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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Christian Life in the Greek Present Tense

The time has come to start working on the next Ladies' study. I've decided to study "Prayer from Paul's POV". [I'll come up with a catchier title later. Suggestions?] After translating Rom.1:8-12 and making a beauteous chart, I spent time making observations. The first thing I noticed is how many Present Tense verbs Paul uses in this passage. That's significant!

[As a reminder... Greek Verbs tell not only the TIME of the action, but also the KIND of the action. While there are some other specific uses of the Greek Present Tense, generally it denotes progressive action, which can be either on-going, repetitive or continuous.]

Here are some examples from this passage:

1:8a "...I am thanking my God ..."
1:8b "...your faith is being proclaimed in the whole world."
1:9a "...God...whom I am serving..."
1:9b "...I am making a mention of you"
1:10 "...always...making request/beseeching/imploring/begging
1:11 "...I am longing to see you..."

I worded it so that you could appreciate the "Present tenseness" of these verbs. When Bible writers talk about the Christian life, the Present Tense verbs start jumping out all over the place. That's because faith in the heart affects the outer actions... continuously, progressively. "As a man thinks in his heart, so he is." You don't "thank God" once, or even every once in a while. A heart of faith is thanking God continuously, progressively. It's a "lifestyle" attribute.

Read over this passage a few times and spend some time thinking about the significance of these verbs being in the Greek Present Tense. Then ask yourself if this is personally true in your life.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lessons Learned

We've been going through a transition time. Having sold our business, we've been trying to find the next source of income. Transitions can be frightening, especially when you are aging and you don't have a clear picture of where you are headed.

Fortunately, God knows the answers to all my questions and concerns and He has my future all mapped out. I am completely convinced of that truth from an intellectual POV, but I have been having a hard time letting it trickle down to my emotional POV. And that has been bothering me. After prayerful study and meditating on God's Word, I thought I would share some of the conclusions that have helped me apply my "head" to my "heart". While most of these are not "new" truths, they are truths that I have absorbed in a new, more personal way. The crushing burden in my chest has lifted, and if it returns in the middle of the night, then I just remind myself of these "epiphanies", the weight leaves and I go back to sleep.

1. My prayer was wrong. I was praying, "Take it away...take it away. Fix it." Which, quite honestly, was not doing a thing for me. Is God able to take it away? Certainly. Then it really sank in that He has allowed this situation to help conform me to the image of His Son. [Rom.8:28-29] In the long run, THAT is what will bring me true joy. THAT is what is BEST for me. My prayer is now, "Lord, give me the strength to trust You, to rest in You, even when my "eyes" don't see the end."

2. I was not truly thankful for His current provision. He has given me two part time jobs I enjoy [teaching Koine & working at church], as well as the monthly payments for our business to live on in the interim. Yes, we had hoped to invest the payments to support us in our old age, but that was OUR plan. It's one thing to be a good steward and to plan wisely, but completely another to cling to absolute control of everything in our lives. For a believer, that is God's area.

3. I was looking at only MY picture of the future. This is where I want to be in 7 years when the business payments end. Maybe that isn't God's idea at all! All kinds of things might happen in the next 7 years, and my worry and anxiety would end up being completely foolish in hindsight. God knows 7 years from now. He tells me to be concerned with TODAY. [Mt.6:33-34] Today did He provide for me? Yes. I now remind myself that He is just as able to provide for me 7 years from now...and it doesn't have to be in the exact manner I have decided it should be. He knows what is best for me so much better than I do.

4. I need to spend more time immersed in God's Word for my own personal study, not just as a preparation for teaching. I spend a lot of time preparing for SS, Ladies' studies & any 1-on-1 mentoring I might be doing. I certainly learn & apply a lot in the process, but I do tend to be more others-focused. I ALSO need to be spending time repetitively reading a book of the Bible without having an extraneous motive... just humbly reading and letting the HS speak personally to me.

5. I looked for "feeding factors" to avoid and discovered the Evening News was NOT being helpful. I do not need to hear nightly scare stories about the price of gasoline and home heating oil going up, the stock market going down, etc.. It is of absolutely no value to me, except to make me anxious. So I skip the Evening News for now. I keep up with news on-line and in the newspaper, where it is much easier to choose what I want to be exposed to. Daily I remind myself how wealthy Americans are and how skewed our POV is because of it. So I skip the Evening News and instead read the "Voice of the Martyrs" magazine, in order to get my perspective right. The result is LESS needless anxiety and MORE compassion for believers around the world who are suffering for their faith in Christ.

6. I remembered the lessons learned from the 1Peter Ladies' Study. I remind myself constantly that I am a pilgrim, a traveler passing through. This is not my home. I need to keep my focus on my home country, which is eternal. I recalled Paul's life after conversion. He just kept walking, faithfully serving. I don't remember any verses about him becoming overly focused upon his old age. He was focused on glorifying God, moment by moment, day by day. And the result was that he "learned to be content" because of the opportunities God gave him to practice. [Phil.4:11-12]
I GET it.