Knowledge Isn’t Fulfilling On It’s Own (5/6)

 

This post is the 5th in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here.

Once upon a time I earned a B- in a tough course on Biblical Literature. It was the lowest final grade I’d ever earned. I had studied- hard. I felt all the rush of competing with classmates who invited me to their study sessions even though they all knew what the heck a “prophetic” book was and I was still trying to pronounce “day-oot-or-no-me” properly.

A couple of years later, I was well on my way to adding a Bible minor to my degree.

There was a problem, though.

All my knowledge of the Bible, my spiritual leadership positions, and my wisdom on pleasing everybody in the name of Jesus weren’t fulfilling. I was still empty.

Knowledge, even knowledge about God, wasn’t able to save me. Smarts on Scripture didn’t secure my soul. Understanding of sin couldn’t get me out of it.

I needed a different kind of knowing. I needed relating, trusting, relying, nearness. I needed the person of Christ. And I needed Him to save me.

When I entrusted all my bloated brain and shriveled heart to the One who knows it all, I found the only thing that’s really fulfilling: a relationship with the everlasting, almighty, perfect God.


For those of us who idolize knowledge, it’s hard to accept that information will never fulfill us on its own.

In the first post of this series, I proposed that knowing all about surgery didn’t qualify me to perform it. Knowing a surgeon wouldn’t qualify me either.

Knowledge isn’t meant to stay still. Knowledge needs to be in action to be fruitful.

This was the grievous error James so succinctly called out:

Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.” –James 1:22

Saving knowledge is knowledge of Christ responded to.

Sanctifying knowledge is knowledge of God learned from and acted on.

Growing knowledge is knowledge of the Spirit expanding through personal experience with the Spirit Himself.

Loving knowledge is knowledge of the love of God transforming the way we live and speak the truth.

The list goes on.

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Idolatry makes us greedy. Idolizing knowledge turns us into information-hoarders.

When we think we know a lot and are learning tons, we’re unlikely to test information against the Scriptures. We’re unlikely to control our tongues, blazing with fun facts as they are. What we are likely to do is “establish a righteousness” of our own, given that we need someplace to showcase all the knowledge we’ve collected. Hoarding our treasure troves of facts, what we gain we’ll only lose because knowledge serves no purpose on a shelf and out of use.

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Knowledge is just one in a long list of qualities we’re to increase in.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control…For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” –2 Peter 1:5-8 (emphasis mine)

Even with knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can be ineffective and unproductive. Knowledge alone doesn’t make us helpful to the Gospel. Information alone doesn’t fulfill what’s needed to make us fruitful in Christ.

The next verse goes on to warn that without these qualities- which are many more than just knowledge- we get nearsighted. So nearsighted we’re blinded.

Knowledge is often pictured as light- and just as with light, staring too intently at brilliance makes everything go dark.

Knowledge was never meant to fulfill us apart from Christ. When we try to let it fill us anyway- we end up bloated with emptiness.

We know the One who does fill us and fulfill us. We get to know Him personally. We are blessed to find all fullness in Him, loading us with and lighting up for us to see what we need to love, and serve, and glorify Him.

Let knowledge of Him alone lead to worship of Him alone! <Click to Tweet>


Are you getting to know God better? Does that help you worry less about feeling fulfilled?

Join me  (<–click here) 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.
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Untangled in Love

I never thought I’d be one for mushy stuff. Anyone who’s heard my commentary during chick flicks knows I’m not a romantic.

But there’s this guy.

The one I moved seats to be near the first day of class. The one whose shenanigans had my head and finger wagging from the start. The one who asked me to date him after I spent hours telling him every reason not to love me. The one who led me to my Savior.

His eyes were fixed on Christ even as he took my hand in his. I thank the Lord he has little regard for any other sight.

During more than 6 years of knowing each other now, I’ve witnessed a faith-skill of his I pray the Lord helps me hone as my own.

He’s an expert disentangler.

Ironically, this only applies spiritually. When it comes to being entangled physically, he’s got a knack for being wound up in cords, having limbs stuck in furniture, nearly strangling himself with ties, and being unable to remove himself from places he climbs into (AKA…dryers.) Some evidence:

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Spiritually, though, my husband is quick and nimble to:

“throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” –Hebrews 12:1

What I’ve noticed most in his way of staying free and ready to obey the Lord is an attention to who He is serving. 2 Timothy 2:26 warns of being enticed into entanglement in the enemy’s snare. The verse says our enemy captures us for the purpose of having us do his will.

We are never entangled in sin for the purpose of serving God.

So, when we are entangled, we’re serving the will of the enemy.  It might be through self-serving or through people-pleasing. We may be money-driven or fear-abiding. Whatever the case, when we’re entangled, we’re not fixed on the purposes of Christ.

This is one of the ways my husband’s “black and white” thinking helps.

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He isn’t easily entangled because His eyes are fixed on Christ intently. He notices when he is looking at someone else. He notices when what he’s doing isn’t serving the Lord.

And when he notices, he turns from the dark to the light. He shifts his eyes to Christ. He throws off whatever is bidding him to pay attention to or serve anything else. Whatever it is, it’s not worth missing out on beholding the Lord.

I’m blessed when he helps with my writing because I know he won’t fail to point out words that hinder instead of help the gospel. As I analyze, assess, and plan in life I am grateful to have by my side someone with foresight and discretion regarding the Lord’s will.

Among the most precious aspects of our marriage is my husband’s habit of getting my attention to direct me to Our Lord -who has his attention.

He hates to be entangled, and he hates to see me tied in knots too.

Praying this Valentine’s Day you and your loved ones can help each other disentangle to fix your eyes on the One who matters most.

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.

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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.

The Milestone That Wasn’t

In Genesis 27, we read about a milestone that should have been, but wasn’t.

Imagine what Esau looked forward to the day his dying father told him to get ready to receive the blessing. Esau, Isaac’s older son, had been expecting to receive this blessing from his father for his whole life. It was an important milestone in an oldest sons’ life.

The blessing would signify his stature, outline his inheritance, and seal his glorious future before the Lord. While Esau was preparing for the big moment, his brother Jacob tricked Isaac and took the blessing, robbing Esau. The oldest son’s long awaited milestone never came to pass. 

The younger son likewise prepared for a milestone that didn’t come as expected. He fell in love with a woman named Rachel. For seven years he worked for her father in order to marry her. On his wedding day, Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah instead. His long-awaited wedding was a time of deceit and disappointment.

Can you imagine the milestones Job was awaiting when suddenly his life was plagued, torn apart, and brought to a place of misery? Or the disappoint of Ruth, as she got married, looking forward to years of love and many children, only to lose her husband and end up in a strange land caring for her mother in law in poverty?

Mary prepared herself for Godly marriage only to discover God’s plans actually involved being pregnant out of worldly wedlock.

Paul is a great example, too. He was a zealous Jew, well-known for his “great” work persecuting Christians. Surely he looked forward to a life of upstanding religious reputation and power. Then, he was struck blind on a road, transformed by Jesus Christ, and joined the ranks of the persecuted.

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The Bible holds no shortage of examples of people whose expected and desired “milestone moments” weren’t what they hoped for.

Who among us hasn’t also had grand plans and dreams that haven’t come true or weren’t what we expected? There are plenty of milestones we look forward to that never happen. Or, that occur, but are tainted by sin or are altogether not what we anticipated.

We struggle with dreams as Christians. Often we struggle because we put our hope, oh so humanly, in things, ideas, and plans instead of in the Lord. Surely He knows His plans for us, and His plans are for our good and His glory.

Disappointment comes when what we expected isn’t found or isn’t what we thought. But our strength is renewed when we look to our true hope –our Lord.

“Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength. –Isaiah 40:27-31

Looking back at Biblical examples of expected milestones dashed to bits, we see how God lines the walk of faith with unmet milestones.

God had plans for each of the people mentioned- and His plans turned disappointment into God-appointments.

We have the same privilege of witnessing God working in our disappointments today.

{This post was originally published on My Faith Radio}

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

You Brought Me Here Why?

I remember the excitement when the phone call came. “We just have to finalize it, but you can schedule that moving truck,” the Midwestern man’s voice exclaimed. Expectantly, we did.

We waited.

But the paperwork never arrived. Weeks later, the same voice apologized on the phone. Unforeseen circumstances arose. The position was cancelled. We’re weren’t moving to Iowa. We were moving though… we had to.

We waited.

Living out of suitcases at my in-laws’ house, we sought work.

We waited.

My husband showed me a job listing. It wasn’t what was expected. We knew one person in the whole region. But the Lord said yes with perfect clarity and abundant confirmation. One Skype interview and a phone offer later, we were scheduling another moving truck. This one was bound for the unknown of Minnesota.

With just two weeks to prepare and little in the bank, we signed a lease online with high hopes.

We’d waited.

The Lord had made the way. We believed it.

Then we pulled up to the apartment complex….

Read the rest of the wild story over on Abby McDonald’s Anchored Souls Series, where I’m honored to be included. 

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

Maybe God Doesn’t Want Your Best

We’re an ambitious bunch.

Reach for the stars. Be all you can be. Unlock your potential.

This fits with Scripture right? Let’s see…

Noah’s greatest aspiration…probably not building an ark against all reason to survive a deadly flood.

Job. Job was successful. He did great things. And He was a Godly man. Then God let Satan mess up His life and take away His earthly possessions, loved ones, and health.

But that’s the Old Testament.

In the New Testament we meet Peter. Expert fishermen. Based on His devotion to Jesus and his faith, we can be pretty sure Peter was seeking to live a good, godly life. He ended up persecuted, jailed, and using his fishing talents on people who largely didn’t want what he was offering.

Paul was kind of a big deal. He even wrote up a whole list of why he had every reason to brag and was all set up for major success in life- as a God-fearing man. Then He met Jesus. All appearances of success and Paul reaching his earthly potential went out the window. God even gave him a thorn in the side, keeping Him weak.

About those aspirations….

Maybe God doesn’t want your best because He wants His best for you.

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The Lord we serve can use anyone and any circumstance for good. He can be glorified by teachers, celebrities, CEOs, and housewives. He can also be glorified by failures, criminals, the bed-ridden, and the crippled.

Your ability to earn top dollar and desire to use the money for good doesn’t make being CEO God’s goal for you. Your inability to read well doesn’t mean God’s plans for you don’t involve using words to share His Word.

So often we try to reason through God’s plans for us instead of submitting to and following His.

We miss out when be doubt what He prepares for us to do is even better than what we are prepared to do.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” –Ephesians 2:10

What that means for you and I is this: focus less on what you believe you can be successful in and more on who He’s made you to be.

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Complete

Are you ready to rejoice in the freedom He offers us?

Are you ready to feel free from long to-do lists, insane expectations, and accomplishing everything there is to achieve?

I warn you: this might require a priority or perspective shift.

Here it is:

“And you have been made complete in Christ.” –Colossians 2:10

In this context, “to complete” is characterized as to “fill to individual capacity.”

Being complete is about being full.

You can’t be full if you have no parameters to fill. That whole “glass-half” question doesn’t work without a glass.

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Complete doesn’t mean perfect or finished. It isn’t determined by our schemes or dreams. Our “completion” is determined by our maker because He sets our capacity. He shaped our vessel. Purposefully, intentionally. And He fills it full.

His to-do list for you is complete when you’ve crossed off just the parts the Lord asks for, just like Dana wrote about in her post about lists earlier this week.

His expectations for you may not be as insane as your expectations for yourself are.

He calls you to accomplish some things, according to His plans. You don’t have to go beyond that.

Don’t worry about the size of your glass. Don’t chase after trophies with wider bowls. He has filled you full according to the capacities He has given you.

Another way to phrase the definition is that what capacities He has given you He has met. To the extent that you need, He has fulfilled, if not exceeded.

You, today, being in the hands of the one shaping, pouring out, and filling up again, are complete. Because He is filling you so perfectly, there is nothing missing, not a single drop, that you really need.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

WordoftheWeek: Ordained

“Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139:16 NIV

Before you write a note, decorate, put the recipe together, or otherwise complete an activity, your mind is at work shaping. Fashioning. Forming. Determining your next steps and how to fit things together.

Even if briefly, thought always comes first. Even thoughtless words or hastily finished projects require a small bit of forethought. That’s the way creating works, regardless of what we are creating.

When God made us, we also started as a thought. Before we were made physically, He knew us. But God is never hasty, hurried, or careless. Our Lord is purposeful.

God has shaped each of our lives carefully. The word “ordained” in the Psalm 139:16 is also translated “formed” and “fashioned.” To have our days ordained is to have them planned out for us with intention. Shaped for a purpose.

Take in that verse, with the word expanded, again:

“All the days you formed for a purpose for me were written in your book before one came to be.”

We know that the Lord is beyond time. We know that He has plans for us. We even know that He knows what lies ahead.

All of that is comforting; but, add this: those plans and that future are intentional.

Our days are not just foreseen by God,

but fashioned by His foresight.

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The Lord works all things together for the good of those who love them- and this process began before any of these “things” for “those” people came to be. He is never surprised, and never unprepared. Though our lives all look so different, and, as Kristine points out in her earlier post, those differences are a part of the uniqueness of His well-thought out and perfectly executed plan.

When life sneaks up on you or catches you off guard and you wonder how He can make it all work out- remember, He already has a way. He is the Way. And that- even that- is purposeful and purposed by the Lord.

Let’s count these lovingly, precisely hand-crafted days as blessings.

This post is being shared on:
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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.

fulfill purpose

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.