Thursday, June 21, 2007

The will of God

Life on the move.

I recently attended the Pursuit of Excellence conference in Manukau and there were some incredible things preached at some
of the sessions which I found totally revamped the way I live life.

One of these was a message preached by an English pastor Paul Scanlon.

He preached about the Will of God, which is always a controversial topic to many believers in the modern world. He used the scripture in Proverbs 20:24:

"A man's steps are directed by the LORD."

It's not the intentions of a step, it's not the plans of taking a step; but its the
STEPS which God directs.

So many times I know I get frustrated not knowing the next step or even knowing the direction in which God wants me to take. I realised the majority of these times I'm actually just sitting around waiting for God to put everything in place perfectly for me without having to step out abit.

It's like I'm asking God to drop some incredible vision into my lap, have some guy to immediately walk up to me and offer me a full time, paid leadership position or all the red cars on the right hand side of the road to all line up facing the direction to confirm its a sign from God before I do something.

"God uses people in motion."

- What things are you wishing were different?
- What steps are you taking to allow God to use you more?
- What are the things you've struggled with holding you back from fullness of
life, taking a risk or from obeying God?

"If nobody in your church or your city is in motion, then sometimes God will even resort to using unsaved people to see his will accomplished."

We need to be doing something for God.

Paul Scanlon refers to the two different opinions on the will of God as being the two "Schools of Devine Guidance".

The first school of devine guidance has their mission statement as:

1. I don't move until I recieve God's guidance.

The second school of devine guidance says:

2. I don't expect God's guidance until I move.

These are two very subtle differences but two very life altering thought processes. Many times personally I've slipped into the first 'school' and just waited around for God tell me exactly where to go. I've found its only as you're taking intentional steps in different areas of life that I hear God clearly say where to go.

Please understand, I'm not saying for example, that if you're unsure about drugs, go ahead and try it and let God direct you afterwards. I'm getting at a hinderance in our personal growth - both in our relationship with God, in our effectiveness in ministry, and in receiving even more of the fulfilling life God has for us.

"The reason churches flourish are not because of their location, colour of their lights or carpet. The reason churches are growing rapidly compared to ones just down the road is the first one is doing something and the second is praying or thinking about doing something."

The challenge is to constantly be stepping out in faith, believing God to come through and to direct.

If you're unsure of where God is leading you, take a step using wisdom, and expect God to come through for you.

Common. Step out.

Do what you've wanted to see happen for such a long time. Step out.

Be the answer to the frustration you've felt. Step out.

Let your life become one that's in movement

- in motion,

taking steps that God can then use

to direct you towards ALL the things He's planned for you.


capotheologist said...

I must confess slight confusion as to the direction of the ‘Will of God.’ Does it entail what certain people might consider being ‘filled with the Spirit’ or would it be more along the lines of denying the free will of humanity?

If it is a marketing device to encourage Christians to be active, in whatever sphere they feel they need to be then I respect and understand that. I appreciate and am not opposed to the understanding that God moves through people, Christian or ‘unsaved’ to achieve remarkable things; however, what I fear is that by strictly demarcating two distinct ‘Schools of Devine Guidance’ one will be perceived as better than the other. Following from your call to motion, this may lead to passionate steps, which may not always be in line with praxis.

Have I misunderstood the intention of this post? It just appears to me that by emphasising the call to action, the reflection inherent in effective praxis is downplayed (and to an extent derided).

Sam said...

Yeah I'm with Peter here. I don't feel like there was adequate evidence (if any) for why it is better to 'be in motion' and the only biblical reference you used was a decontextualised verse from proverbs.

Yes they are nice principles, and it's good to be stepping out and using the time you have to the best of your ability, but I think you communicated with authority that you just don't have.

God does guide people who aren't moving, in fact, one of God's trademark moves in the bible is using people that are stagnant, or completely moving in the OPPOSITE direction. God is bigger than these schools of divine guidance and they will not box Him.

Anonymous said...

Well of course I'm biased because I am the most influential determiner of this man's thinking.

That said, I think one of the greatest barriers to effective Christain ministry these days is the inherent tendency in Western theology to assume that God responds to our intellectual appreciation of Him, rather than obedience that sometimes springs from a sheer desire to please Him.

While it is true that God will sometimes use the rebellious or resistant to show His mercy or overwhelming power, it is His tendency to in fact use those who have already proved faithful in their response to His grace.

He wants to reveal his power to us (Paul prays the He will actually show us His surpassing power); the apostles seemed to think it came to those who - obeyed - Him.

Activity doesn't necessarily indicate accessability (for the Spirit of God to inspire us to further action), but it is surely true, both from Scripture and experience, that habitual inactivity certainly seems to make that task more difficult.

Ceaseless activity will often result in a lack of reflection, which proverbs does tell us results in a life that lacks in wisdom; but I'm not sure that the blog author is encouraging that - I think the thrust of his argument is that reflection without action is barren, and that those who wait ceaselessly will in many cases find that life has passed them by.


Anonymous said...

PS - Don Lake = realted to said author

spellchecker2 said...


rob said...

anonymous, in your second paragraph you downplay the importance of Christian intellectualism by suggests that some people wrongly "assume that God responds to our intellectual appreciation of Him", essentially equating the obedience to God as non-thinking.

I disagree. Jesus came to take away our sins, not take away our minds.

I'll take a verse out of context to proof-text my point.

Matthew 22:37
Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'

If I had a highlighter I would highlight 'mind'. If God gave us these wonderful minds and potential for intellectual ability, I'm fairly certain he would want us to use them.

I didn't read the rest of your comment.

rob said...


capotheologist said...

And…is there not a way to have reflective action? Or are the two mutually exclusive?

Also the sheer human reason and logical layout of anonymous’ argument would lead me to induce the employ of intellect (which is substantive here) to defend dogmatic calls to the illogical. Funny how they aren’t used as though they were qualified as 'either or but not both.' =P

pie said...

lolol good calls

Sam said...

Hmmmmm I actually think what anonymous said was really good. I find most of the time that there are two predominant attitudes within the church - one that overemphasises feeling, emotion, and the tangible work of the Spirit, but sees theology, or more apparently, theologians as dry old scholars who like to bicker over tiny differences in biblical study. The other tends to put study on a pedestal and looks upon the other attitude as naive, ignorant, uneducated and living on baby's milk.

I think it's pretty fair to say that both 'feeling God' and learning about God are as important as eachother in church life.

However, the way that blogs are set out is more of a forum, a place for discussion, so of course this format is going to lend itself better for intellectual discussion, not so much 'experiencing God'.

So in regards to this post, from what I can tell it's not really written to be critiqued or discussed in an intellectual context, but it's more set out as a preach to young Christians, to inspire them toward following the plan God has for each of them, which is never a bad thing. We need more people who are brave and courageuos and willing to do things that most people won't for the gospel. So to that end, this post is great. So Rhys, maybe you should think about what content you are communicating to what audience on here. It would also be good to see YOUR response to other people's thoughts on here sometime :)

pie said...

i replied to your atheism post a few posts down too.

Blogger is silly, it should move up recently replied posts ahead of those that were posted later.

Rhys said...

Hey guys, thanks heaps for your comments :)

Sam, I think what you said hits right on the money for where I'm coming from. For me personally, I post for two reasons. I find it cool to think through things and post what I've been thinking about, and I'm also keen to write things that inspire, challenge and encourage people to either know God for themselves or to grow more in Him.

Although I understand and appreciate the importance of keeping things 'doctrinely sound' (its a biblical principle), I do find it difficult when people pull little threads and make a massive deal about them than taking what the overall message is, and thinking that through in context.

Sometimes people miss an awesome message or word that could actually be something that releases a whole other dimension for something awesome in their life, because they’re so interested in a particular use of word instead of the underlying meaning for what the message is trying to portray.

I do understand the importance of this at times, but for me personally, I struggle to gain keys or inspiration to grow from people who spend their time getting all wound up over irrelevant things, answering irrelevant questions, to a person or people.

For me personally, I would gain much more excitement and interest in something that gives freedom and release from "religion", opening me up to a lively, vibrant and real relationship with God; over something, which important at times, is picky at getting things ‘right’ and trying to get people living life 'the way it's supposed to be lived' in the opinion of a certain person.

Rhys said...

And Sam I agree completely with what you said :)

nicola said...

All the time whilst reading this I kept seeing my friend Daisy's name run through my head. and once i read "Do what you've wanted to see happen for such a long time. Step out. Be the answer to the frustration you've felt. Step out." I understood why.. for ages now I have wanted to become saved but worried about what she would think ig I talked more deeply about God with her, but once i had finished reading the post I knew that to see her saved or even move closer to being saved, I have to step out in faith and go for it.

Rhys said...

Wow thats awesome :) Sometimes all it takes is just to step out and try it.

I find when I go to talk about God and the Gospel with someone that even though it is important to know how to do it effectively, spending your life working out how to do it best doesn't help anyone.

Learn on the job - people need us!

Let us know how it goes Nicola, thanks for your comment :)

Jeremy Sargent said...

Hey rys ,i like the blog
I was at the conference and it impacted me as well It was a fantastic message, I used it in a website i have called
in the three word section ,i am a friend of Clive smit ,thier is also a link to it of his site

you write excellent stuff, and you have a great future ahead of you
I wish you the best in the pursit of Gods excellence for your life

Jeremy Sargent

Sam said...

Hey Rhys

I think you may have misunderstood me, I wasn't saying one side was better than the other, just we need to understand they both are. All you really said was that you are more of a leaner to the experiential group. Now I know that no one is right on the fence with this, but why is inspiration, keys and excitement better than understanding? I think i's absolutely crucial, considering mainstream Christianity doesn't seem to care about the intellectual side of things, just the 'feeling' side.

The Bible never downplays the importance of real understanding, in fact it explicitly promotes it. Look at Proverbs chapter 1 for instance, it's all about that:

To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness...
to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth... Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance...

I mean sure, we're never going to understanding it all, but it seems to me that to really get real inspiration and 'excitement' from the Bible this springs out of the knowledge of it. Talking from experience, the more I learn of the bible, the more I love it.

Sure, it might seem like pulling on threads, but I would argue that eveything is in there for a reason.

Timothy said...

There are many people that read the Bible cover to cover - memorise chapter and verse. Go to bible school and read some more. Yet they never understand it. They know it but they read it. But in realty it is the living word of God, and for you to understand it you need revelation from the Holy Spirit. How was it that the apostles could take one or two lines from the old testament and write about them for paragraphs through revelation. Not through breaking up each word to its meaning in greek and looking at it in context. Revelation from the Holy Spirit 'the teacher' is how to understand the bible instead of knowing it.

Rhys I think you are on to it.