Friday, March 26, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
My Sunday school class is doing a book study with the rest of the church called Living by the Book. I'm loving it! It's a book about studying the Bible, and I'm being so challenged to learn some new ways to approach God's Word.
We're using the method of reading repeatedly this week. One quote from the book was that a Bible teacher gave an insight that he had received after reading a passage for the 100th time. Wow! That takes such perseverance and patience. It also reflects a faith that each passage in scripture has treasures to be mined if only we'll invest.
This week our assignment is to read Romans 5 every day with a new little twist every day. Today I read it from The Message to get a slightly different view. Here's another thought on what I shared on Monday.
"By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us--set us right with him, make us fit for him--we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand--out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise."
Glorious and worth reading again! What do you do to really understand the Bible?
Monday, March 22, 2010
(Don't miss the chance to win a scholarship to She Speaks. Info at the end of this post.)
Impossible. That's the word that comes to mind each night as my family reads through the Old Testament recording of the law.
I have to say that it's been a challenge. It's new reading for our boys since Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy don't tend to be subjects of Sunday school lessons for children. I'm watching their faces and seeing incredulity. How can the God of grace and love that they've always learned about make such a list of rules? How could he command his people to wipe out whole towns and stone lawbreakers?
I have to admit that I'm glad to have been given an additional assignment for teaching my own Sunday school class. I'm reading Romans 5. The New Testament informs and enlightens my reading of the Old Testament. Without the New Testament, I might come to the conclusion that God is harsh, cruel and nit-picky.
With the New Testament, I understand that God is holy and sin is serious. In fact, the wages of sin is death. In that light, I see the Law as mercy. Instead of killing the sinner, God allowed the blood of animals to be shed and His law protected His people from their own self-destruction. Punishment and exile were also merciful ways to draw His people back to Himself and away from the precipice of total annihilation.
Romans 5:20-21 reminds me of this glorious truth, "The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
So last night, I reminded my boys to remember as we go through the law that Hebrews 1 tells us that Jesus is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being. We need to see the Law through that truth to remind us of the glory of God's loving and grace-ful character.
Now on to She Speaks....Lysa TerKeurst, the wonderful leader of our Proverbs 31 team, is running a contest on her blog this week for a full scholarship for She Speaks. This conference for speakers, writers, women's ministry leaders, bloggers and teen girls is an AMAZING experience. Not only is it a nuts and bolts treasure trove, it's a spiritual retreat. Don't miss going to Lysa's blog and reading all about the contest.
Friday, March 19, 2010
It's still early, quiet and darkish. I'm still wrapped up in my chenille bathrobe with my bedhead-do. The birds are singing their spring song and my boys have gone to school.
It's been a long week. Last week I looked at the calendar and thought, "Ahhh...an easy week." But it hasn't been. The grief of losing a friend has been mixed with a never-ending stream of activity and demands. I'm tired. I'll bet all of you can identify. We're living in a busy world.
That's why this little piece of quiet is so heavenly. A time to stop and get quiet and rest. To listen to the silence and my sweetheart breathing in the chair beside me.
Lord, we thank you for simple gifts. For silence and birds and the coming of spring. For the sound of breathing from someone we love. For moments of rest. God, will you allow us to soak up these times along with Your Presence and be renewed? In Jesus' precious name, Amen.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I just finished reading a sweet friend's obituary. It contained many things I knew and some facts that really surprised me. I didn't know for instance that she had gotten her pilot's license at the tender age of 14.
It makes me sad. Last week as I talked to her adult children in her room at the hospice house, I realized that there were layers to this woman that I'd missed and that I'd never get to know. We were losing her at a time when I had more and more questions for her.
I rejoice that Elona is now in the presence of Jesus painfree and carefree, but my heart aches that I didn't use my time with her better. I wish I had made more time to know her more deeply.
God has been speaking to me about my friendships. He's been showing me that because of some painful experiences with friends over the years that I've started protecting my heart too closely...and I've missed out. I've missed out on the joy and closeness that an open heart offers and receives. I've let fear of rejection and hurt rob me of the pleasure of deep connection. He's showing me that I can't have both. I can't over protect and be close. Not possible.
So I'm working on it. I'm working on re-opening my heart to people. I want to spend time, ask the right questions, laugh, play, SHOP! In the process, there may be more hurt but there will definitely be more joy.
My friends, and you know who you are, I love you.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Today I'm participating in Rachel Olsen's devotion carnival. If you're visiting from there, I'm so glad you're here! I can't wait to read some of your devotions from Rachel's links.
I have a friend who loves to say, "God is such a show-off". I agree, and I love serving a God who doesn't stay far off. He delights to show Himself and to give us evidences of His presence and power in our lives. I believe it pleases Him when we are actively watching for His work. Here's a devotion on that topic. I also picked it because of the birds singing outside my window. Spring is coming!
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait
for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7 (NIV)
I’ve had a fascination with birds ever since I was a little girl. One summer my brother and I raised two baby birds from naked little things until they took flight. I still love the sound of birds on a spring morning, and I treasure my cone flowers because goldfinches love to eat them as they wilt and dry.
This summer a tiny, brown bird built her nest in my front door wreath. No sooner were those beautiful blue eggs hatched, raised and gone than another bird raised her family in my topiary right beside the front porch. It has been my delight every morning to peep into those nests on my way out the door. On the morning that the second nest was empty, I happened to glance over to a nearby tree. There on a branch sat one of the babies receiving his first flying lesson. I listened enthralled as the mother bird coaxed (or did that persistent cheeping sound like nagging?) her young one from a short distance away.
I’ve been thinking about the intensity of my interest as I watched the lives of these birds. My deepest desire is to be a more avid God watcher than a bird watcher. God is active all around us, but as we hurry through our daily lives we so often overlook His work.
My husband and I have both had the opportunity to do short term mission trips in third world countries. The thing that struck us with the most force upon reentry into American life was how our spiritual eyes get so glazed over in our familiar, comfortable environment. In a new and challenging place, we could see God everywhere! We saw Him shining in the faces of new believers even in the midst of terrible hardship. We saw Him provide extra strength and vigor to accomplish goals despite obstacles. We saw Him provide a capable doctor for an injured friend in an isolated area. We saw Him provide for even the smallest needs.
We realized that our familiarity with our culture and surroundings had caused us to feel very self-sufficient. We saw our actions and the things that came our way as a result of our own work and own will. That realization was followed by great repentance and a renewed determination to watch for God. Jesus, through parables and other means, often told his followers to watch. We are to watch for His work, watch out for sin and watch in expectation for the signs of His second coming.
Matthew 12:24 says, “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” I encourage you to begin watching for God this week. He cares for you. Has He sent a cool breeze to blow over you as you work in your garden? Has He helped you to respond kindly to a friend or spouse who has just stepped on your last nerve? Has He provided a friend to wipe away the tears that spill over from the sorrow in your heart? Has He allowed the internet to include a devotion that reminds you of your great worth to Him? Turn your spiritual eyes toward your world this week and watch for Him.
Dear Lord, help me to have keen spiritual eyes. Make me aware of the times when my vision has glazed over, and sharpen my heart toward God watching again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Hey, friends! Today is the last day in a crazy week, but I'm excited that my aunt and cousin are coming to visit from Kansas today. This is the first time that they've been to my house, so I've got to scurry around putting out the spring stuff and getting a roast in the crock pot.
I wanted to share a great opportunity with you, though. My sweet, wise friend Melanie is doing a marriage conference call soon. I love her teaching on marriage, because she shares in a very real way about her own struggles. Here's the skinny:
Melanie Chitwood is giving a two-part marriage conference call, "Building a Marriage that Will Last a Lifetime."
The call will be two parts, Thursday 3/18, 8-9 pm and Thursday 3/25, 8-9 pm(EST). The cost is $20 total.You can register by calling Melissa at the Proverbs 31 Ministries office atthis toll-free number: 1-877-731-4663.
It will be so much fun! Once you've registered, you'll be emailed a number that you can call, and then you listen as Melanie talks. There will be a time for interaction, or if you prefer, you don't have to talk at all. Also, the call will be recorded, so if you can't listen at the time of recording, you'll still have access.The description of the talk is listed on the sidebar of Melanie's blog www.melaniechitwood.com If you have any questions, feel free to email her at email@example.com.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Today my "baby" officially became a teenager. Shocking! (I don't mean to make this about me, but could I really be this old?)
It's late, but I wanted to share something that I've loved doing for my boys who are becoming men. Several years ago, I read something by Marybeth Whalen about a special lunch that they had for their son's 13th. They gathered a group of men that included family members and family friends, and these men imparted wisdom to their son as a rite of passage. I loved the idea, but our family is kind of far flung, so I tweaked the idea.
This morning Nolan received a book titled On Becoming a Man. It included letters from our family on becoming a man. They included memories, scripture and advice about the coming years. Tears poured down my face as I put this book of treasures together. The boys may not appreciate these letters fully now, but I hope they will become priceless as the years go by.
I'd love to hear how you celebrate rites of passage in your family!
Monday, March 8, 2010
I often tell people that I'm a list-maker. Not only do I make lists, but I'm one of those sick list-makers who puts things on my list that I've already done just to have the satisfaction of checking something off.
Here's my Monday list:
- Pray and work on my Exodus 33 study (this is already checked off!)
- Make lesson plans (I resisted working on the Sabbath yesterday!)
- Go teach 2 enthusiastic/rambunctious sixth grade boys
- Come home and spend some time debriefing about the school day with the boys
- Work in the yard a little
- Type minutes from band booster board meeting
- Make dinner
- Go to booster meeting to take more minutes
What does your Monday look like? One thing I'm determined to enjoy today is the beautiful spring weather!
Friday, March 5, 2010
This morning I'm headed out to get coiffed, and then I'm going to an event at church that I wouldn't miss.
My friend Tara Furman is launching her new Bible study today. Several years ago, she released her Intimacy with God prayer journal. Everybody loved it. Everybody ooo'd and ahhhh'd over it. But ultimately many women confided in Tara that they still didn't really understand prayer journaling or how to have a powerful quiet time.
So Tara sat back down at her computer and began to write. The result is a powerful study that teaches women step by step what it means to have a close relationship with God and how to pray and study His Word.
Please visit Tara's website today. Please pray about whether this study would benefit you or maybe a group of women at your church. I love Tara so much that I'm willing to give her a shameless plug :), but I love her relationship with God so much that I truly wanted to share her gifts with you.
Have a great weekend, friends!
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Sorry I'm posting so late today, but welcome!
I want to invite a lot of your thoughts and experiences today on a topic that I've been grappling with for a while. What does is look like to keep the Sabbath?
In several years of studying the Old Testament, I've decided that God talked too much about the Sabbath for it just to be an Old Testament concept. Jesus talked about the Sabbath, too.
When I was a little girl, the Blue Laws helped our culture still observe the Sabbath to some degree. There was very little shopping to be done, and most restaurants were closed. Families went to church and/or rested at home.
Things sure have changed! All the stores and restaurants are open. The laundry mounds call. For me, lesson plans have to be done. Our culture has effectively made Sunday just another day.
But God never changes.
It's important to me to be obedient to God in all areas of my life, so I've been trying to search and pray about what the Sabbath is to look like for our family.
Here's an amazing scripture that my brother pointed out to me:
"If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." (Isaiah 58:13-14)
That's quite a promise! I'd love to hear about how you and your family honor the Sabbath and make it a day of rest.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Thank you so much to the women of Virginia Beach Community Chapel for such a wonderful weekend! I hope that you were fed and refreshed as much as I was. You are a group of women who inspired me with your love of scripture and the depth of your application.
I'm writing on the fly this morning as I scramble to catch up from a weekend away. I don't have anything personally profound to say, so I want to leave you with some of Psalm 119 that fed my soul this morning:
Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are ever with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statues.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every eveil pathe
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path. (Psalm 119: 97-104)
God's Word is transforming! I encourage you to spend time in it today.