Reading the Bible – The Entire Thing!

I finally finished reading the Bible all the way through yesterday.  Front to back.   It has taken me a long time because there have been many stops and detours along the way, but I finally did it!  The REV90 challenge at my church really helped me a lot.  They gave us daily reading for the New Testament which started Jan. 1st.  It really kept me on track and it worked out to be perfect timing because I finished the Old Testament in December (nevermind that I had started the Old Testament 4 years prior)   Both my husband and I did the challenge together and it was great because we could discuss the verses we read for the day.

I think we are now going to read the Old Testament and we’ll use a reading guide from YouVersion.com.  Maybe then we’ll just keep reading it over and over.  That’s really what I want to do because I know each time I do I’ll get something new out of it.  If you haven’t read the Bible from front to back I would encourage you to do so.  It’s the most important book you’ll ever read!

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The Prodigal Son

At church yesterday the sermon was about the parable of the prodigal son.  Mac did a great job of talking about everything Jesus was trying to teach us with this parable.  Some of us (me included) may have thought he was just describing someone who lost their way and how happy God is when he came back home.  That, of course, is an important point but that’s not all of the story.  He is also describing those that have been Christians a long time and have not strayed at all.  The older brother  is representative of these long time Christians.   He gets jealous of the party being thrown when his wayward brother returns home.  Sometimes we as Christians do not understand how good things can happen to those that have done so many bad things.  Some of us may not even think it’s fair that someone who has lived such a wild and sinful life can still be saved even in the 11th hour. 

When the older brother gets jealous of the party being thrown for his brother he gets angry at his father.  He tells his father “‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'”  The father then says to his oldest son” My son, you have always been with me , and everything I have is yours.  But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again ; he was lost and is found.”

Mac really taught me something new in this passage.  It may seem unfair that someone can live their entire lives doing bad things but still be able to be saved even with their last breath.  The difference is, if you have been blessed to have accepted Christ earlier and have lived your life for Him, then you’ve been able to enjoy the great blessings God has available to you.  The longer you’ve been a believer the longer you’ve gotten to experience all that God has for you.  You’ve been with Him, just as the father was trying to tell the brother that by him being at home with the father he enjoyed all the blessings that came with that privilege.  The same is true for us.   Those that stray their whole lives do not get to experience the joy and peace that God brings. 

I also think it’s important to remember how God took each of us in so graciously.  For me personally I lived 34 years not honoring or living for God.   When it was my time God took me in with open arms and I am SO thankful that I cannot even put it in words.  That’s the kind of God He is.  The parable describes the “father” as RUNNING to his son that was returning home.  That is how God reacts when we return.  He doesn’t care when we return home, just that we return at all.  I’m glad I turned home at 34 and not 74.  That has allowed me 40 more years of enjoying God’s presence.

Francesca Battistelli

I’m sure most of you have heard this song, especially if you listen to Christian music.  If you have not, you need to listen to it.  This is the most recent song by Francesca called “Beautiful, Beautiful”.  Like all of her songs, this one has a great message.  Below is a video with the lyrics.  My favorite line is ” I have come undone, but I have just begun changing by your grace”. 

Proverbs 31

God has been convicting me lately about something.  He’s gained momentum and is really trying hard to get my attention now.  Do you ever notice that?  First He quietly convicts us through the Holy Spirit, then He speaks to us during prayer, then He does many other things one after the other to get our attention.    I can just see Him tapping His foot just waiting for us to obey.  Don’t you feel that way sometimes?  Like he is just waiting until you realize….OH, I get it…you want me to do…(whatever HE is asking of you) and He is thinking….YES!!  Finally!

So, God has really been convicting me lately to model my life after the woman in Proverbs 31.  If you have not read this chapter in Proverbs, here it is:

 10 [c] A wife of noble character who can find?
       She is worth far more than rubies.

 11 Her husband has full confidence in her
       and lacks nothing of value.

 12 She brings him good, not harm,
       all the days of her life.

 13 She selects wool and flax
       and works with eager hands.

 14 She is like the merchant ships,
       bringing her food from afar.

 15 She gets up while it is still dark;
       she provides food for her family
       and portions for her servant girls.

 16 She considers a field and buys it;
       out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

 17 She sets about her work vigorously;
       her arms are strong for her tasks.

 18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
       and her lamp does not go out at night.

 19 In her hand she holds the distaff
       and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

 20 She opens her arms to the poor
       and extends her hands to the needy.

 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
       for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

 22 She makes coverings for her bed;
       she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

 23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
       where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

 24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
       and supplies the merchants with sashes.

 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
       she can laugh at the days to come.

 26 She speaks with wisdom,
       and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

 27 She watches over the affairs of her household
       and does not eat the bread of idleness.

 28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
       her husband also, and he praises her:

 29 “Many women do noble things,
       but you surpass them all.”

 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
       but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

 31 Give her the reward she has earned,
       and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

She’s busy isn’t she?  Well, that is how God intends my life to be, busy… for Him.  I also want to point out that this chapter is the very last chapter in Proverbs.  Proverbs is such an amazing book in the Bible.  It is full of wonderful advice mostly from Solomon, and it ends with this wonderful example of a Godly woman. 

There is an entire ministry modeled after this chapter in Proverbs.  They produce a magazine and have daily devotionals.  If you are not familiar with it, check it out here.  http://www.proverbs31.org/

I think I do fairly good with a lot of it, but I still need to do some work to model my life in this way.  God is convicting me to work towards this, all for Him, and I will obey.

Louie Giglio

God’s been at it again…trying to get my attention.  About 3 months ago a Bible Study leader told me about Louie Giglio and she was adamant that I watch a video of him speaking.  I didn’t.  Then about a month later she went on and on again.  I wrote his name down, but still did not get around to watching it.  Then about two weeks ago my husband watched the very video I was told about at his Men’s Group meeting.  He told me about it and I said “Oh yes, I was told I needed to watch that”.   I still didn’t watch it.  Then my husband sent me the link to a streaming video I could watch on-line, still I did not.  Yesterday the Holy Spirit put in my brain that I MUST watch this video!  God was getting impatient with me and now I see why.  WOW!!!  That is all I can say.  This video is amazing and I am now mad at myself for waiting so long to watch it.  Do not be like me, take some time now to watch this video.  It’s about 40 minutes long, but so worth it.  I teared up at the end, it’s incredible!

Click Here to Watch the Louie Giglio “How Great Is Our God” video.

Discipline

When we hear the word “discipline” I think we naturally think of disciplining our children or being disciplined as a child.  In much the same way, God disciplines his own children (Christ-followers).  Just like we discipline our kids because we love them and we want to teach them, God does the same thing.  He always has our best interest at heart.

When you ask him to work on your heart or to make your heart more like his, He will do just that.  Believe me.  I’ve been asking him for about a year to work inside me and through me, and He is doing it, whether I like it or not.

I used to think it was more like God just “allowed” challenging things to happen to me to teach me lessons.   However, I recently read these verses and it changed my mind a bit.  I think He may orchestrate situations to intentionally teach us, as opposed to just allowing things to happen.

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”  Hebrews 12:5-6

I like the line “do not make light of the Lord’s discipline”.  I know God was speaking to me.  I know He knows my heart and believes that I think He just allows things to happen, but in this verse I hear Him telling me that He in fact DOES discipline me when  needed (which is probably a lot) and that He does it in love.

I like knowing that He cares enough about me to discipline me.  So now when something happens that I don’t particularly like I’m going to think about what I need to learn and what God is trying to teach me.  He’s only setting my boundaries and I’m so thankful for that.  In the end, it’s only to make me a better servant for His Kingdom.

Spring Break

This week was Spring Break for our kids (which is why I haven’t posted much).  We’ve been busy with playdates, sleepovers, park visits, ice cream eating and much more.  We’ve been lucky to have some really pretty weather, and only two days of rain, today being one of those days.  Yesterday was sunny and 70 all day and today is high of 45 and it’s cloudy and windy.  What a difference!  That is Spring in Texas for you.  You never quite know what each day will bring.  You have to dress in layers and hope for the best.

This week was also the SXSW music and film festival that happens in Austin every year during Spring Break.  It’s a big deal in the music industry and my husband, Brian, loves to go to it.  We just strolled the streets of downtown in the beautiful weather and took in some new music.  It’s nice to have something come to your city and you do not have to go anywhere, you just have to endure the traffic it brings.

Next week I’ll be back to a regular schedule and regular posting.  I’ve been very thankful for sleeping in a little and getting to spend some time outdoors with my family.  I feel very lucky!  I hope those of you that are also enjoying Spring Break have had a great week!

For Thine Is The Kingdom

We finished up our “Can You Hear Me Now?” sermon series this past Sunday at church.  We talked about the last verse in the Lord’s Prayer: “For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”

The high school pastor of our church gave the sermon and he did a good job.  He made the point that we need to always realize who is our King and to submit to His authority.  We are not in charge.  It’s not “For Mine is the Kingdom”.  It’s Thine.  Drop the “mine” and get in line.

We must remember who is in charge, at ALL times.  It is never us.  We must submit our entire lives to God and always remember that He is in charge.  When we forget that, He just waits for us to remember and to submit to Him.  While He is waiting we miss out on what He has in store for us by trying to rule our own kingdom.

Submitting your entire life to God takes all the pressure off of you.  Just live for God the best you can every single day and He will take care of the rest.  I just felt more relaxed typing that sentence.  Thank you Lord for being in charge of my life!

Remedy Drive

Remedy Drive is a Christian band from Nebraska and they are really good!  As a family, we really enjoy their music.  Below is one of their recent videos.  My husband and our son are going to a Christian student camp tonight in the Hill Country and Remedy Drive will be playing.  I know they are looking forward to seeing them live and in a somewhat small setting.   Aaron Ivey is also playing.  He is a local Christian artist that leads worship at The Austin Stone here in Austin.  It should be fun night.

Ezer Kenegdo

Some of you may already know what the phrase, “ezer kenegdo” means.  Some of you may not.  Today I just wanted to spend a little time talking about it because it is something I think about and strive for on a daily basis.

Ezer kenegdo is a Hebrew phrase that has been translated to mean “helper” or “help meet” or “partner”.   “Ezer” (help)  is actually a very strong word used in the Bible, it is used for someone who saves or protects another, the one that needs help.  “Kenegdo” (meet)  means facing or corresponding to.  She will provide the help he needs and is neither superior nor inferior to him, she is equal yet different.   The original Hebrew verse was translated this way in Genesis 2:18   “The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  (NIV)

Now some people (some women) at first glance may take offense to this translation.  They may think it sounds as if we are  just little helpers that are like assistants to our husbands.  However, as you can see from the explanation above it is much more than that.   Personally I am my husband’s assistant and I love that role.  I love making his life easier, more manageable and more stress-free.  I definitely see that as part of my job, but I know that God intends there to be so much more….

The true Hebrew meaning of “ezer”  is actually a combination of two words, strength and power.  God is not referring to a small task or some remedial little helping job where we make sure he gets dressed in the morning and gets off to work. Not at all. Our role as “helpers” is a very important role.  We are called to be right by his side helping him with life,  with decisions, with struggles, and celebrating blessings. We are to “save and protect” him.  That reminds me of a line in the movie “Pretty Woman”….at the end when Richard Gere has climbed up the fire escape stairs to “rescue” Julia Roberts and he asks her what happens now (now that her knight in shining armor has saved her) and she says…”she saves him right back” (because he was scared of heights and climbing those stairs).  If you haven’t seen that movie then this analogy will be lost…but to me it is a good illustration for this dynamic.  Our husbands are there to protect and provide for us, but we are there to protect and provide for them as well…just in different ways.

God gave our men a big role with a lot of responsiblity.  We are here to help put them in a position to succeed at what God has planned for their lives.   We are to be supportive, loving, respectful and nurturing.  They take care of us and we take care of them.  This includes helping them with daily tasks,  with long-term goals, with their spiritual walk, with their struggles and their doubts and anything else in between.

That is how it supposed to work.   A husband and wife both have big  jobs, and I promise most men would not want to trade jobs with a woman.   However, men appreciate a wife who is always there to support, respect, love and help them.