Category Archives: Bible Studies

When Your Proficient Procrastination Backfires… (Part 2 of 2) PLUS FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Friends!  Thanks to all of you who commented on last week’s post. (If you missed this uncanny story, click here) Many of you are jumping in with Liz, Nancy and me on our one-year journey!

There are a couple more pieces I’d like to show you. I discovered numerous methods of Bible study taught by Carole Mayhall in her book, Come Walk with Me:  A Woman’s Personal Guide to Knowing God and Mentoring Others

One method I tried this Spring was super simple and kept my face in the Word once our Bible study group adjourned until fall. Carole suggests we readers take Psalm 119 (Yes, it’s the longest psalm in the Bible!) and read just eight verses per day.

When you look at the text, you’ll notice there’s a word at the beginning of each section of eight verses.  These twenty-two sections correspond to a different letter in the Hebrew alphabet.

What began to convict me about this exercise, is of the 176 verses, only 5 do not mention God’s Word.  It uses words such as “statutes”, “law”, “decrees”, “precepts”, “commands” referring to God’s Word.  The conviction came with phrases like,

“I delight in your decrees,”

“I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches,”

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”

“My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.”

“I hold fast to your statues, Lord;”

“Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.”

I confessed to both Liz and Nancy that while I love doing Bible study, it never occurred to me I should delight over His Word, as in each and every word. I believe this conviction came in a timely fashion to prepare me to finally agree to read the Bible thru’ in a year.

Yet one more book was discovered from researching author Pam Gillaspie. (She’s who authored the book, No More Excuses! An Almost Too-practical Guide to Reading Through Your BibleIt’s the one I found right after I’d found my Mother’s One Year Bible.)

Via Amazon, I discovered Pam has written a number of Bible studies and this is the one that made me gasp yet againSweeter than Chocolate! Sweet Words and Real Solutions from God’s Book (a Flexible Inductive Study of Psalm 119)

I gasped for two reasons:

1 – Clearly I’d met my match in chocoholic aficionados, and

2 – This gal is obviously talented and smart to have written so many Bible studies (see below) AND to be published by Precepts Ministries, AND one of them is on Psalm 119!

I quickly ordered Pam’s study on Psalm 119 because I enjoyed doing Carole’s exercise and felt the need to review it.  Pam’s workbook is very thorough and I love its layout.

I believe the Lord shows us His sense of humor from time to time and this is a perfect example to couple the study with chocolate. Pam goes so far as to suggest grabbing a piece of chocolate before diving in.  Ever obedient, I did as I was told. Smile.

Finally, let’s return to Liz and Nancy and me INVITING YOU TO JOIN US in reading The One Year Bible.  Here are TWO more reasons you may wish to prayerfully consider reading thru’ the whole Bible:

1 – Carole Mayhall says, “I wanted to become familiar with the entire Bible because I didn’t like to think of getting to heaven and having Micah ask how I liked his book and having to confess I hadn’t read it! (Well, that was just one reason.) To absorb the whole scope of Scripture, I needed to know the entire panorama of God’s activity throughout history.”

Wow! Imagine if we’d never read letters written by Paul, or King David, or King Solomon, or Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, or James, just to name a few? We wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings, would we? (Plus 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us all Sripture is God-breathed.)

2- Who can argue with Charles Spurgeon? He said, “Many books in my library are now behind and beneath me. They were good in their way once, and so were the clothes I wore when I was ten years old; but I have outgrown them. NOBODY ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.” Amen.

Don’t forget, if you comment, “I’m in!”, your name will be entered in a drawing to win the exact same Bible we’re reading. We’ve already had several of you from last week take the plunge.  Bravo! (I’ll draw from the names and let you know next week, giving y’all a few more days to comment.)

‘Til next time!

P.S.  One of the comments I received last week was from my cute little friend, Trish Roberts.  (Those of you who know her are nodding.) Trish taught me about an interesting looking Bible called The Wayfinding Bible. (No, I’ve not ordered it. Yet.)

Check it out as it’s got many different options for navigating thru’ the Bible. Oh, and it’s in the NLT too! Trish said she and Eddie have it downloaded on their phones for when they travel.  More great ideas!

SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME…

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When Your Proficient Procrastination Backfires… (Part 1 of 2) plus FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Friends! Any procrastinators out there? I thought I was at a professional, proficient level until three recent occurrences taught me otherwise…

I’ve been a practicing procrastinator since college. (Scary math:  thirty-six years ago. Oh my.) Pulling all-nighters, accompanied by more than one human’s caffeine quota should allow, I scrambled thru’ four years of college with so-so passing grades.

This past April, a new friend of John’s sent him a One Year Bible published by the folks at Walk Through the Bible, called The Daily Walk Bible:  Explore God’s Path to Life. This Bible is in the New International Version. Ever the optimist, John jumped in regardless of the fact that January was way in the past.

I have several friends who’ve read thru’ the Bible in a year’s time, some more than once. I confess I’ve successfully avoided  it until now. Plus, I concluded that if, and that’s a big IF I were to attempt such, I’d much prefer to read it in the New Living Translation.

I toted John’s new Bible with me when I visited Liz Curtis Higgs one day, showing it to her.  I was relieved to discover she was in the same boat as me, not having bitten the bullet to take on such a project.  She was also in agreement that if she did jump in, she, too, would prefer the New Living Translation.

Fast forward to Mother’s Day weekend.  Gordy and Lauren were in town and the one request I uttered was for Gordy to go thru’ his college “stuff”, still in his old room. (Trying to be tactful here.)

The piles stressed me out every time I walked by his room. (He might have a few procrastinator skills in him too given he’s been out of college six years.)

Mission accomplished, all he left for me to go thru’ was a pile of books. Later that day, I divvied them up into books to be taken to the Christian Book Nook (They’re at 2116 S. Preston St. in Louisville.), while the others will be donated to the Little Free Libraries in town.

When I reached the bottom of the pile, one super thick book stopped me in my tracks.  Get ready for this: It was The One Year Bible.  Guess which version?  Oh yes, it was in the New Living Translation.

Having no recollection of having bought this book, I opened the first page. There, in my Mother’s handwriting, was her name:  Anita Mills. I nearly dropped it like a hot potato.

I dashed down the stairs to show John.  He said, “Wow, now what are you going to do?”

“Well,” I hesitated, “I may start in 2019.”

Now on a roll of decluttering, I made one more round of checking for books to donate or sell, stopping in Woody’s old room. I found a few to clear out the shelves, stopping at a thin, purple, paperback book.  This time I gasped when I read the cover:  No More Excuses! An almost too-practical guide to reading through your Bible—Especially for Women by Pam Gillaspie.

“What?” I hollered out loud, now rushing down the stairs again to show John. We then opened the title page, and Pam, the author, had signed the book for me, see below:

I have zero recollection of this book, either, much less how these books have been in our house for nearly eight years without my knowing about them.  Either my Mom is shouting down from Heaven to me, or the Lord is saying, “It is time you read my Word ALL THE WAY THROUGH.”

John grinned and said, “NOW what are you going to do?”

To which I’m ashamed to say, I replied, “I’ll think about it.” (CAN YOU SAY, “STUBBORN-AS-A-MULE?”)

The following day I drove to Lexington as I was meeting my buddy, Nancy Sleeth, to walk and have lunch.  I toted the two books to show her and find out if she’d read thru’ the Bible before.

She’s done so nearly every year (of course she has), however this year she had not, being busy with editing Matthew’s new book.  She quickly offered, “You know, I’ve really missed my daily readings.  My One Year Bible is EXACTLY LIKE YOURS!”

Before I could comment, she said, “Let’s do this together!  I’m ready to jump back in!”

Now what do you say to that? I stammered, “Uh, well, ok…when do you want to start?  July 1st?” (We were at the end of May by this time.)

“Nope,” Nancy said quite matter of factly, followed by a declaration:  “Let’s start June 1st!” I had no argument left in me…

Matthew prayed a commissioning prayer over both of us, reminding us God’s grace will cover us when we miss a day here and there.  Is God in the details or what?

Not wanting Liz to feel left out (!!!), I decided she needed a Bible just like Nancy’s and mine.  Dubbing it an “early birthday gift”, I told her the story and invited her to join Nancy and me.

God bless her, Liz jumped in head first, joining us on the Summer Solstice, and so, now we are three. (Fun sidebar: The day we celebrated her bday early, Liz and I went and had our nails done. Don’t hers look beautiful in the below pic? And an even better sidebar: CND Nails gives the best pedicures EVER in their 26 new chairs. Call (502)894-4445 if you live in or near Louisville. You’ll never leave the chair!) Back to our new mission…

Friends, there’s NOTHING like accountability. I’d LOVE for you to jump in with us, with whatever version you prefer. 

Comment “Count me in!” if you’d like to join Liz, Nancy and me. Your name will go into a drawing over the next two weeks (more to this story next week). One lucky person will win a copy of the same One Year Bible we’re reading.

Pray about it. I’ll give you more reasons for jumping in with us next week.

’Til next time!

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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!

 

 

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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.

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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,

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Rejoicing,

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Blessedness,

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Happiness,

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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:

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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!

 

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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.

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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!

 

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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

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

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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…”

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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.

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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

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Experiencing Life Today: 365 Day Devotional by Pete Briscoe

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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!

 

 

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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 )

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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.”

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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.”

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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!

 

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Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Life Lessons