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Monthly Archives: April 2013

On the Lighter Side: Run for Your Mule!

stubborn muleForgive me, I can’t help myself.  Perhaps you can chuckle with me, even if it is at something in the Bible.

2 Sam 13:29 always makes me smirk. It reads: “And the servants of Absalom did to Amnon just as Absalom had commanded.”  Perhaps I’m just warped, but the next part makes me smile.

The king’s sons were panicked. They didn’t casually get up to leave, they jumped up and ran out the door.  If they weren’t fearing they were the next one to be killed they were fearing retribution from King David for being a part of the murder of his son Amnon.  They were freaked out and they knew that this tent was not the place to be.

Which brings me to the part I find funny.  If you were going to run for your life, how would you do it?  Would you dash for your mule?    Wouldn’t you rather kick your sandals off and run like mad?   Apparently I have a very stereotypical view of the mule. Panic stricken over the murder of their brother, the king’s sons jumped on their mules and ran away (at 5 mph)…

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Lighter Side

 

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A Christian without a Bible: the Heart of Devotions

I ran across this quote today,

‘The man who doesn’t read good books

has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.’

-Mark Twain

A thought struck me.  In the same way,

The Christian who doesn’t read the Bible

has no advantage over one without Scripture translated in their language.

DSC_6432

The Slovenian translation of Hebrews 4:12 “For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

If I leave my thought here, I will most likely only be heaping feelings of guilt upon you.  I understand that many who read this today may have not yet sat with their Bible in their lap.  Those who have, are resisting a smug false-piety for having passed this unexpected test.

The ability to read and own books is new on the stage of history.  It is fascinating to consider Elijah, Daniel, Peter, (even the Bereans!) and others.  They lived powerful, godly lives without having 21st century devotions. They did not get up and read and pray, they probably only prayed.  It wasn’t until well after Gutenberg for the present concept of devotions to become even a POSSIBILITY.

There was a season in my life when I had five little ones under the age of seven.  I languished under a sense of guilt for not getting up before them to read and pray!  How I struggled!  I felt guilty for not executing a practice that I thought was not only beneficial-but ESSENTIAL. I assumed I was failing in some way.  In truth, I was just an exhausted Mother who was largely incapable of putting more into her schedule.

It took a few years for me to come to a sense of peace in this situation.  It was only after I noticed a vibrant habit of mine of converting every thought to a spiritual one that the guilt subsided.   As I brushed up against Scriptures from various places, and met with deeper thoughts, I would meditate upon them until a new one came along.  Often, something would strike me profoundly and when I finally had a moment to myself, I would study it further. I realized I WAS having devotions, I was just doing them unconventionally.

It is better by far I think, to consider devotions as the ongoing, deliberate act of meditating on God’s Word.

The sitting down and reading is not the crucial part.  More is gained if one walks throughout their day, brushing against the Word wherever they go, and relating all they encounter to the truths they have internalized.  The transforming element is the meditation of what is before you at any given time, not the habit, albeit good and beneficial, of opening to the reading for that day.  I can say with all honesty that I have gained more from this habit than from reading at prescribed times.  I am not dismissing the importance of habitual reading, only elevating constant meditation above it.

(I am not speaking of studying the Scriptures.  This is different from devotions. We need to frequently compare our thoughts with the truths in Scripture; this requires concentrated exploration of the Bible to find truth. This is not the same as ‘devotions’ as it is commonly practiced.)

Exposure to His Word can come from many things, in many ways… in my experience, being exposed and prompted to dwell upon God’s precepts is what is critical, not the habit of reading.  A foolish person will neglect the habit all together and then lament the slowness of his Christianity to produce fruit.  A deluded person will religiously sit each morning reading yet have the same fate as the first if they do not continue to meditate upon what they have read when they close the book.

The heart of devotions, is hearing the Word and putting it into practice…it is hearing, however that may be, and then staying focused on it to carry it out.  Productive devotions are the moments we spend responding more to our inner reality than that of the worldly circumstance we are in.    Devotions are not an act, it is a state of being, grounded on the truth we have heard.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2013 in Spiritual Growth

 

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The Light Bulb that Everyone Saw Before You

I shared something that I thought was marvelous with a friend this week.  It was a concept I saw clearly for the first time but only after intense and prolonged introspection and careful study.  Guess what?  They already knew it.

I wrestle with thoughts fiercely.  Even the most simple understandings I flip over and over in my head, examine, question and verify.  Often this takes much time, extensive reading and deep thought. I am the quintessential theologian, I ask why and how about everything and I tend to keep asking those things long after others are satisfied.

This is why it can be maddening to me to share an insight I’ve had.   After passionately explaining what I see and how I came to that conclusion, I look into the eyes of my hearer and realize that they already knew what to me, is brand new.  I get an enthusiastic nod, and hear, “yes, I totally agree” and then no more comment. If I wait long enough, they will yawn.  And I am left speechless.

Am I a dolt?  Am I just that much slower than the rest in dissecting and analyzing my beliefs?  It has happened enough that I expect this to be a possible response when I share anything with another.

So, of course I had to think about this.  How can others already understand so quickly what I have to spend years studying, though they are not given to that type of study?  After dismissing the idea that they are faking understanding (these are godly, honest people I trust) I’m left with the reality that they probably DO understand what has taken me months and months to come by.

How can that be?  Of course, they may have wrestled with the thoughts before me, but I don’t think that is the case in many of these situations.  So what’s up?

It's a sphere!

It’s a sphere!

Do you believe the world in round?  So do I and I’ve probably spent as much time thinking about it as you, which is pretty close to not at all.  Despite not thinking about it, I get it, we’re not living on a pancake but a hacky sack.  Yet there are those who have spent close to a whole career studying the round nature of the earth and how that relates to everything else in our solar system.  They get it, but on a much deeper level, not in a superior sense, we both get the world is round, but their understanding is richer.

One can know a thing on many levels- the deepness isn’t the essential part, knowing is.

Understanding “God is love” is a wonderful insight.  You may come to that idea easily where another must first deal with the problem of evil, difficult passages, previous paradigms, the concept of feelings and what it means to exist.  If you are as messed up as me you will probably first have to analyze what love is first before you can even begin to entertain the idea of God being loving.  Then you have to separate loving acts from the embodiment of love and on and on it goes.  After years of deliberation, the deep mind comes to the same conclusion as the one steadied on simple faith: “God is love”.  Though the thinker probably had already accepted that in faith, they have examined it so minutely that when they come to the conclusion it seems to be a brand new understanding.

So is thinking deeply a waste of time or worse, some form of vanity?

While it certainly can be a type of vanity and lead to fat-headed pride, the humble heart is simply intrigued and wants to understand because they are insatiably curious.  They have a drive to comprehend.  It is the artist in them.  Going deeper into a simple idea often reveals connections, patterns, textures and richness to the ideal that is difficult to express unless one has meditated upon it.   It reveals the story behind the title.  It is not a waste of time.  It is a blessing.

And so, if you are bent like me, I encourage you, thinking deeply can be a blessing, even if most everyone else thinks you’re a bit daft for marveling at the qualities of a sphere.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Spiritual Gifts

 

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