Tag Archives: Bible verse

Sunrise

My youngest son rolled home at 3am this morning and then I was wide awake.  Soon it was getting light and the birds began to sing.  Sometime after 4am I got up, made a cup of tea and watched the sun rise.  What a gorgeous morning which has turned into a gorgeous day.  It’s now 6pm and I’m still awake though I’m not sure the brain is quite functioning!

God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars (Gen 1:16)

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God’s whispers and an art exhibition

Recently I read The Power of a Whisper by Bill Hybels.  Some of the chapters really make me think.  The first one pointed out that God has always spoken to people the The Bible both in  the Old Testament and the New and then there was a chapter with testaments from Hybels congregation  of their  ‘whispers ‘ from God and the way they were described made me realise that I had experienced instances too, which I had either acted on or not, but had never considered them as being from God.  I always thought this was just my conscience or intuition telling me what to do and  giving me little nudges and that they were from me.  All this time I have been waiting for whispers from God and it looks like I’d been hearing from him all the time (well, now and then).  Perhaps now I will take more notice.  It occurred to me that I have been trying too hard and missing the obvious!

While this book was an eye opener I did struggle with some of the  chapters.  There were parts I felt were maybe a bit too overindulgent and palley  and being from the UK the Americanisms grated.  But  then the Americans might find us  rather staid  and prim!  I do think that churches in the US are a lot different to the UK.

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After lunch today I went along to the retreat house where I spent a day in April.  The Sisters had organised an art exhibition by contemplative artists entitled Windows into the Heart and I very much wanted to see it.  On display was visual art, glass icons, poetry, paintings, clay sculpture and photography.  Each room had a different art.  Trying to pick a favourite isn’t easy.  I loved the paintings, so simple and peaceful.  The clay sculptures represented a different station of the cross.  The glass icons were so beautiful set up against the large windows so the light could shine through them and the photography was great too.  There were some books of poetry and a book of photos with a line from a Psalm.  Upstairs there was a very moving display of photos and poems about dying.

Going there today also gave me the opportunity to see the downstairs of the building which I didn’t really see on my first visit.  There is a lovely library, several rooms for meetings and a conservatory.  The gardens looked beautiful and as it was a hot day I sat in the shade for a little while before going back to the bus stop.  These are very talented ladies and the house was quiet and peaceful. It gave me a chance to unwind before tackling the hot and noisy journey home.

The result of some de-cluttering and a conversation

Art work which came out of a meditation on John 17:20-26

Art work which came out of a meditation on John 17:20-26

You cannot re-clutter a house in one week!  Ours would take months.  If it was just me I could do it in a few days but there are four of us living in this house and I’m the only female!

Still, I did, over two days, clear out the bottom double cupboard and the three drawers in the kitchen that have been on my to-do list for over a year!  It all looks neat and tidy.  I did throw a few items away (though hubby may have rescued some and I may well yet find them elsewhere) and I’m pleased it’s done.  I am not sure what this really has to do with living simply but it made me feel good!

However, living simply is something I aspire to and is a life choice.  We don’t own a car although I do drive.  I used to share my dad’s when I lived at home and borrowed it a few times when the kids were young.  But when he was too ill to drive he offered it to me but I turned it down because it needed lots of work and I really don’t enjoy driving that much anywhere – I find it very stressful.  I don’t miss having a car because I love travelling by train and bus.  We are lucky to be close to good transport links which are regular (mostly!) and frequent.  I certainly don’t miss the cost of running one and if we did I’d probably have to get paid employment to afford it.  We only bought a microwave three years ago and I have to say that has been useful since one of my sons has been at University but still living at home.  He comes home all hours and rarely eats with us so it has been worthwhile buying just for him.

I find it interesting when I go shopping with friends.  One friend is much like me we both shop in the same chain-stores.  Another friend takes me places I’ve never been before like White Stuff and Gap and she spends far more on clothes than me.   Some shops I avoid because of the ethics (the Bangladesh tragedy springs to mind) and that goes for toiletries/cosmetics – I only buy them if they have not been tested on animals.  We have choices to opt out of those things that don’t sit well with us.  Everyone will be different and have slightly different values.  I can’t say these are based on my faith because these values were there long before I became a Christian.  These things just always mattered to me.  This earth and all that lives on it has a right to a decent life and not be exploited by others, whether they are human beings or animals.  Fairtrade is also important to me.

Anyway I am about to move on to the second week of this Simplicity chapter of God Hunting and will report back next week.  Meanwhile I wanted to share something with you which came out of a meditation – a conversation.  Now because I am a ‘doubting Thomas’ most of the time and I’m sure God must lose his patience with me, I don’t know who’s voice this is but even so this is basically how it went (notes written quickly afterwards):

Concentrating on a door I described it and as I entered God asked two questions (these were stated from the book – the rest is what happened) What are you searching for? What do you want? I replied ‘reassurance as to who you are, that you exist, that it is all worth it, that there’s a purpose’.

You are talking about signs?

I suppose so (me)

How many do you need?

Ah! you are talking about that one when my dad died.  I know I’m like all those doubters in the Bible.  Coincidences, that sort of thing.

It is not all about you!

But I help people too in various ways, charity, service.

They are already saved.

But they still need help from other people.  You created  people.

No, they created themselves.  I gave them freewill.  I can guide them but not everyone wants to listen.  They want to do it alone so often it goes wrong.

This is just me talking to me isn’t it?

Because it’s not logical?  You don’t think this is real?

Oh! you are real alright .

You’ve answered your own question!

I think I’ll go now.

Do come again.

I might do.

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Was it me having a two-way conversation with myself.  Or was it God?  I certainly didn’t think about the questions or answers.  I didn ‘t ponder, this  was rapid fire stuff.  I quite enjoyed it too!

 

God Hunting – Bible (4)

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Christ Rests in Peace – sculpture by Nic Fiddian-Green – on view in Southwark Cathedral until 29th March

My task for last week was to memorise scripture.  Now years ago I bought a little book entitled Scripture Memory Made Easy which I began and abandoned after two weeks!  It was time to revisit it.  Actually, I have rather enjoyed this as the task was laid out for me in the book.  Each week it gives you two verses to learn and there are hints on how to remember, review days and a pull out plan at the back to cover 52 weeks.  So technically speaking I could learn 100 verses in a year!  

Because I was only doing this for one week I set a higher goal and rather than learn two verses for the week I have tried one verse a day.  Tall order.  I now have seven Bible verses that I should know off by heart.  Do I?  Well, yes and no.  For each verse I copy out on to a small index card the main theme (there are twelve), the Bible verse followed by the Book, Chapter and Verse underneath.  Then I try to memorise it all.  I was doing quite good with the first two, then as I introduced a new one I would forget the, chapter and verse of the previous ones.  Some verses are longer than others and I have to learn in sections and sometimes I forget a couple of words, or exchange them for what I think (which is usually similar – my translation!).  I review them regularly (every day and several times) and write them down.  However I am still struggling with several. (I was mulling them over before I fell asleep last night!)  I’m almost there but these numbers – chapter and verse – are what I’m finding the most difficult to remember apart from two or three.  That I need to work on.

Learning scripture off by heart can be a help.  It can be a comfort to recall a verse at certain times, it can be an aid to prayer and though frustrating, it can be fun!  I’ve never been good at memorising stuff – history was a nightmare at school with all those dates to remember.  Stuff doesn’t stick.  We all learn in different ways and I think I learn best from visual and listening and reading (maybe in that order). I combine the senses and although I love reading I find reading alone doesn’t stick.

Speaking of sticking, I think this is one discipline I’ll try to keep going with, however, I will go back to the plan and learn two verses a week from now on (one on a bad week!).  Firstly I need to consolidate what I have learnt this past week – go over the seven verses again and reinforce the chapters and verses.  Once I can do that I will move on and learn a new verse.  Should I manage the whole 100 verses there is guidance for carrying on with verses you choose yourself.  I do actually have a few written down!  Maybe many of you have tried this yourselves.  If you have do post a comment on how you got on, whether it was helpful.  Please do post comments on anything I have tried over these last few months, especially if you have done something similar or it has inspired you to give it go.  Now where did I leave those index cards…….

God Hunting – looking back on the first week of prayer

Looking back on my first week using the God Hunting book I am pleased that my prayer time has settled down a little.  On the third day I was able to calm my thoughts right down and stop my mind going off in all directions, at least for a decent amount of time.  I needed a little help to get there so I consulted the book to see how Jo was managing and she mentioned a book she had been reading called Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ by Jeanne Guyon in which she talks about using a phrase from Scripture to still the mind.  Jo used ‘You, God, are my God’ , Verse 1 of Psalm 63.  That seemed a good one to me so I used it too and it really did help.

My prayers were mainly for family and friends but I incorporated some other prayers from books and from a prayer diary I use.  I also decided to read a portion of the Gospel of John every day using The Message translation as this is the translation I know the least and might bring out something I haven’t been aware of before.

Moving on to Week Two Jo is now using intercessionary prayers and ordinary prayer (making the fabric of my life into prayer).

Have I felt close to God?  Umm, not really but I think I’ve been ‘away’ a long time.  I am just pleased that I am more relaxed during my quiet time and sit in his presence, whether or not I feel him. It’s a start!  However, this morning there was a disruption to my quiet time.  I was really tired and slept in longer than usual which meant everyone was up too quickly for me.  I managed some prayers and Bible reading but not the ‘beholding God – focusing’ part.  Once gone that time just doesn’t come again round here!  I thought I might use my bus journey to focus but whatever I thought about (can’t even remember!) it wasn’t God.

The Examen at the end of the day I do find useful, it helps me to settle at night. On the occasions I miss doing it, I do it the following morning.  It is still useful to look over things of my life that way.

Hanging on

I was reading a magazine yesterday and the person in the article sounded just like me….many doubts.  In the second paragraph was a reference to the book James that says that if we choose to approach and draw near to God, he in  turn will draw near to us.  This seemed strange that I read this now.  For the lady who wrote the article she hung on and she once again experienced the feel of God close to her.  So I am hanging on too.

Tools of the trade (1 – The Bible)

Whatever path you are on, signposts are helpful!  A guidebook with a map is useful and if they contain suggestions for futher advancement on that journey all the better.

For me the main guide is The Bible. For a Muslim it would be the Qu’ran. Holy books are the bedrock on which faith is built.  Ever since the Bible was set down in writing there has been disputes over which ‘books’ should be included (that’s another story!) and later different translations were made.  I myself have five different Bible translations and we have one other at home which belongs to my son.  (I also possess an English translation of the Qu’ran). My first Bible was given to me when I was at secondary school (Revised Standard Version – an authorised revision of the Amercian Standard Version).  I rarely opened it and when I did I thought I should start at the beginning and work my way through to the end – not the way to the read it which is probably why after a few chapters of Genesis I gave up.

When I was in my early 30’s and had been attending church for a while and had small children I began confirmation classes and after the service I was given The Good New Bible and my parents gave me the New International Version which I use 98% of the time now.  When I was doing some study I was recommended The King James Bible and though I recognise it’s importance it is not one I particularly like due to the old language which confuses me.

One day I became interested in reading the Apocrypha as I came across the Book of Tobit which is instrumental to the story in the book Miss Garnet’s Angel (Salley Vickers).  As I couldn’t find a book of just the Apocrypha I ended up purchasing the New Jerusalem Bible!

For a while I had wanted to buy The Message. I had read lots of quotes and I liked them so this year after receiving some money for my birthday I finally bought myself a copy.

Now, do I need all these Bible versions?  Well, I could probably manage with one (the NIV would be my choice) but I would miss so much else.  When writing an essay for a course I was doing the NIV version of the Bible passge I wanted to quote didn’t quite express what I was trying to get across but the Revised Standard Version did!  Sometimes a different version can flesh out a passage and you see things in a different light, something clicks at last.  As you study having different versions to compare key passages against is a real help.  I don’t see myself buying any other versions now, but I never say never!  The Message is in today’s language, very accessible, especially perhaps to new Christians who want to get to the heart of things in a language they recognise.  If it is beauty of words then the older versions come into their own.  Psalms, my favourite book, is best read (for me) in the NIV or maybe KJB because I love the poetry of it.

The Bible (or other Holy Book) is the word of God with sacred teaching and describes God’s dealings with his people – our relationship with him and each other.  It is the start of the journey.

So, the Bible is the key tool for your journey and in whichever version you choose. Have a look at different ones, choose a passage and see which version speaks to you more.  It’s worth taking time over this (maybe the library will have a selection for you to borrow).  As your journey progresses you may feel it is time to explore another version – quite often it is quotes I see in magazines and books which catch my attenion and I always look to see which version it is from and that might push me in another direction.  Good reading!

The grass withers and the flowers  fall,  but the word  of our God endures   forever.  (Isaiah 40:8 – NIV)

True, the grass withers and the wildflowers fade,  but our God’s Word stands firm and forever (Isiah 40:8  – The Message)