What Stands Out–Jude

“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.  Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”  Jude 2:20-21

I love it when Michele does one of her study blogs, because it encourages me to go to the same scripture and see what stands out for me.  It’s always great to have a friend to sharpen us in our Christian study.

So, I read Jude over several times (it’s a short book) and the verse above stands out for me.  As Michele said, Jude is cautioning us against false teachers.  This verse gives us what I like to call -YBH –Yes, but how.  It tells us how to avoid falling prey to lies about the faith.

First of all, we must pray in the Holy Spirit.  The Lutheran catechism says the Spirt “calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies” us.  That means we can pray for the Spirit to open our minds to the truth, to give us  the wisdom and discernment to rightly divide truth from error.

Then we are told to “keep yourself in God’s love.”  In other words, stay close to God and God’s people.  Avoid what pulls you away from the Scripture and what you have been taught by godly pastors and leaders.  Attend worship and Bible study.  Learn and grow in the proper environment.

As I said, Jude is a short book, but it has a powerful and important message.  Will you read it this week?  What questions does it raise in your mind?  What stands out for you?


The Serenity Prayer in Action

Back on the 11th, Joan posted the Serenity Prayer in it’s entirety.  I’m used to just seeing the first part but I really love the whole thing.  You see, my father was a drunk that got sober in AA.  The Serenity Prayer was a big part of his life and it became a large part in mine.  Let me just repeat it here so you don’t have to scroll back to find it:

God grant me the Serenity
To Accept the things I cannot Change
Courage to Change the things I can
and the Wisdom to know the Difference

I didn’t think too much about the Serenity Prayer in my younger days.  Oh, I knew it but I didn’t apply it.  You can know something in your head and it may never reach your heart.

While my husband was ill and I had to tend to him and make decisions and work and do all the things that I had to do, I would “chew at the bit”; not liking that my life was interrupted by his illness.  While I wouldn’t abandon him, I still hated the fact that I didn’t have control over my life.  Or so I thought.  I was going to a counselor and she agreed, I was in a situation that I was powerless over.  I had to be vigilant everyday as to what was going on, medical wise, with my husband.  My work knew that I may have to leave with a moments notice.  I lived my life on the edge all the time.  I found that I was always “edgy” myself.  Snapping at people and being just generally nasty.  I was tired, always.  Depression was my constant companion.

While my counselor and I were talking about ways to try to keep my head above it all, I thought of the Serenity Prayer.  “God Grant me the Serenity…”  Yes, I sure needed that! “To Accept the Things I cannot change…”  Now, I’m not good at acceptance.  I thought accepting something meant that I had to like it.  No, No, NO!  You do not have to like something to accept it.  I found out that you can say, I don’t like this but I accept that it’s happened or is happening or that it is what it is.  “It is what it is” turned into one of my sayings.  I don’t fight it, tear my hair out, scream, yell or cry.  IT IS WHAT IT IS.  Accept it and move on!

The next part is actually harder.  “Courage to Change the things I can…”  Yup, that’s usually us.  We can’t change other people, only God can change other people.  Now, in my situation I found ways to get out of the house for a few hours for me.  We found home health aides so I could work.  These things made my situation better.  I prayed and prayed and, even though the situation was the same, it was easier.  It’s always easier if you are not pushing back.  Changing when changing is needed.

And that brings me to the last part: “Wisdom to know the Difference”  Yes, we have to pray for wisdom.  What needs to be accepted and what needs to change.  Usually, the things and people around us need to be accepted and we are the ones who need to change.  This can be the hardest thing of all.

I’ve learned to live the Serenity Prayer, not to it’s fullest, but I understand way better than I did when I was younger.  We all need to learn this prayer.  It’s a good one to keep, not in your mind, but in your heart.


Wisdom vs. Knowledge

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12

“Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this thy people, that is so great?” 2 Chronicles 1:10

The first verse above is attributed to Moses, and the second to Solomon:  two of the most revered leaders in the Bible.  Isn’t it interesting that they ask God, not just for knowledge, but wisdom.  Yes, there is a difference!  Knowledge is book learning.  We can get it by reading and studying the Bible.  If you can memorize verses, list the books in order, recite the history of the Israelites, then you have knowledge.  Wisdom is different.  Wisdom is knowing how to apply the word of God to life circumstances.  It comes from the heart rather than the head.

Here is a definition:

Wisdom means always acting according to the spirit of the Commandments and not looking for an ambiguity or omission which we can use to evade their true intent. Wisdom means understanding the consequences of our actions and words before we act or speak. Wisdom means having the knowledge and understanding to recognize the right course of action and having the will and courage to follow it.

Jesus criticized the Scribes and Pharisees severely.  They had the knowledge they needed to do what was right, but they didn’t use that knowledge wisely.  Instead of complying with the spirit of God’s law, and allowing it to change their lives, they sought to minimize it’s scope and effect.

I’ve been doing some reading about IQ vs. EQ.  This is a similar dichotomy.  Having a high IQ means we can acquire knowledge quickly and easily.  EQ (Emotional Quotient) means we can understand and control our emotions (and those of others) and adjust our actions accordingly.  Unsurprisingly, those with high EQ make the best leaders.  You need heart knowledge as well as head knowledge to become a good leader.

So, as you study the Bible this week (and I hope you do) pray along with Moses and Solomon for wisdom to apply the learning.  And remember, God loves you and so do I!