Category Archives: Bible Studies

How About a Mission Trip in Your Own Backyard? (With Help from Kelly Minter and Lysa TerKeurst)

Friends!  Ever dreamed of riding an elephant in Africa, spreading the gospel around a campfire, and nestling in a sleeping bag in the open air?  Me neither…

Forgive me, Lord.

Creature of comfort, I loudly confess I adore indoor plumbing, plush pillows and air conditioning…

Fret no more…thanks to two of my favorite authors, I’m about to shed some light on what exactly constitutes a mission trip.

First up is an excellent read by Kelly MinterWherever the River Runs—How a Forgotten People Renewed My Hope in the Gospel.

Kelly shares multiple encouraging stories of her adventures along the Amazon River.  You’ll meet natives-turned-friends, slithering animals, pesky piranhas, maggots in pineapple (!!!) and other reasons to make you do a big fat u-turn back into your very safe driveway.

Kelly’s humor and love for the Lord is so compelling, I admit if she invited me to go with her the next time, I just might accept.  Maybe.  Really, maybe.

Before her first trip to the Amazon, Kelly had about as much excitement as any of us Nervous Nellies.  But, the message she kept hearing from the Lord was, “Go with what you’ve got, and God will supply the rest.” So there’s the trust component.

Then, throw in some major prayer warriors. One of Kelly’s new friends from these trips named Lazaro, had a prayer warrior who prayed for him for years.  Her name is Fatima.  She started what she called Prayer Campaigns and she and her friends didn’t let up. Ever.

Several trips and multiple new friends later, Kelly learned she could ask them for prayer from the States. She said, “Prayer Campaigns lit up the rain forest.”  What a beautiful thought.

Kelly said, “Just hearing Lazaro talk about Fatima, who so purposely prayed for him, a teenage boy, for forty-two hours over seven days, slayed me.

I wanted her passion,

her persistence,

her zeal.

I wanted her love

I wondered if I might hear more from the Lord if I…

waited on Him like Fatima did,

petitioned Him more regularly,

lingered with Him longer…”

I don’t want to spoil Lazaro’s unbelievable story.  You need to read it for yourself.  You will see firsthand with God all things are indeed possible. This is one of many thrilling testimonies Kelly gifts us with.

You also don’t want to miss Kelly’s Mother visiting the Amazon.  Killer funny, all the while poignant.  Especially when she realizes this isn’t a one and done kind of trip.

Kelly’s Mother’s faith becomes contagious and inspirational to all who cross her path and to all who gain the opportunity to hear her speak.  She’s a very brave woman!

While Kelly learns something new on every trip she takes to the Amazon, she never guilts the reader into going to the Amazon.  She points out (to my great relief) that sometimes our greatest opportunities for spreading the Gospel are right under our noses–in our own back yards.

One perfect example of this smacked me in the face just the other morning from something I’m reading…  I’m previewing a Bible study for my Tuesday group for when we resume in the fall.  It is excellent and if you’ve never been to Israel before, here’s your ticket: (The videos are filmed in Israel!)

Checkout Finding I Am by Lysa TeurKerst

I was only on Week Two, Day One when Lysa posed a show-stopping question:

“Do you ever wonder exactly what God wants you to do, especially when you have so many options and demands to manage?”  (Crammed Calendars Anonymous take note…)

Along the same vein as Kelly, Lysa says, “…God just wants us to pay attention to what He places right in front of us.”

“However when I looked at what was right in front of me, at that time, I saw my neighbors.”  Lysa then shares about her family going thru’ a cancer journey with their neighbors, Ken and Mary.  Mary was diagnosed with cancer, ultimately landing in the arms of Jesus. God rest her soul.

Lysa’s family invited Ken to their home for dinner on Monday nights.  They all learned these dinners broke the deafening silence and absence of his wife.

Lysa took it as an assignment from God disregarding the fact she didn’t consider herself a stellar chef. (!!!) Meals didn’t have to be a big production, thus ordering pizzas worked many a night. (Cooking impaired, this brought me great solace and insight!)

She said, “The noise of our family was an orchestra of comfort and healing to Ken’s lonely heart.”  Isn’t that beautiful?

What Lysa’s message that day prompted me to do was to call my across-the-street neighbor.  She’s a very sweet, elderly woman who recently lost her husband to cancer.  I know she’s lonely.

We chat frequently on the street gathering our mail or on the phone and we watch each other’s homes when we’re out of town, picking up each other’s newspapers.

She’s friends with my in-laws and occasionally we all get together.  A small gesture, but exactly what Lysa and Kelly suggest.  Across the street is a little easier than going to the Amazon, same message, same Jesus.  Try it!

The above scenarios are “mission trip” ideas for your own back yard.  Next time we’ll move out into the front yard.  Look out!

I pray you and your families have a happy, safe, and blessed Fourth of July next week. We’ll resume the following week.

‘Til next time!

 

Petite P.S.:  Kelly Minter partners with and is  now on the Board of Justice and Mercy International www.justiceandmercyamazon.org Look for ways to become a sponsor!

 

 

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Travel

Joy From January For February (With help from Margaret Feinberg)

Friends!  How could it be February?  Where did January go?

No worries…I’ve got GREAT NEWS for you.  Better yet, I’ve got some gargantuan JOY for you.

My Tuesday Bible study group, now known as “Blessings on Burlington”, is currently devouring Fight Back With Joy—Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears. by Margaret Feinberg.  I cannot begin to tell you (altho’ I’m going to try!) what an invaluable resource this workbook is. Run, don’t walk to your nearest Christian bookstore and grab one.

411spklawl__sx368_bo1204203200_

We finished Week One’s homework last week.  One of our gals said, “Wow, I can’t believe Margaret’s got more to give!  This is  amazing!”

What I love and appreciate about the workbook is how equipping and empowering it is.  Margaret’s input, after having battled cancer (can you imagine?), has boatloads of  blessings  and loads of lessons, page, after page, after page.

In addition to the body of the workbook’s text, little “quotables” and “notables” are stashed in many of the margins. One favorite from Week One comes from Henry Nouwen who said, “Joy and laughter are the gifts of living in the presence of God and trusting that tomorrow is not worth worrying about.”

Speaking of gifts, each day’s homework is gifted with a “Closing Prayer”.  Day Three’s prayer was a blessing last week:

Continue to ask God to reveal any areas where you’re missing out on the fullness of joy that He wants to give you. Ask Him to supernaturally allow you to experience more of His joy than you’ve ever experienced before.”

We joked about suffering from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in our social lives.  One of our gals learned in a recent email about JOMO (Joy of Missing Out).  Oh, we had fun with that!

Beautiful Scriptures are sprinkled throughout each week’s lessons making you want to add them to your journal or copy it onto a post-it note for your home or car.  Memory verses on cards are in the back of the workbook which you can tear out and place in a prominent spot.  What hasn’t Margaret thought of?

Each week also has an “Experiential Activity” for your group.  My friend, Susan, our hostess with the mostest, and I have tweaked these to work for our group.  Those of you who are craft lovers, knock yourselves out.  But those of us who are craft-impaired (!!!) prefer to choose an “adjusted” route. Hey, we’re still celebrating and reaping joy…

Margaret reminds us:  “You and I are called to a life marked by:

Gladness,

psalm-67-4

Rejoicing,

philippians-4-4

Blessedness,

jeremiah-17-7

Happiness,

psalm-146-5

and much, much more!  As children of God, we are meant to radiate God’s joy and leave a well-littered trail of divine affection and delight wherever we go.”

This is exactly what Margaret equips us to do.  She gives us tactic after tactic to “litter” joy around and  innumerable ways to fight back with joy.  (Incredibly Margaret also gives us a Joy Bomb Journal in the back to list daily pieces of joy we see or experience. Yes, chocolate can be one of them.)

Joy word on gray wooden table closeup

I’ll go so far as to say if you have a friend who’s going thru’ a rough time right now, even without the videos (altho’ they could download them thru’ Lifeway), this workbook would bless them immensely. Obviously if you’re in a grande season, it’ll still bring you joy!

N.D. Wilson wrote an article for Christianity Today entitled Lighten Up, Christians: God Loves a Good TimeMay we all heed his quote (which Margaret includes in her workbook) as I’d never considered such before….Enjoy:

“We Christians are the
          speakers of light.
We are the
          proclaimers of joy.
Wherever we go, we are the
Mascots of the gospel,
          The imagers of the infinitely creative Father,
And the
Younger  brothers and sisters of the humbled and triumphant Word.
We speak in this world on behalf of the One who made up lightning and snowflakes and eggs.”

I believe Margaret wrote the book, of the same title, before the workbook. The book is also excellent, however I personally prefer the layout of the workbook.  That friend you have in mind may prefer the book.  Consider their personality to help you decide which format would be best. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either.

And don’t forget, Margaret began her study of joy in the Bible a full year before she was diagnosed with cancer.  I believe God filled her up, equipping her for that very difficult battle. Another perfect example of His perfect timing.

Here’s what the book looks like:

519scn9f3el__sx334_bo1204203200_

May our joy from January flow to overflowing for February.

You’ll be thrilled to know some words on FITNESS for February are coming your way.  Oh yeah, I’m groaning right there with you.  But, we’ll have fun, I promise.

Fit people working out in fitness class at the gym

‘Til next time!

 

5 Comments

Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Friends, Scripture

Love for Family With Help from Rob Morgan (Part 3 of 4 in the Month of Love)

Question: Would you agree or disagree with someone if they told you having children is the single-most difficult endeavor you’ll ever, ever experience?

Then in the next breath, that same person will say, “But, having children is the single-most rewarding endeavor you’ll ever experience.”

Parents And Baby. Family Mother, Father And Newborn Kid Over Whi

To add to these lovely pearls of “wisdom”, God has taught me parenting requires a keen sense of humor. Otherwise, we’d all bail.

The teensy fact He blessed Hubster and me with three boys is hysterical. Case in point:  Beloved Hubster’s the baby in a family of four. Nothing bothers him. I’m a very sheltered lonely-only and everything bothers me.

Enter three sons where chaos, comedy and confusion collide. Oh, but how we love, love, l-o-v-e them. Oh, but the stories we can tell.
three boys

(Infer what you wish from the frame. See that sense of humor???)

One story comes from a time when we were adding on to our home. The upstairs of our house was an unfinished attic full of potential. (Where were Joanna and Chip when we needed them??? www.hgtv.com , www.magnoliamarket.com )

Gaines-Web1If you could’ve seen the look on my Mother’s face when we told her we were buying a two bedroom house–she thought we’d lost our marbles….We assured her we’d be adding on soon.

Finally the day came for the addition to begin. Our construction guys, in order not to keep traipsing thru’ the first floor, considerately built an outside staircase for them to come and go, in addition to delivering a precious portalet smack dab out front by the driveway. We’re talkin’ TWO terribly charming enhancement’s to the exterior of one’s home.

Porta Potty

Anyone care to guess which of these was the most fascinating object to our boys? Yep. Literally, every day after school, the boys would bust out of my mini-van, and line-up to use the “outdoor facility”. (Checkout the above moniker pictured: “honey bucket.”)

The story sweetens a couple weeks later, thanks to an embarrassing phone call from Woody’s teacher. Seems his class had gone on a field trip where honey buckets happened to be lined up. Woody proudly and loudly announced to his fellow classmates, “We have one of these in our front yard and I use it every day.”

Naturally his teacher thought he was fibbin’ and felt she should address this problem with his parents. “No, ma’am.” I said, my face turning twelve shades of crimson. “He’s telling the truth.” Then I had to explain about the construction, blah, blah, blah. (S’pose we’d better add that children can humble you faster than you can say, “Well I’ll be…”)

Humility wooden sign with a street on background

Psalm 127:3 reminds us, that at the end of the day,

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” Yes, they are a blessing to us parents and to so many others.

Most of the time…

But…what about the tough times? My friend Olivia taught me a never-truer-than-this-statement: “You’re only as happy as your unhappiest child.”

portrait studio baby, cry

This week, I highly recommend two resources if you have a prodigal in your family or in a friendship. One’s a book and the other’s a Bible study.

The book is Prayers and Promises for Worried Parents: Hope for Your Prodigal. Help for You by Robert J. Morgan.

740676

Many of you have read other books by Rob. This one is another one not to miss.

He offers an acronym for CALM: “Choosing to Abide in the Lord’s Mercies.” He candidly shares the prodigal he and his wife prayed for is one of their daughters.

He said,

Don’t give up on your kids,

never stop praying, and  

don’t give in to discouragement,

for ALL discouragement comes from the Devil.” 

Man In Prayer

He added, “During our own period of anxious waiting, one primary source of encouragement enabled us to press on: God’s reliable Word.”

Every chapter is full of helpful Scripture verses, many of which are promises to claim. Lamentations 2:19 is a favorite: “Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord for the lives of your children.”

Lamentations 2 19

Rob adds, “During my child’s prodigal period, I also had to deal with my wife Katrina’s debilitating illness, the financial drain we took on with sending our kids to college, and the demands of a growing ministry. One day I searched out verses about strength. That’s when I realized I didn’t have to bear it all. The Lord bears our burdens and imparts His strength.”

“Oh Lord, You are my strength and my shield…

My strength and my song…

My strength and my fortress…

My strength and my power…

You are the strength of my life…”

(Psalm 28:7, 118:14, 18:2; 2 Samuel 22:33, and Psalm 27:1)

Rob includes one hundred and eight chapters, each only a page or two long, short, and succinct. They come under these helpful headings:

Praying,

Trusting,

Weeping,

Waiting,

Leaning,

Learning,

Healing,

Resting,

Hoping,

Striving, and

Singing.

(I’ve highlighted and dog-eared almost every page! You cannot imagine what a helpful resource this book is.)

The other recommendation is a Bible study I can’t quit talking about, written by Kristen Sauder, God rest her sweet soul. Praying for Your Prodigal: A Journey Through Luke 15. It’s a workbook rich in lesson, application, and encouragement I’ve studied thru’ numerous times over the years for numerous prodigals. (www.furtherstillfamilies.org )

Praying for your prodigal

While I’m still praying for some prodigals, many have come to know the Lord. We’re seeing spiritual fruit in their lives. Praises and more praises. God is so very good-n-gracious.

Let’s close with this amazing quote from J.I. Packer:

Patience does not just grin and bear things, stoic-like, but accepts them cheerfully as therapeutic workouts planned by a heavenly trainer who is resolved to get you up to full fitness.”

Fit people working out in fitness class at the gym

Lace up those spiritual shoes of yours and pray!

Press on, dear friends…

‘Til next time!

 

6 Comments

Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Family

Four Fabulous Kinds of Love in February Part 1 of 4: Love for God with Help from Stuart, Jill, and Pete Briscoe…

Ahhh, February. The month of love. Any of you guys out there reading this better have “buy chocolate for ____________” on your calendar…

Gift boxes of gourmet chocolates for Valentine's Day

We gals really appreciate it even if we say, “Oh no, please do not buy me any this year.” Just know we do NOT. MEAN. A. WORD. OF. IT. (!!!)

This month we’re going to have some fun with four different kinds of love:

Love for God,

Love for Spouse,

Love for Family, and

Love for Friends.

We’ll be exploring ideas from God’s Word and from excellent authors who can teach us a thing or two or ten.

Just when I thought our beloved Naples, Florida couldn’t get any better, Hubster and I were blessed with an unbelievable opportunity to enjoy it even more. On Sunday, January 24th, we attended Covenant Church of Naples (www.covenantnaples.com).

Pastor Trent Casto delivered a sermon on ‘The Lion of Hell” which caused each of us to walk out of there with both eyes open, hearts beating more rapidly, and much more on the alert for the prowling lion/thief/father of lies who’s looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) Translation: Major wake-up call!

In addition to being blessed by an applicable sermon, we noticed in Covenant’s bulletin we could return on Wednesday to have “Breakfast with the Briscoes”. As in Jill, Stuart, and Pete Briscoe! For real???

Tellingthetruth

Guessing many of you have either heard of the Briscoes or have read one of their many, many excellent books. Their books cover every topic you can imagine such as Bible studies, women’s ministries, prayer, marriage, family, aging, renewal, children’s books, etc.

Two of my personal favorites are Time Bandits: Putting First Things First (LifeChange Books) by Stuart

789925

And A Little Pot of Oil: A Life Overflowing (LifeChange Books) by Jill

1390050

Stuart and Jill hail from England, married in 1958, and praises to our Lord landed in the United States, ministering at Elmbrook Church (www.elmrook.org) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for thirty plus years. They’re “retired”, altho’ still travel and speak everywhere while being in their 80’s! They are still goin’ strong. Stuart said when asked when they were going to quit speaking, “As long as we’re able, we’ll go!”

Their youngest son, Pete, pastors Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Dallas (www.benttree.org). He, too, has written several books. He is very articulate, clearly loves the Lord, and is fun to watch interact with his parents.

The three of them have an amazing ministry, in addition to all they do via www.tellingthetruth.org. It offers messages that are broadcast all over the world via six hundred radio stations in eight different countries! Their website is a wonderful resource with invaluable teaching. (Podcasts, etc. are available PLUS they have a FREE APP you can download on your phone!)

Let’s get to the questions Pastor Trent posed to the three Briscoes. Each and every one of us can benefit from these.  Consider your love for God in each of these scenarios:

QUESTION #1 – How do you find joy and purpose in your everyday life?

Stuart said we must keep everything in perspective, especially from our human vantage point. He quoted Theologian Dr. Vernon Grounds who said, “aging means diminishing”. We must embrace slowing down, finding joy in each and every stage.

He told us he loves enjoying different generations. He and Jill are blessed with three children and thirteen grandchildren. Each month, he asks his grandchildren for a few sentences’ worth of an update—for their “beings and doings in the last month”. Then he publishes them in “Pappa’s Monthly Round-Up” so they can keep up with one another. Grandparents, take note!

Stuart told us he used to be a runner. One day he was out jogging and became really tired. He slowed to a walk and suddenly realized what he’d been missing: trees in bloom, green, green grass, blue skies, he heard birds singing, etc. He added, “It’s amazing what you see when you take the time to slow down.”

He quipped that in England there’s a trajectory to your life: you start out playing rugby, then soccer, then you just run, then you walk and play golf, and finally you become a bird watcher. We all laughed at this, and yet while Stuart said he and Jill are now birdwatchers, they still were quite spry moving around on the stage, up and down the steps, etc. He may have been fooling all of us!

Bird Watchers

Pete said one lesson he’s learned was that he does not find joy and purpose in success. He pointed us to Galatians 5:22-23 which lists the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

He said, “Joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit. We must be available to the Spirit and receive joy and purpose from Him.”

Jill said when you can’t praise Him for what He’s allowed, praise Him for what He has done. She cited cancer as an example. She doesn’t believe we should praise Him for the cancer, but praise Him for our caregivers, medicine working, family surrounding us, etc.

Praise Him that we find joy in Jesus, within us. There’s joy in serving Him. Look for the invisible qualities of God that are visible in His Creation. She cited Psalm 16:11 which says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy…”

156b20226a0d5518f3598e6ae5544915

QUESTION #2 – Each of you are leaders in different capacities. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned?

Stuart replied that “leaders are intended to lead with followers following—a followship if you will.” He offered three suggestions:

A – Lead them where they are, not where you think they should be.

B – Lead in the direction they’re willing to go, not where you’re determined they should go.

C – Move at their speed, not yours.

IF you’re able to accomplish all three of these, two things will happen:

1 –Rapport is built.

2 –Momentum is generated. As a leader, you need momentum because nobody can steer a stationary vehicle!

Stationary bike

Pete said he loves the opening line of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life: “It’s not about you….” He said, “As a leader, you must remember that!”

Two levels to consider are “is this working?” and “is this not working?”, all the while remembering it’s not about you! Piece of cake, right???

Pete quoted Bill Hybels’ book Courageous Leadership illustrating the difference between “Capitol L” leaders and “Little ‘l’” leaders. He talked about leaders who are visionary, entrepreneurial, motivational, directional, strategic and managerial. Many audience members nodded recognizing some of their own particular styles.

44379

He admitted, “It’s tough to not get hung up on performance. At the end of the day, people still want to know how well you know Jesus, not how well you perform.” John and I talked about this later and he said, “This reminds me of that saying, ‘People don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care.’” Amen.

Jill confessed she’s quite the instigator, full of ideas. While this is a gift of hers, putting the ideas all together, coming up with a plan, and implementing it is not. Therefore, she learned to invite help.

When she and Stuart first arrived at Elmbrook, she realized she was the “minister’s wife”, therefore she must surely have a job to do. She gathered the women of the church and asked them to write out what their expectations of her were. (Can you imagine?)

Not surprisingly, their lists, upon lists, upon lists of expectations not only overwhelmed Jill, but she almost instantaneously realized she could do nothing on those lists!

After her cup of tea in a time of crisis (great suggestion!!!), she realized, thanks to the Lord, she’d just chip away a la Ecclesiastes 9:10 and “do unto the Lord”. Even if her efforts were bad, she was trying with all her might and praying harder than ever.

QUESTION #3 – In your own walk in Christ, what is the single greatest discipline a Christian should develop?

Jill suggested three things: prayer, solitude, and silence. No performance. She said, “Jesus will mentor you when you pray to Him.”

Young woman praying in the church

Jill recalls a visit to Viet Nam thirty years ago. They were led to a secret church. After hearing Jill pray, one young gal who’d also risked her life to be there said, “I love how well you know Jesus. I want to know Him like you do.” Jill realized that how we pray suggests how deep our relationship is to the Lord. Now that will make you think!

Stuart believes there’s more than one discipline. He said, “Both dependence and obedience are required.” These produce trust. Let that soak in a minute…

He pointed us to Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 where He tells His disciples to “go and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to obey all the commands I’ve given you…”

Pete believes the discipline of knowing who you really are is of paramount importance. He threw us a curve ball. He asked, “How many of you are sinners in need of a savior?” To which we all raised our hands.

He corrected us by saying, “We shouldn’t identify ourselves as sinners, we are saints now, saved by grace. Perhaps we’re saints who sometimes sin, but we cannot mistake our identities…

There’s so much Christ has purchased for us. Knowing Him more today than yesterday should be our goal.”  How great is your love for God?

After the Q & A we had the opportunity to receive two books:

Improving with Age: God’s Plan for Getting Older and Better by Jill and Stuart Briscoe

26654060

Experiencing Life Today: 365 Day Devotional by Pete Briscoe

26132335

Sadly the morning flew by and it was time to leave. Pete, Stuart and Jill all gave John and me lots to discuss and ponder. We got to meet and speak with each of them and they were positively lovely, engaging and sincere.  Their love for God is contagious.

Take the time to explore their website: www.tellingthetruth.org.   You will be blessed!

‘Til next time!

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Scripture

Every. Single. Day…(Savor by Shaunna Niequist is a must-read.)

Brush your teeth.

Floss.

Wash your hands.

Woman Washing Hand Under RunningTake your vitamins.

Don’t forget your meds…

Especially if some of the above phrases come from your doctor, we’d all be wise to heed his or her advice. Every day. Right?

Every. Single. Day.

What if we added one more daily activity, guaranteed to help us and all those who cross our path?

I ran across this idea in a new devotional I’m crazy about. (One can never have too many devotionals, right?) You may want to consider this for a Christmas gift for your friends or family members. Little fun fact: in addition to three hundred and sixty-five devotions, about every ten to fifteen pages, Shauna includes fun recipes!

It’s called Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist. (www.shaunaniequist.com ) Shauna is a beautiful young wife to Aaron and Mom of two boys, Henry and Mac. She also happens to be the daughter of well-known preacher, teacher and writer, Bill Hybels and his sweet wife, Lynne. (www.billhybels.org and www.lynnehybels.com )

344971

Shauna wrote this devotional to teach us readers ways to savor our lives. This encompasses our children, friends and family, our community, God’s creation, etc. She says, “This is my attempt to clear away space and noise, inviting you to hear the ‘drumbeat’. God’s always speaking, always.

He’s always moving,

Always present,

Always creating,

Always healing.

The trick, at least for me, is paying attention.

The trick is savoring.

As God would orchestrate, my Wednesday Bible study group just finished Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer. We declared it’s a manual for the Christian Life. Priscilla says we must put on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) daily…and, in a gazillion other ways, she says we must have our faces planted in His Word every day.

Every. Single. Day.

I just so happened to bring Shauna’s devotional with me to Bible study for Show and Tell.  Don’t you know that day’s devotion was right out of Psalm 1:1-3

“Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is a like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” (Note we’ll be blessed when we delight in His Word, when we meditate on it day and night.)

Eugene Peterson’s wording from the same passage above in The Message is simultaneously amusing (“Smart-Mouth College!!!”) and to the point:

“How well God must like you—

You don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,

You don’t sling along Dead-End Road,

You don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.

Instead you thrill to God’s Word,

You chew on Scripture day and night.

You’re a tree replanted in Eden,

Bearing fresh fruit every month,

Never dropping a leaf,

Always in blossom.”

You know the saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Same can be said for our Christian walk. The more we study the Bible, the more we become Christ-like, yielding fruit for Him, bearing “fresh fruit.”

Apples On Tree

Joshua 1:8 tell us, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

psalm 119-97

Psalm 119:97 simply says, “Oh, how I love your law!   I meditate on it all day long.

Friends, these are just three of seventy-one verses in the Bible on Meditation. (Check out www.openbible.info to see more.) My Life Application Bible says, “Meditating means spending time reading and thinking about what you’ve read—asking yourself how you can change so you will live as God wants you to.” As my friend Caroline says, “That’s where the rubber meets the road.”

Shauna says her Dad suggests:

“… every Christian needs to spend time alone with God every day, praying, listening, reading the Bible, letting ourselves be reminded that we are God’s creation, God’s children.”

Every. Single. Day.

Shauna adds, “God wants his people to trust Him daily, to need Him and follow Him every morning with new faith.”

coffeeandBible

She confesses, “I couldn’t live well without regularly reading God’s Word.

Every. Single. Day.

Should you find yourself saying, “Yeah, that’s all well and good, but I don’t have time for that.” I challenge you to simply give it a try. You’ll be surprised when you give God your first few minutes of the day, somehow your minutes and hours are more plentiful. Just try it. (You can also get some more ideas from this: “BUT I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR A BIBLE STUDY”)

Every. Single. Day.

‘Til next time!

 

6 Comments

Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Life Lessons

You’re Invited to Book Club, Monday, October 26th, to Discuss “Buttermilk Sky” by Jan Watson

Friends! If you live anywhere near Louisville, Kentucky, you’re invited to join us for a lively discussion of a very lovely and lively novel, Buttermilk Sky by Jan Watson.

buttermilk-coverWe will meet at Middletown United Methodist Church (MUMC), Monday, October 26th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 www.middletownumc.org

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

While Jan lives in Lexington and cannot physically be with us next week, she’s been filling me in on what she’s up to. I’m excited to be sharing fun snippets straight from her. If only I could duplicate her accent, we’d be in business. She’s the best!

This novel, Buttermilk Sky, is my favorite so far. If any of you have read her others, be sure to either bring them or be ready to tell us some of your favorite parts, characters, etc. Needless to say, Jan offers us quite a variety for our enrichment and entertainment!

Troublesome-Creek-cover2-199x300

TorrentFalls-200x300

tattlers-branch-200x300

Skip-Rock-Shallows-200x300

Willow-Springs-200x300

StillHousePond-200x300

SweetwaterRun-198x300

Last Fall I went to hear Jan speak to a Sunday School class at Harvey Brown Presbyterian Church. I also got to meet her sweet brother who drove her over from Lexington. She shared with us why she primarily sets her books in Eastern Kentucky.

She believes the folks from the mountains in Eastern Kentucky are strong, stalwart people. Her desire is to honor them because they are often maligned. I believe we catch some of this from Mazy who treats Cinnamon with love and respect vs. shame, disgrace, and judgment that some of Mazy’s fellow students offer her.

Foggy Morning Barn

Above and beyond admirable and less admirable character traits we’ll discuss, let’s not miss the number of Scriptures Jan includes, plus her emphasis on the urgent importance of being assured of your salvation.

One night when Mazy’s friend Ernestine is visiting her, Mazy recites a favorite Scripture after revealing it was her Mother who taught her how comforting Scripture is. “The words of Jesus were more soothing than any medicine could ever be.

Ernestine loves the sound of Scripture and asks Mazy if she can borrow her Bible sometime. Mazy answers, “The best way to remember Scripture is to write it on your heart….”

Then she probes further, “Do you know Jesus, Ernestine?”

Mazy can tell Ernestine is uncertain while procrastination to learn more tempts her. But, Mazy speaks boldly: “Don’t put it off, Ernestine. None of us knows how long we have on this earth.”

“The best way to get closer to Jesus is to read His Word. Start with the Gospels.”

Bible Study

While thinking about the Gospels, last week we talked about filling our mind with good things, especially from the Bible. Later this week, we will learn more on this most necessary-for-survival topic. Stay tuned!

Thank you, Jan, for your boldness, even in a novel. This speaks to ALL of us. May we be inspired with eyes open for people the Lord places in our paths. Hope your ears are burnin’ come Monday night!

Don’t forget to bring your book so you can share your favorite quotes with us, plus we’ll be reviewing the Discussion Questions on pages 343-345.

Please bring a Kentucky-themed treat to eat if time allows. The fact that Mark’s Feed Store is right down the street from MUMC, and they offer a delicious dessert which rhymes with Buttermilk Sky is not lost on yours truly. Now you know what I’m bringin’!!!

chess pie

Bring a friend or two or ten Monday night, October 26th! The more the merrier!!! Please call the church office to RSVP or if you have any questions : (502) 245-8839.

Let’s close with a beautiful Scripture Jan signs on all of her books, Isaiah 43:1-2:

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name; you are mine.  When you go thru’ deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go thru’ rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk thru’ the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”  (NLT)

‘Til next time!

1 Comment

Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Speaking Engagements

When “Helmet Hair” Can Be a Good Thing…

If you’ve ever been in Louisville, Kentucky the first weekend in May, you know we Louisvillians go CRAZY over the Kentucky Derby. If you’re not one of the one hundred thousand plus people to go to Churchill Downs, then you’re part of the rest of the city going to or hosting a Derby party.

(If you don’t believe me, go to www.kentuckyderby.com and see the countdown to 5/7/16…it’s in days, hours, minutes and seconds…Seriously.)

Following this progression, if you’re female, hat attire is a prerequisite. Many of us have been known to find a hat first, and then a dress, while others march into local stores with dress in hand, hoping to find that perfect match. (Lots of guys wear hats as well. Hats in a mock up of Churchill Downs always make the news!)

kentucky-derby-hats-12

One of my dear friends, Gwen Paten, is hat decorator extraordinaire. She’s now working at Two Chicks, so keep that in mind when Springtime rolls around. What she can do with a hat is nothing short of remarkable. (www.twochicksandcompany.com ) With the holidays nearing, keep in mind she can whip up a fabulous wreath for your door too!

The first time John and I were invited to go to the Derby, our boys were quite young, just 3, 5, and 8. Biggest challenge was finding a babysitter which finally happened at the eleventh hour.

John was handsomely clad in a coat and an equestrianesque tie, while yours truly found a fun, festive dress and the obligatory hat. Finally ready, we walked out into the hall to greet our sitter who was already entertaining the boys. Woody took one look at me and burst into tears. Now there’s a confidence builder!!!

Obviously I never wear hats and this frilly, feathered fedora was too much for a wee one to see his Mother in…I think the older boys just laughed. Surely this was Halloween and Mother was trick or treating???

sb-fall-events-horse-belt

Guys can even accessorize with needlepoint belts!

Tradition usually entails the marathon Derby day morph into a marathon night as our guests also suggested dinner out. After wearing a hat all day long??? Can you fathom one’s hairdo??? You’re either married to the hat for the day and night, or sportin’ some sad kind of coiffure come dinner time.

Enough said for “hat head”. Our topic today, is something a little more interesting: “helmet hair”….

Hubster is now quite the cyclist. A recent article in his Bicycling magazine caught my eye. A woman cyclist asked about how to avoid “postride frizz”, twin sister to “helmet hair”

The answer suggested spritzing your hair with argan oil, or bringing a bandana or a baseball hat (!!!), in addition to a pomade (!!!) such as Aveda Men Pure-formance and Got2bGlued. Tres amusmant if you ask me.

So, while “helmet hair” can be challenging, in the physical realm, helmets are the safe route to take. Stats prove you are much safer wearing a helmet than going unprotected.

Group Of Cyclists On Cycle Ride Through Park

Likewise in the spiritual realm, we must protect ourselves daily with the helmet of salvation, another piece of the Full Armor of God. (Remember last week we talked about the belt of truth.)

The Armor of God

Each piece of the armor is equally necessary for us to put on The Full Armor of God daily. (The Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, Feet fitted with the readiness that come from the Gospel of Peace, the Shield of Faith with which to extinguish the fiery arrows of the evil one, the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and finally, prayer.) My prayer is you’ll do this study so as to learn about all of the armor!

The Full Armor of God

My favorite point Priscilla makes about the helmet of salvation are the benefits we can receive by simply putting it on.

Would athletes enter the field of their sport unprotected? I don’t think so! Priscilla adds, “Choosing not to wear a helmet means leaving our mind exposed, unprotected.”

Priscilla says a helmet offers “comprehensive coverage”. This phrase reminds me of an insurance commercial years ago that had a ginormous umbrella covering an entire family. Full coverage.

Businessman hand drawing an umbrella above a family concept for

Additionally, Priscilla has us look up several Scriptures which illustrate the “importance of the mind to the believer’s ability to function in health and victory.”

Two verses in particular are excellent to fill our minds.  First, Isaiah 26:3-4…

Isaiah 26 3-6

(NIV) The New Living Translation says, “all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” (the Lord)

The Message helps further: “People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit.”

Romans 8:6-7 is black and white:

Romans 8 6-7

Priscilla warns, “If your brain is impaired, your body will also be impaired, no matter how healthy the individual parts of your body may be.

And what the brain is to the body, your mind is to your soul….which is why the enemy works so diligently to cripple you thru’ negative thoughts and unhealthy patterns of imagination.” YIKES!!!

We must keep pouring Scripture into our minds,

wearing the Helmet of Salvation,

savoring our salvation,

claiming our salvation,

daily.

TAKE.

EVERY.

THOUGHT.

CAPTIVE…(2 Cor. 10:4-5)

Each day of Week Six builds on the other and you will be thrilled, assured and equipped to learn many new fun facts. (Praying you’ll take the time to do that!)

Finally, a thought to leave you with….When you do have a troublesome thought which keeps recurring (oh yes, this happens to us all), or encounter a person with whom you perhaps don’t agree with, and, if you keep stewing over what they may be thinking, please listen to what my dearly departed brother-in-law used to say:

“When you’re trying to figure out what they are thinking, you are literally out of your mind.” In other words, no one but our Lord can read our minds.   We certainly cannot read someone else’s mind. It’s a waste of time and a trick the devil loves to entice us with.

Be more concerned about filling your mind with something good. A Scripture or two (or ten) a day will keep the devil away!

Run everything thru’ the Philippians 4:8 Filter:

“Finally brothers and sisters,

whatever is true,

whatever is noble,

whatever is right,

whatever is pure,

whatever is lovely,

whatever is admirable

if anything is excellent or praiseworthy

think about such things.”

Next week we’ll learn more about filling our minds with good things.

‘Til next time!

6 Comments

Filed under Bible Studies, Life Lessons, Scripture