The B.I.B.L.E . . .What is That?

Did you know that “Bible” simply means “book” in both Greek (Byblos) and Latin (Biblia)? It’s THE book. It is the best book in the world, and it’s also the best-selling book in the world. If you haven’t read it yet, then may I invite you to try reading just one chapter today? Granted, there are many passages in the Bible that are not easy to understand, but the Bible does come with the promise that it will speak to you if you listen. If you find the Bible puzzling or confusing, try this method of Bible meditation, which was recommended by my pastor this past Sunday in church:

  1. Pick a passage. Any passage. We were studying Isaiah 55 in church, which is so beautiful that I memorized it as a girl. That would be one good option. Or, you could just open your Bible and read whatever chapter comes up, or you could try one of the traditional “favorites,” such as Psalm 1, John 14, Romans 12, or 1 Corinthians 13.
  2. Sit down and pray before you start reading, asking God to speak to you through the passage. If you don’t believe in God, ask God to reveal himself to you if he is real . . . to give you a sense of his presence and his love for you. Listen for a still, small voice in your heart! Quiet yourself and clear your mind. If you are aware of any sin or rebellion in your heart against God—anything that makes you angry so that you really don’t even WANT to believe in God, even if he does exist—confess it to God. If you want to get to know God, you have to be “real” with him, too! Ask him to give you a desire to know him, to forgive you for any way in which you’ve been resisting him or deceiving yourself, and to cleanse your heart. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
  3. Read the passage thoughtfully, noticing anything that stands out to you. Is there anything at all that strikes you as true, or strange, or mysterious, or wise? Find something to “meditate” on . . . to chew on, like a cow chewing on her cud. Ponder its meaning.
  4. Think through how this passage or verse might apply to you today. Is there a good example to follow? A bad example to avoid? A bit of wisdom to remember? Something that might: impact a relationship? help with making a decision? prompt you to an action, change your direction in some area of your life? Find one nugget of thought to take away from your study, and ask God for the grace to allow this insight to impact your life in a positive way.
  5. Share what you’ve been thinking about with a friend. Also, this type of meditative study of the Bible can be done in community. You could read a passage with someone you love and work together on thinking through what the passage might mean. For many years, we were part of a small group that worked together, chapter by chapter, week by week, through many books in the Bible, doing just this! The more you study, the more you can test your thoughts against other passages from the Bible to make sure your thinking is clear and correct, good and true!
  6. Trust God to produce good spiritual fruit in your life from this practice. Meditation is like watering your soul. It might not change your life in a day, but it will change your life for good over time. That’s why it’s called “spiritual life” and “spiritual growth.” It’s not magic, but it’s even better! It’s transformation: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).

The Bible, God’s Word, is alive in a way that no other book is. It’s a light to guide us, a sword to help us discern good and evil. It’s sweeter than honey, pure, and true. It’s like a hammer to convict us and help us change where we need it. Through studying the Bible, we find wisdom, understanding, and eternal life. If you’ve read it once or twice, don’t quit! I think I’m on about my 50+ time of meditating my way through its pages, and I keep finding new insights and understand more passages that seemed esoteric before. Become a life-long spiritual learner! If you want to get to know God, or know him better, there is no better way! Besides, the Bible comes with this guarantee: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Want success? Try meditating daily on the Bible for one month, and see if it doesn’t make a positive difference in your life.

(Just to get you started if you can’t think of a passage you want to read! Here is Isaiah 55.)

“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.

Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Rise Up, My Love (299): The Secret That Is No Secret

Song of Solomon 8:14 “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart…” We are almost to the end of our meditation on The Song of Solomon, and I find myself hanging on every word, almost as if I can’t bear to finish such a delightful study! It’s like having to say goodbye after a perfectly wonderful evening that you don’t want it ever to end. Do you remember one or two such heavenly occasions?  My husband and I tend to relish the last hours of every Sunday night, often going to sleep a little later than is probably ideal simply because we’ve taken such joy in being together all weekend, and we know that when we wake up he’ll be off to work and I’ll be home to work…wonderful occupations, but apart.

Won’t it be grand when there are no more partings? When we are all forever “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh” in some mysterious but perfect union with God? So, I linger over the last words in the Song of Solomon, clinging to each thought, anxious lest I lose the precious closeness that I’ve felt to the Lord while meditating so deeply on his Word for these past ten years. I think I’ve learned the secret of how to have a happy life, though. It’s the secret of loving the Lord with all my being…heart, soul, mind, and strength…and then experiencing love for others constrained by our love for him.  Sound familiar? It’s the secret that is no secret! How do we develop such passion for the Lord? By spending time with him through meditating on his Word. This does not mean simply reading it (which does have its own benefits…but more in gaining head knowledge than heart transformation). Meditation requires cogitation, like a cow chewing on her cud, where we dig into the meaning of each word and phrase, asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten us and apply the truths to our lives in a life-changing way.  How true the promise of Joshua 1:8 is! “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” When you’ve finished this study, if you aren’t already engaged in your own “green pasture” of meditation, won’t you consider asking the Lord to lead you to a study of your own on some portion of Scripture?  When I began studying The Song of Solomon, it didn’t occur to me that I might want to continue such extensive meditation somewhere else in the Scripture, but having experienced its sweet fruit, now I know that I can’t live without it! How true is the invitation: “O, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm 34:8). By God’s grace, I trust that the Lord will let me lie down in some other green pasture, at least for a little while each morning.

However, it’s not about what the Lord does for “John”…what will he do with “Peter”? Won’t you ask him to lead you into his Word for an in-depth study of your own? All it takes is a Bible. Or, if you have the resources, it helps to have a pen and paper, or a journal or computer, and a commentary or two borrowed from your church or local library…or even requested as a Christmas present. My commentaries came from many sources: my pastor, an eighty-year-old saint from my church family, finds from local bookstores and libraries, and even one as a gift from a very dear but troubled young Christian sister who knew about my study. The Lord provides. But, truly all we need is a portion of Scripture and a ready spirit to listen to our guide and teacher, the Holy Spirit.

Thoughts on Success and Leadership

U.S. Capitol Building. Feb. 2016Reflecting on the movie Rise, it occurred to me that Mack Lindon “rose” from the pit of prison by persevering and living well, and it appears to me that he’s made a success of his life. So, today I want to share a few more thoughts on how to become a success, both personally and professionally.

“To succeed in life you need three things: A wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone” (I don’t know who penned this, but isn’t it good?)

“If at first you don’t succeed … welcome to the club.”~Israel Harold Asper

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~Winston Churchill

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” ~Indira Gandhi

“Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced. Even a proverb is no proverb until your life has illustrated it.” ~John Keats

“Leadership can’t be claimed like luggage at the airport. Leadership can’t be inherited, even though you may inherit a leadership position. And leadership can’t be given as a gift — even if you’ve been blessed with an abundance of leadership skills to share with someone else. Leadership must be earned by mastering a defined set of skills and by working with others to achieve common goals.” ~David Cottrell

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” ~William Jennings Bryan

“Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.” ~John F. Kennedy

“Success is the dynamic collision of an ordinary moment and an unyielding motivation.” ~Chris Novak

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” ~John Wooden

“It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” ~Dale Carnegie

“We are not here to merely make a living. We are here to enrich the world, and we impoverish ourselves if we forget this errand.” ~ Woodrow Wilson

“If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which
I have control — myself.” ~Stephen Covey

In the King James Version of the Bible, the word “success” is only used once, but for me personally, it’s been key to my conception of what true success is: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8).