dord (dôrd), n. density of mind; chiefly exhibited by one who attempts to demonstrate supposed knowledge --adj. dord'ish


To Whom Belong Wisdom and Might

Earlier this year, God began to show me that my devotions, while consistent, were not consistently meaningful. Because of this, I began a practice which many other Christians before me have found helpful: devotional journaling. In the past I would read a few chapters from the Scriptures, yet come away without having slowed down to meditate on any of it. Sure, I'd become more familiar with the Word in a general way, but I wasn't digging into the passages and being fed as I could have and should have. Scripture is powerful, and I still learned, but I'm prone to notice the same verses from any given passage each time I read it. The upside to this is that it might help me to remember teachings I'd heard on that subject; the downside is that I wasn't really learning from about 95% of the Scriptures.

I began journaling early in the summer, and I can say that it's made a definite difference in the extent to which reading the Scripture impacts me. I try to pick at least one short passage every day to copy down and journal some thoughts below it. Sometimes this is easier than others. One benefit, though, has been that, when I read a passage and nothing "jumps out" at me, I'll go back to find something that does. If I'm not learning from the Word, it's not because God isn't speaking through it, but rather because my mind is distracted. I've especially learned from the Old Testament, which I had enjoyed primarily for its historical accounts. Now I'm learning from these stories, and often learning from verses which I had never even noticed before.

The reason I bring all of this up is first to encourage other people who have either never tried journaling or tried it and had a difficult time sticking with it. Let me be one more voice to say that meditating on Scripture is definitely worth the time, and journaling helps to keep a wandering mind on topic. Second, I wanted to share the following passage from Daniel, an example of the type of passage I'd never before stopped to consider. I'll share how it impacted me, but feel free to add any additional insights. Finally, I almost didn't post this, fearing that people might think that I think that I have it all together. Then I realized how convoluted that thought was.

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king's matter.” (Daniel 2:20-23, ESV)

God is not merely the wisest and mightiest; wisdom and might belong to Him. That fact in and of itself is something to meditate on. Daniel goes on to say that only He to whom might belongs can change times and seasons and can set up and depose kings. He also "gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding." It is not that He finds the wise and decides to give them more wisdom. Rather, I think Daniel is saying this: "Look around and see those who are wise and remember this: all wisdom that they have has been granted them by God. Do you see those who have understanding? Recognize that all of their knowledge has come from God. Recognize that all of your knowledge has come from God as well."

Finally we look at the last portion. What it says is more significant than I realized from a cursory reading. When we see things, we see only because our sight is illuminated. What is in the darkness is hidden to us as long as it remains in the darkness. But "light dwells with Him." Light itself belongs to Him. There are some important things for us to take away from this. First, the power of God. He is more awesome than we realize, and we often fail even to consider His greatness. His power is a great comfort to those who serve Him, but a terror to those who do not.

A second thing to see from this is our pride. When I see wisdom in others, I want the same. But why do I want it? To try to further my own name? And what do I think of this wisdom? How do I seek it? Yes, it is definitely important to seek wisdom (not "I'll sit and wait for it to come to me") but we are called to seek wisdom from God (not from anywhere else) and to use it for His glory (not for anything else). He is the source of all wisdom. God's wisdom is not a supplement to our own. What can happen for us Christians is that we have wisdom, which God has granted to us, but we "forget" where it has come from. Anything that we understand we only understand because God has revealed it to us. And the things we don't understand but desire to? We must seek the Lord, who "reveals deep and hidden things." There are things that only He can reveal; if it is His will that we know, then He will reveal it to us.

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Thoughts of a Voter

I voted. Those are the words on the sticker that I received after handing in my ballot. They are two words that make a very simple statement--simple, yet not simplistic.

As Christians, we know that we have a responsibility to vote, and to do so wisely. I take this seriously; so do many Christians that I know. We try to be informed about the candidates and the issues before we head off to the polls, seeking to identify the people and measures which would most closely uphold Biblical principles. Things become complicated, though. We all know that. There are no perfect candidates, and the ramifications of many ballot issues can be confusing.

One lone person going out to the polls can appear inconsequential. I feel patriotic when I vote. I know I should vote. I am thankful to be able to vote. But I still wonder if my vote will make a difference. When the results come in, and thousands of votes separate many of the races and issues which I voted on, will the presence of my vote have made a difference? Yes and no. The fact is, my vote can make a difference along with many others. So yes, it will make a difference. But think about this: when I (or we, I know I'm not the only one) have these thoughts, what I really wonder is whether my vote will make the difference. Will my vote put a certain candidate on top? The problem with this is a two-fold display of arrogance. First, I assume that if the tally shows a difference of one vote, my vote is of greater importance than that of the thousands or millions of others who voted with me. Second, I assume that what I do only matters if I can see how it makes a difference, the difference.

Think about those words again: will my vote make the difference? The fact is, the greatest problem with this attitude is that it carries over into the rest of our lives. I vote every day. You vote every day. And not just once a day. With every action we do, with every decision we make, with every thought that we think, we are proclaiming our support--and our allegiance--either for God and His ways, or for selfishness and the ways of the devil. (It's funny; though I wasn't intending to write a follow-up post, the quote that I posted over the weekend fits in with this.)

In an election, our votes determine the winner. God, however, does not need to have the majority of the people supporting and serving Him to defeat the devil. His victory does not depend on our obedience, because it has already been accomplished. In this way, we know that our actions will not make the difference. Here again we see the danger of that attitude and question. As Christians who have been taught of the sovereignty of God, we know that He will ultimately conquer. Like the citizen who decides against voting because He believes His vote will not make the difference, we as Christians sometimes doubt the importance of obedience.

Here's an example. Let's say something isn't going as I had planned. If I listen to my flesh, this inconvenience will affect my attitude. It will affect my actions. It will even affect how much I care about its effects. Though the following thoughts won't necessarily go through my mind, they are represented in my attitude. So what is the difference? Does it even make a difference? If this is a sinful attitude God will convict me and I'll repent and move on. It cannot make the difference for anything. The arrogant assumption here (much like we saw earlier regarding political voting) is that if our actions do not make the difference, then they do not make a difference, and if they do not make a difference, then they do not matter.

But our actions do matter. We know from Scripture that our obedience is important (Leviticus 18:4, John 3:36, Acts 5:29, and many others). Yet because we know that God is sovereign and that we are saved through Christ's atoning work on the cross, we know that there is no question of us making the difference. Unlike voting, our choices are not a matter of enough people combining to make the difference in the outcome. Though the voter analogy breaks down (as do all), we see in both cases the importance of realizing that nothing is about us. My wanting to make the difference is about me. It is about my desire to see the impact of my choices so that I may feel good about what I have done, whether in voting or in obeying. But we don't have to assume that what we do either makes the difference or that it doesn't matter. We can desire to make a difference for God's glory, to "[participate] with God in transforming the world to reflect His righteousness" (see the quote in the post below), when we focus on Him instead of on ourselves.

Finally, my actions matter because they have impact that I do not see. Like the voter who only believes his vote is worthwhile if he can see the difference it makes, we can fall into the trap of thinking that our actions do not matter because we do not see their impact. But obeying my flesh not only affects my attitude and my actions, it also affects the way I reflect Christ, and this matters greatly.

I voted. I don't know how my vote will make a difference, but that's all right. What matters is faithfulness to be obedient to vote wisely; I'll now leave the impact of my vote up to God.

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November's Quote to Ponder

"In every action we take, we are doing one of two things: we are either helping to create a hell on earth or helping to bring down a foretaste of heaven. We are either contributing to the broken condition of the world or participating with God in transforming the world to reflect his righteousness. We are either advancing the rule of Satan or establishing the reign of God."
--Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live?