Friday, March 25, 2011

Wrestling Prayer



Impressed with the Ludy's books on relationships, I was intrigued when I saw they had written a book on prayer also. I've enjoyed many Ludy books over the past couple years, as I find they have a way of wrapping solid Biblical truth into easy-to-understand language. Their writing is compelling, without being overwhelming.

Leslie uses the introduction to explain why when Christians pray right it is more like a wrestling match than the simple spouted off prayers that most of us are used to. "Christianity has confused catching mice with the real work of the kingdom," She states, "which is more like hunting lions. We've lost the sacred work of prayer. And we no longer know how to wield the power of God in this world. Lions, bears and blaspheming giants are having their way in the church today, and it is high time that we start doing something about this travesty."

As you can see, they don't pull punches. But the Ludy's never do.

Eric takes the first chapter, setting the foundation of the book by explaining which two generations he calls "the generations of mighties." Historically (Biblically) he tells us there are two generations that stand above the rest in their commitment to the Lord, and in their great acts of valor. What do these generations have in common with us? What can we learn from them? And what do those generations have to do with learning to pray? These questions are introduced in the first chapter, and explored in depth through the entire book.

I really enjoyed how Eric and Leslie took portions of the old testament, a part of the Bible that many writers and Christians are unfamiliar with, and make it just as integral a part of this book as new testament heroes. They take snapshots of heroes of the Old Testament (many of which are unfamiliar to most of us) and put a magnifying glass to their commitment to Christ. Not only do they use the entire Bible--not just the parts that are seen often--they fill the pages with quotes and lessons from the lives of more recent heroes of the Faith such as George Muller, Mary Sesslor, and Corrie Ten Boom.

Another part that I loved was the way Eric and Leslie divided the writing portions. Eric took the first part of each chapter, usually the lions' share, and spent it introducing and supporting another Biblical concept about wrestling prayer.  Leslie took the second portion of the chapter, and used it to both support Eric's portion and to put street shoes on it. Eric built the supporting structure, Leslie fleshed it out in real-world practicality. I think the book was much more effective with that style of teamwork than it would have been had they written the book in a single voice.

Wrestling Prayer exceeded my expectations. It challenged me to rethink my priorities and place prayer in a much higher place. The Ludy's reminded me that most of the time it isn't the Bad but the Good that is the enemy of the best. While there may be nothing sinful in the way we choose to spend our time, if we don't have time to pray--really pray--than our priorities are in the wrong place.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Quotables: Speech

The nature of someones speech tells a lot about them and where their life is headed. There are distinct differences in the speech of a person who directs their life (proactive/wise) and someone who lets their lives direct them (reactive/foolish). The reactive individual talks of wishes and hopes whereas a proactive individual talks of plans with definitive actuon. The reactive individual talks of people, things, gossip and "tabloid" news whereas a proactive individual talks about concepts, opportunities and meanningful current events. The fools speech consists of vain babbling, flattering, and slander whereas the wise speak of righteousness, praise and wisdom. [...] What subjects fill your conversation?

~Preparing to be A Help Meet

The Respect Dare



I settled on this book by Nina Roesner originally because I assumed it was associated with The Love Dare, from the movie Fireproof. As far as I can tell the two have nothing in common, except a desire to build strong Christian marriages. The "love dare" can be used for men or women, the respect dare is specifically for wives (not interchangeable).

The Respect Dare is based around the fact that scripturally wives are called to respect their husbands (eph 5:33). Elsewhere in scripture husbands are called to love their wives. I believe the reason the Bible calls husbands to love and wives to respect is that that is what their spouse MOST needs. More than respect a wife needs her husband's love, and more then love a husband needs his wife's respect. There have been a number of WONDERFUL books written on this topic, For Men Only and For Women Only (by the Fieldans) come first to mind, along with Created To Be His Help Meet (Debi Pearl). If the concept is a new one to you PLEASE look into the subject, as it is one that can radically transform your marriage.

The Respect Dare, unlike the above mentioned books, is not an indepth study on the husband/wife relationship. Instead, it goes straight to the heart of practical application. In a series of "dares" a wife is challenged to learn what it means to respect her husband on a day to day basis. Some of the dares are surprising, in that it is hard to see how exactly they tie in, but as each day is worked through it becomes clear that each dare is essential.

My first impression of the book was that it was similar to The Five Love Languages in that it is more benificial to couples who have been married for longer than my husband and I have. My second impression was that the first might not have been entirely accurate.

Many of the dares include a woman asking for feedback from her husband, and then quietly listening to his answer without being offended or justifying. While it can be challenging to request feedback and not respond when fault is found, these  can be some of the most educational dares. They really challenge a wife to consider carefully what effect her absent-minded words and actions have on her husband.

This book is a good one for ANY couple. Yes, some of the dares assume that the couple isn't newly wed, but many of them are good either way. If this book can encourage a young bride to understand the nature of respect and apply it to her life for the long haul, it could have an incredible effect on a marriage. And for those who already have years of marriage behind them? This could be the first step toward a wonderful new beginning for their marriage.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Quietness

My blog has been quiet the last week. Not because I don't want to write, or haven't been writing. I have been. I've been writing down post ideas on the new-to-us laptop my husband and I got--the small one that I take to work with me and type away on when my boss is too sleepy to talk.

I've been writing down my list of joys--one by one. Numbering them in my mind and heart, then numbering them on paper.

But I haven't just been writing...

I've been doing laundry, cleaning house, making the bed. I've been putting away the valentines decorations... and the Christmas dishes. I've been making dinner.

I've been learning. Canning. Living simply. Bread-making. Economics--worldwide and local. The value of the dollar, and what that means to us.

And that's why the blog has been silent. I hope next week I'll have time to post some--there's enough material to keep me busy for awhile. But for now I'll leave you with one picture--and if I'd have to put down a few of the 1000 words this picture is worth they would be, "Slow down and enjoy life!!"


Because the reason this bread didn't rise is that
I was too busy to remember the yeast. :-P

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Worthwhile Reads

Here are some things I've read the last few weeks that are worth passing on. I imagine this will be a continuing feature, as there are so many good things out there! Enjoy!!!

In Heaven as on Earth "I live with these human eyes, and with these human eyes of mine I label. I label one thing as good and one thing as bad. I label moments as blessing or burden. And I forget that all this labeling, it is not my right, not my place, not mine to do. To declare what is a gift in my life and what is a curse is to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, to sit in the garden full of abundance and beauty and choose the forbidden. The knowledge of good and evil, that was never intended for me. Could I, like Jja Ja Maria just quit my labeling and say, "Whatever God wants. Whatever HE wants!"

Secrets of a Former Credit Card Thief --Concerned about identity and/or credit thieft? You should be!! An interesting article from a former ID and credit thief


Sometimes He Flops --It's easy to love your man when he treats you like a princess. But what about when he messes up? "God knows HE is the only one who can love you the way you need to be loved.  In His lovingkindness, He gives you someone who will help you draw closer to Him, not replace Him."  


12 ways to love your man without saying a word -- Some great ideas, and an even better reminder to actively find ways to love our husbands.

His Future Wife -- For those young women who don't yet have husbands to "love without saying a word?" Don't be so sure. There are things you can do NOW for that man who, God willing, will be in your life someday.

QUOTABLES: Prayer

My life is one long daily, hourly record of answered prayer. For physical health, for mental overstrain, for guidance given marvelously, for errors and dangers averted, for enmity to the Gospel subdued, for food provided at the exact hour needed, for everything that goes to make up life and my poor service, I can testify with full and often wonderstricken awe that God answers prayer.

 ~Mary Slessor, Missionary in West Africa in 1876

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Birthday party!

But not mine. :P

Two girls in our church, twins, had a birthday recently and decided to have a park day at the church. The weather was perfect to be outdoors, and we had tons of fun. I've wanted to have a church picnic for awhile now, but this is the first time the church has done a picnic since I've been here. It was LOTS of fun to play games together. The first game we played was capture the flag. Capture the Flag happens to be one of the few games my competitive side comes out.... That and Monopoly. This is a little known fact about me, but in previous games of Capture the Flag I went by the code name "brave heart." *ahem* Anyway, I was too busy during that particular game to take pictures, but after that I stayed busy with my camera. Here are a few (okay, a few more than a few) of my favorite shots:


Little brother learning to serve


"You can't hit girls (with the ball)!
We should get that point!"

In an amazing dive Kate gets the ball over the net!
The crowd goes Wild!!! 




"Got it!!"

They don't stand a chance now!!

The movie star pose--my husband agrees that we
should change the background and make this a book cover.

Three-in-one






Thursday, March 10, 2011

Quotables: Blasphemy

"You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances, and tedious annoyances really are. You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more nor less than blasphemies--though that never occurs to you. Nothing happens to you except by the will of God, and yet [God's] beloved children curse it because they do not know it for what it is..."

A Guide to Prayer for All God's People~Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Quotables

As I've been reading I've been coming across some amazing quotes lately. They have been challenging, uplifting, and have challenged me to rethink the way I live my Christian life.  I really would like to make sure I remember these, so periodically I'll be posting "quotables." I hope you enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One Thousand Gifts


As I sit down to write this report I'm really not sure where to begin. This book is amazing. Life changing. Reading it is like joining Ann Voscamp in a treasure hunt to find the heart of God.

One Thousand Gifts is a love story. It follows God as he gently woos Ann to Him, and as the story unfolds you realize God isn't just wooing her--he's wooing you.

Ann begins her story with her first memory--that of her younger sister being crushed in a terrible car accident. After that experience she, along with her entire family, wrote off God. How could a good God allow an innocent child, barely even toddling, such a cruel, accidental death? The darkness covered Ann as she refused to acknowledge God in her life.

Then a friend "happened" (and I use that word as the Bible uses it in Ruth, Ruth "happened" to glean in boaz's field, as if chance, instead of the hand of God, could orchestrate something so life-changing) to challenge Ann to list 1000 gifts that God gave. Ann wasn't one to pass up a challenge, so she started her list unaware that this simple action would become the catalyst God used in her life to knit her heart to Him.

The key word in this book is Eucharisto. I'll quote from the book to explain the word (Ann says it so much better than I can :-) ).

"Eucharisto, thanksgiving, envelops the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning "joy." Joy. Ah... yes. I might be needing me some of that. That might be what the quest for more is all about--that which  Augustine claimed, "Without exception...all try their hardest to reach the same goal, that is, joy." [...]
Charis. Grace
Eucharisto. Thanksgiving.
Chara. Joy.
A triplet of stars, a constellation in the black.
A threefold cord that might hold a life? Offer a way up into the fullest life?
Grace, thanksgiving, joy. Eucharisto.
A Greek word... that might make meaning of everything?

This book was amazing. It was challenging--and, in a way, scary. Ann starts with counting the gifts that God gives, the beautiful, precious moments that fill each day brimfull. But then, as she grows, she realizes that we are given no right to pick and choose which moments we deem as "good" and which we deem as "bad" when God Himself is the one who gives everything.  She calls these moments, when we must look at something "bad" and still thank God for it, "Hard Eucharisto." Her first lesson in hard eucharisto came when one of her six children put his hand through a large fan used to cool their barn. Then God gently taught her as he walked with her.

This is a book I believe everyone should read. Man, woman, young person. She relies heavily on scripture, and I also appreciate the many quotes from heros of the faith that are scattered throughout the book.  This practice of thanksgiving could completely transform a life--has completely transformed many lives.

Certain parts of the book were personally challenging. I always read with a pencil in hand for underlining. To close this report I'd like to include a few small portions of the book that convicted me:

(Chapter 4)
"God gives us time. And who has time for God? 
Which makes no sense. 
In Christ don't we have everlasting existence? Don't Christians have all the time in eternity, life everlasting? If Christians run out of time--wouldn't we loose our very own existence? If anyone should have time, isn't it the Christ-followers?" 
(Chapter 7)
"I pull out a chair from the table, sink down. The sunflower heads have turned low. [...] What compels me to name these moments upheavals and annoyances instead of grace and gift? Why deprive myself of joy's oxygen? The swiftness of the answer startle. Because you belive in the power of the pit. 
Really? I lay my head on the table. Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love? That Satan's way is more powerful, more practical, more fulfilling in my daily life than Jesus' way? Why else get angry? Isn't it because I think complaining, exasperation, resentment will pound me up into the full life I really want? When I choose--and it is a choice--to crush joy with bitterness, am I not purposefully choosing to take the way of the Prince of Darkness? Choosing the angry way of Lucifer because I think it is more effective--more expedient--than giving thanks?"  
(Chapter 9)
"All these years, these angers, these hardnings, this desire to control, I had thought I had to snap the hand closed to shield joy's fragile flame from the blasts. In a storm of struggles, I had tried to control the elements, clasp the fist so tight so as to protect self and happiness. But palms curled into protective fists fill with darkness. [...] My own wild desire to protect my joy at all costs is the exact force that kills my joy."
(Chapter 8)"Anything less than gratitude and trust is practical atheism."  

Saturday, March 5, 2011

March Reading Checkup

Reading Challenge 2011




February
Wrestling Prayer by Eric and Leslie Ludy
The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner
One Thousand Gifts Ann Voscamp

March
The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartin
Answers to Prayer by George Mueller


February was a good month for reading. My main project has been to finish up all the books I was in the middle of at the beginning of the month.

I finished A Thousand Gifts and Wrestling Prayer, and both were amazing. Reports will be coming soon. (A Thousand gifts substituted for A Thousand shall Fall.) I also completed A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family and 168 Hours, you have More Time than You Think.

I still have not tried out the Artisan Bread, but hopefully I'll have a chance to soon (maybe over spring break?) and I'll write a report for it. The book has been read.

I'm over half-way through The Respect Dare. I could have finished by now, as the book consists of 40 days worth of assignments and I started about 6 weeks ago. I discovered, however, that though the individual assignments are easily accomplished in a day, it is too fast if I do one each day. So I'm going at a pace of about one assignment every other day (or so), and that's working pretty well.

In a departure from the list (due to an answered wish-list item from PaperbackBookSwap) I have also started Meet Mr. Smith, by Eric and Leslie Ludy, and am about halfway through.

Bible reading is on track. I'm not moving quite at the 10 chapters a day pace, but overall I'm sticking to it. I've really enjoyed moving promptly through the daily assignments, and find I get a lot more out of reading a large, varied amount of scripture each day than I did out of reading a small portion slowly. Perhaps this is because I usually do my Quiet time in the morning after I wake up, and if I'm just reading a chapter or two tend to fall right back to sleep!! At any rate, this reading system seems to be working well for me and has been very enjoyable.

I'm looking forward to tackling the books for March, though looking at the list I can tell you now they won't all be completed by April 1st!!


Friday, March 4, 2011

Freezer Cooking Day, March 2011

I can't believe how quickly February flew by!! It's been nearly 6 weeks since my last freezer cooking day, and the time has come for round #3. This time Amanda and I are being joined by a friend of ours, and with the addition of her family we are cooking for a total of 8 people.

The first step was to determine how many meals we needed per family for a month. This was an important first step, because the number of meals needed effects most of our other decisions.

Then we sat down together and picked out what recipes we wanted to do. We settled on 9 recipes, about half of them are "lunch" recipes and half of them are "dinner" recipes. The only difference between the two is how much preperation is required once taken from the freezer. The "dinner" recipes can be chicken breast, casseroles, or anything that needs a bit of cooking and/or preperation before being eaten. Lunch recipes are self contained, and the MOST preperation needed is a minute or two in the microwave. Because 4 of the 8 people we are feeding are working full time, it was important to us to have "brown bag" lunches available.

Once we had determined the number of meals and what exactly we were cooking, I took all of the  ingredients from the recipes and compiled one large shopping list. This step had a fair amount of surprises--for example, working with the 9 recipes we had chosen, cooking for 8 people, for one month, requires 40lbs of chicken (plus 102 individual chicken breasts), 40 lbs of ground beef, a cup and a half of chili powder, and 77 garlic cloves. Let's just say we won't be mincing our own.

When the list was finished we had a few things we needed to do. First, we wanted to know approximately how much we could expect to spend. So we brain dumped onto the list (which sounds a lot worse than it was). Between our memories and last weeks sale adds we got a pretty close approximation of the overall cost. Then we determined what stores we needed to go to, what items we were getting at each store, and divvied up the stores between us.

As of this morning the shopping has been accomplished, and the cooking will begin in earnest about 24 hours from now. As I won't be the only one in the kitchen this time, I'm planning on taking plenty of pictures!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Prof. Horner's Bible reading plan

I discovered Professor Horners Bible reading plan by accident, when I installed a Bible app on my phone. It was one of many, but it intrigued me.

Professor Horner's system is designed to literally saturate a believer in God's word. It consists of reading 10 chapters of scripture a day from 10 different sections of the Bible. The sections contain 1 or more books of the Bible, and when a section is finished it is to be started over. This keeps the reader constantly cycling through the entire Bible. I use sticky notes in my Bible and move them along like bookmarks as I read to help me keep track of where I am in each list. When I come to the end of the list on the sticky note, I just move the sticky note back to the beginning of the first book on the list (start over). Because each of the sections are of differing length (some are completed in about a month, some in three months, some in six, and one takes almost the entire year) there will never be an identical set of 10 chapters.

The reason this plan caught my eye is because I do not know my Bible as well as I should. I think of the Bible in terms of individual books--I know what the individual books are about, but I don't have a solid grasp of how God has intricately meshed the 66 individual books of the Bible into one solid, interwoven book. I want to have that understanding of how the books work together to teach the Believer, and reading a (fairly) large amount of scripture each day out of various parts of the Bible seemed a good place to start.

Quite unexpectedly, a benefit I have found is that as I'm reading through my daily readings the Bible has begun to comment on itself. For example, a few days ago I read about an altar in Judges that was set up, and on the same day found the same altar in Isaiah being torn down. That frequently happens as I cycle through the chapters, and causes me to take note of things I wouldn't necessarily notice otherwise.

Here is how the plan works, from Prof. Horner. (Quoted from here, where you can get some more detail about the plan)

* PROFESSOR GRANT HORNER’S ‘TEN LISTS BIBLE READING SYSTEM’*

Each day you will read one chapter from each of ten lists. That’s right -- ten chapters per day!!! Use ten bookmarks or sticky notes with the individual lists on them to keep track of your locations. Or use the set of bookmarks provided on the last page of this document.


On day one, you read Mathew 1, Genesis 1, Romans 1, and so forth. On day 2, read Mathew 2, Genesis 2, etc. On day 29, you will have just finished Mathew, so go to Mark 1 on the Gospel list; you’ll also be almost to the end of 2nd Corinthians and Proverbs, you’ll be reading Psalm 29 and Genesis 29, and so forth. W hen you reach the last chapter of the last book in a list – start over again. Rotate all the way through all the Scriptures constantly.

Since the lists vary in length, the readings begin interweaving in constantly changing ways. You will NEVER read the same set of ten chapters together again! Every year you’ll read through all the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters 4-5 times each, the OT wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the OT History and Prophetic books about 1 ½ times. Since the interweaving is constantly changing, you will experience the Bible commenting on itself in constantly changing ways -- the Reformer's principle of 'scriptura interpretans scripturam' -- 'scripture interpreting scripture' IN ACTION!

After you’ve read any particular book once or twice, your speed in that book usually doubles or triples because you’re familiar with it and can move quickly and confidently --because you are no longer merely decoding the text but thinking it through in the context of all of the scripture! Even an ‘average’ reader, if focusing on moving through the text, rather than trying to figure everything out, can usually do this in about an hour a day – 5-6 minutes per chapter. Many people report moving confidently through the ten chapters in 35-40 minutes. If it is taking you longer, then you are ‘reading wrong’ – stay relaxed, focus, and just keep it moving. Moderate but consistent speed is the key. This is "gross anatomy" -- looking at the whole body; you're not closely studying organs or systems or tissues or cells -- it is not microbiology. BU T -- microbiology and the study or organs makes more sense when you know what the whole structure of the human body is like, and how all the parts, large and small, relate in perfect interdependence.
 
After just a few days the reading gets much easier; in a month it will be a habit, and in six months you’ll wonder how you ever survived before on such a slim diet of the WORD. And then -- you'll tell others to start the system! I began in 1983 as a new Christian and have now read (most of ) the Bible hundreds and hundreds of times. You also need to get ONE Bible, keep it, and do all your reading in it, so you learn where everything is. I’ve had the same Bible since 1983 and I know it intimately. If you keep switching Bibles, you

 ‘lose’ this intimacy with the text. Find a translation and format you like and stick with it. THIS IS CRUCIAL. Your Bible is the only thing on Earth that, as you wear it out, will actually work better and better. Please share this Bible-reading system with all the Christians you know, as well as anyone who is thinking about reading a Bible, even for the first time.

THE TEN LISTS:
List 1 (89 days) Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
List 2 (187 days) Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
List 3 (78 days) Romans, I&II Cor, Gal, Eph, Phil, Col, Hebrews
List 4 (65 days) I&II Thess, I&II Tim, Titus, Philemon, James, I&II Peter, I,II&III John, Jude, Revelation
List 5 (62 days) Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
List 6 (150 days) Psalms
List 7 (31 days) Proverbs
List 8 (249 days) Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I&II Samuel, I&II Kings, I&II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
List 9 (250 days) Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah,Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
List 10 (28 days) Acts
If you are wondering why you should read Acts (or Proverbs) all the way through *every single month* then– you’ve just shown that you NEED to read them that much!
*Put these instructions in your Bible and review them from time to time
*SECRETS TO SUCCESS WITH THIS SYTEM:
• Read one chapter from each list each day, in one sitting or two. At the end of a book, go to the next book. At the end of the list – start it again. Do it in the order given above.
• Read quickly (without “speedreading”) in order to get the overall sense. Read as fast as you comfortably can with moderate retention. You’re not studying deeply or memorizing; shoot for 5-6 minutes per chapter. At the end of a chapter, move immediately to the next list.
• GET THROUGH THE TEXT – no dawdling, back-reading, looking up cross-references!
• There are different ‘kinds’ of reading: super-quick skimming, careful moderate-paced, studying the text, deep meditation. You should be between the first and second kind.
• Most people decrease their time spent and increase their retention after just two-three weeks! I now read and retain the entire text of Matthew in 35 minutes, Romans in 20, Genesis in one hour!
• Don’t look up anything you ‘don’t get’ – real understanding will come through contextualizing by reading a LOT of scripture over time. Get through the text!
• If you miss a day or two – ok, get over it, then keep going. Don’t cover yourself in sackcloth and ashes and quit! Move the bookmarks along, to find your place(s) quickly next day.
Heb 4:12&5:11-14; Eph 5:26&6:17; Col 3:16; 2 Tim 3:16; Ps 119; Ezra 8; Prov 3: 1-2, 10:14; Dan 1
*PLEASE* INVITE ALL THE CHRISTIANS YOU KNOW TO LOOK AT THIS GROUP — AS WELL AS ANYONE ELSE WHO’S THINKING ABOUT READING THE BIBLE, EVEN FOR THE FIRST TIME!
The goal of this sytem is simple, and twofold: To know scripture, and to love and obey God more!
SOLI DEO GLORIA