Monday, August 3, 2009

Guidance and the Voice of God - Pt 1

You know, sometimes I think the subject of guidance is one that gets a bit ‘done to death’ in Christian circles, so you may be tempted to take this month off, thinking ‘I’ve got that one covered’, but I want to encourage you to read again with us for two reasons:

1. We all make thousands of decisions every day. Some are little, some are big and the consequences do not always match the amount of time or energy we put into them. Sometimes we leave off revisiting this topic until we are faced with what we classify as a ‘big’ decision, but we forget that we need this same guidance for lots of our little everyday decisions too. Sure, you can choose any coloured toilet paper you like off the shelves, but should you buy the cheapest so you can save money or buy the more expensive environmentally friendly version so you can save the planet? Lots of seemingly small decisions go into our everyday lives that reflect who we are and what we value. This character often impacts us when we make our big decisions and these decisions are often the result of lots of smaller decisions we have made along the way.

2. It never ceases to amaze me how many weird and wacky ideas people, even Christians, have on how to ‘get guidance’. Sure, we may not be conned into the foolish TV ads telling us that if we send our name and the name of the guy we have a crush on to a particular number, they’ll tell us if we are compatible (at least I hope we’re not!!), but how often do we use the ‘inner sense of peace’ or ‘signs’ or ‘open doors’ language as Christians, without really being sure of whether that is true guidance or not. A friend recently told me of a counsellor who told her to open the Bible and loo for God’s word for her on whether or not she should marry her boyfriend ... is that really the best we have to offer? A random verse pulled out of context (I hope she doesn’t open to ‘Solomon had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines ...’. That would be rather confusing!). No God’s guidance is so much clearer and more loving than any of these, so please keep reading with us to be reminded of how.


Naomi W said...

I agree. It is concerning that it isn’t just the wackier Christian group out there that have strange views on guidance. It is much closer to home.

It is popular amongst some evangelical circles (even amongst the biblically trained) to look for guidance through signs, the so-called ‘laying out the fleece’, or to look for guidance through listening to the inner voice.

I know of a former ministry trainee, who I have respect for, who was convinced that there must be other ways to get guidance for decision making other than just from the bible. ‘How else,’ they said, ‘would you know what job to get or who to marry? Surely there are extra biblical proddings?’

In the popular Mars Hill book Practical Theology for Women, the author discusses how she and her husband made a life-changing decision to move to Seattle, even though they had no means to do so – they were broke, unemployed and had been thwarted at every turn. Why did they end up moving? Because, you guessed it, they felt in their heart of hearts that moving to Seattle was ‘God’s will for us’ (p11).

Phil Jensen and Tony Payne do a superb job in exposing these dangerous errors and show how the bible teaches us to make decisions. In fact, I actually preferred the first edition title of their book, when it was called The Last Word on Guidance, the ‘Last Word’ being the biblical word of Christ.

In him, Naomi

Ngaira said...

Naomi has very eloquently stated what I was thinking. Sometime we feel that a decision has one of two outcomes, one positive and one negative.

From experience I can say that I agree with this proposition on some occasions, but usually things are not quite so clear cut. Is it not more helpful to consider that a decision can have multiple valid outcomes, with varying consequences.

My preliminary thoughts are that with every decision we make we must seek to glorify God. However this can only be achieved if we know and understand what that means in our lives and trust in God's provision.

I am really looking forward to reading this book, reading Michelle's blog and sharing thoughts on this subject.

Bring it on!!