Fresh Friday – Devotions

Last year, I decided to make the commitment to read through the Bible within the calendar year. I found out how many chapters there were and divided them by the number of days in a year. The number came out to just under 4/day, so I rounded up to read 4 chapters each day (with Psalm 119 taking up the spot for 2 chapters). I marked them off and plotted it out for the calendar year. With that set-up, it landed me at finishing the Bible just before Halloween. That would give me a whole lot of wiggle room if I missed days throughout the year…which I did. In fact, towards the end, I would frequently skip my readings on Sundays.

I enjoyed my reading times. I fit them in to the 1st half hour of my day – plopped down in the corner of my couch with a cup of coffee and read away. I found some amazing chapters that I hadn’t read before, relived some of my favorite Bible stories, found fodder for research throughout the day, particularly through parts of the Old Testament. Some of it was monotonous -genealogies and the rigid Mosaic laws – but some surprised me as being way more interesting than I gave credit for.  I’m really glad that I did this for the first time. I will probably read through the Bible again at some point in the future. I’ve been trying to break it down a little better so that certain days wouldn’t be so overwhelming and the reading pack would be more equal and spread more evenly throughout the year.  It could be fun to read the Bible in chronological order and not just in the Canon. I’ve even joked about reading through alphabetically! Could be fun.

I used an ESV Global Study Bible and I pretty much used it just for my daily reading, but there are some amazing gems of information in there. I love having a historical context for events and traditions. There are so many things that I don’t understand from the Bible just because I live in a 21st Century developed nation.

Now, I have this allotted time each morning which I could easily fritter away with either more sleep or just mindless perusal on the internet before getting ready for the day.  I started looking for devotionals that I could find online to do each day. It is tough! Crosswalk.com has some devotionals, but as I’ve found over the last week, they are not always updated by the time I have my quiet time. In some cases, they are too story-ish and fluffy for my taste. I want Scripture. I want depth. I want substance, not frills and feel-good.

On instagram, I kept seeing some of my favorite grammers posting screenshots from shereadstruth.com. I went through their “O Come, Let Us Adore Him” plan throughout the Christmas season. I LOVED it! On the mobile app (available on both platforms), they have a great layout. Each day has three pages. The first, Scripture. The second, commentary by one of their contributing writers and a cool square graphic with a key line or verse featured which is easy to share on social media. The third, and probably the coolest, are comments from other women readers from all over! It makes this online devotional accessible, real, and so utterly encouraging as you hear tidbits and gems gleaned by other women who are really not so different from us (no matter what we might believe).

Starting January 1st, they began a study on the Book of John. I’ve only done two days of it now, but I’m already pretty pumped to get through it.  Another AWESOME thing they just unveiled, though, is a 365-day Scripture reading plan! It’s right there on the app and, while some of the studies they offer cost a small fee, this one is FREE and allows comments just like the others. I’m all for more organization, especially when it comes to getting more Bible-reading in your daily life.

How about you?!? Do you have a favorite devotional? What do your quiet times look like? Are you a crazy, earlybird (I know for those who have kids, it might be the only down-time you have) or do you just cram it in whenever you have an opening? I would love to hear how YOU get your daily dose of God and His Word.

And if you are struggling with getting this to happen, I would highly recommend adding She Reads Truth to your daily activities. Also, feel free to check over on the Bible Verse Calendar tab at the top of the page. I am humbled that it has been getting a steady stream of hits each day. It includes free printables for a daily Bible verse calendar – each month represented. Heads up that is is US-based in any reference to holidays in the graphics. I’m not very skilled at design, so please be gracious when you see them. 🙂

Happy New Year!!!

Advertisements

Fresh Friday 11/21/14

Hey everyone!

I’ve had so much going on lately! I’m sure you all are in the same boat. Such a busy time of the year.  We have a shake-up of staff at work so that’s been going on, prep for holidays, and a mother who had surgery at the start of the month. There has been a lot of highway driving to go to the hospital, rehab center, and her place to hang out or to get things prepped for her return home. We (well, really, the Huz) installed a stair-lift at mom’s place for her to get between the 1st and 2nd floors. That was a HUGE ordeal, but after 2 weeks, it’s all finally taken care of and installed. Mom is thrilled. I’m glad that she can be more independent in her home now.

Last night, the Huz and I went to see Interstellar at the IMAX. Oh man! It was beautiful! I want to go into so many details with you on here, but I hate spoilers, so I’ll just give you the highlight reviews. No spoilers.

I mean, everything was beautiful. The plot, the actors/characters, graphics, sound effects, music (Hans Zimmer…great job!), concepts. Just beautiful. They did an amazing job of getting me to relate to the characters and their plights. For the raw content review: no sexuality, not much language, some violence, some intense frightening situations. I would not take a little kid to see it. Apollo 13 was an emotional movie, but this was more intense on that regard. I got choked up and teary in several spots. If you’re worried about non-Biblical philosophies, there was no mention of religion, except for a sarcastic comment about prayer to an object. It was a pure science-fiction movie and one with no agenda besides getting people curious about space again and what could be out there. That was very refreshing.

I am not one of those people who thinks there could be life “out there” in space somewhere. I think the Earth is God’s unique creation. But the universe is so enormous and so diverse! All of it was created to give God glory and I think it does an amazing job of that. I have always had an explorer spirit so the idea of going to see something brand new would be incredible. I would not be able to survive in space though. Yipes! But I enjoy (most) movies that take me there instead.

One comment by Anne Hathaway’s character was so poignant and, I thought, almost a hint of the Gospel, but not quite there. She made a comment that love is something that could not be a survival instinct. Love for the dead especially, but that it must be a kind of artifact of a higher dimension. I whole-heartedly believe that the higher dimension is God. He put the capacity for love in our hearts and it is beautiful.  Anyway, I would highly recommend this film and if you can see it at an IMAX, it is well worth the price!!!

Before heading out for the movie, I had some time to make some cookies. Our local Kroger carries persimmons and I have been dying to find more things to do with persimmons. I found a few cookie recipes on Pinterest and tried of them out. Yum, this recipe is so good!!!

You’re welcome and enjoy!

Fresh Friday – Thoughts Edition (Church Ceremonies)

Coming from the Protestant Christian slant of faith, there is a general distancing from ceremonies or similar terms within the church setting. Some denominations cling to them more readily than others, but it does seem like the idea of “ceremony” has, in general, become an archaic form of worship. Sure, most churches you visit across the nation will have their Baptism and Communion ceremonies, but these are like the minimum requirement.  (I’m going to buffer this with a qualification, though. There are some churches that are making a return to a more regimented, ceremonial format to worship. It’s kind of a new thing, but more of a renewal of an old thing. Dig?)

I’m not going to say that one is wrong and the other right. I think I would be ok with the minimal stated above, but there are some pretty sweet ceremonies that I have witnessed and been a part of over my life. One such is a foot-washing ceremony. That is mostly based on the text from John 13:1-20, and has a lot to do with encouraging humility among the brethren and servanthood and is often part of a commissioning service for those going on the mission field. It was sweet and beautiful and I loved every minute of it.

Another ceremony is one I mentioned, the Commissioning ceremony. This is for those going on a mission trip or into missions as a career choice. There are several aspects of this type of ceremony: typically, Laying on of Hands and Collective/Individual Prayer for the commissioned. I’ve even had my head anointed with oil. This type of ceremony has the purpose of encouraging the ones going to be brave, purposeful, and to have success on their journey. It also is to encourage those sending them out to pray while they are gone and for the hearts of those they will meet. I also really love this type of ceremony. I believe the format for this ceremony and the following is based on Act 13:1-3.

Another, which I recently witnessed and have been to a few times before, is the Ordination ceremony. The purposes of this ceremony is to ordain, order or authorize, an individual for a life-career in ministry. This can be as an elder in the church or as the actual pastor. This type of service can have many facets, but it typically involves the one chosen, a committee who did the choosing, and the congregation to act as witnesses. The committee will state why they think this person is a good candidate and, with the blessing of the congregation, they will lay on their hands in prayer.

I was so excited to find out that a dear friend, the husband of a dear friend, was being ordained this past weekend. In my own church, we had just covered the first chapter of Titus, where Paul is speaking on the qualifications of an elder in the church, so everything was pretty fresh in my mind. Here’s the list:

  • anyone who is above reproach
  • husband of one wife
  • children are believers
  • not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination
  • not arrogant, or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain
  • hospitable, lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined
  • hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, able to give instruction in sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it.
    (Titus 1:6-9, ESV)

I am proud to say that this all fits my friend to a T (aside from the third point, because his kids are both under 5 yrs old). We discussed in church the meaning of the phrase “above reproach.” This doesn’t just mean that they have a good reputation, but that if anything bad is said about them, it is immediately quelled because everyone knows him to be good. That is something special to be said about anyone. It’s not that this person is perfect, but that in every part of their life, they strive to follow God’s Word and commands. The Huz and I attended another high school friend’s ordination ceremony a year or so ago. It was such a special evening. I feel so blessed to have such friends in my life.

As the ceremony was progressing, I was reminded of how important it is to continue praying for those who are ordained or commissioned for ministry. It seems that when someone is set apart like this, they immediately begin to face spiritual attack. Pray for those in spiritual leadership positions to withstand spiritual attack and keep their spirits up. They have an important task ahead of them – pray for sound wisdom and teaching. That’s a lot of responsibility and they need our support.

As someone who has been on the mission field before, I greatly valued the prayers and encouragement from friends and family back home.

Is there any ceremony in church that you particularly enjoy? It can be one mentioned above or one I missed. I’d love to hear about it!

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Titus 3:1-7, ESV