A few years ago, I didn’t know how to open my Bible and study. My time with God consisted of opening up a book written by someone else first or (I hate to admit) flippantly opening scripture and randomly reading, Those who know me well know that order and consistency are not my strong suit. I think deep down I knew there was a better way, but every single reading plan or study method fell flat.
Then I discovered a simpler, less time consuming way to approach God Word, one that allowed flexibility, but also depth. And this was one of keys that I had always been missing: What does this say? I learned the importance of starting here (this includes context).
The Bible was written for us but not to us, so we must first answer some simple questions about context that help set the lens through which we study. Then we answer the question: What Does This Say? (which is really a 1-2 sentence summary of the passage).
In this workshop style session, I went deeper on these two aspects of Bible study. Because it was a workshop, there are some edits and blank screens to remove faces of others in attendance. Don’t worry if the video cuts out for a couple seconds!
A few years ago at a conference, I heard Jen Wilkin say the following and it forever changed the way I look at Bible study:
“We cannot be content being curators of other people’s opinions about a book we can’t be bothered to read ourselves.”
I realized my entire Christian life I had been a librarian, curating other people’s thoughts and beliefs and study findings and not digging in for myself. That’s when I began learning to study for myself, relying on the promise Jesus gave in his final meal with his disciples:
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
I began learning to study what’s called “inductively” – which is really a fancy word for study Scripture with my own mind and heart first, trusting the Holy Spirit inside me to guide me.
I seemed daunting and overwhelming, and I felt so far behind so many amazing women of faith. Maybe you feel that too. Maybe you feel like you can’t catch up, don’t know enough, afraid to get it wrong. Same. Here. (In fact, in the below video, I had to go back and cut something out that I said wrong.)
My passion became not only reading His Word but to help other women do the same. This was my first opportunity to lead a “How To:” night on Zoom, and I have more in the works. This video covers: The Why, The Method, The Key, and the Four Basic Questions to ask during Bible Study.
A few weeks ago, I took my kids to Magic Kingdom and, for the first time, explored Tom Sawyer’s Island with them. On the island, there’s a bridge made of barrels. As you walk across it, it’s hard to keep your balance. It feels unsteady as you bob up and down with each step. It feels uncertain, maybe even a bit scary, as you struggle to put one foot in front of the other.
That’s how 2020 feels right now. My word for the year is Better, and I thought I knew exactly what God was going to teach me when He showed me Ecclesiastes 3:9-13:
What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. (emphasis mine)
I was ready to do my job with joy, to do good, and take pleasure in the work God had given me to do. But that wasn’t what God had in store for my better.
As 2019 came to a close and we welcomed 2020, both my husband, Kris, and I felt a stirring – change was coming for our family. God reminded me that what He asks us to do is better.
I am resigning from my position as Women’s Ministry Director at my church.
This decision has not come easily, and I have grieved greatly. But I feel a call to be more present at home. My kids, now 10, 7, & 5, need their mama in a way they didn’t four years ago when God called me into this role. I have trusted them to His care as I did what seemed crazy: going back to work. But God has been so tender. He has carried us through some of the hardest years of my life and done a great work in my family.
And now, He has asked me to step down from my position, but not from ministry. You see, I realized that everything I love about ministry, everything He has gifted and called me to do – I don’t have to be on staff to do. While I am sad to see this chapter come to a close, I am excited and expectant of what is to come this year!
Rest assured: I plan to continue teaching, leading, and writing however God provides that opportunity. I am not the same woman I was four years ago. My heart for God, for His Word, and for women is not the same it was 4 years ago. The work God did in my heart is not in vain. I will not stop serving Him, being obedient to use the gifts He’s given me, and loving the women He puts in my path. Adore will continue! Our next one is scheduled for Thursday, April 23 and Stacey Thacker will be speaking.
But here’s my charge to you: as my friend told me last week, one monkey don’t stop no show. This ministry goes on because of YOU (or any ministry honestly – even if you aren’t a women at my church, the ministry at your church grows because of you). You are gifted women, called women, women racing after Jesus. You are women who love God, who love His Word, and who love each other.
God has given us a gift – a task to be busy with, one that points us to eternity. Last week at Adore, I went back to my first event as Women’s Ministry Director – one where I cast a vision for our ministry using this fountain from Disney Springs.
This is still the task before us: that we would look like this fountain, that we would remember that we are at all times both the older woman and the younger woman, that we always need to be poured into and we need to pour out. That is discipleship. That is the call of our life. And the result is like this fountain: a multiplying, a growth of the kingdom of God, with Christ, the Living Water, flowing through us all.
Whatever He has asked of you, whatever step of obedience you need to take, I pray you remember: What Jesus asks us to do is better.
Thursday night is one I will never forget, as women gathered around me, laid hands on me, and prayed for me. I cannot thank you enough for the love and support and encouragement y’all have given me. I love you!
At Tom Sawyer’s Island, I walked behind my 5-year old on that unsteady barrel bridge, watching him giggle as he was tossed to-and-fro. About three feet from the end of the bridge, he threw his arms out and on the top of his lungs for the entire island to hear, screamed, “I TRUST IN GOD!” as he lept those last three feet. As his feet hit the pavement, he looked back at the bridge, and with confidence said, “Yep. Totally trusted God.”
I do not know what God has in store for me or for you in 2020, but this I know: though my feet are unsteady, I am throwing my arms out and declaring, “I TRUST IN GOD!” And at the end of this year, it is my prayer that we look back and, with confidence, say, “Yep. Totally trusted God.”
I had written a Christmas poem, and my mom walked into the copy room to find the teachers abuzz making copies of it. I recalled being part of a special program at school (similar to what we would call the gifted program these days) where we learned more about the creative process. My teacher, Deni Corbett, had a writer’s heart and instilled that in her students. I wrote stories about a group of nuts named Tricia P. Nut and Wally Walnut. I remember in awe reading a book written by a relative of Mrs. Corbett’s. She knew a REAL AUTHOR! I dreamed of one day being an author myself. That’s when I first felt like a writer.
Stacey smiled at me from across the table in Panera. “You should see your face when you tell that story.” And she encouraged me to write creatively – go back to what made that fourth grade little girl so proud and full of hope.
I spent most of 2019 unable to write (as is evident by the lack of new content on this blog). I was lamenting to Stacey how the words just weren’t there. My mind and the world around were too noisy to find my words.
I had already decided to fast social media in December. I wanted to quiet the voices and find my own words. I wanted to make room for real people (not virtual ones) and listen to the silence, where I hoped to hear God’s voice.
In full disclosure, I didn’t finish my Advent study, and I didn’t spend nearly as much time as I hoped at the feet of Jesus. But I enjoyed the break.
About a week and half into the month, as I was unloading groceries from my car, the words came. I had been mulling over my word for the year: His Way. I was thinking about what I had learned and what God had done in me. Like a geyser that abruptly erupted, somehow making you startle at the suddenness yet filling you with joy because it was just so beautiful, words poured forth.
Between putting away potatoes and milk and pasta and bell peppers, I found the words to express my 2019. I share them now, honestly, mixed with fear and joy, but I pray they encourage and bring joy to you as well.
The four to five days leading up to Adore didn’t go according to plan. But then again, isn’t that life? My husband and I both caught colds. A myriad of distractions kept popping up. And then about 2am the night before, a sweet little voice woke up me saying, “my tummy hurts.” You can guess how the rest of my night went.
When I stepped onto the stage that night, I was exhausted: mentally, physically, emotionally. I wasn’t as prepared as I wanted. I spent most of my day caring for my daughter and reworking my plans instead of working on the message. That night, I knew there was a high probability my throat was going to close during my talk, and I’d have a massive coughing fit. In the middle of reading scripture, it happened.
I can’t explain it, but I, along with many others, could sense it: God was up to something. And more than any other time, I felt completely humbled. If anyone was going to get anything out of Adore, it was going to be all God. Little I had done was amounting to success. I broke almost every rule that every speech and public speaking coach will tell you.
AND GOD DID IT!
The testimonies of what God spoke to your hearts and challenged you to have caused me to stand in awe of our great God. I live in fear some days that my imperfections are going to mess up His plan, His message, His purpose. I think in order to do right by God and let His glory shine I must be perfect. Let me tell you this: You do not have to be perfect to be used by God. Which is a good thing, because none of us would ever be used by Him if that were the case! (Case in point: I even made a typo on one of the graphics. But not just any typo: my WORST grammar pet peeve typo. Yep – I even admitted it to the Instagram world.)
It was an honor to stand before you on Monday and share my word for the year: His Way (yeah, I know. It’s two words, but still). We looked at Isaiah 30 and how 700 years later, the Israelites were still trying to go back to Egypt. We do the same the same thing: continuing to go back to old sins, old places of comfort, old idols. But that’s not what we are called to.
Instead of stubbornly going back to what enslaved us, let’s steadfastly remain with Who saved us.
And when we do, the result is a journey of us desiring to live His Way – not where, but how. If couldn’t make it Monday, we recorded the event!