Book Club & Bible Study

Studying the Bible can seem daunting and overwhelming and amazing and invigorating. Yet despite becoming a believer at a young age, I still feel like I don’t really know how to do it let alone where to start. I have always used Bible studies or commentaries or sermons to tell me what to think about a particular passage and how to apply it to my life. And while this isn’t wrong, it isn’t completely necessary–the Holy Spirit is in me just as it is in those authors and speakers meaning I have the ability to comprehend what God is saying just like they do.

Thankfully I found this book:

WotW

I devoured it in just a few hours and filled it with arrows, underlines, and exclamation marks. I  took notes and am creating a work book/journal outline to go along with Jen’s method. She makes studying God’s Word seem a little less intimidating and a lot more do-able with her 5 P’s:

Purpose

Perspective

Patience

Process

Prayer

 The Cliff Notes version: When we are to study God’s Word, we must study with the “big picture” in mind–from the first page to the last the Bible speaks of creation, the fall, redemption, and restoration {Purpose}. And as we read we need to consider the historical context of the passage {Perspective} while allowing the Spirit to work in us {Patience}. To ensure we are fully understanding what is being read and how to apply it, we need to be methodical {Process}. And finally, our study should begin, end, and be intermixed with conversations with the Author {Prayer}.

Still seem impossible?

Don’t forget we are commanded to

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”  (Mark 12:30, emphasis mine).

Love Jesus with my heart & soul?…check & check.

Love Jesus with my mind?….ummm…not as easy. In order to love Him with my mind and in turn love Him more deeply with my heart, I have to know Him. And the only way to do that, is to study the Word.

As Jen says, “…the Holy Spirit opens the Word to us, but not without some effort on our part” (pg. 23).

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Summer lovin

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10 {Things} I’m lovin this summer

    • Coconut oil. It moisturizes, calms the itch from bug bites, removes my eye makeup, is a healthy alternative to cook with, and just smells of summer.
    • Younique 3D Fiber Lash Mascara. I’ve been hooked on this product for almost a year and I love how well it holds up while I’m swimming and sweating. Some light mousiturizer (with SPF of course), a bit of blush and bronzer, a swipe of my Fiber Lash and I’m out the door.
    • She Reads Truth daily devotions. Love this app, love the community it is building, and the summer long study of Women of the Old and New Testament is awesome. We hear tons of sermons preached about the mighty men God used but we can’t forget all the women that loved the Lord and how inspirational they are too. Women with busy lives and sin filled pasts were used for God’s glory. We can too.
    • Morning sweatseshes. During the school year I work out in the late afternoon and try to get a morning workout on Saturdays but lately it’s been my mission to start the day with a workout and I am loving it. It helps me make better food choices for the rest of the day, revs me up to tackle my summer to-do list, and quite frankly, is just nice to have done.
    • Rest. Apparently my body likes 9 hours of sleep unlike the 7 I typically get while working. And I’ll admit, last year was a bit much–managing a double caseload plus working on a yearlong project was more than I bargained for but I’m always up for a challenge and want to improve my craft. So this last month I’ve been relaxing, unplugging, and napping. I’m totally okay with it. My mind needs a break. I’ve even been trying to avoid looking at educational pins and have been outright avoiding the dollar spot at Target so I don’t see the back to school stuff. It’s only July people!
    • Water conservation efforts. Going brown is the new green in California and it’s nice to see people making a real effort to cut back. Yards are being revamped to be drought tolerant, car washes are less frequent, and you will totally get busted if you’re being wasteful 😳 I still don’t get how the state has the largest water supply along our border and we still haven’t figured out how to utilize it, but that politics for ya.
    • Late night patio chats. The warm weather, cool breezes, late sunsets, and time with friends and family outside enjoying each other company talking about everything from books to the aforementioned topic, and especially about life and Jesus is just what summer nights are for.
    • Reading. A lot. I’ve read quite a few cheapies from iBooks, 2 books that were super motivating to live bravely for Jesus, have been able to stay up-to-date on my Bible in a year plan, one book on how to better study the Bible with my mind and heart {stay tuned for more on this}, and just started a book my 11 year old niece is reading–Dorothy Must Die. I’m thinking read along with her will be super fun and will definitely result in some hilarious conversations.
    • Max. I know its a movie about a dog, but its so much more than that. Its the story of a family dealing with the aftermath of losing the oldest son to war. Its the story of coming together and being brave. Its the story of love, friendship, and the often unsung heroes. Go see it.
    • i smell great. And its not because of the suntan lotion and all the fresh fruit I’ve been eating. This perfume is AH-MAZ-ING! I am not a perfume wearer {is that a word?} by any means because typically the scents are too strong and I easily get a headache. But this stuff is subtle and super clean, fresh, and vibrant. The sampler pack is $14 and you get all 4 scents plus a coupon for future orders. You better believe there is an order in my future but narrowing it down to one might be a problem!

What are you loving this summer?

 Dorothy  max     

Shake it off!

Life has a way of shaking us. Just this last month I celebrated a miracle baby turning one, showered soon-to-be parents with lots of pink, and rejoiced as I realized prayers were being answered. I also wept as a friend told me her marriage was over, lifted up in prayer a little girl fighting for her life, and was so filled with anxiety that I was brought to tears. I was jumping with joy and shaking with sadness for this broken world.

This year is about being intentional and this last month has shown me how intentional I need to be with my heart. Do you ever wonder what God really wants of us? Or what it takes to spend eternity with Him? Psalm 15 has the answer…prepare yourself.

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
    Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,
    who does what is righteous,
    who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
    who does no wrong to a neighbor,
    and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
    but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
    and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
    will never be shaken.

Yikes, right? I told you to be prepared. Did that cut right to your heart like it did mine? I know as hard as I try my walk is not blameless, slander has come from my mouth, and I haven’t always kept my word or given my money (or time) to those in need.

But there’s some great news if you read Psalm 16.

Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
    or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,

Did you catch it? God promises to keep us safe and guide us as we strive to follow Him. When we fix our eyes on Him, we will inherit the Kingdom! So even when I mess up, let the worries of the day overwhelm me, or hold tightly to the things of world, I can trust that He is still with me. We can be at peace knowing our sins are forgiven and our lives are safe in His hands.

The best part is in verses 10-11: “Because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Jesus lives and is the path to Heaven! He alone is the Way, the truth and the life {John 14:6}. When we believe in His death and resurrection, in His love for us that is so immense he bore the punishment we deserve {remember all that stuff from Psalm 15?}, we can spend eternity with Him! And as we do, our hearts and lives are filled joy.

But joy isn’t always easy to come by or hold onto. Life happens. Hearts get broken, mistakes get made, cancer invades our bodies, jobs and lives get lost and with it our joy. We begin to question the decisions we’ve made and fear taking another step. Thankfully, we have Jesus and yet another promise I myself know to be faithfully filled time and time again. Look back to 15:5b “He who does these things will never be shaken” and 16:8b “Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken“. First God promises that those who walk with Him will not be shaken then David proclaims it as true because he has experienced it. And we all know David had some troubles of his own that should have caused him to be shaking! But he trusted in the promises of God, the security and refuge he knew God would provide. He trusted in God’s forgiveness and strength. So when life comes at you and threatens to make you tremble down to your very core, know that God is with you. He is holding you up and will be your strength. Know that no sin is beyond God’s grace and nothing you are experiencing is beyond His control. Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” {John 16:33} Believe in Him and trust in His strength and love for you. Life is going to happen so instead of being shaken, shake it off!

Shake it off

The truth is

The truth is last week was hard. I wasn’t ready to go back to work. My heart was full of anxiety and bitterness. My mind was full of thoughts on how to adjust, how to fight, and how to work for God’s glory. As much as I prayed, my attitude didn’t change.

The truth is people didn’t show up that were supposed to, my contractual “student-free” time didn’t happen, all the changes weren’t communicated as they should have been, and I never got any answers as to why all this was happening.

The truth is my heart was hard because I refused to let it be soft.

The truth is the changes weren’t as big as I was making them and I could have helped with the communication.

The truth is I held onto everything I knew I needed to rid myself of {1 Peter 2:1} and was refusing to love as I’m called to do {Romans 12:9-21}.

But as Friday morning began and I spent some quiet time with Jesus before work I began to feel the peace settle in, the anxiety and bitterness melting away, and the Holy Spirit reminding me why I do what I do. I teach because I love it. I teach because I can help my students. And I teach because it is what God has called me to do {for now}. I teach because it is my way of loving like Jesus does.

So as another work week begins tomorrow I will hold tightly to the truth that God graciously poured over me because the truth is love is the only way.

Be{ing} Intentional in 2015

Last month on my birthday I prayed for guidance for the year ahead. What would 31 look like if I gave it to God and followed the path He set for me? The Lord took me to 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12

“6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” 11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.”

And it struck me that so often when asked how I am doing, my answer is always, “Good, busy, but good”. But what was I so busy doing? Was I busy doing things for the Kingdom? Working for the glory of the Lord? Often the answer is no. Often I am just “busy”.

But this year I want that to change. I want to be busy, but busy in ways that honor God. This led to thinking about a phrase that would capture that desire and motivate me when I was watching TV for no reason, scanning Instagram for the umpteenth time, or when I find myself glorifying “busy”, something that would remind me I am not to just be “busy” but to do good and work with a purpose. Two words popped into my heart and haven’t left: Be Intentional. God wants me to be intentional with my heart, my words, my finances, my actions, my thoughts, my life. He doesn’t just want me wandering around squandering the blessings that He has given me, but to be intentional with them because that is what brings Him the most glory.

So this year my plan is to be intentional with…

My heart–by filling it with Scripture. Psalm 1:2

My love–by ensuring that it is real. Romans 12:9

My money–by spending less and giving more. 2 Corinthians 9:7

My thoughts–by worrying less and thinking of things that are true and lovely. Philippians 4:8

My time–by using it wisely–more time in the Word, serving, and spending time with godly people. Mark 10:45, Psalm 1:1

My words {spoken & written}–by carefully choosing them and not just talking to talk, but talking about Jesus!

My work–by doing it all for Him no matter how crazy my students drive me or if I don’t agree with decisions made, I will remember that ultimately I am working for the Lord. Colossians 3:23, Proverbs 31:17

It is my prayer that by being intentional this year that the Lord will be glorified and I will grow closer to Him, that I will find more joy in saying yes and peace in saying no, that my heart will be full of His word and with love for others. His will be done.

beintentional

What are your plans and goals for the new year?