Is God a GPS?

Image-1

This post is just about 10 words. 10 little words that seem to resonate in me and push me, if not punch me in the gut when I read them. In the New King James Version there are almost 775,000 words but somehow these 10 stick out. Even more absurd is that in the Hebrew these 10 words are actually only 4 words.

There are really two things I want to talk about but it is probably best if I split them into two post.

Genesis 12:4 So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken with him.” That’s it. These 10 words seem to shake me at my core. But I struggled to figure out why they hit me so hard. That is until my wife helped me.

You see I could go on and tell you that it is because it is hard to move. Leaving everything you know and love is a hard thing to do and it is scary. But that would not be true (at least for me) because I like that. I enjoy moving somewhere new and learning the streets and places to eat. I like meeting new people and see new sights. I get a real kick out of it.

You could start thinking that maybe that is the problem and that verse hits me because I don’t like to stay in one place, but wrong again! I do enjoy moving but I also I hate being wrong so I tend to stay in one place too long (that’s debatable). I don’t want to uproot my family and then find out I was wrong and now we are somewhere we should not be. So staying put is actually really easy. Not doing anything is actually very easy to do.

See my problem is not going or staying, my problem is not knowing. I think I am like most people and I want God to say exactly what He wants. Like I said those 10 words hit me hard but the Hebrew is harder on you “‘Abram yalak Yĕhovah dabar.” It means the same but the words are broken down like this Abram walked, God said. Thats is as simple as the verse really is. Now it does not mean that Abram started walking before God said but instead because God said Abram walked.

Abram walked = God + Said

I think looking at like an equation helps. This because of that. My problem is I want the God + Said part and I don’t always get it because we are supposed to walk by faith. We are supposed to let God shine a light on our path and walk as He shines that light. God does at times tell us go here and do this. But often times that is not how it works and I don’t like that. I want it to be clear and I don’t want to make mistakes. I have to provide for my family. I have a daughter entering into Middle School and I want her to make friends and not bounce around. I want to adopt. I want to know that where I go is where I am supposed to go so I do not need to go somewhere else. I want to know I am right.

I don’t though. In all honesty can we really know? I mean usually we don’t get the clear go here and do this so all we can do is ask God to open doors He wants us to walk through and give us peace or no peace about a plan. That is what walking by faith and not by sight is all about. It is not so much about trusting God said this or that but instead trusting that if you ask Him to lead you He will even when you don’t hear GPS sounds.

I have said in the past “God is saying this!” and I have been wrong. I don’t want to do that because it  can make God look like He failed when really it was me. I am trying to do what James says in his letter “Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” That is hard and not just because it takes a lot of faith but because everyone wants to know if that is what God said. It is the peer pressure that makes it difficult. Everyone seems to be under the impression that God always gives a turn by turn route plan (at least for someone else) when in reality a walk of faith is usually not so clear. You can turn and make adjustments as you go. You can follow a fad thinking it was God when it was marketing. You can give into pressure and do nothing because you need a sign.

Jesus talked about looking for signs a few times and I don’t think I want to keep company with those demanding signs. I mean I will still ask for one and still seek confirmation but will I be willing to move or sit without one? Do I trust that God has my best interest at heart if I am earnestly seeking Him and He says nothing? Hard questions and they have no easy answer.

So this verse still kicks me in the gut but at least now I know why, and even though I am still asking for GPS directions I am willing to walk by faith and not by sight.

Just a thought,

Mike

My daughter is a mission field

I just finished reading Mark Oestreicher’s book Youth Ministry 3.0, and yes I know it is old news but guess what I don’t care. I buy my books from the used book store and I figure if the information is any good it should still be relevant. Everyone is always like “hey did you read that new book by blah blah” and I’m all like “hey have you heard of this guy Watchman Nee? I’d like him to sign my book.”

Anyway that has nothing to do with anything. I just want to take a minute of your time and tell you why you should read or not read this book (Youth Ministry 3.0). I think the information is good, I think the messages on the sides of the pages are helpful, and I think that by and large you can put into practice a lot of the things in the book even if you are not in youth ministry.

Read If:

You are willing to change

You are willing to grow

You desire to see maturity in your life and the life of your students

You are somewhat tired of coming up with a new and exciting game for youth every week

 

Don’t Read If:

You love being the Messiah

You really enjoy being the Rock Star of the church

You think that numbers equal fruit

You are dyslexic

Everyone has a different major take away from reading a book and my major number one takeaway from reading this book was missions. If a kid is allowing you in their life then understand you are a visitor not a resident. Think back to your own childhood / adolescence. You might have let some adults in but not all the way in. If they got too close you changed the rules so they could not longer be close. It is the same nowadays only worse (I think). So if we are going to minister to youth we need to understand we do not have all the info most of the time. Most of the time they only give us what they want us to have and if we take to much they lose interest.

Music is a great example because it is always changing. My daughter was really into Adele for a while. She would sing it in the shower and on her karaoke machine. She would ask me to play it while we drove somewhere it was all she listened to. However once I started to listening to it on my own she no longer had interest. I had taken something she liked and made it my own so she could no longer have it. I had accidentally stolen part of her identity. It was an honest mistake but a mistake nonetheless. Now she has moved on and is trying to find something new but won’t let me know what it is. Now of course I do know because she does not use headphones so I hear almost everything. But she is guarding that part of herself.

What I learned (or was reminded of) is even though she is my daughter she is a mission field to me and if she lets me in on something I need to be careful not to take her things on as my own. I think to some extend and this is just a hunch that some of the problems we see youth facing today are in a way our fault as leaders for taking what they like as our own. They are into this so we put it in church, or watch it, or pin it, or post it, or whatever. So the only response they have is to go somewhere we are not willing to go. This way they have their own person-ness (just made that word up).

I am in no way suggesting we should not know what they are into, but we do not necessarily have to embrace everything they like after all we are the adults maybe we should learn what we like by now. Maybe instead of conforming to their culture we just need to know about so we can lead them out of the dangerous stuff.

I know the videos she watches because I go through her devices. I have learned what / who Miranda Sings is and we have spoken about some of her videos. We know what she listens to and my wife has spoken with her about some song choices. But I have also decided that I need to let her have some things so that she will not try and go to an extreme just to be unique.

My daughter is a mission field, and if I am to help her grow and learn what it is to follow Christ then I need to learn about her, study her, and find out what makes her tick. But like being a missionary that does not mean I become a native but instead I choose to be an ambassador to her. Are the other youths I lead any different?

Just a thought,

Mike