Good evening! I hope the night finds you well. It finds me playing nurse to a very sick hubby. Jeremy's had the stomach flu since Saturday night and it is NOT pretty. The poor guy is really miserable. So, my highest calling tonight is as nurse to this awesome spouse o' mine. I thought this was supposed to be a winter thing, but I'm NOT complaining...at least not too much,I hope!
Anywho, while I was cleaning up in the kitchen a little earlier I was reminded of a challenge issued by a friend earlier this month that I want to pass on to you. The first couple of days in August I was honored to take part in a writers/speakers conference called She Speaks presented by my friends at Proverbs 31 Ministries in Charlotte, NC. I could go on and on about so many great moments and experiences from those few days, but I won't (at least not now). The memory that came to mind tonight was tied specifically to the final message of the weekend.
Karen Ehman, an author and speaker and someone I'm privileged to call friend, was delivering the last words of encouragement before 608 women click-clacked their high-heeled shoes out of the conference center and back toward their regular lives. And, let me just say, she rocked it!
Karen delivered a powerful challenge to stop with the excuses. She herself had found that she'd settled for "typical Christianity". She realized she was going through the motions in many ways, especially when it came to reading the Bible and committing it to memory. So, long story short, she decided to stop wishing she knew the Bible better and start making it happen. Karen chose to memorize the entire book of James by Christmas morning of this year. She plans to wake up early, walk downstairs before her family wakes up (she has teenagers so that can actually happen), sit down in front of the Christmas tree and begin reciting what she's learned as a special gift to her Savior. I was inspired!
I don't know if I'll memorize the entire thing but I decided that day to join Karen in her Bible challenge. I'm also going to learn as much of the book of James as I can before December 25th. Why? Because, like Mrs. Ehman, I've settled for the typical when it comes to pursuing a real, active relationship with Jesus. I've got a lot of "I believe the apostle Paul said," or "Jill's Paraphrases" inside of me. But, I don't have a lot of tried and true passages completely committed to memory. Does that matter? I think it does. I mean, how can I really know Jesus and actually attempt to do what He wants me to do if I don't even know (exactly for sure) what He has said?
The Old Testament words about making God's words such a part of your life that you're always talking about them has just flashed across my brain. Of course, I didn't know the reference exactly, so I looked it up on Biblegateway.com. Here it is: So keep my words in your hearts and minds. Write them down and tie them on your hands as a reminder. Also tie them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you go to bed. And speak about them when you get up. Write them on the door-frames of your houses. Also write them on your gates. ~ Deuteronomy 11:18-20 (NIrV)
So, I feel very like minded with The Keep It Simple Woman (Karen Ehman's former "handle" on Doing Life with the Traceys). I want to delve into real relationship with Jesus by paying attention to what He's saying to me in the Bible. So far I've been reading chapter one over and over again, just trying to let it sink into my brain. I've basically told myself that when I climb into bed I can't read anything from my Dean Koontz novel until I've read through James 1 at least a couple of times, including reading it out loud at least once. Toward the end of August I'll start trying to see how far I can get through the chapter by memory. Then I'll move on to the next chapter with each new month. But, for now, I'm just trying to soak it in and really grasp the message. And, what a message it is!
I'm convicted by the command to not just listen to the words, but to do what they say. To show love to orphans and widows, to keep myself from being polluted by the world (uh-oh that Koontz novel may be on thin ice), and to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Just the small things, right? Ha! But, I am convinced that seeking to learn and memorize scripture is already having a positive effect. I'm actually meditating on the words on the page and trying to make them a reality in my life. And I thought memorizing scripture was just something you did in Bible College at 3 a.m. the night/morning before the next exam on writing out the Sermon on the Mount completely from memory. Who knew it was actually something you could do in real life? And, that it could lead to real heart changes...even after 40? Now, that's FABULOUS!
Wanna join me in this challenge? Let's hold each other accountable.