So, I’ve had all these very spiritually serious ponderings whirling around in my head the past week or so, and I had every intention of sitting down this morning and typing some of them out. (They are good to remember, so maybe I’ll write them in my paper journal…remember those!?) BUT my mom-in-law sent me this and I feel this is what needs to be documented as a constant reminder for me right now! (Maybe for you too…that is, if you’re a MOM!) ENJOY!
So, God just really blessed me with this wonderful man, and I am daily reminded of why! Over at his place Nathan shared these words last week, and as I read them, I just knew I needed to take note…put them in a place where I could constantly revisit them. (And since they’re at his place too, I’ll have ample revisiting opportunity!) Be challenged. Be blessed!
A Repost from Worship Unrated (worshipunrated.com)
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18 NASB)
James is a book we tend to dissect into pieces. It can be kind of difficult to find a constant train of thought. This passage comes to us right after all the words about the tongue. I’ve had a bad habit of overlooking this passage. But it fits so well with learning to tame the tongue.
We all give advice whether someone wants it or not. I lean toward a view of advice that may be a little different than most. Advice is a gift. What the listener does with it is completely up to them. I can’t get upset if they decide to take my “gift” and set it on the shelf for awhile. Maybe they’ll take it when they need it later. I only think this way because I have to distance myself from the advice I give if someone chooses not to take it. I can’t take it personally if they choose not to listen to me. It’s difficult sometimes, but it helps them learn by consequence if they choose not to listen. But if they take it and use it, it’s dangerous for me if it doesn’t work. And if it doesn’t work, then I’m in trouble because they’ve listened to me. I need to be sure I understand what true wisdom looks like, what wisdom from above is so I can only give that. But they can choose to do what they want after I give it.
What we need to understand is that advice is only needed when someone asks for it, unless they’re putting themselves in true jeopardy. I’ll tell you why I think this way…the passage above.
Sometimes the wisdom we have to give may not be wisdom from above but rather a preference or opinion on personal taste. What we want to say we truly believe is right. But how we deliver wisdom could be wrong. Let me ask you something, is the wisdom you give based on personal experience? Does that mean you stand to gain something when you impart wisdom to someone? What are you going to get out of imparting your wisdom? What are you looking for? How are you going to say it?
This passage is eye-opening to me. What I’m beginning to realize is that any wisdom I give toward others that has any other motivation outside of bringing glory to God is purely selfish. That kind of wisdom actually lies against the truth. It’s a wisdom that sounds good and seems good, but it’s lying. Wisdom from above seeks first the glory of God above all other things. What it tells me is that how we respond to life’s dealings is one more step in which we can take closer to God or away from Him. Wisdom is action-based, not simply knowledge. It’s movement in the direction of God. Wisdom from above moves us upward.
There are ways we can tell whether or not we are using wisdom from above or from the earth. The first one is selfish ambition. A majority of the time we look to ourselves for just about everything. What we do is bent on building our own kingdom or making ourselves seem better than others or feel good. But that kind of wisdom is not just dangerous, it contains every evil thing. So a selfish wisdom is the complete opposite of God-wisdom. It’s demonic. That’s a hard pill to swallow because we’ve lived our lives with a wisdom that mostly looks out for self.
Our delivery of wisdom says a lot about where the wisdom has come from as well. Are we more concerned about being right and making sure everyone knows our side of the story, or are we careful to pursue peace, to be gentle with no ulterior motives, showing mercy, and having a history of past experience to back it up? Really, what are you known for? Do you blow up at people when things don’t seem right, or are you quick to extend grace and mercy? Do you pursue peace or do people have to know your side of the story or what you think? Do you require everyone else to follow you in what you say while not applying your words to yourself? (For example, telling your kids to come to you immediately when you call them, but when they need you, you tell them to wait.) Is what you have to say reasonable and pure?
This is the kicker of the whole thing. Wisdom from above doesn’t lack one of those things. It contains them all. Let me submit to you that any wisdom that excuses one part isn’t truly wisdom from above. God is concerned just as much about the delivery of the wisdom as He is the principles themselves. If we’re not careful to deliver wisdom with gentleness, we won’t “win them over.”
Let’s say someone comes to us and explains a difficult situation or a choice they’ve made. We tend to react harshly in the moment or blow it off as something unimportant, which means we’re in it for ourselves to make sure we’re heard or that our point gets across
(we tell them what they should’ve done or act like you don’t care). And we’re writing it off thinking we’re helping them while in reality, we’re withholding mercy and bringing judgment. It only causes them to resist or feel completely helpless. They don’t listen. It goes in one ear and out the other. And we get upset and take it personally, which then isn’t reasonable because their problem wasn’t ours to begin with, and yet somehow we’ve made it our problem too! If they don’t listen, we get jealous about it and want our words of wisdom back to make sure they’ve heard it and understood it…”I told you so. Didn’t I tell you? Why didn’t you listen?”
Wisdom from above seeks peace. That means grace heavily influences it. Wisdom from above is pure. It comes from God and is meant to develop a deeper relationship with Him which will bring Him glory. It makes sense to the one who hears because there’s no judgment on their end against you, the deliverer. It’s completely consistent and doesn’t change, just like God doesn’t change. It doesn’t depend on the situation because the motive isn’t bent on us bringing glory unto ourselves but to God.
So from a “wisdom-giver” standpoint, wisdom from above seeks to encourage the listener’s relationship with God. And from a personal standpoint, wisdom from above is my response toward my condition or situation which involves me humbling myself before God and drawing near to Him in order to deepen my relationship with Him and bring Him glory through it. Wisdom from above moves us upward. It’s action-based. It’s full of fruit. It’s seen.
~Nate Stephan (but I call him Nathan…Babe…Hunky Hubby…:) )
So, I recently put this pic up on my Facebook status as a vision of what Nathan and I would look like in about 50 years. (I just hope I remember to take a real picture of us at that age so my grandkids can compare!) That silly photo made me think of adventure and how I used to long for it and how I still do. When Nathan and I first wrote down in our little brown notebooks what we thought our futures would like, it involved lots of traveling…lots of new and adventurous stuff, but our lives very quickly shifted from all that. Like…I mean ten months after marriage we have our first baby quickly. All those dreams of picking up and moving wherever the band (my hubby was in a band in college) might take us soon turned to wanting a nice house with a porch and nice furnishings and nice decor and a nice steady income. Well, may I just let you know that the only thing that actually worked out was a nice rented house with a porch (but I usually just walked over to my Landlord/Neighbor’s porch cause she had a swing) and…yep, that’s about it:)!
Our last years in Missouri were full of finishing degrees, working different jobs, having a couple ministries, trying to make some things fit that just didn’t, nurture a new marriage, living off of $70 a week for food and essentials, receiving a lot of grace when we were overdrawn (more than once), and…having two more baby boys! It…was…not the adventure that either one of us thought we’d share. It was good; we have loved being parents! When God opened doors for us here in Colorado Springs to start a church, it was good, but I had the hardest time finding adventure in it. My hubby was thrilled with his new ministry and all he was getting to do, but my “ministry” was the same…three boys, under the age of three, within four walls…all day. And no friends, family, or familiarity were at my disposal. Quite frankly, I felt I had given up every dream I’d ever had and was forced to find some joy in the path I had chosen over the “brown notebook adventures.”
Don’t get me wrong, I loved my husband (still do), my children (still do), my God (still do), and the opportunity He gave us here in Colorado (still do), but I just felt like everything I had ever dreamed of doing or seeing or being was packed away, maybe even thrown away, and the likelihood of having any of those experiences was…gone. And friends, I felt that way…right up to…December of…2013.
The short of it all is that I would dream, think I’d see a “Yes,” and then a firm “No” would follow. Put this on repeat, and you have my last several years…or at least it’s how I saw them. So, I made up my mind I would forfeit dreaming altogether. I would stop and I would no longer look toward or forward to anything; I’d just live today and only today. (And there is a lot of good Truth in doing that the way God wants you to do it.) Then, the very next time I’d open up my Bible or my devotional or a conversation with others, I’d hear, read, or see the word…DREAM, and the tears would just come and the anger and the “just stop it right now, God!” But. IT WAS EVERYTIME! I would say “No more!” And the next day (or maybe even later that day) He would say…DREAM! Abba and I, we went round and round for a while with this one! I would say, “What’s the point? You just always say no!” And, because God isn’t required to justify Himself to me, He remained faithful, loving, gentle, patient…and silent. (Very true to His character, especially when others are pitching a fit in His presence.)
So, what’s changed? Honestly, not much. I mean, as far as circumstances, not a lot has. I haven’t been getting a ton of “Yes’s” all of a sudden, and…I haven’t really asked for much either. I am open to dreaming now; I just want to do it His way. (Does that make sense?) I don’t know that I know what that looks like, but I’m willing to know. I’m kind of waiting on Him, I guess. There is something that has changed, though; or maybe it’s best to say someone is changing. Me.
I feel very…aware…open to Him…in fact…adventurous. I guess my eyes have been opened to my very real reality. It’s kind of like this:
I have been reading through some people’s marriage beginnings. It’s the time when finding free furniture on the side walk and a car that is banged up but still “banging” down the highway is fun…adventurous! It’s when living in the broken, moldy, stinky, if-ee apartments is seen as laughable…adventurous. It’s when having no money and living off of $.10 noodles and $.40 tacos is gourmet…adventurous. It’s the time when you and your spouse work more than you sleep or see each other but leave “I love you” post-it’s on your microwave is love…adventurous!
As I read these and/or see these pictures, I can’t help but begin to see my life in the light of “adventure.” Ours (mine and Nathan’s) is the time of rearranging 11 plus year old furniture that was given to us for free and is still standing (and probably will until we die…which could mean I will have no good reason to buy a different bedroom set…:/) OR cleaning one more stain on our used-to-be light beige couch, that is now splotched with white circles from the stain cleaner…adventurous! We are living in the time of “hey it looks like we might get ahead this month…oh no, the breaks need fixing and the kids have basketball and basketball shoes might also be helpful”…adventurous. Ours are the days of leaky pipes that cause water damage in the basement and under the kitchen sink and “hey we are getting ready to pay this off to make room for more debt that we’ll call an investment;)” (and what were we thinking when we said buying was cheaper than renting?)…adventurous! We live in days of up late with a teething baby, up early to stay physically and spiritually healthy, no nap for those of us who want them because those who need them (ahem, under 10 years old) no longer want them…adventurous…I think. Ours is the time of few dates, more demands, little time, and big issues…adventurous.
BUT ours is also mornings of cuddling for ten minutes before we get of bed, writing love notes on coffee mugs, instant messaging kind words, business stuff, kid stuff, prayer stuff, schedule stuff, and silly stuff…Adventure! We are parenting together, messing up together, forgiving together, laughing together, getting sick together (much more ‘romantic’ typed out than it is in real life), shopping together, disciplining together, cooking together, drinking LOTS of coffee together, “talking loud” together, being gentle together, and falling asleep together…yeah, Adventurous! We are living in days where we read His Word together, discuss together, worship together, learn more about grace together, pray together, and long to be more like Him together…Adventurous! We are in the days of feeding babies cereal and wiping up drool, of lego explosions and dance class, of laughing siblings and fighting siblings, of adopting out dogs and adopting in dogs, of kids growing up too fast and some still not growing out of their issues fast enough…Adventurous!
Ladies and Gents, as Ellie said, “Adventure is out there!” But, oh how she was also right in the end when she left her dear old hubby, Carl, her Book of Adventures…Adventure is also…right…here. And…I don’t want to miss a single minute of it by always looking over there or at that or in this. I suppose it all circles back around to Eucharisteo…counting gifts of one thousand and more. Stopping. Pausing. Selah-ing. Thanking. Counting. Slowing.