Tag Archives: Bible study

A peace that surpasses all understanding….Phil 4:7

A peace that surpasses all understanding….Phil 4:7

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I can smell the aroma of fresh brewed coffee as I anticipate the fade of the percolators pumping sound. Pouring the cold, sweet creamer into the cup then lifting the heavy pot, I fill the cup to the brim with dark, rich coffee. I take a taste and return to the kitchen table where my bible lays open, a vanilla scented candle burns next to the workbook. It is my quiet time. The only sounds of the house are the whirl of the refrigerator. It is my special time with my creator.Time when I can focus on His teachings. I am completely rested and at peace and eager to get to today’s lesson.

Since 1996 I have been involved in small group bible studies and prayer coffees. The impact on my life is extremely recognizable to all who knew me BC….yes, before Christ, they might say I am a different person. And, yes, I am a new creation in Christ.

I thought I had Christ in my life from the time I was a small child. And, He did dwell within me, but He was certainly not the one I gave credit, consulted or loved beyond any human love I now describe. It took the prompting of author Wilma Stanchfield, “Struck by Lightening – Then by Love” who came to speak at a Christian Women’s Club luncheon I attended with a neighbor.

At her prompting after hearing her powerful testimony, I bowed my head and tearfully repeated the prayer of salvation. That day, I drew a line in the sand, I promised to put Jesus Christ in control of my life. A strange feeling of peace washed over me that very moment and has remained with me every moment since.

Early on the women’s club invited me to host a prayer coffee. The ladies gathered at my home for a slice of quiche, some sweet rolls and coffee. We sat in a circle in the living room and some of the ladies asked if we would pray for specific things. When we began one of the ladies opened with a prayer, “We know that when two or more are gathered in your name you are with us Lord…” One lady asked for us to pray for a family member who was facing a difficult surgery, or a daughter expecting a baby after a miscarriage, for salvation for a brother who was on drugs. It was all really remarkable. The prayers from these ladies were the most comforting prayers I had ever heard. The words seemed to drift from their lips like feathers. I felt warm inside and could envision a circle of angels surrounding us and I felt I was truly in God’s presence.

As months passed I joined a bible study group. I didn’t know my way around a bible very well. As Catholics, we never really read the Bible. We would hear the gospel each mass and the priest would give a homily he had prepared surrounding the message. But, I was not familiar with the book itself.
I went to the Christian bookstore and searched the shelves for a bible some of the ladies recommended, a Life Application Study Bible. I also purchased tabs for each book of the bible to make it easier to locate each book and scripture during our study. I would highlight the scriptures we discussed and loved that the notes at the bottom of each page explained what the verses meant in lay terms.

There were some rules that were explained at the beginning of a new six week study. We needed to arrive promptly and let the hostess know if we were unable to attend. We were encouraged to invite others to luncheon so they could learn about our group and hopefully receive the blessing of salvation. We were told never to share anything discussed personally outside of the room. A bond of confidence was critical so everyone would be comfortable sharing life experiences.

We learned first hand that not making each other feel guilty when we couldn’t attend was a huge reason the girls continued to participate. And, that a persons individual religious doctrine was not important so long as we stood on the word of the Lord. As we closed in prayer each week we asked God to place a name of a friend or neighbor on our hearts that He would want to join our group.

We found that everyone had a story about how they came to know the Lord. I realized my story was not so bad after all and that forgiveness begins with ourselves. If God forgives us, we surely need to be able to forgive ourselves too.

It wasn’t long before I was hosting bible study at my home. The group would enjoy my passion for cooking as I prepared a morning meal for the ladies and prepared cappuccinos and tea at their request during the half hour of fellowship before we moved to the living room for discussion of last week homework and a video presentation.

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Word spread throughout our neighborhood and our group began to grow. The ladies I least expected to join us were suddenly at our front door. We grew closer and closer to one another as we shared our life trials and blessings. And, we grew closer and closer to Jesus as we began to understand His promises through studying the stories and the amazing men and women of the bible, people just like us, flawed and human.
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It was a wonderful time of sharing, learning and caring. The diversity of age and religion was a blessing too. We were able to draw from Godly women who had been studying the bible most of their lives. They shared solutions to difficult situations in relationships they had experienced. It was very enlightening and felt good to receive sound counsel.

I credit these Godly women with leading me to a personal relationship with Christ, I doubt I would be the person I am today had I not joined that club so many years ago.

Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation.The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence. 2 Corinthians 5:17.

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I can change the world!

I can change the world!


When I pick up the paper and read about the latest crime wave, weather catastrophe or of a frustrating and clearly un-Godly decision our elected officials have made I have a choice. I can become angry, stomp my feet and lash out….put myself in a place that more destruction comes from rather than building up. I can become silent, depressed, overwhelmed. Or, I can acknowledge there is indeed a negative force working to destroy all that is good and positive. And, make a conscious decision to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. Don’t get me wrong, I do not put my head in the sand and pretend life is nirvana. But, I do look for a way to do my part to make a positive difference today for maybe even just one person.

How I would love to thank the person who taught me that lesson. I would like to think it was through the Holy Spirit I came to live this revelation. Those bible studies do slowly mold and shape me, convict me. I give them credit for making me a better person. So, “thank you Lord!”

I truly believe that if God leads me to do something, I should not second guess it. I need to fully embrace it. He will see that each piece of the plan falls into place, to use my energy to move forward rather than looking back over my shoulder.

It all boils down to trust in the Lord. I want to give my worries up to Him. I want to live my life as an example of all that is right, positive and good. I will be the first to admit I have a long road ahead of me, but, I will not be disheartened. I know I can change the world.

Seeds

Seeds

Notice the small tomato to the left of the larger one! Now all we need is patience.

Planting a seed is a miraculous thing. You dig a hole and place this tiny ovule that has been in dormancy deep down covering it with a protection of soil. Then you sprinkle it with water to jumpstart the germination process. All that is needed is some sunshine from above and before you know it, fine little pale green sprouts begin to wriggle their way to the surface. With continued watering and light from above, the weak little sprout strengthens and reaches for more water and more light from above. The stem becomes strong and leaves begin to form, still reaching upward toward the light. After a time a tiny bud slowly unfurls from its protected place at the base of the leaf joined to the stem. At first it is tight but it’s layers soon relax as it feels the warmth of the sun. Within days the miracle manifests itself in colorful soft petals of the flower…then the fruit.

Our Bible study group is currently working on a Beth Moore Study entitled “Stepping Up”. It is a journey through the Psalms of Ascent, a compilation of 15 psalms, 120 thru 134, and we are almost half-way through.

Last week I was sharing with the girls how clearly I recognize my need to stay in God’s Word. When our group of around 25 ladies is between studies we take a few weeks off. During that time I occasionally pick up my Bible, but certainly not daily, as I do in the midst of a nurturing study.

The studies, even when repeated, teach me so much about my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, about myself and the person I strive to be. I am human, and often in my humanness I fall short of what pleases God. But, I have learned I can seek forgiveness and try again to be that person. There is a lesson in each failure. God will help me through it and even in the darkness He will wrap His arms around me tightly. But, there will be light again. He will be pleased, and I will be beautiful in His sight.

Everyone needs to plant a garden…..

In search of my God-given gifts…

In search of my God-given gifts…

Mediterranean Dinner for our friends

God lovingly grants each of us personal strengths.

For many of us it takes years to discover those skills while many pass without ever realizing all or sadly even one. I was never told that God had graced me with special talent of any kind. My parents taught that my report card dictated the areas I excelled or fell short. They stressed the need for good grades but even more important, good citizenship. In their eyes if you tried your hardest it did not matter what the grade as long as the citizenship mark was the highest given. While this is a  measure of the use of our skills and effort it is not the only yardstick. They never shared the existence of the ultimate present or asked me to search for it. They never told me I could be anything I wanted to be.  They never taught me to pray about it.

I didn’t hear of the concept until much later in life. Perhaps that is why I had to work so hard throughout my life striving to be the best at something God never had in mind for me in the first place. But, the good news is, around the age of 45 , I realized one gift was that of hospitality. Actually, the realization came in the form of a compliment from a dear friend. Later that day, when I happily reflected on the comment, I agreed that was truly my gift from God.

Tom and I love to open our home to our friends. We have done this since the day we met by often throwing neighborhood parties. When we moved north to Ponte Vedra Beach, we designed our home to be “party central”. Tom redesigned the original plans in the back of the house to include a summer kitchen and large pool deck that was used frequently for a DJ or band and still left plenty of room for dancing. As friendships grew along with our families and the small town became our home….so did the house grow and the backyard party area…and our parties evolved too.

Over the last 15 years or so I have held Prayer Coffees and Bible Studies for my “sisters”.  When we tore down the wall between the family room and expanded our kitchen to double the square footage to accommodate a buffet on our long kitchen island, it called for a huge sectional around the fireplace and flat screen TV. We now call this the “Bible Study couch” because we can gather at least 25 ladies on and around the back to view a DVD. Since then, we have held a regular Wednesday Morning Bible Study for a growing number of friends of all ages. We gather to study His word and pray for any and all. This has to be the biggest blessing our family has ever received because as we read in Matthew 18:20, “For wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

So, I still search for my gifts. I am zeroing in on a few more areas I think have potential. Once I have confirmed them, I will share them here as well.

One thing for sure, I constantly remind my children and my grandchildren about a wonderful present God has for them. I know how happy He must feel when it is revealed and we acknowledge that gift with a “thank you Lord”. Always give the glory to God.

Thank you Lord for Tommy and my gift of hospitality. We love you .

Our Bible study sofa