The Joy of Discovery

“There is no such thing as the unknown — only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.” (Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek)

I love to know stuff. Not the stuff of gossip, the nitty-gritty, intimate details of people’s lives, but interesting facts and stories within science, technology, medicine, history, space exploration, etc.. Really, almost any topic.

Making Connections

Making connections. Being inspired. Finding practical application. All motivate me to learn, discover, observe and explore.

Above all, though, I love making connections between that which comes from man’s discoveries and what Scripture tells us about God. Specifically, I’m drawn to those connections that help me better understand and apply God’s Word to everyday life.

And it’s not just non-fiction that does this. Fiction helps make connections and discover application just as much and in some ways more so than non-fiction. The best fiction comes saturated with truth, whether the infused truth is from science or medicine or history or human behavior. Then it proceeds to help me better understand life this side of Heaven and even into eternity itself.

Even fantasy fiction (think Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia) makes worthwhile connections. Though the truth it’s filled with — morality, bravery, connection, selflessness — is set in a completely made-up world, it still inspires me and elevates my knowledge.

Drawn By Discovery

I’m drawn by the discovery of the unknown. Great stories. Knowledge and information I didn’t have before. Inspiration. Motivation.

Discovery of the unknown so often means finding what I need in a way that makes me want to be better and do more. And, ultimately, it’s a gain that draws me to understanding more of and drawing me closer to my Creator.

Frustrating, But Worth It

Trivia fits well within my thirst to know stuff. On the one hand, I love trivia, at least when I know the answers. Trivia most of the time, however, frustrates me because it seems to point out what I don’t know well more than it shows what I do know. If I think about it too much, I actually get discouraged by how little I really know based on all there is to know.

Bible study does the same. The more I study it, the more I realize I don’t know, and that sometimes frustrates me. At the same time, pushing through that lack of knowing reaps rewards beyond what I could imagine. Every time.

Where I instead try to focus, rather than on how much I don’t know, is on the joy of discovery. I try to keep my intent on moving toward the time when nothing is hidden or not understood anymore.

“For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God].” (1 Corinthians 13:12AMP)

Assessing Your Armor-Wearing Habits

Spiritual Heaviness

About every other time I get my teeth cleaned, the hygienist takes x-rays of my mouth. Before she takes them, she puts a lead blanket over my torso to protect my vital organs from radiation. The blanket is heavy, though not uncomfortable since it’s only on me for a matter of minutes. The heavy feeling of the vest, sort of blanket-like but not quite, reminds me of what my spirit feels like when a spiritual heaviness hits even though my daily habits haven’t really changed.

The Panoply of God

Armor of God Word ArtWhen a spiritual heaviness hit me recently, I did my usual self-check. I was exercising regularly & eating well. I was keeping to my daily and weekly spiritual disciplines. Life had thrown us some punches recently, but they by no means were serious enough to create doubt about God’s goodness. If anything, they reemphasized how blessed I truly am.

Yet the heaviness remained.

Reevaluating the Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18 for Becoming a Defensive Christian led to a better understanding of what might be happening, the weakness in my defense so to speak. Verse 11 provided some particularly helpful insights.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

Words used in other translations in place of “full” include “all of,” “whole,” “complete,” and my personal favorite “panoply.” The definitions of these words together create a better understanding of what is meant by their use in Ephesians 6:11.

  • Full — containing or holding as much or as many as possible; having no empty space.
  • All of — the whole of
  • Whole — comprising the full quantity, amount, extent, number, etc.; without diminution (diminishing, lessening, reduction) or exception; entire, full or total
  • Complete — having all parts or elements; lacking nothing; whole; entire; full
  • Panoply — a complete or impressive collection of things

In the context of this verse, we see that the armor God gives us to put on should be complete, that all the parts should be worn and none neglected. The armor exists not as separate, single pieces; instead, the individual pieces together comprise the whole armor.

Assessing Your Armor-Wearing Habits

In considering the armor of God as a whole rather than only looking at the individual parts, several aspects arise that help make an armor-wearing assessment productive. Start your assessment by asking yourself a question: Can you use the following words to describe your armor-wearing habits?

  1. Consistent: Nowhere are we told to ever remove the armor. Yet, the assumption seems to be that we will remove all or parts of it at times. So, the “put on” exists as a perpetual call for consistency in doing so.
  2. Complete: Already detailed above but certainly worth reemphasizing, we are vulnerable if we do not put on every piece of armor. The directive is ALL, not some.
  3. Christ-like: If you list every piece of the armor and the spiritual qualities they represent, you’ll see the all of who Christ is and what he did. In other words, putting on the full armor involves a decision to become more Christ-like.

When I think of the pre-battle scenes in some of my favorite movies (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Avengers), I remember the emphasis made of putting on armor or battle gear of some sort. The scenes remind me that even the most seasoned warriors prepare to face their enemy by putting on what they know will protect them from attack.

We are warriors too, and we must realize the importance of consistently gearing up for the unseen battle that can cause heaviness and steal our focus. Unlike in the movies, though, our battle in the spiritual realm doesn’t end or even abate, which means we must keep our armor on at all times.

But we’re human, and we won’t, so we need to remember to consistently put on all the pieces and realize that we put on Christ at the same time. In no other way are we at all prepared to take a stand against the enemy’s schemes.

DISCUSSION: How well do your armor-wearing habits reflect the qualities described above?

Sunday Reflections – But for the Warning in My Heart

The following conversation between Boromir & Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring in which Boromir tries desperately to persuade Frodo to go to Minas Tirith instead of the way that Frodo has chosen reflects well the battle we all have between choosing God’s wisdom over the world’s wisdom.

Boromir: “I know why you seek solitude. You suffer. I see it day by day. You sure you do not suffer needlessly? There are other ways, Frodo, other paths that we might take.”

Frodo: “I know what you would say. And it would seem like wisdom but for the warning in my heart.

Boromir: “Warning? Against what? We’re all afraid, Frodo. But to let that fear drive us to destroy what hope we have… don’t you see, that is madness?”

Frodo: “There is no other way!”

Frodo’s way presents more obvious struggle, difficulty and even impossibility, and Boromir’s way does seem easier at least in the short term. But key in on the reason Frodo gives Boromir for his decision. Frodo tells him that a warning in his heart indicates that Boromir’s way exists as the wrong choice.

Earthly wisdom doesn’t ask for an invitation, and it requires little effort to understand. It pursues, much like Boromir pursued Frodo to persuade him. Worldly wisdom is relative, unique and different depending on an individual’s tastes, preferences and moods. Applying worldly wisdom lacks any complexity too. Just follow feelings, and the world’s wisdom easily takes over. In other words, do nothing to stop the world’s wisdom from impacting you, and impact you it will.

Godly wisdom, while infinitely more abundant, comes by asking God for it and gaining an understanding of His Word. Deliberately choosing Godly wisdom protects your heart against the world’s selfish and increasingly evil ways. When we learn to Develop Wisdom that comes from God and then apply it, we find that His wisdom creates a “pathway through the wilderness” and “rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

So why does the world’s wisdom sometimes seem so much easier to obtain and apply that God’s wisdom?

In our instant-gratification culture, easier often seems better and even feels better at least for a little while. Experience tells me, however, that easier often leads to more complications in the long run. God’s ways get at the root of our beliefs, attitudes, actions and words, something many people want to avoid for fear of what they’ll find.

The world’s wisdom provides a short-sighted solution to meeting a craving we all have inside of us. More stuff to have and do seems to be the solution for satisfying this craving. Yet, scripture tells of a very different way to fulfill that craving, which seems insatiable when filled with the wrong things. Because no matter how much sand you eat, it will not fulfill your craving for water!

“As the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for thee, O God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2)

“My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)

“Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture said, streams of living water will flow from him.’” (John 7:37)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty, I will give drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.” (Revelation 21:6)

Worldly wisdom never satisfies because, as Romans 2:15 says, God’s wisdom (His law) is written on our hearts. The world’s wisdom can never erase or write over that which God imprinted on our hearts – the warning in our hearts to live according to His will and His ways.

Only when we realize that and then pursue the only wisdom that can truly satisfy us to the core will we discover a burden that truly is easier and lighter than anything the world has to offer (Matthew 11:30).

DISCUSSION: How do you fight the lure of worldly wisdom and pursue the complete refreshment of God’s wisdom?

For more discussion on this topic, please read Piper: The Devil Says All Truth Is God’s Truth by Loren Pinilis at Life of a Steward.

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