2011 Tools [Bible Read Thru Plan]

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Although I didn’t complete this last year, I LOVED this Bible Read-thru plan and will be doing it again this year. Thanks, Paige!

Some things I love about it are:

  • Each month only has 25 reading days, so if you miss a day, you automatically have “catch-up days.” Amazing.
  • You’re in the gospels ALL year. Talk about getting to know Jesus a little better.
  • For some reason it’s that type of reading plan that really make me want to read ahead, which is a good thing!

Enjoy!

PS: Comment if you want me to email the PDF to you!

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what do i do after i share the gospel?

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Of all the hard things God has been teaching me, this topic was less of a hard lesson to learn and more of reminder to be thankful for such a blessing:

Currently, my main ministry is high school kids.

I started youth ministry with a handful of 7th graders. Most of them stared at me while I talked their ears off and pretended to communicate. We had an unspoken exchange of favors: I got them out of their house, or helped them avoid taking the bus home by picking them up from school, and they pretended to listen to me. Sometimes, I think they actually did listen to me, and that sweetened the deal for me a little bit.

Youth Ministry has been a really great ministry for me to be in for several reasons, but one in particular being that I am more well-suited to people coming to me to hear about God. (I’m just being honest, here-and I’m always going to have something wrong with me, so judge me and move on, ok? 🙂

Anyway, after almost four years, I’m now leading mostly sophomores (I’ve known some of my girls since 7th grade) and I feel like I’m a decent small group leader. I really like it at least. I really love hanging out with all of my girls. I love getting to know their worlds, their friends, their point of views. It’s amazing.

Due to my involvement with high schoolers, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the answer to the title of the this post: discipleship. If I don’t have any talent at all in evangelism as I implied above, I do think God has given me a heart to disciple.

Mostly, I love discipling students because I myself am learning so much about how to live with Jesus as my Lord and these kinds of lessons naturally want to overflow from my talkative mouth. Another aspect I love is that there are very few ways to mess it up. All you have to do is live life with them, challenge them (and be challenged by them), and love them.

The rewards are wonderful, amazing even, to watch a kid blossom each day, week, month, year.

Watching the light bulb above someone’s head flick on is so fun. But in discipleship, I get to see that so often, all while my own light bulbs are flicking on.

Thanks, God, for blessing me with such an amazing group of girls to love: Anna, Katey, Sirena, Hana, Ellen, Kayla & Shelby. *oh crap, here come the tears* I’m REALLY going to miss all of them when we move to Iowa City. But I’m very thankful we have eachother now.

Click here for all the other links to my thoughts on what God has been teaching me.

this life is hard, suck it up and get to work!

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Have you ever felt at war with yourself? Maybe something like this:

“So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? ” –Romans 7:21-24

Let me just say it:

It’s not easy to be a Christian.

There. It’s out there. Why isn’t easy?

It’s easy to lie; it’s easy to steal; it’s easy to take pride; it’s easy to focus all of your attention on yourself; it’s easy to _______________. It’s NOT easy to NOT do these things.

My life as a Christian has been the hardest it’s ever been. I’ve been more sinful than ever before; the war is waging and it’s at one of it peeks.

Some things that are “hard” about this life (for me):

Selfishness. At some point in the last year, I decided that I was just going to do what is best for me. When something was proposed for me to make a choice in, I asked, “What is best for ME?” and did that. Ew. Gross. That sounds and looks so unattractive when compared to Christ.

Moodiness. Somewhat related to selfishness is being controlled by my emotions. This has been happening A LOT lately, my poor husband. I’ve been incredibly negative, having a bad attitude about the littlest things. Here’s the kicker, almost every moment, I can feel the Holy Spirit fighting my flesh on this. I know what the right response is, but I snap anyway. It’s a definite battle.

Overbearing Behavior. This is probably my absolute WORST attribute as a Christ-follower. G.R.O.S.S. I don’t trust anyone to do anything as well as I’d do it yet I get bitter because no one wants to help me.

These are the hard things in my life. But as the title infers, I’m going to suck it up and get to work!

Click here for all the other links to my thoughts on what God has been teaching me.

the Holy Spirit actually works!

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This book is on my list.

Ok, so way back in November, when I wrote that I was going to write about the Holy Spirit, He was doing a whirlwind of stuff. I saw Him working in many of my high schooler’s lives when they went on the retreat.

Consistently, I would hear the Spirit and do what He asked. It was awesome. Unfortunately, I didn’t write much of it down, so I’ve got nothing for you.

BUT, I’m really excited to read this book by Francis Chan and learn all the more.

Click here for all the other links to my thoughts on what God has been teaching me.

what does the Sabbath look like for me?

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When I was a kid, my brothers told me that I couldn’t take more than 10 steps on Sundays because it was against the Sabbath rules. I remember thinking that everyone I knew was blatantly disobeying God’s commands but nobody cared.

At one point I assumed that the Sabbath was only about church, and if you didn’t go to church on Sunday, that was bad.

Saturday night service was always anti-sabbath to me, until my thoughts were challenged in high school by a friend who belonged to a church/sect that is completely dedicated to the belief that the actual Sabbath should be from sundown on Friday evening to sundown on Saturday evening. That encounter really made me wonder if I was totally disrespecting God with my actions of going out of my house on Friday nights and doing homework on Saturdays.

So, I’ve already misinterpreted the Sabbath many times in my life, and now I’m trying to interpret it correctly. So here’s what God has been teaching me:


This cartoon is actually a really good picture of what the Sabbath feels like to me. In one word, it feels selfish. Just like this kid shows, the Sabbath kind-of sounds like an excuse to not do what you should do.

I’m reading a book right now called Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life. The author references her idea of “Sabbath Simplicity” a lot in it, which explains why I’m reading it. I like the book; it’s as good as any other Christian how-to book. But every suggestion she makes reads as selfishness. I can’t seem to shake my opinion and learn with an open mind.

Let me re-phrase: To me, the very idea of taking a whole day to rest seems lazy. I instantly consider the question, “but what would I do?”

There are two reasons I think this a natural reaction for me:

One: If there have been busy-bodies in every generation, my generation has reached new heights. We’ve developed any and every way to simply keep busy. And not just my generation, but my nation is the hardest working nation, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. Breaks are for losers in America! So if I’m going to rest, I’d like to accomplish something while I’m at it!

Two: The amount of stuff to do that has no impact on the real working world is astounding. It’s disgusting actually. I can “do” so much and accomplish so little these days. So if I’m going to rest, I’d rather not kill brain cells by watching TV all day or the like.

So, because I was raised to work hard, rest seems like laziness or like I’m shirking my responsibilities. And because I was raised with pile of technology that accomplishes nothing as you use it, laziness reaches new levels.

I want to actively follow all of God’s commands to us, including this one, but I just don’t want to be lazy!

Ok, I need to start bullet-pointing. Enough about how I feel about the Sabbath, here’s what I’m applying to my life:

  • I just can’t be convinced that the Sabbath has to be on a particular day of the week. Sunday, Saturday, the debate will go one but if that Sabbath is about having a day of rest and not work, do Pastors ever get a Sabbath? Exactly. So for me, it made sense to make the Sabbath the most free day for me anyway: Sunday. Although it could have been Thursday or Monday for all I think it matters.
  • Anything that drains me is work in my opinion. So I’m trying not to do anything that drains me on Sundays. What drains me? Still working on that list.
  • I’m trying NOT to do things that are simply time-wasters. Being on facebook all day, or sleeping all day, or watching tv allll day are not my idea of a Sabbath. These things usually make me more tired and lazy, rather than bringing rest.
  • I think I’m going to make Sunday’s about doing things that I like doing in contrast to what drains me. Spending time with Bryan, creating things, hanging out with my easiest friends, enjoying the Lord.
  • I do want to prepare my soul and life for the week to come. I feel rested when I feel prepared, so I’m also going to spend some time on Sunday figuring out my goals for the week and preparing.
  • Last, but certainly not least, I definitely don’t want the Sabbath to focus around me and my rest, but around the Lord, and accessing His restful peace in a sort-of fresh way.

I’m sorry if you were expecting more from me, especially after waiting so long to read this (yes, I have resorted to back-dating my posts…). But this area is still a little foggy for me and I have the feeling it will take more than a few months to learn.

Click here for all the other links to my thoughts on what God has been teaching me.

study vs. passion & the Word of God

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This will mark the halfway point for this little “series.” God continues to teach me so much, even as I’m still mulling over what He started teaching me months ago. I has been extremely healthy for me to write through my thoughts, it helps the revelations stick a little better in my mind!

So far, I’ve written about:
Staying Excited about Salvation

Being Vulnerable vs. Being a Pushover
and
My Thoughts on the world of Christian Women

My goal is to move a little faster and get through all of my thoughts by the end of the month, so here we go:

Study vs. Passion

Let me start off with a little disclaimer here: It’s not really a competition. Both are valuable. Both are necessary. There are also not opposites. Passion is often spurred by study, and study often increases passion. I’ve just been considering that there may be a time for one or the other to be more prominent.

Study

For about a year and a half, I was in a Bible Study. Not a small group, a connection group or an accountability group, but a straight-up Bible Study, where we studied the Bible hardcore. We outlined every book, then we went back and looked at the details of each one. We didn’t get through a ton of the Bible over that year and half, mostly because we worked so arduously on each book, but we got through over half of the Old Testament. It was intense, hard work, and I loved it.

While at that time I was learning so much about God, His Word, His character and His purpose in creating the earth, I can’t say that “study” helped me connect with God personally. Everything I was learning was so…educational. It was if I was in a history class, granted it was the most impacting history class ever.

I once heard a very wise speaker (I can’t remember his name) while taking some Junior Higher’s on a Student Life Retreat. He taught us how to study the word of God, asking us to study God’s word everyday. He recommended having a Bible Dictionary by your side while you, each day, looked deeply into the context of the Scriptures. His method was simple and effective and, after applying it to my own daily routine, I found myself getting a lot more out of the Bible.

I love studying the Bible. In fact, I highly recommend it.

Passion

Do you know that word? It starts with a “d…” Ah, yes, discipline. Well, I’m going to be the first to admit how little discipline I have when it comes to the study of the Word of God. I’m awful. I put it off, make excuses, you know the drill.

It’s always been hard for me. And frankly, at least in the last few months, the thought of waking up early so that I can research and study the Bible just doesn’t motivate me very well. I’m a horrible person. A horrible Christian!

So, I’ve been trying this new thing. Every morning, I attempt to read one chapter of scripture and just listen. And I’ve heard so much.

I have felt so much more passion about His word. It has been absolutely wonderful to hear His voice so often. I just don’t get that when I read the Bible like it’s a history book.

Eventually, I hope to find a balance between the two, because I love both equally. But for now, I’m in a season where instead of studying Him, I simply need to dialogue with God, talk to Him, and hear from Him.

my thoughts on the world of christian women

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It’s possible you remember this blog, and it’s probable that you don’t. But I’m going to continue finishing all of my thoughts!

I can really relate to what Paul has to say to the Corinthian church here:

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
1st Corinthians 1:10-17 (ESV)

Within the last year, I’ve slowly become introduced to the world of Christian women. It’s that season for me: Most of my friends are getting married, some are having their first children and starting their families.

And I’ll tell you what, I love it. It is so fun to watch so many people make these huge steps and hurdles in life.

I love the learning process of it all. Each woman I know is having to constantly learn something new about their new little world. I love learning from all of these women what they’re learning!

Most of all, I love that everyone is different. That’s definitely my favorite part. Everyone I know has a slightly different method of living, and nobody is wrong! Every family is different, in number, in personality, in background. And every woman I know is working hard to learn and do what is best for her family. I love that there are so many “best” ways of doing things!

Although there are many things I love about all of these differences, there is one thing that I don’t love. I’m guessing every woman has experienced a taste of it:

Judgment.

I have definitely been on both ends of it, who hasn’t? More often than not, I’m the one judging.

Many times I’ll simply have a silent judging thought. Often I’ll go on a rant about my opinions, unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly) destroying someone else’s. Sometimes, I argue with someone and in someway, tell them they are wrong and they simply should not be washing their clothes with actual detergent. I judge easily and with confidence. And I so wish I didn’t.

I feel that the current world of women we’re living in is interestingly similar to the Corinthian church. I think it’s both hilarious and ironic that we, as Christian woman, can sound so much like the Corinthians when they say, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter.”

For instance, have you ever said, I follow “Simple Mom” or I follow “Money Saving Mom?”

Or perhaps, we tend to follow people we actually know. I follow my mother. I follow her mother. I follow my Doctor. I follow my best friend.

Just to make sure everyone is included:

I vaccinate my children.
I don’t vaccinate my children.
My husband and I rent.
My husband and I own a house.
My kids are public-schooled.
My kids are home-schooled.
We are striving to be debt-free.
Debt doesn’t bother us.

And so on.

Yes, I’m a Christian but I can’t help but wanting to tack on an assortment of the above descriptions! More than that, I can’t help but wanting there to be one right way, one right combination of the above. I want it to be gospel truth.

But there is not!

There is the simple gospel: by grace we have been saved because of the sacrifice of God’s only Son!

That’s it. That’s all I need to be identified with. That’s all any Christian woman should be identified with.

My concluding thoughts are those of my convicted heart:

I’m so thankful for the God that saved me. I’m thankful also that He is the same saving God that created me, different from everyone else in the world to think, to decide and to have my own opinions about all sorts of things separate from the gospel. These opinions I have, about any of the aforementioned topics are totally, completely separate from the gospel. In no way, should my opinions ever interfere with how I love those around me. My opinions should not keep me from sharing the simple gospel with anyone I know, either!