How to S.O.A.P. your quiet time

SOAP-Quiet-TimeOver the years, I have been involved in many MANY Bible studies. I’ve always appreciated the accountability that studying together brings with it. Whether the facilitator or participant, I enjoyed the fellowship and the insights/questions from others in the group.

For the past couple of years I have been blessed to be part of an online study group called Good Morning Girls. It is designed to get women into the Word by reading small sections of Scripture and then meditating on a few assigned verses. I can honestly say that this S.O.A.P. approach to Bible study has been a delightful discovery for me.

The next study begins on January 20. Please click this link to the Good Morning Girls blog and learn what S.O.A.P. is all about.

And, if you’re interested in joining a group, let me know. I co-facilitate an international group on facebook…we would love to have you join us!

Lessons from Mark

“…rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”

mark02So many important lessons learned from just the first chapter of Mark.

But probably none so crucial as the fact that Jesus was a man of prayer.

Or should I better say:  Jesus IS a man of prayer. Sitting at the right hand of the Father and interceding for you and for me.

How can any one of us believe that we can do anything of value without prayer?

Make a plan. Work hard. Reassess. Work. Work. Work.

Jesus certainly didn’t just work, work, work. He sought the will of his Father and through prayer he discerned what to do next. Why wouldn’t we??

Lord, help me to remember that it’s YOUR strength that I need, not mine.

And it’s YOUR sovereign plan, not mine.

And it’s for YOUR glory, not mine.

Why read the Bible?

I was just reading an article about why to have babies…and the reasons that people give for delaying starting their families (Why Have Babies?). I am always a bit sad when I realize that I was listening to people/culture when we stopped having children after only three in just under two years. Yes, twins were first. Then a handsome singleton to go with his beautiful sisters. Not being a believer at that time, we could only wrestle with financial/energy/whatever issues from our own experience and those around us.

But that’s not what hit me in the article. A closing paragraph spoke such truth about ANY issues, not just whether or when to bear children:

“It’s not that we weren’t reading the Bible. We were, but we were reading with an eye toward what we hoped to get out of it, rather than coming to it to learn what the Bible says about God. We are people of our age — influenced by the world around us that says you read the Bible for what you can get from it. God calls us to something different. Scripture tells us that we are responsible for studying God’s Word, for hiding it in our hearts, for knowing what God commands and obeying Him.”

191How often we ‘use’ the Bible to support our personal agendas (or ignore it if it conflicts with already-made decisions). As we start a new year — often with fresh goals of digging into God’s Word on a regular basis — may we pray for each other to slowly taste the WHOLE counsel. Chew on what you’re reading. Meditate. Pray for understanding. Get to know God this year. He has so much to tell you about what He’s already done for you. Throw away your agenda. His is so much better. And He will be with you to give you the strength and wisdom and joy to see all things through. After all, He did ordain all things.

So looking forward to amazing insights this year.

The will of God and evil

220px-John_Calvin_2As we continue going through John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, I find myself thinking and rethinking what we are reading. Like, for example, this excerpt from a section on God, His will, providence and evil.

“For it would not be done if he did not permit it; yet he does not unwillingly permit it, but willingly; nor would he, being good, allow evil to be done, unless being also almighty he could make good even out of evil.”

And this:

“For our wisdom ought to be nothing else than to embrace with humble teachableness, and at least without finding fault, whatever is taught in Sacred Scripture.”

Just because we might not understand everything that is written in Scripture concerning God — some will always be a mystery — does not give us the right to change it. Oh, we hear so often about how a good God wouldn’t allow that, or an almighty God would certainly prevent that from happening, or a loving God would never permit that. (Not to mention the oft-stated comment that a loving God will certainly not send anyone to Hell.)

God reveals Himself to us through His Word, His creation and His Son. It is not for us to make God into the God we would prefer, but to ponder who He says He is.

And then fall on our knees as we realize the love and grace He abundantly pours out on us, his rebellious children.

Lord, have mercy.

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

14741290The book came highly recommended. And then it showed up in my kindle…shared for a short time. I had a limited window to complete reading it and I was up for the challenge.

I started to read the book on Friday night and finished it today — with many full days in between. So, what did I think of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield.

I really didn’t know what to expect…I knew the author was a leftist lesbian professor who despised Christians. And then she became one. So how did that happen?

It didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen without counting the immense cost…or what seemed immense. The power of the Scripture got inside her as she read the Bible several times quickly to be able to better attack the righteous right.

Thankful for a local church who acted like a church should. And a pastor who didn’t attack her, but created a safe environment for discussion. And who invested quality time to meet with her and her friends.

Following her conversion she eventually married a pastor. They adopted children and provided foster care. Loved her chapter about adoption, both spiritual and physical.

And then she home-schooled her children. Again, her perspective on home-schooling … why one should or why one shouldn’t choose the option of home-schooling.

All in all, a good read. With lots to ponder.

Good Morning Girls winter study

2014_10151312379669492_440454881_nI am actively involved in another Good Morning Girls online Bible study. Over the next 8 weeks, women from around the world (and in 9 languages) will be studying the first eight chapters in the gospel as recorded by Luke.

Study groups interact either through e-mails, blogs or facebook groups. I’m involved in a group that meets via facebook and if someone reading this would like to take part, please let me know. We are quite a varied group from all around the globe.

W1D1 (week 1, Day 1) started today, so you are not too far behind to join us. We have five readings a week and study using a program called SOAP…Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer. Some days take longer than others, and there is a focus on slow meditative reading. Short but oh so sweet.

I am so looking forward to slowly concentrating on what Luke, the physician, has to say. Being married to a pediatrician I know that doctors are trained to notice details, ask penetrating questions and draw logical conclusions. They also meticulously record EVERYTHING that may have importance. This will be interesting! (Meticulously recording does NOT necessarily mean legibly recording…just to keep things honest…)

To learn more about this group, click through to the Good Morning Girls website here.

And for those with children, explore the website to learn about materials put together for you to use with your children as you look at this book of Luke!

Growing in grace and knowledge

Justin McGuire brought this to my attention through Jeanne. The post was written two years ago, but the suggestions are relevant always.

191If you truly want to grow in grace and knowledge in this new year, may I recommend you read this article and put the suggestions into practice. The first four:

1. Read your Bible before you read your email, log in to Facebook, turn on
the radio, etc.

2. Start attending the church events you normally miss.

3. Begin and stick to a pattern of daily family worship.

4. Start reading systematically through the Bible.

Read why the author suggests these things and also the other six points by reading the whole article here.

Daniel’s Prayer

In our devotions this morning, we read Daniel’s prayer as found in the book of Daniel, Chapter 9. Good words then and good words now.

“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O, Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

Westminster Shorter Catechism #31

Question #31:

What is effectual calling?


Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

“…who has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time…” 2 Timothy 1:9

“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?'” Acts 2:37

“‘…to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'” Acts 26:18

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36:26-27

“‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: “They will all be taught by God.” Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.'” John 6:44-45

“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13

Westminster Shorter Catechism #30

Question #30:

How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?


The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession — to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” John 6:37, 39

“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…” Ephesians 3:17

“God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” 1 Corinthians 1:9