Tag Archives: Beth Moore

Invitation To A Feast: Bible Studies That Study the Bible

Recently, a handful of women from my church joined me in reading and discussing Lysa TerKeurst’s book “The Best Yes”. Though our numbers dwindled over the six weeks we met, those of us who remained at the end agreed that our time together had been well-spent.

TerKeurst is a New York Times best-selling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She’s a popular, gifted teacher and ministry leader. We were entertained, challenged and informed. And in some ways, we were changed by engaging through her book and the accompanying DVD-led study.

So why, as leader of this study group, do I feel like these women were short-changed?

As only God can do, I’ve received some gentle conviction in recent weeks over where I go — and where I lead others — for the study of God’s word. At the very least, I’ve been stopped in my tracks while I think about His desired path for women who want to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not sorry that we read this book. Nor do I feel we were misled in any way by the God-inspired wisdom offered by Lysa Terkeurst. I do, however, feel I misled the women by advertising the group as a Bible study. We discussed my “false advertising” in our first session and the women graciously forgave me. But in the end, it was as if I’d invited the ladies to come for bread and wine and served them chips and cola instead.

Tasty, but not as good as the real thing.

I’ve participated in women’s Bible studies for years, as proven by my library shelf full of Beth Moore, Priscilla Shire and Jennie Allen study books. I’ve read (and studied) many wonderful Christian books about topics that interested me written by spiritual leaders I respect, both men and women. Most of them have led me to a fuller understanding of scripture.

Here’s the thing. At least one of the women in our little gathering appears to be a “baby Christian” and I got the distinct feeling she was attempting to digest savory doctrinal commentary, when what she really needs is pure, simple food. Namely, the word of God.

Don’t we all?

My concerns are backed up by Bible teacher and author Jen Wilkin. Her essay in Christianity Today, “Let Bible Studies Be Bible Studies”, addresses this very issue.

“Churches must distinguish clearly between what is Bible study and what is something else because the average churchgoer may not be able to on her own. Knowing they should study the Bible, earnest Christians sign up for what we have labeled a Bible study, assuming that it is,” says Wilkin.

In her opinion, biblical illiteracy is pervasive in our churches, in part because we fail to point out the difference between pure Bible study and book study. Her church has become intentional about precise terminology when offering studies, with an emphasis on pure Bible study.

Moving forward, our church will do the same.

When a disciple of Christ desires to understand their choice to follow Him, going to source materials should be the first step. A well-versed Bible teacher can help by setting the table and joining in the feast, utilizing commentaries and even various translations to aid in the understanding of scripture.

In her excellent book “Women of the Word”, Wilkin says this about the value of intentional Bible study:

“Sound Bible study transforms the heart by training the mind and it places God at the center of the story. But sound Bible study does more than that — it leaves the student with a better understanding of the Bible than she had when she started.”

Reading and discussing good Christian books can enhance our application and even our understanding of scripture, but reading them should not be a substitute for studying the Bible itself, word by word, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book.

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16

 

 

 

 

To Have and To Hold, a Heart Surrendered: Write for 31 Days

Weddings are my favorite family celebration. Nothing is more beautiful than a woman prepared to wed the man who has captured her heart. And her man looks his most manly as he watches the woman of his dreams walk down the aisle.

photo (22)

Our lovely friend Ana exchanged vows with her man Seth in a garden wedding.

We were blessed to celebrate three weddings over the past several months and each of them was perfect in their own way. Those weddings come to mind as I consider these words from author and Bible teacher Beth Moore in her book “Children of the Day”:

“Who would you be if you loved Jesus with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength? That’s what you’re meant to look like.”

Jacqueline-Kennedy-Juliet-Cap-Veil-1953

Jacqueline Kennedy

Something to ponder — what would I look like if I loved my Lord in the same way I love my husband? If I gave God every part of me, surrendered and committed myself to Him with a devotion that says “take me, I’m yours; I’ll go where you lead”. How would that look on me?

I think I would be beautiful — as lovely and radiant as a bride on her wedding day.

If I made it my passion to get to know every part of Him.

If I gave Him not just a moment here and there, when I can fit Him in without inconvenience.

If I sought His counsel and considered His preferences.

If I chose Him over all others and adjusted my cadence so that I was  in step with Him.

If He was the first one I turned to upon waking and the last one I sought out before sleeping.

If I loved my God with abandon, I think I would be beautiful.

When I look in the mirror in the morning, in place of the furrowed brow and down-turned mouth, I’d see eyes that sparkle and a smile that speaks of love. I would step lightly into the world, all my burdens lifted and placed on the shoulders of my Beloved. People would be drawn to this beauty and want to know my secrets.

I would have a purpose in my life beyond seeking my own satisfaction and gain. My greatest desire would be to serve and please the One that I love.

As in marriage, I may find myself drifting from this place of perfect love. This love will be threatened by………just life. But I have the assurance that His perfect love will never fail. It will be constantly flowing, with no break in the current, even when my own systems have shut down. And that is when I will learn again to just surrender.

In her teaching, Beth Moore says this:

“You don’t have to figure out what to surrender to. Just surrender every ounce of your heart to Jesus. Ask Him to give you a supernatural love for Him that surpasses anything in your human experience.”

In the words of the disciple Mark:

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

And you will be beautiful.

 

http://write31days.com/ I’m stepping back in to the commitment to write every day. I’ve missed the mark for blogging 31 days, but sometimes you’ve just got to “do life”. To visit other blogs on this journey, click on the button at left.

 

What to Do While Watching the Corn Grow

corn

It’s like walking down an avenue of corn. This time of year, our country road is lined on both sides by tasseled stalks towering eight feet as they reach for the sun, creating a beautiful tunnel for my evening walks.

Walking is my chosen posture for thinking and praying. Something about moving along helps unlock thoughts, concerns, ideas stored away throughout the day. The trek is never very long, but for a good 20 minutes, it’s just me and whatever’s going on in my brain.

As I walk, I’ve been thinking about that corn.

I let go recently of a responsibility that’s been dear to my heart because I felt God was telling me to free myself up. For what, I have no idea. I just know that I’m in a “waiting” mode.

Kind of like the corn.

A few short months ago, seed was drilled into the soil, and after a season of rain and sunshine, what stands in place are towering green stalks with ears of corn. The crop looks ready to pick, but the growing hasn’t stopped. Kernels are filling the ears, hidden behind green husks now turning brown. In a short month, when the time is right, the corn will be picked, hauled to the mill and ground up for feed — fulfilling its intended purpose.

You don’t have to be a farmer to know that growing anything worthwhile takes time. And patience. Whether it’s a child, a business, a relationship or corn, there’s nothing instant about it.

The life of Christ gives us the perfect example of patience. For 30 years, Jesus knew what he was created to do. He understood from the time he was a child that there was a call on his life. But he waited.

“The right time for me has not yet come,” he said to his brothers (John 7:6) when they pushed him to perform. “For you any time is right.”

In her devotional “Whispers of Hope”, author and teacher Beth Moore reminds us that Christ lived for one purpose: to do the will of the Father. If we call ourselves followers of Christ, it should be the same for us.

“If our heart’s desire is the will of God, we will wait for His timing even when the pause is long and uncomfortable. We will gain nothing by running ahead of God.”

She points out that if we believe God knows what is best for us, shouldn’t we also believe that He knows when is best for us?

Does waiting mean standing still? I wonder, is there anything to be done while waiting for “when”? Even as he waited for the right time, Christ was about the Father’s work. He gathered around him a support team and he did the work laid before him in each day of his waiting.

I believe God honors “active waiting.” In addition to praying and staying in the Word while we wait, could it be that God is also calling us to make some moves on our own? I think there are a few things I can do to move from passive to active waiting:

  • Take a personal assessment and drop any unhealthy habits (physical, spiritual or emotional) that may be keeping me from hearing God’s voice. And I can replace them with new, healthy ones.
  • Find a place to interact with positive, affirming people — church, a small group, a volunteer responsibility.
  • Let go of a commitment that is unnecessarily consuming time, energy, resources. I’ve asked myself, “Am I the only one who can do this thing?” If not, maybe it’s really someone else’s job.
  • Sit down with a trusted friend and make a list of all my interests, passions, talents and look for a common theme.
  • Read worthwhile books, articles, essays and, yes, even blogs. God uses everything — He’s the God of perfect economy. He wastes nothing and He can speak through everything.
  • Do something positive for someone else. It’s amazing how an attitude of impatience and despair can be changed when I take the focus off myself and share God’s love with others.

While we’re waiting and praying, we can do so with expectancy and we can pray believing the answers will come, thanking God NOW for this time of waiting, and for the answers He is preparing — even while we wait. We aren’t called to move ahead of God, but we can be fruitful in our time of waiting. Call it exercising our muscles so that we are fit and available when God says “Go and do!”

 

Teach Me to Number My Days

Scrolling through some of my favorite blogs on these last days of 2013, I am inspired to take a fresh look at the tradition of making “resolutions”  for how I plan to live my life in the New Year.

Resolution — “a firm decision to do or not to do something”

(Oxford English Dictionary)

I’m not alone when I admit to being less than successful at fulfilling my own great expectations “to do or not to do something”. Expectations like…..

  • To exercise more, eat less
  • To trust more, worry less
  • To read more, watch TV less
  • To save more, spend less
  • To speak kindly more often, judge less frequently.

So instead of setting myself up for failure and the resulting self-recrimination, I’m asking The One who orders my days this question…..

“What do YOU resolve to do or not to do in the coming year?”

Because no matter how much control I think I have over my own life, I believe even more deeply in God’s power to orchestrate a plan that is far greater than any I could devise. Greater and infinitely more CREATIVE. And I know He desires to see me move forward into His vision of who I can become, because The One who created me tells me this:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”

And he promises this:

“I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

As I ask God what His plans are for the coming year, I’ll do so with my blank Day Planner at hand, ready to watch Him fill my days. I already know that I will be eager to rush ahead of Him, to take matters into my own hands and make suggestions:

“What about this?” and “Doesn’t this sound like a good idea?”

Because the truth is that even though I know God wants me to surrender to His will, I also know that I want a blueprint of His plans for me so that I can decide whether I want to surrender.

I can trust God with my surrendered will. He has proven Himself over and over in my life. And I believe His plan will be the BEST plan, because not only is my God creative, He is orderly. When I consider all that He has created and the wonder of His creation, how can I not trust that His plans are perfect?

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“Give God room to be completely creative,” says author and teacher Beth Moore. “Meet with Him daily as He unfolds the plan in perfect order. He’s really good at what He does.”

I’m waiting, God. I’ll meet you here — today and tomorrow. My days are surrendered to Your will.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12