Much has been written about knowing the will of God. Much of it has been supposition and some has been out-right nonsense. However, the Topic is never far from the Christians’ mind and heart!
It comes up when young people want to marry, when a new job is presented, when a new car seems to be warranted, when we want to move into a new home or have more children (usually these two are reversed). Whenever it arises, the issues are the same. God gives us specific Principles, in His Word, but no specific Instruction regarding the individual decisions.
Consider the marriage relationship. It is no doubt our most challenging reality. Several immutable principles are driving this issue:
1. We are different people [husbands and wives]
2. We have different life-experiences [childhood patterns]
3. We have differing values [morality]
4. We have differing (conflicting?) goals
Add to this the way men and women think and relate to life and to people and the recipe can be a ‘witches brew.’
The missing (and critical) dynamic, in this scenario, is God. Regardless of all the above-mentioned differences and traps, what matters is whether our lives and relationships reflect well upon Him, not that we have our way or that every area of life is pleasant and productive….for me.
I am a sinner, at heart! I want things my way, because my way is best. I am also a finite creature, limited in scope and dependent upon God for everything from life to happiness. Finding this satisfaction is what life appears to be for most people. Yet most people either settle or struggle in their search.
To “settle” often means giving up that which means either The Most or The Best, in favor of something less or worse in order to keep the peace or satisfy someone else’s needs or goals. This is often viewed as the cruelest irony life can impose. As such it can the source of much heart-ache and destructive despair. To “struggle” means keeping quiet or engaging in battle, neither or which resolves the basic issue.
But what if this ‘cruelty’ is actually a blessing? What if all the imposed limitations were protecting me from something much worse? What if my failure and trials were keeping me from becoming an even greater burden or an insufferable snob? What if everything I viewed as bad or hurtful was actually for someone else’s benefit?
How would we know? Would we have to know? could we live the life presented to us without knowing? How frustrating would that be? How debilitating or discouraging would it be to realize all you could do or how satisfied you could be only to wake up tomorrow to the same realities?
It doesn’t help to know the vast majority of highly successful or wealthy people are not happy or satisfied. It doesn’t help to know the vast majority of people on Earth live in squaller, combined with daily hunger, disease, despair and danger. All that matters is ME and MINE.
This is the Bible Definition of SIN! The preoccupation with Self, the exclusion of God and others. “But I could be and do so much more for God, if only….” Well, John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress and several other books, from prison! He spent the best part of 2 decades unjustly incarcerated in squaller and near starvation, Summer and Winter. This does not consider his fear and despair for the family he left to fend for themselves. Disease and sickness were his daily companions and yet countless millions have continued to benefit from his faithfulness during those years.
THE POINT? I am Not the Master of My Soul! Nor the Arbiter of My Fate! I have given all that to God, Who loves me and has paid an awful price to redeem (buy back) my soul. The God Who loves even me.
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS?
– I do not know what God has in mind for my life
– I do not know what would be Best for me
– I do not even know me, when I begin my journey
– And I do not know what changes will present themselves
The natural reality is we are all very much ‘blind’ and ‘deaf’ to what life will hand us, over the range of 10 years or so. How much more throughout our four-score-and-ten? Will we be victims or conquerors? And who’s definition of these terms will be most important?
What, therefore, is the conclusion of this matter? “To do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” [Micah 6:8]
Do what is Just? This is can mean going against the wishes or values of everyone you know, even the law of the land. Will this make you popular? Bring you praise? Endear you to others in your family or circle of acquaintances?
Love mercy? Mercy withholds what is justly due. A steady emphases on mercy is not helpful or just. Children do not learn the important issues of life from a parent who makes certain they never reap what they’ve sown. It certainly isn’t how god treats us! But, to only and always respond with justice is to unnecessarily discourage those in training or are seeking to change the destructive patterns of their life.
Walk humbly with (or Before) thy God? Humility recognizes who and what we really are. It is a lowly walk, compared to one that is haughty and prideful. In this context, it is in regard to God. Walk (live) before god with the constant knowledge and understanding that all we are, all we accomplish, all we have is from Him. It is an attitude of submission that trusts Him implicitly.
Does any of this sound like what the world teaches? The Life Coaches? The Motivational Speakers? The Health/Wealth preachers, The Joel Osteen Wannabes?
Does any of this sound like what you heart is telling you?
It is indigenous to mans’ soul to exalt self; to be all you can be; to reach your human potential; to never let anyone control your destiny. You are no man’s slave! Don’t let anyone rob you of your potential! etc.
This is Sound Advice, if…..
– We are Masters of our fate
– We are on Earth to fulfill our destiny
– We exist to ‘make a difference’
What if The Message of My Life is to demonstrate grace under pressure or persecution?
What if My Children / My Family / My Community needs to see this Lesson because of something they will face long after I’m gone?
What if I need to do this, because of my own sinful pride?
What if all this exists simply to glorify God?
We do not know. No one knows. And that is The Point! The one who loves God, bows before His will and purpose, out of love — demanding no explanation — merely to honor Him Who is above all. And whatever happens…..happens.
Fatalism? No. The Christian does not bow to fate, as if taking everything that happens as an immutable law. The Christian serves a Person, not circumstance. This Person has presented every conceivable situation and circumstance of life with a principle and / or a prescription. This Person has lived this life….as a human being. This Person has suffered all that we do and more!
TRUTH? Much of what burdens us is the result of our own selfism and pride. Regardless of what we think or what men say, living in harmony (balance) with God’s Word is the only way to know God’s will and purpose. In this life there is grace for trials, mercy for failures, blessings for patience.
If I do things My Way….I Reap What I Sow, with no one to blame but me.
One of Life’s Frustrating & Often Misunderstood Realities Is: “Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” [ Gal. 6:7 ]
It’s a Truism that cuts both ways: Good and Ill. It comes in the form of habits and addictions; in patterns and training. We can cultivate new habits and patterns to facilitate a job or a hobby. We can also mindlessly cultivate bad habits and patterns to create debilitating physical and emotional responses.
We are not always able to see them coming and very often, when the destructive habits / patterns take over our life, we are not able, nor often willing, to accept the obvious conclusion.
The world has embraced all sorts of Professionals to tell us “It’s not your fault, you have an addiction.” OR “It’s not your fault, you have a disease.” OR “It’s not your fault, you are a victim of your parents or mate or circumstances.” This has served to confuse the issue and provide numerous people with a financial income.
Legitimate physiological problems are discernible in The Lab. Some are stubbornly hidden in our chromosomes and physiology. Some find similar patterning in all sorts of people and are given a mult-syllabic name, with a list of symptoms, so others can understand what’s happening in their body is more than imagination.
The Medical Profession is locked into this science. It doesn’t matter what Dr. you see, if the symptoms are similar your diagnosis will be the same, and so will be the treatment.
The World of Psychotherapy is not that controlled. Present your symptoms to 10 ‘counselors’ and you may get as many as 8 diagnosis and an untold number of differing treatments. The A.P.A. used to send people out with a list of ‘Presenting Symptoms’ as a form of Control for their industry. I read where they stopped this many years ago because of the embarrassment it brought.
God says: If you do this, you will get that….Every time! Meaning? Give into your fears and you will become more fearful. Defer to bullies and you will find they bully you more. Eat only what you like and you will get fat! develop diabetes! weaken your immune system! weaken your skeletal system! suffer all sorts of systemic problems!
Go to the wrong Doctor or simply refuse to tell your Doctor all The Truth and you will simply get pills to compensate for your unhealthy lifestyle. Find a Doctor who tells you the Truth and you will likely be offended and go in search of a New Doctor.
Emotions are the same. If you routinely give in to your emotions, don’t be surprised when your life is being governed by those emotions. How many people won’t go or do something, simply because of how it makes them feel? They don’t like crowds, so they won’t go to Church. They don’t like a lot of people talking all at once, so they avoid Family Parties? They don’t like to yield to other peoples’ standards or life-patterns, so they never marry?
Over time they may begin to feel alone or sad or unwanted. They do not immediately look at their own anti-social orientation, being somewhat confident in their own standards, but rather seek out a ‘counselor.’ Someone to analyze what’s going on and give them practical advice.
Given enough time and the honesty of the one suffering, the counselor points out the patterns of their life, as The Problem! What is the patient’s response? “You obviously don’t know what you’re doing!” “I have a serious problem and you’re telling me to ‘get a grip?'”
An inelegant observation, but basically that’s exactly what they’re being told. YOU have created your own ‘problem,’ over time, by the way you’re responding to life situations. YOU are the only one who can change this situation.
This is what the ‘Christian’ or ‘Pastoral’ or Biblical Counselor is telling folks, or is supposed to be telling them.
NOTE: If the counselor you are seeing has labeled your problem with one of the 450 / 500 ‘Mental Disorders,’ you have NOT found a Biblical Counselor! OR if he / she is able to take your insurance in payment — Find Someone Else! They are either lying to you or to the insurance carriers. The Bible does NOT label your problem with a fancy phrase [Cognitive Dissonance; bi-Polar Disease; Schizophrenia; etc]. He / she will call it what The Bible calls it! NO Insurance Company will accept that diagnosis for payment!!
The Bible holds the answer to life’s secret for living a balance existence. If you are not suffering from a chemical or systemic problem and you do not have a disease, YOU are the one who is causing The Problem. How? By the way you’ve learned to respond whatever it is that life is handing you.
There are a multitude of reasons why a person gets into these troubling patterns. There are a multitude of legitimate issues that must be taken into account. There are external influences that contribute, not to mention the unbalanced people in your life who present all sorts of emotionally-numbing stimuli.
However, the simplest answer is usually not far from being The Answer, given The Principle of Cause and Effect. Grow up in a household without love and see how warped your idea of love becomes. Grow up having to fight for everything you want / need and see how many friends you are able to make, or how long your marriage or your job lasts.
Is there a Pill for all this? Yes. You simply need to find someone who will diagnose your condition in terms of one of the hundreds of ‘Disorders’ listed in the DSM 5 and you can be on a tranquilizer or stimulant the rest of your life! But you won’t be Fixed.
Sadly, this is the world we live in at the End of the Age. We want ‘Peace and Safety,’ ‘Harmony and Well-Being.’ But we don’t want to give up our Rights, nor change our Responses in order to achieve them. Nothing is My Fault! Life is Supposed To Be Love and Roses!
Have you ever tried to lose weight? If so, you understand that Nothing works except limiting your intake, either in terms of volume or in terms of empty calories. The pills do not work! It still takes exercise and discipline.
And So Does Emotional Well-Being. The God Who made you is The Only One Who knows how to Fix You!
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale popularized the idea of Positive Thinking, back in the 1950’s. Since then the charismatic community has latched onto it, in order to resolve all sorts of things. That this same technique is featured in Eastern Religions that have nothing at all to do with God, doesn’t seem to impress them.
Of course, the ‘Christian’ system is different because they’re using God’s Word! But is it really different? And, if not, what are we doing to ourselves?
The Thesis is: “Negative thoughts, words and attitude, create negative and unhappy feelings, moods and behavior. When the mind is negative, poisons are released into the blood, which cause more unhappiness and negativity. This is the way to failure, frustration and disappointment.”
Did you notice this is a purely secular quote? But is it much different than the so-called ‘christian’ idea? Rebecca Greenwood is selling her book(s) by Advertising: “If you are feeling stressed, anxious or defeated and want to experience His peace, regularly practice declaring these aloud”….”
Following this are 23 paraphrased and secularized snippets from the scriptures. Positive Affirmations: “I am accepted by Christ.” “The anointing from God remains in me.” “I belong to God.” “I am free.” And so on…
There are Bible references after each one, but they are lifted out of context, changing or negating some or most of what that passage is communicating.
For Example: Am I accepted by Christ, if I’m not saved? What is the ‘anointing’ she refers to? Being charismatic, her idea of God’s anointing does not match up with what the Bible is teaching. Will that make a difference? Do you belong to God? Are you free?
Merely declaring wonderful sentiments doesn’t make them true of my life! They will, however, make me feel good….for the moment. The danger is that it may be a false confidence or a false evaluation of who and/or what I am. This will create more problems than it cures.
Here’s A News Flash: There is not a well-balanced, emotionally & spiritually balanced person on the planet who doesn’t have doubts, fears, feelings of inadequacy, discouragements or outright depressions….at some time in their life!
Here’s Another: God nowhere promises that all these are going to disappear because we say certain words aloud! In fact, nowhere is there a promise from God that Christians won’t doubt or fear or wonder about what they are doing or have done, at times.
What The Word of God teaches us is that IF our ways are pleasing to Him, He’ll make even our enemies to be at peace with us. [Pro. 16:7] IF we call upon Him (as a blood-bought child of God), He will answer…: and will be with us in trouble; (to) deliver us, and honor us. [Ps 91:15] IF I hunger and thirst after righteousness…I will be filled (with righteousness) [Mt. 5:6] And so forth…
The idea that God is a divine Genie Who will fix everything, if I simply repeat Scripture verses over and over, is foolishness….or worse.
Life issues are Hard! It takes more than the power of positive thinking. It takes a vital, spiritual Commitment….It takes purposeful effort to Learn….It takes the willingness to DO that which the Bible teaches us is right. Of course this argues for a Church where Bible Doctrine is taught and applied.
We can’t live a disruptive and destructive lifestyle and then parrot some verses, expecting all will be well with our soul! It doesn’t work this way!!
Yes! I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me! (Phil 4:13)
BUT…this assumes I am doing all things through Christ! Not in my own strength. Not according to my own desires. Not in a worldly way. It assumes I know what the right ways are and have altered my thinking to reflect the New Heart and the New Understanding God gives, through His Word and by His Spirit.
Saying “I have the mind of Christ,” doesn’t make it so! Saying “I am God’s handiwork,” doesn’t make it so! Saying “I will have victory” doesn’t make it so…unless the rest of the verse is operational: that it is HE ‘which giveth us the victory through our Lord (the One we bow to in all things) Jesus Christ” [I Cor. 15:57]
It is far too easy to be a ‘Bumper-Sticker Christian.’ But those bumper stickers are never going to be enough to compensate for a Real Bump!
Columnist Tom Purcell asks the question: “Where’s Dad?” He is reflecting on the current fad of creating “families” out of whole cloth while throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
That may be too many metaphors, but the issue is critical. Purcell reflects on his childhood, never realizing (as he now says) how lucky he was. He had a father who understood how to parent a boy.
This is something we don’t see today. It’s not fashionable and it’s probably abusive. The phrase, “Wait ’til your father gets home,” either isn’t uttered or doesn’t have the same cache it once did. In ‘The Old Days’ it was enough to strike fear in any boys’ heart!
Males, apparently, have their highest levels of testosterone during their teen years and are prone to do some of the riskiest and dumbest things. CBS News, reflecting on the National Institutes of Health statistics, reported that “Death by injury is as much as six times higher among teens aged 15 – 19 than kids between 10 – 14. Over all crime rates are highest among young males.”
How many Mothers would it take to control for this? Purcell suggested “there is no creature on Earth who can tame a testosterone-ravaged teen boy like his Dad!” He went on to say “one of the best things to ever happen to me was to be blessed with a dad who imposed his will on me. Robbing a young man of that blessing is a crime.”
But, rob them, we have! From Single Moms to Blended Families to now, Same-Sex parents, young people (male and female) are being robbed! They are being treated as equals, as young as 2 years of age. i.e. “Sweetheart, what would you like to wear today?” Eventually the child is demanding to wear only what he / she wants. At that point the child is running the family. It only gets worse from there.
Look around. What child do you know with a strictly enforced bedtime? Is this important? Only if you want that child to grow normally and do well in school. If it’s a matter of YOUR comfort, you are free to do as you please. I’ve seen whole families in the store after midnight….shopping. It is very normal for parents to fight with their children at bedtimes.
In my home there was no fight. Mom asked, “who wants to get their bath, first?” [that was about 8 pm on a Saturday night]. I usually was quick with: “Not me!” Guess who was always first? There was no fight. There was no back-talk. There was only ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no ma’am’ — predominately because Dad was sitting right there. Any resistance was futile and any back talk could result is physical pain.
Abusive? No. It’s called parenting and as much as I disliked my father’s rigid code, every positive quality I have, I owe to him! Discipline, Work-Ethic, Structure, Family, Finances, you name it….The Lessons I learned from my father have reaped benefit in my life and in the life of my children, as I duplicated the principles.
I think I was gentler with my children, but they NEVER thought, for one minute, I didn’t mean what I said. As a teen-ager, my son refused to ‘vote’ against me in a family discussion of ‘what-to-do,’ regarding some issue or another. He said, “You’re the Father, you’re in charge.” I asked, “What if I’m wrong?” He responded, “I’ll live with it.” And that was that!
Can I add: My son was all boy and eventually all man! He was strong-willed and opinionated. His teen-years were joyful, in part, because he knew where the boundaries were….and always were! Consistency is Vital.
God created The Family. He put Dad in charge. ‘In charge,’ doesn’t mean he’s The Boss. It means he’s responsible. He’s responsible for the success or failure of the family, even if he isn’t the one who caused it. God’s purpose is to establish organizational structures that assure success. The family needs it; the society needs it. Abdication can be the same as culpability, should a member run amuck because of his failure.
We don’t “Get That,” today! We believe we’re evolving as a society, becoming more sophisticated and complex. The old things belong to another, less enlightened age.
OK…so how is it The Family is suffering as it never has before? How is it children are growing up without character; without a sense of morality? How is it young people are still living at home in their 30’s and 40’s with the divorce rate and abortion rate so high? How is it so many children don’t have both a Mommy and a Daddy?
Family only works One Way. There is no way to improve upon it. There is only the possibility of destroying it. When that happens the crime rates soar, the drug rates soar, the abortion rates soar, the divorce rates soar. We get to the place where a noted Preacher is arrested in his own home for striking his mid-teen-aged daughter because she insisted on going to an “after-party,” late on a Saturday night and he was trying to stop her.
There was a time when children NEVER left the home without permission. NEVER on a school night. NEVER after midnight on a Friday or Saturday. They NEVER thought to fight with their parents or even talk back to them, let alone call the police. Those children grew up to be what we now call The Greatest Generation. Enduring The Great Depression, THEN going off to war, just as their young adult years were beginning. Setting jobs and family aside for 4, 5 and 6 years. Then coming home and simply going back to work: to build a life for themselves and their families.
The Greatest Generation had it’s faults. They tended to spoil their children! Giving those children what they did not have themselves, as they were growing up. It Ruined That Next Generation, proving The Point!