Saturday, January 22, 2011

Silence Would Have Been A Better Option

Losing it.  I have lost perspective.  Materials for Bible Study just arrived (a bit beat up) an hour ago, after much, too much, fretting on my part.  I want to distribute these materials, I ordered them well in advance of class--and yet the ice storm and size of materials created a SLOW delivery.

I had to adjust and hand out copies of the first lesson.   Observing my reaction, one would have concluded  I had to sacrifice my freedoms, my family and my pet. 

I yielded hard to the temptation of over-reaction.  Armed with a few facts in my favor, I aimed some tense comments at the distribution customer service person who "only" apologized.  Not only am I embarrassed but my husband and daughter gently but directly told me I went from being rightly frustrated to righteously obsessed and angry. 

Over Bible study material--Experiencing the Heart of Jesus workbooks to be exact. 

I imagine I need to get into this study immediately, given the whole irony of it.   I wonder what the lady thought yesterday afternoon as she pulled up my order to see what I was so upset about?  25 copies of Experiencing the Heart of Jesus--I suspect she agreed, I needed that kind of teaching,  pronto.

What have I learned?  One, follow up with my own apology.  Two, confess, that is where you and prayer come into play.  Three, in the future plan and pray for how to handle this thing.  Example, focus on solving the problem not punishing or shaming the other person into solving the problem.  Focus on why it is important to me not how upset I am that it's not working out.   Live with some disappointment, life is not tidy and I hold up people too.  Ask for forgiveness when I forget these lessons.  Return to this entry when confronted again. 

There are lots of hurting people I am praying for and worried about who are facing real challenges, real brokenness.  Two of them have powerful and honest blogs that capture there "stuff".  It's a humble reminder to keep perspective on what is real and what is just really not that big a deal.
Joy In The Journey
The Simple Wife
Both are worthy of your consideration, and prayer.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sticky Reminders

I have an absurd affection for Post It Notes and a healthy affection for scripture.  I combine these delights and plant significant scripture passages on my adored Post It’s.   

It creates multiple visual reminders, which I need, featuring God’s word about what is really important and what is not.   On one prominently displayed sticky note is Colossians 3:17:  and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”   

Why is that verse such a valuable reminder?  My gift is teaching, and while I love serving through that gift, I am often struck with some bout of intimidation or frustration. 

When I remember that my work, all of it is to be directed at, and reflected of Christ –then my focus shifts from my limits to my offering.  It’s like hitting the reset button, and I resume the blessing and gift of sharing what I learn.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Relevant and Witty Thoughts

The Quotable Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte captures the brilliance of man but also the importance of his work. Chesterton the apologist, the humorist, the teacher all come through in this thorough and wide ranging collection.

Belmonte arranges the quotes alphabetically by topic, covering the spectrum from subject of Christ to the subject of Cheese.

There is also an effective biographical sketch of G.K. Chesterton, his influence on C.S. Lewis and Fredrick Beuchner—and how that influence shaped the work of those men.

In summary, Belmonte answers the question, “why is G.K. Chesterton still important?” And the beauty of Belmonte’s compilation is he lets Chesterton’s thoughts and words answer that question. Chesterton’s work requires thought; I found myself often re-reading sections.

I was amazed at Chesterton’s attempt to capture the tension of secularism and faith, and how relevant that is today. The cleverness which wraps up every idea adds to its depth.

Some examples: on snobbery: “We choose to call the great mass of history of mankind bad, not because it is bad, but because we (think we) are better.” Or this on love: “The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.”

It’s a substantive collective of thoughts from a brilliant thinker and will spur any reader onto to healthy imagination and consideration.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's a Costly Sum of Adding All the Parts

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Romans 12:2a.  Half of my first memory scripture verse of 2011 (if you want to join in this activity, let me know, I have some cute giveaway spirals to hold your verses). 

Pattern of world:  CS Lewis in The Screwtape Letters captures a conformed to the world mind:  "it does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing.  Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick."

Paul's point, contrast in Romans is my thoughts are fitting comfortably into the pattern of the world or changed by renewal--one of the other.  Lewis paints a picture of how that quilt of conformity is stitched together, though "small sins."  

What is a small sin?

If sin is anything that is independent of God, any separation from Christ (which Scripture points to is embracing "the world"), than what are the small sins:  cards in Lewis' world.

In considering the immediate past, I came up with three categories--a pattern--that I fall (jump?) into.
1.  Careless words
2.  Worthless reading/TV consumption
3.  Selfish Posture

  • I do not think before I speak.  Pray and pursue the pause button.  Use words to make relationships better/stronger.
  • Worthless reading/TV consumption--garbage in.  I underestimate the influence of exposing my mind to trash.  I must seek out entertainment that has some value I can point to--distraction and boredom are not enough.
  • Selfish Posture:  how do I feel, what is my conclusion, I am right.  Me as a theme.  I need not be my first consideration.  Intentionally think about others, and not, "what are they thinking?"

In thinking through this, its obvious to me how the small sins add up to a destructive conformity--why, because it is comfortable to continue on that path without feeling its cost.

Looking at this, I am starting to see the cost and the great gift, the valuable gift of a renewed mind. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Some Honest Questions About FB

The youth ministry team at my church sends out a weekly Parent Resource, and this morning was an interesting look at Facebook.  While my kiddos are on FB, so then, am I--but this article was a good point to consider what role FB plays in my life.  I encourage you to check out the link.

Important Questions, Sound Answers

The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask (with Answers) by Mark Mittelberg is a strong, helpful work of modern apologetics. Apologetics is at its base, defense of faith. Mittelberg’s questions are relevant—frankly not just for those outside the faith, but many Christians ask these questions often, and the church, fellow Christians respond in an ineffective manner either in content or tone.

Both content and tone are sound in Mittelberg’s work, and it’s thrust is encouragement, confidence and a loving type of being on “offense” without being offensive. He introduces the book with idea that Christians should be immersed in prayer, preparation and proximity , then engage others out of love not a desire to win an argument.

The nature of the questions, are postmodern skepticism, include: Why are Chsitains so obsessed with abortion? How could a good God allow so much suffering? Why do you condemn homosexuals? Why are Christians so judgmental? They are relevant because they come from current research out of the Barna group identifying what are the top questions people have of the church.

Agnostics and Atheists are celebrated as of late and this recent ascendance of such vocal unbelief, combined with flat or diminishing church engagement should invite Christians everywhere to consider responding with truth and care. Mittelberg’s thorough, but very readable (including a section for small group discussion) equips as much as it informs.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Excellent Study Bible for Personal Use

The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible: Inspirational Applications for Living Your Faith (NKJV) exceeded my expectations, and my expectations were high. I have learned much over the years from Lucado’s relevant and gifted teaching, but this complete Bible, with lessons imbedded into each chapter, and additional devotional essays is the essence of convenient but substantive study.

The life lessons, pulled from his Bible studies series take the Biblical situation, Lucado’ss practical observation and then inspiration, application and exploration. It is truly a powerful tool for personal growth or group leadership and preparation.

The NKJV would have not been my first choice, I prefer the NIV, however I enjoy having these study components with a translation that is newer to me, it too, adds dimension.

If your goal is to read through the Bible this year, or to just more Biblical reading—this would be a wise investment. It would also add much as a follow up to a sermon or other teaching, offering inspired insight with Lucado’s deft pen and turn of phrase.

More depth than a traditional devotional, but it does present scripture reading in a way that works well in the scattered way we live—thus it is nothing but inviting and encouraging greater faith.


About Me

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Roswell, GA
Loves to find the answers to three questions of a sound Bible study: what does it say, what does it mean, what difference does it make?