Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stages of "Learning"

Wow..My mind is littered with so many things I want to express and convey, all of which are competing for time to sit and type out and I scarcely know where to begin..The Word of God has laid heavy on me today and my soul yearns to know God ever so more, to seek His infinite Wisdom and proclaim His name to all people who do not yet know Him as Savior and Lord( I specifically meant to place Savior before Lord for a reason, which I will not get into at this time, but many will understand and some will not)..I am inspired beyond words to type out what is intensely inside me, desperately trying to gather the right words and phrases along with scripture to convey the reality of The Living God..Never before in my years of studying God's word have I been so compelled to write it all down...not only for myself but in great hope that someone else might benefit from my labor of love..The beckoning of God on my heart and the clear weight of the messages are all but paralyzing every other part of my life associated with this world..forcing me to sacrifice more and more of this world and devote it to my desire to Understand the Word and God and to Know Him awaken my spiritual faculties to a degree that allows me to feel the presence of Almighty God as if He were sitting here with me..

I wanted to take a minute to shed some light on one of the reasons I have chosen to blog about my spiritual journey and the plight of my soul.. A few months back I took part in a spiritual disciplines class that has had a profound impact on my life.. One of the chapters was titled "Learning" and so I would like to take the time to bear my soul here about what this means to me...and maybe you can glean some usefulness from this entry..Also I might warn you that this might step on some toes, but my intention is to share, not step..but the very nature of this lesson might hit home in a fairly uncomfortable way..

Notice I said the class I took was a Spiritual Discipline class..Many get the spiritual part but gloss right over the word Discipline.. Discipline is hard for us Americans, because it is hard and we don't like things that are hard..We like the path of least resistance..My old motto was .."not harder, just Smarter"..what that really says is I am lazy and anything I can do to make something less work is for me.. Study God's word is Hard..It takes time..It takes discipline..It requires sacrifice (TV, etc)..but learning hearkens me back to my entry on Wisdom..Wisdom is knowing God's Truths and in order to know them, you must study them..This is not a lesson on Bible Intake, although I am sure there will be a day in the near future where that springs from my fingertips to this blog site..but lets save that for another day.. I look at my notes and the very first thing written in this study was " We have Liberty, we have money, we live in comparative luxury..As a result discipline has practically disappeared" .. That stings just typing it out again and causes me great shame because it exposes my lack of discipline in many areas..:(

Let me set this up this way to help you grasp where this is all coming from..See we as humans learn in stages... Let me explain..Stage 1 is the "Grammar" stage - This is where we take in as much as we can..we can liken this to a consumption stage..Going thru Grammar school is a consumption of many different areas of "dumping" where we try to retain as much as we can..In the biblical comparative stage, we say we learn the bible..Read and take it all in.. There is not much understanding at this point..mainly consumption.....Then we move on to stage 2 called "Logic." Now in this stage, we begin to make sense of all the information that has been deposited into our minds..One could say we begin to "connect the dots"..This is usually later in the teen years and early twenties where we begin to see our parents as actually pretty smart and not as dumb and out of date as we once thought.. In the biblical comparative, this is were we begin to understand what the bible is teaching and things that were once hidden to us are now seen..We begin to "get it"..Then the final stage in learning is the "Rhetoric" Stage..Now please remove from your mind any idea of politics..because I would bet that is where you can relate this word..and that mindset for this term just dirties it all up.. Rhetoric is your ability to express what you have learned..Like a teacher teaching a class..The teacher had to Learn it thru grammar, understand it thru logic so he/she can express it thru Rhetoric...Well the Biblical comparative for this stage is Expressing your Faith..Expressing what you have learned in the word and your ability to connect the dots comes out..This is very difficult for many people and is a huge stumbling block for believers to share the gospel message..

Well as you may have guessed..This is where I find myself..I am in the rhetoric stage of my biblical learning and this blog site seemed like the perfect avenue for me to express what I was understanding on the inside..A couple of years ago I would have never attempted to translate the messages of God's word onto paper for the simple reason of not having connected the dots enough to get the ideas out in a clear and concise manner..but now it is my hearts desire to express my faith as it matures and grows..When I say my Faith, that also encapsulates the Understanding of God's Word and its application for life.. What better way for me to stick my feet in the water without drowning...

Learning characterizes The Wise Person..There is great humility with those who are wise because they understand there is so much they have yet to learn.. Wise people are always looking to learn and will never utter the phrase.."Cant teach this old dog any new tricks".. Wise people treat knowledge like the precious treasure it is..just as Solomon describes it in Proverbs.. Some people are just in the right place at the right time to acquire knowledge..That does not make you wise..A wise person "seeks" knowledge..a durable yearning for learning...

Get this..God is glorified when we use the mind He gave us to learn of Him, His ways, His Word and His world.. RC Sproul wrote " God has made us with a harmony of heart and head, of thought and action.. The more we know Him, the more we are able to Love Him. The more we Love Him, the more we seek to know Him.. To be central in our hearts, He must be foremost in our minds.. Religious thought is the prerequisite to religious affection and obedient action"

Learning is Essential for increased Godliness..After all the goal is Christ likeness.. Godliness is the goal of the Spiritual Disciplines and when we remember this, the spiritual disciplines become a delight instead of a drudgery.. The Spiritual Disciplines are also like the channels of God's transforming Grace..and we place ourselves in them to seek communion with Christ, His Grace flows to us and we are changed.... We will not grow much in Godliness if we do not know much of what it means to be Godly.. We will not be more like Christ if we don't know what Christ is like.. Let us also never forget that the message of God's word is addressed primarily to the mind, to the understanding..

Learning is mostly by discipline, not by accident..for instance..Books are much to demanding for the modern mind, alas it takes discipline to become an intentional Learner.. You must not rely on emotion or chance..It is a direct result of action..This brings to my mind a verse from Proverbs that I was reading to my girls last night and it says "Go watch the ants you lazy person, watch what they do and be wise"..I find this verse to be precise in my explanation of Learning and discipline in general..Don't you?

So in summary, Learning is one of many spiritual disciplines, but one of tremendous importance..For us as believers to know Christ, we must Learn as much as we can about Him, and understand His be able to express to others the life transforming grace that flows from fulfill our command to make disciples of all peoples..and as my study of Romans Chapter 10 taught me today..1) People will call on Jesus to save them only if they believe he can do so; (2) belief in Christ cannot exist without knowledge about him; (3) one hears about Christ only when someone proclaims the saving message; and (4) the message about Christ will not be proclaimed unless someone is sent by God to do so. That is why Paul was so urgent about spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth, for he believed that the only way to be saved was to hear and believe in the gospel..which is the reasoning for the great commission..our directive as take the message unto all peoples..not to convert them..but merely take the message..

May we all be as Paul so passionately proclaims in Ephesians 6:19-20 "and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak."

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