Heart Language

book-1760998_1920

This weekend more than ever I wish I had the language skills to understand Spanish. We were working in a community in Mexico and many times throughout the day I was asked questions that I could not answer. And even when I kind of got what they were saying to me, I lacked the vocabulary to respond in their language. We made it through though. They, with their patience and me, with pantomime and baby-talk. This was not the best-case scenario for building a relationship.

My own relationship with the Bible has had the same moments. The words, even though written in my language, were foreign to my ear. I read and listened, but much of it did not make sense. But over time, I began to catch on to some words and phrases along with the ideas behind them. This didn’t happen overnight. Much like language learning, I had to spend time reading and listening to grasp hold to their meaning.

I have a friend who moved to Germany to become part of the community there and share the story of Jesus with her neighbors. The first thing she had to do was learn the language. She had to immerse herself in the culture and listen to get the grasp of what her neighbors were saying. Little-by-little she became fluent. When I saw her recently, I could tell that English had actually become her secondary language. She now thinks in German, and when speaking to me she had to translate her thoughts back into English. Occasionally, she even started her sentence in German, and then realized it was English I needed. It was quite comical to see her face when she realized her mistake. But what can you expect after being living the language for ten years?

My point, I guess, is even the words of the Bible are a different language to worldly ears. They sound foreign and the ideas seem strange at first, but the more time spent ‘hearing’ them through study, the more we understand. The more we understand, the more they become part of us until we begin to talk and think with them. When God whispers them back to us throughout the day, we don’t have to guess what He is talking about because it has become the language we think in, as well.

Some people call the language they first learned their ‘heart’ language. In the case of my friend in Germany, her ‘heart’ language has changed. She now understands, speaks, and thinks in German. Even though I would love to speak Spanish fluently, I hope my ‘heart’ language will be the one found in the words of the Bible. Those are the words God inspired that will give me everything I need to live this life the way He would like me to. It will take time and diligence, but in the end, it will be worth it.

The good man brings good things out of the good treasury of his heart . . .
Luke 6:45


Hiding God’s word in my heart has developed time. One of the most effective ways I have found is using the SOAK method of study. It helps me to slow down and, you got it, SOAK in the word. Check it out in my post No Connection.

Also, I have co-written a devotional journal that uses the method and can help you get started. To find out how you can get a copy of Legacy: Living NOW for Future Generations, A study in Second Timothy leave your request in the comments.

When Helping Hurts

woman-1006100_1920

What do you do when helping hurts?

I have been faced with that question recently. No matter what I did in the situation, my ‘help’ was just prolonging the hurt. When I considered withholding my help, guilt came, bringing with it a flood of ‘what ifs” to my brain. “What would Jesus do” kept me second guessing my role. I felt helpless going forward and hopeless looking back. There was no consolation, only misery.

Still, what do you do when helping hurts?

In my case, I had to decide to let go of the situation, understanding it probably would grow worse. Heartbreaking when it is a loved one. Not an easy task. I struggled to keep my resolve. Keeping your hands off while keeping your heart engaged isn’t an easy thing to do. I can certainly attest to that, but the thing I had to realize is that God deeply loved this person and had a plan for them.

It’s possible that I was in the way. My helping was keeping their eyes on me and not allowing God to take center stage. This may be where the verse “For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭HCSB‬‬ comes in. ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The verse itself has nothing to do with rescue the way we would like it to mean, but rather growing us up through trials. I guess you can look it as strength training. In the case of the situation I was interfering with, my strength was being proven. I was also taking on the other person’s portion of the trial and doing all the heavy lifting, effectively blocking him from growing stronger. In my crusade to help, it was actually doing them a disservice. In the end, they would not be able to stand up against adversity. They simply would not have the muscles to do so.

Romans 5:2 talks about the same thing saying, “we boast in the hope of the glory of God. But not only that, we also glory in our sufferings.” Why? Because they give us a future and a hope. Through our suffering, perseverance is produced. Perseverance produces character, and character, hope. (Romans 5:4) With hope, we can stand in strength against whatever comes our way. Isn’t this what we want our struggling loved ones to possess?

So, what do we do when helping hurts?
  • Step aside and let them grow strong.
  • Be the one who allows the work to happen in their life.
  • And pray, pray, pray. Everyone needs a cheerleader.‬ ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12


 

Note: There has been no change that I can detect in the situation. God’s timing and a softened heart will need to align with each other. I am always reminded of do not “grow weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” I will continue to pray and offer encouragement where appropriate and watch for God who sees all things and loves all of us deeply to work out the details.

Practicing Small Things

cereal-1444498_1920

I wondered today,
Did I make a difference in the world?
I kissed babies,
Poured Cheerios,
Changed diapers.
But did I do anything that made a difference in the world?
I hugged tightly,
Read words,
Sang silly songs.
I wonder if those are things that can make any difference the world.

What would come from time spent living a simple, quiet life?
Would it pass away unnoticed?
Or return in the lives of those who were kissed, ate Cheerios, or joined in the singing?
Was the world different
By the moments of love,
The small offerings of service,
Or the delight in each other?
I wonder.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin . . . “
Zechariah 4:10

First Impressions

clotheyourself

“You can’t judge a book by its cover, but it does tell me whether I want to engage it or not,” my sister stated on Facebook the other day. I have no idea what she was referring to, but I have an idea it wasn’t a book. It made me chuckle. I had just had a run in with someone who claimed to be a Jesus follower but from the attitude she was wearing, I wasn’t so sure.

Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 13:14

What does it mean to be to be clothed in Christ?

This may be where people find difficulty. Do we know what Jesus looks like? We use a lot of statements about what the Bible says, but how often do we think about how Jesus interacted with the world around Him? When was the last time you investigated the Scriptures to see how Jesus did things? I must admit I spend more time in the instruction found in the letters of the New Testament texts than in the actual stories of Jesus showing us how it’s done. How about you?

To know what it means to clothe yourself with Christ, you will first need to know what He looks like. Let’s take a peek. Our very first glimpse of Jesus acting on His own sets the stage for the rest of us. Start here by reading the story in Luke 2:41-52. I’ll wait.

Seek

In this tiny bit of Scripture, we get to see a snippet of His childhood. Right from the beginning, Jesus is demonstrating to us the importance of seeking God. Here we find Him in the temple courts. Jesus went to the place where He was sure to find what He was looking for. I know, I know, you’re right when you point out that Jesus was always in God’s presence since He was God. But He was also a man, living a man’s life. If we look at His life lived here on earth, we can learn how to live ours better. In this case, He shows seeking is good but there’s more. Jesus also submitted His life to God, His Father. His first recorded words reveal His heart in this when He said, “Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business.” Luke 2:49 KJV

Learn

Along with seeking and submitting, Jesus was also listening and asking questions. In my last post How’s Your Spiritual Life Going, we investigated the importance of taking time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His teaching. Jesus goes a step farther here and shows us to ask questions as we search for wisdom. There is a young woman in my Bible study group who is always full of questions. I love this girl and her bravery to investigate what she does not know. As a new Christian, there is much for her to discover in God’s word. Let’s face it, there’s much for all of us to discover no matter how well versed we think we are. When we stop asking the questions, we will also stop growing. Questioning is a sign of the desire to move forward and grow.

Obey

Finally, Jesus shows us the importance of obedience. This story ends with Jesus living in obedience. Our obedience to the Lord is key to living a life that wins God’s approval and is attractive to those around us. Proverbs 3 puts it like this—“My son, do not forget my teaching but keep my commands in your heart for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you. Bind them around your neck, write them on the table of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:1-4 NIV

Do you see something familiar here?

The passage in Luke ends with these very words. “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52 NIV It all came from seeking God out, learning all He could from Him, and living according to His ways.

In a sense, this story begins with the submission of the heart and ends with the practicing of submission in life. If we follow Jesus’s lead, our outside will tell the world exactly what’s on inside. To look like Jesus, we can’t just believe in Him. We must do what He did. The result will be a beauty the world will want to engage.

Those who say they live their lives in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
1 John 2:6 NLT


What is your favorite story about Jesus? What do you learn from His example that can become a part of how you live?

 

 

How’s Your Spiritual Life Going?

 

measurement-krawiecka-3176118_1920

Argh!

Once again, I was ripping out all the stitches on my sweater project. My work was all wrong according to the gauge, and when that happens— well let’s just say—things don’t turn out like they are supposed to. In my case, if I kept going, I would end up with something that wouldn’t fit. My only solution was to admit my mistake and start again, this time using the right gauge.

Gauge: something that could be used to measure or judge something else

Have you ever been working hard at life and found that you used the wrong gauge to measure how you were doing? I know I have. I have been caught up in tasks and feeling overwhelmed with everything I have to do.

We live in an accomplishment driven world. When asked about who we are, we often answer with what we do—a parent, a teacher, an entrepreneur, an artist, etc. When asked about how we’ve been, the word ‘busy’ is on our lips. Sound familiar?

So, how is your spiritual life going?

You know, the one you share with God. Do you answer with who you are in ministry or what you are doing to serve? There again, we like titles and accomplishments. They’re tangible. When was the last time you answered that question with, “I have been spending a good deal of time sitting at the feet of Jesus?” Perhaps never.

Perhaps a new gauge is in order.

There is a story in the Bible about a gal named Martha. Maybe you have heard of her. Check out her story here. She was a close friend of Jesus, providing hospitality to Him and His entourage when they came to town. Martha was good at what she did, and she filled a role that was needed. You might even say it was her calling.

There did come a day when she was a bit overwhelmed with the preparations for an event that was happening. I can identify. Just before everything comes together, there seems to be a moment when it feels like it’s just too much. Do you know what I’m talking about? Martha’s solution was to demand that Jesus do something.

Here’s Jesus’s answer, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” Luke 10:41 NI

I’m sure Martha is thinking, “Yes, and what is needed is for someone to help me!” But that is not what Jesus was referring to. That one thing she needed was to spend time with the Guest of Honor. She, like many of us who have gotten busy doing many good things, had forgotten Who the party was for. Have you been there?

How IS your spiritual life going?

As you think about your answer, consider what you are using to measure it with. The best gauge to set your life to has nothing to do with accomplishments, status, or giftedness. That’s the world’s appraisal of success, and boy, do they ever keep us distracted. Jesus says time spent with Him is BETTER than anything.

With that in mind, perhaps it’s time to start fresh, using a new gauge to measure what’s important. The thing is, when we get that in order, we feel less overwhelmed because we have invested in something better—time spent with Jesus. With our spiritual lives intact, life seems to fit better. It’s worth the time to make it right.

If you’re wondering where to start, reading the Bible stories of Jesus found in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is a good place. Then, if you want to go deeper, my last post No Connection contains a method of Bible study that I have found very effective. It is my prayer that you make space to meet with Jesus regularly. There’s nothing better than sitting at His feet.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing comes through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17

 

 

 

No Connection

https://pattyschell.com/2018/03/08/no-connection/
Sorry, the Bible App is unable to communicate with the server and you have no offline versions. Please check your data connection and try again.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. No offline versions? I had not thought about downloading a Bible because I was nearly always connected to the internet and never far from my Smartphone. But I now was in the middle of the Caribbean on a ship with no internet. And, I left my paper version behind due to space and weight.

I must admit I felt a little panicked.

Most of you are thinking, “Relax, it’s only a week. You’ll live.”

And I did. There have been many times in the past that I have gone days without looking into God’s word, but just the idea that I couldn’t access the Scriptures when I wanted, was pretty upsetting.

All the while I was at sea, I could still scroll through information that had previously been downloaded to my phone. Things like past posts on Facebook, pictures I had taken, and old emails were kept right in its system and I could access them without an internet connection. But alas, I had not stored away a copy of the Bible on my phone, and now it was out of reach.

But wait!

I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11 NIV

Truth be told, I have stockpiled a fair amount of God’s words in my heart over the past few years. In the process, I have formed a connection with God and His Holy Spirit that didn’t exist before. I now hear Him more clearly. Often, He speaks His words to me just when I need encouragement as in “I am with you always.” At times, I hear Him express words of action, reminding me to “love my neighbor” or “never grow tired of doing good”. And more than I like to admit, He calls me back to His path saying, “Do not be wise in your own eyes.”

That last bit reminds me I need the Word to live well in this world. Even now, I am reminded that Jesus who was fully God, yet also fully man used God’s Word to rise up over the temptation Satan threw at Him. See the story for yourself here in Luke 4. And in John 8:28, Jesus tells us that He does nothing on His “own initiative.” He lived in submission to God’s Word, and in doing so, He showed us how to live a holy life in a worldly place.

What is the process of hiding God’s Word in your heart so that you can follow in Jesus’ footsteps?

I suppose there are many ways to engage God’s Word, but one that I have found helpful is to look into small sections of it at a time. I use a method called SOAK: Scripture, Observation, Application, and Kneel.

I copy a small portion of Scripture into my journal. When I take time to write it out in my own hand, it causes me to slow down. It’s like a bike ride versus a car trip. I notice things going five miles per hour that I would never have seen going seventy. It may be a word or phrase that draws my attention and calls me to pause and think.

That’s where Observation comes in. This is where I will stop and take a longer look at the scenery. I may look up the word in the dictionary or lexicon. Perhaps I will cross-reference to see where the same idea shows up elsewhere in the Bible or seek out commentaries to see what others thought about the verses. I may even have seen something similar in my own experience that brings the thoughts to a personal level.

Which brings me to a ‘selfie’ moment. All good adventures call for some pictures. This is where I put myself in the lesson. How do I Apply what I have seen in my life? Is God teaching me something? Is He showing me a different perspective? Is there action I need to pursue now or information I need to store away for later?

Once I determine how the words of the Bible apply to me, an action may be required.

Kneel may not fit my bike ride scenario perfectly, but it may be the most important destination when it comes to looking into God’s Word. This is where I respond to what I have learned. Do I submit to God and His ways? This is a key step in hiding God’s word inside. I must respond to its teaching and make it part of who I am. My actions are what connect God’s word with my heart.

I’m not sure that I can even imagine a life without a connection to God. If you feel like you are disconnected, I urge you to take time to look into the words of the Bible. These days, you have access wherever you are on the device that is probably in your hand right now. Just one tip—Be sure to download a copy.

I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Psalm 119:59 & 143:10 NIV

What’s your favorite passage from the Bible at the moment?

Adventuring On

compass-2946958_1920
January brought some exciting adventures to the Schell household.

We have journeyed to places we have never been, doing things we have never done. It has been a wonderful experience.

Our year started off with the purchase of a second home in Oklahoma. It was one of those things we knew was right even when we couldn’t imagine how everything would fit together. But there is no adventure in standing still, so we jumped it, and the result was perfect. It’s just down the road from our girls. We have land to grow things on, woods to explore, and a roomy house we hope to welcome lots of friends and family into. To top it all off, our new town, Guthrie, was named the cutest small town in the state.

So what does any sane individual do . . .

when in the middle of negotiating prices, ordering inspections, and signing papers to purchase a home do? They set sail for Central America where they will be totally out of reach, of course. And that’s just what we did. When we planned to travel in January, we had no idea we would be purchasing a house, but the thing of it is—all went on as planned without us. We relaxed and enjoyed our time exploring places when had never been. We met new people and learned of their stories, enjoyed some good food, and saw many interesting things, some of which I’m sure will find their way into future posts on this blog.

Life has a way of surprising us sometimes.

We found that to be very true over this last month. When we headed for Oklahoma to spend Christmas with the girls, we had no idea we would be buying a house, too. And even the plans we had made for our travel were greatly enhanced by the unknown. It was the people and places outside our expected itinerary that made the trip memorable.

We, humans, tend to map out our lives in our perfectly devised plans and expectations, but God often has a very different course that will really wow us. It makes me think of the Yiddish proverb “Man plans and God laughs.” I think He chuckles at us simply because He knows what’s coming and He can’t wait to see our reaction. I imagine our look of awe and wonder please Him much like the pleasure we receive when our children discover something new.

I have said it before and I will now say again—

God has the best adventures.

Everyday contains something He wants us to see and experience. There is something truly amazing about walking with God. He has a way of giving us the best views that have the potential to bring the most impact to our lives. Whether or not it has any effect will depend on our willingness to trust and follow Him. What can we lose? Nothing, and what will we gain? Just an amazing journey through life with the Creator of the Universe.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
“1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT

Keep watching for the adventures as they come. You never know what you might experience. Follow me. I’m happy to share mine.