Book Study – God Up Close Chapter 2

What do you think of when you hear the word meditation?  According to the Webster Dictionary meditation is discourse intended to express its author’s reflections or to guide others in contemplation.  I don’t know about you but that definition is not very helpful.  Often in today’s world when you hear the word meditation you think of a new age type focus or eastern meditation.  However, I believe meditation started WAY before any new age movement.

Psalm 64:1  Hear my voice, O God, in my meditation; preserve my life from fear of the enemy.

Psalm 64 is a psalm about being oppressed by the wicked but still rejoicing in the Lord.  In verse 1 David talks about meditating on God and calling on God to hear his voice.

Psalm 119:48  My hands also I will lift up to your commandments, which I love, and I meditate on your statutes.

Here is a table that contrasts between Biblical Meditation and Eastern Meditation.

Eastern Meditation                              Biblical Meditation

Mental Focus                      Empties the mind.                                 Fills the mind with God’s Word.

Content Focus                    Asks participants to repeat                  Asks participants to focus on vital
a single word – a mantra.                      content – God’s Word.

Goal                                     Aids in self-fulfillment.                         Aids in honoring God.

Method                               Visualizes what you desire.                  Prays to God, who controls the universe.

Resources                           The ultimate resources is                     The ultimate resource and power is God.
within the person.

I studied this table for a long while because I see such truth in it.  Truth not just in meditation but truth in the sins of this fallen world!  The world tries to empty the mind rather then deal with stress, job problems, money problems, marriage problems, parent-child relationship problems.  We are taught by our secular society that we are the resource to fix everything.  It’s all within us which is absolutely absurd!  Think of the disappointment when you visualize yourself in that new position at work.  And you visualize and visualize and visualize yet it doesn’t happen.  You become bitter, resentful.  The goals in the table really struck me…. I don’t want to aid myself in self-fulfillment.  My fulfillment comes from the Lord, not my husband (although I have to say my husband ROCKS!  Thank you Lord!), not my children (I’m blessed here too!), not my job, not even my church.  My GOD is what fulfills me!  The goal of biblical meditation is to help me to honor God.

I’m loving this study.  I’m seeing the importance of getting in the Word EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Not just on Sundays.  God’s word is our armor in such a fallen land.  Ephesians 6:1  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

If the Word is not influencing you SOMETHING is – I promise!

God Bless!




Book Study: God Up Close – Chapter 1

“Oh, how I love Your law!  It is my meditation all the day.”  Psalm 119:97

A few months ago a dear friend of mine said while meeting with her Pastor’s wife, the wife asked who in my friend’s life she looked up to spiritually.  I was blown away when my friend said I was the first one she thought of!  Me??  I have so much to learn and so many ways to grow spiritually.  I remember thinking ‘I need to earn that title.’  So, when I was recently invited to take part in a book study with another friend of mine I immediately jumped at the chance as doing bible studies with this sister in Christ is very encouraging, convicting and refreshing.  She loves the Lord with all her heart and even more, loves to share the Gospel.  She is passionate about her family and ministering to other moms.  She truly is a light in such a dark world.

She came across a book titled God Up Close: How to Meditate on His word by Doug McIntosh.  The book is no longer in print (because, I believe, that it does not tickle the itching ears of the average church in America today) but I was able to buy a used copy on Amazon.  There are about 11 ladies in the group ranging in age from 38 to 86 with many different life experiences and biblical knowledge to share.  Course… being the introvert… I don’t share much!  I’d rather listen!  I’m determined to share next week though!

I’ve read the first 3 chapters twice already and have really been convicted on what are my priorities.  The author, Mr. McIntosh, makes several good points of what we value and love we make time for yet many many Christians do no read their bible and pray every day… many barely once a week.  This book addresses the phenomenon that being a Christian just means being a good person or believing in God.  That’s it… that’s all you have to do…. hmmm.  If you actually read the bible that’s not the truth.

I love this quote in chapter 1: “Meditation is the adoring believer’s interaction with the God of the Bible by means of the Bible.”  I want to be the adoring believer!  Here are the 3 steps Mr. McIntosh uses to meditate on God’s word:

  1. Realizing the truth of God as it is contained in the Scriptures.  This realization comes from reading and study.
  2. Reflecting upon that truth, considering its implications for me personally and for the world.
  3. Responding to God in thanksgiving, worship, and obedience because of that truth.

The author makes a point; if your first question when deciding if you should meditate on God’s word is ‘how long will this take’ then you can’t afford it.  Truly, if I could spend at least an hour every day pouring over my bible and journaling I would!  I love being in God’s word and I love my children being in God’s word.  I can’t expect them to do it if I do not make it a priority.  He also points out that many obstacles present themselves when someone makes a decision to meditate on God’s word.  Satan is not happy about a Christian actually reading her bible and makes every attempt to sabotage her efforts.  Facebook, movies, TV (which is 98% crap anyway), video games all take time away from God; not to mention the effect on our families.

Ok, I’m getting on a rant… I’ll get off my soapbox for now.

Some of the last words of Moses were “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall commend your children to be careful to observe – all the words of this law.  For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life.” Deuteronomy 32:46-47

Meditation calls for honesty and reflection.  Express your concerns and stresses of this life to God, always with reverence and He will listen.  He’s knows your heart anyway but wants to walk with you through this life.  Reflect on how God has shown His kindness to you or to others.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2

Another favorite quote from chapter 1 – “Meditation is not a casual activity.  Only those who esteem (delight in) the Word will spend the time and energy required to mine it’s treasures.”

I’ll end with this praise from David from 2 Samuel 22:1-4

Then David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.  And he said: The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;  The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;  My shield and the horn of my salvation,  My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.  I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised:  So shall I be saved from my enemies.



A Few of My Favorite Quotes From this Past Weekend

I enjoyed the Sally Clarkson women’s conference I went to this past weekend.  Her theme this year was the Lifegiving Home – Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming.  She shared with us (over 1000 women!) how she and her husband went about creating a Godly home where her 4 homeschooled children were taught the Scriptures and to love one another, to be a servant (meaning as Christ was a servant… I’m not talking child labor here), to be confident in who God made them to be and to share the Gospel with passion and conviction with the world.

Her oldest daughter is studying writing at Oxford in England.  Her oldest son is an accomplished composer and plays many instruments. I can’t remember where he studied but he composed a number that the Pope selected to be played at one of his recent events.  Her 3 child is an actor and filmmaker and made the movie Confessions of a Prodigal Son.  Her 4th child completed her bachelor degree at the age of 20.  Joy is taking a year off from college to work 3 jobs, save her money and go to Oxford for her masters degree.  All of Sally’s children are successful adults but what I found most interesting is their love of the Lord and their conviction to share their love of the Lord with the world.

Here a few favorite quotes:

  • God must be the source of life, truth and strength in our home.  Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keep awake in vain.
  • Build life-long routines that bring life, beauty, legacy and love.  Galations 6:9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
  • “I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” –Robert Frost
  • Mentors are those who draw our what God has put into His design of the person under our influence.
  • Teach your children to live in a dark world, not to be afraid of it.
  • Let love be the basis of relationships in your home.
  • Accept limitations of their personality and minister to them according to their design.
  • Life Purpose – to glorify God, to serve His kingdom.  Matthew 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
  • Controlling children does not raise Godly children.  Teach them about choices; there are blessings and consequences to all choices.
  • Give children an appetite for work.
  • What we practice we become, what we sow we reap, what we water will grow.
  • Prepare your children for spiritual battle and suffering in their lives.
  • Where are you investing?  What story is your life telling?

And my favorite quote from the weekend is: Right is always right even if no one else is doing it.  Wrong is always wrong even if everyone is doing it.   I find this quote especially true in our current society.  We live in a time when evil is called good and good is called evil.  Without God’s word as our moral compass who decides what is morally right or morally wrong.

What is Repentance?

With the new year I wanted my own personal bible study and devotion to take on a particular theme or direction.  There are dozens upon dozens of ways to study through the bible.  I’ve tried the read the bible in a year thing and still haven’t completed the schedule.  (As a side note, reading through the bible isn’t necessarily the same as studying the bible.)  In the past I’ve also chosen a particular book in the bible to do an in-depth study.  I wanted to study something that would challenge my every day walk with the Lord.  It’s easy to get in a rut and just go through the motions.   After much prayer and contemplation I decided to study the commands of Christ.

John 14:15 says “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  

In order to keep his commandments I need to know what they are, study them and apply them to my life.  According to the sources I reviewed there are approximately 49 commands of Christ.  Some resources have a higher number but after reviewing the list I feel like several of them are very similar so I’m going to use the list of  49 commandments.

The first commandment of Christ I’m studying is the call to repent.  The Webster dictionary defines repentance as:  the action or process of repenting especially for misdeeds or moral shortcomings. 

Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Jesus calls us to repent of our sin.  Now, for those who call themselves Christian, down play sin and say Jesus was all about showing love to the world how do you handle this verse?  If sin is not really that big of deal why would Jesus call us to repent of our sin?  Yes, Jesus did come to show love to the world but no where in Scripture does it say sin really isn’t the issue as long as we show love (and by the world’s definition tolerance) to everyone around us.  It’s one of the ways many churches all over the world are watering down the Word of God.  Instead of preaching about the hard issues and holding their congregations accountable they want to soften it up and be liked and get more people in the door.

Acts 3:19 Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.  In this verse, Peter is calling on those listening to repent and be forgiven.  Again, if sin wasn’t an issue why would Peter be telling people they need to repent?  Why would forgiveness be needed if there isn’t truly sin in the world.  And, if there really isn’t sin in the world what did Jesus die for on that cross?

II Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  A Christian is saved by faith but our deeds, both good and bad, will be judged by Christ.  You can’t read this passage and not realize that without true repentance, the judgment we receive will be harsher.  Even if I’m saved by faith, if I sin and do not truly repent I will be judged for those deeds.  It’s kind of like saying “I know God, what I’m doing (fill in the blank) is sin but… it’s ok, you died on the cross for my sin so I don’t really need to repent.”

And finally, Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore, be zealous and repent.  Again, Jesus is speaking here and specifically says to be zealous and REPENT.  Hmmm…. I’m seeing a theme and the command to repent!

For me and my walk with the Lord, I realized through studying repentance that the almost 16 years I’ve been a Christian I’ve kind of skipped this command.  When I think of repenting I think of those ‘big’ sins… you know… I’ve never killed anyone, I’m not a thief, etc.  However, this past week the Lord has shown me I need to repent of ALL sin, even the ‘small’ ones.  The ugly thought I had about a family member, the cross words I said to my children, the disrespecting comment to my husband, the snarky comment to my mom (Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.  Exodus 20:12), the snarky comments about my mother-in-law.. the list could go on and on.  I need to repent of all my sin, not just if I’m an ax murderer.

Dear Precious Lord,

I’m in awe of your creation; all of it!  I’m overwhelmed with thanksgiving of all the mercy, forgiveness and love you have shown me since capturing my heart many years ago.  I can’t imagine the path I would be on had I not heard your call.  Lord, reveal to me the sins in my life and grant me the courage to confess and repent.  Thank you for the hope I have in Jesus.





Goals for a New Year?

I set goals in my mind; sometimes for homeschooling and sometimes for personal but I have never sat down and written them out.  Perhaps that is why I don’t seem to reach my goals very often!  I read this excellent blog post by Doorposts and it really gave me the desire to write out goals for myself and my family.

1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

It seems that I approach the new year, new day, new hour in survival mode.  I tend to focus on getting through each hour and each day.  That sounds like my life is terribly trying…. it isn’t!  Do I do all things to the glory of God?  Do I plan our day around daily bible time together?  Do my actions and words reflect an effort to bring glory to God?

I desire to be wise and intentional with my time.  Assessing how much time I spend in daily bible reading versus scrolling through Facebook.  Looking closely at how much time is spent with my head bent towards my smartphone or computer versus how much time I give my children undivided attention during the day.  Realizing that meal time with family is more productive without a smart phone sitting in front of me tempting me to see who’s posted the latest anecdote on FB, who has sent me an email since the last time I checked 2 minutes ago, who has played a word in Words with Friends, or the latest tweet.  NONE of those things are investments into my husband and children.  Hmmm… I’m seeing a theme here…. technology….. a big pull in our house and I’m no exception!

A quick brainstorm of personal goals….

  • Daily bible time with a plan
  • Daily bible time as a family
  • Get my head and focus out of FB and into family

Over the next couple of days I plan on going before the Lord and asking for wisdom on what my goals should be for 2015.  I’d like to set goals for spiritual growth in myself and our children, character traits I’d like to see in myself and our children, marriage goals (how can I be an encourager to my husband and build him up in the Lord) and of course goals for the school year.

1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Psalm 103

I’ve been digging deep into Psalm 103 recently.  The first 2 and last 3 verses are calls to praise and basically set the tone for the entire Psalm.  Included in the body of the Psalm are celebrations of personal benefits, God’s mercies to His people and declaration of the vastness of His love.  There is so much to meditate on in this Psalm… stick with me!

I made a list in my journal of who is called to bless the Lord according to Psalm 103.  According to this Psalm David says if you serve the Lord then you are called to bless Him.

  • my soul (verse 1)
  • all that is within me (verse 1)
  • His angels (verse 20)
  • His hosts (verse 21)
  • those doing His will (verse 21)
  • those doing His works (verse 22)

Then I made a list of all the phrases  that include the word ALL.

  • …all that is within me bless His holy name (verse 1)
  • …pardons all your iniquities (verse 3)
  • …heals all your diseases (verse 3)
  • …judgments for all who are oppressed (verse 6) (this does not always happen here in this life but God will deliver those that are oppressed.
  • …sovereignty rules over all (verse 19)
  • …all you His hosts (verse 21)
  • …all you works of His (verse 22)
  • …all places of His dominion (verse 22)

Verse 1 says to bless the Lord with all that is within me… ALL.  I thought about what ALL that is within me: my will, my affections, my desires, my hopes AND my thought life.  How can I kneel down before the Lord and show Him reverence in all of these areas?

My will – how can I bless the Lord with my will?  Perhaps being in His word daily as that is where I will learn what His will is and can make it my will.

My affections – how can I bless the Lord with my affections?  How about by loving those He loves?

My desires and hopes – do I desire what the Lord desires for my life?  Or are my desires worldly?

My thought life – this is a big one!  I can easily get caught up in thinking about things that take time and energy away from things the Lord wants me to ponder.

I have found that the more time I spend in the Word of God the more I can bless the Lord with my thoughts, desires, affections and actions.  I am not perfect in this… not even close.

One last note, in verse 2 it says forget none of His benefits.  I like to read this as remember ALL His benefits.  There’s that ALL word again.

I find great comfort and peace when I remember ALL His benefits.


This past week I focused on the book of Esther.  I find the book of Esther to be very interesting and thought provoking.

The first thing I noticed is that the name of our Lord is no where to be found in the book of Esther.  Although His name is not in the book the works of His hands are so evident!

The king was giving a large banquet that lasted seven days…. can you imagine serving food and drink to many, many people for seven days?  I get tired after one afternoon of entertaining!  Anyway, on the seventh day, after the king had become ‘merry with wine’ requested that his Queen come before him so that he could show off her beauty.  Queen Vashti refused and the king became very angry and removed her as Queen.  Seems a little harsh but God is working!

The king starts his search for a new queen and this is where Esther joins the story.  Esther found favor with the king and all of his servants and she eventually becomes his queen.  All this time never did she reveal to the king her kindred or her people just as Mordecai commanded her.  Mordecai became aware of a plot to kill the king.   Mordecai told Esther the plan and she told the king in Mordecai’s name.

There is another plot that Haman has devised and convinced the king to sign off on and that was to kill all the Jews.  Through Mordecai, Esther learns of this plot to kill her people.  Mordecai tells her she must go to the king but Esther knows that to do so would be very dangerous.  I love Esther chapter 4, verse 14 (NASB) “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish.  And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”  That is the Lord at work!

Esther musters up the courage to approach the king and tell of the evil plan of Haman and in the end Haman is hung on the very gallows he had prepared to have Mordecai hung on.  The Jews were saved, Mordecai was promoted and the Jews destroyed their enemies.

Where else is God’s hand shown in Esther?  Chapter 4, verses 16 and 17 “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day.  I and my maidens also will fast in the same way.  And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.”  So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him.  The people PRAYED!  God listened!

Esther mustered up the courage to approach the king… she said “if I perish, I perish.”  Wow!  God lifted Esther up ‘for such a time as this’ and because of her bravery her people were saved.

As I read Esther a verse came to mind… Philippians 2:15 “That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

Now, none of us are perfect and yes God does forgive our sins.  However, that does not mean it is ok to blatantly sin and then say to God ‘Well I know this is wrong but… I’m gonna do it anyway.’  Hmmm… that’s kind of off the topic of Ester isn’t it???

Anyway, when it came to saving her people Esther stood alone before the king and did what was right.

Am I able to stand alone and do what’s right?  I mean, let’s be honest, sometimes being a Christian is standing alone.  Especially in such a fallen world and being surrounded by so many who are convinced that there is no God or if there is that His love is all that matters, not sin.

I pray that I can be bold like Esther and stand alone, if I must, to go against  the ‘norm’ or politically correct in this world.

Thank you, Lord, for standing with Esther and for standing with all of us.