Spirituality

1 Corinthians 15:58:

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Another new year. Like most years, scads of possibilities for personal improvement and greater good have surfaced in my brain and, like most years, I’m overwhelmed by the sheer number of opportunities. This is also a time of year that typically ushers in, for me, lower mood and energy. This is not a pity party; I am not powerless to take action against this negativity, but I do feel like many people can relate to these feelings and might appreciate the acknowledgment amidst all the Facebook posts detailing the number of miles their friends have run (even though it’s eight degrees outside) and the new healthy eating plans they’ve implemented. There. Now I’ve acknowledged the crappy feelings and pray that my sympathizers and I can move on to being inspired by other people’s successes instead. 🙂

Before the new year started, my fellow-blogger and inspirational friend, Crystal, suggested that we try an adapted form of the 60/60 Experiment. We aren’t reading Soul Revolution, but we are using the idea to stop once an hour to honor, incorporate, remember God in our lives. After a rough start, I downloaded a customizable timer app that helps me remember, although I’m still not perfectly observant. I find that what happens when that timer sounds is a sort of accountability exercise. Because I get caught up in daily life and I’m not expecting to communicate with God at those moments, I wind up examining whether whatever is happening in my head or whatever action I might be taking is good and pleasing to Him. It’s been valuable and interesting. I’m planning to maintain this practice for the foreseeable future.

Now for the worst part. I decided to couple this experiment with a resolution to stop looking at my Facebook feed 1,800 times a day. I am not commenting on the evils or merits of Facebook, but for me, it was turning into a bad habit. I prayed about it and told God my intention to check it only once a day. I failed to honor my commitment. I am ashamed of my lack of discipline. This sin is not limited to this single, self-imposed thing. I struggle with laziness. While it might not appear that way to those who know me, I know myself well enough to make that assertion with no hesitation. Therefore, my “resolution” is to avoid idleness. I will continue to value R&R, but I have been lazy even in that, failing to take from it rejuvenation and joy. To my intention stated here, I add prayers for forgiveness and guidance.

Happy January, folks!

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Prophets Project · Uncategorized

Prophets Project – Ezekiel

If you’re following our joint prophets study, Crystal and I recently finished the book of Isaiah and are now blogging through Ezekiel. She suggested that we focus on cross-references, which is not something I’ve spent much time doing before. It should be interesting. 🙂

Ezekiel, so far, is mind-blowing. When the book opens, he is an exile in Babylon and warns his fellow Jews about the tribulation to come as a result of their disloyalty to God. His visions are so strange. I took the time, though, to create those visions (as specifically as possible based on his descriptions) in my mind. That sounds simple, but it taxed my feeble brain. Nonetheless, it enriched the reading tremendously.

When I looked at the cross references, the ones that most intrigued me were those that referenced other Old Testament prophets. Some of the imagery Ezekiel uses, which seems so unique, is paralleled in Jeremiah and Daniel. Interestingly, these three prophets were contemporaries. Were they aware of each others’ prophecies? Were some of these images already relevant or particularly meaningful to that culture? The answers to those questions interest me because I’m always looking for evidence that points toward the supernatural. I know that it is difficult to validate matters of faith and that what seems like strong evidence to me can be argued six ways from Sunday. Doesn’t matter. I’m still always on the lookout and can’t seem to help it.

A few other things that caught me. In chapter 3:1-3, God instructs Ezekiel to eat a scroll with His words written on it. The scroll contained “…words of lamentation and mourning and woe.” (2:10), and yet tasted “…as sweet as honey.” (3:3). This is so interestingly dissonant to me. It reminded me of “…the bread of adversity and the water of affliction…” of Isaiah 30:20 and speaks, I think, to the idea of refinement through fire and that pain and suffering can be blessings, if they cause us to repent.

Again in chapter 3: Compare and contrast verses 16-21 and 22-27. Ezekiel is told that it is his responsibility to warn people who are behaving wickedly and give them the opportunity to repent. If I apply this to my own life… well… I stink at it. Telling someone that they are in the wrong is a very difficult thing to do. To complicate matters, verses 22-27 tell us that Ezekiel will only be free to speak to the people when he is speaking directly and specifically for God. So, how confident can we be correcting the behavior of others? Cross reference with Matthew 7:3 and any number of other New Testament verses. That isn’t a rhetorical question, by the way. I’d love to hear what you think. My takeaway is that I have to be careful and prayerful, but if I truly believe, the only loving thing to do is to communicate what I know. Scary and hard.

In chapter 4:12-15, God tells Ezekiel how he should prophesy and includes an instruction to eat his food baked on “…human dung.” Read for context, but there’s no getting around the ewww factor here. Anyway, Ezekiel argues with God, saying he’s never “defiled” himself in that way and God concedes. Now, we’ve seen God respond this way before, but how crazy. First, crazy that Ezekiel would argue with God (at least at first blush), and second, that God would (hope this isn’t too blasphemous) give in. Now, I’d wager that, in fact, many of us know what it is to argue with God, but seldom do I feel like I’m in the right. It’s a reminder, though, that if I feel called to do something and don’t want to do it, it is good to seek further guidance. So often, I have ignored good impulses, when perhaps there were other ways to fulfill those calls.

Okay, I promise that I’m winding down… so much good stuff this week! Just a couple of parting thoughts. In 6:9, God states that He has “…been broken” by the disregard His people have shown Him. I know I’ve talked about our ability to affect God before, so I won’t elaborate, but wow. Powerful words.

Finally, I think that 7:19 is so very relevant. “They cast their silver into the streets, and their gold is like an unclean thing. Their silver and gold are not able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord. They cannot satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it. For it was the stumbling block of their iniquity.”

Even though I know that satisfaction is not possible except in Christ, I look for it here all the time. I try to satisfy my hunger and fill my stomach with that which never can.

God, let our desire, our hunger, lead us to you. Amen. Continue reading “Prophets Project – Ezekiel”