In the Beginning — Wisdom

“The Lord brought me (wisdom)  forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;  I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began.  When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water, before the mountains settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before He made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world.  I was there when He set the heavens in place, when He marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when He established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the dee, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep His command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.  Then I was the craftsman at his side.  I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence and delighting in mankind.”  Proverbs 8: 22-31

Did you know that wisdom was present at the creation and works with God, the creator?  I had not thought about this before, but it’s in the Bible and was one of our readings in the worship service last week.  And what is wisdom? The biblical definition of wisdom is the fear of the Lord as that’s where it begins and God is the source.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”  Proverbs 9:1

Sounds to me as if we should study the Bible first, last and always.  Without it, we’ll never have true wisdom, and wisdom is the only firm foundation on which to build our lives.  We can’t know God unless we read His Word.  Put that first, and your life will fall into the right order.

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No End

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but whoever hates correction is stupid.  Proverbs 12:1

I learned in Fanning the Flame that there is one thing in life that should have no end — learning.  Good leaders are lifelong learners.  When I encounter a problem, my first impulse — get a book about it!  Look it up on the internet!  And of course, does the Bible have anything to say on tis issue?  I love to read, study and learn, so I don’t understand why this isn’t the case with everyone.

The verse above from Proverbs addresses some of the reasons people don’t like to learn.  Number one:  learning takes discipline.  God doesn’t just pour knowledge into our brains, we have to seek it out.  Number Two (this is a big Lutheran one):  we never did it that way before.  Once we set out to learn about something, we may find out that we’re wrong!  We may have to begin something new.  We may have to change and step outside of our comfort zone.  Now, these things are not easy for me either.  Loving to read about or study a subject doesn’t mean that I always like what I find, or have an easy time assimilating it into my life.  It just makes it easier to take that first step.

The thing is, everyone studies the things that really interest them.  What is your passion?  If it’s your children, you may have a computer app (like my daughter) that tells you about each developmental stage they are passing through.  If it’s health and fitness, you probably go to the gym, take exercise classes and buy equipment and DVD’s to use at home.  Is it sports?  I bet you’re glued to the TV each time your favorite team plays, and you can recite the relevant statistics of key players.

As Christians, whether study comes naturally or not, we should have a passion for God and His Word.  That means we will want to learn about Him and read His book.  These days there are a host of ways to do this.  There are audio books;  there are computer programs;  there are movies.  There are many translations of the Bible.  You can join into Sunday School, Bible study or a small group.  Ask your Pastor or a friend like me who loves to learn.  They’ll help you find the right spot to live and learn.

Disciple Her by Kandi Gallaty–Book Review

This book is a great resource for any individual or church interested in beginning Discipleship groups.  Kandi shares her experience, working with other women (usually for one year) and establishing spiritual disciplines such as prayer, journaling Bible study, Bible memorization.  At that point, the members are equipped to go forth and start D-groups of their own.  If you have the spiritual gifts of shepherding and/or encouragement, this book will inspire and motivate you.  According to the forward, Kandi

“… has defined what discipleship is, and outlined a pathway for investing in other women.”

Disciple Her

 

An appendix at the back of the book includes:

sample covenants for the D-groups,  a suggested reading list, a sample journaling process, a worksheet for planning your own group, a Bible reading plan and more.  I especially appreciated her plan for journaling.  Although I love to write, I have never been particularly successful at journaling.  Kandi’s model is H.E.A.R —

  • Highlight the passage you are studying each day
  • Explain the background and meaning of the verse
  • Apply the verse generally and specifically to your own life
  • Respond to the verse in prayer

I plan to give this method a try!

I also appreciated her explanation of the MARCS of a disciple.  They should be:

  • Missional
  • Accountable
  • Reproducible
  • Communal
  • Scriptural

Does your life show all of these marks?

As an interesting, aside, Kandi’s husband Robby wrote the series of books that include Bearing Fruit, Firmly Planted and Growing Up.  I believe I reviewed one of these on our blog some time ago, and highly recommended it.

VERDICT:  5 stars.  This book is a must for the Women’s Ministry of the church.

If you wish to purchase it go to the link below:

Disciple Her

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

Is God Still Speaking?

I love reading!!!God speaks to us in many ways.  Some people see God in nature;  others in art;  still others in the lives of great saints.  As for me, I’m a word person and God most often speaks to me through words, and the things I am reading.  I don’t think that’s odd.  After all, didn’t God “speak” the world into existence with words?

“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”  Hebrews  11:3

Isn’t Jesus called “the Word”?

  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1

Isn’t the Bible, our primary resource for knowing God, His Word?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

This is not to say that there is plenty of unedifying reading material out there.  We have to use discernment in what we select;  but there are a plethora of good choices.  There are Christian writers of every ilk;  there are classics that educate us;  devotionals that feed our souls.  History and historical fiction can inform us; biographies inspire us;  poetry lifts our spirits.

So compose your own reading list.  Ask for suggestions from your Pastor and other Christians.  Take a look at books we’ve reviewed on our blog.  When you find a writer who speaks to you, see what else they’ve written.  Dive into some of those literary classics that bored you in high school or college.  And, of course, don’t forget your Bible.  Try different versions;  buy a commentary or a study Bible, attend Bible study.  God made us creatures who learn, and above all, He wants us to learn about Him.  Don’t miss the opportunities that are out there for you!

Small Groups of Saints #2 — Joan’s Experience

Small groups work.  I know it because I’ve seen them work in my own life.  Years ago, my husband and I noticed that just about every time we made a big leap forward in our spiritual lives, it was because of participation in a small group.  They’ve been an integral part in my journey of sanctification(The word sanctification is related to the word saint; both words have to do with holiness.)  Justification is something we already have through Christ’s sacrifice, but sanctification is a process in which every Christian participates, a process to become more and more Christlike.

My first group, was a Bible Study group.  I think there were eight of us, plus our Pastor, and together we did a through-the-Bible study of the entire Bible called Divine Drama.  It lasted for two years.  Terry and I had young children at the time, so we took turns going to the weekly meeting. Whoever attended the meeting took a tape recorder and recorded the lesson for the person who stayed home.  Believe it or not, people talked to the recorder to send the missing member messages!  It was lots of fun, I learned to put all those Bible stories into the correct chronological order, and grew very close to the other participants.

Later we attended Marriage Encounter and Via de Cristo weekends, both of which recommend follow-on small groups.  They encourage deep sharing about the personal and spiritual life of the members.  You learn how others are struggling, or succeeding in relationships with God, family and others.  You pray together.  You encourage one another.  You engage in evangelism or other Christian activities together.

I can’t explain exactly how all this works, except that if you are open and patient, the Holy Spirit does all the work.  It doesn’t even matter if you have a lot in common, because you have this one big thing in common — you are all followers of Jesus, and you have a desire to grow in your faith and understanding of His will.

So, my advice to you is this:  if you haven’t experienced a small group, find one or start one!  Do a Bible study, talk about your spiritual life, pray together, find a group project.  Be consistent;  give it some time.  You’ll be amazed at what you, God and your brothers and sisters in Christ can do together!

Would anyone else like to post about their personal walk and how small groups have played a part?

Fanning the Flame #15 –Getting Good

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already obtained. Philippians 3:12-16

A book I read recently stated  that “getting good” at any complicated task takes about 10,000 hours of practice.  Now this author wasn’t speaking about the living the Christian life, but I imagine it still applies.  So if you want to “get good” at being a Christian, simply sitting in the pew won’t cut it.  At the rate of one hour per week, “getting good” will take approximately 192 years!  In case you haven’t noticed, none of us have that long!  To really mature as a Christian, we need to put in the hours –hours of prayer, Bible study, service and more.

This is exactly what the Fanning the Flame process is teaching us.  As a team, we are learning to be more disciplined in our prayer life;  to discover and use our spiritual gifts;  to repent of our sins;  to remember God’s promises;  to study His Word;  to fellowship with one another, and so on.  Hopefully, as we mature in our faith, we will influence others within the congregation to do the same.  We’ll be stronger, better witnesses.

Will we ever achieve complete sanctification?  Lutherans don’t think so.  However, like Paul, we need to press on and do what is in our power to become worthy followers of the gift we have already been given.  Christ died for our sins so that we could be reconciled with God and live with Him in eternity.  Is it enough to plunk ourselves down in the sanctuary once a week, sing a few hymns and drop a few dollars in the offering plate?  Is this a show of true gratitude, or is it just a pious habit we’ve developed over the years?  We can’t stand still in the life of faith, we have to practice.  We have to get good.

 

 

Preaching By The Book – A Book Review

This book is the second in a series published through Hobbs College Library (part of OBU).  I will start off by saying that this book is not for the average layperson.  It is a deep study of the formation of sermons.  The author of this book, R. Scott Pace is a distinguished writer and professor who utilizes his experience to assist pastors in developing their sermon style.

 

The book is divided into the following three sections:  Foundation, Framework, Finishing Touches; within each section of these three sections are the sublevels of sermon writing.  In foundation, the reader is given information about the inspiration and investigation into the sermon topic.  He advises the reader that unless the foundation is solid (Based on the Word of God) the rest will falter.  The next section, framework, progresses into interpretation and implementation of the Word and how to study and use the information received to write a sermon.  The final section, Finishing Touches goes into introductions, illustrations, invitations, and conclusions.

 

Throughout the book, Mr. Pace stresses the importance of using the truth of God’s word in your sermons.  He also stresses the impact of a personality in a sermon.  I can identify with that because I am more apt to actually hear a sermon that has a personality to it.  I do not mean the pastor is acting like an idiot, but just that their individual personality shines through the words they are speaking.

 

Even though this book is not geared towards laypeople, but towards pastors, I enjoyed learning about structuring sermons and how to make sure they follow a good format.

 

I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars and a must for those starting to deliver God’s word.

 

I was given a free copy of this book for an honest review by B&H Publishing.