Saturday, January 28, 2012

More New Year Thoughts

I admit, it is really nice to have this sort of private, needle-in-a-haystack place to jot down my thoughts, which are then accessible to me wherever I am at the moment. For instance, at 12:30 am at my office on top of the Love Field Main Terminal building here in Dallas. I didn't have to worry about forgetting a notepad or journal, or toting it around, or what have you. I can simply sign in to my blogspot account and away I go.

Now that it is the new year, well, I have been giving the first month to the thought of what to pursue this year. I have established a few goals that I thought I'd jot down here for the sake of accountability. Not that anyone else will hold me accountable, but I am sure I will look back at older entries, as I always do, and see how close to the path I've remained. As far as goals go, here is a general outline:

1. Stay focused at my jobs, whatever I happen to be doing at the moment. Whether it is architecture or weather, stay focused and find a way to make them challenging and enjoyable, doing all things for the glory of God.

2. Learn to write shorthand. This subject has always been fascinating to me, and as I get older I find learning new things to sometimes be harder to begin, but once I get back into that "focused" mindset that seeks to pursue something for the pure pleasure one can take in an activity, I find the learning to come easily once again.

3. Memorize a book of the Bible. I would really like to get to Colossians, but for now, I'm starting in Titus. I don't think I've made a poor choice in books, though. How can I? It is all profitable.

4. Get back on the exercise wagon. This one is self-explanatory, really, but I see that much of everything I must do to in order to gain benefit from a pursuit ought to be grounded in enjoyment. If I see exercise (or learning to write shorthand, even) as a drudgery, then I will not pursue it with excellence, to the glory of God. I may not even pursue it at all! This leads me to number 5...

5. Enjoy what you do!!! This is something new I've learned, and has required a real mental shift in how I view life. I often pursue things because of the greater benefit to doing them, not because I enjoy them at all. Really, I often enjoyed the pleasure of seeing the outcome, but when you deal with something that may not always produced the desired results in the desired amount of time, you are often relegated to simply enjoying the task, knowing that the wind will return to the place from where it blows, and the rivers reutrn to the place from where they flow.

6. Read one book every month. Much of the time, I start a book and never finish it. This has always been irksome to me. With the challenge of finishing the book before the end of the month, I have a deadline, and the ability to look forward to starting a new book within the next thirty days.

7. Glorify God and enjoy Him. This is really the summary of my plans for 2012. Enjoy the Lord. Enjoy His law. Delight myself in Him.

Lord, may this year be a year of seeing the glories of all that You are: your love, your mercy and condescension, your attributes, your grace.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A More Helpful Way to See It

Well, before I expand upon my cryptic title, I should say that I am being faithful in my Scripture reading, and even more faithful to enjoy it. No, it's not being done every day. It is being done as I have time, being picked up where I left off, and being done with either a notepad and plenty of writing, or with the frustration that I didn't remember to bring a notepad for plenty of writing.

That said, the purpose of this post is to make mention of something that is on my mind: pleasing God. And I've come to determine that I ought not to think of my actions in that vein, whether they please God or not. Rather, I ought to think of whether my actions gloryify God or not. See, there is a difference, I believe. Pleasing God means that my actions themselves own some inherent quality that brings God pleasure. After years of trying, I can confidently say that there is nothing in ME, let alone my actions, that can please God. Nothing I offer can be worthy of Him. And I believe that is because I am starting with ME, a terrible place to start. Instead, my business ought to be about glorifying and magnifying God. I ought to start with HIM. Starting with the Lord brings me to such abject humility to start with, that I cannot look anywhere but up. I can do nothing but rejoice over HIM. The way I see it, pleasing God is like starting at the top and looking downward, attempting to perform in any way that could possibly meet the holy eye of God. But glorifying God is like starting at the bottom, where I am, and doing the only thing a humble heart can do: look upward, point upward, announce the upward view of my eye by the way I live my life. My actions may look quite similar to the person who cannot see the heart. But the motives for one couldn't be farther removed from the other.

Is that a more helpful way to see it?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Genesis 2-7

Okay, so I'm a little behind on the reading. But I've decided that the plan will stay in place, no matter how long it takes my discipline to catch up. To make matters easier, I will probably not write out so much for each chapter. Sometimes, I start out of the gate with too much enthusiasm, and set goals that are, for the most part, beyond my reach. So, here goes...

Genesis 2
What stuck out to me here was the way the narrative moved back and forth between the events, to bring out the depth of what was occurring. This isn't an exact timeline. Second, God used only the rib to make the woman. That's exactly what the text says. He didn't just use the rib in combination with a few other things. He used only the rib. And finally, the two were naked, and not ashamed, meaning they had not sinned, and had no reason to feel the need to cover ANYTHING, not even their bodies. What must that be like, to not know any shame whatsoever? We will know that in Heaven.

Genesis 3
Here is Satan's greatest strategy, even in my own life: causing us to question God's goodness in light of His law. May I say it is even my own sin root? It is what I can trace every sin back to in the end: questioning the goodness of God's law, and the necessity of following it. I do this without thinking about it. My own flesh will take the bait, because it would rather be happy than trust Someone else for its happiness. May the Lord have mercy on me. Also, it does not state here that the Lord clothed them with lion's skin. Where do we get that??

Genesis 4
Here is a verse I need to commit to memory: 7b - And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it. In the margin I wrote this note: "Have a heart that is sensitive to sin!" May the Lord have mercy on me to grant me daily strength to master the sin that ever crouches at my door, whose desire is to have me! I have seen it! My second observation is of the parallel of the Lord's statement of The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground and Revelation 6:10, where the blood of ALL those martyred saints cry for judgment and vengeance from the Lord. In verse 13, I observed that Cain was still worried about his own skin, and that he doesn't seek repentance of forgiveness. He says whoever finds me will kill me and he's worried about his punishment. He never seeks the Lord's forgiveness. Then in verse 16, he goes out from the presence of the Lord. Is it fair to say here that being in the presence of the Lord was not a priority for Cain? Is it our priority? Oh, Lord, may being in your presence be my priority!!! I know it is not as high as it ought to be. But I need to go back to verse 7b and master the sin which has its desire for me. And in the end, remember that it is all of grace, from the desire to fight sin, to the strength to do so, to the forgiveness my wretched sins need from the wrath they require. My final note is over the last verse: To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord. I wondered, at reading this, if Seth had an impact on this godly line, and perhaps this is the significance of Genesis 6:1-2, where the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Were these the godly men of Seth's line who considered the outer beauty of a woman over the inner beauty of a woman who fears the Lord? Whether this is what happened or not, I think it's worth noting here that it is important to identify the temptation that exists to overlook a man's heart (speaking as a woman here) when his looks or personality, or the way he treats you, or the way you get along so well, is more attractive than his heart. Do yourself a favor and silently strip away all that fancy facade, all the vanity, and take a good look at what you have left. If there is no fruit of the Spirit in his life, if he would not sacrifice, but be selfish, then keep on looking.

Genesis 5
I should have listed this in the previous chapter, but it was already too long. I found it interesting that the Bible mentions two Lamechs so close to each other. The one mentioned in chapter 5 was a vengeful man, clearly not of godly character. The one mentioned in verse 28 of this chapter seems to be a godly man who acknowledged the curse that sin had brought upon the earth, and appears to look forward to the Messiah, even in the birth of Noah! I'm sure he had no idea how appropriate this foreshadowing was, because Noah DID find grace in the eyes of the Lord and was used of the Lord to save mankind from being permanently destroyed in the Flood, and indeed is a picture of what Christ does, and will do, when the judgment comes. And I also think that Lamech was a godly man, because he dies five years before the Flood begins. I think that if he had been a godly man and still alive, we would have found him on the ark, too, but we are told that Noah specifically found grace in the eyes of the Lord. The Lord opened the eyes of Noah to sin, to his need for repentance and obedience, and a Savior. And we see that Noah LIVES OUT his faith by obeying the Lord's command to build a boat for the coming judgment. Had anyone else on the earth found sovereign grace in the eyes of the Lord, he or she would have been on that boat. We can safely assume, then, that none of Noah's brothers or sisters were ever convicted by the obedience Noah displayed by his shipbuilding. On another note, God tells us that God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their was upon the earth. Our WAYS, the way we live our lives, are what are corrupted. May we look inside at the root cause for our decisions, and may we find those causes to be rooted in God's Holy Word. In verse 14, Noah is told to make for yourself a refuge as the Lord precisely prescribes. In this same way, we must make Christ our refuge as the Lord prescribes, not adding anything on our own strength or merit. Finally, in verse 22, Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did. I wrote "so must we." I remember learning that when something is repeated in Hebrew, it is for emphasis. I think it then bears considerable meditation that God wanted written in His Word here and emphasis on Noah's obedience to all that the Lord had commanded him. Oh Lord, may this be the pattern of my life!!! May others see me living out my faith in obedience to your revealed will, and taking refuge for my soul in Christ, both for the trials of today, and the final judgment of the future.

Genesis 7
I thought it was important to note that after all that occurred as the Lord commanded in verse 16, that the Lord closed the ark. I cannot help but think of how comforting that is, for the Lord to say in a way "well done" and to take care of the final necessary act that Noah, presumably, couldn't do, and that was close the ark. And I only say that because of the water pressure that the door would have been up against, and would have needed to have been closed from the outside for a proper seal. But more to the point, how comforting it is to trust that in those times of trial and crisis, and in the time of the judgment, we are sealed inside our refuge by the hand of the Lord Himself. Who can interrupt our safety? (Romans 8:38-39)