When God Speaks

September 29, 2015

The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. And the Lord called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

— 1 Samuel 3:3 – 9

Whoever actually coined the phrase, “When we talk to God, it’s prayer, but when God speaks to us, it’s schizophrenia”, must have been an atheist and probably a psychiatrist attempting to snuff out what believers may be tuned in to.

Yup, it’s time for some more ramblings from my Q10. I’m sure that Joelle is going to soon regret letting me have this BlackBerry. I really have to admire her talent for being able to read my blog posts with her eyes rolling the way they do whenever I do these things. That’s probably why I love her so much.

But I digress…

Let me start by saying that throughout Joelle’s entire cancer ordeal, I really don’t believe that we have been walking alone in this. I truly believe that God has been walking with us. You can call me insane all you want, but unless you are walking in my shoes and have been witnessing everything I have been feeling and hearing, then you really wouldn’t know anything about it.

One indicator that I don’t believe that I am alone is that I have often woken up in the middle of the night crying and somewhere in between the all of the praying and crying, I could swear that I have felt someone touching me. It’s as if I could feel a hand touching my back or my side and then rolling over to find that there is no one there. I have no reason to doubt that there could be an angel sent by God to comfort me in these times. And if it is crazy, then I would rather go with the crazy and feel like I am not alone than with the normal and lonely, especially at this time.

There are also times where I am asleep, or at least I am falling asleep, and I will hear my name being called. Usually, my first reaction is to wake up and turn around to see who is calling me. Of course, there is no one there, and I know it is not Joelle because not only is she sleeping, but I know her voice, and have known so for over thirty years.

It reminds me of the scripture that I posted regarding Samuel. Every time he heard God’s voice calling him, he kept going to Eli and asking what he wanted. Of course, Eli responded with, “it wasn’t me.” Eli also told Samuel that the next time God is calling him, he should answer God and tell him that His servant is listening.

Interesting. I have had many times when I felt that I was hearing my name being called. Every time I have heard it, I felt like it was one of those moments where I could feel it right down to my soul. It was more than simply hearing my name. It was more like feeling my name. And yet, every time I heard it, I never really answered. I just simply turned around to see who was there.

I have always begged for God to talk to me and now it seems like I am getting my wish. So instead of trying to see who is there and not even try to answer back, I should be more like Samuel and have the courage to ask God to speak some more because I am now listening. Of course you are thinking that it sounds like insanity, but look at it this way: if there is no one there, then all I am really doing is talking to the air. However, if God is there and I don’t try to speak up when I am being spoken to, then I am really missing the chance of a lifetime. As well, I will also be proving my lack of faith because I had prayed and God was answering my prayers.

“Self-help” and the Paradox of Faith

September 26, 2015

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
— Romans 7:15

There was once a rabbi in a small village who was very much loved and respected. One day, the nearby dam broke loose and water was flooding the village. While everyone was preparing to evacuate, the rabbi just climbed up to the rooftop of his house and prayed.

As the waters reached the rooftop, a boat pulled aside. They yelled from the boat, “c’mon, get in the boat!” The rabbi responded, “God will save me.” The rabbi continued to pray as waters went passed the rooftop and was now waist deep on the rabbi. Another boat came by and everyone was yelling for the rabbi to get in the boat. Again, the rabbi responded with, “God will save me.” He continued to pray and the waters rose to his neck. A helicopter flew up to the rabbi and lowered a rope ladder. The pilot spoke through the loudspeaker, “climb up the ladder and get in the helicopter!” The rabbi responded, “it’s okay. God will save me.” Moments later, the rabbi drowned.

When the rabbi got to heaven, he demanded to see God. So, God came up to the rabbi. The rabbi angrily asked, “How could you let me die? I prayed and prayed for you to save me and you didn’t answer my prayers…”

God immediately interrupted the rabbi and said, “What are talking about? I sent you two boats and a helicopter! What more did you expect?”

So, what is the point of this little joke? I’m hoping to elaborate on this in the proceeding paragraphs.

Having seen the video “Wide is the Gate” once or twice, it got me thinking at one time about some of my usage of certain material classified as self-help. In fact, it directly targets Anthony Robbins in particular, which got my attention. Main reason is because I have used his material, such as Personal Power, since 1992. I tried it because at the time, I was in the deepest depression to the point of being suicidal. In fact, I will never forget the fact that Joelle sold her piano in order to get me the set. And you know what? It worked. It helped me to break out of my destructive pattern and helped me to move forward.

However, after seeing the video, it sort of had me wondering if I was doing anything that was not according to scripture. This sort of led me to stop using what I knew for a few years, and I can say that I started to watch my life slide to the point of depression again. Something that I have not felt for a long time. I found that I was starting to act like a combination of Grumpy Cat and Walter (you have to watch Jeff Dunham in order to get this) at the same time. I can’t say that it was all of a sudden. It was more like a frog in a pot situation. By the time I noticed that I was in hot water over this, it was too late. If you are wondering to yourself, “did he pray about it?” The answer is constantly. Well then you are probably thinking, “he must not be praying hard enough.” Are you kidding me? Just how many times do I have to wake up in the middle of the night crying to the point where my pillow is drenched, begging for Godly intervention to hold up the walls from crumbling all around, or at the very least some wisdom and understanding as to why the walls are crumbling all around, before it is considered praying hard enough?

Well, after serious consideration, I really can’t see why I, with my belief in Christ, should discontinue my usage and practices of everything that I have learned from Tony Robbins. In fact, I pulled out my Personal Power CDs and have been listening to them on my BlackBerry and have been doing the assignments that are on the CDs. I can imagine the pixels that are getting sucked off the screen by all of the sphincters closing on many of the pastors and legalistic church goers that I know. That’s okay. I’m used to this. I got people trying to talk me out of taking karate 16 years ago. You know the type. However, if you read this far, you’re probably going to hear me out, which means that all of this typing on my Q10 won’t be in vain.

Let’s take this whole notion of self-help to start. If you are thinking that by listening to the CDs and practicing what you are listening, you are not having faith in God, I will tell you to think about this for a second.

When you are not feeling well, what do you reach for? Do you reach for a pill, or are you pulling out bible scripture believing that is sufficient? Be honest with yourself. You have probably reached for a Tylenol, Rolaid, or Gravol without a second thought. Have you been unfaithful to God for doing so? Certainly not!

When I ripped my quadricep muscle clean off of my knee, should I have gone to church first? You’re probably chuckling, thinking, “Now you’re being foolish! Of course you should be going to the hospital!” Even Joelle’s first reaction when I could not stand up because of it was, “You’re not going to work. You’re going to the hospital.” Let me tell you that there is no one I know that is more faithful to God than Joelle, and yet she knew what had to be done. I never lost faith in the hospital. I spent most of my waiting time reading from the book of Psalms while I was in pain and shock. I truly believe that God was at work through the doctors there as not only did they fix up my injury, but I am walking far better than I was before the injury. Only God could do that kind of stuff.

If working out on an exercise machine, or riding a bicycle being unfaithful to God. I think we know the answer. We can pray and pray all we want for physical fitness, and God will meet us halfway. He’ll either provide the equipment or a gym membership. However, it is up to us to get up off of our butts and get working out. We must not be like Saul. When it is time to pray, we pray. But, when it is time to act, we act.

So, if none of the above are a lack of faith, how would using Personal Power to help me break my cycle of depression be considered a lack of faith? The main premise of those CDs is that we are already doing all of these things unconsciously, and he is demonstrating how to take control of this in a scientific way. In other words, he scientifically shows us how to create and break habits. After all, we create habits all the time. Some good, many bad. Even Paul was aware of this. So where is the lack of faith? If anything, I’ve seen books in Christian bookstores on leadership that use similar principles. Things like setting goals and taking action are very common. The only real difference that I have noticed are the use of scripture. So then, why couldn’t I do something similar and let scripture dictate the kind of actions that I need to take? I prayed about the goals that I had set both before and after. If anything, God is a very big part of this.

Not to mention that I have been depressed all summer, and not for the lack of faith. I could have gone to the doctor and he probably would have prescribed me some sort of happy pill. Instead, I’m using this to break the cycle. It’s not some voodoo spiritual magic. It’s simple science of knowing how we function and using it to break a cycle. It’s how God designed us. It’s no different than learning how our heart and lungs work. In case, it’s more like how our nervous system work.

Just as I am using Personal Power from the aspect of faith, I think that it is just as easy to misuse any of the books found in the Christian bookstores. There are enough pastors out there that are twisting the gospel to suit their own desires and doing far worse damage than me listening to a self-help CD. In fact we can use and misuse almost anything. It is up to us to discern whether our actions are in faith or not. And if we are not able to discern the difference, then we need to stop and pray. God is faithful to us in that he will point out the direction that we need to take.

I also remember a line that Morgan Freeman said in the movie, “Evan Almighty”. He said, “when you pray to God asking for courage, God doesn’t just give you courage. He puts you in a situation that will give you the courage.” The same for being happy and breaking the cycle of depression, God doesn’t just snap His fingers and your are happy. He will provide the situation, and tools when required, for you to break the depression cycle. He did so 20+ years ago when I first got Personal Power. He is doing so again, reminding me that He gave me to tools to break the cycle and it is up to me to act.

Just as I had faith in God in the surgery that made me walk better than ever, I have every bit of faith in God that this is helping me break the cycle of my depression and make me more fit to act in His service. Prayers have never ceased. However, when it is time to act, we act. Otherwise, just how faithful am I really being?

God is in control – the most overused statement

September 16, 2015

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
–2 Peter 1:3-7 ESV

Everyone always tells me to relax and that God is in control. It always seems to get me thinking, and what better place to express my thoughts than here? Even better, at least to me, is that I have switched from my BlackBerry Z10 to a Q10 because I wanted a keyboard that I can type things like this a little more often. So let’s get to it.

How many times have I heard this statement? Many times. In fact, perhaps one too many times. Am I trying to say that God is not in control? Not at all. All things beyond us are certainly not in our control, despite how much we try to wrestle that control out of God’s hands. For example, in the natural course of time, we don’t control things like how long we actually live. We’re not sure when and where God will take us from this planet. It is also safe to say that there are plenty of situations that we were not in control of. For example, Joelle didn’t have any control over whether she would get cancer. In fact, I can say that none of us are in control of this life changing situation. These are just a couple of examples of the many things that we are not in control of, no matter how much we try to wrestle for it.

So what am I really trying to say? I’m trying to say that I believe that despite our best intentions, we cough up that statement almost as an excuse not to make certain decisions and take certain actions. We use this one little phrase to sit down and do nothing while life is passing by without pulling over to pick up hitchhikers. Sorry, but I am starting to think that this is pathetic of us. Yes, we have no control over certain situations. However, that is no reason to sit on our asses while life plays out. I’m sure that this is not God’s will.

Am I saying that we need to stand up and wrestle for control? Certainly not! We must still have the faith to believe that God is taking care of situations and we should not interfere with whatever He is doing. After all, look at the mess we have today all because Abraham and Sarah tried to take control over God’s promise. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t do certain things that are definitely within our realm of control.

Take our own bodies for instance. We have the ability to break out a smile at any time. Saying that God is in control for that makes us sound like we are marionettes and that God is some cosmic puppet master. God doesn’t move His fingers to make us dance. Otherwise, that would destroy the notion of free will. Therefore, God will not pull any strings on the sides of our face and we’ll be smiling. We can smile. We can also do things like exercise to get our emotions in check. There are many things that we can do to get ourselves going. I like to write music. I believe that David did the same while God was at work.

Is God in control? Definitely! Does that mean that we have no control? Not at all. In fact 2 Peter 1:5-6 mentions having self-control. Without it, we fall into sin. So, there’s no excuse for me not to handle our current situation. I can’t change the fact that Joelle has cancer. What I can change is my attitude and quit living like the walking dead. Joelle and I still have a bunch of good years ahead of us. It is time to live them. This is definitely something that God has given me control over.

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