Keep on Swimming. . .

everyday life inside the fishbowl

Learning to Love God’s Word, Psalm 119-style

open bibleHave you ever read Psalm 119 and felt guilty that you don’t love God’s Word like the psalmist? Or have you ever thought–Wow! I wonder what it’s like to feel so passionate about the Bible?!

(Or do you just skim through that chapter anyway when it comes up because it is so. incredibly. long–especially when you were just able to breeze through 117?)

Here’s a taste of the psalmist’s love of and dependence on God’s Word in Psalm 119:

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all day. (97)

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (103)

I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold. (127)

Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. (129)

I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments. (131)

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. (148-149)

Do you feel that way about God’s Word?

I have been in that place where I know that God’s Word is good. I know that it is helpful. I know that I should read it. And so I read.

But I did not necessarily “open my mouth and pant, because I long” to read God’s Word.

But now I do. I can truly, honestly say, “Oh how I love your law!” “How sweet are your words to my taste.”

What changed?

Ever since having children, I have struggled–as most moms do–with squeezing in quiet time. For me, I know that if I don’t get that time in the morning, it’s just not going to happen. That is the time I also tried to exercise, after which I would read my Bible. Getting up early is challenging enough, but getting up early to exercise–something I’ve traditionally not enjoyed–was not motivating, even though I knew I’d read my Bible after.

A few months ago, I decided that I needed to adjust my schedule. I decided to exercise a few times a week during the kids “quiet” time. (I’m actually more motivated to do this now, because my husband bought me a pair of Bluetooth headphones, and I listen to audiobooks off my library app. I actually look forward to this now!)

This has allowed me to save my morning quiet time for time with the Lord. I prepare my coffee every night, and I have 45 minutes to 1 hour at least 5 days a week to read. Because I enjoy my quiet time, and because I’ve grown in my love for and desire to read God’s Word, I have been extremely motivated to get up. I have not intentionally slept through my alarm once!

I say all this to explain the practical changes I had to make in order to prioritize having a consistent time with the Lord. Once I had this time, I actually had the time to do more than read a few verses, a psalm, or the proverb of the day.

I found the time to thoroughly study individual books of the Bible.

I truly believe that this is what is key to loving God’s Word. Reading God’s Word is good. But studying God’s Word with a heart to know it fosters a vibrant love and desire for God and His Word.

Think of the things you really love. How did your love for that thing, hobby, study, or person develop? It likely did not just pop up in your heart. You invested time, energy, and interest in it.

Love for God’s Word is not necessarily a natural instinct for a believer either. You must invest time, energy, and interest in it as you would anything else.

I would go further and say that we should invest more time, energy, and interest in what truly brings life to a believer, God’s Word. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 when he says,

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Do you really believe that?

Studying God’s Word takes work. It takes more time and mental energy than simply reading through some verses. Obviously there are those days, when that is all one may have time for. But knowing God’s Word requires studying it. And studying God’s Word fosters love for God’s Word.

In the future, I will post some tips on how to study God’s Word and some resources for doing so. Just know that studying God’s Word does not require a seminary degree, a knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, or even access to a commentary. It requires a Bible, pen and paper, and a heart that recognizes that

Your testimonies are wonderful;

therefore my soul keeps them.

The unfolding of your words gives light;

it imparts understanding to the simple.

I open my mouth and pant,

because I long for your commandments.

(Psalm 119:129-131)

 

{On Wednesdays, I share from a book, blog, or other resource some “worthy words.” I love to read, but my time for reading has been much decreased since the birth of my first child. I am encouraged when I am able to read snippets of precious truth as I come across them. Hopefully these few words will encourage your heart, as well as give you a resource for fuller reading as your time allows.}

 

Advertisements
2 Comments »

Tasty Tuesday: Almond Joy Coconut Milk Ice Cream

almond joy coconut milk ice creamMy friend, Sarah, recently told me that she made some coconut milk ice cream, to which I intelligently replied, “Does it taste like coconut?” 😉 When she told me that it was only made with coconut milk, honey, and vanilla, I knew I had to at least try it. I’m not a huge fan of coconut, but I do like some things with coconut. Like Almond Joy candy bars. And Mounds candy bars. So. . . I thought I’d work a little magic with the coconut milk and turn it into something yummy, and it worked!

I searched Pinterest for a basic coconut milk recipe, and finally hit this recipe from the Nourishing Gourmet. I followed the basic recipe exactly, then added the almonds and chocolate chips. I only used 1/3 cup of honey this time, but I think I will use ½ cup next time. It needed just a tiny bit more sweetness in my opinion.

Ingredients:

2-14 ounce cans of full fat coconut milk (I chilled mine)

1/3-1/2 cup of honey

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

½ cup chopped almonds

½ cup of chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet, but I think dark chocolate would be delicious too.)

Directions:

Combine the coconut milk, honey, and vanilla extract in a bowl, whisking well. If your coconut milk was not chilled, you may need to put you milk mixture in the fridge for a couple hours (or per your ice cream maker’s instructions). Follow ice cream maker’s instructions to make the ice cream. In the last 5 minutes of mixing, add the almonds and chocolate chips.

ice cream 3Place the softened ice cream in a shallow container.

Cover with plastic wrap, so that the plastic wrap is lying against the ice cream (to prevent freezer burn), followed by a lid.  Freeze for  2+ hours. I didn’t do this, but I did think that some toasted coconut served on top would be delicious!

Enjoy!

Calvin and Mackenna Ice cream

My kiddos enjoyed watching the ice cream form. I must admit, I always get a kick out of watching the transformation from liquid to ice cream too! 🙂

ice cream 1ice cream 2

 

 

 

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

Leave a comment »

Tasty Tuesday: Baked Pineapple Casserole

photo (6)I finally completed my Christmas dinner shopping last night. It was pretty crazy out there! I feel a little late with my prep this year, but–hey–I’m a busy pastor’s wife and a mom of 3! 🙂 If you are still planning your menu and looking for a side dish to go with your ham, this recipe is perfect! Turkey dinners are always easy to plan for me, because the stuffing is a natural accompaniment for the turkey. But I’ve always had a harder time choosing sides with ham (personally, I like scalloped potatoes or baked mac & cheese, but my husband wanted something different this year). A couple years ago, a friend had us over for a ham dinner, and she made this pineapple casserole. As soon as I tasted it, I knew it was the perfect accompaniment for ham! I forgot to get the recipe from her, but I found something very similar (if not the same) at allrecipes.com  I did alter the recipe slightly, reducing the butter and sugar by half and increasing the amount of bread. I also highly recommend using the crushed pineapple in juice, not syrup. This recipe takes less than 20 minutes to prep and about 1 hour to bake. It serves about 6.

Ingredients

¼ cup butter, softened

½ cup sugar

4 eggs

1 pinch ground cinnamon (optional)

1 pinch ground nutmeg (optional)

8 slices white bread, torn (use a firm bread like French or Italian)

1 20-oz can crushed pineapple in juice (undrained)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Grease a medium-sized casserole dish.

2. In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg if you are using them. Add bread and crushed pineapple, stirring gently to combine.

3. Transfer to baking dish and bake until bubbly and lightly browned, about 1 hour.

Enjoy!

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious!}

Leave a comment »

Thursday Thoughts: Ministry is Not Just for the Paid Professionals

Paul Tripp’s last message at the Revive Conference, “What does it look like to be a woman who helps women” (you can listen to it here), was another winner. His text was Colossians 3:12-17. This text is on my chalkboard in my dining room. It is one of my favorite passages. It is also an extremely convicting passage!

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I kind of wondered where he was going to go with this text, because there is so much that could be said!  As he talked through the text, I began to see. . .

He reminded us of the first part of the chapter which states that every Christian’s life has been “hidden with Christ” (v 3). We, then, put off sinful behavior and put on Christ-like behavior. Why do we call compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, love, thankfulness, peace, etc Christ-like? Because Christ was those things. Because when Christians put on Christ, they put on Colossians 3:12-17 behavior!

And this, Paul said, is the Savior’s plan for normal Christianity. Grace-living, he called it.

Okay, we’re good so far. . .  But then he nailed it when he started talking about the Church with phrases like “God’s total involvement paradigm” and “organic ministry community.”

What was his point? His point was that ministry is not to just be done by your pastor.  Ministry, making God’s invisible grace visible to others, is to be done by every believer. All the time. Every believer is called to the ministry.

 But too often we, as Paul pointed out, live our lives like we actually own them. I gave my offering this week, accompanied the church choir, worked my slot in the nursery, brought donuts to Bible study, and attended prayer meeting. I did my ministry for the week. Now, it’s the pastor’s job (this is why we pay him, right?) to prepare all the messages, organize all the outreach, do all the counseling, pray for everyone, teach & admonish everyone in the church, and be completely compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, forbearing, forgiving, loving, peaceful and thankful all the time.

Wrong.

Every believer must give himself to the ministry as an ambassador of Jesus Christ. We don’t get to pick and choose when and how we want to serve and show God’s grace to others.  We can’t let fear (that we won’t measure up to what we teach) or amnesia (forgetting who we are in Christ) hinder us from ministering all the time.

“The Gospel is not an aspect of theology; it is your life,” Paul said, reminding us of Col 3:16-“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Everyone is a teacher and a counselor. When people present a problem to you or ask you a question (about anything!), you either minister the Gospel or you give anti-Gospel advice. People don’t need to know what you think about anything. They need to hear the truth.

Every believer is an ambassador of Christ, not an owner of his life. We need to live like it. We need to be willing to complicate our lives, get up early, stay up late, give up our money and time. We need to get up when we fail and are broken and watch what Jesus will do (rough quote from Paul).

Are you an ambassador or an owner? Is your life ministry or do you leave that for your pastor? Think of what an encouragement you could be to your pastor if you whole-heartedly gave yourself to ministering in your church, in your home, in every aspect of life. Think of the impact you could have on others as you let others see Christ in and through you!

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

1 Comment »