Tears As Anguish, Tears As Gift

Take heart, the exercises on pages 42- 45 are challenging. This is a difficult concept. Blogging is one of many tools available to assist you in this study. It is meant as a source of encouragement. If you aren’t comfortable putting your thoughts are the internet, that is ok! Don’t let this format be a hinderance to your spiritual growth. Personally, I have found these questions difficult to express on the blog, so you are not alone. I know we will have a wonderful discussion on Monday.

Don’t forget class on Monday… there will be cake!

I hope the last two weeks have provided everyone the opportunity to spend some time working through Week 2, Embracing Our Spiritual Poverty. As a reminder, we will discuss the reading from pages 27-31, and our responses to the exercises on pages 32- 35. While we will touch on every question, I was especially drawn to questions 4 and 5. The tax collector in Luke 18:9-14 gives us a model for our prayer life while the Pharisee in the same story serves as an example of the easy pitfalls we all face in our daily walk.  I look forward to discussing this as a group.

In Philippians 2:1-11, Paul celebrates how Jesus exemplified being poor in spirit. I hope by discussing these verses as group we can learn from the example set by Jesus.

The second half of the class will be spent in prayerful mediation over Psalm 23. This Psalm has brought comfort to so many and I look forward to using it Monday to deeper our understanding of being poor in spirit.

My goal is for Monday’s class to encourage each of you on this journey. I realize many of the exercises are different then what we are accustomed to. I ask that you keep an open mind to the different approaches used in this curriculum and humble yourself to this process of spiritual formation. Personally, I have already gained so much from the exercises. At times they are awkward, unfamiliar, and hard to answer. Those feelings are to be expected. I pray this journey will lead you to a closer relationship with Jesus.

As for the cake, my birthday is Saturday and Kent is making a cake to share with the class. I won’t call anyone else out, but I know mine isn’t the only birthday this weekend.

This entry was posted on January 25, 2013. 2 Comments

Reflections from yesterday…..

Following our class yesterday, I felt a lightness in my step for the rest of the day. Our time together was so powerful and uplifting. I want to thank each of you that stepped out in faith and shared your spiritual journey. Through the sharing of our experiences, we became close as a community and I was able to see providence of God in each one of us. His guiding hand was evident in every story told. As a result of our discussion, I finally understand spiritual poverty. While a tough concept to grasp, I was able to recognize spiritual poverty through the sharing of our life experiences. The class yesterday will always be an experience I keep close to my heart.

When my sister suggested this study to me, she told me this study made the Beatitudes come alive for her. In class yesterday, they became alive for me. They are no long a set of blessings bestowed on a group of people in biblical times or a group of ‘those other people suffering with things I can’t relate to’. I realized yesterday the Beatitudes are a constant dialogue between me and Jesus Christ. At any point in my day, I feel can feel closer to one blessing over another. For example last night during communion, I felt content with myself- no more, no less. Today might hold something different.

Matthew 5 translated from Eugene Peterson’s The Message has been instrumental in my understanding of these difficult teachings. I hope it helps you all as well in your daily relationship with Christ.

5 1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

We’re Off to a Great Start!

Our first Monday morning class just finished and I am even more excited about this study. Is that even possible? What a wonderful group of women to embark on this spiritual journey. Just a few notes to clarify the schedule for the upcoming week.

First, it is not too late to join. We meet at 10:00AM at LifePoint UMC in the Fellowship Hall. All 20 ordered books have been passed out. That’s fantastic! If you need a book, order one from amazon.com. The title is The Way of Blessedness and the ISBN# is 978-0-8358-0992-4.

Second, the next 7 days provide a chance for participants who just received the book to catch up. If this is you, read the introduction and Week 1, pages 17-23. Review the exercises on pages 24-25, journal in your paper journal and feel free to add comments to the links on the right.

Third, Next Monday we will discuss the questions on the Sharing Spiritual Journeys page I passed out in class, and review week one for those who are new. If you are following the same schedule as me, I will blog about question 1 tomorrow. If you are a blog only participant, I will email you the questions.

I will be praying for each of you by name over the next week. As always, email or call me with any questions you have.

 

 

 

This entry was posted on January 7, 2013. 2 Comments

The Books Arrive Today!

After months of behind the scenes praying and planning, the books are ordered and we are ready to start our study on the Beatitudes. This blog is intended to provide information about the weekly class meetings and provide a place for our group to share our reflections during this journey. I hope this space will allow women to participate in the Bible Study who aren’t able to attend a class during the day.

The Way of Blessedness is a 10 week study that begins January 7 at 10:00AM – 11:30AM in the LifePoint UMC Chapel. The Way of Blessedness is from the Companions in Christ series. I have ordered books in bulk from Cokesbury and have them for a discount price of $10.  The books arrive today and I will bring them to church Sunday.

In order to finish before Easter, we need to hit the ground running and discuss the first chapter in our first meeting on Jan 7. Instructions for the first day can be found by clicking on the link to the right ‘Week 1 Jan 7: Exploring the Blessed Life.’ I will start my daily reading on Jan 1 and add to the blog on Jan 2 in preparation for the first class. I encourage you to do the same.  If you are participating in this study via blog only and want to keep the same schedule as the class, realize the class meets on Mondays, therefore Tuesday will be the reading day and Exercise 1 will fall on Wednesday, Exercise 2 on Thursday and so on.

This study came highly recommended to me years ago and I have been interested in participating or leading this study since then but the timing hasn’t been right. The Beatitudes are Jesus’ first teachings from the Sermon on the Mount. They are located in Matthew 5:3-10. Through these teachings, Jesus tells us how he wants us to be on the inside. Another class participant described them as a type of 10 Commandments for our heart. This study is focused on spiritual formation and your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Keeping a daily journal is the foundation of this study.

When I first mentioned journaling at the class last Fall, it was met with much hesitation and skepticism. This blog arose out of that conversation as a way to make the entire process less intimidating. During the season of Advent, I, with a couple other women, practiced sharing our reflections on the Advent devotion in this blog. I can tell you after the initial awkwardness, it become a transformational way to focus my thoughts and deepen relationships between the other blog participants. My Advent Season was more peaceful and focused as a result of this process. I pray you will step outside your comfort zone and give this method a chance.

This entry was posted on December 28, 2012. 3 Comments

A New Look!

Welcome to the LifePoint UMC Women’s Bible Study blog. If this is your first time visiting, I am so excited you are here. I feel strongly this tool has the potential to connect the women of LifePoint UMC to each other in a new way. It has been years since I have felt so much excitement over a new ministry. Please explore the set up I am experimenting with before the major launch of our Beautitudes study in January.

My goal is to have every women interested in the study to have visited this blog at least once and be comfortable with the site before we start January 7. Check our the link to our church website and the calendar feature at the bottom. I am still figuring out the calendar feature, but it looks like a really neat tool. Take a couple of minutes and click on the chapters from A Different Kind of Christmas. I encourage you to add a comment if you feel led. Even if you haven’t read any of the chapters or aren’t comfortable leaving a reply yet, please just wish me a Merry Christmas and tell me if you are interested participating in the January study. Books are $10 and I will be placing a bulk order shortly.

One question you might have is Can I participate in the study if I am not able to attend the class on Mondays. We know small group interactions are  the core to deepening our relationships with each but. But work and school schedules, sick children and day to day life make it difficult to commit to a Bible Study.  My intention is this blog will bridge that gap. If your schedule allows, I encourage you to attend the group session on Mondays. If that doesn’t work, and often it doesn’t, I hope you will do the daily reading from the devotion book, read the comments from others in our church family and blog your thoughts. I hope this site will help you will feel a part of the group from your home. You will get more comfortable with this process, I promise. This is a major step outside of my comfort zone, and I hope you will take a step with me and see where this takes us.

I pray you enjoy a peaceful Advent season and you join me on this journey of preparation. Thanks for your patience. 2013 looks like a great year for our wonderful church.

This entry was posted on December 6, 2012. 5 Comments

A Different Kind of Christmas

During the Advent Season, I will blog about the book A Different Kind of Christmas by Mike Slaughter. Maybe I should say I will try to blog, because I have typed this post three times and my text hasn’t shown up. Maybe this time it will take! Hopefully, the chapter titles will appear to your right. Click on the chapter you are currently on and add a comment.

This entry was posted on November 29, 2012. 2 Comments