Following God's Lead

I have a passion for writing and speaking God’s Word, and although there have been opportunities to share my faith on this site and others, and He has opened doors to me to talk to individuals about my Faith and relationship with Jesus, but I find myself unsatisfied with where I am. Like when you’re driving and you know you missed your turn and you can’t turn around for who knows how long without getting even further off course. That’s how it feels for me.

Both my wife and I have health issues which would be if not resolved completely, would be easier to manage in a First-World economic environment with First-World healthcare available. For example, in January my medical insurance company chose profits over patient care and I had to change medication for diabetes management because the medication I was using – and had been controlling my glucose levels perfectly – is too expensive. In England, my home country and a place we may consider moving back to, patient care comes first, not profits – although cost is an issue as it is a Government paid service. I am thankful that after six months of adverse reaction to the medication that replaced the original I have been able to revert – because the price came down.

And that is but one of many examples.

Some days I find it hard to believe I am in the right place.

Yes, I have been open to being used by God, as His instrument and voice, but how much more could have been done had I listened to the voice saying “This is the way” a year ago?

We had the opportunity to move to England in March 2014 but it would have meant major changes in style and size of home. We chose creature comforts over instinct. Not a wise move. I did something similar 20 years ago and it took me another 18 years to start writing – something I knew I was called to do from a teenager.

Right place and right time, or the concept that I am automatically where God wants me to be is a popular misconception. It creates complacency. God uses us where we are, and He can use us effectively if we are open to it, but He has a plan for our lives. The problem is that our ideas may not line up with His plan if we don’t take them to Him.

There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” [Proverbs 16:25 NKJV]

Imagine when it was going well for Paul in Ephesus that he had said “I’m comfortable here. It must be where God wants me.” He could have chosen to stay there making tents and we’d have lost most of the New Testament.

Consider that the Holy Spirit had a direct hand in allowing persecution of the disciples as they became comfortable in Jerusalem, forcing them to move abroad and reach the World with Jesus’s message – the Great Commission.

Often what God calls us to is uncomfortable. It is difficult and challenging so our Faith can be developed. Without challenges ministers like Billy Graham, Jesse Duplantis, Dave Duell, Andrew Wommack and many others would never have reached the millions they have reached through their ministries, travelling evangelical and church-support conferences and the other events where lives have been changed. Preachers of the past and Godly men like Wilberforce, the Wesleys, Luther and Whitefield could have succumbed to outside pressure in favour of comfort.

Change is uncomfortable. Growth hurts. When a seed falls to the ground it must die before it can grow. The caterpillar must cease to exist for the butterfly to emerge. So it is with us. We strive to stay in our cocoons when God wants us to be a rainbow of colours with wings to carry us that He longs to provide.

So yes, some people are where they are meant to be. Bruce Wilkinson wrote a wonderful book called “The Dream Giver” some time ago. It is the story of Ordinary, a man living in the Land of Familiar, who has a dream to move away and follow the dream. He battles with giants and seemingly well-meaning friends and family to reach his dream and after much struggle he finds he is able to reach the city he’s dreamed of with a message of hope for them.

In the sequel book, “The Dream Giver for Couples”, Ordinary marries and he and his wife must travel together to reach a shared dream. Again they fight battles with giants and times in wastelands where it seems they have lost their way, but by trusting the Dream Giver they reach their new destination to follow their shared dream.

So before you get comfortable – too comfortable – where you are, ask yourself: “Am I where I should be? Lord, Am I where YOU want me to be and in the centre of YOUR will?” If the answer is “Yes” to all three questions, Go with God.

If the answer is “No”, find out where and what your purpose is through prayer, meditation and sharing your vision with people you trust in the Faith.

The Old Testament history books are a guide for us. We don’t have to learn by hard knocks all the time. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land they captured city after city, each one in a different way. Jericho was defeated by the sound of a trumpet. Jericho was a city terrified of the Israelites, and the only city God commanded the people take no spoils from. Achan and his family did, and as a result the Israelites were defeated by a smaller army at the city of Ai when they reached it. After the sin was dealt with, Joshua sent an army to the city again under God’s instruction. The battle was won and the city taken. In Joshua 9, the next cities deceive Israel by negotiating a treaty which the leaders did not take before God before swearing it. As a result the cities were left intact and ungodly influences that would eventually lead Israel into the worship of false gods were allowed to remain in the Promised Land.

Forwards in time, King David took each plan of war campaign before God and waited for His reply before he sent the warriors in. What happened was not the same twice.

Jesus healed more than one blind man in His ministry, but He used different ways to do it.

Don’t make my mistake and let apparent comfort hold you back from God’s Will for your life. Take your plans to God in prayer and wait. Wait as long as it takes before you act to be certain that you’ve heard His plans for you. His plan is one for the best for us (see Jeremiah 29) to keep us with hope for the future. Paul writes that Faith, Hope and Love are eternal, and the writer of Hebrews 11 reminds us that faith is the substance of what we hope for.

Get out there and Follow His lead.

You’ll never regret it if you do.

The Affair Phenomenon

There’s been a lot of press recently about the leaked members list of the Ashley Madison website. Frankly any site with the tagline “Life is short: have an affair” should be something people who claim Christ dwells in them should run from as fast as possible, but at the end of the day we’re all human as well as Christian.

I’ve been married for 12 years next week. I’m 43 now and I’d be lying to myself if I said I’d never in those 12 years looked at another woman and thought she was attractive. I doubt any honest man could do that. It’s the way our brains are wired. Even those of us with conditions like ADD, depression and bipolar mood disorder would agree that men in particular are hardwired to find attraction in the female form.

I know there are men my wife finds attractive as well. Neither of us is threatened by this in our marriage as we are completely committed to one another.

But what exactly constitutes an “affair”?

My closest friend is a younger woman. We have a lot in common spiritually and have had many conversations about our shared Faith and interests. She knows me intellectually and probably emotionally as well as my wife does. Our friendship has been a support for both of us through difficult times and a joy for both of us in good. Spiritually we have a closer understanding of the Bible than I have with my wife. Emotionally I feel a connection with her I don’t have with anyone else – but it’s not romantic.

The problem is how others perceive the friendship. I don’t make friends easily due to my past still haunting me. With this person however things were very different. A few years ago before I was married I would probably have been nervous to strike a conversation with her. I never imagined when we met that a friendship so strong and supportive would come from it. After God stepped in and the friendship encountered what I can only call a baptism of fire we became very close friends and have been in a position to counsel and support each other as a result.

I was accused several times of cheating on my wife with her emotionally by colleagues. I’ve had close female friends before and so was able to deal with the comments easily, but it would be foolish to assume the possibility for an inappropriate level of emotional intimacy could have developed. I think both of us recognised that and as a result it simply didn’t happen. I came very quickly to see her as a sister I could depend on and tried to be a brother to her.

But where does the line fall?

I think the Ashley Madison site is repugnant. Life is a precious thing – and unlike the site’s tagline states – and it goes a long time after we leave this world behind. Marriage is under enough strain without this kind of attack being flaunted. Apparently reports of several hundred church leaders being active members have surfaced. Their behaviour too is repulsive. To disrespect your spouse in private is one thing, but this is so far beyond that. To put some perspective on the site from God’s side, let’s consider Joseph’s encounter with Potiphar’s wife:

“[Potiphar] is not greater in this house than I am; nor has he kept anything from me except you, for you are his wife. How then can I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9)

How can I sin against God? Joseph’s question when offered adulterous sexual relations with his owner’s wife. Not “How can I do that to Potiphar?” Joseph’s rebuffing of her makes it clear against whom the offense is.

It’s an offense against God.

This one passage among hundreds in the Bible underscores the need to recognise sin when we see it for what it is. True a physical encounter with another person may give some pleasure for a time. But God gives us a conscience and it is set off by that kind of behaviour.

When I was accused of having an affair it wasn’t by my wife but by colleagues. If anything was said to her she didn’t share it with me that I recall. To both of us – as far as I know – the concept was moot. I was married and committed to that relationship. We both knew that and although my wife and my friend never personally met (yet) there have never been any secrets between the three of us and all of us have had telephonic contact independent of each other.

Ashley Madison is different. It is set up explicitly to destroy lives through extramarital relationships. These sites have been around for years, it’s no secret. But this one in particular got caught. And marriages have disintegrated, trusts have been destroyed, churches have been left without shepherds.

All because of a few clicks on a website.

What next?

We need to look at what an affair is. Did I have an emotional affair with my friend? Was I emotionally unfaithful to my wife by turning to another woman for support at a time of crisis in my life?

I don’t believe so because I was totally honest with my wife about the friendship from day one. I made no attempt to hide anything from her about my feelings for my friend. I’ll be brutally honest: I love her dearly. But I love her the way I would love my sister.

It’s a choice.

Contrary to what the world would have us believe we are not slaves to our hormones. We have a choice. Even my dogs are faithful to each other. I’m better than a dog.

So are you.

The affair starts in the imagination we develop. Before I was married I was in love with a woman I’d known for years and had a very close friendship with. She came to stay with me several times – separate rooms I stress – and I with her. I had to fight my emotions every day I had contact with her.

For me, THAT was an emotional affair. I loved her deeply, and not as a sister. I told her my feelings and she never told me if she reciprocated, but the friendship got much deeper and closer afterwards.

In different circumstances things could have turned out very differently. I feel I must add that we were both single, but we lived a long way (in British terms) from one another. I spent a long time imagining what it would be like to be involved with her. And not just physically. It was an affair of the heart.

What Ashley Madison does is it attributes those lustful feelings as being positive and something to be explicitly sought out in every sense of the word.

The existence of a dating site is not in itself damning. I met my wife through one – we were both single. But a site specifically designed to promote adultery is a completely different animal. To become a member you have to be in a relationship as I understand it from what I’ve read. The implications are damning.

Shun immorality and all sexual looseness [flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed]. Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6: 18-20)
Jesus said if we even looked lustfully at another woman or man we were guilty of adultery in our hearts.
Folks, we’re all in deep trouble.
All of us fall short of God’s standard.
But that’s the point. We all fall short. We can’t keep the Law. That’s the point of Jesus.

We need to take this time to reach out to those hurt by this adulterous website, both it’s members and their families, and extend love to them, not condemnation.
If we use God’s standard as laid out by Jesus we’re all guilty of an affair.
Let’s lose the hypocrisy the World is so quick to point out to us and rally as a Family should. Support the hurting, yes we should discipline the offenders, but we should do it from a place of love.
God’s kind of Love.
So what is an affair?
You decide – based on your own actions and conscience. Mine tells me I may not have joined Ashley Madison, but God can still lay that charge of adultery against me for thoughts I’ve pondered on through my life.
None of us is perfect. Get used to it.
Forgive. Love. Support each other.
Get over it.
A year from now most people even in the World will not remember Ashley Madison.

Let’s make sure they don’t forget the Cross as well.