Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Philippians 3:8 ~ Do you KNOW?

Seems like Casiday is always asking me questions that begin with, "Mommy, do you know ...?" Do I know where her dance bag is, why we park on the driveway and drive on the parkway, which color is her favorite today, and on the list goes. We live in what has been termed the information age and the pursuit of knowledge is considered a noble one. Those who know me, know that I am a student at heart ... I love to study, to dig, to learn. A voracious reader, I find myself reading books about almost anything ... a lifelong quest to know more.

All that to say (write!), that when I am studying Scripture, any verse with KNOW or KNOWLEDGE in it, will immediately cause me to stop and ponder. Philippians 3:8 says "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them all rubbish, that I may gain Christ" (NIV).

Clearly, I had to stop here and spend some time!! But before we get to the knowing, there was another phrase that I had to spend some serious time contemplating and researching.

The HCSB translates the first part of this verse as follows: "More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord ..." (emphasis added).

More than what? What is "that"? So, back to verse 7 I went ... That is "whatever was to my profit." Everything Paul had considered valuable in himself (see yesterday's blog for more discussion on this idea). So, MORE than counting all that he had gained as loss because of Christ, Paul recognized that KNOWING God, knowing Christ, living in intimate relationship with Him, is all that has lasting value.

Much like Solomon in Ecclessiastes, Paul determined that the only thing of eternal value, the only thing worthy of our life-long pursuit, is relationship with God.

Ecclessiastes 12:13 says, "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (NIV).

Being the word hound that I am, I had to look up a few of those words in my handy-dandy Hebrew Lexicon. Here is what I discovered. All means ALL ... in Solomon's mind, he had examined and considered every available pursuit and thing of value. There was nothing left to evaluate or contemplate. He had reviewed it ALL. Even a quick perusal of Ecclessiastes will reveal that his assertion is accurate. So, Solomon looked at everything ... all had "been heard." The transliteration for that phrase is "sama" which means "to hear; give undivided attention; to understand what has been heard." Solomon had given his undivided attention to all the worldly opportunities available and understood each of them and what they offered.

After all that research, Solomon reached "the conclusion of the matter." And what a profound, yet simple, determination. "Fear God." That word "fear" transliterates as "yare" meaning "to be afraid; to fear, revere." In this usage, the words connotes a very positive feeling of awe or reverence for God, expressed in piety or formal worship. "Fearing" God is often the motivation which produces godly living.

Solomon was not referring to merely following a set of rules, however. He was endorsing a life lived in relationship with God, using the understanding and guidelines that had been given at that time.

So, back to Paul ...Paul had lots of creditentials. He had lineage, education, connections, and authority. And yet, all of that was not what motivated him, what moved him, what drove him. He was passionate about one thing ... "the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."

Of course, I had to look up "knowing" in the Greek Lexicon. In this verse, the word used is "gnosis" meaning, simply, "to know." The same word is used in Luke 1:77a "to give his people the knowledge of salvation" and in 1 Corinthians 13:2 which speaks of all knowledge being useless without love.

The root for "gnosis" is "ginosko" which carries the connotation of intimate knowledge, as between lovers. Paul was speaking of a deeply personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. That was the all-consuming pursuit of Paul's life - to KNOW Christ.

Is that type of intimacy my pursuit? Do I yearn to KNOW Christ? Or, am I content with knowing about Him? Those were difficult questions. As I read again 1 Corinthians 13:2, my heart was heavy with the weight of conviction ... I realized that too often, I am satisfied with knowledge alone, outside the love that comes through relationship.

It's a fine line ... we are commanded to study, to meditate, to spend time in the Word of God. We know that the best way to get to know Christ is through time spent in Scripture. But we must be ever mindful and cautious not to substitute knowledge alone for relationship (knowledge + love). God desires intimacy with us ... that comes through time shared together.

Paul goes on in this verse to say, "I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ." What is the rubbish in your life? What is it that you need to to lay aside in order to gain Christ? Everyone will have a different answer to this question and our answers will change throughout our lives most likely. But the reality is, that each of us must daily examine our hearts and minds - looking for the trash that has taken up space that rightfully belongs to God.

As I was thinking about why we leave the trash when we know what God has for us is so much better, I realized this ... I HATE taking out the trash in my house. It is just one of those things I do not like to do. And, I have never heard anyone say, "Oh man, I love taking out the trash." It's a gross task ... gathering up the stuff that is leftover, that we don't need, that is broken, torn, or useless. It's sometimes a messy task and usually requires walking through the whole house gathering up the trash from every room.

Same thing with tossing out the rubbish in our spiritual house! Gathering up the leftover anger, the jealousy we don't need, the hurts of broken hearts, the torn fabric of damaged relationships, and the useless frustrations that have lingered in our minds. It's messy looking at all the "junk" we've been carrying and so much easier to just leave it be. And the process of walking through the corridors of our hearts to determine what we have that needs to go is just not a pleasant task.

And yet, the rubbish is there! And it is the rubbish that keeps us from gaining Christ! We must be like Paul, counting all those things as trash, some translations say "dung," that keep us from the fullness of intimacy Christ desires with us.

Wow, this verse is packed with valuable lessons! I have been greatly challenged by Paul's testimony in Philippians 3:8. Here are the questions I am asking myself based on this verse:

1. What is the pursuit of my life?
2. Do I yearn to know Christ or am I satisfied with knowing about Him?
3. What rubbish do I need to take out of my life that I may gain Christ?

Monday, March 30, 2009

I'm stuck ... and it's not good ...

I've been reading Philippians for the few months. It's one of my favoite books of the Bible so I read it often. But this time I determined to read only one verse a day and really consider the meaning of each verse. I'm in chapter 3 and, wow!, there is so much here!! Verse 7 has me stopped ...

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ."

Whew ... that's a lot to take in!

So I asked myself these questions, "What is to my profit?" "What do I claim as valuable in me?" "Am I prepared to lay that down - to count it LOSS for the sake of Christ?" Those are some tough questions. It goes back to denying myself ... I get that. But then, God just kept showing me the answers about what it is that I am holding up as valuable ... as my profit ... and those things are deep within me, those emotions and attitudes that I am holding tight with clinched hands.

I have this great Hebrew-Greek Key Word Bible. It has the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek dictionaries and OT Hebrew and NT Greek lexicons ... I love this Bible. Anyway, I looked up "consider" from verse 7.

Consider - hegeomai - to bring, lead. To lead or go before, go first (Acts 14:12); to govern, rule, whether in a secular sense (Acts 7;10) or in a spiritual one (Heb. 13:7, 17, 24). To think, consider (Acts 26:2, 2 Cor. 9:5, Phil. 2:3, 1 Thess. 5:13)

Of course, that led me to looking up all the other verses ... especially the ones from the definition "to think, consider." Here are the two that stood out to me ~

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
1 Thessalonians 5:13 Hold them (those who are over you) in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.

OUCH! Those two verses are where God led me ... "in humility consider others better" and "live in peace with one another." I immediately KNEW what God was telling me. I have an issue that I must trust to His care. A person who has hurt me who I must learn to live in peace with, who I must learn to consider better than myself. Not for my sake but for Christ's sake. Out of obedience ... because it certainly isn't out of a desire at this point. I don't want to let this go ... I want to hold on tight. That "live in peace" literally means "to put an end to strife." Ugh ... that cut deep! I don't want to be the one who has to initiate this ... to apologize, to reach out. I want to be RIGHT!

But my heart is torn ... I want to be RIGHT ... but I also long for RIGHTEOUSNESS. And righteousness can only come through submission, through obedience. I can asking myself which I want more ... to be right or to be righteous. I know it shouldn't be hard, the answer is really easy ... but getting there from here ... that is hard.

Fab Five ... Week ending March 28, 2009

So this week has been great! Scott is doing FABULOUS (can anyone else hear Ashley Tisdale?) and the doctor is very pleased with his progress. Thanks to all for your ongoing prayers ... they are being answered in amazing ways.

Okay, here goes ... the Fab Five for the week of March 22 - 28, 2009 (drum roll, please) ~~~

1. Jittery Joe's coffee ... YUMMY fresh roasted coffee from this place in Athens, GA. Zach brought me some when he came home and I am so glad. I was just about out. This coffee is awesome.

2. School pics ... Casiday's spring pictures were great. Can't post them because they are Mother's Day gifts (shhh...don't tell Paula, Sue, or any of the great-grandmothers!! LOL ~ since most of them read this blog. Sorry, y'all, just building anticipation!!)

3. Clean cars ... Got some minor work done on my car and the guy who did it also detailed my car. It looks SOOOO good!

4. The Reagan Diaries ... I am reading this and it is absolutely fascinating. I am entranced. Here is one of my favorite quotes so far from the book (I'm only in March 1981) ... from Saturday, April 11 (after the assassination attempt by Hinkley, "Getting shot hurts. Still my fear was growing because no matter how hard I tried to breathe it seemed I was getting less & less air. I focused on that tiled ceiling and prayed. But I realized I couldn't ask for Gods help while at the same time I felt hatred for the mixed up young man who had shot me. Isn't that the meaning of the lost sheep? We are all God's children & therefore equally beloved by him. I began to pray for his soul and that he would find his way back to the fold." Matt Morrow, if you are reading this, you should know that I have now read over 10 Reagan biograhies. I know you would be proud!!

5. Note pads ... got a new one this week from my wonderful Aunt Mollianne! I love note pads and pens. And this one from M is PINK! Yea!! It's a big square, chunky one and has the Pink Panther on it. Too cute! Also have a great one in my purse that says, "I'd have more time to write but I'm too busy Running Errands." Got that one from Karen and love it. Pattie, if you're reading ~ I am sure you can relate to that sentiment!!

Okay, so that's it for the Fab Five this week. Scott was looking for this last night and pointed out that I was behind. So, babe, hope this one makes you smile! I <3 you, husband!!

Fab Five ... Week ending March 14, 2009

Short & sweet this week ...

1. protein shakes that are not as bad as we had expected!
2. fat cats ~ literally, very fat cats not the boss-type people
3. Word Challenge Pro
4. "Pilgrim's Progress" ~ I'm re-reading this and wow!
5. good friends ~ the kind who let you be flawed and love you anyway

Fab Five ... Week ending March 21, 2009

Well, considering the past week has been consumed with surgery preparations for Scott's WLS, it seems only fitting that I celebrate the things related to that ...

1. Scott ... my most amazing husband who is the most steadfast & godly person I have ever known. I pray daily that my child will marry someone as authentic & faithful as my Scott. I love you, honey!!

2. Casiday Hope ... what a trouper! This kid has been through so much ... I cannot imagine how confusing life is sometimes for her with a dad who has a very serious chronic medical condition. Yet she is so full of life and grace and has no fear about the future. She amazes me with how easily she handles the ups & downs of Scott's health and I am so thankful that God has blessed me with this amazing person. I am incredibly proud of her!!

3. Successful surgery! Scott's surgery went beautifully and the dr. was very pleased with everything.

4. A praying family ... both Scott's & my families are such prayer warriors for us and so very supportive. I am grateful beyond words to be a part of such faithful & godly families. We are richly blessed! Oh & thanks to Dawn & Mama Raye for giving up their husbands for the weekend! Having Greg, Papa & Bauer here was such a blessing!

5. Friends ... the really good kind who love me even when I'm in a bad mood and accept me with all my faults and baggage and junk! This week I am especially thankful for Karen (love you BFF!), Valerie (who handled my child for me when I couldn't), Alycia (that phone call made everything better!), Holly (who isn't on FB but is a blessing beyond words!) and Carrie (who is one of the most beautiful people I know - inside & out). Oh! and I cannot leave out my sweet friend Christina ~ we've never met but she is a true friend and prayer warrior.

There are just so many more things I could list and people I could name ... I hope no one feels slighted! We have been blessed beyond comprehension by the love and care and encouragement of so many people. I have been overwhelmed by the texts, FB comments & messages, phone calls, and prayers. Wow! This week could have been the Fab Five Thousand!! So, to all of you ~ THANK YOU! You are loved and appreciated and prayed for.

Fab Five ... Week ending March 7, 2009

After a few weeks of more serious lists, I think it's time to reflect on the lighter side of life. So...here's to the frivolous!!

1. Samoa Ice Cream ... Yep! Ice cream with chunks of my favorite Girl Scout cookies in it. YUMMY!!!
2. "Brothers & Sisters" ... I have loved Calista Flockheart since Ali McBeal and any show with her, Rob Lowe and Sally Field ~ well, I'm all in. This season has been amazing!
3. My Auburn blanket ... Aunt Norma got me the best blanket for Christmas. It's big enough to really snuggle up in and it's warm and soft. It makes my early morninings so nice!
4. Lemon Pound cake from Starbucks ... The best pound cake ever! I love this stuff. $1.95 a slice seems a very small price to pay.
5. Natalie Grant ... I am loving every song I hear of hers these days. Old ones, new ones ~ doesn't matter.

It's been a great week! Life is so good and I am seriously the most blessed person I know. My family is amazing, my husband is INCREDIBLE!! and I cannot think of even one thing I would change right now.

Fab Five ... Week ending February 28, 2009

This past week has been really good and also very challenging. We are in the midst of a ten-day revival of prayer and fasting at our church. Participating in this has been such an awesome experience and has opened my eyes to so many of the ways God works in my life ~ ways I often do not acknowledge.

1. My church! I am incredibly thankful for my church. "We are all messed up!" but there is a love and sense of community in our church that never ceases to amaze me. When God moved us to "the foreign mission field" here in south Georigia eight years ago, I never dreamed how wonderful this experience would be.

2. Obedience. This week I determined that I was not going to make excuses for my disobedience and try to find "loopholes" to following God's specific direction in my life. As a result of that, God has richly blessed me and I am so thankful for the answers to prayer in my life.

3. My sister-in-law, Beth. I always wanted a sister ... someone who would laugh at me and with me, someone who would listen even when I was exhausting her, someone who would just share life with me. And I am so thankful for my brother's wife. We haven't always been this close but over the past few months, God has really brought us together. Beth is much more than that crazy homeschooling mom of seven (LOL!) ~ she is my sister, my friend. And my life is so much better with her in it.

4. SKYPE! I am so thankful for Skype. Now I get to SEE my mom and dad when I talk to them. I love it. We had the best visit a couple of weeks ago and I miss them both terribly. But Friday night I got to talk to them and see them and it was just a great thing.

5. Sunrises. I've been getting up really early, especially for a SAHM whose only child goes to school. :) But since I have been getting up I have gotten to see the sun rise through the pine trees in my back yard. It is absolutely beauitful. When I get up it is still dark and I have begun sitting in my dining room to read my Bible and pray so I can see out the back doors and watch as the sky changes from black to shades of blue then finally with the pinks and oranges that mark the rising of the sun. Every single morning I am amazed at this ... that once again God has literally given such beauty for us to behold. It also makes me aware of how often I fail to recognize His hand in my life. Sunrises are becoming so special to me ... fresh start every day, new opportunity to know Him more, to live a more fully surrendered life, to take time to love others and show my genuine affection for them, to cherish the life I have.

And so I sit here, computer in hand, watching the sky change minute by minute and wondering what sort of great things this day and the week ahead will hold.

Fab Five ... Week ending February 21, 2009

Okay, the Casiday's birthday edition is here ... indulge my absolute love for my sweet girl!!

1. The girl is SOOO funny!! She has the best sense of humor and can do "dead on" impressions of so many people. (Of course, she is so shy that she won't do them for anyone but me or her Daddy!)

2. My child has the most fun sense of style! Check out the fashion show pics if you are doubting me in this!

3. Casiday is loyal ... once you are her friend, you are always her friend. And she loves completely and totally. No in between with her ... such a precious gift to be loved so fully by someone.

4. Watching my girl dance is one of the greatest joys of my life.

5. And most importantly, my child is a lover of God ... from the moment she asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior she has been changed! Truly an example of the truth of 2 Corinthians 5:17.

If you don't know her ... you should! And if you do ... you are blessed beyond measure!! This kid is amazing!! I am incredibly thankful that God chose to allow me to be her mommy.

Fab Five ... Week Ending February 14, 2009

So, in honor of Valentine's Day my Fab Five will be a VERY abridged list of things that I love about my precious husband. 1. Scott is strong & steady. He is always level-headed and never rushes to judgment - about people or siutations. He is the epitome of steadfast and is most certainly my rock. I tend to be driven by my emotions and he keeps me grounded.2. No one loves me like he does. "Warts and all" Scott accepts me and yet just being with him drives me to be a better person. He knows my heart, my mind, my dreams ... what I love, what I hate ...he knows me ... who I am on the inside. And even with my craziness, he loves me. 3. My husband is truly the most godly person I have ever known. I have never met anyone with such a deep, abiding faith in the Lord. He is consistent and faithful. Scott loves and lives according to 1 Corinthians 13. He is patient and he is kind. He doesn't envy or boast. He doesn't keep score. 4. I don't know a man who values his family - Casiday & me, his family, my family - more. He is generous and accepting. He esteems all of us and treats us with great respect. He never speaks ill of his family or mine and he is more than willing to sacrifice his personal desires or preferences when necessary to spend time with and investing in family.5. My husband is my very best friend. No one can make me laugh harder! There is no one I would rather spend time with. My desire for my daughter is that she have a marriage like we have - that she marry her best friend and that he adores her. I am so thankful to have a husband who likes me and wants nothing more than to just be together. I always heard people say that marriage gets better as the years go by .... after 13-1/2 years I am finding this to be very true. My heart still stops when he walks the room, he still takes my breath away. I know it's him on the phone before I ever look at the caller ID. I can't imagine my life without Scott - don't even want to think about it. I had to face that possibility a couple of years ago when he was in ICU and all I could think of was that the very best of me is my relationship with him and I would be just a hollow shell without him. I am thankful every day that God spared his life and that God has blessed me with the life we share. I <3>

Oops ... got behind here ....

Well, I've been doing my Fab Five on FB and not cross posting them here. So this morning, before I write last week's FF, I am going to add the ones that are missing to my blog. :)