January 31, 2010

Convergence of Thought

This year I am once again working through My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I am also using Handbook to Scripture by Ken and Karen Boa as a Bible reading guide for 2010. Here are some thoughts out of yesterday's readings that converge quite nicely in my mind:

Teach me to look to You alone as my source of provision in all things, and not to put my hope in people, possessions, or circumstances to deliver me.
Handbook to Scripture, Day 30

Never ask another person’s advice about anything God makes you decide before Him.
My Utmost For His Highest - January 30 Devotional

The Lord made it clear to me yesterday, when He is speaking to me, to seek not the advice of others. I am not sure not seek wise counsel, for I think to do so is biblical, it is all over Proverbs as an example. But what I took away from the above is that at the point you are on your knees before God, seeking Him and listening for and to His voice, that is all you should be doing.

God's place is everywhere, we need to know our place and that of those around us.

Once we are before God, God must be before anyone else.

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January 29, 2010

A Lesser Burden

"For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:30 (NASB)
Good words to keep in mind. Especially after a long day worrying about, well, worrying about the worries of the world.I find that the more I focus on and worry about the things that can go wrong in my day to day activities, the less I am seeking the Lord. He took the burdens of the world upon himself to free us up for the joys of the next world. I am not as faithful to Him as I need be when I am worrying about stuff, especially stuff I have no control over.

Yesterday I spent some time with a friend who lives his life for the Lord in the work that he does. He doesn't focus on where the money is going to come from. The Lord provides, and does so with a sufficiency and in a manner that makes it clear it is His doing. And my friend is a better person for relying on Him, and does better in the work he is led to do as a result. Better at living in the will of the Lord, with the light burden of relying on Him only, not on self or on others.

One can spend one's life thinking following the Lord is the more difficult path and resisting doing so. Or one can embrace His will and His way and live more joyfully as a result. Because you know how it ends, and the end is the beginning of a blissful existence in the presence of He who created all.

So here's to shouldering the lesser burden, of trusting the rest to Jesus. And to coming to the realization of how much joy there can be in doing so.

January 26, 2010

My Education Experiment

Being back at work after a two year break, I am trying something different this semester at seminary. An on line course, which allows me the maximum flexibility as to when I do all the work.

I just started it, having completed one unit of nine for the course. I am not sure I like it. I do like i can set my own pace, but it is just not the same as being in the class room to hear a lecture. They try for interaction, but it is a little forced and artificial because we are all doing this at dirffering times and paces. Interaction that is basically text or email driven is harder to get deeper with. Attending a chapel service on line is not the same as being there in person, you cannot draw off the strength of the faith of others sitting in front of your laptop by yourself.

It is what I needed to do this semester, but it is a poor second to being on campus. It fills a need but creates a void. It may be a generational thing, I am a boomer, we tend to lag the upcoming generations in embracing on line experiences with the same receptivity. It may be we are missing out, but somehow, it is not as rich an experience for me.

Hey, I use Twitter, Facebook and Linked In, more than I lot of my generation does. But it is not the same.

I feel a little sorry for the generation that passes the tipping point and this becomes the primary means of communication. Maybe in the past the same was said about the telephone and television.

I do not know. I am probably a dinosaur.

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January 25, 2010

Lasting Value

I guess I am changing. I watched a lot of football yesterday, more than I have in quite some time. I used to watch a lot more, but I seemed to have tailed off in the past few years. And I must admit, I struggled to watch as much as I did (especially the second half of the Colts win, being a born and bred New Yorker, raised on the Namath Jets, it has been a long haul since Superbowl III). Even as interesting the Saints-Vikings game was, I struggled. A little sorry how much time I spent watching, but I wanted a break from school work so I took the time.

Tastes change, interests change. What was vitally important, totally absorbing of your time and attention, loses appeal. What I think of as the sprint things in life. An intense burst of speed, an accomplished goal, then a fade out. I guess the things that last are the ones that are meaningful. Friends, family, faith. Those are the things that stay with me, the things I cherish year in and out. Marathon things, with lots of stamina and perseverance. Things that take time, but that are worth the effort you pour into them. Things that will not go away and you will be glad they do not, because you need them as anchors.

I will watch the Superbowl in a few weeks, and will enjoy it while it lasts. But then, back to the race of life alongside the things I love.

January 23, 2010

The Lord's Will

In looking at my journal of an entry I posted on this day in 2007, I was struck by a thought I penned that day:

"...The Lord's will is not my concern, but fulfilling it is".

It was from reflecting on the choosing of Rebekah as Isaac's wife in Genesis 24. Specifically, it was triggered by Laban's and Bethuel's response to the servant of Abraham as he explained how God guided him to Rebekah at the well:

Then Laban and Bethuel replied, "The matter comes from the LORD; so we cannot speak to you bad or good".
Genesis 24:50 (NASB)

What I see now is that three years ago I affirmed to myself that I am to follow God, seek His will and let Him work out His purposes. How much time did I spend fighting His will and seeking to use my own ability to wrest the path of my life onto my own self constructed stage in the interim?. Oh, lots and lots. He who ignores his own warnings from his past are doomed to repeat them. And so I teach myself.

In Christ I have a peace, a assurance of eternal salvation that I cannot lose, no matter what transpires in the intervening time of my life until the day I stand before Him.

I am not concerned about the Lord's will, that is His to determine in His sovereignty.

But I am concerned in seeking it out and rushing to meet Him there.

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January 18, 2010

Path to Leadership

Today I begin a leadership study that I will be doing with several others at work, utilizing Handbook To Leadership. It is a 52 week study of leadership values in Scripture, 5 days a week. The type of study that you can tailor to the time you have for study and reflection, but one that you would definitely prosper from spending more, rather than less time. It is a great leadership guide for those of you looking for something easy to work with. The study I am embarking on is just part of the book, it is rich in biblical resources that help you study leadership and the character of leaders that is grounded in Scripture.
Make your ear attentive to wisdom,Incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding;
Proverbs 2:2-3 (NASB)

These are a few of the verses in today's reading, the first day of the study. The message is clear to me: leaders need to search continually. Search for wisdom and discernment. Leaders do not get to rest in this search, the job is never finished, the goal is never reached. But the journey can be so rich.

Those who look to you to lead will benefit greatly from your search, but it is you who will prosper the most, for you will have gained more wisdom and discernment if you seek the wisdom of the Lord. The Bible is a great manual on leadership if you just seek out the wisdom contained within, place their by God for our benefit and comfort. It does not matter whether you lead in business, government, or ministry. Leaders must lead, leaders must search, leaders must learn.

As you cannot rest in leadership, it is a good thing you can rest in Christ as your Lord. He will get you through your journey, take you where you need to go as a leader, if you let Him lead you.

January 15, 2010

A Good Week Draws to an End

I have enjoyed this week, certainly more than the week before. I have been busy, my schedule more full than it has been in a long time. Yet, it was also one of more reflective moments than I normally have. An interesting paradox, the busier I get, the more I pause to ponder life, faith and my role in the world. I mark the time, I march to the drumbeat, yet I seek to stop and smell the flowers. I strive for balance, yet I look to avoid compromise. I want for me, I want to give. I grab a hold of at the very moment I relax my grip and release.

Painfully apparent to me are my own shortcomings and imperfections, but I am happily ware that my faith in the Lord can carry me through. There have been moments of deep peace, there have been times when I could feel the tension and anxiety mounting up within me. And I can easily tell you which of those times I tried to take charge and in which I was letting Jesus lead me. The fact is I never seem to learn to let Him do it all the time, but maybe those moments of self indulgence are the ones that focus me back on what truly works, the truth of my faith.

I keep moving forward seeking a better balance, but with a divine definition of a successful day. He is the only answer for me, the only I ever needed.

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January 11, 2010


My Dad passed away last week and I just came home after returning back east for the funeral. It was a week touched with much sadness, much remembrance, much reflection. A week of tears mixed with some laughter, the recent pain mixed in with some of the past happiness. A week when I was touched by the loss of a loved one, but also touched by the love, encouragement and support shown by friends and family. Seeing and talking with cousins, sometimes for the first time in a decade. Seeing friends who traveled up from Texas to be at the funeral, spending more time traveling to and fro than the were able to spend on the ground, but who wanted to be there. It blew me away to see them as we entered the church. It hit me even harder yesterday to hear they used the travel time on the plans to share Christ with people. I am humbled to see how God moves in this world, using all for the glory of His name. Paul certainly laid that out clearly and correctly in Romans.

Standing at the grave site on a slight rise in the snow covered cemetery on a cold January morning. Listening to taps being played for a soldier who took part in D Day in 1944 as a very young man. The thought occurred to me that the winter wind will always blow more chill for the rest of my time on this earth, yet the warmth of His love will comfort me even more as it does. One of my earthly safety nets, my Dad, is gone. How I know even more today how I need to rely solely on the Lord to see me through this life to the next.

I am sure I will have my moments in the upcoming days, weeks and months. I am blessed to have a Dad like I did, for as long as I did. And I am more blessed to have a loving and gracious Lord to walk by my side as I struggle on through this life's journey.

January 2, 2010

Going Out

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.
Hebrews 11:8 (NASB)

Have you ever "gone out" in this way? ... Continually examine your attitude toward God to see if you are willing to "go out" in every area of your life, trusting in God entirely...Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do— He reveals to you who He is. Do you believe in a miracle-working God, and will you "go out" in complete surrender to Him until you are not surprised one iota by anything He does? Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him. Then think how unnecessary and disrespectful worry is! Let the attitude of your life be a continual willingness to "go out" in dependence upon God, and your life will have a sacred and inexpressible charm about it that is very satisfying to Jesus. You must learn to "go out" through your convictions, creeds, or experiences until you come to the point in your faith where there is nothing between yourself and God.

Oswald Chambers - My Utmost For His Highest: January 2 Devotional

Heading out into God's will without knowing your destination, do you have that kind of faith? I am not sure I always do. No, I am sure I do not, because I know I am a work in progress, and will be as long as I walk this earth. Taking a step being unsure of the next is one thing, taking a step unsure where your foot will land is even another. That is the kind of faith God calls us to, the kind of faith and trust that Jesus demonstrated with the Father when He walked the earth as a man.

God will not tell you His destination for you, but He will reveal it. And you will never start coming to the destination until you start going out on the journey. Start the journey today.

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January 1, 2010

Crisis of Faith

But before we choose to follow God’s will, a crisis must develop in our lives. This happens because we tend to be unresponsive to God’s gentler nudges. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him and we begin to debate. He then providentially produces a crisis where we have to decide— for or against. That moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives. If a crisis has come to you on any front, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.
Oswald Chambers - My Utmost For His Highest: January 1 Devotional

God's invitation for you to work with Him always leads you a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
Henry Blackaby- Point Five of the Seven Realities of Experiencing God from Experiencing God

It is now 2010, and one thing should be apparent, I am reading Chambers again after a several month hiatus. I had started the devotional in 2008 part way through the year, so after completing it, I stopped and waited to pick it up again from the beginning. So here I am. I guess you could expect to see him in posts from time to time going forward.

Another thing that should be apparent is that both the quotes have a common theme; faith in God and acting in His will involves a crisis of some sort within you. We went through Experiencing God at my church this past fall, and spent some time on this concept of crisis. I had not made the connection between these two works until I read Chambers again this morning. I am not saying Blackaby borrowed from Chambers, I would like to think two godly men can be moved in very similar ways to write about the Lord in a similar fashion. It happens in the Bible all the time.

Not everyone will like the term crisis in characterizing how they must take the step and place faith in God to act as He wills. Sounds like we are weak, we are doubting, we are fearful. Probably all are true and that is why we do not like the term. In our hearts we often want to trust in self, not God, we want to be in control. That we face a crisis in facing the truth within ourselves is an uncomfortable thought that does not fit well with our view of self, and doesn't speak well of our view of God.

Knowing my own weakness, I look forward to a crisis within me in 2010, for then I will know without a doubt the fact that God is moving in my life.

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