Thursday, January 26, 2012

A New Walk Along an Old Way

Have I mentioned that shortly before Christmas I decided to read through the Bible?  My sweet daughter, who read through the entire Bible over the summer break, inspired me.  She read 15 pages a day and nothing kept her from her daily commitment.  I mean we could have traveled all day or played all day or whatever, and she would stay up late to finish her reading. Honestly, it shamed me a little considering I hadn't done anything requiring such commitment to my faith in a long time.  So, in December I buckled down and started reading.  My goal 10 pages each day (I cannot keep up with Rebecca!).  Now being me, and being extremely literal I couldn't just read through the Bible, but decided I would read through the books of the Bible in chronological order.

This morning I finished the book of Jeremiah, incidentally my favorite book so far; although the book of Ruth is a pretty sweet love story, especially since the not so uplifting book of Judges precedes it.  But back to the often abused Jeremiah! Chosen by God to take a message of warning to the people, he spent years repeating the same message (turn back to God; worship Him alone) to an unresponsive and angry people.  The poor guy was beaten, thrown into a muddy cistern and just not the most popular guy in town.

Having been a follower of Christ all my life, I’ve heard and often agreed with the description of a harsh Old Testament God versus a loving and peaceful New Testament God.  I think we get it wrong here.  Throughout the Old Testament is this constant theme of a God who is desperate to forgive people if they would just return to a faithful relationship with him.  I mean these are people who are sacrificing their own children to their false gods, and yet we have this God who over and over again wants to forgive them and continue in relationship with them.  I think I’m going to have to change the way I think about the God of the Old Testament.

Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”

Be blessed today friends ~ Shawna

Monday, January 23, 2012

Walking in Love

Well, Rebecca and I are home from Houston where we went to celebrate a year of memorizing scripture.  We joined Beth Moore and about 1,200 other women who memorized 24 verses during 2011.  We met at the First Baptist Church in Houston for two days of worship, music with Travis Cotrell, a fantastic message from Beth Moore and - we also recited all 24 of our memory verses to a partner!  We made new friends, managed to stay alive on the Houston freeways, ate the best Mexican food I've experienced, and came home ready to keep digging into the Word!  I cannot even begin to express how blessed I feel to have experienced this with my sweet daughter.

The following is just a bit of Beth's message from the weekend.  The message was taken from the book of  2nd John, and Beth began Friday evening by reciting the entire of book!  I nearly cried it was so moving (but then I am a crier!).  Beth used the word WALKING as the outline for the message.

We're all starved for some face to face.
All we've worked for can be lost.
Listen with the ears of a chosen lady.
Keep the pace of true abiding.
Invest your whole life into love.
Never forget the ploy to infiltrate.
Go out into the world walking in what you know.

I must invest my whole life into love. Never be unaware that God loves me! How aware am I that God loves me? Am I dwelling in that knowledge? In that awareness?  Truth without love is just a fact. Insist on keeping my feeling in my faith.

"Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love. Ephesians 5:1. Let's get out there and walk like people who know they are loved!

I revel in the forced quiet time a plane ride provides!

Here we are writing our favorite verses on the Wall of Verses.
Did I say how great it was to experience this with Rebecca!

A bit of sustenance to keep us going!

Rebecca and I are continuing to memorize Bible verses in 2012.  Please join us.  We would love to share this experience with you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter Workout Land

We welcomed the snow this morning but not enough for me to run in it! Here's the view from this morning's "run."

Safe driving friends!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How Scared Should I Be?

I just returned from a weekend in Seattle, where six of us women gathered to celebrate our dear friend Jody’s birthday.  I don’t often get away for a girls' only weekend, and can I just say it was fun.  It was noisy.  It was filled with laughter, but it was not restful!  Indeed, we had so much fun I needed a 90-minute nap once I got home and then still went to bed at 8:30. Yes, I am a wimp!

While in Seattle we got to talking about “fire and brimstone” street preaching.  I have a picture in my mind of a man who stood on a corner in downtown Seattle nearly every day, back when I lived and worked there, shouting to all of us about repenting and burning in hell.  He was not a happy looking guy, and I always hurried past him as fast a possible.  I just wonder does this kind of “ministry” ever work?  I mean who would be drawn to that?  I’m a Christian, and I couldn’t wait to get away from him.

Last summer I read the book Speaking of Jesus by Carl Medearis and my world was changed.  This book made me look at the world and myself differently!  Mr. Medearis writes, “If we don't truly know what the gospel is, we have to find an explanation for Christianity.”  This made me ask myself, do I know Jesus well enough to share him? Can I talk about the gospel while talking only of Jesus? Can I leave rules and doctrine out of a description of salvation?  I hope so.  Medearis goes on to say, “We don't trust Jesus with our salvation.  We think he needs our help.  We think He needs our doctrines, our church charters, our definitions, and our circle.  We're insecure about salvation.”

I then sat down and read again the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible. I hadn’t read them in a while, and I was reminded at how beautiful they are.  The gospels are filled with story after story of Jesus loving people, even (actually especially!) unlovable people.  Why do we forget that? Why do we make it complicated? Why do we make it scary?

“Jesus gives us a new way of living and loving and being loved - this is the gospel message.  That's what Jesus does for us.  He gives us life.  Heals us and restores us.  Provides answers and truth, a way to live forever.  All good things.” Speaking of Jesus.

“Not feeling like we have the burden to convince the world that they're wrong and we're right allows us to talk about Jesus and how amazing He was and is with total freedom.” Speaking of Jesus

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thanks for Annoying Me

"Nothing undercuts cynicism more than a spirit of thankfulness.  You begin to realize that your whole life is a gift." Paul Miller, The Praying Life

Life is such a gift, and it's fragile.  I want to see life through a thankful lens.  Embrace each day eagerly with anticipation for what comes next, being thankful at every step.

"A thankful heart is constantly extending grace because it has received grace.  Love and grace are uneven.  God poured out on his own Son the criticism I deserve.  Now he invites me to pour out undeserving grace on someone who has hurt me.  Grace begets grace." Paul Miller, The Praying Life

"By thanking God daily for specific things about the person, you will begin to see them for who they are - a gift." Paul Miller, The Praying Life

I want to live with the awareness that each person is valuable.  We may look different, live differently, annoy each other completely, even have different political views! But if I am purposeful in looking for the good in those around me, I might just notice that we all have something to offer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Year of Eating Words

“When your words came I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name Lord God Almighty.”  Jeremiah 15:16

Last year my daughter Rebecca and I joined thousands of other women across the country and committed to memory two Bible verses each month.  We all chose our own verses, those words most meaningful to us individually.  I noticed a few things as the weeks rolled by. First, my verses in January were considerably longer than they were in November!  But more importantly, these words changed me.  What began as rote memorization changed the way I view myself in the world and then changed the way I act and react in that world.  Here are a few of the verses I memorized:

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”  Ephesians 3:17-18.  Not surprisingly, this verse is from January 15, the first verse of 2011.  It’s longer and has problematic grammar, making it difficult to commit to memory.  Let’s just say I have issues with the Apostle Paul’s word usage.

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind.” 1 Timothy 1:7.  This one is great for repeating at night when sleep evades me and worries creep in, and can be followed up with this one, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.” Psalm 143:8

So 2011 was a year of walking in the Word, a path I invite you to walk yourself.  Be bold! Be brave! Jesus walks with you.

“The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid.” Psalm 27:1

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Stuff

“Faith is not the clinging to a shrine. But an endless pilgrimage of the heart, audacious longing, burning songs, daring thoughts, impulse overwhelming the heart, usurping toward these are all a drive to love the one who rings our heart like a bell.” Few words are more beautiful to me than these by Jewish scholar Abraham Joshua Heschel. His words to embrace the newness in life, to view change as a gift, and be excited for what lies ahead are timely as we walk into a new year. Am I ready for what comes this year? Am I prepared to walk with Jesus into whatever challenges and blessings greet me?

Another favorite author writes, "The life of a Christian is never about sameness. It's always about change. That's why we must learn to survive and once again thrive when change involves heartbreaking loss. We're being conformed to the image of Christ. When our hearts are hemorrhaging with grief and loss, never forget that Christ binds and compresses them with a nail-scarred hand. Life will never be the same again, but I have the invitation from Christ to rise to a new life - a more compassionate life, a wise life, a more productive life. Sound impossible? It is without Christ." Beth Moore in her book Breaking Free.

Oh that each change I face this year would produce a more compassionate, wiser and more productive me. 

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. Numbers 6:24-25

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What Do You See?

Last year I read a terrific book by Beth Moore entitled, Breaking Free.  In the book Beth writes, "We fulfill who we are meant to be when God is recognizable in us."  This was profound to me and yet so simple.  I should be reflecting Christ every day, in every situation, in every word, but living this means taking responsibility for my daily walk.  It means being in prayer and in the Word daily. It means being purposeful.  Being thoughtful.

"Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31