September 9, 2012
(Yes, I am typing this a week later!)
Had a specially ... special ... gathering this morning. The eating and visiting part just morphed so naturally into discussion about a lot of things...
especially grace ... (amazing... God!)
and what the "gospel" is really (grace, I'm thinking)
Yes, even the conversation was grace-ful :-)
And then I read a couple "grace" related blog posts this afternoon (here and here) ...
And just now I've been reading in Matthew 4. I cannot get over how, despite a lifetime of reading and memorizing and listening to and studying and being taught/preached to about/from/in this Book, I seem to have missed most of what it's saying. You know?
Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. Oh. Is that what we think of when we talk about being led by the Spirit?
Jesus became hungry after fasting 40 days and nights? Really? (It takes me about 40 minutes ... or just thinking about it :-( ...)
Jesus responded to the tempter's "If"s with "It is written"s:
"Man lives not only on bread ... but every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." (Who are we - who am I - listening to? ... one of those things we were discussing this morning...) (every word: sola scriptura? or? Spirit? (Father, Jesus, through the Spirit?) creation? other believers? truth (given through all kinds of sources, some totally unexpected and even seemingly unbelievable?) or?
"You shall not put the Lord your God to the test" (Was Jesus speaking only of his own response here?) (Or perhaps Satan's actions/ words/ temptations too? I mean, seeing as He was/is Satan's Creator and God ... and Lord ... whether Satan likes it or not...) (or am I just nit-picking here?) :-(
(Do I put You to the test on a regular basis? What does that mean? How am I doing that? Do I even know I'm doing that? Yes, sometimes... )
(We talked at the gathering about how we beat ourselves up about things... about the rules and regulations we set up for ourselves ... about how it seems easier for us to have those checklists ... about how so many things, in themselves, aren't good or bad - but it's what we do with them, where we take them, how we interpret them and use them ... and focus on them instead of on You..._
(Nothing "wrong" with a lot of the "church rules and regulations" and "doctrines" and "statements of faith" and ways we "traditionally worship" and such... eyes closed when praying... kneeling... set liturgies ... that I've been running from - not really wrong - they can actually be good and helpful ... IF they point to, help me focus on, You ... but if I allow them to become the focus? Oh dear...)
"You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only"
Why do I (we) find that so hard?
(We were talking a bit about who we listen to. And someone suggested that if we are wondering where the voice we're hearing is coming from, maybe we need to pay attention because chances are, it isn't You) (Unless, I suppose, we haven't listened to You for so long we don't recognize Your voice either...) :-(
Is that right? I mean, someone else pointed out that if we have been born again, we have Your Spirit in us, so when we are wondering, maybe it's Your Spirit nudging us.
(Why is it Your voice is so small and still? And gentle?) (Well, most of the time...)
(And whose other voices are we hearing? The enemy and his forces? Our "flesh"/ "old man" / "natural man" trying to come back to life/living? [I suspect those aren't exactly the same thing, in this context...?] Our parents and teachers and churches and media and society and friends and education and... and... and...
And how do we pick out YOUR voice amid the din?)
(Someone pointed out that we aren't expected to figure it all out. That listening to You is a process of "little bits at a time." That You don't expect us to get it all figured out right away.)
(That maybe we aren't ever meant to get it all figured out). (That's kind of a relief, isn't it? And here I was thinking how safe and comfortable it feels to think we have have it all figured out.)
(We were talking, too, about how, in North America at least, in the past century or so, the church seems to have followed two main paths ... one of intellectual knowing/ doctrinal systems ... and one of emotional knowing ... and the two ways have seemed far apart ... and maybe each has seen its own "way" as the most "spiritual"...)
(But it seems like we forget that You are The Way).
(When You first left us... physically, You know... Your followers said they were following The Way... which makes sense, since You are the Way - and the Truth and the Life) (Following You. Accepting and living in Your grace. Loving God and loving others because that is Your Way. Because that is Who You Are, right?!) (I feel as though my understanding is so small. I have such a hard time expressing in words the very small amount I know... or at least think I know...)
(Maybe it IS "easier" to be able to just memorize and repeat a "system").
(But it does seem to me that even then it isn't easy. Because there are so many unexpected circumstances and questions that the system - however many subpoints it contains - doesn't seem to have a ready answer for.
What? Oh yes... "Love covers a multitude of sins."
That certainly does seem to be a lot more comprehensive.
And, oh my! A lot more demanding!
And yes, a LOT more grace-full.
"Angels came and ministered to Jesus."
(Do angels come and minister to us when we've been going through temptations?
What if we have screwed up and given in?
There's a song that says, "Even if you do it wrong and miss the joy I've planned, no matter what may happen, child, I'll never let go of your hand."
Is that true? I mean, missing the joy? Is there hope for more joy down the road?
And do ministering angels bring comfort and healing ... and joy? Or is the joy from You alone?
(Angels ... well, there's an area I sure don't know much about. Just enough to know they are real (from some experiences I've had) ... and that they care ... and help...
But maybe I'm pretty "leery" of some thing "popular culture - "Christian" or otherwise - attributes to them).