When You Carom Off the Learning Curve

I have grown increasingly grateful for the dips and turns of the steep learning curve I’ve been on for the past few years. It does seem however, this weekend, that the culmination (okay, this particular bend in the road) has been more painful than all the previous ones combined. Or, as I imagined just moments ago, it appears that the perfect storm of finding a new home for my puppy, the change in address, and hubby’s medical and work-related events have made it possible me to feel all the great losses of the recent past, all at once.

Yesterday, when capsize seemed imminent, prayer partner to the rescue, we righted the wreck and like Paul, got to shore, by whatever means available. Praying like your life depends on it has its benefits. First, one realizes how true the need to pray without ceasing is and how powerful the prayer to be more real is when the answer comes rolling in like a flood. Second, facing the death not only of loved ones and cherished perspectives, but of the person you understood yourself to be leaves one free of earth-weights that no longer serve. Third, Oswald Chambers sums up the ultimate benefit thus:

“All God’s revelations are sealed until they are opened to us by obedience.”

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Built To Outlast The Drama

Pastor House brought a word from Psalms 34:18-19 and Acts 17:6 this morning after Senior Eagles ministered in psalm and dance. He mentioned Paul Tillich‘s writings on the necessary balance between courage and fear. Courage, Pastor said, is after all the readiness to take on the challenge our fear has identified. 
He then offered the following talents possessed by all great leaders.

  • forward thinking
  • self-motivation
  • creativity

The Adult Sunday School lesson was also on God’s Call to New Levels of Leadership. In it we were reminded that “we bear the responsibility to discover and fulfill God’s purpose in our lives” through listening that comes only through intimate relationship with Jesus.

Faithfulness is another essential quality of a good leader. In which area of your life are you going to be more faithful this week?

After exaltation on the mountaintop comes the valley of humiliation, writes Oswald Chambers, it is there, in the valley, “where our faithfulness is revealed.

To Conquer Spiritual Selfishness

Abandon that craving for mountaintop experiences. Oswald Chambers’ devotional for today reminds us we were built for the valley.

We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle. Spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mount.

Once we reconcile ourselves to the reality that we are called to witness and to live in the valley as living epistles, all becomes clear: Each life circumstance is designed to make, not teach, us something essential – how to be the embodiment of the Christ we say we love.

Big Day

Nothing much to report beyond the injunction to be perfect treated in Oswald Chambers’ devotional for today.

God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as human life trying to be godly.

Try that one on for size. As I understand it,  Matthew 5:48 wasn’t written to exclude or deny one’s identity the way say the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was written. It was penned as a reminder to all of us for whom Jesus died to invite Him consistently to stretch out in us as we stretch beyond our limits to embrace more of Him.

Then, The Devil Left Her

After a significant wrestling match getting words on the screen I read today’s devotional. Here is a feminized excerpt:

A [wo]man’s disposition on the inside, i.e., what [she] possesses in [her] personality, determines what [she] is tempted by on the outside. The temptation fits the nature of the one tempted, and reveals the possibilities of the nature. Every [wo]man has the setting of [her] own temptation, and the temptation will come along the line of the ruling disposition.

Temptation is a suggested short cut to the realization of the highest at which I aim – not towards what I understand as evil, but towards what I understand as good. Oswald Chambers

What do you make of that? What occurs to me is that temptation is a given and, like sin, it is part of the reason the Holy Spirit abides with us even now. That being the case, once you have accepted your assignment, look not back. Enter the wilderness knowing that once you emerge on the other side you too will be fed by angels.

A Day of Remembrance

Consider this selection from Oswald Chambers’ devotion for today:

Ministering as opportunity surrounds us does not mean selecting our surroundings, it means being very selectly God’s in any haphazard surroundings which He engineers for us.

Imagine. God doesn’t ask us what we’re good at, if we’re ready, interested or confident about when and how He will use us. Furthermore, He doesn’t invite or expect us to gather the necessary tools or people before He applies Himself through us in any given situation. Go figure. So why, then, do we expend so much energy and time on setting up life circumstances as close to our preferences as possible?

It took not only effort and time but years to set up a home office that is both functional and inviting. Yet, after all that sturm und drang I realize God is no more here than He was in every other circumstance He placed me in. Omnipresence, after all, is what it is and the fact of it is not to be taken for granted. Further, His command to write the vision, and make it plain upon tables that he may run that readeth it has not changed in neither the nearly 3,000 years since those words were written nor in the 30 or so years since I understood myself as being a scribe under orders in His service.

Today, for instance, I attended early service – the 21st Anniversary of Mountaintop Faith Ministries – and then Adult Christian Education where I was the alternate Adult Sunday School Teacher and armed with one good question. In the latter setting it was apparent that the leader would benefit from shifting the pressure to deliver the lesson in half the time normally afforded Sunday School back to God. While in the former, a service of celebration, it was clear that the Pastor had with grace learned how to split whatever earthly burden presented with the Master Teacher Christ Jesus and take His yoke upon him.

To remember and commemorate

I’d gone to the early service so I could spend the afternoon with the New York Times’ supplement on the 10th anniversary of September 11th and grade papers. Well, after calling ahead, and driving to three gas stations, I did secure the newspaper. But when I got home and began to try to read, I could not. When I tried to grade assignments, I could not. So I did what many of us do when faced with the garden variety type of resistance to working out our salvation, I took a nap.

Now, refreshed, I blog. After dinner I hope to respond to students’ submissions. Decades of time off-task have provided abundant evidence that as soon as I take the conditions off my service for the Lord and allow Him to use me, The Author and finisher of our faith will complete the task. I extend my heartfelt thanks to those saints within and beyond the body of Christ who simply continue rising to each occasion with humility and integrity be it disaster on the scale of 9/11 or a skirmish on the sidelines at a little league practice. Godspeed.

Zing!

“…self-pity is satanic.”

Oswald Chambers does it again, folks! He nails the issue to the cross without so much as a by your leave. He takes no prisoners. Leaves no grey areas or wiggle room. He simply throws the gauntlet in your face and dares you to flinch. To haul oneself up by the scruff of one’s spiritual neck is the only response admissible. Will we walk in the light so far as we receive it, or will we cower in the shadows of self-realization at the expense of salvation paid by so high a price as the life of the only begotten Son of The Father? Well.