Saturday, January 22, 2011

What about love?

Our pastor has been conducting a brief digression from our normal Sunday morning study over the book of Ephesians to talk about loving God, the greatest commandment. I think it's ironic (?) that I have been struggling with this same issue myself, and ordered several books on the matter of what it means to love. If there is any proof that humans are not naturally inclined to love, it is this: I have turned it into a research project.

D A Carson's Love in Hard Places is where I've chosen to start this trip. So far, I am encouraged by his commitment to understanding what love is and what it is not. He says in Chapter 1, Love and the Commandment of God, "Because all of the expressions of our love take place in a fallen and broken world of which we are part, we are unwise to retreat too quickly to merely sentimental notions of love. To love wisely and well, to love appropriately, to love faithfully, to love in line with biblical expectations of what it means to love, is commonly a very difficult thing to do."

I am looking forward to what the Spirit does in my heart as I study this topic. Your prayers are earnestly coveted.

Photo Entry #1

Taken in 2006 with the 20D and 15-30 Sigma. A bit soft, and not too faithful to the highlights, this kit got the job done. Not a bad view.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What being reduced to a part-time employee has taught me

1. My mouth. It likes to say things that imply I do not trust God. Much of the time this is a weak attempt at wit or to be funny and entertaining. Being witty and entertaining are horrible foolish things to pursue if they come at the expense of holiness and faithfulness to my God. And most foolish if I am aware of the distinction and pursue vanity over purity nonetheless.

2. My work ethic. It stinks. This has prompted a great call to the Lord for grace in this area. Not just for forgiveness, but for gracious strength and power. I look back on my life, and while I hold no regrets, I do not think it imprudent to learn from past decisions that were unwise or foolish. I trust God's sovereign hand in all of it, even His power to use my sin for my own spiritual good, and the comfort that brings me.

2.5 Concerning my work, and trust, I do not seem to trust God with my job, with my gifts and with how they are developed. I feel the need to be in control of all of that, and all attempts to do so result in frustration.

3. This time has caused me to SLOW DOWN and think about things I feel I have otherwise been too hurried to consider. I meditate more, because I have less to otherwise occupy my head and heart.

3.5 I believe that I have a wrong view of what my "needs" are, and so seek to fill needs that do not really exist.

4. The most important thing I can do is trust and obey God. I see avenues much more clearly to do so now that more of my dreams, what I thought was "mine" and needed to be closely guarded and coddled, have been sheared off.

4.5 My heart's first inclination is to say "I have not sinned." 1 John has something to say about that, I believe. And it's not a hearty approval. Furthermore, our sins are never beyond the reach of God's grace and redemption. However, I do nothing concerning the matter. It is all God's power affecting the redemptive outcome. I think I fail to grasp the magnitude of that.

4.75 I do not live a life of gratitude. My boss has done so much to keep this little office together, and I do not work with an eye toward that. Much less do I live my life with my eye set toward the cross, and the gratitude that His sacrifice ought to stir in my heart. This grieves me every time I think about it.

5. I see now how much MORE I sin than I did before. It is a strangely unpleasant and yet hopeful place to be, because I know much more the love of God as a result of it. I cry out to God less for my physical comfort than I do for the comfort of my soul. I do not believe this to be at all unprofitable.