Here is my monthly Bible reading accountability post. I’m still progressing through my year-long devotional. I’m in 1 Chronicles right now. But today I wanted to share some verses from the book of Romans. My Mission Church small group is studying Romans this year. It’s convenient because our leader is also the Bible quizzing coach and they are studying Romans this year, too. Yesterday we were reading through chapter 8 and we came across this encouraging set of verses that I wanted to share with you all. Trust me, these are good!
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It’s time for my monthly accountability for Bible reading and daily devotions. In my devotional book, The Message: Solo, I’ve progressed through some passages of the Bible all the way to 1 Samuel. This morning’s reading was from 1 Samuel 17. It’s part of the very famous story of David and Goliath. I was reading the section where David is preparing to go to battle against the giant. In his preparation, he tries on some traditional and heavy armor and realizes that what works for King Saul in battle isn’t going to work for him. So he says “Thanks, but no thanks on the armor, King Saul.” (That was my paraphrase! Definitely not a direct quote.)
As I was reading this passage, my thoughts went immediately to our church. God is calling us to go into the battle and fight for Him. But I think God is asking us to do things differently than some people might be used to doing it. Sometimes the standard-issue armor just doesn’t fit. Sometimes it’s a hindrance, as it was for David, rather than a help. The reality of Biblical battles is this: God’s people never won a battle because of their armor or weapons or strategy. If they won a battle, it was only because they were following God. Following God is the #1 priority. All the rest is just details.
I believe that one of the greatest blessings in our lives right now is the relationship we have with the previous generation of church leaders. We are so grateful that they are not like King Saul from 1 Samuel. They don’t expect us to look and sound exactly like them. They do have high expectations of us. But those expectations are about love, prayer, discipleship, holiness, wisdom, and family life. Those expectations are not about making sure our church looks and sounds just like their’s did.
I love some traditions just as much as anyone else. If you put me in a 100 voice choir, singing hymns, accompanied by a gifted pianist playing on a beautiful grand piano, in a building that is decorated with stained glass windows, with the congregation sitting on pews, I would be having a great time! But that is not what God wants for us as Mission Church right now. It may not be what He wants for us ever! And that’s okay.
So we will continue to follow God’s call into the battlefield. And we will continue to use the tools that God places in our hands. It might look a little bit different that what some people are used to seeing, but it’s still the same team. And most important of all, it’s still the same hope: the hope of Jesus.
Guess who is in her second year of Bible quizzing.
Guess who had a quizzing meet in Prineville, OR last weekend.
Guess who “quizzed out” of 3 matches because she answered so many questions correctly. After you answer 4 questions, they kick you out of the match so no one person can dominate the whole thing.
Guess who has memorized more scripture than anyone else in her family.
Guess who is having a great time with her friends, especially when her quiz coach, Mrs. Taylor, takes the team out for ice cream after a match.
The answer is: Emma!
sitting in the back of the room after “quizzing out” of a match
We’re still reading the book of Acts and if you’re reading along with us, you know that there is never a dull moment in the lives of these early Christians. We just keep reading about one adventure after the other. Some adventures, like Philip’s, almost seem too easy. Not that I mind, but it is such a contrast to the paths of some of the others.
Acts has so many lessons for me to learn, but I still think that the greatest lesson comes in chapter 9 when Jesus appears to Saul (and by “appears” I mean he throws Saul to the ground, speaks to him from a great light, and then blinds him). Jesus doesn’t ask Saul why he’s persecuting the church, or why he’s persecuting the followers of Jesus. He asks in verse 4, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
This quote from Jesus reminds me of two important facts that might seem obvious, but I still liked to be reminded of them. First, Jesus cares about the church. It matters to him if we do well or if we’re struggling. We are never overlooked or forgotten. Second, the church belongs to Jesus. In other words, we’re not in charge because Jesus is already in charge. If things ever seem beyond my understanding or abilities, which actually happens a lot, I know that everything is in his hands. I should probably remember this fact when it comes to other things in my life, not just the church.
I’m getting ready to start reading about Paul’s many adventures starting in chapter 12. Like I said, never a dull moment. Happy reading!
It’s time for “the Acts of the Apostles.” If you don’t know, this book of the Bible is the fifth book in the New Testament and comes right after the Gospel of John. Here are some of my favorite quotes so far:
Chapter 2, verse 24 when Peter is speaking to the crowd about Jesus- “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”
Chapter 4, verse 12 when Peter speaks to the religious leaders about Jesus- “Salvation is found in no one else, there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Chapter 5, verses 38 and 39. A religious leader named Gamamiel gives some wise advice about how to deal with the followers of Jesus- “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
Someday in heaven, I want to ask these men from Acts how much they knew from the beginning of their work. When Jesus left to go up to heaven in chapter 1, did they have any idea what their lives were going to be like from then on? Did they understand the persecution that was coming? And did they realize how God was going to use them to change the world? Did Luke understand that this letter he wrote would someday be a part of what we consider to be God’s Holy Word, the Bible? I guess I’ll just have to wait awhile to get those answers.
In the meantime, I’ll keep reading and learning what I can here on earth. It’s encouraging to read about God building his church because I know that he still does that today. I don’t have to be some guy from the first century living in Jerusalem to be used by God. I’m thankful that God also uses 40-year-old housewives from the Pacific Northwest living in the 21st century.
After finishing my amazing study on Elijah, I just kept reading in 2 Kings. The run down of the kings of Israel and Judah goes pretty quickly. I’m struck by how a person’s life, even a powerful king, can sometimes be summarized in one or two paragraphs. I’m sure that these men, good or bad, did many things in their lives and had many stories to tell. But no matter how politically powerful they may have been, the only thing about them that has lasted is whether or not they did good or evil in the eyes of the Lord. That’s it.
I know that I’m a modern-day woman reading about ancient-times men, but I think that the lesson can still apply to me. I’ve done many things and have many stories. And that’s a good thing. But what will last, what has eternal value, and what really counts is what I do for the Lord. That’s it.
On another Bible reading note, we’re taking this sabbatical time to study the book of Acts. Lots of adventure there! So be looking for some posts about what we’re learning and gleaning from the early Church. Happy reading!
It’s time for some Bible reading accountability! I finished 1 and 2 Samuel from the history section of the Old Testament last month. So now I’m reading at the beginning of 1 Kings. I have a Bible study written by a cousin of mine (shout out to you, Susan!) that I will start once I get to chapter 17. This study has been on the bookshelf for awhile and I’m excited to finally use in earnest. Once I get into it I’m sure I’ll do some posts about what I’m learning.
I must admit that Samuel was a slow go for me. Reading about battle after battle and then reading about families falling apart at the seams just isn’t favorite thing to do. As much as some of the people’s lives frustrate me, I know that they were human beings just like me and I should not only be aware of the history, but learn something from it, too. I once heard an entire sermon on the last verse of 2 Samuel 18 when King David mourns the death of his son, Absalom. “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you- O Absalom, my son, my son!” I know that Absalom’s choices were his own to make, and those choices were about as destructive as you can get. But it’s striking that we don’t see any concern on David’s part until after his son is gone. After hearing that sermon, I remember saying to Brent, “You can be a leader like David. You can be a warrior like David. You can be a musician like David. You can be a worshipper like David. You can write songs like David. But you can’t be a husband and a father like David.” We didn’t have a big discussion about it, we just knew that this is how it’s going to be for us: family is a priority. It’s a gift from God and we should treat is as such. That’s just one of many things we can learn from the stories in the Old Testament. I’m sure the list is endless.
And now I’m on to a new set of books with the Kings. I’ll try not to get too frustrated when people do crazy things and remember that God has something for me here in these books. I don’t know what it is yet, but I’m ready and open to find out what it is.
I found this poem in an old Ideals magazine. It seems fitting for this week as we prepare our hearts for remembering Christ’s journey to the cross.
All those who journey, soon or late,
Must pass within the garden gate;
Must kneel alone in darkness there,
And battle with some fierce despair.
God pity those who cannot say:
“Not mine but thine;” who only pray:
“Let this cup pass,” and cannot see
The purpose of Gethsemane
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
This next clip is a powerful song about the love of God. This is my most favorite song that we sang in my college choir. And that’s saying a lot because we sang a lot of great ones. Not only is this song full of beautiful harmonies, it also communicates the most important message we could ever sing about, or even read about, write about, talk about, think about, pray about, anything about. When you listen to it, just close your eyes and meditate on God’s love for you and for the world.
It’s time to be accountable again for my Bible reading. I’m still in Psalms. It’s talking me awhile to get through it, but that’s okay because it’s a long book! Right now I’m in the middle of 119. Yesterday I read verse 18, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” This verse resonated with me. I don’t want to see God’s Word as something boring and burdensome and full of rules and regulations. Rather, I want to see it as a love letter to me from the Lord, as a guide to live the life that I was meant to live with joy, peace, fullness, and satisfaction. But that outlook toward the Bible will only come from the Holy Spirit. I can’t just muster it from my own determination. But I can receive it as a gift from God.
I recently read Psalm 110. I’ve probably read it before, but maybe I noticed it more this time because of the holiday season. As I was reading this one and seeing phrases such as “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool under my feet,” or “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek,” I kept thinking that this surely sounded like things I’ve read about Jesus in the New Testament. This psalmist is talking about Jesus, and he probably didn’t even know it!
I pray that your (and my) Bible reading doesn’t get lost in the busy December season. I had to implement a rule that my feet don’t even touch the floor in the morning until I’ve opened the Word. This has been a very effective rule for me for many months. Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” So I should probably start with his Word before I start with my feet and my path.
Blessings to you.
I know, I know. It’s been a long time since the last blog post. Sorry about that. Life has just been rolling along at a steady clip and taking time out to blog hasn’t been the first thing on my list lately. Plus we’ve been going through a “technological transition” with routers and updated software and new phones. If you’re wondering whether my techie husband has his hands on the new iPhone5, the answer is: absolutely!
So here’s a quick update on a few things:
What about Bible study? I started in on Psalms at the beginning of September. I’m still holding on to my 1 Kings study, but that just hasn’t happened yet. There are a LOT of Psalms to read. It’s going to take a while to get through it. Some are very short and some are very long. But I’m still trying to keep it at one Psalm a day. When I finally arrive at Psalm 119, I’ll probably break it up a little, but that is a long way off still.
Have the kids started school? Oh my, yes! Emma is 5th grade, Blake is 3rd grade, and Lauren is 1st grade. Lauren feels so grown up now that she has some workbooks that look a lot like brother’s and sister’s. I know that some people break out in hives and start hyperventilating when they think about homeschooling, but it’s a great fit for our family. We’ll keep doing it until the the Lord says otherwise. You can easily get pulled in to some heated arguments about the issue, but we have managed to avoid that so far. We just say, “We’re doing what’s best for our family,” and leave it at that.
How are things at church? Rockin’ and rollin’! Three weeks ago, the church plant in our neighboring town, Vision Church, had their first Sunday. And our family was able to visit them last weekend. It was awesome! When I see where they are in the beginning stages, it reminds me of where we were just 5 short years ago. I just can’t overstate my excitement for them and for all that the Lord has in store for them in the coming months and years.
So there is a little update. I will try not to neglect the blog anymore. Once I slow down enough to post something, I really enjoy being able to reflect on our family life, and enjoy expressing my thoughts and feelings. So thank you for giving me an audience for all those “deep thoughts” with heatheresther. Until next time, God bless!