September 30, 2010

Same Old Thing

Does it seem like life is cyclical and that we are all just living the same hard circumstances every so many years? And that our happy times are sandwiched between complete despair or that things just worked out for us for a little while? Life seems like that to me at times and even Solomon analyzed the meaningless of life in the book of Ecclesiastes. He despaired over his wealth because he would have to leave it to his progeny that didn't earn it and may not be able to maintain it. He lamented his hard work for the time lost. He regretted his pleasures because they did not last. Cycles can be discouraging. But seasons can mark our progress.

"I know that there is nothing better than for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in his toil- this is the gift of God." Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

We know from Solomon's wisdom and the counsel of God's Word that the life in the Lord is the only option that is not meaningless. When we ask, "what is the point?" He answers, "God does it so that man will revere him." (v.14)

"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion on the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

When we are on the treadmill and do not see the point anymore, we need to look back at the itinerary that we have already completed. He is moving us in the direction of that satisfaction that we all seek. He wired us to work for that. Work alone will leave us overwhelmed. Not working leaves us depressed. The missing piece is satisfaction. Rooted in a fear of the Lord -that awe will lead us to that list of Spirit fruit in Galatians 5- we can see the path again.

The Holy Spirit has been showing me that the Christian life is not cyclical, but seasonal. Yes, we may feel that we've seen the season of fall or winter or spring. But we've never been here. This year is a stretch of road we have not walked. We are older and wiser. We grew. We opened up our hearts. We repented. We changed.
Hopefully we changed.

There are usually two roads, and I need to stay on the one less travelled. But we can not fall for the discouragement gimmick that this financially hard time is just like last time. Or this disappointment is the same old thing. It's probably not. If we are pursuing the Lord, we are moving forward. This stretch of land may seem familiar, because challenges are all. . .challenging. Difficulties are difficult. The adjectives may be the same, but the nouns and verbs have changed.

Guarding our thoughts is the tried and true way to avoid the same old road. Temptation to sin comes at us all day. When we have a little idea, a sinful suggestion, we can set it aside and choose life. Or it will choose to visit us throughout that day or move in for the whole season. And soon we find ourselves believing that lie. It just seems so familiar; it must be true.

We can start drowning in thoughts that nothing is ever going to change for us. But in reality, the only same old thing that never changes is God's investment in us: He showed His love among us; He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. (I John 4:9) This is not a faraway, fairy tale, hard to imagine, kind of love. This is a lifestyle of being loved and protected.

Walk on, Loved One.

September 21, 2010

Nerds are Cool

OK, it's time for me to come clean and admit that I live in a household of nerds. We are. There's no denying it. We are each nerdy about different things but all nerdy about God's Word. It hit me last night that the nerdiness of the parents here is amusement for the children.

Dan and I enjoy a few minutes with Julia, our 12 year old, each night after her brother and sister are sound asleep. We hear about her day and often tell her that we're so proud of her. She then goes to read in her room or to sleep, depending on the day she's had.

Last night, we chatted with her and then bid her good night. Julia grabbed her Bible from her backpack to go read before bed. I felt the mood change in the room. Dan and I both grinned at each other and then at her. We were wanting to be cool, but were both very curious about what passage she was planning to read. I eagerly asked her if she had a verse selected or if she wanted a suggestion. She was open to my suggestion.

I started my little speech: "I was reading Ephesians 4 today. You may want to try that. Take a few verses at a time. There's a lot in there. Good stuff."

Dan laughed and added, "Or Proverbs 12. That's what I studied today. But whatever you want. No big deal. I'm sure Mommy's chapter is fine too."

We are all three laughing by this time. NERDS! All of us. Bible Nerds, no less. But I'm not kidding. It is so fun to read on your own and then go discuss it. It's so special to have someone to talk to about what you are learning. It's powerful to discuss and to testify about the themes in His Word. It stays with you so much longer. Dan and I are seeing that in each other. And we were thrilled to be able to include Jules into that with us.

This morning, I asked whose passage she read last night. Not that it's a competition or anything.
As the darling daughter that she is, she had read both of our chapters! She said that actually fit together and she took away a good teaching on righteousness. That's so interesting! She's so cool. God is so cool. And we are so nerdy.

We have our own little book club developing here. We are on a new level now that Julia is getting older, but Little Brother and Little Sis are not left out. Veggie Tales has sparked great interest in Bible characters for all of our kids (and us too!). It's fun to go back to the Bible and show what the Veggie stories changed from the actual events for silliness. William loves action like David and Goliath. He does a slapstick, one- man drama, re-enacting David whirling his slingshot and then Goliath getting hit with the stones and falling down.

Charlotte seems so quiet while we are all talking and sharing, and then days later she shares a major insight with us. We never know what she's absorbing until she talks about it later, but now we know not to dismiss her. She is listening! And she is wise. She even applies verses to specific situations with her friends and how she relates to them. God's word is bringing wisdom into this house.

Families will develop similar interests and habits. Each person in the family may show it or share about it, according to their own personality. But it is happening. It may be an attitude or an openness that gets passed on to your kids. But it is happening. They live with us, and they learn from us. I do understand that we are a little strange about this. Nerdy, you might say.

Does it surprise you that Dan's dad had several Bibles open at a time? He compared different commentaries and translations while preparing his Sunday School lessons. He was an intriguing Bible teacher. Dan's mom read her Bible every morning; she sang about, and talked about her faith on a daily basis in front of her kids. That's where Dan called home.

My parents encouraged us to talk to them about God's Word when we were growing up. They always welcomed any analysis or discussion about spiritual things. I never remember them turning me away with my questions or my discoveries. I saw Dad reading Proverbs early in the morning. Mom is still my favorite Bible nerd of all. I miss our talks when busy life squeezes out our extended discussions.

But do not be deceived: I am not organized about family devotionals. We are not currently on a regular routine about this. (It does produce fruit when we make it a priority though.) We are just living and praying and studying and seeking as part of our normal, everyday life. Word Nerds: one and all!