Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fruitless Studies Become Fruitful

I've been thinking a lot lately about Bible studies. For years I attended them faithfully, completed my homework, shared in class and agreed with the other women about particular points that "really touched my heart". But did the homework, attendance, faithfulness or tears of conviction result in a change in my life? Yes, I learned more about scripture. . .and that's good. Yes, I learned how we are "supposed" to be, live, react, love and the like. . .but did this knowledge prompt me to actually be, live, react, and love more like Christ? I can't say that it often did; at least for long. Worse yet, did the lack of implementation in my own life set my accusing finger lose to legalistically point out the faults of others while my own life remained stagnant?

I must admit-guilty on all accounts.

The last study I participated in was different, however. It was a revised version of one that I had completed several years ago. The difference this time, I believe, was in the conviction that the study didn't "work" the first time. After all, if it doesn't "work", I am just wasting my time. . .for a second time in this case.

I began to approach the study as "all about me" (yes, it can be all about you): my change, my growth, my heart seeking to be one with God's. Lasting change began deep within. It "worked". And since the change occurred within my heart, I can now help others in their journey, not as an accuser or a fixer, but as a humble soul who has traversed the road and come out at the other end, able to share how God changed my life.

I pray that you will allow God access to the deepest places in your heart. And when you overcome something that has held you back, that you will freely share with others and see them set free too.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Glory in Oregon

I've been away for the better part of two weeks driving without a plan in beautiful Oregon. For days on end we were beset with an endless stream of majestic waterfalls that crashed into wild and scenic rivers raging to the delight of fisherman and outdoorsmen alike. Turbulent ocean waves pounded the rugged coastline while sea lions barked loudly and lounged lazily as grey whales spouted unpredictably to the delight of eager onlookers. Rose and white starfish clung patiently along side pale green anemone at the base of oceanside monoliths for the tide to come in and bring them food and water. Mountains spilled their dark green forests onto miles of seemingly endless sand dunes that ran into the ocean. Beaches sat wide and long at the base of sheer cliffs inviting beach goers, donned in sweatshirts, to build rock fortress wind shields and sunset fires on their fine sand. I took 835 pictures. . .and that was just with my own camera. Frankly, after about a week, my eyes almost hurt from the pristine beauty and I hoped for a break from saying "this is so gorgeous". It was too much of God's glory. He picked this place to show off and the people of Oregon chose to respect it and keep it beautiful. Thank you.

It made me think of the many other ways God manifests His glory. In my life it was an impossible-to-earn, last-minute, full-ride college scholarship awarded, a perfect little baby nephew adopted after many failed attempts, my first article published, (fast and nontraditionally), and a down payment, and the payments for the entire first year, for a new car paid for by "baby sitting", for an 18, 22 and 24-year-old.

In the lives of others I have seen His glory in marriages restored after repeated infidelity: healed to better than could ever have been imagined. I've witnessed insecurity conquered by finding significance in Christ. I've seen tests passed, pain redeemed and the lost returned down to something seemingly insignificant like an out of print book discovered at a flea market on a dreary Saturday morning.

Finding His glory in our lives requires that we look for it. It's realizing that we are not solely responsible for our successes and blessings and not taking such credit for ourselves, but, instead, giving the credit, the glory, back to Him.

It's giving Him the glory by casting our crowns at His feet: it gives us the opportunity to humbly offer His blessing back to Him. Brag on him with this faithfulness and the glory will be multiplied-his name given renown. You, being shown worthy, will be further blessed.

Look for His glory in your life today. If you don't know where to look, ask Him to show you. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7) He loves to give good gifts to His children who ask.