5 Questions to Discern God’s Will

I am often asked how to know if the plans we make are God’s will for our life. This is a common concern. Most of us want to do God’s will, but God seems to give us a tremendous amount of freedom. If you’re like me, you’re fully capable of making a mistake. I’ve made many.

Here are 5 Questions I often ask myself to help discern God’s will:

Does what I’m doing (or planning to do) conflict with Scripture?
God’s will never will. God is always true to Himself and His Word is the best place to start. We may differ in interpretation of a passage, but if it’s clearly spelled out in Scripture, then we clearly know His will.

Does what I am doing conflict with the counsel of others?
God uses others to confirm His will. I am thankful for the people in my life, including my wife and sons, who have helped shaped the path of my life. Often they see things I can see or believe in me when I can’t believe in myself. God sends the body of Christ to encourage, challenge and strengthen the body. (Don’t be confused, however, with times God calls us to go against the grain of life and walk by faith when everyone is saying we are crazy. See Noah about that one.)

Does what I am doing conflict with the spirit within me?
God sent the Holy Spirit as a helper. He guides us with an inner peace or a holy unrest. If Christ is in you, He will not leave you to make a decision completely alone. Often God provides a peace or a lack thereof when He is trying to confirm His will.

Does what I am doing conflict with my life experience?
God uses our experiences in life to teach and mold us to His will. Often it isn’t as unusual of a path when we look back over our life experiences. Again, don’t be confused, because He usually stretches us out of our comfort zone also.

Does what I am doing conflict with my passion for life?
God tends to work with the things that fuel our fire. He loves when we are energized for the tasks He calls us to. When I look at Bible characters like Joseph, David, the disciples, Abraham or Paul it appears their calling matched their wiring. Paul was zealous for whatever he did. God used that passion for good. What’s your passion? God may work within it to confirm His will.

Try those 5 questions together and see how they line up to help discern God’s will as it relates with your plans.

Here’s some good news.

I fully believe God works all things for good even when we miss His will in individual decisions. You can make a bad decision, but God retains the right to finish your story His way. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

Do you ever struggle as to whether your plans are God’s will? Tell me your current situation and I’ll pray with you.

You may want to read 7 Ways to Distinguish God’s Voice from the Circumstances of Life

An Elementary Approach to Facing Conflict

I’ve seen a lot of conflict in my life. From parents and couples in my office for counseling to employment situations where two people can’t get along. I’ve even seen a fight in the grocery store because someone thought someone else cut line.

As an observer, I’ve learned a few things about facing conflict. Primarily, I’ve observed that the way one person responds often determines the way the other person responds. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

When you are backed into a corner and facing potential conflict you can come out fighting, or you can be smart about it, plan your response, and help turn the situation for good.

In fact, the secrets of facing the fire of conflict should be elementary.

Here are 3 steps when backed into a corner:

Stop

Stop and think. What is the best approach? What do you really want to accomplish? Based on that, how should you respond? The opening moments are always critical in any conflict. You can quickly back someone or yourself into a corner. Cornered people move into a self-protection mode, fail to react rationally, and the sense of what’s best is lost. It requires practice, but take adequate time to plan the best way to approach the other party. It may require you being silent when your prone to speak, but this one step often avoids much of the unnecessary and unproductive conflict. (As an example, Jesus took time to make a whip before driving the money changers out of the temple. John 2)

Drop

Drop the right to win. When you come into a potential fiery situation with a have-to-win attitude you cloud your ability to work for the best results. Self-centeredness always gets in the way of healthy conflict. Be humble and agree that you are going to do what is best, even if that means you don’t get your way. This doesn’t mean you give in to the other party, but the goal in conflict should not be to win personally, but to reach the best solution for everyone.

Roll

Roll out the best approach. I realize it takes two or more people to make this happen, but when one party is willing to do the first two it makes accomplishing the best so much more likely. Go into every potential conflict with a humble desire for the best solution to be accomplished.

Avoid an unnecessary fire. Don’t come out swinging.

Stop, drop and roll.

Be honest, how are you at holding your tongue when needed?

Can I Preach On It if I Haven’t Mastered It?

I received this email recently. It’s a question I’ve been asked before, so I decided to share my answer here.

Dear Pastor Ron,

Can I, as a pastor, preach about a subject that I know I’m struggling with or know that I’m weak in that area?

Blessings,

Pastor Bob

(Name changed for anonymity.)

Here is my reply:

Dear Pastor Bob,

In my opinion, yes. In fact you must in order to teach the whole counsel of God.

Consider the issue in simple terms. You preach about sin, right? If you are normal, you still struggle with sin also. You can’t avoid the subject because you haven’t mastered it. In the end, we preach the risen Christ as our only hope anyway.

Here’s another similar question I’ve heard. Can single pastors preach on marriage? Of course, single pastors can and should preach on marriage. Pastors should also preach on parenting even if they aren’t a parent. Again, it’s the whole counsel of God.

The key is you can’t claim expertise and you shouldn’t hide the fact that it’s an area of struggle. People will endear to you more if you are honest anyway. That doesn’t mean you have to share intimate details, but you shouldn’t hide your own frailty. Be honest with people, don’t pretend to be anyone you are not and preach where God leads you to preach.

God bless,

Ron

The fact is, if I could only preach on that which I have mastered, I wouldn’t preach very much. :)

So, how would you answer?

People Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

It’s simple…but oh so important to remember…

It’s a principle true in leadership and life

People don’t know what they don’t know

It’s hard to hold an employee accountable for something they never knew

You can’t expect your spouse to remember things you never told him or her

It’s hard to be disappointed no one comforted you in your pain if they didn’t know you were hurting

Your child can’t live up to a standard you never set

People don’t know what they don’t know

If you want them to know…don’t assume they do…tell them

Share Your Favorite Bible Verse

I have a hard time saying something is my “favorite” of anything, but perhaps especially a Bible verse. There are so many.

What about you?

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

What if we shared some of our favorites with each other? It could be an encouragement.

I’ll go first. As I said, not sure I can land on just one, but here is certainly one of my favorites:

There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1

Now your turn.

The Trees of the Lord Flourish

The trees of the Lord flourish…

I was reading the sixteenth verse in Psalm 104 recently and this phrase appeared to jump off the page at me.

The trees of the Lord flourish…

I was reminded:

Whatever the Lord touches…

Whatever God decides to do…

Wherever God places His stamp of approval…

Whatever God chooses to bless…

Whatever God builds…

Wherever God dwells…

Whatever God plants…

F L O U R I S H E S

God is God and there is no other.

Are you looking for success in life? Are you chasing a dream?

The trees of the Lord flourish…

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

Wisdom from my 99 Year Old Granddaddy

This week I woke one morning to a text from my 20 year old son Nate. It simply said, “I don’t know why, but I think you should go see great grandma and great granddaddy.”

My grandparents live in a nursing home. At 48, it’s amazing that I have 2 grandparents still living. My grandfather is 99 and grandmother is 94. I realize I should go see them more often, but I took Nate’s advice and went the same day.

My grandparents stay in different rooms, even though they are still passionately in love. My grandmother says he talks too much and would keep her up at night :)

When I arrived my grandfather was in the hallway. I stopped, kneeled down and talked with him for a while. Then I pushed him where he was headed, just outside the dining room. He likes to sit and wait until they bring my grandmother to lunch. We sat in front of a big picture window and talked.

My grandfather’s body is still strong. His mind comes and goes but his long-term memory is great. My grandmother’s body is weak, but her mind is excellent.

Our conversation was random most of the time, but I decided to take out my phone and record some of the nuggets of awesomeness from my grandfather.

Here are random thoughts from a 99 year old:

I’m just looking for Pauline (Shortly after I found him wandering the halls. Pauline is my grandmother. They’ve been married over 70 years. I wrote about that HERE.)

I was born in 1912. That was a long time ago now. (When I asked how he was feeling. I suppose that was enough of an answer.)

Time flies so fast (When I talked about his upcoming 100th birthday. I guess that’s true regardless of age.)

I remember fishing in a pond down from our house when I was a boy. (Reminding me to make memories that last.)

I feel a lot older than that (When I asked him if he felt 99)

You turned out to be a handsome man (I guess grandads have to say that.)

What do you think about Pauline? (He asked this several times. I told him I liked her a lot :) )

She’s the prettiest girl I know (Speaking of my grandmother. He’s been saying that all my life)

That window used to be a door I bet. Those are not hard to replace. (As we looked out the window.)

I miss John Reid (Speaking of my father who died a couple years ago)

He never caused me any problems. (Again speaking of my father, who rebelled for many years. Reminding me we mostly remember the good days.)

I don’t think I ever spanked him. Well, maybe once.
(I suspect he forgot a few times :) )

I wish Pauline felt better. (He appears to worry about her.)

Those bugs are hard to get rid of (Random thought while looking out the window. He then proceeded to tell me how he would get rid of them. It involved some sawing, a drill, a hammer and some nails.)

I can’t believe the Lord blessed me with someone like Pauline. (Here’s a man who dearly loves his wife. It was challenging.)

We didn’t use to write like that. (Speaking of me typing into my phone taking notes on what he was saying.)

It must have a good memory (Not sure he was using memory in the same sense I would, but it made sense.)

I need to go find Pauline…
(I told him I’d help him find his sweetheart.)

Grandparents are awesome!

Surely it’s Grandparents Day somewhere…Tell me about your grandparents…or what it’s like being one!

12 Things I’ve Learned About God

God is not afraid to stretch you to fit His will

God is patient

God never lacks for resources

God has creative ways of accomplishing His will

God is never stressed by my current situation

God works bad for good in its time

God loves a good redemption story

God is never interested in a halftime commitment

God’s power knows no bounds

God loves with an everlasting love

God never wastes an experience

God forgives thoroughly

Which of these do you need as a reminder today?