All About the Word

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Earlier this semester I was teaching my students how to solve and graph the solution of compound inequalities and found myself repeatedly saying, “It’s all about the word.” I’ll spare you the math lesson and just tell you that a compound inequality is two simple inequalities joined by the word and or the word or. That word happens to have a huge impact on the solution set.

As I was teaching this lesson and heard myself repeating that same sentence over and over, I heard His still small voice whisper, “That’s right, Polly, it IS all about the word—MY word.” Just as AND or OR has a dramatic effect on the solution set of a compound inequality, God’s word has that same potential in our lives.

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”                                                                                                        

Hebrews 4:12 NLT

When we get into God’s word, His word gets into us. It is potent enough to stir our souls and bring about change in our lives. Through His word, we can learn who we are as well as who and what we are not as it cuts to the very core of our being. As His word works in us, we’ll be faced with decisions:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”  

James 1:22-25 NIV

Have you noticed that doing the right thing is often also the hard thing? We can simply listen to God’s word or we can act on what we hear and apply it to our lives. The latter requires far greater effort, but the payout is worth it. The result of applying His word to our lives—we look more like Jesus! Isn’t that the goal?

I’m suddenly reminded of something else I’ve been known to say to my students regarding their effort—you get out of it what you put into it. Ugh…looks like I’d better take my own advice!

 

 

The Technology Challenge

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“It’s only as smart as the person using it!” As a math teacher, I have uttered those words to my students on more than one occasion. There have been times when I have gotten downright frustrated by my students’ dependence on calculators. Often, any math sense they have is tossed out the window when they have a calculator in their hands. They just assume the calculator is displaying the correct answer without giving it a second thought. But what if they unknowingly hit the wrong key? Addition produces a different answer than subtraction. 94 is not the same as 49. Calculators are wonderful tools and certainly save us time; however, the beholder still has to supply the brainpower! And so it is with smartphones. What a great tool to have at our disposal, but if we’re not careful, we can easily lose our sense and become dependent on that too.

Based on my morning, I think I might be guilty! I have the Bible App downloaded on my phone and tablet and it is generally the first app I open in the morning. I am currently working through two different reading plans. The daily devotion/reading in the one plan was quite thought-provoking this morning. The gist of it was, “What if we consulted with God as often as we “consulted” our cell phones?” How many times do you check your phone/electronic device each day for emails, texts, the score of the game, the weather, social media, etc.? That’s what I thought. I DO have company! I am not saying it’s bad, but we can certainly end up with misplaced priorities if we are not careful.

After reading that devotion this morning, by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I challenged myself to go to the Bible App, read His Word, and say a prayer each time I felt compelled to check my phone/tablet for whatever reason. Well, let’s just say I feel very closely connected to the Father at the moment!  So far I have been looking at verses that I’ve highlighted, bookmarked or created an image of in recent days. By rising to the challenge I have greatly increased my daily communication with God and the challenge is only 5 hours old!

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. (Hebrews 4:12 NLT)

Sustaining this challenge will lead to transformation, but will also require a conscious effort on my part. By getting into His Word, His Word will get into me.  The same is true for you. Care to join me in this challenge? I’d love the company. Pardon me for cutting this short, but I must go check my phone to see what messages my friend Jesus has for me!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)

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Double Fitness

Skiing

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT)

If not winter, are you at least enjoying the Olympics? I have tuned in most every night and find myself shaking my head frequently, awestruck by what these athletes are willing and able to do with/to their bodies in order to compete at such a high level. Sometimes it makes me hurt just watching them!  I can only imagine the degree of physical training required of these Olympic athletes and the pain they have endured in the process.

Athletes or not, we can honor God with our bodies.  And should! Being physically fit is one means of providing the Spirit with a nice home in which to reside. This topic has been heavy on my mind of late; thus, this writing. For some yet to be determined reason, I have recently been sidelined from exercise that has been part of my daily routine for years. My body won’t tolerate it for more than 27 seconds at a time and that admittedly scares me.  Maybe the aging process or some other physical ailment has limited your mobility and derailed your ability to be physically fit as well. I have good news—there’s something much better, spiritual fitness.  Why? Because its benefits are eternal!

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8 NLT)

We can achieve spiritual fitness by investing in our relationship with the Creator of the universe. Just as there are many ways to get into physical shape, there are a variety of ways to train for godliness as well.  We can nurture our relationship with God by spending time in His Word, communicating with Him in prayer, attending and becoming actively involved in a church, and more. The key is staying connected to Him. I’ve done several Bible studies over the years and since I am a bottom line kind of person, I like to summarize what I’ve learned upon completion of the study.  I always seem to arrive at the same conclusion—it’s all about the relationship! It is my prayer that each of us would invest in our spiritual fitness daily so that His light would shine through us and reach a dark world.

 

 

Only One Thing

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”                                                                                                                                                    —Luke 10: 38-42 (NLT)

As I prepare for the coming of the Christ Child this Advent season, I find it easy to lose my focus. How about you? I even vowed to not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season this year and to put the emphasis on preparing my heart rather than my home.  I broke that vow yesterday when I came a bit unglued.  It wasn’t so much due to Christmas preparations, but I believe they were certainly part of the equation. There were other stressors on my plate that were keeping me from those preparations.

The Lord brought the story of Martha and Mary to mind in the midst of it. Are you a Martha or Mary? I’d say I am about 99% Martha and 1% Mary. That could be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. I am all about getting my ducks lined up! The problem is I don’t handle it very well when they fall out of alignment. And they do.  Often. Can you relate?

My favorite doctor has me monitoring my pH level these past few weeks. If it is out of balance it can wreak havoc on a person’s health. Stress is one thing that can throw it out of balance and appears to be the major player in my case. Each time my pH reading indicates a lack of balance I can hear Jesus whispering, “Remember, there is only one thing worth being concerned about, Polly.” That reminder doesn’t just apply to these busy days of December, but each and every day.

Because God’s mercies are new each day (Lamentations 3:23) I have the opportunity to renew my vow and be more like Mary today. If you have also lost your focus amidst the busyness of the season, I would like to invite you to join me. Let’s vow to keep our focus and prepare our hearts for the celebration of the birth of our Savior!

My pH reading after writing this—a perfect 7.0.  Balance is good!

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