Hello, I’m Leah!
I thought I’d introduce myself, because it has been a few weeks since I posted anything here. The last few weeks have been F-U-L-L of all sorts of goodness, and honestly, I just have not settled down to get my thoughts in order. I will write more about that soon, but today I am so excited to share with you something the Lord has placed on my heart for us.
As you know, Resurrection Day (Easter) is on April 1st and it is all about new life springing forth from the grave when Jesus rose! Jesus had been crucified three days before and His followers thought that all was lost. But God!!…….He did a new thing on Resurrection Day and death was defeated once and for all. Hallelujah!! (Want to know more about why I think Jesus is such a big deal? Go HERE.
What better time to start a new habit that draws us up close to Jesus than Resurrection Day and the beginning of a new month!
If you have hung around here for even a pair of minutes, you will know that I am like a dog on a bone about being in the Word. Scripture is LIFE to me, and I want it to be LIFE to you. I never knew how much I needed to be in the Word every day until I got in the Word every day way back in 2001. It feeds my heart and soul and gives me what I need to walk through this messy world. I’m hooked on Bible study for life!
Sometimes, though, for some of us it is hard to decide exactly HOW to be in the Word every day. So often I have women say to me, “I just don’t have time to do an in-depth study that requires 30 minutes or more of at-home work each day,” or “I want to read my Bible, but I just don’t know where to start.” I get all of that. I really do. So, for the month of April, I want to offer you a way to be in Scripture, AND to draw little nuggets out for your own heart.
Ta-da! My Resurrection Day/Spring/April Scripture Challenge!
I can make you a guarantee….100% money back guarantee. If you will commit 30 days to spending time reading one chapter of Scripture each day and journaling about it, your faith will grow and you will fall more in love with Jesus and His Word. I promise. Pinky-swear! God promised that His Word will never return void, which means it will always make a difference in the heart and life of the one who interacts with it. I am living proof that this is true.
So, here is how we will roll with this. Beginning April 1st, I am challenging you to:
1) Choose ONE CHAPTER of Scripture (any chapter, anywhere in the Bible) each day.
2) Read that chapter.
3) Write a little (or a lot) about what the Lord spoke into your heart from that chapter. (Keep reading, I have a FREE GIFT to help with this.)
Easy, huh? You may want to read 30 chapters out of one particular book in the Bible, or you might want to go totally rogue and random with your chapter choices. You might even want to read the same chapter every day for 30 days. You decide what works for you!
I have created a FREE journal page to help you keep track of your chapters and your heart ponderings. You may already have a journal that you like to use for such things, but I thought it would be fun to have a dedicated sheet for the effort, for those who would like to use it. I’ve named it ‘Chapter Read….What It Said (to me)’ and I would love for you to have it. There are two ways you can get it. Either download from the green button below, OR send me an email to email@example.com and I will send it to you via email.
What do you say? Would you like to grow in your faith this spring? Do you desire to learn more about Jesus and His Word? Will you take my challenge?
If so, please leave me a comment below or send me an email letting me know you will taking the challenge. I am so excited to hear what God speaks into your heart and life in April.
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.
I am a lover of lists. In fact, I pretty much live and die by a list.
Daily to-do items list
All kinds of lists in my head
Lists are my friends! You, too?
One of the most popular blog posts I have ever written (that was not published on my own site) was one that detailed my top 10 Bible studies for women. Here is the link to it over on my friend Arabah Joy’s site. It has been a while since I wrote that post and I have delved into many more Bible studies since then. So, I thought today would be a very good day to offer a new list of what I consider to be some wonderful Bible studies that would be worth your time and effort to dive into.
May I share with you that I believe studying the Scriptures is as vital to life as the air that I breathe? I know, I know…that seems a bit dramatic, but it really is true. As a Christian, the only way that I can know the heart of God is from the letter that He wrote telling us all about His heart, what pleases Him, those things that He hates, and how to draw up close to Him. God’s power, available to us through faith in Jesus Christ and the Bible, offers us ‘everything we need for life and godliness’. (2 Peter 1:3)
This issue of Bible study is one of the things in this life about which I am absolutely dogmatic. You and I cannot have an intimate relationship with Jesus without regular time hearing from Him through Scripture. Nope! Ain’t gonna happen!
I want to make it easy for you to find a Bible study that gets your head and heart into God’s Word. As your mentor and a Titus 2 ‘older woman’, I long to see you grow in the faith and knowledge of Jesus, and it is my biblical mandate to offer you whatever help I can to aid you in that journey. I hope this list is a blessing to you and I would love to hear back from you about any of these studies, or any others, that you have done.
Allow me to offer a few disclaimers before I begin my 10 (more) Bible Studies to Savor list.
Disclaimer #1, this list is in no particular order, and it was a huge challenge to stop at ten.
Disclaimer #2, this list does not supersede or discount the first list, but rather, adds to it. So, just because a study that I listed in the first post is not on this list does not mean that I no longer feel it to be a study of worth. I’m simply seeking to give you more whipped cream to add to the banana pudding!
Disclaimer #3, this post is chock-full of Amazon affiliate links. You may click any Amazon product picture in this post and be taken to a site where you can purchase the book. If you decide to purchase using one of my links, I will receive a small commission from Amazon. It is just one of the ways I help keep lights on and food on the table. Thank you!
10 (More) Bible Studies to Savor
Precept Upon Precept – Romans by Kay Arthur
My Tuesday morning small group has just begun Part 1 of 4 parts of this amazing study. Part 1 has us studying Romans chapters 1-5 for fourteen weeks. Seriously, y’all, we are digging deep and really learning these five chapters. (this is truly separate 4 studies, but I’m listing it as one.)
I was super excited when Kay led us to examine Romans 1:16-17 and told us that these verses were the theme verses for the entire book. Why was I so excited? Because, well…my tattoo is symbolic of Romans 1:16, so I bear the mark of the book forever on my body.
Can I be honest with you? I resisted Precept studies for many years because of some interactions with a few women who were rabidly adamant that if you studied anything other than Precept you were not really studying the Bible. God bless their ministries!! But, eventually I moved past it all out of necessity to find studies that my small group had not done. When I did, I found a wealth of opportunity for being deep in the Word. Precept is a very different format from many in-depth Bible studies, yet it offers an opportunity to really dig deeply into Scripture.
Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance by Charles Swindoll
If you have never gone through trials, then you can skip over this particular Bible study. However, if you are like me and have a few gray hairs in your head and wrinkles on your face because of trials and difficulties, then this study is one you need to get under your belt.
I am a major Swindoll fan and he did a marvelous job of teaching what is a difficult book of the Bible. In typical Swindoll fashion, there are lots of quotes that stick to your ribs and offer comfort for future trials. This study is appropriate for men and women.
Communication: Key to Your Marriage by H. Norman Wright
I get it. This is not a typical Bible study, but sweet mercy, there are tons of Scriptures in it that pertain to communication, both in marriage and in other relationships. If you have a desire to improve your marriage communication this is the book for you. It is SOOO good.
Precept Upon Precept – Revelation by Kay Arthur
Okay, so I offer this recommendation with a sizeable caveat. This study will eat your lunch and your Little Debbie snack cakes, but man, oh man, is it ever worth it!! It, like the Romans study mentioned above, is a four-part study that will take the better part of 2 years to complete. It stretched me in so many ways unlike any study I have ever done, yet sister (or brother), I learned so much about the book of The Revelation from it. No longer does Revelation frighten me. Rather, it is a source of encouragement and blessing. Find a Precept group in your local area and JUST DO IT!!
Finding I AM by Lysa Terkeurst
In this study Proverbs 31 founder, Lysa Terkeurst leads the reader through a study of the I AM statements of Jesus. The at-home work is rich and can be done in a short amount of time. As you study these statements, they become very personal to your heart and life. Jesus said them for our benefit and we are wise to delve into them.
What Love Is by Kelly Minter
What is not to love about a study of the books of 1, 2, and 3 John? There is so much goodness in this study by one of my favorite authors. The themes of love and light echo stunningly in a culture that has lost its way in the dark. This study, too, is time-efficient and pertinent to your life today.
Entrusted: A Study of 2 Timothy by Beth Moore
In recent years, Moore has added a delightful component to her already great studies. That component is writing by her youngest daughter, Melissa. I totally enjoy Melissa’s very scholarly portions of Beth’s studies and this study of 2 Timothy is no different. In 2 Timothy Paul is writing to his son in the faith to encourage him to not be ashamed of the calling that God has on his life. Is this pertinent to you and me? I think so. God has entrusted the gospel message to those of us who name the name of Christ. Let’s do this thing well.
The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer
Okay, so I’ve got a confession to make. I never studied the armor of God before this study. I think somewhere in my sub-conscious I felt like it was not really something I needed to study. Why? I have no idea! But, y’all, we all need to study this passage of Scripture, and Priscilla Shirer knocks it out of the park with this study. She makes practical application easy for the student and you will know the armor of God when you finish.
Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World by Shelly Miller
This is not an in-depth Bible study like others mentioned here, but IT ROCKED MY WORLD last year and I would be hugely remiss not to include it in this list. I had never been obedient to observe a Sabbath rest until God had enough of my disobedience and put me flat of my back, quite literally. He forced rest, and on the back side of all, I can say that it was good. This book contains a world of Scripture and wisdom about the topic of rest and Sabbath. I’ve dog-eared and highlighted this book until it looks like it is twenty years old. Please, do yourself a favor and order it today.
Legacy: It’s What You Leave Behind by……..ME!
Please forgive me for tossing in one of my own studies, but there is a method to my madness. In 2017 I revised and re-published this 2010 study with the help of a sweet friend, Jen Stults. I adore the new cover and interior design. In my previous Bible studies to savor list, I had included the first edition of this study, which is now no longer available, so I wanted to offer the link to the new and updated version. This study encourages the student to be intentional in the creation of their legacy through examining their faith, their character, and their holiness. It is packed with real-life examples of legacy building that will encourage you in the creation of your legacy.
I would love to have you share your favorite Bible studies in the comments, OR share how one of these studies has impacted your life and faith. Friends, we will never be sorry we spent time studying Scripture. Never!
Have a great week!
“God never wastes a trial.”
If I had to choose a motto for my life, this would be one of my top five. You might think, “why in the world would you choose a motto about trials?” Great question! You see, sometimes the most seemingly ridiculous things end up being beautiful and good. Let me explain.
Imagine that I had one of those moments where my life flashed before my eyes and I was blessed with the benefit of seeing a panorama of events, both good and bad. I would see moments of love and joy, sidled up next to moments of pain and heartache. I would see stellar life choices that I made, but also some amazingly poor choices that brought great sorrow and distress into my life. You, too?
But, let me tell you the beautiful thing in all of this hot mess that is my life. God never wastes a trial or a heartache. Every poor choice, every time those choices brought pain. Shoot! Even when my choices are good and right, there is the opportunity for God to bring something beautiful and useful out of a heap of ashes or bed of roses. AND HE DOES! I’ve seen it time and time again in my life.
Case in point! Years ago I shared about my decades-ago struggles with loving a family member in this video. Frequently, when I speak to women, I have the opportunity to share this same story. I cannot even begin to count how many times women have come up to me and said, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one who felt that way!” Just last week I had the privilege of coming alongside a beautiful young woman who is walking this very path in her own life. I pray that I was able to speak encouragement into her heart in regard to loving a family member when all you feel is anger toward them.
It is in those moments that the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 comes alive:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
I cannot resist giving you verse 4 from The Message:
He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.
It is true, y’all…..God never wastes a trial. He has purpose in them. He has good in them. They may not feel good or purposeful. You may just have to grit your teeth and think, ‘this too shall pass. It is passing like a kidney stone, but I have faith that it will pass…and that God will somehow redeem it.”
Even as I type this post I am walking a path where another person is slandering my character and reputation with lies and twisted truth, yet I keep trusting that God’s got it and that one day I will be able to use the comfort I am receiving from Him to comfort another person going through similar circumstances.
Do you have a 2 Corinthians 1:4 testimony? Sister, God did not allow difficult circumstances in your life for no reason at all. He has purpose in them, but you must walk by faith toward that purpose until you can see it with your eyes. If you can see above the circumstances to the good that God is working in your heart, are you willing to share it to encourage other people? I would love to read how God has comforted you in a difficult situation so that you can turn around and comfort others going through similar situations. Would you share in the comments or via email?
God never wastes a trial!
Note: This post contains affiliate links.
Here is the link to a book that has brought me great peace in times of trial and trouble. I encourage you to check it out.
I just decided to go ahead and throw it right on out there in the beginning. I’m NOT a marriage expert. In fact, I probably need as much help in the marriage department as the next person. I got an ‘F’ in marriage the first time around. I was young (21) and dumb and needy and sick. Very sick! I had no business saying I do at that time, but it seemed easier than saying ‘I don’t’. So I did. What a mistake!
Fast forward to me at the ripe old age of 30. I said ‘I do’ again. This time I made a better choice, but still I went into marriage with unrealistic expectations and unexplored issues. Lord, help me, did I have issues! And because we did not seek pre-marital counseling I lived with those expectations and issues for a very long time. I thought my marriage would be like that of my parents, but what never hit me until recently is that Greg and I are not Wayne and Barbara. We have different personalities, needs, expectations, and desires than my parents had. Why that never clicked with me blows my mind, but alas, it did not.
A couple of months ago I was reading a book by Chip Ingram called “Good to Great: 10 Practices Great Christians Have In Common.
One of the chapters in this book is about reading great books. Ingram offered several books that have impacted his life. One of those was a book about communication in marriage. In the moment I read what Ingram wrote about the book, the Holy Spirit urged me to immediately order it, because who doesn’t need better communication in their marriage, right? Communication: Key to Your Marriage by H. Norman Wright is the book, and I will shamelessly give you my affiliate link to the book’s page on Amazon. I want you to order it if you are married or want to be married. Do it now! You will not be sorry.
Friends, this book has rocked my world. It took me two solid weeks to get past the first chapter. Not because the reading is hard, (it is not), but because the material stopped me dead in my tracks and gave me so much to ponder. The first words in Chapter 1 are “Why did you marry?” As if that was not enough, in the same first paragraph Wright asks this question, “What did you expect from marriage?” Two weeks, people! Two weeks it took me to work through those two questions. Then on page 3 I find this:
Commitment is more than maintaining; it is more than continuing to stick it out and suffer with a poor choice of a spouse. Commitment is investing–working to make the relationship grow.
Before you assume I made a poor choice in a spouse, please hear me loud and clear, I DID NOT. Greg is a wonderful husband. He may think he made a poor choice in a spouse, but I clearly out kicked my coverage when I married Greg. What got me from that quote is that all too often husbands and wives just stick it out rather than invest in their marriage. I want to invest in my marriage. I want to up the level of our communication and make our marriage even better. I want the next 22 years to be even better than the past 22 have been.
If I could give every married and planning-to-be-married couple a copy of this book, I would. It is that good, y’all….or maybe I am just that slow of a study when it comes to marital communication. There are some young couples in my sphere of influence who will be walking down the aisle soon and you better bet your sweet bippy that I will be giving them a copy of this book.
This book by Emerson Eggerichs is another one that I recommend and will be giving:
If you feel like you are talking to an alien when you talk to your spouse, if you feel like your husband never listens to you, if you feel like your man never shares his feelings with you, if you just have a desire to have a better marriage, then Communication by Wright is for you. Order it today!
I know there are other wonderful books on marriage and communication out there. I would love to hear your recommendations for books about marriage and/or communication. This is truly one way we can be iron sharpening iron for each other.
NOTE: Affiliate links are present in this post.
I am not a quitter.
I was taught from an early age to stay faithful to my commitments, even when it is hard. But in the past couple of years I have wanted to quit the hard stuff, like ministry. In fact, in the spirit of transparency, in the few couple of weeks I had decided to do just that. Later this year, after the Come Away retreat was in the books, I would quietly step away from writing and speaking and mentoring in order to ‘just be’. My heart craves ‘just being’ right now like you would not even believe.
November will mark 10 years that I have been in ministry. God gave me a clarion call in late 2007 to a speaking ministry that shared Jesus and His grace. That ministry bloomed into a writing ministry that has allowed me to publish a few books. That ministry blossomed into a mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry that has been the most fun thing I have ever done.
So, how did I arrive at this place of wanting to quit? I’ve pondered deeply whether it is a result of God withdrawing my calling to ministry. I’ve even secretly hoped that was the root of it all, yet each time I have tried to settle into that, God has sent something or someone along my path to point me in a different direction.
Like a Scripture: For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable ~ Romans 11:29
Well, okay, there is that!
Months ago I sat with a wise and trusted counselor who reminded me that perhaps I have not allowed my heart to heal from the traumas I have experienced over the past 3 years.
Almost nothing in my life right now is the way I had envisioned it would be. Loss upon loss. Hurt compounded like interest. There have been blessings come out of it but, like a good ‘bootstrapper’, in the beginning of it all I soldiered on, feeling the pain, but not allowing myself time and space to move through the stages of grief. Is it any wonder I have nothing to pour out?
Still the desire to quit nearly suffocates me on a regular basis. I feel as if I have little of worth to give, and the words that once flowed easily now seem to have dried up. I even have trouble coming up with a worthwhile Facebook post.
Maybe you, too, have wanted to quit. Maybe you want to quit right now. Your job, your marriage, your ministry, your mothering, a friendship, a hobby, life. You want to quit because it has become too hard, too painful, too exhausting, too _____________________. I get that! I really do.
May I invite you to do with your ‘quit’ exactly what I did? Take it to Jesus. Ask Him if He has ‘quitting’ in the plans for you. Ask Him to give you wise counselors. Ask Him to speak to your heart over the whole thing. Ask Him for books to read or music to listen to or walks to take that will help you find His plan for your ‘quit’. Ask Him for peace and healing, for heaven’s sake.
I don’t know what He will tell you about your quit, but I know that He gave me encouragement through Dr. Tony Evans to not completely throw in the towel. He is encouraging me to hop out of the rat race for a time, come to Him, and allow Him to heal my heart. I am re-reading Shelly Miller’s wonderful book entitled, Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World, and realizing that perhaps part of my ‘quit’ is my disobedience about observing a Sabbath rest each week. God instituted Sabbath for us, and the fact that I do not regularly observe a Sabbath rest smacks of self-sufficiency and pride. And we all know how God feels about pride!
So, where does this leave you and me, dear reader? Well, I might be here with a post, but I also might not. And I am okay with that even though the ‘experts’ tell bloggers that you MUST post regularly in order to get/retain readers. Y’all, I will be here when the Holy Spirit tells my heart to write, and not until. I am grateful for you, and I hope the Spirit gives me permission and desire to return to this space regularly one day, full of His words to share with you. I would be so grateful for your prayers.
Please do not forget about the Come Away retreat! Registration is still open, but there are only a few spaces left. So click over to THIS POST to find out more information about the retreat and how to register.
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.
I don’t know about you, but for me, it is so easy to fall into the world’s line of thinking.
I got mine, you get yours.
It’s all about me.
What’s in it for me?
Problem is, for a Christian, this way of thinking is completely contrary to what Jesus taught. It is also contrary to what I had modeled for me growing up. Although I never fully realized the scope of what my parents did for others until they were gone, I knew they were generous toward those who were in need…both in the body of Christ and outside of it.
At my Daddy’s funeral, my Mother, Sister, and I greeted hundreds who came to pay their respects. Over and over people told us how my Daddy had helped them.
He paid my house payment when I was about to lose my home.
He came to my appliance store, bought a refrigerator, and told me where to deliver it. But he said that I was not to tell the recipients who provided it.
When my electricity was about to be cut off, he paid my bill.
He bailed me out of jail when I made a poor choice.
Then, when my Mother died, many shared similar stories of her love and generosity.
These testimonies, and so many more, were evidence of Romans 12:13 in the life of my parents.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
I love the reminder offered by John MacArthur in his commentary on the book of Romans.
The flow of the supernatural life is outward, not inward.
It is true. The life modeled after Jesus is not a life of selfish ambition, but one of self-less sacrifice and offering.
Billy Graham said:
The smallest package I ever saw was a man wrapped up wholly in himself.
As I think about the life that Jesus lived, I see a life of service and hospitality to others:
He restored life
He ate with the outcast
He never heaped shame on those who sought Him out
He took my place on the cross and paid the fine for my sin
So, really, how can I justify being selfish and self-serving? Everything I have…my body, my money, my talents, my time, my home, everything…..is on loan to me from God. None of it is really mine, so if the Jesus-life tells me to be generous in giving and hospitable to others, how can I do otherwise?
The question then becomes whether the flow of my life is outward or inward. It is the question for your life, as well.
Outward or Inward?
One of the ways I seek to help women develop that outward flowing life is to encourage them to walk more intimately with Christ. September 15-17, 2017 the Come Away retreat for women will offer ladies an opportunity to lean into Jesus in a beautiful, relaxed setting. In our world of constant stimulation and social media, one must be intentional in their pursuit of Christ. Come Away with Jesus for a weekend! Click HERE to learn more.
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.