Ephesians Winter and Spring Memorization Schedule

Here is our Winter and Spring schedule for memorizing the book of Ephesians.

It’s not too late to join in our Scripture Memory journey! Every fourth week we take a break to catch up and review what we have memorized. It is exciting to bump into friends each week who are memorizing along with us. How are you managing this journey so far, my friend?

January – May 2014

1/7-1/14 Ephesians 1:1-2
1/14-1/21 Ephesians 1:3-6
1/21-1/28 Ephesians 1:7-10
1/28-2/4 Break for Review or Catch-up

2/4-2/11 Ephesians 1:11-14
2/11-2/18 Ephesians 1:15-17
2/18-2/25 Ephesians 1:18-20
2/25-3/4 Break for Review or Catch-up

3/4-3/11 Ephesians 1:21-23
3/11-3/18 Ephesians 2:1-3
3/18-3/25 Ephesians 2:4-6
3/25-4/1 Break for Review or Catch-up

4/1-4/8 Ephesians 2:7-10
4/8-4/15 Ephesians 2:11-12
4/15-4/22 Ephesians 2:13-16
4/22-4/29 Break for Review or Catch-up

4/29-5/6 Ephesians 2:17-22
5/6-5/13 Ephesians 3:1-3
5/13-5/20 Ephesians 3:4-6
5/20-5/27 Break for Review or Catch-up

Have you noticed any themes yet as you memorize the Word?

According to the purpose of His will and to the praise of His glory, I am serving and learning alongside you,
Bonnie

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

You Have Access to the Heavenly Realms

available now red square stamp

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us
in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he
chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy
and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons
through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise
of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6

My file cabinet is stocked with lessons I have prepared from Ephesians 1 about being chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Christ. Some of the files contain notes on our identity with Christ; chosen, predestined, adopted in love. But, somehow I have missed the fact that Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. It is quite an amazing concept to recognize and live victoriously with the fact that we have access to the heavenly realms today!

Both blessings and battles take place in the heavenly realms. We know Satan is the prince and power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and he operates in the heavenly realms where the ultimate spiritual battles take place. At the same time, Christ has already won the battle and He sits as Victor in the heavenly realms, “…far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:20-21)

Is there a burden on your heart, a temptation gripping you, a discouragement that is dragging you down? It is time to place your thoughts and battles in line with the truths in Ephesians, “Christ has blessed you with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” You have been raised up with Christ and are seated with Him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6-7).

Ponder this:

Eternity is already in session. If you want to go into heaven-go now. You have access. -John Ortberg

J. Vernon McGee says it this way:

You are in the heavenlies in Christ even when you are down in the dumps. Everyone who is in Christ is seated in the heavenlies in Him. That is the position He has given us.

Consider This as you memorize Ephesians 1:3-6

Would I react to daily trials, temptations and turmoil differently if I recognized my position with Christ in the heavenlies?

What would it take for me to remember and access every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms today?

Give God the Praise

God has chosen you to share in His blessings. He has given you the means to not only survive, but thrive through this life. Take some time to thank Him for who He is.

Meditate on the Verses

Spiritual lessons and themes are popping out of these three verses. Circle key words, jot notes on the margins of your Bible,

What do you learn about the character of God?

As you memorize and chew upon the book of Ephesians this year, take notes about the character and actions of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit from these verses.

Stop and talk to God about His character. Do you think accurately about the God you love and follow? Praise Him, thank Him and ask Him to help you know Him more deeply.

Study Further

Did you notice the words “blessing” and “blessed” are used 4 times in these verses? “Blessing” is a word we hear commonly used throughout the day. Do you have a clear understanding of its meaning? Spend a few minutes doing a word study on the original language and meaning of these words.

It’s not about Me!

Although Christ has chosen to richly bless us with every spiritual blessing, and give us the means to live a victorious life, it is actually not about Me!

As you meditate on these verses, look for the why. How many reasons do you observe why God has chosen to bless you? For whose purpose?

Leave a comment and share your thoughts as we memorize and learn God’s Word together.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Practical Tools to Help you Memorize Scripture

photo (12)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:15-16

Here we go, friends! This week we are embarking on a great adventure as we memorize Scripture together. Some of you have always wished you could do it while others have put it off for months. (or years?) Now you have made the commitment! I know you can do it.

Why do you think the discipline of memorizing Scripture is so difficult? Maybe because of that very thing-discipline. It is a good question to ask yourself in order to get past any mental hurdles that may try to get in your way the next few months as we memorize the book of Ephesians!

This week we begin with Ephesians 1:1-2. To boost your success I want to share some practical tools to help you memorize Scripture.

Scripture Typer App

The Scripture Typer App is a multi-sensory Scripture memory tool. It involves reading, writing, and most likely talking to yourself. You simply enter your verses and the Bible version of choice (I prefer ESV) and it sets you up for reminders and practice runs. I gave it a try last night. In spite of my son sitting next to me watching the Planes movie and singing loudly in my ear, I was able to master the verses in fifteen minutes.

The app feels like a game. You type in the first letter of each word as you read the verse. This is good repetitive practice as you familiarize yourself with the Scripture. The next level prompts you to fill in words and highlights what you miss. (Seeing your mistakes is a good memory builder!)

I tested my memory again this morning while in the waiting room of my doctor’s office. I got it down! It’s a fun way to practice this spiritual discipline in between all of those little down times you have in your day. Thanks for letting me know about this app, Michelle!

By the way, I timed myself because I knew once I set my mind to get down to business, it wouldn’t take too long. I will remind myself of this when I try to make the excuse of not having enough time!

Spiral Index Cards
photo (13)
I have been carting around these spiral index cards since my college days. I often purchase several of them and pass them along to girls who want to know God’s Word well.

It’s simple-write your verse on the card and carry it with you in the car or prop it up at your desk. I like the brightly colored cards-because colors are motivators, too! Your small group can easily trade the cards to test each other.

You may choose to use the 3-4 colors in the spiral to categorize your memory verses. For instance, orange is for verses about courage and green is for verses about God’s character, etc.

Visual Reminders

Most of us are visual learners and we need visual reminders of our goals! Make a practice of writing your verse or the first letter of each word in the verse on a sticky note. Stick it on your mirror, your steering wheel, your cupboard, your coffee pot.

Another great use of the sticky note is to write the reason you are memorizing Scripture. When reminded of the value of something we are more likely to invest in it. Make your note short and personal, for example: “Bonnie, you want to speak God’s Word accurately in the last days!”

What memory tool works best for you? Leave a comment and let the rest of us know how you are doing. Be confident, sister and Keep Pressing On!

To stay up to date with the Ephesians Scripture Memory updates and encouragement be sure to fill out the email subscription on the right hand side of this page. **If you have signed up for emails and have not yet received them, please let me know so I can correct the glitch for you!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Enjoy Great Spiritual Dividends when you Memorize Scripture this Year!

photo (10)

The last few years God has been nudging me to make a practice of memorizing New Testament books. I talk about it-and I put it off. This is the year to make it happen! A few friends are joining me for accountability and help keep the momentum of memorization. Will you join us in this challenge?

Hiding God’s Word in your heart will always bear great comfort, fruit, confidence and growth. I also believe we need to be prepared to speak God’s Word at any moment of need, keeping in mind we may not always have access to the written Word!

So, here is the plan. We are beginning with the book of Ephesians and breaking it into a weekly schedule of memory verses. I will post each week’s assignment and as you memorize Scripture, I will encourage you with creative ways to memorize, as well as insights and questions to consider pertaining to God’s Word.

Please let me know if you are joining us in the challenge to hide God’s Word in your heart! Share your memorizing tricks, your struggles and the fruit you are sure to bear as we grow together.

January 2014 Ephesians Memory Schedule:

*January 2-7 Read entire book of Ephesians in one sitting
*January 7-14 Memorize Ephesians 1:1-2
*January 14-21 Memorize Ephesians 1:3-6
*January 21-28 Memorize Ephesians 1:7-10
*January 28-February 4 Catch up! This is your Catch-Up and Review week!

John Piper of Desiring God Foundation compiled some thoughts about why Scripture memory is important. To solidify your commitment this year of memorizing God’s Word, consider this,

“First, a few testimonies: I have it third hand, that Dr. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Seminary once made the statement (and I paraphrase) that if it were his decision, every student graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary would be required to learn one thousand verses word perfect before they graduated.

Dallas Willard, professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California, wrote, “Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That’s where you need it! How does it get in your mouth? Memorization” (“Spiritual Formation in Christ for the Whole Life and Whole Person” in Vocatio, Vol. 12, no. 2, Spring, 2001, p. 7).

Chuck Swindoll wrote, “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified” (Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994], p. 61). ” www.desiringgod.org/articles/whymemorizescripture

Are you taking the challenge with us? Be sure to sign up for email notifications so you can receive a weekly Scripture Memory schedule and words of encouragement to press on in Ephesians! Post a comment or send me a private message to let us know you are in!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Mom I Choose to Be

iStock_000012822902SmallWhile each passing moment reminds me that my high school Senior is quickly becoming a young man, a cartoon image clicks in my mind. It is a split image of a young man and his Mom. On the left side of the cartoon a young man is walking out the front door of his home with a suitcase in hand. He is leaving the nest for the first time and around his torso is tied the arms of his Mom. Her body clings tightly to him; sobbing, gripping so tightly he gasps for air. Her legs are dragging behind him as he takes his first step out the door. She begs, “Don’t leave me, Son!” Below the image is written, “The Mom I Could Be!”

The second image portrays the same mom (she looks strangely like me), standing tall and smiling confidently. Her face is peaceful and a strong arm rests around her son. She gives him a goodbye that instills confidence and a firm footing in the young man as he steps out the door. I’m still working on what this mom says to her boy. Below the image is written, “The Mom I Choose to Be!”

These images portray the conflict within me as my heart and head struggle to unite in order to release my son well when the big moment comes. His High School Graduation is approaching quickly and I have been preparing myself since the day he was born.

You have gathered by now, I am not one of those moms you hear cheering when her kids go back to school after being home for long summer days. No, I am the one who is mourns the end of summer and the limited amount of time left to enjoy each other once they go back to school. I love our daily conversations in the van and I am their biggest sports fan. I melt when they smile and I labor in prayer for their lives.

So, how does a woman invest her entire heart, soul, mind and energies into the development and nurturing of her own flesh and blood and then release him?

Does she turn off the flow of adoration?

Does she keep silent even when her heart is aching?

Or does she cling, manipulate and control any detail she can in order keep him close?

I am convinced that most of us Mom’s are struggling with similar thoughts of loss and sadness when their children leave the nest. Some of us choose to act wacky and squeeze the life out of our kids while others release their children well.

From even the early days of parenting, I am faced with the choice to react to my emotions (yikes!) or to respond in healthy ways in the parent-child relationship. This requires honesty with myself about my feelings (not stuff them) and the desire to objectively support the stages of life my children are in.

If I desire for them to pursue their dreams, live inter-dependently as adults and have thriving family relationships of their own, then I must release them well!

Mamas, how are you doing on your journey to releasing your young adults well? Have you thought about what this will look like?

Are you able to talk with friends about your heartaches and anxieties? Do you receive a balanced and healthy response from them when you do?

Are you living with purpose outside of the parent-child relationship? If you aren’t, then it will be difficult to release well.

I hope you will join me –no matter what stage of life your children are in- -as we discover how to release our children well. Perhaps together we can figure out the best caption for “The Mom I Choose to Be”.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

I Can’t Write Their Story

 

Once upon a time 

I reached for the steaming hot ducky felt rice bag for the umpteenth time.  “Thank you, son” I weakly whimper to my fourteen year old.

Lying helpless in bed is not the Mom-image I dream of being for my boys. In spite of the storybook family image I try to write for them over the years, I finally resolve, “I can’t write their story.”

While my youngest boy perfected the ability to stitch straight seams in his 8th grade class, I am certain he never imagined his Mom would be getting so much use from the ducky bag he made.

Up and down the stairs he runs as he takes care of me, commenting how the bag stinks now. Zapped so many times,the rice burns beneath the soft flannel duckies. I place the bag on my gut where bright red burns have created a design the doctor thinks may never go away.

It’s the middle of summer and I have spent weeks in painful misery and long hours in the E.R. I’ve experienced too many blood tests, cat scans and increased doses of ox-codeine than I care to count.

This is not the plan I envisioned for myself or family this summer. The boys and I were going to cook from Alton Brown’s cookbook together. I hoped they would teach me how to lift weights in the garage. I took for granted sitting in my lawn chair cheering on the soccer team, taking videos of their swim meets and watching them improve their stroke.

Instead, I am an absent mom and my husband has taken on the role of Mr. Mom in their summer frolics.

I certainly never planned to listen to the family laughing and splashing in the backyard or conversing around the kitchen table from the misery of my darkened bedroom. I roll over saddened, maybe even ashamed, as I watch my boys walk quietly past my door.

“Please take him out of the room” I whisper to my husband as he shuffles our boy with special needs away from his mom. I can’t bear the thought of him being confused or anxious as I groan and weep in pain.

“Feel… better…. Mommy” he carefully tells me.

This is not the perfect family story I wrote for my children. I don’t want them to have a helpless mom. They shouldn’t have to take care of me at their age. They shouldn’t have to completely care for themselves throughout the day.

I should be vibrant, energetic, interacting with them. I should.

I should be cooking for them and driving them for milkshakes.

I should.

I should.

Wrestling with pain…Wrestling with “should’s”… Wrestling with God…

He stills my heart.

He reminds me this is what I prayed for over the years. I ask the Lord to grow character in my boys, to make of them godly men. I ask Him to orchestrate opportunities for them to rely on Him in a deep and personal way.

This is their opportunity to experience disappointment, even fear and worry — then learn to lean on and listen to their Heavenly Father.  They need to witness the hand of God, to experience their own answers to prayer.

It’s what makes faith real.

On my sick-bed I relinquish to God my rights as Mom. I confess my delusions to control the fine details of my children’s lives. 

Jesus, You be their Master Teacher.

Step into my children’s lives when I cannot and should not.

A sickly Momma is not the image I create in their story. But, God is working with them to create His own story in their lives.

He weaves their joys, disappointments and life experiences for His own good pleasure.

I don’t want to get in Your way, so Lord I am letting go–again–today.

“Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him,  He will never fail you”-George Mueller

Friends, it is almost a year since my surgery and diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease. I have taken time to get my life back in order and enjoy a pain-free summer with the family. Now it’s time to share with you what God keeps trying to teach me at my bedside.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

I am back on a productive track

589A8873web

Hello Friend,

Months have passed since I last sat at the computer to blog and share life with you. I have been waiting for a drug-free mind and God’s clear direction to begin blogging again with purpose.

It was almost a year ago I began having acute pain in my gut. As the pain worsened each week, the doctors increased the levels of pain-killers  needed. I lost several months of productive living, not to mention the lack of productive thinking! There were days I could hardly speak a coherent sentence let alone write one down.

After surgery in the Fall, my productivity level progresses each month. The pain is under control on most days and my body is finally drug-free!

I took the first few months of recovery catching up with my kids’ schedules, then I had to relearn how to enter my website. Should I be admitting that publicly?

This has been a year of various physical and emotional trials and triumphs for our family. I look forward to sharing the lessons God is still revealing to us through the hard times.

We may ask, “Why does God bring thunderclouds and disasters when we want green pastures and still waters?” Bit by bit, we find behind the clouds, the Father’s feet; behind the lightning, an abiding day that has no night; behind the thunder, a still small voice, that comforts with a comfort that is unspeakable.–Oswald Chambers

Friend, it is good to share life with you again and together search out the Lord’s direction for our daily life and breath!

Always for His Honor,

Bonnie

 

 

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Faith Conversations with my Teenage Boys

Despite the long hours this mom-on-the-go spends in her vehicle, and the uneasy sense of my rear growing four times its size as a result from sitting so long every day, I do enjoy van-time with my kids. The daily detailed stories, questions and practical faith conversations are shared freely in the confines of our cushioned metal cage. But recently I notice, the boys are more quiet in our daily drives. I wonder if its due to their teenage testosterone or if they are doing more internal thinking. But no, with one glance over my shoulder I understand its those darn smart phones. The addictive games and texts are pulling them in to cyber play, drawing them away from life’s in-the-moment interactions.

Beside me in the passenger seat sits my fourteen year old son. He is nurturing his new smart phone. To my dismay, this has become a common scene. His conversation of late has been centered around his praises and concerns for his new treasure.

“How is your precious?” I asked in a friendly manner.

Huh?

“I think you are going to make a great Daddy one day.” His face twisted in disgust as he looked at me curiously. “When you were a baby, your Dad and I loved holding you and patting you and talking to you and talking about you. We adored you.”

Yea?

He was still wondering where I was going with this.

“You seem to be nurturing your own precious cell phone that way. If you take care of your own children like your precious phone, you will also be a great attentive Dad,” I say with a voice of encouragement.

Oh. Uh-oh.

He got it. Similar conversations have taken place over the course of his young lifetime. It has been our parenting intention to model the futility of loving things–how easy it is to place the temporal above our love for God and others.

I pulled the van slowly into the garage and gently added, “All things will pass away, my boy. Only God and people last forever. Love them more than your technology.”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Life is hard but God is Good

Be Still

Do you ever have those moments when things are going so well in your life that you wonder, “When is the crisis coming?” It used to be a “doomsday” feeling that lurked over my head in my younger years. Life experience has taught me it won’t actually be the end of the world when crisis comes my way. Yes, life is hard, but our God is good!

Contrary to popular opinion, life is not about making me happy and easing through the years. This topic of conversation has cropped up frequently this month as different generations of women in my life are able to relate. Life is about becoming more like the image of God and I have a long way to go! He gently and kindly chips away my rough edges. He allows only what I can handle through the strength He gives me.

It is during these times of crisis when emotions, stretched like a worn rubber band, force me to rely heavily on the Lord to get me through the day in one big emotionally healthy God-honoring way. One day I’ll learn to rely on Him so fully every day that it doesn’t take a crisis to get me depending so desperately upon Him!

Only last month the thought crossed my mind, “When is the next crisis coming?” Sure enough the hard times were lurking around the corner. Pausing in our dark garage with a heavy heart, I sat in the van and pondered the last ten years of my life, “Has life become easier or harder?”

Yes and yes, I decided.

Yes, life is easier because I have learned to manage my emotions better. I have learned to”let go” sooner. I have learned contentment in the simple phrase, “It is what it is”. I have learned to turn to friends and experts when we need a life jacket to help us stay afloat.

I have learned to sit still and know that God is God. Trusting fully in God’s character and His good  hand in our life provides a deep source of peace. Even experiencing joy in the midst of pain!

And yes, life is harder. I am often stretched beyond my resources and beyond my experiences. When my kids are involved in the crisis, the letting go of anxiety and deep emotional investment is even more challenging. You parents know what I mean. You carry the anguish of your kids’ struggles like a thorn in your flesh. The ache in your heart isn’t going away any time soon. The challenge to give our kids over to the Lord is an ever-evolving exercise of faith.

But, it is all good. God is always good.

A favorite author of mine, J.I. Packer, adds his perspective on the goodness of God:

“…you recognize that God is the author and source of all the good that you have had already, and all the good that you hope for in the future.  This is the fundamental philosophy of Christian prayer. The prayer of a Christian is not an attempt to force God’s hand, but a humble acknowledgement of helplessness and dependence. When we are on our knees, we know that it is not we who control the world; it is not in our power, therefore, to supply our needs by our own independent efforts; every good thing that we desire for ourselves and for others must be sought from God, and will come, if it comes at all, as a gift from his hands. In effect, therefore, what we do every time we pray is to confess our own impotence and God’s sovereignty.”  J.I.Packer, Knowing and Doing the Will of God

In the midst of your trial friend, are you willing to submit your anxiety and pain to the goodness of God? Will you join me in the humility of prayer that does not attempt to control or force the hand of God? Let us learn together how to fully acknowledge our helplessness and dependence upon Him.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Lord tests the heart

“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold,
but the Lord tests the heart.” Proverbs 17:3

The fire of the crucible is never meant to destroy the silver. The intense heat of the furnace will not destroy the gold. Fire improves upon precious metals, refining and purifying them. Likewise, the Lord tests our heart.

He allows the heat of our trials to refine our character and purify our heart. Will You test our hearts, Lord?

A wrong has been done against our child and we are in the midst of a battle for justice.  We are his protectors. We are the voice for our special needs child when he is unable to speak for himself.

The world fights injustice by productive means, but its justice also has the tendency to act out with vengeance or silly lawsuits. We cannot get caught up in the actions of the world. On the contrary, we are vessels of Christ and He desires to shine His light into this darkness.

I am very certain He has a larger purpose in mind for the situation we find our family in. We are just along for the wild ride. In the pain and discouragement of events exposed, we are willing to do what He wants us to do.

The problem is we don’t know exactly what He wants to do with all of the details of the event. But we do know the Lord will direct our steps. And when He does make clear to us what actions to take then we act with bold faith. No matter how personally uncomfortable it is to tread upon unfamiliar territory, the discomfort cannot be our guide.

So please Lord, keep our hearts in check. We acknowledge our hearts can deceive us. When injustice is carried out against our flesh and blood mankind has the potential to go overboard in response. We have no desire to push people to their breaking point in the name of justice. And we absolutely have no desire to shrink back, sweeping the injustice under the carpet.

Help us act in just and purposeful ways which reflect Your heart and honor You without our flesh messing it up!  Test our hearts O Lord, and refine them for good.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather