Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Execute the Excuses

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m reading in the book of Judges right now, and the men there have really caught my attention, in unexpected ways. So, I’ve been thinking about them and poking around in their business. After being slapped by what Shamgar had to teach me,  I went back to read about Ehud again in Judges 3:12-30. He’s the left handed Benjamite who was mentioned just before Shamgar.

Let me tell ya, Ehud did not pull his left-handed punch as I read and reread his story.

Click to make bigger.
Warren Wiersbe says “the text of Judges 3:15 can be translated ‘a man handicapped in the right hand,’ which suggests that he was not ambidextrous at all but albe to use only his left hand.” If it’s true that Ehud was handicapped, then that might have helped him gain a private audience with the king of Moab. Instead of using his handicap as an exemption clause, he used it as part of his strategy and then followed it up with more action. He led Israel to victory over Moab and the nation had 80 years of peace.

Ehud did not let his handicap stop him from doing what God called him to do. He didn’t make excuses why he couldn’t. Instead, he relied on God and learned to work with and around his handicap.

If I want to succeed or even move forward in what God has called me to do, then I need to follow Ehud’s example and quit making excuses. I need to quit believing those excuses and basing my actions and my life on them.

There will always be excuses.
There will always be speed bumps.
There will always be obstacles.
My job is to follow Ehud. Adapt, learn what I need to, make the necessary adjustments and press on.

Only as I execute the excuses will I be able to move forward in obedience.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Reviewing Bible Memory Passages - Part 1

Bible memory. Scripture memorization.Patty Wysong at Patterings

I cannot tell you how much Scripture memorization has helped me this last year and the last few months in particular. It's made a big difference in my Bible study time, in what I take away from studying, in the satisfaction I find in my studying, and especially in my thought life.  Memorizing Bible verses has been a game changer for me.

Part of my Scripture memorization this time around has been relearning passages I had memorized years ago. I was encouraged to see how quickly I was able to relearn them! Yet even as I relearned them and added them to my "rolodex of Scripture" I wondered how I was going to keep them all in my head. My brain is like Swiss's full of holes (so things seem to fall out as fast as I put them in my brain). So, I did some digging on ideas for reviewing the Bible verses you've memorized, and I found this gem with John Piper...

After watching this I found that I stressed less about remembering every verse. Knowing how I work, that itself will be a help.

I'm also putting together a list of verses that I want to have ready and available on the tip of my tongue, to pull out and use at any time. These passages are ones that I feel will help me where I am now and with what I see my ministry is.

So tell me, what is one Scripture passage that you want ready in your mind? 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cutie-Patootie Monkey

As you probably know by now, Toby is a ham. When we're working a fair his job is to be cute, and he does a bang-up job of it.  Of course, while he's being cute, we're trying to get a good picture and often that can be challenging. Very challenging.
Monkey Monday at Patterings

Thankfully, we can usually get a picture that works. But in the meantime, we end up with some funny shots of him and of the people he's posing with.

Getting to see people as they meet a monkey lets me see a lot of smiles and hear some pretty cool stories, and it always makes me day.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

4 Tips to Inspire Others

Inspiring others is a gift. It's something I think each of us can do. If we want to and are willing to do the work first.

The other day, my oldest son badgered me into watching a Piano Guys video. And yes, he badgered until I watched it simply because he wanted me to, and because he said it was piano and cello music (and I happen to love cello).

Confession: I fell in love.

I've loved classical music and cello for a long time (ask my kids, they've listened to countless days filled with it) but had fallen away from it because those same kids grumbled constantly about it. Lesson learned. My music is back. =)

That one video led to an hour's journey through a playlist that had me ready to tackle my heart-work again.

Here's The Piano Guys Charlie Brown Medley that brought a lesson into focus for me... Watch it! Please! You'll be glad you did.

4 Tips to Inspire Others

  1. Inspiring others takes Emotion! It has to start deep inside you, bubble up and then pour out. You have to feel the passion within yourself before you can share it and inspire others.
  2. Inspiring others requires Effort! The truth of reaping and sowing is true when it comes to inspiring others. When you put effort into your message or music or art, you reap the benefits in many ways. And so do others. If you want to inspire people you must invest the effort into whatever it is you are called to do.
  3. Inspiring others takes Enthusiasm! on your part. The same music or message could be shared without enthusiasm and it would fail to inspire. It'd face-plant and leave you wondering what happened. 
  4. Inspiring others requires personal Enjoyment of your craft. It's one of those silent, seemingly invisible things that transform the experience into one that's vibrant. The Piano Guys do not just perform what they're called to do, they enjoy it and their enjoyment is contagious!

The Piano Guys pour emotion, effort and loads of enthusiasm, energy and enjoyment into their music, from the opening notes to the grand finale. From there it overflows onto their audience and inspires them. Smiles appear, hands start clapping and feet that shuffled down the corridor begin to dance.

Hearing and watching The Piano Guys inspired me. It infused me with energy even though it had been a long day, and motivated me to tackle my heart-work. The work God has called me to do.

So tell me, what inspires you?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Joyously Abandoned

In my post Face the If I mentioned how Wilda Mathews was caught in the trap of 'if onlys' on Easter Sunday 1952, deep in the heart of Communist China. A year later, as Easter rolled around again, she was determined that it wouldn't be another black day for her. She started studying the resurrection story and resurrection life, and when she came to Peter's part she felt condemned.

She had not said, 'I know Him not' but she had no joy. She was not bitter, but she was frustrated and restless. Her opportunity to witness to the Chinese eyes around them that she did know the Lord and that He was satisfying her drought—had she shown that? If not, wasn't that denying the Lord before man?

As I've read that many times now, I'm constantly convicted by it. Am I joyfully living? Like Wilda, I'm not bitter, but I've certainly been frustrated and restless at times. Can others see that Christ is not just meeting my needs, but fulfilling me, too? That His Life is flowing through me? Would others see my green leaves even though my life might be in the biggest drought yet to face me?

Two months later, Wilda's husband, Arthur, came to a similar conclusion. He had been reading Ephesians 5:10 and asked her what she thought was “well-pleasing to the Lord in these our experiences?” As they talked it over, Wilda was able to share with him her Easter lesson:

Not to receive it joyfully was to deny the Lord before men...A few nights later it came to Arthur like a flash: the Son had left Heaven, not submitting to the will of God, but delighting in it. Up to now they had been submitting; rather feverishly submitting...
The Son had left Heaven, not submitting to the will of God, but delighting in it.

In a letter home, Arthur wrote this about all they had learned:
Just to say submission to the will of God did not seem to go deep enough, for we had been trying for a long time to do just that. If you had a servant you would expect submission from him, just as you would from an old bullock with a yoke on its neck. But as sons surely there was something more than that.

...So as we uncovered the earth we could see that our prayers had selfishly centered around the shortening of the days...There was none of the recklessness of faith such as the three friends of Daniel showed. Nor was there the spirit of joyous abandonment which the widow displayed in giving her two mites.

So we came to see that God wanted us to
will with Him to stay put; not to desire to run away as quickly as we could persuade Him to let us...The great chords that sounded through our hearts as we touched the Joyously Abandoned keys were really thrilling...

So we are no longer stupid bullocks being driven or dragged unwillingly along a distasteful road; but sons, co-operating wholeheartedly with our Father...

The yoke is LIGHT only as it is TAKEN, and not as it is suffered.

Simple submission is not enough. Delighting in doing God's will, in living out the will of God for your life, is where the great joy is.

I haven't mentioned here all the things the Mathews lived with, and without during their years of waiting to be released from China, but their living conditions were such that the Chinese Christians pitied them. But was there a purpose for all that God asked of this missionary couple? Yes, there was a tremendous purpose! Here's how Isobel Kuhn wrote it:

The message above all others which the Chinese church needed was to see that truth lived out under circumstances equally harrowing as their own.

Arthur and Wilda had longed to serve Him; but humanlike they had put their own interpretation on what service is. They thought it meant preaching with their lips. Amy Carmichael once replied to a Tamil Christian who took this meaning of service: 'God didn't make you
all mouth.' The most potent way to preach is by life, by living it. This was the service which the Mathews family were to render to Him.

The message of this chapter has been running through my mind for two weeks, now, and the affect it's had on me is deep.

Being joyously abandoned to God's will is where I want to be.

Italicized parts of this post are direct quotations from Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Kuhn, chapter 8.
This is a repost from October 2008.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Plant Your Own Garden

As I've mulled over this whole thing with validation I was reminded of this poem that I was introduced to in high school. It's one that's helped me remember that I cannot rely on others to affirm what I'm doing. Putting that burden on them is actually unfair to them. It makes me expect it of them, especially of those closest to me, and those expectations can lead to disappointment, disillusionment, and brokenness.

It's taking me years to learn this but I think I'm finally getting the hang of it a bit better. I have some ideas why too, but I'll share those another time...

Come the Dawn
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn...
With every goodbye you learn.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tips and Tricks for Bible Memorization

Bible memory. Scripture memorization.Patty Wysong at Patterings

Memorizing Bible verses isn't easy but it's one of those things that is very worthwhile.

Here's a few tricks to memorizing that I've learned along the way...
  1. Ask God to help you!
  2. Be accountable to a small group—your Bible study or prayer group, a friend who will ask you about it and prod you when necessary…
  3. Write the verse on a card and post it somewhere you’ll see it or carry it in your pocket for quick and easy access.
  4. Read the verse 5 times every day.
  5. Draw a box around the verbs.
  6. Use a site like BibleGateWay or BlueLetterBible to look up a keyword in the verse.
  7. Use symbols to draw the verse then use it as a memory tool to help you visualize the verse. It really helps!! No artistic ability is needed. This is for you, not a gift for Rembrandt.
  8. Sing the verse. Remember Silly Songs with Larry? Anything goes.

My personal favorite tricks are... 

  • Write the verses using brightly colored pens (I write the verse 5-10 times, depending on my time and how well it's sticking in my head). The brighter the pens, the better it works.
  • Look up every cross reference listed for the verses I'm working on. 
  • Read about the verses in a commentary or two, to help me understand it more.
  • Put motions to the verse. 

I have to admit though that if people were to actually see me doing the motions they'd probably laugh. When I was walking early in the mornings, I'd memorize. I was always very thankful we live on back-country roads so only the deer and dogs would see me waving my arms around. But it helped!! Now, as I drive to work I'll say my verses and my motions have to be limited to what I can do while driving. But, they still help!!

Try different things until you find what works for you.
But the biggest key: Just do it!

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