Happy Monday, friends!
Beth is so happy to have kicked off the 18th season of Living Proof LIVE this weekend in the Seattle suburb of Redmond! Thank you David Lowe for the recap.
Hi Siestas! It is such a joy to be able to talk to you! My name is Sherry McClure and I just love this community so very much. I live in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, and I work here at Living Proof Ministries. One of my responsibilities right now at LPM is to help moderate your comments and it brings me such delight. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life in that way. All of you have so much to offer and I love getting to know you through your comments here! I also have the joy of tending to many of you through Facebook and I love y’all so incredibly much.
A little bit about me: I have been here at LPM for just over 11 years and have had the opportunity to do many things here! I started working at LPM when I had only been married for 2 years and we didn’t have children at the time. As I have grown and changed, my responsibilities at LPM have changed as well. I have been married for 13 years to David and we have two boys –Sam (9) and Jacob (7). We have a lot of fun together, but life with boys is loud, fast, and sometimes messy. I also have the privilege of serving my home church in our women’s ministry. Life is full and fun! Some of the things that I enjoy most in this life are playing with my kids, being outside, shopping, cooking, and most of all, studying God’s word. His Word is the absolute thrill of my life. The Lord has recently breathed a new passion for His word into my soul and it is what I wake up for everyday…to see the Lord in His Word. He is the love of my life.
1 Samuel 12:24 (ESV)
“Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.”
This is one of the verses that the Lord has given me to focus on throughout the entire year. He broke it down for me like this:
Only fear the Lord: I am not to fear failure. I am not to fear what someone may think. I am not to fear the enemy. I am not to fear people I think are my enemies. I am not to fear things I imagine. I am not to fear man. My only fear should be of the Lord. There is safety in fearing Him.
Serve him faithfully: I am to be faithful in the ways that He has given me to serve. I am to work in excellence and do everything unto Him.
With all your heart: I am to give my all to the things that I am serving in. No settling for mediocrity. No half-accomplishing things. No “it’s fine.” No “this will do.” I am to give my whole heart.
Consider what great things He has done for you: I want to be living in a constant state of gratitude before the Lord. I want to be mindful that He rescued me from the dominion of darkness and transferred me to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13). He indeed has done great things for us!
So, my dear sisters, I pray that you will only fear the Lord. I pray that you will serve Him with all of your heart. I pray that you will remember the great things He has done for you. He is everything and I pray you experience Him through His word as it sinks into your souls!
I love you all so much,
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I believe in romance.
I believe in the love between a man and a woman.
I believe that love can be sustained for a lifetime.
I believe in falling back in love over and over.
I believe in making up.
I believe that good marriages are wed of soft hearts and hard heads: a tenderness to love and be loved and a tenacity too bone-headed to quit.
I believe that laughter lasts longer than sex.
I believe that many people marry people they do not love.
I believe that desperation gets confused with affection.
I believe that many couples divorce that could have made it.
I believe that God can resurrect hearts that are stone-cold dead and create love between a couple ex nihilo.
I believe that couples can put in their fifty years like a prison sentence with souls that have been divorced for decades. And that Jesus sees right through it.
I believe some fights are worth having.
I believe that laziness is the leading narcotic of romance.
I believe that neglect is a form of infidelity.
I believe in the power of repentance to jump start a dead heart.
I believe the most important synonym of the word love in a marriage is forgiveness. I believe in working it through, crying it through, even fighting it through, then I believe in putting it behind you. For keeps. Love resists the inundating urge to bring back up the old with every new offense.
I believe that getting godly counseling is an act of courage.
I believe in the immeasurable power of mutual respect.
I believe that cynicism about romance is as unhealthy as believing in fairy tales.
But I do not believe in teaching our little girls that their worth will be measured by the love of a man. Unless that man is Jesus.
I do not believe in staying silent in a culture that says girls are as valuable as they are desirable.
I do not believe it is helpful that our constant go-to compliment to a little girl is how pretty she is.
She is also smart. And strong. And thoughtful. And artistic. And creative. And well able.
I do not believe in perpetuating the myth of happily-ever-after in marriage. I believe in teaching our adolescents that we can have love-ever-after, devotion-ever-after, hope-ever-after, and faith-ever-after but only if we don’t faint-ever-after. We prepare soldiers for real war but leave young couples ill-prepared for real marriage. I don’t believe that realism has to remotely equal pessimism.
I do not believe in teaching our girls that men are gods or devils.
I do not believe in marrying a man who won’t date you.
I don’t believe in making love to a man who won’t kiss you.
For what any of this is worth.
One last thing in case you’re still reading.
I believe that great marriages are great but that a good marriage can also be good. Amid the blur of magazine headlines and blog articles about how to have a great romance, a great marriage, great sex, great kids, great families, great jobs, great relationships, and fabulously great futures with great impact, save a little room in your heart to believe that good can also be good.
Because life’s just not always great.
But, man, it can be good.
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Hey, you guys!
I can’t even put into words how you’ve flooded my mind as LifeWay and I commemorated the graciousness of our God in 20 years of Bible study partnership. Without you sitting on the other side of that page and that screen, the first study would have become a hideous purple and yellow dust collector at your neighborhood LifeWay Store and the second study wouldn’t exist. For every minute of those 20 years, God has used you to drive me to a blank word-document and type in the words Week One: Day One. Picturing us both – two women (you younger, older, married, single, Black or White, on your 1st study or 15th) trying to live this faith thing out in the harsh world – with an open Bible between us, studying, seeking, praying, page-turning, thinking, discussing, maybe not even always agreeing, laughing, and crying together with one preeminent goal: to love Jesus more when we closed the workbook than when we opened it – this is what God has used to keep me at it.
To share the Scriptures with you. To pursue Christ with you. To run the race with you. To hear Jesus speak through His Word with you. THAT has been ministry to me. I am a girl in the Scriptures who wants to see girls in the Scriptures. That’s it in a nutshell.
I have no vocabulary poetic enough, no font large enough, no volume loud enough to say thank you the way I want to convey it. My heart is nearly sore from all the emotion that I have felt in the last several days as I have glanced back over my shoulder with my beloved man, my two daughters, my son-in-law, and my ridiculously adorable grandchildren. God’s grace has been poured out in scandalous proportions to me because of the cross of Christ. God got us through. And He is getting us through. And He will continue to get us through.
I got on here to show you something else which I’ll get to in just a moment but bringing up my grandchildren makes me think of the picture that Amanda clicked of the kids and me when we were all leaving the hotel for the LifeWay Bible study team celebration dinner Tuesday night.
Come on, now. Jackson was so handsome in his suit that I could hardly stand it and don’t get me started on Annabeth and her purse that her Aunt Melissa gave her for Christmas. Y’all please forgive my hair. I’d already anticipated that the team was going to have terribly embarrassing pictures of 20 years of my huge hair at the celebration dinner and, lo and behold, if it was not as big that night as it had ever been. Poetic justice.
But here’s what I’m trying to tell you about. At the LifeWay chapel service on Wednesday morning, Dr. Thom Rainer (LifeWay president) took a drape off of a breathtakingly beautiful picture (so much prettier than it appears from a distance)…
…then told the audience and me the story behind it. The creative image is comprised of bits and pieces of all the covers of the Bible studies throughout the 20 years plus some cuttings from various pages within the workbooks. I was floored. It will hang in my home for the rest of my days as one of the dearest keepsakes I own. To this former pit-dweller, it is fluid grace stuffed into a frame.
Which brings me to the catalyst for this post. At lunch today I told my staff about the picture and showed them some photographs of it on my cell phone so that they could grasp the idea. They’ll see it in a few days when it arrives but I knew they’d love hearing the backstory Dr. Rainer told the audience. My staff here at LPM also knows that the gift was even more significant and fitting because, throughout the years, I’ve hung a picture in my office to represent each of the studies. For instance, this depiction of Moses hangs on my wall to represent the tabernacle study, A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place.
And this one depicting Peter and John running to the empty tomb represents Beloved Disciple.
This one of Daniel in the lion’s den is one of my very favorites.
You get the idea. So, nothing on earth LifeWay could have given me to represent 20 years of Bible study partnership would have thrilled me more completely than a gorgeous conglomeration of them all.
I got back from lunch and walked into my office and pushed the button on my new coffee maker. While I waited impatiently for it to fill up the cup, I checked Twitter. I could not believe it when I saw that the place of business LifeWay commissioned to create the picture had tweeted me with a link to a blog post about how they did it. I read it, slack-jawed.
Some of you are so creative that I thought you’d get a charge out of seeing how it was done. They took great pictures of the process and you’ll also see the end result. If you like this kind of thing, here is the link.
I could write for hours, telling you how much it meant to me to commemorate these 20 years with my beloved family. They’ve given so much to it. The grace God has shown me through Keith, Amanda, and Melissa for 30 years of ministry and 20 years of publishing is staggering. My heart has been wrecked with love and gratefulness to them in these days of looking back. Rich, our LPL photographer, was there this week at the celebration and, as soon as I get some pictures from him, I’ll do a picture post instead of overloading you with words. I’m trying to accept that most people don’t read long blog posts anymore.
I love you guys. The honor of having served you and presently serving you is a privilege that I can hardly wrap my mind around. I do not take it for granted. You are noticed here and loved here. I’ll be in touch soon. AND, we have our SSMT post coming up in just a few days!
Hold tight to Jesus, Girls. He is everything.
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Dear Dr. Rainer, Trustees, Employees, and retired LifeWay President, Dr. Jimmy Draper,
Today I will board a plane, God willing, with my dearest loves – my husband of 36 years, our two adult daughters, our son-in-law, and our two grandchildren – to head to Nashville to commemorate and celebrate God’s inconceivable kindness to us in 20 years of Bible studies with you. I will have the chance to express some of my heart to you face-to-face while I am there but I’m unsure of being able to convey all I’d like to say without crying. And what if it spun into serious tears which, while sweet and sentimental, can prove to be embarrassing and awkward in a public address? And what if, on the way home, I had to get furious with myself for not being able to say what I’d flown to Nashville to say? Thus, with your patience, this letter.
Exactly 20 years ago, my husband, Keith, made a few phone calls behind my back to find out when the very first Bible study – A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place - would be placed on a shelf at one of your stores in Houston. I was too green a new author to even ask you guys about a release date. I had no idea how the whole thing worked or, for crying out loud, if it would work at all. Keith, however, has never been one for holding back questions. He took me out to dinner without saying a single word about the Bible study then told me that he needed to run an errand on the way home. He pulled up in front of the store, opened my car door, took me by the hand, and walked me into the store. He marched me down an aisle like he knew just where he was going then stood me right in front of the ugliest cover I would ever love.
And we both cried.
As you who were around at that time know, there were never any promises from your side or expectations from ours about a second Bible study or, with the second, a third.
What began as a publishing relationship turned headlong and heart-long into a ministry partnership.
We who have worked together on the curriculum team have marveled over and over again that God would risk anything at all on such a flawed concoction of people. Early on we came to the conclusion that God either has a lot of grace or very poor taste.
His grace was not in vain. I want to boast in Christ for the caliber of people that I’ve had the privilege to labor alongside at LifeWay for 20 years. From Day 1 to this day, every single man and woman I’ve gotten to know (young, old, or middle aged, from customer care to graphic design to editorial to management and so on) has had a heart to love and serve Jesus Christ and an authentic desire to see people come to faith and be discipled in God’s Word.
Every person. Without exception. I mention it because I just don’t think that’s normal. I think that’s the Holy Spirit.
Every single time I had a conference call to run a concept for a new study past the discipleship team, it wrapped up in earnest prayer, placing it before God, asking Him to do with it what He would. Never did you enter into it lightly. Never did you pressure me to write on a particular concept. You always gave me the room to seek God for what He’d stir in my heart in the pages of Scripture for the next Bible study.
20 years is more than enough time to get cynical, to lose respect, and to shift into automatic and just shell out material that doesn’t have an ounce of the Holy Spirit on it.
Because of the unfathomable grace and sustaining power of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, I will board that plane today free of cynicism and full of respect for you. I don’t have a sick feeling in my stomach like I sold my soul to the devil or have been a part of playing people or putting on a big act.
I have had the privilege to do the one thing on earth I feel most called to do.
And I’ve had the privilege to do that one thing with you.
That’s what I’m writing this open letter to say.
Thank you so much for your patience with me through 20 years of growing and changing and going through all sorts of highs and lows and crises and losses and some excruciating learning experiences. Thank you for dealing with the drama. Thank you for standing with me, believing God with me, dreaming with me, serving with me, and for fighting for me. 20 years is time enough to see someone at her best and her worst. We are long past the point where we don’t really know each other. And here we are. Still together. We didn’t have to always see everything the same way for me to be so deeply thankful we’d seen it together. I would not trade a minute of it.
A dyed in the wool sanguine, God used another little element to make this thing work for 20 years. I have laughed my head off with some of you. You’ve got some men and women on your payroll that are among my favorite people on the planet. I have been to the other side of the world and back numerous times with a merry band of your employees, made enough memories for 10 lifetimes, and laughed till I cried. I have eaten pizza on the Mount of Olives with them and walked with them through a foot of sheep manure in fields outside of Bethlehem. The privilege of working with people that you just flat-out like is no small thing and it is not wasted on me.
I could write for hours and still not convey all that is stirring in my heart toward you but just this one time, I’m going to accept what my editor has tried to tell me for years: Beth, less is more.
So I will end with this and then bid us onward to the future:
Today I set this stack before our glorious and faithful God in His honor alone as a stone of remembrance. As an occasion to look back over our collective shoulders, reflect and say our God has been so gracious to us. For He alone can establish the work of human hands. May this makeshift stone of remembrance made of pages and ink serve as living proof to somebody reading today that, if He could be willing to use someone like me, He is willing to use absolutely anyone.
With so much love for all of you at LifeWay, for those recently retired, and for an unstoppable visionary in a wheelchair who now stands strong and complete in the presence of Jesus,
Jesus, You and I alone know the miracle You have accomplished. We alone know the depths from which You pulled me. Your boundless grace saved me, not just from the enemy, but from myself. The patience with which You have taught me, disciplined me, helped me, refocused me, restored me, redirected me and constantly revived me is astonishing. You just don’t give up on Your own, do You? You, Jesus, are my Prince. You are the single greatest joy of my life. Thank You for the cross.
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I had an altogether different agenda for work this afternoon with no plans to blog but the Holy Spirit is stirring something in me with such force that I don’t want to resist it.
The word setting fire to my heart this moment is Colossians 4:2 –
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Nothing is going to sound new or fresh in what I’m about to say because we’ve all heard it over and over again but sometimes it’s a timing thing. In other words, we’ve heard something a million times but all the sudden, with explanations known to God alone, the thing clicks and the breakthrough comes.
WE’VE GOT TO PRAY.
WE’VE GOT TO BECOME PEOPLE OF PRAYER.
WE’VE GOT TO PRESS IN MUCH FURTHER AND BELIEVE GOD TO BE MUCH BIGGER.
WE’VE GOT TO CEASE LETTING PRAYER BE OUR WEAKEST SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE.
WE’VE GOT TO STEP IT UP AND WIELD THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT IN RELENTLESS INTERCESSION.
WE’VE GOT TO GO FURTHER THAN WE’VE GONE BEFORE IN PRAYER. PRESS HARDER. THINK HIGHER. DIG OUR KNEES IN DEEPER.
WE WILL NOT LIVE BOLDER THAN WE PRAY.
THERE ARE PARTS OF OUR CALLINGS, WORKS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND DEFEATS OF THE DARKNESS THAT WILL COME NO OTHER WAY THAN FURIOUS, FERVENT, FAITH-FILLED, UNCEASING PRAYER.
It’s time we quit falling asleep in prayer. It’s time we quit practicing a prayer routine that bores us to tears. It’s time our quiet times ceased to be quiet. There are battles to be won. Works to be done. The kinds which only come through prayer, prayer, and more prayer.
It’s time we quit depending on someone else to do it for us.
It’s time for each of us to see in the mirror one of the most powerful people of prayer we may ever meet.
It’s time we prayed like we believed the risen Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, was right in our very presence. Because He is.
This is what Colossians 4:2 says:
Continue steadfastly in prayer.
Don’t give up several days in. Don’t get all whiny. Don’t get all offended because God doesn’t appear to answer right away. Persevere. Keep praying. Keep believing. There are muscles God means to strengthen. It’s about the means as much as the end. Did God clearly promise in His Word what you are asking for? Then do not shrink back. Or is there a precedent in Scripture for what you’re asking in prayer? Then keep telling Him what it is, asking Him if He’d be glorified in granting your request and, if not, to remove or quiet your desire.
Persist. That’s what Luke 11:5-10 and 18:1-8 are all about.
We are warriors. Victors. More than overcomers. Bloody and bruised, we still get back up. Lip busted, we open back up our mouths – this time the louder – and call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised and so shall we be saved from our enemies. (Psalm 18:3)
Being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
This is key. We’ve got to keep our eyes wide open. We can close our eyes during prayer if we need to but then, for crying out loud, let’s get those things open and let God see the whites of our eyes, ready and watchful. Let’s expect something, for Heaven’s sake. Jesus promised us in John 5:17 that God is always at work. When we get a glimpse of His activity or the slightest hint of answered prayer, let’s thank Him for it right then and there. For instance, have you been praying for someone dear to you to be set free from an area of tremendous bondage? While you wait for the huge breakthrough, can you see any glimpses that God is at work? Then thank Him for it. Applaud Him. Like Elijah who knew it was going to rain the moment he saw a cloud the size of a man’s fist, believe with all your heart that He who began a good work WILL be faithful to complete it.
We can be so preoccupied looking to the horizon for the huge thing that we miss the glorious mosaic of a hundred scattered pieces of answered prayer right at our feet. God is rarely up to only one thing. Our nature is to look for the big finish. His is to call us into constant and daily communion, working through every circumstance, tweaking and turning and tying and telling. He’s teaching our tongues the art of tasting in a world trained to binge.
We’re looking for the string of pearls. He’s planting one pearl here. Another pearl there. The full stretch of our lifetime is the string. We won’t see how those jewels all came together on the one strand until we study them under the light of His glorious presence. In the meantime, let’s ask God to make us alert and give us eyes to see where He’s working on the way to the divine achievement we’re longing for. And let’s respond with hearts full of gratitude and mouths full of praise.
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
The Apostle Paul’s next words represent a concept that is crucial to the well-being of our souls. Colossians 4:3 –
At the same time, pray also for us…
At the same time we are praying and watching and waiting, we will be vastly helped and blessed and connected by praying fervently for other people. Intercession for others becomes a guard against the narcissism of this present culture seeping right through the screen door of our prayer closets. A stunning number of Christians don’t believe in praying for themselves at all. Others have global vision the length of their noses and don’t believe in praying for anyone besides themselves. The counsel of the Scriptures is to pray for others and to pray for ourselves.
But, for the love of God, PRAY.
There is no other way.
We’ve got to wake up and pray.
In Jesus’ Name.
Like those who believe He hears.
Satan wants you to quit praying. He wants you to believe God isn’t paying one whit of attention to you. That He’s moved on without you. That you don’t matter. There’s only one thing to do with that. Pray twice as much. With twice the faith. And a thousand times the thanks.
Get up and pray.
We’ve got one shot at this earthly life. Good Lord, let’s make it count.
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Hey, you Scripture memory fiends! I am so proud of you guys for keeping your numbers up with your second verses! There can be a really big drop out between the hype surrounding the first verse and the discipline that starts kicking in with the second verse. Stay at it, you guys. Not one of you will be sorry you did. No one is going to get to the finish line next December 15th and say it wasn’t worth the work. God is far more faithful than that. He rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6) and diligently uses His Word to equip us in our callings (2 Timothy 3:16-17). He uses His Word to make us wiser, more aware of His will, more fortified against temptation, and more alive in His Spirit. He uses His Word to make us less gullible when our hearts are trying to deceive us, when someone we love is trying to mislead us or when Satan himself is trying to seduce us. Be encouraged. Not one ounce of your effort is wasted.
Here is the biggest key to accomplishing this task: throughout the entire process, continually ask God to enable you to memorize. In John 14:26, Christ tells His followers that the Holy Spirit is the one who will “bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Proactively taking Him up on this assurance has been strategic through the years I’ve memorized Scripture. Over and over I convey to God that I know only He can empower those inspired words on the page to find a permanent place in my memory and a home in the marrow of my bones. I call upon His Spirit in Jesus’ Name to stir up those verses in me and remind me of every word and phrase.
When you’re able to say your verse with any accuracy at all, start thanking Him. Do it right then. Completely engage in the relational side of your memory work. That will be by far the biggest success in this endeavor. God is after your heart, not just your mind. He’s not just looking for your discipline. He wants to be your desire. His aim is relationship. Ask Him to help you then thank Him when He does it. When you’re working on a beautiful verse, tell Him you think it’s beautiful. When you keep stumbling over one particular word, ask Him right then to help you get that phrase straight. His Word is God speaking to you so speak back. Use it as an invitation to dialogue. Is the verse really hard? Say to Him, “This verse is killing me here, Lord. I can’t seem to get it. Grant it to me. Help me with it.” Get what I’m saying? This way He gets all the glory in every success and we get immeasurable gain.
This I promise you: God’s objective for you and me in 2015 is not for us to memorize 24 verses. It’s for us to draw nearer and nearer to Him, love Him more, know Him more, trust Him more, and believe Him more. To let His Word go down deep where He wants it. To invite it fervently and proactively to abide in us and bring vivacious life to us. To meditate on His words and to prize them more than our daily bread. Job said it this way: “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my portion of food.” (Job 23:12b) That’s what these 24 verses are about. So, let’s engage with Jesus throughout the entire process. THAT, at the end of our journey, is what will determine our success.
I think I just changed my mind on what I want to present you for my 3rd verse. I am doing memory work out of the Book of Ephesians right now but I don’t happen to be on a verse that stands alone in a comprehensive enough way to offer it to someone to share. Mentioning Job in the previous paragraph stirred up in my memory how much I love that 23rd chapter. Savor the gorgeousness of verses 8-12. (ESV)
8 “Behold, I go forward, but He is not there,
and backward, but I do not perceive Him;
9 on the left hand when He is working, I do not behold Him;
He turns to the right hand, but I do not see Him.
10 But He knows the way that I take;
when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
11 My foot has held fast to his steps;
I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
12 I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
Translation of verses 8-10??? I may not know where God is right now in my situation but of this I’m sure: He knows where I am. Isn’t that powerful? Then, behold the faith and steadfastness of Job in that 10th verse: because God is at work and is at the helm, “I will come forth as gold” (NIV). (If you get a chance, glance at how perfectly that concept corresponds with 1 Peter 1:7.) I believe Job 23:10 is the exact verse I want to choose this time around and I think I’ll use the NIV. So here goes:
Beth Moore, Houston, Texas. But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Job 23:10 NIV
Hit it, Girls.
So honored to study and memorize Scripture with you. Much, much love to you.
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Hey, Girls! Just a little something fun to get you flipping through your Bibles if you like this kind of thing! You can also check different Bible-search websites like Bible Gateway to do key word searches. Below you will find 10 questions. Answer each question in your own words AND, below it, write out the entire Bible verse where you found the answer. Needless to say, don’t read any of the comments before you search for your answers! Tickled. It would be a little unseemly to cheat at our Bible study game. Have fun!!!!
1. What king in the Old Testament saw the fingers of a human hand suddenly appear and inscribe to him a message on the wall? What were the four words written on the wall?
2. Who were Uz and Buz?
3. Who in Scripture uses the metaphor of daughters compared to pillars in a palace? What metaphor is used for sons?
4. What did Zechariah, the husband of Elizabeth, write on a tablet and what happened after he wrote it?
5. What verse talks about God’s “everlasting arms” and what is He called in the verse?
6. What extraordinary thing happened on the island of Malta in the New Testament?
7. In the same set of Scriptures you used for #6, what two erroneous assumptions did the islanders make about the Apostle Paul? (Hint: you’ll see that they changed their minds about their first conclusion.)
8. What Old Testament prophet was picked up by a lock of his hair and where was he suspended?
9. What was the context surrounding the man who testified to Jesus that he saw people who looked like trees walking around?
10. What interesting piece of relational information is tucked into a new Testament verse about the mother of a believer named Rufus?
Thanks for playing! I love stuff like this. But, of course, I realize not everybody does. I love you whether you do or not. Talk to you soon! It’s almost time for SSMT Verse 3!
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I am about to do something I have loved like crazy on other blogs but never done on this one. I am about to take you on a house tour. More importantly, I’m about to introduce you to one of my favorite people on the planet and a hero of the faith in every sense of the word. I met Janice Meyer about 10 years ago when I was on Life Today with James and Betty Robison for the first time. She has worked for them for 30 years and, when she’s not globetrotting for their missions’ ministry, she floor directs on the set during tapings. I liked her immediately because she was warm-hearted and a ton of fun and we shared a connection through several of the Bible studies she had done. Then, through all the years of serving with James and Betty, we truly became good friends and faith-sisters. You bond with the person who stands guard over you in the bush in Africa while you try to talk yourself into being able to tinkle under a tree in a part of Angola where old land mines are believed to still be buried. That was a lot of words in one sentence but it was about as succinctly as I could put it.
Here she is, so you can picture her before I escort you through the front door of her house:
Janice is the international photographer for Life Today. (James and Betty’s whole ministry is called Life Outreach International but, to keep from confusing you, I’ll stick with the name of their television broadcast because that’s what will be most familiar to you.) She has been to 64 countries on behalf of their ministry and not to sight see. Two things drive her all over the globe: desperate need and full-on crisis. Because pictures say so much more than words, she goes to the most horrid conditions you can imagine so that viewers don’t have to take their word for it when they say that people are suffering terribly on this planet and, jointly, we can help.
Here’s the deal about Janice and one reason I want to introduce her to you. She has seen more suffering with her own eyes – more starvation, malnutrition, life-threatening thirst, sex trafficking, oppression, and corruption – than any person I have ever known in my life. And she has as much joy and delight and hope and faith and unwavering belief in the Scriptures as anyone you will ever encounter. At times, I don’t know how she does it. The grace of God splashing over her is the only explanation because she has never grown hard-hearted and desensitized. She doesn’t endure it because she’s gotten used to it. There is no getting used to what Janice sees. She endures it because she is called by God to do it. She compiled this book from the multitude of pictures she’s taken around the world and laced them with her very moving commentary. This sits in my den. (If you are interested in knowing more about this book, see janicemeyer.net.)
Here are two reasons why you who are active in this community can feel a particular connection to Janice. She’s an active reader on our blog and she participates in our Scripture memory team. In fact, when I was there last weekend, this was one of the first things I got to see.
I stay with Janice when I am in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for a Life Today taping. No hotel on earth I’d rather stay in. She has a tiny little guest house out in her backyard and one thing I particularly love about being there is the good company that comes to my door. She is one of the few people I know as obsessed with dogs as I am. That Golden’s name is Traveller. I have known him fur a long time.
OK!!!!!!!!!!! Now, on to the house tour! I’m taking you to some spots around her house because she is so incredibly creative you are not going to believe it. And I might add, she accomplishes every bit of this on a very tight budget. This is a small, modest home and just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Here are a few highlights:
Surely you can tell but, just in case you can’t, it is suspended from the ceiling. This Vespa was completely rusted and leaning up against the side of a building when she found it. She sanded it down and put paint on it, fixed his lights and named him Rusty.
This tractor grille came from a farm equipment junkyard she could not pass up in Colorado. Who does this???
This is an old ski lift from Snowmass.
This wall was made from a stack of throw-away wood she happened on. She painted, cut, and arranged all the pieces herself.
These are the drawers in her bedroom. Yep. A chicken coop.
This is the bedroom in the tiny guest house. Please enlarge this picture and see that she hangs a chalkboard over the bed so that she can write welcome messages to her guests, complete with pictures of their loved ones she’s printed out. Unbelievable. I have never known anyone – on ANY budget – with more hospitality.
And lastly, a picture of Janice and me. Well. A close rendering. It really was taken at my house in the country. I so hope you guys enjoyed this! Now since I’m solo on the blog, I may be throwing all sorts of random posts at you. Every single one of them will come your way with a ton of love. Be encouraged today, my dear sisters! There are a whole lot of us out there who love Jesus! And we’re blood kin. Know this day and then again tomorrow that you are not cast out into these cultural elements alone. We have mighty good company among us. Janice included.Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
“I’m starting my very first Bible study.” It doesn’t matter to me if it’s one of Priscilla Shirer’s, Kelly Minter’s, Jennie Allen’s, Kay Arthur’s, or any other Bible study author’s series. It moves me every time I hear it because nothing has brought me more fascination
and PURE GOD-BELIEVING FAITH than the Spirit of God stirring up my heart and mind through the pages of Scripture. I have had such a blast with Him there, ruined for less than a lifetime spent with Him in those glorious phrases. When I hear that somebody is just beginning to journey with Christ through a cracked-open Bible, my heart skips a beat and my memory stirs up a whirlwind. I remember my first in-depth journey so well and how a light came on in my soul and how I could hardly stand to shut my Bible at the end of the day or wait to open it the next morning. I’d put my kids on the school bus in the morning and dart back inside and pull out my Bible and the notes I’d taken the day before. I’d somehow stumbled across this thing called a “tabernacle” in the pages of Exodus during my Scripture reading one day and I could not get enough. I read and read, flipping back and forth from the Old Testament to the New. I bought my first Strong’s Concordance and looked up every place I could find the word “tabernacle.” That was all I knew to do but it was enough. Then I started getting commentaries and reading books theologians had written on it. When that journey was over, I fell into honest-to-goodness despair because I was certain I’d never experience anything like that again. I was wrong. Praise God.
“I just finished the last page of _____________________ Bible study.” (Often I’ll get a picture of that final page, complete with their own handwritten answers to questions on it. And don’t think I don’t enlarge them and read them either. I don’t have this nose because I’m not nosy.)
Listen, to finish an in-depth Bible study series is no small accomplishment in this increasingly attention-deficit culture. For people (like me!) who are becoming conditioned to sound bites and a sum total of 140 characters, getting through a Bible study course that demands anywhere from 6-10 weeks of 4-5 hours of homework a week is titanic. You are already an exception to the cultural rule by the time you finish the third week. Somebody needs to tell you what a stud you are for finishing one. So, today, I’m volunteering. You’re a stud.
“I’m doing Breaking Free.” I don’t care who it is, those words get to me every time. That series nearly killed me to write – the warfare was hellacious – but the study also means the most to me personally. I’ll tell you when those words get to me most: when they’re coming from a young woman – college age – who has not yet walked down the aisle with a man carrying more baggage than a 10-armed bellhop. It’s NEVER too late to find liberty in Christ. Never! I don’t care if you’ve been married half a dozen times or you’re on the cusp of your eighty-fourth birthday. But facing and dealing with some bondage prior to decisions that change a whole life-trajectory is less painful by a long shot. Of course, we’ve got to do more than finish a study. We’ve got to actually enter into full fellowship with Christ in those pages and receive His words down into our bones as doers of the Word and not hearers only. In the words of James, “humbly welcome the message implanted within you, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21 The NET)
“God got me through cancer treatment with His Word.” I have no greater respect for a sister in Bible study than the one who sticks to it and keeps her face to the page and her heart open to the heavens when her prayers have been answered differently than she hoped and no one would blame her if she shut her Bible. Nothing has moved me more through the years than hearing from a small Bible study group that one of their own who was battling terminal cancer literally studied the Word of God until she could no longer hold her eyes open and God carried her Home. They’ll often send me pictures of her and tell me how they miss her and how she challenged them to be faithful to the very last breath. Flabbergasts me every time and makes me hope and pray to be faithful under such strain and able to say with that sister, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
“I caught the Bible study bug. I’ll study the Scriptures for the rest of my life.” That’s it right there. It doesn’t get better than that. No book is like the Bible because no other book is gorgeously laced with living, breathing words of God. I love Christ’s claim in John 6:63 – “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you — they are full of the Spirit and life.” A lifetime is not long enough to get to the bottom of the immense, unimaginable riches that can be found in Christ “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3) You’ll just never waste a second in the Scriptures. That’s the long and short of it.
“I’m teaching my first Bible study class.” To see God raise up young teachers is one of the greatest highs of my entire life. To see them study hard and start practicing the disciplines that Bible teaching demands and not just seeking a platform is incredibly thrilling to me. There is no short cut to it. Teaching still takes the same kinds of things it took in the first century: spiritual gifting, perseverance, diligent study, the work of the Holy Spirit, profuse prayer and enough people skills for people to be able to stand us. And, on top of that, it subjects us to stricter judgment just like James 3:1 says but, if we’re called, we’ve got to get out there and do it anyway and receive the difficulties as discipline. A fiery passion alone cannot sustain us. We must also have obedience and follow-through and the capacity to get back up especially after we’ve been harshly criticized. And we will be. That’s part of the growing process. That’s part of God testing our mettle. Proving us genuine.
My man needs me so I’m going to have to close. I’ve rambled enough anyway. I meant for this to be about a paragraph long but, of course, y’all know me. That’ll be the day. All this came from one little tweet I got today from a woman who said she’d just finished a Bible study. And I thought to myself,
I never get over hearing that.
Good grief, I love y’all so much. Stay in the Scriptures.
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