Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday, August 16

Sunday Service
The teaching was on Jesus speaking at a synagogue, reading from Isaiah and telling the Jews gathered there "today this teaching is fulfilled in your hearing." In other words, "I'm it, folks!" Jesus was bold, man. He was also extremely wise. He wasn't striding into the place halfway through the service, beating his chest, disrupting everything that was happening, and making a fool of Himself. He was showing how perfectly His ministry was described in the OT, and how He was here to bring the Good News to them. Wow!!!

One phrase that leaped out to me as Shirley was reading was this: "a garment of praise for the spirit of despair." That phrase made me stop and think, and think, and think. I often despair. I was going through some sheets of paper I'd written thoughts on, and I found one that said, "Laugh of despair." I know why I wrote that. Often I feel like I have no hope in the situation I'm supposed to work on, yet I have to maintain a happy poker face. So I laugh the laugh of despair. Basically, everything is nonsense, but if you nonsensically prefer the Walmart happy face to the green Mr. Ick sticker, well, who I am to stand against you? What this phrase shows me is that in hopeless situations, instead of just despairing, I've got to turn to God. Any situation minus God is hopeless. Whenever I realize my glaring faults, I've got to think of what the opposite of my deficiency is, and praise God for being just that. That's when my stupidity reminds me of God's brilliance, my laziness reminds me of God's industry, my poor planning skills remind me of God's thinking up good works for me to do before the world even began! In short, my bankruptness should be the springboard for my praise of God's owning every good thing. I just had never thought of praise as being the antidote for despair before.

Sunday School
Right now we're going through a series that's teaching us about spiritual gifts. Some of the things that the preacher brought out were:
* Through the Holy Spirit, God gives each Christian at least one spiritual gift. They aren't "rewards" that are only bestowed on 5-star Christians. At least one is given to every Christian.
* The purpose of these spiritual gifts are not only to build our personal relationship with God, but to build up the church.
* Most spiritual gifts are permanent. The only exceptions in Scripture are of people (e.g. Saul) that received the gift of prophesy for a temporary period.
* God chooses who gets what spiritual gifts. We can work to develop ourselves in areas where God didn't explicity give us a gift, but "gift exchanges" work at Penny's, not at God's.
* That said, the simplest way to think of a gift is a "special knack" in some area. People develop their spiritual gifts to differing degrees, but the person with a "special knack" have an advantage in that area. All the areas are ones we should be developing in, though! That's why we can never use the excuse "ah, but that's not my giftedness"!
* The area where we're gifted is the area we can do the most without suffering burn-out. The material we were studying recommended that you only seek leadership roles in areas where you're gifted. The reason? It's easier to burn-out in those areas where you're not gifted.
* There are three passages about spiritual gifts: in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4.
* There are spiritual gifts that aren't explicity named in Scripture. "Creativity" is one example.
* A good way to evaluate your spiritual gifts is by asking others where they see your strengths.
* When you're wondering what your spiritual gifts are, 1) pray and ask God, 2) set aside time to develop them.

Oh, and About the Title!

The title is summing up the idea of being as shrewd as a snake, and as innocent as a dove. These are two examples that all Christians are called to live up to!

Distilled Wisdom

Bible study. Sunday school. Sunday morning service. (Repeat).

There's so many good times to study Scripture! But what happens to all that knowledge? So much of it drifts away because I never take the time to reflect on what I've learned, and cement some content into my cranium.

When Benjamin Franklin studied, he would read a passage from a book, close the book, then try to reconstruct what he'd just read. This rapid test showed him how much he'd been paying attention and forced him to concentrate on the material at hand.

This posting shows the foremost thoughts and teachings from the different session I attend. Enjoy!