Friday, January 25, 2013

Short Term Memory

How soon we forget.

I am one of those people who has a photographic memory, or at least I used to, back in the day.  In the middle of an exam, I could close my eyes and visualize my notebook, or the exact paragraph of the textbook where the answer to the question lay.  Even today, over 40 years since I graduated from high school, I can remember notes to self or phone numbers I've written them down once or twice.

So why is my memory so bad when it comes to relationships?  Why is it so easy to forget the promise I made nearly 40 years ago, to love my husband until death do us part? I do love him - don't get me wrong.  But it's very easy for me to be discontented or frustrated in our marriage, simply because my husband is so different from me.

Barnabas Piper would understand.  He wrote about his frustration with his wife when she critiqued a bit of writing he had done.  When she gave her honest opinion that it should be scrapped, Barnabas became sullen.  He forgot that his wife is his greatest supporter and encouragement.  His memory failed him.

Barnabas wrote,
 Memory isn’t only what happens to come to mind as we turn our thoughts to past events; it is a purposeful act of looking back. It is intentionally recalling the moments that led to this reality.
Purposeful.  Intentional. 

 Memory must be controlled.  

So when I go to bed alone, again, I must remember that my husband loves me, that he considers me his best friend, and that he is not intending to cause me pain when he stays up reading while I go to sleep.  I must remember that he is a night owl and I am a morning lark.

When I do not get an answer to a question I've asked for the sixth or seventh time in a row, I must remember that he is a thinker and he's pondering what to say.  Just because I am quick to respond, doesn't mean he has to be.  God made him a deep thinker, and that is good.

Our Personalities are Different

Rick Thomas wrote about a simple way to figure out what type of person someone is.  The article makes the case that the Bible's assessment of our personalities is not very flattering - we have a problem with the deceitfulness of sin.  This problem does not end when we become Christians, although the Holy Spirit dwelling within works in our lives to sanctify us daily.

Personality is not the Point

The point is this:  We are to die to self, daily.  We are to grow in Christ, daily.  We are to exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit as we love God and love our neighbours, moment by moment, hour by hour, every single day.  The best way to do that is to sharpen our memories, holding fast to what is good and rejecting what is evil.

Sharpen the Memory - Look Back on Life Through Biblical Lenses

This world is broken, but it's also beautiful.  When I look at life I must see the greatness of the Creator as well as the fallenness of mankind.  I must use my transformed memory to look back and see how the Lord has been good, working in our family, showing His power and His great love.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.(Romans 12:2 ESV)

My husband bought me this beautiful ring, simply because he loves me.  It has 12 tiny diamonds set in the edge (one for each of our dozen children).  The inside of the ring is filled with hearts - 14 of them!  The perfect number to represent the two of us and our large family.

I have made a promise to myself, that every time I look at this ring on my finger, I will remember.

I will remember that

  • God brought us together!
  • God has blessed our marriage.
  • Our relationship matters - to God, to our family, to the world
  • My husband loves me.
  • I love my husband.
  • We are in this together, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health
  • We are a reflection of Christ, the Bridegroom, and His Bride, the Church
  • We are together until death do us part.
I will remember.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Blind Could See

The tenth chapter of Mark tells the story of all sorts of capable, intelligent, educated people.  Each of the people of groups that encountered Jesus were quite sure that they were on the right track.  In fact, they were so sure of their own correct viewpoint that they were willing to speak up and challenge Jesus.

They couldn't have been more wrong.

The Pharisees had it all together.  They had spent years and years studying the Law, and thought they knew it all.  They wanted to trick Jesus, so they asked Him a question about divorce.  He set them straight.  They didn't realize, but they were dead wrong.

The disciples had it all together.  They were the ones walking with Jesus every day.  They knew how important He was, and how necessary His ministry. So they kept the little children away.  They thought they were helping their Master in ministry, but they were dead wrong.

The Rich Young Ruler had it all together.  He kept every jot and tittle of the law, and had from his youth.  He thought he could inherit eternal life and keep his earthly wealth, but he was dead wrong.

James and John had it all together.  They were part of Jesus' inner circle, and they just knew that someday they'd have a special place in heaven.  They thought that following their Master meant accolades and honour, but they were dead wrong.

The people of Jericho had it all together.  I imagine there was quite a bit of excitement when Jesus came into town!  Everyone would line up to see Him and to hear Him speak.  He was a celebrity at this point in His ministry, and everywhere He want, great crowds followed.  There was no time to bother with some blind beggar, sitting by the side of the road.  The crowds were dead wrong.

None of Them Could See

The Pharisees could not see that they were trying to trick the Omniscient.
The Disciples could not see that they way to eternal life is to humble yourself, like a little child.
The Rich Young Ruler could not see that his treasures were weighing him down, blinding him to eternal wealth.
James and John did not see the lesson of their Master who was a Servant to all.
The People of Jericho did not see that the person of interest to Jesus that day was a blind and helpless beggar.

Blind Bartimaeus

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”(Mark 10:47-48 ESV)
Bartimaeus Could See

  • Jesus was present
  • Jesus was able
  • Jesus was merciful
  • Jesus was the Son of David
Bartimaeus saw more than any of the others mentioned in this chapter.  He was poor and blind and needy, but rich in faith.  Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?"

Let Me Recover My Sight

Bartimaeus, the one who could see through eyes of faith alone, wanted to see the world.  Jesus had mercy on him.

And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.  (Mark 10:52 ESV)
Go Your Way

Jesus told Bartimaeus to go his own way.  The only way Bartimaeus wanted to go was after Jesus.  He followed His Master on the way.


  1. Things are not always as they seem.  People who have it all together in their own minds, don't necessarily have it all together.  Man looks at the outward appearance.  The Lord looks at the heart.  He considers the humble children and the blind beggars (the poor and needy) to be infinitely valuable. As followers of Christ, we should do the same.
  2. Afflictions aren't always terrible.  I'm sure nobody would choose to be blind, to have to sit at the side of the road and beg for enough money to buy a bit of supper.  Yet God, in His infinite wisdom, blessed Bartimaeus with blindness.  He gave him eyes of faith, which are infinitely better than eyes that can see the material world.
  3. Even Spiritual Leaders can miss the mark.  The Disciples walked with Jesus every day, yet made some serious errors in judgment.  The Bible warns us to guard against pride - and Christians can stumble and fall just like anyone else.  Be careful, Christian, to guard your heart.  Consider yourself to be a Servant - a doulos - a Slave to the Good Master, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Bartimaeus was a Street Preacher

He called out loudly, "Have mercy on me!"  Everyone knew he was yelling.  Everyone saw what happened.  Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) has a section on Street Preaching that's worth checking out.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Put a Knife to Your Throat

When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
observe carefully what is before you,
and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to appetite.
Do not desire his delicacies,
for they are deceptive food.
                      ~Proverbs 23:1-3 ESV

Someone might read these words of wisdom and think, "I'll be careful next time I sit down to eat with a ruler.  Not going to happen any time soon.  It's not like the Queen of England or POTUS will invite me to tea at Buckingham Palace or the White House."


You are a slave.  I know it is hard for some people to comprehend, but the Bible is clear in Romans 6: You are either a slave to righteousness, serving Christ, or a slave to sin, serving Satan.  You may not know it.  You may not believe it.  It's true, nonetheless.  Read Matt Slick's article, The Methodology of Satan, to understand more.

So, when you sit down to eat, you sit down with a Ruler.

The question is, which Ruler are you thinking about as you observe what is before you on the table?

Daniel was offered all sorts of delicacies, but he resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food.  He paid no attention to the King of Babylon.  He was thinking about the King of Kings.

Every time I sit down to eat, I resolve to think about my Ruler.  It is a battle I must wage in my mind.  I've struggled with weight issues all of my life, from the time I was about 14 years old.  A broken leg left me immobile for weeks, and I gained about 30 pounds.  Since then, my weight has been an issue.

A few years ago I lost nearly 50 lbs, and kept most of it off for a couple of years.  It slowly started to pile back on and I was thinking I'd have to do something about it, then I broke three bones in my foot.  Three months later I am sitting here with an extra 30 lbs.  I can blame the broken bones, the wheelchair, the lack of activity... but the truth is, I should have paid attention.   I should have made wiser choices, knowing that this would be a struggle.  I chose to ignore the tighter clothes, the flabby belly - I chose the excuses (It's Christmas!) and refused to face reality.

I chose to ignore the voice of my Saviour.  I wanted to eat those delicacies.

I Chose to Pay NO Attention to His Voice

Listen with undivided attention!
I know I can pay no attention to my King, and succumb to the wiles of the prince of this world, who seeks only to destroy my health and my testimony.  His food is deceptive food - designed to kill.  "Just a little tasty treat," he hisses.  "You can diet tomorrow.  You know it tastes really good.  And after all, God made all things, so this is His gift."   His words are twisted lies.

My Lord Jesus only wants what is best for me.

I am His slave, and He loves me.  He wants me to hear His voice, and He wants to give me life and health and strength to serve my husband and family at home.  He wants me to learn to mortify the flesh and exercise self-control.  He wants me to stop making excuses.

Dear Lord Jesus, Ruler of my Heart,
Teach me to put a knife to my throat in the face of my enemies - lust, appetite, delicacies, driving desires.  You fasted for 40 days and nights in the wilderness.  Teach me how to deny myself.  Help me to resist the devil so that he will flee from me.  Keep my heart and mind turned toward You, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. I want to keep my eyes on You, to keep my ears tuned to Your voice, to listen to You with my whole heart and with undivided attention.  May it be, dear Lord.  Amen.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I'm still hopping around the Bible, following a modified version of Professor Horner's Bible Reading System. This morning I read Revelation 4, Ecclesiastes 3, and Psalm 27.

Revelation shows us the glory and beauty of our Lord who sits on a throne of glory, surrounded by redeemed elders, crowned with gold.  Around the throne are four creatures that see all that is revealed.  They are fierce as lions, loyal and steadfast as oxen, rational and made in the image of God like man, and swift as an eagle in flight to obey their God.  They never cease to praise God's holiness and power, for He is worthy.  I read the passage.  I am in awe.

Ecclesiastes reminds me that there is a time for everything, and that I am not in control of what will happen.  I was born; I will die.  I've planted and plucked, I've killed and I've healed.  I have broken down walls and built them up.  I've wept and laughed, and mourned and danced. 

The thing that strikes me about this list is that my God is the One ordaining my steps.  I've lost things - not of my own volition - and prayed that God would help me as I seek them.  I've been silent, and I've spoken up.  I am acutely aware that what happens to me is planned perfectly by my God, who loves me, and who deserves all praise.

There is nothing better for me to do than to rejoice in my work and take pleasure in all of my toil.  I can rest in Him.  I can sink down into Him.   I don't control anything, but I know the One who does.  He is good, and He is right.

Psalm 27 reminds me that the Lord is my light and my salvation.  He is my stronghold in times of trouble, and my guide on the weary path.  He is the One who gives me confidence, and He is absolutely lovely.  I long to be with Him, and I have His promise that I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.

I wonder what it will be like, the sea of glass before the throne.  Is it simply figurative, or will I see it?  I long to gaze on the beauty of my Lord, and look upon His goodness.

Trials will come.  Death is inevitable.  I'll experience the pain of false witnesses rising up against me, and the crooked ways of my enemies.  But my God will never forsake me.  I only have to sink into Him, to trust Him, to wait for Him.  When I ponder the message in these passages, I am strong.  My heart takes courage.  I wait for the Lord.

In this season of beginnings, the time of goal-setting and resolutions, many people are changing their habits.  Instead of a list of things they seek to do and to be in this new year, they've been choosing a word that could change their life.  Ann Voskamp chose IN.  Others have chosen words like FAITH, or DELIBERATE, or JOY.  So many different words.  So many different people.

I thought about my one word for 2013. 
It's SINK.  It has to be SINK. 

I considered the word REST, because my heart wants to rest in Jesus, to desist from having to check off my list and from evaluating my walk with God according to my daily accomplishments.  It's too easy for me to feel proud about DOING and despair about NOT DOING.  God loves me, not because of my work, but because He has chosen me to love.  I want to rest in that.

More than that, though, I want to sink into that truth.  I want to be enveloped by God's love as it overwhelms and surrounds me.  I think of Jonah, in the center of God's will as he thought he was drowning, yet God was ordering his steps.  I think of Peter, stepping boldly out of the boat in faith, then losing focus and sinking with fear.  Jesus reached out and caught Peter's hand… He does the same for me. 

I'll write more about my word as I continue to think about what it means to me.  For now, it's my ONE WORD for 2013.   SINK.