“… then we shall see face to face… then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
(1 Corinthians 13:12)
Until we see Jesus face to face, we still have a lot to learn.
— Oh, what an understatement!
In the past, I’ve stared at my bookcases and said, “I don’t think I’ll ever need to buy another book.” — But then, Ann Voskamp writes One Thousand Gifts, Paul Tripp writes Dangerous Calling, or I discover Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel, and I think, I might have room for one more, and one more, and one more.
I’ve also said, “these are the teachers I will study under“, because I know that they are founded in the scripture and are trustworthy. (It’s easy to grow comfortable with the safe, the familiar.) “These are enough for me. No more.” — But then, I find Susie Larson’s “Live the Promise” on Faith Radio who introduces me to an endless list of speakers, pastors, teachers, and authors. I follow links, find new ministries, hear new sermons, check out new resources, and order a new study or series; okay, I could learn from a couple others.
As a seeker, I don’t want to be content to wade around in the shallows of what I’ve discovered a decade or two ago, or even in what I learned last month, last week, or yesterday. When I venture forward, especially stepping beyond the familiar of what is “trendy” or the same-old and habitual of what I’ve been doing for years, it’s as if I’m taking off my “floaties” and diving into the deep-end, entering uncharted waters.
We’ve come far. But every time, after we ventur into the deep of the Word with no horizon in view and tread as long as we can in faith, we’ll find the LORD has “stretched” us, and we can again touch bottom. Again, we’ll find we’re standing firmly on Solid Rock, the Rock of Ages, even way out here, in the “thus far”. He never ceases to surprise me, and like Samuel, I want to raise a memorial stone, name it “Ebenezeer, saying ‘Thus far the LORD has helped me.'” (1 Samuel 7:12)
I’ve known the LORD personally for 35 years and have been taught the scriptures since infancy. How about you? What are we waiting for? How old should we be; how long should we wait around before we declare that we will “live up to that which (we’ve) already attained” (Phlippians 3:16) and press on all the more to know Christ. If we’re not ready to move on to be a godly “older woman” (Titus 2:3-4), who is and when will we? This takes some of the sting out of aging and gives me new purpose as I look to the decades ahead.
What about you? Are you, like me, longing to explore the Infinite, to know all that God will let you know of Himself. Let’s follow the Berean’s daily practice, who “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if these teachings were true”. (Acts 17:11)
The One source doesn’t change. The Word of God is our only Authority, and all we hear we test to see if it is in alignment with that plumb line. The LORD has made it possible for us to “receive the message” from the mouths and pens of preachers throughout the ages and potentially hear the fresh word He has promised to give to brothers and sisters in Christ as He pouring out His Spirit in these last days. (Acts 2:17-18) I want to receive with “eagerness” not with a cynical, close minded approach, only open to my few favorites or from one particular denomination.
Same book, same passage… timeless.
Recently, the story of a Father’s love for a prodigal son, a parable I’ve heard a countless times, brought tears to my eyes. As I listened with fresh ears to a modern retelling in a sermon to a congregation with many new believers, the words were made alive by the Spirit.
Fresh word, new perspective… timely.
When the preacher was just about to finish, several in the group began to clap. “Yes, you can clap!”, he said. — and I did, too. — It’s been a long time since I applauded God for a story well told. Good job, Jesus; what a story! What truth! What a loving Father! As this Word and the congregation’s response swept over me, what I thought of as comfortably safe became “…the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast unmeasured boundless free! Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me! Underneath me, all around me, is the current of His love…”
Are you comfortable with what you’ve been doing for the past year or decade? Or does your heart cry out, “Higher! Deeper! More of Thee! More of Thee!”
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
Today’s challenge is:
ASK for TOOLS
I know, I’ve told you to “ask your friends” for tools before, and I’m not suggesting you make another Facebook post with an almost identical request. Rather, I want you and your developing, intimate “soul-sister” friends to take up a quest, be on the search for “brand new to you” and share what you find with each other. Not just for today, though I want you to start the hunt TODAY, but also for the rest of your life.
“New to you” can mean discovering something from the 1800’s, like Spurgeon’s sermons, which are in print and in audio form in stores and for free on-line, watching archived programs of Life Today with James and Betty Robison and checking out the ministries and resources that their wide variety of guest speakers represent, or even going to the theater to watch The War Room (or whatever is the latest movie by the Kendrick brothers at the time you read this). Those films are sermons, parables on the big screen!
I want you to regularly experience a phone call like this one: “You gotta’ hear this!” I want you to regularly send and receive emails and messages with links and a comment: “This message is life changing!” or “Here is a program that applies to what we were just praying about the other day!”
As an example: Years ago, one of my dearest friends invited me over for a cup of tea to listen to a cassette tape recording from a homeschool conference she had attended the year before. The memory of a few of his encouraging words were like manna that sustained me and even fed me again and again in following years. Since then, I’ve heard Todd Wilson in person and my family has so enjoyed his humorous CD recordings. — …and all because a friend showed a bit of hospitality and shared a resource.
Who can you invite over? What DVD, CD, or Youtube link can you share?
Listening to a variety of teachers…
- can capture our attention with a new voice and style,
- can keep us from making an idol of one person or taking their words and opinions as an inspired or sole authority,
- can introduce us to deeper and more text-focused preachers that challenge us to study the “meat” of the very words of God as opposed to depending on baby-bottle “milk” of the Word, growing too comfortable with self-help themes and devotional approaches to the same popular verses.
Meditate on these verses:
As you begin your quest for “new to you”, I want to add a warning. Whenever you allow someone to speak into your life, keep your “filters” up! Listen with your mind attentive and your Bible open, running everything through the revealed truth of scripture. Don’t just accept whatever they teach or swallow whatever poison is mixed in with their sweet drink of their words. Be aware of those “…blind guides… (that) strain out a gnat but swallow a camel” that focus on little select details but miss the truth and promote a mammoth, that look and sound impressive on the surface, but the real content is filth and death: a “clean dish” on the outside, a “white washed tomb… full of dead men’s bones”. (Matthew 23)
- Matthew 10: 16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”
- Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
- Titus 3:9 “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.”
- 1 Timothy 1:3-5 “…instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith…”
- Galatians 1:6-9 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.