Thursday, March 29, 2012

I love learning

Today I was asked a question about the Seven Spirits of God that are mentioned four times in Revelation. I confess I knew nothing. So I looked up the Revelation verses, checked out a commentary or two and looked up the Greek. There is nothing special about the words used. Seven means the number seven and Spirit is the same Greek word used every time the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the New Testament. So why "seven spirits"?

Apparently there are differing viewpoints. One drew me to a passage I had forgotten about, Isaiah 11. These verses speak of Jesus. Verse two talks about the Spirit: "And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD." But only six things are listed here. Apparently that's why not everyone agrees this is what is meant.

My favorite description is that the number seven is used to depict completion and perfection. So the "seven spirits" simply emphasizes the fullness of the Spirit of God. In Revelation 1 He speaks with the Father and the Son. In Revelation 3 and 5, Christ has Him. In Revelation 4 He is before the throne with the Father. Naturally my interpretation could be wrong, but it was fun to look into and consider. In fact through this He seems to be all the more a part of the Godhead. Here you can see the "Trinity," as it has been titled. And it was nice to reread Isaiah 11 realizing that same Spirit dwells in me, and the promises of that chapter are true! Christ has fulfilled the prophecies!

Relationally speaking

I have been given the opportunity, along with a fellow youth worker, to field questions from the boys in our youth group regarding relationships. This will round out a series the youth pastor has been doing on dating, marriage, sex, etc. In thinking about Sunday, I cannot be sure of the questions we will be asked or how we will get the ball rolling on the discussion, so I keep coming back to these questions:

What do I want my daughter to know? How do I want her to behave? How do I want her to treat herself?
What do I want the boys and men in her life to know? How do I want them to behave? How do I want them to treat her?
What did I want?
What do I wish I'd known?
What have I learned from my relationships and experiences?
Is there anything I wish I'd done differently?

There is so much! What follows is but a fraction... I'm writing a book on the subject...or I was. Targeted to girls, of course. In fact, this is the first time I've thought about it in terms of guys because of what I could get asked on Sunday. All we can really do to prepare is pray. God is the one in charge, after all :) I just have a strong desire for these men and women to recognize that God is the author and perfecter of everything good in their lives and they do not need to chase after the world to get what they think they want when God has all they would ever need.

Girls, you are precious in God's sight and His opinion is the only one that truly matters. You can have a healthy, growing relationship with someone that doesn't involve physical contact. Whether you know it or not, you are a temptation to boys in your life. Respect them, respect yourself. You have such power you wield with your words, your looks, your body. Be aware. The words "I love you" are precious and hold more weight when used with care. Your body is the temple of God and He dwells within You. Guard your heart. Don't feel the need to tell everyone everything. The more you grow in your love and knowledge of the Lord and who He has designed you to be, the more you will be ready for life, no matter what that holds for you. Contentment cannot be bought or found in a relationship, it is a choice that is made by placing all of our hopes on the One who can make them reality. No man will fulfill your every wish and dream. They are imperfect. Only God gives you exactly what you need because only He knows exactly what you need.

Boys, you are powerful and hold such potential for harm and for good. You are a son of God and He loves you and His opinion is the only one that matters. Your actions can promise something you never intended. Be aware of how you treat the girls in your life. Those girls will grow up to be wives someday, and they will not all be yours. How do you want your wife to be treated? Girls are emotional beings. The more you ask of them and the more you tell them, the more they feel a part of your life and heart. Physical contact is not necessary, in fact, it is dangerous. Respect yourself. Respect the girls in your life, even if you have to do it by requesting they stop doing something that makes you uncomfortable. God is the source of all you will ever need. He has such plans for you that you cannot even imagine. Give Him the time and energy towards preparing you for His purposes. Guard your eyes. Fill your mind with what is true, pure, right, good.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Digging deeper

One reason I keep a journal and blog is that I feel quite forgetful. It seems to me that I learn something and then no more than three weeks go by and I reread and think, "oh yeah!"

From March 4th: "how I treat my husband is an act of worship; how I treat our daughter is an act of worship. Humbling thoughts." So I must ask myself how I am worshiping. With my own desires in view or with Paul's best in heart and mind? To worship well what should my behavior be?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

More good advice

2 Peter 1:3-11

"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

I am afraid of my own selfishness. For it has no place: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love. I fear this new season lastly because of my own potential for failure. But I have all I need: "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness...." What a promise!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"a dot fell to the ground"

"Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple." 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

When I read 1 Kings 5 and 6, the description of the preparation for and the construction of the temple, I read of the care, the costly materials, the beauty. I read God's promise to Solomon. And I think, "You are that temple."

I am of no use to anyone if I do not first recognize my worth in the eyes of my Creator. As Eli the woodworker says in Max Lucado's You Are Special: "you are special because I made you. And I don't make mistakes."

Monday, March 12, 2012


"What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:9

What does my daughter see and hear? What will she learn? We dedicated our daughter publicly on Sunday. One of the verses we chose for her was Philippians 4:8. All day today I kept thinking about 4:9. This is what we would like to be able to tell her. Live such that she can practice her life as she sees us living ours out. Wow.

I am so thankful, as I know Paul is, for family and friends who will not only help us live as we ought, but will also be examples themselves for our daughter all her life.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

For V

May we live these verses out for you to see. May you choose to live them out in your life.

2 Timothy 2:15 "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth."

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Enlighten my eyes!

I am currently studying Psalm 13 with my mentor. In it David prays to have his eyes enlightened. This terminology has occurred before in our studies, in Psalm 19:8b- "the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes." I wasn't fully sure what this meant. What does it mean to have my eyes enlightened? A dying man's vision grows dark. So in a sense it is to regain life? Psalm 13 is about God forgetting us, but this is not the truth, merely our view of our circumstances. I like what the author of the book we are using says:

"I believe that David is suggesting that the problem of a forgetting God is in our view of Him. When we feel that God has forgotten us, then we need Him to answer our prayer, which we learned to pray from God's servant David: 'Enlighten my eyes!' We need to have our eyes refocused on the character of our God."*

"God has answered the prayer of David. He has 'enlightened his eyes' by providing a new view of His character....In our own day of distress it would be a mistake to look for a new revelation of God from a priest, a prophet, or any other source. For we have a complete revelation in the Scriptures of God, something David had only in part. We need not new words, but a new insight into and a fresh understanding of the old words. Our problem often is not a lack of revelation, but a failure to appropriate the revelation we have. ...We look for a new level, or a fresh reminder, or a new understanding in the Scriptures of God."*

The Word of God is living and just what we need. I am thankful for it, though I do not show my gratitude well. The promises of Psalm 19 are uplifting: "The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever." It is not trite to say "pray and read your Bible" when we are going through rough times, it is the best prescription we can be given. All we need is to go into it with a contrite heart, ready to hear what the Lord has for us.

*Quoted from Praise! A Matter of Life and Breath by Ronald Barclay Allen

Sunday, March 4, 2012

ALL - what I gleaned from this morning's sermon

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength....You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37, 39

Heart - all affections are centered on Christ. Everything else flows from that love.
I love my family out of the overflow of loving Christ, out of my obedience to Christ. I cannot love them without first loving Him.

Soul - all emotions must be brought to worship and poured out; it permeates everything.
Every decision I make, every emotion I feel can be poured out to the Lord and consecrated as worship. My soul is eternal. I must know how to worship Him eternally.

Mind - all of our knowledge of God must become obedience. Take every thought captive; pursue truth.
Knowing God is the goal, not just knowing of Him. If I know Him and take my thoughts captive, pursuing His truth, I will not be weighed down by the worries of this world or let the lies of the enemy take any kind of hold.

Strength - all of our time, talents and treasure need to be consecrated to the Lord as an act of worship
Once again I think of my work being done for the Lord alone. I also wrestle with knowing my talents and using them.

Neighbor - we last forever and therefore the way we treat each other is worship. Jesus laid down His life for us.
My interactions with coworkers, friends, strangers on the street, are all acts of worship. I have never considered this. But what strikes me most about this, especially in light of desiring to prepare myself for the next season of my family's life, is that how I treat my husband is an act of worship; how I treat our daughter is an act of worship. Humbling thoughts.

All of life is worship. Not just what I can muster. I cannot use being tired or busy or distracted as excuses. I must simply live a life of worship, consecrated to my God and King. What a beautiful thing this must be.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Social graces

I have been thinking a lot lately about how much is too much to publicly display, emotionally, I mean. Are we being destructive socially by publicly displaying emotion before it is under control? Mostly I am thinking of times of disappointment or irritation. Disagreement or anger. At one point in history such emotions were displayed only, if at all, in private. Now we react before we have a chance to process. Perhaps it is just me. Is it truly false of us to take in information in mixed company, process through it privately or with those closest to us before expressing some part of the original emotion, now hopefully under control, publicly? And then only when necessary! Surely there must be a way to do so without constantly pretending to be something we are not.

I over-express. I'm a drama queen. It comes naturally. Sometimes I play it up purposefully. I fear it stopped being amusing long ago. There is something to be said for accepting what is before me, internalizing it well, keeping a calm exterior and waiting to deal with the emotion from the situation at a suitable time. Not everyone and their second cousin twice removed needs to know how I feel about every single thing in my life.

Stress simply breeds more stress. If I have to have an emotion that plagues those around me, it should be joy. If I have an attitude that rubs off on others in my life, it should be thankfulness. I want my home to be a place of joy and thanksgiving, filled with laughter and talking, curiosity and learning. Perhaps if I stop myself from overreacting in the moment, I will stop overreacting period. Miracles do happen, my friends.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"the LORD made it succeed"

On the 19th of February, near the end of a particularly difficult time for me emotionally, I read the story of Joseph's time in prison. Genesis 39:21-23 stood out to me:

"But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph's charge, because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed."

It amazes me how God continually turned Joseph's horrible situations around for good, not only in his own life, as character and faith building, but in other's lives as well. We can never fully know what God is up to. He has everything masterfully written.

Father I am not in prison, as Joseph was, but the two years he spent there between interpreting dreams makes me think of the next two years and what they hold for my family. I can't do this without Your strength. Only with You working in me and through me will I be able to be the wife, mother, secretary, daughter, sister, aunt and friend that I need to be. I want to change, but I am stubborn. As Joseph grew in his trust in You and in favor with those around him, grow my trust, Lord. Use these two years, and indeed every year, to shape me into the woman You have designed me to be. Be with me, Lord