Head Knowledge vs. Heart Knowledge

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

Head knowledge. Heart knowledge.

 Isn’t it funny that we need both in our Christian walk? When we make the decision to believe in not just the existence of a God but in the existence of a God who sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins so we can have eternal life, that’s heart knowledge. On the surface, it’s hard to believe. God came in the form of man. A virgin gave birth to that same God. He lived a perfect life. A humble life. Died on the cross. But rose again. For us.  Believing that requires heart knowledge. Faith. A huge leap of faith.

And for those of you who took that leap of faith, now what? Where is He? Why is there so much turmoil on this earth? Why do our lives often feel like one continuous, non-stop struggle? Why can’t we always feel His presence? When we can’t see God or feel His presence, especially in the midst of tragedy, that requires head knowledge. Knowledge that whether we feel Him or not, He IS there. When September 11th happened, many asked, “How could God let this happen?” It is during times of tragedy or despair that our feelings betray and we can no longer just follow our heart. We must dig in deeper. We must rely on what we know to be true.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  Hebrews 11:6

To All the Grownup Bossy Fancy-Pants Adults Out There

By JMathis

The last time I felt confident, free and completely at peace with my Creator has been a long time. A very long time.

We’re looking at something like 10-15 years here.

Is that wrong to say?

I think back to when it all stopped, and I see that my reliance on Christ has been spotty ever since adulthood. Ever since the stressful job. Ever since getting married. Ever since the mortgage. Ever since the kid.

I have always loved Him, and not a day goes by where I don’t desire to be closer with Him. Just like with a lot of people in my adulthood, though, I keep Him at arm’s length.

Why do we “grownups” allow grief, stress and pain to nick at our hearts? To put our emotions into a tailspin? To separate us from the One Who Has All of the Answers?

Perhaps as adults, it’s easy for us to get engulfed in all sorts of Sunday School-type head-knowledge of God’s capabilities: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

But our heart-knowledge is severely lacking.

As much as we would love to move onmove on past the floods that floor us, the quakes that shake us, the roaring winds that bring us to our knees—we have to let Him into our lives first to survey the damage, to divide and bury.

To pile up sandbags around our bleeding hearts. To catch our tears into His Jar of Forgiving and Forgetting. To part our Red Sea.

We have to let Him in first, whispers the Spirit.

What if I can’t let go, God?

Let Him in.

Why does it seem impossible to move on past these troubles?

Let Him in.

Why do the same hurts and negative situations always seem to resurface?

Let Him in.

What if I don’t even know the first step of how to let You in? After all of these years, Lord?

Just ask, whispers the Spirit.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

“Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” James 4:2

Just ask, whispers the Spirit.

Stop being a grownup. Stop being an adult with your bossy fancy-pants. Stop with your Sunday-School head-knowledge.

It’s that simple.

Just ask.

Moving On

By AbbyA

Stuff comes a knockin’  all day long.  I’d like to characterize much of it as static.  But that is not the case.  It is stuff that . . . Chips at the heart of who I am.  Who I work very hard to be.  The who in me that tries her best to be just like Him.

Someone said to me just the other day – – in the same sentence where she described her loss – – that she needed to move on.  That comment has stuck with me all week.  There is such a fine line between what has happened to us and where God wants us to go from there.  There is so much evidence of God dividing our past from His remembrance.  So much evidence of Him sending apart East and West.  So much burying at the bottom of His Sea.

At the same time, we are defined by the floods that floor us.  The quakes that shake us.  The roaring winds that bring us to our knees.  At least it feels that way.  We are defined by loss and suffering and death.  Our own mistakes.  Intentional sin.  We all, at times, have heavy tears and even Scarlett Letters.

My friend’s need to move on statement has stuck with me.  I recall saying something similar about myself some time ago.  I remember thinking, Lord, I just need to move on from holding accountable or even holding against my disappointments towards a particular person that I love.  I remember wanting to move on so badly.  Really grappling with why I could not just move on.  Wanting to be like Him – divide, send apart, bury.

But, really, what I learned more than a year later, is that He is the Divider and the Burier.  I can’t do the Majestic and Supernatural.  I can’t be crushed by a wave and then separate my own injuries and pain from who I am.  He is the Interceder.  He is the Time Keeper.  His depth surpasses even eternity.  He knows my injuries and pain.  He is the one who allows floods, and waves and quakes.

But He is also the one who piles up sand bags around my heart to stop the bleeding.  He is the one who does not stand afar.  He is the one who catches tears in jars.  Allows me to wipe my tears off His feet with my hair.  He is the one who marks spiritual time and measures how far I have come from my injuries.  He is the Healer who knows when it is time to divide the Red Sea and put Egypt behind me.

I don’t know about when to move on.  I just know that, without notice, it happens one day.  Without the knowledge that He has divided and buried.  Without the knowledge that the sand bags have been replaced by spiritual strength built into your foundation.  Without full knowledge of what He has done, you wake up to His Glory.  And, according to Him, that is new every morning.  Lamentations 3:22

I have become a wonder to many, But you are my strong refuge.  Let my mouth be filled with Your praise.  And with your glory all the day.  Psalm 71:7.

Knock, Knock…

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

Today two things didn’t go as expected. Disappointment quickly set in like an evening fog, clouding my vision and blurring my future hopes and expectations. Soon worry ensued. 

But as JMathis challenged us yesterday, when guilt, pain, and stress came knocking, I fought those negative feelings by meditating on a verse that has brought me great comfort in the recent year.

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

 Lord, does that mean you can take my mistakes and still get me to where I need to be? And as if to answer that question, I am reminded of King David whom God established his bloodline despite David almost ruining his reign with adultery and then covering that up with murder.

 Lord, does that mean you can use situations where I feel like people are against me and use even that to benefit me?  I am quickly reminded of the story of Joseph who was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery but later rose to second in command of a Egypt.

 Lord, I’m middle-aged…if you were going to bless me, wouldn’t it have happened by now? I am reminded of  Sarah who gave birth to her promise well after her physical body would not have been able to conceive.

 In “all things” Lord? Really?

Really.

 But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

 Okay, Lord. As challenging as it is and as impatient as I am, I will wait upon you and your perfect timing.

 

 

 

 

 

When Guilt, Pain and Stress Come Knocking…

By JMathis

There is guilt in my parenting. (“Mommy, how come I’m the last one to be picked up from school?”)

There is pain in my marriage. (“Why would he bring that up when he knows how much it hurts me?”)

There is stress at my workplace. (“For once, I would love to walk into a Monday where I don’t have a gnawing pit in my stomach from the night before.”)

When I was young and full of ambitions and dreams, there was never even the slightest inkling of guilt, pain or stress in my future.

Yet, there they are, faithful to the end–in good times and bad, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health: guilt, pain and stress.

What’s the point of being a Christian if all that follows me is guilt, pain and stress? What is the purpose of taking up His cross when I never seem to get rid of this guilt, pain and stress? Why is guilt, pain and stress the defining cornerstone of so many days of my existence here on earth?

Because I’m forgetting. And, Lord, forgive me for always forgetting, but I find again that I am forgetting.

Forgetting who I am.

Forgetting whose I am.

I look to the Word for answers, and I come face-to-face with Paul.

Ahh, Paul. Have I ever told you how much Paul annoys me? Not quite my nemesis, but definitely someone I don’t want crashing my dinner party.

Give me my Abraham, David and Peter—my fallen heroes who are human, just like me. But Paul, Lord? He’s always so sanctimonious and self-righteous, Lord! Why Paul, Lord?

Really, Lord, really?

Yes, really.

Because all that seemed to follow him was guilt, pain and stress.

Guilt over the murder of thousands of Christians before his conversion:

For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.” 1 Corinthians 15:9

Pain over the fact that the church he first built now insulted him and questioned his authority:

For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you”. 2 Corinthians 2:4

Stress over constant persecution, imprisonment and torture:

“…We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; we are  perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”  2 Corinthians 4:8-10.

All that followed Paul was guilt, pain and stress.

But the difference between him and me is that he never forgot.

Never forgot who he was.

Never forgot whose he was.

When you forget your New Covenant that you entered into with Christ:

1)      You forget how to walk through life boldly and confidently. (“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” 2 Corinthians 3:12)

2)      You forget how to experience intimacy with your Creator. (“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-17)

3)      You forget that life is not about jumping from difficulty to difficulty, but being changed more and more into His likeness. (“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Isn’t it time you stopped forgetting, and started remembering?

Isn’t it time to live life passionately, intimately and continuously refreshed?

I’m ready. Are you?

Questions:

When was the last time you experienced any of guilt, pain or stress?

Do you ever feel that life is about moving from one hardship to the next?

When was the last time you walked through life boldly and confidently?

When was the last time you experienced intimacy with your Creator?

When was the last time you felt transformed and renewed by the Holy Spirit?

Challenge:

This week, write down a scripture on a notecard that renews your spirit. Turn to it each time you are chased down by guilt, pain or stress. Meditate on the scripture when the darkness tries to overtake you, and believe in faith that your situation is being transformed–that your life is being changed for the better.

Expectations

By AbbyA

I have really been convicted this week.  Bindu challenged me to reflect on one thing that I am worried about.  I took her challenge and followed her instructions and started thanking God, acknowledging His control and letting it go.  In bringing my concerns to Him, He gave me direction for solving my problem.

I mentioned earlier in the week that I’d like to learn to drain my expectations through a spiritual colander.  I figure if I deconstruct before I react, my communication will sound more like music than a broken record.  Help me Lord to express myself with clarity, truth and love.

I have been sounding like a broken record lately.  No one likes that kind of music.  Not even me.  Listening to myself makes me feel like one of those crazy Walmart moms who has no control over anything but keeps yelling and making threats.

As soon as I began Bindu’s challenge, God quickly gave me some instructions for solving my problem and led me to deeper matters.  He shed light on my expectations.  I feel like a broken record and He knows why.  He challenged me to see that I don’t recognize the gifts and talents of a particular person that I love.  I keep expecting this person to deliver in tune with my expectations.  I am expecting in areas that s/he can’t even consistently deliver for him/herself.  God showed me that if I encourage this person in the area of God-given gifts and talents and provide support in the other areas, this person would grow past his/her own personal limits.  Now, God didn’t promise that this person would then meet my expectations, He just promised that this person would grow past his/her own personal limits.  That means that I would be working together with God to accomplish His will.  Thanks Bindu.

Somehow I know this will make Joan C. Webb smile.  I hope she is right now.

One Day at a Time

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring
its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34

Being in the moment, the “right now” can be one of our
biggest challenges, especially in today’s world. So many distractions. So much
to do. So much to worry about. Dinner to cook, bills to pay, kids to feed,
bathe, and put to sleep. But being in the right here, right now is all that God
wants us to focus on.

So how do we not worry when it goes against our very nature?
Learning not to worry takes practice. It requires us constantly reminding
ourselves that worry is truly useless…that it accomplishes nothing except
exacerbating our anxiety level. Often worrying works against us. It clouds our
thinking. It can drain our energy and most of all, it takes our focus off of
God who can truly help us and make a difference and puts the burden back on us.

Today’s challenge is for you to reflect on one thing that you are worried about. What is robbing you of your joy? Each time you think of it, say a prayer of thanks to God, acknowledging that He is in control and practice letting it go. Notice I said “each time you think of it.” Once won’t be enough, especially if it’s important to you.