Twenty years ago, when I first began reading through my Bible in a purposeful way, with a commitment to myself to read through annually, I had no idea how significantly God would bless me through the pages of His Word.
Yesterday, however, as I completed my annual journey and recorded the date in the back of my Bible, I looked at the previous dates already recorded there, and I began to reflect on some of the events that had taken place during those years.
These weren’t all easy years.
Some were full of joy and others full of challenge. Some were downright tumultuous.
But through the ups and downs, joys and sorrows of these years, I have had an anchor. Continue reading
So, somewhere around December 31 or January 1, you renewed your resolve to read God’s Word daily. Or maybe you set a goal to complete a new study plan or stick with a specific reading schedule.
You pictured yourself with a steaming cup of coffee, a new journal with freshly-filled pages, and the first hints of sunrise streaming in your window onto your open Bible lighting your already glowing face.
This, you decided, will be the year I really read all the way through. Or, This will be the year I study XYZ topic.
Then January 2nd happened.
Or maybe it was January 10th. In any case, you overslept, couldn’t find your journal under the mess you had meant to clean up the night before, and didn’t feel much like reading anyway. Continue reading
Sometimes I imagine a conversation between an Israelite woman and a foreign guest in the Promised Land. The Israelite woman (whom we’ll call Sarah) was among those who spent four decades in the wilderness, and her new companion (we’ll call her Fatima) has recently trekked the same territory. They are eager to swap stories and compare experiences:
Sarah: Remember the sandstorms?
Fatima: Yeah, there’s nothing like being sand-blasted by hot, wind-driven sand. We had some days we couldn’t journey at all until the wind died down.
Sarah: Exactly. We had to watch for when the cloud or the pillar of fire moved from over the tabernacle.
Fatima: What? (She gives a suspicious glance and wonders if Sarah is okay.) We didn’t have a tabernacle. And we definitely didn’t have pillar of fire with us.
Sarah: That’s too bad. I mean, there were days I wanted to go forward when we couldn’t and days I wanted to stay when we had to move, but all in all, I was thankful for God’s presence with us.
Fatima: And you say this…this presence was in a pillar of fire? Continue reading
I purchased my first goat as a thirteen-year-old fresh out of the city suburbs. I had no idea what I was in for.
I named my new pet Sarah Jane, but my mom called her, “the big, black villain”—mostly due to her size and color. Mostly.
Exactly one day after my purchase, Sarah Jane had four kids. And I had my hands full. Sarah Jane nursed two of the kids, and I bottle fed the other two.
Bottle feeding goat kids is fun. They’re energetic, cute, and always look like they’re up to something. Healthy kids attack a bottle the moment it’s within leap reach. They drain it quickly and use every trick they know to coax for more.
But one morning, when the kids were two weeks old, one of them showed no interest in her bottle. Zero. Her ears drooped, and she made little effort even to be petted. I remember the concern that gripped my heart as I called the farm where I had purchased her mother. Continue reading
Every week, I have the exciting opportunity to sit across the table from a young Christian and study God’s Word during our church’s discipleship time. At the end of each lesson, I usually ask the lady I’m studying with what stood out to her the most and if she has any questions we didn’t already answer.
I’ll never forget the time when, after our lesson on the Bible itself, the new Christian across from me answered my first question with, “I didn’t know God wrote the Bible.”
She came from a background that accepted religious tradition for truth, so, in one sense, her answer wasn’t surprising. But still…
A few days later, I relayed the conversation to a friend. Her response struck me with as much food for thought as the young Christian’s. “Sometimes,” she said with tears in her eyes, “I think we forget that too.” Continue reading
I woke up this morning with the keen realization that 2014 is almost over. It’s a lazy sort of morning with few plans, so I took several minutes to reflect on the incredible blessings of God’s goodness and grace this past year before peeling myself out from the covers.
It’s been the sort of year that makes me deeply thankful to belong to the Good Shepherd. As I think back over the months, they’ve had their challenges, but each month has been overflowing with God’s grace and kindness.
As I opened my Bible for my morning reading, vital dots began to connect between the blessings of 2014 and the book in my hands. Continue reading
Sometimes we say things because they sound good. Or because they seemed true when we viewed them through a given lens.
I did that once. Okay, I’ve done it lots of times. But there is one time in particular I’m remembering now.
I was teaching a lesson on Bible reading, and I repeated something I had heard someone else say. He had said that he had never met a teenager who had significant personal struggles who was regularly reading the Bible in a personal way on a daily basis. He had counseled a lot of teenagers, so I didn’t mind repeating him. And I even gave him credit for the quote, which turned out to be a good thing. Continue reading
I don’t generally read my Bible standing in the stall of a public restroom, but I did on one occasion.
I was in sixth grade, and my family was at a conference at Park Meadows Baptist Church (a church that would later become our church home). After one of the sessions, I asked Pastor Davis to sign my Bible. He did, and when he handed it back to me, he said, “And the verse is for you.”
My Bible had many signatures in the front flyleaf. Many of those signatures had Scripture references with them—presumably the life verses of the signers. Sometimes when I was bored, I would even look up some of the references. But, to that point, no one had told me the verse was for me.
Suddenly, I sensed an urgency to know what this verse said. I thanked Pastor Davis, tucked my Bible under my arm, and made my way to privacy—the ladies room!
Without even looking, I still remember what verse it was: Continue reading
Next to the Bible, the book that has helped me the most in my walk with the Lord is a book I wrote. Actually, it’s an eight-volume set.
Before you think I’m boastful, let me give two clarifications:
First, these volumes are unpublished, and I trust they always will be.
Second, I’m confident that they would not be a help to you. That is, mine wouldn’t help you. But yours of the same type would help you.
You’ve probably guessed the volumes I’m referring to—my journals.
I began journaling in a purposed way when I was thirteen. And it was all due to my older sister’s influence. I looked up to everything Michele did, so when she began keeping a devotional journal, I did too. Eight volumes later, I’m so glad I did.
Keeping a journal transformed my walk with the Lord. The immediate results were life-changing, and the long-term benefits have been rewarding. Continue reading
Just this week, Striving Together Publications released a new daily devotional by Pastor Chappell: A Word to the Wise: Practical Advice from the Book of Proverbs.
With a devotional reading from Proverbs for every day of the year, this book is perfect as your daily devotional or as a gift. (Through Wednesday of this week, if you purchase the hardback, you receive the ebook free—so it can be your devotional and a gift! Also through Wednesday, if you purchase multiple copies, you receive further discounts. These are release week bonuses only, however. So hurry!)
Each day’s reading begins with a text from Proverbs followed by a brief action-orientated application. Although the devotions are all drawn from Proverbs, there are support/cross-reference Scriptures all throughout the book. Additionally, each page of the devo includes further reading that will guide you through the Bible in a year. Continue reading