Entertaining Without Offending Your Soul

A friend of mine has entered the world of published authors!  Kelli Hughett has written Red Zone, a romantic suspense novel that will be released next month.  Kelli is a preacher’s wife and home school mom who lives in the charming town of Windsor, CO.  Since inspirational suspense is my favorite genre, you can imagine my excitement over participating in Kelli’s launch team.  Her book arrived in my inbox yesterday and I look forward to reading it during some flights this weekend. On her blog, Kelli writes, “I hope you’ll find my books entertaining without offending your soul.”

Entertaining without offending your soul.  What a great objective!  I’m going to keep those words in mind.  I’m going to share them with my sons.  The Bible warns us that there are activities which “war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11).  Whether the entertainment comes in the form of reading books, watching movies, playing video games, laughing at YouTube videos, or listening to music, we need to make sure what we’re taking in doesn’t offend the holiness we have put on (Col. 3:1-17).

“…In speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:12).

Prayer for today:  Thank you, Lord, for Kelli’s example of how we can use our talents to promote Your desire for righteousness.

Kirt & Kelli Hughett

 

Encouragement for You!

According to my pocket calendar, today is the Day of National Encouragement.  To celebrate, please enjoy some uplifting Scriptures, quotes, and even a treat!

Scriptures for You

  • “As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him” (Psalm 18:30).
  • “In the world you will have trouble; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
  • “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).
  • “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
  • “Now may the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

Quotes for You

  • “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  –Anne Frank
  •  “Do you want to know who you are?  Don’t ask–act!  Action will delineate and define you.”  –Thomas Jefferson
  • “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”  –Leo Buscaglia
  • “The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances.”  –Martha Washington, first First Lady of the United States

A Treat for You

“Warm Spiced Milk”

  • 2 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. apple butter
  • 2 1/2 T. real maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves

-Whisk together all ingredients in a heavy saucepan over low heat until milk steams.  Do not boil.  Serves 4.  (Recipe from Gooseberry Patch Blue Ribbon Family Favorites)

-We enjoyed sipping this belly-warming beverage last night on a chilly, drizzly Colorado evening.  I used Pumpkin Pie spice in place of the cinnamon and cloves and simply heated  it all up in the microwave.

A Prayer for You

Bless each reader, Father, with strength, peace, and compassion as they reach out to those around them and influence all who know them.

 

 

4 P’s for Serious Bible Study

Denny Petrillo is the president of the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver.  One of the classes he teaches is “Biblical Exegesis.”  Exegesis in Bible study means to take out of the text what the text is intending to say.  An exegetical approach keeps us from bringing our own baggage or preconceived notions to the text.  What could be more important as we strive to gain wisdom (Col. 1:9,10) and seek God’s will for us (John 7:16-18)?

Dr. Petrillo looks for Four P’s when studying.  The following information about the Four P’s is from the notes I took in his class:

Prevalence 

If a word or phrase appears frequently in a book, it must be an important concept.  These “key words” help us understand the author’s focus.  They keep us on task and allow us to keep verses in context.  When we see a word that has a number of occurrences, we should ask, “Why does the author keep using this word?  What does it mean?”  From Genesis to Revelation, every book has key words.  The rule of thumb is if a word occurs at least one time per chapter, it’s probably a key word.  Color-coding the key words helps them jump out at you and remind you that they are important words in the book.  Here are some examples we were given in class:

  • “Faith” appears 63 times in Romans.  The serious Bible student will put together all of the faith passages to find out the meaning of the word and how it’s used in the book.
  • “Coming” appears 52 times in Matthew.  By paying attention to his word, the Bible student will learn that people have different reasons for coming to Jesus–some for healing, some to test, some to be a disciple, and some for teaching.
  • “Knowledge” appears 14 times in 2 Peter.  Since there are only three chapters in 2 Peter, it becomes apparent that “knowledge” is a major theme in the letter.

Purpose Statement

Sometimes an author will come right out and state why he is writing.

  • For example, John writes, “…these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ…” (John 20:30,31).    So the Bible student now knows the purpose of the book of John and will keep that in mind when studying.  Key words are often found in purpose statements.  In John 20:30, 31, there are at least five key words:  signs (15x), believe (99x), life (55x), disciple (79x), and Jesus (254x).
  • Another example of a purpose statement is 1 Tim. 3:15,16, “…I write so that you may know how to conduct yourself in the house of God…”

Denny Petrillo likes to put the purpose statement on a 3×5 card and keep it where he can frequently look at it.  He said, “This reminds me of one crucial point–he said this is why he is writing.  Therefore, whatever I say should clearly and easily fit into that statement!”

Prayers

When a writer says, “This is what I pray about concerning you…,” he will logically include important points.  If the writer’s praying about it, it’s what the book is probably about.  Examples are found in Ephesians 1:15-19 and 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5.  Some questions to ask when finding a prayer:

  • What are the two or three main points of his prayer?
  • What seem to be the predominant words in this prayer?

Petition Verbs

When we want to emphasize an important point, we will use bold type, italics, ALL CAPS, or underlining.  In the Greek, they used petition verbs.  Petition verbs are “I urge,” “I beg,” “I beseech,” etc.  When we come across a petition verb, the writer is letting us know that what he’s about to say is VERY important.

  • Rom. 12:1- “I beseech you therefore…that you present your bodies a living sacrifice…”  The petition verb clues us in to the importance of this statement and lets us know it’s a key thought in the letter.
  • 1 Cor. 1:10- “Now I plead with you, brethren…that you all speak the same thing…”
  • Phil. 4:2- “I implore Euodia and I implore Synteche to be of the same mind in the Lord.”  Two petition verbs in one verse means what he is about to say is especially significant!  The letter to the Philippians is about being of the same mind.  What mindset does Paul want them to have?  “Others about self” according to 2:3.  “Mind” appears 11 times in the book.  The serious Bible student will consider this while reading through the entire letter.

A list of petition verbs in New Testament letters can be found here.

Looking for these four P’s is one easy way to make sure we are striving to be serious students of the Word.  “Be diligent to present yourself to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of God” (2 Tim. 2:15).

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for those who show us how to keep learning and growing in Your Word!

 

 

Today is the Day

TODAY is the day to wake up from spiritual stupor if you find yourself just going through the motions.  Engage your heart and awaken your senses as you really live for Christ.

  • Read Psalm 103

TODAY is the day to make sure your loved ones know they’re your loved ones.  Has it been awhile since you’ve been intentional with your love?

  • Read James 4:14

TODAY is the day to open your eyes to the lost around you.  Pray for opportunities, carry your Bible, speak the name of Christ, and something will happen.

  • Read Matthew 28:18-20

TODAY is the day to let go of grudges.  With God’s help, forgive those who have hurt you or disappointed you.

  • Read Matthew 18:21,22

TODAY is the day to step out of your comfort zone.  Throw away the excuses and do hard things.  Make a difference to someone somehow.

  • Read Philippians 4:13

TODAY is the day to give up selfishness.  Be inconvenienced and remember the blessing of putting others first.

  • Read Philippians 2:4

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

–Prov. 27:1

Prayer for Today:  Help me see this day as you do, Lord.

How to have a Real Conversation

Yesterday, Neal and I enjoyed a great conversation with a 95-year-old man.  In the course of our brief time together, he said things like:

  • I celebrate our relationship.
  • A Scripture I read the other day reminded me…
  • In Romans 12…
  • Have you seen this great article in the Gospel Advocate?
  • Let’s sing a couple of songs.
  • May we pray together?

Anyone who knows this man knows that his speech is often seasoned with spiritual substance.  Sprinkled throughout talk of the Rockies, our boys, and his grandchildren, this sterling gentleman naturally referenced God’s Word, the Lord’s church, and the beauty of Heaven.  We did sing together, just the three of us.  “Angels are Singing” and “Be with me, Lord” never sounded so sweet!

I keep thinking back over that conversation.  It was so REAL because it was filled with eternal matters.  I’ve known and admired this man for over eight years, but I was still caught off guard a couple of times by his seemingly unorthodox requests.  “Let’s sing a couple of songs.”  What, right now?  “I’d like for you to read these two paragraphs I found about Ephesians One.”  If we’re reading, no one is talking.  But the silence was only mildly uncomfortable at first.  Then it seemed natural and right and beneficial.

I’m grateful for the example of how to have a real conversation.  Too often I get caught up in going through the polite motions, saying what’s expected, or neglecting opportunities to encourage.  I loved the multiple references to God’s Word and I was especially drawn to how naturally they flowed from this Christian man’s lips.  I saw him as a real man who knows how to talk about real things.

Neal and I left smiling and refreshed.  One conversation did that for us because of its substance.  I’ve been thinking back over the interactions I’ve had this week and I’m challenged to engage in more REAL (face to face) conversations with my husband, my children, my church family, close friends, and with my neighbors.

For those who live according to the flesh

set their minds on the things of the flesh, 

but those who live according to the Spirit, 

the things of the Spirit.

–Romans 8:5

Prayer for Today:  Help me, Lord, to have a mind so set on You that my words more often mirror Yours.

*This post can also be found at http://proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com/2014/08/wise-woman-linkup_13.html.

 

Serious Bible Study is Not Just for Men

The title of this post is one of the assignments I’ve been given for Polishing the Pulpit, and what a great study it has been!  I knew I would love it and need it.

Have you ever been to a ladies’ day or ladies’ retreat where the topic was fluffy?  Where it seemed like the decorating theme must’ve taken precedence over the study theme?  It’s all cotton candy and no meat (but it’s pretty!).  Well, there’s nothing wrong with that.  Ladies’ days and retreats are extras.  They’re sweet times of fellowship meant to encourage and uplift.  However, I think we sell ourselves (and our teen girls) short.  I think we need to thirst for deeper waters so that we can be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that we may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him… and increasing in the knowledge of God.”  That was Paul’s prayer for the saints (Col. 1:9,10).

Knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual understanding.  We won’t gain any of those unless we become serious about Bible study.  Do you consider yourself a serious student of God’s Word?  If not, why not?  What could be more important?  What could possibly take precedence in our lives over “increasing in the knowledge of God”?  Believe you me, these   are questions I’m asking myself, too.

Let’s encourage each other and let’s challenge each other to study for ourselves instead of just relying on the study that others have done.  Serious Bible study is for all of us.

Prayer for Today:  Your Word, Lord, is living and powerful.  Help me be more convicted to spend quality time every day discovering its truths.

 

 

Status Accountability

If it’s true that encouragement can change people, then it must also be true that discouragement can as well, only not for the good.  Discouragement removes joy, causes doubt, questions abilities, and can make one want to give up.  No doubt we’ve all experienced it.  Certainly none of us want to be the cause of it.

Social media has increased our accountability.  Consider the words of Jesus:

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36, 37).

Our words impact others and we are being held accountable for each and every one.  With every posted status or comment, we must ask, “Will this bring sunshine or gloom to the reader?”  Of course I’m not talking about prayer requests.  It is blessing to be able to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).  I’m talking about ways we might negatively impact others.  For instance:

  • If the very first time we contact someone is to object, criticize, or point out a perceived wrong, it probably won’t have the kind of effect we hope it will.  Relationship is necessary.  Just because we are “friends” or followers on social media doesn’t mean we’ve built the kind of rapport essential to any kind of admonishment being well received.
  • While venting may temporarily relieve our own frustration, it really doesn’t do much for the reader no matter how wittily we word it.  Everyone experiences bad customer service, careless drivers on the road, messed up orders, or any number of life’s daily annoyances.  What do we hope to gain by sharing it?  Sympathy?  The comments generally show that all we’re doing is reminding others how frustrating life can be.  Surely we want to accomplish something better than that with our words.  Complaining is just a bad habit (Phil. 2:14).
  • We’re not going to agree with everything written or posted, but let’s choose our battles wisely.  And let’s consider our influence as Christians with the tone we use.  No matter how “right” we may be, sarcasm still sounds obnoxious.
  • And finally, we really are not meant to be the Police of Social Media.  Let’s not be Facebook trollers out to catch others doing bad.  Let’s catch others doing good.  While there may be times when we can and should offer a gentle word (in private) of admonishment, more often than not we can and should offer grace.

We know that we should think before we speak.  Sometimes we need to be reminded to think before we post as well.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29).

Prayer for Today:  Help me use my words, Lord, to draw others closer to You.

Image credit: Facebook (mslk.com)