Knowledge Bloats (1/6)

This post is the 1st in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here. Guest directory info is available here.

“But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.

1 Cor 8:1-3

I’m a freelance writer. I’ve written about topics like car parts and techniques for surgery. However, I’m no mechanic and would heartily refuse to assist if anyone handed me a scalpel.

You, likewise, know some lingo and plenty of trivia about certain topics. Maybe you’ve memorized sports statistics. Perhaps a loved one has told you about the day to day tasks they complete at work. Chances are, you aren’t qualified to be a famous athlete or even a sports commentator. Your loved one’s boss probably wouldn’t be pleased if you showed up instead one day.


Much of the knowledge we possess doesn’t lead us to anything actionable. Still, many of us are obsessed with learning all we can know.

Set up as an idol, we worship knowledge because of what we believe it gives us: control. Power. Security. Influence. Prestige. Ability. Option.

The trouble is knowledge, all by itself, puffs up. It’s hot air. Knowledge can look and sound impressive but have no substance. Even when tall and intimidating, it may be flimsy when it’s leaned on.

Often all knowledge for the sake of knowledge gives us is a headache. <Tweet this>

Want-to-know-it-alls like myself must be wary of making too much of knowledge alone. When we let knowledge puff us up, all we’re doing is trying to misuse it for our own glory. We want to be so smart that God and all His creation praise us and bend to our wills.

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Grand as it might appear and authoritative as it may sound, knowledge:

  • Isn’t unchanging
  • Isn’t complete
  • Isn’t all-powerful
  • Isn’t fulfilling on its own
  • Isn’t everything

God, on the other hand, is all of these things and so much more.

God is self-existent and sufficient, He is also omniscient. He knows everything.

Knowledge, as we know it, has limits, boundaries, and frustrations. Yet our finite knowledge is something God uses for His good purposes. (Hint: God’s good purposes don’t involve us taking control or bloating our egos.)

God gives knowledge, withholds it, reveals it, explains it, multiplies it, and wields it for His glory.

According to God’s Word, knowledge paired with grace, love, peace, wisdom, goodness, and the like can glorify Him. Fitted in the frame of righteousness and powered by the zeal of the Spirit, knowledge can propel the sharing of the Gospel.

Knowledge revealing God’s glory is certainly more substantial, lasting, and righteous than knowledge puffing up our egos.

Does knowledge need to have less of a bloating effect and more of a godly effect in your life too?

Join me for the next 5 weeks to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second. Now accepting submissions for a guest directory on Idolizing Knowledge! More info on guest posting here.

Frustration, Faithfulness, and God’s Timing + CD Giveaway

One of the unique differences between Christian artists and the majority of other musicians is openness about the muse for music. Christian art is about testifying to the God who is, glorifying Him through song.

the-garden

The story behind Kari Jobe’s new album The Garden is a real life example of the reason for the hope she has in Jesus. In the title track, Jobe describes the desperation she felt when her sisters’ infant James Ivy arrived stillborn. Jobe was pregnant at the same time. The loss bore all the tragedy of shared dreams shattered and hope falling limp before the Lord.

But God.

In His perfect timing, He brought healing and revived hope for Jobe when months later a garden at her new home began to bloom. It had looked a mess, and she wasn’t sure what it would produce. She discovered, climbing up with fresh life, ivy.

Her reflection resounds in the title track lyrics: “For this moment you planned ahead that I would see your faithfulness…”

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My friend Lois recently wrote about her own experience with God planning ahead for her when she received a birthday lost in the mail months late- but God timed it right when she needed it.

Another friend, Christine, wrote of reaching just the right person in customer service. God’s timing of the call resulted in conversation leading to a personal connection through which she can share the reason for her hope.

Still another friend told me how she was frustrated with the difficulty of locating and entering a food pantry to drop off bags of rolls. She arrived just in time to witness a man sadly turned away because the available bread racks were empty. Handing him the bread, she was able to tell him God loved him with the full conviction of knowing God had timed their visits so they would meet.

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Our Lord goes before us (Deut 31:8.)

Into the garden in the spring. Into the mail system’s mess to delay cards. Into the customer service queue to connect people. Into the food pantry where a man in need of bread and the bread of life could be handed both at once.

The hope and awe bound up in recognizing God’s profound faithfulness are themes throughout Jobe’s CD. Direct praise is cultivated through “I Will Sing.” Stories of His inexplicable faithfulness ring out through “Miracles.” Awe resulting in drawing nearer to the Lord is represented through “Closer to Your Heart.”

Whether we’re waiting for the Lord to reawaken our hearts or reflecting on the majesty of God, we can be certain He is faithful. He who began the good work will complete it. He’s planned ahead. He’s gone before us and made a way.

The narrow road leads us to the abundant expanse of God’s glory. Praise be to our faithful God!


Interested in winning a copy of the CD? Comment on this post before 5pm EST of Friday, Feburary 10th!

You can also purchase a copy by clicking here.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Only residents of continental U.S and Canada

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

 

Motivation for Long Days at Work

When I’m exhausted by the thought of putting one more second of time into producing something for someone else, to someone else’s standards, according to someone else’s timeline, I find encouragement in these verses.

I hope you do too.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

“Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”

The boring parts of work don’t always leave us feeling fulfilled. The Lord calls us to un-glamorous, unexciting work.  Whether the bland parts of jobs, like shuffling through paperwork, or the blah parts of working through life like doing the dishes, quietly tending to our affairs is part of our testimony.

Work is an expression of creating and stewarding what the Lord has given us. It is part of sustaining and supporting the affairs that the Lord has made us responsible for. When we quietly mind our lives and care for what He’s given through work and ordinary tasks, we evidence how we value all the Lord has provided.

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Colossians 3:23

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”

In your heart, your work can be unto the Lord. It needn’t be for your boss that you do your work honestly and to the best of your ability. Rather, reflect the character of the Lord. God made man, and He is sovereign over the systems we live in. That includes the workplace.

1 Corinthians 15:58

“Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Even work that seems in no way related to the Gospel can be used by the Lord for His good purpose. Sticking stamps on a stack of envelopes might just be a part of the work of the Lord today –and His work is never in vain.

stamps

Psalm 90:17

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.”

You don’t have to figure out how refilling the copier’s ink can be made into a spiritual act. Your life’s work, surrendered to God and completed to glorify Him, is up to God to use as He will. Keep in mind that the work of your hands is part of God’s plans. He will establish it, He will cause it to bear fruit. He is faithful to us even in the little things, just as He calls us to be.

1 Corinthians 3:12-13

“…their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.”

Doing work lazily or half-heartedly without concern for doing it well catches up to you. God knows your heart, your ambitions, your motivations, and your true efforts. Do quality work. It will be tested, it will be shown for what it is. Let it be through and through “our utmost for His glory.”

{Originally posted on My Faith Radio}

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

Lie 3: Sin Defines You

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Join me in exposing sin’s lies to God’s Word in this 8 part series.)

We more or less have a Sunday School answer memorized to counteract this lie: Christ defines who I am.

But when it comes it to living it- predisposition often wins.

Predisposition is a subtle form of deceit. It preys on our tendencies, including the tendency to believe that what is is all that will be. Not only do we fear change, we reject the notion it’s really possible.

So the lie forms and we believe it: my sin defines me.

Meanwhile, God says we have the option to be transformed.

Take back the truth.

We are born into sin, but through Christ we can be born again- out of sin.

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There’s no need to keep reliving old sins as if they are more powerful than the salvation Christ has given you.

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Case Study: Shame

The consequences David faced for His sin were dire-a beloved son died. A nation saw their king’s shame.  His circumstances were (publicly!) defined by a sinful choice he had made.

But David knew he still had a choice. He took control over what he still had control: his next choice. To sin or not to sin. To continue in his shame, allowing it to define Him, or turn to God for renewal and restoration.

Choosing to turn to God, David responded with the words of Psalm 51:10:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
     and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

You and I can’t get clean on our own. We can’t redefine ourselves using our own sin-stained hands. 

Sin will continue to follow us around, slinging mud, calling us dirty, claiming us as its own. When we make a mess trying to “redefine” ourselves, sin only seems all the more irremovable.

But God.

Who can cleanse us from our sin?

Who can make us whole again?

Who can clothe us, dressing us in white?

None but Christ.

Asking God to define our identities for us means telling sin it doesn’t have the authority to make our next choices for us. Exposing the lie that sin defines us requires immovable faith in a Sunday School answer:

Christ alone has the power to not only wash our hearts clean, but give us new hearts. Christ alone redefines us, predisposing us to stainlessness instead of sin.   

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…looking for your thoughts to add to the Sin Lies Series!

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He Must Increase- The Word Works Series!

Formerly a journalist, Lois approaches her blog, Waxing Gibbous, with facts. Facts about life, the facts of a story she is living, and the facts of who our Lord is and how He is working right now. She lives and writes truth, and I’m blessed to share this space with her today.
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When I was in my early 30s, I wrote a book about infertility. I worked on it during the long months after my husband and I ended our three-year effort to conceive and before we adopted our first daughter from China.

I believed then—as I still believe now—God’s promise to work all things for the good of those who love him, those who are called according to his purpose. So every chapter, which mostly focused on the spiritual and emotional aspects of infertility, flowed out of my desire not to let our struggles go to waste.

My book was published by a traditional Christian publisher in 2003. The business was different back then; huge numbers of social media followers were not necessary to secure a book contract because social media barely even existed.

I had no blog, no platform, no speaking career. I was simply a former journalist, wife and mom-to-be with some deeply held beliefs about how God uses our pain for his glory.

In the months after the book’s release, the publisher arranged for me to promote it on several national Christian television and radio programs. I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this process—it was fun to be on the other side of the interview after so many years of working as a reporter.

After about a year, though, I received the phone call no author ever wants to receive.

The editor was very sorry, but the book hadn’t lived up to sales projections. As a result, the company was going to sell off the remaining inventory at a deeply discounted price and put the book out of print.

I was angry and embarrassed, but what I felt most at the time was bitter disappointment. I couldn’t believe that the project I had poured my heart and soul into would be snuffed out so soon.

For a while, I held on to an irrational hope that the editor would call me back and say the company had made a mistake—that the decision makers had changed their minds about putting my book out of print.

That call never came.

What did come, though, was a message from the Holy Spirit. A familiar scripture that made a new impression on me—shared as part of a Bible study I started on the very day the publisher called.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

(John 3:30)

These seven words were spoken by John the Baptist near the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, but in my heart, I knew they also were what one of my mentors would call a “right now word from God.”

In those disappointing days after my book went out of print, I sensed that my current season of influence—however small and short-lived it might have been—was over.

God wasn’t just ushering me off the stage,

He was guiding me out of the building completely.

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And somehow, John 3:30 helped me be OK with that.

I had no way of knowing that, in the years ahead, I would decrease so much I almost disappeared completely.

Soon thereafter, we moved to a new state where nobody knew about my writing background. Life was good in many ways, but the wilderness stretched long ahead of me. For several years, my words simply went away.

Years later, once the fog dissipated and the desert was mostly a memory, I started writing again. I took it slowly at first—with an article here and there, then a blog. Another book is in the works, but my past disappointment often hangs like a dark cloud over my current efforts.

One morning not too long ago, I read an article by a literary agent about the kind of platform that publishers require these days. It was discouraging, to say the least.

Forget being in the ballpark. I’m not even in the same universe.

Later that day, as I was thinking about what to write for this series, John 3:30 came to mind again.

He must increase, but I must decrease.

In God’s economy, it’s not about numbers, platform or audience.

It’s not about the logical, most obvious way that God can use our trials for his glory.

It’s not about us at all.

Is there a message in there for you today? There is for me, though I confess it doesn’t make much sense right now.

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As I look to the future—to what I sense God is calling me to do, writing wise—the way forward is a bit murky. How it all fits in with God increasing and me decreasing, I’m not sure.

One thing is certain: While I need to do my part—even in the face of near-insurmountable odds—God will be the one who gives the increase.

At this point, only He knows what that might look like. But I do know it won’t happen unless I get to work.

So a promise and a prayer from scripture that I ran across several months after my editor called is giving me faith to take the next step, even when the next step is just to write another sentence.

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.

Lord, Your love is eternal;

do not abandon the work of your hands.”

(Psalm 138:8)

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

Is It Worth It?

In Sunday School we’re learning about Gentiles in a Jewish Timeline –like, what God’s been doing in Gentiles throughout history. One of the first points made was one that I’m always glad to be reminded of.

God’s work in the Israelites displayed His power to the rest of the world. God always wanted the whole world to know Him and to come to Him. He still does.

I don’t think that necessarily made the Israelites happy while the seven plagues were tearing apart the world they knew. Imagine their response to some challenges being drawn out so that the Egyptians would witness God’s glory: “the Egyptians?? But this is about our story, our freedom!”

We know Jonah wasn’t all that thrilled with God’s love and concern for others. He especially wasn’t pleased with his own role in sharing God’s love (i.e. Ninevah). Were his trials worth it to share the Gospel with those undeserving people? Frankly, Jonah didn’t really think so. He wished he was dead. He was angry. His story wasn’t just about him.

That’s a natural part of our sin nature.

Like Jonah, we know that God is a:

gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love.”

-Jonah 4:2

When His grace and compassion on others (especially those we don’t value) is played out through us, our struggles hardly seem so worthwhile.

Our selfishness tells us that everything that happens in our own lives, good or bad, is to be about us in some way. When we take on trials of faith, the question we ask is “Lord, what are you doing?” What we mean is “Lord, what are you doing for me in this?”

We’re so egoistic that even in our humility, accepting difficulties with faith, the “purposes” we look for in the challenges must in some way be about God improving our own stories.

Poor health is acceptable if it teaches us dependency. Challenging job situations are from the Lord, we suppose, so that He can grow us in certain ways.

None of this is necessarily incorrect. God does use our trials to grow us and teach us about Him. The trouble is simply how “me-focused” we are even in our value judgments about the life of faith.

The truth is that our trials aren’t just about our own spiritual growth- they are about God’s power being displayed to others, too. Our situations might not be resolved in the way we’d prefer (see the Israelites again) because God is instead going to:

“show (His) power that (His) name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

 –Exodus 9:16

The Gospel isn’t just for you or I. Our stories, as a part of God’s story, aren’t written just for us.

The Bible characters we look to as examples knew this: their stories, messy and neat, were lived out for the glory of God –the glory of God that God wants everyone to witness.

Our challenges and our joys are gifts the Lord gives to us. But they are also gifts He uses to give others an opportunity to be drawn to Him. That –that eternal investment- is always worth it.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory
This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus and #LifeGivingLinkup.

14. BEHOLD: The One Worthy

You better be good, for goodness’ sake. You’ll get coal in your stocking if you aren’t nice this year. You’d better make this Christmas one to remember, or you could ruin it for everyone. Be worthy: it’s what Christmas is all about.

Except…at Christmas we remember Christ coming. The only one of whom we can say:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

 –Revelation 4:11

He was born in a barn and laid first in a stable. His years of conquering this world involved peaceably healing others while proclaiming God’s truth. He was persecuted for that. The righteous king of all things, He rode into the holy city on a donkey colt’s back. He died on a cross.

Does He sound worthy? Does it sound as though He got what He deserved?

Worth before the Lord is so unlike the value system we have in this world. Not bound up in circumstance, stature, or receiving, worth in the Lord’s kingdom is all about the giving.

The one who is worthy of all praise is the giver of life. He is the giver of eternity and of all good gifts.  Through Christ, He is the giver of perfect love and security. There are no quantities to measure when determining worth with the Lord. No gain is earned, but any “gain” is given by the Lord in complete grace.

What a different sort of Christmas it is to live and act as if that which is most worthwhile is giving to the Lord the praise that He is worthy of.

“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.”

Psalm 145:3

Behold, the gift that gives and through us gives and to us gives that through us He might give.

Behold, the one who has nothing to gain and who gladly gives everything.

Behold, the only one who is truly worthy of all praise!

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, and 
#Intentionally Pursuing

What Your Broken Heart is Worth

Photo from: Pixabay

I’ll admit, this idea hit me when I misheard the lyrics to “First” by Lauren Daigle. I thought she was singing: “before I bring my need I will break my heart.” The line didn’t quite make sense, but I was convinced that’s what she was singing, and then I read this verse:

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.”
Psalm 51:17

Could it be that the Lord values our brokenness? That a worthy sacrifice in His eyes is our hearts –broken? It sounds sinister, but we know our Lord is good.

It follows then, that the Lord’s desire for our broken hearts is the same as the Lord’s desire for our good. A broken heart can be a blessing. A broken heart can glorify God.

Earlier, in Psalm 51:10, we read the much loved line:

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Could it be that this heart is one in the same at times?

David exemplified this as he wrote this Psalm. It was written when David was confronted about his adultery with Bathsheba. Convicted and mourning his sinfulness and its consequences (like his son’s resulting death,) David chose not to turn from God. He chose not to mend his grief with proof that he could be worthy again if he tried.

Instead, David offered the Lord his broken heart. It was through that sacrifice that David’s heart was made clean again and that His joy was returned. Through that sacrifice and brokenness, David was given a willing spirit again and could experience and witness the Lord’s true forgiveness.

When our hearts are broken, something is exposed and made vulnerable. What’s inside the heart (though formerly fortified) becomes available for change, healing, and growth. In fact, the healing work of redemption is nothing without there first being a need for the healing and the redemption.

When we break open our hearts (or have them broken and hand them to the Lord,) it is a sacrifice on our part. It’s a sacrifice of dignity, of a sense of control, and of our pride. To sacrifice our broken hearts to the Lord is to say: “I won’t try to fix this my way, but I will it to you for your glory and your glorious work.”

It is praise to the Lord to offer Him our broken hearts as sacrifices, because we’re offering for Him to freely correct, clean, and rebuild us as He pleases, to His glory. It is a putting aside of all the gunk we have in our hearts to return our hearts to their maker. When your heart is breaking, let it be a blessing and a praise.

This post is being shared on: #LifeGivingLinkup #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory.