Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekly Thoughts

"But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night." –Psalm 1:2

Writer's block. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, this is "A usually temporary psychological inability to begin or continue work on a piece of writing." Basically, the author is stumped. She has no idea how to proceed, what to write next. Her mind is blank.

I looked up a slightly different term in the dictionary today: reader's block. Unfortunately, it wasn't there… but I guess that means I get to make up my own definition. J To me, reader's block is what sometimes happens when I read my Bible. I physically see the words, I do comprehend them, but they just don't "stick." When I get done reading, I don't really know what I've read or how to apply it.

I recently heard a fantastic speaker named Lisa Harper. Wow! She is a phenomenal speaker and biblical scholar, and she even made the genealogies interesting! (And I'm not kidding—that's literally what she spoke about, and it was great!) What a passion for God's Word, for really squeezing the meaning out of what can seem to be mundane details. She really inspired me to dig a little deeper, to know and understand God's Word a little better. Now, I'm not likely to enter seminary next week or begin delving into theological textbooks, but there are simple ways to start.

First, I have started using multiple translations of the Bible. Sometimes when I am struggling to understand a passage in one translation, reading it in a slightly different translation can help to clear it up. And other times when I think I am maybe misinterpreting something—or maybe finding something a little "deeper" than the direct text—comparing a couple of different translations can help me to get a better grasp on the subtleties.

It can also be a great help to do a study along with or in addition to just "straight" Bible reading. Make use of others' knowledge and experiences. I may not know the original Greek and Hebrew, but I can still learn from those who do.

But for me, my biggest shortfall is that I just need to start listening a little better. I'm pretty good at talking—to God and, honestly, to anyone else within earshot. J Sometimes, though, I have a hard time knowing how to listen to God. The verse that I chose today is really something that I am striving for. I want to meditate on God's Word, to be still and listen. To me, meditating on God's Word involves more than just seeing the words on the page. It means to read them, to understand them, and then to stop and listen to what God is really saying to me through them. It means that, rather than just perusing a passage of Scripture and then talking to God and my day and my needs and my desires, I need to internalize the meaning and listen to what He is saying to me. It seems, though, that even when my lips are closed, my mind is still moving!

I have decided that this week, this will be my focus. In order to get the most out of my time with Him and really know how His Word applies to me, I am going to work on meditating on His Word and listening to Him, not just reading words and praying words.

So I'm trying something different this week—I'd like to make this blog a little more interactive! J I have two questions for you. First, can you help me to listen better? Do you have any tips for how to really stop and listen for God's voice? How to meditate on His Word and how to spend some prayer time listening? Second, as I focus this week on listening… what is your focus on? I would like to challenge you to choose one area and really wrestle with it this week—whether it is a general "method" of learning more about God, like mine, or if it is gaining a better understanding of a specific topic or passage, or even if it is turning over to Him a specific struggle in your life… What are you working on with God this week? Feel free to e-mail me if you would like to keep your answers to either of these questions private… but I would also love to have you post your answers, so that we can all encourage and be encouraged by each other. Pray for me, and I will pray for you. J

Have a blessed week.

PS - For more information on Lisa Harper, go to

Monday, April 21, 2008

Weekly Thoughts

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8:3-4

Hmmm… It's been two weeks since my last "Weekly Thoughts" post—or any kind of post, for that matter. It seems I'm a little behind.

This morning I got up and did my "quiet time" (I'm not big on that term, I don't know why.) for the first time in three or four days. I guess I got a little behind on that, too.

It's so easy to blow off our offenses against those we love. After all, they love us and will understand and forgive us, right? So if I'm not feeling well or I've had a bad day or I just don't have time to deal with my husband or my children or my parents or my friends or whoever it is right now, I can get away with treating them badly. I know that they will forgive me when I am back to "normal."

And every once in a while it hits me: it is a privilege—not a right— to have the love of these people, especially at times when I don't feel well or have had a bad day or whatever the circumstance may be. Those times when I am at my worst, I should love them even more for continuing to love me.

How much more does the Lord love me? And how much more do I offend Him when I just don't feel like showing Him my love in return? It is so easy to look at this little blog and think that it doesn't really matter… but it is the outpouring of my heart, the outlet that God has given me to praise Him and share Him with those who read it. It is so easy to wake up in the morning and think, "I don't have time to read my Bible this morning—but God will understand" or "I'm in a bad mood right now, I think I'll just wait until I feel better" or "I just don't feel like it." Yes, without a doubt, God will welcome me back with open arms later that day or the next morning or the day after that. But isn't that all the more reason to love Him and thank Him and praise Him right now?

Let me tell you something: God has one or two things on His plate that are a little more important than you or me. J When I look at who He is and who I am, I am so completely humbled that I would ever think that I am just too busy to spend time with Him. The ridiculousness of it just makes me blush. It is my privilege to have time with Him each day, not his privilege that I would take time to spend with Him.

Can you believe the God of the universe, the God of Abraham, the God who created all things, the God who is and was and always will be… that this God loves you individually and knows you individually and wants to spend time with you individually? Take time today to thank Him and praise Him and get to know Him a little better. And you know what? If you're feeling guilty because it's been a while since the last time or you're not feeling your best or you're having a bad day, He loves you anyway and will hold you that much tighter in His arms when you come to Him.

Have a blessed week.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Weekly thoughts

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children" –Ephesians 5:1

Don't you just love to listen to kids repeat all the things that they hear? Sometimes as parents it makes us smile—like when Grace (almost 3) asks me, "Mommy, did I tell you today how much I love you?" (Her daddy asks her that often.) And sometimes it is quite humbling—like the day I'd just had enough and swore in front of Grace AND our babysitter, and Grace felt the need to chime in and repeat what I'd said. Yikes! Fortunately, she hasn't used that word since; but she is much more likely to continuously repeat the things that she hears frequently. She is forever singing "Jesus Loves Me" (which we sing each night before bed), telling her brother, "Oh Buddy, you are just too cute", and of course, asking if I know how much she loves me. J Those, thankfully, are the kinds of things that she hears over and over. They get etched into her brain, and they get processed and repeated.

The same is true of us, isn't it? When I spend my time watching too much "CSI", I can find myself becoming desensitized to the fallen world around me. Listening to certain radio shows may make me gossipy and consumed with rather unimportant celebrity news—or worse, repeating those words and song lyrics I may not want my children to know.

But when I am listening to my Father, I start to sound and act more like Him. Reading God's Word teaches me more about who He is, and cements things that I already know. Listening to worship music puts His praises on my lips. Praying keeps Him on my heart and mind, so that serving Him becomes more natural in my everyday life. Studying about Him helps me to apply the Bible and my relationship with Christ to my life. And following Christ's example helps in turn to make me a good example to my children—and others around me.

"Be imitators of God…" We cannot imitate that which we do not know. I encourage you—as I encourage myself—to spend our time listening to the Father, so that we will make Him smile when we repeat after Him.