When you don’t have a clue … #BibleJournaling

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Do you believe in prayer? Or a better question might be, do you believe that God acts in response to our prayers?

Prayer was the sermon topic at church on August 6th. Jason, one of our talented young pastors, began his talk by reading the story of Peter encountering the lame beggar on his way into church. The beggar asked for money. Peter replied, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you” – Acts 3:6. Then he brought the man healing in Jesus’ name.

Jason suggested this, I think profound, paradigm for Christ-followers: “When we’re out of our resources, we’re not at the end of our service.”

So true! We may not have a clue about what to do and may not have anything to give. But we can invite Someone into the situation who has more than a clue and can make every difference!

Jason’s talk was a challenge to bring Jesus into situations through prayer, not only during formal prayer times but for each other in unlikely places, during and about the ups and downs of life. Through prayer, we can invite God’s limitless resources and power into difficult, even impossible circumstances. (You can hear/watch all of Jason’s sermon “Intro to Prayer Ministry” HERE.)

I journaled Jason’s statement in my Bible so I wouldn’t forget.

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Bible Art Journaling – Acts 3:6-8 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Faith, Life, and Leadership (review)

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Faith, Life and Leadership: 8 Canadian Women Tell Their StoriesFaith, Life and Leadership: 8 Canadian Women Tell Their Stories by Georgialee Lang

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I discovered that there was a book out with stories of Canadian women leaders, I knew I had to get it. Faith Life and Leadership: 8 Canadian Women Tell Their Stories didn’t disappoint.

In it eight prominent Canadian women tell, in first person, their stories of coming to leadership—stories as unique and different from each other as the positions they hold or held.

We hear from Lorna Dueck (broadcaster); Georgialee Lang (who served a prison term before she became a family law lawyer); Carolyn Arends (singer-songwriter, author, teacher); Deborah Grey (politician); M. Christine MacMillan (mover and shaker in the area of social justice working from within the Salvation Army); Janet Epp Buckingham (human rights lawyer); Joy Smith (politician, who helped draft legislation against human trafficking); and Margaret Gibb (inspirer and leader of Christian women across denominations in Canada and abroad).

Each account contains, as well principles of leadership that the writer experienced and now shares with us. In some of the stories the writers scatter those principles within the telling, so they’re not as easy to isolate. In others they are listed at the end.

I found the book fascinating. The women were strikingly varied. One was a confessed extrovert while another so shy she had trouble making friends all through school. Some came from good, supportive homes, others were forced to fend for themselves early. In each story, though, the path to leadership was long, beset by failures and crowned with successes, full of life learning, personal challenge, and stretching.

I loved the leadership principles each gave. Her are a few passages I highlighted:

“Character is at the core of how we lead. Character comes from our identity … and our identity shaped by Christ is a spiritual discipline helped much by loving friendships and our personal devotion to the Bible” – Lorna Dueck (Kindle Location 328).

“Faithful leaders are only as effective as they are dependent on God” – Carolyn Arends (KL 1247).

“Every leader I know has been influenced by someone who modeled the core aspects of leadership: character, integrity, and a strong work ethic” – Janet Epp Buckingham (KL 1906).

“Working in your giftings, calling and abilities always gives you energy” – Janet Epp Buckingham (KL 1933).

“God is mighty and God is near, working over and above what we desire for our lives and pulling us, like a magnet, to align with His plan” – Joy Smith (KL 2178).

“There are no shortcuts or 10 easy steps in leadership. All seasons, stages, and tests work together to ultimately achieve God’s plan and purposes” – Margaret Gibb (KL 2827).

I highly recommend Faith, Life, and Leadership to Christian women in Canada, indeed, Christian women anywhere. These inspiring stories show how God is never limited by our lacks, be those a good family, inborn leadership traits, money, talents and natural strengths, doors that seem to be closed, even opposition to the leadership of women from within the church. This book would make a wonderful resource for Christian women preparing for leadership and for women’s Bible study and reading groups.

This book is part of my own Kindle collection.

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#BibleJournaling about Job

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The Meditation

About six weeks go I signed up for Rebekah R. Jones’ Bible journaling instructional videos. A few days ago Lesson 4 in the Deeper Still series (2017) arrived by email. This tutorial is a meditation and art journal project on the book of Job.

Rebekah is uniquely positioned to hold forth on Job considering her own mysterious multi-year illness. Much of that time she was bedridden and her case seemed hopeless. You can read the story of her illness and healing HERE.

I appreciated her faith and tenacity in holding onto her belief in the goodness and love of God in spite of how she felt and how bad her circumstances looked. Her conclusion was to look at how God’s love shines through even in our suffering. Here’s her sum-up from the project meditation:

“… let’s use this study as a moment in personal history to step into a new understanding of God’s beautiful love for us. Let’s go deeper still with Him and invite Him into areas of our lives that seemed scary to trust Him with before today” (read the entire devotion HERE).

The Project

I used the drawing of the girl looking at a heart that Rebekah provided as a free download. But because my Bible doesn’t have any empty space at the end of Job (like hers did) and because I try to keep as much of my Bible’s text readable as possible, I transferred the drawing to tracing paper, colored it with pencil crayons, cut it out and taped it into my Bible as a tip-in.

I hand-lettered “LOOK AT LOVE” sideways in the margin using a letter style I liked from the Complete Guide to Bible Journaling.

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More Study

Questions from Job still niggled at me, however, and I felt I needed to search for more answers to the questions posed by Job’s suffering and how God’s love related to his suffering and ours.

One of the commentaries I read was the “Introduction to Job” in my favorite study Bible. These points from the “Personal Application” section repeated and reinforced what Rebekah said about viewing God as love, even in suffering.

I copied the points in brief on the under-side of the page as a reminder to myself of how the questions raised in Job, suffering—including ours—and God’s love fit together.

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Strong tower name #BibleJournaling

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A short while after I was introduced to Bible journaling, I was reading through Proverbs. When I came to Proverbs 18:10…

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower,
The righteous run into it and are safe”

a picture popped into my head of a tower, the bricks of which would be inscribed with the names of God.

I sat on this idea for a while, fearful that my limited artistic skill wasn’t up to reproducing the picture in my head. But then I decided to give it a try.

To draw the tower, I found photos of an actual tower in Portugal that looked sturdy and strong enough to be a place of refuge. (As I write this and search for the tower image again, I discover that it’s actually called the “Tower of Belem” in English: Bethlehem!)

I copied it as best I could, and then found a list of the names of God in my Thompson Chain Bible. Not all of them fit on the bricks, but many did. Some, like “I Am,” are repeated several times, because that name, associated with God and Jesus comes up many times and in different ways.

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In the Bible, the name of someone represents the essence of all he or she is. We are kept by all God is—His attributes of omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, love, holiness etc. It’s an amazing and comforting thought!

No Limits (review)

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No Limits: Blow the CAP Off Your CapacityNo Limits: Blow the CAP Off Your Capacity by John C. Maxwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though he’ll be 70 this year, John C. Maxwell is still going strong. No Limits, his latest book, gives readers an understanding of what drives him with lots of how-to on staying productive themselves long after one would expect their batteries to be drained.

The book’s organization is based on Maxwell’s formula for reaching maximum capacity: “If you grow in your awareness, develop your abilities and make the right choices, you can reach your capacity” – p. 2.

The first section of only two chapters, explores awareness. The second seven-chapter block focuses on abilities. Maxwell discusses abilities in many spheres including energy, emotion, thinking, people, and leadership. The last eleven-chapter section focuses on choices. It challenges readers to increase personal capacity and the capacity of the group they’re leading by making the right choices in areas like taking responsibility, being intentional, having a positive attitude, faith, being a good partner, and more.

Though the book targets leaders in the world of work, it also has much to offer individuals who lead in informal ways.

I found this book wide-ranging, positive, encouraging, and wise, though it did leave me wondering where Maxwell gets the seemingly boundless energy he has for work, family, and friends. His recitation of the activities of only one of his days left me tired. How does he manage to live such a full and productive life? I would say by actually living his own advice.

Even as I read it, I realized, this is not me. So, though I personally will not be trying everything in this book, I did find myself underlining passages all over the place and will, in the days ahead, implement more than one of Maxwell’s suggestions to hopefully boost my own capacity and productivity.

Here are a few of my favorite bits:

From Thinking Capacity: “Writing about an idea gives your thinking intellectual weight. It creates clarity in your thinking. Talking about an idea gives it emotional weight. It connects your thinking to your heart – p. 83.

From Creative Capacity: “You will become as creative as the amount of time you set aside for it…. There is a relationship between scheduling a time to be creative and being inspired to create” – p. 129.

From Production Capacity: “Find ways to focus your time and attention and work toward eliminating from your schedule anything that doesn’t have a high return” – p. 145.

From Character Capacity: “Good character uses the same standard in every situation. It something is right, it’s always right. If it’s wrong, it’s always wrong. People with good character are consistent” p. 190.

From Discipline Capacity quoting Steven R. Covey: “Once you have a burning yes inside you about what’s truly important, it’s very easy t say no to the unimportant” – p. 214.

This would be a great book for leaders in any field, as well as young people entering the work force, middle-aged workers who are considering where they’ve been and asking where to now, and healthy, energetic seniors who want to make the most of the years remaining.

I received No Limits as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

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Essentialism (review)

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Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of LessEssentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book after I heard Michael Hyatt interview Greg on one of his podcasts.

I probably read it a few years too late (although it wasn’t yet written when I could have used it—when my kids were little and I was juggling parenting, running my home-based business, homemaking, and volunteering at church).

The book deals in an organized way, from idea to execution, with the topic of paring down one’s life. McKeown, it seems, has done this himself and so understands the obstacles—the desire to please, the fear of missing out, how available our technology has made us to everyone.

I read a library copy of the book and so didn’t have the freedom to underline that I would have with my own copy. However, McKeown has highlighted some of his major takeaway points in the book’s format. Here are some that grabbed m attention.

“The ability to choose cannot be taken away or even given away—it can only be forgotten” p. 36.

“We can try to avoid the reality of trade-offs, but we can’t escape them” p. 54.

“Our highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritize” – p. 101.

“If it is not a clear yes, then it’s a clear no” – p. 109.

“The Latin root of the word decision—cis or cid—literally means “to cut” or “to kill” – p. 159.

What I took from this book were some ideas that weren’t new to me but by reading them here, were re-emphasized. I also felt affirmed in that some of these principles I’ve discovered on my own and they’re the way I live. For example McKeown speaks of the freeing power of routine (Chapter 18). I love my routines for exactly the reason he says they’re important: they preserve my decision-making energy for the important stuff.

Though this book hasn’t inspired me to make any huge changes, it has made me aware:
– I can’t do it all.
– It’s okay to say no.
– When I say yes to a new commitment, I’m saying no to something else.
– Bu focusing on less there’s a good chance I’ll accomplish more than by spreading myself thinly over many things.

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Miracles: Coincidence or Divine Intervention? (review)

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Miracles: Coincidence or Divine Intervention?Miracles: Coincidence or Divine Intervention? by John Murray Cpd

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After he had written a memoir about his childhood, John Murray’s wife asked him, “When are you going to write about your experiences in Eastern Europe?” Miracles: Coincidence or Divine Intervention? is that book.

In it Murray tells many fascinating stories from his twenty-year stint as the Executive Director of Euroevangelism Canada and supplements these anecdotes with Bible teaching.

The telling is organized in eight chapters, each titled with a question: “Does God Care?”, “Does God Answer Prayer?”, “Does God Heal?” etc. Within the chapters he relates incidents that happened to him and others that speak to the chapter’s question. He also explores what the Bible says, sharing rich insights developed over a lifetime of pastoral and missionary work. Each chapter ends with a “Guide for Group Study” section that includes a Bible reading and discussion questions.

I loved this book for its inspiring stories, like the one Murray tells in the chapter “Does God Protect?”:

Some Christians in Budapest had bought a derelict restaurant to renovate into a church. Due to low funds members of the congregation were doing most of the work. Every week the place was busy with volunteers.

Regularly on Friday mornings the church leadership had a prayer meeting to pray especially for the renovations. During one of these prayer meetings a deacon said he felt they should pray about the roof, though he didn’t know what to pray for specifically.

On a Saturday morning not long after, when forty people were working on the building, a man working in the rafters caught his hammer on something made of metal. The movement dislodged the object, it fell, and banged hard onto the concrete floor below.

The object turned out to be an unexploded WWII bomb which, the army bomb squad later told them, was live. The army men couldn’t figure out why it hadn’t exploded on impact (pp. 101-103).

I also loved this book for its teaching, like this bit from the chapter: “Does God Intervene?”:

“Whether we are looking for healing, for guidance, for comfort, or any other aspect of God’s intervention in our lives, we are encouraged to look in the right place. we have been given the Word of God so that God can speak through it. We have been given the privileged channel of prayer by which we can share with Him our devotion, our worship, our thanksgiving, and our supplications. We have been given the ministry of God’s Spirit within our lives to guide us in all areas. The Spirit of God is also the one who plants the gift of faith within us, so that we might look expectantly for God to work. We ask, and then we wait. The waiting is the most difficult part” p. 142.

The amazing stories and wise insights in John Murray’s Miracles: Coincidence or Divine Intervention? will help grow your faith high and deep. I recommend it.

This book is part of my own collection.

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