My daughters are growing up in a tech world. They both have digital games and books and videos. My eldest received a six month subscription to Club Penguin which is about to expire. She's concerned as she'll lose all her little digital prizes she's earned. I keep trying to explain that digital igloo furniture isn't real. My youngest keeps trying to talk me into purchasing her credits so she can unlock the next Strawberry Shortcake level. She says she's tired of decorating the free cupcake. Again. I keep trying to explain it does not matter. A year from now neither one is going to care in the least. Go play with blocks. Read a real book. Goodness girls.
Ecclesiates is a book of wisdom from Solomon. It's an interesting read when tucked up against the book of Proverbs. Two sides of one coin. Proverbs is all about how to live properly. Ecclesiates is all about how it may not matter. Both together are the perfect way to live a life. One eye on wisdom and hard work and prudence. One eye on joy and grace. The third book of the wisdom trilogy in the Bible is the book of Job. See what God did there? Suffering is a part of the story of life, but not the totality. These three books work best together.
Ecclesiastes is a call to live life with an eye on eternity. None of our plans or bank accounts or accomplishments matter if eternity is wrong. And yet, when we live according to some principals we may empower or equip others to complete their journey. It's all futile. Except it is not. Here are some of my favorites lessons from Ecclesiastes.
DON'T STRESS OVER THE DETAILS. THEY DON'T MATTER.
I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 1:14
GOD'S GOT A PLAN
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of every human being. Ecclesiastes 12:13
THROW FABULOUS DINNER PARTIES
So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for people under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the day sof the life God has given them under the sun. Ecclesiastes 8:15
The Quirky Faith logo with its dandilion seed is inspired by a couple of Bible verses. One of them reminds me to simply trust God.
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE OF LOVE
Two are better than One because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10
Guess what? Quirky Faith has recently been accepted as one of the Top 50 Christian blogs by Feedspot. See the list HERE. Quirky Faith is #40. They sent me this fun little digital award. I did a little dance when I saw the list. Then I paused.
It looks a lot like a Strawberry Shortcake credit. Or a penguin igloo. I'm just like my daughters. I spend lots of time and energy blogging. And the sum total of the effort does not matter if all I'm counting is clicks and likes and little digital awards. But the effort is all worth it if a soul is encouraged. If a lost one comes home. If the truth shines. It matters because it's eternal.
Let me break it to you. Your work and paycheck and awards don't matter either. Take the message from Ecclesiastes. Don't take my word for it. Go find your favorite drink, a plate of delicious food, park yourself by a window to view the sun shining today and read the book of Ecclesiastes. Live your life with great joy and zest. But remember the only thing that matters is eternity. Invest well.
There is a time for everything....including watching these Read Scripture videos. If you haven't started yet - catch up now. You will learn a ton!
Wowsa. We have a lot of snow. I've seen lots of people talking about going stir crazy and needing ideas for things to do. So here is my list of ten things to do when you are snowed in. Or bored. Or needing to kick your normal TV watching, Facebook surfing life up a notch.
Best ever. For fun try A man called Ove. For inspiration try The Hiding Place. For giggles reread any of the old Calvin and Hobbes or Far Side comics. For a great cynical read that will make you laugh and snort read the 2016 year in review by Dave Barry. For something full of great hope read the Bible. Seriously. Read it.
2. MEMORIZE SOMETHING
You have time! And attention. Memorize the 66 books of the Bible. Memorize the Declaration of Independance. Memorize a Shakespearean sonnet. Ask your kids what their favorite song is and then memorize all the lyrics.
3. CALL YOUR GRANDMA
Someday she'll be gone and you'll wish you could talk to her again. Today's your day. Call your grandma, your long lost friend, your favorite cousin. Call someone.
4. WRITE A LETTER
Write a thank you note to your favorite teacher, pastor, mentor. Write a love letter to your spouse. Write a letter to your kids and tell them all the reasons you love them.
5. WRITE A BLOG POST FOR THE WALL OF FAITH
You all have a story. How has Jesus changed your life? How does God make you grin? Send me a story and you'll get an invite to a Quirky Faith event. Plus you can inspire someone else.
6. DO A PERSONAL INVENTORY
Take the time and sort through your soul. If you find spots of bitterness or hate or jealously or fear make the first step to heal toay.
7. CLEAN SOMETHING
My bathroom drawers look the best they ever have because I took the time to clean them out. Don't worry. My car is still a disaster.
Color. Build a snowman. Dig out your play-doh. Dance. Paint. Challenge your teenager to an old school video game. Play Monopoly. Oh wait. Don't do that. Bad idea.
Cuddle in with a moutain of blankets and cozy socks and enjoy the sleep.
Make a list of all your worries. All the world issues that bother you. The ways you want to see personal growth. The things that you are grateful to have, see, enjoy. Pray through the list. No better way to spend the day.
If you have other great snow day ideas put them in the comments. You have time. Use it!
Our grown up girls....still goofy.
My husband Duane and I are often asked the secrets for how we managed to raise our two daughters and how they turned out to be such amazing and productive Women of God. I always respond by saying that God has blessed us, but there really are some relevant guidelines you can utilize if you wish.
1. Remember and remind your daughter that you are all on the same team.
Being on the same team means that your child shows up every single time there is a youth group activity, worship service, mission trip, or other worthwhile church activity or camp. (I know that decision is costly and time consuming but it is essential if your primary desire is that your child follow Christ all the days of her life.) Make certain your daughter can pinpoint when and where she accepted Christ.
2. People matter more than things.
This affects the focus of how she treats belongings and others. It also keeps a proper focus on what is important. Duane also applied this to undue harping about clean rooms. His comment was, "Messy rooms are why they made doors!" I'm still not sure about that one, but it did alleviate many potential battles.
3. Let your yea be yea and your nay be nay.
My mother always counseled me to say Yes as often as I could, because it's important to have NO mean something.
4. Make sure your daughters are obedient and respectful and accountable when they are two years old.
The terrible twos are often a precursor to the rebellious teens and habits formed in childhood stand the test of time.
5. Teach her how to work
In the yard and in the house. When company is there and when no one is there.
6. Teach her how to play
Go on vacation. You'll build lifelong memories. Eat together as a family. Go on dates. Play games. Talk.
7. Tell her you love her and God loves her
The more your daughter knows the love of God and the love of you the less painful those teenage girl drama days will be.
8. Wait Five Minutes.
Don't like your daughter's mood? Wait five minutes. I can't promise you'll like that one any better but it'll be different. The key is to not over react. Wait. Try again.
We set out to parent our children, but we have been surprised by joy as they have turned into our dear friends.
I'm a mom. I have two daughters. Four and ten. I'm sure they can rattle off a list of my favorite reminders. Brush your teeth. Do your piano. Your shirt is on backwards. Your shoes are on the wrong feet. Finish your homework. Say Please. Sit here and listen with me to the Seahawks' post game news conferences My goal is to help them. I want to raise trained up, smart, healthy, Seahawks fans. I'm only kinda kidding. Gotta have priorities.
Proverbs. The proverbs are a grouping of sayings of wisdom. There are 31 chapters. Our pastor (and Dave Ramsey) say that a Proverb a day can keep the creditors, or the jailors, or the drama away. The Proverbs are NOT a good luck charm. I don’t buy the prosperity gospel. The Proverbs also do not stand on their own. Just like in football. You can have a favorite player for sure. But those fancy catches in the endzone by the flashy wide receivers only happen if the offensive line did it's job. This book works best in context with the full picture of the story. I'll keep repeating that line. By the end of this process of writing through the Bible I'm hoping that's on the list of things people learn. Each book works best in context. None stand alone.
God built the world with physical characteristics like gravity which, under most circumstances, operate in expected ways. Likewise, He built our relationships and our finances and our parenting and our jobs with the same expected characteristics. Under normal circumstances, when you apply X you get Y. Proverbs is the guidebook for general life skills. In general, if you work hard, you will prosper. If you cheat, you will eventually be caught. If you surround yourselves with jerks, you will become currupted. If you plan, you are more likely to be successful.
There are two major themes in Proverbs. The first is the idea of valuing and seeking out wisdom. The second is to keep before you the authoriy of God. When we spend our days trying to do the right thing – in valuing wisdom – and in healthy fear of the Lord- I’m telling you it works better for people. I'm sure you've watched friends who love the Lord continually bash their head against painful consequences because of unwise choices. I know we've all seen great pain at no fault of their own happen to people as well. Cancer and loss and accidents and violence. BUT. Even in those unfair situations the path to rebuilding a life is smoother when you apply the principals of wisdom.
Here's my quick list of to do's I really hope my girls learn from the Proverbs. Way more important than inside out shirts or untied shoelaces. Perhaps I should reassess how much time I spend on minor issues.
1. Honor God (We could probably stop the list here and be okay)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Prov 3:5
2. Guard your heart (Oh my girls. This one. Do this one. Watch where you let your heart go)
Above all else, guard your heart, for everthing you do flows from it. Prov 4:23
3. Stick up for other people (I'm never more proud than when I see this happen)
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Prov 31:8
4. Avoid Bad Company (Super hard to learn. Once. Then hard to forget)
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Prov 13:20
5. Watch your money (Save. Avoid debt. Sounds boring. Leads to way more fun.)
One who has no sense shakes hands in pledge and puts up security for a neighbor. Prov 17:18
6. Work Hard (My parents liked this one.)
How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep. Prov 6:9
7. Tithe (It teaches your heart you have enough and reminds you where it all came from)
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops. Prov 3:9
8. Forgive and Confess (They go together almost all of the time. Sometimes I have to forgive myself when I confess. Sometimes I have to forgive to be forgiven.)
Those who conceal their sins do not prosper; but those who confess and renouce them find mercy. Prov 28:13
9. Watch your attitude (Um. This one I preach to myself all the stinking time)
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Prov 17:22
10. Watch your mouth (It works better. And saves you great grief)
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov 15:1
Gossips betray a conficence, but the trustworthy keep a secret. Prov 11:13
The book of Proverbs is not a magic book full of guaranteed spells. But is a fantastic guidebook to a life well lived. Truly I hope when my girls are grown they will remember these words of wisdom more than anything we watched on TV. Including the Hawks. Increase your odds of winning. Read Proverbs.
Hmmm.... Interesting! Check out this Read Scripture walk through of Proverbs. I never thought about it this way.
You might need one of these. She is clothed with strengh and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future. My favorite!
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:13)
Do I believe in angels? Yes, I do…. But not just of those who exist in ethereal form.
It was one of the most sickening feelings I have ever felt as my husband and I drove up to the night scene of flashing police and tow truck lights. Somewhere in the heart of that scene was our twenty-year-old daughter and our five-year-old son. I saw our daughter’s car, mashed in the side where our little son had been sitting, within inches of his booster seat. We didn’t realize how close until we could see it in the daylight the next day. I could feel my stomach lurch as I realized how close we came to losing him.
Without any doubt in my mind, I fully believe there was a legion of angels there that night who were all on the scene. The majority of these angels were different, however. They came in the form of flesh and blood.
Angels in the form of a lady who pulled over and called 911 and another lady who happened to be an emergency room nurse and could check our children right away.
Angels in the form of two men, one who sat in the car with Sheppard and comforted him as the other helped Amberly out of the car, and then both pushing her car out of harm’s way from the middle of the road.
I believe heavenly angels nudged the car just enough so that the impact of a 50 mph car hitting Sheppard’s door would just miss him while another angel held his hands on the other side of the door, preventing any signs of impact from coming through that door. I know there were angels on the other side guarding Amberly from being hit herself as her car spun out of control into the lane of oncoming traffic.
An angel in the form of a big sister, who had bought her little brother his favorite drink of cocoa before the accident and as her gut response was to turn to check on him after the spinning stopped, only to find him resume his sipping from the warm chocolatey comfort of what was left in his cup, cocoa splattered all over his shirt. An angel in the form of a big sister who although still in complete shock, immediately made her little brother a new cup of cocoa upon arriving home.
An angel in the form of a little brother, after getting out of the tow truck, exclaimed, “Mama, I prayed for Sis-sis all the way home in the tow truck.” Who melted the hearts of the emergency staff as he shared all about how he prayed to Jesus.
Brother and sister angels who instinctively protected and comforted each other from start to finish.
An angel in the form of a policeman, who recognized that I was only a mother in shock, not realizing I was standing in the middle of a lane of traffic imploring about my children and gently, with a twinkle in his eye, grabbed me by the shoulders and guided me to the shoulder of the road. What the heck was I thinking?
An angel in the form of a tattooed tow truck driver who answered the call, even though he was heading home just off of a 12 day straight shift. Who shared how relieved he was to see our two kids alive and well after having answered the calls of two accidents earlier that day in the very same intersection. Both accidents, resulting in fatalities.
A tow truck driver who worked efficiently to get us home before a certain time so he wouldn’t have to charge us as much, and who made our little boy’s dreams by allowing him to man the switches of the tow truck for lowering Sis-sis’s battered car onto our driveway.
Angels in the forms of emergency staff, Aunty Kathy, and our sweet Youth Pastor and his wife who provided comfort, medical care, coffee, and giggles in the midst of it all.
Angels who helped me stay strong for my children until I could melt down on the bathroom floor in the quiet of the night, unstoppable and heaving tears of gratefulness that my two children were alive and well, breathing sweet breaths of life, warm and snug in their beds. Angels in the form of my husband and daughter, who awoke to my tears and loved on me. Angels in the form of a big brother, who did whatever he could do to help with whatever he saw was a need and for his sweet spirit of comfort toward us all.
Do I believe in angels? Heck yeah! They are with us every day.
(Matthew 26:53) “ Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
Call on your Heavenly Father every morning and throughout the day to cover you and your family. Take nothing for granted. Life is so fragile and can be so quickly evaporated away. We need God’s angels to protect our lives with their miraculous kid gloves….. Then pray to remember that we too, will go out and be angels to others.
Ask my daughter to hum you the music that plays before Darth Vader hits the screen in the Star Wars movies and you'll get a sly grin and the tune pours out. We like Star Wars for the excitement and the costumes and the creative fun. But the soundtrack is what builds the characters in our minds.
The Psalms work as the sound track of the Bible. This collection of songs and poems add the emotional depth and beautiful language which make the stories linger in our memory and add comfort to our soul.
About half of the Psalms are attributed to the great King David with the rest authored by Solomon, Asaph, the sons of Korah and a random assortment of other authors. The Psalms are broken into five smaller books organized in harmony (get it? Harmony?) with the first five books of the Bible. I continue to be amazed at the symmetry of the entire Bible and the cohesiveness of its grand story.
My favorite things about the Psalms?
Gratitude The Psalms are full of thanksgiving and gratitude. Its a new year. Try starting with thanks.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107: 8-9
Honesty. Some of the Psalms are raw and painful in their terms. Painful questions, depression, thoughts of suicide and violence. The Psalms tell me that God is okay with my questions. The idea of Sunday morning-starched-shirt-faith is out. "I’m a mess but you love me anyway" is revealed in the book of Psalms. Don’t believe me? Read a few.
I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength. Psalm 88:3-4
If you feel like your faith is fake – try writing your own gut wrenching Psalm. Writing it out helps you process. God has big shoulders, he can handle your truth. It also helps you lay it down and see it for what it is. Some of what you carry is not truth but lies you've believed. Writing down your ugly thoughts can help call them out as false. The Psalms wade into ugly spaces but this gorgeous book also swims back to the truth. When you tell your current spot make sure to finish with a declaration of God's truth. It'll ground your feet.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:2
Praise. Putting my life in perspective generally helps me move my mood. The Psalms spend a lot of time in praise. Praise for creation, for forgiveness, for God’s good character. For He is worthy. If you need perspective go somewhere dark and look at the sky. I have a theory that part of why we have lose sight of faith in society is we have too many stinking lights. We can’t see for all the light. Our false lights in Hollywood and in our living rooms obscure the great grandeur of the real light. Turn it all off and look up. Then read a few Psalms. My guess is your perspective will fall back into the right space.
"The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day by day pours forth speech, And nigth to night reveals knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2
Prayer. Many of the Psalms are pleas for help, for guidance, for rescue and for judgment on our own actions and the actions of others. The Psalms put words to the times I’ve been unfairly judged or when wrongs have gone uncaught. The truth is that God is the one who sees clearly and when I call upon His name I can trust his to rescue. He sees you there and he wants to help. The Psalms tell me that I’m never too lost to be found in Grace.
The Lord says, "I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them." Psalm 91:14-15
Comfort I have memorized some of the Psalms and in dark and scary times I will say them to myself. Brain neurology tells us that our thoughts run in patterns. If I think “I’m no good, I’m not enough, I have to try harder” then those thoughts repeat. If I think “He’s always that way, I should leave, how would that work” then my heart follows the easy prepaved road. The Psalms provide a way to build new paths.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. Psalm 21:1
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you along Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8
God is our refuge and strenght, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into teh heart of the sea. Psalm 46:1-2
For this God is our God forever and ever, he will be our guide even to the end. Psalm 48:14
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105
In moments of fear or anxiety if I say to myself the true words of the Psalms its like a guiding light through the muck. If you struggle with anxiety or depression or fear or hate then do the work of memorizing new patterns. They can become the new patterns forward. You can break free but you have to add in the new input. The Psalms are a gift to be used.
The songs are powerful tools for your lives. May the true force be with you.
I had never heard about the structure of the Psalms until I watched this video. It was fascinating. Thanks to the Read Scripture series!
Oh my goodness this is too fun. The Psalms Project is a group of musicians setting all 150 Psalms to modern worship music. Fantastic.
Check it out HERE. Below is a YouTube of their version of Psalm 23.
Do you color yet? The Psalms is a great place to start if you haven't found this relaxing way to focus in on a scripture.
New Spring Church has a great list of devotions to work through as you read the Psalms. Read them HERE or check out their useful infographic below.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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