“I Know”

It is a challenge trying to be a surrogate dad!  I have 8 grandchildren.  I love all of them but two of the younger boys experienced the death of their father about 4 years so they need more out of me as a father figure than the rest.  One, Izac, is 10 and the other (Elijah – ‘Lij’) is 4 years old.  Lij is full of energy.  While he has a very good heart, he sometimes has a hard time remembering to be ‘good’.  Izac has been in the stage where he talks like a sophomore in High School or college when you try to tell him something.  Actually, adults are still thinking that way even if they don’t say it.  He has down those already famous words, “I know” no matter what the issue may be!  I forget that I still think and say those words.  And then I get a bit frustrated when I’m trying to teach him something and he says those notorious words!  I wonder if I subconsciously do that same thing to God??

Proverbs 11:14 (NKJV) Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.  Hum!  God is saying to us there is safety in seeking to get sufficient counsel.  What might that be saying to us about the kind of God we serve?  One thing it says to me is He has chosen the counsel of others to keep us safe.  I assume that means safe in business deals, maintaining our health, learning skills in life and, yes, safe from all the heresies and skewed teaching floating around these day.

But why did He design us to NEED counsel from others?  After all, when we already ‘know it’, we are just wasting our time studying and asking others.  Or, did He design us to be incomplete in ourselves and need others for a strategic reason–to make us complete when we collaborate with others.  Each person has a different perspective and truth frequently lies between the two extreme views.   It is like each of us are a part of a big puzzle.  We need as many pieces we can get in order to get a better grasp of the true picture.

I guess you can say, the very willingness to seek and accept advice demonstrates wisdom.  While it is true, too much advice or over-analysis can hinder the planning process, more advice is usually better than less.  This is a reminder that humility is a sign of wisdom.  And, that it is wise to seek advice from as broad of base as is practical, including those who see things differently than me or even those I falsely judge as being “inferior” to me.

Why has it taken me so long to even get to kindergarten in this ‘needing others’ thing!  I find I’m still more like my 10-year-old grandson than my age shows.  Sadly, I am still silently thinking it, if not saying it in some veneered fashion, “I know”—when I don’t know it all!!!  Gratefully, the Holy Spirit has finally cracked my nut enough so now I have come to the place I am seeking to see through other people’s eyes—more often than in the past.

I hope you are farther down this path of needing the counsel of others than I am.

How Can I Know God Better?

Raised in Sunday School and church I began reading through the Bible each year.  I remember checking the little square boxes as I completed the chapters.  Later I added intermittent journaling of interesting thoughts I read.  I found such satisfaction with God practicing this habit it became my spiritual security blanket. To be candid, it was so comforting I was afraid if I ever stopped doing it I would fall spiritually as other preachers had done.

In my time with God about 15 years ago, a few of David’s words captured my attention.  Psalm 9:10 (NLT) Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you.  I intuitively sensed God had an important truth here for me.  It was the words those who know your name trust in you… that gripped me.  I trusted God but not as much as I would like.  I was confused because it didn’t appear to say how to trust more.  Then it dawned on me, the ‘how to’ was in that verse!  My investment to knowing God more fully would result in greater trust.  He was inviting me to take initiative to seek to more about who He was; not just His title, gifts or what He said or did.  Wow!!  My hunger to know God more personally became greater than my fear of falling away from Him.  I took the leap, stopped my routine Bible reading and obeyed His gentle whisper to trust Him to keep me close to Him.

I found this principle to be true.  If I want more of God I must give Him more of me. That was a bargain so I gladly gave Him more of me.  I felt an urgency to discover what a passage was telling me about who God is; His character, values, ways and whatever else He might reveal. These revelations then humbled me, forcing me to acknowledge my total depravity and what I needed to do in response to these findings.  To my delight and amazement, I discovered my investment resulted in a deeper love for God and His Word—greater than I could have imagined.  It was almost like I was born again!!

A Biblical example of this principle was when God told Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28 to …subdue [the earth]; and have dominion over [it].  He didn’t just give them dominion.  They had to first invest personal initiative and struggle to subdue it but it was worth it.  Then they had to maintain dominion over it.  A similar example is when He engaged the Hebrews in the process of learning to know God to truly be God Almighty.  Exodus 10:1-2 (ESV) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.”   Fascinating!  Through passage like these I could see why I’ve had to truly invest myself in seeking.

My habitually reading of the Bible had been vital!   It had taught me the balancing essentials that I needed to reduce my chances of misinterpreting what I read.  However, I had only skimmed the surface issues of what He said and did, totally missing His ways, values, or character.  Life-change has continued to come as I spend time prayerfully meditating on His Word.  His Spirit frequently responds by revealing more of who God is and His heart, not just what He did/does or doesn’t do.  My trust level, joy, peace and personal confidence are all significantly stronger today.  So is my passion for Him and His Word.  My future blogs will consist of more of my discoveries when reflecting on His Word.

When God Disappoints You

Growing up my dad planted churches.   Bruised by what people said and did to my parents I vowed many times I would never be a preacher.  That set my expectations about my future.  When I intuitively sensed God call me to be a minister we had a serious wrestling match!!  He was forcing me to ignore my past hurts and go back into the fire when my desire was to be a business executive.

Through that experience I was able to identify with Cain’s feelings in his encounter with God in Genesis 4.  Much debate has transpired about why God ‘rejected’ Cain’s offering.  Many believe it was because it wasn’t a ‘blood sacrifice’.   After assuming that concept for decades, it finally dawned on me God did not confront Cain about his “offering”.   God confronted Cain about how he responded when God chose not to smile on his offering.  I suspect my confrontation with God was of a similar nature!  I’m confident everyone has had ‘run ins’ with God when He messed with their plans.

God asked Cain,

Gen. 4:6 (NKJV) “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?”

Did you catch that? God did not ask why Cain brought a grain offer, His asked him about what was going on within him.  I suspect God’s rejection of Cain’s offering was more of a ‘set up’ to help Cain see his own self-centeredness and pride because that is what quickly came to the surface.  Cain’s decision at this point would determine the path his future would take.  Would Cain humble himself and seek God’s wisdom and approval or would he let his bruised ego drive him from God?

God put it this way,

Genesis 4:7 (NLT) “You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Think of this!  One single decision would determine his future.  That was exactly what I agonized over years ago and actually many times since then.  Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler boiled down to the same issue.  (Mt. 19: 16-22)

About five years ago, Connie and I had retirement on our minds when God walked in on our expectations with these words, ‘Are you saying you won’t ___’ (what He had placed before me).  I had never before experienced the intensity of agony I experienced in this wrestling match with God!  Because of what I had learned when God called me into ministry, I chose to submit to God’s choice for our future.  Through that I have discovered greater trust in God’s Sovereignty.

If you can identify with encounters when God’s plans collide with your plans, consider the negative consequences of Cain’s response to God sovereign choice for him.   If you have made choices to do things your way instead of God’s, please know that as long as you are breathing it is in your best eternal interest to humbly turn around (“repent”) and go back to that moment of decision; deny your pride and this time commit to choosing to do whatever God orchestrates for you to do from that day forward.  You will never regret it!

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The Below Article is the same one that was published in the Minister’s update:

 

When I first entereministry one of the staff pastors I worked with quoted an old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt.”  I have found that to be true in many situations, but especially with people.  When a person becomes familiar with a place or object, it may not always breed contempt but more often than not it breeds ‘blindness’—we see and/or hear but ignore the person or whatever the situation might be. What were nice decorations in your home lose their appeal after several months. Perhaps that is why God created seasons.  Whatever the case, it happens and it has stuck in my mind since I first heard that phrase.

In that light, I’ve been counseled a couple times that sending out our Updates weekly tend to make them so routine people may see them in their email box, maybe even open them but not really read them.  A few guys thought a better solution might be to change the ‘publishing’ of our Updates to monthly (extra when something really significant needs to be communicated) and begin a blog in which to share my thoughts.  I’ve never read a blog much less written one but I want to keep changing if it will help me better communicate.