Saturday, July 13, 2013

"The Great Unknown Where Feet May Fail"

Have you ever stopped and looked back at the events of your life? Seemingly random choices and event that produced circumstances that left you in many cases wondering ... why did this happen?
Then years sometimes decades later God reveals to you the why those things happened hopefully you learned from your struggles and didn't repeat any of your former mistakes. This is what we would call growth and it leads to maturity in certain areas of our characters.
The amazing thing about trials and tribulations in life is people tend to view their decisions or choices as failures and it petrifies them or creates fear that freezes them from moving forward. Some might call this procrastination but procrastination is a mild form of this inability to move forward. you see the procrastinator knows what they need to do, should do, and just doesn't pull the trigger on it. What I want to focus on though is the fear that causes us to stop making decisions at all just out of  the thought of  "maybe" or "what if". Church people know this as having faith. Truth be told even if you don't believe in God, the bible, or Jesus you have faith too. You just haven't identified what you have faith in. Let me explain with a simple example. You have a light switch in your house. Do you think about whether the light will go on when you search for the switch? No. You don't. You believe it will go on because you've seen it happen over and over again. We'll the people of God, his true children have Jesus and they have seen him flick that switch in their lives enough times to just know that he can be trusted. Just like you know the room will light up when you hit the switch. Faith isn't some funny concept for religious folks only but it does matter what you put you faith in or hope in. You see most of us are looking for that 100% guarantee, the full proof plan or enough facts to set our minds at rest only problem here is your faith became all about you creating your own dynamic to trust and that's not faith at all.

Many people I have come across in ministry or in the church always ask the same question. "I want to know what God's will for my life is?" All of us whether we go to church or not would love to know what's coming up next in our lives. Today, I'm going to reveal to you a secret God revealed to me long ago but has brought it back to the forefront again in my life. Why? Because I was and still am in a season of the great unknown in my life. The things that I have endured and continue to walk through were never on the radar or even the hypothetical plan I had dreamed up for my life. Worse than that I was put in a position of not being able to help myself in almost every way you could imagine. I had to trust. I had to have faith. I had to believe in the plan and purpose that God had in all my circumstances and know that he was working it all out for my good. So I want to tell you this story hopefully a little different than you've heard it before but it paints the correct picture for you to find God's will in your life.
You may know this as the story where Jesus walks on the water or when Peter walks on the water but then starts to sink and cries out to be saved. What I want you to do is close your eyes and put yourself in the boat with the disciples. If your saying I'm not a disciple it's alright, I get that. None of the men in the boat at this time believed in Jesus yet either so your in good company. Imagine the storm. lightening, rain, wind and waves so fierce you think at any moment your life could be over. The bible calls it a tempest. Which we would call a hurricane.

Matthew 14:25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind and the waves, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 

So here we are in this great storm of life and we are terrified. What happens when fear takes control we start thinking the worst possible things. They are so scared they think Jesus is a ghost. How many times in your life have you been terrified of something that never came to pass or never happened? Worrying about ghosts that don't exist. I know I have too many times. Then Jesus tells us in the boat, it's me! Don't be afraid. Why not Jesus we reply?
Jesus about this? I just walked a couple miles on top of the water to a boat in the middle of a huge lake in the height of a really bad storm. Even if you don't believe I am who I say I am you can at least know that part is undeniable. 
This is the place in the story where you can begin to find what God's will for your life is? The storm is fierce. Your life is uncertain, your in a mess you see no way out of, you've run out of answers, and you have no energy left to fight.
Twelve men on the boat and only one decides he will trust Jesus. One man's focus changed from the horrible storms of life to his God and Savior. I wish Peter never lost focus on Jesus and they both walked back to the boat but unfortunately that's not the way it goes in our lives either. Faith is built over time and experience walking with God but it all starts with taking that first step out of the boat into the great unknown. What are you afraid of right now? Why won't you step out of the boat?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"A New Chapter"

Have you ever been so engrossed in a book that you just couldn't put it down. It's as if you were a part of the story or one of the characters. Your reading and reading. Your on the edge of your seat and you turn the page to see the next chapter. Your so into it, you just have to see what happens next but it quickly becomes apparent that the story has dramatically changed and all the facts that you had come to know where now all in question. Everything you were so sure of has now been flipped on it's head. You have no idea where it's going. So you keep reading hoping that at some point the facts that you know to be true would realign coming to the conclusion of the book but that rarely ever happens does it? If you haven't picked up on it yet, this is a picture of our lives. We start out thinking we got the main facts covered then life happens and all of a sudden everything we thought we knew and could count on suddenly comes into question. We don't have an answer so we put our head back in the book and hope that in the end it will turn out alright but that doesn't work in real life. We have to make wise choices or suffer the consequences for poor decisions.

So a few years ago I am teaching my teenage son and we sit down for the dreaded talk. Oh yes the talk! Little did I know back then that the lessons I would teach him would be drawn upon and applied in my own life just a few years later. If you have teenagers or have gone through this stage you know that this only goes one of two ways. There is total silence or your blown out of your chair by how many questions your kids have and your scrambling for a sedative. Here's my advise here. You don't have the talk. What! No Talk? Hear me out. You start an open discussion that basically doesn't end until they walk away from the altar with their spouse. Seems crazy? Ask a parent that has a teenager with one or two kids already. The point is if you are constantly revisiting the subject and your kids are free to ask you questions you as an adult can much better gage exactly what may or may not be going on and direct them appropriately or lock them in a room. Just kidding. It builds trust and will carry over into all parts of their relational lives and your relationship will be stronger for it.

Now back to the story. So the page flips on my life and I find myself back in the world as a single man for the first time in 20 plus years. You talk about new chapter. In my book this chapter didn't exist. I don't believe divorce is an option and I don't even use the word. I believe that marriage is a lifelong covenant but still I found myself in this new chapter with few answers and not sure where it was going. Fortunately, I am a marriage counselor and relationship guy and I study psychology and such topics so I could identify things that most wouldn't. Being that I haven't dated in 20 years and things have changed quite a bit, I was still at a loss in some spots. The first thing was the Internet. Dating sites weren't even in existence when I was dating last, now you can put all your criteria in and out pops your perfect match. Your matches are so perfect you think they were all former Ms. America's. They obviously can do the same and dial up Mr.Right which is so convenient. So after a few interactions I quickly learned that there was little difference from dating 20 years earlier. Even though the process was sped up by rapid information via the Internet. The information was flawed and people misrepresented themselves. Which is really what we all do at some level, but when you do it that lie will always be the thing that haunts your relationship. I have read hundreds of profiles and most are quite amusing. If I have to hear one more time that someone is waiting"for the one" or "Mr. Right" or my personal favorite. "I'm not going to settle" because I'm worth it. Hey we are all worthy of love but some have watched to many movies.The point here and it is no matter what age you are. Better yet the question to ask is "Am I the who the person who I am looking for is looking for?
I know deep right?
We have to be honest with ourselves and realize that we can want the moon and the stars and think we deserve them but if the perfect match was to present itself would they want us?
Are you the person you are looking for is looking for?
So for the single people you have an opportunity to get it right the first time. Become the person that you would want to meet so that when they meet you, you will know it was meant to be.
Now if your married and you want to see sparks fly and mountains move. Spin back the wheels of time and remember what makes your spouse tick and get enthusiastic and excited about starting a new chapter of your own.
Be Blessed!

Are you ready for life change?

It is good to be back! I am really excited about what God wants to do through this blog and I hope that you will join with me on this journey. My hope is that your lives would be changed in some small positive way as your read and learn some simple principles that apply to life and relationships.
I had planned on easing my way back into writing again but something is heavy on my heart right now and I need to share it with you. I pray that God will use it to change someone's life. I also want to state that I know a lot of my friends, readers, and followers are not christ followers or christians and here is the beauty of that no one starts out as a christian or follower of Jesus. I didn't. Most who know me are probably saying to themselves he wrote that? Mike, a pastor? I totally get all that. I say it myself all the time. I just want to invite all of you no matter where you stand religiously, denominationally, or whether you think God is just for the weak, or doesn't exist at all? I know that we all at sometime or another have read a book on how to be better at something or learn a new skill. If you don't have confidence in the bible as inerrant truth you still can understand that it has value, principle, and legality that you agree with. I tend to write in common terms so that all can relate but if you have any questions please feel free to email and connect with me. I don't claim to have all the answers but what I have I will give to you freely. Be Blessed!
Michael Shumski  
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