Monday, August 9, 2010

Faith. What is it?

I've been thinking of this word called faith and I decided to look it up and do some research.

The word faith comes from the greek. From peitho; persuasion, i.e. Credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself -- assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.

So faith is a word to describe being persuaded into belief. So how does one persuade one to faith? It comes from hearing something and being compelled to believe it by the authority of the presenter.

When I was a child, I had faith that whatever my parents told me was true. I had faith that they would not deceive me. That's the kind of faith our Father in heaven is looking for in us. That childlike faith, that credence.

But here's the I started getting older yet not necessarily wiser, I started putting my faith, my credence in the world. I started believing what the world was promising. Unending happiness, joy and long as I was buying or wanting the most updated thing. "I'll be happier with this new Iphone4g because the commercial tells me it's better then the previous 4 I phone versions. It's always better to have the best, the newest right?"

In return for our faith, God has His part in this as well. The greek word emunah means faithfulness. It has the meaning of firmness, steadfastness, fidelity. So with our faith, we are rewarded with faithfulness from the Father.

And on the other foot, even without faith, God still is emunah. He is steadfast and firm.

So is it bad that your faith fails you sometimes? Will God look down and say, "There goes Joe again...lost his faith...I guess I don't have to faithful anymore"? see it's synergistic. We believe and have faith and we see His faithfulness and His steadfast and firm faithfulness helps our faith.

Take that step today, no matter what your circumstance. Plug into God's faithfulness and He will help with your faith whether it be strong or crumbling right now. He's always there and He will always be there.

Thanks for letting me share.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dream on it's way...

Okay, so I haven't posted anything in awhile but I have been in a transition period.

For the longest time, I have had had this dual personality. I have believed in my heart that God has a plan for me, in fact I told a lot of people the same thing...but something buried inside my head refused to believe it. Sometimes if I were to read a promise I would add the few words..."except for Joe".

Life has been troublesome over the last few years that's true...but there has been a purpose. I believe it was God's way of telling me to fully rely on Him.

I have planning issues. I NEED to know how to go about things. I HAVE to put the pieces together so I can understand it. I have been working so hard on trying to figure things out that I've missed the point up to now.

I'm not supposed to figure it out. I either have to believe in my head AND heart that God's promises will come true or not. There no such thing as a lukewarm believer and I believe that's where I was at.

Revelation 3:16 says: " So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

It continues though, 19. "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
20. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
21. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

I believe that God gave me a dream of what He wants me to be. A Recovery Pastor. Leading men and women into a life full of grace: Eph 3: 19-21 "and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
21. to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

And though I don't know how He's going to accomplish this...because sometimes all I can see is the impossible, I know He can do it today. Matthew 19:26 ASV
And Jesus looking upon [them] said to them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. I am thankful for the fact that He has readied me to do this and I am excited about the plans He has for me.

Thanks for letting me share.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Changing from "have to" to "get to"

So it's been four days into my re-commitment and something has changed already. To be honest, I really thought I would go through the "have to's" for awhile in order to develop this habit. The weird thing is now I'm already at the the "get to's". I can't wait to start up my computer and go to my Bible reading plan. I'm anxious (in a good way) to see what the Lord has to say to me today.

Like I said, a new chapter started and I can't wait to see it develop. Praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What do I do when I can't hear God?

Over the past few months, I have had this question. So many things have occurred that I can't even wrap my mind around it. And where has it gotten a point of fear. Fear of the unknown.
You see over the past 13 years or so, I've always had fear. I'm a worrier. And although it doesn't always make an outward appearance it is always there...lying in cover until something new happens and it gets uncovered.
Most of the time I'm capable of covering it back up again or at least to put it to rest by serving in ministry of some sort. Helping others...service. It always gets me out of my head.
But lately, I am worried that I can't hear God talk to me and I can't figure out why.
I feel that my prayers are going up to the sky and nobody hears them.

Then it comes to me...and it's a dumb thing on my part. I wonder why God isn't talking to me and it always boils down to these two things.
1) I'm having a conversation with myself. I'm not taking time to listen. I shoot up my prayer and then move on to whatever I was doing. No chance for God to even provoke a thought because I've already directed my attention to something else. TV, conversation, Facebook, Radio..whatever. It seems that I've become addicted to "white noise". That I almost need static running in my head in order to survive. In case this is you...this is wrong. We need to make room in our head for God to direct. It's a great tool of the enemy to keep us stuck in "busyness". This time he has done it to me. My next question is Why do I let Satan do that...well that's a whole other blog.
2) I'm not spending anytime in the Word of God. I have all sort of tools that I can use, should I choose to and when I get out of the habit of using them...I lose them. I have Bibles, Commentaries, Dictionaries, Online programs, email newsletters...all of it. But I don't use them. I may skim over the email newsletter from Os. I may glance at my Bible reading plan in order to just check off the day...but I'm not really soaking in the word of God, I'm more wading in it.

The funny (funny strange, not funny haha) is that when I'm using all the tools...wait for it...God does speak to me. He does relieve my fear and worry, He does restore my serenity and He does work in my life.
Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

So my re-commitment is to begin (yet again) to utilize these tools. To follow the suggestion of, Psalm 62:5-8 NLT
"5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. 6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. 7 My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. 8 O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge."

Leave a comment if this helps you or if you have any other suggestions to help us all hear God speak to us.

Thanks for letting me share.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I will be praying for you.

Really? or is this just some psuedo Christian term to give people to false hope that, yes, there is someone praying and interceding on their behalf?

How many times have you heard that phrase? More than a dozen? Do you think that everyone that makes this promise is actually adding you to a list of their prayers? It's a shame, but I'm inclined to think that we as humans are so far into our needs that we're lucky if we pray for one specific person just once.

Here's the thing. Life happens, things change, news evolves, needs change, wants change...can I really sit in peace knowing that someone is praying for me on a daily basis - even with all the other things that are happening in this world? Shame on you if you're one of those people that tells people you're praying for them and don't.

How many times have you heard if given an option that someone will say, I don't know, I'll pray about it? Are they....or is that just a delay in having to answer.

Now I'm not bashing praying, I believe it is our life-line here on Earth, but what I don't like is people telling me they're praying for me and knowing that they're really not.

I'm human...I will say I'll be praying for you...and here's what happens. Life...I forget...I don't always end up doing so; so my habit now is that I will pray for that person at least once, right there, right now. My forgetter works I need to adapt.

Life on this planet is hard enough without having to decipher who your real friends are. Who the people are that really care about you...who is willing to pick up a telephone versus a text or Facebook/Tweet message. I'm really tired trying to figure it all out. Aren't you? If i haven't been as good as a friend as I make myself out to be, please tell me...I truly want to know. NO BS here. And for Pete's Sake, if you tell someone you're praying for them...DO IT! If you're not going to, then don't say you are.

Thanks for letting me share.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Steps to destruction....

So I run into this a lot with people that are struggling from hurts, hang-ups and habits. Normally though, I don't get told until after someone has gone out and relapsed or back slidden into old habits.

The truth is there is a process for those of us that have addictions...there are steps that we have to take in order to relapse. Here's an example...I'm an alcoholic...period. If I'm going to go out and relapse, for whatever reason, there are steps that need to be taken in order to get me there. If I can stop myself at any one of these steps, my odds of relapsing are significantly less.

1) I have to have the thought that I want a drink. (From here I have two options...take the next step towards relapse or turn from the idea...maybe call my sponsor?)

2) I have to travel somewhere in order to get that drink. (Again...two options...continue on my quest for relapse or turn from it. Go to a meeting, go to a park, beach or other calm serene place instead)

3) I have to physically pick up that drink. Either from a liquor store at a bar...I still need to pick it up. (Two options...pick it up or leave it there)

4) Finally bring it to my lips and sip it. Let's face it...from here it's too late do anything but it can get worse.

As an alcoholic, if I get away with the first drink...the second and third are easy. If I'm able to wash down the guilt and shame of the first drink (kind of like I did with my feelings before) the continuation of this process shortens. You see from here I can say to myself that it wasn't all that bad. It was easy. And I no longer think of the steps it takes to relapse (since I already did) now i get to think about the steps to hide it. To get away with it... and before I know it. I'm back in the swing of my past and to be honest..I just don't care anymore for those years of sobriety I put together. Jack and Bud are my friends...and just like before...they don't judge me.

The same goes for any addiction...let's look at a pornography addiction:
1) I open my computer with the thought that I want to look at porn. (two options...flee or continue)
2) I look at that spam email that says something provocative (flee or continue)
3) I go to the website (flee or continue)
4) I look at one provocative picture/video (Blam...hours have passed and I'm fully engulfed)

Look at this way: Let's say you don't have any fuel in your car...the light is on and probably has been for awhile. You want to go to Vegas...As your driving down the freeway before you hit the 15, there are offramps with gas stations about every mile. Now would you get out of the fastlane to get gas for you car or would you continue to the long stretch of road where you know there's now way off?

In a previous post I mentioned that God gives a way out along every step of the way. It's our choice to take it or wait for the next one. But sooner or later, God will let you go to your destination without any input and let you learn the lesson on your own. This is painful, but He does it to teach us to trust Him. Do you trust Him? Before you relapse (next time or your first) are willing and ready to follow Him through the escape hatch...or are you willing to go through the pain?
He'll be there at the end...but it's a long way back.

Thanks for letting me share.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pray this!

My Lord God
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following
your will does not mean
that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that my desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire
in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.
- Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

Friday, January 22, 2010

How does telling someone about the dark side of me help get rid of them?

Part of working a recovery program is the learned ability to be completely honest.  The fourth principle in Celebrate Recovery states, " Openly examine and confess my faults to God, to myself, and another person whom I trust."

While I have worked this principle many times, it is amazing to me how hard it can be...even after lots of practice.

To openly examine my faults is take this thing called a Moral inventory.  In this inventory I am expected to recall all the good and bad of my life thus far.  People I've hurt, people that have hurt me, things I've done that I'm not so proud of and things I've done that I am proud for.  It's an arduous process....but as I've traveled my road to recovery I realize the reason for it.

I'm an expert at forgetter works overtime.  I can easily get myself to cover over things I've done and forget about them.  I can easily say, "it doesn't matter" when someone hurts me and forget about it...and so on.  But here's the thing - I don't really forget about them...I just bury them so I can't see them anymore.  Their not glaring in front of my face, but they are eating away at my insides.  Not good.

So to get these things out on paper and list them...I'm  un-burying those hurts, guilt and shame.  I'm getting them out of my insides...a hurt, hang-up, habit biopsy.  I'm getting them out on paper so I can see them again and deal with a healthy way...not just overworking my forgetter.,

But then the principle requires me to admit them to someone I trust, myself and God.  I was okay with the writing them down, and essentially admitting them to myself,...I was even ok with the admitting them to God (He knows about them anyhow)...but someone I trust?  I don't think I trust anyone THAT much.
So my first inclination was to admit the small stuff...maybe even a few of the big things...but not everything...bad mistake.  By leaving those big secrets inside...they became more ravenous...I was constantly reliving them...knowing that I needed to tell someone, but someone?

So I did it again...this time releasing everything...scary, yes...worth it, yes.  To come clean from all those things that had been eating at me for years was the best medicine.  I was able to figure out that I'm not alone...that someone understood, that someone may even share the same struggle.  I made a connection and through that connection I got closer to God.  Wow...who woulda thunk.

If someone reviews the 12 steps of AA, it has to be recognized that none of the steps begin with I.  They all begin with we.  We were meant to help each other and pray for other and confess our sins to one another.  Look at James 5:16, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16, NIV)
God has the answer...He told us what to do right here.

So my answer to the question, "How does telling someone about the dark side of me help get rid of them?"
It gets it out of our head
It helps us make a connection and learn trust
God tells us to.

Thanks for letting me share.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Why do we try to close the door on God?

Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

This is a pretty "duh" statement if you're a believer in Jesus why is it so easy for us to forget.  If you had a childhood like mine you might have run up against this scenario.

You're at a friends house always address the parents as Mr. and Mrs whatever.  You use your best manners that were taught at home.  Saying Please or No thank you.  Your kind, calm and the report that gets back to your parents?  Little Joey is such a pleasure to have at our house.

And your parents are looking at you and wondering:  Are they talking about the same kid? The same kid that won't eat his broccoli?... the same kid who begrudgingly maybe does his chores?  The same kid whose mouth is wicked when dealing with his brothers and sisters?

Do you think that's what God sees with us now?  In His house, in front of Christian friends, we look spiritual...we talk the talk...we may even walk the walk....proud of what good Christians we are.  But when we get home we're different.  We don't talk to God as we should.  We're stuck in our hurts, hang-ups and habits and acting out in our behaviors.  We do things behind closed doors when we're alone differently then we do when we think people are watching.  But why?  Why is it so easy for us to backslide, to sin, to act out, to treat each other badly when we think God's not watching?  Do we really believe that if we close our door (mentally or physically) that god stops watching?  

It's obvious that He doesn' how do we unreasonably reason with ourselves that He does?  So here's the thing.  God doesn't stop watching and to stay in constant contact with Him we have to do a few things:
1) Pray continuously...not over and over...just talk to Him.  I like the two minute to God the first two minutes you do anything...first two minutes of waking...first two minutes in the car....first two minutes at get the idea.
2) if we are constantly talking to God we figure out a few things:  He doesn't stop watching but He cares what we're going through and He will help.  He doesn't ignore our temptation but gives us an out.  He loves us even though we may try to close the door on Him. He shows us grace when we come back in repentance and loves us no less.

Our God is a great god. Talk to Him...Get to know Him...Stop closing the door on Him.  Remember when we feel far from is us, not Him, who moved.

Thanks for letting me share.