perhaps wanting to then stand in the presence of God, lifting their broken hearts to Him, asking for His mercy and grace to cover them once again, not just for the moment or for one day, but so that they can continually walk, and run and dance in the outpouring of God’s love and grace on a daily basis as the Holy Spirit continues to transform them, setting them free, creating within them a new heart.  It’s a process, a journey, and something that Christians should celebrate on Sunday mornings.

Yet, people leave Sunday mornings dejected and heavy burdened, because once again, from the pulpit, and sometimes by their encounter with others, they have been reminded that they are a horrible wretch – and they are told what they need to do, or what they need to stop doing, in order to fix the problem and become a better Christian in the upcoming week.

On Sunday mornings people do not need to simply be reminded of their sin, as much as they need to be reminded about the Good News of Christ.  Jesus is the One who dealt with their sins and their brokenness on the cross.  They need to know that the answer to their problems is not found by doing more or being better, but by trusting in God’s unrelenting and everlasting love, and by receiving the outpouring of His mercy and grace in their time of need.  God did not come to Adam and Eve in the garden to shame them or condemn them.  He came calling them to come out of their hiding, out of their guilt and their shame.  He said to them: “Where are you?”  He knew where they were. Adam and Eve certainly knew where they were.  God’s question was an invitation for them to come out of the shadows and embrace the light of His love and grace.

Into our darkness, into our sin, God came to us in Jesus Christ and invited us to follow Him.  Jesus came “not to condemn the world, but to save the world”. (John 3.17)  Through Jesus, God invites each of us to come out of the shadows, out of the guilt and shame of our sin, and to walk in His life-transforming marvelous light.  The Truth is that there is nothing we can do that will separate us “from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8.39)  NOTHING!  Jesus proclaimed from the cross, “Father, forgive them.”  And by His death, “It is finished!”  Our sins have been forgiven.  We have been set free.

Unfortunately, although we are no longer a slave to sin, it is the sting of sin that continues to linger in our world.  We still live in an imperfect world that is filled with imperfect people.  The effects of sin and evil still exist: Death, divorce, sickness, cancer, unemployment, poverty.  The list goes on.  While in this world we will always long for something better.  Fortunately, as Jesus promised, we have been given the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit not only convicts us, but He also comforts us and guides us and protects us.  By the Holy Spirit we can now live in the presence and power of God every day.

However, this world is not our home.  Neither is death our end.  The resurrection of Christ assures us that we will be in the presence of God for eternity.  For now, we live in the “already/not yet” realm of our lives, between the two advents of Christ.  So, until Christ returns:

NO MORE BAND-AIDS.

Preachers, stop offering self-help sermons; stop giving some cute alliterations or crafty acronyms.  Preach the Gospel, “in season and out of season”. (2 Timothy 4.2)  Let’s deal with the hole in our lives by trusting in the one who created us.  Let’s trust God to get rid of our sin and allow the Holy Spirit to transform us and sanctify us as we become “new creations” in Christ.  Let’s stop trying to cover up, excuse, justify or even blame our behaviors or predicaments.  Let’s own up to our failures and our shortcomings.  Let’s confess our sin.  (Dare we even, according to James 5.16, “confess” to one another?)  Then, let’s cling to the promise that God will indeed “forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1.9)

 

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MY DRY BONES – PT 3

It’s been four months since I stepped away from church ministry.

A lot has happened.  There is still a lot going on.

I am still processing what God is doing.

I am still listening, watching and waiting.

But, I am beginning to hear God calling me out of the ashes.

I am sensing the Holy Spirit releasing streams of living water into me once again!

IMG_4004In the meantime, I am clinging to this promise of God: And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (I Peter 5.10)

I was recently in Malaga, Spain, spending time with missionaries who are serving among the Kurds, Muslims and Hindus.  First of all, while in Spain I was completely humbled.  Second, God began to “restore, confirm, strengthen and establish” me.  He reminded me that I still have a purpose –  I still have a calling. – I still have something to offer others: the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I also was reminded that I still have a passion to equip and empower others to live more fully for God.  Through coaching (www.mygetcoaching.com), taking people to Rwanda, sharing Scripture together over coffee, or hanging out in my house as we share faith and life, I want to help people discover their greater God-given potential and purpose.

Jesus commands us to GO – and as we GO, we are to make disciples of all nations.  That’s why I went into ministry.  However, believe it or not, I began to lose that specific purpose while pastoring in the local church.  I still believe that “the local church is the hope of the world”, as Bill Hybels has always said; but I also believe that the local church should be focused on equipping people to GO and make disciples, not merely inviting people to COME and see.  Instead of saying, “GO and be involved in what God is doing in the world”, the message the church  often communicates is, “COME and see what we are doing at our church.  COME Sunday mornings and check out what we have to offer.
COME to our Men’s Breakfast, to VBS, to a Bible Study, to a free bbq.”

Sadly, a competitive spirit grows between churches as they each try to offer something new and different, something more exciting and creative than other churches, all in the hopes that they will get more people to COME to their church.  In the meantime, I have discovered, even in myself, that pastors and churches have a fear that some people attending their churches are going to become bored and start looking at what other churches are offering.  So there is a lot of time, energy and money spent trying to figure out not only how to get people to COME to their church, but also how to keep those who do come from becoming disgruntled and eventually leaving.  While it may not be written in a church’s Mission Statement, there is an unspoken core value that drives many churches: “Keep People Happy”.

Then, little by little, without realizing it, Christ is no longer the Head of the Church.  The people begin to take over ownership.  It becomes “our church”.  Soon, the proverbial tail is wagging the dog.  In the end, no matter how hard the Pastor, leaders or board may try, they cannot make or keep everyone happy.  There will always be people who complain and grumble about what the church is doing or not doing.  And, there will always be leaders scrambling as fast as they can to fix what some people are saying is wrong, all in order to keep the peace by making people happy.  Something is wrong with that picture.

 

Let’s get back to the Word and to the proclamation of Christ.  Let’s GO make disciples.  Let’s focus on “being the church”, not just “doing church”.  Let’s live like we are all on the same team, serving the same God, accomplishing the same purpose: Bringing lost people to Christ.  Don’t just show up at church on any given Sunday, put in your time and call it a day.  GO out into the highways and bi-ways, and as you go, look at the “fields that are ripe for harvest”.  God is already out there.  God is already at work.  He is moving in the hearts of people you have seen every day, but perhaps have just never taken the time to notice before.

Start right where you are – keep doing what you are doing on a regular basis.  But, begin to open your eyes.  Look at the fields.  Start praying for your neighbors and looking for ways to love them.  Join me in Rwanda next year, or prayerfully consider financially supporting me as I go to Ethiopia this October.  Have coffee with me and let’s read the Bible together.  Invite a friend to join us.  Don’t just sit there – GO!

IF GOD IS TUGGING ON YOUR HEART
IF ANYTHING I’VE SHARED RESONATES WITH YOU
IF YOU WANT MORE OF GOD IN YOUR LIFE
IF YOU WANT TO PURSUE THE KINGDOM OF GOD
AND HIS RIGHTEOUS:
LET’S DO IT TOGETHER!

Call me: 909-720-6356.  Email me: etw6559@gmail.com.  Grab coffee with me.

SEEK GOD – SERVE ONE ANOTHER – SHARE THE LOVE OF CHRIST

MY DRY BONES – PT. 2

IMG_4311 copy.JPGI recently listened to a sermon by Rev. Steve DeNeff, pastor at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana.  Rev. DeNeff used the term “pseudocyesis” to describe certain Christians.  Pseudocyesis is a condition whereas a woman (or a man) believes that she (or he) is pregnant.  There are real symptoms – nausea, fatigue, and even a swollen belly.  However, conception hasn’t taken place – there is no actual baby forming inside.

As Rev. DeNeff shared, it is possible for some church attenders to have a spiritual case of pseudocyesis, and not even be aware of it.  They show up on Sunday mornings, sing the songs, and may even put money in the offering basket  – they have the “symptoms” or appearances of being a Christian, but they haven’t had a life changing, lifesaving encounter with Jesus.  They have not been “born again”.  Jesus addressed it this way:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me
on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name, drive out demons and in your name, perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!’”  Matthew 7.21-23

“Evildoers” – that’s pretty harsh!

The evildoers are the ones whom Jesus says He “never knew”.  Are they the ones who have pseudocyesis?  Are they the ones who do not “know” Jesus?

As I consider my dry bones, as I process life apart from ministry in the local church, and as I even ponder who I am as a member of the Body of Christ,  I do not necessarily fear that Jesus will say to me in the end “I never knew you.”  What I am more concerned about is that while in this world I may never truly “know” Him.  To “know” Jesus is to “know” or experience His life changing gifts of grace, love, mercy and forgiveness.  To “know” Jesus is to accept, believe and trust that He loved me before I loved Him.  To “know” Jesus means that I find my sense of purpose, value and identity from my vertical relationship with God, rather than seeking it only from my horizontal relationships and circumstances of life.  The truth is, the horizontal relationships and the circumstances of life are constantly changing.  God, on the other hand, never changes.  “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.” (Lamentations 3.22)

Having stepped away from serving as a pastor in the local church, I am realizing that I have relied too much upon the Church (horizontal) to give me what God has already given to me in Christ (vertical).  Therefore, rather than striving to please God (vertical), I unknowingly served in such a way so as to win the approval of others (horizontal).  I was relying too heavily upon the receiving the unconditional love of God to be fully and completely fulfilled and received in and through those I served.

I still believe that we are to love one another in the way Christ loved us, and the local Church should be the place we do that to the best of our ability.  However, the truth is that the Church cannot fully and perfectly exhibit the love of Christ, because the Church is filled with broken individuals who still need the love of Christ to be fully born within them.  Only Christ can love us perfectly.  Only Christ did love us perfectly, allowing His flesh and bones to be broken, in order that our dry bones might be revived.  Only Christ has a love that never runs dry.  Only Christ can quench our thirst, supplying what we need to fill that longing we have to be accepted and valued.  It is only the Holy Spirit who flows through us like a stream of living water, can give us what we need in order to love one another more perfectly.

As I move forward, I am concerned that people, myself included, are drinking from “broken cisterns” (horizontal), while neglecting the “fountain of living waters” (vertical), as is addressed in Jeremiah 2.13.  Those who do, Jeremiah says, “have committed two evils”.  So, coming full-circle, as Jesus said, we are often “evildoers” – more than we care to admit.

 

My Dry Bones

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2.10

For over 30 years I have served as a minister in the local church.  I recently stepped away from that calling in my life, and I have no idea what the future holds.  It was rather sudden, painful and confusing, but clearly designed by God.  After leaving the last church I served for over 4 years, I was not prepared for the grieving process I would go through.

In future blogs I will attempt to IMG_4155 2explain my journey as I keep learning more about myself, the Church, God and others.  As I rediscover, or perhaps more accurately, for the first time discover my true identity in Christ, (that for some reason got lost while serving in the local church) I hope it will benefit you as well.

I still long to be a participant in the Body of Christ, but what does that mean?  Church is becoming defined for me in new ways – it really is about community and not a building.

I still want to do serve the Christ, the Church and others, but I am now wondering what that will look like without the title of “pastor’.  Am I even capable of loving others without my identity as a “pastor”?  Can I do it without looking for validation or value or importance?  Can I love God and others selflessly and altruistically?  I felt I was a good pastor, but I’m realizing how much I received from that role.  It became my identity.  How do I now participate in a local church without the need to be recognized as the “pastor”?  Do I want to be part of a local church?  Can I be vulnerable with others in the local church?  Can I let others be vulnerable with me?  Or, has the local church in America strayed so far away from God’s original plans that I no longer want to be identified as one of its members?

Everyone seems to agree that churches get messy.  Why is that so?  Should that be the standard we accept?  How do we justify that as the Bride of Christ?  The cross was messy.  The church is to radiate with the beauty and splendor of God.  Unfortunately, too many local churches, have lost their “first love”, their identity as the Bride of Christ, their calling as salt and light, and are just a “valley of dry bones” (Ezekiel 37).  I cannot tell you how many people I know who no longer go to “church”, the institution, because they have been hurt by the people, or because they see such hypocrisy.  I’m afraid that I have become another statistic, another victim of a “whitewashed tomb” that is slowly dying and beginning to decay.

As I consider my own situation, as I roll away the stone and look inside the tomb of my own heart, and begin to sit with my own “dry bones”, I have begun to find the real life and joy that Jesus came to give, despite the adversity I have gone through.  I know that the enemy would love to prevent me from embracing and experiencing all that God has for me in this season.  Satan would love to have me play the victim or become a villain, blaming others for my circumstances.  Fortunately, knowing that the victory is already mine, I have slowly begun to rise from the ashes, sensing the Holy Spirit breathing life, new life, into me.  I am learning what it means to really love God and love others in a way that I could never have imagined if I kept clinging to my old self and my old identity.

As I read Paul David Tripp’s book “Dangerous Calling”, I have come to realize that my identity has not so much been so much vertically in Christ, but more “horizontally in the situations, experiences and relationships of (my) daily life.”  I am identified by many roles to many people, but I so long to now truly find my identity in Christ alone.

So, as I begin to rise from the valley of my dry bones, I hope you don’t mind me giving some honest reflection.  It’s an ongoing, process –  It’s a humbling process –  It’s a painful process – but one I believe will be rewarding  I invite you to pray for me.  I would also love to pray for you.  Let me know how I can do that.  There is so much more to learn.  More peeling away of the layers of my old self.  I still want to pastor people, love people, serve people, and I hope this ongoing blog will do just that.

 

 

 

A Little Inspiring Reading

I do not recommend books often, but when I do, it means it was a very inspiring book.  So, yes, I am going to recommend a few books I have read in recent months.  All of them were very inspiring, and some were life-changing.

51jpjj8obrl-_sx331_bo1204203200_THE NOBLE DREAM by Charles Buregeya Mugisha 
Charles is the Founder of Africa New Life Ministries.  After his parents fled the genocide in Rwanda, Charles felt called by God to return to Rwanda in order to give every child a hope and a dream of a better life by proclaiming the Gospel and offering acts of compassion.  I read his book prior to my second time going to Rwanda with ANLM.  It is an amazing story of faith and grace.  Order the book by clicking on the image.  Read about Charles and ANLM by CLICKING HERE.

51n2iagvkxl-_sx322_bo1204203200_I SAW THE DEVIL, I SAW GOD by Charles Mwumvaneza
While in Rwanda this past June I read this amazing book about courage, faith and hope.  Charles and his wife survived the genocide, hiding from the Hutus, as well as the Tutsis, sometimes sleeping at the bottom of a latrine pit, and going days without food.

LIVING FORWARD: A PROVEN PLAN TO STOP DRIFTING AND GET THE LIFE YOU WANT by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy41ivicqjall-_sx322_bo1204203200_
This book inspired me to realize where I needed to invest more in the various areas (accounts) of my life.  After reading the book and doing an online assessment quiz, I started mapping out a plan to live more fully invested in the life that God has given to me.  The results have been my new GET Coaching ministry, as well as joining Take Shape for Life in order to develop healthy habits, which has already had great rewards.

PRAYER: EXPERIENCING AWE AND INTIMACY WITH GOD by Timothy Keller
I can’t think of another book written on the subject of prayer that has helped me get a greater handle on the theology, practice and history of prayer.  This is a must read for anyone who wants to develop a more intentional prayer life.

UNDER OUR SKIN by Benjamin Watson – as an NFL player, Benjamin Watson won a Super Bowl ring with the New Orleans Saints, and currently plays for the Baltimore Ravens.  As a Christian, father and husband, he has seen the racial divide in our country since childhood and recounts the experiences his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father all had to endure, while living in a racially divided country.  In a response to recent tragedies that have been blamed on the ongoing racial divide, Watson recognizes that the real problem is not the color of someone’s skin.  Instead, the root of the problem dwells within each of us: a sinner’s heart.  You will want to cheer him on from the sidelines and join him in his effort to get real about the issue of race in order to be “freed from the fears and and frustrations that divide us.” #underourskin.

BOYS IN THE BOAT by Daniel James Brown – A purely entertaining book that also taught me a lot our world in 1936 as Germany was about to take center stage.  Having been the University of Washington and seen the site where the U.S. Men’s Olympic Rowing Team trained, it was a delight to read the story of their rise to prominence.  You can’t put the book down as you not only read about these amazing olympians, but understand how the 1936 Olympics gave a look at how the world was about to change under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler.

Looking for Something NEW?

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, 33y03t3
do you not perceive it?”  Isaiah 43.19

A little over two years ago I felt God was beginning to do a new thing in my life.  However, I had to begin to look for it, to investigate and “perceive” what God was doing.

So, I began a coaching relationship with Gary Reinecke.  After two years of being coached and trained by Gary, I felt God was calling me to put these new skills into practice.  By discovering what God was doing and the steps I needed to take in order to join Him, I now feel called to empower others to do the same.  I want others to live according to God’s ultimate plan for their lives with a sense of purpose and passion.  So, I have started my own coaching ministry in order to:

Grow Disciples, Empower Leaders and Train Leaders
in order to strengthen the local church.

If you sensget-coaching-logoe God is wanting to not only show you something NEW, but to begin that new journey, check out my web site to see how I might help you in that journey CLICK HERE to GET COACHING.  

BUT WAIT – THERE’S MORE

As a result of my relationship with Gary Reinecke, I was introduced to his wife, Gina.  She is a Certified Health Coach with Take Shape For Life.  If God was going to do a new thing in me, I knew I had to start living more healthy.  So, I have enlisted Gina Reinecke as my health coach, and have started developing healthy living habits.  I began August 29th, 2016 and have lost 15 pounds in just two weeks.  In addition to that, I feel better than I have in a long time, if ever.  I sleep better, I eat better, I am more focused and energized.  IT WORKS!

I have a challenge for you to develop healthy habits as well.  Join a Healthy Games Challenge.  I am in participating in one for six weeks beginning today, September 12th, 2016.  You have until September 25th to join, and it only costs $24 – use promo code 5offnow to receive a $5 discount.  It’s a lot of fun with a lot of incentive, including monetary rewards.  (I don’t get any money for you participating.)  You can either do the games to lose weight or to maintain your current weight.  Along the way you will be given ways to develop healthy habits, including healthy recipes and shopping lists, plus, encouragement to rest and play, and to develop healthy activities while you drink lots of water.  If you want to join the challenge CLICK HERE: Healthy Games.  If you want to know how I am developing healthy habits or would even be interested in having me as a health coach, email me: bill@faithccv.com.

God is doing something NEW, but you may not “perceive it” until you begin to take the steps to begin a journey towards better and healthier future.  Take my challenge.  Create a coaching relationship with me, either to live with greater purpose or passion, or to develop healthy living habits.  Or, simply take the little step of participating in the Healthy Games Challenge.

Knowing The Will of God

I often struggle with knowing the will of God.  Whether it is a life-changing decision, or an opportunity that presents itself to me, the moment comes when I have to make a choice. There comes a time when I just have to step out and trust God, knowing that He will shelter me under His wings.  If my heart is in the right place – if I am sincerely seeking the will of God – I do not need to be afraid that I will blow it.

Timothy Keller, in his book Prayer – Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God writes:
“God will not give us anything contrary to His will, and that will always
include what is best for us in the long run. (Romans 8.28)”
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“Therefore,” he says, “we can pray confidently because He won’t give us everything we want…Cry, ask, and appeal – you will get many answers. Finally, where you do not get an answer, or where the answer is not what you want, use prayer to enable you to rest in His will.”

From a little book called “God Calling”, the anonymous authors, as though God were speaking, wrote: “You seek My Presence and those who seek shall find.  It is not a question of human searching, so much as human consciousness, unconditional surrender to My Will in the small, as in the big things of life.  This it is that makes My Guidance possible.”

We are all called to seek God, to pursue Him, to cry out to Him, and then trust that He will not only hear our prayers, but He will answer us according to His good and perfect will.  The problem is that many of us spend a lot of time praying, lifting up our needs, asking for God’s provision and guidance, but we don’t spend enough time waiting to hear what God says in response.  He may respond while you are in prayer, or He will show you the way as you then step out in confidence that He will guide and direct your every step.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” Isaiah 6.8

DID YOU CATCH THE BEGINNING OF THE VERSE?

ISAIAH HEARD THE VOICE OF GOD!

I don’t know how God spoke to Isaiah.  It may have been verbal.  It may have been internal, a whispering into the spirit of Isaiah, a nudging by the Spirit of God.  It may have been during a time of prayer, or as Isaiah went about His day.  Somehow, in some way, he heard the voice of God.  However, if Isaiah wasn’t in tune with God, listening for the voice of God, he may never have responded to God’s invitation.

We need to position ourselves and tune our hearts in such so we can hear the voice of God. He speaks in a variety of ways.  God’s probably speaking to you right now.  God can speak to you during a time of prayer or while reading Scripture.  He can speak to you during a time of worship at home or in church.  God can speak to you through your small group or Bible study, using others to be His mouthpiece.  God can even speak to you through your circumstances. You just have to be listening for that “gentle whisper” from God, in the midst of your busy and often difficult life, or in times of silence.

The truth is, you may need to get away from all the noise of your surroundings and get alone with God.  Elijah was told to “go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”  God spoke when Elijah positioned himself to watch and listen for God.  Elijah, expecting God to speak in a powerful, was in tune with God so that he could actually hear God’s “gentle whisper”, that “still small voice”.  Jesus would often go off alone to a mountaintop in order to spend time in conversation with His Father.  You may need to get out of your usual routine, even get out of your comfort zone, in order to position yourself in a place where you can better hear the voice of God.  Then, as you wait, be sure to watch and listen.  God will speak.  You will hear him say, “This is the way; walk in it.”