Tag: Jesus

Bible Study – End of Week 3

Did you pray for 5 days for someone? Do they help? In other words, I’m wondering if they are still drifting or if you can see some positive motion. Sometimes positive only means that we had a chance to plant a small seed, or perhaps water one that someone else had already set in motion. We don’t always get to see the fruit of our labor.

By now you should have read chapter 3, and you have identified something you are going to give up. This is the hardest week in the entire study. You read some of the things in the book that I myself have given up. The one and keeps coming back for me. All has to do with the computer: spending too much time checking e-mails, too much time on Facebook, and too much time writing in general!

I tend to feel like I didn’t write (because I was busy on Facebook, of course) so I go back to the computer in the evening. Last night I was on it until about 11:15. This has at least 2 negative effects:

  • it keeps me from spending any cuddle time with my husband
  • it leaves me feeling very tired the next day, and like skipping the morning writing-which is the most productive time for me.

I’m just giving you this as an example, I know it’s a small one, but perhaps it will help you in determining what and why your false god is a bad thing.

Please read:

Romans 12:1-2

2 Corinthians 3:18

Jesus did not run around from place to place – remember in Matthew when the disciples tried to rush him past the children and he refused to be hurried? He was not performance based.

We need to learn to serve the Lord without distraction. Satan will try to prevent this by redirecting our focus.

So I’m dying to know-what are you giving up this week? Have you decided?

*We’re Reading Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry

**To print any post, click its title, then click the printer in the upper left-hand corner.

Pre-study Comments and Questions

Welcome to the 6-week Bible study, Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry! Have you started reading the book yet? You can get an ebook or the paperback here. I will  work from the perspective that you haven’t started reading yet. It’s really important before we start the deep work on our hearts that we realize what idols/time-stealers are. Basically they are wants that become misshapen. They can be good things to start, but they get distorted and that’s when they become bad things. Example: you start going online to look for friends because you feel lonely in the evenings. Six months later you are on there non-stop. A year into it you’ve started an online emotional affair, and your spouse is complaining that he never gets to spend time with you any more. Now it’s an idol. The worst part about idols is we don’t realize we have them. Because of that, many people who need this study won’t bother with it.

My working definition is: “Anything that repeatedly gets between you and your worship of God.” Notice repeatedly! Sometimes people ask if they can do an activity one time, say, miss church to visit family out of town. That’s not an idol – it doesn’t repeat. So of course you can. 🙂

Please begin reading Chapter 1. There are 5 days in each chapter; that gives you Sunday off plus one other day, perhaps you are here on Thursdays so you use that as your other no-homework day. The most difficult homework you’ll have in the entire 6 weeks is at the end of Chapter 1, so be sure to allow extra time for that one.

Here’s your video link.The password to watch it is seven.

I’ll be here every Thursday at this time beginning today, but you read/comment as you have time.

Prayer: Father God, I pray that you will use this study as it is intended, to soften and clean each heart so that we can love and represent you better. Help us to hear what it is you are saying throughout the study. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Bible Study Starts This Week

It’s official — I’ll be leading Bible study both here on my blog and on Goodreads.com.

If I told you it would help you communicate with God better, would you come?

If you knew you’d be better for it afterward, would you commit?

If your feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness and shame changed to radiant hope, peace, confidence and even joy… would you want that?

The Bible Study is Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry. It’s 6 weeks in length, although we may choose, as a group, to add a 7th week.

There are several reasons for moving over from Facebook… mostly, though, people weren’t seeing the posts. Here I feel like I have more control. Please watch the video intro.

Thanks for joining me in this adventure!

Disagreements in the Church

I’m reading in 1 Corinthians this week.

Actually, it’s more than that. I am leading a group in a very brave Read The New Testament in 90 Days project—and I am behind.

I. Am. The Leader.

I’m behind.

Anyway. I can’t help it; I’m already there. So let’s move over to 1 Corinthians.

When this letter was written (somewhere around 56 BC) the city of Corinth was full of every sort of shameless, flagrant behavior. It was so horrid in fact that the phrase ‘to act the Corinthian’ – in Greek – meant “to practice fornication.”

Corinth was on a narrow isthmus between two seas; it served as a wealthy port center. Therefore, it had plenty of taverns. And a tiny, newly saved fledgling group of Christians had little say over what went on. Much like now.

So in the midst of all this, Paul visited Corinth and ended up staying 18 months. After that some mail was exchanged between him and the new church at Corinth, and he wrote the letter we call 1 Corinthians as a response to some of their questions.

Right up front, Paul addressed divisions within the church. Apparently the people were arguing. Perhaps some wanted to be led by a disciple who had actually been with Jesus. Perhaps some preferred Apollos’ way of preaching. Perhaps a new Tea Party had formed within the ranks.

Paul wasted no ink before diving into the fray. “Has Christ been divided?” He demanded (1 Cor. 1:13).

I love his in-your-face method. Nowadays in the church we see it, but don’t name it. We know it, but turn a blind eye. We live with it, like living with a favorite shoe that rubs the foot but is, nonetheless, a favorite so we put up with it.

Paul is not putting up with it.

Paul is having none of it. No division, no arguing, no classes, no I’m-better-because-I-was-baptized-by-(Cephas/Apollos/Paul/Christ).

“I thank God that I baptized none of you…that no man should say you were baptized in my name. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel.”

Paul knows his purpose. He has a clear, laser-sharp focus on what he was sent to do. Some might say baptism was a part of it; he says no. He knows his job is only to preach.

Today, the divisions are about carpet color, music style, who should be a deacon, etc. Yet a division is a division, and by focusing on those we are losing our laser focus. We forget what we were called for, to whom we were called, and give those up in favor of … well, let’s read on.

Then he went on to lecture them about the base, worldly things that they probably…held dear. Whoops.

One of the things esteemed in Corinth was knowledge. The learned man, the one who was clever and smart; not that their group was full of this sort of man, but they would have admired them. This, Paul says, is the very antithesis of God’s wisdom:

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe…
“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. God has chosen the foolish thing of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that he might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.” * 1 Corinthians, parts of 1:17-31. Read in its entirety here.

Lest we get lost in that message, let’s just say that God uses those who we would normally consider weak, unimportant or even foolish to deliver his message. Paul then summarizes it beautifully in 2:2 :

”For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

As we think of all the things we do and are and want, I wonder if we could say the same? Could I say “I know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

Could you…

What if we…

Here’s another version:

“ I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.” *The Message

What if I took this as my mantra, and all I said or did to another – especially someone with whom I am apt to disagree, or argue—what if all was based on that one statement.

Jesus.

Jesus crucified.

Jesus and who he is.

Not:

whoyouare / whoIam

I’m better

I’m smarter

I’m more important.

Not: doggone it let me talk! I have something to say.

Not even: look at me.

Just this:

Look at Jesus.

Look at him.

See his crucifixion?

See his love?

What was I going to argue about, again? I seem to have forgotten.

Through the New Testament in 90 Days

Hi there! I’ve been leading a rather ambitious Bible reading plan…through the New Testament only…..by the end of March! Today is Jan. 6, we have read 6 days. I’ve just posted a new video touching on a couple points about the readings so far:

Also, if you’d like a copy of the entire reading schedule at once, click here

I’m so enjoying this reading together! I hope you will, too. I don’t know how many times most people have read the Bible through. I don’t even know how many times I’ve read it. At least 20, but not more than 30 times I’ve actually read it start to finish. Plus there’s all that other time that we’re focused on a book or a few verses. Still…it’s a living word. So every time you read it, it’s fresh.

How many times have you read the Bible all the way through? Please take a sec to participate in my survey:
Click here to take survey

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5 Steps to a Great Bible Study

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
—James 1:12

It’s 10 pm, and I literally just walked in from one of the best Bibles study classes I’ve ever led, though it had nothing to do with me leading. Everyone opened up and shared from the heart. We had several new faces, and they were happy to talk about what was on their minds as well.
The topic is being loved by the Savior this week, plus we did discuss (briefly) being in a Valley, a time of sadness or grief, because somebody could be there right now and also EVERYBODY identifies with it. There’s no one who hasn’t had a hard time. Here’s a quote from the chapter:

When you feel like you’re in the bottom of the valley, it is important to remember that it’s only a passageway, not a destination. You aren’t going to stay there forever unless it’s by your own choice. Psalm 23:4 says, “I walk through the darkest valley.” It doesn’t say “I sit in the valley for months a time . . . holding pity parties . . . woe is me!” *page 62, Come Back to Jesus—and Don’t Bring your Blackberry.

I’d like to add– as you are moving in this Valley experience, pray through it. Literally pray your way from start to finish, until you are out, until the sadness and grief are gone and the bad thoughts that are like cobwebs in your brain go away.
When we got in the car to go home, my husband said, “That was one of the best classes I’ve ever been to.”
Excited, I wanted to pick apart the reason. I wanted to know! When something is “right” in God’s house, you want to keep doing it right over and over.
“Why?” I asked.
“I guess because I contributed,” he replied.
Oh, burst my bubble. I wasn’t expecting him to say it was about me, but I wanted to KNOW! What made it a good meeting?
So I’ll take a stab at it — here’s what I think (emphasize think) it takes to make a “good” Bible study class.
1. I had prayed a lot earlier in the day, and in fact had an encounter with the Holy Spirit, which I’ll tell you about sometime when it isn’t 10 pm.
2. I prayed over each chair around our table for the person who would be sitting in it. The Spirit actually gave me a couple of words to use, including ‘healing’ in one spot…I’d love to know about the need for healing but it’s none of my business!
3. The pastor always prays for me before we start, asking for anointing. I think this helps get God in the flow and me out of the way. I love it.
4. Everyone shared. They had a lot to say. This is week 4, and they’re getting comfortable with each other. They’re also becoming used to the way I blurt out whatever comes to mind. The pastor just shakes his head…he’s never heard somebody be as blunt as I am. 🙂
5. God showed up. This is the real crux of the matter, when we ALLOW the Lord’s presence among us and invite Him to work on our hearts He is there. This is a class of dedicated God-seekers. They care. He matters to them. It’s beautiful.

What do you think makes a great class?

As we neared the house, my husband patted my hand. “I feel blessed to even be a part of your ministry, even if it’s just a supporting role.”
OK so he kinda made up for the other statement. And he is my support! I couldn’t do it without his presence, his help…he’s the wind beneath my wings.
Want a copy of 5 Steps to a Great Bible Study? Click here for a pdf.

Book Review: Faith Dare

I finished `The Faith Dare: 30 Days to Live Your Life to the Fullest’ by Debbie Alsdorf only a couple of days late. Not bad for me, I usually fall way behind. This was supposed to be read Aug. 1-30 and I finished Sept. 2.

Here is a slightly-longer-than-usual review of the book:

What Would Happen If You Lived Out Your Faith Every Day, In Every Situation? Jesus came to give us abundant life, to give us freedom from worry, fear, and the constant search for significance.

In the Introduction, the author says,

“Trusting God is a spiritual lifestyle to be learned. Walking out that faith takes a lifetime of baby steps in the direction of spiritual trust. As we grow, we learn how to trust God. We develop new habits of looking to him, new habits of processing and digesting the Word of God, new habits of living our faith, and new habits of relating to other people in our lives. New habits don’t happen overnight; they happen over time.” (p. 10)

So creating or rebuilding these new habits usually involves overcoming deeply ingrained wrong habits and beliefs. Most of us put our faith in human wisdom/human understanding. We’ve allowed the world to infiltrate our thought patterns, living habits—to a point that we miss out on God’s best for us. This author is trying to get us away from our worldly selves and into a godly thinking frame of mind.

After a lengthy introduction, we get down to business with 3 sections of ten days each. Each day’s reading is about 5 pages. Each day includes Today’s Praise/Prayer, Today’s Truth, Today’s Dare, a Journal section, Today’s Prayer, and Today I Believe. (It’s not as much as it sounds like! You can do this in maybe 15 minutes)
The sections are:
* Live Up! In Relationship to God
* Live In! In Surrender of Self
* Live Out! In Relationship to Others

Day 10, which I already blogged about here, spoke to me more than any other. Near the end of the book it seemed as if the author had run out of dares; somehow the words felt more hurried.
From the conclusion:

“Your life is no longer your own. Your life is not random. It is hidden in Christ. You are protected, shielded, care for, provided for…by Christ. You are covered by his faithfulness and power. To look up, focus your attention on what is biblically true rather than on what you are feeling.” (p. 228)

The book was a pleasure to read with my online Bible study friends. We discussed it once a week, pushing one another for deeper meaning and insight. Personally, I wished that the dares could have had more than one day, more time to soak in and live in them and ruminate on them. But of course, we can’t have a 30-week dare, can we? 4 stars.

What’s Heaven Like, and Who Will Be There?

My latest video, based on a thought from yesterday’s church service: what is heaven like?
Please let me know what YOU think it’s like!

Very short, and no verses to look up. 😀

Living from a New Heart Perspective

Something as simple as whether to blog about a book you’re reading can put you into a sort of tailspin. I read recently that if I’m blogging, as a Christian author, my posts should only be about: 1. me in relation to my book 2. the book itself 3. Christianity as it relates to my book. After giving this some serious thought, I decided that I’m a lot more dimensional than that, and my readers (ok. My one reader?) might appreciate some insight into the thought process. Besides, if I found a blog like that, it would be boring!

So this is my  first day reading a 30 Day book called The Faith Dare, by Debbi Alsdorf.  My online Bible Study group — a lifeline, now that I am without a church home (until we find one here in FL)–is doing it together. I’ll be journaling about it here on Hooked On Jesus throughout the entire month, though possibly not daily. 🙂

So. Today we’re talking about the heart: having an undivided heart, giving God access to all of your heart, becoming a woman of purpose (a single purpose!), and living out of your new heart. This truth is speaking to me strongly, as I know I need a single, focused purpose. Actually I have one–I just keep letting myself get blown around in the tide. I need to sail straighter. Living out of that heart…that’s a difficult thing; if you’ve had pain or trials in your life, sometimes you live out of the past instead of out of the glory in which God has made you.

Today, God asked me whether I was putting other things in front of my Bible reading. Not Bible studies — the actual  study of The Word. Obviously I’m guilty, or He would not have gently presented the question. So I think I’ll start the day with Bible reading, before I even get out of bed.

I also have some awesome CDs of the Bible narrated by some name actors, I love listening to it. It’s just since we moved there is no way to listen privately. I have to play it on my computer in the (shared) office, or in the living room. Blaring out through the entire house, as it’s an open floor plan. lol I’ll have to give that some more thought, as I really enjoy listening to the Bible on Cd. Sometimes I try to follow along in my Bible at the same time; other times I just sit back and enjoy the Word washing over me.

Goals:
Live from my new heart
Find a way to listen to Bible on CD
Read my Bible more
Stick with Faith Dare the whole 30 days

What Happens when Christians become Divisive

….and what we can do about it. Please watch the video for a couple of my thoughts on this topic. Based on Galatians 5.

I’ll post a link here shortly with the “love” verses I promised. 🙂