Category: Bible

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.

To print any post in this blog, click its title. You will then see a printer icon with the printer friendly version.

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!

A Big Announcement

Come Back to Jesus and Don't Bring your Blackberry

To all my faithful readers:

I’m happy to announce I’ll be leading my Bible Study, Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry online. I’ll do this at GoodReads (goodreads.com) on my author page. If you don’t have a GoodReads account, sign-up is quick and easy, I used my Google account and it simply connected. There’s a link in the right column if you are reading this on my blog page. Here is a direct link to the Book Club page.

“I find that the people who say they don’t need it turn out to be the ones who need it most“

I’ll also present it here on the blog as a duplication if you prefer; just let me know! I’m really excited because this will be my first time leading it online, except for the focus group that helped me correct it prior to publication; that group had several online participants.

The book is about how to clear out the unnecessary bits of your life so you have time to worship God better. I find that the people who say they don’t need it turn out to be the ones who need it most; they come up and thank me later. So, if you’re saying you don’t have time for it– perhaps this is exactly where you need to be?

You can get a copy of the book at Amazon or at your local bookstore. There are 2 versions: paperback and Kindle.

Also~ Another announcement. Some  readers subscribed through the RSS feed. Some subscribed another way and I’ve been inputting your emails manually. Just today I submitted them all to Feedburner so you can still get the posts via email, but you’ve received a subscription notice in your email. You need to click that to confirm the subscription. Trust me — Feedburner is a lot more reliable than me!

Til next time,

T.

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

[bestwebsoft_contact_form]

An Angel Appears

I’m trying to imagine being a shepherd and seeing this angel. We don’t have a lot of information but I think they must have been some of the faithful who were waiting on the coming of the Messiah; that’s why the angel came to them—they were faithful. Humble, waiting on the God they believed in to send someone they couldn’t quite imagine. Perhaps they had talked among themselves about it, through those dark starry nights. Maybe they wondered together: What will he look like? Where will he live?
The angel was bright, shocking, but got right to the point. They were afraid but they got over it. Then they saw an entire host (a group) of angels singing praises to God. Because they were faithful and trusting they saw more.

FearNot

 

Once they recovered from the shock of seeing the angel, the shepherds raced to Bethlehem to see for themselves. They saw

 

Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Then they spread the word!
Much like the shepherds, we are called to spread the word, the good news of our Messiah. He is our Savior, and becauseof Him we have

  • Peace
  • Eternal life
  • A Relationship with God

You aren’t a speaker or an evangelist, you say? Well these shepherds were simply farmers, if you think about it. They weren’t particularly educated or eloquent. They simply told what they knew: The Savior has come.
This season, go and tell!

Through the New Testament in 90 Days

You know how people always pledge to read the Bible for the New Year, and then they don’t? Well – I have a plan that I hope is fail-proof. Let’s read only the New Testament, and let’s do it in 90 days. That way you have a fast-forward overview, but its only 90 days so you won’t want to wimp out or stall along the way.

Right? Cause it’s only 90 days. Join us by commenting below.

More information — my zone is always a guilt-free zone. We start on Jan. 1, and I will give you the daily reading each day (or the whole file, if you prefer). But if you get behind, don’t fret. The Bible says fret not! 🙂 Just move on to the next day’s reading, or if you can double up and do 2 at once. We read the Bible through in a year with a class a couple years ago, and most members found it was better just to skip forward to the right date and start there. No worries– do what works best for you.

I’ll ask only a couple of questions each day, for the purpose of discussion. Please discuss freely with your fellow readers, and play nice! If you feel this needs to be a “closed” group in order to have discussion, let me know. For now, I like it being open so that more people feel free to drop in as they are able.

Don’t forget to bookmark this page. Or if you prefer, go to my Facebook page and sign up there (under this picture).

ReadWithMe copy

To print any post in this blog, click its title. You will then see a printer icon with the printer friendly version.

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.