A "shimmering" sun sits tucked behind an immense canvas of pale blue tissues and pillows and cottony skies overhead and millions of reminders underfoot of the multitude of God’s thoughts to me, more than all these grains of sand in my toes. Simone Weil said: “Beauty and Affliction are two things that pierce our hearts.” Oh my goodness…I have both!
Welcome if you dropped by for Cover to Cover. There were a few stories this week that so gripped and grabbed and touched and teared at my questioning soul. It was another week of chronological readings that was so full of what life is really all about. Enormities to sift through... so I suggest that you scroll down and pick one story, one paragraph to read through as it's so much reading to get through.
I finished a book recently by Frederick Buechner and this quote stapled to my thoughts: “Our original shimmering self gets buried so deep we hardly live out of it at all…rather, we learn to live out of all the other selves which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather.” We offer only those parts of our hearts where we have learned to perform and gain approval from those who represent life to us. We’ve become efficient and effective. But, I rather think that this week, those of you whom I know, have taken off those worn useless coats in the summertime of your life to be clothed in righteousness, to sit in His Presence and Listen and Linger. What stayed with you as you read the word of God this week? Did you find HIM there? Here are my lingering stories…
“REMEMBER THE KINDNESS SHOWN TO YOU” STORY - 2 CHRON 24
Joash didn’t remember Jehoida’s kindness to him. He killed Jehoida’s son. “May the Lord see this and call you to account.” 2 Chron 24:22. Do I live remembering what God has done for me and let people answer to their God? God will be kind to us whether we have money or not, whether we have friends or not, whether we have careers or not. What is your measure of God’s Kindness?
“WE CAN ONLY DO THIS IN GOD’S POWER” STORY – 2 CHRON 24
The Aramean army had come with only a few men; the LORD delivered into their hands a much larger army. Yet we think it’s because of our speaking abilities, our leading programs even bible studies, our gifting, our ministries, our singing talents. A book I am reading today talked about how “what’s really wrong inside of us can’t be changed apart from intimate communion with God.” Are we are aware today of our profound inadequacies to win any war or make a difference in a life apart from the power of Christ? Do we think it’s all about training and talent and education and equipping?
“DON’T RAISE MY HOPES" STORY – 2 KINGS 4
I don’t know where I have been --- some of these stories it seems I am reading for the first time. I am so desperate. My hopes have been raised and I have been let down with a crash this week in some circumstances---so what do I do with that? What a story this is ... my creditors are coming to take my boys as slaves. 2Kings 4:1 So Elisha had her collect from neighbors all the empty jars she could. And God kept the oil pouring. We don’t live in isolation in our needs, but the only people pursuing me right now are creditors! I am asking God to keep the “oil” flowing as we try to sell the stuff we have in hopes of moving to another ministry.
“BOY RAISED TO LIFE” STORY – 2 KINGS 4
Childless, a Shunammite woman didn’t know that one day she would lay her dead son on Elisha’s bed hoping against hope. "Are you all right," asked Elisha's servant? An amazing reply from the childless woman: “Everything is all right.” What! SHE WANTED ELISHA’S PRESENCE only. She told Elisha in 4:28 didn’t I tell you not to “raise my hopes.” You know, I feel that way when I talk to God that He raises my hopes for stuff like to find a good friend in my life and then lets me down. Truth be told---I’m the only one letting God and everyone else down. What is my hope really in? This world or the next? My God or things working out for me and my world. The woman told Elisha---I’m not leaving you! 2Kings 4:30 When I find God’s presence, don’t leave it Bev. Don’t leave HIM.
“GOD CAN GIVE YOU MUCH MORE THAN THE COURAGE YOU HAVE MUSTERED UP” STORY - 2Chron 25
Amaziah of Judah did what was right in the eyes of the LORD but not wholeheartedly. A prophet told him "Don't fight Amaziah even if you have courage…God will overthrow you. 25:8. Amaziah asked the man of God, "But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?" The man of God replied, "The LORD can give you much more than that."
"UZZIAH’S SUCCESSFUL SERVING" STORY - 2 Chron 26
Uzziah’s pride led to his downfall. And in the year that Uzziah died, Isaiah 6:1, that’s when seeking hearts saw God for their king idol’s death caused them to ponder real life. Uzziah was a demanding king coveting serving God by burning incense (reserved only for priests). Do we ever demand that we get to serve God like we want to serve HIM? Let’s see, what did success look like to Uzziah? Being a recognized holy servant? Ambition! A king out of control. What’s success in our eyes? A big ministry with thousands of people repenting and turning to God. The more people touched, the more successful we are? Well, look at this… Uzziah entered a rage with the priests over this issue. I wonder what Uzziah wanted more than serving God?
"PREPARE TO MEET GOD FOR THE LION ROARS" STORY - Amos
Amos 1:2 “The Lord roars from Zion …” That verse sends chills in me. The Lord roars as HE sees the halfheartedness. Amos the burden bearer was a wordsmith, delivering beautiful wordplays, uncovering the sins of Judah and Israel who believed lies. Amos 2:4. You see, their prophets had been told not to prophesy 2:12. So, God captured their attention: I gave you lack of bread. 4:6. I withheld from you. 4:7. I struck you, sent pestilence. 4:10. I overthrew some of you. 4:11. YET YOU DID NOT RETURN TO ME…PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD 4:11,12. Let justice roll down like waters! Woe to those who feel safe and secure but are not grieved over what you see!!!
"IT’S NOT ABOUT ACHIEVEMENT OR ABILITIES" STORY - Amos
A Shepherd. A Gardener. Amos had no prior experience. God got hold of him. No past achievements, no present abilities, just the authority of God. Our calling is not about ACHIEVEMENTS or ABILITIES…it’s about AUTHORITY. The Eyes of the Sovereign LORD are on the sinful kingdom. The Gaze of God with a Glimpse of Grace---no total devastation. Makes me think of God’s piercing eyes on us this very day. And I start feeling guilty---so where does that come from? Wait a minute, there’s no condemnation in HIM. We are all called to advance His Kingdom regardless of gifting or talents. Either we are advancing the Kingdom of God or another kingdom, maybe our own.
"GOD MAKES OUR VALLEYS OF TROUBLE INTO DOORS OF HOPE" STORY - Hosea
Imagine being married to a whore who loves other men more than she loves you. BUT, Hosea found his God in midst of obedience and surrender to God’s plan. God says to Hosea, his wife, Israel, and to us today that He will allure us into our wilderness if we let Him and speak tenderly there. Oooh! And He will make our valley of Achor (means trouble in Hebrew) a Door of Hope so that no longer do we call Him a god but we call our God our Husband. 2:14,15. What an analogy! You know that's where I've been past two years ago---it was the Door of Achor to be terminated from our church of 27 years but God made it a door of HOPE and has strengthened me to walk through that door these past two years and He has changed me SO MUCH---so grateful to Him.
"PLEASE USE ME GOD" STORY - Jonah
God called Jonah twice but Jonah fled His Presence. We think the same thing---that we can get away from his piercing gaze. Otherwise, we wouldn't do some of the things we do, would we?
You know Jonah's story. God hurled the wind. God cast Jonah into the sea. Verse 2:8 is just pivotal for Jonah realizes vain idols rage in the sea of his heart and he has forfeited the grace of God. But no more! God caused Jonah to be swallowed by a whale where he prayed 2:8 that the idols that raged in his heart would die down. And Jonah no longer forfeited the grace of God. Most people would panic inside the belly of a whale but Jonah found God in there. His raging waters ceased. God spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah out. Oh dear. So, Jonah heard the word to go to Nineveh for a second time. This time Jonah went and God relented...and Jonah became so angry. We need to look at those times in our lives when anger sneaks up and surprises us. Who was Jonah concerned about? Nineveh or himself? God appoints the plants to shade; God appoints the scorching wind. He is getting the attention of our "shimmering" selves.
Monday, June 30, 2008
A "shimmering" sun sits tucked behind an immense canvas of pale blue tissues and pillows and cottony skies overhead and millions of reminders underfoot of the multitude of God’s thoughts to me, more than all these grains of sand in my toes. Simone Weil said: “Beauty and Affliction are two things that pierce our hearts.” Oh my goodness…I have both!
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Olympic Trials.......................................................................Lauren Swims on Monday
It's finally here...Olympic Trials starts today and Barrett's adorably sweet girlfriend LAUREN BAILEY swims in about three hours. WHOOPS! I WAS WRONG---SHE SWIMS ON MONDAY MORNING. I KNOW CAUSE I WATCHED EVERY EVENT TODAY ON SUNDAY AND SHE WAS NOT IN IT!!! Lauren will swim the 400 IM pre-lim's MONDAY. Barrett is in France and he would so be in Omaha, Nebraska to see her swim if he was stateside. Britt's friend WALTER RUMANS will swim the 50 and 100 Meter freestyle---those events are not today. And, of course, our FAST friend DANA VOLLMER will be trying to make her second Olympic team. Dana swims pre-lim's this morning in the 100 Fly and should make it to finals tonight cause she is ranked second in the world in this event! You have to watch morning pre-lim's 11:00 AM CT on the internet and then tonight 6:56 PM CT those who make it to finals will be on NBC.
TV Coverage for trials is NBC tonight. Then, Monday through Thursday every night at 8:00 pm ET, it's on USA Network. Then, next Friday Saturday & Sunday, it's back on NBC every evening live. You can watch morning pre-lim's on the internet. I have goosebumps!!!
Tide and Thunder are roaring rolling in...it's my second day at the beach. Witnessed the spectacle of a silent sultry sunrise. Jogged a couple of miles alone on the beach---silence at sunrise. Needed silence! Kierkegaard wrote: "If I could prescribe just one remedy for al the ills of the modern world, I would prescribe silence. For even if the word of God were proclaimed in the modern world, no one would hear it; there is too much noise. Therefore, create silence."
God confirmed in my happy heart some "right turns" I have made this past couple of years. And as I listened hard to His voice, I am so deeply encouraged in all my sin for His grace is greater. He is detaching me from dependence on being a citizen of this earth and attaching me to dependence on being a citizen of heaven.
"Progress on the journey is not measured by conventional external measures like achievement, prosperity, or health or by conventional internal measures like self-esteem, social comfort, or recognition." It's a quote from a 141-page curriculum from The School of Spiritual Direction by Larry Crabb. I attended the school last summer and am reading the manual again this week at the beach. But for me progress is detachment from what demands my heart and attachment to what God created me for.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 6:40 AM
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I am posting early for Monday morning cause I have a job this week overseeing a kid's Chess Camp. So, leave a comment and check back in a few days to hear a chess story that I believe can change your life. Really.
Okay, no one reads long posts, so you can stop here and come back on Wednesday. I cannot NOT post (double negative for emphasis!) for I have been so needy this week yet so measured and marked by God's word. Or maybe, pick ONE of the headings in all caps and read that one. And as always, thanks for stopping by.
For those who dropped by for Monday Morning Cover to Cover, leave a comment about one thing or more that lingers in your heart as you connected with your God this week. Reading chronologically has helped me so much to see the story unfold event by event. Even the psalms that were written in response to the wars fought---it so comes alive for me. I now know what prompted the chilling command of Psalm 46: "Be still and know that I am God." For those of you attempting to stay with this chronological reading journey, I say to you that your God is waiting for you and listening to the cries of your heart. Link us up to your blog if you posted about your readings this week through the lives of so many kings who resolved to follow God but wouldn't repent.
RESOLVE AND REPENTANCE BRINGS REST
Resolve alone does not bring rest---A life of Resolve and Repentance bring rest. "Watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live." (Deut. 4:9) But Israel did forget; all of her kings let TRUTH slip from their hearts. Do we let the truth slip from us as we awaken to this new day? What is the truth that rules our hearts? What are our ruling passions?
HE IS THE GOD OF OUR VALLEYS AND OUR MOUNTAINS - Ahab turned over his wife and his children to Ben-hadaad but he puts the skids on when Ben asks for his palace and gold - 1Kings 20:3---YIKES! You can tell what ruled Ahab's heart. His $$$. Was it not God’s Hand that just let Ahab kill and conquer 127,000? Deut 33:27 Was it not God’s Hand that has led you to the place you are this day? Your enemy can't win in your valley unless you sell out for better land or a better idea. The Arameans thought God was the God of the hills and not the God of the valleys. I Kings 20:28 They thought they could win the battle in the valley. But, whatever valley you walk through today, God is with you. Instead of relying on God, Ahab frees Ben, a man God determined to die I Kings 20:41. Ahab came up with another idea---build a vegetable garden next to his palace, but Naboth refused to sell the land. I Kings 21:4. What rules my heart when I sulk and don't eat and fight my own battles---when I don't get my way? I just did that at a lunch I didn’t like! Ahab had resolve but little repentance in his walk.
DON'T MAKE ALLIANCES WITH EVIL - Jehu warned Jehoshaphat: “Should you help the wicked and make alliances with those who hate the LORD? 2CHRON 19:2 There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of idols and have set your heart on seeking God. Whoa. You mean there’s more to life than getting rid of idols and setting our hearts to seek God?? Yes, J turned himself and his people back to the LORD. "Act with courage." 2Chron 19:11
BE STILL BEFORE YOUR GOD, THE BATTLE IS HIS, NOT YOURS - Meanwhile, “A vast army is coming against J!! 2Chron 20:2. You've got my attention. What does someone who has turned back to God say?? "Alarmed, Jehoshaphat RESOLVED TO INQUIRE OF THE LORD and proclaimed a fast. If calamity comes upon us, we will stand in your presence and cry out to you. We’re POWERLESS. WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO BUT OUR EYES ARE ON YOU.” 20:12 And God replied through people: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. FOR THE BATTLE IS NOT YOURS, BUT GOD’S. 20:15 You will not have to fight this battle. Your God is with you.” 20:17 And I love it!! They all fell face down in worship. 20:19 “Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld,” 20:20. When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 20:24. And someone wrote a song called Psalm 46: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, BE STILL, and know that I am God. The LORD Almighty is with us. Yet J. turned right back to make another alliance with the wicked---a business deal to secure a fleet of ships. Resolve alone (2Chron 20:3) to inquire of God concerning facing a calamity or clinching a business deal like the fleet of ships….resolve alone does give us rest in the Shadow of the Almighty. Repentance brings rest. Isaiah 30:15 15 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. Unwilling. Because you want your fleet of ships. What do I want today more than I want the rest God offers?
THE ANGELS ARE LIFTING ALL OF US UP IN THEIR HANDS EVEN IN OUR SIN
Then someone writes this beautiful song Psalm 91. He who dwells in the Shelter of the Most High will rest in the Shadow of the Almighty. God is my refuge and I trust Him, not fleets of ships. Under His wings I find refuge. I do not fear the terror of night nor flying arrows of day. Jehoshaphat saw 1,000 fall at his side and 10,000 at his right hand but he would not “let go” of those ships. Meanwhile, God commands His angels concerning Jehoshaphat and concerning you “to guard you in all your ways” even bad business deals. The angels are lifting us all up in their hands in all our demanding deals. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him.” (90:14). You’ll call on Him and He will answer. I will be with you in your trouble. (90:14)
WHERE ARE YOU GOD??
WHERE NOW IS THE GOD OF ELIJAH AND DAVID AND JOHN?? 2 Kings 2 – Elisha wouldn’t leave Elijah’s side. Find someone that you don’t want to leave their side. Suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated Elijah and Elisha. 2:11. Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. I cannot fathom this! Elisha picks up Elijah’s cloak and struck the water with it. “Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” he asked. And that scene just so grips me. Elisha found God through this man of God.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO WITH PEACE?
SPEAK THE WORDS GOD GIVES YOU - Take a cloak, a belt, a flask of oil. Go pour oil on Jehu and appoint him as king. 2 Kings 9:1 Jehu’s first task as a king. Destroy the house of Ahab your master…Jehu didn’t shrink back, in fact Jehu killed Joram, Ahaziah, the house of Ahab, 42 relatives of Ahaziah, all the ministers of Baal plus he had Jezebel splattered for her idolatry and asked for the 70 heads of the sons of Ahab and got it! WHEW! Did he go in peace? NO!!!!! “What do you have to do with peace? Fall in behind me.” 2Kings 9:18“How can there be peace?” Jehu replies, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of Joram's mother abounds?” 2Kings 10:16 - “See my zeal for the Lord.” Y’all, I am speechless when I read what Jehu did when oil was poured upon his head. Talk about zeal for his Lord! He was willing to die to disrupt the peace. Jehu didn't listen to the "favorable words" I Kings 22:13,14 Micaiah the prophet would speak only what God told him to say, unlike the other 400 prophets. Not for Jehu…he only did what God told him to do---go to war and destroy the house of Ahab. Do we overlook evil in our families, in our lives or do we STAND and deal with the plank in our own eyes and evil surrounding us? “Turn back to God…act with courage.” I would say Jehu did. Wonder how we can turn back to our God and ACT with courage this night? 2Chron 19:11 I know what mine is…and by His grace ONLY can I do it. Powerless! 2Chron 20:12. I’m sobbing as I write this. But, I’m standing and crying out to my God that verse: I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on God! Pray for me to take courage.
THERE ARE PLACES OF COURAGE IN ALL OUR HEARTS AND WHAT ELSE IS OUR GOD SAYING? Oh dear…Jehu has more courage in places in his heart than many kings, and the LORD says “you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and you have done to the house of Ahab all that was in my heart” 2Kings 10:30 YET God says:“You, Jehu, were not careful to walk in the law of the Lord with all your heart.” So what does that mean for me this night? My first thought is what do I need to do…but WAIT this isn’t about changing my behavior, it’s about repenting of directions that are not of God and only my God can reveal that. No guilt. No condemnation. No witch hunt for sin. May God pour oil on our heads. What rules my heart this night? What is our ruling passion?
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 3:08 PM
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
"Be still and know that I am God."
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 9:56 AM
Monday, June 16, 2008
To obey Him is the only way to be one with Him.” Welcome to Cover to Cover. What rules our heart this week? One theme lingers with me this week:
Asa was fully committed to the LORD all his life. 2Chron. 15:17. But something happened to Asa just like it does to me and you. A prophet came to Asa in 2Chron. 16:7 and warned Asa that he was relying on a plan to win his war and not on his LORD. Remember, Asa, when you fought a mighty army with 300 chariots. You relied on your God then, why not now, Asa? Now Asa relied on what he could see and touch. And the next verse, a beautiful word for us all…For the eyes of our Lord range and roam throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him 2 Chron 16:9. Asa’s heart was fully committed but his life didn’t cause his God’s eyes to stop. Will our lives today cause our God’s eyes to even pause at our address? Asa wanted something more than the love and will of his Christ. He wanted proof he could win---wanted it in his hands. What is our “ruling passion” as some call it. Success? Significance? Security? Even in his old age, 2Chron 16:12 says Asa was afflicted with a severe disease but he did not seek help from the LORD, only from physicians. What do we long for this day?
Those who DID NOT follow God in the chapters we read---some kings trivialized their sins I Kings 16:31. Like Jeroboam who “thrust God behind his back.” And the story of “the man of God” who was led to believe one thing by a prophet and this man went on the whim of opinion of the interpretation rather than God’s word. Let’s look at five people who made a different choice in their life.
GOD FELL ON Jehoshaphat's KINGDOM
Jehoshaphat taught the Book of the Law of the Lord in 2Chron 17:10 and the fear of God fell on his kingdom.
JUDAH RAISED A BATTLE CRY AND RELIED ON GOD
Judah saw he was being attacked at both the front and rear. The men of Judah raised a battle cry in 2Chron 13:14-20. God routed their enemies because they relied on their Lord.
REHOBOAM SAID "TOO MUCH TO SEEK GOD" YET HUMBLED HIMSELF
Rehoboam abandoned the Word and strengthened his own family, his own stuff. Uh, oh. We can do a lot on our own to make our lives stronger. God says: 2Chron 12:1-12 "if you abandon me, I will abandon you. Rehoboam’s response: he humbled himself, obeyed the Word, and relied on his God. This was the same king who said in I Kings 12:28 that it was “too much” to seek the Lord and demanded it be easier.
GOD HELPED THE POWERLESS AGAINST THE MIGHTY
Asa did what was right in the sight of God. 2Chron 14:2-11. He called on his Lord in a HUGE battle saying “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Lord, for we rely on you."
ASA, THE LORD IS WITH YOU WHEN YOU ARE WITH HIM
Azariah said to Asa in 2Chron 15:1-17: “The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you. In their distress, they turned to the Lord. Asa took courage. He removed the idols. He even deposed his grandmother, the queen!
ELIJAH FOUND HIS GOD IN A GENTLE WHISPER
Elijah said: ENOUGH God, take my life, after he ran away in fear of Jezebel.. This Elijah was the same person who had relied on God over and over and over to give life back to the dead boy on whom he layed, for whom he prayed. God said “Stand up Elijah.” Alone in the wilderness, Elijah stood up in His presence and got right with his God. And God revealed Himself not in the wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire---but it was a gentle whisper to Elijah…here I AM.
May we all take courage in what God is saying and doing in our lives to move into our world to seek our God with all our hearts, love our neighbor, and advance His Kingdom. Psalm 73:24 says: Guide me with your counsel, LORD. Let me embrace my suffering, and repent of what I’m doing that doesn't rely on my God.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 12:17 PM
Thursday, June 12, 2008
It's the first week of summer break and whew, it's already a whirlwind! A new day, new ways to obey.
NEW JOB AND OH SO GRATEFUL
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 11:37 AM
Sunday, June 8, 2008
UPDATED COMMENTS: Summer started this week and guess what the first phone call of my summer was? A job for me. I'll post soon. I answered your comments below.
We've been at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches at a basketball tournament as soon as school was "OUT" on Friday. Britt's team came in 2nd out of all the high schools there. Pretty good. Lost in the championship game by 3 points. Good experience. Looking forward to getting back to blogging as I've been gone for a couple of weeks.
The magnolias and azaleas and begonias captivated me in my 2-hour campus walk. I jogged up & down those stairs a few times too! And my beautiful God gently spoke to my heart about what He was doing in my life detaching me from dependence on anyone but Him. Matt 20:28.
As we read through Proverbs 19 - 31 this week, there were three verses that jumped out at me in our chronological readings. Leave a link to your blog if you posted about it. Leave a comment about a Proverb or about A N Y T H I N G. Look forward to hearing from you!
A RAGING HEART….
Proverbs 19:3. “A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD." I sat watching my PE class for an hour and I quietly wept as I thought about this verse. My God was speaking to me for my heart was raging against Him over an issue in my life. No good! No good! Yet I was boasting about it too! Proverbs 20:14. I had to work through it. Still working through it. So grateful to my forgiving God for grace greater than my sin. Sometimes I think way too shallow about sin. I was reading a book at school this week and it nailed me to the gym floor: “Selfishness, which does make us unattractive, never gets the blame. Or if it does, we think of it as something that needs to be CORRECTED rather than FORGIVEN. All this is nothing more than a hell-inspired set-up to depend on a 'works salvation.' Here’s something to do and if you do it well enough, you’ll find life.” The multitude of maxims in Proverbs was not written just to inform us what “to do.” Don’t give full vent to your anger. 29:11 Don’t speak in haste. 29:20. Plan evil and clap your mouth shut. 30:32. Don’t spend your strength on women. 31:3. But they are inspired and breathed by the Holy Spirit. Every verse interprets another. Scripture interprets Scripture. Can’t take it out of context and put it on our problems like a band-aid. Proverbs show us from beginning to end that treasured knowledge in our lives is living in the fear of the LORD. “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30. God is deepening my definition of sin, but He is also widening His definition of grace over me.
A REFLECTIVE HEART…
Proverbs 27:19“As water reflects a face, a heart reflects a man." There are two times, among several actually, when my life literally fell apart. People call it a dark night of the soul but that sounds too spiritual for what I went through. God brought Proverbs 21:1 to mind in 2000 when we experienced a family dilemma. Over that year, we watched our beautiful God hold my family in His grip and direct our lives in ways we could not imagine! It happened again in 2006 when I thought I would not even be able to go on with life. My beautiful God intervened and the king’s heart, who terminated our job, was in God’s hands. We are still waiting for God to direct us where to go, what to do. But HE has done far more than I could have ever hoped, ever imagined! God is directing all our lives “like a watercourse wherever He pleases.” So, I am reflecting on Proverbs 21:31 which says that the horse may be ready for battle but victory belongs to our God. So many people have said to me in our job loss that God has something better for you, something bigger. Maybe not. Victory is HIS. Surrender is mine. We do know that He has a better place for us here. And He has gone to prepare a better place for us all.
A RULING HEART
Proverbs 24:12 "Does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?” spoke to me. When people tell me that they didn’t mean to hurt me---that wasn’t their intention....or, they don’t quite see it the way that I did, it makes me feel small sometimes. Doesn’t matter what they did. I need to deal with the fray of my own heart. I can’t say: Well, I don’t know anything! I need to “let go” of proving others wrong, proving my point. I need to “let go” of being vexing and controlling the situation. God perceives the picture of what is going on in my life. Leave it on His lap. What passion rules my heart? What do I want more than the love of my Christ at this moment? What really rules our heart in all our arguments, in all our soliloquies, in all our pursuits?
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 10:44 PM
Sunday, June 1, 2008
What is one verse that speaks to your heart from Proverbs 1 through Proverbs 18? A few of us are reading the Bible chronologically and that's where we are. Share one verse with us or whatever you'd like, and then link us to your blog if you posted about proverbs.
GUARD Your Heart
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23. And we were called to really live. No cruise control. Am I living by focusing on the events of my life that need to be resolved; am I living my life about what is happening to me in order to improve my situation---if I am, my focus is on the wrong things unless I am experiencing the goodness of my God. If I am on guard, I am asking myself what is happening to me deep down at the core of my heart when I face my life not just trying to solve my problems and make my life work. In the book, Finding God by Lawrence Crabb, he tells us to be on guard against “good enough Christianity.” He says sometimes we are fighting the wrong battles: we want people to feel better, to enjoy relationships, to feel identity and meaning---and “we don’t need Jesus to know those three things. We need to be broken over what is ungodly in our lives.” Guard our heart where all the passion flows out.
GIVE Thought to Your Ways - Proverbs 14: 8 says "The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways." What changes our ways? When we try to figure out our sin by a checklist, it rarely disrupts us to repentance. We just try to get better. A friend of mine told me that parts of our heart are committed to two things: “penance and self-improvement.” I corrected my son at the breakfast table the other morning on an issue and his immediate response was: “You’re right. I need to do better, Mom. I’ll try harder.” We want our children to receive correction but as he was walking out the front door for school, I said to him: I don’t think God intends for you to try harder to be a good Christian. I wonder what his God was saying to him that he needed to repent of? The Christian life isn’t about trying harder to be better. It’s about being dead to sin and alive to God.” I just finished reading Frederick Buechner’s autobiography, Telling Secrets. He writes about how fully alive Jesus Christ lived his life. “People are so apt to drift along on the surface of their lives, not really seeing or hearing or feeling very much because most of the time they are little more than half alive, the rest of the time they are dazed, dreaming, or detached. Most of us escape so much by being less than fully alive, but Jesus seems to escape nothing: the dead sparrow, the woman touching the hem of his robe, the disciples shooing away the children, the sawed-off little crook named Zaccheus up in a tree.” Seek to be alive. I believe I have asked the wrong questions for way too long, trying to solve my problems and bring them to resolution. But, my beautiful God has so shown up and I am so alive in ways I have never been before. I wish I could find words to tell you what my God has done---just ask my husband. It used to be about all the unbelievable things God has done for me---He has! No more---now my life is all about the beautiful God He is! He is!
GRACE to You for His Eyes are Everywhere - Proverbs 15:3.... The eyes of the LORD are everywhere,keeping watch on the wicked and the good. “The right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge.” Another quote by C. S. Lewis. “When a man is getting better, he understands more and more the evil that is left within him." Where sin abounds, grace is there all the more. "When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness, less and less.” No escaping God's eyes. Lucy saw Aslan in Prince Caspian, The Chronicles of Narnia. Alsan’s eyes were on her and she knew it. But what did she do with it? She ignored Him. Are we dismissing our God this day? When in steep trouble in the midst of a losing battle, Lucy came to Aslan for help, and he asked her: “What stopped you from coming to Me?” He is saying to us all: Come. Come closer. Come in this moment where you are. We don’t need to improve ourselves to get there nor do we need to do penance. We don’t need to apply the proverbs and clean ourselves up. We need to repent from what we are doing that our beautiful God has brought to our minds and heart. The prodigal son was welcomed---not corrected; lavished with love----not with discipline.
I have been giving thought to my ways these past couple of years when my world fell apart. Lewis writes: “People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says: if you keep a lot of rules, I’ll reward you.” Get down all the sayings of Proverbs and you’ll know what to do in any given situation. Doesn’t work that way. I told my students this week what this author wrote that every time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than what it was before. Yes, we are asking God to slowly turn things around for us that we are truly alive in Him and to others and to ourselves; the alternative is turning things into a state of war and hatred with God and others and even self-hatred. We are always progressing toward God or idols.
I hear so much "Christian talk" that so misses me. Doesn't change my heart. I've thought so much this past year about what really changes people??? What has robbed you of walking with your God this day? Open our eyes, o gracious God, that we may see how to guard our hearts and give careful thought to our ways. Come. And He is saying, "come closer."
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 2:54 PM