Thursday, May 4, 2017

Alive and Not Brainless.

Yes, I am still alive ;)

Thank goodness for Instagram and Facebook, otherwise you might really think I had dropped off the face of the earth!

This summer is going to be a very busy time for our family. Now that we are mostly settled into our new home, regular life has continued to barge in, interrupt plans, mark up our calendar, and demanded us to make decisions. Yeah, I could cry. We don't do well with busy, and we've mostly been able to keep commitments low in order to accommodate the attempt at sanity, but the kids are getting more social, more needy, and both Mark and I seem to be in more demand. It's all wonderful, enriching, good stuff (well, maybe not his job, but the other stuff), but life definitely feels a bit full.

I'm not actually going to tell you about all the things we are busy with, or even how to cope with feeling too full of busyness, but I just wanted to chime in about some things I've been learning lately regarding understanding God's Word.

Last weekend I went to a Simeon Trust workshop at a local church and was deeply encouraged in several ways. Not only did I learn more about the gospel of Mark (the book, not my husband), but while I was doing all this learning and beating away self-doubt, God was also confirming some things in my life that I am making progress in, both personally and educationally. I have a really hard time taking criticism, so the fact that I was not completely breaking down while presenting my biblical exegesis to a small group of women I've never met before is amazing. They were encouraging, helpful, and inspiring to say the least.

I also felt God confirming this call to grow in my knowledge of the bible and my endeavors to teach the bible. I have always kind of mixed the bible in with what I am sharing and observing, but I also want to make sure God's Word has it's proper place in all of what I share with you. It's not a side-note, or a helpful little chime-in to what I'm dealing with or wanting to say. It is truly central to our lives. And if we are not giving it that place, we need to change.

Our church is doing a short book study on Habits of Grace by David Mathis. His premise is that we can place ourselves under the spigot of God's ever-flowing grace by dedicating ourselves to being in His Word, hearing His voice through prayer & meditation, and placing ourselves in His community by being committed to a body of believers. This is not a guarantee of gaining blessing, getting healing, or having our problems solved, rather, it's how we spend time knowing God better. His grace changes how we go about our days, which changes how we live our lives. Learning and growing and reading this book are changing me to be more dedicated to simple practices like reading the bible and then just sitting and thinking about it, instead of rushing off to the next thing. Or keeping track of my thoughts as they come, instead of waiting to write a blog-post about them, and being able to see how God is speaking to me over time.

I realized how little I look at God's word with the intention of knowing it well and understanding it fully earlier this week. We read a verse out of a kid's devotional book and I put it up on our little board because I loved it so much. We love to think that Jesus leads us to paths of peace...

After being at the Simeon Trust workshop all weekend, I decided to look in Luke at where this verse came from and what it meant. Hint: it's not the easy, lovely answer you are looking for. 

This part of Luke is where Zechariah is speaking over his baby (John the Baptist) just after his birth. This section of verses is about John and Jesus, so here is what the full ESV actually says this in verses 76-79...

"And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God, 
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace."

So yes, this is about what Jesus will do: bring light to use and offer us a way out of death, darkness and strife. But isn't there more? John didn't just give a call to be happy because we will have peace of earth, he called the people to repentance, to turn from their sin! While I was so thankful for this chance to read, understand, and think about what these verses are saying to us, I was also a little frustrated that this children's devotional had really pulled this verse out of context and formed a message around it that was incomplete. 

Don't we do this a lot? We think of the one verse that brings us comfort in trials, or a certain chapter that helps us feel better about our circumstances? We take a small bit of what someone said and apply it blindly to our lives. This ought not be! We are capable adults, and it is not just wise, but extremely important for us to be in the word ourselves and sharing more than just a verse or two with our children as it comes up. We need to strive to understand the bible in a way the gives our children and our circle of influence a complete picture of Jesus, life, and redemption, not just a band-aid for the painful aspects of life. 

I have not done a great job this with my kids. We read a little devotional, and we do talk a lot about the bible, what it means, and what it calls us to, but now I really see that my kids need more than this. We all need more of this, right?

My plan is to read larger chunks of the bible to my kids for our devotional time which probably happens only 3-4 days a week. And before you freak out, by larger I simply mean five to ten verses instead of just one or two. Aren't we able to invest that small effort of just five or ten minutes and the actual Word of God into our kids, instead of someone else's version of it? 

This month has certainly been  humbling month, but I am blessed that God is still working in me, shaping me, and blessing me with friendships, service roles, being served, and hopefully seeing the world more clearly. I guarantee that extra bible-reading time will change your life. Don't believe for second that it is not worth the sacrifice! 

If you are local, and interested in chatting more about David Mathis' book, feel free to pop into our study, or ask me if we can get together. You know I absolutely love to chat about what I'm learning. And it would be amazing to see your face in person :)

I hope you are all enjoying the sun. May it be a blessing to your soul and lead you to enjoying God to the fullest! 

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