DSG | Discipleship Study Guide | Vineyard Boise

Archive for July, 2014

real wisdom, God’s wisdom

anchor prayer seriesTHURSDAY
Reflection 4 of 15

 

REFLECT

This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?

Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.

James 3:8-18 | MSG

 

RECEIVEtumblr_mzdc2pOOJe1s89mq8o1_500

Your turn. Get a journal – or any piece of paper will do. Get started by reflecting on this passage, perhaps look ahead and read the Relate question, then see what you hear, see, sense. The pencil (or pen) can be the best eye, so try writing it down. Try it. Listen. And Write…

 

RELATE

How does James add to your understanding of wisdom and how we measure it?

 

RESPOND

Living God, I invite you to take hold of my life today for your purposes.
Please fill me with the Living Water of your Holy Spirit that as you pour me out:

my motives may be rooted in your Love,
my decisions may be rooted in your Wisdom,
and my actions may be rooted in your Courage.

wisdom_2

Advertisements

where, O where, will we find wisdom?

anchor prayer seriesWEDNESDAY
Reflection 3 of 15

 

REFLECT 

We all know how silver seams the rocks,
we’ve seen the stuff from which gold is refined,
We’re aware of how iron is dug out of the ground
and copper is smelted from rock.
Miners penetrate the earth’s darkness,
searching the roots of the mountains for ore,
digging away in the suffocating darkness.
Far from civilization, far from the traffic,
they cut a shaft,
and are lowered into it by ropes.
Earth’s surface is a field for grain,
but its depths are a forge
Firing sapphires from stones
and chiseling gold from rocks.
Vultures are blind to its riches,
hawks never lay eyes on it.
Wild animals are oblivious to it,
lions don’t know it’s there.
Miners hammer away at the rock,
they uproot the mountains.
They tunnel through the rock
and find all kinds of beautiful gems.
They discover the origins of rivers,
and bring earth’s secrets to light.

But where, oh where, will they find Wisdom?

Where does Insight hide?
Mortals don’t have a clue,
haven’t the slightest idea where to look.
Earth’s depths say, ‘It’s not here’;
ocean deeps echo, ‘Never heard of it.’
It can’t be bought with the finest gold;
no amount of silver can get it.
Even famous Ophir gold can’t buy it,
not even diamonds and sapphires.
Neither gold nor emeralds are comparable;
extravagant jewelry can’t touch it.
Pearl necklaces and ruby bracelets—why bother?
None of this is even a down payment on Wisdom!
Pile gold and African diamonds as high as you will,
they can’t hold a candle to Wisdom.

So where does Wisdom come from?
And where does Insight live?
It can’t be found by looking, no matter
how deep you dig, no matter how high you fly.
If you search through the graveyard and question the dead,
they say, ‘We’ve only heard rumors of it.’

God alone knows the way to Wisdom,
he knows the exact place to find it.
He knows where everything is on earth,
he sees everything under heaven.
After he commanded the winds to blow
and measured out the waters,
Arranged for the rain
and set off explosions of thunder and lightning,
He focused on Wisdom,
made sure it was all set and tested and ready.
Then he addressed the human race: ‘Here it is!
Fear-of-the-Lord—that’s Wisdom,
and Insight means shunning evil.’             Proverbs 28:1-28 |  MSG

 

RECEIVEtumblr_mzdc2pOOJe1s89mq8o1_500
Your turn. Get a journal or any piece of paper. Get started by reflecting on this passage, perhaps look ahead and read the Relate question, then see what you hear, see, sense. The pencil (or pen) can be the best eye, so try writing it down. Try it. Listen. And Write…

 

RELATE

Where are some of the places your search for wisdom has taken you? What have been dead ends? What has led you to life?

 

RESPOND
Living God, I invite you to take hold of my life today for your purposes.
Please fill me with the Living Water of your Holy Spirit that as you pour me out:

my motives may be rooted in your Love,
my decisions may be rooted in your Wisdom,
and my actions may be rooted in your Courage.

Amen

wisdom1


tune your ears to the world of wisdom

anchor prayer seriesTUESDAY
Reflection 2 of 15

 

REFLECT

Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it the Fear-of-God will be yours;
you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God.

And here’s why: God gives out Wisdom free,
is plainspoken in Knowledge and Understanding.
He’s a rich mine of Common Sense for those who live well,
a personal bodyguard to the candid and sincere.
He keeps his eye on all who live honestly,
and pays special attention to his loyally committed ones.

So now you can pick out what’s true and fair,
find all the good trails!
Lady Wisdom will be your close friend,
and Brother Knowledge your pleasant companion.
Good Sense will scout ahead for danger,
Insight will keep an eye out for you.
They’ll keep you from making wrong turns,
or following the bad directions
Of those who are lost themselves
and can’t tell a trail from a tumbleweed.  Proverbs 2:2-13 | MSG

 

RECEIVEtumblr_mzdc2pOOJe1s89mq8o1_500

Your turn. Get a journal – or any piece of paper will do, or even a keyboard if you must. Get started by reflecting on this passage, perhaps look ahead and read the Relate question, then see what you hear, see, sense. The pencil (or pen) can be the best eye, so try writing it down. Try it. Listen. And Write…

 

RELATE

In your own words, what is wisdom?

 

RESPOND

Living God, I invite you to take hold of my life today for your purposes.
Please fill me with the Living Water of your Holy Spirit that as you pour me out:

my motives may be rooted in your Love,
my decisions may be rooted in your Wisdom,
and my actions may be rooted in your Courage.

wisdom-large-3


anchor prayer: wisdom | Acts 27:27-29

anchor prayer seriesMONDAY
Reflection 1 of 15


REFLECT

On the fourteenth night, adrift somewhere on the Adriatic Sea, at about midnight the sailors sensed that we were approaching land. Sounding, they measured a depth of 120 feet, and shortly after that ninety feet. Afraid that we were about to run aground, they threw out four anchors and prayed. Acts 27:27-29 | MSG

It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off. Hebrews 2:1 | MSG

You can’t find firm footing in a swamp, but life rooted in God stands firm.  Proverbs 12:3 | MSG

 

RECEIVE

Three scriptures, starting us off on three weeks of reflecting and praying three “anchor prayers.”

Prayer for wisdom.
Prayer for courage.
Prayer for love.

Too often prayer is the last resort. It’s what we do when we’ve run out of options. It’s what we’re reduced to when the plans have failed, the schemes have collapsed, the hull of our life is breached, the water is rushing in, and the pumps can only buy us time. Yes, then we pray. Then we shoot off desperate flares of prayer hoping that Someone will see and act.

But have you ever noticed that when Paul in Ephesians talks about “standing in the evil day” after seeing us equipped with shield, helmet, and sword, he has one marching order and only one? What is the one action, the one maneuver? Pray. In the Spirit. On all occasions. With all kinds of prayer. Pray. Prayer doesn’t buttress our work. Prayer is the work. All our efforts only buttress and support it.

In the classic shipwreck tale that Luke tells in Acts 27, after fourteen days of storm-tossed seas they had no idea where they were. They were hopelessly, desperately lost. Suddenly sensing they were approaching land – and that they were approaching it far too quickly in the dark, they tossed out four anchors and prayed for light. We’re tossing out three.

Three anchors.

Three prayers that will keep us from running aground on the shoals of pride or presumption, from shipwrecking on fear or folly, from striking the mines of ignorance or self-absorption. With Admiral Farragut, our more willful self wants to shout, “Damn the torpedoes! (tethered naval mines were called “torpedoes” then)  Four bells.  Captain Drayton, go ahead! Jouett, full speed!” Most of Farragut’s fleet made it through the batteries and won the day at Mobile Bay in 1864. There is a time for four bells and full speed ahead – but how crucial are the four anchors!

These three anchor prayers are never out of season.
They are our breath, our life.
They are our firm footing in life’s swamp, our life-saver in the storm.

The next three weeks will feel a little different. Our normal pattern is a passage to reflect upon, a few (okay, sometimes too many) composed words to receive and chew upon, a question to relate to your life, and a prayer of response. The rest of this week, you will be given a passage to reflect upon, but instead of my composed thoughts, we are gently challenging you to listen and write your own. It’s the discipline of journaling – which may cause you to groan.

But try it.

Let your thoughts tumble onto page through pen or pencil.

Don’t self-edit.
Don’t try to be profound or polished or right.
Simply listen, and allow thoughts, whether many or few, to tumble out onto the page.

By challenging you to do this four times this week, it is our hope that you will at least give it a shot once.

Try it.

Read.
Reflect.
Pause.
Listen.
Write.
Or even Draw, Paint.

And if you are engaging in this study with a small group, be bold and share something that you saw through the point of that pen, pencil, or brush…

 

RELATE

When most recently have you sensed the deep need for an anchor in your life? Who or what has been that for you? Has prayer ever been such an “anchor for the soul” for you? If yes, how?

 

RESPOND

Living God, I invite you to take hold of my life today for your purposes.
Please fill me with the Living Water of your Holy Spirit that as you pour me out:

my motives may be rooted in your Love,
my decisions may be rooted in your Wisdom,
and my actions may be rooted in your Courage.

wisdom

 

 


kind of container God can use | 2 Timothy 2.19-26

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 10.02.24 AMFRIDAY
Reflection 5 of 5

REFLECT

In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.

Run away from infantile indulgence. Run after mature righteousness—faith, love, peace—joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God. Refuse to get involved in inane discussions; they always end up in fights. God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth, enabling them to escape the Devil’s trap, where they are caught and held captive, forced to run his errands.

2 Timothy 2:19-26 | MSG

 

RECEIVE

In 1902, Adelaide A. Pollard, a Bible teacher and hymn writer, was hoping to go to Africa as a missionary but found herself unable to raise the needed funds to make the journey. Greatly discouraged, she attended a prayer service one evening and as she sat there, she overheard an elderly woman say “It really doesn’t matter what you do with us, Lord, just have your own way with our lives.” The elderly woman inspired Pollard and she contemplated the story of the potter from Jeremiah 18:3 and, upon her return home that evening, wrote all four stanzas before retiring for the night.

Five years later George Stebbins wrote a tune titled “Adelaide” to accompany the text.

As we close out this week of reflections on the Potter’s hands, reflect on the lyrics to this classic hymn:

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.

 

RELATE

Picture yourself as a container/vessel in God’s kingdom kitchen. What do you see?
Fine china?
Disposable cup?
Simple mug?
Salt shaker?
Dish rack?
Compost bucket?
Or what?

How do you see yourself? Why?

 

RESPOND

Divine Potter, have your way in me; hold sway over me; mold me and make me after your will into the vessel that you would choose, whether for honor or dishonor, for high use, low use, no use. Deliver me from my more noble visions of grandeur, and make me the kind of container that You can use. Through Christ.


unadorned clay pots | 2 Corinthians 4.7-12

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 10.02.24 AMTHURSDAY
Reflection 4 of 5

REFLECT

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!
2 Corinthians 4:7-12 | ESV

 

RECEIVE

It’s a classic scene.

“Choose wisely,” says the guardian of the grail. Unholy seeker asks the opinion of the expert: “Which one is it?” Life and death hang in the balance, literally. She chooses a jewel-encrusted chalice and death ensues. “He choose poorly.” And there it sits before them on the table. The unadorned chalice, rudimentary, simple.

And life flows.

Love that scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

So much time we spend encrusting ourselves with performance, achievement and accomplishment. We try so hard to make it – and perhaps some of us pull it off – at least to all appearances, anyway. But most of us can only shrug in shame at the reflection. No matter how much effort, how much affected finesse, how refined a religious resume we can cobble together, we see it, we know it. We are but unadorned, clay pots.

Cracked pots, actually.

When I first encountered this passage from Paul’s letter I was reminded of the story of Gideon and his three hundred – armed with clay pots and torches, surrounding a great host. And in the middle of the night, Gideon and his three hundred shattered the pots, the broken pots now suddenly revealing the blazing light.

Lesson: God uses not just the unadorned clay pots, but the cracked and shattered ones to reveal his glory. Any effort encrusting ourselves with religious jewels will only end up adorning the floor with them. For crack and smash them (us!) he will, that light concealed within us may shine forth.

Choose wisely.

 

RELATE

How often do you feel pressure to be something more than an “unadorned clay pot”?
Where does that pressure come from? What do you hear the Potter saying to you?

 

RESPOND

Divine Potter, free me from the presumption that I must somehow be more than I am, more than you have made me to be. Free me from all those self-imposed or others-imposed expectations to do more, achieve more, to be worthy before. Let me rest in your hands that simply delight in forming me, and be content in the increasing number of cracks I witness in me. Shine through each one. Brilliantly. Through Christ.


a pot at odds with the potter | Isaiah 45.8-10

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 10.02.24 AMWEDNESDAY
Reflection 3 of 5

REFLECT

“Open up, heavens, and rain.
Clouds, pour out buckets of my goodness!
Loosen up, earth, and bloom salvation;
sprout right living.
I, God, generate all this.
But doom to you who fight your Maker—
you’re a pot at odds with the potter!
Does clay talk back to the potter:
‘What are you doing? What clumsy fingers!’
Thus God, The Holy of Israel, Israel’s Maker, says:
“Do you question who or what I’m making?
Are you telling me what I can or cannot do? ”   Isaiah 45:8-10 | NLT

 

RECEIVE

So here’s the irony. Humanity is the one hands-on act of creation. Everything else was spoken into existence, but we are formed with his hands. And we have ended up being the one thing in creation that has grieved him the most. Another Zornberg quote to spin on the wheel of your spirit:

Quite different is the imagery of the potter and his clay (or the baker and his dough). For here, the midrash (teaching commentary) dares to make a statement about the Frankensteinian nature of all creation. True, the potter has total control of his material. As in the famous image in Jeremiah 18, “if the vessel he was making with clay in the potter’s hands was spoiled, he would make it into another vessel, such as the potter saw fit to make.” Like God, the potter “sees” and “makes.” But there is another truth in the relationship of potter and clay. Here is the surprise, rather than the inevitability of God’s power. In all creative work, there is a play between the artist and his material. The characters of the novel begin to talk back, to declare their own reality and destiny.

One gets a sense in the creation story that everything moves in the rhythm of its own creation – except for humanity. We reach – or more precisely, we over-reach, over-bite – reaching for what we are not ready for, trying to “be like gods” on our own initiative, in our own time. “Why have you made me thus? What clumsy fingers!” Art at odds with the artist. The artist flummoxed with his artwork. It’s an absurd picture: the pot at odds with the potter, giving him a good talking to about his style and skill.

And we do it nearly every day.

 

RELATE

When have you felt at odds with the Potter? What happened? How was the debate resolved in you?

 

RESPOND

Holy Potter, forgive me when I forget Whom is molding and shaping whom. Thank you for the way you continue to shape me during such times of arrogance and ignorance. Thank you for continuing to spin the wheel and the clay that is me. Through Jesus.