Musing on Learning from History

The past exists for everyone.  We all have history.  Each and every one of us has stories of things that happened in our lives good or bad.  In our history, there are things we recall and things we do not. What we remember is important.  What we remember shows the points in time, the points in life that provided key emotional moments.  We do not always remember key moments. Most of what happens is long forgotten for what happened is simply everyday routine.  Some of what happens is due to it being to difficult and painful.

Whether we remember or not, we all have the stories of the past: known and unknown. And whatever story, for the others involved there are different perspectives of the same story, things are remembered differently.

 

As a child one of my favorite subjects was history. Perhaps it was rooted in my love for story and character. History is filled with great stories. As a child reading history triggered day dreams where would imagine what it would be like to be living that moment.  For me, the love of history really began the pursuit of understanding. Those times of day dreaming led to learning about what make people tick and how it corresponds to God.

 

God wants us to learn from history.  The Old Testament is filled with History. God gave us the history to learn and grow.  The God ordained purpose of the past, our own and others, is to learn and grow.  Not only did God give us history in the Old Testament. He set up festivals such as Passover are about a point of history. The point teaches about God’s love and power. It is history that when examined gives hope and illustrates who God is. 

 

The value of any history comes from the lessons we learn; be it personal history, family history, country history, or any aspect of the history of the world. Whatever the story, whatever the event, be it good, bad, or ugly, there are lessons to be learned. Past events can teach us about our selves, about others, and about God. Whether something was a blessing, a trial, or average day to day,  when you examine and reflect back there is value. This is true even of that which is painful. The more you learn and understand about the past, the more that history can teach. And as we learn about self, God, and others then growth, maturity, and wisdom come.

 

Part of why the value of elders is spoken of in the Bible as well as many cultures is in part because of the array of experience and history. There is a lifetime of history and a lifetime of growth. So take time, look back, review and learn.

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Musing on the Passing Storms of Life

The storm this writer has been under has passed. My lungs are free and clear. My energy level has returned. So now to get back to doing the things God has stirred within me to do. One of which is writing this blog on a regular basis. So with the task of getting back on track and getting back to writing, a good starting point here is to start with reflecting on the nature and aftermath of storms in our life. God does direct us that we will face varied “storms” in life. Storms just happen. They are in essence part of the times of trials and testing in our life. Storms come of varied types and sizes but they all have impact. Storms impact us both during the time we are enduring the storm and in the aftermath of the storm. Now the number one question that comes to a persons mind when the trials and testing come is why does God allow this to happen? Now the basic answer to the questions is God is God and we are not as found in Job. Yet, God has given us more than that fact to understand the storms and trials of life. There are three key passages in scripture that help us to understand:

1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

James 1:2-4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Romans 5:1 – 5 (NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

So the basic principle is that the storms and trials and testing periods of our lives help us to grow and develop. Rain and storms are part of the life cycle of fruitfulness, the same in our lives. The storms and testing in life lead us into the process of ongoing purification. There are examples God has given us of this process. The making of a diamond for example is a prime example. Carbon is turned into a precious gem known as a diamond by the being exposed to ongoing pressure and heat. The same it is for us, we are brought from common to a glory reflecting God in the process of the pressures of life. Another example is the process of refining metal from impure to pure. The refinement process is again some form of pressure and heat to bring impurities out of the metal. God uses the storms in our life to bring us into greater likeness to him. Note it is not our work, but God at work in us through the storms and trials.

God works in us through what the storms or trials he allows us to experience. We are all tested in many ways. One preacher, Tom Shepard, has a sermon from Job about seven ways we are tested in storms. In examining what God was worked in my life and heart during the recent storms, I have found that there is a distinct revealing of my own limits that occur. Often times, during storms we can rely on our own strength to endure or keep from seeking help. It is a matter of self and pride and own strength. God wants us to turn to him and rest in faith. There is the story of Jesus sleeping in the boat during the storm found in Mark 4:35-40. The disciples reached their limit. They could not understand how Jesus could be at rest on the boat in the storm. They woke him up and he calmed the storm, but Jesus was perfectly content to rest through the storm. He asked the disciples why they had such little faith. So the storms and trials really show us how much we trust and depend on God regardless of appearances. God wants our focus on him. Previously, written on this blog is the article: Seven Principles for Transcending Suffering that points to ways we can grow in the midst of storm. The testing a storm brings also reveals the ways we fall short in those principles and move us to draw from the deeper. And ultimately, at the core of it all, it is about growing up more and more in God and reaching deeper relationship and maturity.

Personal reflections: My responses when difficulties build- giving voice to burdens

This past week have been way to silent on the blog and falter in intentionality.  It seems likely to stem from the pattern that exists of pulling back when things get too tough emotionally. There are a number of things going on and certainly could use prayer for.

1. The ongoing difficulties of wife. The issues with her having wifes that really do not let up continue, then to top it off she picks up some bug.  It pains me to see her suffering. It pains me to see  her suffering reach the point of bringing into question God’s love for her and His willingness to listen.  She is reaching a breaking point and it bothers me to see it and there is nothing I can say or do that can help. 

2.  The week resulted in exposing how to assured of things that I should not be assured.  This involves having important documents stored on a flash drive with already prior experience of the fragility of a flash drive. I had ignored the wisdom of needing to back up and have paid for it. This in spite of already knowing difficulties others have had. So this put me into a real personal funk  with anxiety, uncertainty, and other things.  Now I have found a place that looks like they are capable of restoring data but the anxiety builds none-the-less.

3. Personally have growing frustration over the communication difficulties and hard feelings when theologically disagree with brother and sisters over issues that have no bearing on matters of faith.  Personally have been hurt about things others have said and likely responded in ways that reflect that without really intending to do so. My intent is always to communicate in love, but sometimes things happen or are said that brings out ways of communicating that are hurtful, even to the point of possible severing of relationship, all related to theological perspectives. 

4. Also am aware of lack of steps taken further to move into private practice.  Are there fears or other elements of self getting in the way?  Am I holding back out of lack of faith, protection of self, and fears?  Is it the same dynamics that resulted in my putting off starting the blog for over a year? Fears of putting myself out there as needed in order to network?  Am I waiting, or simply failing to engage?  If holding back from failing to engage why do I do that?

So these difficulties mount and the frustration grows, and so in turn my human natural response is a bit of withdrawal.  It is not looking to God for defense or strength, it is engaging in the human natural.  Personally have a long way to go in my own life in regards to the principles for transcending suffering.  For me resting in God and letting Him work things out in his time is tough. It takes a lot of faith and can see how limited my faith is in all these circumstances.  Now I know in my head that all this leads to greater faith and leads to growing and maturing at a greater level. All I know is right now personally, am tired, hurt, and know the extent of my own limitations and weaknesses.  All I can say and ask here is to pray.  This blog post in away is sharing some burdens that I personally feel and am going through.

Musing on the limits of our own understanding of God

Tonight thoughts came to mind about Jesus being unable to perform Miracles in Nazareth, his “hometown.”  My thoughts focused on one possible reason as to why that was the case.  Why is it that a prophet is without honor in his own town?  It comes down to a simple matter.  They think they know him.  They saw him day to day.  They had an idea of who he was and readily dismissed that He could be anything “special” for they saw Him grow up.  They thought they knew him. They had an idea of who this Jesus was, a son of a carpenter, someone who helped them roof their house, or other things a carpenter does before he became known.  So part of the reason that Jesus was not able to perform miracles in Nazareth is that no one sought any?  They thought they knew Jesus. 

Now take that concept and apply it to our own lives and theology and understanding.  It is real easy to reach a point where we think we “know Jesus.”   There are choices and decisions and conversations engaged in because of the understandings and knowledge that we have and it is based on our own teaching and experience.  We fail to fully grasp that our own experience only pertains to a part of who Jesus is.  We fall to fully even accept that our knowledge is always at best “in part” this side of eternity.  Take whatever theological construct and presentation of who Jesus is and there will be much that is accurate but also much that is missing.  So do not settle for your own understanding.  Do not think you have it all “grasped” for in so doing you limit any further growth and settle for a caricature.  

Personally, I am one that can easily fall into the trap of thinking I understand it all. My freshman year in college my mindset was such, there was much I thought I knew.  For me it even, it is easy to communicate in a way of lacking love where my tone or words can come off as arrogant or condescending because it is emphasizing what I ‘think I know” and trying to prove it, rather than sharing simply openly what God has helped me to understand.  So giving a foothold to pride and limiting growth is one trap that can come from what we know. There is another trap as well. We can miss out on some blessing because it did not fit what we know.  Personally there have been moments when reading God’s Word where come across a verse or passage of scripture and respond “has that verse always been there, never noticed it before.”   God has a way of opening our eyes, ears, and hearts to things we have not noticed.  He has a way of deepening our understanding, but we need to not settle for what we think we know.  We need to be willing to test always what we think we know.

Now in saying all this, it is important to know that God has made certain things clear and there are things that are simple to say and write, but yet we fail to grasp the depth and shades of meaning.  Part of the gaining understanding is grasping the deeper levels of things we already know.  God is continually drawing us to deeper understanding of Him, if we continue to engage in fellowship with Him. So, please, do not settle for what you think you know.  Seek God and ask Him to reveal Himself to you in deeper ways.  As the Bible says, “Lean not on your own understanding.”

Now there is another amazing thing God has shown us in the word and given us evidence of.  It is possible to overcome what we think we know and set it aside. We can grow in knowledge and truth and learn who God is more deeply.  The biggest evidence of this is Jesus half-brother James.  He was able to set aside his own knowledge of Jesus as brother and accepted Jesus as redeemer and followed Him.  The result is James had a deeper and broader understanding Jesus and the Father used James to pen words that we acknowledge as God’s words today.  So do not settle for what you think you understand, always seek and ask God to broaden the depth and breadth of understanding, for we can always grow, all of our understanding is in part.  Each of us can do a simple act, ask God to expand our understanding.  Ask God to teach and reveal that which we hold that is partial or faulty.  We can ask God for further wisdom.  If we do so God gives us this promise,  James 1:5 (ESV)  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.