Thursday, May 7, 2015

My choices, my responsibility, and my gold...

Week 19:

Psalm 85:13 Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.

I have been thinking a lot lately about my choices.  25 years in one profession has me wondering, “Did I make the right choice?”  To this day, I still claim that I do not know what I want to be when I grow up.   This claim is based out of honest feelings.  This uncertainty of “Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing?” has me wondering if I am experiencing (25 years later) the consequences of the initial career choice I have made. 

So, I brought this to my men’s group the other night.  We usually voice each week…if given the opportunity, what would I work on to be a better man tonight?  As is custom, each man voiced his “work” for the night.  Then, I began a series of questions following up based on my thoughts of late around my choices. 

·         What choice did I make to get me to this point where now, I want to work on being a better man?  It all starts with a choice.  Once I realize that I made a choice to be where I am, I begin to gain some power over my life.  I become less of a victim.
·         What were the perceived benefits of my choice?  What payoff did I expect to receive when I made my choice?  I would not have made this choice if I didn’t expect some sort of gain in my life.  (Security, peace, power, relief, etc.)
·         What was I trying to avoid when I made my choice?  Ah, now we are getting somewhere!  Was I avoiding negative perception of a risky choice?  Was I avoiding emotional connection or commitment?  Was I avoiding a fear of failure?
·         What has been the ripple effect of my choice?  Am I where I am supposed to be?  Have I missed an opportunity for my choice?  Have I been doing what God called me to do all along and just not see it?  Who has been affected by my choice (both negatively and positively)?
·         What statement can I make that reflects my taking 100% responsibility for my choice?  Here I begin to have power over my choice.  I begin to recognize what drove me to this choice.  I can now move forward and step into contentment.  I can also begin to look at the possibility of making a new choice. 
·         How is my “gold” reflected in my choice?  There is a part of my God-given goodness within my choice.  I believe that with every choice, there are generally good intentions based on our heart.  From what place in my heart did I make this choice?  And…what has been God’s blessing around my choice (The silver lining)?
·         What measurable step can I take towards loving the part of me that made this choice?  How do I live with my choice without judgment?  What part of me that made the choice needs to be acknowledged, affirmed, and loved by me?

As we finished up the night, I was aware of how I felt.  I did not get a clear answer about who I want to be when I grow up.  However, I did gain some clarity around some things:

·         I gained some clarity around what prompted my choice.
·         I began to see some of God’s blessings and work based on my choice.
·         I gained some peace about who I am despite my choice.
·         I learned one more way in my life to take responsibility.
·         I was able to get a glimpse into some more of my God-given goodness.

My challenge to the reader is to look at that one place where you feel you made a choice that you are now questioning.  Work through the above questions.  Ask God to walk alongside you as you reflect.  Then walk as a person who is aware of your choices, your responsibility, and your gold.

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This was my latest post on  The Crucible Project blog.

Click HERE to purchase Weekly Devotional Thoughts: Weekly Applications of God’s Word on Amazon Kindle and write a review.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

When all else fails, read the instructions...

Week 18:

Psalms 119:130, 133 130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.  133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

I tend to try to fix things, build things, assemble things, and generally do things without first reading the instructions.  At times, once finished assembling something, I am perplexed by the unused parts and wonder why a manufacturer would waste material by placing un-needed parts in the box.  Then, when what I have put together does not function properly, I realize those were not “extra”…oops. 

I have heard of teachers who in their instructions at the top of a test noted that if the student has read the instructions to completion, they simply can put their names on the test, turn it in and receive a 100% without answering any questions on the test.  I would have been the student who answered the questions on the test. 

I do the same thing in my walk with God.  I try to walk through life on my own.  I do this based on my knowledge, my experience, and my wisdom.  Then I come across a dark time and wonder, “How did I get here?”  I didn’t read the instructions.

For quite a bit of my life, I have treated the Bible in several different ways:

·         I have viewed it as instruction for spiritual matters only.  At this point I have separated my life into different personas to fit different categories in my life.  I touch on this in my blog post:  Same life everywhere…
·         I would feel guilty for my lack of Bible study and would begin a regimen of reading.  I would not connect with what I was reading, get bored and stop.  Then I would feel guilty again.
·         I use it as a means to gain an answer.  Or I would use it to argue a point. 

What I have not done is see the Bible for a life instruction manual.  The older I get and the more I study and apply scripture, the more I realize that it is beyond just a book of laws.  Now God is bigger than the Bible.  He works in so many other places beside just between the covers of the Bible.  Yet, for us as Christians, the Bible is where we can begin to understand the character of God.  And not just in the New Testament…all scripture points to God’s character. 

Beyond learning more about God and His character; we also learn about humankind.  When I look into the character of the people written about in the Bible, I see me.  I see parts of what I do in them.  I see how God handled them.  I see instructions for living.  Not just instructions for a Holy life, but life itself.  I have made the mistake of separating “life” from a “holy life”.  For those of us in the kingdom of God, it is all to be intertwined. 

I am amazed that when my life is heading down a certain path that I do not understand; I can open up the Bible and the Spirit can lead me to a certain Biblical character and his or her life resembles what I am experiencing.  Unfortunately, this usually happens when I am in this situation.  Had I read this beforehand, I might have taken a different path. That is one of the important things about reading the Bible.  It’s not to please a far of God somewhere up in the heavens (although that is good too).  The Bible can become my instruction manual.  By reading on a regular basis I can mostly avoid putting myself in the situation of…When all else fails, read the instructions


1.      Which are you:  Read the instructions first?  Read the instructions only when stuck?  Explain.
2.      What has been your approach to reading the Bible in the past?
3.      Have you viewed the Bible as an instruction manual for life?
4.      What might be getting in the way of a healthy Bible study? 
5.      This week, pay attention to where you may need guidance form God’s Word.  When that comes up, as soon as possible, go to the Bible and see where the Spirit may lead.

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