Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Everything can change...In an Instant

It was a cold rainy morning.  After watching the clouds roll past, I resolved  to myself that it was going to be a dreary day.  But then, in an instant, the sun broke through unexpectedly.  It was just for a few precious minutes.  It was enough time to remind me of the warmth of the sun and that circumstances can change quickly.

When we are on our job seeking journey,  there are times our circumstances appear insurmountable.   We aren't seeing the results we expected, but are doing the necessary activity.    The situation appears hopeless and not fruitful.

What do you think Moses thought as he and his people were being chased through the wilderness by Pharoah's soldiers?  He is cornered at  a dead end of the Red Sea with soldiers in hot pursuit.    At that moment things probably appeared hopeless and the struggle to escape was worthless.  Moses had followed God and led the Jews out, but where was God now?  Even the freed slaves were questioning Moses leadership and God's faithfulness.

"It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than it would that we die in with wilderness.  And Moses said to the people "Do not be afraid.  Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today.  For the Egyptians whom you see today, you will see again no more forever.  The lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace" Exodus 14:12-13

Moses proclaims victory before the circumstances changed.  Then in an instant…God moved…things changed.

The red sea parted allowing his people to escape and closed just as quickly upon the heads of his enemy.   Can you imagine what the Jews felt seeing God move like that?

We cannot always see God working, but he is working on our behalf.  Just like He has taken care of Moses and Jewish people in difficult circumstances, He will take care of You in all situations and provide for your needs.

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? "  Luke 12: 22-25

Are you trusting God with the big and small of your job search?    Are you following up with your networking contacts?  Taking advantage of the resources around you?  Spending the time you need to with God and on your job search?  Are you believing for victory over your current circumstances?

Be faithful, know that God is in control...In an instant, everything can change.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Does Your Schedule Need Help?

Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established - Proverbs 16:3

In this world there are so many choices to make each day… what to eat, what to wear, what to spend your time on…. it can be overwhelming to decide what we need to be doing.  How to use our time seems to be an area which plagues many of us in our modern day culture.  There are so many "good" things to do… programs for our kids, serving opportunities, events, fundraisers, sports, etc.   Our life can become overwhelmed with things which are good in moderation, but can cause an activity overdose if too much is happening.

Early in my marriage, we were committed 3 nights to ministry & all day Sunday on top of the fact that both of us worked.  I found myself in an overwhelmed state, with the pressure of my schedule consuming me and an open door for depression.  Though I was busy, I felt like I was watching someone else participate.    I was not ever fully present and was always charging to the next thing.  This put a lot of pressure on my marriage and my own personal well being. I was not in a place where I was serving out of the overflow of my heart, but I was serving out of obligation.  It was like giving God an offering of a cracked vessel with water seeping out of the bottom rather than a vessel full of water from the wellspring of life.

With my current journey of unemployment, I find myself again with a time challenge.  I have more flexibility with how to spend my time and so many options!  There are job fairs, networking groups, online events plus the "job" of identifying opportunities to target.  Add to the job search my desire to grow closer to God during this season and improve my spiritual, mental and physical health.   All of sudden the schedule looks ridiculous instead of flexible!  

I am learning to put "first things first", spending time seeking God during this season.   This sweet time has stilled my soul in a time which can be very difficult and full of doubt.  I need to continue to commit my works to God and surrender my plans.  He has been very faithful to bring great meetings, wonderful people and show Himself in unexpected ways.  If I was so focused on building MY schedule instead of HIS schedule, I would have missed so unexpected surprises along this journey.

My challenge to you is to commit your schedule to the Lord and allow Him to guide you.  Ask God to search your heart and your motives for the activities on your schedule and to remove anything unpleasing to Him.   He is the ultimate scheduler and has divinely planned opportunities for you to serve your family, workplace and others you may not yet know.   If we control our schedule and don't put Him in charge, you may miss that chance to convey Him to someone who is supposed to cross your path.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55:9

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My False Confession

Last night we were discussing the overcoming negative thoughts which cripple our walk with God.  Sometimes these thoughts are very overt, but other times they are subtle patterns that we don't even recognize.  As I was talking about the overt negative thoughts that I struggle with, I made a statement which I've made many times…. "I know that it will always be in my journey to constantly fight against the negative thought patterns".  My belief has been when I'm diligently serving the Lord, that the enemy will continue to attack my mind with these lies to keep me distracted from the work God has for me.

While I've combated the thoughts directly, I haven't addressed the root of the issue.  The belief that this will be always be a part of my walk with God is a negative pattern in itself.  By making that confession, I have falsely accepted that I will not have freedom from the negative thoughts which attack my mind.

How absurd is it that I don't have faith that God can give me freedom from this when He is the same God that has performed miracles since the world began!?   I am doubting the same God who...

- Freed the Israelites from the slavery of Pharoah (Exodus)  
- Kept Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego safe while in the fiery furnace (Daniel 1-3) 
- Rescued Daniel from the Lion's Den (Daniel 6) 
- Gave David the power to defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17)- Forgave King David of his iniquity and used him mightily (2 Samuel 24) 
- Gave His only precious Son for our redemption

In 2 Corinthians Paul addresses this unseen battle and gives us key guidance on how to handle this situation:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ  - 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

A couple of key thoughts…

Divine warfare has the power to destroy strongholds. Our God REIGNS, through His POWER and MIGHT, We too are more than conquerors.  Make that confession!   Don't allow the enemy to sneak in and cause us to accept less in this life than the freedom God wants for us.

We destroy arguments and every lofty option raised against the knowledge of God - For us to recognize our lofty opinions, we need to continually seek the knowledge of God through prayer and reading his word.  Ask for his wisdom and revelation and He will show you those strongholds and lies which are causing you to stumble.  (See Proverbs 8 for more on Wisdom)

Take every thought captive - After we recognize the lies of the enemy, find a spiritual truth to counter that lie.  I will take that truth into my own words and make it into an affirmation.   Many times I'll reference multiple versions of the scripture (NIV, The Message) to write the affirmation in a way which is meaningful to me.   When that lie comes to mind, renew your mind with that affirmation from scripture.   Sometimes I even say do this out loud and make that proclamation over myself.

Examples of affirmations

Lie Affirmation
"If they knew about X, they wouldn't accept me"I know there is no condemnation for him who is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)
"I'm not good enough"   I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
"Things are bad, it's ok to be depressed"       I am going to rejoice when I go through trials as you God are maturing me for your purpose   
I challenge you to write out the lies and find a truth to retrain your mind.  As you continue to renew your mind, you will find that the lies come less.  It takes time and is a process, but you must take those thoughts captive!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wisdom, A Lifetime Guarantee!

There aren't many things in life that are guaranteed, but one thing that God has promised that if we seek wisdom we will find it.   Many times we seek wisdom on something specific in a moment of crisis.  For example, you get assigned to a project in a business area that's new to you.  You scramble to get up to speed on that subject area while the project is launching.   While there will always be a chance that you'll need to scramble for knowledge when something pops up, it's those that constantly survey the landscape and seek knowledge which are the most wise.   

Many times we struggle to take the time away from the day to day to build our knowledge and contribute to wisdom.  This applies to both the secular and sacred!  We all know that to grow in God we need to know Him better, but it's so easy to let other things take over our time.  As a leader we also need to grow our knowledge and competency to ensure we are building into our staff and those we influence.  If we aren't growing in both the sacred and the secular, we will not be building into others out of the overflow of our heart.

The good news is, that wisdom is always available for those who diligently seek it and there is a never-ending supply.  So the challenge for today is to schedule time to seek wisdom.  Put it on the calendar, ask God to guide you in your journey to wisdom, stick to it and be a lifetime learner!

I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion.   The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.  Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate  I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength.By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just;   by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly. I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me."
Proverbs 8: 12-17

Read the entire chapter, Proverbs 8 at Bible Gateway