Monday, January 24, 2011

The Bible Alone is Enough

As I continue on this exciting journey of reading through the Bible in 90 days, I have realized one thing that I think is helping me is that I'm reading the Bible on it's own. I'm not reading any commentaries, not using a Study Bible with notes, or stopping to looks things up online. I'm a researcher by nature and rarely ever read the Bible from something other than a Study Bible and often consult other sources while I'm studying. I'm not knocking these study helps in anyway. I love them. They are incredible resources.

The other way I might study the Bible is through a Bible study written by someone like Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, and so on. Again, I LOVE these. They are wonderful authors who teach us about God's word and how to apply it to our lives.

This time I'm reading the Bible through on it's own. Simply God's Word with no other commentators, no interjections, and no one else's thoughts. It's AMAZING! I am so thankful for these other study ways I've mentioned and know I will continue to use them, but for right now I feel like I'm falling in love with the Bible all over again. I have no idea if that makes sense. I am reading from a Bible with no study notes and no distractions (as they can be to someone like me at times). The Bible alone is enough. I thank God for all these authors who study and write about Him, but oh how the beauty of His Word stands alone. Honestly, each day as I simply read the Bible, which is not simple at all, I think maybe this is one of the reasons the Holy Spirit prompted me to do this. I need this! I need Him!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy...

I know I've been quiet this past week. I struggled a bit to get through by Bible reading last week and therefore kept myself away from the computer in order to finish. My struggling was not from a lack of desire to complete it, but over the last 8 days, I read through Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Those are tough books to get through.

Still, I think God can teach us much through these books. For one, you cannot read these and not realize what a truly, HOLY God He is. The line from that song What Do I Know of Holy that posted a couple of weeks ago that says "I think I made You too small, I never feared You at all" kept running through my head as I read about the sacrifices and unclean/clean rules. I am so unbelievably grateful to live on this side of Jesus, but I wonder how often do I approach Him with a lack of reverance for His holiness?

Secondly, I think reading through these books in the Bible has to increase one's faith. I keep thinking of Isaiah 55:9, "For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." I cannot wrap my brain around so much of what I've read these past few days, but I know that God doesn't think the way we think. That thought used to only bother me. I don't know why other than I'm the type of person who likes to figure everything out. Then, I realized at some point that if I could figure God out, He wouldn't be God. Now I'm am comforted by the fact that God works differently than us. And it only presses me on to learn as much as I can about Him from His word.

Lastly, I will readily admit that I feel somewhat victorious getting through these books of the law. Every time I've started reading through the entire Bible, I either get distracted, burnt out, give up when I tried to get through these books, or if I'm being completely forthright skip much of this information. I feel immature admitting that I've completely skimmed or jumped right over Leviticus and Numbers in past efforts. This time I committed to reading through every word of the Bible attentively and this time is different because I can only do it through God's grace, wisdom, and strength.

I am now looking forward to delving into the book of Joshua and seeing what God will reveal to me this week.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Time is His, Because it's ALL About Him

As I re-read through some of my posts recently, I am seeing a lot of "I" statements as I've been sharing about things God is laying on my heart or working in me. I have to apologize, because it has nothing to do with me. I never intended for it to sound that way, but it's easy sometimes to say "I" am doing this or "I" have changed that. The last post I wrote has a line that says something like "I have been more purposeful with my time." It should read more like this, "Only through God's abundant, undeserving grace and His Spirit's conviction have I realized and finally succumbed to the fact that I must be more purposeful with the time He has given me in order to truly seek Him."

See my motto in life for as long as I can remember has been "Less of Me. More of Him.", yet my hours, for way too long, have been filled up with "me" things. I was desperately praying for God to show Himself to me and asking Him to ignite a fresh passion in me, but I was not giving Him any of my time.

In our culture, it is ingrained in us that our time is ours, that time is money, that there isn't enough time, but in reality time is His. In Matthew 6, after Jesus has addressed every need and worry we might have in this life, verse 33 says, "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need." (NLT) How else can seek Him "above ALL else" if you we don't fully give Him our time?

I love the way The Message puts the same verse, "
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met." I feel like Jesus is saying "Relax. Don't worry. Just fill your life with Me and everything else will be taken care of."

I, for one, have too often been doing life the exact opposite way. I would worry, try to take care of everything, and then fit Jesus into the schedule somewhere. It's not that He hasn't been a part of my life, because I cannot remember a time in my life when He wasn't in it. It's that I was not allowing Him to truly be the center of my life. I am now working on this very thing and He is already showing me amazing things. I do not deserve any of it, but I am deeply grateful that He is a God who never lets go and does not give up on His children.

Humbly, I've leave you with this. It's not about me. It's not about you. It's ALL about Him!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bible Reading, Busyness, & Distractions

As I mentioned last week, I started reading through the Bible in 90 days. It has already been an incredible and eye-opening experience. I have a friend who does this once a year and spends the other 9 months of the year studying specific texts more deeply through various studies. I will admit I first thought it a little crazy, but no longer and I'm only a week into this.

I'm amazed at the things I'm learning and the verses that jump out at me which I don't remember noticing before. I was worried I would feel like I was chugging so much information that I couldn't process it but it's simply a different learning experience. While I may not be studying each passage or story in depth, I am seeing how stories relate to each other and the repetition of certain things (which I think if God's repeats it, I'd better really pay attention).

The other thing I've definitely seen is how much Satan does NOT want us in God's word. I've had a couple of people ask me how do I have the time to read that much (it's about an hour a day if you're wondering). Time is a funny thing. We often complain we don't have enough and I completely understand this sentiment. I think I said it myself today. But once I really looked at how I spent my time, it's no wonder I constantly felt like I was beating my head against the wall when it came to my relationship with God. I wasn't giving Him a priority in my time. Through the Holy Spirit's conviction, I took an honest look at how much time I spent watching TV, on the internet, reading other things, some times sleeping, and most of all just plain busyness. The things that often fill my time are not "bad" things, but they are not God things. It's not like I've suddenly freed up loads of time, but I have been more purposeful with my time. I'm probably rambling at this point. I'm just trying to figure out the best way to spend the time I'm given.

Something I have to remind myself daily is that we have made Satan's job very easy these days in that all he has to do is keep us busy or distract us from the good things of God to keep us from growing in Christ.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Impromptu Days & Milestones

Today has been a really good day. I love to look back on a day and be able to state that. I think God is changing my perspective on things and I'm enjoying my days more. I am truly blessed. Life isn't always easy, but it's easier to enjoy when I view it through the eyes of gratitude.

We started the morning at the dentist office for Connor and Caleb. It was Caleb's first appointment. Caleb usually does not care for any doctor, hair cut, or basically anyone messing with him. So, we've been role playing going to the dentist office and he did GREAT! He was a little unsure about the chair moving up and down, but other than that loved it and says he wants to go back. He's a nut.

Afterwards, we realized it was such a gorgeous day and decided it should not be spent indoors. We ate outside at a great burger place. Then, we went over to Bastrop State Park and had fun playing and walking some nature trails. Cole said he was our "fiercest leader" on the trail. I think he meant fearless leader, but either one really fits him most days.

Below are a few pictures from the afternoon. I'm glad my iPod has a camera since our impromptu day meant I was without mine.

Then, we came home and the boys continued to play outside. I was inside doing a few things when Cole and Connor came running in, saying "Mom, come watch, you gotta see." I replied, "What's going on?" Cole excitedly says, "Connor can climb over the fence all by his self." I wish I had brought out the video camera as he went over the fence. He was so proud of himself.

Later, Cole came in telling me all about how he caught a football while running. This was the first time he was able to catch it without stopping to do so. I had no idea these were such big things to boys, but am so glad I was here to hear about it. Jason came in and said "Fence-climbing and football-catching are milestones for boys."

Impromptu family days are sometimes pure bliss!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Music Speaks to the Soul

On Sunday, Jason gave some challenges at church. One was to try listening to only Christian music for the next month. Well, I rarely listen to anything else, but I realized a few months ago that most of time I'm not truly listening. I am even singing along, but not really hearing what the words are saying. In the Beth Moore study on Psalms I just did, she talked one week about the affect music has on us, that is speaks to our soul. So, for the last month or so I have really been paying attention to the words of the songs I hear. I've re-discovered that most Christian music is good and much of it is AWESOME.

As I've been truly listening and contemplating the lyrics, it really does impact me and my attitude. In fact, there are a few of those awesome songs that have caused me to search God's word and spend some time in prayer. Also, as I spend more time in my Bible and listening to these lyrics, these are things filling my mind, which reminds me of Philippians 4:8, which says, "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."

There are several incredible songs rolling through my mind, but there is one that has really struck me. It's What Do I Know of Holy by Addison Road. If you haven't heard this song, here is a YouTube video with the lyrics,

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gratitude: My Word for 2011

I don't typically do New Year's resolutions or the like, but I was reading about Ali Edwards' One Little Word a couple of weeks ago and it stuck with me. She talks about choosing a word or that a word might choose you. Well, when I read that, the word "gratitude" immediately came to mind. The concept of gratitude and thankfulness have been in just about everything I've read lately from my Bible to blogs to even some fiction books. I've also been reading Ann Voskamp blogging about her gratitude journal and One Thousand Gifts (her new book which is in incredible so far and I'm sure I will write more about once I finish). I believe God has impressed this word upon me.

As I began looking at this word, I looked up the definition of it. Dictionary. com defines it as "the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful." And Merriam-Webster's current dictionary similarly states that gratitude is "the state of being grateful." These do no justice to the word in my opinion so I continued to look it up and came across a beautiful definition in Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language (you can look up words in this dictionary here),

An emotion of the heart, excited by a favor or benefit received; a sentiment of kindness or good will towards a benefactor; thankfulness. Gratitude is an agreeable emotion, consisting in or accompanied with good will to a benefactor,and a disposition to make a suitable return of benefits or services, or when no return can be made, with a desire to see the benefactor prosperous and happy. Gratitude is a virtue of the highest excellence, as it implies a feeling and generous heart, and a proper sense of duty.

This paints a better picture of this word I've been studying. As I have researched "gratitude," I've been most intrigued by words that are associated with it. Words like grace, indebtedness, abundance, response, praise, simplicity, and contentment have been repeated as I've searched.

I will continue to seek the word in scripture and started a gratitude journal myself a few weeks ago. I'm interested to see what journey God has in store for me with this word.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Reading through the Bible in 90 Days


Last year, I heard about reading through the Bible in 90 Days. I started it and never completed it once we started our move. This year I heard about hosting a 90 Day reading challenge with mentors and encouragement. I have signed up and today is day one of reading. I'm excited about completing this.

I know this reading plan is not for everyone. Jason usually says (he is quoting someone who I cannot remember right now) "The Bible is meant to be studied not finished." The Bible in 90 Days program itself says it's not meant to be an in-depth study. But there are also many reasons for reading it through like this. One is that people are having a higher success rate of completing this than reading through the Bible in a year. Committing to 90 days, even though the readings are longer, is less daunting to some. The reason I am choosing to participate is simply the same as the mission of the Bible in 90 Days organization, "To read, ATTENTIVELY, every word of the Bible in 90 days."

I am excited about this and seeing what God will teach and impress upon me during this time. If anyone is interested in doing this, here are some links to information and resources that might help you.
If you are interested in other reading plans, check out They have many reading plans from the One Year Bible to Chronological Bible and several others. They have apps for your iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc. to help you complete the reading plan you pick. All that I've seen on their site is FREE (there may be some plans that are not, but I've not come across them). It's a great site and resource.