Try Doing Nothing

Welcome back to my blog, it’s been a while since my last post, so a quick reminder of why I do this Seeking God’s Heart thing.

I believe the point of scripture is God wanting to reveal himself to man. I also believe knowing God’s heart towards me is more valuable than a list of do’s and don’ts or a list of expectations that God lays on me. (Yuck!)

I believe understanding God’s heart towards ‘me and you’ will enlighten my view of ‘me and you’, and creates a better reflection of God in my heart, mind, soul, and spirit. Understanding God’s heart informs and influences my response to the world, and my response to Him. So ‘let’s get jiggy wit it’ shall we? I have been chewing on some verses from Daniel recently and am ready to swallow my thoughts and spit out some of my beliefs. (Great word picture there?)

Most people are familiar with Daniel chapter three; the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, or SAM for short. How King Nebuchadnezzar built the golden idol and how he called SAM to task for not worshipping as ordered. How King Nebby gave them a second shot to avoid a fiery grave, and they responded…

Daniel 3:16 “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.”

The scripture describes Nebuchadnezzar with the words rage, anger and wrath. To say this is a man who is put out, or upset; doesn’t even come close. I can see the spittle flying from his lips, the tightened posture, leaning forward, practically screaming. Not just lighting the furnace, but heating it 7 times greater than normal. To the point, the men who carried SAM to the doors burst into flames.

SAM responded to the rage, anger, and wrath of the king with calm, ‘we do not need to give you an answer.” No plea for mercy, no defense from scripture, no logical argument why this was a bad idea, just ‘we do not need to respond’, it’s not necessary, it’s not needed, it’s not required. Either God saves us or God doesn’t but either way, we don’t need to give you an answer.

As I think about God’s heart as this story unfolds, who do you think God’s concerned with? Who is God paying attention to? I’ll tell you who I think is heavy on God’s heart?  King Nebuchadnezzar! He is the one far from God, he is the one in great pain, filled with hate and anger and wrath. He is the one about to kill three men in a horrible grisly death and it breaks Gods heart. The idea King Nebuchadnezzar needed to build this huge idol and to require people to worship him. I imagine a God whose heart is broken for a lost child, a man far from Him.

I believe we like to think this story is about how ‘we’ should act in the face of persecution, or a story about how ‘we’ should have greater faith or some other way ‘we’ should act, react, or believe. But the story isn’t about us, it’s about God revealing to us His heart. The story is about God and Nebuchadnezzar. What I see is a story of a man far from God and a God who longs for connection with a lost son. Can you see it? Can you feel it? And how does God go about connecting to His son, how does he draw Nebuchadnezzar near?

Well, first God didn’t use SAM to carry a message. He didn’t speak for them. He didn’t command or instruct them to speak. He simply asked them to remain silent. Certainly, God has prophets who speak for him, true. Certainly, God asks people to say and do things all the time, but today, in this story, God asks them to simply be silent, and in that silence, God does an amazing thing.

v 16 “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.”

v24. “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste…”

v 26 “Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!””

v 28  “Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego,”

v 29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.”

Okay, so he doesn’t respond in the godliest fashion tearing people limb from limb, but you get the picture. The man who was seeking praises for himself is now the one praising God. The man who was far from God is now the one worshipping and honoring God. And God’s heart? Even for the slightest moment to hear his child speak this way, having his child feeling these feelings towards Him. There is a connection with God, and I’m sure it’s like a fragrant offering, a pure joy for the Lord. It’s not a full reconciliation, but it’s a step and a start.

If you want a takeaway. if you want something to do in response to Gods heart remember… the next time you see somebody as the enemy of God – God doesn’t. God sees a lost sheep, a hurting angry person, and maybe instead of responding to that person, just don’t. Allow God to do the talking, allow God to do something miraculous in the heart, mind, spirit, soul of the person you are dealing with. Maybe you are in a conflict and believe you need to give a response, you need to offer a correction to the facts as being presented. Maybe all God needs is your silence. So instead of getting in the way of what God is trying to do, you simply say; “Maybe God shows up and makes it all better, or maybe he doesn’t, but I do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.” If you really need something to do, try doing nothing.

I’ve done it and it can be hard when people are saying lies about you. It can be hard allowing other people to be wrong, to believe wrong things. It can be hard allowing other people to simply exist where they are, without you explaining and correcting and ‘sharing.’ God’s heart is for people and sometimes when they won’t listen, or can’t hear us, we just need to stop and be silent and allow God to do his thing.

Verses about Jesus:

Matt 26:53 “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”

Luke 23:9 – “And he questioned Him at some length, but He answered him nothing. Even though they treated him, with contempt and mockery, he remained silent.”

Matt 26:63 “The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent

Matt 27:14 “And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so the governor was quite amazed.”

Luke 23:9 – “And he questioned Him at some length, but He answered him nothing. Even though they treated him, with contempt and mockery, he remained silent.”

 

Be blessed! If you want to ask a question or respond please do, it’s all welcome.

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Living Life, Trusting God

I’ve never been very good at living life in the happy medium.

I think my tombstone should say, the only time he ever saw a happy medium is when he was swinging back and forth between the two extremes. It seems like this happens about 5 times a day. Just a constant; life is so good, and life so sucks.

When I am on the sucky side of life, God is there and he meets me. I remind myself that I have life, and breath, and I move and feel and think, and I got about a million things in my life that I don’t deserve and life really isn’t so bad and I’ll start the swing back and the happy medium says, God is good and things are in his hands, and I don’t have what it takes to run my life, to keep anything under control, I am totally at his mercy and grace to live this life I have. I am so far over my head at work, I should have quit or been fired a dozen times over. These kids? Holy cow, how am I ever going to love them and lead them and be the man that God needs me to be in their lives? My wife, I will never love her the way she deserves to be loved and slowly I am making my way to the other extreme and life becomes so overwhelming, and I know that there is no way I can do this thing called life on my own and I can’t carry this burden, and I just want to run and hide.

But God meets me there and he reminds me that it’s not about me it’s about Him, and to remember he has my back, and even when it don’t feel like it I can trust Him and I can believe Him. After all I’m sober – not drunk, I’m free – not in jail. I have a house, food, kids that love me, a wife that is awesome and amazing, and beautiful. I have a married son, and a pretty cool daughter-in-law. God blessed me with a wonderful grandson. And 5 minutes later we do it all over again. (At least that is what it feels like.)

 

Who is God, and who am I?

God is everything and I am everything to God. God is everywhere, and I am with God everywhere I go. God is perfect, I am perfectly in need of Him. God is in control, and I am not. God is God, and I am not! God is loving, forgiving, and accepting. I am loved, forgiven and accepted.

 

Life is hard.

Always has been, and as far as I can tell always will be. But life is also beautiful, wonderful, amazing, enchanting, grace filled and fun. Joy filled, exciting, ever changing, always challenging, and flat out hilarious at times. So I hang on, day by day, I live life to the best of my ability, trusting God along the way to be everything that I need Him to be, trusting that I already am everything that he needs me to be, and when it’s all over – someday down the road, I’ll get a big hug from Jesus, and a cheering crowd will welcome me home and every day, day in and day out, it will be peaceful. The voices in my head will shut up, and the heaviness in my heart will be gone, and the joy of the Lord will be my constant companion.

Where is God?

Jesus spent three years walking with God in an intimate personal relationship unlike any other human in history. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Elisha, and in the New Testament, Paul.

None of these men experienced the connectedness that Jesus experienced with God during his ministry. All of the above listed people had moments of weakness, and moments of pain, and doubt in which they cried out to God because the connection, the link, the reality of ‘God with Me’ didn’t feel like a reality.

I can relate to these men, as I would assume we all can. One moment they are walking with God then, they are hiding in caves, lusting after other men’s wives, giving away their wives as sisters, taking credit for the miracles that are God’s, asking for the pain in their lives to be removed, on and on the list goes of ways they, the great men of God doubted and lost faith. Each one redeemed for certain, and the reality that God was always there with them through the doubt and pain very real. But Jesus, Emmanuel, God in the flesh, the perfect reflection of God walking in human flesh, taking on humanity, even Jesus experiences a moment in his life where he doubted God’s presence in His life.

Granted, none of the great heroes of the faith, or us for certain ever experienced the pain, and suffering that Jesus did, but even Jesus on the cross, bleeding, broken, unable to breath, nails in his hand and feet, a crown of thorns on his head, even Jesus in his humanity cried out to God, feeling alone, and separated from the Father. He is our great high priest able to emphasize with all our weakness, for he himself was tempted just as we are.

Thinking these thoughts today is helping me – to give myself grace as I still struggle to believe God is with me, that God is always, always, always with me. Never, never, never has he left my side, left my presence, or abandoned me. God has never walked away, grew impatient, discouraged, or disappointed with my lack of faith, or my inability to believe.

God simple stands there drawing me nearer, and nearer. Speaking softly through the noisiness of my head, and the hardness of my head. Revealing himself with great blessings in my life, with peace of mind in the midst of storms, and moments of freedom from all my doubts and fears. No matter how far the Father feels, He is always there, and it’s not the end of the world if I ask God to remove my thorns, if I need to go hide in a cave, or cry out Father, Father, why have you forsaken me.

After all Jesus did, so maybe doing the same thing, simply means I am following my Savior through pain, and suffering, and doubt and confusion and fear. And it’s okay.

One God

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (NASB)

“If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.

Really?  This is what God said, to do with a rebellious son? Because Jesus told a story of a rebellious son and Jesus who was God in the flesh, Jesus who was one with the Father, Jesus who was the visible image of the invisible God – told a different story. In his story the father gave the son everything he wanted and when the son came to his senses, the Father was there to greet him, love him and accept him home.  Not have him killed so evil would be vanquished, and Israel would be in fear.

So, if God never changes, and God of the OT is the same God of the NT, and we are supposed to read the old through the lens of the new, I say God changed.  More specifically, the Jews in the OT didn’t really understand what God was trying to say to them, they wrote scripture that was not a reflection of God’s heart.  That is why Jess came to set the record straight.  No I am not picking and choosing what scripture to obey, I am allowing Jesus to do what Jesus set out to do, set the record straight about God.  “You were told… But I say…”  Jesus came to heal and set free, to restore and rescue. He does not believe we should be stoning women caught in adultery, or rebellious sons. If that is true, then neither did God in the OT times.  Both cannot be true.  You can jump through all the hoops you want to reconcile this, but I simply accept what Jesus says as truth and write off the OT verses as people who were in some sort of bondage or hurt and confused.  Something was inhibiting them from hearing the truth of God’s heart.

More Thoughts on Leadership

Leaders Follow God by Serving People.
Followers Follow God by Serving Leaders.

ImageI have been thinking about this for a few days now. I have had some bad church experiences, and when I read the second line it turns my stomach a little bit. The idea of followers serving leaders is almost offensive to my way of thinking, yet it was me who wrote these words, and it is God who is trying to help me through my uneasiness by giving me these words to write. I wrote recently about some principles of leadership and submission and how they work together, and I need to expand upon that. mostly for me, but feel free to listen in.

Leading and following needs to maintain a delicate balance. Both parties are best served by focusing on why they do what they do; Jesus. When leaders focus on followers or followers are focusing on leaders, both have the ability to get out of whack, and the relationship becomes unhealthy for both people. Followers putting too much expectation and authority into a leader, creates followers who serve the leader and stop following God. See Peter, Paul & Apollos at the Corinth church, 1 Cor 1. Likewise a leader can easily forget who is in charge and start taking on too much authority and he also stops following God. (See Moses and the Rock, Num 20 8:13.)

So there exists this interpersonal relationship where both leader and followers exist as individuals serving and following God, and God uses them to love and serve one another. It’s almost by accident, or maybe it’s an incidental occurrence of their individual pursuit of God, that they serve one another. Yet it is all about God, his purpose, his plans, his will, and his ways. Once the leader starts to pay attention to who is following him, he loses sight of who he is following. Once the followers start listening to The leader instead of Their leader, they too will lose sight of God.

A simple example; God calls a man to start a Sunday morning gathering of people who hate organized religion for the purpose of being the church together. Its a common bond, its biblical,so he wants to start this thing up. So if God is going to do this he needs some followers, so he brings the leader into contact with people and the leader shares his God given vision. The followers like the vision, it resonates in their hearts too, and so they partner together with the leader to see the vision completed. Everybody works together, to see the vision complete.

Each person has gifts and talents and God will use each one as he individually and corporately listens to God’s leading. The followers will confirm or not confirm the leaders thinking. There is no, “The leader says so and that’s it,” because in this relationship, we don’t follow leaders, we follow God. God is the authority, and God leads leaders to serve the people, and God calls the followers to serve the leader, and the vision, by listening to God’s individual calling in their hearts, by exercising their individual gifting and talents.

I admit that I struggle to just flat out say the ‘leader’ flat out leads people, partly because of the abuse i experienced, and partly because I don’t think its totally biblical. But I can say one thing. If I know the leader’s heart, and its a reflection of God’s heart, and it’s a reflection of my heart, submission and following that leader, would not be a problem. Until of course the leader leads away from Gods heart and my own heart, and at that point, God is no longer calling me to serve that leader.

Just some more thoughts on Leadership, as I continue to grow and develop in my walk with Christ. Feel free to share your thoughts, experiences, and maybe we can learn from each other.

Terry

What is Biblical Leadership

Hello my friends.  Some of my views on leadership do not fit in with mainstream thinking, but I don’t mind.  If your eyes are open and your mind is free welcome to the world of unconventional biblical leadership.  (I do not site chapter and verse, you are intelligent enough to figure it out my friend, just be a Berean.)
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Jesus lived and breathed servant leadership. He did it by washing the disciples feet, and feeding the masses at least three times in the gospel stories. Jesus was blunt and to the point with self-righteous people but always treated people open to his word with grace. He was inviting but not demanding, he asked penetrating questions but never accused. I believe this was his model of leadership.

It was in Acts chapter 1 where we see the disciple already taking control and doing things there own way without consulting God.  Jesus commissioned Peter to feed his sheep, and we get no further then Acts chapter 6 and the disciples already set aside Jesus’s teachings.  We see the apostles had a chance to follow Jesus’ example and to serve God’s people by serving meals, and they choose instead to appoint others to serve. Notice it’s the servant leader Stephen who falls at the hands of the religious leaders in Acts chapter 7.

Leadership is a hard thing to do in the body of Christ, because the world fights against being a servant. The world calls men to action, to take charge, to be an authority. Press in, get the job done, get busy and stay busy. A leader has to lead if he is going to be a leader. I think this is why we see leadership in the body of Christ to be limited, specific and temporary. It keeps the ego in check.

God called Moses for a very specific purpose and once Moses stopped being a servant of God and started leading by his own power, God ended his call to leadership. After Joshua completed the promise land take over, he went before the people and they pledged to follow God and God alone, no longer was it Joshua.

The judges were temporary and specific in their call to leadership. Samuel served from age 10 to 140, but he would be the only biblical example of a man serving as a leader his entire life. As Samuel’s time was coming to an end, the people asked for a human leader, as they did not want to follow God, and with a three year exception, they have been following men ever since.

Today when God calls a man to service, it seems to be a life long calling, unless the leader run out of Christians willing to fund them. When the biblical example we see is Paul and Barnabas completing the work God called them to do on their first missionary journey. Leadership was specific, limited, and temporary. Leadership is clear in it’s calling, and when it’s not, confusion can be the result. Thus when Paul and Barnabas decided it would be a good idea to go back and chat with the people they met the fist time around there was no peace. They argued about who to take and ended up divided, not exactly a strong leading of the Spirit.

Paul certainly understood the attitude of men to follow men. He experienced it in the church at Corinth as some were following Paul, some Peter and some Apollos, but nobody following God? What happened at Galatia? The church started to follow men, and those men were leading them into error. What about the leaders Paul appointed at Ephesus, those great men of God. John tell us some of them started to lead that church astray. Paul continually tells people to not follow after various teachers who turned their back on God. He continually pointed men to Jesus.  Godly leadership always draws us to God, human leadership will always draw us to itself.

And of course one could not have a blog on leadership without talking about submission, and authority. Both topics are clearly discussed by Paul and Peter, and put forth as important. I agree. The first thing to remember is authority can be abused, and God would not call His people to be under or submissive to an abusive authority. Second submission is between the Christian and God never an issue between the leader and the follower. The first time a leader talks about submission to the follower, I believe, he has abused his authority and is no longer under Christ. He has become a Lord over those he serves, and therefore is no longer serving them.

Regarding leadership, the most important thing for a Christian to know is the heart of a man who calls himself leader. A man or woman who claims to be a servant of Christ must provide a service, he/she must serve in some function or manner. It is then up to the Christian to decide if this man is the one God has called them to be under, is God calling them to submit to this authority? I have no problem being under the authority of a man, if God calls me to it, and the leader serves the followers. Again, it’s when a leader calls those he serves to be under His authority, that he no longer has any authority. This kind of leadership is very worldly and it preys on fallen men – to serve man, rather then serve God.  For we know it is far easier to follow a king, and be like the rest of the world, than to know and follow God.

But that is exactly God’s heart for His people to gather them together and love and protect them like a hen to her chicks.  To heal hurts, to serve, to love, to comfort, to draw us into Himself that we can reveal Him to the world.

Finally I would also point out I see a huge difference between the leader who leads people, and the leader who manages an organization, a staff and a building. God does not call men to build buildings, erect structures, or manage people. These tasks fit the world’s view of leadership, and is not the biblical leadership talked about in the bible.

I think I can sum up my views on leadership in one statement…
Leaders follow God, by serving people.
Followers follow God by serving leaders.

If you want to provide any thoughts,or feedback feel free to comment or email me.

Terry

Learning to Float

Remember when you were a kid just learning how to swim? One of the first things they taught us is to float on the water. As I remember, it was a very hard thing to do.

First you had to trust that the water would actually hold you. Second; to float well, you needed to hold still, kicking your feet, our dropping your butt would sink you in an instant. The third thing you had to do was to put your head all the way back, with your chin up. Talk about vulnerable! When the waves would come it seemed I would always get water in my face and that scared me, and I would pick up my head and sink. Arrrggg!! Before we can float we need to hold still, lay your head back, and trust that the water will hold you up. What an awesome picture of our faith in God.

First we need hold still. We struggle so much in our lives. We need to stop struggling for control, stop struggling to make sense, stop struggling to drag others into our pain, into our circle so we can blame them, and hold somebody else accountable. Learning to stop the struggle and just hold still is a huge part of faith.

Second, we need to put out head back and our chin up. Sure we are going to get some water in the face, it can be hard to see, and we feel very vulnerable. But if we picture ourselves resting in our Fathers arms, remembering He is for us not against us, realizing that we are safe in His arms, how relaxing could floating be?

Which leads into the next thing that happens when we learn to float, the water will simply take us where it wants to. We are not providing direction, swimming, or struggling, we are just floating. If the water had a will, it could take us wherever it wanted us to go.

Of course the Spirit is often called water, and Jesus calls himself the Living Water. When we rest and relax, when we stop trying to control, blame and accept what’s in our circle, God will carry us. The current that is His love will move our body, our spirit and our mind into a very good place. A place of peace, and rest and calm. A place filled with hope, love, and mercy. A place of healing, and restoration. That is the heart of our Father, that is the heart of God, the heart of Jesus. That we would trust them, and relax. Stop struggling, and allow the current to carry us.

This day, or maybe this week, when you feel the tension rise, the fear grip you, the water start to splash into your face, just stop and picture the lake, see yourself floating, and picture the water holding you up, and carrying you away from your troubles, and stress and know that God has your back, and you are safe in his arms. And if by chance it works, come back by and share your story, how God helped you.

If needed, picture Jesus standing next to you in the water with His arms under your back, teaching you to float, teaching you to trust, being there for you when you get scared and struggle. Whispering. His voice calm and soothing, comforting you. What an awesome picture of love and care and concern. It’s the Fathers heart, for you. Rest in that, and know He is God

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