Friday, July 15, 2011

Maturity is a funny thing.

  • Remember how when your mom told you to set the table you needed her to get the plates and cups down for you because you couldn't reach them?
  • Remember how when you were younger, your dad had to pitch the baseball about 20 times before you could hit it?
  • Remember when 7x8=? was a hard question? And 3X+2=14 didn't look like a sensible question at all?
  • Remember when you couldn't start the push-mower by yourself because you couldn't pull the ignition string hard enough?
  • Remember when writing a 300-word essay sounded as hard as writing a book?
  • Remember how when you were first learning to drive, you had to concentrate so hard just to stay in your lane? 
  • Remember when flying by yourself within the United States sounded super-daunting? 
Those are just part of growing up here on earth. But there's another realm to grow in.
  • Remember when Bible stories were only stories and not "doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness"?
  • Remember when you did your devotions because you knew you were supposed to and not because you would feel spiritually hungry if you didn't?
  • Remember when your time, body, money, effort, affections, and future weren't surrendered to the One they belong to?
  • Remember when praying for more than 5 minutes felt like forever? How about 30 minutes? An hour? All night? (My little brothers still feel that more than 30 seconds is a stretch.)
  • Remember when you didn't know how to say "No!" to the enemy?
  • Remember when sermons were boring because you didn't have any interest in them?
  • Remember when you didn't care about the souls of the people around you? Or those on the other side of the world?
  • Remember when you read Bible verses but didn't get them yet?
  • Remember when you didn't love Jesus as much as you do today?
This list is not one of things I have mastered. Most of these areas can never be mastered. There's always room to grow, farther to go. But that's part of the adventure!

Farther up and further in!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Why mouth?

This summer, the four youngest kids are participating in the Bible Bee. They are memorizing a whole bunch of verses as well as doing an inductive Bible study on 1 Peter. Even though I had several memorization projects already, I decided I wanted to memorize the verses along with them. Stephanie and I are doing about 70 verses, and they are conveniently ordered in the order found in the Bible. Currently I'm working on Psalm 32:3-5, but I'm a bit behind schedule.

One morning not long ago, I was reading in the book of Joshua. I've been making my way through it since April, and I had made it to Chapter 12 already, but on a whim I looked up the only Bible Bee verse in Joshua. 
Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.- Joshua 1:7-8

  It read it through, and suddenly a question occurred to me. In verse 8 it says, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth". Why "mouth"? Shouldn't it be your eyes? What would a book be doing in your mouth for anyway? Ah, but it clearly says "mouth", not "eyes". Every word of God is flawless (Prov. 30:5), and there isn't a single word of Scripture that is put in on accident.. Still, I wondered why it was so. 

Right then, in that wonderful way that He does, God made me realize something. The Book of the Law was in Joshua's mouth because he was speaking them, not reading them. He had them memorized! How else could he meditate in them day and night? Joshua was a busy man! He didn't have all day to pore over the printed page; he wasn't a scribe. He was a war general, the leader over an entire displaced nation. He needed to know it anytime, anywhere.

There is something about memorizing Scripture that gets it into you in a way that simply reading it doesn't. When I am memorizing, I have to pay attention to every single word; skim reading just won't cut it. The meaning comes out in a new way every time. "For GOD so loved the world/ For God SO LOVED the world/ For God so loved the WORLD!" I repeat it over and over again, and in effect, am preaching to my own soul.

There is a power in reading words, another in hearing them, and another in speaking them. It says in Romans 10:10, "with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." You cannot say something you do not believe, unless you are lying. It shows whether it is actually in you. If, when my siblings do their regional Bible Bee competition, they are asked to recite a verse that they haven't memorized, will they be able to speak it? Of course not! It's not in them. Likewise, unless we have taken in the Truth, we cannot speak it.

If you think about it, the eyes come first, but the mouth is much more intimate. You might look at everything at the buffet table, but that doesn't mean it's all going in your mouth! (Watch out for the wasabi!) And think of the change in a relationship after that first kiss, or even after the first conversation. Eating, breathing, kissing, speaking, all these are what the mouth does. And what are we to have in our mouth? Jesus! He is the Bread of Heaven, the Breath of Life, our Heavenly Bridegroom, and the very Word of God. He's the One that all these metaphors were created to point to in the first place. It is clear, He is supposed to be in us.

Now think for a moment, if God's words are in our mouth, and they aren't departing, then there isn't exactly any room for your words any longer. Your mouth has become His mouth. As it should be, for we are His Body. "'and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (Eph. 5:31b-32) When His words are in your mouth, it doesn't mean you quote nothing but Scripture all day long (Although I'd like to see someone give directions for making chocolate chip cookies that way.) What it means is that the only words that come out of your mouth are what is in accordance with Jesus. Only what is true and noble, pure and praiseworthy, wise and edifying. Only what glorifies the Lord.

Oh that you and I would be filled with Him today! That we would delight in Him, taking Him in and pouring Him forth. That we would literally "treasure [His] words more than [our] necessary food" (Job 23:12) and "meditate in them day and night" so that we do not turn from Him to the right hand or to the left.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)

"But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it." (Deut. 30:14)

Monday, July 4, 2011


Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.  (Galatians 5:1)

For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ's slave. (1 Corinthians 7:22)

 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A book about the Book

 Another book recommendation!

After being advised to read some Puritan authors, I decided to see what I could find in our library's catalog. It was a simple search because I could only remember one eligible name: Matthew Henry. To make things even simpler, the only item featured by him in the whole interlibrary system was...

Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible 

So I checked it out. And it's fantastic. Don't panic at the ginormous size. I got an somewhat abridged edition and it's still huge. Just read what you can. I especially like reading what he says about passages that I'm already pretty familiar with. My favorite section that I've read so far is the very beginning: Genesis 1. It's good stuff. Plus, I realized that one of my favorite quotes came from this book:
“Eve was not taken out of Adam's head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.” - Matthew Henry

Blessings as you treasure the best Book of all!