Monday, February 28, 2011

Got Drunk without the Alcohol

So what do you do when you have work, husband, children, seminary deadline coming up, a Sunday school class to teach on digging deeper, and a women's ministry event to finalize?

I lay down on the job.

A week ago Friday I started getting a sinus infection. No big deal. Been there, done that for YEARS. I was in the bed half day on Saturday, taught on Sunday and was back in the bed with little voice to spare. Thankfully, my prior posts had already been pre-posted because when Monday came I was going nowhere. Last week I spent more time in my newly remodeled bedroom than I have in a long time sleeping. Apparently, my sinus infection went to my inner ear causing me to have vertigo and issues with balance. Then fluid started building up around my right eye which further enhanced the balance issue as well as focusing was becoming a problem.

I called my doctor who was my base as a cheerleader in elementary through high school. After some antibiotics and another medication, I still wasn't getting better and my speech was starting to slur. I was in the office first thing Friday morning. This time I had a prescription for steroids to reduce the fluid around my right eye and a VALIUM! (WOOHOO!)

For those who know me, you know that I lead. I wasn't leading this week. I was following with a bit of a swagger, and my swagger wasn't hip. It was more of the Otis variety from The Andy Griffith Show.

You probably also know that I'm extremely clostrophic. My doctor wanted an MRI done immediately, but the open MRIs were only available at 6 PM, and that was not satisfactory for the doctor or her office. This means they had a closed MRI machine available at noon, and I was to be in it. (hehehehe)

The last time I was in a small place that caused me to panic was in a small elevator in Italy. It was two people deep and one person wide – no luggage could fit. I panicked when the doors of the elevator wouldn't open to the point of almost hyperventilating. My girlfriend Cheri was more at shock at my response than getting stuck temporarily in the coffin-sized elevator.

My doctor ordered drugs to be piggy-backed on top of my Valium at the MRI if needed. Those who know me also know I'm a light touch when it comes to pain medication or sedation.

By the time I got to the MRI, I was being led around like a drunk. I could no more walk a straight line if my life depended on it and that was BEFORE taking the Valium. I wore my sunglasses everywhere because my eyes were very sensitive to light, and the slightest thing was funny.

I say all of this to say this. Thank you to those who stood in the gap for me while I was incapacitated. Thank you for those who would laugh at me and with me when my speech was a little slurred or I staggered when I walked. (Yes, I thought it was funny in a warped, twisted sort of way). Thank you to the ladies who exercised such class and extended grace to me during the week and during the women's ministry event that raised money for the Heart of Hope Maternity Home. I do not take those acts of kindness for granted nor do I take the time you spent in prayer on my behalf for granted.

I feel so much better today than I did last week, and I am blessed to such wonderful friends like you.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wants to Know -- Did you do your faith-work?

Okay. I just finished reading and going through Luke’s version, and I’m amazed at the difference of his version from the other two. Are you? I want to encourage you in this. This week is about reading, observing the who, what, when and where in the scripture, taking notes, and comparing. Next week will be about reading, but reading to observe something else. It won’t all be this labor intensive, but it is all meant to stretch you and me. If you have a concern or question, please write a comment. If you don’t want it posted, please say so, and I won’t post it. There is no dumb question. And I will tell you, I don’t know all the answers! I may have the same question you do, but that is part of the journey. Come with me. Let’s do this together.

Let’s start at the top. Shall we? (Important to remember – If you have a question about the term or translation or word usage, read another translation to see if you understand it better. I start with NIV because I understand it better, but then I check against Holcomb Christian Standard Bible. That is my choice. Find what works for you.)

1. Matthew and Mark said specifically “after 6” days. Luke’s version says “about 8 days.” I find it interesting that Luke is using an estimation considering Luke was a physician. I would have thought he would be more specific and detailed.

2. When I read the previous story about what happened the six/eight days before, I see that Luke leaves out Peter’s rebuke and Jesus’ response about, “Get behind me, Satan.” I also find that what happened previously was Jesus was predicting His own death. Then Jesus told his disciples that if any of them were to follow Jesus, they would have to deny themselves and take up their cross and follow him. It talks also about rewarding each person “according to what he has done.” So Jesus knows what is coming, and He’s trying to prepare his disciples.

3. Jesus, Peter, James and John are in all three books. They go to a high mountain alone.

4. Luke is only book that said they went to pray.

5. The Transfiguration –

Matthew said Jesus was transfigured before them.

Mark said Jesus was transfigured before them.

Luke said Jesus was changed and Moses and Elijah showed up and was talking to Jesus when “Peter and his companions” woke up. (This reminds me of Gethsemane.)

Matthew said face was like the sun.

Mark said clothes “became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them”

Matthew said clothes became white as light.

Luke said clothes “bright as a flash of lightning”

Matthew and Mark both say that after the transfiguration Moses and Elijah were present.

Luke also said that Moses and Elijah were talking to Jesus about his departure. This isn’t mentioned in the other books.

Matthew and Mark both said Peter started talking about building three tabernacles when a cloud enveloped them. Luke’s is similar except it adds that Moses and Elijah were leaving.

Peter spoke while terrified and not knowing what to say.

While Peter spoke, God interrupted him. ( I wonder what the actual voice of God sounds like – James Earl Jones?)

In NIV, Luke uses a slightly different word choice that had me perplexed. They were, “Son I have chosen.” I went to the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and it says, “Chosen One.”

God tells Peter, James and John to listen. Luke refers to “Peter and his companions.”

After God speaks, Moses and Elijah are gone.

I liked Matthew’s version “Jesus came and touched them” – How personal, physical and intimate!

As they are coming down the mountain, Jesus tells them not to tell anyone until after the Son of May has risen. This is found in Matthew and Mark. Luke just said the disciples kept it to themselves, and this is where the chapter ends for Luke.

Matthew and Mark document another conversation about Elijah, and only in Matthew does it explain that the disciples knew Jesus was referring to John the Baptist.

There is a lot of meat in this one story in the Bible. You may wonder about the slight differences, but consider this. When there is an automobile accident there are many witnesses. There are witnesses inside the vehicle that was struck, witnesses inside the striking vehicle, and different witnesses standing around the site. The witness in the vehicle that is struck may not see what is behind them. The witness standing on the street may turn only once he hears the crash, so location and timing affects what is witnessed. Next, consider the person driving the striking car has been involved in other accidents, he has experience and sometimes experience gives us a different perspective.

All three of these books are the inspired Word of God. We agreed before starting that the Word of God contains no errors. There will be things we don’t understand until God chooses to remove the scales from our eyes and reveal it to us, but in the meantime we have to trust God. These three stories support one another. Each adds a different element or detail. I love the personal connection Matthew has in his. I like Mark’s word choice for describing the brightness of the transfiguration. I love the details that Luke adds about the conversation Jesus was having with Elijah and Moses.

Something else that I love is how God praises His Son in public.

Do I still have questions? Sure I do. Like how did they know it was Moses and Elijah? Did Jesus ever put a time limit on other instructions? But do these questions prevent me from growing deeper in my faith? NO!

Do you want to go deeper? Search this: WHY IS THE TRANSFIGURATION SO IMPORTANT? (That’s bonus faith-work.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Has Notes

My questions started right off the bat. Who starts a story with “six days after?” Six days after what? So, I went back and read the story before. Did you? I wrote down what happened in those paragraphs before not knowing if it would give perspective or not.

WHO – Jesus took Peter, James and John – Why is this significant? They are some of the first disciples He called to follow Him and His inner circle. James and John are brothers and the sons of Zebedee.

WHERE – High on a mountain

WHAT – Jesus is transfigured/transformed.

TERM – Transformed – I’ve seen this word in another verse in my previous studies, so I look it up – Romans 12:2.

While reading on I see a quote that I really liked, so I wrote it down. “Jesus’ nature was not changed but unveiled.”

Face = Bright as the sun

Clothes = White as light

Verse 3: THEN (after transfigured)

WHO: Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus. I remember the two witnesses talked about in Revelations, so I look that up in Revelations 11 and wonder if these two will be those witnesses.

Verse 4: WHO: Peter starts talking.

TERMS – Rabbi – I look this word up – teach, great one.

Tabernacle – tent, shelter, term used for temporary housing. They used to build booth-like shelters during the Feast of Tabernacles. (Info found at

Verse 5: Phrase that catches my eye – “While Peter was speaking” – W

Question: What was it like to be interrupted by God?

TERMS: Cloud – I remember other times in the Bible where a cloud is used, so I look them up in the concordance and then I type the word “cloud” in the blank on

Voice – There is another time in the New Testament a voice is heard, and it says something very similar. I search for that to see if my memory is correct. I make a note that the heavenly Father praised His Son in public.

Verse 6: WHO: Jesus, Peter, James and John fell face down and were terrified (As if they could be anything else but terrified!)

Verse 7: WHAT: Jesus “touched” them (Did they jump out of their skins?) and then He spoke to them.

Verse 8: WHO: Jesus, Peter, James and John

Verse 9: WHERE/WHEN: Coming down from mountain top experience

WHAT: Jesus tells disciples to not tell anyone what happened until AFTER Son of Man has risen from the grave

Verse 10: Disciples bring up the teaching about Elijah

Verse 11: Jesus explains who Elijah is – John the Baptist (I checked out the Malachi prophecy)

Questions – I have a question about a couple of things. How did Peter know the two figures, the two men were Elijah and Moses? And why did Jesus put a time limit on His instruction? I don’t ever remember any other time when Jesus put a time restraint on any of His instructions.


This week read Matthew 17:1-8 and Luke 9:28-36. Do exactly the same thing you did with this Mark scripture. Write down everything you observe including who, what, when, where and any questions or terms you need defining.

At the end of the week, I want you to compare and contrast the three. I will post my observations on Saturday (or at least that’s the plan).

Do you have questions for which you cannot find the answers? GREAT! Ask someone. Shoot them to me, and I’ll post them and let’s start a conversation.

Don’t worry if you don’t get everything I find. You may find things I miss. The Word of the Lord is living and active which means that God uses it to reveal to each what he or she needs to understand at that time.

Check out Living by the Book by Howard G and William D Hendricks. This is where I learned how to study the Word of God, the technique, and where the concept of reading and observing can be found in greater detail.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Is Digging Deeper from Demistasse to Baby Spoon

For the past two weeks, I’ve asked you to read the first five verses of the Proverbs for that day. I asked you to check out a couple of websites, read different versions of verses, and I asked you to pray and ask God to give you a hunger for His Word. No one can make you grow in your faith, but if you put your faith on like you do a sweater and take it off when it’s inconvenient, you have shallow and immature faith. If you go to church when you feel like it or only open your Bible on Sunday, you are still on the bottle. Ask yourself, “How long have I been a Christian?” There are too many “Christians” sitting in the pews who are atrophying. Just because you go to church doesn’t make you a Christian. Your relationship with Jesus Christ is personal. Are you holding up your end of the relationship?

If you want to grow your faith, then you need to learn to dig. You need to learn how to feed on the Word of God for yourself. You need to eat the meat and find answers for yourself. In the weeks to follow, I’m going to attempt to show you how to get into the Word, to dig, and to eat meat. There will be faith-work. How committed will you be?

Those of us who have been reading the Bible for years often make assumptions about Scripture because we’ve “heard the stories” since we were small. Over the next weeks, I ask that every time you open the Word of God that you look at it as if it is your FIRST TIME. Don’t assume you know what is coming next. Remember this is God’s love letter to you, His precious child.

Let’s talk a little about reading the Bible. When someone quotes a Scripture be sure to read the whole paragraph that contains the verse quoted. Do you know what a “paragraph” is? How do you know what a “paragraph” is? Sometimes paragraphs are separated by a space, and paragraphs begin with indention. Look at Psalms 42:1. Where does the paragraph end? Mine ends after verse 4. Look at James 1:2. Where does that paragraph end? In my NIV, it goes through verse 8.

Sometimes in order to get the context or whole picture, you must read the WHOLE chapter, and sometimes the WHOLE book. If there is a particular passage you want to study for the week, read the chapters before, the chapter of, and the chapters that follow on the very first day. The next day, read the chapter. The next day focus on the verses of interest.

Every time you read write down what you observe.

  • WHO: Who is in each verse? Who is writing the text? Who is speaking? To whom is the text written?

  • WHERE: Where is the setting? Where are they going? Where have they been?

  • WHEN: When was the text written in history? What time of year was it? What time of day was it? What happened before? What happened after?

  • WHAT: What is occurring? What words do I not understand? What terms do I need information on?


These may mean nothing to you now, but we will get there, but first you must become aware.

Before you begin this exercise, please take time to pray and spend time with your heavenly Father asking Him for wisdom and guidance.

Get your journal, pen and highlighter. Open your Bible to Mark 9:2-10. Read it through one time as if it is your first time to read it.

Read it a second time through – this time write down in your journal what you observe in each verse (the who, the what, the when, the where). Write down any questions you have. Write down any terms you don’t know the history or root of.

Read it a third time in a different translation. Check out or

Come back tomorrow to see my notes and to get your homework for the week.

Friday, February 18, 2011

ADHD, Redneck, and Beauty Products – Do I Need to Say More?

This week I had an opportunity to speak to a room full of sweet women, and as I started talking I was taking off my make-up. I wish you could have seen the looks on their faces. As I explained I'm part redneck, and rednecks have ingenuity when it comes to taking an ordinary item and making it useful for something else. Like when my Uncle Val Ray's min-pin (miniature pinchure) broke it's leg. My Uncle Val Ray set the leg himself and took two paint sticks and duct tape those sticks on either side of that dog's leg. It was funny to watch that little dog run swinging that paint-stick legged around, but he was still able to run with the big dogs.

So as I was doing my introduction my ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) and Redneck came together and took me to a place I hadn't planned on going. For example, I can't afford all those fancy treatments like chemical peels, lasers, derm abrasions and such, but I have noticed an age spot (a small brown spot) on the right side of my nose, and I wondered what is on the market that I could use. This is where my musing went redneck. Have you ever seen those Crest White Strips? I wonder…if I were to cut a circle out of one of those strips and put it on my age spot would it lighten it? And if that works, I may have to try it on a few freckles. Then I noticed the beginning of crow's feet (those nice little wrinkles at the edge of your eyes). What could possibly stretch those out? BREATHE RIGHT STRIPS! They are strong enough to hold your nose open for you to breath at night surely it's strong enough to hold my crow's feet smooth.

Then I'm starting to have lines on my forehead that are cleverly covered by my bangs, but I wonder what product on the market could a redneck kind of woman try in order to get rid of those lines. Do you have an idea? Is there calk for skin?

I'm also starting to have a little sag under my chin and jaws, and I refuse to order one of those things that looks like a jock strap.

Of course all of this is in fun. PLEASE DO NOT TRY THESE AT HOME, but if you come up with some ideas, I'd love to hear them. I may use them the next time I'm asked to speak on transparency. Hahaha!

And let me assure you, I did have a point to all of this nonsense. If you read my prior blog, you will see how it all came together.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Has a Church Face, a Mommy Face, and a Don’t Mess with Me Face


Hair dyes. Permanents. Weaves and extensions. False lashes. Chemical peels. Retina. Derm abrasions. Collagen. Botox. Tattooed eye-liner. Teeth whiteners. Tummy tucks. Face lifts. Spray tanning. Augmentations of every sort. Spanx.

When I was growing up, my mom used to say she was going to put on her face. My great grandmother used to say, "If the barn needs painting, then by all means paint it." I am all about putting on some make-up, covering my roots, and trying to look my best, but too often as women we put on other "faces."

Make your best "church face." Make your best "mom face." Put on your "don't mess with me face" – you know this has a bobble action of the head with the hand on the waist. Your "loving wife" face. Your "confidant" face.

The thing about these different "faces" we wear is that they often protect us or put barriers around our hearts. How often have you gone to church and put on your "church" face when inside you were beaten up, battered by life, and just plain worn slap out. We hide our hurt, our pain, our weaknesses. We've bought into the world's motto, "I am woman hear me roar" – bunch of hogwash.

Sometimes we hide our pain by eating in excess, over spending, seeking the approval of others, or we self-mediate in some other way. None of those, by the way, are Scriptural.

The last Sunday of the fast this year, I was given the opportunity to be transparent. Actually, I really didn't have a choice to be anything else. During the fast, I had been attacked from every angle and every avenue in my life. I was raw and broken, and I had to teach. I chose to teach on hope because it is what I was holding onto with a death grip. Needless to say, I cried through the lesson. Fortunately, I teach a class of all women, and on any given Sunday, we are passing the Kleenex box for one reason or the other. This Sunday happened to be my reason. After the lesson one of the ladies said, "I've never seen you like this. You're always so strong, but you've been attacked, so it's completely understandable." My transparency allowed her to see that I am human with frailties, but it also allowed her to see how God would use these situations in my life to bring Him glory.

Transparency means the LIGHT passes through it without altering its makeup. If we hide our struggles and hardships, then we are putting a bushel over a candle. For God to get the glory, we have to allow others see us struggle.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7, 10

    3. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of COMPASSION and the God of all COMFORT

4. who comforts US in all our troubles, so that WE CAN COMFORT those in ANY trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (How can we know that someone else needs compassion and comfort unless there are visible signs? We give off visible signs when we are in pain, hurting or in discomfort. AND WHY WOULD ANYONE take advice from us if they never have seen us struggle or go through hardship? If you know someone who's been through the furnace, wouldn't you take their word over the pie-in-the-sky person? If you are arguing and fighting with your spouse, would you prefer the wisdom of someone who has been through a similar struggle as opposed to someone who isn't even married? If you are fighting for your own life, wouldn't you want the wisdom that comes from a cancer survivor over someone who has never been sick a day in their life? HOW WILL OTHERS KNOW WHAT YOU'VE BEEN THROUGH IF THEY DON'T SEE IT? HOW WILL OTHERS KNOW YOUR SOURCE OF WISDOM AND STRENGTH UNLESS YOU TELL THEM? Weakness is not anything to be ashamed of – it's an opportunity to show how God used it for His glory and restored you. It's an opportunity for His Light to shine through you.)

5. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (Nothing happens in our life that hasn't first gone thru the hands of God. No hardship has come to man that He doesn't know about. When we STAND against wrong, when we STAND against the world and their values, you can bet it will be uncomfortable at times. But PTL, Jesus has been there and done that and gives the peace that passes all understanding)

6. If we are distressed, it is for YOUR COMFORT AND SALVATION (Whatever distress or struggle we are in today, can be used to the benefit and comfort for someone who will come behind you and endures a similar situation – infidelity, infertility, cancer, anxiety, worry, financial difficulty)—GOD DOESN'T WASTE ANYTHING; if we are comforted, it is FOR YOUR COMFORT (when the Spirit comforts us, we use that lesson to turn around and comfort the next person), which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.

7. AND our HOPE for you (there are people who will stand in the gap for you and hope for you when you can't hope for yourself. When you can't see a way out, when you can't see the positive – as Christians we are to stand in the gap) IS FIRM because we know that just as you share in our sufferings so also you share in our comfort.

    8. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure (Have you ever been here?), far beyond our ability to endure (Has there been a time in your life when the weight of what you were carrying seemed to suffocate you, overtake you, or just drown you – You are not alone)

    9. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (When life is too much to bear, when the hurt gets to be too much – then God will get the glory. Why is that? Because when we are at our weakest we allow Him to be His mightiest. Not by my strength but by THINE and THINE ALONE.)

    10. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. ON HIM WE HAVE SET OUR HOPE THAT HE WILL CONTINUE TO DELIVER US.


If we are not transparent, then how can God receive the glory? Transparency requires us to be authentic in our faith because if we put on Christianity like a jacket and take it off whenever the mood strikes, your phoniness will be on display for everyone to see (like they don't see it already).

I encourage you to find a group of godly, growing, Christian women with whom you can be authentic and transparent. Make sure these women will hold you accountable and require you to take off your different "faces," so that you may better reflect the light of God.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hears God’s Little Alarm Clock Assistant

It's Saturday, and I could've slept in, but noooooo, my body woke up at the normal 5:35 AM. While I struggled in vain to go back to sleep, I gave up and grabbed my laptop.

This is one of the few times that it is truly quiet and peaceful in my house. I know there will be a time in my life when things are more quiet and peaceful, and I don't wish them here any time soon for it will mean no children running through the house, no laughter from kiddos, no referring arguments, no talking about our day and what is going on with the kids and their friends. So, for now, I'll take these little moments and refuel when I get them.

It's almost 7 AM now, and there is a bird outside the window singing his heart out…God's little alarm clock assistant. Had I not gotten up earlier, this little fellow would have done the job.

This morning my quiet time is the Psalm 37 chapter. Lord, I will trust you, do good and dwell in your place. I, so, want to delight myself in you, Lord. This means any selfish desires I may have even if they are doing good in your name must be laid aside. I want to take joy by being in your presence, and I want that to be enough. I want my service to You to be out of obedience and desire to delight You. I commit all my ways to you – my ways as a wife, mom, friend, ministry leader. I trust You enough to follow You with complete abandon. I desire a simple life unfettered by distractions this world offers. Thank you for this time of stillness and quietness and peacefulness before You. Thank you for this time to meditate on Your Word. Lord, I want to delight You. I trust You to firm up my way knowing You will not let me fall. Lord, I will wait for You, for Your prompting and leading because I know You will exalt me or lift me up to the place where You want me. Help me to enjoy serving You in the here and now and leave the tomorrows to Your capable hands. Amen.

Is Meditating on Psalms 37

It's Saturday, and I could've slept in, but no, my body woke up at the normal 5:35 AM. While I struggled in vain to go back to sleep, I gave up and grabbed my laptop.

This is one of the few times that it is truly quiet and peaceful in my house. I know there will be a time in my life when things are more quiet and peaceful, and I don't wish them here any time soon for it will mean no children running through the house, no laughter from kiddos, no referring arguments, no talking about our day and what is going on with the kids and their friends. So, for now, I'll take these little moments and refuel when I get them.

It's almost 7 AM now, and there is a bird outside the window singing his heart out…God's little alarm clock assistant. Had I not gotten up earlier, this little fellow would have done the job.

This morning my quiet time is the Psalm 37 chapter. Lord, I will trust you, do good and dwell in your place. I, so, want to delight myself in you, Lord. This means any selfish desires I may have even if they are doing good in your name must be laid aside. I want to take joy by being in your presence, and I want that to be enough. I want my service to You to be out of obedience and desire to delight You. I commit all my ways to you – my ways as a wife, mom, friend, ministry leader. I trust You enough to follow You with complete abandon. I desire a simple life unfettered by distractions this world offers. Thank you for this time of stillness and quietness and peacefulness before You. Thank you for this time to meditate on Your Word. Lord, I want to delight You. I trust You to firm up my way knowing You will not let me fall. Lord, I will wait for You, for Your prompting and leading because I know You will exalt me or lift me up to the place where You want me. Help me to enjoy serving You in the here and now and leave the tomorrows to Your capable hands. Amen.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thinks the World See Us as Play Dough

You can tell the woman who is a mother to school-aged children because they have play-dough in their homes…sometimes in the carpet, on the pet, in someone's hair (you get the picture). My son who is 6 loves play-dough. During the middle of my lesson God gave me this illustration that I pass onto you. When I was young, play-dough was very basic, but now there are whole packages of play-dough that comes with scissors, "cookie cutters" in different shapes. You can press these shapes into the play dough and make impressions all over the play dough. I was thrilled to make a snake out of play dough when I was little, but now they have play dough barber shops and the play dough grows out of their heads! At any rate, we are a lot like play dough. We go out into the world every day, and the world tries to leave its mark on us, to make an impression on our lives…sometimes its stars or circles, but other times they are just trying to wring us out and string us out till we are thin as a rope telling us we need to work harder because we need to have this size TV, these shoes, this handbag, or our kids have to have the next and latest gadget.
The world tells us we should be thinner, taller, smarter, tanner, more voluptuous, or prettier – the world wants to entrap us, ensnare us until we have so many stamps on us we just look downright ridiculous. What the world wants from us is completely opposite of what God wants for us. God is a Master Craftsman, an Artisan. He can take any clay (no matter how stamped, how wrung out, how misshaped we've become by the world) and start over. He can repair the damage the world does. He can smooth out the rough places (Is 42:16 – love this verse!). And He can restore you. He can make you into the work of art, the one-of-a-kind masterpiece He originally designed you to be. This should be the greatest motivator we have for studying God's Word. He wants to have an intimate, growing relationship with you that is for YOUR benefit. By having a steady diet of meat in the Word of God, we will know where our value comes from. We will know that we don't need all the things the world says we have to have. We don't have to measure up to all the world says we "should" be. There is FREEDOM in eating the meat of the Word, so one of our motivations for studying God's Word, for learning to dig in and find the meat for ourselves is this – the world is always making its impressions on us, but God wants to make us into a masterpiece.

There are a lot of reasons and excuses people don't study the Word of God, but as my daddy says, "Excuses are like belly buttons, everybody's got one." I highly recommend you read my prior blog about the challenge of the relationship. Make sure you have your priorities in order because Satan would like nothing more than to see you fail in this relationship. And any time we say we are going to commit to growing and begin, Satan is going to make it difficult. If Satan isn't messin' with you, then you ain't doin' squat to irritate him – just sayin', girlfriends…just keepin' it real.

I am challenging the women, my girlfriends in my Sunday school class to have a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Lover of their souls, their Savior, their Creator and their Redeemer. In order to do this, we have to get off the bottle! We HAVE to be meat-eaters. We have to be able to set at the table He has prepared for us and feast on His Word in that one-to-One relationship. Bible studies are great! I love Beth Moore, Priscilla Schrier, Lysa Turkheurst, and the list goes on and on, but there is no substitute for being able to sit down with the Word of God, digging in it, finding the meat that He has prepared for you and digesting it conforming your life to the Word of God. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE!

There are two resources I use, and because not everyone can afford to go out and by commentaries, Bible dictionaries, Biblical maps, I want to provide you with these FREE resources. I encourage you to not only use them, but explore them, see how they work, and then dig in. The first is On this site you can put a word, part of a verse, or the actual location of the verse and it will search the whole Bible providing you with a list of possible verses. The reason I like this website is because it allows you to choose from different translations from which to read. If you don't understand King James, great! Try NIV or the Message. This site will do that for you. The next site is This site is the Holcomb Christian Standard Bible. This is the first Bible in a very long time that they went back to the original text to translate the Bible. Those who were translating were not necessarily Baptist. They were linguistics who know Greek and Hebrew –God love 'em! You can put in a word or a scripture. The site pulls it up. If there is a word that is underlined just simply roll you mouse over the word and the site gives you the definition in its original text. If there is a letter indexing a word or sentence, roll over it with the mouse and scripture location is given. If you will roll over that verse it will pop up that verse in its entirety! On the right side of this site are other tables like for dictionary, word study, etc. Explore and learn how to use this site. It is most helpful.

On it lists some motivations for wanting to be meat-eaters, for having a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ:
  1. "to experience consistent joy" (Ps 119:111)
  2. "to sort out our thoughts and motivations" (Heb 4:12)
  3. "to guard ourselves from sin and error" (Eph 5:11-17, 1 Pet 2:1-2)
  4. "to know God in a personal relationship" (1 Cor 1:21, Gal 4:8-9, 1 Tim 4:16)
  5. "to know truth and think clearly about what God says is valuable (2 Pet 1:21) – Do not try to conform God's infallible Word to fit your lifestyle, your sin – that's not someplace I would want to be standing!
  6. "to reject conformity to the world as we renew our minds" (Rom 12:1-2)
  7. "to experience God's freedom, grace, peace, and hope (Jn 8:32, Rm 15:4) – YES, YES, YES!!!!
These are just a handful of reasons we should desire a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. These are just a few reasons we should be digging into the Word and finding TRUTH for ourselves.
Before you start this journey with us you must believe that the Bible is a unit – it is complete. If you believe one part of it, you have to believe it all because if you don't believe it all, you might as well not believe any of it, and don't waste your time. Second, the Bible is God's inerrant Word – He may have used man to write down His words, but the Bible is God-inspired, God-breathes and it contains NO ERRORS. That is it. The BLACK and the WHITE of it. NON-NEGOTIABLES.
My challenge for you this week as we begin this journey together is this:
  1. Pray that God will give you a desire, an insatiable hunger for His Word. Pray it daily before you start reading His word, and when you pray, leave time to be silent, to be still.
  2. Invest in a Bible that you can understand. If you can't understand the Bible you have, you won't have much of a desire to read it. It's like when my mom led the seniors to read Beowulf (or however, that's spelled). I couldn't understand that book anymore than I could if I were to read Greek, but she was there to make sense of it. Get a Bible that you can make sense of.
  3. Get a journal, a pen, a hi-lighter and your Bible and find your place to spend time in the Word.
  4. Read the first 5 verses in the Proverbs for each day. Today is February 6th, so I would read Proverbs 6:1-5. Take one verse at a time. Meditate on it. Read it in a different version. Write down in your journal the pattern you see, what you should learn from it, what is He saying to you. I underline the subject once and the verb twice – it helps me to dissect God's Word – to recognize if it's an action verb or if the verb is in present tense. It's okay to write in your Bible. Use the references I gave you above to see what you find out.
There is great joy in learning and knowing God's truths.
Each week we will learn a new principle about studying God's Word, and I will give a new challenge for you to do the next week. My prayer is that the challenge will help you to grow in your faith and in your relationship. If you miss a day, don't let it keep you down. GET BACK UP! You're only a failure if you never get back up! You can do this. I know you can!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Has Four Eyes

 I have a confession to make. I use to make fun of women who wore their glasses on the end of their nose. I use to laugh at women who would lose their glasses while they sat on top of their heads. The idea of carrying my glasses clasped on the front of my shirt used to give me a giggle, and I have often thought the chains women wear around their necks to hold their glasses were tacky. BUT NOW – I realize why women wear their glasses at the end of their nose because they don’t need them for when they are looking up to see what their children are getting into. They only need them to read. And while I haven’t lost my glasses on top of my head nor worn them on a chain, I have put them on the front of my blouse.

I remember the first time I was putting on glasses at the eye doctors. The assistant was sitting in front of me, and the mirror was to my side. I picked up the rimless glasses, put them on my face, looked into the mirror, and I began to laugh. I took those glasses off, picked up another light pair of glasses, put them on, and cracked up laughing. This continued for the next two sets of glasses. By the end, I was laughing so hard I had tears running down my face, and the lady behind the desk was looking at me as if I had slipped a cog. As I took off the last pair of glasses, I looked at this bewildered lady and explained, “Every time I put on a pair of glasses and look in the mirror, my mother is looking back at me.” I don’t think she really appreciated my perspective.

For years I struggled to get out of my mother’s shadow. My mother was a well-loved, high school, English teacher. Her kids still keep in touch with her, and now her kids have kids who have graduated high school. So, I fought for my own identity.

While growing up, most people said I looked and acted like my daddy, but as I matured, more and more said I was definitely my mother’s daughter. In order to break away and have my own identity, I moved to Dallas to start my career and make my own name. It was good for me, but here I sat back in Shreveport looking into the mirror, and I was seeing my mom. It didn’t bother me like it used to either.

Both of my parents wear glasses. My daddy has a stigmatism. Have you ever tried on someone else’s glasses? I use to try his on when I was growing up, and I felt so disoriented and loopy when I attempted to walk while wearing them.

Glasses are reader specific. They allow the reader to see what they were otherwise missing. I cannot read unless I use my glasses. For some, their glasses make hazy things clearer. Regardless of what kind of glasses you may require, when you look into the mirror who do you see? When you see a problem, a challenge, what do you see? Do you see an opportunity?

Sometimes, we need to ask God to remove the scales from our eyes, so we can see what He wants us to see, so we won’t be limited by our own fragile humanity and ignorance. I want God to show me what He sees in other people because His love for each of us is so intense and overwhelming, and to be quite honest, there are people on this Earth that I have difficulty loving like that. When He removes the scales from your eyes and you look in the mirror, who do you see looking back at you? Do you see His image in you or just the selfish one? Just curious.

Has a Challenge for You – A Relationship

For those of you who don't know, I'm the proud momma of two beautiful children. I can say that because 1) They are and 2) I didn't have anything to do with their looks, genetics, etc. Both of my beautiful children are adopted. I am blessed beyond measure. My daughter's adoption is an open adoption. Open means we know her birth parents. We have a relationship with them. We know where they are and how to reach them, and they know us and how to reach us. Whenever there is a question or concern, I can pick up the phone and call. For some who anticipate adopting a child fear grips them when someone talks about open adoptions. Fear comes from ignorance. Think about it – if the birth parents have struggled to make the hardest decision in their lives, they've met you and have hand-selected you, they aren't going to do something to jeopardize their relationship with you. The way I choose to look at it is this – There are two other people on the face of this earth who love our daughter with a sacrificial kind of love.

A closed adoption is when the birth parent(s) or agency may choose you to parent a child, but there is no real relationship between the two sets of parents – the birth parents and the adoptive parents. The parents of a closed adoption in our son's case saw our profile and photos and hand-selected us, but the agency is the one who contacted us. It's a one-time communication event. The information I have on them is limited. The information they have on us is limited. It's this relationship that reminds me most of some people who call themselves "Christian." Some people call themselves "Christian" because at one point in their life they prayed a prayer asking Jesus into their hearts to save them. Some might call it "fire insurance." Then nothing. They make that one-time communication – they choose to ask Jesus into their hearts, and then NOTHING. Sure, some go to church and fill a pew expecting to get what they need through osmosis – IT DON'T WORK LIKE THAT, SISTAS!

Relationships take work. If you are married, what if you husband proposed, you accepted and then he stopped talking to you? Let's get real, there really isn't a relationship at all.

There are many excuses as to why people don't read the Bible or have a quiet time. Your fiance' says, "I'd like to help you plan our wedding, find a place for us to live and all that kind of good stuff, but I'm too busy." Your husband says he can't take you out on your anniversary because he just doesn't know how to talk to you? Your child says, "Mom, I'd like to hear what you say and understand, but I just don't want to." Are those deal-breaking statements? Are those relationship-stalling perspectives? And yet, you choose every day to tell God by word or by actions that "you are too busy," and without any effort on your part you say,"I don't know how to talk to You, God nor do I understand the Bible." Or maybe you are His child who says, "I really just don't want to commit to that kind of a relationship with you God." OUCH! We've all done it at some time. We've dug the dagger into his heart and twisted it just like our loved ones have done to us.

My question to you is this, "Are you willing? Are you willing to try studying the Bible? Are you willing to try to grow in your faith and have a deeper, more meaningful relationship with your Creator, your Savior, the Lover of your soul? Are you willing?"

I hope so. If you are, walk with me of the next several weeks, and let's grow together in our relationship with Jesus. I do not pretend to know all there is to know. I struggle in my faith just like everyone else. My last couple of blogs reflect struggling in my faith – just keeping it real and being as transparent as I can be. Will you join me? I will give you resources and tools that I use when I study God's Word. I want to encourage you in your walk.

You may be wondering what happened between last week's blog and this week's blog – it's this. "He restores my soul" (Ps 23:3). My struggles haven't dissipated. My problems and concerns have not disappeared, but God has sent encouragers in my life for which I am forever thankful. They have quoted Scripture to me. They have prayed for me. They have followed-up with me to hold me accountable. That's what sisters and brothers in Christ do for one another.

So, I invite you to join me. I will hold you accountable if you will do the same for me. I will pray for you, and if you would pray for me, I'd really appreciate it.

My challenge for you this week is this: Read a Proverb a day. There is a chapter in Proverbs for every day in the month. Even if you choose to read and meditate on the first five verses that is a great start.