Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Don't Judge a Book by It's Cover

William Butler Yeats said to, “Think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people.” Wisdom is useless, knowledge is useless, understanding is useless, unless it can be shared and applied.  And God loves to use the foolish things of this world to confound the wise (1 Cor. 1:27).  Often wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are wrapped in packages that seem perhaps shallow or even unpalatable.  It is God’s pleasure to just such a thing.
In spite of all the times that God has shown me how while education and background and personal interests have little bearing on whom He chooses to bestow His wisdom, I can still, at times revert back to a less “evolved” time in my life, surrounded by academia and “proper breeding” when I was assured that the way one spoke indicated their own level of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. 
I was not even aware that I was slipping back into old habits until recently a very precious woman shared her teaching and book with me.  I began reading it rather tentatively, sure that there would be little more than sticky gumdrop Christianity, womens’ issues that I had matured weeeell past, of course.  And as I began reading, I was stunned.  I could hardly finish a page for all the depth and meat.  I had to keep putting it down going back to the Bible to study more and understand what she was saying.  I have highlighting, underlining, notes in the margins, notes in my journal - I can't put it down, but I have to, because my brain is still downloading all the depth from just a few pages.  In this precious woman, with this delightfully girlfriendy personality, is a depth of wisdom that astounds me. 
Guess the old adage is still true: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

So thankful that God has proved that to be true in my own life, and convinces me again and again that He is the author and finisher of our faith, the only True Wisdom, and that without Him, we are all really nothing, and with Him we are an altogether more beautiful creation.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Preparing for Battle

          I have often been tempted to believe that life with Christ is nothing more than dull religion.  A life of quiet prudence.  Prudence – ugh – don’t you just hate that word – it makes me think of all the times I dared to turn something down I knew was not right and my friends called me a “prude”.  In the times I ran from God it was mostly because I was seeking adventure; I wanted a life of bravery and excitement, not being a quiet, goody-goody prude.  Ha!  Did I have it all wrong!
          Proverbs 8-9 discuss that the House of Wisdom has cut out seven pillars to build her house that is filled with riches, honor, and righteousness.  What are those seven pillars?
1.      Prudence (H6195)
2.      Knowledge (H1847) and Discretion (H4209)
3.      Fear (H3374) of the Lord
4.      Counsel (H6098)
5.      Sound Wisdom (H8454)
6.      Understanding (H998)
7.      Strength (H1369)
You may notice that after many of these words I have the letter H and numbers in parenthesis.  This passage of the Bible is written in Hebrew, and there is a Bible Study Resource called Strongs Exhaustive Concordence of the Bible. Each word written in Greek or Hebrew is catalogued there with its passage in the Bible.  For instance, though we may find the word strength written in our modern translation throughout the Bible – it’s meaning in this Proverbs 8 passage and another could be a little different.  So when studying the Bible, it’s good to get to the root of the words. 
          That is just what I did here – I looked up the root words and meanings, because the word prudence just chaps my butt every time.  It represented a quiet church mousy type person and felt that I would have to put back on some chains to attain.  HOWEVER, BOY WAS I WRONG!
          I began looking up prudence its Hebrew root word ‘orman – and it means a shrewdness, craftiness type of prudence.  Knowledge and discretion refer to skill, cunning, and plots!  The fear of the Lord refers to reverence for an awesome and terrifying presence.  Counsel refers to advice and seeking purpose.  Sound Wisdom lends to finding knowledge that leads to abiding success (tried, tested, passed). Strength is referencing power, might, valor, bravery, force, and mighty deeds.  Go ahead, look them up – google search strongs and their numbers and see for yourselves.
          Not one of these pillars of wisdom lends to a life lived in dull quiet corners.  There are times to get back to the quietness, but these pillars lend to a life of adventure – of battles fought with the right tools, of cunning acts, and crafty plots to destroy the enemy of our souls and this time! 

          This encouraged me today to remember that even though what my daily life may look like today may seem rather uneventful, God is building these seven pillars within me, so that I am prepared and armed for the days ahead…for an irreplaceable role in a grand adventure.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Learning to Drive

          I don’t know that much about driving a standard, but I can get by.  A few months ago one of our pastors shared a story about building up momentum and he used the example of driving a standard.  Once you get to a certain speed, you don’t have to keep switching gears, and your vehicle doesn't have to work as hard at 60 miles an hour as it did at 10.   The momentum has been built, and highway driving is easy.
          But if you drive through a town with many stop lights, you have to learn to shift down so you don't burn out or run over townspeople. The stop and go is difficult and complicated on the car and driver.  This is where I struggle most in a standard…I have had a few of our vehicles die out on me at this point…not super fun. 
          Growing up I took dance classes and in high school was in competitive cheer-leading all four years.  In all that time, I never was a quick learner when it came to routines.  Other girls seemed to watch a performance a time or two, and then music would kick on at full speed and they would jump right in…not me.  If I tried to keep up full speed before I could do it all slowly, I looked like some sort of spastic monkey.  I had to carefully stop and go slowly, mastering each motion, then trying to put just two or three that I had mastered together, then trying the next before moving forward. 
          Once I understood each movement, then I could put them together, when I could put them together then I could move with the music, and once I had that down I made it my own and my performances went well.  But building momentum took a lot longer for me, a lot of extra hours at home at night that no one saw, but it was worth it!
          In strength training, especially with weights or resistance bands, it’s a lot easier to move faster – to let the momentum carry you quickly through the sets…but it is not really building strength.  What really builds strength is taking the time to slowly move each weight or band, allowing the muscles to tear down at each spot so they can rebuild – giving you a long, sound muscle structure, a secure and trustworthy foundation for use.
          I’ve been thinking of these things as it relates to my life.  My tasks at hand these days are greater than I’ve ever known, and getting it all done seems monumental.  But God has been showing me how to balance principle, focus, strength, and momentum – how to leverage them to my advantage.
          Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your works to the Lord and your thoughts will be established.”  I’ve been meditating on it for a week or so.  When I seek Him for what work I most need to do, what to do first, what to prioritize, and commit to working things His way – things run more smoothly.
          But the thing is, I have two young children, a husband working a LOT, and in general life just happens.  Weekend trips, sicknesses, storms, financial issues, and general laziness all come and attack my ability to work and keep up my routine.  But the thing is, when a week of sickness knocks us behind, and each day after that we recommit our works to the Lord and get back on the horse, we keep building momentum.
          Each time we are knocked down and we get back up, we build strength.  We build real strength; the kind that builds commitment and makes it easier to get up and move forward faster than the time before.  The strength allows us to build momentum faster, like the shifting gears of a standard truck.  And this strength and momentum that we have built helps us to establish our thoughts so that we are not tossed to and fro by the crashing waves of emotions (ie: whether or not I feel like doing laundry today – hello – never), by the unavoidable interruptions (like every family member cycling through some wave of stomach bug leaving our home a disaster), or more challenging seasons. 
          And other times we are not knocked down, but we must learn to down shift any way for the sake of those we love and our own sanity.  Nomatter how great my momentum is tackling my tasks, my children need me to be mentally emotionally available to them, often at a moments notice.  My husband needs my head and heart available in our stolen moments together at the end of each day.  This is sometimes hard, because I fear losing the momentum for the tasks, but again the Lord reminds me...trust Him, shift down and let it go.  Tomorrow, I will take it back up again, and each time will build a greater strength to shift gears more quickly and smoothly because the strength I have is there.  
          The many hats and tasks we must wear are often a delicate balancing act, but God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways.  But if we will resurrender ourselves to Him, and continue to seek Him; He will produce good fruit in our lives if we let Him.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Books can be a great many things, but books cannot be your friend.  Movies, television, music – entertainment of any sort – none of these sources can satisfy the need for relationship in our soul.  Like sugar laden fatty treats they can soothe the hunger for a while, even provide a euphoric high, but trying to substitute for the real thing will only momentarily delay the hunger and later leave you more ravenous and more difficult to please than before you began.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Uniquely Feminine

Female friendships are so often wrought with biting jabs, carefully calculated insults, and sharp zings all while smiling and kissing each other's cheeks.  I saw a post on pinterest that was an older man telling his son not to try to understand women, because only women can understand women, and they hate each other.  Ugh!  Why???!!!

I was sharing some struggles with a wise girlfriend the other day, and she shared with me some wise insight.  We must seek to pull up the roots of jealousy, comparison, criticism, and insecurity lurking beneath the surface of our carefully glossed smiles.  We must seek the Lord to heal these areas of our hearts for the purpose of intimate female friendship - it is essential, which is why it is under attack.  Girlfriends, there is an enemy of our souls, and he would love nothing more than for us to never have true female friendship.  He would love for our insecurity and jealousy to keep us guarded from each other, and throw daggers cloaked as jokes when we come near.  

God created woman strong, innovative, nurturing, fiercely loyal, protective, and kind...we are essentially needed.  We need one another.  Why do we allow the enemy to gain ground by tearing one another down, especially when we so well know the trials and challenges of womanhood full well?

Thank You God for these beautiful women.  Please show them the roots of insecurity, jealousy, criticism, and comparison or others that are driving a wedge between their female friendships.  Bring them to light so that they can be uprooted and the holes healed.  Help them to sow in loving kindness, compassion, confidence in their own identity in You, and Truth so that they can reap intimate, life giving friendships to hold them up when they become weary or tired, to celebrate at the joys of life, and to cry on one another's shoulders in times of pain.  And thank You God, that You have created us in Your image, uniquely feminine, and that we are Your precious daughters.  In Jesus name, Amen.