Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Problem with Short Cuts

Romans 12:3
For by the grace given me I say to everyone of you; do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.(TNIV)

Let me give you a little background about me…about a year and a half ago God “really” set me free. In this freedom, I found out that despite what I was always told, I am smart. Yes, when I was a child I over-heard a conversation that went “don’t be so hard on Lisa, she just doesn’t understand math.” So to me, I figured that I was stupid about everything (you know, “dumb blond”). Now understand, I am not looking for sympathy…just so you understand where I am coming from.

Now fast forward to February this year; and being back in college…when I heard God tell me very clearly “study philosophy”…to which I immediately replied;”but Lord, I don’t have time!” But I started acquiring some books (which I have just barely started, time management not being one of my strong suits). And much to my surprise, two weeks ago; who shows up at our Wednesday bible study, but a friend of our pastor’s…a semi-retired philosophy professor. So after a couple of absolutely fascinating discussions, and a really cool paper he emailed me, he hands me another book to read. But all the while, I’m thinking…you know, I can just pick his brain and maybe just skip reading all these books (but understand I do love to read) and I can take a short cut. So we start to exchange emails…and I get complemented for my insightful questions, so getting bolder I start picking holes in his answers (whoops) because I was having fun trying to start an argument…So the last email was another paper to read and a caution to be careful, and completely ignored my smart-allick silly arguments.

So as God continued to deal with me through this whole thing…I get the message…finding out I’m smart is not so I can be ridiculous at a whole new level, but to be patient and spend time learning and allowing God to give me wisdom to apply to the new things I am learning. Because like the parable of the seed…If I spring up quickly, I’ll just burn up because I have no depth of roots; but if am good soil and allow the seed to grow up gradually, I’ll receive the hundred fold harvest.

But I can almost use “epistemological” in a complete sentence!

Proverbs 4:7-9
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gifts,Treasures and Gold

Isaiah 54:11-12
O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, behold I will set your stones in antimony. And your foundations I will lay in sapphires. Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, and your gates of crystal, and your entire wall of precious stones.

I have been thinking about the gifts that God has given me, and I think of them as if they are precious stones. Some are already cut gems, beautiful and sparkling. Others are still in the rough cut state, waiting for finishing; but I can see the potential there. And the last I found originally as a hard black rock, but when the outer cover began to chip off, it revealed a gorgeous stone under the garbage; and I didn’t even know it was there.

OK, so now I see these gems; what do I do with them? I see how God is refining me, like gold. He is taking me through the purification process; but that will leave me as an ingot of gold…Pretty but not terribly useful. Just like these gems are; pretty to look at but what do you do with them?

So that’s where I give the whole thing to God…Because He is not only the refiner; He is also the Master Craftsman. So He can create out of the gifts He has given me something useful for the building up of the Kingdom of God…Not to bring me glory, but to bring Him glory.

An interesting thought; as I was meditating on the idea of “less of me, more of Him”; and as believers, we are all compared over and over again to gold…Did you know that gold is so malleable that it can be hammered into sheets so thin that you can see through them.

So am I willing to be so “thin” that God’s light can shine through?

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.(TNIV)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Consider Joy?

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

You know, with all the junk I’ve had to face this week; I finally blew a fuse. I threw a tantrum with God. Alright, what I was actually doing was yelling at God (and not for the first time either).

Somewhere along the line, it has gotten into my head, that if I hear God’s voice, and obey; things will go right…Right now! In other words, I think that things will work out according to my expectations. I mean really; according to Romans 12:2 my mind is “renewed” and I (of course) will know what God’s will is… what His “good and perfect will” is for any given situation. So like a child, I think, well I’ve been a good girl, so God will reward me…Right?

So when I get done exhausting myself yelling and crying that it’s not fair, and comparing my life to the Prophet Jeremiah (yeah I was really whining), I call a friend of mine to get some sympathy. So she just stops me cold when she quietly says to me, “Lisa, I thank God for my husband, and my house, and my job; but if I lose my husband, lose my house and lose my job, I will still thank Him.”

I hung up the phone and repented.

“But as for me, my prayer is to Thee, O Lord, at an acceptable time, O God, in the greatness of Thy lovingkindness, answer me with Thy saving truth. (Psalm 69:13,emphasis mine)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Do I have ears to hear?

Proverbs 3:5-6 lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge [submit to] Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (The Amplified Bible)

It has been made abundantly clear to me, that because of the gifts the Lord has given to me (a fair measure of intelligence) that I have gotten to the point where I am answering questions about scripture from my own understanding (The comment that was told to me was,” Lisa, that was all from your head, and absolutely nothing from the Spirit”). So my latest “assignment” from God right now is to sit down, and shut up…and just listen. To have “ears to hear”. I’ve spent so much time over the years studying the bible-that I know it pretty well. At times I can be a walking, talking concordance. If some one asks the question” Do you know where to find the scripture that says…?” Invariably I pipe right up and answer the question. So I manage to single handedly build myself up as some kind of biblical know-it-all and I shut down anyone else from even taking a crack at coming up with the answer (relying on my own insight). Not a real good way to build the body of Christ.

It is amazing to see that at last weeks Wednesday bible study, I kept quiet. I let everyone else add their comments. It was amazing to watch…everyone participated, even people who usually don’t speak up. The insights brought forward were great. It was a very productive study (and very Spirit lead). Wow, that was embarrassing…and my pastor (the gentleman that he is) never said a word…yeah, he knows what is going on (he was the one to give the comment!). I had not been being sensitive to the “still small voice” within me that had been saying “Lisa, please be quiet”, until it took someone to tell me to just shut up! As the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:20-22 “But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. (New American Standard) And by my being an over-bearing, pain in the butt, no one else would even try; why should anyone else try to answer if I always know the answer. I was quenching the Spirit. OK, I learned my lesson…so for the foreseeable future, I’ll just sit there and be quiet. I just remember that Proverbs 17:28 says; Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is counted prudent. OUCH!