Monday, January 31

Truth and Consequences

Read Colossians 3

I’m going to share one of the best kept church-lady secrets of all time. Right here on the internet. Scandal and outrage are sure to follow. But you deserve to know. We all need to know the truth. The ramifications are too serious for those who don’t know.

We think we’re doing the right thing. We think we are seeking God’s best. We are well-intentioned, but are totally unprepared for the consequences.

So here it is. You should never


under any circumstances

even consider

praying for

Friday, January 28

In Living Water

John 4:1-26

The green numbers on the oven read 5:22pm and the children are acting like it. One cries from his bed, one shouts from the living room. Mom stands with her hands in the dish water looking at the dirty window in front of her. She stares at the white index card taped to the glass with masking tape, the words acting simply as ink on paper as she mechanically moves the dish rag over the pot in the sink. She breathes in and reads the words:

“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water I give him will become a fountain of water springing to everlasting life.”

Thursday, January 27

The Incredible Shrinking God

Read John 14

We forget how big God is. We make him small when we don’t call on him in the little things. When we say, “God has more important things to worry about than the meltdown I am about to have over this (third cup) of spilled milk,” we mitigate his power. He’s better at multitasking than any mom. It’s not a big deal for him to simultaneously keep the world spinning and reach down and put his hand on you when you need to feel him there.

I’ve found refreshment in some of the most bizarre places since becoming a mom. A sick baby makes me hold still and hold him--soaking in his body heat, breathing when he does, feeling the softness of his hair with my hand and my cheek. Yeah. Two minutes ago, I cleaned up some vomit. In three more, he will want to get up and play, leaving a cold spot where his fevered body sat a minute ago. But in that tiny time-span, I was rewarded for giving, serving and going down lower, literally on my hands and knees with a rag and carpet cleaner. I felt that “hitherto unknown delight” of being held as I surrendered my will to the act of giving.

“How can one abandon themselves in this way? Hannah Hurnard asks. "One cannot get a mighty and powerful fall of water if there is only a low place and a short way to fall. It is the “high places” of faith and obedience which make the falls of love possible!”

This blog is meant to be a starting point. A stop on the way to the high places Hannah talks about. Oh, how I wish I had this all figured out! I’m still on my journey. But I have learned a few things along the way. Moms don’t have time. We give and give and give. We serve and serve and serve. Sometimes we do it with a good attitude, sometimes we don’t. But claiming we don’t have time for God is inexcusable. We will continue to live unfulfilled, stagnant, discontent lives if we do not actively pursue a relationship with the heavenly Father.

But how?! There is literally no time. Well, for now, it means making the intentional choice to put in the big rocks first. It means opening your Bible and reading it. It means asking for His help when you want to throw a fit. It means taking His rest whenever, however and wherever he sees fit to give it and bask in it.

This idea sounds miserable. Hard. Dirty. Unfulfilling. Politically incorrect. But Jesus warned us to expect that sort of thing. (See John 14). He also promised to give us exactly what we need.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:30

This whole thing is a frightening prospect.

What if it doesn’t work this way?

What if I end up losing myself becoming so wrapped up in my family?

A waterfall might look like gravity working against water to the casual observer, but upon closer inspection…

“Perfect love casteth out fear.” Yes, that is what the water utters so exultingly as it rushes toward the great, terrifying rocky lip of the gorge and plunges over, utterly abandoned and unafraid of the dreadful depths into which it must fall, down onto the threatening rocks below.
… If one looks at the falls as a whole, they are marvelously beautiful. But if one gazes at one particular part of the water as it plunges over the lip, and then watches it as it falls right down, the almost crazy, blissful abandonment is staggering. I never saw motion so utterly expressive of joy! The movement looks like perfect rapture, fearless surrender to a hitherto unknown delight… The downward motion is light, adventurous, and perfectly happy. The water, after casting itself over the rocks, seems to be held up and supported as though floating down on wings! A glorious contradiction indeed.

We might be crushed. We might be held. But in obedience to God’s will for our lives we will find joy, delight, adventure and refreshment. We don’t have this all figured out, even if it sounds like we do. God set both Alysun and me on this path toward finding joy in serving our families and we are finding it to be an incredible road to walk. Full of really huge obstacles (like looming self imposed blog deadlines) and the most breathtaking vistas (like the love that threatens to swallow you whole the first time your little boy proposes marriage to you).

Come on in. The water is fine!

By Andrea

Wednesday, January 26

Love's Prerogative

Read Matthew 21:33-46

Andrea: As if the discussion of humility wasn't uncomfortable enough, today we continue with Hannah's principals of love and contentment. Giving and Serving. As we continue to explore the topic of living a self-less life, we see that an integral piece of the puzzle is love. And a characteristic of love is to give.

“The poured-out life gives life and power to others. The more love gives, the more it fulfills itself for it is Love’s prerogative to GIVE and GIVE and GIVE.”

The more love gives the more it fulfills itself? It sort of feels like we’re crossing the line into absurdity here, doesn’t it?

God loves working contrary to human intuition. The first will be last. Weak will be strong. Helpless baby as Savior of the world. Gain a fortune, lose your soul. Eternal life comes through death. Contradictions pepper the Biblical narrative and the epistles. God’s plan is so big, it would fry our brains to even try to grasp it. (That’s a lose interpretation of Isaiah 5:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”).

Tuesday, January 25

Finding the Lowest Place

Read Philippians 2:1-18

As we established with yesterday’s post, we desperately crave refreshing contentment. Hannah Hurnard offers up the three steps that lead to real love and contentment: humility, giving and service. So we’re going to spend today talking about step one, humility.

Hannah is not referring to the abstract (to us) idea of applying this concept on the mission field or in a fanciful allegory. Rather, we can act out humility, giving and service in our own families, local churches, offices…

“The first characteristic of love is humility: the pouring of oneself down lower and lower in self effacement and self-denial. The message of running water always is, “Go lower. Find the lowest place. That is the only way to true fulfillment.”

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Could we apply this concept with our families? According to Philippians, I may have to consider my children better than myself. My children? I am their parent. I am an authority over them. They are required by the Ten Commandments to obey me. How can I consider them better than me?

Monday, January 24

Zero Calorie Refreshment that Lasts!

Read Psalm 1 

Alysun: I emailed Andrea a draft of today’s post and asked, “What do you think? Too harsh?” Email followed email and then we had to talk on the phone. Ironically, or providentially, she was thinking on the same topic and our mutual passion was contagious. She combined her words with mine and they far surpassed a “ten minute” Drop. It’s now three weeks later and one post has grown to four. Our Drop has turned into a Flash Flood. So hold on to something as we explore the topic of giving as mothers.

Andrea: Oh, sweet hypotheticals: “God will supply all your needs.” So profound. “Love is sacrifice.” What a delightful concept.

Today, rubber will meet road. Status quo will be challenged. Theology and reality will start to meet up. Can you handle it?

Recently, we featured an excerpt from Hannah Hurnard’s Lessons Learned on the Slopes of the High Places. In it, she wrote about “love’s ecstatic joy” found “in ceaseless, blissful giving.” What does this superficially pretty topic mean in real life?

Take a break, society tells us. You deserve it. Take a mommy time-out. Go to coffee with the girls. We’ve all experienced the truth though, haven’t we? Refreshment of this order is temporary at best. Real life crashes in all the harder upon Mommy’s re-entry into the home. The moments of peace and quiet are nothing but warm memories within minutes. Seconds, if permanent markers were involved while you were out.

Friday, January 21

You're so Vain, I Bet you Think this Post is About You

Read Romans 12

You’d think I was an equestrian from the amount of times I’ve had to climb down off my high horse over the years. These days I’m really trying to climb on nothing higher than a Shetland pony, but once in a while I still pick one that resembles a big ol’ Clydesdale. When that happens, it just results in that much farther I have to lower myself. I think it’s called the humbling process.

The tempting thing about swinging yourself astride a high horse is that you think you have such a better view from way up there. Well, there’s a view, though it may not necessarily be a better one. Different yes, and that’s ok. If we were all alike, we’d be quite the boring bunch.

There’s also a downside to the upswing of hoisting one’s derriere up into that high saddle. The air is thinner up there and it does things to one’s brain cells. Breathing ‘high horse air’ too long or too frequently tends to make one’s pride puff up like an overly inflated balloon. And you know what eventually happens to balloons that are just too full of hot air…

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

We’ve all been around someone who has floated into our atmosphere and sucked up all the good air. Gasping for your next breath in a toxic environment is not a healthy way to live. Neither is being the one who is straddled in the saddle, sitting high and blocking others’ view of Christ. The only thing that should be high and lifted up is Him, not us. If that’s not the case in your immediate surroundings, it’s a safe bet that it’s time to analyze why that is.

As for me, should I feel the need to throw my dainty little foot into the stirrup (again), Holy Spirit has been given permission to stop me in mid-mount before I misrepresent His character and require yet another crash course in how to dismount with grace and humility.
Since I know I’m not the only heart that has held itself in too high regard at times, may I suggest that a barn cleaning might be in order for all of us? Believe me when I say the best antidote for a case of high horse fever is prostrating oneself at the foot of the Cross.

Will you join me? I can move over…

“For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think more highly of himself than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.” Romans 12:3 AMP

Thursday, January 20

Permission Granted

Read Luke 11:1-43

A very, very dear friend of mine moved away several months ago. Sometimes I think it shouldn’t be such a big deal. She only moved 3 hours away. So far we’ve seen quite a bit of one another, and the time spent together since has been quality. With no such thing as long distance phone calls and the internet shrinking the universe, keeping in touch is not the dilemma it once was. Still, I don’t call as often as I should because kids are getting ready for school or we‘re eating lunch or it‘s nap time and there is no way I‘m calling during dinner prep time. Facebook isn’t keeping us as connected as I would like. And while I go about my busy life doing my busy things and spending time with other friends, I keep her in the back of my mind. I wish she was here. I miss her wise words, insights and her ability to keep track of all of my appointments.

With joy, sadness and a little divine nudge, I came upon a recent blog post of hers. I asked if I could share it. She said sure, so here it is. Not in it’s entirety, but in it’s essence. Maybe you need permission today too.


Beth Moore in her Breaking Free study on the day of "Hearts Broken by Loss" after listing a bunch of losses she went through including death of someone close to her, the loss of a 7-year foster son of theirs, two of her best friends moving away and more, she says this:

"Many emotions have swept over me during the last two years, but if you asked which emotion served as the common denominator, I would not hesitate to say grief. In fact, I was somewhat taken aback over the feelings of grief accompanying the moving of my two best fiends. The grieving seemed out of place to me in relation to my other losses yet oddly unavoidable."

Wednesday, January 19

An Unlikely Princess

Read Joshua 2

Once upon a time there was a princess....

My daughters ask me to tell them stories that start just like that. And fairy tales are not just for little girls. We all love a perfect story about a lovely princess, a dashing prince. Neat details that close with everyone happy, "the end."

But God has a way of using the imperfect. He likes the unexpected, the intrigue, and always a show of His power. Joshua chapter 2 starts out with another true, awe inspiring, God-written story:

Once upon a time, there was a prostitute named Rahab....

Tuesday, January 18

In the Rapids

Read scripture as noted

It was a bad day, emotionally speaking. As I browsed through one of my favorite blogs meant to encourage and uplift, I found myself circling the drain of despair. These women are so talented, I thought. They have accomplished thing in their lives already and I feel like mine has been on pause for the last, oh, I don’t even know how many years.

I let the feelings of inadequacy and inability wash over me, and I sobbed a few bitter tears and asked God why and what a few times in unfriendly terms. And then I felt a word sinking into my awareness. As I was busy trying to absorb my own feelings of insignificance, a word soaked in along with it.


As I was being tossed about in the white water of insecurity and crashing into boulders of doubt, I felt the sureness of that word and grabbed for it. I clung to it, closed the browser window I was overcome by and typed the following list:

Monday, January 17

The Easy Answer

Read James 1

Imagine this scenario:

You need to look something up on the computer, but lose track of time and your two year old child is left unsupervised for 15 minutes. You hear water splashing and run to the kitchen to find your toddler standing on a chair with the water running at the kitchen sink. She is dumping a cup full of water on the floor as you walk in the room. By the looks of the sopping wet child and counter, it wasn’t the first cup of water dumped. Then, your eyes travel to the floor where you take in a mound of flour the size of the toddler. Powder and paste is now running across the floor as rivets of water wash through it like a slick mountain mud slide. What is your reaction?

A) Scream. Yell. Throw the wet and floured child in the bath with too much force. Vent your anger with loud words until the child cries.

B) Take the silent approach. Seethe inwardly at the child while cleaning up the mess. Throw dagger edged looks at her every chance you get until she cries.

C) Take a moment to pray. Calm yourself down and ask your child about the mess. Listen to her answer, the best she can communicate. Pray silently for God’s wisdom on the right way to handle the child. Be slow to speak.

Friday, January 14

How To Stop Whining

Read II Corinthians 9:6-15

Gotcha! You thought, because of the title of this post, I was gonna give you some hints on how to stop your children from whining… well, I will throw that in shortly – but this is for you mom!

Last week our guest post writer Jessica wrote a lingering post where she used the phrase “God stoops without sighing”and that phrase has been swirling around in my head all week in all of its poetic-ness and simple truth.

So, that got me to pondering… what have I been sighing and whining about lately? Yes… something came to mind – but that is a thought I shall privately keep to myself… as I am still in process on that one.

I further pondered… now… what did I used to say to my children when they were whining. (Here’s the aforementioned suggestion.)

“Sorry sweetie, mom can’t hear you when your voice is like that. You need to go to your room and when you are ready to use your real voice and tell me why you are frustrated (pronounced fa-rus-ta-rated) you can come back in here and talk to me and I will help you.”

Thursday, January 13

Stoop Without Sighing

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, 
having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 

(2 Corinthians 9:8)

As a mom of young children, I can find myself sighing. Too often, actually. The cries for “more milk,” “Help me,” and “Read to me,” can seem endless. And, all too often, I sigh because I’m being interrupted or delayed in a household task or a homeschooling assignment.

I’m not talking about ecstatic or contented sighs. I’m talking about that back of the throat, disgusted kind of sigh. You know the one.

Recently, I was reminded how God stoops without sighing. I can’t remember where I initially heard that metaphor, but it’s a powerful one in my mind.

Wednesday, January 12

At the Well

Read  John 4:4-42

***Read part one here

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Is she awed by him? Is that why she asks him if he is greater than Jacob?

Or is she done. Worn out and tired of pretending. Does sarcasm drip from her words instead of worship? Maybe.

Jesus answers, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

It doesn’t matter who you are. It matters who I am.

I hear sarcasm again in her reply. “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” The response of an exasperated woman who only wants to draw water in peace and quiet without being ridiculed by some holier-than-thou Jew.

He tells her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she snaps.

Jesus watches her intently even as she keeps her eyes on the task of lowering the jug into the deep well. “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

It doesn’t matter who you are. It matters who I am.

Her breath catches, but she doesn’t look up. How could he know that? He could know that. Everyone knows that. So she plays along, not ready to give up the bitterness that comes with being long oppressed. “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

When Jesus utters the phrase, “Woman, believe me,” she looks up. How can she not? The words are packed with authority, power and… was that compassion? “A time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” He answers carefully, letting her know her question was a worthwhile one that he cares enough to address. “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.” He emphasizes the word from and continues, “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” He is for you, too, he tells her with his words and his eyes.

The woman wants to believe him. “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

A great grin spreads across the face of the man at the well. “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Other men pick that very moment to swarm him. His words ring in her ears. Her mouth hangs open. She doesn’t even care what these other Jews are saying about her.

It doesn’t matter who you are. It matters who I am.

The water jar drops to the ground with a thud. She recognized him now. She believes him. And she ran.

Surely the disciples thought she was running away in shame. But her shame was the last thing on her mind when she accosted the first people she met. “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”

She didn’t wait to be baptized or commissioned or perfect. When she knew she was face to face with the Messiah, she ran and spread the word to an entire town who probably held her, the worst of sinners, in contempt. Unashamed, she told them to come see this man who could be the Messiah.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”

It doesn’t matter who you are. It matters who I am.

Let’s learn from her today. Her testimony made a splash because she didn't wait around to be worthy of worshiping Jesus. She didn't cherish the knowledge in her heart and keep it to herself. She spread the word and "many Samaritans believed." Because the offer of salvation extended passed the Jews even to the despised and unworthy Samaritans, we can still feel the effect of one woman's ripple.

It doesn’t matter who we are. It matters who He is.

Monday, January 10

Making Room.

Read Psalm 33

The following is an excerpt from "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World," by Joanna Weaver, pages 102-104.

I've found I need solitude, a daily quiet time alone with God, if I am to have any hope of keeping my center. Left to my own devices, I am fickle and ever-changing. One day I am hot: "O Lord, I love you! Be glorified in me." The next day I'm lukewarm: "Sorry God, I have to run." I have found the words of the hymnist so true:

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.

The only way I've found to fight this wandering tendency in my life is to keep my heart centered on Christ, to keep my gaze fixed on him. But that takes time and an act of my will. I have to be willing to make room in my life if I want to experience the Better Part.

In his book First Things First, Stephan Covey tells the story of a man teaching a time-management seminar. In order to make a point, the man pulled a wide mouthed gallon jar from under the counter that served as his podium. He picked up some fist-size rocks and put them in the jar. Then he looked out at the class and asked, "Is the jar full?"

Some of the students, not knowing where he was going, blurted out, "Yes." The teacher laughed gently and said, "No, it is not." He pulled out a bucket of pea gravel and began to pour it in the jar. The class watched as the pea gravel filtered down between the rocks, filling the spaces until it reached the top.

"Now, is the jar full?"

The class was a bit reticent to answer. After all, they'd been wrong before. Instead of waiting for their response, the man poured a bucket of sand down among the pea gravel and the large rocks. He shook the jar gently to let the sand settle, then added more, until finally the sand reached the top of the mouth of the jar. Then he asked again, "Is the jar full?" And they said, "Probably not."

Now the teacher reached for a pitcher of water and slowly poured the water in the jar. It filtered down until it was running out of the jar at the top. "Is the jar full?" the time-management consultant asked. The class answered, "We think it is."

"Okay class," he said, "What is the lesson in this visual aid?"

Somebody in the back raised his hand and said, "No matter how busy your life is, there is always room for more!"

"No," the teacher said as the class broke into laughter. "That is not it!"

"The lesson is, class," he said when the chuckles subsided, "if you don't put the big rocks in first you'll never get them in later."

What a powerful picture of a powerful truth! It sounds like the same point Jesus made when he said, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33).

First things first, the Lord was saying. Take care of my business, and I'll take care of yours. Make room in your heart for me, and I'll make room for everything else.

Flower image photo credit to Aimelle.

Friday, January 7

A Mother's Quiet Time

Since we've spent the week reading about establishing a daily Bible reading habit, I thought some encouragement from Elisabeth Elliot was in order. If you aren't familiar with Elizabeth Elliot, she is a women to greatly admire as she lives what she preaches through deepest grief and greatest joy. Elisabeth is the author of nearly twenty books, including Shadow of the Almighty and Passion and Purity. As a young woman she married Jim Elliot and had a daughter.  Jim, was killed in 1956 while attempting to make missionary contact with the Huaorani of eastern Ecuador. Elisabeth later spent two years as a missionary to the tribe members who killed her husband.  She later remarried and that husband died from cancer. Elizabeth has taught and written about her life's ups and down. She also hosted a daily radio show, Gateway to Joy for thirteen years, until 2001.

The following excerpt is taken from entitled, A Mother's Quiet Time.

Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says, "and underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend, Elisabeth Elliot, talking again today about being alone with God.

Some folks would call this "devotions." Whatever you want to call it, time alone with God is an essential element of the Christian life. We need not only to go to church and to join with other people in prayer and Bible reading and Bible study, but we need time alone with God. That's the time when we can examine our own hearts, straighten out our priorities for the day, lay our requests before God and listen to what God might have to say to us.

We need to practice solitude. For some of you that may be literally impossible, depending upon your living situation. Even if you have to use a closet or a bathroom or maybe the car in the garage, maybe you can find a solitary place. But if not, there is such a thing as solitude of spirit--quietness inside. Pause as you go up the stairs. Lift up your heart and say, "Thank you Lord. Help me."

If you are a mother there may be many occasions when what you need to do is to kneel down in the kitchen with your arms around two little children and pray, "Lord, give me wisdom." Perhaps you have settled yourself very comfortably in your solitary room, in a nice comfortable chair at six o'clock in the morning when no body else is awake, you think. And you're just breathing a great sigh of relief that you have this time alone with God and in come one or two of your little children. And what do you do? You include them, of course. You don't send them away.

I find myself often just lifting up my heart to God. It just means saying, "Lord, I lift up my heart to You." Maybe because He knows I've suffered some hurt or maybe because a thought has just flown through my mind, maybe it's because of something I want to thank Him about. But in one way or another, I want to refer it to God. So I say, "Lord, I lift up my heart." And in certain churches when the Pastor says, "Lift up your hearts," the congregation responds audibly, "We lift them up to You."

In the office, can you have solitude of spirit once in a while? Can you lift up your heart just in a SOS and say, "Lord, help me to be gracious to this difficult person." These are just those little SOS prayers. But can you manage ten or fifteen unbroken minutes first thing in the morning--to get your bearings, to plot your course under God's direction and to take your position as His child, His servant?

I would recommend that you keep a notebook handy and write down lessons that you are learning. Maybe there is just one particular verse that has stood out in your Bible reading, or some sin that the Lord has brought to your mind that you have been struggling with. Why not make a note? Just jot it down and ask the Lord to help you to pray about that.

Again, I'd like to read from A. W. Tozer's little leaflet Exposition Must Have Application:

"Bible exposition without moral application raises no opposition." That's a memorable statement isn't it?

"Bible exposition without moral application raises no opposition. It is only when the hearer is made to understand that truth is in conflict with his heart that resistance sets in. As long as people can hear orthodox truth divorced from life they will attend and support churches and institutions without objection. The truth is a lovely song, become sweet by a long and tender association; and since it asks nothing but a few dollars, and offers good music, pleasant friendships and a comfortable sense of well-being, it meets with no resistance from the faithful. Much that passes for New Testament Christianity is little more than objective truth sweetened with song and made palatable by religious entertainment."

I have to pause over those words because I am teaching on this program. It's my purpose to build up and encourage Christians and to call others who would like to be Christians, to Jesus Christ.

But, do I leave you day by day without a sense of moral obligation? Am I failing to help you see that it's no good listening Elisabeth Elliot and Gateway To Joy and all the stuff that I read to you which is so rich spiritually, without reminding you that you personally have to do something about it? And I'm speaking to those who are Christians and those who are not Christians. If you hear the Word of God, you have a responsibility. You have to do something. What are you going to do?

May the Lord guide you as you seek time alone with Him.

Thursday, January 6

Bible Reading for Slackers (Part 3)

Whimsy, encouragement and inspiration are all very nice things, but I crave practical advice once I have been inspired to do something. Hopefully reading about someone else's parallel journey has inspired us to read our Bibles, but HOW? 

Sadly, this has been my experience for much of my life. Until about six years ago, I NEVER made it through the Bible on one of those programs. In summary: I got sick. Traveled. Married. Raised children. The weather was bad. Or beautiful. My aunt had brain surgery. My in-laws dropped by for a day. The taxes were due at midnight, we were eating Chinese take-out, and still trying to figure out Turbo-tax. The engine fell out of the car while I was driving. That was hard to explain to my husband who sort of believes some of our car repairs are due to my wild driving. Thankfully the Ford Company came to my aid when it recalled that year’s Taurus for bad motor mounts.

So when Denis discovered a read-through-the-Bible-plan which he called Reading for Biblical Literacy, I was cautious about it. After all, I was a veteran who’d tried everything. It first came to his attention through Douglas Kelly’s book Why Pray? The basic plan dates from the time of the Puritans. It was given to him by Venus Brooks, a pastor from the Lumbee Indian tribe. Dr. Kelly writes, "Its special value is that it gives you a varied diet by exposing you to different parts of Scripture each day while providing continuity by causing you to return to the same section on the same day of the week all through the year." Mysteriously, despite all, I am among his chosen. It is sheer grace.

So throughout the year you read the following:

Sunday: The books of poetry
Monday: The Pentateuch
Tuesday: O.T. history
Wednesday: O.T. history (There is a lot of it.)
Thursday: O.T. prophets
Friday: N.T. history
Saturday: N.T. epistles

So while having a fit of resolutions on a January 1st some years ago, I pulled it out, cut down the margins, folded it in half so it would fit in my Bible, and began.

The big difference between this plan and any other I had tried was that it was not tied to any particular date. On any day of the week, say it was Friday, I read the assigned portion and happily checked it off. Fridays were good days and it is true I finished all of them before I finished the Saturdays, but then I simply read wherever I was behind.

I was not tempted to cheat, because there were no unsightly gaps. I knew it was going to take me longer than a year. And, after all, what is so inspired about doing it in a year? Nothing. I also liked not having to look up five different references in one day. You could just settle in and read an entire assignment which came from one book. It also had the advantage of giving more context, because you read a whole chunk at a time rather than a few verses here and there.

Clearly another advantage in the arrangement was that it helped me see the remarkable unity and interconnections that run through the entire Scripture. On Monday I would be reading about the covenant God made with Abraham, and on Saturday Paul would be talking about the very same thing in Romans.

And I figured out at least one thing about Numbers. If God cared enough about all those tribes and clans to count the people and to name them so we could look at them in the year 2002, then it is a certain kind of evidence that God is mindful of every one of his people no matter how anonymous or insignificant we think we are. But the best thing by far was simply checking off a day’s portion not a DATE.

I got through the whole Bible. It only took me a year and six months.

A PDF containing the entire program is available by following this link.

The three part series, as it appears on this blog, was written by Margie Haack and borrowed from the Ransom Fellowship's blog where you can read the post in it's entirety. Margie with her husband Denis are co-directors of Ransom Fellowship, a ministry helping Christians engage in postmodern culture in ways that are both authentic to the Christian faith and winsome in expression. She blogs at

Wednesday, January 5

Bible Reading for Slackers (Part 2)

Read Psalm 119:9-24

January 1. Resolved to read the Bible in a year...

January 5th. Got a phone call from Mom yesterday morning. I was in the midst of reading and forgot to finish. Today I have five chapters to read and they are long. Half-way through the chapters I move to my favorite chair in the living room and Denis comes in with the calendar and says we must plan our schedule for next fall and winter. It takes a long time. When we are finally done, I am in a bad mood. I don’t like planning dates and trying to imagine whether I will want to fly to Anchorage with him in January and do a workshop on "Why Young Girls Love Britney Spears" or "Cooking up Hospitality" for the women. (I am not an easy person to live with. All the more reason, of course, that I should read through the Bible.) I am not done reading, but I decide it’s time to shower and get moving.

January 8th. Am supposed to begin reading in Job. Turns out it is one of the oldest books in the Bible so for this reading program it comes in the middle of Genesis. But I woke up with a bad headache. I can barely focus enough to find my clothes. In fact, I don’t find them because everything I own needs to be washed. I pull something out of the dirty clothes hamper which makes my headache worse. I decide to skip the ritual for just one day. It seems important to start the laundry. I can make it up the next day.

January 9th. I forgot to wake up early. Denis and I need to make a quick trip to Minneapolis and must leave right away. I take Prayers of the Puritans and Daily Lightand we read and pray together in the car on the way. The Bible reading will keep.

January 10th. Oops. Now I need to read 22 chapters in Job. When am I gonna find time for that? We have guests coming and I need to change the sheets, do this huge grocery shop—one of the hateful little duties of home-keeping—and clean the bathrooms, which strangely I do enjoy. Like crows and pack rats I value shiny things like chrome and porcelain. I don’t have energy for any of this and since I’ve read Job quite a few times in my life, I just read chapters 1 and 22. I check off all the dates.

January 11th. Read Job 23-31. Nine chapters for one day? No kidding? I look at the book on my night stand: J.I. Packer’s Never Beyond Hope and wonder if I am. I decide to read as much of Job as I have time for since our Board of Director’s meeting begins today and since Denis and I are in vocational ministry shouldn’t I at least make an effort to grow in godliness? I have time for two chapters and then I need to get downstairs and put out breakfast for eight.

January 13th. School has been canceled. Ten inches of snow fell last night and this morning it’s blowing so hard the wind chill index is sixty below. The kids are elated and rather than stay inside and quietly go back to bed like thoughtful children would do, they insist on going outside to begin construction of snow tunnels and forts. Which they do. For about the space of time it takes to brew a pot of coffee. Then they are back in, flinging boots and sopped mittens on the radiators where they smolder and smell like wet dogs. Then they beg for Swedish pancakes. The weather has ruined my routine.

January 14th. I am sick. I look at the reading plan and check off the last three days without cracking the Bible. Instead I read Packer’s book subtitled How God Touches and Uses Imperfect People.

January 15th. I begin with confession of sin. Pride—I thought I was better than this, but daily life proves I am not. And lying—it’s still a sin. Even if I’m the only one who looks at my Bible plan. I erase the checkmarks where I cheated, and decide just to begin with the current date, be honest and maybe if I have time, go back and catch up. Some Saturday I’ll spend the whole day reading. Meanwhile I will live with the gaps. As I begin reading in Job again, I hear a light tap on the door. It is one of my kids. Nine year old Sember says softly, "I know you told us not to bother you unless we can show you blood, but Jerem is sick. He’s throwing up in his room. Does this count?" I leap off the bed and run down the hall. It is worse than I imagined. He must’ve drank a quart of grape juice just prior because a viscous purple liquid with white things floating in it is everywhere. The force of it has splashed up the bedroom door and onto the baseboard— which were once white but are now permanently stained a pale lilac. It’s hard not to think he did this on purpose since the bathroom is only about five steps away from his room. In that moment I know I am really evil. I forgot all about Job that day.

February 4th. Not doing so well with the Bible reading. It's hard to keep it going when we are out of town. There are more gaps in the past two weeks.

February 13th. The book of Numbers is mostly that. And names, names, names. Maybe I could find one like Jabez and write a best seller. I skip ahead to I Kings and read two days worth.

February 18th. Deuteronomy 12 - 18. I think I might begin to read the book of Luke. I like the idea of reading it with an eye for the questions Jesus asks people. Why does he do that? What do they mean?

March 3rd. I look at my checkered plan sheet with smudges and erasures. It isn’t working. I am doomed. A failing immature rat of a Christian. Barely two months and I am ruined. I quit. I decide to read what I can when I can and quietly slip into First Peter where Jesus says to me through the dear Apostle, "But you are a chosen people..." Mysteriously, despite all, I am among his chosen. It is sheer grace.

Did this resonate with you as much as it did with me? Tomorrow's installment is Margie's solution to the problem. This is part two of a three part Drop from Bible Reading for Slackers and Shirkers by Margie Haack. If you missed part one, read it here. Margie with her husband Denis are co-directors of Ransom Fellowship, a ministry helping Christians engage in postmodern culture in ways that are both authentic to the Christian faith and winsome in expression. She blogs at

Tuesday, January 4

Bible Reading for Slackers (Part 1)

Read Deuteronomy 6

January 1st: Resolved to read through the Bible in a year. To pick a program and simply stick with it.

I know I’ve tried this before and failed (the lure of winning that Sunday School Certificate just wasn’t compelling enough), but this time I am really going to do it. Sheer will power will take me there. No excuses. It doesn’t matter that I work, have children, am sick, travel, celebrate holidays, or am just a lazy slob, this year I WILL do it.

I skip the plan that suggests you read straight through the boring. And the one that has you read twenty verses from five different books every day (too annoying). I go for the historical one. It looks interesting. This one has you read the Bible chronologically and you get to see the flow of Biblical history. I like the idea. You start with Genesis and end with Revelations, but, for example, when you get to the life of Moses you get to throw in the Psalms he wrote and hear his poetry through his troubles and triumphs. And when you get to the kings of Israel you get to read what the prophets were saying while their kingdoms crashed. This desire is more than just wanting to congratulate myself on having done a good thing.

Reading through the entire Bible would keep me from going the same old route which takes me to familiar places. Like Luke when I want to be jazzed by Jesus’ life. To the Psalms when I am depressed and doubting. I avoid Ecclesiastes; it is very dark. I am not fond of Leviticus either, too many sacrifices. And the minor prophets do rant so. However, I want to hear God’s voice in all its ways during all the times he spoke to and through men. I want to know Him. I want to know the hard parts where babies’ heads are dashed against stones. And I want to know why we must endure page after page of numbers and names of people we know nothing about.

I have read and I respect men like John Stott who say,

Christians who neglect the Bible simply do not mature. When Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy to the      effect that human beings do not live by bread only but by God’s Word, he was asserting that the Word of God is just as necessary for spiritual health as food is for bodily health. I am not now thinking of remote Christian tribes people into whose language the Bible has not yet been translated, nor of illiterate people... I am thinking rather about ourselves. Our problem is not that the Bible is unavailable to us, but that we do not take advantage of its availability. We need to read and meditate on it daily, to study it in a fellowship group and to hear it expounded during Sunday Worship. Otherwise we shall not grow. Growth into maturity in Christ depends upon a close acquaintance with, and a believing response to, the Bible.

[Source: God’s Book For God’s People, John Stott, IVP p. 76]

So, even though I am tired from celebrating until midnight on the 31st of December, I prop myself up in bed. Denis brings me a cup of tea and I plunge in, reading Genesis 1-4. Creation accomplished! It feels so good to check off the square.

Part one of a three part drop from Bible Reading for Slackers and Shirkers by Margie Haack. Come back tomorrow to follow Margie as she valiantly endeavors to accomplish her resolution. Margie with her husband Denis are co-directors of Ransom Fellowship, a ministry helping Christians engage in postmodern culture in ways that are both authentic to the Christian faith and winsome in expression. She blogs at 

Monday, January 3

The Source of LIFE

Read John 1

From Just Give me Jesus by Anne Graham Lotz

It can be mind boggling to contemplate the vastness of the universe, from the greatest star to the smallest particle. It is so vast that astronomers are now saying that it stretches beyond what we are capable of measuring, even with sophisticated telescopes like the Hubble. And every bit of it was created by the Living Word of God, Who, even as He hung the stars in space, counted them and called them each by name!

Not only did He create objects of massive size, but He also created such minute, delicate, intricate things as snowflakes, no two of which are the same. He created:

atoms and angels and ants,

crocodiles and chiggers and clouds,

elephants and eagles and electrons,

orchids and onions and octopuses,

frogs and feathers and sea foam,

diamonds and dust and dinosaurs,

raindrops and sweat drops,

dewdrops and blood drops,

and me! And you!

The greatness of His power to create and design and form and mold and make and build and arrange defies the limits of our imagination. And since He created everything, there is nothing beyond His power to fix or mend of heal or restore.

Years ago, a man was driving his car down the road when the engine coughed and wheezed and sputtered before stalling. Try as he might, the driver could not restart the engine. Finally, he stood glaring at it, and, in frustration, kicked the tire. Just then, a long, sleek, polished black limousine pulled up beside him. The chauffeur hastily jumped out and opened the back door from which stepped and elegantly dressed gentleman. The gentleman asked the driver what the problem seemed to be. The exasperated man replied he had no idea; the car had just quit running. The gentleman asked to have a look for himself under the hood of the car. The man scoffed at the idea of such a finely dressed man having any knowledge of the mechanics of a car’s engine, but the gentleman persisted in his offer. Since no one else had stopped to help, the driver skeptically accepted the assistance and threw open the hood.

The gentleman leaned over the engine, twisted a few wires, tapped a few cables, and tightened a few plugs. Then he told the driver to try to start the car once again. This time, the engine responded immediately.

As he closed the hood of the car, the driver turned to the gentleman and thanked him profusely. Then he inquired, “By they way, what is your name?”

The gentleman replied simply, “Henry Ford.”

Henry Ford had made the car, so he knew exactly what was wrong with the car and how to fix it! Jesus Christ is the One by Whom, for Whom, through Whom everything was made. Therefore He knows what’s wrong in your life and how to fix it.

Is your heart broken? Does your life need mending? Who or what do you know that needs “fixing?” Jesus, as Creator of life, knows how to make it work. Let him take charge. Give Him the authority to put it right. Having brought everything into existence that exists, He has never become bored with or distracted from or unconcerned about His creation. The Living [Word] personally hovers over all He has created, giving it His full attention.