Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What's in a Name?

"No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.  As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah."  
~ excerpts from Genesis 17:1-18

Hello!  Welcome to week 3 of our study, The Names of God by Ann Spangler.

This week we are introduced to EL SHADDAY, God Almighty.  If you've been around the church or listen to Christian music, this is probably a name you've heard before.  Amy Grant made the name more known with her 1982 song, "El Shaddai".  If you're new to the church or have never heard Ms. Grant's song, that's okay!  All you need to know is in our study this week.

In our reading, (Genesis 21:22-34) it is God Himself who reveals this name to Abram and by doing this reveals who He is.  WOW!  How would you react if God revealed Himself to you with this name?  Pay close attention to how Abraham reacts.  What is your take on that?  I'm really not sure what to think about Abraham and his response!  Though it does bring to mind times when I've reacted the same way to God's calling, "who? me?  you must be kidding!  how am I suppose to do that?"

You may notice that I used both Abram and Abraham in that last paragraph.  That's because he was Abram at the beginning of our reading and Abraham by the end of it.  God changes his wife's name, too.  Why do you think God changes their names?  What significance does that have? And what could that possibly mean for us?

While the reading is short and EL SHADDAY may be familiar to you,  I encourage you to spend quiet time with the questions, especially #5 & #6.  It is in pondering and answering these questions that God will be revealed to you and others through your life.

If you don't yet have the book, here are the last two questions:

#5. Have you ever had to wait a long time before God acted in your circumstances?  Describe your experiences and how it tested you.

#6. What does the name EL SHADDAY, God Almighty, mean to you?  How have you experienced God's almighty power working on your behalf?

I would love to read about how you have experienced El Shadday in your life.  I hope you will share your story in the Comments!

Have a wonderful week!

Your Partner in Ministry,


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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nothing is hidden

"He will not let you stumble and fall; the one who watches over you will not sleep.  The Lord himself watches over you!  The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade."  Psalm 121: 3, 5

How comforting is our opening verse!  Knowing that God does not sleep, but keeps an ever watchful eye on me, as a protector, fills me with warmth and confidence.

But what about those times when I fall short, very short?  Then the idea that God sees what I did or didn't do, allows feelings of guilt and shame creep in.  I want to run & hide.

What about those times of difficulties and suffering?  Does God see me then?  Sometimes it feels like He doesn't!  But the name EL ROI implies that He does.

This week we are encountering EL ROI, the God who sees me.  The passages for continued study at the end of this section point towards a God who is ever watchful over us; the comforting side of His all seeing-ness.  But, our Key Scripture is in the story of Hagar, the Egyptian slave woman who bore Abram's first son.  It is Hagar who gave this name to the Lord.  And I suspect that maybe she felt like God wasn't watching over her.  And once she realized He had been, she felt a little guilty about the way she had behaved.

Fortunately, her story doesn't end there!

As you study and read her experience, discover in your own life when you have encountered EL ROI, the God who sees me.

I encourage you to write down those times in your life when you suspected God had taken a 'coffee break' from His watchfulness.  Then try to recall if that difficult time later proved useful or turned into a blessing.  Perhaps you are in that difficult time right now.  Journal your thoughts and feelings as they come to you.  Write prayers to ELOHIM and EL ROI and watch as God, in His time and His way, turns your world around.

I'd love to hear about your encounter with EL ROI, the God who sees me.  Comment below (click here if you are reading this in e-mail) to share your experience!   I can't wait to read how God is working in your life!!

Your Partner in Ministry,


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

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Creativity - it's in us!

"In ages past you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands." Psalm 102:25

As I try to gather my thoughts on this first name of God, ELOHIM, I am all aflutter!  There is so much conveyed by the description 'mighty creator'.

What comes to mind for you?  Think & journal about it before you continue reading.  I want to hear what your thoughts are before you read mine!  Seriously, stop reading and write what comes to mind when you ponder what God, Mighty Creator looks like, sounds like; what characteristics & emotions bubble up to the surface upon hearing that title?

Good!  I hope you'll share your thoughts & ideas in the Comments!

When I see God, Mighty Creator I see order & logic coupled with imagination, ingenuity, and indulgence.  To create things as big as space, as deep as the oceans, and as powerful as wind requires strength beyond my understanding.  And to create all the colors found in nature, the variety of tastes & smells & sounds, and the proliferation of the all the different kinds of creatures, speaks to me of a God who just couldn't get enough, of anything!  Once His creative wheels got rolling, He just kept on going.  And while it seems obvious to us to create the world in the order in which He did, it still speaks of a God who is orderly & logical.  There is gentleness, too, in flower petals, soft breezes, the lap of ocean waves upon the shore, and the bonds of family among people & animals.  Mighty Creator is God so big He created everything, from the sun to the stripes on a bumble bee.  And yet, offers to give it all to us to care for and is forever concerned with each one of us, because we are His creation too.

Recall a time when you created something.  How did you feel during the process?  Afterwards?  Did you stand back and admire your work?  Did you give it to someone?  What did you expect or hope for in return?  Or did you keep because it's too difficult to entrust it to someone else?
When I write I spend quite a lot of time on it.  I write, re-write, read it a hundred times, change it, stare at it, wonder what someone else will think about it and then, when I think it is just right and feel a little pride in what I have done, with shaking finger I hit "publish".
Then wait and hope that someone is touched by what I have created.

It's not easy to create something and then give it away.  But that's exactly what God did in Genesis 1:26-30.  How does this idea of God as creator and us as being entrusted with His creation influence how you live your life?  And how can we instill in future generations the idea that we are the recipients of a heavenly treasure right here on earth?

When have you known ELOHIM - God, Mighty Creator?  I look forward to reading your encounter with the creator of the universe.

Your partner in Ministry,


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

Monday, September 8, 2014

Back to the Beginning

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1

Welcome!  I am so excited that you are here!  I told you we were going back to the beginning and our opening verse is as close to the beginning as we can get.

I can't wait to get started on our new study, The Names of God by Ann Spangler (not to be confused with her books, Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus).  

I have always been fascinated by names, which is beyond ironic because I have such a hard time remembering people's names.  But, in ages past (and even still in many cultures today) names were very meaningful.  They told others who you were, who your family was, where you were from, possibly what your parents' hopes were for you, and maybe even revealed some of your personality.  Some believed a person's destiny was linked with their name!

As you read through the English version of the Bible, have you ever noticed the different ways God is mentioned?  Things like, "Lord God", "God of Gods", "Almighty", "Almighty God" and so on.  Even as a kid in Sunday School, I wondered about the redundancy of it.  It wasn't until much later, when it really sunk in that the Bible wasn't first written in English and the English language is both complex (because it borrows from so many other languages) and over simplified (because we reduce multiple ideas and feelings into one word) that I became intrigued with the original names of God used in the ancient text.

Can you imagine my excitement when I found this book?!  

As I explored it's contents, my excitement grew because it also meets my Bible study criteria: short readings, a few easy questions, and a few that will really get us talking (deep thinking).  Bonus: It's a 1-book study!  The Scripture is included in the book, so it's easy to throw in your bag and take it along anywhere!  It's just right for those beginning their Faith Journey, those who may be new to Bible study, and interesting & intriguing enough for those who have been studying for years.  It's also written to be done either individually or as a group - perfect for our mash-up Bible study of in-person and on-line communication.  If you can't make it in-person, I hope that you will join us here, on the blog, to discuss The Names of God.

I really can't wait to get started!!

We will begin with ELOHIM, on page 11.  But, it's always a good idea to read the Introduction (page 9); it's brief and gives a good understanding of where the author is coming from and what she hopes to accomplish through her book.  I love that Ms. Spangler has included a Pronunciation Guide (page 7-8)!   Yea!!

If you're like me and like to think about your answers to the study questions and ponder the "Passages for Continued Study" please read and answer the questions for ELOHIM (p 9-15). 

There is one question I would like everyone to answer for every name of God: Do you know God in this way?  This is a great question to ask yourself before you even begin reading and one to write about in your journal.  Yes, your journal - get it out, dust it off, and get writing :)  That's a note to myself, too!

This week we will do only one name because, of course, we will want to catch up on what everyone was doing over the summer!  If you'd like to bring something that represents your summer, please feel free to do so (think Kindergarten show & tell)!  Wink, wink Paula ;)  If you can't meet on Friday morning, please let us all know what you've been up to this summer in the Comments.  We'd love to hear from you!

I will see you Friday morning, September 12th!  I'll have the coffee brewing by 9:10 am!  Come then to catch up with everyone.  We will begin our formal study by 9:30.

Your Partner in Ministry,


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