Beyond Bookishness

It is Tuesday, March 5, 2013. I pray you are well and blessed today.

Today is National Multiple Personality Day. I had no idea…neither did I. Okay. That wasn’t funny. And, truthfully, neither is MPD, although it is frequently used as joke material.

I have been nominated for another blogging award! A rather surprised “thank you” to Katrina Perkins, who nominated me yesterday on her blog. versatileblogger11 (It is actually a dual award, both inspirational and versatile!)

Why am I surprised, you ask? Katrina Perkins is an actress, a TV and movie personality (according to a blog post, she will be appearing in at least one episode of “Smash” this season, on NBC). I’m honored that someone in that genre of entertainment has noticed my humble scribbling over here, and considers it inspirational. As with all blogging awards, there are some guidelines that go along with receiving them, and I will get to those soon, hopefully within the next day or so. I have to study to see what fifteen other blogs I wish to pass this along to, as well as trying to come up with seven interesting facts about me. I have enough trouble coming up with one interesting fact about me.

Christi continues to troop along, and says that she thinks it is gradually getting better. Sleeping is difficult, though, because it really hurts if she sleeps on her right side. This morning, she said she felt like a rotisserie chicken. See? She can even maintain a sense of humor in spite of all this.
Steph and I got to the gym again last night. I’m pretty sure that was six consecutive days for her. I didn’t make it last Thursday, but I’ve been four straight days. Tonight, of course, is our lifehouse meeting, so no gym tonight. I may see if I can jump on the recumbent bike in our breakfast nook before going to work this morning.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1776, American rebels drove the British army, under the command of General Sir William How, out of Boston. “During the night they had constructed a fortified artillery position at the top of Dorchester Heights, across the bay from the city of Boston, and, even more remarkable, they had placed in it a battery of powerful cannon that now commanded not only the harbour, where the British fleet lay, but also the city itself…” It seems that the cannon had been acquired when they capture Fort Ticonderoga in 1775, and Henry Knox had them drug 300 miles, over frozen terrain, by oxen. Round one of the revolution had gone to the rebels.

Today’s birthday is David Fury, born on this date in 1959. Fury is a television writer and producer, possibly most known for his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Honorable mention goes to Dean Stockwell, born on this date in 1936. Stockwell might be best known as Scott Bakula’s sidekick in Quantum Leap, but I remember him best from this 1970 film.

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. Psalm 119:147
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Psalm 115:1

Lord God Almighty, reveal yourself to me this morning.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 30:15-17.

15 For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,
16 and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift.
17 A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill.

God gave them the answer in verse 15. Salvation would come through returning (or repentance) and rest. Strength would be in quietness and trust. But they would have none of that. They desired the strength of swift horses, therefore, they would flee in front of swift pursuers, and they would flee at the threat of as small a number as five people, until what was left would be as lonely as a single flagstaff at the top of a mountain.

I think there is something to be learned for us, here. We have a tendency to want to stay busy; we always want to be doing something, working for God. Yet, there are times where he desires for us quietness and rest; a trust that is calm and peaceful. We don’t know how to do that. We can’t even abide silence in our times of worship. There always has to be some noise of some kind going on (even if it is musical noise). In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Studying God’s Ways.” The scripture reading is Psalm 119:27-32.

27 Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
29 Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.
31 I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!
32 I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!

The psalmist asks, in various ways, for the Lord to teach him. “Make me understand,” “strengthen me,” “teach me,” “enlarge my heart.” In verse 18, it is “open my eyes.” In verse 36, “incline my heart.” “This points to a dynamic, continuing relationship between God and the singer, not to a bookishness that serves erudition and keeping rules.” “Erudition” means “extensive knowledge acquired chiefly from books.” What the psalmist is after, here, is “practical, ongoing guidance and transformation.” This type of learning or study involves more than just the mind. It must listen deeply, prepared to respond. For example, when studying the psalms, it is easy to come up with a list of why we should praise God, or the variety of different ways in which God can be praised. However, the kind of study we are after is more than just memorizing lists; it is prepared to join in the praise, to meditate on why we are praising God.

As the challenge is issued to ponder the different ways I can ask God to teach me, a quote from the great A.W. Tozer is offered. “What is God like? What kind of God is he? How may we expect Him to act toward us and toward all created things? Such questions are not merely academic. They touch the far-in reaches of the human spirit, and their answers affect life and character and destiny. When asked in reverence and their answers sought in humility, these are questions that cannot but be pleasing to our Father which art in heaven.”

When we study God’s ways, it is imperative that we do more than make lists. We must engage him, learn about him and who he is, and be ready to join him, responding to what we learn.

Father, I pray that, as I study you and your ways, as I constantly ask you to teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth, I might join in the praise and actively ponder your ways, more than just memorizing lists of ten facts about you and eight ways that we should praise you. The life with you is more than lists, more than memorization. While there is certainly nothing wrong with memorizing scripture, it is pointless if I am not actively engaging you who brought those scriptures to me. Cause me to be more intimately acquainted with you, day by day. By your Spirit, I pray that you would make me ready to respond to what I learn about you and your ways. Anyone can rattle off facts and lists of academia. My heart’s desire is to be dwelling in the shelter of your wings, constantly learning from you. Incline my heart, Lord, enlarge my heart; open my eyes, do all these things in me!

I pray for the activities of this day ahead. Keep us safe as we travel to and from work. May our work day be productive and smooth, without stress, anxiety, or drama. I also pray that Christi’s back and foot issues will continue to improve. Draw Stephanie close to you during this day, and show yourself to her. May your grace and mercy fill our lives.

The study of God’s ways requires more than simply memorizing facts about him. To truly learn, we must actively engage his presence in our lives.

Grace and peace, friends.

2 thoughts on “Beyond Bookishness

  1. Good morning! I was just thinking about time management and stillness last night, so I can relate to your comments on the verses in Is. 30. The ability to rest, to be still, to wait for God to act…I think this is all connected to our human need to take charge. And we equate movement and busy-ness with progress. Not sure if it is reassuring or depressing to realize…this is not just my behavior, it is as old as people! Maybe this is another area of our human-ness that is almost a universal struggle? Thanks for the sharing from the OT! I don’t go there often enough! ~ Sheila

    1. I agree, Sheila. It just seems to be something that is innately human. Thank you for your thoughtful comments and encouragement!

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