Life, in general, is going really well. God has blessed me in more ways than I can count. I have a great job - just finished the "re-design" of our company website. You can see it at www.dawsonco.com. The re-design that I did was all in the background coding - the actual look of the site is, for the most part, same as the original. We moved our hosting from the company that designed the site for us (www.ccsinteractive.com) to www.networksolutions.com. The problem was that the original site had a back-end database for managing changes I wanted to make. With the transfer over to network solutions, the backend had to go and I had to incorporate the information into the coding of each affected page (which was most of them). This was a really challenging process as I started out knowing absolutely nothing about HTML. I'm no expert yet, but I've learned enough to maintain our site and I'll be learning more as we make some additions, some improvements, and as we move towards e-commerce (possibly as soon as June/July!).
I have a great church too. Who could ask for anything more than to sit under the teaching of one of the greatest pastors of our day? But I get more - God is so very good! I have a wonderful Fellowship Group with so many opportunities to be involved in ministry - the thing I have to be careful with here is to not get too many irons in the fire. So often, if a need comes up and it's something I know I can technically do, I volunteer - not considering that I just don't really have the time and energy to do it. Being technically qualified doesn't mean we're always called to fill a need - I have to re-learn that lesson a bit too often :-P
Moreover, I get to hear sermons from other great pastors. This last week I have been absolutely entranced by a series on Israel by Pastor Tom Nelson of Denton Bible Church. It's a 16 sermon series and I'm on CD #9. Through this series, I am learning and being convinced of the amazing patience & mercy of a righteous and holy God. I am learning the consequences of disobedience - and the blessing of repentance. I am learning more about how God deals with the nations and with His people - how we, as gentiles, are blessed through the Jews. (By the way, I now know I'm a Japhethite!) The ultimate blessing, of course, is in Christ as our Savior and Lord, but there is much more. I encourage you to check out the site and this series.
So, down to the nitty gritty - what God has been teaching me these days. My last post, a couple of weeks ago, hinted at the work God is now doing in my life. I went to a retreat with my fellowship group from church at the end of last month. It was really wonderful. The facilities were beautiful, the view out my hotel room window was soothing and refreshing (a gardened waterfall), and the teaching was exactly what I needed at this time in my life. I probably wouldn't have gone if our worship team hadn't been scheduled to lead music during the retreat - financially it was a bit of a strain - but in the end, it was worth so much more than I was required to give for it! I am a different person today than I was the day I arrived at the hotel.
The teacher was Chris Peterson - a young associate pastor, graduate of The Master's Seminary, and full of the fire of God's Holy Spirit. His teaching was impassioned and totally Biblical. He taught on Wisdom. I don't have time right now to break down the overwhelming amount of information he provided, but the end result for me was a realization that I have slowly and surely been commiting spiritual suicide - and I didn't even know it. To "nutshell" it - I am a very independent, capable young woman. Some might even envy me as I pretty much "have it all together" and I have a really great life. The problem, however, is that I am independent and I perceive myself as capable. Now, if you're like most people, you really don't see the problem yet. So let me spell it out for you - If I am so capable, why do I need God? If I'm self-sufficient, self- sustaining, self-reliant - where is the need for God in my life??
For years I have struggled with developing a regular quiet time of prayer and Bible reading. I've always known I "should". I just never really had the motivation. I didn't see my NEED. Our speaker, Mr. Peterson, exposed my need. One example he gave will stay in my mind for forever: ***CAUTION: This is a bit graphic*** You know how an eskimo kills a wolf? They place a sharp blade in a block of ice and bury it in the ground. They layer a small amount of blood over the ice. The wolf comes and licks up the blood. In the process, the ice melts and the wolf, unknowingly, licks the knife. Pretty soon it's not the blood that the eskimomo laid down that the wolf is licking, it's his own. The wolf bleeds to death, drinking his own blood. In a spiritual sense, the gifts, skills and talents the Lord has given us or given us opportunity to learn can be like the blood the eskimo lays down. Ice is the deception of our hearts. Self is the knife in the ice. (my personal metaphoric correllations, not the speakers) When we are SELF-sufficient and SELF-reliant and SELF-confident and any other "SELF" thing you put in there, we become like the wolf licking up our own blood, spiritually speaking.
All we are, every good thing we have, every good thing we know, every good thing we can do, think or say comes ONLY from the Lord. It is not of ourselves! "I" am not generous, kind, intelligent, wise, capable, or any other good thing - only God is. As Paul said, ". . . nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me"! So now I see my need. I can only be righteous through Christ - through the knowledge of God - through TOTAL dependence on Him. I do not say that I have attained to this yet - only that the Lord has brought me understanding and is teaching my heart to learn dependence.
Here is where I now see the value of personal, daily time in the Word and in prayer. How can I depend on someone I don't know? The only way to know God is through His revelation of Himself in Scripture. Prayer is the conduit through which I confess my inability to know Him and to worship and serve Him as He ought to be worshiped and served. So often I have come to the Word not seeing the relevance of learning about one Biblical hero or another - and that's because my focus was wrong. I am learning to come to the Scripture to see God as the hero - to see Who He is through his work in the lives of these individuals. To hear His wisdom in the Proverbs and to see His greatness in the Psalms. Moses, Abraham, David, Daniel, Joseph - these are not the heros or the point of the stories that contain their names - GOD is the point! God is the hero! His character is revealed in His dealings with these men and with the wicked men we read about.
Here then is motivation - to learn about my God so that He might create in me a heart of righteous reverence and respect (a.k.a. "fear") for Him, so that I might grow in wisdom ("for the fear of the Lord is the begining of wisdom") and understanding, so that I might be totally dependent upon Him, seeing myself in a truer perspective to my God.
So, for the last two weeks, with the exception of only 1 day, I have spent daily time with the Lord in His Word. I'm not where I'd like to be on this yet - I'm too much of a night owl and I need to learn discipline in getting to bed at a reasonable hour so as to leave myself more than 5-10 minutes with the Lord in the mornings. I'd like to have a full 1/2 hour at least. This is my first goal. My prayer is simply this - that I would learn total dependence upon God - that He would expose the secret places where I am independent and self-reliant and root those out of my heart. I hope you will make that your prayer as well.