Bible Study: Why You Should Try Again {and again}

The holidays, for good or bad, are over. And once again you’re facing a new year. It’s full of new possibilities, new opportunities, blank pages, unwritten stories. It feels like a chance for a do-over, something many of us would gladly take when it comes to Bible reading. Because if we’re honest, we’re not so great at it. You may have made resolutions in the past, maybe multiple years. You may have even found a partner and decided that accountability would make a difference. You got a great start, found a rhythm, and enjoyed it. And somewhere in Leviticus, or near the end of February, you stopped. Life got busy. The baby started waking up again. Work became more stressful. You got bored. What does this mean about you? It means you’re human. On Habits and Restarts Though we may put it in a different category because of the power it holds, reading the bible is like other human activities, which means that at some point, we’ll fail. Unfortunately many of us have assigned this failure to keep a good habit or be consistent in a spiritual discipline a significance it doesn’t deserve. We’ve decided it means we don’t love Jesus, or that we’re a lesser-than disciple, or that we’re just not good at reading the Bible. Here’s what it really means: Life got busy. We are embodied souls. And embodied souls live with stress and changing circumstances, restarts and do-overs. And the restarts are just as important as the first starts...

Bible Study: Why You Should Try Again {and again}2022-05-07T22:46:15+00:00

Hide and Seek No More

Surely one of the earliest and most endearing games we play with babies involves disappearing behind our hands only to reappear moments later, smiling and exclaiming, “peek-a-boo!” We repeat the sequence of movements multiple times, rewarded with baby’s surprised chuckles. Before long, infants turn into mobile toddlers, able to participate in the hiding aspect of the game. In fact, hide-and-seek becomes an oft-requested favorite, complete with random-number counting and much laughter while scurrying to find the perfect hiding spot. Shrieks are just as likely to accompany finding as being found.Sometimes the hiding isn’t all that effective. For instance, even though most of the tiny body is covered up, a foot may remain visible. Or, try as I might, I can’t fully wedge myself between the wall and the recliner when the little people are hunting me.And then there are times when I wander around, pretend-seeking the hidden one, musing, “Hmm, I wonder where (insert grandchild’s name) is?” The confident, she-can’t-find-me laughter that follows allows me to zero in like a honey bee to its hive. More laughter ensues, along with, “Let’s hide again, Grammie!” Child’s play? The first recorded episode of hide-and-seek was no child’s game. It wasn’t planned and it certainly wasn’t accompanied by laughter, unless it was the nervous kind borne of embarrassment. Genesis 3 recounts the story of the Fall. Satan, disguised as a serpent, engaged Eve in a doubt-God’s-goodness conversation – surely it wasn’t proper for God to withhold something as wonderful as the forbidden fruit? Sadly, it didn’t take much to convince Eve of her right to partake. She ate and then shared some of the bounty with Adam. (verses 1-6).

Hide and Seek No More2022-05-07T22:47:03+00:00

Suffering: Remembering our Living Hope and our Eternal Inheritance

Our first child was a girl, so my husband and I were ecstatic to find out our second child would be a boy. After a long labor, but a fairly smooth delivery, we believed our newborn son to be perfect in every way. But only two weeks later he became a newborn who aspirated, was labeled failure to thrive, and had to have a feeding tube placed at a month old. No one knew what was wrong with him. As the doctors speculated about his rare condition over and over again, my heart sunk deeper and deeper into despair and fear. I was so overwhelmed by fear and uncertainty, many days I could only pray, “God help me. Help us. Please save my son.” Nearer to Christ No one wants to face their greatest fear. Deep down we wonder how we would survive if indeed our greatest fear becomes reality. As Christians, we even wonder how we will endure, even though we know God is with us. Fear paralyzes us and often makes us forget God’s promise to be with us. Our faith can also be shaken by the raw emotion that comes with trials and when our hope is misplaced. Two years later, my son is doing much better and continuing to conquer many developmental hurdles. We still don’t have an official diagnosis, and we may never have one. I live in a continual cycle of fear and trust, fear and trust.  Through this journey of appointments, tests, scans, therapy, and blood work, I see Jesus and the gospel with greater clarity. The Bible stories I heard and read many times growing up in my childhood church are no longer just good stories from a distant God. They draw me nearer to my LIVING HOPE, Jesus Christ, and my future with him.

Suffering: Remembering our Living Hope and our Eternal Inheritance2022-05-07T22:47:49+00:00

Hinged Bible Study: Unpacking the Content of the Gospel in the Context of Community

For the last twelve years, Thursday has been one of my favorite days of the week. Why, you ask? It is Women’s Bible study day. It is a day of blessed belonging. I surround myself with gospel friends who remind me who God is and what He is calling me to be from His Word. On the best days, I leave more vitally hinged to Christ, His Word, and His people. This past year I had to say goodbye to my gospel friends. As we cried and celebrated, we reflected on gospel content that only could have been learned in the context of community. C.S. Lewis said in The Four Loves, “what draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth, and they share it.” The Word of God and our walk together over all these years profoundly shaped me. Hinged Hearsay.... Maybe you had heard the buzz about Hinged. It is the name of our 2020 National Conferences (you heard it here first). It is also the name of the Women’s Bible Study on the book of Ephesians to be released January 2020. (Everyone who registers for the Hinged Conference receives a complimentary copy.) What’s in a name? A hinge is a utilitarian piece of hardware that connects two things for a useful purpose. It is hidden in the gap of a door or cabinet. When a door hinge is operational, we rarely notice, but other hinges in life are far more vital. Being vitally connected to Christ and His Church, well, that is life! Hinged Together.... I often say that I do things the most inefficient, but prayerfully, the most effective way I know how. So instead of having a single author write this study, I invited eight women to collaborate in writing this study together. This group of women from our National Women’s Ministry Team is a unified yet very diverse group of women. They live in different parts of the country. They are of different ages and races. They have unique faith stories. The churches they attend range in size from under 100 to several thousand. It is a love for Christ and His Church that unites them. The book also contains 12 unique stories from women just like you who are seeking to apply the truth of God’s Word right where they live. And when you add up these 20 women you see a picture of the Bride...and she is radiant!...

Hinged Bible Study: Unpacking the Content of the Gospel in the Context of Community2022-05-07T22:48:43+00:00

Good News for the Cynic This Christmas

My husband knew something was wrong when I said it. He looked up from his phone, “What did you just say?” I repeated, “Christmas. What’s the point anyway?” A new city. A new house. The year had been full of sudden change. Now the holidays were approaching with the pressure of creating magic for our children coming to spend the holidays in a new home. The problem was that there was no magic to give. I was cynical. Tired. And quite frankly, a little depressed. No little kids to buy for. No fun surprise like a puppy or a hard-to-find toy. I couldn’t conjure up the magic I was known for giving, the magic I had grown up with. As a child, I squealed when Santa threw candy through our sliding glass door as Rudolph sailed overhead (my dad may have been nearby throwing candy to bounce off the glass as he distracted us). When I grew older and could handle a hatchet, I marched into our wooded yard to cut my own “Charlie Brown tree” to bedazzle my bedroom. Then as a college student, I could not wait to pull into our driveway at Christmas break knowing Mama had turned on every twinkling light, hit play on the holiday music, and prepared a fire and cup of spice tea for me as I collapsed from dorm room living to home-sweet-home. Fast forward through two and a half decades of putting on a Christmas show for five kids and the chaotic cheer that ensued, myriad Christmas Eve dinners with family and friends, several late entrances into candlelight church services, and I was in a place without memories, with kids too grown to care about Elf on a Shelf, and family miles away...

Good News for the Cynic This Christmas2022-05-07T22:49:30+00:00

When Christmas is Not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

“It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year,  It's the Hap-happiest season of all… Except....when it's not. In the days leading up to our first Christmas without our youngest child, sixteen-year-old Mark, Harry Connick Jr.'s merry lyrics sharply contrasted with the tears and unending ache in my chest accompanying me every minute of every day. Even the night of his death, Christmas was on our minds. On our way home from the hospital that hot July night, stunned to be leaving without our child, Chuck grabbed my hand and whispered, "Christmas, what will we do about Christmas?" Over twenty years later, I experience joy in this "most wonderful time of the year" but not because it's the hap-happiest season of all. Because it's not. About two weeks before Thanksgiving I begin to feel disorganized, disconnected, and emotionally edgy. Anger and impatience vie for top billing in situations that don't normally rattle me.  And every year Chuck reminds me that my root problem is grief. I miss Mark. The freight train of sorrow still surprises me with its ferocity and power. One reason the holiday season is so difficult for grieving Americans is because marketing gurus tap deep into our core need for community and family. Thanksgiving and Christmas are ready made opportunities for stirring up our God-given hunger for peace and whole families. The most effective ads are those that imply their product will produce healthy, conflict-free relationships. Divorce, broken relationships, childlessness, loss of a loved one, financial disaster, singleness, conflict-filled marriage—none of these fit the "hap-happiest time of the year" template. The ads only serve to magnify the holes in our own broken lives. 10 Tips for Christmas Grief Relief...

When Christmas is Not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year2022-05-07T22:50:24+00:00

Athanasius and the Incarnation of Christ

When was the last time you read an old book? C.S. Lewis had an opinion on this: “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” Lewis urges Christian readers to step outside of their century to read the “old books.” In fact, he penned these words as part of an introduction to the over 1,600-year-old classic, On the Incarnation by Athanasius. As Christmas nears and we reflect on our Lord Jesus coming in the flesh, let us learn first-hand about the Incarnation from Athanasius, a Christian who suffered greatly to protect the biblical truth that Jesus is both fully God and fully man. Who Was Athanasius? Athanasius, an early Church Father, was born sometime during 296-300 A.D. in Alexandria, Egypt. The city of Alexandria played a pivotal role in the Eastern Roman Empire. Athanasius grew up during the reign of Diocletian, emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, and his successor Galerius, both of whom violently persecuted Christians. As a young child, Athanasius saw followers of Christ driven from their homes, tortured, and martyred. Later, as a young adult, Athanasius studied under Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and engaged in the great Trinitarian strife—the Arian controversy. Arius, a priest in Alexandria, denied the divinity of Jesus and taught the heresy that since Jesus is the Son of God, as a son, Jesus had to have a beginning and thus was a created being. He confused many in the early Church by falsely teaching that God the Father alone was truly God, and that Jesus his Son was not God, but instead, was the first and greatest creature made by the Father to accomplish man’s salvation. Bishop Alexander opposed Arius and fought to maintain the true deity of the eternal Christ....

Athanasius and the Incarnation of Christ2022-05-07T22:51:47+00:00
Go to Top