Treasure For Spiritually Investing In Children!

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.”

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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!!!

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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.

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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:

https://archive.org/details/kennethforbesorf00phil

Just click on the pages at the top to turn them.

Or you can buy a facsimile at Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Kenneth-Forbes-Fourteen-Studying-Bible/dp/1166604993/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460314147&sr=8-1&keywords=kenneth+forbes

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!

 

 

The Pressure’s off!

Ever been to a Bible study where you watch a video or listen to a speaker talk and then break into small groups and your facilitator presents a second message?  It can be a heady thing to speak and have a group listening to what you share.  But is that really what’s needed for life change to occur?

We live in a society that is information rich.  At any moment of the day you can pull up a sermon online or read a book or listen to a radio broadcast.  We’ve never had more access to the Word being taught – and struggled as much to live it out.

Consider what the Scriptures say:

“But you are not to be called Rabbi, for you have one teacher and you are all brothers.”  Matthew 23:8

“Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor – the Christ.” Matthew 23:10

“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in Him.”              1 John 2:27

Once someone is a believer their greatest need usually isn’t for advice, but for someone to come along and help them learn how to listen to what the Lord is teaching them and help them process what they are hearing so they know how to respond and to encourage them to respond by living out what He is laying on their hearts. There are three key ways you can do this:

1.  Modeling

Until the day we die we are all very much in process, in need of growing and becoming more like Jesus.  As you share your weaknesses, where you struggle, and what helps you, there is a tremendous opportunity for people to learn how to process and apply as they see you doing this.  The quote, “More is caught than taught” is so true!  Whenever I’m asked to speak at a women’s retreat or to a group I find it so helpful to keep this in mind.  My goal isn’t to teach but to share my journey, yes, even the ugly parts when it will be of help for them to hear, and what’s been helping me.

2.  Listening & Asking Questions, Then Listening More

In James 1:19 we are instructed, “Everyone should be quick to listen…”  Is this ever vitally important to remember when you are facilitating a group discussion.  There is nothing like listening to someone share their heart or their thoughts to make them feel loved and cared for.  This creates a wonderful environment where growth can happen.

And is the second part of that verse, “slow to speak…” ever key for facilitators to remember.  When I’m speaking I’m in control.  So if I’m scared it’s so easy for that to be my default.  Even if someone in the group asks a question, well, the natural response is to answer right away.  But what a difference it can make if you first ask if anyone else in the group would like to respond.  Creating a learning community, where you are all sharing your journeys together is so much more powerful and life changing than a quick correct answer being given.  You want to be able to engage with each other as well as the material.  Can that ever do wonders to help people grow as this takes place.

Now it can really help to identify whether the women in your group are internal or external processors.  Those who process externally will usually be the first to share and sometimes the internal processors can get left out, so it takes extra intention to listen to them.  I’ve found it can be so helpful to provide an opportunity for them to first process on their own and then listen and ask questions.

For example, when I’m facilitating a group discussion after a speaker has shared, I will often start our time encouraging them to first write down on a notecard what stood out to them in the message or draw a quick picture representing this.  Even extroverts benefit from this opportunity to collect their thoughts (because writing is also a form of external processing) so when they share it tends to be more focused. But this is so key to being able to “listen” to internal processors.  I can’t tell you how many times this makes it possible to listen to what’s going on inside them.  Women who ordinarily would never share in a group will often open up when the group is conducted this way.

And it really is amazing how much more people are helped when we listen and ask questions, than when we just give answers!

3.  Introducing different ways to process

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As mentioned above, this can be as simple as having your group draw a picture or write a word or short paragraph that summarizes the key thing that stood out to them either from the message they just heard or from their Bible study that week.  Or if you’re reading the scriptures together and then discussing, it can be giving colored pencils and having them underline what stands out to them or circle key words.  Or it can be as involved as having the group art journal a page reflecting what they learned and then sharing it afterwards with the group (more information on this and examples are available at http://www.restfulheart.wordpress.com)

All of these means help people focus in on the key thing that stood out to them, narrowing down what they heard so they can more easily come up with an application.  That really is where the rubber meets the road.  It can be so powerful when people have time to process together for helping them come up with an application and then for the group to provide an opportunity for accountability – it doesn’t even have to be like drill sergeants checking up on you ~ just knowing someone is going to ask “how did it go this week?”  or “What did you experience as you sought to live out what you learned last week?” can be a powerful motivator for actually doing what’s on your heart to do.

Remember the difference between the wise and foolish builder isn’t a matter of hearing the Word!  The difference is what they do in response to it.  And it wasn’t that the wise builder got more gold stars – no!  By responding to what he heard, by actively seeking to do it, to live it out, he was laying a solid foundation for when the storms of life came.  And note it’s not “If” they come but “when!”

Yes, there can be times when it is appropriate to give advice, but I like to filter that through Ephesians 4:29 speaking “only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Be sure to ask yourself – is this really helping them become wise?  Helping them process what they’ve already heard and move towards application?  Or am I just providing opportunity for them to “hear” more?

Whether you’re meeting one on one with someone or facilitating a group it can be so wise to keep asking yourself how much time am I talking?  And what is happening as a result?

Best part of this?  Does it ever take the pressure off you as a facilitator, discipler or mentor!  You don’t have to have all the answers!  And since no one does (according to I Corinthians 13:12 in this life we only know in part) what a relief!  All you have to do is join in with what Jesus is doing, helping them learn to listen to him – not just hear him, but respond to him and yield to him as He guides them.  And in the process, instead of remaining babes dependent on you they are learning how to walk with him and abide with him for life!

Seeing Myself The Way Jesus Does

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Years ago a fellow Navigator, David Lyons, wrote a booklet entitled “Now That I’m Born Again” based on what the Lord  reveals in Ephesians regarding our identity in Christ.  Now I love to walk and pray so I placed that content on a bookmark that I print double sided on card stock.  I like to carry a copy of this in my purse so whenever I start doubting my value I can pull it out and pray through this.  What a life changing difference this is making in my life!

Before we lived in Colorado Springs we use to fly out here for leadership meetings.  Now Navigators love to “get time with each other” one on one, so it’s not uncommon to find people at these meetings setting up lunches and breaks to do this.  At one particular meeting there were a number of people I was hoping to get time with so I was really excited when I learned we had a two hour break before dinner one night.  Now it was going to be a special dinner and what I didn’t realize was most of the women wanted time to get ready so as I went around asking if people could get together, one after another told me no.  And I found myself starting to feel down…

Now another couple who lived out here invited us to come wait for the dinner at their house.  On our drive over I pulled out this bookmark and started praying through it.  What an incredible reminder it was – I’m not a loser, because of Jesus I am blessed, chosen, holy, without blemish, adopted…  I felt my spirits begin to lift as my heart spent time giving thanks.  Especially as I prayed “Thank you, Father, that I am wanted”  the pain I was feeling from rejection dissipated (and please note it wasn’t that anyone was rejecting me, they just had other plans, but do you know how you can go there and still feel this way?!)

Now I was sitting in the back seat and since I can’t hear anything in that setting anyways, I spent the whole drive (about twenty minutes) silently praying and giving thanks for who I am in Christ.  By the time we arrived, my heart was soaring and a smile was on my face.  We enjoyed a lovely time and learned a bunch from the things they shared with us.  Truly the Lord had other plans for that time!

Fast forward two hours and we head to dinner.  On the way in I stop to talk with the son of a friend, seeking to encourage him.  By the time I go in to where the dinner is being held nearly everyone else is seated.  But then I spy an open chair right next to one of the women I’ve been hoping to get time with.  I’m so excited!!!  I race over and ask, “Is this seat available?” only to hear, “No, it’s saved it for…”  Then I spy another empty chair next to someone else I’d hoped to get time with… only to discover that was already taken too.  In fact, the only available chair was all the way at the back of the room.

Now normally by this time my insecurities would be kicking in big time. No one saved a seat for me.  So easily I could’ve withdrawn into myself and eaten my meal in silence.  It takes a lot of energy to interact when you are hearing impaired, energy that if I’m feeling rejected, discouraged and down I usually don’t have.  But after praying through all those truths of who I am in Christ, I thought, “Jesus must’ve saved me this seat at the back for a reason!”

I ended up sitting across from a woman I didn’t know very well and as we talked over dinner our hearts connected in a powerful way.  Did that evening ever turn into a HUGE gift from the Lord!

But so easily I could’ve missed out if my soul hadn’t been fortified right when I needed it by remembering who I am in Christ.

It’s one thing to know these truths in my head or even to do a Bible study on them, but I’m finding these truths are making the biggest life changing difference when I am intentional to apply them by praying through them while my value is under attack!

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Seeing Myself The Way Jesus Does…

I am in Christ

Thank You for immersing me in Christ. Thank you for grafting me into the true vine.

I am blessed

Thank you for continually speaking well of me and favoring me in every possible way.

I am chosen

Thank you for picking me for yourself, like a groom marrying the bride he desires.

I am holy

Thank You for setting me aside for yourself, just like the best silver is set aside for special occasions

I am without blemish

Thank you that when you look at me, you do not focus on all my failures. Thank you for focusing on the best part of me, the part You have perfected, my innermost being.

I am adopted

Thank you, Father, that I am wanted. Thank you for coming to me, extending Your hand, pulling me to Your side, and making all the necessary arrangements to make me Your very own.

I am God’s child

Thank you for making me Your beloved child, in whom You are well pleased, for allowing me to bear your likeness, for making me your pride and joy.

 I am free from sin’s power

Thank you for liberating me from my old master. Thank you for saving me from my enemy.

I am forgiven

Thank You that You now hold nothing against me. Thank you for not expecting me to make up for the ways I have failed you.

I am favored

Thank You for making me one of Your favorites. Thank You for hovering over me with a special loving attention, like a parent with a firstborn child.

I am wealthy

Thank You that as Your child I have an inheritance that provides all I need. Thank You that I will always have more than I need.

I am secure

Thank You for enveloping me in Your love so that I am sealed, secure and safe. Thank You for shielding and sheltering me by Your Spirit.

I am called

Thank You for giving me an exciting, fulfilling direction. Thank You for showing me why I am here and where I am going.

I am praiseworthy

Thank You for filling me with Your glory. Thank You for bragging about me as Your prized inheritance.

I am capable

Thank You that You love to show Your extraordinary power in me. Thank You that I am therefore qualified & able to do all You want me to do.

I am alive with Christ’s life

Thank You that since You came into my heart, I am born again – born from above and bursting with real life.

I am seated with Christ in heaven

Thank You for placing me with Christ in a position of extraordinary privilege and authority.

I am God’s masterpiece

Thank You for making me Your personal work of art. Thank You that I am the work of a Craftsman, not a mistake.

I am close to God

Thank You for not holding me at arm’s length. Thank You for pulling me to Your side in a prolonged embrace.

I am an insider

Thank You for making me a true citizen in Your kingdom. Thank You for making me a true member of Your household, no longer an outsider.

I am God’s mobile home

Thank You for moving into my heart. Thank You that I am now Your house, Your temple, Your tent.

I am promised great things

Thank You for making such priceless commitments to me. Thank You for letting me experience what others strive to obtain.

I am loved

Thank You for loving me the way I long to be loved. Thank You that I can’t wear out Your love. Thank you for continuing to win my trust by convincing me of the depth of Your love.

I am a new creation

Thank You for completely remodeling my innermost being, my spirit. Thank You that all things in me are truly new.

I am righteous

Thank You for making everything right in my innermost being. Thank You for placing the holy and living Spirit of Your Son in me.

I am the light of the world

Thank You for making the light of Your life shine in me. Thank You for making me Your flashlight, shining into the darkness around me.

I am nourished

Thank You for satisfying my thirst and hunger. Thank You for the Bread of Life that fills me. Thank You for the Living Water welling up in my soul.

I am cherished

Thank You for adoring and treasuring me, like a parent marveling over a newborn baby.

I am Christ’s body

Thank You that although You once lived among Your people in an elaborate tent, and then You walked among us in a Galilean body, now You truly live in me. Thank You that I am actually a member of Your body.

I am united with Christ

Thank You for becoming one with me, as a husband becomes one flesh with his wife.

I am strong

Thank You that with You living in me, I can face anything. Thank You that every battle, test and victory belong to You.

 from David Lyon’s booklet Now That I Am Born Again

Critical Questioning

I cannot stress enough the power of asking questions!

So many times when people discuss discipleship, the focus is on content, what you should be telling someone.

Once when my husband was observing someone starting to learn how to disciple he was shocked to find the “discipler” talked almost nonstop the entire time!

Please understand discipleship is not about dumping content!  It is a partnership with the living God, joining in with what He is doing in the life of someone seeking to follow Him, helping them become transformed into His image as they “do” what the Lords wants them to.

It’s not about giving information as much as helping them show up for the surgery the Lord wants to do ~ but they will need to have an active part in this.  Sometimes the Lord will use the content you share, but what transforms isn’t the hearing of content, but what they do with what they hear.

Someone who talks nonstop the entire time, simply is missing the boat and not understanding this process.  Consider what Jesus taught in Matthew 7:24-27…

In what way were the wise and foolish builder the same?

They both heard the word.

The foolish builder may have enjoyed a quiet time every single day, attended church every Sunday, read multiple Christian books each week, and listened to sermons daily on his commute back and forth to work!  He may even have been discipled one on one hearing great content each week!  But according to Jesus it’s not about the hearing but what is done with it that makes the difference.  The wise man did what He heard.

So discipleship isn’t just about making it possible for people to “hear” God’s truth, but primarily about helping them “do” what they hear from the Lord.

Yes, the Lord may lead you to share a tool or a passage or something that’s been of great help to you, but even then, to do anything with what’s been heard a person needs to process and figure out how it can make a difference in her life!  And one of the best ways you can help someone process and determine how to apply is to ask questions!

What stands out to you from our discussion today?

Why did that stand out to you?

How might this make a difference in your life?

What might it look like for you to do that?

What could keep you from moving forward with this?

When do you think you could practically do this?

Is there anything in your life that needs to change so you’d have time for this?  

How can I be praying for you?

People are much more likely to “do” something they’ve had a part in devising.  Don’t just tell.  Be sure to ask lots of questions to help them process, and then to narrow down specifically how they can “do” what’s been discussed!

Then, be sure to ask more questions the next time you meet ~

“How did it go applying what we talked about?!”  

“Did you encounter any struggles or hindrances to doing this?”

“What did you learn from doing this?”

“What difference did it make in your life?”

Don’t just race onto the next topic!

Next time you’re meeting with someone, try to keep count of the number of questions you ask.  Just make a small mark or dot on a page each time you ask one.  You might be surprised at what you learn and how this simple exercise really can spur you on to ask more questions… and as you do, reveal how lifechanging and impactful this truly can be!