“…win the first battle of the day by knowing where the true battlefield is.”

[a repost from September 2013]

quietplaceFrom The Quiet Place: Daily Devotional Readings by Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

…by the time you get up in the morning, an unseen battle has already been raging for hours in the heavenlies. Within the mystery of God’s sovereignty, He has given the forces of hell the temporary right to contend with Him and His own. And you as His child start each day in the crossfire of this cosmic duel.

On the face of things, it may only seem like a lack of desire to spend time alone with the Lord in prayer and His Word. It may feel like the press of the day’s upcoming schedule, disturbing your thoughts before your feet hit the floor. It may sound like the typical morning review of ongoing issues with your marriage, your children, your job, your general life situation.

What it may not seem like is what it actually is: the presence, activity, and involvement of Satan’s forces, drawing you away from God, wrestling you back down into fear, doubt, discouragement, and sinful reactions.

So stand to your feet. Recognize the real enemy. Invite your victorious Lord into this challenge. And win the first battle of the day by knowing where the true battlefield is. Consciously take your place within the ranks of the One before whom even hell’s most defiant warriors must ultimately concede defeat.

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What would change in your approach if you remembered that the real enemy is not the people, things, and circumstances in your life?

“…we are not yet what we shall be…”

perfecting-ourselvesFrom Martin Luther, as quoted in Perfecting Ourselves to Death by Richard Winter:

This life, therefore, is not righteousness but growth in righteousness, not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise; we are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it; the process is not yet finished, but it is going on; this is not the end, but it is the road.

“God doesn’t tell us the future for this simple, yet profound reason…”

just-do-somethingFrom Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something:

Wisdom is the difference between knowing a world-class biologist who can write your papers for you and studying under a world-class biologist so that you can write the kind of papers he would write. Too many of us want God to be the world-class scholar who will write our papers and live our lives for us, when God wants us to sit at His feet and read His Word so that we can live a life in the image of His Son. God doesn’t tell us the future for this simple, yet profound reason: We become what we behold. God wants us to behold Him in His glory so that we can be transformed into His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18). If God figures everything out for us, we wouldn’t need to focus on Him and learn to delight in His glory. God says, “I’m not giving you a crystal ball. I’m giving you My Word. Meditate on it; see Me in it; and become like Me.”

just read this book

just-do-somethingI’m late to the party on this one, I know, because Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something was published in 2009. It’s been on my shelf for ages, and I finally got to it earlier this month. It’s a short book – a quick read – but it’s meaty, y’all. The full title is great — Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will OR How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc. 

This book is packed with wisdom. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard professing Christians talk about waiting – and waiting and waiting – for a sign before doing something. When you hear a Christian talk about finding his soul mate? Hand him this book. Worried about not being in “the center of God’s will”? Read this book. Afraid you have missed the path God laid out for you before the foundations of the earth? Yep, get this book.

It’s solid teaching that truly takes so much pressure off a believer. God doesn’t expect you to figure out His hidden will before you make decisions and act. Whew!

If you haven’t figured out by now, I highly recommend this one. And it would make a terrific graduation gift.

 

“Foolishness, on the other hand, is turning from God and listening only to yourself.”

just-do-somethingI’ve been reading through Proverbs lately (tweeting a verse here and there), and I’ve been thinking a lot about the contrast between a wise person and a fool. I’m also currently reading Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will, and I highly recommend it. He’s making a case that while we’re inundated with information, wisdom is something entirely different. And we’re called by God to seek wisdom, not “some hidden will of direction. He expects us to trust Him and be wise.” DeYoung goes on:

Wisdom is understanding the fear of the Lord and finding the knowledge of God. Wisdom, in Proverbs, is always moral. The fool, the opposite of the wise person, is not a moron or an oaf. The fool is the person who does not live life God’s way. Wisdom is knowing God and doing as he commands. Foolishness, on the other hand, is turning from God and listening only to yourself.

Here are just a few characteristics of a wise man, as described in Proverbs:

~ fears the Lord
~ makes his parents glad
~ diligent
~ walks in integrity
~ listens to advice
~ loves discipline
~ guards his mouth
~ hangs out with other wise people
~ exercises self control

Contrast those with characteristics of a fool:

~ brings sorrow to his parents
~ lazy
~ runs his mouth
~ despises wisdom and instruction
~ refuses to listen to others
~ hangs out with other fools
~ reckless and careless
~ is easily angered

It’s pretty easy to look at those lists and immediately think of people we know – either in person or from television or Twitter. But the trick is finding ourselves there and seeking God’s help to grow in the characteristics of a wise person.

I realize I’m not on to anything new here, but it’s been on my mind and in my reading, and it’s worth pondering. All day long, I’m making little choices to be wise or to be foolish, and I really want to be wise. I’m thankful that God’s doesn’t hide that wisdom from us. He tells us to seek Him and His wisdom, and His word is the place to find it.

For the LORD gives wisdom;
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. ~ Proverbs 2:6

monday miscellany

A few links that have made me think:

~ You cannot raise snowflakes in Jesus’ name:

Today’s parents often go to ludicrous lengths attempting to remove all risk from their children’s lives and protect them from any negative assessment. There are very real consequences in the child’s life when parents raise their children in this self-referential environment. Children are taught that they have a right not to hear anything they do not agree with, and when they do, they should take it personally. This mollycoddling of our children does not prepare them for life.

~ Now I understand why my mom wouldn’t go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink. Many years ago before I married and began keeping my own house, my mom advised me to always tidy up before bed. That became my habit, and to this day I see the value in it.

~ Anxiety: My Thorn in My Flesh

~ Opposite words

~ Speaking of words, the most complicated word in English

Happy Monday, y’all!

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“To serve like a soaker hose…”

embracing-obscurityFrom Embracing Obscurity: Becoming Nothing in the Light of God’s Everything by Anonymous

These are questions I have been chewing on for some time. One evening, while watering the garden (go figure), the sheer sacrifice of true service overwhelmed me. There among the tomatoes and parsley, I realized that most of my previous attempts at service were much like the garden hose in my hand: I was in control, dictating how, when, and to whom I would serve. With my nifty sprayer, I could even stop the water altogether when I felt like it. The “flow” of Christ’s love which I gave to others depended on my mood, the health of my career, and even how much sleep I got the night before. Mine was (and still often is) a self-righteous, self-gratifying service.

In contrast I noticed a soaker hose in the planter across from me. It watered the ground completely indiscriminately. Dozens of holes let the water loose and had no shut-off switch. Life-giving water oozed out all over the place, like it or not! To serve like a soaker hose means to pour out Christ’s love from every pore of our beings, not concerning ourselves with the timing, the effect it might have on our productivity, or the worthiness of the recipients. If God has “turned on the water” in our lives, filling us with His life-giving springs, why would we hold them back from anyone? For fear of running out? Doesn’t He have an infinite supply of living water?

 

“You want a warrior Jesus.”

[This morning I spent some time reading through the private blog I kept a few years ago while walking through a deep valley. For the moment (I’ve learned that things can change in an instant), the path is much smoother, but these words resonate nonetheless.]

place-of-healingFrom A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty by Joni Eareckson Tada:

Here at our ministry we refuse to present a picture of “gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” a portrait that tugs at your sentiments or pulls at your heartstrings. That’s because we deal with so many people who suffer, and when you’re hurting hard, you’re neither helped nor inspired by a syrupy picture of the Lord, like those sugary, sentimental images many of us grew up with. You know what I mean? Jesus with His hair parted down the middle, surrounded by cherubic children and bluebirds.

Come on. Admit it: When your heart is being wrung out like a sponge, when you feel like Morton’s salt is being poured into your wounded soul, you don’t want a thin, pale, emotional Jesus who relates only to lambs and birds and babies.

You want a warrior Jesus.

You want a battlefield Jesus. You want his rigorous and robust gospel to command your sensibilities to stand at attention.

To be honest, many of the sentimental hymns and gospel songs of our heritage don’t do much to hone that image. One of the favorite words of hymn writers in days gone by was sweet. It’s a term that doesn’t have the edge on it that it once did. When you’re in a dark place, when lions surround you, when you need strong help to rescue you from impossibility, you don’t want “sweet.” You don’t want faded pastels and honeyed softness.

You want mighty. You want the strong arm an unshakable grip of God who will not let you go — no matter what.

on taking and leaving

As I’ve mentioned, I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I picked up a few helpful tips (folding my clothes and arranging them vertically, taking all my clothes out of the closet and only putting back in what I want to keep…). I disregarded the suggestions to talk to my clothes, to greet my home when I come in every evening, and to empty my purse every night. Neither my clothes nor my home can hear me, and unloading my purse every night would be a futile task and ridiculous burden.

And that’s okay. Except for the Bible, we’re free to pick and choose, to take what we want and leave the rest. Whenever I see someone jump on a bandwagon or fangirl (or guy) over everything someone says or does, I get a little creeped out. There are so many writers and theologians and really smart, wise people whom I admire, but I can think of no one who is infallible. I have learned so much from John Piper, for example, and his The Pleasures of God changed my thinking, and really, my life. I’ve read many, if not most, of his books. But I don’t agree with him 100%. And no one agrees with me 100%.

And, again, that’s okay.

The only book that I’m not free to feel that way about is the Bible. If there’s something there that I don’t like, or that bothers me, or that just sounds weird (I’m reading through Genesis now, and woah — Jerry Springer show!) , I have to grapple with it. I can’t shrug my shoulders or just write it off. I have to wrestle with it and ask God to change ME. I have to trust Him. 100%.

I can’t pick and choose or take and leave from Scripture. I can’t be trusted to do that. And I don’t trust anyone else who does that.

Just thinking out loud,

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