Wednesday, October 3, 2018

My Way vs God's Way

Recently, in a clinical session an image came alive.  Since then, this image has continued to communicate very deeply with me to explain so many struggles I see in most of my clients lives, my loved one's lives, and in areas or circumstances in my own life.  I would like to share it with you.

Remember your favorite playground from childhood?  There were so many fun places to play.  One favorite for most children is, the slide.  And oh, how slides have gotten more exciting right?!  Slides now are child safe, curly, and held by a massive pile of wood chips or bouncy mats.  Kids now have it very nice.  Think back to that time, childhood.  Maybe even a beautiful fall day, running through the cool breeze and sunshine, wearing your favorite sweatshirt, swinging, sliding, and going round and round on the merry-go-round and then, how children would congregate at the slide.  Everyone wanted to go again, and again, and again.  Some children would just naturally run to the stairs, climb, slide, and back to the stairs as fast as they could for another go!  Other children would naturally run to the bottum of the slide and attempt to climb up the actual slide-slipping, grasping, getting a couple feet, slipping, grasping harder, getting slidden into and then flying down to the bottum (and maybe onto the ground), with the current slider.  Laughing, wrestling, or maybe even arguing about who did it wrong or who hurt who.

Typically, kids as a group will either join the "slide-climber" or they'll join the "stair-climber" because cooperation and group-think make social time much easier, serene, and more enjoyable.  Order.  Eventually, we all learn that taking the stairs is just easier and more safe. 

Of course there's always that mom who would re-direct that kid who just would not stop climbing the slide backwards no matter how many times he/she was knocked down by a slider.  That's the kid who is a true creative!  Maybe even a true rebel, at heart.  However, maybe that is the child who has learned that there are no rules because mom and dad cannot be trusted, do not care, are distracted, or do not approve of anything I do anyway.  So rules (made by parents and thus adults), become irrelevant and the new rule that can be trusted is, "I can trust in me.  I wont let me down."  But there's that mom who cannot sit back and watch the slide climbing and steps in to redirect. She has accepted that truth that the stairs are clearly easier and more safe, plus IT'S THE RULE!  WE MUST KEEP THE RULES!  Right? 

The belief of the broken child above is the base belief that exists in those who struggle to submit to life's rules.  Consequently, a person with this belief regularly experiences being up against an oppressor, blocked by a wall, opposed by loved ones, kept out of their dreams and just shy of a goal/s.  See, there are hidden or dynamic rules that play out between humans.  There is not even a requirement of actual relationship for these rules to apply.  They apply small scale in such interactions as with a retail clerk or behaviors out in public, medium scale as with co-workers or in employment relations, and large scale in our homes between spouses, parents and children. The rules seem to be universal, innate, divine, and unshakable.  They are bound to the way we want to see the world operate: with order, not chaos. 

In order for order to exist, people must function within a particular continuum of behaviors, cognitions, emotions, perceptions, choices, etc.  This does not mean they do not experience the aforementioned characteristics that land outside the particular continuum.  But in order to keep order in every area of their life they withhold their extremes of self and funnel them into other more positive activities or expressions.  A great sublimation, as Freud would say!  To put this thought into image, look to the childhood slide again.  Do you see it in your mind?  Where are you standing? Are you standing away from it but looking at it?  Are you standing at the bottum or climbing from the bottum?  Are you standing at the stairs or climbing the stairs?

Rule keepers tend to go to the stairs every time without error.  They may consider the bottom but will thwart themselves from such trouble-making curiosities in order to not make waves.  This is the safer option of the two as order is created and maintained, but individuation is smothered with unquestioned or little-questioned rule keeping.  Rebels or those who heavily rely on themselves tend to go to the bottom of the slide every time or most of the time because no one is going to tell me what is right for me!  And no one is going to control me, no matter what!  The self and its evaluation of faithfulness to its natural inclinations is valued over relationship with others.  

Where did you see yourself in relation to the slide?  This may be your innate or root self speaking to you about your own tendency towards being a rule follower or a rule breaker.  Do you think that never deviating from the stairs, no matter what comes is orderly?  Most likely this would create disorder or chaos in the face of a need for individual expression, crisis, loss, disaster, or change.  To counter that thought, do you think that always taking the bottom of the slide to climb up is honoring yourself or being true to yourself??  To the contrary, it will become imprisonment to all the demands within yourself and all the emotions, thoughts, and impulses a person can and when fed, will experience. 

Again, some of us learned early that the rules were not fair, did not make sense, and maybe even caused us harm.  And so to counter that harm, rules (with many being societal, relational, spiritual, and unspoken but expected), became something to be challenged, defied, resisted, and ignored.  Sadly, this consequently causes blindness over time.  See, the consequences of consistently ignoring or defying these types of "rules" is that of growing and burgeoning emotional pain.  Having used denial to counter the anxiety over defying or breaking these "rules" we then become blind to the "hows" and "whys" of our negative internal condition. We forgot to follow ourselves, watch ourselves because we told ourselves what we were doing was right!!  Now, we may have a tendency towards anger, selfishness, self-sabotage, isolation, blame, hardness, and being emotionally unavailable.  

Ask yourself:  Have I never realized that its more work to climb the slide from the bottum??
Ask yourself:  Have I never realized that I exist too and I can climb the ladder my way and                                          sometimes a different way?

Its all about the combination of heart condition and disciplined actions.  In-other-words, order is supremely more important than chaos, but it takes a wee bit of chaos to make order sweet!!  A person must make sure that they are an individual in their world, but remember individuality is not defined by rebellion or resistance or even defying order.  In fact, individuality is most often found when willingly submitting to a higher power, service to others, a shared value system, virtue and its behavioral framers, sacrificial love, and universal human values.  Individual expression is healthy chaos to totalitarian order.  But individual expression is not destructive to the self or others in any way.  It will build you, your personality, your relationships, and your ability to function peacefully in your world.  There is a strongly submissive element--an acceptance of what "works" but, there is also freedom to make what "works" my own. 

So, step out from the place you have been stuck in.  Step out and consider the other option.  What scares you about making that choice?  Confront those fears with Gods love and His ability to protect, provide, and care for all your needs.  Where have you been unwilling to obey God?  Most likely in the things/ways hidden or more difficult for others to see or talk to you about.  But you know!  And that is what counts.  Break free from ambivalence and start the process of growing your motivation to obey your higher power and do what's been nagging your heart!!  God will meet you there.  He has been patiently waiting for this moment.

"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).


Monday, May 21, 2018

Hello again!

Are you struggling with physical symptoms such as digestive upset, food intolerances, unstable moods, low energy, sleep disruption, lethargy, skin/hair/nails issues, allergies, imbalances?  Has your mental health become depressed, anxious, or unregulated?  Do you just want to feel better again but dont want to take a handful of pills???

Give Rachel a call at Shekinah Wellness!  Rachel provides holistic health services including: 
  • comprehensive lab testing 
  • bionetic body stress scan
  • health recovery plans
  • laser therapy
  • natural remedies, supplements, nutrition and other methods
  • a personalized nutritional plan to meet your specific needs 
  • spiritual and emotional guidance.

Give Rachel a call today at 763-923-8112 or check her out on the web at

"Applying Biblical Principles to Health and Healing"

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Banana Duck

Are you stuck in a rut of cynicism, negativity, or just burdened down with worries or concerns?

Did you know that our Heavenly Father has a sense of humor?  He does.  Let me tell you a story.  Yesterday began as every other day.  The alarm, uuuugh, shower, calling out kid names to keep them on task, racing around to get ready for work, driving one to school, coming back to finish running around, fixing lunches and having a cup of coffee.  Well my last two kids and myself finally made it to the truck to be off for the day.  My daughter says, "Mom! There's a duck in a tree!"  Of course, Im like, whaaa?  "Theres a duck in a tree!"  Shes pointing.  "It's up there Mom!  Its over the neighbors house!"  I tried but I could not spy it.  The trees are very tall, towering many feet over the house.  I got out of the truck and looked up and there I saw it!  It was a mallard literally sitting up in the top of a tree, out on a branch, looking right at us!  It was like he was smiling at us.  He had to have been becaue it was so crazy!  We all broke out laughing!  My son was eating a banana and so he blurts out, "Its a banana duck!"  Then we laughed more.  Well, things got serious next because we began our daily prayer on the way to school.  Everyone takes a turn.  As I listened to my children pray I wondered, what do I need to pray for today?  The Holy Spirit whispered, "Look.  Im in charge of that duck.  I put him there to show you that even I have a sense of humor.  Dont get so caught up in seriousness and schedules and human functioning that you cannot see the humor around you and experience joy!  Thank Me for the banana duck!"  And so,  when it was my turn to pray I gave thanks for the banana duck and Gods great sense of weirdness and humor and His will that our hearts experience laughter and joy and not get bogged down in struggles.

Struggles are real and the pain they produce is also real, but Gods greatness and His world is so awesome and His people so special there has to be something you can find today that can bring even a twinkle of joy into your heart!  It will be a choice you make to see God in the midst of your pain, your struggle, your testing.  Hes there friend!  Reach out to Him.

Proverbs 16:15 "When the king smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain" (NLT).   

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Still Fighting???

Every human experiences emotional pain.  The awareness of this pain in each individual exists on a spectrum from total awareness to no awareness.  Very few exist on the poles.  Those that do are very sick and often in the news for some tradegy they caused or were a part of.  Most of us exist somewhere in between.  There is no perfect center of awareness and acceptance and even if there were we would not know we had arrived there and would not exist there very long.  Humans are incapable of perfect peace.  Dont be fooled, even the most balanced person experiences emotional pain in the quiet of their heart and mind.  Lonlieness, fear, doubts, sadness, demandingness; no one escapes the humble condition of imperfection.  The term "emotional pain" is my terminology.  It has been termed psychological pain, mental pain, algopsychalia, psychalgia, psychic pain, social pain, spiritual pain, or just suffering by secular psychologists, scientists, and philosophers.  Emotional pain is experienced inside of and outside of relationships, inside the self, between us and God.  Emotional pain is also experienced through physical manifestations such as heaviness in the torso, pressure or tension in the head/skull, tension in the neck, back, and shoulders, unexplainable pains in the body, tightness in the chest, weakness, excessive energy, excessive drowsiness, etc.  It is realized to some as intense discomfort, often a need to relax, a need for a vacation, a desire to drink or have sex to relax.  Some people have a growing compulsion to buy things, sleep too much, escape into television or video games, masturbate, throw parties and entertain, stay up late, exercise too long, eat too little or too much.  

All of these things listed above (in moderation) are just activities with no intrinsically evil properties.  The problem enters when we are not aware enough or too much aware of our emotional pain and use these activites to deny, resist, fight, feed, or run away from the state of our internal self.  Instead of staying with or sitting down in the pain to feel it (acceptance), identify it, put it beside me so that its with me, and then keep moving forward in Gods healing power, we may instead use self defeating and faith killing tactics to deal with/cope with our emotional pain.    

Those that exist on the "not aware to some extent" or "denial using" side of the spectrum tend to fake it, wear masks, be superficial, have poor self-care, are constantly busy, may be very productive, may be very effective at completing tasks, maybe well organized or even seem controling to their environment or tasks. They are good at managing being distracted, using denial, resisting the pull of their instincts, fighting the body's demands for unmet needs, running away from any emotionally charged situation, using achievement/completing tasks to mask intimacy, keeping rules etc.  However, in relationship with a person on this end of the spectrum you may experience an inability to connect, poor communication skills, pride that inhibits connection, hiddenness, denial of reality in some form, control, demandingness, high expectations or unrealistic expectations, discomfort with intimacy as it is too vulnerable to emotional pain, selfishness through the demandingness to meet their expectations and needs, etc.  There are so many attributes I cannot nearly name them all.

Those that exist on the "too aware of my emotional pain" side of the spectrum tend to be drama queens/kings, emotionally controlling (their emotional states control situations), self-obsessed, inwardly focused, victimized by everyone and everything, entitled to retribution/pay-back/revenge/hate when "wronged", immature, unforgiving, pleasure seekers to extremes or identifiable levels, lacking in faith or tend to abandon faith in times of struggle, passionate, easily distracted or quickly obsessed, etc.  Again, there are many characteristics and positive ones as well but I gave mainly perceived negative characteristics as thats how people often identify a place of struggle. 

There is most definately a third type that exists and that is the person who mixes the two extremes: over identifying with emotional pain and numbing out all emotional pain.  This is often those therapists and psychologists identify as those having a personality disorder.  A personality disorder is not a pathology that a person is born with but instead a mixture of social construction, biological tendencies, and personal psychological patterns of processing information with a great emphasis on social construction.  The mixing person may become very confusing for loved ones but also very confusing for themselves due to their very oppositional perspectives and demands.  A deeper look into attachment may be needed in these cases.  Often people struggling in this category are so self-protective that they become their nurturer and their own protector.  Its as if they take on the role of the mother and father they did not have or did not relationally have.  Just an FYI...personality disorders can and do exist on both sides of the continuum as well, not just when the sides are mixed togethor.  One more FYI...I think its common for most people to mix between the two sides of the continuum also just in a much less extreme presentation and with much higher ability to function in life.

I bring up a good point in "self-protection".  All of the above types presented in a person who exists on the continuum outside the safe zone of behavior have learned that they have to protect themselves and that being vulnerable is the most threatening thing there is to the safety of their identity or sense of self.  Even when a person feeds their feelings, they are now not really feeling their true feelings.  Their feelings become so intense that they are distorted even distorting the mind, the thinking and perceiving, then triggering physical manifestations that thus re-trigger the emotions to an even higher level state of distortion.  Sadly, this escalation cycle can and often does go quite high even for average folks leaving people in a state of panic, depression, intense anxiety, phobic, raging, whatever.

I believe, this is one of the most important topics of our time: The acceptance of a constant state of human emotional pain (constantly varying in intensity).  The fighting of this state of human emotional pain and the desire to eradicate all pain has actually become social movements!  It is folly.  It is delusional and grandiose to attempt to eradicate pain.  This attempt, whether on a large scale or an individual scale only breeds more pain!

When we are raw, that is when we feel our sense of smallness and can see that the tidalwave of pain will destroy us if there is NOT a power greater than ourselves!!  It is in these moments we have the will to believe there's a God, there must be a God!!  And if we begin to have a mustard seed of faith to believe there is a God we may begin to tempt ourselves to think that He may be able to help me, no, He may be able to bring me to sanity!!!  It is NOT in our strength and proud moments, our self-reliance, our "I got this!" attitudes that we can connect with God!  It is when we are nearest to our powerlessness, brokenness, smallness, humility, our neediness that we can all of the sudden imagine there is a God that may love me AND may be able to and may WANT to reach down into this deep pit of emotional pain Im in and get me out!  And I, may want Him too!

Check out this sermon from Constance E Free Church!  A great Biblical perspective on this topic.   

Constance Evangelical Free Church: Saved by the Blood

Below is an emotional pain map that I developed to give this discussion visual learning for us creative types!  ;)

Emotional Pain Map PDF

Psalm 131:2, "Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me" (NKJV).

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Messyness of the Journey

Today I am reflecting on the journey of recovery that God has had me on.  This time I am reflecting from the vantage point of pride.  I was driving and God began to show me how pride had taken possession of a gift that He had gave me and that I have used to serve Him but in all actuality I was using this gift to serve myself.  Then God backed me up further in the timeline of my life.  He rewound the tape of my life to memories as a child when I had used gifts, talents, attributes, characteristics in such a way as to receive attention and therefore love.  And how all along I told myself that my intentions and motivations were so innocent but in reality my motivations were for the self-life, pride.  I saw in fast forward my journey up to the present, but this time what I saw had a different feeling, a different sense attached to it.  Before when I would reflect I would feel a great sense of pride in what God had done in my life up to now.  I think in some self-loving way I had taken credit for the mercies God has shown me as if I earned them somehow instead of them being given to me freely out of God's goodwill towards me.  This time as the memories blew past my minds eye I felt, messy like how a child grows through their young ages.  They don't plan any of it.  They don't have a clue whats happening and could not in the least claim purposefulness in any of their actions but just, (as it would seem to the unbelieving), happenstance.  But then God whispered to my heart as I drove along with this messy image stopped on the reel in front of my mind's eye, He whispered.  That's the beauty!  The process is not in your control Shannon!  You thought you were making all those choices, that's what you believed but I, Shannon I was directing everything! You believed you were forced to manage it all but I was there in it all. In your attempt to take over for me things got messy.  It would seem to the judgmental eye that you had so blocked my plans with your pride.  But my eyes saw where you really were in the process of healing. It was messy!  But I loved you, anyway, in spite of it, because of it, knowing that messy image was one snapshot along the story of your beautiful journey.  I had allowed that, even willed that it would be just that, messy.  In the end Shannon, you will actually be what pride whispered to you to make you believe that you already were, you will be perfect but I will always be sufficient for you.

Beloved, Is God in control or are you?  Has pride lied to you and convinced you that you are the last best hope for your world?  Are you following Him or is He following you?  Does the spirit of pride keep you from being yourself and sharing yourself with others for fear of vulnerability?  Does pride have you in a superior place with all others at the mercy of your critical observation?  Does pride keep you isolated, locked up, trapped and alone?  Have you used every gift, ability, characteristic, attribute of you and in you to get what you want and all you've got is more empty?  God is waiting for each of us to lay down our pride, choose humility, and surrender control/management of our lives, our loved ones, our image, our careers, our money, our politics, our futures, our needs, our desires and wants and everything or anything else we have gripped tightly to, keeping it from His management, his plans, and purposes.  Laying down pride every day, every hour, every minute and taking up our cross, His cross.

" clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5, NKJV).

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Problem of Pain

I see people in pain all around me.  I hear about the pain people are going through on the radio in different programs I listen to. Each time someone tells me their story or I hear a painful story somewhere I jump back to the memories of pain in my life and I can immediately feel that intense dark sunken hole of suffering, the intense hunt for escape, the feeling of being isolated from the rest of society that's seemingly functioning normally around me, and the conflict of which self to wear on the outside: the real me or "what I believe others need" me.  And that's the problem of pain!  It takes a lot of time, and mental and emotional space which is annoying and inopportune and well, painful!  It challenges our sense of control.  It's like, "I thought I was in control of me!  Now I'm weeping and sad and angry and I feel vulnerable!"  Vulnerable is not fun; not for anyone.

When I think back about my developmental years and early adulthood I can easily recall that I did not handle pain well.  In fact, the problem of pain came to me at a young age through my family and the way it dysfunctioned.  Loneliness, anger, fear and anxiety, believing I was a disappointment and lacking skills to communicate my feelings and needs made life very painful for me for many years actually.  As the majority of people do, I started running from the problem of pain.  First I ran to anger.  That gave me a great place to hide for some time because I could relive events and get angry and vindicate myself by being a victim of the situation.  Then when I had fed my anger long enough and caused it to grow, increasing my problem of pain, I ran to troubled friends.  These friends were more than willing to encourage me towards deviance, sneaking, rebellion, and lying which increased my problem of pain even more and so I ran to drinking.  Drinking and sneaking and lying were fun for awhile but then that even became monotonous.  My pain resurfaced and had gained more strength due to my repression, suppression, and self-illusions.  I ran even further to sex, drugs, and then to running for the sake of running.  All of this just heaped the problem of pain with, you guessed it, more pain.

I reasoned that, maybe I could try being smart and a good person.  So I got sober, went to college and tried to settle down.  Strangely enough, I couldn't escape the problem of pain.  Why was this thing following me?!  Why wouldn't it leave me alone?!  I just wanted to be like everyone else, fine, normal, anything but in pain.  I continued running from pain to all my old favorites (denial, blaming, not accepting responsibility, numbing out, staying busy, get angry, over-thinking, over-controlling, unhealthy eating and spending, etc) and eventually my pursuit of escaping pain destroyed my relationships and my opportunities leaving me at rock bottom with no more excuses and no one to blame but me.  It was then, when pain had its most powerful place in my life that God stepped into view.

He waited ever so quietly for me to see Him there, whispering so quietly, "come to me", that I barely heard Him.  He began to say, "if you come and bring your pain to me I wont disappoint you.  I can heal you Shannon.  I've been waiting all this time for you".  Needless to say, I did, come to Him that is and it took some years to heal all that repressed and suppressed pain and set right what had been broken by my family and then by myself in running from the problem of pain.  In reflecting back on learning to endure pain, I realize that I used to blame myself for pain.  Pain was the evidence that I was constitutionally flawed and weak.  That I couldn't be trusted.  That I had lost control.  That I was an embarrassment and "should" be ashamed because I couldn't maintain composure.  Pain meant I was a failure.  With all that condemnation it is no wonder I didn't want to acknowledge and endure pain!

I think many people, many families experience pain in life in this way.  It is never to be shown, spoken of, acknowledged, or have any time "wasted" on it.  However, this only breeds the problem of pain.  It reminds me of the children of Israel as they went into the wilderness seeking their homeland.  They were lost out there 40 years because of the pain of their rebellion and the pain of their denial of their need to make it right with God.  If they would have just stopped and said, "O.k., we were wrong.  You were right.  You are God and You know best.  We will follow You", they could have saved many many years of wandering.  But they instead ran from the problem of pain and delayed their deliverance, some never seeing it.  Oh what we could do if we would just accept that God is tender, loving, compassionate, merciful, relents from sending calamity....  The thing is though, God's tenderness, love, compassion, mercy, and long suffering do not look/act like a human's!  And we judge these characteristics and how they should play out in our lives through our ideas of them!  We have got to get to know our God in order to trust His attributes and the way He administers them in and through us.  It begins by stepping out on a limb and saying, "O.k., I don't know if I can trust you yet that You wont let this pain destroy me or humiliate me but I'm going to take a chance and see!"  And then just allowing pain to be present and following Gods leading through it to the other side where I have always found a greater sense of peace, deeper connection with God, deeper maturity, deeper understanding about me and others and skills to improve relationships, a much greater sense of trust in God and how He works, a greater knowledge of myself and deeper confidence in who God has made me, more direction for choices, on and on.  It's sticking with the pain until God brings the pain to completion through acceptance of the thing or things that we must know and learn and realize.  Pain is only a problem because we make it a problem.  The more we tolerate pain, the less we will begin to see pain as a problem.  A baby is born out of great pain producing a great blessing!  And when he or she arrives the pain is forgotten for the joy that they bring.  So it is with spiritual birth.  Out of some of our greatest pain in challenges, relationships, losses, and wounds come our greatest seasons of blessing and spiritual enrichment!

Hebrews 12New International Version (NIV)

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus [not our feelings or perspectives], the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow wearyand lose heart [God cares about our suffering].

God Disciplines His Children 

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood [Look to Jesus as our example]. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline [training],
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]
Endure hardship as discipline [training]; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it [Maybe we didn't in my case].  How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best [as best they knew how]; but God disciplines [trains] us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.11 No discipline [training] seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet [this is where we make choices how we will respond to Him],”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Warning and Encouragement [training on how to treat one another]

14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy;without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

The Mountain of Fear and the Mountain of Joy [the power and purpose behind your ability to be trained!]

18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blastor to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”[c] 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”[d]
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all,to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel [hallelujah!  There is therefore no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!  This means we can fail in the process and God is not shocked, moved, or disappointed!  Get up, dust yourself off, fix your eyes back on Him and take the next step.].
25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks [listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit for direction and comfort]. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”[e] 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.” [He can meet any challenge, any size and win!] [f]       

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Collateral Nature of Trust

A few weeks ago God spoke to me to begin reading 1 and 2 Samuel.  Today I finished 1 Samuel.  This book was a roller coaster ride of drama.  There were so many principles that applied to my life as each day I read a few chapters.  I would go away renewed each time with a fresh annointing of Gods presence and call in my life.  And I would feel a sense of excited anticiapation for the next time I could read more of the story.  It's not always like this when I read God's book, but when it is I sure cherish it!

When I finished 1 Samuel today I was left reflecting on how the story played out from the fall of Eli the priest and the rise of the first prophet Samuel.  The fall of Israel's trust in God as their king to the rise of their demands for a man to lead them.  God answered with Saul, a man who trusted in the opinions of the people because he loved the people's love more than God.  And then David appears into the story.  A humble shephard with the heart of a king.  He loved God more than anything else.  That's really the book of 1 Samuel...the comparison drawn between these two men, Saul and David.  

Before reading this book again I remembered David's exhile into mountains, forests, and caves as a terrifying and lonely time for him, but I wonder now that I have reread this book if it was Saul (living in his castle with his servants and riches) who was exhiled, terrified, and lonely whereas David was rich and powerful and free?!  In fact I do, I do believe that's exactly what it was!  David followed God down the path of adventure and on that path he formed alliances, built friendships, brought down nations, won 2 lovers, built an army, commanded a legion, traveled the nearby world, experienced cultures, learned to seek God, learned to follow God, observed the consequence of obedience and disobedience to God, gained great wisdom and discernment, got to feel the pride of outsmarting the highest authority of his nation in the name of the Lord, was a champion for families, experienced life in many different environments and not just life but survival or being sustained by the very hand of God.....!  Reflecting on all this makes me wonder...what, what are we missing?!?!

Saul trusted in the opinions of his people.  David trusted in the Lord, the creator of heaven and earth, the deliverer of Israel, the one who made the sea stand at attention and then swallow up His children's enemies!  A picture began to form in my mind!  I saw these 2 men as opposite examples.  One who trusted in the Lord each and every second, with each experience, no matter what came and he lived an adventure!  The other who trusted in the love of people, power, riches, and position and lived fenced in.  

I think that all of us Christians naturally struggle with this same issue!  We start out getting saved and are excited to live for Christ but then the daily monotony, the daily challenge sets in again and we either become a David or a Saul.  The Saul in us wants our life to look like a paint by number but God wants an improvisational and inspirational masterpeice!  The Saul in us wants total control but God wants joy and pleasure in the making!  The Saul in us strategizes and plans; where God is interpreting the landscape.  Gods plan is a roller coaster with twists and turns and drops and swift ascensions.  The Saul in us has a plan for a ride on a merry-go-round where we know what to expect: a challengeless state of repetetive diminshed pleasure.  God wants to set us loose!  The Saul in us wants to fence ourselves in.  

My question today, God's question for me and you today is, Do you want to live an adventure or do you want to fence yourself in?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV).