Thursday, October 23, 2008

Reading Daniel

Yes, I realize Daniel is not a woman of the Bible. But I need to read his story right now in preparation for an upcomming sermon series at my church ... just to be clear, I don't preach the sermons at my church, I just work with a team that helps our pastor brainstorm and researach upcomming series.

So since I can only focus on maybe 24 things at a time and I have 28 on my plate, we're going to look at Daniel togther in lieu of another NT woman. That's OK with you, right? Great - you're so flexible!

The chapters I most need to focus on are the early chapters in the book of Daniel. We'll start with Daniel chapters One and Two, which are linked here. Let's pray:

"Lord, thank you for this day. Forgive us and cleanse our hearts and minds of anything that would prevent us from focusing on Your Word as we read. Holy Spirit of God, fill us with insight and understanding. Make this Word a light for our path - teach us how we should live from Daniel today. In Jesus' Name."

So go read it now and this time I'm going to deviate from tradition and let you go ahead and post your thoughts, reactions and questions. Some of you may have studied Daniel recently through a Beth Moore study ... if so, please summarize for us what you learned through it.

Happy reading - can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm back and I'm a Sanguine/Otter

Hey All. The retreat this past weekend in the NC mountains went great - thank you for praying. Really, truly, thank you so much for praying for me and these events. This was their 10th annual retreat, but my first with them. Our theme for the weekend was: "How to Have a Well-Ordered Heart."

I also led us in a humorous activity where the women learned which of the 4 main personality types they are. Have you ever taken a personality test? Do you know what your dominant type is? If so, tell us. It will be fun to see.

  • The Sanguine/Otter is the "popular person" who wants to have fun in every situation. She's not the most dependable person when it comes to details and schedules, but she is the life of the party. Sanguines love to talk.

  • The Choleric/Lion is the "powerful person" who wants to take control of every situation and make decisions for others. She can be too bossy sometimes and step on people, but she is a natural born leader. Cholerics love to work.

  • The Melancholy/beaver is the "perfection person" who wants everything done in order and properly. and who appreciates art and music. She can't make decisions quickly - without doing tons of research first - but she is the one to go to when you need something done right the first time. Melancholies love to analyze.

  • The Phlegmatic/Golden Retriever is the "peaceful person" who wants to stay out of trouble, keep life on an even keel, and get along with everybody. She can't handle drama or change very well, but she will be a loyal friend for life. Phlegmatics love to rest.

This was another enjoyable bunch of women. On Saturday night after my session and after the bonfire that got postponed from Friday night, a group of about ten of us (jacked up on too many s'mores) stayed up past midnight playing some crazy fun board games. Each time another woman would walk by us and announce she was heading to bed, we'd insist she join us for just one round. Two rounds later she'd be laughing too hard to go to bed. Hey, that's what girlfriend retreats are for!

So are you ready to do some more Bible reading together? The next woman of the Bible we are going to read is ... drum roll please... Daniel. Wait, Daniel isn't a woman's name. No, but you're willing to read it with me anyway aren't you? Good, I'm about to post the reading for us.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Thanks so much for praying for my friend's family in this time of great and unexpected loss. I'm really thankful for this group of women who pray for one another here!

I leave today for a retreat in the NC mountains. This weekend's theme is "Extreme Makeover: Heart Edition." Any prayers for safe travel and a God-soaked event would be much appreciated.

I'm not sure if I will have Internet access over the weekend but, I'll be back soon and we'll read another woman of the Bible together next week.

Sweet Blessings ...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Discussing the Crippled Woman

For a long time when I read this woman's story, I zeroed in on the "healing on the Sabbath" issue. I saw this mainly as a story of the Pharisees in their never-ending quest to trap Jesus and discredit Him by proving that He had violated a religious law. And I saw Jesus on His never-ending quest to get people to see that His agenda was so much larger than just ensuring that we follow a list of rules.

The head of the synagogue where Jesus was teaching that Sabbath apparantly was outraged that Jesus healed someone on the day of rest. (But he doesn't think teaching is work? - I beg to differ!) Interestingly enough, he didn't (have the guts to?) confront Jesus over performing the healing. Instead, he tells the congregation, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath."

Jesus' response seems to ask, are religious leaders exempt from having mercy or compassion towards people on the Sabbath day? Freeing an ox from its yoke or from its pen is an appropriate way to spend the Sabbath, but freeing a person from their afflictions is not?

Once again, this man laid the burden of always following the rules, as he has interpreted them, on the people. You see, the Mosaic law did not forbid healing on the Sabbath, but the "Tradition of the Elders" did. But God is in their midst now showing them another way to live - a way that trusts in Him to do the right thing, even when it doesn't make sense to us or the Elders ... a way that brings deliverance, not oppression.

So, for a long time I read her story and yet nearly missed the woman. She seemed simply an object lesson to me for Jesus to use to set the religious rulers straight -- but of course a person is never just an object lesson to God.

Now, I notice the woman. I notice that despite her situation, her disability, she is in "church." She is continuing to press into God. She is not staying away in isolation. She is there to hear and obey Jesus' teaching. Jesus sees her in the crowd - no doubt knows every detail of her situation - and calls her over. If she said anything at this point, it goes unrecorded.

She follows Jesus' command to come to Him. And then He gives the command for her body to be healed. It is instantaneous. She stands up straight for the first time in 18 years. She feels the glorious release. At this point, her reaction is recorded - it says "how she praised and thanked God!"

I imagine she felt forever indebted to this Jesus for providing that deliverance. Daily she must've praised God for overcoming for her what she could not.

We too have been healed and delivered by Jesus when He died on the cross. When we call out to Him, or ask for forgiveness in Jesus' name, our souls straighten up. They regain the ability to walk unencumbered with God.

Hum, do I feel any indebtedness to Jesus for that today? How often do I feel grateful for that? That's where her story lead me this time around. How about you? What are your thoughts? Post them and let's talk about it.


Girls, I'd like to ask you to pray for a friend of mine and his two young children. Dan and his wife Angie were in a tragic car accident this past weekend - Angie did not survive. I can honestly say this man loved his wife, through thick and thin. So too, of course, do her two elementary school-aged children. Please pray for Dan, and Brendon and Alyssa. Pray for God's comfort to envelop them. Pray for God's wisdom to guide them. Pray for their hearts to be guarded from any bitterness. Pray for their souls to be lifted up, and for them to walk through this exceedingly difficult time with Jesus. Post your prayers if you wish, but please do pause and pray.
Thanks, friends.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Reading the Crippled Woman

Ready to read and discuss together another woman from the Bible?

Let's start with a prayer:

"Lord God, thank You for recording the stories in the Bible for me to read and learn from. Open my eyes to see You at work in this woman's story, and in my own life. Help me to see You and Your values more clearly through her encounter with You.
In Jesus' Name, Amen."

The woman's story can be found in Luke 13:10-17, and I've linked it here for you to read.

After you've read, post your "I read it" here, and you can include your first name and location if you wish to share that with the group. Then think it over for a day or so -- maybe even re-read it or journal about it -- before you begin posting any discussion.

We want to give the text and the Holy Spirit a chance to reach us and teach us directly through the words of the Bible before we look to the commentary of others for insight. Ready? ... Happy Reading!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bible Study Women of the Bible

Hi Girls, just as I suggested in a recent post, I'd like to read some more of the women of the Bible together in the fall. In my next post, I'll post the woman's story and, after a day of thinking her story over and asking God to give us insights through it, we'll discuss it here.

But first, I want to clear something up.

Anonymous recently posted this comment:

"... about the women of the bible, I ... keep going thru your blogs looking for what I missed. I was unhappy with your response -- you started the women of the bible...then just poof you went away... yes I realize you have a busy schedule and that's what happens to us we get busy and put aside what the Lord had us to start - and most time we never come back to finish it."

Well, my anonymous friend, I am so glad that you've enjoyed our time here reading women of the Bible. I'm even happier that you are thirsting for more! But I suspect you weren't here from the beginning, earlier this Spring. You see, the way this Bible study got started was through a devotion I wrote for P31's Encouragement for Today.

The devotion was about the importance of having a personal, quiet time with God - reading the Bible and connecting with Him - on a regular basis. I offered to help women, thru my blog, get started doing that by proving some direction and accountability for six weeks. I chose women of the Bible for the subject matter and for six weeks I promised to post readings 3x a week and lead a discussion one each one. I kept that six-week promise.

Before the six weeks was near up, however, participants were asking me to keep us going longer. Pleased that everyone (including myself!) was getting so much out of it, I explained that I could not sustain that pace with all my other commitments, but that I would try to keep going at a slower pace. And we did continued on for many weeks.

It is important to note that I also wanted the group to make the transition from relying on me or this format to do a quiet time regularly, to spending time in the Word and God on their own. That was my initial goal.

Anyway, I have since signed a book contract, and that on top of my existing commitments to my family, to P31 Ministries, to the churches I speak for, and to my own church - leaves me less time to blog for awhile. But I will post some new NT women for us to read this month. So stay tuned!

PS. Lolls, thank you so much for that prayer on my last post - I truly felt it when I woke this morning! And I have prayed over each and every request posted or emailed.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thoughts on Honest Prayer

My devotion on gut-honest prayers is published today at Proverbs 31 Ministries - you can read it here.

E.M. Bounds writes:

"Prayer, with its manifold and many-sided forces, helps the mouth to utter the truth in its fullness and freedom."

"A holy mouth is made by praying, by much praying;
a brave mouth is made by praying, by much praying."

Prayer is a way, or a place, where we can get honest before God and before ourselves as well. We can allow God to search our hearts and show us what we need to confess. We can gather the courage to say what needs saying, or to do what needs doing. It is a place where we can find grace, direction, healing, courage and freedom.

Feel free to leave your prayer request here and I will pray for you today.

(And feel free to pray for the requests others have left.)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

California Dreaming

Hi Friends, thanks for praying for my recent retreat in California. The night before I left, the power went out in my neighborhood, from dinner until about one or two am. I had to pack by candlelight, worry that my alarm clock wouldn't work, and make peace with the fact that I couldn't go online to check-in for my early morning flight.

I made it to the airport and all my flights were smooth and on time. The weather there was absolutely gorgeous, and I was repeatedly told how rare it was for it to be so clear with such great visibility. And most importantly, the women came with hearts open to hear what God would say to them.

They took really great care of me too. My first day they took me sightseeing in San Francisco. We went down to the piers and took a boat tour of the bay and Alcatraz. Doyleyn and Peggy were fun to hang with. Then I needed to find an Internet connection to send out the next batch of P31 devotions and there was no wi-fi at the wharf, so we headed downtown in search of a Starbucks. :)

I stayed that evening at Doylelyn's house. My daughter would've loved to have been with me as Doyleyn has not one, not two, but three horses. The next morning Doyleyn took me sightseeing in Monterrey and Carmel by the Sea. This is a seriously beautiful section of the country! I went to the beach and stuck my toes in the Pacific - it was so cold compared to the Atlantic.

Next we drove Highway 1 up the coast to Big Sur where we lunched outdoors at a restaurant on the bluff overlooking the ocean. Stunning views. The southwest omelet and friendly conversation topped it all off perfectly. At this point I felt like I was on vacation, though I'd be "going to work" that evening.

That afternoon we headed to the retreat center in the Santa Cruz mountains. Only when we arrived, the electricity was out there too! I resigned myself to ignoring the chill in the air, and having to scrap my plans to use PowerPoint. I helped them unload everything and then I found a secluded spot and sat down with my notes and my Bible to pray.

Later I joined the gals chatting and playing Skip-Bo on the deck while waiting for everyone to arrive. Just before the evening's session, the power came back on. Hallelujah.

The weekend's theme was "What a Gal Wants." We looked at how our hearts' longings are rooted in, and fulfilled by, God. ... And I must say, God was supplying everything I could've asked for this trip.

A highlight for me came on Saturday after the morning session when the retreat center opened up their ropes course. I eagerly said, "Sign me up!" I love a challenge so I paid the $7, put on my jeans and Nike's, and headed up the the mountain side. The course was in the redwoods - have I mentioned how beautiful it was? Several teens, a former stunt woman, and myself set out to shimmy up the trees and walk across a rope, then a log, then a wire cable, and then ride a zip line back down. About half way through the challenging course I was thinking to myself, "Who signed me up for this?!" But the 40 ft. zip line made it all worth it.

I really enjoyed this group of gals. We played cards together, watched movies together, did crafts together and even dodged snakes together. Well, all of us but one dodged the snakes. This one woman likes snakes, and her son keeps them as pets. She found a baby snake outside her cabin that was either sick or injured. She decided it needed to be kept warm. So despite every one's looks of horror, she tucked it inside her bra in her shirt to keep it warm while we did crafts. Then, it died in there. Have mercy!! I don't think I'll ever forget that. (Despite this lapse in judgement, she was a fun gal.)

After the retreat on Sunday I went out to eat with Doyleyn's family at one of those Japanese style restaurants where they cook at your table. Then we walked the wharf in Monterrey as the sun set. It was a perfect end to a terrific weekend. Thank you Doyleyn, and all the girls at North Salinas Baptist!

And thank you bloggy friends, for covering this event in prayer.

My husband and children even had the laundry done and the house cleaned when I got back home. Now that's what a gal wants!