Tag: encouragement

The Journey of Conscience

I was reading Watchman Nee’s Spiritual Man and finally got to the section about conscience.  What an excellent book, by the way, if you are really hungry to  know how spiritual stuff works for God’s people.

In this section, Nee explains the conscience as being a ‘monitor’ of God’s highest will for His children today.  He writes about how conscience will reveal things at different times for different people for different reasons.  While I was reading an analogy came to me which I jotted down.  This analogy really helped me bring the spiritual mechanism of the conscience to a more earthly level.

We are supposed to walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7).  And since there weren’t cars then and walking was probably a pretty normal mode of transportation, we could say this walking is a journey.  And Jesus also made it clear that the journey will not be an easy one.  He said ‘strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life and few find it” (Matt 7:14).  Now, let’s convert this difficult journey of walking in the light into a road trip into a standard road trip.

Most people today use GPS.  Ironically, I don’t but that’s just an interesting aside.  Perhaps I don’t use it because I’ve observed the behaviour of its users… anyway.  The GPS shows our current position on the journey.  It’s a monitor that we are on the right path.  Let’s call the GPS our conscience.

Behold! A tree has fallen across the road that the Lord God Almighty has beforehand shown us we must travel.  Let us call this tree ‘sin’ because it is an obstacle to our great journey of walking in the light and enjoying perfect fellowship with God.

Note that this pesky tree was *not* shown us on our GPS just hours before.  Everything was bliss and clear sailing.  So far as we thought we were free like the proverbial seagull. Yet now we have halted and this tree must be dealt with.  Although difficult cutting, you have a pocket knife if your glove box and there is no question that with enough will you could cut through it.  You could also use your brain and reason and likely find other ways to remove this thing which is preventing you from staying on the right path.  Let’s call the removal of this tree as ‘dealing with sin by the blood of the lamb and the cross’.

But, lo!  What is that over yonder?  You look to the right and note a very well paved cement road. It’s very wide and a lot of cars seem to be driving down it.  It would only take a second and you will be moving again.  Then, since it’s going ‘roughly the same direction’, you’ll just find your way back to the path that God ordained a little later.  Yes.  Indeed this is a much easier way.

So you turn right.

Life is good.

You turn the stereo back on and start driving.  You are following a few nice cars and everyone in their cars seem like they are really doing well.  These people are the Sunday church people, you noticed, so surely they are on the right path!  But you noticed something else…. your GPS signal is dead.  Completely dead.  It just shows your car stopped back at the tree.

No problem. You are following these other church people so you keep going.  It starts getting dark and there are less and less people on this road.  Within a short time you are alone.  And it’s dark.

You cry out for help and no one responds.  Just a big, empty void.

Then you hear other cries for help.  Go figure… Those church people are lost in the dark too!  They must have been following each other just like you were.

Fear sets in.

How you long for the days when your GPS was assisting you and you had bold confidence that you were on the right path.

How badly you wished that you just dealt with that tree on the road.

 

 

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Manna: What is it? It is this.

UPDATE: I’ve included a response from a friend to this post in the body of the post below under these neato little == markings, removing some personal identifying items.

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I could feel the heavy burden on my back when I woke up.  It was also on my chest.  I could also feel it pushing on my temples (both sides).  I was being slowly crushed under it – again.  How did this happen?  How did I end up back here again – back under the horrible weight of stress and worry?

Maybe I should have just gone the way of other men.

Maybe the wide road of comfort, ease and abundance is the better way.

Maybe pushing papers for the government or a big company isn’t so bad because there at least I’ll know that my mortgage and bills will be paid and by whom: me!

STOP THE PRESS!

WOAHHHHHH, NELLY!

CONDUCTOR, STOP THIS TRAIN! I NEED TO GO VISIT CAPTAIN JESUS!

And so I went into the Holy of Holies to pray (I call it that because I have curtains that go between my home office and the place where I find myself crying out to God on the floor).

I stopped talking and thinking and got down on my knees and started worshipping.  Within less than three seconds (sometimes He’s fast) He said ‘Manna’.

Manna?

What is it? (Exodus 16)

And what does it have to do with this burden of stress that is slowly sucking my will to live?

Although I don’t have the entire revelation, here is what was shown me in convenient bullet point form for millenial encouragement:

  • no matter how many hours of the day I work I cannot provide more
  • if I sweat all day long and all night long and gather storehouses full of it, it rots leaving me with exactly what I need when the delivery arrives the next day
  • it’s about being in God’s will, not about the easy life that matters
  • the wilderness might not be pretty, but it’s there where faith grows
  • no matter how poor I am, no matter how empty my basket is, no matter how hungry I am, the amount I need always seems to show up – but not always exactly when my stomach growls.

and, the key take away point for me, for today, when I could feel the burden lifting off of my chest, temples and shoulders was this:

  • no matter how much I worry, I cannot add or subtract to the amount of Manna provided because God Almighty knows what’s best for my soul.

Jesus asked this ( Matt 6:27, NLT version):

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

I write this today in hopes that someone out there who is in my shoes is encouraged.  I’m thinking of one particular friend in Ottawa with whom, although we rarely have time to chat these days, has also chosen the path of most resistance for many years and found himself with humbled and asking for continual help.  He, like I, know that there is something so important to learn on the journey that we have, for many years gone without, worked countless hours more than our neighbours and friends and have ended up with just enough Manna for today.  I’ve always wanted to ask him if his heart, like mine, has become so thankful for the small things in life.  I’ve always wanted to ask him if his relationship with God, like mine, has become so much closer through the journey of learning to trust our Heavenly Father.

And so, brother, I hope that this short post has boosted your faith in Christ, multiplied your thankfulness, encouraged you for the day, and given you hope for tomorrow.

Manna.  It is this.

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Hey bud,

Thanks again for sharing that blog post.
To be honest, I see things a bit differently. Bear with me as I go through some of the things you wrote and offer a different point of view 🙂
The Lord Provides
Full transparency here, and forgive me if I’m repeating stuff I already shared.
A few years back I was pretty fed up with my employment. I had spent a lot of time studying and earning certifications so I could work my way up the ladder and actually help people. Well… when I got there it was just more sales.
As my dissatisfaction grew, my desire to be independently wealthy grew, too, so I made the decision to resign and go it alone.
That was the first in a long series of bad decisions.
In those first few months of unemployment (self employment) I tried various investments and even online marketing.
My wife and I met the Lord in Dec 2011. Shortly after things got to their lowest. We nearly had to sell the house to pay off all the debt I had got us into. Fortunately we were able to work out a debt repayment plan through a government agency here, and as long as we were able to pay X amount back to our creditors each month, we could keep our house.
After that our monthly obligations were more burdensome than ever, and I was still too stubborn to get a job. I was determined to be self employed and had myself convinced that I was very close to having a breakthrough.
I went through many many sleepless nights, crying out to God for help. Every new win encouraged me, so I kept going despite the irrefutable reality that I couldn’t afford to take care of my family.
We were “borrowing” money from my parents on a very regular basis. I was working very long hours. And we just couldn’t get ahead.
There actually were a few times I nearly caved to get a job. My wife kept reminding me to trust the Lord. So I did, and kept going.
Now My Comments:
Maybe pushing papers for the government or a big company isn’t so bad because there at least I’ll know that my mortgage and bills will be paid and by whom: me!
The point you seem to be making here is that if you’re self employed you’re relying on the Lord to provide, but if you were to get a job you’d somehow be relying on your own strength.
I think the danger of relying on your own strength is just as great in either case, but I think that is beside a much greater issue:
In My Case:
I now firmly believe that I was missing a greater commandment and mistakenly thought that I was somehow trusting God more by sticking with self employment.
Here was the reality when I was self employed
  • I was often stressed
  • I wasn’t able to provide for my family
  • I was a great burden to my parents
  • I had very little time with my children and my wife
  • When I DID have time with my family, I was often preoccupied with the demands that come with running my own business
  • I felt like a failure, but didn’t want to admit that I couldn’t do it
  • I wanted to succeed
Here are some truths I have come to understand better in the last year:
  • The professional path I choose does not define my level of trust in the Lord ( Col 3:23-24 )
  • The Lord commands me to train up my children and have a great quantity of time with them (not just ‘quality’ time) ( Deut 11:19, Prov 22:6 )
  • The Lord commands me to be the head of my wife, ministering to her faithfully ( Eph 5:25-30 )
  • The Lord expects that I will make wise decisions and provide for my family. ( 1 Tim 3:5, 5:8 )
I Was Very Wrong
I came to the conclusion that I was no more pious in working for myself, nor would I be any less pious for getting a job.
I realize that my understanding of what it meant to “trust The Lord” was flawed.
I realize that The Lord gives us a very long leash – even enough with which to hang ourselves.
We are expected to be wise. We are commanded to make good decisions. I was using my “trust” in The Lord as a cover all for poor planning and poor decisions. Not intentionally, mind you, but that was what was happening.
With all due respect, love and tenderness, brother, I think you’re missing something when you equate getting a job with seeking a road of comfort, ease and abundance. I don’t think they are the same thing, at all. If you were guilty of that, you’d be guilty of it as a self employed entrepreneur or an office worker.
Rather, could getting a job not be a means to obeying a great commandment? If you were to get a job (and it can be one with purpose, that you enjoy), how much more time would you be able to spend with your family? How much more effective would you be in ministering to the wife and daughters the Lord has entrusted to your care?
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
What a promise!!
I’m not saying you are NOT doing these things, but I’m just asking how much MORE could you be doing them were you not preoccupied with work? That was certainly the case with me.
Things Have Changed
Last year I decided to finally get a job, and one that I could enjoy. I decided on a field that I was interested in, and thank The Lord I have a lot of fun doing it.
Last June I started to study, and the Lord connected me with all the right people and opportunities to really grow in this field I enjoy so much.
I was looking for work, but I still had much I needed to learn before I could be an effective team member on a team in this field.
Praise God, through a very unlikely turn of events I landed a job at a startup just 5 minutes from home.
Things are still a bit tight financially, and I get up very early most mornings to study, but we’re making it, and it’s getting better all the time. I have no doubt that The Lord has provided all of this.
I get to spend each lunch hour with my family. I have had the opportunity to share Christ with my young coworker, and I sit next to a woman who recently fled her native country to provide a better life for her sons.
My Point
 
Your post did indeed resonate with me, brother. I saw so much of myself in your struggles, and I find it no accident that we share so much in common.
To answer your questions. Yes, I have been humbled, and continue to be most days ;). Yes, I am very grateful for everything. Yes, I love The Lord so much more than before. But none of those things had to come from the poor decisions I made before.
Now I’m not saying you are guilty of the same things I was. But maybe something in my experience matches your own.
I just urge you to reconsider your assumptions. You are NOT being unfaithful by seeking employment if doing so means more time with your family.
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Thanks Brother. This response will help countless people as it has and will myself.  I wholeheartedly agree with 100% of your points and I ask God to rebuke me sharply if I am on the wrong path.  I want to also add that there is a very good book (I have no idea about his faith) called Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki that talks about becoming an entrepreneur within a company.  There is a cool term for it that I forget but if I could do it again, I would probably go this route for the first round: get a nice paycheque every month, win the hearts of the ownership/directors, and then get their permission to start a new venture under the financial power of that company.  What an easier path than the painful path I have taken my family through, as my friend described above.  That said, God is very gracious.  He speaks to us through friends like this and through His word and if we’re listening He quickly shows us whether we are on track or need to readjust our trajectory.  Thanks again for taking the time to respond, brother.  Next time spare me the pain of editing and just post the comment yourself! 😉
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What is an Entrepreneur and Can We Turn it Off?

What exactly is an entrepreneur and is it possible to turn the switch off?  I’ll answer the second question first: No.  You can’t.  You might drop the ball for a long time but you’ll die unsatisfied if you forever stop action towards building something.  Now that we got that out of the way, what is an entrepreneur?

My friend sent me this article today and I had to chuckle a bit.  It seemed in many ways to paint a perfect picture of me, but a few points jumped out where I stood strongly against them.  I’ll only highlight the points that I have comments on or disagree with:

4. You marvel at successful business owners. Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are just a few of your heroes.

Although their bags of money are impressive, it would be hard to write a list of men I would like to be less than these folks with the exception perhaps of Branson.  Zuckerberg is responsible for the greatest invasion of privacy ever, Jobs was a demonically inspired and a harsh man to people who built his empire and Gates is – well – boring like the government.  Yawn me to death.  I’m sure they all started as entrepreneurs but they seemed to all end real bad.  Hopefully Branson will be exception.

18. You like calling the shots. You like the sound of being a director.

No. I don’t.  The last thing in the world I would want to be is a director.  I want to be a builder and an encourager of talent – somehow.

19. You set goals for yourself. Big or small, goals fill your life.

No. I don’t. And that’s also why I haven’t succeeded yet.

23. You plan everything down to the little details. Plans are a prerequisite for any activity.

Not even close to who I am.  I hate plans. See #19 above.  But systems?  I love systems.  Systems help me not have to plan as much.

29. You’re hyper competitive. You can’t even play a board game without flipping that switch.

Nope. I’m not.  However, I love to build stuff.  I feel that if you build stuff and learn how to build well, like houses, people will buy the product and like working with you.

32. You negotiate whatever you can. Flea markets and salaries are just the beginning.

Nope. I don’t negotiate anything.  If someone wants to write out a contract where they take 80% of my company and I am excited about building it, I’d probably sign it on the spot.  That’s also why I insist on working with logical people.

36. You avoid things that waste your time. You’re immune to mobile games and idle social-media time.

I have to give a big ‘amen’ to this one.  Like a loud ‘amen’.  Freakin’ hate crap that sucks my will to live – like TV.

38. You make rational decisions, not emotional ones. For the most part, you trust your logic over your emotions

No. Not me.

43. You’re crazy about new technology. You’re addicted to learning how new technologies can improve your life.

There it is! woot!

44. You read the news every day. It’s an ingrained habit.
I only read the Good News of the Bible every day.  Worldly news I let others filter and then tell me if I happen to talk to them.

All in all, this is an amazing summary blog about what an entrepreneur is.

To expand slightly, for me, it’s the most incredible thought to think that perhaps I, a grain of sand on a beach, might be able to impact the entire beach if just the right opportunity comes at the right time, and I take the right action with everything I’ve got, with the right people.

It is on this hope that I keep fighting and never give up.

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Licensed to Fail

In order to get your license to succeed, you must first get your license to fail from an accredited school of hard knocks.

I used to look at my seemingly endless streams of failures, false starts, half successes and extrinsic accomplisments as ‘bad things’.  I considered them all proof that I was unable to succeed and even that perhaps God didn’t see it best for me to succeed.  And, everything except the ‘bad thing’ part might be true – only time will tell.

One thing I have learned, though, is that 100% of the things learned and the experienced gain from working one’s tail off trying to succeed will be a significant factor in any future success, should it ever appear.  The pain and suffering of failure, disappointment, rejection, betrayal, or worse is the fire that refines the gold, should the person not quit.

And so I don’t quit.

In fact, there may be only one thing that I can be optimistic about these days and that is this: I  know that if I keep my integrity high, work hard, keep my eyes focused on eternity and don’t quit, that there is a sure reward at the finish line.

This doesn’t mean I don’t get attacked daily by the desire to quit, though, because I do.  There is nothing more than my flesh and mind want to do than quit, curl up in a ball and hide from the world.  I dream of such a moment.

But I won’t quit.  I’m pressing on.

Be encouraged out there.  There isn’t a lot of it out there.  But know that there is wayne out there (dot com) 😉

(I just got rejected by the intellectual bloggers by using a smiley)

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Nearly Destroyed

Have you ever felt like you are just on the edge of destruction?  Where all the forces of the world are set to destroy you and no matter how many tears you cry you find yourself backed against a wall awaiting the final swing of the enemies sword to end it all?  This might be financial, spiritual, physical, psychological, social, or any other category of your life.  The point is that although you believe deep down that things *should* get better, but you find yourself at the end.

I have.

But today my hope was renewed as I was reading the book of Esther.  Today God opened my eyes and showed me that sometimes He allows us to get right against the wall before He steps in and does His work on our enemies.  I say ‘our’ enemies, because if we are friends with God (this is possible through Jesus Christ) then our enemies are also God’s enemies.

If you are struggling as I am in this way, you really need to read the book of Esther.  I would like to rename the book to something like “The Jew’s 11th Hour Bailout” or “The Miraculous Change of Tides” or ‘From Ok to Horrible to Great.”  The other scripture that goes really well with this book is Ecclesiastes 7:8 “The end of a thing is better than its begginning” because the actual condition of the Jews (including Esther and Mordecai) was much better than before the nasty episode.

A quick summary of the book goes like this:  Esther, a Jew (an orphan at that), miraculously ended up queen to Ahasueras (spelling?) and well favoured.  Haman hated Mordecai, but he was righteous and did good towards the King.  Haman planned to kill Mordecai and every Jew within the king’s kingdom.  Not only was he murderous, he was also arrogant.  He went around bragging about how much the king likes him and how great his job was, etc.  The king trusted him to do what was best and Haman took that trust and used it to execute his own selfish (and evil) purposes.  Sounds like a few CEOs and politicians, but I digress…  But the Lord God Almighty doesn’t let this kind of plan go forever.  And Esther is an example where God didn’t let it go *at all*.  As soon as Haman had uttered the speedy instruction to kill all the Jews, twice as fast as that, the Lord had turned it around and terminated the plan.  Although lots of justice happened, the key point is this and I want you to remember this and I’m going to re-read this blog post myself to remember it:

Haman was hung on the the gallows upon which he intended to hang Mordecai.

Read that again.  That’s a serious revelation if you get it.

Not only will God protect us from this bad thing that seems to be hopelessly coming upon us, but He has the power to totally *reverse* the wicked plan and expose it.

So if wicked is planned against you, or you are being persecuted unjustly, the God of Justice is able to help.

And let’s not forget our friend Job, too, while we are at it.  His story is a little different, but very much related.  He was destroyed, bad things had already happened to him, he was left weeping and angry, but God totally rebuilt what he had and his final position was greater than the one he was in before the fire.

Be encouraged.  Our tears have not been wasted.  Our prayers have not bounced back off the ceiling.  The God that we serve is a Mighty God and will do what He will do and He desires to do a mighty work in our situation.  Hang in there.  His timing is not our timing but he will leave us with joy and rejoicing.

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