Recently, I was issued a challenge to devote myself to 15 minutes of prayer and 15 minutes of Bible study/reading each day. Those numbers were the minimum; more are "allowed," but we call it the 15/15 challenge.
To encourage myself to spend regular time in the Word, I decided to try an exercise I heard about from my friend Sandi, who years ago was encouraged to write out--in longhand--the entire book of Deuteronomy. It took her "a month of Sundays" to complete, but she remembers it positively.
The very act of writing Scripture does two things, besides cramping your hand: it helps you catch each word and phrase instead of glossing over some as is common in silent reading. This leads to insight into phrases that have become so familiar that we often miss details. Writing out Scripture also slows down the reader, increasing general comprehension of the passage and allowing the writer's mind to mull over the entire passage for a greater length of time. When I decided to mimic this habit for the summer, I emphatically declined to copy Sandi's exercise in Deuteronomy. I wanted to succeed at this--or at least give myself a chance to succeed! So I am choosing various passages and chapters from around the Bible. I started with Psalm 1, then went to David's prayer in 1 Chronicles. I will also tackle the "love chapter" in 1 Corinthians 13, John 1:1-18, and Romans 6:1-14. I may end up copying parts of Ruth since I'll be leading a study of that book in June/July.
I'd appreciate any other suggestions. Do you have any favorite passages that have encouraged or challenged you? It could be a whole chapter, part of one, long or short...I don't have to finish it in one day. Send me your ideas!
The Anna Glow Fest kicked off this morning with a hot air balloon floating past our backyard. An up-close reminder that the Memorial Day weekend is going to be one big party out here in my little town. If you live in the DFW area and plan to stay in town for the holiday weekend, check out the Glow Fest site for details on pricing and events. It starts this afternoon and goes through Monday. The coolest part of this kind of event is the evening glow--when all the balloons light up at twilight, glowing against the dark sky. Very cool.
Our good friend Stacy Driskell, president of the Anna Chamber of Commerce, has spearheaded this event. Come on out and help support her efforts as well. Should be lots of fun out here on the edge of the metroplex.
Whatever happened to the von Trapp family singers (the movie version)? The picture below was taken at a reunion of the cast of The Sound of Music about forty years after the 1965 production. So I guess this happened about 4 years ago, and I'm just now seeing it. Love it!
Today, astronauts are space-walking their way around the Hubble Telescope, repairing the instrument that has captured beautiful photographs of the universe. Click here to see full-color glimpses into the far reaches of time. Don't rush through the slide show. It's pretty stunning.
From what I understand of science (admittedly, very little), the colors and patterns seen in the Hubble photographs basically reflect energy. Star explosions, quasars and black holes, nebulae and and galaxies...matter and energy are forever entwined. That matter/energy had to originate from outside itself. The complexities of our universe, from GRB 090423 (the gamma ray burst from a star 76,400,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles away from Earth, i.e. the oldest-for-now observed matter in our universe) to the inner workings of our DNA, find their source in the Creator.
As I clicked through the many Hubble photographs, I couldn't help but think of the verse in Psalms, "The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (19:1).
But then I remembered that this God, the one who created all that majestic energy, made himself a human like me, brought himself low in order to take on matter that inhabited the planet Earth, became a member of an abused, oppressed people, and sacrificed himself on a shameful instrument of torture--all for the love of me.
Colossians 1:15-16, 19-20:
"He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him...all things were created through him and for him...
...God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son, and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross--whether things on the earth or things in heaven."
A. W. Tozer once said, "The modern scientist has lost God amid the wonder of His world" (The Pursuit of God, 13).
Enjoy the beauty of creation. Then worship the Creator!
My friend Susie Bibb created the cross seen above. Originally, she saw a similar-looking cross on my wall (a birthday gift from last year) and reproduced it within a week or so. She has since tweaked her design and made it her own, using antique marbles, varying the sizes, colors, and types of wire. She made a large one a couple of months ago and donated it to our MOPS group for a door prize at one of our meetings. The orders began trickling, and are now flowing, in so much that Susie set up a web site for her creations.
Visit www.endurancedesign.com to see a few other photos of the crosses and to learn about Susie's creative vision. Each cross is custom-made, handcrafted with much thought and creativity. Each comes with a label or tag that contains the following statement:
The vintage marbles in this cross may have cracks or chips. They are given ‘new life’ by the cross that holds them up. In the same way, we too are held up by the cross, made new by the suffering and resurrection of Jesus. This cross is a reminder of the beauty that God can produce from a ‘chipped’ and ‘cracked’ people.
I'm completely tickled to announce that Kindle readers will be able to read Leading Women Who Wound within the next month or two. It may be a few years (decades?) before I can afford a Kindle, but those who have it seem to love it.
Fellow authors, all it took was a request from a reader, which I communicated to my publisher, and within a day they sent the digital files to Amazon. So easy!
With humor, honesty, and insight, Winner approaches the topic of chastity, "doing sex God's way," in the community of believers. Both married and single people will benefit from the theological treatment of this touchy subject. Parents need to read it if only to gain an additional, and helpful, perspective on pre-marital sex as they raise their children in what is hopefully more than a "just don't do it" attitude, but rather answering the question,"why is chastity beneficial?"
Read it first, then have your teens read and discuss with you. Married couples will also benefit--Winner does not shy away from discussing "routine, married sex" and the cultural lie that it must always be exciting to be good.
The final three chapters touch on themes of chastity as a discipline, repentance as key to true worship, and the church community as responsible to include singles in the normalcy of church life. In a world saturated with magazines and web sites promoting cheap, empty pleasure, this biblical, theological approach to purity offers a comprehensive alternative.
The upcoming weekend at my church won't be so welcoming to visitors--as we are closing the doors to everyone Sunday morning. Everyone, even members. Instead of meeting for church services, we are spreading out across our community to serve as the church, to "go and be" the church.
In light of the strong missions focus surrounding my worship community, I spent a little time on the Tapestry blog talking about motives. Why do we do missions? Why should we?