Monday, September 30, 2013

Are you ready??

Hello friends!! I’m excited about this new challenge to improve my walk with God. .
but I am SUPER excited that you are joining me!!
 I’d like to explain to you how this challenge came about. .
On accident this past summer. .
while reading through the book of Acts. .
I found a scripture reference that very specifically addressed a question that I had pondered in the past. .
as I continued reading. .
I found a second reference in the next chapter. .
sooo. .
I got a little notebook and wrote both references out under the heading of the topic I was interested in. .
Several chapters later. .
I found a reference dealing with another topic I had been wrestling with. .
so I started a SECOND notebook paper. .
Long story short. .
as I continued to move through the New Testament. .
each time I would note scripture that addressed those two topics. .
I would list them out on their respective study sheets. .
I was a little surprised to see how often those topics were addressed thru the New Testament. .
I had never engaged in the Bible in a manner like this. .
a study of particular topics to where I could look back at my own notes and make sense. .
It was exhilarating (REALLY)! Fast forward to mid August. .
I went with a few friends to a women’s day conference in Hutchinson. The main speaker was the wife of one of the pastors at a community church there. .
she ALSO does ladies’ bible studies. .
and had several of her studies for sale in the back corner. .
I really had no intent on purchasing any. .
I was engaged in a lot of other learning activities and wasn’t really needing anything extra. .
BUT. .
after lunch, she just did a quick synopsis of each study she had available. .
and I found myself drawn to the one called Between Our Earrings. .
She was recommending this for anyone who found themselves in a position where they were frequently counseling others in matters such as depression, marital issues, moral issues etc. .
That automatically caught my attention. .
since it seems to be how I spend a majority of my days!! The study is based on how to counsel ourselves (and ultimately others) from the basis of God’s word. .
How does GOD tell us to handle situations. .
what does God tell me my personality should look like, and how I should get through struggles. .etc. 
As I listened to her CD during my morning commute to work. .
She was talking about her goal of reading a different book each month for the whole year. .
and studying the book  in more depth than just reading through. .
How exciting, I thought!! Often as I read, I think. .
hmmm I wonder about that. .
or I wonder what that word really means. .etc. .
This will be a great opportunity to be able to do a little deeper digging!!
So. .
I put some things into motion. .
and September 1. .
a group of ladies starting studying the scripture together. .
We started with 1 John. .
which is where our online study will begin as well.
We just finished studying 1 John. .
and are starting the book of Galatians in October.
But THIS blog study. .
Will start October 1 (or today would be great)
Read through the whole book of 1 John (all 5 chapters) as many times as you can during the week. .
I think that a realistic goal would be to spend 70 minutes of time per week reading through this book. .
Of course, the more you put in. .
the more YOU get out!! You should easily be able to read through the book 2-3 times per week even if you put off the whole reading time until one setting (which I would discourage you from doing!) The first week of each month, I would have you read through the book. .
underlining or marking which verses speak to you. .
in your life. .
that week. .
for example. .
For a long time, I struggled with the aspect of how you are sure of your salvation. .
1 John chapter 5 nails it TO. THE. WALL. .
I write these things to you so you will KNOW that you have eternal life. .
Bang. .
that spoke VERY personally to me. .
at that time!
 I also remember some difficult days of my life and reading through Psalms. .
some of those feelings that David had. .
and some of the promises that God was giving through his inspiration to David. .
really hit home to me. .
And you can find them underlined in my bible today. .
That’s the idea here. .
not asking you to be a scholar or a theologian. .
just wanting you to be personal.
As the weeks go on. .
I will be posting some questions and information to consider as you read 1 John. .
for instance. .
What can we learn about WHO God is in this book. .
what advice is He giving us. .
what can I change in my own life to become more like Christ? 
Each week, I'll post suggestions for the next week of reading. I will be adding some reading on what the culture was like back then. .
and things that might help understand what the authors were saying to the recipients of the letters being written and why. .
I will also suggest reading the book in different translations a time or two. Those can easily be found online in places like bible gateway. Since the book is relatively short. .
it would be simple to print off several versions and put them near your bible.
If you would like to participate on line. .
I would encourage you to post a comment at least once per week. .
with your thoughts. .
or an answer to one of the questions. .
or any insight that you have gleaned. .
or just to encourage everyone else.
If you are going through the study by yourself or challenging another person you know to do it with you. .
I would encourage you to use a notebook to make comments to yourself. .
email back and forth with your friend. .
If you plan to do the study online with my blog. .
I would love to have you give a short introduction of yourself. .
You know. .
Name, a sentence or two about you. .
and what you hope to get out of this study!
Just so you know. .
If you hang in there with me. .
God willing. .
This study will go for the next 4 months. .
At this time. .
the other books planned are Galatians, Romans (which will be a longer book, but still easily read 1-2 times per week) and finally James. .
I’m excited to get started!!
I hope you are too. .
whether you are participating by yourself, or with us. .
or if you are just showing up to see what I have to say. .
So for this week. .
your goal is to see what God has to say to you through His words in 1 John. .
We will plan to post what is most pertinent to our lives next weekend. .
So take some notes, or do some highlighting.
My prayer for our study over the next 4 months was well written by the apostle Paul in Ephesians chapter 1. .
Ephesians 1:17  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
God knows all about US. .
down to how many hairs are on our heads RIGHT now, even if we pull one out!!
He WANTS us to know HIM as well. .
and He has blessed us with EXACTLY what we need to know Him better. .
if we simply slow down in our lives, breathe deeply, and LOOK!!
We lead busy lives. .
each of us. .
but if we are skimping on our time with God, and settling for something less with Him because we are. .
busy. .
tired. .
over committed. .
out of time. .
insert your personal excuse. .
we are CHEATING ourselves out of something PHENOMENAL!!
Make this study a priority in your life the next 4 months. .
and I think. .
no, I KNOW. .
you will see some INCREDIBLE changes in your life!!
Trust in that!!
Blessings in your first week of study!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Blog. .Resurrected!

Hello. .
I think it hard to believe that I have not been on this blog for a month now!!
Let me tell you where I have been. .
And what is in store. .
Many of you know that I spend 2-4 hours in my vehicle weekly commuting to jobs. .
A couple years ago. .
I started listening to a CD series on the book of Revelation. .
It was roughly 30 hours worth of study.
I loved it so much. .
That when I finished it. .
I started it all over again.
It was a refreshing change from the same songs playing in the morning. .
that were playing in the afternoon. .
That had been playing last week!!
You might say that I became addicted to hearing God's word preached and taught. .
In this way, I have studied different topics. .
and different books of the bible.
And was able to make a TREMENDOUS difference in my walk with the Lord. .
Just by substituting listening/learning/studying. .
into an otherwise DEAD time of the day. .

Sooooo. .
Last month. .
I was doing a series on counseling people based from the truths of the bible.
I do a LOT of counseling. .
Even when clients see me for other issues. .
my personality has ALWAYS brought peoples' emotional needs to the surface. .
and those needs get spilled out into the room and into the Kleenex.
For as long as can remember. .
I have counseled people. And I love doing it!

The teacher of this study was discussing a way of studying the bible that had never occurred to me. .
And I decided that day. .
I was going to follow her example. .
And read one book of the bible per month. .
From September 1 to December 31.

By the end of the day. .
God had laid on my heart other people that would be interested in studying with me. .
And before I knew it. .
I had an online bible study under way.

I know, I know. .
You are wondering WHY all the details. .
I have been doing a lot of researching and studying myself. .
to be able to be an effective leader and student.
About 2 weeks ago. .
I felt a nudge to take the online study to my blog.

I tried to put it out of my head. .
I tried to make excuses. .
I also tried to be obedient and poured out my concerns to God. .
But, in the end. .
 giving the matter to Him to orchestrate as He saw fit. .
Knowing that I would cooperate with whatever that plan would be!

It would take the rest of the hour to tell you how many things GOD has orchestrated in MY life over the last 1 month. .
to get this study rolling. .
and giving me topics to discuss. .
Changing MY plans. .
to HIS plans. .

And. . 
Yesterday, God took care of a final concern. .
And then gave me a sermon in our Sunday night bible study last evening that seemed directed at ME!
Which was the last bit of encouragement I needed to go forward with a plan.

So. .
All of that to say this. .
This blog will see a change of pace for the next 4 months. .
I am so grateful for the friends that I have made via my blog. .
and for the friends and family that have kept up with me and our crazy family via this blog. .

Some of you may be interested in the new aspects of the blog. .
And some will not.
As much as I love pleasing people. .
and getting feedback from them. .
THIS new project is about pleasing God. .
And doing something to advance His Kingdom.

Starting next Monday or Tuesday. .
I will be posting the content of our online bible study to this blog. .
Or to a new blog. .
depending what happens the rest of the week.

The posts will come 2-3 times per week.

I would love to know. .
If you are choosing to do the online bible study for your own walk with God. .
BUT. .
It can also be done anonymously if that is more comfortable for you.
I feel like SOMEONE is looking for an opportunity like this. .

The goal of the study. .
Is to read one book over and over throughout the course of a month.
We started with 1 John. .
a simple 5 chapters.

Each week. .
We had some goals and topics to address in our reading of 1 John. .
And at the end of the week (and once in the middle of the week). .
We each emailed some comments to the others.
I have learned a TON. .
And have been advised that the other individuals in the study. .
Are learning and being blessed by it as well.

If I never see another comment on my blog in the next 4 months. .
It will be OK. .
Though, I am hoping that at least a few will take to the challenge and go through the study material. .
Even if they just read through the books at least weekly, and the posts as they come along.

I know you all see the TV. .
Read the news. .
Talk to others. .
Are aware of your world.
It is falling, friends. .
And failing.
We are caught up in a world of technology. .
and stuff. .
and distractions. .
And our relationship and growth in the Lord tends to suffer from a lack of motivation, time, or discipline.
Our world would not be the place it is today. .
If many more people were concerned about living the way God tells us in the bible!!
Times are changing. .
And unless we understand and are aware of God's teachings. .
And live a life in tune TO HIM. .
We have no chance to stand against the King of this world. .

Right now. .
This seems more important to me than showing pictures of my gardens. .
Which I still love. .
And telling about what crazy things are happening next around our home. .
Which still occur!!

I hope you can understand the shift in content. .
And I hope that you come along at least for a month. .
And see if your life doesn't change. .
even just a little bit. .
for the good!!

So. .
Adios for now. .
I'll be back next week to get you started!!

If you are interested in committing to the study. .
And intend on doing some posting to this blog in fellowship with others doing the same. .
Please leave me a comment. .
That will also make you accountable to show up next week too :-)

If you pop back in next week to see that no one has commented or committed. .
Know that I am not feeling blown off. .
Rejected, or discouraged!
I am excited to be doing the work God has put in front of me. .
Because I am CONVINCED. .
will be reading it. .
And benefitting!!
Whether I see the results or NOT!!

Have a blessed week!