My, my, my. It has been too long since I chatted with you last. I promise to do better now that things should be slowing down a bit, but they have been busy up 'till now. A week long trip to NYC with my friend Vicki and her family, a family wedding in Durham, North Carolina, and our short but entirely fabulous, God-driven, 3-day trip to Rome, Italy, with Jacob and Jessie.
By the way, I simply must mention that Jacob graduated Magna cum Laude on May 10th from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in "multidisciplinary studies," which is a smorgasbord of science credits. I am as proud of him as a parent could possibly be.
God has an interesting way of redeeming things. I have always regretted that I was such a pitifully poor student from kindergarten on and completely pissed away my college experience, so I am grateful that two of my three kids are excelling beyond my wildest hopes. This is obviously their father's side of the gene pool...
Before we left for Italy I was over at Kristen and Tara's and picked up a book that was lying on a counter in the kitchen.
I know I mention them a lot in this blog and it has nothing to do with the fact that they actually read the darn thing. It's just because once we began circling in each other's orbit, the sheer gravitational pull of our spiritual passions and purposes has kept us circling ever closer to one another.
They became roommates about a year or so ago, but because I already have one, I only get to visit once a week.
Anyway, on one such visit I picked up a book and flipped through it as I was waiting for them to stop flitting around so we could get down to business. And there is always business, but the business is always fun because we are actively helping each other pursue the call of God on our lives in practical ways. Like them setting up this blog and posting the three two-minute video clips of me on You Tube. Ha! That cracks me up! I'm on You Tube! The goal is to help provide a broader scale of opportunities to speak words of life, love, hope, help, truth and comfort to hurting Christians.
I readily admit I have been the greater recipient of these get togethers thus far, but one thing I did learn in kindergarten all those many long year ago was to share so their turn to reap what they are sowing is coming soon.
But back to the book. It's titled, "Hidden in Plain Sight: the Secret of More," by Mark Buchanan. I had never heard of him before and, quite frankly, the subtitle, to my mind, made it stink of the "prosperity gospel."
Nothing could have been further from the truth. It is a very readable exposition of the seven virtues outlined in 2 Peter 1:5-7 I'll save you the trouble of looking it up and type it out for you. "Now for this very reason also, (The reason being, is explained in vss.3-4, 'seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness...in order that you may become partakers of the divine nature...') applying all diligence in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, Christian love."
Simple enough, right?
Too bad it's not simple, because in verse 8 and 10 God makes an extraordinary promise. He says, "For if these qualities are yours and increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." But verse 10 is even more astonishing. It declares, "For as long as you practice these things you will never stumble."
Did I read that right? I'll never stumble? Really? Then I'm doing something wrong, because I stumble all the time! And yet God Himself has given me a seven dose prescription for never stumbling! This is mind-boggling. We are cautioned against making absolute statements like "always" and "never" and yet God makes the most incredible absolute statement of them all! He states quite clearly, "YOU WILL NEVER STUMBLE!"
Wow. Who is the God who sees me?
"The heavens cannot contain Him. The whole earth is full of His glory." He is a God who reveals Himself. "In Scripture, we meet the God of revelation. In worship, and prayer we meet God in Spirit and in Truth. In creation, we meet Him through His handiwork."
Psalm 34:8 rightly says, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!"
He is leading and protecting me. He is telling me the way I need to go if I want to ensure that I never stumble. Incredible. Astonishing. Thrilling.
I gave the book back last night and quite honestly, from this point on I don't recall where his thoughts end and mine begin, or are mixed together with his, but none-the-less, I want to share them with you. Where I am sure it's Mark Buchanan talking I will put it in quotes.
"The knowledge of God is the most important knowledge of all." Knowledge about Him--of Him. "You can know, like the teacher in Ecclesiastes, all there is to know, and find it all meaningless. But to know 'the One in whom you have believed' is saving knowledge." The pearl of great price. The hidden treasure for which a man will sell everything to buy the field. The thing every human being yearns for on the most primitive level and only realizes he's found once he's actually grabbed a hold of it.
He talks about each one of the seven attributes and why they build on each other. I was especially zeroed in on self-control since that is, right now at least, my weakest link in the chain and the one which affects all the others.
He writes, "Self-control is a trained capacity to think clearly about what matters most. It is a disciplined attentiveness to what God has done and is doing. A heightened sensitivity to spiritual reality, including a shrewd awareness of how the devil seeks to play havoc with us. It's about paying attention."
"The purpose of self-control is to make us holy as God is holy."
Now there's a concept.
Holy as God is holy. And never stumbling in the process. I just can't get over that!
One last disjointed thought: "The practice of dying to yourself is most often worked out in the mundane more than the heroic. It's often the retort or self-vindication you don't speak. The key is to take you complaints to God before you take them to anyone else."
Hosea 6:3 says, "So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth."
Come to me, Lord. Rain on me. Rain--no, don't just rain, drench me in faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and Christian love.
Help me to cultivate and increase in these attributes so that I will never stumble and will be fully equipped to faithfully fulfill Your call on my life. Amen.