Who Ya Gonna Call?

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 “Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise”
Proverbs 15:31

Wow!!!

I can remember when I was younger and I thought that “wise counsel” meant nothing but “support”. Support of what my desires, dreams and feelings were. Total loyalty to ME and what I wanted. I thought it meant finding people in my community that would always be on my side, no matter what.

Truth is, it was still all about ME. I wasn’t seeking wise and godly counsel – I was seeking friendship. We need BOTH.

So I came to realize, as I learned more and more about God’s character and sought what the Lord says on this matter throughout scripture, that truly wise and godly counsel is not always “just the fun parts” that come along with having “support.”  It ain’t all about having a bunch of friends who will just tell me what I want to hear.

Nope.

Wise counsel must be delivered with the heart, motivation and intention of God’s real love and real truth behind it. These two things lie at the core of truly wise and godly counsel.  It should be constructive not DESTRUCTIVE. It should align with scripture – the whole of it, not just the bits and pieces that fit OUR particular “feeling of the moment”. It should point us to God and what the Lord might have us do in that situation. It should come from a place of humility, yet confidence in the LORD and what He is equipping us to be able to speak into another person’s life.

Wise counsel is honest. Wise counsel is loving. Even when it’s hard.

It takes COURAGE to do this – on both sides. It takes submission and surrender and courage to love like Jesus does. It is NOT EASY. But this is what church really is. Walking it out in the ugly and the messy – that is true SUPPORT in the body of Christ.  Being willing to confront all of it ~  together. Not running or cutting out when it starts feeling uncomfortable.

We don’t get to deliver truth without love. We don’t get to provide REAL and true love without being willing to be truthful, either. Not if we are really walking through life with someone else. And unfortunately, because we often don’t walk through all of it together, we often find ourselves only doing one or the other. Truth OR Love. And it’s gotta be both. I have yet to see this be able to happen if we try to come along side someone halfway.

That’s what Jesus did in His ministry here on earth. He dealt with the hard stuff, man.  He continued to love in the process as well. And if people refused to listen, He allowed that and moved on to help those who were truly open and willing to confront their need.

He doesn’t force us to submit or surrender to Him – but He is there and will show up if we are truly willing. If He places people in our lives that are willing to go all the way and do the hard stuff along with us, it is WISE not to shun that or scoff at that.  If and when we do, we will have to then walk in that. That walk is often one in which we will eventually find ourselves feeling very alone. We may have a few friends out there who are there for us part of the time (I mean – they have lives too, no?) – but they won’t really be doing life with us. Not all the way.

It won’t stay pretty for very long. #guaranteed

So, recognizing who the Lord places in our lives to do this with us means we have to really be discerning and ask ourselves – am I seeking only those who will tell me what I always easy to hear, or the parts that aren’t TOO UNCOMFORTABLE or easy for me to digest – or am I willing to allow those who truly want to be there for me in this and go the distance in my life be there for me?

Gotta be open to it, or it ain’t gonna happen.

Just like with what the Lord wants to do in our lives – We get to choose. Then we gotta walk in what we choose. We get to own it. The good side and the bad side of our choices. It just seems kind of dumb to me when we choose to go our own way. But it’s what we do a lot of the time, isn’t it?

The truth AND love thing? It’s a difficult balance for the one offering help to strike. First, because we are not perfect – not a one! Second,  because real help sometimes has to come in the form of being willing to deliver some bad news.  And NOBODY LIKES THAT!

BUT – sometimes, as we wrap our minds around the hard stuff, we can face it – together! We can bring into the light all the junk that’s in the dark. And THEN real stuff starts to happen!

Or we can run.

The halfway stuff just isn’t gonna help us. It may make us feel better for a while, though. That’s for sure. Hence, the difficulty – the temptation to think we truly are open and willing to confront things with others God places in our lives –  the deceit we operate under and the things we tell ourselves about truly seeking wise counsel – well, it simply then remains and continues to weave a web all around our minds and our  hearts. And that is from the enemy. #truth

Sometimes, God can get downright firm with us. So godly counsel is willing to do the same thing if needed. If the desire is to BUILD US UP (that includes character, not just feel good stuff) and help us truly get through things in our lives that are causing DESTRUCTION AND DIVISION, a loving friend, counselor or mentor WILL put themselves on the line to not just tell us what our “itching ears want to hear.”

They may screw it up (probably will sometimes)- but if all we do is push it away, in reality, we are pushing away those who maybe – just MAYBE – the Lord placed in our lives to TRULY HELP US. Something to think about and take to the Lord in prayer, at the very least!

Jesus displayed that firmness AND love at the same time, over and over again (minus any screw ups) as He walked this earth. He still displays it in our lives today if we allow Him to.

Choose. Choose life. Choose truth. Choose love. Choose all of God’s character to speak into your life. Choose the real deal.

Choose REAL.

No – God doesn’t always tell us what we WANNA hear. That is NOT God’s character. He also doesn’t forget about the compassion and love piece, either. It is BOTH/AND.

We can come to Him freely (as we are – while we are still sinners) for salvation. But when it comes to sanctification, we must be open to hear even the hard stuff. Otherwise, we will start to make our own plans, man. We will go with what OUR heart wants. WE will continue to walk our OWN way. #noteasy

Support and encouragement matter, that’s for sure! BUT….if we REALLY seek true wisdom, real truth, and REAL LOVE, we go first to God in prayer, and then we surround ourselves with WISE counsel. Not just the people who can quote scripture left and right (and often out of context) to make us feel better. Not just people who pride themselves on SPEAKING THE TRUTH and throw love and compassion out the window every time. Not just the people who tell us how to get around things or make others yield to our desires. And not people who don’t understand that we need to take responsibility in order to walk out the counsel of the Lord and TRULY GROW.

Do you find yourself pushing away anyone who wants to come along side you simply because you don’t like some of what they are speaking into your life because it is uncomfortable? I’ve been there, friend. Many times in my life, I have BEEN THERE! If you do see yourself doing something like this and your heart realizes it now, it is not too late to return.  Return to what scripture says – the WHOLE OF IT- when it comes to wise counsel. Take a look at who you have chosen to truly surround yourself with. Got anyone in there that’s willing to share the hard stuff too? Are they willing to be in – ALL THE WAY IN this with you? If so, you are truly blessed. That’s not a gift I would think we might want to simply toss.

Here’s some stuff from a GREAT Christian article (one of many) that I read – all of it resonates with so many parts of what scripture admonishes us to do when seeking truly wise counsel in our lives. Just some food for thought. I know I can always use it.
Wise counsel will come from individuals who know the difference between…

  • what is ultimately good and what is just currently popular,
  • what is really valuable and what is just cheap,
  • what is achieved by hard work and what is just lucky,
  • being happy and just having fun,
  • a sincere apology and a weak excuse,
  • what is true and what is just a matter of opinion,
  • what is to be hard sought and what is to be tolerated,
  • when help is appropriate and when it should be withheld to encourage one to struggle,
  • love and lust,
  • what is really dangerous and what may just be somewhat risky,
  • what is worth fighting against and what one should run from,
  • what is a legitimate source of hope and what is just what we want to hear,
  • what is wise and what is foolish,
  • what can last forever and what is only temporary,
  • humble worship that glorifies God and pride-filled religious rituals that offend God,
  • what is from God and what is from the world.
  • from http://www.christianityetc.org/wise-counsel.php

Proverbs-28.26

 

 

 

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All The Way

as surrender (2)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.John 15:1-7

You know what I see that we do a lot when we don’t want to truly change for the better, eradicate a besetting sin out of our lives, or make a heart change that is a real indicator of true repentance (the all the way kind)?

We take, and maybe even apply the parts of what we feel halfway comfortable with, in order to “allow for change”,  yet we discard much of the rest of what is truly required to allow the Lord to do the job completely.

When we do this, we are still in a state of resistance, not surrender.  And we can become very, very good at telling ourselves that is not what we are doing!

  • We tell ourselves little lies and walk in the halfway kind of ownership and surrender that is required to truly allow the Lord to “make all things new”, conform us to His likeness, and “work all things together for our good.”
  • We pick and choose what we will face up to and then reserve the right to customize just how we will go about dealing with that problem.
  • We find ways to make excuses for how this or that is not “working for us” and even go so far as to blame shift and hide beneath scripture we take out of context to justify ourselves in continuing to run.

We do that because we have not TRULY surrendered. And when we do this, we don’t see real change.

You see – most of the time, true surrender is a grueling process. Believe you me, this gal fully understands that because she is the QUEEN of not having mastered surrender!

But, so much of the time, if we really take a long, sustained, hard look, with a REAL desire to face the REAL AND WHOLE truth, we will see that we hang on and we grip very tightly to at least some form of control all the way to “the end.”

We like to do surrender halfway, man. Because it isn’t stinkin’ comfortable.

  • We want comfortable change.
  • We want comfortable accountability.
  • We want comfortable love, comfortable submission and comfortable truth in our lives.
  • We tell ourselves and others we want surrender, but the truth of the matter is sometimes, we just want it to be as comfortable as possible. Or at the very least, we want for it to be less UNCOMFORTABLE.

And sometimes – if we continue to walk in that for too very long, we then start to become people who profess our total commitment to Jesus, but are teetering on the edge of really just walking in a comfortable form of Christianity. And being a follower after Jesus Christ is not comfortable!

When we come to a place where we realize we are still reserving some form of control over our situation and not fully submitting, displacing ownership, blame shifting, and being the victim instead of submitting to the Lord, then we finally reach the place where we are in a state of surrender and the Lord CAN AND WILL WORK.

  • This place understands that the full truth and full self confrontation is nothing to try to run from – because God sees it all anyway.
  • This place understands that forgiveness is freely given, but restoration is conditional and requires full submission.
  • This place stops shifting blame and hanging on to control and looking at everyone else, and starts owning the truth.
  • This is the place that allows us to FINALLY START TO WALK in a struggle that is REAL, but one in which we are truly not alone and have the Lord fully on our side!

Why?

Because we open the door and let Him in. All the way in. He could knock it down- but in my life- He hasn’t. He waits for me to say “yes – come in and come ALL the way in.

We’ve all been through a war like I just described above – I venture to guess we will all go through one again. What I find interesting, is that those habits and tendencies die hard. Each new challenge or trial that I face causes me to see that I am still struggling anew with true surrender.

But thankfully, I am on to myself now. I know I can tend to want to go  halfway when it comes to surrender. I am aware of the fact that I tend to reserve some form of control over matters when it is necessary to fully let go. And I realize that letting go doesn’t mean that I stop doing my part – sometimes, letting go means discontinuing doing the part I decide to do for myself, and STARTING to do the parts that I wasn’t doing that God WANTS for me to do.

We don’t get to just say we have surrendered and not do anything. We have to walk in it. Really WALK.

So the process often isn’t as long and drawn out now when I see that there’s a new need for surrender again. But it will always be a struggle.

It just will.

And this whole constant cycle is indicative of just how much our flesh and our minds fight and war against facing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Facing the truth and displaying a true willingness to do whatever it takes to allow the Lord to change things, is necessary for true repentance. Facing that truth – all of it – (yes, even when it’s ugly), and truly submitting ourselves to the Lord, (all of our selves, sin and all) allows God to work through our imperfections and shortcomings SO THAT we can become more like Christ.

I’m here to share this with my friends today as clearly as I possibly can – In my own little life, I have seen – God doesn’t do His best work in us when we are only willing to  surrender halfway. But He WILL be there for us all the way through things- EVEN WHEN we haven’t fully surrendered yet.

He is patient. But He truly doesn’t want to see us wrestle with this over and over again. I’m sure He often wonders “why are you making this so hard on yourself?” But the process is important, otherwise, He probably wouldn’t allow it in the first place.

You see….. Jesus LOVES us even while we are still sinners. Jesus went to the CROSS for us because of His love for us. But until we truly accept not only the free gift of salvation because of all that He did on that cross for us, but also desire to truly walk in a submitted and surrendered manner with Him, we really aren’t allowing Him to be the center of our lives. The truth is, when we don’t fully submit to Him, we are still in the driver’s seat. And we will probably never experience the FULLNESS of the joy, love, peace and freedom He so desires for us NOW until we reach that place.

That place is a place of UNCOMFORTABLE AND TOTAL surrender. But it is a beautiful place to be.

He will still love us when we are not going all the way and when we are lying to ourselves and not truly submitting. He will still love us, warts and all. But we will never be in the kind of relationship with Him that He intends for us if we continue to hold on to our sin and the lies we tell ourselves and continue to fool ourselves with all this comfortable Christianity, comfortable submission, and comfortable surrender.

Halfway just doesn’t cut it if we want real and intimate relationship. He wants all of us. He truly wants the whole deal. Meeting Him halfway is not abiding – not truly. And it causes a separation in our relationship with Christ. We can’t just hang out on the vine and pretend we are connected and tell ourselves that we can actually bear fruit that way.

We have to cling to the vine. And often, we wanna go our own way when it suits us, but continue to profess that we never left. It’s just what we do sometimes. And the birth of fruit eventually slows, even comes to a state of “hibernation” or even rot, when we start to separate ourselves from the vine. It’s just the facts, jack.

Even if and when we DO attempt to die to our flesh and the war that goes on within our hearts AND our minds, we will struggle, make no mistake about it! But we can stop layering our own extra crud – I like to call it the “crud of resistance” (LOL!) all over the top of that innate struggle, and it will help matters. We have to realize and stop only going halfway with this type of stuff. We add to the battle when we do this, and it makes the “process” oh-so-much- harder.

  • It prevents surrender.
  • It prevents true change.
  • It results in halfway relationships – ones that aren’t truth.
  • And that includes our relationship with our very own Savior.

If we meet Him where we are at – and come to Him in FULL honesty, He will realize we at least want to submit, but that we are struggling and we need HIS HELP.  He knows the truth anyway. So why would we try to hide it?

We can cry out to the Lord and tell Him we want to fully surrender, but we realize we are struggling and still clinging to our own form of control. We can ask Him to do whatever it takes to break that down within us. It’s a  hard prayer to submit to the Lord, even. But if we truly mean it in our hearts, He will deliver.

It may be hard…

It probably won’t be comfortable…

But in the end, it will be SO VERY worth it.

Surrender your heart to God,
    turn to him in prayer,
and give up your sins—
    even those you do in secret.
Then you won’t be ashamed;
you will be confident
    and fearless.  Job 11: 13-15

surrender