September 9, 2014

Loving God and Loving Others

I marvel at the way Scripture bubbles up in my heart some days. I like to imagine that there is this fountain of living water inside my soul, in the very depths of my soul. When I need encouragement or when I mediate on some Biblical principle, that fountain starts to bubble and then spills out reminders from God's Word all over my heart. As these verses "bubble up," my mind begins to consider their meaning, their truth, and I find hope, find encouragement, find strength in what the Lord brings to my rememberance.

Today is a perfect day, well not perfect, per se. It is a good day, nonetheless. Today has been a good day of rest, of being home, of enjoying the blessedness of peace and harmony in my home. It started off a bit rocky, just from the standpoint that I woke up feeling sort of yucky, and I remembered that I had a lunch date planned.

My good friend, Kristi Guerrero, texts me every month to see if I can meet her for lunch. We always go to Flo's in Scottsdale (sort of a gourmet Chinese place). We used to work together and we would go to there at least 1-2 each month. She had text-ed me last week to setup a lunch date, and I was eager to meet with her. But then life intervened and I spent the weekend working overtime (on school and school). Then yesterday arrived with a huge bang (due to heavy rain), the valley came to a halt (flash flooding), and my classes were cancelled. It was a blessing in disguise because it gave me an extra day off to rest and recoup from my all-niter study binges and teacher lesson plan sessions of the past couple weeks.

I woke up this morning, feeling just a bit off, but glad that it was Tuesday (my normal day off). Despite my lunch plans, I was bound and determined to get some real study time in and to make some needed headway on my Regent courses. Instead, I went to lunch and ended up spending an hour or so at Wal-mart. Needless to say, I am home now and I have yet to crack a book open.

The funny thing is that as I sit here and write this blog post, the words of Romans 10:9 bubbled up in my mind. I am not sure why, but I started to think about confessing the Name of Jesus, and this is the verse the Holy Spirit brought to me. Perhaps it was because I had just read a good article/blog post by Ravi Zacharias, and I had copied this quote to a Facebook friend's status saying, "I love this quote: 'Faith and reason must always work together in that plausible blend.'"

Yes, I have been thinking deeply lately, very deeply, and my heart has been convicted of a number of things, of important things. I am not talking about sin in my life, per se, but sin in general as in all our lives. I have been taking in deep words, deep concerns, and I have been sitting with them, processing them, thinking and pondering about them. I have to say that I love to think deeply. It is probably the one thing I enjoy most about my life. If I could sit and ponder all day long, I would do it. My very favorite past time is to ponder, to think, to muse, to meditate. If only I could get paid to ponder -- life would be swell! 

Yet, pondering for ponderings' sake is a worthless endeavor. The dictionary defines pondering as "think about (something) carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion." Pondering, therefore, is a good thing that can be misused or elevated to the extent that it becomes a bad thing. Let me explain...

Have you ever known anyone who thought a lot about things but never did anything active with those thoughts? I have known a number of people who I would characterize as "carefully considered" individuals. By this I mean that they are slow and deliberate thinkers. They carefully consider every move, every idea, every thought, and they take a long time to make up their minds and move forward. Often they spend so much time thinking about something that they never get around to doing anything at all. They rarely make a decision because they are still thinking things over. They will over analyze every thought, critically evaluate it, and then even when they are at the results phase, will still find that they cannot make a choice -- yea or nay.

In my view, pondering or thinking deeply is a very good thing so long as the content of that pondering is worthy of the time spent. For example, thinking about the Bible or about God is a worthy pursuit. Thinking about Scripture, mediating on it, can bring healing and restoration to our hearts and minds. Yes, we can experience conviction too, but often the result of meditating on God's Word is to bring about a powerful resolution, an change or residual outcome.

These past couple weeks I have been challenged in my thinking. I have been looking at the world from one view only, and I have been asked recently to reconsider that view point, to look another way. Curiously, this revision in outlook has not come through the Lord, but rather through a friend who has placed interesting morsels of deep thought right in my pathway, right where I have to sort through them, before I can walk on. These deep challenges have caused me to turn inward for a time, to reflect on what I know, what I believe, and what I feel is the Lord's calling on my life. I have been asked to think carefully, to consider certain things, and the result has been one of introspection and probing.

It is a good thing that I like to ponder such weighty matters. It is a good thing that I love to think deeply and to question my thinking, my behavior, my motives. Yes, I love a good challenge.

As I think about all of this today, I am reminded that in my life I will face numerous challenges. I have oodles of CHALLENGE right now. In fact, I would say that my stress level is running about a 6-7. I would prefer it to be around a 3-4, but there you have it, I am pretty stressed right now. No, I am not at the danger zone, but I don't like the heightened stress awareness, and I would much prefer to chill out a bit, and to relax more.

Challenge is a good thing. Deep thoughtful challenge excites me and gives my mind something to do. I need mental stimulation, and while I have that through my doctoral courses, and to some extent, through my teaching prep and planning, deep pondering of a Biblical nature is something I haven't had in a very, very long while.

So why in the world would the Holy Spirit bring up Romans 10:9? I backed up a bit and read from verses 7-12. Here is the part that matters...

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.

This is the meaty part of this verse. I believe that verse 10 is the part the Lord has chosen for me to reflect on today.  You see -- in my little world, my very neat and compact little world -- I rarely get the opportunity to witness to anyone at all. I encourage mightily, I build up, I affirm and I confirm (my dual-fold gift) to all I see, to all I meet -- but I do not proclaim the good news -- I do not share it to those who are lost. No, this is work that I do not do. It is not that I cannot do it -- because I certainly can -- and over the course of my life, I have readily shared the good news with many people. It is that I do not do it because I don't think about doing it. It is true, so very true. I admit it, and I accept the fact that this is true.

This past weekend, two good friends preached the Word to me. One did it informally, and the other formally (at Church). The truth of their words penetrated me deeply, so deeply, that I spent the better part of two days thinking about the seriousness of their words, the ramifications of failing to heed their instructions, and the general truth contained within God's great redemptive plan. Yes, I received the Word preached, and through pondering (meditating on that word), I have been moved to respond. I love it when that happens, when I hear the Word preached that way, through multiple streams and as a result I end up being motivated to consider a new path, a new plan, and new program.

God is so very good to me. He is so very, very good to me. I love the fact that He uses others to minister to my heart, to teach me truth, and to encourage me to continue to pursue His plan for my life. I believe more now than ever that the Lord is moving to prepare a place for me, a proper place for me to work and to minister for His Kingdom. I am content to remain where I am, but I feel that the Lord is getting ready to open a door for me. When He does, He will ask me to move, to go someplace, to start again, and to begin His work in a new way. I am excited at the thought of it, and I believe it will be good, blessed, and favored. I do not know what that way will be or where I will end up, but I feel that He is getting ready to move me (Again!) 

The Lord has moved in mighty ways before, and every single time He has done it, I have experienced great growth and change. I believe that each time He moves, doors open for me, opportunities arise, and new challenges begin. My life morphs into something new whenever He moves in me. I feel that He is ready to move, that perhaps He has already started moving. Now I need to rest in Him, to look to Him, and to trust Him to prepare a way for me, to show me clearly the way to go.

May the Lord be praised today and forevermore. May the Lord be blessed. May His Name be praised and honored and glorified for only He is worthy, for only He is worthy! Amen, so be it. Thy will be done! Selah!

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