Sunday, December 30, 2012

Retrospect 2012

“No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.”  The Zen masters had it right, when they stated that.  God’s plan is perfect.  It’s a truth worth keeping in mind.  Somehow, there’s always a point in time where we tend to reflect on the past and look forward to the future.  Here we are, almost at the end of 2012, considering our experiences, with face set like a flint (Isaiah 50:7), staring at the future, imagining what it may have in store.  Let’s look together.

Personally, 2012 has been an interesting year.  It’s been a year of change.  Changes in finances and employers.  Changes in health.  Changes in how I deal with my call and my walk with God.  Changes in my relationship with God.  Some of the details of the first two might not seem so positive, but they’ve enriched the last two.

I don’t need to go into specifics on the first two.  Let me say that it’s helped how I minister.  It’s hard for people going through things to fully take advice from those they don’t think have walked the walk.  Even if it’s real insight into the Word for their lives without having had your own valley experience, the ability to demonstrate an understanding of that experience gives real credibility to your counsel.  But having gone through related trials enhances that more.  When you share something like Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”, it helps for the person seeking counsel to know that there is experience behind what is spoken.

That last was part of the changes in my call.  God has always given me the right things to say when giving counsel.  But, somehow, there’s a deeper insight when you’ve been through it.  I think about Jesus weeping for the trials people experienced.  His omniscience allowed Him to fully know all if them.  The things we experience do the same for us to a lesser degree.  But the process gives us a tenderer heart and greater empathy.  For that, I say, “Thank you, Lord!”.  And, while I’m looking forward to God working on my finances and health, I don’t ever want to lose that ability to reach people where they’re at and draw them closer to God.

As I said earlier, my writing is part of my call.  From the beginning, there were certain things I incorporated into my blogging style that pretty much stayed the same.  We’ve cut back some, to allow time for other forms of ministry.  And we’re more regularly sharing guest posts.  You might have noticed that my own style has recently been changing a bit – sometimes fewer Bible verses, other times relying almost solely on the Word.  And, just last post, a book review.  God’s been giving me more freedom to experiment.  We’ll be continuing in that.  Maybe even doing some poetry, soon.  One thing that’s been on my heart is that God, in any of His forms, has been very creative.  For that reason, I believe I need to show the same kind of variety and creativity in talking about Him.  So, we’ll keep having fun with that.  And I believe there’s a book or two, or three, or four in my future.  We’ll see what God does.

Psalm 18:2 tells us, “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”  How many times have we said or read all or some part of that verse?  But, when you’ve gone through something and seen God at work in your life, anything abstract in your concepts quickly disappears.  I’ve had opportunities over much of my life to see that truth in action.  But, this year, I’ve been given the privilege of experiencing some valley time that others have just lived with.  And I’ve experienced a sweeter closeness to my Savior than ever before.  I’ve watched Him guide me past the traps and rocky ground.  I know He is my rock and my fortress because I’ve experienced it.  Faith is a wonderful thing, but seeing what you believe come to fruition is awesome.  He’s given me new boldness.

2012 has been a year of developing relationships far and wide.  When I first started walking with God, one of my greatest influences was Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries.  We’ve been able to communicate a little online, this year.  Bob Goff, for the most part, seems to have the same kind of perspective on his faith that I do.  We’ve been able to connect, this year.  I went to my first conference in almost 30 years that wasn’t in our ministry, mostly to get to know the people who invited me.  That turned out to be an awesome trip in every way.  The Word was rich, the fellowship was spectacular, the food was unbelievable.  Courtesy of some online connections, I even was asked for counsel by people away from my home church.  It was a great year.  Not because of who I am, but because of what God was doing in and around me.  As my friend, Marian Frankenhauser says, “Yay, God!”.

When we look at the world, this past year wasn’t necessarily what anyone would a good one.  Wars and rumors of wars, mass shootings, yet another potential apocalypse, the finances of nations in turmoil, people spewing one form of hatred or another.  In our own nation, the solutions can be as bad as the original problems. 

Same sex couples have been denied some of the same legalities as married couples.  Instead of fixing the legal issues, some states have chosen to redefine marriage.

There are huge fines and jail time for killing or abusing animals.  If you kill a woman who is pregnant, you get charged with double homicide, no matter how old the unborn baby might be.  But, in order to give a woman the choice of how she wants to handle her body, we allow abortion, at an ever increasing length of time in the pregnancy.  And we have government funding for it.

We allow radical muslims and pretty much anyone other than those with Judeo-Christian beliefs to have freedom of speech.  But not so for the Christians, to the point of removing prayer from schools and the Ten Commandments from. publicly owned buildings.  Before that started happening, the Christian influence kept things fairly quiet.  Now we see  increasing terrorism and mass shootings and people wonder why.

The proposed solutions for these things seems to be gun bans.  I guess it’s easier to ignore the fact that criminals, terrorists, and crazies mostly don’t go to gun shows and gun shops and legally purchase their weapons.  They get them by subterfuge or illegally obtaining them.  Even if the channel for guns was cut down, they’d just use something else illegal, possibly even more devastating.  We have to realize that we don’t need to fix weapons availability.  We need to change the mental and spiritual outlook of those who have the weapons.

All the furor over the Mayan calendar ending and leading to an apocalypse was spiritual hooey.  Most people ignored that the Mayans were one of the few peoples who didn’t have an apocalypse in their thinking.  At the same time, there were those in the Christian camp who joked about it and pointed to the verses about our not knowing when the end would come.  But they stopped short, there, never going beyond that to show people that the reason not to fear is in a relationship with God, who loves His creation and will offer every opportunity to become one with Him.

And, of course we can’t forget a government that has a president and congress who “stand on principles”, but can’t reach mutual agreement to avoid plummeting the country into greater poverty and another recession.  And the president, one morning, signs a bill increasing spending by giving the vice president and congress a raise.  Then, that same evening, the president accuses the congress of being ineffective and incompetent.  Government must be the only place where incompetence gets you a raise instead of being fired.  Which, in itself, ought to be a clear sign that something is wrong with their thinking.

This post has actually gotten longer than usual.  There is a solution for all of these things.  And there can be a positive outlook for 2013, much the same as my own experience in 2012.  Yes, it totally revolves around God.  However, because we need to end here, we’re going to change our usual posting schedule.  Where we usually use Twitter, Facebook, and Google+  on Tuesday to highlight some of the great past posts, we’ll do that Thursday.  And it will be our annual countdown of the most popular posts of all time.  On Tuesday, which is New Years Day, we’ll do the post that usually gets published on Wednesday.  This one will go in depth into how to have complete peace and sail through 2013, no matter what happens.  If you don’t think that’s possible, come back New Years Day and find out.  It can be a happy new year, filled with real joy.

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