I promise…I may even set my timer so I stay short on words!
I have been reading a book that belonged to my aunt. Written by Charles Stanley and published in 2002, it is called “Walking Wisely.”
It is written clearly and simply and yet profoundly.
A couple of weeks ago I took it with me when I watched the kiddos and I shared a little bit about it. We actually had a good discussion and then yesterday we got to apply it.
Graham had to go somewhere with his mom and shortly after they left, I heard a scuffle going on between Emmet and Joel.
Joel was wearing one of those wrist bands basketball players wear and Emmett told me it was Graham’s and he doesn’t like them to wear them.
Joel was pretty convincing and confident that it was fine for him to do it.
I didn’t know who to believe so I just reminded Joel about making wise decisions and suggested he think ahead to when Graham got home and how it would go for him if he was still wearing the wrist band.
I went to pull Caroline out of whatever life threatening situation she was about to get herself into when I heard Emmett announce that Joel had taken it off.
It actually worked.
I was so inspired I applied it to my own decisions as the day progressed.
Apparently this godly wisdom thing is a real deal.
I signed in and watched the first video for “No Other Gods” this morning. It is a short one and I do want to mention if you are doing the study this summer a couple of points:
<3 You do have to register yourself with LIFEWAY to access the videos. I had an old account I have used to order books and that login worked for me to be able to get on the small group study site.
They are doing it differently than they have in the past, but different is ok. Don’t be afraid.
<3 If you are a male doing the study, she does talk to us like it’s all women but that’s because the study is through LIFEWAY which is kind of geared toward us females…don’t panic…your masculinity is not being threatened. And you just might glean some valuable insight into your wives and daughters minds as you listen in.
It will be different. Don’t be afraid.
<3 I am using my old study guide and adding new notes. The original did not have video teaching so I am just winging it with my note taking. Also, I can already tell the new workbook is set up and titled with updated wording – however the content is most likely unchanged and the first week that they are calling Session 2, HAS to be Session 1 in the old book – pages 8-27.
I hope she included her recipes in the new book – so fun. Do try them…and if she didn’t, let me know and I will share on here!
Our books may be different, but it’s ok. Don’t be afraid.
And now for my preliminary thoughts as we launch into this study.
This past week I received a pair of pants in the mail that Russ had ordered for me.
I would call them “exercise” pants although I mostly wear them for regular life and the occasional walk we try to squeeze in at the end of the day because…exercise? yeah…it’s been off my radar for far too long.
They are wonderfully comfortable and have a pocket in the side leg for my phone and I love them.
He decided we needed to order a pair for each of the girls, so commissioned me to do that yesterday.
As I looked up the company and began to locate the pants, I noticed that most of the clothing in the line is named after various Yoga terms.
I don’t want to open a can of worms here on our first visit about this study, but I am simply stating fact that things like “chakras” and “salutations” have a spiritual meaning beyond the health benefits of stretching that accompany Yoga.
I am realistically stating that while many people use yoga as an exercise method, it is in fact and indeed a spiritual practice and true followers of it would agree with me.
Thus, I am not being controversial, I am just saying that as a follower of Christ Jesus – I am wary of personally dabbling in other religions because it goes against what I believe He taught about Himself and what it means to be His disciple.
I am sharing that I struggle with the implications, even though several of the stretches are ones I need to do to relieve my chronic back pain and ward off the every day threat of a flare of plantar fasciitis.
I do not try and turn them into a Christian worship experience and I don’t avoid them. I do the stretches to help loosen muscles that cause me pain and I move on. I ordered the pants because they are pants, not because of the name.
Yet in the process, I can have huge arguments within my head about what is off limits and what is ok for me to do.
As a P.S. – I have no interest in debating this with anyone nor engaging in argument or justification. This is a personal matter between me and God and I am not trying to convince anyone one way or the other. Each of us must examine our conscience before God on these kinds of issues.
And about right now, you may be wondering what in the world this has to do with No Other Gods…so here is my point…
I can get so caught up in things like the above swirling of thoughts and conflicts and imagined debates about ordering a pair of pants on the off chance that God might be offended by the name a clever marketing person labeled them with in order to get more people to buy them and completely miss the real idols I have set up in my heart.
When I did this study in 2016, I was stricken with the “good things” that I had allowed to become the “main things” in my life and heart.
One of my main takeaways on the first go-round and again this morning from the introduction of the study is:
Make room for WHO you love
Make room in my heart for the God who loves me and who I love with my whole heart.
Do you feel like something is missing in this journey with God?
Perhaps it is because we have replaced Him with things that make lousy gods.
I am looking forward to more layers of my old nature being peeled off in the weeks ahead.
How about you?
Here is my prayer:
Heavenly Father, in this world of 2019, there are so many things that are obviously ungodly that I often get side-tracked with what is going on around me and fail to look deep within me. I know there are places I have set up idols and they have become so familiar to me that I may be fooling myself. As I revisit this study in the weeks ahead, I open myself fully to Your lens and I ask you to reveal to me anything that I have set up in my heart in the place that only You deserve. Thank you for your faithfulness and love for me to not allow anyone or anything to come before You in my heart.
As I sit here on a gray and overcast Monday morning, I have several thoughts on my mind so I am just sharing those to kick off the week.
Bless your heart if you stick around and read them…
First off, our church is doing a six week sermon series based on the book of Hebrews and one of our pastors has developed a study guide for us to use to enhance our learning.
I worked on mine this morning and I can’t emphasize enough the value of writing out Scripture.
It can seem pointless in this digital age, but there is a deep transaction that takes place when we take the time and make the effort to copy the words down in our own handwriting and then look over what we have written.
When we are asked to then put it in our own words, this too is a work that requires effort and a deeper level of thinking than just spitting back out what we read.
It works a spiritual and mental muscle group that can grow weak and lazy in this age of information overload.
Instead of letting someone else tell you what it means, it forces you to …gasp….THINK and APPLY what you have read.
An example from my journaling time this morning is this:
We were asked to think about what it means to us that Jesus became one of us and also what it will be like to share in His glory one day.
Here is my response:
“As I contemplate these questions, I think in this moment of this morning that I was given an understanding as a child that He loved and cared for me and understood my struggles. While there have been seasons when I did cry out “Unfair!” and question if He knew what it felt like to be me in a setting, if He really understood how much something was hurting me, I have always received a quick check in my spirit reminding me that YES! He DOES know and understand ….that He took on all of my humanity AND all of ALL humanity’s struggles and sins in a real and personal way.
To think of sharing His glory? This is a complex thought process for me. I have such a small and narrow view of Glory and the Glory of God. I downsize it to what I can comprehend of earthly glory. I minimize what God is promising to us and the gracious and great gift it is to us. I trade what is outside my understanding for what I can see, touch, feel…and it breaks me to know how little I regard the magnitude of His love for me.”
Was that easy? No
Did I grow up a little bit more today in my faith? Yes
I hope you will take some time each day or as often as your schedule allows you to pick up pen and paper and do the work of study.
Which leads me to my two other points to share today…
The Kelly Minter No Other Gods online study starts tomorrow!!!!
Here is a copy and paste with information about how to do the study that I got from the website:
Here is the main difference with onlinestudy.smallgroup.com: you’ll need to log in.* We know passwords are not fun, but we have good reasons! Because you’ll be logging in, you’ll have the ability to track your personal progress as you study and see which sessions you’ve watched! And, you’ll be the first one to know about future online Bible studies. *If you’ve ever purchased something on LifeWay.com, you should have created a LifeWay Account. That is the email and password you’ll want to use to log in. If you no longer use the email you originally set up as your LifeWay Account, feel free to click “Register” to create a new account. This email is where you’ll also receive email notifications to remind you that the newest session is now available to watch, so be sure you select one where you’d like to be receiving emails!The rest of the details you’ll need to participate in this study: No Other Gods is 8 weeks long, starting June 18 and ending August 6. You’ll get to watch the full video teaching for free for a limited time!** You’ll need to grab a copy of theNo Other Gods study book. If you have the older copy of this study, we recommend purchasing the revised and updated version to best follow along! (Friends outside the U.S., check out this list of online retailers around the world.) We’ll post a new video session on onlinestudy.smallgroup.com on Tuesdays at 5 a.m. CT (barring any technical difficulties). Once you log in, you will see the available sessions. For the first week, you’ll watch the video on June 18 first and then complete the Session 2 material in the study book before we meet again! Go to your email and add “email@example.com” to your contacts. This way, our emails are less likely to go to your spam folder. The first video session is about 10 minutes long, but you can plan for the rest of the videos to be 25-35 minutes long.
And FAQ’s…no I have not received any email accept the very first one.
No, we are not doing a formal discussion group anywhere – just do your study and watch the videos and I will share probably once a week from my own study and would love to hear any thoughts you have – MARK YOUR COMMENT AS OK TO SHARE OR JUST FOR ME so I don’t post something I shouldn’t.
my last thought for the day.
This summer is ridiculous.
The weather is insane – rainy and cold followed by hot and humid, all in the same 12 hour span.
Our calendar is so jam-packed there is no white space.
I have several different writing projects going on in my head, laundry piling up faster than the dust around it and stress that is laughing in the face of the whole “lazy days of summer” tune I had planned to hum.
So I am sharing my coping strategy in case you are in the same float boat of overcommitment.
I am taking a big piece of paper and drawing out June and July.
I am filling in all the things that are already scheduled and then I am going to make a big outline around any white space so that I can see visually that it does exist.
Then I am going to attempt to live intentionally in the white spaces and not waste them.
I have to do this because I am such an odd mix of rebel and rule follower that if my unscheduled times do not fall in the normal range of the 8-5 work hours, I basically fritter away time I could have used to do things I was complaining about not having time for earlier in the day.
Wish me luck…pray for me…encourage me when you see me…I am a work in progress.
Now to get busy and be productive and I will see you tomorrow <3
Somewhere between the delayed and soggy end of spring and the hectic schedule of ball games, regular work and helping out others while they work, plus the unusual opportunities we have had to gather with our whole family several times…I have found very little time to care for our home, let alone do all the extras.
Life has come at us pretty fast and it is a bit like navigating the rapids in a kayak, which from the sound of it is pretty common for God’s people lately.
I could write a list a mile long of ways people have shared their broken hearts with me this past week.
All kinds of ways they are being battered and are feeling defeated, alone, misunderstood, taken advantage of…hurt…wounded…tested.
People I love and care for who seem to be fighting to stay afloat in a rip tide with nothing but a pair of children’s water wings and if you are one of those today who is nodding your head in between waves crashing over you…then this is for you.
You are not alone.
You are not abandoned or forgotten or unseen.
Yes, the battle is fierce and yes, the fire is hot.
Yes, it hurts and yes, it is hard.
But the circumstances you are struggling in do not define you.
You are not your circumstances.
You are not what someone has said to you or about you.
You are not what has been done to you.
If you belong to Christ, you are a co-heir with Him.
You are His brother or His sister.
You are precious to Him.
Your life was worth His life and you stand before God justified and righteous by His covering.
You are who He says you are and He says you are His beloved.
One of my favorite passages for times like these is:
“When you cross deep rivers, I will be with you, and you won’t drown.
When you walk through fire, you won’t be burned or scorched by the flames.”
Isaiah 43:2 CEV
Do you understand what this is saying?
You will be in deep water…but He is with you and you won’t drown.
You will feel the heat of flames licking around you, but they will not burn you.
The rest of this passage gives assurance of how precious you are to Him and all that He would give for you.
Take time to read the entire chapter and let the words wash gently over your weary head, heart and spirit.
In the midst of the voices that are attempting to keep you pushed down, I urge you today…listen only to the One Voice who knows you, loves you, made you, carries you and will save you <3
I know because I talk to people and I read other writings, posts and status’s that we are all busy, busy, busy.
Time, and life, is accelerating and if you don’t believe me; even little kids think time goes too fast.
When I was a child, summer was sooooooooo long.
Waiting for Christmas and my birthday, car rides and sitting at the table while my parents finished their coffee after dinner was nothing short of an eternity.
But I hear even young ones today say how fast time has gone so … it must be an acceleration.
And as I hurtle through my days, I sometimes realize I have mentioned on here how I am going to tell you something and then other thoughts flit across my brain and I never get it down in type.
Last week, I alluded to a Psalm of David that I wanted to share about. Or maybe it was just in my own head that I planned to address it…whoops…there I go again.
Before I let more time steal this thought I want to make sure I get it out of my head and onto this place where we meet.
Last Tuesday my devotional reading was based on Psalm 142.
As I turned to the passage in my Bible, I noted this particular song was written by David and in the tiny italic type under the big number 142 it says..
A Maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.
Well, if you know me…I had to get some questions answered before I could even move on to the psalm, devotion and anything else God might be wanting me to take away.
First off, I had to find out what a “maskil” is. Turns out it is a literary style – a kind of instruction.
Easy peasy. What is David teaching us?
But then I wanted to know what cave????
Because obviously this had to be very important, right?
It is noted as “the” cave, so it had to be a specific cave and I wanted to know which one it was because I am learning that things like this knowledge will give me a greater grasp of understanding the meaning of the passage I am studying.
So I googled it….and I read the notes in my Bible…and I read a huge passage of Matthew Henry’s commentary…(and I think we all are beginning to understand why time getting away from me may be an issue)…
and guess what I found out?
All of those sources agree that they don’t know if it was the cave of Adullam or the cave of Engedi.
This led to a rabbit trail of great proportions as I then followed up with the passages that hold the account of his experiences in these two caves and then I poured another cup of coffee and wondered why on earth my bible would include “when he was in THE cave” and it isn’t really a specific cave and then it hit me.
The geographical location of the cave is not the point.
It was the circumstances IN the cave that made THE cave special.
Because both caves were really the same cave.
The cave where he was held captive by circumstances not of his choosing.
In both of these caves he faced the depth of betrayal.
It was the confusion of having been anointed as the future King of Israel and then running for his life.
It was being banished and then having his family and all the outcasts and rubble and apparent riff-raff that didn’t make the cut in Saul’s kingdom coming to find him and say…lead us.
It was the despair and the need for protection and direction and wisdom and waiting and responsibility not only for himself but for the calling God had placed on him.
It was THAT cave where David poured out so many prayers over and over that years later, he set about to write this out for us as an example of how someone who is after God’s heart prays and talks to God and sorts things out when he or she is in “the cave.”
I get it.
I have some caves that I know of as THE cave.
They are familiar places where I have had to dwell for an extended period of time.
Places where it seems God led me and then left me.
My prayers and my cries have been repeated often enough that I can tell you the gist of them years later.
I can remember what it felt like and I can remember when I was delivered.
And sometimes, I pull out those experiences and I write them again, outside the cave, for someone else to read.
I am no longer in that cave, but my words might give to some other cave dweller some hope and a way to hold on and get through.
And that is what this Psalm is about.
Are you in “the” cave today?
Do you know someone else who is?
Turn to Psalm 142 and let it guide and lead your prayers as you wait <3
Better yet…here it is
I cry aloud to the LORD; I plead aloud to the LORD for mercy. I pour out my complaint before Him; I reveal my trouble to Him. Although my spirit is weak within me, You know my way.
Along this path I travel they have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see; no one stands up for me; there is no refuge for me; no one cares about me.
I cry out to You, LORD; I say, “You are my shelter, my portion in the land of the living.”
Listen to my cry, for I am very weak. Rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
Free me from prison so that I can praise Your name. The righteous will gather around me because You deal generously with me.
Psalm 142 A Maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.