Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Un-Planning: 5x5x5 and Mark 4

I am committed to reading through the New Testament of the Bible in 2017.   Kristyn, my sister, and I are reading together and we have been considering questions that we have when reading through the various passages.  Today we were reading through Mark 4.

While reading through, Kristyn made light of questions and personalization that she had related to the passages that we were reading.  This made sense and I have really enjoyed reading through the New Testament with new passion and diligence.  Kristyn also had some good advice for the Challengers on Wednesday evening.  Consider "un-planning" the time and focus on working through the Bible not just for knowledge but for understanding as only the Holy Spirit can do.  I texted her some questions and observations that I had while I read through and then began to consider what this would look like with the Challengers at church.

The commitment to read through the Bible began two weeks before the end of the year.  The 5x5x5  Plan from Navigator Press was presented to the church and everyone was asked to follow through once the new year began.  It is straightforward with 5 days on and 2 days off for reflection.  The questions that the plan asks to present and reflect upon allow for personal growth and testimony building that flows through the reading plan.

So, we passed out Bibles in Challengers and I wrote separate passage segments from Mark 4:13-19 on pieces of paper and spread them on the floor.  The Challengers were asked to move around the room and either place: 
  • Brackets ( [  ] ) around phrases that they found important
  • Forward slashes ( \ ) before phrases that had a significant connection to what came before them
  • Circles ( O ) around key words that were "univocal" or had the same meaning through the phrase or paragraph
  • Underline ( ___ ) key passages or words that were pivotal to understanding.  
  • Ask themselves what "ah-hah" words or concepts were evident?  
  • Ask what words are questionable in meaning or application?  
  • What is relevant?  
  • What is authentic?
The Challengers rotated to all the pieces of paper corresponding to the various phrases on the floor and made their marks and wrote their questions.

These elements were written on the board ahead of time and then the papers were spread around the room.

The reactions that the students wrote where then tabulated and written on one sheet of paper.

My takeaway was how Jesus spoke to the crowd about sowing seeds and then asked if they got the point or not.  He then told the parable again with additional details.  It is interesting how Jesus brings the point home by telling what he told before in a different way and with additional detail. 

Also, previously in Mark, Jesus is picking out the disciples and he picks fisherman.  We had the discussion of why fisherman were choice prospects.  I wonder who Jesus would have picked if the setting was different, like in an urban setting where people work in offices and are employed by businesses in high rise buildings amongst the hustle and bustle of city life?  

It was refreshing reading in this way and exploring the Bible with many eyes on the passage.  
  • Why parables?  
  • Why should we understand them?  
  • Why is the Bible so important to sustaining a relationship with Jesus?  
I did observe that over planning can quench the open exploration and growth that comes from un-planning.  I think this is different from under planning as that would mean I attempted to have a plan and did not complete it.  This time around I had a plan and scrapped it ... left the details out ... made exploration and questioning the forefront where the Holy Spirit was the guide.  That is sometimes a frightening place to be; letting go.  It also means that I let go of me and trust in Him.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Assurance of Victory from the Perspective of a Sheep

While studying one verse and facing the challenges of life, the reality of knowing that I cannot make it on my own is evident.  Common to man; that is me.  I will be tempted but I will have a way out.  Not because I made a way but because God made a way for me
Reading this verse challenged me to break down the words and meaning.  Temptation: my quality, what I think about, how I behave myself ~ all are open books.  I am on trial: my fidelity, integrity, virtue, consistency.  Temptation is a test of my character and faith.  I am not alone.  God is capable, strong, powerful ... and I am human.
Using a Study Bible is a great tool and has challenged me to dig deeper.  Maybe not even dig deeper but to spend more time and value the steps that open myself up and consider what this means for me.  Reading 2 Peter 2:9 and 2 Timothy 2:22 are great encouragements.
The purpose, the plan, and the prize ~ why we don't give up.  Reading these verses and considering the overall training of life and choices towards understanding what it means to live life following Christ, for me, creates clear perspective.  Not clarity but clear perspective.  Jesus can be my filter with life's situations.  The relationship that ensues is an offering that requires faith and action.
There is strong encouragement when we are tempted.  I have observed myself and others going through tough situations that caused me to seek out encouragement.  The Bible does this!  Also, through Jesus, we have victory.
The shepherds transitioned through a very life changing experience and witnessed the birth of Jesus and the announcement of his birth.  The same challenge that was given to them is one that we can embrace as, well.  Luke 2:8-20 relays the story of their experience.  Therefore, that places us, that places me, in a constant crisis of belief that requires faith and action.  This is always true because Jesus is always at work around me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Flash In The Pan

I sat down to have time with God this morning and my mind was jumping.  People and events ran through my mind.  This was impactful, conforming, and foundational in getting up to start the day even though those events in my mind were real and out of my control.

Thinking through the outcome of events and challenges in life, the reality of disasterous and deforming news can hit hard.  No droubt that it does but then it is gone in a flash.  There is hope in this quick change in circumstance.  Being situationally aware could potentially result in worry and unrest but God has another path.  In Luke 10:18, the Bible records that Satan fell from Heaven like a lightning flash.  Think about lightning for, example.

A big rainstorm kicks up, maybe as you're watching from the car window or the back door of your house.  Maybe you're fascinated by the sudden streaks of lightning, hearing the sky booming with thunder.  Ther's somthing both eerie and lovely about it.  You can love it and hate it all at the same time.

There is always a chance one of those lightning strikes can crack open a tall tree or knock the power out momentarily, here's just the truth of it: Once that split-second spark of electrical energy has touched ground, it's done all the damage it can do.  Show's over.  All the rain and the fireworks will eventually move on, and God's peace and order will come out on top. Again.

Jesus said He "watched Satan fall from heaven like a lightning flash." Yes, a flash whose power has fizzled.  Don't think for a minute that your God and your enemy are equal in some cons mic contest between the forces of good and evil, where the ultimate outcome is always in doubt. No.

Satan roars, but God reigns.  End of story. Of every story.

God always knows what is around the next corner.

"For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.  I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings." Psalm 63:3-4 (NIV)

*Content rendered from Centrikids, Unseen, Ephesians 6:19, Devotion Guide (2016). Week 3: Day 2

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The secret of surrender

I read this and ruminated upon the direct application to my life on a moment-by-moment basis.  @Frank A. Nuckolls shared about this on Sunday at church.  The world's expectation is that we daily promote ourselves.  Also that meekness is weakness but, on the contrary, out of meekness we become strong.  Meekness is strength under control.

The Secret of Surrender

We have heard the modern expression, “Don’t fight it—it’s bigger than both of us.” Those who are meek do not fight back at life. They learn the secret of surrender, or yielding to God. He then fights for us! Instead of filling your mind with resentments, abusing your body by sinful diversion, and damaging your soul by willfulness, humbly give all over to God. Your conflicts will disappear and your inner tensions will vanish into thin air. Then your life will begin to count for something. You will have the feeling of belonging to life. Boredom will melt away, and you will become vibrant with hope and expectation. Because you are meekly yielded, you will begin to “inherit the earth” of good things, which God holds in store for all who trust Him with their all.


I am using a human analogy   because of the weakness of your flesh.  For just as you offered the parts  of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.

Friday, January 16, 2015

This goes out to a healthy mind

"Begin with the end in mind" (e.g.  envision what you want in the future so that you know concretely what to make a reality) aligns all positions of personal expectation and state of mind to centralize on the nature of God.  Clearing my mind would be futal if I did not open it and fill it with His.

The Bible-way to a healthy mind is this, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” If you have the mind of Christ, worry will be offset by trust, enmity by love, and fear by faith.

Daily Prayer

Fears sometimes seem as if they would overwhelm me, Lord Jesus, but then I remember Your gift of power, love, and a healthy mind. Thank You for the promise of healing and love, as I keep my mind on You, my beloved Lord.

2TI 1:7 HCSB

For God has not given us a spirit  of fearfulness,  but one of power,  love,  and sound judgment.

From: Billy Graham Daily Devotional, January 16th