“Discerning his purposes does not require secret formulas…”

prayingFrom Praying Backwards by Bryan Chapell:

Praying in accord with the will of God presumes that we are praying in Jesus’ name because we are seeking his purposes. Discerning his purposes does not require secret formulas or mystical visions but rather a growing acquaintance with God’s Word that is the expression of his character. Being guided by the Word in our prayers is Christ’s primary way of talking with us as we seek his will. The more we immerse ourselves in his Word, the more we are able to walk life’s path with Christ at our side, informing our thoughts. Through his Word he points to the flora and fauna of our circumstances as if to say, “I want you to understand this or that.” This perspective first underscores the significance of examining all of life in the light of Scripture. Second, this perspective reveals how careful reading of Scripture becomes a form of prayer in which Jesus walks with us to interpret our world.

monday miscellany

An overdue round-up of links from ’round the web:

~ The best Christian novel you’ve never heard of. You’d better believe it’s on my wishlist.

~ My kids don’t eat organic.

~ Webb Simpson on marriage

~ Breaking News from 1973: Burgers Won’t Kill You

~ How is your Bible reading going? A peek:

The more I read the Bible the more I learn about God and about being one of His children – and the more I find comfort and courage in some of the most unexpected places of this big book.  There are certainly many “go to” passages in times of trouble or despair but the more I get to know all of God’s Word, the more I see what I know to be true about God – His love, mercy, faithfulness, patience, justice, wisdom, sovereignty, holiness – in every page and so I can receive comfort and courage not just from the “go to” passages but also from simply reading the next bit and being reminded afresh of God and His good promises.

~ I recently made this Very Greek Grilled Chicken (I did the marinating, and Paul did the grilling.). It’s a definite do-over. So good!

I hope your Monday has been a good one,

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walk

walkOff and on through the years, I’ve known people who have chosen a word for the year, and I’ve done it a time or two myself. Inspired by a recent conversation with coworkers, I’ve been thinking about a word that could be my theme for 2016, and chapter 5 of Ephesians led me to choose walk for this year. There, Paul exhorts us to:

  • walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us
  • walk as children of the light 
  • look carefully how we walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

I want to grow in these areas and prayerfully meditate on how I walk in faith this year. There are so many references on walking in Scripture, and I’ll look for them as I read through the Bible.

Oh, and I also want to literally walk more this year. 🙂

So that’s my #oneword #wordoftheyear for 2016. If you have one, please share.

reading plan for 2016

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2015 was not a good reading year for me, primarily because it was not a good sleeping year. Insomnia kicked off a maddening cycle of waking up too early and then being too tired to read at bedtime. This year, I intend to fight that cycle by getting up to read when I can’t sleep instead of tossing, turning, fretting, and wasting that time.  And I’ve decided to try an actual reading plan this year — the Challies 2016 Reading Challenge. I’m aiming for the committed reader category, and as much as possible, I’ll read books from my own shelves and Kindle library.

Also, I’ll be using the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan this year. I’ve used it before and look forward to revisiting, using these bookmarks for my Bible.

I’ll have to cut back my social media and internet surfing, and I’m letting magazine subscriptions (even the free ones) lapse in order to be more intentional with my reading.

Yeah, I’m aiming high, but why not? I enjoy reading and need to impose some structure and self-discipline in order to get back in to one of my lifelong passions. I won’t always want to participate in a formal challenge, but I think it will help me change some habits in 2016. So here goes…

I’ll be keeping a list of completed books again.

Do you have any reading plans for 2016? Do share!

Happy reading!

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“…with a sense of their small place in redemptive history…”

wowFrom Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin:

Modern-day Christians inherit a faith that is built on the foundations of that which has come before. We, too, must occupy a modern space while maintaining an ancient perspective. The earliest portions of our sacred text were written around 1500 BC, in a language we do not speak, to people whose lives looked very different from ours. But many of us choose to build our modern understanding of Scripture with no regard for the historical and cultural context that lies beneath its surface, a context that is essential for a right understanding and application of any text. The temptation to make the Bible applicable to our current experience without preserving its ties to its original audience is strong. The desire to say, “Can’t I just read the text as if it were written to me?” is great. The Bible’s historical and cultural context is there for the digging, but only those believers with a sense of their small place in redemptive history are likely to dig with diligence.

“He is the only reference point that is reliable.”

wowFrom Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin:

The Bible does tell us who we are and what we should do, but it does so through the lens of who God is. The knowledge of God and the knowledge of self always go hand in hand. In fact, there can be no true knowledge of self apart from the knowledge of God. He is the only reference point that is reliable. So, when I read that God is long-suffering, I realize that I am not longsuffering. When I read that God is slow to anger, I realize that I am quick to anger. When I read that God is just, I realize that I am unjust. Seeing who he is shows me who I am in a true light. A vision of God high and lifted up reveals to me my sin and increases my love for him. Grief and love lead to genuine repentance, and I begin to be conformed to the image of the One I behold.

If I read the Bible looking for myself in the text before I look for God there, I may indeed learn that I should not be selfish. I may even try harder not to be selfish. But until I see my selfishness through the lens of the utter unselfishness of God, I have not properly understood its sinfulness. The Bible is a book about God. As Moses would learn during the Exodus who he was bore no impact on the outcome of his situation. Who God was made all the difference.

***Don’t forget my giveaway! Click on over to enter! ***

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As you already know if you follow me on instagram, I’m once again obsessed with knitting. That has cut into my reading time — and into my blogging. So here’s a brief attempt at catching up a little.

~ I mentioned that when my son was visiting recently, he interviewed me for his podcast. That episode is now up, so you can listen in to our late night conversation if you’re so inclined. We chatted about photography, blogging, knitting, football, and my need for speed. It’s a pretty mellow episode, so grab some caffeine first.

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~ I’m working on an easy drop stitch scarf with a skein of yarn I bought earlier this year in California. It’s turning out really cool, and it’s an easy pattern.

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~ September is coming to a dreary, wet close. It looks gray and cool outside, but it’s really muggy and warm. I’m pretending otherwise, however, and am putting myself in a fall frame of mind with flowers, a scented candle, and lots of coffee.

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~ I’m still working on the 1 Peter Memory Moleskine, but I’m not on schedule. I’m not giving up, though.

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So that’s a quick round-up of what’s going on around here.

Happy fall y’all,
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“God was working all night long…”

storminsideFrom Sheila Walsh in The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are: [emphasis mine]

In 1956 Cecil B. DeMille directed the epic movie The Ten Commandments, in which the Hebrew-born Moses, an adopted Egyptian prince, becomes the deliverer of the Hebrew slaves. It’s hard to forget that moment when Charlton Heston, cast as Moses, raises his staff over the Red Sea and the waters part in seventeen seconds. It was a moment of pure drama back in 1956, but it’s not the way it happened. The way it actually happened is far more meaningful to us as we face life’s inevitable storms. We read the story in Exodus 14.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. (Exodus 14:21–22 ESV)

All night long! It didn’t happen in a moment. God was working all night long through the darkness. We don’t know how long the night will be, but we do know this: no matter how things appear, God is at work—all night long! Only the morning light will reveal what God has done. Do not despair or give in to the chaos of what you feel. Stand strong on what you know is true.