How To Read Your Bible

Okay, now that I am back in Seminary (after a short break) I’ll have to share with you a couple of the things I am learning, on occasion.

This week I learned a FANTASTIC way to read the Bible. You see, when I read it, I usually get stuck. I’ll read a couple of verses and freak out because there is so much in them to teach me. I usually will then tell the closest person around me how excited I am about those couple of verses and then move on.

What I learned this week…is I haven’t been letting God finish His thought! I haven’t been letting Him speak to me through the WHOLE chapter.

My new way of reading through the Bible will look like this –

  1. Read the whole chapter, straight through.
  2. Read the chapter again underlining the thoughts that the Holy Spirit is leading you to pay attention to.
  3. Read through it, again, reading all that you had underlined.

So far, I haven’t tried this BRILLIANT strategy. I keep just opening the Bible and asking the Lord to show me what He’d like me to read.

BUT, I will try it tomorrow. Because it sounds like a good way to really see what God has to tell me in a complete way.

Advertisements

Don’t “Pray” for Me

Have you ever come across people that say, “I’ll pray for you”, and as soon as they walk away, you have the feeling like that was just a parting Christian term that they say all the time? Me, too.

Are you someone who has said, “I’ll pray for you”, and then TOTALLY forgotten to actually do it? Me, too.

I have found the very best thing to do is –

  1. STOP and pray for them, with them right then and their.
  2. As you walk away, take a moment to pray for them, while you are walking away and it’s fresh in your mind.

With the first suggestion I have found that their is generally enough time to pray for someone. Why? Because that is what God would want us to do, so He extends the time for us! Tell you what, grab a watch with a second hand or a timer and watch 30 seconds go by. It’s actually quite a long period of time! If you wait for each second to pass, you see how a little can go a long way. Pray, even if it’s for 30 seconds, pray.

With the second option, make sure you take a moment and pray for them as you walk away. If people you are walking with start a conversation right up, say, “Hold on for just a second.”. You don’t have to say you are going to pray, or maybe you do.

God still listens to “microwave” prayers. You know, the quick ones that are “Please, God”. The goal is to talk to Him more!

What I learned today…To NOT be someone who just talks about praying for someone, but to consistently PRAY FOR THEM.

Helpful Hint – Wherever you seem to stop and pray for the longest time, or whatever area you look at the most, put up post-its of who you need to pray for. My list around my computer has names I change frequently, as I hear of prayers being answered, and others stay consistent as they are always in my prayers.

20160223_131455 - Copy

 

 

The “Wedding” Verse, Again

Going back to the “Wedding Verse” and remembering, again, it’s not just a verse for weddings….Read 1 Corinthians below and think of the people in your life…those you are surrounded by…your friends, old and new…your family, kids, parents, spouse, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents…at work, your boss, co-workers, employees, …

”If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails….”

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Sometimes the most significant truth is the easiest to overlook.  While reading self-help books and motivational books on leadership can be incredibly helpful and necessary, Paul, the author of Corinthians, reminds us that if we do not begin on a foundation of love, then all of our actions in the name of our faith are worth absolutely nothing.

Likely, we don’t wake up one day with the intent to leave out love.  Rather, it is something we forget as we get wrapped up in the busy details of our daily life.  Paul’s words are a HUGE reminder to the church to not forget our identity as loved people who are called to love others.  Yet, even when we forget, we are met by our loving God, who forgives us and shows us how to do life based on love.

Take a moment to reflect on the relationships God has put around you.  Are those relationships built on a foundation of love?  Are there ways you can change your behavior today to love others the way it directs us to in the verses above?

Remember, this isn’t about beating yourself up on how you have treated others.  Rather, it’s a time to reflect and look to God.  How might he be inviting you into deeper expressions of love…His love?

Today I learned…God puts people in our life that take a little extra grace so we can grow. Our job is to love those people. God made them for a reason, too.

Not the Lord’s Prayer!

I grew up hating the Lord’s prayer. Why? Because whenever something bad would happen, I would be told, “God says to forgive” “You HAVE to forgive, we say it in our prayers”. Regardless of how I felt about being hurt or taken advantage of, I was constantly reminded of the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive others” Matthew 6:12.

When I heard our Pastor was going to teach on the Lord’s prayer, years ago, I didn’t want to go to service. Though I had told God I would go to every weekend service, I didn’t want to go, just to be made to feel bad that I didn’t forgive people that had been hurting me as a child.

Of course, I went. And God did what God does…He showed me something new in the Lord’s prayer. Well, I learned a lot that is new, but what changed my trajectory, was hearing someone say the verses out loud to me. Read Matthew 6:12 now…

“and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”

What does it say BEFORE it talks about forgiving others?

Forgive US OUR sins. CRAP! All the years I spent not loving this prayer, pointing fingers at others, holding on to resentment, anger and hate. All the years spent VERY angry that God wanted me to forgive, when I didn’t want to…

Jesus, in this prayer, taught us to ask for forgiveness first. Man, He has always worked overtime forgiving me for all I have done. I had not been a great person. I was the prodigal daughter out to please myself in the world for a long period of time. Here God was, speaking to me through this prayer. Telling me to remember that I have a lot of baggage on my shoulders that I should be working on, not worrying about pointing fingers at people who have wronged me.

Think of the verse Matthew 7:5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

I started praying….God, I am so very sorry for all I have done. I know I have made HUGE sins against you. I know in my heart you can forgive me right away, but please help heal my mind. Help me grasp on to the truth that you already knew what I’d do and have already forgiven me because you love me so much. Thank you for sending your Son to pay for all of my sins. God, help me work on myself more. Help me learn to be as forgiving as you. I love you and trust you.

I now absolutely love the Lord’s prayer. I encourage you to read Matthew 6 and see what God has to say about someone you haven’t forgiven. And start praying.

Matthew 6

What I learned today…To remember to recite the Lord’s Prayer and be thankful Jesus came to be and example and teach us how to live.

Women? Yuck. Part 2

Okay, so there is (soon to be was) a traveling conference called Women of Faith. It’s a group of highly gifted women preaching to thousands and thousands of other women around the country. Think of a GINORMOUS Pep Rally for the ladies.

My mentor invited me to one a couple years ago and I was VERY nervous…as that is a LOT of women. She was invited to pray with and for the speakers before they went on stage so it gave me some time to hangout with some of the other ladies.

After the event, I was invited to go back with all the speakers. As I talked with God as I walked, I remembered all the stars and politicians He had put throughout my life and asked that He guide me to let this moment be about my mentor. I was able to get some great pictures of them and ended up taking one with myself in it as well.

Soon after my leader told me the speakers would all be coming to have a live web event filmed on our church campus. They would be having lunch off location and she wanted me to come.

Wellllll…I didn’t hear anything all the way up until the day of the event. I was discouraged and feeling left out. As I went up to the Main Worship area where the event was going to be held, I was once again yelling at God. WHY did He have me in this ministry any way? I obviously was needed, liked, or LIKE any of them. What did He want from me?!

I prayed this as I stood by the side door of the center by myself. All of the sudden the door opened and the whole group of ladies walked in, obviously all coming from lunch. I received “quaint”, “Hi, Sweeties” as they all came in and walked by. The speakers…and ALL the other leaders. I wanted to hurl as they walked in to the green room and once again left me alone with God. I internally flipped out on Him, again. WHY did He have me there?!?!?! I wasn’t like them!!!

After a few moments of me stewing and yelling and yelling and stewing, the ministry leader walked out with a study leader and asked her to pray over the worship center, and find others that could do the same. She needed me to bring the speakers water. The study leader, said she could take care of the water if I wanted to pray. **That sounded GREAT to me! I was already praying and didn’t need to be given a “token” job.**

The ministry leader, in her wisdom, said she’d rather have me back with the speakers. So she and I walked back, grabbed water and delivered them to a room that housed the speakers. Right outside the room their was a couch where I was asked to hangout in case anything was needed.

As I sat there, in a slouched position, I asked God AGAIN, WHY ME?? Half listening to the people behind, I looked over and saw a Bible sitting on the table. When I reached over to grab it and put it on my lap, I blindly opened it and started reading…

Jeremiah’s Complaint

12 You are always righteous, Lord,
    when I bring a case before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
    Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
    Why do all the faithless live at ease?
You have planted them, and they have taken root;
    they grow and bear fruit.
You are always on their lips
    but far from their hearts.

I started talking to God again…

What?!?! That is awesome!!! You put that in here for me! I do believe you are on all these ministry women’s lips but not in their hearts! WOW! I can’t believe you put this in here!!! They do bear fruit, they do live in ease and prosper! Why, Lord, why!!!

And then I kept reading….

Yet you know me, Lord;
    you see me and test my thoughts about you.

I started talking to God again…

UGH. What. Stop the presses. Double Ugh. Wow. I suck.

I am so very sorry God. What an ugly heart I have. I apologizing for ever thinking anything negative about your servants. About your daughters who give so much to you. I don’t know their hearts, I don’t know what they are going through. I am so sorry for not seeing them as your kids that need love and direction, too.

Please Lord, test my heart and redirect me when I get ugly thoughts. I know they are not of You. Please remind me, every time I start to judge someone else, to pray for that person instead. Please help me constantly look within anytime I feel like pointing a finger and see that my job is to work on ME and MY challenges, not worry about others.

I am sorry.

As I finished, I knew God had changed my heart. After some time, I shared this story with the ministry leader, my mentor. She asked me to not give up explaining that every time someone walks in to a ministry and decides there is no one like them…they should STAY to encourage others LIKE THEM to join. Otherwise the group in the room would never change. We want to make sure we are representing the WHOLE body of Christ in every ministry, not segregating because we don’t feel we fit in.

She was/is brilliant and a gift.

What I learned today…to keep remembering these stories so I stay on track. Remember, we are all unique, and we need to all be represent throughout the church…so it can continue growing with OC Housewives and the not so glamorous. It doesn’t matter how we see ourselves…what matters is we belong to God’s family regardless of what culture and society tell us. It’s our job to be the best “ME” we can be so that we can represent all of His family better.