Saturday, July 23, 2011

Give it Up

I didn't want to read my Bible today.  After the last couple of days it felt like no matter what I read, it would spell failure for the day.  Two days ago I meditated on Proverbs 8:13 about how the fear of God is hatred of perverse speech.  All day my thoughts were full of critical, judgmental thoughts that I struggled to harness.  I thought Proverbs was about hating the twisted words of others--but, no, I found them in myself.  Yesterday I meditated on Ezekiel 12 and God reminded me that difficult circumstances are there to drive me to Him.  Wouldn't you know that the circumstances nearly overcame me? I found myself grumbling and justifying my grumpiness while listening to a gravelly Star Wars voice echo, "The flesh is strong with this one."

How would I fail today?  Only God knows, but I knew my options were limitless.  As my husband, David, and I read Jeremiah together I was reminded that God doesn't want fancy-schmancy sacrifices (Jeremiah 8:20).  He simply calls me to do it His way--to depend on Him, to walk in the death and resurrection of Jesus instead of my own strength.  Today's motto:  give it up.  Whatever I'm holding onto to make myself good, better, or righteous.  I don't need it.  It won't work.  I only need Him.  So, those critical thoughts?  Give em up.  It's not my job to "fix" others.  My reaction to difficult circumstances? Give it up.  It's not my job to "fix" the circumstances. 

Are you ready to give it up?  Or are you afraid to read your Bible too?

Friday, July 22, 2011

When All Else Fails

It's raining.  Yesterday and the day before and the day before the heat index was unbearable.  Most days it would be an inconvenience.  Today it's creating a near nail-biting reaction.  We're headed into the last day of Vacation Bible School--ALL day vacation Bible school--with a class full of children who won't be able to go outside.  We'll have game time... inside.  We'll have recess... inside.  We'll eat lunch inside...again.
I am so thankful for this reminder from God's Word.  The plight of the people in Israel's day is far, very far, from what I will experience in VBS today (I hope!), but God remains the same.

“So they will know that I am the LORD when I scatter them among the nations and spread them among the countries.  But I will spare a few of them from the sword, the famine and the pestilence that they may tell all their abominations among the nations where they go, and may know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 12:15-16)

Whether they are scattered or spared, God desired that they come to know and fear Him and His awesome power.  The circumstances were nothing more than a vehicle to carry them from thoughts of themselves to thoughts of Him.  When the circumstances get too big, there’s a point at which I have to look for help outside my own efforts and resources.

So? Will I allow God to use the circumstances of today to turn me away from my own efforts and resources and back to dependence on Him?  On my own, in my strength and “wisdom,” I can do nothing—there will be no real eternal fruit from my labor, I will not be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ, the effects of the day will be worthless.  But as I allow Him to fill and use me He will, and can, do great things.

Ahhhh, I'm so thankful that God's desire is that we would know Him and serve Him in His strength, not that we would conquer or win or accomplish or do.  I pray that His faithfulness will carry you through whatever lies in store for you today as well.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Multi Media

Have you ever pictured something in your mind only to find it's very different in real life?  I've had that experience a couple of times lately and it's turned into a rather deep realization.  You may be shocked at how shallow I am, but here goes....

I read True Grit* this summer while our daughter took swimming lessons.  One of the young lifeguards noticed and said, "Whoa!  That was a seriously deep movie."  "Really?"  I asked, about twenty pages in,  "I think it's hilarious!"  I finished the book complete with oohs, aahs, holding my breath in some places and sighing in others.  It was a great book with surprisingly bang-on theology.  Then I watched the movie and was left with bittersweet angst. 

The difference was that reading drew me into the mind of the narrator, watching revealed the entirety of the situation.  When I read I took the place of the storyteller.  I saw what she saw  and felt what she felt.  I reasoned from her point of view.  But to see the protagonist's innocence and vulnerability as an outsider gave the story depth I had missed while reading.

The same has been true as I've started listening to the Word of Promise regularly.  In my desire to become better acquainted with the book of Proverbs I downloaded it to my MP3 player.  Yesterday I added the book of Ezekiel.  Hearing the words and voices gives the text deeper meaning.  Things stand out and make sense like they didn't before.  To experience God's Word with my mouth, ears and eyes adds meaning.  Then, by His Spirit, God extends it to my mind and hands and feet.

In the days of the Old and New Testament, Scripture was always read aloud in large chunks unlike most of our worship services and fellowships today.  Be challenged to read and listen aloud as well as quietly.  Open your ears (literally) to what God has to say.  You'll be blessed! (1 Timothy 4:13, Revelation 1:3).

*Disclaimer--True Grit has descriptive Western violence and language.  It's not a children's book (although it's written from a 14-year-old's point of view), nor is it fluffy.  It's not a nice, clean story, but it's an excellent one.