“I pray that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.”
While studying Philippians I was asked the question “How does Paul participate in the life of the Philippians?”. The only way I could answer is that he wrote them letters and he prayed for them. And so I am challenged to do the same. I am going to try and write more notes to encourage my friends, and I am going to try and pray for them more. We had a friend tell us that we were on his Wednesday prayer schedule. I was so humbled, but also motivated to make a schedule instead of just trusting my memory to pray for people. I was encouraged, and I felt like he was more a part of our lives than I had known before. So I am going to make a schedule, pray more for my friends, and write more encouraging words.
And as a second thought, if you ever wonder what you can do for friends who are far away (like missionaries), all you have to do is send a couple line email note letting them know you are thinking of them and then encouraging them to stay strong in their faith. It makes a bigger difference than you might imagine!
This is a nice video that our friends in Peru have put together to explain the work that they are doing among the Quechua people. I had the pleasure of caring for their two sons – I did not have to do much as they were quite healthy and happy. We drove hours to their house over very curvy roads every January to watch the Super Bowl. What are friends for, right? Erin is an ACU graduate and they are both from the Tacoma, WA area (we lived there as well) which means we are connected in more ways than one! Take a look at the video to be challenged and inspired!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love BSF. BSF stands for Bible Study Fellowship. I know that there are no one-size-fits-all Bible studies or ways to get closer to the Lord, but BSF is a nearly foolproof win. For those of you who have never tried it, BSF is an international, interdenominational Bible study. They study one book or a series of related books of the Bible over the course of the school year. Participants get to do questions on the passage during the week, you discuss the questions in a small group facilitated by a trained leader, then you listen to a lecture on the passage, and finally you have a set of notes on the same verses. Looking into the Word this way has transformed me and many of my friends and family. As I write that, I think of all my wonderful friends near and far who have enjoyed BSF. I love you guys!
This year, I joined my local BSF soon after arriving to Richardson. We are studying John, one of my top three favorite books of the Bible. Right away, I was challenged by John 14 and 15 to abide in Christ and rest in the peace of the Holy Spirit. That was difficult while we were trying to decide what kind of life we would choose— missionary or rural medicine.
Over the last month or so, as Jesus has marched to the cross and then taken care of His people after the resurrection, I have seen His highly specific, individual care. He warned Peter and Judas of their betrayal, He repaired the servant’s ear, He gave the care of His mother Mary to John, He spoke to the criminals on either side, He called Mary’s name when she was looking for her Lord’s body, He reassured Thomas in his doubt, He gave Peter a chance to say “I love you” three times. He is taking care of each one of us! He is calling to us, meeting us wherever we may be. He knows what your heart needs to believe Him more, to be protected or healed. Jesus loves you! Thanks, BSF, for helping me remember my Savior’s love for me.
“But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
I find encouragement from this verse that the Bible and the Old Testament are enough to know God. Of course there is much more available – nature, art, literature, humanity, good, evil. You do not have just one source, but if you want to hear God directly, there is no better place. And so when I have doubts or less trust, I find the solution in the parable of Jesus, and I try to get my eyes on the pages and my head into the word.
The following excerpts are taken from You Are What You Love – The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K. A. Smith.
Our actions and behavior – indeed, a whole way of life – are pulled out of us by this attraction to some vision of the good life.
If our loves can be disordered by secular liturgies, it’s also true that our loves need to be reordered (recalibrated) by counter liturgies – embodied, communal practices that are “loaded” with the gospel and indexed to God and his kingdom.
From the book Happiness by Randy Alcorn in the chapter titled We Find Lasting Happiness in God: A Closer Look at the Hebrew Word Asher. It is not as dry as it sounds!
Those who worship the Lord and obey his commands are happy.
People who live by God’s wisdom are happy.
People who turn to God and partake of him are happy.
God’s redeemed are happy people.
Those pardoned by God are happy.
God promises happiness for righteous acts and attitudes.
Those who are kind to the needy find happiness.
Happy people follow the spiritual guidance of their godly parents.
Those who know the one true God are a happy people.