Showing posts with label Bible Study. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible Study. Show all posts

The One Thing Your Church Needs To Get Right




(The steeple from my childhood church, in case you were wondering.  It was the best church photo I had.)

Let's do a little evaluating exercise, shall we?

I've mentioned a couple of times briefly that Derek and I have had some church upheaval to deal with over the last six months or so.  I won't get into details here, but we decided in light of everything that we needed to take a step back and evaluate our church situation a little bit, and seek where the Lord may have us go.  So we've been trying some of the churches in our area.

This is the second time we have gone through this process in the last few years, so between Derek and me, we have checked out over a hundred churches, either online or in person.  I wish I could say it's been an encouraging process, but on the contrary, it's been incredibly discouraging to me.  The most discouraging part hasn't involved service styles or anything to do with the people in these churches.  So many have been friendly and welcoming.  I've been more discouraged than anything by the content of some of the sermons.

One illustration we heard at a church-that-shall-not-be-named particularly bothered me, maybe because it is an example of everything that I've been discouraged about in our church hunt.  I'm tipping my hand here, but see if you can understand my point after you read the sermon illustration below.  I understand that every illustration is imperfect and falls apart when you try to take it too far, but I was particularly concerned with this one.

This is roughly what was said in one of the sermons we heard.

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"Let's imagine that a man gets called into his boss's office one day.  His boss tells him that he needs to sell a million dollars worth of product.  He needs to do it in six months, or he'll lose his job.

The man works to sell the company's product.  Six months later, he gets called into the boss's office again.  He sits down, and his boss looks at him.  The man sweats a little bit in nervousness.  He doesn't think he did well enough.   He is fearful that he'll have to go home tonight and tell his wife that he's out of work.

His boss announces that he only sold $7 worth of product in the last six months.

The man hangs his head.  He knows he's going to lose his job.  He didn't do enough.

But his boss looks at him, and tells him that no, he didn't sell enough.  But because he cares about him so much, he's going to give him another six months to sell the million dollars."

"That," this pastor announced proudly, "is grace."


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Okay.

The only problem is, that is not the Gospel.

I'm going to give that pastor the benefit of a doubt and assume he was merely trying to explain the general concept of grace rather than a Gospel illustration, but I'm using it as an example because the illustration was representative of alot of the teaching we've heard lately.  Let's just be clear:

The Gospel is not that God gives us grace to do better.

The Gospel is not that Jesus is our example.  He is, but He's so much more than just that.

The Gospel is not even about God changing lives.  That is the result of the Gospel, but it's not the Gospel.

The Gospel starts with understanding that we have a sin problem.  Not "messiness", not "mistakes", not "brokenness".  A pervasive, indwelling sin problem that we can never make up for because we are always piling on more sins.

No, nobody is perfect. And that's the problem, because we are talking about a perfect, holy God, full of goodness and light.  And we have sinned against Him (Psalm 51:4).  We have broken His laws.  God must punish sin, or He would not be perfectly just nor good.  We have earned for ourselves death and eternal punishment in Hell (Romans 6:23).  With every disobedience.  With every grumbling or unclean thought. With every "white lie".

That is not a message that some pastors want to focus on these days.  That is not a feel-good message.  That is bad, bad news.  It might even be offensive, because we all have a tendency to think we aren't "that bad" (guilty here).  But even that attitude is the sin of pride!  Even our good deeds are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  We're in trouble.

You have to understand the bad news to understand the good news.

God, out of the richness of His loving-kindness, didn't leave us in our sin and death.  He sent His Son, Jesus, who was fully man and fully God, and He was perfect.  He did everything we couldn't, lived a life without sinning even once.  Then because He was perfectly righteous, He took the punishment we had earned upon Himself.  He died in our place.  Then He rose from the dead, conquering our sin and death itself.  He took our sin upon Himself, suffered the wrath against sin that we deserved, and in exchange He gave us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).

When we recognize who we are, and who Christ is and what He has done, the only thing we need to do is to repent.  We need to turn from our sin and turn to Christ with faith that He will save us.  With faith that He has done everything required for our salvation if we will just turn and trust in Him.

We don't have to be a "better person" to earn His favor.  We don't have to "clean up our lives" to earn forgiveness. We don't have to strive to do things "God's way" in hopes that we've done enough to make up for our wrongs.  We can do nothing to deserve His mercy, we can't make up for our wrongs. But Christ did.  

 "But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,  not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,  whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior," 

Titus 3:4-6

And when we understand that and turn to Christ, God takes our hearts of stone and gives us hearts of flesh.  We will respond in loving obedience, because when we understand Jesus died to save us from the punishment of our sin, we will start to hate our sin.  We want to turn our back on it and turn to Jesus because He already saved us from that.  And He enables us to now live for Him (2 Cor. 5:15) through the Holy Spirit working in us, sanctifying us.



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So if we were going to take that illustration at the top of this post and make it represent the Gospel more truly, it would be something like this.

Your boss comes to you one day and says you have to sell a million dollars in six months or you will lose your job. Worse, you have been embezzling from the company for years, so you have to pay that money back before you can start earning the million dollars.  The total is astronomical.  You will never be able to earn it back.  You are in trouble.

In six months your boss sits down to look at your accounts.  He looks at the papers, and then looks up at you.  You are sweating.  You've done nothing that has decreased what you owe.  You know you deserve to lose your job and be thrown in prison for what you've done.

But he looks at you with eyes filled with compassion.  And he smiles.

He leans forward and tells you he knows what you've done.  He knows what you owe, and that you can never do enough to repay it, no matter how many years he might give you.  But he cares for you like his own child.  You have fallen incredibly short, but His son sold enough to cover everything you owe.  He has credited what his son has earned to your account, and he won't be pressing charges against you for the embezzlement because his son has paid your fine.

You don't have to do anything.  Your debt is payed, your way has been earned.  You can keep your job forever. 

That is mercy.  That is grace.

That is the Gospel.


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If you have not trusted in Jesus for your eternal salvation, I urge you, please be reconciled to God.  Trust in the One who has done everything necessary to give you eternal life.  Turn away from your sin and turn to Him.

And if you are a believer already, please get this right. And get yourself in a church that gets this right. 

It does little good for church pews to be filled each week, it does little good to hear superficially inspiring sermons, if the message doesn't point us back to Christ and what He has done to save us.  The pure, beautiful truth of what Christ has done for us that we couldn't do for ourselves. Understanding and believing this truth is what brings about actual life change, through God's grace.

I have seen the "gospel" taught wrongly so many times in the past few months, and I don't think I even realized how much of a burden that discouragement was putting on me until a few weeks ago, when we finally sat again in a church that preached everything I just tried to explain above.

I sat there in the pew with tears rolling down my cheeks.  It was such a relief to me, even as someone who is already a believer, after months of "do better" sermons, to hear again from the pulpit the beautiful truth of the Gospel preached clearly.  To marvel again at what Jesus did for me.

We believers still need to hear the Gospel too.






When Wiping Faces Doesn't Feel Satisfying



Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days! Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil.  Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children.  And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us.  Yes, establish the work of our hands.

  Psalm 90:14-17


There are days, as a Christian woman and as a stay at home mom, when it’s hard to keep perspective.  No one is very excited to hear what you are doing day in and day out, and to be honest, it’s not exciting to tell it.  I wipe little faces.  I make meals to fill little bellies. I listen to long stories, agonize through sounding out words, correct attitudes that have gone askew.  I try to mold little hearts, but often feel as if I’m making a mess of it, more like a child forming mudpies than a sculptor forming a work of art.

We all love instant gratification, immediate results, the fruits of our social media-saturated culture. We like to look at our work each day and point. “See what I’ve done! See what I’ve grown!” 

Motherhood is not like that. There is no instant progress, and the dopamine hits are few and far between. 

I read in some book once (maybe Teaching From Rest?) about how in medieval times, when the gothic cathedrals were being built, it took several generations to bring them to completion.  So some may have worked on a cathedral their entire lives, and they were lucky if they saw the end product.

I think often the work that will really last, the stuff that will really matter, is not like building a social media platform. It is like building a cathedral.

This passage in Psalms stopped me in my tracks today, because it is the cry of my heart on those days when it is hard to keep perspective. It is everything I want my life to be, everything I want for my children.

Satisfy us early with your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!  I want my children know the kindness of His mercy early, so they may follow Christ all their days. When the days are long and feel fruitless, I want to rest and rejoice and be glad in the salvation He bought for me too.

Let Your work appear to your servants, and Your glory to their children.  I need to keep my eyes on Jesus, to open my eyes to see the work God is doing here, even in the mundane.  I want to teach my children to do the same, so they will know the glory of the One who made them.

Establish the work of our hands for us.  Remember that there are things that will last for a moment, and things that will last forever.  

Money will be spent.  Things will wear out.  Beauty fades.  Fame is fleeting, and social media kingdoms crash to the ground every day.  Some of these things we need to a certain extent, and some things we don't, but all these temporary things are ultimately meaningless by themselves.  If we put our satisfaction in these things, one day we will wake up and realize we wasted our lives.

But there are things that last forever.  There are souls to invest in, from the woman who needs a kind word at the store, to the friend who needs encouragement, to the children giggling down the hall who need to know Jesus.  There is the work we do for Christ.  Even something as simple as wiping chocolate off the little face of an eternal soul, when done to bring more glory to Jesus, is significant.  

Wiping little faces, filling little bellies, showing patience through frustrations, all the while speaking of the mercy and kindness and glory of our King.  Speaking of what He has done to save them if they will just turn to Him in repentance and faith.  So our children (and others) will know it.  So they will know Him. 



That's the work that is worthy of establishing, friends.  That's a cathedral.  And you may not see what this day to day, mundane faithfulness is building, but God does.

Yes, Lord, establish the work of our hands.


Stuff I Like | April 2019



It's May 1st!  It snowed yesterday, and there is frost dusting my porch as I write this, but I can hear the birds chirping from the tree just outside my window, and golden rays are busy melting the ice.  So  it's a typical start to the month.  May there be more golden rays, more rain and dew, and less snow this month!

On to what I enjoyed in the month of April.


Bible.is App.  

Derek randomly decided to search for audio bibles one day, and he found this great app!  You can get the ESV version of the Bible for free to listen to through the app.  But my favorite part is that they have a normal reading and a dramatic reading.  The dramatic reading has music in the background, and the actor does different voices.  It's so fun to listen to!  Different sections of the text are linked to well-done videos too.  It's just cool!


Skylar's Scent Club

(The link is a referral link that is supposed to give you 25% off? And then I get a credit if you decide to try it.)

I have a tiny weakness for subscription boxes, and in April I decided to try Skylar's Scent Club.  Skylar is a company that makes perfume that is supposedly more natural and less "toxic", which is nice...but to be honest, I just signed up because I like things that smell good.  Each month they send a rollerball with a  limited-time scent.  In April they sent one called Magic Bloom, and it was so fresh and happy-smelling.  May is going to be Vintage Rose.  I may be checking my mailbox daily until it arrives.


Spearmint Oil For Laundry. 

Speaking of things that smell good - that is also the reason I have a little essential oils stash in my cabinet.  I just don't buy alot of the claims made about essential oils, but I do know that I like nice-smelling things, so I use them for some things around the house.  In April I felt like I had a ridiculous amount of laundry, but the process was made just a tiny bit more fun by putting a few drops of spearmint oil on a dryer ball.  Each time the dryer is running my laundry room smells like a pack of gum.

It's the little things.

This is where I buy oils. (Another referral link here that is supposed to give us both a $10 discount.)  And I feel great about the company, thank you very much my oil-selling friends.  You know I still love you guys!


The New Little Women Movie.

Last year they came out with a modern movie version of Little Women.  After a very long wait in the library hold line, I finally watched it yesterday, and it is so cute. I loved it!  It stays true to the characters, and doesn't "dirty up" the story at all with modern nonsense.  It's basically the same as the old movie, but set in the present day.  It was very well done!  I honestly don't even know how it got a PG-13 rating.  Aside from a scene with some teen drinking and making out, it was pretty clean.  I'll definitely watch it with my girls when they are older.



A New Swimsuit.  

Guys, you don't understand, this has been a months long process.  After having Georgie, I knew my old swimsuits were just not going to cut it anymore.  I bought a new top last summer to tide me over, but it was time to hunt down something new and more flattering.

I've been eyeing swimsuits all winter, I ordered a couple items that I ended up returning.  I finally found these bottoms a few months ago that were a little higher waisted, so they smooth out my tummy lumps nicely.  I've been on the lookout for a top to match, and finally ordered this one.

It's a winner!  I've found it!

I may order another pair of the swim bottoms just for a different look, but I finally found something that makes me feel pretty good about visiting the pool this summer.  Victory!  A picture of the swimsuit on me is in my Instagram stories today if you want to see (I'm not sure I wanted a permanent record of that on my blog, haha!).


None Like Him by Jen Wilkin.

I'm late to the party on this one.  I've been listening to this audiobook about God's attributes after my Bible time in the morning, and it is very good.  I usually end up taking a full page of notes on each chapter, and she gives Bible verses for further study of each attribute.  Highly recommend!


Spring Flowers.

In late April, I finally found some flowering trees!





Spring is officially here now.

What new discoveries did you make in April?

How To Be Opinionated In A Good Way



"I think Callie is smart, and has alot of good things to say, it's just hard to get it out of her!"

A friend told me this last week, referencing another conversation she had with our mutual friend.  I smiled and laughed, and thought it was a sweet thing of her to say, but I've been mulling it over since then.

Why is it hard to get "it" out of me?  And is that a good or bad thing?

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I am a rather opinionated person.  I don't think it's bad to be an opinionated person - having an opinion means you have thought a topic through.  If someone doesn't have an opinion on something, they may have reached a neutral position, but I think more often they haven't researched the information enough or haven't thought through an issue.  When you do those two things thoroughly, you usually do form some sort of opinion.

But I think there is a difference between being opinionated in a good way, and being opinionated in a bad way.  When someone is opinionated in a bad way, they will give their opinions too much, anytime, anywhere.  When someone is opinionated in a good way, they know when and where is the right time to express their opinion.  The difference between them is a matter of wisdom.

This is something I'm constantly trying to work on, to be discerning about when something must be said, and when to stay quiet.  It's tricky business, but these are some things I usually try to keep in mind.

Also note, I'm mainly talking about conversations between believers in Christ about secondary issues.  Conversations with unbelievers would ideally be ultimately directed on pointing them to Christ, not arguing secondary issues like politics, parenting methods, educational choices, etc.  And it's never a bad time to tell someone the truth of the Gospel of Christ!



When To Speak

When Someone Asks Your Opinion

If someone is asking, they presumably really want to know.  I think it's still important to express any disagreement in a tactful and kind way, but if someone is asking, that's an obvious green light.

When Someone Needs Encouragement

There are times when we all get bogged down in how we think we should be doing things, or how we think things should be.  There are times when we want to do something that might seem crazy.  There are times when we get caught up in our own heads and start to think things are worse than they are.  There are times when we are trapped in a bad pattern, and don't know how to get out of it.  It takes some insight to be able to recognize these things in another person, and wisdom to know when it's the right time to speak.  But when you see that someone needs encouragement - to change something, to act, to be courageous, to be wise, to fight despair, to turn away from some sin - it might be time to speak up, risk stepping on some toes, and give that encouragement.

When Someone Is Saying Something That Is Contrary To Scripture

If you are speaking to a fellow believer in Christ, and something is said that does not line up with Scripture, I think it is a good thing to (gently) point that out.  As believers, we are meant to be discerning and sharpen each other in this way (Proverbs 27:17) - it's part of being the body of Christ. Of course to do this properly you need to know your Bible!

When You Trust The Person To Know Your Intentions And Appreciate A Friendly Discussion

For me, this category most often involves my immediate family and family of origin.  I know they are going to think the best of me, and that our relationship will survive, and even be stronger, after a lively discussion.  I do also give encouragement or my opinion about important matters to others, but my closest family and friends are the ones who get my opinion and input about smaller matters, because I can trust that they won't think the worst of me if we disagree about something small.

When Someone Is Giving Harmful Advice

There are times when someone is saying something that could potentially lead others into some sort of harm, and if that is the case I think it's in order to speak up.

When To Stay Silent

When You Think Someone NEEDS Your Advice

If you are thinking that a friend or family member needs to hear your advice on something, I'd proceed with caution.  The Bible warns us about trying to take a splinter out of our brother's eye when we have a log in our own (Matthew 7:3-5).  We need to make sure we are not acting out of pride or self-righteousness, but truly and lovingly considering the other person as better than ourselves and looking after their best interests (Philippians 2:3-5).

When You Know You Would Be Speaking From A Desire To Show Off

I do this.  Sometimes I insert my opinion when it's not really needed because I want to show that I also have some knowledge on the subject.  I've gotten better at recognizing this pride in my heart and keeping my thoughts to myself when speaking up would mainly be from a desire to show something off.  No one wants to listen to a know-it-all anyway!  It is not glorious to seek one's own glory (Proverbs 25:27).  I struggle with this when it comes to sharing my opinions, but this could apply to conversations about possessions, experiences, your appearance, even your own good deeds - if there is even a little part of you that is saying something just to try to look good, rethink that comment.

When It Is A Difference Of Opinion That Is Not Of Eternal Importance

There are some things that are just not worth dividing over, because in light of eternity, they will mean nothing.  For the record, I do think alot of things that are common discussions DO have some eternal implications, and deserve some careful thought and discussion!  But things like breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, essential oils, eating organic, wearing makeup or not, etc. - not so much.  Those are just my pet examples, but use some discernment before you enter a discussion.  If it's not something God is going to specifically ask you about when you reach Heaven - probably not that important. 2 Timothy 2:23-26 warns us against foolish and ignorant disputes.

When You Would Be Speaking From Anger And Frustration

If you find yourself getting angry or frustrated about a topic, and you aren't sure you can discuss it in a calm, kind way, it's probably best to stay quiet.   Send a well-thought out (and kind) letter later if it's a topic that is really important.

When You See That Someone Is Being Stubbornly Foolish

There are foolish people out there, and when someone is being stubbornly foolish, don't even bother discussing topics with those people.  Proverbs warns us that we might look like a fool when we answer a fool according to his folly (Proverbs 26:4), which is almost unavoidable with people who are stubbornly being foolish, so I usually just stay away from those discussions.



And of course we should always make sure all these conversations are seasoned with grace and humility,  and realizing that Christians are allowed to have different opinions about issues that are not specifically addressed in Scripture.

I tend to think the wisest position is often to remain quiet (Proverbs 17:28 - probably why my friend thought I was "smart" ha!), so that's where I most often default, but the comment from my friend makes me rethink that a bit.  Because maybe sometimes people want my opinion.  I think I could probably benefit from remembering my own guidelines for situations when it's alright to speak up.  We aren't meant to get into fruitless discussions as fellow believers, but we are meant to sharpen each other on the things that matter and encourage one another.  I can't do that if I remain silent too often.

Of course, it might be hard to get my thoughts out of me in person, but you all are privy to my innermost thoughts and opinions on this blog all the time!  But this is my space, so I assume if you are here, you actually want to know.

What did I miss?  Any other rules of thumb you consider when deciding whether to insert your opinion or not?




Stuff I Like | January 2019



I'm going to try something new here on the blog and share different things I'm liking or loving each month.  I always enjoy reading these kinds of posts myself, and I'm hoping to put together my own once a month as part of my blog goals this year.  We'll see how it goes!

The Book With No Pictures - My kids are finally old enough to find this book completely hilarious, and what makes them happy makes me happy.  Also check out the book I'm Just No Good At Rhyming.  Derek and I have laughed our way through the title poem, but the kids were cracking up at "The Sweetest Lullaby Ever" and "Hey Kids! Get Your Parents To Read This Poem!"  You have to have a goofy side to your personality to make any of these work!

Wild Thing podcast - You all know I live in the mountains, and supposedly people have sighted Bigfoot in our area.  I think there was even an episode of Finding Bigfoot filmed here.  There is a local Bigfoot club.  I know people who believe Bigfoot is a real thing.  I'm not convinced it's not a real thing.  After visiting Washington last year and seeing how much wilderness is out there, I can see how something might be able to hide in those woods.  Anyway, if you have even a little part of you that is interested in learning more about Bigfoot, Wild Thing is a fun podcast to check out!  It's an investigative podcast about...you guessed it...Bigfoot.

You probably could skip episode 2 since it's all about evolutionary theories (which I don't agree with), and watch out for one inappropriate part in episode 8 that you'll have to skip past - but also, my town is mentioned in that episode, ha!  Told you, Bigfoot is big here (no pun intended, but it's funny right?).

These two articles - Weirdly, in the last month two completely unrelated friends have brought up the same question: "What happens to people who never get an opportunity to hear the gospel?"  I've been frustrated with myself for not being as concise and clear as I wish I could be during these recent discussions, because the Bible is clear on what happens to people who never hear about Jesus.  It's a hard question and perhaps a hard answer, but "there is no other name under Heaven by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:10-13). It is only through Christ that we are saved. These two articles solidly answer this question biblically, and say everything I was trying to say to my friends, only better.  Definitely worth a read if you've ever ran into (or wondered about) this question.  What Happens To Those Who Have Never Heard About Jesus?  Can A Person Be Saved Through General Revelation?  

Also a quick note: I think if someone in a remote tribe (for example) is truly seeking after God, that is a work He has begun in their heart, and He will get the Gospel to them.  It's important to remember that God is infinitely more compassionate and just than we are, and everything He does is good and right. You have to start with that understanding or this question can never be answered satisfactorily.

Little Letters Linkup - I've been thinking alot about old-fashioned blogging this month, not just what happened to old fashioned blogging, but whether and how it can make a comeback.  As far as I can tell, there are precious few old-school linkups still going, which is a pity - I used to find so many other blogs to read through a good linkup.  They used to be very social things, where you wouldn't just drop your link and run, but you'd take time to look around and make connections with other bloggers.  Well, recently I came across this "Little Letters" linkup.  Guys, I think we should participate!  Sharing mini-letters to random things in your life - old-fashioned blogging used to be all about this sort of post, and I want to support it.  So keep an eye out for my little letters post in the next few days, and write one too if you want!

The Big Words Of The Bible Cards - Still loving these cards, which you can read more about here.

Snow - We had several snow days in January, and I am loving the snow so much!  It's supposed to snow again today, and I couldn't be happier.  It's pretty, and it's moisture.  If we don't get snow, then there is a much higher likelihood of wildfires in the summer.  So bring on the white stuff!




Did you find any new stuff you like in January?

Four Quick Reminders About Teaching Children The Bible



My arms are filled with laundry as I trudged up the stairs, turning the corner to put the clothes away.  Why is it that the laundry is never done? I think to myself.  But my steps slow down as I near the girls' room - one of them is singing in there.  I turn my hear to listen, and recognize one of the lines (amidst some other made-up words).  To God be the Glory, great things He has done!  The words drift out of the bedroom, and I feel a laugh bubbling up in my chest.

One of my greatest joys right now as a mom is to randomly catch one of my children singing a line to hymn.  Or to hear an echo of a catechism question or Bible verse we've been working on as they chatter to other people.  It doesn't happen all the time, but every couple months I catch one of them repeating something that we've been working on, and it makes my heart so happy.

This year one of my focuses with the kids has been developing a morning time routine.  Not only for our homeschooling, but also as a dedicated time each day to pour eternal truths into my kids.  We usually sing a hymn, work on memorizing catechism questions and Bible verses, and read from our Bible, and perhaps one other book.  

I haven't even been as consistent with this as I would like, but somehow things are still soaking through.  It's moments like the one above that remind me why I need to be consistent, why this is important.  I want these truths hidden in their hearts.

This week I have been thinking over a few things that I am trying to remember as I teach my children about Jesus, since we just got a new resource that I am excited to add to our morning Bible time routine (see the end of this post!).  I thought I'd share a few of my little Bible-time "notes to self" here.

Note To Self #1 - Don't refer to the Bible as a "storybook".  To be honest, I'm still working on this one, but I am really trying to not talk about reading a "Bible story" to my kids.  Every other time I tell the kids we are going to read a "story" from a picture book, I'm reading them something that is not true.  I don't want my kids to get the idea that the Bible is just full of nice "stories".  I want them to know it is history!  

So we don't read "Bible stories", we read the "biblical account" of history.  We don't talk about "Bible characters", we talk about "biblical figures".  It's a small shift, but I want my kids to know that this isn't a bunch of fiction - these are accounts of people that really lived, and things God really did!

Note To Self #2 - Memory work matters.  I need this reminder sometimes because when we are having a busy week, our Bible memory work is one of the first things to drop off - but it shouldn't be. I know from firsthand experience that the best way to truly know God's word is to embed it into your mind from a young age.  When I was a kid, we memorized around a hundred verses each year, trying to earn our way to summer camp as part of a program at our church.  Now when I'm facing a tricky situation or doing something wrong or hearing something from a speaker that's just a bit off, the Holy Spirit brings to mind one of the verses I learned as a child.  I may not always remember the reference, but the words are there, hidden in my heart.  I want that for my kids too, for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).  And the only way to get God's word hidden in their hearts is consistency (and maybe a healthy dose of bribery motivation).

Note To Self #3 - Kids can understand theology.   And probably a lot more than we typically give them credit for.  One of my current pet peeves is when Bible lessons are dumbed down for little ones.  Instead of giving them the real meat of God's word, I think we too often give them a lick and then take the meal away!  

I think I first started to realize this when one of my children asked me why we still sin if Jesus takes our sins away.  Instead of giving a light answer, I had to really dive into our sin nature and justification and sanctification - how Jesus paid for our sins and gives us His righteousness, so we are justified before God when we trust in Him, but we still struggle with sin as God continues to sanctify us while we are on the earth.  Obviously I had to define these words, but I was shocked at how much my little five year old understood!  We underestimate our kids too often.

Note To Self #4 - It's okay to make religion fun for kids.  Lest you think it's all serious doctrinal discussions around here, I have to point this out (and remind myself of this too)!  

I don't take many points from Dennis Prager on religion, since he is not a believer in Christ, but this last Christmas I watched one of his videos where he talked about why it's good to make religion fun for kids.  What he said made so much sense to me.  It gave me some peace of mind as I give my kids the presents, make the Bible-themed snacks (two [swedish] fish and five loaves [crackers], anyone?), play the games, sing the silly songs along with the great ones!  I want to make Bible time fun, so they look back on it with fondness.  

God willing, someday each of my kids will grow to the point where these things I am trying to teach them become personally meaningful and life-changing, as the Holy Spirit convicts them and they truly realize their need for Christ and turn to Him in repentance and faith. I pray for that and it's the reason why I am teaching them in the first place.  But for these little years, they really still need it to be fun too.  It's serious work, teaching our kids about Jesus, but there is no reason we can't laugh while we do it - it may even help it to stick better!



One of the things I do to keep Bible time fun for all of us is to look for new resources periodically to refresh out routine.  We have the Bible we like to use, and the hymn book we sing from, and I am trying to rotate some other resources in and out.  So I was so excited to be able to be on the launch team for these wonderful "Big Words Of The Bible" cards from Tiny Theologians!










These cards each represent and important Greek or Hebrew word that it would be helpful for kids (or you!) to know.  I knew some of these, but some of them are new to me as well!  I am going to add these to our Bible time rotation - we will discuss one each day until we get through them all, and then work on memorizing them.  I am so excited to have a colorful fun resource that also teaches Greek and Hebrew vocabulary words that will be so helpful for my kids (and me) to learn!

The cards are launching on Friday!  
I'll be reminding you on Instagram if you are interested in snagging a set, or you can hop over and follow Tiny Theologians to stay updated and see all their resources (I'm eyeing the ABC Attributes Of God cards and the Fathers Of The Faith cards too)!

Note: I am on the launch team for the Big Words Of The Bible cards and received a set for free from Tiny Theologians!

The Gifts I Bought Myself


It has been years since I've been Black Friday shopping.  I think some of the magic was lost for me when they started opening Black Friday doors on Thursday.  Come on, people.

However, this year I took advantage of Black Friday shopping when a friend invited me to go with her - I wasn't even expecting to buy much, but I ended up getting all my Christmas shopping done.  I forgot how freeing it is to get your shopping done early!  The rest of December is wide open now! I am looking forward to having more time to do Christmas projects with the kids and less time worrying about presents.

However, I may have also bought myself a Christmas gift on Black Friday.  I laughed when I read Elizabeth's post about buying a gift for yourself, because I totally do that.  This is what I got:



1. Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd.  

I read No Little Women by Aimee Byrd last year, and it was excellent.  I have been looking for a chance to buy another book from her, and Amazon's book coupon seemed to be it!  I'm really looking forward to this one - I love books that make theology accessible, and also that encourage Christian women toward good theology.  I'm expecting good things.




I cam across this after a similar recommendation from Jami Balmet's blog (or Facebook page or something), and I have to say I'm so excited about this one.  It arrived in the mail today, and I flipped through it - it is perfect!  On the left page it has the actual text of Hebrews, and on the right page it has a blank dot-grid page for you to use for journaling, or whatever.  

I know Bible art journaling has been going on for years, but after mulling it over for a long time, I decided I'm not a huge fan - I don't like how the illustrations so often go over the text of Scripture, and how the focus often seems to be on the art instead of the Word of God.  I'm sure it can be done well with a heart to bring glory to the Lord, so if you do Bible art journaling and have found a good balance, I think that's great - it's just not something I'm interested in.  However, there has been something appealing to me about those wide margins, because I'd love to take more thorough notes when I'm reading through a book of the Bible.  

This little volume is perfect for that; I can focus on one specific book and write down everything I'm learning with a full blank page!  I am so looking forward to using it!  I chose Hebrews, because I've become a little attached to that particular book after trying so hard to memorize it (I'm only shakily up to chapter 4).  I'd like to renew my memorization attempt in 2019, and I think this will help.





Do you buy Christmas gifts for yourself?  What did you get?

(No need for it to be spiritual, I also bought myself a new lipstick today for the Christmas season, ha!)

When It's Right To "Judge" A Fellow Christian



We went back to our community Bible study group this week, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to get together with other believers and study from God's word.  It's been far too long since I've been involved in a Bible study like this, and I'm reminded of that verse about "iron sharpening iron" (Proverbs 27:17).  The discussion time challenges me to think a little more carefully about different biblical topics.

This week the theme that stood out to me was "judging".  We talked about it in Bible study, and then I read this article that brought it to mind again (written from a Catholic perspective, so I don't agree with some things he says, but the underlying point made me think).  

I have thoughts.


Unlocking The Bible (A Review)


(Affiliate link below.)

Finally, a great book I can recommend!  I requested Unlocking The Bible by Jeff Lasseigne a couple months ago. The name "Unlocking The Bible" is a little misleading, because it almost presents the Bible as inaccessible without "unlocking" - but on the contrary, this book is a wonderful resource to help readers realize that anyone can read and understand God's Word.

The first couple chapters talk about the way the Bible was put together, and what qualified different books to be included in the Bible.  I thought this was really interesting.  I think there has been a lot of confusion and misinformation about how we came to have the Bible we can hold today, and these chapters explained why we can have confidence in the Bible as the inspired word of God.

The next two chapters give a timeline of the Bible, from Genesis to the writing of Revelation.  I've read through the Bible several times, but I really liked this condensed version of the story to give a bigger picture.  The part I liked best was the historical details that the author included, placing biblical event sin historical context.

Finally Lasseigne gives tips on how to study the Bible, and how to teach the Bible, along with an entire section with a summary and quotes about each book of the Bible.  I thought these sections were a great encouragement and resource!

This book is sound, and the author holds the Bible in high esteem - and I think this is something we need more of, even within the church today.  I highly recommend this book!  It was readable, but full of information and encouragement to dig into God's Word!

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.

Becoming A Woman Of Excellence (A Review)


Earlier this summer I wrote about how I wanted to pick up a Bible study guide to use in my personal devotion time this summer.  I was happy to have a chance to review "Becoming A Woman Of Excellence" by Cynthia Heald.  I have heard of this Bible study in the past and was curious to pick it up again.

One thing I really appreciate about this Bible study is that it doesn't do all the work for you.  It is full of scripture verses to look up, and the questions make you think a little more deeply about the passage and applying it to your own life.  As part of the 30th Anniversary Edition, Heard also includes "Thoughts From An Older Woman" at the end of each chapter, writing about things she has learned since she first published this study 30 years ago.  I really loved how this study got you deep into God's word.

What I didn't love about this study - the organization was a little confusing to me.  I think this might be partially because I didn't use it every day, so maybe I forgot some of the ties between chapters.  I am still working through it going into the fall (about half way through), and I am looking forward to finishing it and seeing if it starts to fit together better for me.  The scripture verses Heald chooses seem to follow this kind of scattered organization, as she picks short passages or single verses to make some of her points.  I miss getting the full context of a passage, and I think I would like it better if each chapter focused on one Scripture passage and pulled points out of that passage, instead of listing Scripture verses that support her own topics or points.

All that said, this really is a good study, and I think it is one that is flexible enough to be good for those who want a lighter study, while also providing that springboard for depth that others might want.  I'm looking forward to finishing it (I'll update this review if I change my mind about anything by the end)!

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.

How Important Is It To Teach Your Kids The Books Of The Bible?




When did you learn the books of the Bible?

I am willing to bet that most adults who have the books of the Bible memorized learned them as a kid.  Kids are such sponges! It's so much easier to memorize lists of information like that as children.

I think I was probably four or five years old when I learned the books of the Old Testament.  I went to VBS at a little mountain church, and there was a teenage girl there with an acoustic guitar and long brown hair who sang the Bible books song every day.  I have no idea who she was, but I can still almost see her in my mind.  I hope wherever she is, the Lord blesses her for her service at that VBS, because it has served me well to have the books of the Bible memorized, and it all started with that song.


Three Questions I Ask Before Choosing A Bible Study (Grit + Grace)



I have been struggling a bit in my devotion time this year.

Last year I used a reading plan to read through the Bible in one year - and it was great!  I really enjoyed getting the big picture of the whole Bible, especially because I read in order of historical chronology.

But I didn't really want to do that again this year.  Mainly because I can't ever seem to manage to get up more than five minutes before my kids, which leads to me rushing through my Bible reading, especially when I have multiple chapters to read.  This year I wanted to slow down and really study each chapter that I was reading, just for a change of pace.

The problem with not having a plan is that...well, you don't have a plan.

Bible Verses For New Moms



If there is one thing I have learned about motherhood, it's that we all transition into it differently.  Some sail into motherhood on a cloud.  Everything comes easily, and they enjoy every minute of it.  Others crash into motherhood with a rude awakening, and it looks nothing like they thought it would.

But every mom I know would say how much she loves being a mom, and one look into those precious little faces just puts everything into perspective, no matter the entrance into this mothering journey.

Still, I can guarantee there will come a time when you need some encouragement as a mom.  Maybe it's right away when you just need to make it through one more sleepless night, or maybe it will be a couple years down the road when you have a rough day and worry you are messing your kids up.  Sometimes you just need that extra boost to remind you that the work you are doing has significance.  Every ounce of energy you put into you kids matters, more than you think.  It matters to your kids, and it matters to God.



So to help remind you, I wanted to share some Bible verses that I find encouraging on those days when mothering is hard.  If you are in a rough patch, I hope these will bring you some hope!  And if you are feeling like you have this mom thing down, just tuck this post away for a time when it doesn't feel so easy.



I have broken these down into times of day - I know I need different reminders in the morning than I do in the evening.  Memorize these verses so you can bring them to mind when you need them (you can even teach them to your kids while you are at it)!


For The Morning

"The Lord's loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

I love this verse for rough days, because it reminds me that no matter how badly I mess up, the Lord loves me and tomorrow is a fresh day.


"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalm 118:24

The best wake-up verse you could ask for!


"See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are."  1 John 3:1

When you look at the cute little faces of your children, remember that the Lord loves you even more than you love them!


For Mid-Day

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as a reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ."   Colossians 3:23-24

Motivation to keep going strong - because when we are serving our families, we are really serving Jesus!


For The Evening

"Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." Philippians 2:14-15

When you are starting to feel "the witching hour" (i.e. the hour before dad gets home when everyone goes crazy), remember this verse.  I don't know about you, but I want to be a light in the world, and be an example to my kids by not grumbling when I feel like it.  Still working on this one.


"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoicing usually comes more naturally in the morning when I am refreshed and energetic!  I typically need the reminders to rejoice and give thanks more in the evening, when I am tired.


For The Middle Of The Night

"When you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:3-4

This verse is about giving to the poor, but the concept of being seen by God when we give sacrificially without drawing attention to ourselves is also encouraging to me as a mom.  

"May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge."  Ruth 2:12

My prayer for you, friends!  Seek refuge in Him, be faithful in this work of loving and training your children, and may the Lord reward your work!


Somehow I find it easier to remember a verse if it is printed on a pretty card, and I am excited to now be offering these printables in my new Etsy shop!  The file with the entire set is only $3!  Please check them out here. These cards also stack well with my printable verses for labor.

I am so grateful for all of you who take time to read my musings, and I hope you enjoy these cards and find the verses an encouragement like I do! Enjoy!







Please note that these printables were previously offered as a gift to my newsletter subscribers before being listed on Etsy.  They are no longer available as free printables, but are available for immediate download after purchase at the link above.  Thank you!

Why Picking A Word Was Hard This Year




Am I the only one who gets my best ideas while I am falling asleep?

I heard there is a scientific component to it.  All day your brain is gathering information and recording your life, but it doesn't have time to process everything and solve problems until you give it a chance to rest.  So right as you are drifting off to sleep you brain starts to put it all together, and you think of your best ideas.

On the night of December 30th I stayed up far too late, scrolling through my social media feeds.  I read so many inspiring posts from people about their words for the year, and why they chose them.  I had been trying to think of my own word for 2016 for the last couple weeks, and the last two days of December are crunch time.  I was processing, I was reflecting, I picked and subsequently threw out five different words.  Finally it was all too much, and I just put the phone down, and closed my eyes.  I prayed again for some direction on my word for the year, and started to feel my thoughts fade.

Psalm 113 Printable Bible Verse Cards

Psalm 113 Printable Bible Verse Cards | Through Clouded Glass


People don't give presents for Thanksgiving.  I guess that is because we are typically focusing more on what we have already received instead of what we are going to receive.

But I'm going to change things up a bit and give a little present to my newsletter subscribers anyway! 

I have been wanting to memorize more Bible verses (though it's been challenging to follow through with how busy things have been the last couple months!), and I think it is so much easier to memorize verses if they are printed in a pretty way.


10 Thanksgiving Bible Verses





Bible Verses For Thanksgiving | Through Clouded Glass


This year we are hosting Thanksgiving at our house.  I am not one of those mini Martha Stewarts that has a grand plan for place settings and gourmet-type Thanksgiving dishes.  But my sister-in-law told me long ago that hosting Thanksgiving can be easy, because you just cook the turkey and have guests bring the sides.  I am taking her sage advice, and we are keeping things simple.  If I get the urge, I may buy some cloth napkins for our Thanksgiving table.  This is the extent of the "fancy" around here.

I want to keep Thanksgiving simple this year, because I want to spend less time stressing about getting a huge meal prepared, and more time enjoying our family and focusing on our gratitude for the blessing God has given us!  So one thing I would love to do over the days leading up to Thanksgiving is teach my kids some Bible verses that have to do with giving thanks.  


Why Moms Should Memorize Bible Verses


Printable Bible Verse Cards | Why Moms Should Memorize Bible Verses | Need some encouragement to memorize more Bible verses?  This site has encouragement plus PRINTABLE BIBLE VERSE CARDS to get you started!


I remember the first time we pulled up to the church that looked like something out of a storybook.  Painted white with green trim, steeple with a bell, a merry-go-'round and swing set out back.  I stepped out of the car somewhat nervously, trailed behind my family on the way in the door, and sat next to my sister as I smoothed out my yellow floral Easter dress.


On Busyness And Bible Time (+ Giveaway!)


Sometimes I get to the end of the day, and I feel like absolutely nothing was accomplished, even though I was literally running myself ragged all day.

I am not sure how it is physically possible to be busy all day and still feel like I didn't do anything.  I think there is a serious lack of rest in many of our lives, and I am no exception.  I just did a Bible study at my church that was all about taking time to rest each day, because often God will work in our lives if we will just take a breather and slow down!  I was definitely convicted, and I'm hoping to share more of my thoughts on rest in future posts.

Another problem with not taking time to slow down is that when I get too caught up in the busy, it is easy to let time with the Lord fall by the wayside - and that is not okay with me.  I want to make sure I am being a good example to my kids, and I also cannot adequately pour into my kids when I am not taking that time to be filled up with His Word.


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