Friday, October 31, 2008

Stepping Up...

It's hard to believe we're almost finished with our journey through the Psalms of Ascent. Our ladies will meet one last time at 6:30 Tuesday for hot soup and warm fellowship as we wrap this study up. I'm hoping to get another study going after the first of the year (suggestions? I'm leaning toward Beth Moore's new one - "Esther - It's Tough Being a Woman").
So, even though we're finishing this study, we still have hearts set on pilgrimage - our destination and our fellow pilgrims! With that in mind, I thought it might be fun if the bloggers among us kept in touch here, maybe posting each week something God is teaching us through His Word. (Kind of an accountability challenge!) It could also be a forum for sharing prayer requests. Let me know what you think. It will only work if we have PARTICIPATION! A one-way conversation is no fun - believe me, I should know!!!
By the way, this conversation would be open to anyone - not just those involved in our last study. So spread the word! I'm excited to see how this little experiment works out! Let's get it started. If you're reading this, click on the word "comments" just below this post and let me know what you think!
Looking forward to hearing from you!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Loving deeply...

I'm just overwhelmed about our upcoming Bible study tomorrow. I just previewed the dvd and I'm sitting here weeping. (What is it with me this week?) Anyway, tomorrow's session is about being the best possible traveling partners on this pilgrimage together. We'll be looking at schemes of the enemy to oppose us as we journey. We have to be willing to forgive, to encourage, to love deeply, to fight for each other. This is so important. We need some unity, don't we? I was reading John this week (in the tractor!) and I was struck again by the way Jesus prayed in John 17 - for himself, for his disciples, then for us. The prayer he prayed for us can be summed up in a simple statement: Make them one.
Lord, make us one. Make it so. Amen.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Of tears and sneezes...

Mother alert: This mom cried all the way through the last couple of days of Bible study homework. Maybe it's just the season I'm in -- a newly-empty nest -- but picturing God's love in motherly terms really got to me! For the past 20 years, my identity has been more wrapped up in motherhood than any other identifier -- wife, daughter, editor...Christ follower? So in recent months I've been trying to allow Christ to help reshape my view of life and my role in it. But I couldn't suppress a nostalgic twinge when reading scriptures that compare God's love for us to that of a mother who gives birth, a nursing mother, a mother who comforts. Nursing my children was one of the great joys of my life - the feeling of overwhelming love and an elemental, nourishing physical connection. When the baby is hungry, everything else stops for a quiet moment of perfect stillness and loving care. God loves us like that! Here's the other thing: Mom's the only one who can fill that role. Likewise, God is the only one who can provide the nourishment we need to thrive and grow. What a beautiful thing! Has this week's study prompted any nostalgia in any of you? What are you learning from God's Word this week?

(Oh, and the 'sneezes' part of the title has to do with my STILL runny nose, which made the crying even messier! Dang allergies!)

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Happy? Really?

I've always been a cheerful the point of being annoying at times. Even when I didn't feel particularly cheerful, it's been my practice to slap a big ol' smile across my face before greeting the world. Fake? Sure, sometimes. But my mama raised me to put on a happy face (preferably with a little blush and lipstick, thank you!) The older I get, the less interested I am in faking out the world with a cheerful demeanor.
I want real joy. Complete joy. Happiness, even.
And that's God's plan for all of us.
Psalm 128 says,
"How happy is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in His ways!"

As we studied this in Bible study this week, I loved the picture of a heart that operates even in the midst of suffering with "a keen sense of God's presence and a lively perception of His activity."
The result? "A life that operates overall at optimum earth-satisfaction, joy and purpose without the crushing burdens of self-glory and sin."
WOW. God's ways are right. They lead to joy.
And happiness.
No need to fake that smile. We are blessed.
Hope to see all the Bible study girls Tuesday for a wonderful session on the Feast of Tabernacles. So much meaning. It will radically change the way you view some of the scriptures that are probably very familiar to you. Exciting stuff! See you there, I hope!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Breaking, mending...

Well, it's been a weird week...Michael broke a bone in his wrist and had surgery Thursday, so I've been in Baton Rouge trying to strike a balance between "caring mom" and "obsessive, overprotective mom." (The latter is my natural inclination!) I was catching up on some Psalms this afternoon and was struck again by the power of God's Word. Like...

"The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy..."

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy..."
"Unless the Lord builds the house
its builders labor in vain..."

One of the things that really hit me in Bible study was the idea of "sowing" and "reaping." We sow God's word when we plant it...apply it in our daily lives. We have to sow the seed to reap the won't do us any good to hoard the seed or even eat the seed. Hmmm.
So, how is it going with you? Any thoughts from God's word this week?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Calling all psalmists...

We had a good night in Bible study last night! One of the exercises in the study of the Psalms of Ascent is to rework each psalm into a personal expression, praying it, making it ours. Gladys Edwards shared one of hers in class - a powerful expression of thanks to God for being "for us" (Psalm 124). She shared her Psalm 122 with me and I asked if I could share it with you. Just as the original Psalmist spoke with both joy and longing of his church and his town, Gladys expresses hope and confidence for our community.

I, Gladys Marie Hamlin Edwards, was glad when they said unto me,
"Let us go into the house of the Lord"
because we can depend upon God for help.

All my help comes from the Lord.

Let's get excited to worship and praise the Lord.
Now we are standing on the inside of the house in the presence of God.
So we can pray for peace in Wisner
and may all who live in this town prosper.

For the sake of the town of Wisner I will say, "Peace be to everyone."
In order to find peace of mind and peace with others
one must find peace with God.

The people of Wisner must seek to please God
and in turn eliminate eveil.

REAL PEACE comes from Our Father in Heaven.
We must follow Him and obey His commandments.
Enter the house of the Lord with Praise and Thanksgiving.

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I, Gladys Marie Hamlin Edwards,

will seek to do what is best for the town of Wisner.

How about you? Got a psalm to share this week? Or an insight, prayer or praise? Feel free to comment by clicking the comment button below!
Do your homework, girls! You will be blessed!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Our eyes look to the Lord...He is on our side!

This week in Bible study we'll view a very interesting dvd on the first of three major Jewish feasts which are linked to our study of the Psalms of Ascent. We'll be talking about Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, both of which have so much relevance to our lives and our pilgrimage. I'm always amazed at the beautiful correlation between Old Testament traditions and their fulfillment in Christ.
And if you have any insight or revelations or "aha!" moments from this week's homework, click on the comment button below and share with the rest of us!

In our girls' Sunday School class, we're going to be doing part two of a discussion of dating - YIKES! We had some lively discussion Sunday and we'll be delving deeper into what God has in mind for His precious daughters. Pray for me (please!) and for the girls. If they can get a handle on God's design for their lives at this age, they can, hopefully, avoid some unnecessary heartbreak. (Can I get a witness, sisters?) Any thoughts or insights to share with the girls would be appreciated. What do you know now that you wish you knew at 13? 15? 17? Thanks!