Monday, June 20, 2011

Visionary Monday ~ Discretion

"Our hands are God's and can fitly be used only in doing His work. Our feet are God's and may be employed only in walking in His ways and running His errands. Our lips are God's and should speak only words which honor Him and bless others. Our hearts are God's and must not be profaned by thoughts and affections which are not pure." ~ J.R. Miller, from Being Christians on Weekdays

I just read a blog post this morning that I found very appropriate for what the LORD continues to instruct me in. The lesson is on discretion. What is it?

Discretion: It is the quality of having or showing discernment or good judgment : the quality of being discreet : circumspection;especially : cautious reserve in speech.

While it seems like an old, repetitive lesson (one that I found well circulated amongst the blogsphere), one can never hear it enough. The author of the article, A Woman of Discretion, does well to ask, "are we training ourselves to be women of discretion?" Training implies that one is willingly accepting daily correction and instruction with a humble spirit and then applying those gems of wisdom in a practical way. When you're just going through a typical week, it's so easy to get caught up in what "needs" to be done that you're totally hardened to actually gleaning something of value that day. I know I sure do! Also, while I'm still learning everyday, it's more like I'm just being filled with a sort of head-knowledge and not actually applying with my heart what I have been shown and taught by the Spirit.

Discretion is applied by the quietness and reserve of the inner spirit, which we obtain before the presence of our Living God. It manifests itself by the holding of one's tongue. It's a turning to the Father of all wisdom when one sees the temptation to speak in haste or wrath. It's aspiring to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands (1 Thess 4:11). It seeks to bless its household at all times. It does not meddle in the affairs of others, nor give way to curiosity. It runs from such temptation and finds it solace within the arms of its Maker.

Give such reserve to our spirits, O LORD!

And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. ~ James 3:6

My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
and watching over the way of his saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice
and equity, every good path;
for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

discretion will watch over you,
understanding will guard you,

delivering you from the way of evil…

~ Prov 2:1-12

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Reflections ~ Come Away with Him

Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the magnificent and delightful gifts God has given us. ~ Martin Luther

Worship is the natural outflow of a heart that is fixed in careful meditation upon the beauty and glory of Yeshua. It is something I have always been passionate about and, yet, have wrestled to enjoy. In all my years of music education (and instrument collection - three of which shown here, hehe! Aren't they CUTE?!), I never grasped the "be still" aspect of the Christian's life. I was caught up in presenting my talents before the LORD and was not aware of how filthy my good works were in His presence. Now, on the other side of that mentality, having grown weary and unfulfilled in my pursuit of music and laying that down for a long season, I've managed to over-think the purpose of what the LORD was revealing to me through all these years. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with all that music stuff. And because I haven't received a distinct, clear answer, I don't feel led to spend time playing the way that I use to, thus avoiding it altogether. I only know I don't want it if He's not there when I play or sing.
There's a tendency to complicate things in the Christian's life and I'm guilty of this in almost every area. However, instead of asking "should I?" or "shouldn't I?" and attempting to search out my own intentions in this matter, He has shown me in so many ways how simple this really is. He says, "Come away with Me..."

The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. ~ Psalm 50:1-2

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;to you, O LORD, I will make music. ~ Psalm 101:1

David's reflection upon the LORD brought a song to his lips. It was pure and natural because it was brought forth by the Spirit. I often wonder why it is that we suppress the Spirit for fear that it might really be of the flesh, instead of just letting Him flow through us. I just want the mind and heart of a child in this regard! A child doesn't make something complex when it's really just simple. When you love someone or something, you're invested in it and long for it at all times. You write about it! You talk about it! You sing about it! Why wouldn't you? It's natural! To not speak and sing of it would be strange! And that is what David does, whether in affliction or times of peace...he sings. Oh how beautiful, oh how marvelous! LORD, teach me to truly sing to you and for You for the first time in my life.
I've recently been obsessing (yes, obsessing! ha) over the beautiful melody and lyrics to Kerah Hanes' latest song, Come Away With Me (Zemer Levav - the third track on the bottom of their page), which so perfectly captures the heart of Yeshua to His Bride. Read His heart for you as the tones soar about you...

The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he comes,
leaping over the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Behold, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
looking through the lattice.
My beloved speaks and says to me: "Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away,

for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree ripens its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away.
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom."

My beloved is mine, and I am his;
he grazes among the lilies.
Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
or a young stag on cleft mountains.

~ Song of Solomon 2:8-17

Oh, this is healing for a heavy heart, dear LORD.

My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary. ~ Martin Luther

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. ~ Martin Luther

The church with no great anguish on its heart has no great music on its lips. ~ Karl Barth

Tones sound, and roar and storm about me until I have set them down in notes.

~ Ludwig Van Beethoven

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare"

A hymn by John Newton.

Come, my soul, thy suit prepare:
Jesus loves to answer prayer;
He himself has bid thee pray,
Therefore will not say thee nay,
Therefore will not say thee nay.

Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For his grace and pow'r are such,
None can ever ask too much,
None can ever ask too much.

With my burden I begin:
Lord, remove this load of sin;
Let thy blood, for sinners spilt,
Set my conscience free from guilt,
Set my conscience free from guilt.

Lord, I come to thee for rest,
Take possession of my breast;
There thy blood-bought right maintain,
And without a rival reign,
And without a rival reign.

While I am a pilgrim here,
Let thy love my spirit cheer;
As my Guide, my Guard, my Friend,
Lead me to my journey's end,
Lead me to my journey's end.

Show me what I have to do,
Ev'ry hour my strength renew:
Let me live a life of faith,
Let me die thy people's death,
Let me die thy people's death.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

To tarry with Him...

So, it's officially summer in Arizona. Yep, that means we, Arizonans, are currently burning to a crispy nothingness! :-D
In addition, regardless of whether I'm in or out of school, life never seems to slow down. While I may shake my fist in frustration and despair with a cry of "Cruel life!" at my ever-growing to-do list and the fullness of life in general (combined with my already terrible habit of procrastination)...I either have to hop on for the ride or sit back and think that I can actually obtain control over my days. What it really comes down is that I'm very easily stressed and I just need to take a chill pill some days. Unfortunately, on many days, speaking to myself objectively and reasonably does not seem to penetrate my heart. *sigh* And that's why I am ever thankful for my dear Jesus. And He surely never wastes my days of stress. I say that because it always seems like it's in those moments when I'm allowing myself to become unnecessarily burdened with life (whether it be actual painful, grievous things or merely the bustle of day-to-day activities) that He brings to surface unexpected internal struggles within me that I didn't even really know (or acknowledge) were there. I don't know quite how to put it into words. It's breaking, but not crippling. It's painful, but so necessary. It always driven me back to the Cross. Even when I cannot understand why He is doing what He is doing in me, or why I have to learn the same old lessons over and over again or why I'm struggling with something that (from the outside looking in) I think is terribly ridiculous, I remember that there is comfort in His embrace.

"When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. (Psalm 94:19)

I once heard a quote by Timothy Keller in which he said, "Sometimes it feels like God is killing us, when He is actually saving us." While it is true that I am righteous and holy in Christ, it is also true that underneath His cloak of righteousness, I'm a wretch. I'm so unlike Him. I'm so indifferent to my sin. There's so much of me that needs to die. I want so much to be purely devoted to Him and desire Him only, but I despise the sin in me that hinders and suffocates.
Yet, He, ever so gently whispering, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit." (Zech 4:6).And, like a child, I receive. Again. And Again. I go to the River of Life. I stretch out my "roots" to drink. Lord, not by my might, nor by my power, but by Thy Spirit.
I read this again this past week and found it so filling to my heart.

The strongest, most mature Christians....are the hungriest for God. It might seems that those who eat most would be least hungry. But that's not the way it works with an inexhaustible fountain, an infinite feast, and a glorious Lord.
When you take your stand on the finished work of God in Christ, and begin to drink at the River of Life and eat the Bread of Heaven, and know that you have found the end of all your longings, you only get hungrier for God. The more satisfaction you experience from God, while still in this world, the greater your desire for the next. For, as C.S. Lewis said, "Our best havings are wantings."
The more deeply you walk with Christ, the hungrier you get for Christ...the most homesick you get for heaven...the more you want "all the fullness of God"...the more you want to be done with sin...the more you want the Bridegroom to come again...the more you want the Church revived and purified with the beauty of Jesus...the more you want a great awakening to God's reality in the cities...the more you want to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ penetrate the darkness of all the unreached peoples of the world...the more you want to see false world views yield to the force of Truth...the more you want to see pain relieved and tears wiped away and death destroyed...the more you long for every wrong to be made right and the justice and grace of God to fill the earth like the waters cover the sea.
If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry, and to say with a simple fast: "This much, O God, I want You."
~ John Piper, A Hunger for God

And I hear Him say, "Will you tarry with Me?" Why would I ever dare refuse Him? I love Him oh so dearly...but how much more of Him I do need!

And does Thou hear the silence of my heart, Lord;

Canst Thou count the tears that never reach my eyes?

And these yearnings, which will not fit my words, Lord;

Wilt Thou feed this hidden hunger –

Desire, spawned of the Spirit, which somehow fails to rise?

“Yea, Soul, Eternity has tuned my ear to silence,

My own heart brims with tears now long unshed;

The quiet sanctuary of unspoken reverence

Is my dwelling place of old;

And in the deeps of spirit have I made my bed.”

- Jim Elliot