Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Good Idea or God Idea? How Do I Know the Difference?

Many of you know that we have been struggling with making decisions regarding adoption. Right now, our adoption plans are on hold until after our baby is born, but then we have a short window of time to decide how we are going to proceed from there. Liberia's adoption situation is really uncertain and unstable right now, so it isn't clear how we will go in this.

Decision making has always been a tough thing for me, so I was so excited last weekend when Pat and I were at our church's Leadership Conference, and I saw that one of the break out sessions was titled, "Good Ideas or God Ideas?"

The session ended up being so helpful and practical, I thought I'd share the notes I took. Although these are not new ideas, it was good to be reminded of how to seek God in decision making. These steps could apply to any decision that needs to be made.

As a pastor, the speaker said he is constantly presented with new and good ideas people feel passionately about. "Pastor, we need to start a prison ministry." or "Pastor, we need to be more involved in missions and this is a great new program I just heard about." Although all of those are good ideas, one church cannot do it all, and he needed to learn how to discern the difference between a good idea and an idea God was really leading them into. He came up with this five step process to "Get a HANDle on Decision Making."

Using his hands to count them out, he goes through this process for figuring out God's will:

1. Ask yourself, "Have I been in the Word?":
Before someone can discern if a decision is a good idea or a God idea, they need to be studying the Bible. God has given us the Bible as a standard for direction and truth, so He will not give us direction to do something that is contrary to His Word. Plus, there are so many great examples to learn from and mistakes that people made in the Bible that we can apply to our own situations and avoid. The more we read it and study it, the more familiar and less overwhelming it becomes. My friend said he always thinks that the Bible has wet ink, like it was just written yesterday, because it is still so applicable to his life.

2. Have I prayed about it? And have I been persistent in praying about it?:
The Greek verb ask in Matthew 7:7 should really read keep asking.
(Keep Asking) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you - Matthew 7:7

It is about persistent prayer. Not because God wants us to grovel, but because His ways are different than ours and this may be an issue of timing. I may not be asking for the right thing yet. He may have something much bigger and better than I can imagine.

3. Do I have peace about the decision I'm about to make?:
When we are headed in the right direction in God's will, there is peace as confirmation. Colossians 3:15 says,"Let the peace of God rule in your heart." The Greek verb rule is the same word for umpire. Let His peace rule your situation and decision making.

4. I need to seek out wise counsel before I make this decision:
This is not about asking everyone you know for their opinion. This will just lead to confusion because even if they are great, wise, people, we all have differing opinions. We've found that with our adoption question. The opinions are all coming from people we love and respect and they all feel strongly about how we are to proceed. Instead, you need to seek out those people you know who will go through this process along side of you before they have an opinion. Choose wise counselors, ask them to search God's Word for you and to sincerely and persistently pray for you and then see how they feel led in this situation and take into consideration their advice.

Proverbs 15:22 says, "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed."

5. Then I need to WAIT: Don't rush the decision. Wait until you are sure that you've gotten your answer from God. Don't get ahead of Him. Wait for His lead. This is the hardest part for me! I just want a decision made! I HATE waiting!

The speaker told the story of a lady in his church who was really into horses and trained them. She was talking to him about this part of Psalm 32:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle.

She was saying how she has some horses who know her so well that all she has to do is look in a direction and they will follow the lead of her glance. That's how God wants us to follow Him. Know Him so well, that we don't have to be dragged around by bit and bridle in order to go where He wants to lead us. Knowing Him like that takes time and relationship.

We still have no answer. I think we don't because the timing isn't right yet. What I was so excited about was thinking about using this time to get to know Him even better, to be persistent in praying for that answer, to keep reading His Word and asking my good friends to be in prayer for us. I feel peace now that regardless of the direction He gives us, as we do these five things, He'll lead and we won't have to be confused. I want to get to the point where He glances in the right direction and we joyfully walk that way.

Great stuff, huh? This conference was awesome!


Basics of Life said...
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Basics of Life said...
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Basics of Life said...

Great Stuff !!! Thanks for sharing.

Basics of Life said...

I accicdently posted the same comment three tims so I deleted 2 of them. Have a great day!!!

Daiquiri said...

I had read this, actually. I remember the bit and bridle part...very neat :) I read it through again though - good stuff!