A Simple Bible Reading Idea

The beginning of the new year brings a sense of new hope to all of us. We see fresh starts happening and have a hope for something new and lasting to come.  Many of us set resolutions or determine new habits. Some of us declutter our homes or set new budgets. Others may start a new diet or determine a health change, like joining a gym. But we all crave this new.

New Year’s Resolution

On January 1, 2016 I began a New Year’s resolution to read through the Bible in a year. I had never done it before. Oh, I had started many that fell apart. I would get behind because of, well, life, and then become discouraged that I couldn’t get caught up.  But December 31, 2016, I finished reading all the way through the Bible for the first time.

What Changed?

I’ve considered since that time what changed to make me finally muster on the grit needed to complete such a lofty goal. I finally concluded a few things that might be helpful to others.

First of all, I believe my understanding of the importance of the Word of God changed. I had always had the habit of daily devotions but much of my time had been spent reading someone else’s ideas of what the Bible said. While there is nothing wrong with this periodically, I realized that it was really someone else’s idea after they were sitting at the feet of Jesus. I was starting to grow hungry for the Lord to teach me from His Word. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

JOhn 1:1

Secondly, I was beginning to gain an understanding of Logos…..the Word
John 1:1 is, by far, my favorite verse. This is where we learn about logos. Logos means “word” or “the expression of thought”. Strongs Concordance describes it as “the personal wisdom and power in union with God”. We call the Bible the Word of God. Jesus was called the Word. He was God’s expression of thought to us. Jesus was the personal wisdom and power in union with God. 

To take the Word of God into my heart is to take in Jesus. To hide the Word in my heart was to hide Jesus there. The more I know of the Word, the more I know of Jesus. I reasoned that dedicating time to read his Word was the very best way to spend my time rather than in other’s devotionals. This was no mere new year’s resolution.  I was about to build a lifeline for myself.

How to Make it Work?

I understand what it is to feel like I have very little time on my hands to add one more thing. It seems impossible, at points, during those seaons to find the time to be in the Word. I walked for many years deep in the trenches, so maybe I can offer some help for how to make a Bible reading plan work.

My SolutionM

There are so many great Bible reading plans but my favorite is the Five Day Bible Reading Program. Why?  There are grace days worked into it. If you miss a day, then you can make it up on the grace day. I, for one, usually get behind because of speech and debate tournaments with my children.  If I did get too far behind for those two grace days, I would split the days up and do a little extra to get caught up. For instances, one day split into two days along with the noral reading for those days.

But Wait!! There’s More!!B

This reading plan only took me 15 minutes a day. I am not a fast reader. More so, as a homeschool mom, i love efficiency and brevity, so I decided I would allow a Bible app to read to me while I followed along in my Bible. Reading along with the app allowed me retain the words and keep my mind from wandering. It’s also a little multi-sensory, which is my favorite way to teach and learn.

I usually do my reading in the morning but it can be done anytime. I am doing my most recent Bible reading plan in the morning at the breakfast table with my children. It can be done in the car while driving to school, waiting in the carpool line, or running errands as well.

Another advantage is being able to do the reading plan with your family.  I am a firm believer in introducing children to the word of God early. Small children may not comprehend what you were saying but that doesn’t mean you are not planting seeds.

A final advantage to this is it’s digital. Yes, that’s right, digital. With the Reading Plan app (a similar app for andriod phones can be found here) you can keep track of your reading daily.  It will also send you reminders. And if you don’t like the Five Day Reading Program, you can pick from many other plans. There are many churches who have started to include their plans on this app.

As for Bible apps, Dwell, ESV Bible, YouVersion are all great choices. Just pick your favorite platform.

You Can Do This!!

Reading your Bible daily is one of the best habits you can build for the year. And you don’t have to wait until New Years to start this. That’s the beauty of Bible reading. You can start anytime. And the above methods will help keep you on track. The important thing is to start. I encourage you to get creative with your schedule. Ask the Lord to help you find 15 minutes in your day. The goal is to get into the Word everyday. You won’t regret building this habit.

How have you made Bible reading successful in your life?

How to Seek God First in Bible Study

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

My goal with this post is to offer encouragement with forming the habit of meeting daily with the Lord; seeking Him first through a daily Bible Study. This encouragement comes in tangible form with several resources that I have collected over the past 20 years. My Bible study experience includes Percept Studies, Bible Study Fellowship, Mama’s Refill, topical studies, and simply digging in on my own. Before I started with my first Precept study 19 years ago, I really had no idea how to study my Bible. I have had to chart this path on my own.

Our pastor is encouraging the formation of our discipleship groups, or DGroups, for our whole church right now. He has recommended using a HEAR Journal for Bible Study. I had never heard of it before so I did some research on it. The link above and the following links were very helpful to me in the beginning .

https://www.jeremybrummel.com/the-h-e-a-r-bible-study-method/
https://ladiesdrawingnigh.org/use-hear-bible-study-method/
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Another fantastic resource is The Blue Letter Bible.  I use this resource more than anything else after my own Bible. They provide a iPhone, iPad, and Android app as well. The site and apps allow you to look up verses in parallel format, provides commentaries, and a Greek and Hebrew Lexicon. That is my favorite part. I do not have as much experience with the online version of The Blue Letter Bible but it looks awesome.

Another favorite source is the book, Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin. This makes a great summer read.

While I love Precept Studies, they do require a consdierable amounts of time to complete. I do believe everyone should go through a precept study at least once. But Jen’s instructions in Women of the Word help make some of the deeper Precept Study concepts doable for the busy woman.

Another great resource is found at Jen Oshman’s site. This gives a great summary of Women of the Word that Jen Wilkin teaches in her book. This is not a substitute for the book!!! Please read the book. Jen Wilkin gives the why and how behind the methods. Jen Oshman gives the quick view AFTER you’ve read the book. I would encourage you to make your own note cards.

I’m always concerned about how a personal Bible study can lead to misinterpreting the Word of God. This is a personal concern for my own study. Our fallen human nature will always find ways to make the Word about us. I found the following video very helpful in avoiding that mistake.

I hope you find these resources as helpful as I have. I am always looking for resources that will inform my own study so please don’t hesitate to share those in the comments below.

You will seek and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13



Tenderness

I am at a homeschool speech and debate tournament this weekend. It’s been an easier tournament because I don’t have my younger children with me. But there are many families with littles, whom we affectionately call juniors, at this tournament.

My friend, who is new to homeschool debate, did bring her littles with her though. One of these littles is her two year old. This little one is the youngest of seven and, like many toddlers, can be a handfull at times. This morning was no different.

During the early morning devotional time, this little one decided she needed to go sit with one of the teenagers at another table. Mom told her “no”. That didn’t satisfy and she wasn’t giving up. Her protests were growing but not too loud. . . until we started praying.

Honestly, I don’t remember the prayer, nor did I pay attention. I was distracted by the little one, but probably not for what you would think. I was listening to the tenderness of her mother. She spoke so softly and gently to the toddler who was beginning to rage. I thought of what a beautiful example this is of our Father. He speaks so softly to us in our rebellion. As we storm and rage to get our own way, He speaks tenderly, drawing us to trust Him.

God is calling us to be redeemed. He knows all too well how much our hearts behave as toddlers seeking our own way. Yet, just like a mother with her child, He draws us with tender words to a life that is surrendered, fully trusting in His sovereign, perfectly planned will for us. This is what surrender to God looks like.

When my sweet little toddler friend returned with her mom, she was lying her head quietly on her mother’s shoulder, completely at rest. It was a beuatiful image of what our surrender to Christ can look like.

Perfect Peace!!!

You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.
4Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Isaiah 26:3-4

If You Return

If you return, I will restore you. . . . God

On August 3, 2011, I was listening to Revive our Hearts by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (now Wolgemuth) while on a run in the morning. I can even remember the street I was on when the Lord began to whisper to my heart. The program was a recounting of a conference message Nancy had given to Campus Crusade for Christ.

https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/fallen-rock/

The message had sparked a revival in the ministry and the conference attendees were recounting what happened that day . I got chills as I listened.

Out of that message, Nancy wrote a series of books.

Ultimately, this series of books was turned into a Bible Study workbook called Seeking Him. And a passion for personal revival was born in me.

I have been through this workbook at least four times since that initial first study in 2011. i am currently going through it again. I have very distinct memories of my first time through though. One particular memory was being locked in my room, alone, so that I could deal with some sin before that Lord that I didn’t even realize was part of my history. That ultimately led me to contact several people whom the Lord brought to mind that I had once sinned against and never knew it. I hurt them. It killed me to know that. It needed to be confessed and repented of. One of those incidents went all the way back to my high school years in youth group. We are not just talking about sin that is current and blatant. We are talking about sin from years past; deeply rooted sin that I had been blinded to. I was finally seeing myself as Isaiah saw when he stood before the Lord in his vision.

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Isaiah 6:5 ESV

I am forever changed because of this message and this study that followed. I am also very passionate about revival now. I believe the pride we all carry with us is one of the greatest issues we face in the church today. What I observe so much, especially in myself, is a willingnes to critique other’s tiny splitters without ever truly and deeply examining the depth of our own log. I just wonder if we don’t see revival in our land because the church itself is not broken nor is it in a place to be.

I have been trying to determine my niche for my blog. I thought it was going to be primarily a “homeschool mother of large family” blog. I will include flavors of that for the sake of living out my walk with the Lord in the area He’s placed me. But after a great deal of prayer and returning to the Lord, I reazlie that the last seven years of seeking to understanding personal revival for my own walk before God have brought me here. . . . .to be Beautifully Broken before the Lord. And I believe He wants me leading women. . . .all women to this place. Repentence is not just a message for the lost. It is a requirement of us as believers too. Continually. The call to repentance and be restore is God’s siren call to be loved by Him.

photo credit: unashamedofjesus.org

Brave

Photo Credit: The Foodie Eats

Mr. Tryon took me to on a date night the day after Christmas.  We had missed our usual time with the holidays, so he felt this was a good idea.  He wanted me to try Vietnamese Pho.  Now, when he described it to me, my initial response for “why would I pay good money for a bowl of broth?”  Seriously. Who does that?  BUT. . . . .I am attempting to learn to be brave so I changed my mind (because I love him), died to my desires, and had him take me to get some Pho. 

It was awful!! 

It was a bowl of broth. Broth!! 

Ok.  So, I’m exaggerating.  It wasn’t totally bad.  But, apparently, I was in a bad mood.  First of all, Mr. Tryon had announced to our waiter that this was the first time I’d ever eaten Pho, let alone Vietnamese food.  That didn’t sit well with me.  I was embarrassed.  I think it’s just that I’m private.  I don’t need everyone to know that I am a really boring person.  I’m perfectly content to be boring in private. 

But also, it really was just broth with chicken (which wasn’t bad).  But I couldn’t eat it.  Traditionally you use chop sticks.  Um, my hands don’t work!!  Arthritis. So, he suggested a fork.  It’s SOUP!!!!  You don’t eat soup with a fork.  Besides, when I pulled out the Italian in me, I wrapped the noodles around the fork like spaghetti and they slipped right off. 

Mr. Tryon also told me that I had permission to slurp.  I kept wondering if my mom was going to come around the corner and yell at me for bad manners.  I would yell at me for bad manners! I am too refined for slurping.  

Mr. Tryon was kind to offer to take me for a burger instead.  All I could think about was the money, so I painfully ate my way through the bowl and pouted my way through it.  Then we went to our local family bar/restaurant to play a few rounds of pool.  That didn’t help my mood much.  He beat me decidedly in all four games we played.  It was a disgrace to my record.  And even though I wanted to get a bowl of chips and salsa to return to my Tex-Mex Roots and forgot the Pho I had eaten, I didn’t. 

This is why I don’t try new things.  I stink at it.  And when I do try new things, I get bored very quickly.  But I’m trying to turn over a new leaf.  I prefer to try new things that seem a little safe and comfortable to me.  That’s why I’m attempting to blog.

On a serious note, this blog is my brave for the year.  I’ve never really been brave.  I am a coward. I am so fearful of moving sometimes. And I’ve truly grown tired of that. How can I truly experience Jesus when He calls us to courage in Him?  He helps us.  Isaiah 41:13 says “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”  What a precious promise that He will walk me through things that are scary to me.  Why am I sitting at home being boring when I could be living my life fully walking with my hand in His?  What’s been even worse is watching one of my children struggle with these same fears she learned from me. . .only they are probably worse. They paralyze both of us.  I don’t want to be that way anymore.  She needs to learn to live and I think she’s looking at me to show her how.  So that’s what my 2019 is going to be about.  I guess my word for the year is BRAVE. 

What are you going to be brave about this year? 

The Beginning

How do you start your very first blog post? That is a question I have pondered for many years. As of right now, I have five other blogs with various names; all attempts to be obedient. Each time I attempted to obey His call only to become scared and full of anxiety. I suppose it just wasn’t time yet. This time, it seems different.

On December 22, my children hosted their annual Capture the Flag party. The deal with hosting a party that close to Christmas was that there would be no work involved for me. I actually enjoy preparing for Christmas festivities and I needed the time to work.  They agreed. For various different reasons I’d rather keep to myself, I ended up never getting to the work I had to do.  And I wasn’t happy about it.

When I woke up the next morning, something was different. I was still thinking about the events of the previous day, still disturbed by them. But there was something else on my mind: the Spirit was leading me into something I just simply did not want to do.

This is real, folks.  Obedience was the farthest thing from my heart.

For several weeks this past fall, I have been working with a Christian Life Coach. Ana was wonderful and helped me so much. I worked through different goals I had and accomplished much. But I avoided discussing the one thing I believed the Lord wanted me to discuss as a goal….blogging. I’ve always wanted to. I have no writing skills and absolutely no courage though. My anxiety goes through the roof. But that morning when I woke up, the nag was something I couldn’t ignore anymore.

I use several different color pens in my Bible journal. That morning was no different. In fact, I used two: one for my negative, arguing prayers and one for my more positive, praise-like prayers. I went back and forth between “I am an absolute failure with no voice or writing ability” to “You are a great God who has done many great things in my life the past 20 years. It is YOU who has sanctified me!!!” I’ve never wrestled before God like that before.

He worked on some deeper sins in my heart. And He continually spoke to me.  I always wonder if those “words” I hear are actually God speaking to me. This morning is was all His word. Words I didn’t know were stored up in my heart. It’s been a very long time since I have felt the healing touch of God to the point were I was completely broken at the end of it. It was healing.  And ultimately, I knew.  I no longer had any other choice but to say “Yes, Lord”.

So I am here.