Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lionel Richie and Reality


You gotta love them.

But I have a bone to pick with Lionel Richie. You see, for some reason he thinks Sunday mornings are "easy." Yesterday I was in my car and his song with the Commodores, "Easy Like a Sunday Morning," came on the radio and it got me thinking - I don't know that I've ever had an easy Sunday morning. At least not while all the children were home.

You moms know what I am talking about - little ones dressed, fed, shoes on, faces wiped, teeth brushed, coats on and buckled in their car seats. Oh, and don't forget their Bibles! And of course, we always had to be at church an hour or so early because of choir or teaching or prayer meeting. (Notice I didn't even mention dressing or feeding myself!) Bottom line: there's nothing easy about any of that.

So what in the world is Lionel singing about? Apparently he didn't raise six children that did church every Sunday.

Well, gals, I'm here to tell you that while Sunday morning may not ever be labeled "easy" in your life, it can be "easier." It's all about planning ahead. I have a few tips for you to make Sunday morning a lot easier:
  • I think the Lord was on to something when He made the Sabbath day a day of rest - no working, no traveling and no cooking. I have found that when I prepare Sunday dinner on Saturday, the craziness that happens after church is minimized. Make your lasagna or meatloaf, throw your chicken or pot roast in the crock pot, brown your meat for tacos or shape your burgers and then store it in the fridge on Saturday. Sunday morning, turn on the crock pot, or set the timer on your oven, or when you get home, just fire up the grill - don't try to prepare anything before church. It will take up valuable time.
  • Bathe the children the night before - common sense. A splash of water and a brush should handle any crazy hair and if your child is musical, bed head is fashionable for future hipsters.
  • Lay out the children's clothes the night before - not only on Sunday but every day can go smoother if you make this decision the night before - no Sunday morning surprises. It's a lot easier to solve the "I can't find my Sunday shoes" issue on Saturday night than on Sunday morning. Even your husband's clothes can be laid out - this will most definitely save time!
  • Put out breakfast bowls and cereal before you go to bed - the kids can feed themselves when they are up and dressed, or if you still need to feed them, it's ready when you come into the kitchen. Be sure everyone puts their own dishes in the sink - a good rule all week long.
  • Plan on getting up and dressed before the children, so if they need you, you are already in good shape for church. If they are doing fine on their own, sit at the kitchen counter with a cup of coffee and read a Psalm to prepare your heart for worship that morning!
  • The night before, find Bibles and put them on the kitchen counter, ready to be grabbed when it's time to go.
  • Also, find your car keys and put them with your Bibles and purse - a great time saver.
  • And finally, remember that Momma's mood sets the tone for the day - if you are harried and stressed, the children will wake up cranky and slow. But if you have a song on your lips and a smile on your face, they will wake up feeling loved and excited for the day...
For the prepared mother, Sunday morning can be relatively easy and think of the benefits of preparing for the morning rush - imagine a smooth morning, no tears, no fights over clothes, no looking for car keys. The family gets ready and in the car with ease. By the time you get to church, your heart is in a much better condition for worship, don't you think?

And gals, we have a lot of wisdom that read this blog. I would love to hear any of your Sunday Morning Secrets - throw them in the comments section...

Oh, and Lionel, if you're out there and reading this, Sunday mornings at my house are easy because we all are anxious to get to the same place - our church! I would love to have you come by and visit some Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Time in the Word Struggle - Part 6

You do what you do
And you feel what you feel
Because you think what you think.

"Set your mind on the things above,
not on the things that are on earth.
For you have died
and your life it hidden with Christ in God."
Colossians 3:2,3




And now, Mindset.

Time in the word is accomplished only if you set your mind to it. Oh, you can read for ten minutes and check it off your to do list, but was that really time spent with the Lord? I want you to have intentional, personal, life-changing quiet times because you've spent time with the Lord and learned about Him.

You've drawn near to Him.

Too much of our emphasis is on crying out to the Lord for help. Yes, He wants to hear your petitions, but how different would our prayers be if they were immersed with the knowledge of the character of God? Do we find through the careful study of His Word that He is a God who is out of control? Surprised by life? Scrambling to try to help you? Or do we find that He is uninvolved? Careless? Uncaring?

Of course not - the more we know God, the more loved we will feel, the more secure we will find our lives and our futures, the more encompassed by His plan we will find ourselves.

But it's a matter of your will. If you don't think there is benefit to being in the Word, you won't do it. Go back and check your motivation. Remind yourself of the benefits of knowing God through His Word.

Okay, I'm done. It's your choice now.





May God's Word richly fill your heart, draw you closer to your Savior, change your life, affect those around you and bless you with all wisdom and understanding.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Old School Larnell Harris

This is one of my favorite songs ever...I know it's old, but the words are so true...enjoy.

Time in the Word Struggle - Part 5

Let's talk tools.

We're still on methodology and now that I've laid a foundation, we can build on it. To review, the goal of our study is to know God better. We are reading His Word and making observations about His person, asking ourselves, "What is He revealing about Himself through this story?" So very simply, we are reading and making observations in a notebook. Before we add tools, I want to add one more facet to your simple study.

After you finish reading and observing your portion of scripture, write this sentence in your notebook and complete it: Because God is _______________, then I need to ________________. Do this after each section you study. This will help you draw the connect between the character of God and your calling to be an imitator of Christ. Try to be as specific as you can in the application section.

For example, after reading the opening verses in Luke, what would that sentence look like? How about: Because God is trustworthy in the compilation of His Word, then I need to be grateful and treat His Word with respect, as a precious gift from the Father.

Or if you just read the story of Jesus walking on the water and Peter sinking with a lack of faith, I would write: Because God is all powerful and calling me out of my comfort zone, then I need to step out in faith and witness to my neighbor, knowing that Jesus is right beside me and won't let me sink, but has His arms around me, holding me above the stormy sea. Try to make the application specific - not Because God is compassionate, I need to be compassionate, but Because God is compassionate, I need to be patient with my children and quick to forgive. See the difference?

On to tools. Now that you've got the basics down, perhaps you would like to go a bit deeper. Again, there are many different methods and tools, and if you've already got a plan in place, run with it. These are simply suggestions.

As I said earlier, I like hard copies in front of me. First I am going to list some great resources that can aid in your study. Then I will list some online resources, if that's your thing. Here are some books I recommend:
  • A pictorial dictionary - I have Zondervan's Pictorial Dictionary, but there are several good ones out there. This is exactly what it says - a Bible dictionary. So as you read your section, if there is a word or person or place that you are not familiar with, grab your dictionary and look it up. It will help you understand the context or meaning a bit better. Caution - if you look up Leprosy, don't do it on a full stomach...
  • A Bible Handbook - I have The MacArthur Bible Handbook and it basically goes through the whole Bible, book by book, outlining and noting timelines, theological themes, historical events and key people. So if I was going through Luke, I might read the chapter on Luke before I begin or use the outline as my section guide.
  • Wilmington's Guide to the Bible - this is a BIG book that is similar to a Bible handbook. It outlines each book of the Bible, gives charts, diagrams, and timelines. It also lays out the Biblical support for the major doctrines of the church, so if you wanted to do a topical study rather than a book study, you could look up "the Doctrine of Salvation" and just work your way through the outline and the scripture associated with it. This is an old school resource that I love and can't imagine not having around...
  • Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps and Timelines - this is a great resource for...well, charts, maps and timelines. It has great illustrations of the Temple and Tabernacle, explains a lot of history, has a great section on Nebuchadnezzar's statue and is full of wonderful pictures and facts. This is supplementary - if you were reading through Exodus and were in the portion on the Law and the Tabernacle, this would be a nice resource to give you a better picture than your imagination, perhaps.
  • A Bible Commentary - Here's one last suggestion. If you are going to go through a specific book, like Luke, you could buy a commentary by a good author/pastor that would be reliable in helping you understand that book. I use John MacArthur and Kent Hughes for almost every study I do, because I trust their knowledge and I think their styles compliment each other. MacArthur is Truth - he hits hard with a bat, giving the Hebrew and Greek meanings of words, and just says it like it is. Hughes is Grace - he incorporates lyrics of hymns to emphasize the truth, sharing stories of changed lives and church history that sheds light on the passage. Truth and Grace. If you are not sure, check with your pastor on good, reliable commentaries.

As for electronic tools, here are a few sites that can go to for research:
  • - this is a great site for not only Bible translations, but it has study tools you can use
  • Logos Bible software - this is a program that you would put on your computer that has hundreds of resources for your study - you'd need to purchase it and get familiar with it
  • - again, another online resource with lots of study tools...
Alright, this is enough for today. Just one more thing - we can get excited about tools, but I want you to get excited about your Bible. You have the Holy Spirit and His Word - you don't need anything else. Tools can enhance the study, but I don't want them to do the work for you. Don't read what MacArthur says and not make your own observations. That's the danger with using tools. The purpose of time in the Word is for you to seek after God, not seek after a good pastor who's already done the work for you. That's why I recommend the dictionary and handbooks, and the charts book, but maybe leave the commentaries alone for a while until you develop your own method of study first.

Make sense?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Time in the Word Struggle - Part 4




Oh, yes, we're still on methodology.

Hopefully you've gotten yourself a new notebook by now and a really cool pen. There's just something about that crisp, new notebook and a good, smooth-working pen that makes the study all that more enjoyable.

I also hope you not only have a Bible, but you've also picked out your book to study. I know that a lot of life is done electronically these days, but I do suggest you have a hard copy of the Word in front of you, just in case you want to underline something or highlight, or even jot a note or comment in the margin.

***Make your Bible a useful tool. The mind remembers colors and location. Say you want to share something with a friend and you've highlighted or noted it in your Bible. Your mind will remember that it is in orange and it's on the upper right side of the page - you flip through and find it much quicker than pulling out your phone, clicking on the app of the Bible and scrolling endlessly until you remember the reference.***

So here we go...

Start with prayer - inviting the Holy Spirit to teach you, to guide you and to give you understanding is always a good thing.

Next, read the first section of the first chapter of the book you want to study. Most Bibles section off narratives with headings or by paragraph. You don't have to work on a whole chapter - just a portion. For example, say you want to study through the book of Luke. Luke 1:1-4 is titled in my Bible "Preface: The method and purpose of writing." This actually gives me an idea of what I am about to read, but for starters I am going to look at the first four verses. To begin I will write in my notebook: Luke 1:1-4.

Remember, your goal is not to finish this book in the Bible as quickly as you possibly can. The goal it comes...I don't think I've spelled it out don't miss this...the goal know God better. Period. That's it. I want your basic Bible study to be all about Jesus. The better you know Him, the easier it will be to please Him, to imitate Him, to understand Him, to love Him - basically, the better you know Him, the closer you will be to Him.

So, we're scouring His Word, looking for God. We want to know what He's like - what makes Him happy, what ticks Him off, what He wants us to know about life - it's all in there. So when you read your first section of verses, simply answer this question - what did this portion of scripture tell me about God? And then write it in your notebook next to the reference.

Let's stay with my Luke example. If you turn in your Bible and read Luke 1:1-4, it is an introduction to the book. Luke explains that he is writing this to a man named Theophilus so that he may know the truth of what had happened during the life of Jesus. He does say he carefully investigated, speaking to witnesses so that his account would be accurate.

Okay. What does this teach me about God? This is actually a bit harder than the rest of the book because after all, it's only an introduction. Well, here's what I would write in my notebook: God chose a man who was interested in accuracy and truth, and would carefully investigate all the details, so that a thorough account of the life of Jesus would be written for me to read, two thousand years after Jesus walked this earth. The character of the man was important because the subject matter is so precious. God used a man who would be reliable, would check the facts and be accurate in his writing, so I can have confidence in the words of this book. Thank you, Lord.

Now, move on.

As you work your way through Luke, you are going to see God use angels as messengers and sinful, flawed men for His glory. You are going to see Jesus fulfill scripture to the letter, as miracles flow from His finger and wisdom falls from His lips. Capture it all. Write down every time Jesus quietly moves away from the crowd to pray. See His dependence and His willingness to be led by the Spirit. Write down His tone with the disciples and with the Pharisees - why is He tender with one and frustrated with the other? Make observations, but keep your focus on Jesus.

Okay...this is long enough. I'll continue later, but this is enough for you to get started. For those of you actually reading this (Julie and Jill), if you have any questions, throw them in the comment section and I'll get to them...

Notes from Lesson 21

Lesson 21 – Peter, Stephen, Philip

Acts 6-11

I. The gospel extends to the Gentiles – Acts 9:32 – 11:26

· The background – 9:32-43

· The visions – Acts 10

o Cornelius’ vision

o Peter’s vision

· Peter preaches to Cornelius – Acts 10:24-48

· The Jerusalem response – Acts 11:1-26

o Not __happy____

o v.18 – the church acknowledges the ____inclusion___ of the Gentiles

o v. 19-26 – Antioch was about 300 miles from Jerusalem –it was the capital of Syria

· Who was Barnabas?

o He was a ____good___ man, full of the Holy Spirit

o He ____convinced____ the apostles of Paul’s conversion – 9:27

o He served in Antioch and ___confirmed______ that it was of God – v.22-24

o He defended the Gentile church at the Jerusalem Council – 15:12,22,25

II. The death of Stephen – Acts 6,7

· 6:1-7 – the first ___deacon_____ board

· Stephen’s story

· Gnashing of teeth – an indication of anger, not repentance

· Stoning

· Who is this Saul?

III. The Ministry of Philip – Acts 8:4-40

· v. 4-8 – Philip had the ___sign____ gifts

· Philip was evangelizing in _____Samaria____ - mix of Jews and Assyrians

· An angel sends Philip to the road to Gaza – v.26-40

· Philip and the eunuch’s story

· Philip is __snatched___ away – why?

· Philip preached his way north to Caesarea and twenty years later he is still there – Acts 21:8

Monday, March 26, 2012

Time in the Word Struggle - Part 3

There are many ways to study the Bible, each specific to the user. Depending on your need, expectations, education, time, finances and creativity, you can develop a study method tailored to suit your goals. Let me explain - some people like to study with books spread out on the table while other streamline their studies by using online resources that are just a click away.

No one way is the only "right" way, so here's what I am going to do. My goal is to teach you a simple study method that will become the frame of your Bible study. Once you get these basics down, you can add to it and shape it into the study that meets your needs. This may be too simplistic for some of you - don't worry, I will include some additional suggestions later.

Although theologians have a wealth of wisdom to plunge their teeth into, the Bible was not written for theologians. It was written for mankind. There is a movement within the church that wants you to believe that unless you have a seminary degree and can parse Hebrew and Greek, you cannot know truth.


(Sorry if that was a bit graphic.)

God gave His Word to His children so that they could know Him better. Yes, it is filled with deep recesses of wonder and mystery - like the onion, with layers to peel back, one after another, the sum of its wisdom cannot be fully attained here on earth. But do not let it's depth scare you away. You have a lifetime to chip away at truth and it will become one of your greatest achievements and adventures - your journey to knowing God through His revealed Word. So here we go...

Methodology 101

A pen, a notebook and your Bible.

Let's start there.

Don't worry about commentaries, lexicons or dictionaries just yet. Let's not rely on other people to tell you what it says. You have the Word and you have His Spirit - that's all you need.

Once you have your supplies, you need to decide where to start. If this is your first time studying the Bible for yourself, I would avoid difficult books like Isaiah or Hebrews for your first study. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Genesis - it all starts here. It is story-driven and a wonderful way to get your feet wet because it is full of beginnings - marriage, sin, government, sacrifice, the chosen people, etc.
  • Any of the Gospels are a great choice - John is very deep, so if you are a deep thinker, start there! Luke is the woman's gospel - the most stories involving women are recorded and it's the longest one - we love details, don't we? Mark is more succinct and Matthew is a great option, too - studying the life of Christ is very easy with this method
  • Proverbs - just listing out the character qualities of a fool and a wise man is pretty simple, though I would prefer you start with a study on God
  • Joshua and Judges are more story based, so they are easier to read and understand - Joshua covers the conquest of Israel as the nation returns from their time of wandering in the wilderness. Judges teaches a cycle of sin and salvation
  • Psalms are wonderful, too! They reveal the character of God in a beautiful way and stress man's dependency on his Creator. They are full of emotion and description - there are even Messianic Psalms that draw pictures of Jesus. My personal favorite is the longest chapter in the Bible - Psalm 119, which tells you the benefits of having the Word in your life!
  • Exodus covers the wilderness wanderings of Israel and would have powerful application of the character of God - even looking at the basic law would reveal a lot of who God is
  • I will talk about the epistles later - if you wanted to start with one of them, I'd go with one of the smaller ones - Galatians, Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians or James. Even though they are small, you'll take a while to get through them because there is a lot in each book
So, spend some time looking through your Bible and decide which book you would like to study through. Next we will continue on with our look at methodology - be patient, we're getting closer...

Notes for Lesson 20

Lesson 20 – Pentecost, Peter

Acts 1,2

I. Introduction – Review

· God created, man ___fell___

· God cursed, man ___rebelled_____

· God flooded, man __died____

· Man clung, God __scattered______

· God chose, Abraham ____followed____

· God worked, Joseph ___saved__

· God spoke, Israel ___left____

· God led, Israel __conquered____

· God ruled, Israel ___failed_____

· God relented, Israel _divided___

· God released, Israel ___mourned_____

· God fulfilled, Israel ___rebuilt____

· Israel floundered, God ___silenced____

· John cried, Jesus ___appeared_____

· Jesus healed, people ___responded______

· Jesus taught, leaders ___rejected_______

· Jesus continued, death ____plotted______

· Jesus sacrificed, mankind __SAVED_____

· Jesus resurrected, death ___DEFEATED____

· Jesus ascended…now what?

II. The Final Instructions – Acts 1

· v. 1-8 – The Great Commission

· v. 9 – The Ascension

· v. 10,11 – The Promise of Jesus’ return

· v. 12-14 – the replacement of Judas

III. Peter

· Peter’s character development:

o He was a ____fisherman__ – Matthew 4:18 – 20

o He was ___married_____ – Matthew 8:14,15

o He was ___impulsive____– Matthew 14:28,29; Matthew 16:21,22; Matthew 26:35; Mark 9:5; John 13:9; John 18:10

o He was _____inquisitive_____ – Matthew 15:15; Matthew 18:21; Luke 12:41

o He was ___humble______ – Luke 5:8; John 6:66-68; John 13-6-9

o He was part of the _leadership___ team – Matthew 17:1; Mark 13:3; Luke 8:51

o He boldly declared the __truth____ of Who Jesus Christ was – Matthew 16:13-16

o Jesus prophesied that He would build His church on Peter’s ___testimony____– Matthew 16:18

o He __denied_____ Jesus during the trials – Matthew 26:69-75

· John 21 – Peter returns to his old life – fishing

· v. 15-17 – Jesus recommissions Peter

· Sin is never an excuse to check out of your __relationship___ with Christ – no matter what you’ve done, He wants you to follow Him even after you __failed_____ Him

IV. Pentecost – Acts 2

· v.1-4 – the Holy Spirit arrives in a great fashion

· v.5-13 – the people were speaking actual ____languages_______

· The role of the Holy Spirit:

o He ___teaches_____ – John 14:26

o He ___guides_____ – Romans 8:14

o He ___commissions___ – Acts 13:4

o He __commands___ – Acts 8:29

o He __intercedes______ – Romans 8:26

o He ___inspires______ – II Peter 1:21

o He ___convicts____ of sin – John 16:8-10

o He ___indwells______ – I Cor. 6:19

o He is a __pledge_______ – II Cor. 1:21,22 – like an engagement ring

o He produces ____fruit___– Galatians 5:22,23

o He __assures_____ us of our salvation – Romans 8:16

· v. 14-36 – Peter’s Pentecost Sermon

· v. 38-40 – Peter instructs them to ___repent____ and be ___baptized______

· v.42-47 – description of the first church:

o devoted to the apostles’ teaching

o devoted to fellowship

o devoted to communion

o devoted to prayer

o sense of awe

o signs and wonders through the apostles – validated their message

o shared what they owned

o meeting together in the temple and in homes

o gladness and sincerity of heart

o growing daily