Posts Tagged ‘Counsel’

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“OVERWHELMING INFLUENCES” – Dec 15

December 16, 2013

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”  Psalm 1:1-2

Viktor Hertz / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I currently have 300 podcasts on my computer that I have not listened to.

I have 845 unread articles on my RSS reader.

WordPress Reader provides a constant stream of posts from the blogs I follow.

I have bookshelves in my office full of books that I intend to read.

My Bible software program has over 1,000 books that I can search by key word.

My iPod has more music on it than I can remember.

My Facebook page has the 20+ symbol beside all of my categories.

I am overwhelmed with information.  We all live in a world that is awash with news, opinions, and content.  In general, I love it.  I have lived without Google.  I have lived when there wasn’t such a thing as the internet.  I am thankful that Al Gore invented it. The speed and ease by which I can obtain an answer to a question still amazes me.

I love the fact that I can access information with a few clicks of my mouse.  I love that I can carry my entire music collection in one small device rather than cases of cassettes.  I love the fact that I can read the work of amazingly talented writers and artists that I would never have know about.  I love being able to get my news from a diversity of viewpoints.

However, the management of information has never been harder.  It is easy to fall down the rabbit hole of meaningless links.  One funny YouTube video can consume an hour exploring all the related videos on the side bar.  There is the temptation to taste all the offerings but never enough time for a full meal.  We are forced to glide over the surface of most of the available information due to the overwhelming volume.  We surf past the majority of the content since there is not enough time in the day to truly consume it.  However, it is hard to learn how to pick and choose.

It is so easy to become lost in the process of being informed.
It is so easy to walk in the counsel of worldly digital pundits.
It is so easy to silently revel in the debauchery of the famous.
It is so easy to nod along with the skeptic.

I was curious what content was most sought this last year.  So, I did a little Google-ing and this what I found:

Top Searches on Yahoo in 2013:

miley cyrus
kim kardashian
kate upton
minecraft
selena gomez
obamacare (affordable care act)
amanda bynes
jodi arias
iphone 5
justin bieber

Breakout (Miley Cyrus album)

Breakout (Miley Cyrus album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Top Questions on Yahoo in 2013:
Top Who Question: “who wins the bachelor”
Top What Question: “what is twerking”
Top When Question: “when is thanksgiving”
Top Why Question: “why only 6 jurors in zimmerman trial”
Top How Question: “how to take a screenshot”

The Bachelor (US TV series)

The Bachelor (US TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Top Searches on Google in 2013:
Actor:  Miley Cyrus
Musical Artist:  Miley Cyrus
People:  Miley Cyrus
Top TV Shows:  #1The Walking Dead, #2 Breaking Bad
Scientists:  #1 Albert Einstein, #20 Richard Dawkins
Authors:  #1 Tom Clancy, #2 William Shakespeare
Books:  #1 Bible, #2 Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey produits dérivés

Fifty Shades of Grey produits dérivés (Photo credit: ActuaLitté)

I am left to wonder what counsel the majority are walking in;
what way are most people standing in;
where are the most popular seats being occupied?

Are not Miley Cyrus, the Kardashians, and Fifty Shades of Grey merely  glamorizing  the ways of sinners? Aren’t seats offered by Richard Dawkins and his like all in the amphitheater of the scoffers?  The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Grand Theft Auto revel in wickedness.  I am thankful that the Bible topped the list of books but I wonder how many who typed that search topic spend their days and nights meditating upon it.

I am reminded of my need to guard my heart.  The internet opens us to many forms of counsel, divergent norms, and normalization of deviating mores.  We all need to be careful to prevent the wave of internet content and information from replacing our time in meditation upon the word of the Lord.  I can be influenced more than I care to admit.  We are all buffeted by the changing winds of our culture and society.  We must be careful and intentional about the content that we immerse ourselves in.

I hope that my top counselor of the 2013 was the Spirit of God.

I hope that the primary way that I stood along this year was that of the righteous.

I hope that the seat I occupied most frequently was that of the one wise in the Lord.

Lel4nd / Foter.com / CC BY

I know that I did not meditate on the precise gift of God’s word like I could have.  Too often, I skimmed and perused.  We all must develop a strategy so that we will not be overwhelmed into indifference by the influences flowing onto our electronic devices throughout the day and night.  For me, this blog is one of my primary methods to help me increase my depth and duration of meditating on scripture.  I know that I am like John Piper in this regard:

I count myself as one of the number of those who learn as they write and write as they learn.
John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

Writing helps burrow my mind into the word.  Reading through the Bible in a year (or two) and writing blog posts of what jumps out at me has been the best way for me to discipline myself.  It has created a strategy for me to prioritize God’s Word above all the other influential content that is vying for my attention and my soul.

What helps you to keep the scripture as your delight throughout the year?

PRAYER: O Lord, you know that I delight in a lot of things.  You know that I am easily distracted from the best.  Father, thank you for the internet.  Thank you for this outlet of blogging.  Thank you for making a means for me to meditate more on your word.  Father, give me wisdom to understand where my influences are coming from.  Help me to seek You first.  Grant me a desire for You and your Word.  Make my delights conform to You.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Resources:
Google Trends > Top Charts
Yahoo’s Year in Review

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“YOU FOLLOW ME!” – Feb. 17

February 17, 2013

“Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?  You follow me!”  John 21:22

MultitaskingI recently read an article about how our brain functions.  I was particularly interested to read about the studies on multitasking.  Multitasking has been espoused as the best method for us to get the most accomplished.  Research is showing that is actually not the case.  They have found that our brains can’t do two cognitively complicated tasks at once.  When you are multitasking you aren’t actually doing two things at once.  Your brain is focusing on one task and then jumping over to another task.  It is splitting its focus.  The more tasks you demand of your brain the more jumping around it is going to do.  They have found that it takes about 50% more time or longer to complete two or more tasks at once.

Multitasking doesn’t actually save time.  We are better off to focus on one task.  Complete that task and then move on to the next task.  The best solution is to give ourselves ample time to focus and just think.  That is when our brains will flourish.

It seems to me that many believers suffer from a similar type of multitasking malady.  We live in an incredible age.  There is so much information flowing to us.  We have world-renowned authors and teachers available on ebooks and podcasts.  We have newsletters from our Church, para-church ministries and missionaries.  We have commentaries and the writings of theologians from previous centuries available at the click of a mouse.   There are so many great things that we can be involved with.  We can participate in the ministry opportunities of our Church, volunteer at pregnancy resource centers, serve at food kitchens, mentor trouble teenagers, speaking and writing.  All of those activities can be wonderful manifestations of the love of Christ through His body.  There is such an incredible stream of information and opportunities flowing to us.

It can become over-whelming.

There are some folks who try to take it all in.  The problem is that all of these activities can create a troublesome pattern.  It is easy to allow the vibrancy of our faith to be directly connected to the release of the next best-selling author.  We can go in search of our motivation and excitement in the fresh insight or the dynamic.  We can allow our faith to be driven by the emulation of the spiritual formula of another.  Many of these folks bounce from one passion to the next passion to the next passion but never seem to bounce forward.  They seem to continually be in search of what they should do and be.

Another response to the bandwidths of information and myriads of opportunities is to shut it all out.  There are wonderful things that God is doing throughout the world and in our communities.  There are wonderful words that are being written for our generation.  There are insights from generations past that are timeless and exceedingly beneficial to our souls.  There are resources that we can use to redeem many a mind numbing commute or waiting room.  Yet, many folks have given up because it all seems to be too much and have in essence stagnated.

I think that many of us would benefit from meditating upon the words, “You follow me.”

We all have a specific and individual purpose in this life. What it looks like for me to follow Christ will not necessarily look the same for you.  I think that it is healthy to stop the multitasking and to give specific time for the Spirit to guide our souls to obedience to Christ’s command. 

“You follow me.”  Do you know what it means for you, as an individual, to follow your Lord and  Savior?  You need to know.  We all need to know what it means for us as individuals to follow Jesus.

Jesus is the only one who can tell you what that path looks like for you.  It doesn’t matter what other people are doing around me.  It doesn’t matter what all the famous people may be telling us what we should be doing.  What matters is that I am being obedient in following the path that Jesus is leading me down.  He is calling me, “JD follow me.”  He is calling you:

“You follow me.”

It is so easy to let our focus drift to what other people are doing.  It is so easy to think that our path must be the same as their path because it looks like it is working for them.  It might be that you are called to the same path as another person.  The Holy Spirit might confirm that the path Christ has called you to follow is alongside this other believer.  However, it is still your path – “you follow me.” We are not following some more mature believer.  We are following Christ.  That means there may be times when we are on the same path as others but there might be times when we are on separate paths.

I don’t know the answer for anyone other than myself.  However, I do know that if you don’t spend time alone with your Savior the tendency will be to bounce around living off other people’s faith or stagnate and not move at all.  Just like we need to give our brains time to focus on one task, we must give our souls time to focus on our Savior and following Him.

“You follow me.” That is what Jesus is calling out to each and every child of God.  Seek our Lord and allow him to confirm or correct the path that you are following

PRAYER: Lord, I need you this day and every day to guide me.  Thank you for calling me to follow you.  Thank you for giving me a path to follow.  Lord, help me to focus on you and what you are guiding me to.  Father, thank you for all the wonderful servants and teachers that you have given your Church.  Fill me with your Spirit so that I am sensitive and obedient in following you on a daily basis.     Amen

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WHO IS YOUR COUNSELOR? – Feb. 16

February 16, 2013

“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsel. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! Psalm 81:11-13

When I was young, I could not wait to grow up.  I remember day dreaming about the time when I could have my own things and make my own decisions.  I felt very constrained as a child.  My parents decided when and where we would go.  They decided what I would eat and what I would wear.  They decided what activities that I was allowed to be involved in.  They made my work schedule.  They treated me as a child when I wanted to be treated as an adult.  I could not wait to be an adult and to experience the associated freedoms.

I realize now that I had a wonderful childhood.  I would not want to change any of it.  My parents loved me and nurtured me.  I am deeply grateful for the childhood that they gave me.  Yet, I still wanted to grow-up even though I had a wonderful childhood.

Adulthood was my escape.  In adulthood, I would be allowed to make my own decisions.  It was not that my parents were poor decision makers.  They made very good decisions.  I just wanted to make my own decisions.  However, it was never about decisions.  My desire for adulthood was rooted in control.  I wanted to be free to do what I wanted to do.

Adulthood has not turned out to be as magical as I had thought.  The freedom of making my own decisions is not as liberating as I thought it would be.  Escaping the shackles of my parents has only revealed the heavier yoke of adulthood.

I never realized the weight of adult uncertainty until I became an adult.  I had always thought that adults just did whatever they wanted to do.  I now know that is not true.  Adults have to do a lot of things that they don’t particularly care to do.

I had always thought that adults just knew the right thing to do.  I think that is one of the greatest ruses that adults play on children.  I always thought my parents knew what they were doing.   They did not.  They were figuring it out as they went along.  I have come to realize that clarity does not accompany adulthood.  We all are doing the best we can with the information and resources that we have available to us.

Bible Study 2

Bible Study 2 (Photo credit: DrGBB)

Just as my childish view of adulthood revealed my desire for control, how you view the Bible reveals your attitude about God.

There are many people who view the Bible as a book of “don’ts”.  They view it like a child views his parent.  It is a book that is removing their freedom. It is a book that tells them what they can’t do and what they have to do.  It is a book that treats them like children when all they want to be is an adult.  That sort of attitude can lead to day-dreaming about activities and a life free from those oppressive constraints.  Many have felt that if they were just free to follow their own counsel then they would be happy and satisfied.

The refusal to walk in the ways of the Lord is not about decisions it is about a heart battling for control.  We want to do what we want to do.

How do we know what is the right thing to do?  We all have a choice.  We can either follow our own counsel or the counsel of God to decide what the right thing is.

My counsel comes from me.  I don’t know anything beyond my experience.  Therefore, my counsel is an undulating wave of feelings and convictions evolving from my attempt to figure this world out as I am passing through it.  My counsel involves trial and error.  It requires me to make to decisions on how the universe works that I can’t know.  My counsel speculates what the future holds with multiple layers of assumptions and inferences.

My counsel is a guess,  biased by a stubborn heart.

God’s counsel is from the One who created this world.  He is the One who knows the purposes and meanings of this world.  He is the author of this world’s purposes and meaning.  God knows all that happens. He is in control of all creation; taking it along His divine plan.  God’s counsel entails the most complete and deepest understanding of the past, present, and future.

God’s counsel is the most reliable source of guidance available to us because He has a perfect understanding and knowledge of all things.

Why would anyone choose their own counsel?

A stubborn heart has a deleterious effect on our decision-making.   A stubborn heart will elevate our own counsel because that will get it what it ultimately wants.  A stubborn heart demands the freedom of selfish pursuits just like a child can long for adulthood.  The achievement that perceived control is merely a life of eternal insecurity because it is inevitably based on a heart that is trying to figure it out.  Clarity and certainty is impossible. There will come a day for all people when they realize that they are still subject to the requirements of this world.  Just like adults don’t get to do whatever they want to do, this world has consequences for the actions of every person.  It doesn’t matter what we day-dream the world to be like.  Reality has a way of waking us up.

When it comes to the knowledge of this spiritual universe, I am a child.  I can’t figure out how it works on my own.  I don’t want to rely on my day-dreams of what I hope it will be like.  I need a trustworthy Counselor.  I have a Father in heaven who loves me and knows how to give me good things.  He has given me His counsel.  Why would I reject His counsel?  Why would I think that I could know better than Him?

We need to cling to the good counsel of our God even when we really don’t like what it might be saying.  Don’t trust your feelings.  The discomfort that we may feel from God’s counsel is merely the abrasion of a stubborn heart; a stubborn heart that needs to be daily worn down by the Gospel.  It is the Gospel that softens our stubborn hearts and creates a desire for God’s word and a disdain for the contrary counsel of this world and our own mind.

Whose counsel will you seek this day?

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for not leaving us on our own.  Thank you for providing us with your Word and giving us your Counsel.  Forgive me for acting like I know better.  Forgive me for not following your Word like I know that I should.  You have given it to me for my good.  It is a wonderful gift.  Father, I delight in you Word; write it upon my heart.  Weave your counsel into every part of my life.     Amen

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