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Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’

My Lent blog posting adventure (marathon) is complete, but I’ve kinda, sorta gotten into a routine writing again so I don’t want to stop completely. Really enjoyed writing the Five Favorites post last week, so you’re going to get another list of five of my current favorite things.

(1)  Spring Flowers! You have to be honest – this winter in Iowa was brutal. Cold. Snow. Cold. Snow. The cycle that never ended. But within the last week or so, we’ve had some absolutely lovely weather and so spring has sprung in the gardens, trees and bushes around Cedar Rapids. I love to take nature photographs with my little iPhone so if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen a few flower shots. Such a reminder of fresh beginnings. Something we all need occasionally.

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(2)  “Lay It All Down.” Saw a friend post about a song she has on “repeat” this week. I love it when friends share music because I don’t always know when good stuff comes out, especially with artists I’m not familiar with. img_2563It was a definite perk of having music-loving sons living at home. So when I began listening to Will Reagan’s “Lay It All Down,” I also put it on repeat. All day. Each day. I have Spotify so I listen to Will’s music on my long walks, but you can also enjoy this on his YouTube video. Please listen. You’ll be singing along in no time.

(3) Iowa Coffee Roasters. My Lenten caffeine fast is over!!! My wonderful husband took me out for good coffee on my first day back but I am blessed to have a wonderful friend who roasts coffee. A personal coffee roaster! How cool is that? Well, he roasts for lots of people (and my office, and many other offices, too) but I hope you’ll check out Lee’s website and retail space in Marion, Iowa.

(4) My Uncle Dan. img_2561Today is his 80th birthday. I was so glad I was able to attend his party last weekend. My nephew Matt took some wonderful pictures of Uncle Dan out at the farm he was raised on (and lived at until the mid-90s). Matt posted the photos on his Instagram account and I was in awe (and a little teary) when I read some of the comments. Dan, a life long bachelor, is a retired middle-school English teacher who has touched so many lives through his teaching, volunteering and church work. He enjoys attending local school sports and music events and is a well known and loved member of the community. We are so blessed to have him in our lives.

(5) Monthly Bible reading plans. Since the first of the year I’ve been using Rachel Wojo’s Bible reading plans to focus on one characteristic of God each month. In May, she is using God’s magnificent power. She provides a journal to download, plus a daily reading that only takes about 5-10 minutes to complete. I’ve been using a plain notebook for my journal, and as I read the Scriptures each morning, I also write them out in my own words. It has been a powerful exercise for me – to get those life-giving passages deep into my spirit for the rest of the day. Rachel has many plans to choose from – you don’t have to do them in any particular order…confident trust, pure joy, perfect, names of God, and more…I have enjoyed every one.

Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand, it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. 1 Chronicles 29:10-13

 

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If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs. I’ve been a fan since I was a little girl sitting in my grandpa’s white pick up truck, listening to Lou Boudreau call the games on WGN radio, or watching the games with my dad every Sunday afternoon on WTVO. My dad took me to my first game at Wrigley Field when I was about 12 and I was hooked. Though I followed the Cubs through some of the worst baseball seasons ever, I never wavered. The Cubs were, and are, my team.

You can imagine how ecstatic I was in 2016 when the Cubs won the World Series. I loved watching the huge parade that wove through the city after the series win, where literally millions of people cheered for the new champs. They climbed lampposts, hung from balconies, stood for hours, as the team was driven in open air buses down Lake Shore Drive. It was a glorious sight as fans, old and new, cheered their team.

A short few years later and people are writing them off. The team has had a rocky start to the 2019 season, and people are jumping off the bandwagon right and left. “What have you done for me lately?”

Do you know something similar happened to Jesus? One Sunday crowds of people stripped trees bare of palm branches so they could wave them as Jesus made His way into Jerusalem, riding on the back of a donkey. They shouted and cheered: “Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The palm branches were a symbol of victory and joy. During the time of Jesus, the palms were waved as the people cheered in celebration when an important person like a king rode through the streets.

But just a few days later, Jesus was arrested, tried, and led out to a hill called Calvary to be crucified. The cheers He heard on Sunday turned to jeers on Friday. No longer shouting “Hosanna,” the people were now screaming, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

The people were offered the choice of whether to free a murderer named Barabbas or to free Jesus. They chose to set Barabbas free and crucify Jesus. His once-faithful followers had now forsaken Him.

We have that same choice everyday. We can choose to follow Jesus and make Him our King and Lord or we can turn away from Him like the people who denied Him or shouted “Crucify Him!”

I want to be faithful to Jesus. As much as I cheer for my team, I want to be even more faithful to my Savior Jesus, who willingly went to the cross to save me from the penalty of my sin. This decision is so much more important than a game.

Jesus – today we choose to make you King and Lord of our lives. Help us to be strong and to follow you when all others forsake you. We shout “Hosanna! You are our King!”

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I have the privilege of conducting the kids’ sermon each Sunday at our church. We have some amazing kids who seem to enjoy coming up front for “their” time. Since I try to keep the message about 5 to 8 minutes long, it’s important for it to be simple, easy to understand and applicable to the kids’ lives. And the first Sunday of each month, I have the kids (and adults) memorize a Bible verse.

Today we memorized Philippians 4:4…”Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Rejoice scripture

Short and simple, right? The verse itself is short, but the message is deep. The writer of the book of Philippians was the Apostle Paul, and he was composing this letter to the church in Philippi while sitting in prison. He had been unjustly imprisoned, accused by his enemies, and falsely charged. But even so, he was telling other believers to “Rejoice!”

I told the kids the definition of “rejoice” is to feel or show great joy or delight. How could Paul rejoice while sitting in prison, with good reason to feel despondent? Because Paul knew he wasn’t rejoicing in his outward circumstances, he was rejoicing…finding great joy and delight…in God. He knew that no matter what happened to him physically, Jesus was always with him.

My study Bible note on this verse says “It’s easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or to take unimportant events too seriously.” But we need to remember where to place our hope and trust…in the God who will never leave you or forsake you, who is your rock and refuge, a very present help in times of trouble. Rejoice in that!

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sunshine-heartThe sun is shining in Cedar Rapids! After a long, cold, snowy, cold winter, I’m anticipating the arrival of spring a little more enthusiastically today.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow! (sing along with me!)

The sunshine encourages me. I work in an office with a lot of windows and that beautiful sun shines in and lifts my spirits. But the opposite is true as well. On those dark, cloudy, gray days, I have to work very hard to stay upbeat and positive. As you can tell, I allow my circumstances to control my mood. And that is not healthy living.

Romans_15_13Every day I’m thankful for the Word of God that is filled with encouragement…verses that lift me up, show me where my confidence should be, promises God will always fulfill. When I read my Bible, I get a large dose of sunshine (even on a cloudy day). Other believers also boost my spirits. I have a very dear friend who regularly puts positive, uplifting, encouraging posts on Facebook. When I see them, I smile. I can’t help it. Encouragement is contagious.

So if you need a little boost – read the promises of God. The YouVersion app is a wonderful tool to put the Word literally at your fingertips. If you are sufficiently “boosted,” won’t you spread a little cheer to someone else today? It’ll feed your own soul too!

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Ever have a song stuck in your head? Or just a few phrases of a song? This one is in my head every Monday morning. The song is from 1966, sung by The Mamas and the Papas, and is so catchy that you can’t help but sing along…for a while. It’s a sad song, if you really pay attention to the lyrics, but it’s just so addictive.

Just try not to sing as you read these lyrics:

Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday mornin´, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh Monday mornin´, Monday mornin´ couldn’t guarantee
That Monday evenin´ you would still be here with me
Monday, Monday, can´t trust that day
Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday mornin´ you gave me no warnin´ of what was to be
Oh Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me
Every other day, every other day
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes
And-you can find me cryin´ all of the time

 

Did you find yourself crying this Monday morning? That Daylight Saving Time thing may have done a number on you. Maybe your weekend didn’t live up to your expectations. Maybe you’re facing a long week of hard work, or no work.

No matter what your Monday is looking like, there is hope. God loves you. He thinks you’re delightful. And you matter to Him.

Monday is just one day – don’t let it eat your lunch. Tell yourself the truth – you are fearfully and wonderfully madeyou are created in the image of God – God is always your fortress, your refuge, your strong tower, who will never abandon you. Tell Monday to chill –  you and God have got this.

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P.S. Mondays aren’t nearly as difficult since I read my friend Jennifer Dukes Lee’s book “It’s All Under Control.” Some wonderful insights for control freaks, or if you think you have to be in control to be successful. You can purchase it at any of your favorite book places. One of my Top 10 books ever!

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I started another challenge at the beginning of June. Reading through the whole Bible in 90 days. It’s hard. It probably takes me between 30-45 minutes a day to get through each large section of Scripture. So far I’ve galloped through Genesis, escaped with the Jews in Exodus, learned the Law in Leviticus, counted and re-counted in Numbers, dashed through Deuteronomy, defeated the enemies in Joshua and Judges, and lived the romance of Ruth. All in 19 days.

I hope you read the Word each day. You don’t have to take on this kind of challenge but I hope you take the time to listen to what God is saying from Genesis to Revelation. Oh – I can hear you now…all kinds of excuses. I know this because I’ve used them too…

I just don’t have time.

Yes you do. We all make time for what we value. It isn’t unspiritual to actually make an appointment with God. Makes perfect sense to me. We all keep appointments with doctors, teachers, accountants, friends, church activities…why can’t you schedule a time to read God’s story every day? I know many of you have young kids who take up boatloads of your time. Get them involved in your Bible reading. There is no better lesson they can see than Mom and Dad reading Scripture every day. They will understand the importance of Bible reading when YOU place it as a priority. Read with them – read it out loud to them (as always, use wisdom when reading certain portions to young children. “But Mom, God said to wipe them off the face of the earth,” says Billy as he straddles Susie in the backyard).

Yes – you may need to skip your daily dose of Facebook (at least 30 minutes of it), or pass on Dr. Phil or Judge Judy. Take a Bible audio app with you on a long walk. Multi-task with steps and Scripture. Now that’s how to get fit!

I just don’t understand it.

Then find a way. Use a different version. There are literally hundreds of versions to choose from. Go to a Bible website and browse. Try a new one every day, just as a test run. Maybe you learn better through the spoken word. Try an audio version. Maybe you like to see the Word come to life. There are DVDs which use the New International Version to “act out” Scripture – word for word. Don’t believe the lie that says “I’m just too dumb” to understand this stuff. There are all kinds of study helps available online. The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of each book and He can give you understanding too. Ask for it. He wants to speak to you. He wants you to know Him and the only way you can is if you read what He’s written.

I’ve already read it once.

My husband is a really smart man. He knows the Word of God better than anyone else I know. He teaches it, lives it and breathes it. I don’t know how many times he’s read through the Bible but probably more than you have. Yet – he still does it. He still reads it every. single. day. You know why? Because he knows God still has a lot to say to him and he always finds out new things about God every time he reads it. Once is not enough. Twice is not enough. Keep at it. Don’t stop. Change it up if you want. Read a different version. The Message is kind of fun for a change of pace. Listen to it instead of read it. Watch it on video.

It’s boring.

If you haven’t noticed by now, the excuses are just that. Excuses. Once again – what you value you will pursue. If you find God’s Word boring (another word for “I just don’t get it”), then find a way to make it exciting. Read it with a friend. Challenge each other with a reading plan or a memorization plan. Read up on the backgrounds of the various authors. Determine to find something you can take away from each day’s reading. Recently I read through Leviticus. Before I started I determined I would find some practical lesson I could use. Quite a few people skip Leviticus. It’s a hard book to wade through. Lots of details. And I mean lots. But God was faithful. I found lessons on salt, blood, value, atonement, festivals & celebrations, grace, consuming fire, unauthorized fire, the holiness of God and how to approach & who can approach God. And finally, I learned God is in the details. He cares about everything. If He cares about skins sores and moldy houses, I’m pretty sure He cares about the details of my life too. See – Leviticus speaks to us today. Don’t skip it!

Find an accountability partner. Print off a paper Bible reading guide. Pray for the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit who will teach you the deep things of God as you read His Word. I promise you – you will not be disappointed. The value of Scripture – the richness of His Word will saturate your Spirit and refresh your soul. A little side benefit – when you’re tired and worn down, only the Word that you’ve placed into your heart will revive and restore. When the battles rage around you, only His voice, speaking His Word, will keep you fighting. It isn’t called the Sword of the Spirit for nothing.

 

Dust it off and get started. No excuses. No regrets.

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I think I know God. I think I realize how big and powerful God is. I think I can comprehend that He knows all things and sees all things. I think I believe God heals, God provides, God comforts, God gives guidance and wisdom, God loves me.

Yet…

Do I bring all my needs to God? No. Why not?

Maybe I really don’t think He cares enough about me?

Do I pray believing God is listening?

Do I talk about Him to others, trusting they will want to know this mighty and awesome God?

Do I seek Him first when I’m sad, or hurting, or needing a miracle?

Is my view of God based on my experiences or based on the truth of Scripture?

What is my reality in my view of God?

Just a few questions to get me moving from my small view of God to the reality of who He is…

God confronts Job in the latter chapters of his book about His size and awesome-ness…”where were you when I created the earth?…And who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb?…And have you ever ordered Morning, ‘Get up!’ told Dawn, ‘Get to work!’…Do you know where Light comes from and where Darkness lives so you can take them by the hand and lead them home when they get lost?…Do you know the first thing about the sky’s constellations and how they affect things on Earth? Can you get the attention of the clouds…Can you take charge of the lightning bolts and have them report to you for orders?” (just a little bit from Job 38 in The Message – read the whole thing for yourself. Awesome just barely describes it!)

Job responds appropriately – “I’m speechless, in awe – words fail me….I’m ready to shut up and listen.”

It’s time for me to look past the mountain and really see the Mountain Mover.

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