Category Archives: Bible Study

God’s Word Meets Me Once Again

Each one of these was bought by a friend or family member who was thinking of me and traveled the world.

Each one of these was bought by a friend or family member who was thinking of me as they traveled the world. They make me smile every day!

I’ve been pondering, reflecting, studying, and meditating on a passage of scripture from I Peter 3 this week.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. I Peter 3:8-17

With each phrase I find myself either comforted or challenged. I am serving in several different areas of leadership – in teams, in administration, in teaching. These positions take a great deal of time and energy, not to mention the responsibilities that accompany them. Every time I feel like I am confused as how to act, or am weary of doing good, or I am confident of my own abilities and talents, I am convicted to return to the Word. And I pray!

I can’t remember what brought me to I Peter 3:8-17. It’s not in my daily reading. It wasn’t in one of our family devotions. It might have just been something I skimmed past over the weekend. Whatever it was, I have been riveted and focused on these verses since.

Each portion seems to be directed right toward me. I appreciate the exhortation to have unity of mind. I know that in order to do that in the areas where I serve, I need to have a tender heart and a humble mind.

In my own strength, I seek for justice and fairness. I want “my rights” protected and defended. The scripture here says that I am to bless and not repay. And why do I live this way? What would cause me to choose this instead of the VERY gratifying satisfaction of justification and validation (and maybe even a little comeuppance every once in a while)?

It is because God’s Word is true. And I have lived it, breathed it, experienced it, and seen it to be proven true over and over again. And in this passage, it is clear that I am to keep my tongue from evil or deceit. I am to seek peace. I am to TRUST that the Lord sees the righteous and hears their prayers.

I am to act with gentleness and respect toward others. I am to honor Jesus and let Him do the protecting, defending, and upholding. And, even if I struggle or suffer, if that is God’s will, then I be sure that I am living righteously, that I am doing good, that I am following Him.

Prayer journal - hundreds of prayers in this little book.

One of my favorite prayer journals – oh the hundreds of prayers recorded in this little book.

This year in particular, I have felt God’s calling to serve in a new way. And with it has been the awareness that He wants to grow ME and stretch ME and meet ME in a new way. It’s not about the people I work with or the areas where I serve. Those things are just the means He is using to draw me closer to Him. It is a humbling thing to know how deeply I am loved and how much the Lord wants to bless, instruct, teach and pour into my life.

I truly desire to serve where He calls me. To walk in peace and humility. To love others. To honor Christ as Holy and follow Him. Thankfully these verses set my feet on a path to do these exact things.

Project 365 – Day 118

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Walking In Faith

What does it look like to walk in faith? Does it involve an ignorant blind trust, stumbling around in the darkness, trying to please a lofty, unknown God? Is it a scary thing, full of the unknown?

As this busy, full day comes to a close, I see that the Lord has been weaving together a message for me. I don’t know if it is meant to be a song, a story, or perhaps a painting. He is the grand artist, creative beyond all measure, breadth or wonder, so I am in awe that He would speak to me and give me even just a little glimpse of His heart.

From this morning’s Sunday School Bible study on Exodus, baptisms, preschool lessons on Luke, an afternoon hospital visit, and a evening prayer walk, I see that He has taken the events of my day, gathered them all up, and used them to paint, stroke by stroke, another one of His masterpieces.

May my ears be open to hear what He wants to teach me. May it deepen my love for Him, strengthen my faith, and produce in me obedience and WORSHIP. That is my prayer tonight as I write this post.

This morning we studied Exodus 19 in our Sunday School class. We are on the cusp of chapter 20, about to see God reveal His 10 Commandments to Moses and the Israelites. We have witnessed the incredible power and might of the Lord’s anger, justice and compassion as He brought the Israelites OUT OF EGYPT. We have watched as the sea was parted, the people delivered, the enemy crushed, food and water provided for – all by the Lord. And today we talked about the holiness of God. He calls the Israelites his treasured possessions. And the people answered – “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.”

They were committing to walking in faith. To follow this God that had rescued them and shown them great and mighty works. Brush strokes – a path is laid before the people.

I hope these boys will all say YES to the Lord's call on their lives!

I hope these boys will all say YES to the Lord’s call on their lives!

Tim ended class early this morning so we could go and watch the baptisms taking place at the end of the 1st service. 15 people chose to make a public proclamation of their faith this weekend at our church. One by one they shared their story. The unique and precious way that they have found their way to the Lord; how He rescued them and revealed Himself to them. One by one – buried in the likeness of His death and raised to new life in Him! More brush strokes – faithfulness chosen. Obedience to the call to be baptized.

Joyful moments.

Joyful moments.

Next David, Sarah and I found ourselves in the 4 & 5 year old class room with 18 preschoolers. What a busy time, full of energy! We play, sing songs, color papers, eat snacks, and listen to a lesson. I LOVE the 4 and 5 year olds because they have thoughts and opinions and ideas and can really LISTEN to the stories from the Bible. Today we studied Luke 17 and heard about the 10 men that Jesus healed from leprosy. We talked about being thankful like the one man who returned to Jesus and praised Him for the healing. But this evening, when I think about Walking in Faith and obedience and living a life that is focused on God, I can’t help but see the faith demonstrated by those men. Jesus didn’t do anything that they could see. He told them to go and show themselves to the priests. Basically He sent them away. And they obeyed Him. They literally walked in faith

Again I am struck by the thread of this message. To Walk in Faith isn’t to stumble along blindly. It’s to follow the One who saves. It’s to trust that He is mighty and powerful and good. It’s to proclaim His message to others. It’s to be obedient. It’s to thank Him when He works in my life.

This afternoon Tim and I went to the hospital to visit the mother of one of my closest friends. Tomorrow she is facing heart surgery. And my friend is out of the country. She flew halfway across the world to walk alongside another friend in the midst of her adoption. More steps of faith. More obedience. Hardship and struggle and delays, but still faithful walking. What is God trying to teach me? What does He want me to learn through all of this?

Covering the bed with flowers and fruit and taking a picture!

Covering the bed with flowers and fruit and taking a picture!

Walking in Faith doesn’t mean easy or simple. It doesn’t mean a life full of ease and comfort without sickness or pain or death. I think it means Hope and Peace. The beautiful face of my friend’s mother as she greeted us with hugs and kisses, as she spoke to the anesthesiologist about the surgery tomorrow, as she shared with us the details leading up to all of this and the outcome ahead of her, and she beamed at the nurse, through it all this face was nothing less than a picture of Faith and Joy. This is a woman who has seen hardship and pain in her life, and yet, through it all she is walking in faith. And she’s walking in faith with a Savior who loves her and comforts her and upholds her. The verse she shared with us:

…yet will I rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:18-19)

Her walk of faith challenges me. It inspires and encourages me to press in more deeply to my Savior.

And tonight, cozy and comfy on the couch, Tim called us out of our Sunday evening relaxing and brought us to church for a prayer walk. In the setting sun, joining together with a group of fellow pray-ers, we circled the church grounds over and over. We lifted up the work of the Lord in our community, the future plans for our church, the people loving, serving, growing in our amidst.

Prayer walk - God is moving!

Prayer walk – God is moving!

We walked.
We prayed.

And I had to laugh. All my thoughts about being obedient. All the things I’ve seen and studied and taught ended in a literal WALK. A prayer walk is a physical act of faith – we’re asking God to move and work, and we’re doing so in FAITH that He will hear us, that He will direct our steps. That He will enable us to continue Walking in Faith.

Over and over I am struck by this tapestry, picture, or song that God created for me in this day. I’m facing some definite challenges ahead of me, and I think they are going to involve struggle and possible pain. I’m Walking in Faith that the Lord knows best, that He will guide me, that He will protect me, that He will comfort me, that He will give me wisdom and strength.

Project 365 – Day 81

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Make Sport for Our Neighbors

One of my primary functions in life is to serve as an object of fun for others. It is a high calling, and only a few of us are able to pull it off with the requisite panache and savoir faire.

As Jane Austen said, “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?”

This weekend I was the comic object lesson for our study of Exodus 18 (the chapter in which Moses serves as judge for the entire community of Israel, and in which he is taught to delegate by his father-in-law).

Moses probably looked almost this regal.

Moses probably looked almost this regal.

Fearing, perhaps, that class members would not be able to come up with their own complaints, my nemesis co-teacher distributed pre-written grievances to some 20 of our class members, and lined them all up in front of me to be judged. He may also have taken this as an opportunity to highlight a few of my past foibles and character defects, as you could possibly surmise from the nature of the complaints:

  • Tim Edgren stole a jar of nutella from me. When I asked him for it, he gave me back a half-empty jar and said we were square. I ask for justice.
  • Tim Edgren came into my house and left hair all over the house from what I assume is that thing he calls a beard. He refused to clean up his own mess. I ask for justice.
  • Tim Edgren sold me a six-pack of diet coke. When I got home, I found that the cans had been drained and filled with water. He told me water was healthier for me anyway. I ask for justice.
  • Tim Edgren gave me a wooden nickel – literally a coin made of wood. He told me it could be used to purchase something at the AWANA store. The only thing I could get with it was another wooden nickel. I ask for justice.
  • I told Tim Edgren that I wanted a stuffed animal for my birthday. He gave me a bag of pistachios instead. I ask for justice.
  • Tim Edgren claimed he was a magician and could make water become blood. All he did was add food coloring and said “Ta-da!” I ask for justice.
  • Every time I play a board game or card game with Tim Edgren, he cheats. He still loses the games and cries about it, but he still cheats. I ask for justice.
  • Tim Edgren told me he would co-teach a Bible class. On his week to teach, he showed horse videos and taught us how to cook. I think I actually know LESS about the Bible now. I ask for justice.
  • Tim Edgren blogs every day, but usually the blog posts are lies about his brother. More like slanders than lies, really. I ask for justice.
  • I bought a car from Tim Edgren online. He told me the car was a sporty Toyota Corolla. In fact, it was a rusty Gremlin. I ask for justice.
  • Tim Edgren agreed to drive me to Portland for a meeting. Instead of a direct route, he took me on a road trip that somehow included parts of Canada. Suffice to say, I missed my meeting. I ask for justice.
  • Tim Edgren told me he was a handyman, so I paid him to build an addition to my deck. Long story short, my house has now been condemned by the city. I ask for justice.
  • This week, Tim Edgren arranged to have meals made for him as he recovered from appendix surgery. Yesterday I found out he hasn’t had an appendix like a regular person for a year. I ask for justice.
  • Tim Edgren was asked to organize the cookie baking ministry at my church. His definition of ‘organization’ was to have people drop off delicious snacks at his house, and then telling people at church that all the cookies had been eaten by the youth group. I ask for justice.
  • Tim Edgren thinks that Peter Jackson’s inclusion of the character Tauriel in The Hobbit movies was a good idea. For this, he should be burned at the stake (both Tim and Peter Jackson). I ask for justice.
  • Tim Edgren invited me over to watch the first Star Wars movie. It turned out to be Star Trek instead of Star Wars. My eyes were literally bleeding from pain. I ask for justice.
  • Tim Edgren spent the afternoon throwing water balloons at cars and people on the street. To avoid punishment, he told the police that I had done it. I ask for justice.
  • I paid Tim Edgren to design an online database to track AWANA attendance at my church. His program spread a virus throughout the church computers and broke the internet. I ask for justice.
  • Tim Edgren sold me a box of what he claimed was authentic manna. It was a box of Frosted Flakes. I ask for justice.
  • Tim Edgren came over and tried to fix my wireless network. Not only do I still not have WiFi, but every time I turn on my router, my house catches fire. I ask for justice.

I began to notice a consistent theme, and (personally) I think it detracted somewhat from the object lesson. Surely not ALL the complaints Moses judged were aimed at him specifically? I also learned why Moses was in danger from being worn out by judging the entire nation of Israel — if his situation was anything like mine, he probably went home each evening with an aching stomach from laughing all day at the petitioners.

Trying for a more contemplative and judicial expression, I thought I was doing pretty well to keep a straight face.

Trying for a more contemplative and judicial expression, I thought I was doing pretty well to keep a straight face.

Of course, each of the complaints had a minuscule grain of truth, twisted into the snake-like ball of lies, which made them all the more diabolical and hurtful. Hopefully those who know my past and who have attended our Sunday School class will not be deceived, as the scripture says:

For false ‘christs’ and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:24

In my role as Moses, I simplified matters by insisting that all plaintiffs be treated the same, regardless of their complaint, proclaiming that each should receive a severe beating (the staff came in handy, after all). I figured if I was going to play Moses’ part, I might as well enjoy the perquisites. Now if I can only get the ground to open up and swallow my nemesis co-teacher …

Hmmmm. That gives me an idea for an ‘object lesson’ for next week. Maybe we’ll make a side trip to Numbers 16, instead of teaching on the next chapter of Exodus. I wonder if the church would mind if I constructed a trap door in our meeting room? I’ll ask my co-teacher to play the part of Korah …

As Tim mentioned earlier this week, we’re all working on getting healthy and counting calories. I’ve been so encouraged to use blood boost formula to improve performance of my weight loss progress – foods consumed, exercise accomplished, as many would know I suffer from Diabetes.

Well, tonight’s dinner was just a little too tasty. It wasn’t the buttered shrimp or even the marinated salmon that put me over the limit. I think it was the brown rice. I usually don’t eat a heavy starch in the evenings, but I was hungry and the big pot of short grain, delicious smelling brown rice just cried out to be eaten.

I only had a half a cup.

And then topped it off with another half. Heh heh. By the time I recorded my food I realized that I was going to need to take a good LONG walk to burn off some calories.

One of our neighbors has a garden in his front yard.
One of our neighbors has a garden in his front yard.

Thankfully it’s spring and the clouds cleared up late this afternoon. Plus we live on a nice, peaceful street. And I have several family members who are wiling to walk with me.

Flowers down the street.
Flowers down the street.

First Tim and I walked a mile and a half together. Then I walked a mile by myself (while making a phone call – multitasking mom here). Next Sarah came out and joined me (barefoot no less). All in all, I walked over an hour and logged in enough calories to keep me on track for the day.

A single blossom on a pretty tree.
A single blossom on a pretty tree.

Whew! Thanks for walking with me, Tim and Sarah. After the walk I prepared myself a nice tall fruit smoothie using the hurom high speed blender picked up online.

Selfie with Sarah!

Project 365, Day 74

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Chopped Manna

Our Sunday School class is studying Exodus, these days. Today we reached chapter 16, in which God provides for the starving people of Israel with Manna from Heaven (and some quail). Since our class is a full-family operation, I decided to include an activity that would involve everyone, from youngest to oldest.

Nathaniel and Cooper were eager to gather the flakes from the chairs.

Nathaniel and Cooper were eager to gather the flakes from the chairs.

First, I had two of the younger kids gather an Omer (not quite a gallon) of ‘Manna’ (we used frosted flakes to simulate). I had previously coated the classroom furniture with a thin layer of the ‘Manna’. It was interesting to see that, although it took minimal effort to gather the daily ration of food, it was still a task that required some ten or fifteen minutes.

David doesn't really like cream cheese, which was a key ingredient of his team's pancake.

David doesn’t really like cream cheese, which was a key ingredient of his team’s pancake.

Dividing the class into four teams, I gave them each a supply of Manna (frosted flakes), one egg, about a teaspoon of baking powder and roughly 1/3 cup of oil. Then I let each team choose, in turn, two of the eight ‘optional’ ingredients:

  • Almond flour
  • Cream cheese
  • Pistachios
  • Cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Honey
  • Goat cheese
  • Raisins

We provided mixing bowls and griddles, as each tried to convert their frosted flakes into some kind of flour and to construct a pancake that would hold together enough to cook on the griddle. I shanghaied two passing church members into being judges, and we held a competition, sort of like the TV series, Chopped, but with a much smaller budget.

This team took a little while to pull their idea together, in spite of Tung's culinary prowess.

This team took a little while to pull their idea together, in spite of Tung’s culinary prowess.

It was a fun way to think about what it must have been like for the Hebrews to eat manna every day, for forty years. I imagine they tried every possible combination of ingredients to add some variety to God’s generous provision. We talked about how even the most awesome of God’s blessings can become mundane and even (if we aren’t careful) despised.

All four teams created a very tasty final product, but the teams with sweeteners (honey and raisins) had a clear advantage.

All four teams created a very tasty final product, but the teams with sweeteners (honey and raisins) had a clear advantage.

It was also sobering to reflect on how much we are like the people of Israel in the way that we complain. We are constantly devaluing God’s abundant gifts to us, and showing great lack of faith, when we complain about our jobs, our spouses, our church, our children, or any other detail in which God has provided for us so abundantly.

Project 365, Day 60

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The Answer is Found Here

The Lord and I have been wrestling today. Actually I’ve been wrestling with my own heart, spirit and sin. My brokenness and flesh raise its ugly head at every opportunity. Thankfully the Lord has an answer for my struggle and for my weaknesses.

Learning so much about love

Sarah painted this for me.

He’s been meeting me in every moment. I’ve been called to really grow and stretch this month. I’ve had to operate in His strength and not mine. I’ve had to walk through situations, covered in the prayers of friends. I’ve been so empty of my own wisdom and knowledge and ability to walk forward, that His wisdom, glory and love shone brighter than I’ve ever seen it.

My new journal Bible from Tim.

This morning I sat with these two books – my big journal and my new Bible

And this morning, when I came to Him with some hurts and pain, He was there. Quietly breathing life and truth into my soul. As the intensity of the situation has passed, it leaves in its wake the bruises of hurts and offenses and more brokenness.

I can hear my pride fussing about how I was wronged. I hear my self-righteous spirit whine about the sins of “other Christians.” Instead of peace and joy, I find myself wanting validation and justification, even maybe a little vengeance thrown into the mix.

His Word brings me comfort and truth.

His Word brings me comfort and truth.

And so the words in Matthew 5 were especially tender to me today.

“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil again you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

With eyes once more focused on Him, I picked up my pen and confessed my sins to the Lord. I scribbled down my hurts and my concerns and my fears. I listened. I opened my hands, again, to what He is doing through me. I promised to trust Him – His timing, His leading, His protection. With unsteady hands, I told Him I would obey, even if the steps were painful. I would be pure in heart. I would be merciful. I would be a peacemaker. I would rejoice and be glad, even if others persecute me. I will be meek. I will hunger and thirst for righteousness, not personal satisfaction or public glory.

I will love.

I found the answer, again, in His Word, His Presence, His Truth.

Project 365 – Day 57

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