1) God is good.
2) Every Man is depraved. (Ladies, this means us too) This unpacks itself in "new" ways each day. Just look around...no, just inquire within!
3) How to die to myself. This is one that must be relearned often, because I grew up in the 70's and we are very selfish. Well, it might be because I was born of Adam, and we tend to be very selfish; but those of us born of Adam and raised in the 70's were not taught to inhibit our tendencies as were other generations and Southerners. Also each time God gives me to put others first, it feels different, so it has not become routine; I can still justify seeking my own way in my depraved heart (see #2).
4) I cannot save anyone. I knew that, but each new realization feels freshly learned.
5) The foxes have holes, but the Son of Man has no where to lay his head. So what am I doing in my comfort zone? I have learned to take little baby steps out of my comfort zone, and trying not to look back at others who remained, lest my feet slip, and I fall. I still cling to many security blankets, but they are rubbish and I seek to set them ablaze!
6) Just because I can say something, doesn't mean I should. I think this has to do with #3, but more to do with taming the tongue and guarding my heart...no, I think all that flows from the abundance of the heart, which is deceiptful above all things and desparately wicked and filled with pride and seeks itself. (As you can see, I have a lot to learn.)
7) I haven't learned how to serve others selflessly, but I have learned that that is what I should seek.
8) I haven't learned not to fear man, but I have learned to hate that fear, and to recognize and re-proportion it. I nearly had a heart attack one day when I struggled within myself about inviting someone to Christmas service at church. I failed, and when they walked away, I started breathing again and my heart started pumping again. God is so merciful and patient with me; a heart attack would have been appropriate.
9) I have learned that a religion that does not touch every aspect of your life is as useless as a necklace. If it doesn't change the way I think about absolutely everything, and the way I behave, and the way I treat others, then it might as well be a television show that I can turn on or off. Therefore, I have become less afraid of politics. Previously, political discussions were frightening to me because they were based on social and economic issues and rhetoric and dogma. These things felt like shakey ground. This year I learned about not answering a fool according to his folly. If my religion, my God is anything, then He will shape my response to this world and its issues. Politicians, everyone of them, have agendas and each issue needs to be, separately, sifted through God's Word. I have always resisted clinging to labels like Conservative, Liberal, Republican, Democrat. Now I have a firm foundation to stand on, because I can place this aspect of life in these United States on that Foundation as well.
10) It aint no big deal to set yourself on fire, and why would you for anyone but for Jesus. To set yourself on fire is to make a fool, a spectical of yourself, even to your own demise. But you see, to fear appearing the fool is to fear man more than God (Matthew 10:27-29).* To fear your own demise as a result of serving Christ is to go into hell whole (Matthew 5:29-30).** Recently someone told me about Jim Elliott. I haven't read his story, but I intend to. I was told that when he and his group were going back into the hostile tribe in the jungle, they were faced with the decision of whether to take guns with them for their protection. They decided not to, leaving them on the ship (it was a plane). The reason? They were ready to face eternity, and the people they were going to were not. Wow...isn't that what Jesus was talking about when he said, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:25-26) Casper Ten Boom, when offered immediate release from the Nazis told them that if they released him, he would immediately go out and find someone who needed to be saved, and save them from the death camps. He was ablaze, and not hiding it under a bushel, either.
What have you learned in 2005?
*27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny[a]? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. (Matthew 10:27-29)
**29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)