Friday, October 30, 2009

Comforting Stuff

We had a great day at Bible Study today.

We've been talking about God's discipline, about our own childhoods, about permissive parents, overly harsh parents, about motives and effects. And in the midst of it all, I find this passage from Isaiah 28 so comforting. . .

"Listen to me; listen as I plead! Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting it? Does he not finally plant his seeds for dill, cumin, wheat, barley and spelt, each in its own section of his land? The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding. He doesn't thresh all his crops the same way. a heavy sledge is never used on dill; rather it is beaten with a light stick. A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin, instead it is beaten softly with a flail. Bread grain is easily crushed, so he doesn't keep on pounding it. He threshes it under the wheels of a cart, but he doesn't pulverize it. The LORD almighty is a wonderful teacher and he gives the farmer great wisdom."

Okay, so why does Isaiah include this passage? Is it really about farming? I don't think so. In chapter 27:8 Isaiah says, "Lord we love to obey your laws, our heart's desire is to glorify your name."

I think it's about discipline. And I find some incredible truths in this passage. Let me list them:

1. God plants different crops in different types of soil. He doesn't plan to get the same exact crop out of each of us.

2. There is a season for everything. You don't crush the seed before the plant grows. There is a planting season (sowing) a growing season, and a harvest. THEN, there is a threshing season.

3. The point of the threshing is to get the good stuff OUT -- to separate the good stuff from the waste. It isn't to punish the seed. There is a good motive behind the threshing.

4. God uses no more force than is necessary as he brings out the good from the bad. I can expect him to discern how much I can stand, and to bring the good out tenderly, without bruising or hurting me.

5. As there are different things harvested from different crops (believers) there are also different threshings for the different crops. Thus, my threshing (discipline) won't look exactly like every one else. Mine will be custom chosen.

6. My father, my Daddy God, who gives wisdom to the farmer, has an infinite supply of wisdom. He will know EXACTLY how to get the good stuff out of my life.

It comforts me to know that my Daddy God doesn't act in anger. He doesn't have any motive except to bring out the good harvest in my life. He won't over do it, won't hurt me in the process.

Daddy disciplines with wisdom, keeping the end in mind, always aware of the fragility of the crop he is working with.

What a good Daddy we serve!

Has he disciplined you lately? How? How did you respond?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

True Confessions

So, occasionally, I teach Bible Studies.

This fall, I'm teaching one that I've written, called "A Daddy You Can Trust." It's hard for me, to write a study all week (that belongs later in the quarter), and then get one day to prepare a session for my students. Takes a lot of energy. A lot of concentration, and perseverance.

Anyway, lately the Holy Spirit has been reminding me of these words, found in Ezekiel. "Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. Then go to your people in exile and say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord Says!' Do this whether they listen or not." (Ez 3:10-11)

In the passage, the Spirit is reminding the old prophet that all teaching begins at home.

A tough lesson. A hard lesson. He's not so much demanding perfect behavior of teachers, as God is demanding that teachers take his words to heart. That we consider our own lives in light of what we know. That we stay open to God's correction and guidance.

So, last week in my teaching time, I confessed that I have a prejudice. Probably not a prejudice that anyone would be able to identify, looking at my life. But a prejudice just the same. And I realized that God doesn't like it, this preconceived notion floating around in my brain, taking root, and bringing forth bad fruit.

So. I confess to you. I need God to cleanse me, to heal me, to free me of this silly, wrong attitude of mine. I need to see all people as he does.

I can't do it without his help. But then, he's already helped. He spotted it. He called it to my attention. He helped me to repent. And now, he'll help me grow out of it. He'll help me to choose another way.

God is good, isn't he? And the next time you think of YOUR teacher, remember to pray for them, won't you? They, like Ezekiel, like me, like Beth Moore, Chuck Swindoll, Max Lucado and hundreds of thousands of other teachers all over the world need God to bring the words home first.

God help us all to let YOUR word sink deep into our hearts, so that we can listen carefully for ourselves, whether others listen, or not.

How about you? Do you find yourself ready to dish the word out before it changes your own life? What are you doing about that?