2017-05-02: Riches!

Today I read:

  • Genesis 19
  • Psalm 23-24
  • 2 Thessalonians 1
  • Matthew 17

My meditation was: Why does this passage intrigue me? What about it stirs my curiosity?

This is a dangerous meditation, because I am intrigued by and curious about so much, I am at risk of spending the rest of the day writing up my thoughts and questions! (Some day, when the kids are grown and I have less of a need to work for pay, I might do just that, Lord willing!) (more…)

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2017-04-26: Prayer, Promise, Mercy, Lord

Today I read:

  • Genesis 18
  • Psalm 22
  • James 5
  • Matthew 16

My meditation was: What does this passage reveal about God? Why would God want to reveal it to me?

God loves to promise us good things and then deliver! He promises blessing to Sarai and mercy to Abraham, and shares his thoughts and plans with Abraham as with a friend (Genesis 18). God is not stand-offish. In fact, he is full of tenderness and mercy (James 5:11). He wants to be intimately involved in our lives; he wants to hear from us about everything! (James 15:13ff)

And when he pray, he hears us and responds (Psalm 22). He does not operate on our timetable, but he is not forever silent or (apparently) inactive. (more…)

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2017-04-18: Humility

Today I read:

  • Genesis 17
  • Psalm 20-21
  • James 4
  • Matthew 15

My meditation was: What do I need to change in order to realign my heart with this truth?

Abram and Sarai had a plan to make God’s promise happen. He had another, better plan. But his plan involved waiting on his timing, which was—quite literally, in human terms—impossible (Genesis 16-17). Knowing the end of the story, it is easy from my vantage point to fault Abram and Sarai for their lack of faith, their lack of trust in God and his way. In fact, without the help of the Spirit, I believe it is impossible not to sit in judgment over others. (more…)

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2017-04-12: Wisdom

Today I read:

  • Genesis 16
  • Psalm 19
  • James 3
  • Matthew 14

My meditation was: Write a prayer to God using elements from each of the verses.

Father, I like to go my own way sometimes, like Abram and Sarai (Genesis 16). Even though this choice always has negative consequences, you so often bless my errors by bringing good out of them. You have provided a path on which we can walk with surety, if we will only follow it (Psalm 19). (more…)

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2017-04-11: Faith

Today I read:

  • Genesis 15
  • Psalm 18:25-50
  • James 2
  • Matthew 13

My meditation was: How does this truth make me love God more? How does it reveal his beauty?

Since Genesis 15:6 is a well known verse that establishes faith as the gateway to being made right with God, and since James 2:23 specifically references that same passage in Genesis and then goes on to say that is is not faith alone that “justifies” us, the truth of faith is what emerged for me to meditate on today.

Understanding this confusing dynamic has been a struggle for me for years, as the Scripture does seem to say two different things: faith alone makes us right with God, and faith plus good deeds makes us right with God. So, which is it? (more…)

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2017-04-07: Rescue

Today I read:

  • Genesis 14
  • Psalm 18:1-24
  • James 1
  • Matthew 12

My meditation was:

  • How do these different passages complement, add to, enlighten, or even confuse each other?

A common theme that emerged right away was that of rescue.

  • Abram rescues Lot from foreign captivity.
  • The Psalm selection could be Lot’s prayer during his capture, as well as a description of his rescue by God via Abram.
  • James encourages his reader to see the joy in trials of all kinds, because our endurance grows during such times, and it is having this endurance that defines maturity. It is one of the tools the Lord uses to rescue us from our sin — we simply get better at resisting it!
  • Jesus heals many, rescuing them from their bondage. He goes on to warn his listeners to remain free from further (and worse) slavery to sin by rightly acknowledging and responding to God’s work in the world through his Holy Spirit.

Another lesser theme is that of family.

  • In Genesis, Lot is rescued by his uncle, Abram. Abram proves himself truly family to Lot through his heroic actions and efforts on his behalf.
  • In Matthew, Jesus instructs his disciples that any who do the will of his Father are his true family. Loving obedience is thicker than blood!

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Scripture Meditation: Keeping it fresh

Book of Nature by joosmesie

My regular reading of Scripture has morphed a lot over time. Early on in my life as a convert, I read out of a sense of duty. It was an obligation. There was occasionally the joy of discovery and the not-infrequent encounter with the Living God that made the practice worthwhile, but my heart wasn’t always in it. Mostly there were long seasons of little regular reading, punctuated with brief bursts of intense reading and study, usually during periods of crisis or transition in my life.

That was pretty much the norm until a few years ago, when I learned to take Jesus at his word and started living my life as if I actually believed the veracity of the things he proclaimed to be true. Since then, the obligatory aspect of all spiritual discipline has fallen away (see the letter to the Galatians), while not negating the power and helpfulness of those classical spiritual practices (see the letter penned by James). Entering into Scripture became one more element of my interaction with my Good Friend, a way to hear his voice clearly day in and day out, a way to center myself back on the foundational truths and correct the inevitable drift that occurs from being “in the world”. (more…)

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Strengths and self-directed learning

In 2017, our home school, Bethel Hill Academy, is going through some exciting changes. Since Darah and I began homeschooling the boys in 2010, our goal for them has always been the same: Teach them to teach themselves. If the boys learn how to learn, they will be able to acquire any knowledge or skills they require to lead the lives God has created them for, no matter what those might end up being.

These last few years have been spent helping the boys acquire essential skills: reading efficiently and with good recall, basic math facts and operations, expressing one’s thoughts in writing clearly and concisely. They have each made good progress in all of these. And, as with all basics, continued practice at them will help them achieve and then maintain mastery.


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Look, listen, and live

I read a blog post from a friend of mine the other week. It was all about when “good” Christians do bad things. You can read it here (and I can highly recommend it!). I came away reminded that what makes me a “good” disciple is not my performance or behavior (although I should see this improve consistently over time), but rather the fact that I continue to look to and lean on the One I follow because he has the words and the life that I need so much. Little did I know I would have a terrific real-world example of just this in my own life within a matter of days.

I had a thing happen at work where I ended up being upset with a co-worker. The same thing happened a couple times more, and I started hold a grudge. One night after this happened again, my spirit was so unsettled by it all that I could not fall back to sleep. Lying there, it struck me: I don’t have to hold on to this anger and bitterness. I am choosing to do so, but I can choose something different. Right then and there, I turned my mind and my heart toward Jesus and started talking to him about the whole thing. He gave me what I did not have within myself–the capacity to absorb the wrong I perceived had been done to me and to replace it with love and patience. I was back asleep soon after.

This is a small thing, I suppose. But it was a huge thing to me that night. This is what it looks like to exchange my tired, worn-out life with the unending, undying life of Jesus. As I learn to do so in small things like this, I will eventually mature to the point where I can do the same in big things. Along the way, I can encourage others to do the same and speak from my own experience to testify to the fact that “It works!”

Anything I find myself holding onto that makes me feel lousy, anything to which I turn for comfort that does not provide lasting fulfillment—all of it can be traded in to Jesus and swapped out for his life instead. This is a great promise, a solid truth, and a way of life.

Matthew 11:28 is one of my family’s memory verses. Jesus says to us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I have verified that this is quite literally true!

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