Friday, September 30, 2011

Knowing is the Same as Not Knowing

If you are older than the age of 30, you probably remember doing a research paper in school and having to go to the library and look up your subject in an Encyclopaedia. If you were really lucky, your family invested in the high cost of knowledge to have the information at your fingertips – a whole set in your own home.

Nowadays, most of us have iPhones, or SmartPhones that have a Google app that give us the ability to look up anything, anytime. There is no time delay, no difference between knowing something and not knowing something. With all this information and knowledge, you’d think we would have evolved and yet there is no real evidence that we are any smarter and common sense and basic courtesy seems to go the way of a lemming and jumped a cliff.

Paul prays for us to gain knowledge (Colossians 1:9) but Jesus chastises the Pharisees because of their knowledge (Luke 11:52). Daniel acknowledges that God is the one who gives knowledge to the discerning and wisdom to the wise (Daniel 2:21). Isaiah cautions that the people go into exile because of their lack of knowledge (Isaiah 5:13).

Clearly seeking and having knowledge isn’t the problem; it’s what we do with it.

I attended Bible School fresh out of high school but the school didn’t have academic requirements, so I didn’t receive a Bible or Theology degree, though recently I had contemplated returning to Seminary school to complete a degree. Before I committed to a degree program, I tested the waters by taking a course I picked based on interest, rather than requirement. It was a 4th year class and my fellow students were up and coming pastors and ministry workers. I was excited because I was at the epicentre of faith and learning.

Except it wasn’t what I expected, not even a little.

Most of the students in the class were just like the Pharisees - always learning but never understanding. I didn’t want to be like that. My dream was deflated and I was discouraged. I wanted to know God so desperately and it seemed like my hope was lost.

The hope I thought I had lost was returned when I read the words of Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great, unsearchable things you do not know.” I had have a lot of questions. Could I really ask God for answers? He answered me Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.”

Knowledge that gives rest for my soul – Wow. That’s worth something because it nourishes me. Knowledge that I learn from Jesus is not the same as the world - knowing is the same as not knowing. Knowledge that finds it origin in Jesus is knowing and being changed, forever.

Where and why do you seek knowledge?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What to Know Before You Go

Have you ever had one of those moments when you finally learn something that you’ve heard for a long time? The thing that when you hear it you say, “I know that already,” and tune out?  

This weekend, I had one of those moments. I learned a lesson I’ve known for a long time – so long in fact that I don’t remember not knowing it.

You wanna know what I learned? If not, then stop reading otherwise get ready to be rocked – intimacy is developed in the secret place. Wow! That’s amazing isn’t it? Let me share my journey to learning this simple but profound lesson.

In August, I was invited to be part of a 7-person ministry team. It was my first “official” ministry trip and I was excited. I was looking forward to testifying what God does when we step out in faith. Before we left, I imagined that I’d have plenty of time to soak in the presence of God. I had a rough idea about what I was going to speak on but thought I’d have time to inquire of the Lord what was on his heart for the people we were ministering to. At the very least, I thought I’d at least ‘feel’ spiritual.

All of my expectations were the exact opposite of what actually happened.

When we arrived, after travelling for 7.5 hours (I was up and out of the house by 6:20am), we were assigned our places to stay. Then we went with our host families and chatted until dinner, which had to be eaten quickly to make it back to the Healing Rooms for the evening service. We had a quick prayer, before people started arriving and the team went into minister mode.

It was a great evening; a few members of the team spoke and shared their testimonies and we ministered and prayed for several people there. Jesus was honoured and he showed up with power. It was awesome to see but I was still distracted by the feeling of not being “prepared”. The next day was more of the same. I was hoping to soak and spend time with the Lord, as I normally do in the morning. But I was in someone else's home and I didn't have the same opportunity to keep my schedule. I felt rushed to have breakfast and get to the meeting rooms on time for the next session.

I was complaining to the Lord about this and he said, “Twenty minutes with me in the morning today isn’t going to make a difference, it’s the time you’ve invested in the relationship before this weekend that matters. I’m going to show up because of the intimacy we created in the past.”

Developing intimacy in the secret place isn’t something to put on the ‘to-do’ list. It’s developing the relationship we have with our Creator God so that we can know his heart and overflow when we are ministering the love of Jesus. Wow. And like that, I got it.

What lesson(s) have you finally learned after hearing the message over and over? Please share, I can’t be the only one, can I?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Are You a Missionary?

The Great Commission found in Mathew 20:18-20, tells us to go to the world, obey God’s commands, baptize and make disciples. It’s a word for every Christian so why aren’t we seeing it happen? Or maybe we are, but our definition of a missionary is different than another. This week, the Kingdom Bloggers are discussing the questions: what is a missionary and are you a missionary by your own definition?

My own thoughts towards mission work have changed dramatically since I was a child. Click here to see what I used to think of missionaries and why I’ve changed my mind.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Psalms for Sunday - XVI

Is heaven loud; is heaven busy? I ask myself these questions amid the cacophony of people worshipping around me.

Suddenly, the noise cuts away as if my ears have gone deaf. It startles me and I rouse from my thoughts. I see you, for the first time. You are standing before me and I ask, where are all the people?

It’s just you and me, you say. Just you and me.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Do You Fit In?

In the middle of the Bible history books, we come to a little 4-chapter book called Ruth. Scholars don't know what to do with it, even in reading assignments for Old Testament Theology class, Ruth doesn't have an overall theme to explore. The book becomes incorporated into the history book section but simply because it doesn't fit into any other category. It is a book that tells a story but doesn't necessarily move the whole of the Bible story forward. It just sits there, taunting scholars to define it.

Ironically, Ruth and Esther, another book that stumps scholars into easily categorizing, are my favourite Bible stories. Perhaps I like them because the entire books are written about women. In a chauvinistic culture, these books elevate the status and role of women in God's story. I am a woman on mission to find significance and influence and I'm passionate about women roles within leadership, church and the world, but I think there is more.

Ruth gives value and a voice to those who feel like they don't fit in. About a year ago, I was at a wedding. I can't remember a time when I've felt so acutely out of place. There was a lot of self-talk in the car before I was able to walk into the room with confidence. As one of the only friends within a small crowd of family, I was asked how I fit into the story of the wedding couple's story. I don't think it was a coincidence that my Scripture reading plan brought me to the book of Ruth. Unable to clearly define the book of Ruth brings comfort to me when seemingly random events outside of the 'bigger picture' take place. It brings comfort when my entire life seems outside the larger story of God's story.

Ruth also offers us insight and hope. The book of Judges ends the narrative with the words, "everyone did as he saw fit," and Ruth begins, "In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land." Famine wasn't supposed to happen in the Promised Land. Famine was a curse that would come to pass if the people failed to keep the covenant. A sure indication that the covenant was not kept was found in the last line of Judges, "everyone did as he saw fit."

The covenant was built on community. Women, by nature, are community-driven and community-focussed. I think Ruth is an example of hope that community still exists within the larger story, when the rest of the evidence isn't so obvious.

Without dwelling on the obvious negative actions: famine, Elimelech moving his family to the Godless country of Moab, and taking Moabite women as wives for his sons, the story of Ruth is an expression of covenant community lived at the ideal level. It is hopeful. The story binds woman to woman, foreigner to national; it seeks the best interest of the widow and the needy. And once again, God brings a covenant community out of a culture that didn't acknowledge him. Once again, God calls us first into a relationship with him.

Ruth may be a side-step for scholars but I think Ruth provides a dialogue and an invitation for the outsider.
I'm an outsider by choice, she said, but I'm hoping that won't be my choice forever. ~Brian Andreas

What do you like about the book of Ruth?
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