Friday, February 7, 2014

Long time no write

The last half of 2013 was a rough time for me. A lot of small things and a couple of big things worked together to the point where my wife and I had to leave our church. It would be foolish for me to claim that my own actions did not play a significant part in how bad things had become, and now on the other side of it all I am left with a lingering question: What was the point of it all?

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

I know, Lord, that a man’s way of life is not his own; 
no one who walks determines his own steps. 
Jeremiah 10:23

Who is there who speaks and it happens, unless the Lord has ordained it?
Lamentations 3:37

What is it that God wants me to learn through all this? Why has He brought us through this season in our lives? 

God has been bringing this verse to mind often here of late: 

23 But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels. 24 The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, 25 instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. 
2 Timothy 2:23-25

Something really stood out to me today, that from one perspective, "able to teach" seems out of place in verse 24. "Reject stupid disputes, they just bring about unnecessary arguments. Don't engage in these arguments, but be gentle and patient with everyone." That would seem to make more sense at first blush, so I really took notice of "able to teach" here, and I think the principle is this:

Teaching is not quarreling, and quarreling is not teaching.
They are mutually exclusive.

Anyone else who reads this may be thinking "Well, duh!", but really, it is rather humbling for me. I spent a lot of time quarreling the last 6 months I was at my former church, and honestly, at the time I really thought I was teaching.

In a sermon I heard recently, the pastor speaking said something to the effect of "Show me someone who is passionate about what he believes, and I will show you someone who has conviction in the face of hardships." He was drawing this from Peter's willingness to give God glory for his escape from prison even while knowing that he could be recaptured and probably killed at any moment (Acts 12). Even as I affirmed the truth of what the pastor was saying, God showed me something else as well: It is far too easy in my sinfulness for passion to become persecution and conviction to become condemnation.

God, please shut my mouth when all I want to do is quarrel.
Teach me to be patient and gentle with everyone I meet.

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