Saturday, June 29, 2013

Day 13 of Proverbs Read-Along

"I (Wisdom) love all who love me.  Those who search for me will surely find me.  Unending riches, honor, wealth, and justice are mine to distribute.  My gifts are better than the purest gold, my wages better than sterling silver!"  Proverbs 8:17-19
"Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Knowledge of the Holy One results in understanding."  Proverbs 9:10

Can anyone tell me where the last 13 days have gone?!  With the end of school, 2 on the 20th and my youngest just this week on the 25th; a graduation; softball  tournaments, games, practices & a video session; packing and planning for a week long tournament in Colorado; and getting meals, games, and organizing the house for the rest of the family while I'm gone, there just doesn't seem to be enough time & energy in a day to do everything!  And that doesn't include all the extras that happened this week, like a shredded tire while driving 60 mph down Rt. 80, dogs with upset tummies = a lot of carpet cleaning, and kids cleaning out their rooms resulting in a mountain of laundry!  And that's still not everything that went on this week!

Can you relate?  If not this week, I'm sure you've had equally or more harrowing weeks than this.  And yet, we survive, if not thrive through such craziness.  How?  We rely on God to carry us through.  Just when we think we can't handle any more, that's when God steps in and says, "Thanks.  I was hoping you'd ask for some help."  If we've learned anything from our previous studies, it's that we need to recognize that God desires us to lean on Him every day, not just when we're at our wits end.  When we rely on God, and not ourselves, we can handle even the most challenging circumstances and are often blessed in the process. "He will neither fail you nor forsake you." Deut. 31:6b

As we read along in Proverbs, we discover how we should live, what kind of person we should strive to be, and the reward we can expect.  It speaks of Godly vs. wicked people, humility vs. pride, wise vs. foolish, honest people vs. treacherous people, hard workers vs. lazy people and those who accept advice vs. those who don't. 
Personally, I cringe as I read, because I so often see myself and my actions on the wrong side of the "vs.".  But Proverbs is a teaching tool and I'm grateful that I am a work in progress, that God does not expect perfection and that I am SAVED BY GRACE through Jesus Christ!  And, as the verses at the beginning encourage, all who search for wisdom will find it and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  So, begin with fear of the Lord and continue to search for wisdom to live a life of blessing and happiness.

Do you have any favorite verses in these first 13 chapters?  I have too many to list, but let me begin by pointing out that my Bible breaks the book into three sections.  Chapters 1-9 are "Wisdom for Young People", 10-24 are "Wisdom for All People" and 25-31 are "Wisdom for The Leaders".   Did you notice the change between chapters 9 & 10?  Chapter 10 seems to be written in "fortune cookie" form.  Not to equate Solomon's wise advice with fortune cookies, but I often think these verses would be great to receive in a fortune cookie! 
And I love the word pictures that are painted: turning off the flow of our words (10:19); disaster striking like a cyclone and whirling the wicked away (10:25); lazy people being like smoke in the eyes (10:26); Godly people being described as flourishing like leaves in spring (11:28) or trees that bear life-giving fruit (11:30).  But one of my favorites is chapter 11, verse 22, "A woman who is beautiful but lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig's snout."  Ouch!  I can picture the satirical cartoon in today's newspaper or as a Facebook post!  Yep, Solomon knows how to paint a picture.

Painting such vivid pictures and using a little humor (there's more, this was just one of my favorites) helps us to remember our lessons.  Solomon was not only a wise leader, but a great teacher in substance and method.  We can learn from what he says AND how he says it.

Finally, there are 2 verses in chapter 13 that I love to quote when it comes to parenting.  I'm a mom, so I see these verses through the eyes of a parent, but they also remind me that I am a child, of my parents, but more importantly of God.  While these verses are applicable to me as a parent parenting my children, I cannot forget that I am first a child of God and He is speaking to me as the child.
"A wise child accepts a parent's discipline; a young mocker refuses to listen." Proverbs 13:1  Overall, my kids are good, but there are days and seasons when they seem more like the 'young mocker' than the 'wise child'.  I know God says this about me, too :) 
My other favorite verse on parenting is #24 "If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don't love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them."  Keeping in mind that "discipline" here means nurture, guide, and correct.  I think this should be printed on every piece of parenting material new parents receive!  We all have our days when we just give-in, but it's sad to see a parent ruled by their 3 year-old, their 7 year-old or their 13 year-old.  Children crave guidance and boundaries, which is why they test them.  And why God's followers are also called children - we are always testing His boundaries and thankfully He lovingly teaches, guides, and corrects.  For those of you who are also parents, find a style that works for you and your child (even children within the same family require different styles of parenting), pray for God's discipline for you, and parent on with grace, confidence, joy, and love knowing that you have the best parent role model and partner: God.

How are you doing with your One Word?  I am still "waiting" for my word to take root deep within - to become and exude the sweet, translucent qualities of honey in my personality. I am challenged nearly every day in this area and fail 9 times out of 10!  But it has inspired my time & efforts.  It helped me put together teacher gift baskets as we said good bye to 3 years of preschool!  It has fueled my desire to seek "natural" cleaners for my home and beauty products and "toys" for my youngest.  It's my style to work from the outside in at a slow and steady pace, so that's what I'm going with.  I'd love to hear from you!  How has it inspired you?  How has it challenged you?  How is the Proverbs read-along enhancing what your One Word is doing in your life?

On Monday my oldest and I will travel to Colorado for a week long softball tournament!  Can I ask for your prayers for safe travel and play, for us, her teammates & parents, and all the participants coming from all over the country and Canada to compete, watch, evaluate, teach, and officiate. 

I don't know yet if I will take my computer, so I may not post next week.  But I will be taking my reading, staying in the Word daily.  Please come to the blog to post about what you are doing and how God is working in you.  I will be able to read the posts in my phone, even if I am not able to write.  I look forward to hearing from each of you!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly - honey  

" Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Week 1 of Proverbs Summer Read-Aong

"My child, never forget the things I have taught you.  Store my commands in your heart, for they will give you a long and satisfying life."  Proverbs 3:1-2

Have you accepted the challenge of reading a chapter of Proverbs a day?  I hope you have!  These first few chapters are encouraging and generally easy to understand. (They can be a little confusing later.)  Sometimes I find it hard to stop at just one chapter a day.  If you find yourself wanting to read ahead, that's okay.  There will probably be a day or two a week that are so busy, you forget, so it all works out in the end!  Don't forget to use your hands as well as your eyes, when you sit down to read.  Whether you prefer to highlight, underline and/or write in a journal, do it.  You will gain even more wisdom when you spend time in the word, reading it, writing it, consuming it, and using it.

This week we will read chapters 1-7.  These chapters are jam-packed with information and advice on living.  Everything from our relationship with ourselves, our parents, & God to financial matters and avoiding immoral women (shouldn't that have been updated to say 'immoral people'?).  I found it interesting that Solomon says, "listen to me" quite often.  That makes me feel a little less frustrated with my own children, knowing that Solomon had to tell his readers to listen, over and over again!  So, it's not just my kids - thank goodness!  That's a parenting lesson right there - children need to be told repeatedly to listen to their parents.  Don't fight it, just keep plugging away!  It's not you - it's not them - it's human nature!

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do." P4:23.  With all the talk on Wisdom in these first few chapters, I was surprised to see this reference to 'the heart'.  In this change from 'wisdom' to 'heart' Solomon recognizes that although we may pursue & acquire wisdom we will always find time to do the things we love, to follow our heart and our desires.  My study Bible notes explain it well, "...making sure we concentrate on those desires that will keep us on the right path.  Make sure your affections lead you in the right direction.  Put boundaries on your desires.  Don't go after everything you see....keep your eyes fixed on your goal, and don't get sidetracked on detours (that lead to sin.)"  This can be applied to all aspects of our lives: from teaching young children to share, to advising teens to 'curb their enthusiasm' in many things, to our struggle of knowing I shouldn't eat the sticky bun sitting on the counter, but wanting to so badly I can hear it call my name!  Putting boundaries on our desires can keep us out of all sorts of trouble!

As you read, don't forget about all the studies we've done prior to this.  Everything is connected in some way.  Do you recognize characteristics of any of the great women of the Bible we studied?  Do any of them come to mind as you read?  What divine truths are revealed through Proverbs?   Maybe there are some truths that we talked about in It's No Secret and perhaps there are some new ones that you are discovering on your own.  Write them down, write them on your heart, and share them (in your life & here on the blog).  Finally, how does Your One Word fit into the book of Proverbs?  How does one enhance the meaning & use of the other?

I know, you're probably saying, "These are a lot of questions!  Can't I just read!?  Do I have to think so much?!"  Well, 'Yes' & 'No'.  If you've taken notes or written in your books and your Bible, some of these ideas may already be right in front of you.  Some of you have read this before and the connections are obvious.  If all else fails, sit in silence and meditate on a  passage or a word and see what comes to Light.  It's amazing what God will reveal when we stop trying so hard - let go & let God!

Enjoy your reading this week!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly - honey

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ooops & Inspiration!

This is a follow up of yesterday's post...

I see that I wrote "July 14" when I actually wanted to write "June 14"!  Whoops!  Time goes by fast enough, I don't need to help it along with typos!

A few weeks ago, my dear friends gave me a beautiful book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  I can't thank you enough for all the gifts, truly I love them all!  But this book!!!  It speaks to my soul every day.  If you don't have it, treat yourself to it or put it at the top of your wish list.

Today's note (because that's what I think of them as, notes from God) ties in too perfectly with the post from yesterday that I have to share it with you.  Please indulge the long quote...

Directly from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young 

"June 15
When you approach me in stillness and in trust, you are strengthened.  You need a buffer zone of silence around you in order to focus on things that are unseen.  Since I am invisible, you must not let your senses dominate your thinking.  The curse of this age is over stimulation of the senses, which blocks out awareness of the unseen world.
The tangible world still reflects My Glory, to those who have eyes that see and ears that hear.  Spending time alone with Me is the best way to develop seeing eyes and hearing ears.  The goal is to be aware of unseen things even as you live out your life in the visible world.
2 Corinthians 4:18; Isaiah 6:3; Psalm 130:5"

I could go on & on about needing silence and over stimulation of the modern age!  Just ask my kids - I actually like when we lose power for a few days because the only things that are affected in our house is anything that runs on electricity - we still have hot water, flushing toilets, heat (wood-burning fireplace) & food (gas stove).  But the hum of electronics and the "call" of them on our time and energy are gone!  I love the peace & quiet!  Unfortunately, I am a slave to them and have to work on carving out time to spend in that buffer zone with the God of the Universe who cares about me.  It sounds ridiculous that I would choose e-mail over time spent with my Lord, but I know I do it.  Writing it out makes it more obvious! 

Will you join me in praying that we each carve out time to spend with the Almighty?  I'm going to get my journal today - you know, the one we were suppose to have started during My One Word?!  Guilty - I haven't started mine yet.  But holy cow, how can I not after reading the note from God today?!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly - honey

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." Proverbs 16:24

Friday, June 14, 2013

July 14 - Summer Read-Along

"The purpose of these proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline, and to help them understand wise sayings."  Proverbs 1:2

How many times have you said "I wish there was an instruction book for... (fill in the blank)."  For me it usually came up in the early years of raising children.  But it also comes up in dealing with parents, friends, associates & acquaintances, finances, and big life decisions!

Good News! (Pun intended)  There is an instruction book!  The Bible.  The Bible is filled with history, fantastical stories of the 'super natural' (miracles, angels, etc.), poetry, epic love stories, great battles, and The Greatest Story Ever Told.  It also contains an entire book dedicated to wisdom!  There are some who say religion and knowledge are opposites - that only fools and ignorant people take refuge in religion; that somehow seeking knowledge negates religion.  This is a foolish argument!

While good advice can be found throughout the Bible, there is one book, 31 chapters long, wholly dedicated to teaching wisdom, discipline, and seeking knowledge.  Did you know that ? or is this news to you?  I "discovered" Proverbs a few years ago and fell in love with it last summer.  I started reading it and writing down my favorite verses.  And, although I didn't get through the entire book (still working on my discipline of daily reading), I have absorbed many proverbs into my life. 

For the summer I'd like to offer the reading of the book of Proverbs as a Summer Read-Along!  The chapters are very short!  Reading one chapter a day, we can get through the book in 31 days.  I know, it's a challenge in the summer, but I think we can do it!  Our official start date will be Monday, June 17th, but you can start reading now, if you like.

In these first few chapters notice how many times the word 'wisdom' is used.  Notice, too, the relationship between those who seek wisdom & knowledge and their relationship with God.  It reminds me of musterion: a sacred hidden truth that is naturally unknown to human reason but is made known by revelation of God, the term Rachel Olsen talks about in It's No Secret.  She goes on to say, "... drawing close to Him over time - develops our ability to recognize His still, small voice... enabling us to understand His meaning when that used to float right over our heads." (INS, 21).

Another theme in these chapters is how often we should seek knowledge & wisdom.  What do you notice?  In My One Word, Mike Ashcraft writes, "Yet God calls us to use our days to develop a heart of wisdom."  Yep, I think he got that idea from reading Proverbs!  While the MOW book suggests post-it notes and other creative ways of keeping your one word in front of you, Proverbs 3:3 suggests wearing "them like a necklace; write them deep within your heart."  How are you keeping your one word as a daily reminder of who you are in Christ?  I hope reading Proverbs every day will help you along the journey.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it is:

1)  Read one chapter a day in the Book of Proverbs. 

2)  As you read journal, underline, or highlight your favorite verses, verses that are confusing, connections and revelations.

3)  Visit the blog and leave a comment about what you are reading!  You can do this as many times during the week as you like.  It can be anything from #2 or questions and general comments.  I can't wait to read your thoughts on this!  Hey, I'd love to know what your necklace from P3:3 looks like!

I miss meeting with you all in person, but knowing that you are reading along with me in Proverbs and seeing your comments on the blog will be a great substitute for the summer!  Stay in the Word and stay connected.

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly (honey)

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." Proverbs 16:24