Wednesday, February 3, 2016

More Than Ten Percent

The Scripture Writing Challenge has changed from Finding Him in the Psalms to the theme, We Love Because He First Loved Us for the month of February. The verses are from both the New Testament and the Old. I'm on February 3rd as I'm starting this post for the week and the last two days, the word 'live' stuck out to me more than 'love'. One of the verses for yesterday was in I John 4, "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." (vs.9). Today in Galatians, I read, "For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live...." (Galatians 2:18-20a). I began to wonder how much we truly live in Christ
as believers. I mean, how much potential is actually there that we don't use? That line of thought made me wonder about how much brain potential we have that we don't use. I had heard that we only use 10% of our brain so I did some research on the Internet. 'Turns out that's a myth! We use 100% of our brain. I read that even in the pouring of coffee in the morning, we use our brains to calculate how much room we need in our mug for creamer - on 'auto pilot' is what I'm thinking. One article stated, "Ultimately, it's not that we use 10 percent of our brains, merely that we only understand about 10 percent of how it functions." 

The thought came to me that while we use our salvation 100% of the time - meaning, we can never lose it, Christ is always with us- we may only live in Christ or use our power in Christ 10% because merely, it's that we only understand about 10% of how it functions. Interesting. I then get out the Thesaurus. 

Live (existing at the present time): current, existent, prevailing
Alive (being animately existent): awake, cognizant, growing, knowing, operative

dead, apathetic, dispirited, lethargic

So when I am not prevailing, when I am not growing in Christ, when I do not operate as having the power of Christ, I live apathetic and dispirited. I become passive. I have some evaluating to do. Why is it that I really only understand about 10% of how to live in the power of Christ?

Today's reading in Galatians 2:18, 20 "For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor...I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." For if I build again the things I thought I destroyed - pride, self-will, selfishness, discontentment, ungratefulness, ..I have disregarded -in a way- what Christ did for me. But, that's not the end of the story...The only way to live is to live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me... day by day - sometimes hour by hour or minute by minute - making one right choice at a time. Constantly renewing the mind. We increase our brain power by doing more. We can increase our 'living in Christ' power by doing more. Doing more what? Some of the things we can do to increase brain power can be used to increase our 'living in Christ' power. I found a list of things that will help increase brain power and I adapted it to fit this post. (Link to original article is at the end.)

1. Do something new - We can do something new for someone else. As the saying goes, "Love isn't love until you give it away". Ideas: a card, a letter/e-mail to let someone know you're thinking of them, flowers, a phone call..Or we can do something new for ourselves - for example: I've left Facebook for awhile and am doing more letter writing, more connecting with close friends on a deeper level. The friends I want to have my phone number have it and I talk to them more by text daily than I ever did on Facebook.  I needed to separate from some drama, to find my balance with close friends and family, to keep my social circle simple.

2. Exercise regularly - We can exercise our power in Christ simply by trusting in God's plan - having faith that God knows the road we're on and realizing that we're not lost. Trust can be hard work! Because we're human, because we falter, giving over control of our lives (day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute) keeps the faith muscle strong. 

3. Train your memory - We can remember more of God's promises when we memorize them. Kind of like those math drills we rehearsed over and over in grade school until we knew them in our sleep. 

4. Be curious - When something peaks my interest during a message in church (whether it be part of the message or on the same page in the Bible), I underline it, make a note of it, and go back to look at it later. Look in the Bible, look in a dictionary, look on the internet - be on the hunt for a deeper understanding of a certain passage or person in the Bible. Don't be satisfied just with what you hear in church - do your own research. 

5. Think positive - God is our strength and help, He is always near, He has a plan, He extends mercy, He has crowned us with glory and honour. So many positive things we could think about if we put our mind to it. Sometimes, it's just a matter of wanting to.

6. Eat healthy - When we feed our body junk, we feel like junk. 'Same goes for us spiritually - when we feed our souls with junk (bad thoughts, questionable music or tv shows), we feel like junk. 

7. Read a book - I don't take the time out to read like I used to. This is a good point - will have to work on this one. We have tons of books in the house- biographies, study helps on books of the Bible, history, spiritual growth helps, missionary stories...

8. Get enough sleep - This is a huge one for me. If I don't get enough sleep, it is difficult to function. And if I don't get enough sleep, then I need to make time for rest in the day - to just shut down and restore my strength. If I can't function on a physical level, it's more challenging to function in a good spirit. 

9. Ditch the GPS - The original article about brain power says to opt for reading an actual map instead of using a GPS. To relate this to 'living in Christ' power: While other books and articles are good sources for building Bible knowledge, reading the Bible - the original 'map' for our lives- we can't forget or put aside. There are millions of Christian living resources easily available, but nothing can replace the Scriptures where we find our map 'for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.' -II Timothy 3:16

10. Ban the calculator - "Resist the urge to work things out using an external device – and use the device you were born with – your brain!", states the article. Well, in comparison, resist the urge to work things out using external means -Use the 'device' we were born with..When we were born a new creature in Christ, we were given the Holy Spirit. Before reading anything that man said, before asking what any man thinks, we need to use the Spirit that we were spiritually born with and ask Him how to solve a problem. 

 At the moment of salvation, we were given 100% of what we needed to live in Christ, yet most likely, we only understand 10% of how that functions.  Why is that? Are we using all our resources? The above list is a good checklist of how to increase our life-in-Christ-productivity. Just as we can improve our brain power by doing more, we can develop our life in Christ power by sharpening our focus, by revamping our hope, by living 'by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20b)

The above list was adapted from this article:


Monday, February 1, 2016

The Light of Grace {Scripture Writing Cont.}

While don't feel as if I've been hit over the head with spirituality or godliness in my studying of the Psalms this past month, I do feel a difference, a lightness, in my spirit. I'm not a bouncy cheerful person by nature, but I do feel it easier to breathe, to laugh, to live. His forgiveness enables me to live without guilt and shame. His love covers my fears, insecurities, and doubts. His mercy abounds and I am learning to live in the light of grace. 

Sunday: {Psalm 85: 10} "Mercy and truth are met together: righteousness and peace have kissed each other." 

When Jonathan was little and we were still training him, life went a lot easier when he was truthful with us when he did something wrong. We showed mercy when he confessed and was honest.. He still needed to be disciplined, but we did so with more grace. Even though I cannot hide anything from God - He knows my every thought- I think it's the act of being honest/truthful that makes a difference. When I choose to confess, even though I know He already knows, it shows the heart's desire to make things right. Mercy and truth are met together ..and the rest of the verse 'righteousness and peace' have kissed each other. Just as mercy and truth go hand in hand, so do righteousness and peace.
Truthfulness brings mercy and righteousness leads to peace.


Photo taken at the El Paso Zoo 2015

Monday: {Psalm 90: 17} "And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it."

Establish the work of my hands today, Lord. Remind me that You are with me always, even in the mundane tasks of washing dishes, sweeping up crumbs, and in the tidying of couch pillows. You are with me in the homeschooling, in the making of lunch, and planning what's for dinner. Let the work of my hands bring honor to You today and bring peace on all who live here. And may Your beauty rest in this home. 

Photo taken at Mystic Seaport -Mystic, CT 2007

Tuesday: {Psalm 95:4-6} "In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker." 

I forget sometimes just how magnificent God is and how powerful. "In his hand are the deep places of the earth" "The sea is his and he made it"...amazing! And not only is He maker of the deep places, the hills, and the sea..but He's the maker of me! Astounding!! 

Photo taken in California while traveling in 2010

Wednesday: {Psalm 96: 5,6} "For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens. Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary." 

In our church in Mexico, we talk quite a bit about idol worship. All of the people in our church before they were saved are former Catholics and had statues in their homes which they prayed to on a regular basis. Their culture is steeped in religion, idolatry, and darkness and what power they hold. There is only one true God, the Lord, and He made the heavens. All honour and majesty belong to Him and I wonder if I grasp this concept as well as they do. Have I become complacent in acknowledging His strength and beauty? I'm thankful that I've always known that He is the One true God - that He is the maker of the heavens and the earth and of me. May I never take it for granted. 

Photo taken from a scenic point in El Paso 2015

Thursday: {Psalm 96: 12, 13} "Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice Before the LORD: for he cometh to judge the earth: and he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth."

Something to think about today for me is that my baseline for all opinions and judgements is God. The ruler by which I measure all should be God's righteousness and His truth. It's all that matters in the end. 

Taken in front of the Gatlinburg Aquarium in TN-2006

Friday: {Psalm 107:8, 9} "Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." 

Wandering... crying to the Lord when in trouble... living in the light of Grace...rebellion...affliction, back to crying when in trouble...The life and times of the Israelites. Or wait..maybe that's me going back and forth in all manner of instability concerning my relationship with God. I've heard the biblical accounts of the children of Israel for as long as I can remember and can shake my head at their wandering, but I'm no different, really. Verse 7 says, "And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation." He led them..he will lead the right way--I love that. God had a plan for them...He has a plan for me...If I would follow --plain and simple-- He will fill with goodness.

Scenic view in El Paso -photo taken in 2015

Saturday: {Psalm 119:2} "Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart."

 Do I seek him with the whole heart or just...halfheartedly? I don't want to be reading the Bible every day out of some sense of obligation, but because I want to...because I need to. I only live fully when I seek Him in the daily. The daily routine, the daily chores, the daily struggles to just make it until it's a decent time for a nap some days! Truly
The more I take note of the graces, even the small ones (and be thankful for them), the more I see Him.  And ...I have to ask myself if I even expect to see God today. Am I content to cloak myself with shadows of doubt of His goodness?  Do I live numb and maybe just a bit indifferent? 

I will focus my heart to notice Him. Where there are shadows, there is Light.

Photo taken in Canada 2008