Saturday, March 14, 2009

Goodness = Pure Love

Since the beginning of February I have been memorizing Romans 15. The chapter is 33 verses long and it has been divided into 10 portions. I printed them on large labels so I could put them on index cards and store in a little binder on my dashboard. I spend so much of my time in the car traveling from site to site to service my students the time could be put to good use in memorizing God’s Word.
So far I’m up to verse 22 but I find as I go through my day the Lord is bringing deeper insights to the verses I’m learning. For example, I already had learned Romans 15:13 as a First Place memory verse “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” So it was not as difficult to learn the only other verse on that card -- Romans 15:14 I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
So today in reading an article by Rebekah Montgomery called “For Goodness Sakes!” I began to reflect on my understanding of goodness and that brought me back to the above verse!
This is the quote from her March newsletter that I wanted to share:
True goodness isn’t simple niceness. The Bible’s version of goodness describes good deeds that are not random but pointed and personal. It defines goodness using the same term as one would use to describe the razor-sharp honing of a knife blade. It’s going the extra mile for the person in need. In other words, the Bible’s definition of goodness is living and behaving with a cutting edge of righteous action.
Goodness requires courage, wisdom, initiative, a generous heart, and sometimes, precision direction from God. It is opening the car door for someone whose arms are full. Goodness is providing babysitting for a sick mother. Goodness is bringing the favorite food to a shut in.
Some give to get. That’s not goodness; that’s greed. Some give out of pure love for the individual; that’s goodness.
If you want to read the entire piece check it out here:
Paul lists goodness first in the verse as a stage in becoming complete in knowledge and competent to instruct. We learn by doing as Christ would which builds our knowledge (our “wise-ness”) and the final step is to instruct others which often means walking beside them as they learn to provide goodness to another. It’s a complete circle which will have the same effect as a pebble thrown into a pond and that ripples outward.
It continues to amaze me – this intimate relationship with the Lord that truly proves his desire to be my personal God – and helps to reinforce the idea of his sovereignty. He knows what will happen next and where I need to go and will share that with me but only if I’m open to seek Him and listen for His voice. His goodness is everlasting!
"But the right action with the wrong attitude is nothing but hypocrisy." John MacArthur

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who's Holding My Hand?

This afternoon as I was driving to Portsmouth I heard a woman speaking about a verse she gave to her mother when she was going through chemotherapy at 83 for breast cancer.
Isaiah 41:10 'Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' NASV
THE MESSAGE Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
NKJV Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
As you can see I had to compare versions, but the NKJV is my favorite and the one I intend to memorize this week.
She told her mother that as she underwent the procedure alone, in a scary place, to remember when she extended her right hand it was being held by God himself! What an incredible promise to use for encouragement in difficult circumstances. Later in the program she said this verse can be a prayer for the week. It has seven parts to it so you can meditate upon each aspect of God's character as outlined in the verse.
I have nothing to fear
God is with me
Don't be dismayed or anxious
For God is MY God
God will strengthen me (MY Ebenezer!)
God will help me
God will hold my right hand!
I am so grateful to God for these precious little insights that come across my path on my travels. My time on the road is being redeemed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Ebenezer of Strength

Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the Lord has helped us." 1 Samuel 7:12
Each year the Lord seems to be addressing another area of my faith walk. Last year it was in the area of PEACE. In the midst of difficult circumstances I was filled with an awesome sense of peace all year long. This was a testimony to my advisor at graduate school, for the previous summer I had a major meltdown during her class. This past summer faced with an insurmountable problem, or so we thought, I rested in the fact that God was in control and that gave me peace -- undeniable, unalduterated and yet unchanging peace. My times are in His hands what more can be done than rest in that?
This year's Ebenezer has become the word STRENGTH. It began with a familiar song on the radio in the car on the way to Chesapeake at 6a.m. on a dark, drizzly, damp morning. The words enlightened my entire day! "Strength arises as we wait upon the Lord, as we wait upon the Lord..." As we are in the crucible of waiting You will give us the strength that we need for what is coming up in our lives. It's a deepening of the meaning of my life verse, Nehemiah 8:10, Do not grieve for the joy of the Lord is your strength. God uses the time of waiting to strengthen us if we allow Him to do it within us. Am I willing to yield and be strengthened?
Just to make sure I accepted STRENGTH as my new Ebenezer, scriptures followed to confirm it in my daily devotional reading:
In Your strength You have guided them to your holy dwelling. You have brought them in and planted them on the mountain of your holy dwelling. Exodus 15:13
But You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
The other day I played around with Picasa and a picture of stones to come up with a wallpaper for my computer entitled: My Ebenezer Stones. In it are the characteristics that I could attribute to God's fine tuning in my life. There are so many more that need to be hewn from new rocks but I'm grateful that God only takes on one flawed area at a time. These stones are reminders of powerful lessons that have been wrought in my spiritual life -- but it by no means implies that I have fully achieved or grasped any of these qualities -- they are stones of remembrance -- because I'm still a work in progress.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A New Year

Another year, many milestones.
Sara left last New Year’s Eve(2007) for Bosnia to coordinate the year of prayer. Stephanie attends Wave Church in Virginia Beach which takes up most of her free time. She works as a nanny and part-time at Ulta. Vince continues to work nights at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. I am an educational therapist with ten students and coordinate a small group reading program in the public schools of Norfolk and Portsmouth as community services manager for Discovery Program.
I finished my last summer on campus (only two weeks!) for a Masters of Education in curriculum and instruction from Columbia International University returning home on our 27th wedding anniversary, June 27. I still have an online prerequisite course to finish by the first week in February to officially graduate in May of 2009.
A trip to Kalispell, Montana in August to teach a math workshop for elementary teachers gave me the opportunity to drive through Glacier National Park. I crossed the continental divide, took some truly awesome pics and was protected from hitting a doe and her fawn by inches! When they call it “Big Sky” country, there’s truly no other way to describe the immense beauty that surrounds you there.
Next June there’s a Level 1 course planned in Sacramento, California that I'm scheduled to teach which will allow some further travel.
Wishing you a peaceful and glorious new year,
Pattie and Vince Perry
Cell: 757-635-5273