Saturday, January 26, 2013

What a way to die!




It was Steven Covey who said, "If you want minimum results in your life, then seek to change your actions or behaviors. If you want maximum results in your life, then seek to change your paradigm."

A paradigm is simply a lens through which you view things, circumstances, people, and actions. I have to be completely honest with you when I tell you that the paradigm through which I saw God and His working through me was pretty warped. I grew up in a very good Christian home, and my life was centered around very good Christian things. I memorized my bible, read through it every year, and even quoted it from time to time. Church was a main staple.

I used to think that my mother and Samuel's mother Hannah had a lot in common. Both of these mothers decided that church was where they wanted their kids to grow up. I have seen just about every "Flannel Graph" that there is. What is a "Flannel Graph" you ask? That was the old fashioned power point!

Despite all of these incredible blessings, my paradigm of God was severely warped. You see I knew about God, but I did not really know God. God was someone to be feared, because even though I knew He loved me, I had this skin crawl type of feeling that He was just waiting for me to mess up so He could pounce and make an example of me. As long as I kept my head down, we were ok God and me.

I am not really sure where I picked that up and that is the weird part. I just always saw Him as a background kind of person who was really disappointed in Dan, and chose to pour out His blessings and power in the life of those who took their devotion  to Him seriously.

That explains why I had spent most of my life really trying to win Him over.

 "If I can do enough things for Him, then He will love me more."

I know, crazy right?

I would look down on others who had "Lower standards" and automatically deem their counsel and views of the divine as low in value. After all, I did not do those things, and I constantly worked to keep myself spotless.

But deep down in my heart, very deep down, it seems like I always wanted to know God. I knew that I did not know Him beyond a mental ascent that He was who He said He was.

One day, I just decided that if He would let me get to know Him, then I would do it. Not as a boss, but as a friend. Not as the godfather, but as God The Father.

I asked Him if He would let me get to know Him.

This is where it gets a bit crazy. He did!

I will never forget the day that I came across this passage in the Bible.

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." ~Proverbs 3:5-6

I sat there stunned. Here it was all along, right in front of my nose. I had even memorized this verse as a kid to get a pack of  fruity flavored certs in Sunday School. How was it that I had this memorized, and I had missed it? God had been personally inviting me to know Him, and been wanting to be an intimate part of my life...all my life.

In all thy ways acknowledge Him.

Acknowledge is a heavy word. My wife has used this big one on me many times. Usually it would sound like this, "Honey, would you just please acknowledge that you heard what I said?" or "Would you please acknowledge that was a red light you drove through?" The word means more than just a head nod. In Proverbs, God says that if I ACKNOWLEDGE Him, then He will personally direct my path!

The word Acknowledge means to search out, to discover. God says, "In all of your ways Dan, search for me, discover me, and I WILL personally direct your path.

What are my ways then?

I found where this word is used again in the same context.


"O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways." ~Psalms 139:1-3  Where I go, what I do, who I meet, what I think. Basically, every aspect of my life.

I can remember the conversation I had with God the day I read this. "So, if I search out and look to discover you in every place I go, everything I do, everyone I meet, and in every circumstance, you will personally direct my path??? This I got to see!"

That is when God let me see my path.

I was very happy to walk on the path that God gave me. It was designed for me. Father designed it, no you can't have it, don't even ask. It is mine.

As I walked on the path that God gave me, I came to a wall. Not literally, but it was there. Right smack dab in the middle of my path. I had come across these things before, and there was some times I got confused at them and why they were on my path. I had a routine I would go through when I came to these walls, some people refer to them as a pattern. I would become frustrated with God for putting them on my path, and I would just stop walking on the path that He gave me. But this time was different. I began to search out God in this wall. I did not understand Him and why He would put it on the path, but I trusted Him. God responded to me, and He helped me climb the wall.

When I got to the top of that wall, you are not going to believe what I saw!!!

Can I just show you?


video

There it is. Paradigm shifting stuff huh? The walls that were on my path seemed like a mistake, or worse yet, an intentional cruel infliction of pain. When you and I begin to search for God in every thing that is connected in our life we see His complete direction was flawless.

When my son was four, we had just moved to Alabama to work in full time ministry. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer, and this was a wall. I remember that my son would pray for his "Guh-Guh" (four year old for grandma) every night. You have to hear him pray to fully understand this, but then if you have children or grandchildren, you probably understand just fine.

I would walk out of his bedroom after his four year old prayer meeting and have one of my own. "Father, how am I going to explain to him your plan should you decide to take Carol home? How do you tell a four year old that God loved his grandma, hears his prayers, and still allows this to reach it's intended conclusion?"

God gave me "The Man and The Wall". It was so simple. The step that does not bring us to Him is the step that brings us closer to Him!

Our response determines our future!

 I have not reached the top of the stairs yet, and if you are reading this, neither have you.

Stop for a just a minute and look back down the stairs. What have you learned about God? What has He shown you by drawing you closer to Him? What would you have missed had you walked away?

My son was four at the time. We had just sold our home in Illinois and moved across the country to Mobile Alabama. I had been asking the Lord to PLEASE let me serve Him full time in the ministry. We got a call from a church here, and I was thrilled. Finally I would be able to put all my time into full time Christian service! God did not bring me to mobile to live, God was bringing me to Mobile to die.

Seeking God, yet serving self can be a popular way of life. What I did not realize is that through this portion of the path, God wanted to teach me how to die to self.

I was very excited about paths and walls and steps with God, but I was still hung up on what I would be now able to DO for God.

God used Mobile to teach me that He did not want me to DO anything for Him. He wanted me to BE something for Him. The flesh is not always bad things. It can be good things as well. He brought me to a place where I could see the flesh operating in good ways, and die to it.

The flesh is simply this:

FINDING MY IDENTITY IN :
       A) WHAT I DO
       B) WHAT I HAVE
       C) HOW I APPEAR TO OTHERS

When you properly identify the flesh, you can see it just as heavily in the church as you can in the street. God taught me through an Friday night program, how to die to that. That program was one of the most important spots on the path God gave me to walk on. When I found my identity was in Christ, I found myself again, at the top of another wall.

Looking back, Mobile was a divine part of my path. God directed me here, and from here...who knows? But I will tell you this, I am having the time of my life searching and discovering Him. Not just my God, but also my closest friend!

I have not reached the top of the stairs yet, and if you are reading this, neither have you.

Climbing with you,

~Dan


*The video on this website has been published into a Children's book format and is availible for purchase. Please contact themanandthewall@gmail.com for pricing details.

5 comments:

  1. I am speechless. Having been the Guh Guh and knowing how you are with your children I know the way you handled this. I was so involved with my own pain and suffering that I had no idea what affect it was having on others. Once again, thank you for being the man that God has made you to be. I know some of the walls you have had to climb and I can see the way you are searching and discovering God. You can hear people tell you this is what you should be doing but to actually see someone doing what he is telling other people to do makes it all more real. I remember the first time I saw this video and had no idea how it came about. The mother who had lost her first born son has told me how many times she has read the book. May God continue using you to help others.

    Thank you for becoming better and not bitter over the walls that have been put before you. When you get up and preach God's word I see you as a man of God not a son-in-law. I am anxious to see what God has in store you you. Love and God bless you and your family!

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  2. Great insight Brother Dan! "In all thy ways..." is indeed a tall order...that little word "all" can be intimidating. The more I see God working in so many different ways, the more I'm aware of His presence "in all my ways" and in the circumstances He brings me through. Shifting my focus off of my flesh and onto the Lord has been a slow growth process, but the walls are becoming easier to navigate. Thanks for sharing...I'm starting to like this bloggin' thing!

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    1. Bro. Ted, Thanks so much for the feedback, and for the time you have spent reading through these blogs. It is indeed an honor and a privilege to have an opportunity to post the view from the step I am on. God bless you and your family, and I look forward to the Lord leading both of us on His path!

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  3. One of my favorites that you have wrote. I know Father has more for you in mind then we could ever ask or think. I love your story and anxiously await His blessing poured out now and in the future

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