Where do you go when there’s loss?When dreams die, people die and you’re reeling in pain?
“If only you’d been here Lord…”
Knowing the power of God, believing fully in His ability to intervene, only makes things worse.
When Martha hears Jesus finally comes, she goes to him, engaging with him in disappointment and pain but also hope.Mary remains seated.
Every other time in the Bible when we see Mary, she is at Jesus’ feet, listening, lamenting, worshipping.
But not this time.
Not until Martha tells her, “The teacher is here and he is calling for you,” does she go to him and fall at his feet.
“Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.”
She weeps.Jesus weeps.
But in Greek two different words are used.Mary’s weeping (Klaio) is a loud expression of grief, weeping, wailing, loudly crying, a reaction toward death.But Jesus sheds a tear (dakruo).He wasn’t out of control.In fact the only time we’re ever told he wailed is in Luke 19:41 when he wept over Jerusalem’s rejection of all God did for her.
What makes Jesus cry?Unbelief.
It’s not that he doesn’t care.
In fact we’re told because, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,” he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”
He’s calling them into deeper intimacy.
Will you trust me, even when things don’t go the way you want?Even when I don’t do what you want?Even in your pain?
To be a disciple is to be a follower and a learner.
It’s one thing to follow Jesus when he’s going the way you want to go, a whole other to do so when his way is not our way, especially when his way leads to death.
Not long after this, Jesus is the one falling on his face, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
This is the heart of surrender.
The place where discipleship truly begins.
“Not as I will, but as you will.”
For how can you follow someone, let alone learn from them if you don’t go where they go, but instead go your own way?
Mary and Martha assumed they knew what Jesus would do.When he didn’t, little did they realize he was at work doing something far greater than they could imagine!
And this was only the beginning…
Can it ever be powerful to consider: Where am I?When the story of my life takes an unexpected turn… when pain and suffering flood in… Do I remain seated?Or do I run to Jesus?Am I truly his disciple, willing to follow Him when it’s not at all the way I want to go?Even when I don’t understand?
How do you respond when he calls you deeper?For this is the way of the cross.
Growing Deeper As Jesus’ Disciple
Pause:Read John 11:1-46.Write below one verse that stands out to you.
Ponder:Why did this verse catch your attention?What comes to mind as you consider this verse in depth?Write your thoughts below.If questions arise, be sure to write those down as well as any answers that may come to mind.Thoughtfully ponder what’s being communicated here.
Prayerfully Seek:How does this relate to your life?What do you sense the Lord wants you to do in response to this?What could it practically look like for you to do this?
If you’ve been around me any length of time, you know I love to art journal! Even though I just started doing this four years ago, it’s become a huge part of my life. It’s how I process the hard in this broken world, as well as a tool helping me listen, learn, remember and disciple.
At the beginning of this summer the Lord laid it on my heart to create a new online art journal course to accompany Dr. Curt Thompson’s book The Soul of Shame. Now I wasn’t primarily creating something for other people, though others were using it. Rather it served as a forum for me to share my journey as I’ve been working my way through this (and provided accountability to keep me journeying as I am a highly distractible individual! :0).
When I began I had no idea what the Lord would have in store… I just knew it would be good! And it has been life changing!!! I can’t recommend art journaling your way through Dr. Curt Thompson’s book highly enough!!!
In addition to learning a ton about shame – and how not to be emotionally hijacked by it (something I desperately need to learn) – I also started learning how to use art journaling for note taking – and I’ve been blown away at how much more I’m learning and retaining as a result.
Since I’m currently surrounded by friends getting ready to dive back into school, I thought I’d share some ideas for using art journaling to take notes in a way that enhances your learning… and remembering!
When I first read through the second chapter in Dr. Curt Thompson’s book, where he explains the 9 domains of the mind as well as gives an overview of the anatomy of the brain, I read through the text underlining what stood out to me. Soon the pages looked like I’d bled profusely (got to love red highlighters!) and I found I wasn’t retaining much.
Now in my art room I have a basket filled with different sizes of paper cut into squares and rectangles that are leftover from projects. I started writing down on these slips of paper key things that stood out to me. When I finished the chapter, I took time to arrange the slips of paper in my art journal – talk about a great way to interact with and review the material! I was amazed at how much I remembered and how I was able to identify key thoughts from the chapter.
But there was a lot in that chapter and I soon found pulling out slips of paper was a bit cumbersome, so next I grabbed a tin of gel pens and starting taking notes in color! Was this ever a blast! But I also found was learning a bunch doing this!
Then, whenever possible, I started taking time to sketch a quick picture summarizing key ideas. It’s amazing how pictures stick!
I especially found it helpful to story board key thoughts from the chapter to capture of the flow of what was being communicated.
But things really went into warp speed when I began asking myself questions from the material I was reading – personalizing what I was learning. This took it into the realm of “So what difference can knowing this make in my life?”
Imagine my surprise when I was watching a YouTube video on note taking to discover they highly recommend using color and asking questions!!! Sure wish I’d known this 34 years ago! :0)
But here’s the neatest thing – this isn’t just something that can help when you’re in school. I learned this while processing through a book I was reading. It can also help you retain and remember even more from sermons on Sunday or even when you’re at NavNites or conferences!
Multi colored gel pens are now a staple in my purse! God truly is the greatest teacher ever! And I’m finding, with Him, class is always in session!
Take out a sheet of paper. At the top of it write, “Who I am in Christ” then start recording the truth you already know. Most believers can fill this space in an impressive way. Especially if someone has been a Christian for a while, they usually have a good idea of things they can write here.
Then look at your list and consider, “Where do you struggle to truly embrace these truths at the heart level?” Like…
I am the daughter of an all-powerful almighty King who can do anything and who cares deeply for me and already knows the future… so why am I struggling with anxiety?
Or I’m forgiven, holy, blameless in Christ who’s promised all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes… so why do I beat myself up so badly when I blow it?
I’ve been chosen to be a part of the family of God and adopted into it forever… so why can I feel like I don’t belong?
It’s one thing to know these facts in your head. How are they being lived out in your life?
Three years ago I put together an online art journal course based on Jerry Bridges’ book Who Am I? Art journaling through that book was life changing, truly helping me embrace on a deeper level truths I’d known for years to be true but struggled to live out. it really did make a difference in my life!
But taking time to process through this exercise I realized, while I had grown tremendously in this arena of trusting God with who He says I am, I still have quite a ways to go to fully rest in these truths.
I cried out to the Lord, “Please take me deeper! Would you uncover what’s hindering me? What’s holding me back from truly resting in these truths in a life impacting way?”
The Lord loves to answer such prayers! ;0)
Enter shame. I never dreamed how pervasive it was in my life until I started to read Dr. Curt Thompson’s book The Soul of Shame. And I was thrilled to discover how learning to recognize shame was helping me not be emotionally hijacked!
But I didn’t make the shame-identity connection until a few months ago when I was hosting a group of women from my church for a movie night. We were watching The Princess Diaries together to discuss the challenges we face embracing our identity as daughters of the King. I’ve hosted movie discussion nights like this for years. But this time… I suddenly realized every struggle we were observing and discussing had its roots in shame!
As I shared in the last post, we were created to have our identity based in God. He is the one who created us! His works are wonderful! And that includes us! His wisdom and power and love are evidenced in all He creates. All He creates is good!
In his book, Dr. Curt Thompson reveals shame isn’t just the consequence of sin, but a key factor that led to sin occurring in the first place. Eve and Adam were in a garden filled with trees featuring fruit good for food and pleasing to their eyes. Why would they ever want to eat from this forbidden tree?
The enemy, like many marketers today, had to create a need, a desire and he did that through shame’s message, “I am not enough.” Not only did the enemy contradict God “You will not die!” but he made Eve think she needed something else in addition to what God had given her – his subtle questions and statements convinced her the way God made her wasn’t enough, but this fruit was “desirable for gaining wisdom…” so she could “be like God.” (yep, trade her identity for another one! “It’s not enough to be you, you need to be like…!”)
When they reached out for that fruit, they weren’t just hungry, but seeking to be something other than what God created them to be. And it totally destroyed the way they saw themselves and each other!
That “wisdom” Eve and Adam gained, resulted in them losing their original identities and in the process losing their true selves.
This is why our new identity starts with being in Christ. We have opportunity to step back into what our original parents stepped out of… an identity founded wholly in God and this is all because of Jesus! He paid dearly to make this possible! But unlike Adam and Eve, we have to learn to embrace what’s true after years of basing our identity on other, worthless things. Hence the struggle. It is not easy to truly embrace your identity in Christ!
You can’t just memorize a verse or even a bunch of verses and get it. You don’t replace years of thinking and living one way with some quick cerebral action. And of course the battle still rages and the same deceiver is at work trying to keep us from entering the rest Jesus already paid so dearly to make available to us.
Walking by faith isn’t a cake walk, but a struggle every. single. day. But there is so much hope for growth in this!!! And what’s really incredible is we actually end up getting it even better than Adam and Eve – as Jesus said, “whoever is forgiven little loves little!” (Luke 7:47) Do you realize the more you struggle to embrace your true identity in Christ in the midst of the battle while you’re still blowing it, you are going to appreciate and love Jesus even more for the amazing, wonderful, off the charts painful and costly things he endured and did to make your true identity possible!
Dr. Curt Thompson explains about shame a thousand times better than I ever could. I highly recommend art journaling your way through his book!!! If you’d like to see how I’ve been doing this check out www.inherentlyworthy.com
I like to end my time with people when we’re considering this, having them imagine what it would look like, the beauty and the benefit, if they truly embraced in the depths of their heart who they are in Christ. How would their lives look and be different?
Can considering this ever spur you on to dive into the battle, to struggle to keep growing in embracing this. It will be one of the hardest battles you’ll ever fight. But as a fellow struggler, in the thick of it right now, I am finding it is so worth it!
Recently a friend shared, “We love it whenever we hear you’re going to come talk… because we never know what you’re going to do next!” I think my latest staff training workshop just took that to a whole new level!
I was asked to share on Trusting God With Who He Says I Am. As I was preparing for this, the Lord laid it on my heart to get modeling clay and ask each person as we read Genesis 2 to hand fashion Adam… anatomically correct! That most certainly raised some eyebrows!
But we truly were walking through Genesis 2 in a hands on way and the Bible says he was naked. We should never be ashamed of anything the Lord was not ashamed to create! Especially after He declared it good!
Twice while preparing to film purity videos for Christian organizations I’ve been asked to eliminate anatomically correct terms. Can I just say it seems the whole world is talking about sex – it’s on TV, pictured on billboards, there are detailed articles in magazines, it’s even featured on bumper stickers! It’s so vitally important believers can talk about this!
God is the one who made us sexual beings – whether you’re married or not, or involved with someone else or not, this is part of how you have wonderfully been created by the Lord! Satan loves it when we think everything sexual comes from him! But that’s not true!
So amidst giggles (yes, we discussed whether they had belly buttons!)…
each person started hand fashioning their Adam – it’s amazing how something so simple can really make scripture come alive! Does it ever hit home as you’re doing this how close and personal and involved the Lord was in this process!
Want to give it a try? You can get a bunch of modeling clay for a dollar at Dollar Tree! I encourage people to use one stick of modeling clay for fashioning one person! It doesn’t take a lot of material, but does it ever require time, attention, detail, your hands getting messy… and we were just fashioning the outside of a person! This is one of the best ways I know to meditate! Where you are actively pondering and experiencing scripture in a hands on way!
So then I had them take their Adam and breathe into him the way the Lord did to make him come alive. (oh how I wish I could figure out a way to use balloons and straws inside the modeling clay to re-enact at least part of this! ;0) But even in this limited way, you get the idea of the closeness of the Lord. Have you ever thought as God breathes in to Adam and he becomes a living being – man’s very first memories, the first thing he sees, his first awareness is of God in close proximity to him!
Do you realize with every breath you take, you’ve been given a reminder you need something outside of yourself to live? This is also true regarding the food we eat! In the Lord’s first words recorded after Adam is formed, He is providing for the man – food for life as well as boundaries so he can keep the life God’s just blessed him with.
Then the Lord makes a fascinating statement, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Even before the Fall, no one was ever created to be enough on their own! We need God! And just like we need oxygen and food to live, we need others! So the Lord says He will make a helper fit for him. Note God doesn’t immediately meet this need. First he takes time to show Adam what helpers aren’t fit for him.
Picture the last time you went to a zoo. What would it be like to name all the animals in there? Especially if you keep hoping each one might be that helper…! (And can I just share for my single friends, even before the Fall Adam knew what it was like to check out potential helpers and keep discovering, “Nope, not that one…” God had a purpose in this!) Instead, Adam is seeing how each animal has a helper that is suitable for it. The wisdom of God in designing each pair is paraded before him.
Then the Lord causes a deep sleep to fall upon the man. Here we lay down our modeling clay “Adams” so they can sleep and then take a portion – a rib – from his side and fashion the woman – and yes since we can’t make something out of nothing like God can, we take a second stick of modeling clay to add to the “rib” and then fashion her.
Now God could’ve made the woman and left her in the garden for the man to find when he woke up – but he didn’t, did he? God brought her to the man. Why?
Do you realize the man didn’t have to accept her. He could’ve requested revisions or a whole different person! Check your Bible – how much time elapsed between God bringing her to the man and the man’s response?
“This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.”
Walt Kaiser says this is one of the most animated portions of Scripture!!!
The man is off the charts elated! But he hasn’t had time yet to get to know her, to learn her personality, talents, abilities, intelligence, to see if they are “compatible”… No! Immediately the man receives her with joy, not on the basis of who she is, but on the basis of who created her!!! This is totally an act of faith – God said He’d make a helper suitable for him and Adam fully trusted that’s what God did!
Do you realize we were created to be received as a gift from God? As His masterpiece! Not on the basis of what we do or don’t do, our personality, or our looks but on the basis of who He is!
Have you ever experienced acceptance like this? Do you long for this? I know I sure do!
So here’s an important thing – when people reject you, it’s not about you – but a lack of faith on the part of other people! They aren’t trusting God that His works, including you, really are wonderful!
Saddest of all, when we reject ourselves, wishing we were different, it’s not about us… but really about God, the One who created us! This is such a key reason why the enemy goes all out to attack our identity as well as our view of others in the first place. It’s not just us he’s attacking, but God! …and our view of God! For the Lord is the one who made us and made every other person around us.
Just as life comes from God, so our identity comes from Him! We are each masterpieces in process, hand fashioned by the All Wise God who has created each of us to be enough with Him and others, for all He’s created us to be and do.
Though that’s not what the enemy wants us to believe…
If you were invited to share the key things you’ve learned about discipleship in 15 minutes what would you share?
I was asked to do this right after I arrived at the Smoky Mountain Summer Training Program this past week. When I asked the Lord what He wanted me to share, He laid on my heart three key things:
Listening plays a key role whenever I am discipling someone.
First, I always seek to listen to the Lord regarding who He wants me discipling and how He wants me joining in with what He’s doing. This listening begins even before I meet with someone. He is the great discipler! He knows them better than I ever will! And knows exactly where He’s at work in their lives and what they truly need! This is why I find it so vital to lift them up before His throne of grace and ask Him to give insight into how He’d like me to join in with what He’s doing. It is amazing the ideas He gives! I also pray at the the beginning of our time taking God up on his offer in James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom he should ask of God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to him.” When I began praying this at the start of meeting with women it totally took my one on ones to a new depth of effectiveness. As it says in Proverbs 25:11, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” I find asking the Lord for wisdom makes me much more likely to share treasure than if I’m speaking off the top of my head – no matter how much experience I have!
Secondly, I find it’s so important to really listen to what she is sharing. The longer I disciple women, the more convinced I am the most important part of our time after what the Lord says, isn’t what I say, but what she will say. It’s much more effective to scratch where someone is itching (metaphorically speaking!). Don’t just listen until you hear something you have a tool for! Has she shared what’s truly on her heart? Often the Lord will guide our time through the things the person I’m meeting with is sharing. I’ve seen people treat a discipleship appointment as an information dump! Don’t do that! One of the most powerful components of a one on one is the relationship! And one of the best ways to keep cultivating this is to listen!
Third, teach her to listen to the Lord! I don’t want her to rely on listening to me! This is a key reason why I always take us to the Scriptures and give time for the women I meet with to interact with the Lord directly during our time. Even if I’ve taught her a new tool, I want her to hear what the Lord wants to say to her about it.
Share your journey with her! Remember a disciple is a learner as well as a follower of Jesus. It’s not a designation but a direction. If you stop learning, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been discipling women or even if you’re on Navigator staff, you are no longer a disciple of Jesus – and you’ve got to be one to make one! The best thing I ever bring to someone isn’t sharing wisdom from someone who’s arrived! But to let her see how I continue to grow! And fail. And to humbly ask her to pray for me too!
A good friend once shared, “Don’t read your Bible like this…” his Bible was open in front of him and his hand was pushing outward towards others (meaning for the benefit of others or to find stuff you can share with others!). ” Instead read your Bible like this…” with his hand coming up from the Scriptures towards his own heart and then going up and out to others, out of the overflow. I’ve shared quiet times with friends in Genesis 1 and Psalm 1 more times than I could ever count but every single time I do I’m listening to hear first and foremost what the Lord wants to say to me! And this is true when I’m preparing for Bible studies I lead too! I always seek to do the study first for me, even if I’ve done it a zillion times! It’s the Living Word of God, the Author is right there with you! He never runs out of new treasure to reveal! (And things always taste better when they are served fresh from the oven! :0)
Seek to learn how she learns! People learn in very different ways! Some learn best by reading, others by hands-on doing. What works best for her? My husband and I met when we were both involved with The Navigators in college – we were in an academic environment. Seven years later we moved to a city that was mostly blue collar and he started meeting with a new believer who said he really wanted to grow. But each week Jim would give him an assignment and week after week he’d show up not having done it! Jim really wondered how interested this guy was in growing… until he learned he had dyslexia and struggled to read! I can’t stress how key it is to put effort into learning what works best for those you are meeting with!
Keep growing in learning new ways to learn! Four years ago I learned about art journaling! That has added an incredible dimension to how I learn from God… and to how I disciple! Especially after I learned how key this is in helping to process things at a heart level! No, it’s not the best thing for everyone, but has it ever added some great new tools into my discipleship tool chest! And then last year I was trained as a StrengthsFinder coach – I can’t even begin to tell you how much I am learning as I’m doing this! Or what a huge new dimension this has added to my one on ones! No, you don’t need a lot of tools to disciple! With Jesus giving you wisdom and your Bible and remembering what’s helped you, you are good to go! But the more ways of learning you add, in response to Jesus’ lead, well, it sure can add whole new dimensions to what you’re doing…and opportunities to experience Him at work!
But if I have thousands of follow up plans that are amazing, a pantry full of great resources to offer, years of experience discipling and can quote the whole Bible, but don’t have love…!!! Get the idea here? Without love, nothing you do is of any value according to 1 Corinthians 13:1-3!
I will never forget once when Jerry Bridges was speaking, he had us draw a bunch of zeros across a page, then asked how much they were worth? It didn’t matter if you have one or a billion zeros they are all worth nothing! Then he told us to put a one to the left of the zeros and shared that “one” represents love! It gives value to everything else we do! One zero with a number “one” in front of it has greater value than a zillion zeros without it!
But please know love doesn’t mean you sit around and hug the person you’re discipling the whole time! Love expresses itself in many different ways – from praying for her to coming prepared with something specific to pass on… This is huge! While it is so important to listen, I can’t begin to tell you how many people I know who tried meeting with someone one on one, but all the discipler did was meet with them to chat and they said, “After a while, well, it didn’t feel like we were doing much…” It speaks volumes of love when you come prepared with treasure to pass on!
I liken this to when someone has taken time to prepare a delicious meal or treat when they have you over for tea! That can mean the world! And speak volumes about how much you care that you took time to prepare to bless them! And yes, there are times I toss out what I prepared – if someone’s mom was just diagnosed with cancer or her boyfriend just broke up with her, it may not be the best time to talk about evangelism! But even then, I will ask the Lord to bring a passage of scripture to mind we can even briefly dive into.
As the Lord says in Isaiah 55:2b “Listen, listen to me and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare…”
You see, I consider myself a spiritual chef. Do I want to serve junk food when the Lord has blessed me with the best money can buy? God’s Word vs. my word?! It’s like the difference between serving steak or tossing someone potato chips! I can’t stress how vital it is to serve God’s Word every time you meet with someone. This is a huge act of love!
And yes, sometimes we need to get them to eat their spinach! Or foods they may not prefer. Being willing to speak only what’s helpful for building someone up (Ephesians 4:29) may mean confronting them when the Lord leads you to! But that’s love too! Love always follows Jesus’ lead!
And you know how it says in 1 John 3:18, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with action and in truth.” and in John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me…” It’s so important we help them learn to love God by not just hearing His Word but by doing it! Application doesn’t come naturally! It has to be taught! And when we teach people how to apply God’s Word, to be responders to it and to Him, that is so key to loving them well as we are helping them not be deceived (James 1:23) and to lay a solid foundation for their lives (Matthew 7:24-27).
One final benefit of love in discipleship – it covers a multitude of sins! (1 Peter 4:8) Seek to love well, to truly love well as Jesus leads you and it can make up for all sorts of bumbling! And as a discipler still very much in process, well, bumbling happens too!
I’ll leave it to your imagination whether I actually managed to deliver this in 15 minutes! I forgot to look at my watch…
To know me is to know I love books! Especially old books!
It’s not the yellowed pages or musty smell that thrills me – but the ideas often contained. Now that’s not true for every old book, but I love to pray as I head into a used bookstore, “Lord, would you lead me to treasure?” And it seems He often does in the midst of faded volumes.
This past Saturday I was just about to leave the antiquated book room at a nearby Goodwill when I saw the book Kenneth Forbes lying on the religion shelf.
An author’s name where the title goes? On the religion shelf?!
In truth, that’s what first caught my attention. But then, when I opened the cover and read the subtitle, my curiosity was really piqued, “Fourteen ways of studying the Bible.”
Each chapter in this book lets you sit in while a mother is teaching her children about the Bible using a different inductive Bible study technique. So it’s written like a story, but wow! Can that mother teach! As she ties each lesson in with circumstances transpiring in her children’s lives, we are privileged to observe a master teacher in action. And this was written back in 1854!!!
I have been studying the Bible for 34 years and have read it through each year for the past twenty. Still I found myself gleaning all sorts of new treasures from this mother’s teaching! You better believe as I’m reading this I am being spurred on to dive even deeper in my own Bible Study! I only wish I’d found this book when my son was younger and still at home.
But even if you don’t have children to teach, this book is pure gold for learning new ways to study the Scriptures ~ and for motivating you to do so even more!
And here’s the best news of all – you can read this treasure online at the Internet Archive:
Truly there is no greater gift a mom can give her children (and herself!) than to invest time helping them not only read the Scriptures but teaching them how to dig deep, to understand, ponder and worship The One revealed through them, then practically live them out for life!
And can reading this book ever help equip moms to do this in a number of enlightening and engaging ways! I highly recommend it!
When I was first married, Jim and I got up early one morning a week to meet with three other couples at a local bagel shop. The wives sat together while the husbands met on the other side of the cafe. We all read the same book and discussed it chapter by chapter. What a blessing this was. As newlyweds, stumbling our way through this season of life, it was such encouragement to share openly, “No! You too?!” The book provided the insight of an older, more experienced point of view.
If you’ve been reading these blogs for any length of time you’ve probably realized how passionate I am about older women investing in younger women, but that’s not to say there isn’t a ton we can learn from peers – and even from books! Put the two together and can it ever be life-changing!
When my son was in high school I was blessed with two women who would meet me at Starbucks weekly. It was our mom’s night out. All of us were mothers of boys and struggling to figure out how to best parent them during this perplexing season of life. Up to this point we’d enjoyed close relationships with our sons. Suddenly those boys became distant strangers! We each brought a copy of Paul David Tripp’s book Age of Opportunity (which I highly recommend if you have adolescents in your home!!!). Since this was a very full season of life we would read one chapter while we were together and discuss it. Did that ever help me learn how to parent (and love!) better!
Fast forward a few years, my husband and I were traveling four days a week. I was so blessed to be invited to take part in an online book club where the members, about seven of us, were spread across the United States but would gather at a chat room (yes, they can have incredibly great uses! ;0) via chatzy.com and discuss different books. Granted, I much prefer face to face book clubs, but can I say, I was so blessed during this season by this group of professional women who I never would’ve met otherwise! We would read a chapter or two each week and discuss it, sharing our hearts and lives as well.
It’s one thing to read a book in seclusion, a whole other to process with a group. It gets you thinking about what you’re reading in a deeper way, you have the opportunity to glean new insights from the thoughts and experiences of others and best of all, there’s opportunity to be spurred on to act on what you’ve been reading. I find when I’m part of a book club the book being read is much more likely to become an active part of my journey – and transformation!
And this isn’t just true for non-fiction!
I have so loved getting together with friends to discuss fiction too! What a wonderful way to learn from the character’s examples! A few years ago I stumbled on a book entitled The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton. This is a delightful story about a group of women who start a writing group. I found a bunch of used copies online and gave them to a number of friends who also like to write, then we gathered at my house to discuss what we learned from their experiences… and our own writing group was born! Were we ever light years ahead benefitting from the ideas (both good and bad) gleaned from the characters!
And I know of no better way to enjoy the classics than sharing them with a friend. My last book club consisted of my neighbor and myself. Due to my hearing loss I’m no longer able to enjoy large group discussions so having just the two of us was such a blessing. First, it got me through books I never would’ve survived otherwise – like Middlemarch! It took me 250 pages before I even got into that story! But oh! What a story! My life was so enriched because I persevered through this! I never would have finished that book without the accountability of our next meeting!
Also, sharing books with my neighbor got me reading books I never would’ve known about, as we alternated selecting books. Plus, I so loved hearing the thoughts and treasures that stood out to my friend. I cannot recommend highly enough getting together with friends to discuss books!
I find it helpful to purchase a copy of the book so I can freely underline what stands out to me. (Used copies can often be obtained inexpensively online.) This helps me remember what I’d like to explore more with my friends and can help to focus the discussion. But if you’re going to be discussing multiple chapters or even the whole book, can it ever help to take time to write at the end of each chapter a brief summary as well as jot down thoughts on how what you’ve read applies to your life.
If you’re discussing an entire book, it can be helpful to go back through what you’ve underlined and write up key notes (or place post-its in the book that stick out featuring one word summaries) regarding the things you want to discuss. In the beginning I borrowed books from the library to save money but found I usually benefitted so much more and was prepared for a richer discussion when I was actively underlining and writing notes in the margins. And since the books I put this effort into became such a special part of my journey, I usually wanted to have a copy – especially as I frequently share with others the treasures that impact me!
And as I mentioned above, you can also read the chapter when you get together and discuss it as you go along! During busy seasons of life this was much more do-able for me and still powerfully impactful!
And have I ever benefitted from the one chapter rule. If you or someone in the group isn’t into a book by the end of the first chapter, dump it and go for something else! There are too many amazing books in the world to waste time with something that doesn’t captivate you! (note: we extend that for classics as they often take more than the first chapter to even figure out what’s going on! ;0)
But be careful if you do participate in a book club you don’t let books take the place of The Book! All too often I see book discussions offered as “Bible studies.” And indeed with all my heart I believe the Bible is The most important book you could ever read and discuss! It’s the one book we are commanded to not only read but let dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16)! Don’t let reading someone else’s thoughts on the Bible or any other topic take the place of diving into it directly! This needs to be a regular part of every believers life… for life! And don’t just take my word for it! Howard Hendricks left a wonderful series of videos on YouTube, and his first video gives compelling reasons for why this is so vital. I highly encourage you to check this video out!
So don’t go from WOW (being a Woman of the Word) to DRAB (Damsel’s Reading A Book)! Check out Psalm 19:10-11, Psalm 119:105, Isaiah 55:2-3, 2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 4:12, 1 Peter 2:2… there is nothing like The Word of God to ignite your heart and keep your light shining, and bring life to your life!
But in their proper place, as additional supplements, book clubs can be a great source of nourishment for your heart, soul and mind… and provide delightful life changing fun!
Have you ever taken part in a book club? Do you have suggestions you’d like to share? If so, I’d love to hear them!
This morning in my quiet time I camped out in Colossians 3:16:
“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
And it hit me how key music is for letting God’s Word dwell in me richly. According to this verse it’s right up there with teaching! Have I ever found this to be true in my own life. Most of the scriptures I’ve memorized, especially the longer portions stick with me because they’ve been put to music. Not always great music, mind you! But even little ditties help things stick better in my brain.
And it’s not just my brain.
I’ll never forget when my son was three years old, I decided to walk to the gym with him in the stroller, by the time we were headed home huge storm clouds gathered, leaving the sky ominously dark. You could hear thunder rumbling all over the place. As I raced the mile home pushing him in the stroller, praying that the fury of the storm would hold off just a bit longer I suddenly heard him saying something over and over. Leaning in I discovered he was quoting Psalm 56:3-4a to himself repeatedly.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid.”
He was applying scripture, using it to calm his fears!!! At three years old!
How could this be?
We’d been listening to Steve Green’s CD Hide Them In Your Heart! The song got in and when the truth was needed it was there. Years later I learned how crucial this is – if a child feels like he’s all alone when he’s experiencing pain he will often feel the need to self protect and shut down his heart emotionally. Can this ever impact his life and relationships even decades later! But if he’s aware of the Lord protecting him, he won’t feel the need to self protect. Truly one of the most important things parents can teach their children is that God is with them and able to protect and comfort them, especially their heart when it hurts.
That’s what Doug and Debbie Kingsriter discovered when their son had to have emergency surgery but no one mentioned that when he awoke after surgery he’d be unable to communicate for awhile. They were so concerned since they hadn’t prepared him for this. The doctor warned them most children freaked out but when their son could finally communicate again he was totally peaceful. The doctors were amazed! When they asked him about it, he shared how a verse they’d been memorizing as a family came to mind and calmed his heart. They were utterly blown away! He was so little they had no idea it had even sunk in! That’s when they decided to create the GT and the Halo Express CD’s where all the songs were scripture! If you can find a copy of these they are pure gold!
I cannot recommend highly enough moms listen to songs that feature scriptures with their children. Even with babies!
Now the thunderstorm incident happened over 20 years ago, but since then even more Scripture song resources have been created – for you as well as your children (and grandchildren! :0) I love to memorize using the Fighter Verse app on my phone. There’s a ton of variety in these songs and do they ever stick! I listen to them as I’m exercising, learning a new one each week and it’s amazing how I’ll find myself throughout the day not only humming the tune but meditating on the words! This is so helping God’s Word to dwell in me richly!
Recently my prayer partner shared with me another wonderful resource called Sing the Bible with Slugs and Bugs by Randall Goodgame. My friend is absolutely loving using this with her children – and she has 13 of them! But note, she’s also really enjoying the music herself too. If you go to Amazon.com you’ll find their CD’s have received 5 star reviews!*
Here’s a link to one of my favorites from here, featuring the African Children’s Choir:
I honestly believe providing opportunities for our children to hide God’s Word in their hearts is one of the most important things we can ever do for them. We never know when the enemy may come to attack while we’re not around and what a difference it can make to equip them with the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) so they are ready for such times! And not just when they are little…
A few years ago when my son was in college he passed through a difficult time of disappointment and pain. During his hardest moment you know what helped? A verse he’d memorized through song as a child, Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you or forsake you, says the Lord.”
But here’s the crazy thing – while I bought those children’s CD’s for my son’s benefit, after listening to them over and over for years as he grew up, those verses are forever etched in my memory – and on my heart, where they continue to make a difference in my life!
So please hear me on this – Scripture songs aren’t just for children! Especially as I’m getting older I’m finding it’s much harder now to memorize. But when something is put to music, memorization suddenly becomes do-able! It really is helping God’s Word dwell richly in me… and then flow out of me so i can talk about it when I sit at home and when I walk along the road, when I lie down and when I get up, impressing them on those around me. (Deuteronomy 6:7)
So for my application from this morning’s quiet time can you guess what I did?! :0)
*NOTE: Slugs & Bugs is Kickstarting Sing the Bible Volume 2! You’d better believe this is one kickstarter project I am so excited about supporting!!! http://kck.st/1H60szM And no, I get nothing for posting this on here! But I so love passing on treasure when I find it – and trust me this is one kickstarter you receive treasure when you support! ;0)
After two days hiking Pikes Peak with a friend I was exhausted. So when my husband picked us up at the end of the trail I grabbed the nearest book in the car and started reading as he drove us home. The book was entitled The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins. Not something I normally would pick up.
On the first page the author states, “The actions you take during the first few months in a new role will largely determine whether you succeed or fail.” Did that ever catch my attention! Especially as Jim was just about to start a new job!
So I prayed, “Lord, you’ve created me to be Jim’s helper. How can I help him during these first 90 days on his new job? Especially as I’ll be in a different state for the first third of them! Would you please give me an idea?”
Did he ever!
One of the girls in my Bible study is getting married soon and asked if we could get together to talk about praying for your husband. If you know me, you know this is one of my favorite things to do – both praying for Jim and sharing with others the incredible blessing of doing this!
For the past twenty years I’ve made it a point wherever we live to find someone who will meet with me to pray for an hour each week for our husbands. I can’t even begin to tell you the huge difference this has made in our marriage as well as in my life! So even though I’m not much for schedules or doing the same thing repeatedly, this is one of the top priorities of things I do. Out here in Colorado, one prayer partner and I got waterproof Bibles so we can still walk and pray even if it’s snowing or raining!
Over the years have I ever collected a bunch of resources that help me pray for Jim. So I arrived at my friend’s house with a bunch of materials. What a wonderful time we shared not just talking about praying for your husband, but also praying together for my husband and her husband to be!
At the end of the time she showed me a book she’d just bought that was recommended to her called Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe by Sharon Jaynes. When I saw it included a month’s worth of daily scriptures to guide you in praying for your husband I was so excited!!! This was the Lord’s answer to my prayer for something I could do to “help” Jim as he transitions!!! You better believe the moment I left her I went right to Amazon.com and bought a copy!
So Jim just started his new job yesterday and I just got back from my second day walking and praying through this. Oh friends, I can’t even begin to tell you what a treasure it is!!! It’s so deep and rich and extensive! I think the guy who wrote The First 90 Days should’ve included this in his book!!! :0)
Here’s what I prayed through this morning:
Now I’ve only just started so I’ve no idea what kind of impact it may have on Jim, but it is blessing the socks off me! Not only am I getting to pray for my husband, but it is providing some of the sweetest time with the Lord as I walk and pray through this each morning. It’s so rich and so unbelievably applicable to his transition, I think I very well may pray through this book three times – which perfectly covers his first 90 days! ;0)
Oh how I love it when I ask the Lord for an idea and He so abundantly delivers!
Just thought I’d share this new treasure with you! ;0)
I often get people asking for suggestions regarding how they can grow in prayer. My top answer isn’t to read a certain book or create lists or retreat to a prayer closet but instead to pray up! Find someone who has been praying longer than you and ask if you can pray with them.
Honestly the best things I’ve ever learned about praying have come as I’ve been praying with those who’ve prayed longer than me. It’s amazing what you can learn about prayer as you pray with someone!
But what do you do if there isn’t someone around or available who’s been praying longer than you? That’s where books can be such a great blessing. I’m not talking about books on prayer, but actual books containing prayers!
Of course the best book containing prayers is God’s Word! Memorizing and studying the prayers in Scripture truly has been the top enrichment to my prayer life! As I pray with Jesus and Paul and David through their written prayers have I ever learned a ton I can be praying for!
Beyond God’s Word there’s also treasure to be found in other books containing prayers. Though, to be honest, initially I never really liked these kinds of books. It seemed too trite and mindless to just read through someone else’s prayers.
Then I discovered Ruth Myer’s book 31 Days of Praise and the Lord laid it on my heart to look up all the references at the bottom of each prayer and then following her example, create my own prayer of praise. Wow! Was that ever life-changing!
Since then I’ve discovered if I look at books of prayers not as something to rote-ly pray through but instead as providing a structure – almost as if I was praying with the actual author (eg., what’s written is their portion and after reading one phrase, I then add mine in there as if we’re going back and forth) well, I’ve been amazed at how this expands and enhances my prayer life getting me thinking and praying about things I never would’ve come up with on my own.
One treasure I recently discovered and am currently praying through is Barbara Duguid & Wayne Duguid Houk’s book Prone to Wander: Prayers of Confession and Celebration. Wow! Wow! Wow! This has been one of the biggest blessings in my life lately! Especially as at the end of each prayer she lists songs that relate with the very things just prayed for. After I pray, I look these songs up on youtube, watching the versions that feature the lyrics (a huge help since I can barely hear anymore!) and has this combination of prayer and singing ever resulted in some priceless times with the Father!
It’s also really been making me appreciate Jesus even more as I’m discovering even more how much I really do have to confess. When i use the blank A-C-T-S form (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) to structure my prayers at the end of the day there are times when I struggle to think of things to confess and it always seems even after I’ve written down the obvious, I know there’s more I’m missing. Has this book ever opened my eyes to that “more” I need to confess. And I’m finding as I confess more, I am so appreciating even more how much it cost Jesus to pay the penalty for all my sins! (Luke 7:47)
I’m also really getting the socks blessed off me as I’m praying through the prayers in The Valley of Vision edited by Arthur Bennet. As I’m praying through the prayers in that book, they are serving as a school training me in a whole new perspective shift!
I will say one of my biggest struggles in doing this is to fight against rushing through it. So I’m learning at the start of each time to not start with the prayer in the book, but instead to start by asking the Lord to calm my heart, bind the enemy in Jesus’ name from trying to rob me by bringing other things to mind I could be doing, and to give me grace to enjoy this time. What a difference it’s making to start that way!
At the end of Skye Jethani’s book With he gives suggestions for ways to keep growing in living life with God. One of the key ways he mentions is to take time three times a day and get down on your knees and pray through the written prayers of those who’ve walked with Jesus longer than you have. That’s what got me started on this new prayer journey – and what a blessed, life-changing journey it’s been so far!