Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mom's Commentary: Genesis - Introduction

'In the beginning' are the first words found in the book of Genesis.

And the name 'Genesis' itself means much the same as those first words of the book. After all, 'genesis' and 'genus' and 'generation' are similar in root and meaning. The words 'birth' and 'begetting' are associated with the word 'genesis' as well. Here is the most pertinent portion of the 1828 Webster's Dictionary's definition:

"The act of producing, or giving birth or origin of anything; the process or mode of originating....."

There are various beginnings introduced throughout the book of Genesis, which is why some people call Genesis, "The Book of Beginnings."

What other 'beginnings' are there in the Bible besides the beginning of this universe and all the things therein? Are all of the beginnings that are found in the Bible good beginnings?

a. There is the beginning of the good news: the hope and promise of a solution to our sin. The good news continued to be expressed throughout the time of Genesis in several ways:

--through the promise that 'the seed of the woman' would overcome Satan, crushing his head, as told in Genesis 3:14-15 Paragraphs 10-15 of John MacArthur's "The Promise of Redemption--Part One" are packed with incredible insights into this promise of God to bring about salvation. (e.g. - it took faith for Adam to name his wife 'Eve' which means 'life' after they had just been handed the sentence of 'death')
--through the sacrifice of a lamb which pointed to Jesus, the Lamb of God
--through the gospel in the skies (My first intro. to this subject came from D. James Kennedy's The Zodiac, I concur with the review at re: this book. -- It was in reading this book that, after having named one of my children, I realized that his name had extra meaning because of the archer in the sky who points to Christ....... which made the book particularly special to me at the time. If you want to observe the constellations and read through this type of material, then you might want to consider purchasing or checking out H. A. Rey's The Stars - It is amazingly accessible! - Now I just need to make more time to explore the stars some more with my children!)
--through gospel messages found by linking the geneology from Adam through Jesus, sometimes referred to as 'The Names Code' - 'The Acrostic of the Names - Code'
--through the story of the flood the gospel is also seen: the nature of Christ's salvation and the provision of the Holy Spirit as well as baptism is seen in the story of the great flood and Noah's ark (with Christ pictured as the ark: if we are in him when we pass through judgment, both Christ and those in Him are lifted up, above judgment, by the workings of the Holy Spirit), as well as the Noahic Covenant
--the gospel is seen through God's covenants with Abraham and his descendants
--the gospel is also expressed through 'types and shadows' throughout the rest of the book as well

b. There is a beginning to prophecy forthtold in Genesis 3. The promise that 'the seed of woman' will crush the head of the serpent is the first prophetic telling. It is of no surprise that the first prophetic forthtelling pointed out what is to come about through Christ.

c. There is the beginning of the sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3) even before the fall of man. Later, God expressed in scripture what He wanted from and for His people during the sabbath. He explained that after detailing a proper understanding of a life lived to Him for context. The context is found in Isaiah 58:6-14, with the information pertaining directly to the sabbath being in the last two verses of that section.

d. There is more than beginning to agricultural work. First, there is working the garden to dress it and keep it Genesis 2:15.

Then, after the fall, there is the beginning of working the earth to bring forth sustenance (bread and produce). This argricultural necessity after the fall is filled with symbolism which Christ referenced often in His dealings with the people of Israel.

The seed planted to produce food has to die to itself to multiply.

The seed of the weed, however is another matter. It must utterly die. After the fall, when the ground was cursed so that it would bring forth thorns, the one who tilled the ground pulled up the thorns - concerned with getting rid of them to the point where they will not go to seed (and after they are pulled, they can still go to seed, depending on the stage of life in which they are found when they are pulled). Thus, when the land was cleared of such troublesome weeds, what happened to the pulled weeds? My contention is that they were cast in the fire in order to utterly destroy the seeds. I mean, when I pull weeds that might go to seed, I don't want them in a compost pile that might let them escape back out onto the property, only to multiply! Only good seed should be suffered to multiply if we wish to further the yield of the land.

d. There's the beginning of child bearing with Cain and Abel. A humbling beginning, but hope comes forth with Seth because of the promise of God to this appointed son (Seth means 'set' or appointed, but is translated pillar or foundation in some translations of Isaiah 19:10). It was Seth's line that was appointed to carry forward the Adamic Covenant. As noted above, the names of the children who carried on the Adamic, then Noahic, then Mosaic, and finally the Abrahamic covenants all point towards the coming of Christ. (as per the site).

e. There is the beginning of the first marriage, between Adam and Eve. (Genesis 2:19-25) This marriage relationship is latter used to illustrate both the relationship of God as husband to the nation of Israel, as well as the relationship between Jesus and the church.

[Are we beginning to see a pattern here? The gospel message points to God's redemptive plan in Christ. The first prophecy points directly to Christ as God's solution for our 'uh-oh'. The sabbath points to the glory of God established by His Word. Agriculture and all of nature point to God and Christ. The descendents of Adam who are chosen as covenant children point directly to Jesus as the Lamb of God. - and so the Bible proceeds from beginning to end....., except when people reject that purpose, at which time, God ends up stepping in sooner of later, as in the next story, at which time, few people were left seeking His face.......]

1. Here's a beginning that occurred in the land of Shinar:

And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Genesis 11:6

In this Bible story, the Story of Babel (Genesis 11), people have imagined to do something which God will not even permit. He had given a command to fill the earth (Genesis 9:1 NAS), and the people had come up with a plan which would not have been in keeping with the spirit of that command. They planned to make us a name, lest we be scattered (Genesis 11:4),

Oh, how we want to make a name for ourselves instead of exalting His name above every name! Satan certainly helped to encourage this vile plan, though it is likely that few if any of the people in the land of Shinar had any idea what Satan's actual purpose was.

Well, God had promised not to send another flood, but something had to be done soon, because this was one command He expected to see fulfilled one way or another.

Thus, He came up with a plan to force the issue:

Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build to the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. Genesis 11:7-9

One might say that this was the 'end' of that 'beginning'. It was an end to keeping all the people in one place to corrupt all of them into worship of a god other than the creator God. However, if one observes structures used in worship throughout the world, one sees various stylized versions of a ziggurat (such as in Egypt, as well as India, China, and South America - see paragraph 17). So it seems that the influences behind the Tower of Babel have persisted.

God didn't approve of the plan to make us a name, lest we be scattered. He disapproved to the point that He brought an end to their plan without further delay.

When my children were young homeschooling students, we made ziggurats from cardboard, and then we took them out to the woods. They were encouraged to walk away from their ziggurats which would fade away, so they could walk towards God, whose glory will not fade, and who seeks to bestow blessings from His glorious bounty upon all those who seek His ways. (ziggurats are understood by many to have been used in the worship of the moon god - with the crescent moon found on islamic mosques and flags present in archeological artifacts from about the time of Abraham - you can read more about them here if you like).

May we walk away from our plans - from any gods of our own making, from making a name for ourselves, from making a place for ourselves apart from Him, and may we instead walk in His ways, with His leading as confirmed by the Word: beginning and persevering diligently through those things which He calls us to.

May that help us to grow in unity, in virtue, in knowledge, in temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and most importantly, love.

May that be a light to others to come to Him.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Growing in Prayer - Examples of Prayers in Genesis (Part I - Ch's 1-10)

We can cast all of our concerns upon Him:

Casting all your cares upon Him; for he careth for you. I Peter 5:7


Going through Genesis, looking for examples of prayer, worship, etc., a peculiar kind of perspective came to light. Well, it was peculair to me. Some of you may have noticed these kinds of things before, but it has utterly passed under my radar screen until now - at least, as a theme through scripture!


First, just to point out the obvious background:

0) At ground zero, creation week itself, God's Word showed up in this universe which He had created. His Word was gloriously powerful in creative force. Further, His Word made evident the incredible designing/engineering capabilities of God! His Word may or may not have said much more than is recorded, but what is recorded shows Him to be a glorious God!

Then the alleged peculiarities begin to show up:

1) Before the fall, Adam walked with God in the garden and scripture says that God commanded Adam regarding the food he should and should not have eaten (Genesis 2:16-17). No comment from Adam is recorded - no praise, nothing.

Nothing? Hmmmm, well, okay. It's His Bible, right? His Word.....

1b) Lots of people wonder about walking with God in the garden. How many people wish they could have been walking with Adam? Really, I do look forward to fellowshiping with Adam in heaven someday, but I never longed to walk in the garden with Adam! I only have wanted to walk in the garden with God Himself.

God is utterly glorious! Man? Not so much: Only as much as God shares His glory with us..... Wow!

2a) Later, Adam and Eve heard the voice of God walking in the garden (Genesis 3:8 - that's how the King James puts it anyway.... the NAS and NIV put it differently, but the KJV makes some sense to me in light of what the NAS and NIV had to say).

But back on track: Assuming it was actually a 'voice': Was that voice even talking to Adam? If it was, that wasn't important enough to mention!

2b) By that time, Adam & Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit.

In response to their disobedience, the Bible records a conversation between God, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, with the serpent no longer speaking. (If he said anything then, it was of no consequence to us.) (Genesis 3:9-19).

There is finally a comment from Adam. When? Once it was time to start explaining himself in light of the first sin in the whole world! Rather humbling, don'tcha think? I mean, what would you do if God asked you to explain how you knew you were naked? Adam tried to explain....... Did he try to make excuses? What was that like, anyway? Glad he had fig leaves on, no?

Whatever all Adam was trying to do, the first recorded words of man were........... humbling at best.

When God spoke to Adam and Eve after the fall, His words were still glorious. He was both just (handing out appropriate consequences for those who decided He wasn't really 'God' after all), yet promising a way to access His mercy, grace, and love anyway!

Adam's words aren't of much regard, really. They are there 'for the record.'

God's words right after the fall are entirely different. Gracious and glorious.

What a contrast between God's Word at the onset of creation & after the fall, and man's first *recorded* words.

3) God even recorded for us His talk with Cain prior to murdering his brother (offering him a chance to avoid murder). Nothing Cain might have said in response has been noted.

God's words to Cain, however, are vital to us still today.

After the murder, something of Cain's words finally make it into the Bible! Let's see - for one thing he lied! Need we go on further? Yep, lies. That's what crops up the *second* time that any of mankind's words are recorded in scripture.

Still nothing great about man showing through here. (Genesis 4:1-15). Ouch!

3b!) Not a word from Abel is recorded in Genesis, or anywhere else in scripture.

However, Abel 'speaketh' to us today according to the faith chapter, Hebrews 11! (Hebrews 11:4)
So what is Abel still speaking - and how? What clues are there, anyway? The only thing we know is that he relied on a sacrifice that was accepted in order to find forgiveness of sin in his life.

What did the acceptance of that sacrifice require of him?

Faith in a promise/instruction. Abel is still speaking to us today about the results of faith in a promise. The promise came from outside of himself, and the faith came from outside of himself as well. The promise, and the faith in that promise both came from God. Thus, Abel's testimony lifts up the Promise Maker and the Faith Giver, and illustrates his/our failures and need of the Promise Maker. Yep! humbling again!

But the love of God changes all of that 'low life' aspect of man showing through here!

His love lifts us up. He is the lifter of our head in spite of ourselves! (Psalm 3:3) Nothing we can do can lift us up above our sin.

But He can.

The glory is all God's.

The glory does not go to those who were lifted to the Faith Hall of Fame. The glory goes to the one who lifted them up to the Faith Hall of Fame in spite of their failures.

The glory does not go to those who 'do better than Cain did' today, either.

He lifts up those who lift up the glory of His promise, who glorify Him!

He seeks to lift us up today as well! He does it the same way today as He did in the case of Abel: by granting us faith in a promise - in His promise. (Now we should still be speaking about that to mankind - something He can grant us the faith to do as well.)

Glory be to God!

4) Men began to call on the name of the Lord when Adam's grandson Enos, the son of Seth, was born (Genesis 4:26). Someone has recently pointed out to me that the name Y-hw-h was in the text when Eve named Cain - - and they are only now calling on His name when Enos is born? This confuses me to some extent, so to date, I still do not have much comment here. Just a lot of confusion about the delay........

But it's pretty amazing that men would call on the name of the Lord at any point in time. Where does the glory go in that case? To mankind who is in desperate need of Him? Oops! Nope! The glory goes to God yet again!

The really amazing thing is that God listens! Mankind does a terrible job of listening to Him, but He listens to us and cares for each of our thoughts anyway. He thinks about US a LOT: (Psalms 139:3-4, & especially Psalms 139:17-18)

That is amazingly glorious!

Praise God for His tender kindnesses!

5) There are, however, times when man walked with or talked with God, with the story of Enoch being an extremely wonderful example (Genesis 5).

So what does Enoch have to say to us? Anything?

Enoch is remembered today for having walked with and talked with God, but not a word of what Enoch said when he was 'walking and talking with God' was important enough for us to need to know about it! *giggle* (amazing really!)

5b!) Even though Genesis did not specify any words from Enoch, what was important was 'his testimony' which God honored later in Hebrews 11:5!

Now, the NAS and NIV render the testimony as one given to Enoch (like as if it was there only to let Enoch know that He was accepted so closely by God). However, if that testimony was given to Enoch, I'm inclined to think the KJV's rendering is still appropriate: Any testimony that God has given to Enoch has the ability to uplift others. So Enoch can share his 'testimony' with us whether it was given to him or it arose from His own life's experiences (provided from God, of course) as a statement to us.

Certainly if Abel is still 'speaking', Enoch is still sharing forth his 'testimony/witness', no?

Well, that is my understanding to date.

People usually think of a 'testimony' as including words. But that isn't necessarily important. Enoch's reputation now precedes him...... What is that reputation?

Well, let's examine scripture: What was Enoch's testimony? "that he pleased God" (Hebrews 11:5) - - -

His reputation is not that he was eloquent, or had clever things to say when He walked and talked with God, or anything, just 'that he pleased God.' Nothing else mattered from that incredible life - except that he pleased God!

Any clue as to what he did that pleased God?

He had faith.

How do we know? From the very next verse in the Faith Chapter, Hebrews 11:6 "Without faith it is impossible to please [God]..........!"

So there it is. We gotta have faith!

Enoch had faith - the very existence of his faith is all that we need to know to 'hear' his testimony about pleasing God.

6a) God spoke to Noah about the ark, and Noah obeyed (Genesis 6:13-22). It is true that actions speak louder than words. They did in the case of Adam & Eve, Cain, and Enoch too. Certainly all we hear is Noah's actions. Not a word from him here - not any words used in prayer in particular.

[but don't you think that he did pray to God in faith, and don't you think that his prayer life had something to do with his getting a ticket on the ark?]

6b) It happened again! God spoke. Noah obeyed (without any of his words recorded *again*) (Genesis 7:1-5).

6c) God spoke to Noah and told him it was time to leave the ark, he, his family, and all the animals (Genesis 8:15-17). Not even a sigh of joy or anything from Noah recorded here! No long psalm of praise - not even a short one! Nada!

The message should be pretty clear:

God gives the instruction, the important thing for those who trust and fear Him is simply to obey - IN FAITH.

6d) Noah built an altar and offered burnt offerings, but there is no mention of specific prayers - though certainly he prayed then (Genesis 8:20). I mean, this is a dramatic moment in history - at least to Noah and his family. No more ark building! No more ark rides! Well - there was the monumental task of starting over, but the ark ordeal was over. Yet not a peep from Noah or his family is able to make it into God's word at this time!

God's incredible word and work says all that needs to be said.

6e) In response to that sacrifice which Noah offered after leaving the ark (the sacrifice which pointed to the promised savior - in indication of faith, no? - which pleases god, right!?):

Sure enough, God was pleased and promised certain things that make life easier for man - like, no more floods! (Genesis 8:21-22). But still not a word from this monumental man, Noah.

6f) Going into chapter 9, there is still no word from Noah, but there is more said by God almighty! Blessings for Noah, some new, post-flood guidelines, a covenant, and the rainbow, - without one word mentioned from Noah's mouth (Genesis 9:1-17).

[When Noah finally speaks in the Bible, it is related to family dysfunction, and the curses that arise from family dysfunction. Is that glorious of man or something? *sigh* - not at all.]

6Z) What does the Faith Chapter tell us about what Noah 'said'? That by being 'moved with fear' and constructing an ark 'to the saving of his family', he condemned the world - (along with becoming the heir of righteousness - for his faith, of course. All of this was accomplished by faith.) (Hebrews 11:7).

[Remember, faith is a gift of god - lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8).]


So thus far, ten whole chapters into Genesis:

--God spoke and created (a huge power, more powerful than all the stars together; yet concerned about all the little details - such as laminin which both holds us together, and bears testimony of Christ's sacrificial love........ wow! - what detail in our lives is not important to that kind of God? What solutions can He create for us about anything that can arise in our lives? What couldn't He deal with?) End result? God is wonderful!
--God explained both wonderful blessings and safety standards for Adam & Eve - - End result? God provides everything we need - we simply need to listen to Him. God is wonderful!

--God's voice was heard walking in the garden (how cool is that!?)
--God asked a question because the safety standards had not been observed....... (how gentle is that?)
--Adam explained his sin.......? How does one do that? no, only admit... / Some people see this as not a narration/telling-back what happened, but as excuses. I mean, Adam didn't exactly try to stop Eve and protect her or something. So, what's the deal if they were ?excuses? - the first words recorded from man were excuses? How humbling is that?
--God spoke forth the inevitable penalties which applied, since safety standards were not observed. How just is that?
--God spoke forth a promise in the midst of the penalties........ a creationary God having created a solution for weakness in others who were itty bitty but thought they could be huge like Him. Why did He do that? Because of love! What incredible love!
--God warned Cain. Again, what love.
--God exposed Cain for what he was and punished him after Cain refused to heed God's warning. God exposed Cain by asking him questions - and Cain's own testimony exposed the lack of truth in his life in spite of God's warning *&* invitation (truth sets us free/obedience keeps us safe; lies tyrannize us/disobedience brings disaster......). God can bring us to Him if we embrace the truth, but for Him to be a just God, all untruth will have to be destroyed - along with those who cling to it.
--Abel, who didn't have much to say about the sacrifice that made him famously righteous before God, who didn't have much to say about being murdered, speaks his testimony still today: faith makes the offering God calls us to rely upon effective. What made him worthy of the grandiose list in Hebrews 11? Faith in A PROMISE FROM SOMEONE ELSE. That promise giver is pretty incredible!
--Enos, Seth's son, had to be born before men began to call upon the name of the Lord. God listened anyway.
--Enoch, who talked with God, doesn't have any of his words recorded, but it is said of him that he pleased God (and only faith pleases God........) Again, that faith is IN A PROMISE FROM SOMEONE ELSE. So what's so glorious? The PROMISE GIVER!
--God spoke the fear of God into Noah's life (why? to preserve Noah), and Noah got good and busy - with plenty of diligence to last a lifetime!
--God spoke promises and new guidelines for the post-flood world.
--God provided Noah with both a promise and with faith.

That's it for the first 10 chapters. (Yes, Abraham will talk to God, and so will others in other portions of Genesis and the Bible - but that's a lot of years from Creation to the time just before Abraham to have such a humbling view of mankind's 'words', especially in light of the glory of God's Word!)


Conclusion? God is amazingly wonderful.

Man? Not so much.

However, God values faith in the sacrifice He has ordained, Jesus Christ!

He also desires to walk and talk with us today. Even if we cannot walk and talk with Him on the level that Enoch did, He does desire fellowship with you. After all, that is why Jesus died - to reconcile us to Him, so we can fellowship with Him again.

Glory be to God in the highest!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mom's Commentary - Genesis 1:1a+

Genesis 1:1a+ In the beginninng, God

" 'In the beginning God . . . ' (Genesis 1:1). Not matter, for matter is not self-causing. It requires an antecedant cause, and God is that cause. Not law, for law is but a name for the course which all creation follows. That course had to be planned, and the planner is God. Not mind, for mind is a created thing and must have a creator back of it. In the beginning God, the uncaused cause of matter, mind, and law. There we must begin."

My son has been collecting the AmblesideOnline books for a little while now so that they will be in his own library as an adult, and we added The Pursuit of God by Tozer to his collection for Christmas.

He just finished reading it and had to share this quote with me, and now I just had to share it with you.

From A. W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God, Chapter 5, "The Universal Presence", which begins with a quotation from the Psalms:

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? Psalm 139:7


Mom's Commentary - Genesis 1:1a (Part 2)

Genesis 1:1a In the beginning

[In Part 1, the last questions revolved around what God was beginning to do in us as individuals. What new works has He begun? What new songs might He have given us might be another good question to explore in that entry someday.......?

Now let's consider the same questions about 'us' as one body.]

What is God up to now? What is God doing universally (not politically or in the cosmos so much - but what is going on in the 'our/us' mentioned in the Lord's prayer)? What is God doing in 'our' life as one body (Romans 12:15)?

Do we need any new beginnings with Him as a body?

If so, in what does God want 'us' to begin to grow next?

For one thing, 'we' certainly do need to purpose to grow in unity!

Till we all come in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. Ephesians 4:13

In order to grow in unity, we all need to grow in faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God. Certainly we can grow in the knowledge of the Son of God. Can we grow in faith?

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the love of everyone of you all toward each other aboundeth. II Thess. 1:3

So do unity, faith, the knowledge of the Son of God, and love all grow and mature together? In searching for answers directly from the scripture to answer that question, it seems that the Bible does directly relate faith and 'hearing the word of God' - as per the writings of the apostle Paul.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 (see also Galatians 3:2)

Is hearing the word of God all there is to it, then? No!

Hearing the word of God and receiving faith by hearing is only 'a beginning'!

According to II Peter 1:3-9:

--We have been given promises which have produced the beginnings of faith (Hallelujah!)(faith - fido.....a rope or cable which makes fast - draws...... 'to believe, to obey')

--that we might partake in the divine nature! (Amazing! - what an opportunity! - the definition of divine that would pertain to our 'partaking in the divine nature' would seem mostly to be: proceeding from God, as in divine sayings or works, apparently above that which is human! - Does it not seem, then that we should be, in our new nature in Him, something above the human nature - via the nature He wants to share with us - knowing this, that the 'above human nature' all comes from Him, not us!)

--we are to give all diligence (constant effort to accomplish without unnecessary delay or sloth!)

--add virtue to our faith (faith is a gift, it enables us to add virtue - and what a definition! 'strength from straining, stretching, extending'....etc. - - faith empowers us to strain, stretch, and extend beyond ourselves, particularly to be in keeping with God's desires, which produces strength, aka virtue! What a hope and power there is in His Word! But some strain, stretch, and extend themselves for their own purposes, such as those who have fasted for vain reasons. God's reasons for fasting include more than being sensitive to His spirit in intellectual worship, or even open to direction about 'change' in one's heart. God's reasons include giving the bread not eaten to those who are oppressed and poor, along with releasing the bands of wickedness not only in our lives, but through prayer and fasting, God releases bands around us, etc. Isaiah 58:1-8)

--then add knowledge to that (more knowledge than what produced the initial faith.... 'a clear and certain perception of that which exists, or of truth and fact, the perception of the connection and agreement or disagreement and repugnancy of our ideas!)

--then add temperance (We may satisfy our appetites if we have the means, but not indulge them, as indulging them increases them yet never satisfies them - increasing them over and over again, which dulls our spiritual appetites. How much do we really need in order to satisfy healthy appetites pertaining to our physical selves? That differs from person to person. We each need to learn to listen to our appetites to take note when we are actually satisfied, as they are able to inform us as to how much we need in order to be 'satisfied' with regards to sleep, activity levels, diet, etc.... (Here is an example: What we eat can be an uncomfortable topic: but it is an important one. Health issues can impact weight gain, that is a different issue altogether. If one actually struggles with listening to his/her own appetite to learn to recognize when they are satisfied, there are ways to learn how to listen more attentively. One way is to calculate the approximate caloric need for a given person using a scientific equation that is fairly accurate. That would provide a starting place. One could use that as a ballpark figure, then increase or decrease food intake to the appropriate amount of food in order to either gain, lose, or maintain weight as decided in prayer and praise. Next, notice when requirements change due to change in activity levels, physical cycles, age, health, etc. In working this way, many have learned to watch for subtle indicators that help to signal 'satisfied' to the brain.) This does not require austerity and long faces. Even fasting is not to be accomplished with long faces. (Matt. 6:16) So no groaning allowed! Replacing the groaning with praise for what we do have (which might focus on non-food items) would help to increase spiritual sensitivity, and decrease an appetite on overdrive. Developing healthy appetites in non-food interests helps as well. Diligence and strength-of-will (or virtue) is often required when changing the appetites and drives from 'overdrive' or even 'underdrive' to 'normal-healthy' levels. Again, no long faces! Satisfying our fleshly appetites may be done joyously, with thanksgiving to God, and with love towards those with whom we have opportunity to fellowship, in order to help meet their needs with love and joy as well. It is important to note that no more attention should be given to our appetites than that. For example, as Charlotte Mason, an incredible English educator from a century or so ago, said in her book Ourselves (written to inform students regarding basics of applying good character), "while you are eating, talk and think of something more amusing than your food," and "Never think of your meals till they come" (save for the cook who should think how to prepare, not how to eat what is being prepared; and we should also take time to thank God for the food He does provide). [Volume 4, pg. 14 of the Original Homeschooling Series (highly recommended reading!)] But enough on temperance for now!

--and thereby be enabled to add patience (...endurance without murmuring.... submission to the divine will..... constancy in labor.... bearing offenses without anger.... Each of these goals is more attainable when we are not expecting to fulfill lusts of the flesh, but merely meet our fleslhy needs with thanksgiving when we are able to do so, and being thankful for what we do have even when we are unable to fulfill our fleshly needs. Patience is also more accessible when we recognize that we need to give up ownership of everything we have, even our reputation. As Bill Gothard puts it, our reputation doesn't matter, and God is big enough to deal with His own reputation. (paraphrased version of Gothard's take on the subject)).

--which results in increasing ability to develop godliness (...reverence for the divine character...obedience. To be Christ-like - which includes bringing glory to God, obedience in all things; sacrificial love, even to the point of death if need be - for the benefit of others).

--leading then to brotherly kindness (affection, kindness...syn. tender.....) To be kind, we actually invest our time, energy, and/or our resources in others' lives... 'where your treasure is, there will your heart be also' Matthew 6:21. As Bill Gothard shares in his videos, if we are kind to others, it develops a real love in us towards them, because we have invested treasure into their lives.)

--resulting ultimately in love (.....devoted, .....strong attachment to.....)

Would this not then result in unity within the body, with the 'we' who love Him and serve him?


Okay, with the verses and definitions that was a bit choppy. So what would be a paraphrase of II Peter 1:3-9? How about this?

Due to God's gift of faith which binds us to Him and draws us after Him, we are able to give constant attention to exerting our will towards strength/virtue in the realms of moral excellence, helping us to have more knowledge about God, ourselves, others, and proper stewardship of those things which we have use of to serve Him - being humbled before Him by the strength of our various fleshly desires, we can trust him to provide us yet more virtue/strength to be patient in well doing and patient with others, producing godliness, inspiring brotherly kindness wherewith we invest treasure into their lives, producing in our own selves, love for the brethren.

Which produces unity.

So, does faith, knowledge of the Son of God, love, and unity increase and grow together?

When the faith is from God, yes, it must.

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.... that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. Philippians 1:27


Monday, January 24, 2011

The Lord Is My ____________

Some of the ladies at church encouraged us to begin listing what God has meant to us each day, using the format found in the beginning line of the Twenty-Third Psalm.

David gave quite the example when He said, "The Lord is my shepherd."

I'm sure I won't blog on this entry daily, but I'll make entries as time permits....... starting here:


--2/4/11: The Lord is my Shepherd: Several years ago, my family was actually at the state fair (we don't attend often for one reason or another). When we went through the livestock barns, I had an opportunity to cuddle a lovely ewe lamb. She was beautiful, soft, cuddly, warm, and wonderful. I was in love, to be sure. My husband saw it all over me and shepherded me as far away from the livestock as fast as he could....... He knew he might not be able to tell me 'no', but that it was not the time for us to tend even one lamb....... /// Fast forward to today. Our church has a Wednesday evening ladies' class which is going through W. Phillip Keller's A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. Keller has a lot of experience working with flocks of sheep, and even owned his own flock for eight years. He spoke of the loving care he provided for his sheep, and of the amazing relationship that develops when the good shepherd lays down his life for his flock. His writing reminded me of the time when I nuzzled that precious ewe lamb, and the Holy Spirit reminded me that Christ loves me the way I loved that ewe lamb. /// It is not time for me to be a shepherd, but it is a time for me to be a ewe lamb in the flock of the Good Shepherd. What a precious thing to have such a good shepherd to care for us! /// Then, while going to sleep, I recalled Bill Gothard's talking about Psalm 51:8 which says Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Now, I was already familiar with what is said about shepherds who break the bones of lambs who go astray. After breaking the bones, the shepherd carries the lamb next to his heart until the lamb can walk again. During that time, the lamb learns to love the voice of the shepherd and learns not to stray. --- THEN I recalled Psalm 34:20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. Might that be because not only is a good shepherd to us, but he was a faithful follower of his own 'shepherd', His Father in Heaven????? ...........

--1/25/10: The Lord is my why and wherefore. (We've had slow days in our school work: our daughter is in training to begin taking responsibility for her own school work at a new level - and our sons have been going back to some of their notes/questions from various Basic Seminar in Youth Conflicts sessions, in order to draw conclusions and set goals somewhat independently. / That provided time to go through notes made on paper about Genesis last week, and rework them quite a bit with the help of Notepad, blogspot, Biblegateway, and an online 1828 Webster's. In the meantime, my flesh/pride, etc. has tried to interfere with this wrong attitude or that. It took some effort to battle with that pride/flesh, when I'd rather do something else. But it was cool to win the battle for the day! And the reason for persevering? The Lord is my why and wherefore.......) .

--1/24/10: The Lord is my healer. (God gave direction to my husband to seek help from our chiropractor when my shoulder pain became persistent and increased in intensity over time, even though at other times, I needed a different nutritional or medical solution for joint pain. I am grateful for God providing direction through my husband when we didn't have the funds for 2nd opinions right now. Wow! It is also amazing that God has allowed the human mind to understand some of the complexities of our bodies, which are so fearfully and wonderfully made; and that there are men who are well studied enough to work in such a healing way.) Thank you God for giving my husband good direction and for sharing this particular healing knowledge with mortal man. Thank you that our bodies can respond to healing hands this way!