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An Open Letter to LifeWay

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.

A Woman's Heart

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.

Thank 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.

Bible studies

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,

Beth

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In 2002 with Lee and Myrna Sizemore

 

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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It’s Prayer. That’s the thing.

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.

Here goes:

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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Just for Fun! A Quick Bible Game

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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One of Your Very Creative, Valiant and Delightful Sisters in the Faith…and Her House

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:

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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???

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This is an old ski lift from Snowmass.

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This wall was made from a stack of throw-away wood she happened on. She painted, cut, and arranged all the pieces herself.

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This piece may be my very favorite. She also found this in a farm-equipment junkyard and turned it into a table that sits between her couch and a chair in her den. Come on now.photojanice9.JPG

These are the drawers in her bedroom. Yep. A chicken coop.

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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.

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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.

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A Few Bible Study-Related Things I Never Get Over Hearing

“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 freedom

and wonder

and awe

and joy

and delight

and correction

and direction

and transformation

and liberation

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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Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2015: Verse 2!

Hey, everybody! You are in the exact right place to submit your Verse 2!

This is such a fun first for SSMT! Remember in the SSMT informational post when I told that, while I’ll still be doing all the SSMT posts on the 1st of every month, the one on every 15th would be written by various sisters in our blog community? Welcome to the first one! It took me about 5 seconds to decide who we should ask to kick off our SSMT guest posts. My beloved friend, Jan Morton, has been an active member of this community from its inception. I fell in love with her by watching her interact with countless women in the comment line, ministering to them and encouraging them and mothering them and making them laugh. And through that connection, we became personal friends. Our SSMT guest bloggers throughout 2015 will be from various age groups but this one happens to be right at my age and in a very similar season in her personal life and serving life. Those of you who have been around a while know that Jan Morton became so dearly loved in this community that we early on named her the “Mayor of Siestaville.” So, without further hesitation, please grant me the honor of introducing you to one of the mightiest women in the faith that I know. Jan, we are so honored to have you host us today! Thank you for investing in us!

 

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Happy 2015 Siestas! This is such a privilege for me to share with our SSMT. I adore this community! My name is Jan Morton. I’m a pastor’s wife from Georgia. [I am also “GJ” for Gran Jan/Georgia Jan.] I’ve been married to my husband Gary for 37 years. Only 20 years old when we got married¸ we were way too young but who knew? ☺ We have two grown married sons, two sweet daughters-in-love, and 5 delightful grandchildren ages 6, 4 ½ , 4 ½, 2 ½, and 17 months – Gran Jan’s JOY! I love gardening, singing in choir/praise team, reading, quilting, and serving in the women’s ministry of my church. I work in our local school system (26 years now) as the Administrative Assistant to our Superintendent. A new ministry I’m involved in at my church is called Taste & See, a mentoring, encouragement time for women. Cooking and conversation! We get in the kitchen and wonderful things happen. Isn’t the kitchen a great place to gather? It is at the Morton home!

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.” ESV

The word says: For everything [it says everything], there is a season and a time for every matter/purpose/activity under heaven. Everything – the entirety of; a great deal, especially of something very important, EVERYTHING!

God has been drawing me to the theme of seasons, and that is what I want to share with you today. All of life relates to seasons. The beauty found in the four seasons of a calendar year to the seasons of our lives. I’m in the season of life known as the empty nest. Just me and my man like when we had “only just begun.” I’m loving this season, especially being a grandmother. Looking back as a 57 year old woman can do…I can truthfully say I’ve learned in every season of my life. I pray to grow old gracefully and stay relevant and young at heart.

What is your season of womanhood right now? Are you in SPRING – a young woman in school or just beginning a career or education or newly married? How about SUMMER – in the “zone” raising children or building a career or marriage? Maybe you’re in AUTUMN – children grown, and you may be looking toward retirement? Or perhaps you find yourself in WINTER – your senior years as a woman, perhaps a widow, reflecting on past seasons and all that God has brought you through.

WHEREVER YOU ARE, BE ALL THERE. This is what God is showing me because in the busyness of life I can easily lose focus. Don’t be longing for another season and miss what’s going on around you now. This deception is one of the biggest lies of the enemy of our souls; the distraction and discontentment with where we are today. Embrace your season: SEASON – SAVOR EVERY AVAILABLE SENT OPPORTUNITY NOW! Some are more enjoyable than others, sure they are! Just as changes in seasons bring mosquitoes in summer or storms in winter, there are extremes in our lives. Some of you empty nesters may suddenly find yourself caring for both your grandchildren and aging parents. Some of you young women may be longing for marriage. Some of you stay at home moms or single moms may have to go into the workforce for a season to pay the bills. If our entire lives were one continuous season we wouldn’t have the changes we desperately need to help us grow. As much as I love to garden, if every day were spring or summer, I wouldn’t have autumn to harvest, or winter to dream and plan.

This old gal has learned some things in 57 years of seasons:
• Our constant, never-changing, faithful Lord Jesus is with us in every SEASON, in everything.
• Sometimes seasons overlap – in fact, several might descend on you at once. Sometimes joy and sorrow meet in a season.
• You may think springtime has come, but unseasonal cold snaps may occur and you better be ready. Memorizing God’s Word is a lifeline.
• Ask God to give you a strong focus in your season today and receive it as the gift it is, embracing the wonder. God will provide your daily bread.

“Which is the happiest season of life?” was asked of an older woman. She replied: “When spring comes, and the flower buds are breaking through I think, ‘How beautiful is spring.’ And then when summer comes and covers the trees with heavy foliage and singing birds are among the branches, I think, ‘How beautiful is summer.’ When autumn arrives with golden fruit, and the leaves bear the gorgeous colors, I think, ‘How beautiful is autumn.’ And then comes winter, and there is neither foliage nor fruit, and I look up through the leafless branches as I never could until now, and see the stars shining in God’s home.

Embrace whatever season you are in now. RIGHT NOW. Don’t long for another season. I know the days may be long, but at my age, the years seem so short. So wherever you are, be all there. Because of Jesus, one day we will be “SEASONED TO PERFECTION” and live with Christ for eternity. Let’s get there one day at a time and savor our seasons as God wills. Because He has made everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

____________

 

OK, ladies! It’s me, Beth, again. Submit your second verses! Remember to limit your comments to these 5 pieces of information:

Name, city, verse, reference (where it is found) and translation. 

Here’s mine! 

Beth Moore, Houston, Texas. In Him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21-22 ESV

I love you guys!

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It’s Hunting Season for Heretics

Not long ago I saw something on social media that had a particularly troubling effect on me as a fellow follower of Jesus. Of course, we see deeply disturbing things on social media everyday. Things that trouble us not only as Christians but, for crying out loud, as fellow humans. Things much more troubling than what I’m about to share with you today. I may comment on those things and cry out to God about those things but I’d less likely write a blog post about them. Other voices are more qualified. My concerns and the kinds of things I write about are more inclined toward matters involving the community of believers in Christ. I love the community of faith so much. Called to discipleship, it is the focus of my life passion and has been for thirty years. I only have one small desk from which to watch our world so I miss a lot but, among the things in my eyeshot, I see so much cause for praise. So much good. I see stirrings of revival. Outbreaks of evangelism. Demands for justice. I don’t know how anybody truly awake in the believing world could claim that nothing good is happening in Christianity.

 

But the reason I’m writing today is that I’m seeing a burgeoning trend out there that is toxic, dangerous, and slanderous. Nothing about it carries the scent of Christ.

 

It’s a witch hunt. Only, instead of witches, it’s heretics and false teachers.

 

I’ve been watching the witch hunt for several years and seen the usual targets and been one of the usual targets. The lists are growing by leaps and bounds and list-makers are proudly joining ranks. This is part of our brave, new world. And everybody’s game, especially anybody vaguely outspoken. An addition was made to the list here recently that was so absurd that it would have been laughable had it not said so much about where this whole trend is heading.

 

I’ll leave out the names of other targets and speak firsthand from my own experience. After all, the thing that troubled me on social media recently was personal. It was an attack not made behind my back. It was said where I would see it.

 

The tweet referred to me on my feed as “false teacher @BethMooreLPM.”

 

Nothing was new about seeing that. I also regularly get called a heretic.

 

 

As unpleasant and bewildering as it is, that’s not the part that particularly disturbed me. The part that got me is that it came from 22 year-old young woman.

 

Twenty-two.

 

Maybe she started young and really had done enough of the Bibles studies or read enough of the books to support a doctrinal evaluation like that.

 

What is more likely is that she believes it because it’s what she’s heard from someone she respects.

 

Or maybe she’s seen evidence with her own eyes through segments of video-teaching taken out of their original context and strung together in such a way to suggest a representation of an entire thrust of ministry.

 

I don’t know exactly how she came up so confidently with that label so early in her adult Christian life but somehow she did.

 

The tweet didn’t make me mad. It made me sad. I wanted to ground her and give her a homework assignment. Lest you go looking for her, I deleted the comment from my feed when I knew I was going to write this post. We’re not going to respond to unkindness with more unkindness. That’s not God’s way. Anyway, the odd thing of it is, I loved her immediately. My calling is discipleship and my focus is women. I want women plugged into churches. I want them continually sitting under pastors, shepherds, and teachers. I love to hear that women are studying in group environments but I also want them to study for themselves. Not just get spoon-fed what to think and not only about the Scriptures and the local church but also about the larger community of faith and those who serve within it. About the responsible use of voice. About what qualifies as a heretic. About mutual respect for their own brothers and sisters in Christ. About fair evaluations. Due diligence.

 

 

I’m still very much on my journey, too. Such a long shot from arriving. I’ve woefully regretted things I’ve said and some things I’ve taught. All of us are on a learning curve in this culture entrusted to our care. But, as we learn and as we operate in these public forums where everybody has a voice, come, let us reason together.

 

There is a mighty wide pond between “I line up with him/her” and “He/she is a false teacher.” Let’s think about wading through it. That’s all I’m saying.

 

In a massive cross section of Christian voices on social media, the bottom has dropped out of an entire line of reasoning and way of relating to one another.

 

We’ve jumped straight to terms like “false teachers” and “heretics” instead of expressions that very likely represent the differences more accurately. Such as…

 

I strongly disagree with _________________________ about _______________________________.

 

Or even,

 

I believe __________________________________ is unsound about ____________________________.

 

Disagreement is not a qualification for declaring someone a heretic. Even vehement disagreement.

 

As well, getting something wrong doesn’t automatically make a person a false teacher. If that were so, we’d all qualify at one time or another. There are vital elements that need to be considered, taught, and discussed among us in our Christian environments like what constitutes proper criteria for making claims of heresy and false teaching and what is orthodoxy? How do we wisely oppose and confront? How does Jesus say to handle it? What really are the deal-breakers?

 

Of course there are false teachers! Of course there are heretics! Of course they must be questioned! Of course, people should be warned! Of course teachers of the Scriptures must be held accountable for what they’re teaching!

 

My concern today is the disturbing trend of throwing dangerous labels around because of what we’ve heard and not what we’ve investigated fairly and properly. I realized several years ago that one of my most outspoken critics has never even cracked open one of the Bible studies. Not one. Doesn’t want to either. All there is to the entire ministry from his perspective is this: “she claims special revelation from God.” And, based on his summation, I equate these “special revelations” with the Word of God.

 

Are you kidding me? He can say that from a distance but I do not believe he can make that claim close up. If he can, I’m the one that needs grounding.

 

We are the Body of Christ. We are brothers and sisters. Even when we are utterly convinced the other person is wrong and we have doctrinal ducks in a row to prove it, we are never to treat one another “as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” (2 Thessalonians 3:15) Yes, we must hold one another accountable and hold ourselves accountable. We question one another. We by all means keep discussing and debating and entering into healthy disagreements.

 

But we stop short of labeling one another things like false teacher and heretic until we’ve done our homework.

 

 

This isn’t a polished post. No time this particular day to make it so. But I offer it to you with one simple hope: that we’d be among those who take pause. Among those who consider ethics of speech to have an important place on our Christian platforms. Among those who think before we speak.

 

It’s hunting season out there. Let’s be careful how we hunt.

 

 

Addendum: 

Brothers and Sisters, I wrote this in a comment as I closed that portion of the post but it could easily get lost in well over 300 entries. I thought I would add it here as well:

 

Hey, Everybody. I so appreciate you stopping by. You guys have really kept me busy this weekend moderating all these comments and entering into discussions both here and elsewhere. I have a taping this coming weekend and need to prepare four different teaching sessions toward it. It will keep my hands full every single day. We also have our big Scripture memory post coming up later this week here on the blog so we will be very occupied with those things. For that reason, I am going to need to close the comments at this point on this post. I’m the only one moderating this post and I am out of time. My attentions must now turn to preparation for the taping.

I do want to tell you something though. This comment line has had value in my life and ministry. I want you to know that and I want to thank you. I am a thinker and you have caused me to think and to pray and to worship and to read and to reflect and to remember and to reconsider. Those are always good things. I love to learn and I promise you that as long as I live and breathe, I will seek to keep learning.

It is doubtful that I will ever satisfy my harshest critics but I want to be a loving fellow-follower of Christ. Just as they do not line up with me, there are distances that I cannot go with them. I believe God can be more willing to reveal Himself in our day than some of my brothers and sisters do. I believe the New Testament well supports such a stand. It is easier and more controllable and comfortable just to say that He does not and it cuts out so much of the risk but I don’t believe we can control the Holy Spirit like that without ultimately quenching Him.

We must test everything and hold fast to what is good. We all must stay in God’s Word, study it hard, pray, fast, memorize. The God-breathed Word recorded on the pages of Scripture is our Truth, our authority, our standard by which all else is measured. Nothing equates with the Scriptures: no word of knowledge, no prophetic message, no insight, no revelation, no dream, no vision. Nothing. That doesn’t mean they can’t be valid. The New Testament says they can. But they must never supplant or be placed on the same level with the Scriptures. The Word of God is how we test everything else. We also must keep subjecting ourselves to accountability and stay attached and approachable to a sound body of believers in a local church.

And as we do, may God pour His Holy Spirit upon us. Profusely. Extraordinarily. Miraculously. We need Him and want Him desperately. May He renew wonders in our day. May He anoint us powerfully and shield us protectively.

In John 5:39-42 Jesus confronted a group of leaders with words that have long since made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. He told them that they “diligently study the Scriptures” but went on to say, “you do not have the love of God in you.” It is possible to be a diligent, devoted student of the Word of God without having an ounce of His love in our hearts. Brothers and Sisters, let that be far from us. How we treat one another matters. Let’s not grow cold to one another even in our disagreements. Faith, hope, and love. These are the things that remain.

I am honored to serve you and it has been my honor to host you this weekend here at the blog. Stay the course, everybody. Don’t grow weary. Jesus is so worthy. And it won’t be long until we see that glorious face.

In the bonds of His love,
Beth

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Identity Declaration

Hello friends, and Happy New Year!

For those of you that joined us for the 2014 Living Proof Live Simulcast, the “Identity Declaration” (shown below) has been put to music by Travis and the ladies from his praise team.  They worked hard to get it recorded and we are thrilled to share it with you now!

You have two listening options:
You can either simply play the song by clicking on the arrow below,
or right click here to download and save the song to your computer.

Enjoy!

Identity_final[1]

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2015: Verse 1!

WELCOME, EVERYONE, TO THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE 2015 SIESTA SCRIPTURE MEMORY TEAM!

WOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!

Allow me to introduce myself to you as your fellow sojourner for the next 12 months and your official cheerleader. It will be my pleasure to remind you often that, in Christ Jesus, you most certainly CAN be victorious in this adventure of the faith, this challenge of the mind and this discipline of the Spirit.

Nothing we’ve done on this blog since its inception has seemed to attract more outrageous favor from God. We are convinced that He loves it. God never misses a single individual going to the work of memorizing His Word but imagine His delight when a huge community of tremendously diverse women in age, background, and worship tradition band together in a pilgrimage of faith. You don’t have to stop and wonder if it’s God’s will for His words to abide in you. The Word of God alive, active, and abiding in us speaks to us, shields us, warns us, strengthens us, sanctifies us, equips us in our callings, and directs us in our decision making. It sharpens our insight and improves our discernment. It makes us wiser and, let’s be bold enough to say, even smarter. Our brains were hardwired to flourish across the board when nourished by the Scriptures. Above all else, Scripture abiding and thriving in us builds up our faith, for “faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)  And, Girlfriend, we want to be women of faith. That faith erupts into works that were planned for each of us before the creation of the world. (Ephesians 2:10)

OK. I want to get right to it before I lose some of you so that no one will be unclear about the protocol.

The entry of your first verse is your official registration for SSMT (Siesta Scripture Memory Team). Everybody who joins us needs to start right here in a designated comment to this exact post. Even those who may jump in with us a couple of months late who are willing to work double-time to get it all done will start right here.

For a quick recap of our objective: Remember, we are committing to the memorization of 24 verses in 12 months. Two a month. We each get to select our own verses to align with our personal needs and challenges. Choosing a Scripture that resonates with you is immensely helpful in the memorization process. If you have trouble coming up with one of your own, you can always share mine or look through the other entries for ideas. You’ll find your SSMT posts right here on the blog at 8:00 AM on the 1st and 15th of every month in 2015. [Under the LINKS section listed on the right hand side of our blog home page, you will find all SSMT posts will store together for easy access. See “Scripture Memory Team 2015″.] If you haven’t had a chance to read all the instructions and hear about our end-of-year celebration, please go back and read the informational post then return to this spot. Questions unanswered here are answered there.

One of the most important things for you to know from the top is how to arrange your comment with the verse you’ve selected. We limit each comment to this information: 

Your name, city, verse (written all the way out), reference, and translation. 

SO, here goes mine! I’m obsessed with the Book of Ephesians right now so much of my memory work will probably come from those pages.

Beth Moore, Houston, Texas. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19 ESV

We’re fellow citizens with the likes of Peter and John and James and Stephen and Paul and Timothy and Barnabas and Joanna and Susanna and Lydia and Tabitha and just try counting all the Marys. We’re fellow citizens and members of the household of Middle Eastern believers confessing Christ in hostile climates, of Chinese believers meeting in house churches, of Eastern European believers finding hope in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have brothers and sisters in Thessaloniki, in Paris, in Belfast, in Riyadh, in Copenhagen, in Calgary, and Rome. We – right here in this community – are sisters to a household of God that stretches across this globe, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ alone. By grace through faith. “It is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) That’s what makes us family. We, beloved sister, are in gorgeous company. Let’s give our time on this planet as part of this household all we’ve got. Christ is so altogether worthy.

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! One last thing before I say Go! Don’t panic or jump the gun and post a second time if you don’t see your verse published soon. I will be moderating all these launch comments by myself because I don’t want my staff to have to work on the holiday so I beg your patience. I’ll be hard at work on it but it will take me a while to get them all posted. As a rule over the next 12 months, only post a second time if it’s been 48 hours since you left the comment and you still don’t see it.

****I noticed that some of you posted verses earlier than this post was published and they came up on the SSMT informational comments.  I should have doubly emphasized what time the posts will go up each round: 8:00 AM, each 1st and 15th. So sorry if I did not make that clear enough! If you submit your verse earlier than that, it unfortunately appears under the wrong post and, the way blog moderating works, there’s no way for us to transfer the comments over. If you left your 1st verse under any other post than this one, please add it here as well. This is the official registration post.  I know it’s a bit complicated at first! Hang with it! So sorry for your extra trouble!

Hey, I am so glad you’re doing this with us. So much love to you.

OK, GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Merry Christmas!

All of us at Living Proof Ministries joyfully wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas!
Praying His abundance all over your 2015!

Merry Christmas 2014

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