What is your process for Bible study? It's so easy to get lost and overwhelmed.
1) read/pray through a Psalm a day and a Proverbs a day
2) From there, I read a day out of either Chamber’s “My Utmost for HIs Highest” or Spurgeon’s “Day and Night” (I usually choose on a whim, to be honest) and study the passages mentioned in these devotionals to some sort of depth with the use of various commentaries and Strong’s Concordance. I have this computer program called “Quickverse” which has a million different commentaries and devotionals and translations…its really great
3) For extensive study (which I may or may not get to every single day), I focus on one chapter at a time, right now I’m doing the book of Joshua. First I read through the entire book just to get an overview, and now I’m taking it chapter by chapter, trying to dig in deep and really delve into the history and language of it
The one thing I can say about your personal Bible studies is that you shouldn’t try to put yourself in a spiritual box. Just because this is the way I do it and what works for me doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s what *you* should do. For more on this topic, “The Me I Want to Be” by John Ortberg is a great reference.
The most important thing is that you’re in the Word daily and referencing reliable, solid sources to help you along the way. The Bible has so much depth and I can understand why it would be easy to feel overwhelmed, but at the same time there is so much in Scripture that is laid out so plainly and beautifully.
I would recommend the “Provers and Psalm” a day practice - its something I’ve made a habit of for years and am so grateful for it. My dad always says “the Psalms will keep you sweet and the Proverbs will keep you wise.”
Also, as far as chapter and book study, just start with the Gospels. There are a lot of books in the Bible that just seem ridiculous and that make no sense at first (for example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed Revelations or Leviticus is definitely not the place to start), so just start with the Gospels, where you can get a clear picture of God, His story of salvation, and how it applies to your life.
Most of all, make sure that you’re spending a sufficient time in prayer. Especially for the academically driven, it can be very tempting to be consumed by the things *of* God, and never be consumed *by* God. By this I mean that as intellectually stimulating and exciting and interesting spirituality and the Scriptures can be, if we’re not seeking the Lord in our daily life and allowing what we read and study to have an edifying and real impact in transforming our lives, what are we really seeking?
aced my music theory quiz, had a wonderful time at campus crusade, sang in the lovely Meng Hall with my concert choir comrades that I love and adore, bought a poetry book and Steinbeck’s one and only political satire that I’ve been searching for (and hardcover nonetheless!) from the book sale center, had a yogurt date with my lovely roommate, aced my math exam, and I’m topping it all off with a date with Strong’s Concordance and a steaming cup of organic mint mélange tea. Could today possibly have been more divine? Perhaps, but even I’m not that optimistic ;)
3) my “just right” porridge has turned out to have an infestation of mold in it (metaphorically speaking…my oatmeal this morning was actually great)
On a slightly related note,
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”
- Psalms 145:8
Ah, to be slow to anger - how rash and audaciously presumptuous I can be! My parents always liked to console me about it under the guise of “passion”, that - perhaps - I have too much passion in me to deal with, so if left unchecked it’ll spill out in unwarranted ways. I’m not necessarily referring to anger management, but rather the boiling bitterness that can so easily consume my actions and motives. Where does it start?
I want to be so poor in anger and bitterness and pride and self-absorption that I have none to spare, so that I have to search to the depths of my heart and the corners of being to find enough to gather together to use - and even then, find want.
And I want to be so rich in love and compassion and selflessness and humility that its spilling from my pockets and smile and being: so that its falling from my arms as I’m trying to carry the vast amounts of it, and so that its too much than I know what to do with - and even then, still more.
I really should be sleeping right now. Too bad my nerves over tomorrow’s music theory quiz are making me so restless. Really, I need to find a way not to freak out about it so much. Perhaps all my time worrying over my intellectual incompetencies could be better spent in actually sharpening my mind and *effectively* studying. Not that my studying isn’t effective…I just feel like when it comes to trying to comprehend all of this theory stuff and being able to digest and regurgitate this information as quickly as our professor expects us to, I’m slugging through thick mud and I can’t manage to pick up my feet and just sprint.
I’m used to sprinting. I’m used to going fast, analyzing fast, and applying the information I take in. But this is unlike anything I’ve ever done. No, its actually really similar to Ozark mountain. The Ozark at YHS is this ridiculously uphill mountain conveniently located right next to the track. We used to have to spring it 3, 4, sometimes up to 7 times in a row, and each time we did it, the next time we had to sprint it had to be quicker. Think pacers but at an unrealistic incline.
I don’t think the standard should be lower than it is, I just wish I could rise to it quicker than I am. I don’t want to accept my intellectual limitations, because I don’t truly believe that that’s what this is. Still, there’s the fear…
Today I went to a piano concert where Robert Weirich was playing Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” (Aria with 30 Variations).
There is a lot about music that I don’t understand. I couldn’t sit there in the concert and tell you much about the reoccurring theme (I could hardly identify it) or the form or critique the dynamics or technique. Several times I embarrassingly lost my place in the movements (thank you to a friend who occasionally would signal which movement we were on as well as my primal ability to distinguish a canon from…well…anything else). And, despite studying a bit of Bach in my years of piano experience, I had absolutely zero intelligent input.
But I did enjoy the concert, tremendously so. I certainly was not bored, and there wasn’t a moment in which I wasn’t aware of what was happening. I love and hate music because it is an art in real time. No one slows down for you so that you can ponder it more or figure out what it means: its raw and you either understand it or you don’t.
More often than not (at this point in my life, at least, with the little education I have received thus far) I don’t understand it. But I suppose that’s an incredibly subjective term, isn’ it?
I don’t understand it in that I can’t tell you why it makes me feel the way that I do. I can’t tell you why some moments make me want to suppress giggles and others find me with furrowed eyebrows and holding my breath. I love the prospect of being able to know why, and even though my struggles with theory so far don’t seem to foreshadow an incredibly promising analytical future (perhaps I’m selling myself short - I do know that I’m a hard worker and I’ll get there - I’ll work and it will come easier to me sooner or later, I just don’t know if it ever will be easy. I’m not sure if I would ever want it to be), one of these days - gradually - I’ll understand a little more.
I know that my lack of knowledge and understanding at this point in my life, as well as my struggles with music theory, are having the impact on me that it is because its attacking my pride. I don’t like to admit that I’m a prideful person, but I think the fact that it’s hidden makes it that much more impenetrable: which makes it that much more painful when it is.
But I love what I do and I’m studying what I can because God gave a heart for people, for music, and a voice to sing. If I’m prideful its a folly because my gift doesn’t belong to me anyways: if I’m lacking assurance, I’m allowing my faith in God to waver. There’s a divine balance to be found, and one I have to seek the Lord for in continuous prayer and study of his Word.
And I do understand music. Maybe not in a “scholarly” way just yet, but the melodies sing in my heart, and I can feel it in the way that any “uneducated” person can understand art (should they open themselves up to their desire to share and partake in the sharing of things which cannot otherwise be expressed but through some sort of artistic medium).
I think my favorite Variation in the piece I saw today was Var. 25:
There’s a moment when you’ve made a mistake when time stands still. The past, the present, and the future are suspended on this string and its just been cut - you can see it there, the moment before it falls. You try and think of any out, any way you can plead with God or yourself to just undo that one step. Yet, time is merciless and you’re left knowing exactly how the repercussions of this choice are going to fold out: the only thing left to do is watch it fall.
It’s the moment you’ve uttered those words from your mouth and you can see it registering in your loved one’s eyes. It’s the glass mid-air before it hits the floor. It’s the cut before it bleeds, the intuition of loss before you hear the news. It’s the stillness before the storm.
You can’t go back; you pray to God that time won’t go forward. And so you’re stuck, with the weight of the guilt and the pain of sin, of selfishness and self absorption, and of loss. You want nothing more than to be wrapped in the arms of the One who knows your pain and your sorrow and regret, and who gave Their life for you, knowing you would - still - follow through with this very transgression. But for now, all you feel is loss.
Finally finished East of Eden and still haven’t come off of my novel high - very easily the best novel I’ve ever read.
One of the gems I’m still mulling over (as there will be many more to come):
Lee said, “Mr Hamilton, you’re going away and you’re not coming back. You do not intend to live very much longer.”
"That’s true, Lee. How did you know."
"There’s death all around you. It shines from you."
"I didn’t know anyone could see it," Samuel said. "You know, Lee, I think of my life as a kind of music, not always good music but still having form and melody. and my life has not been a full orchestra for a long time now. A single note only - and that note unchanging sorrow. I’m not along in my attitude, Lee. It seems to me that too many of us conceive a life as ending in defeat."
Lee said, “Maybe everyone is too rich. I have noticed that there is no dissatisfaction like that of the rich. Feed a man, clothe him, put him in a good house, and he will die of despair.”
"It was your two-word retranslation, Lee - ‘Thou mayest.’ It took me by the throat and shook me. And when the dizziness was over, a path was open, new and bright. And my music has a new last melody like a bird song in the night."
Lee was peering at him through the darkness. “That’s what it did to those old men of my family.”
"Thou mayest rule over sin,’ Lee. That’s it. I do not believe all men are destroyed. I can name you a dozen who were not, and they are the ones the world lives by. It is true that the spirit as it is true of battles - only the winners are remembered. Surely most men are destroyed, but there are others who like pillars of fire guide frightened men through the darkness. ‘Thou mayest, Thou mayest!’ What glory! It is true that we are weak and sick and quarrelsome, but if that is all we ever were, we would, millenniums ago, have disappeared from the face of the earth. A few remnants of fossilized jawbone, some broken teeth in the strata of limestone, would be the only mark man would have left of his existence in the world. But the choice, Lee, the choice of winning! I have never understood or accepted it before. Do you see now why I told Adam tonight? I exercised the choice. Maybe I was wrong, but by telling him I also forced him to live or get off the pot. What is that word, Lee?”
“Timeshel,” said Lee. “Will you stop the cart?”
"You’ll have a long walk back."
Lee climbed down. “Samuel!” he said.
"Here am I." The old man chuckled. "Liza hates for me to say that."
"Samuel, you’ve gone beyond me."
"It’s time, lee."
"Good-by, Samuel," Lee said, and he walked hurriedly back along the road. He heard the iron tires of the cart grinding on the road. He turned and look after it, and on the slope he saw the old Samuel against the sky, his white hair shining with starlight.
I’m pretty sure the one in Hebrew was my favorite XP
Do the same thing with “Little April Shower” from Bambi - there are at least 7 different languages you can find it in, and every single one uses a different choir with a completely different timbre and a different way of saying “drip drop” - totally fascinating.
Marilyn- the awesomest, most coolest, funniest person in the whole entire world. To know her is a privilege and an honor. Now, all I need to do is just add this definition into a dictionary then it will be official, it is a fact after all.
LOL. Seriously, Chris, if you don’t stop flattering me my head isn’t going to fit through a normal doorway anymore. But thank you for the sentiment :P
If it helps at all, according to urbandictionary.com I’m cooler than the ice in your freezer. Doesn’t get more official than that. >:)
Marilyn, you definitely have the insight. I think that a book, or at least a compilation of your questions and answers is an excellent supplement to Bible Studies. Especially your work on relationships.
Hehe “the insight” makes it seem like a magical entity…like “the force” >:D
But jokes aside, Nathan, I take that compliment very seriously and it means a lot coming from someone of such uncommon wisdom. Thank you.
The funny thing is that I have so many friends and even members of my family that have asked me questions or listened to my perspectives on relationships, and tend to scoff (out of love, of course) and claim that as soon as I’m actually *in* a relationship “all the rules will go out the window.”
Maybe I do have too many rules…but I like to think that the philosophy I’ve built has been grounded in the Truth of the Scripture and that even in the midst of romance and emotions (should I ever be in a relationship), I can cling to the Truth I know to be self evident in scripture and adhere to what I believe God has set forth as a wiser way to live.
is there anyone that you currently have a crush on or might be interested in?
Yes and yes
This was actually a really difficult question to answer, for a couple of reasons.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t want to be someone who gives their affections too freely or foolishly, and its a bit of a necessary precursor for a guy to pursue me before I’ll let my heart breach the line between crush/initial attraction and true affection. At least, that’s what I believe is the most wise route for me to take as a woman of God.
Then again, this isn’t easy, and I’m finding that when I meet a guy that’s really wonderful, I don’t *want* to protect my heart. And I’m finding that every time I admit to having a particular “crush” or “interest” in someone, the idea becomes more deeply impressed in my heart and more real. Which, eventually, is going to make potential disappointment that much more painful. (It’s called a crush for a reason.)
I know that risks are inevitable in the world of relationships, but, again, my heart is my wellspring. Especially as a young woman, its delicate and its sacred and its been hurt way too many times and given away to people and things it shouldn’t have because I didn’t value myself and I wasn’t depending on God. The last thing on earth I want to do is make that same mistake.
But, let’s get real here: I’m in college. There are guys. As a matter of fact, there are *lots* of guys. And a great deal of them (or at least a good handful) are incredibly talented, handsome, intelligent, God-fearing men, and I’ve been unbelievably blessed to meet them and even be able to start calling some of them my friends.
I would be a pompous liar if I were to claim that I didn’t have crushes ;)
you have a knack for articulation & your writings have a godly perspective (i've been reading :p)..ever thought of authoring some gems? (:
You’re so kind! I enjoy writing and I often joke about writing a “novel” some day, but I’m not sure if I have enough insight worthy enough to fill an entire book - haha! I wouldn’t want to write any sort of “self-help” Christian book or anything - God knows there’s enough of those out there, and people still have as many issues as they did before they existed. Lol!
But perhaps someday I’ll delve into the realm of creative writing, or author something that I’m particularly passionate about. I would never want to force anything, though, and I recognize that years and years of work go into writing something really worth-while. So we’ll see :)
1. They have to love and be committed to the Lord far more than anything else in their life and far more than they could ever love me. I have to see this in the way they live, speak, and love.
2. They have to be stable or working toward stability: mentally, physically, financially. Obviously no one is perfect and this is really subjective to whatever point in our lives we’re at, but I think its important to be with someone who has the capacity and ability to care for me and support me and any family we may have.
3. They have to “fit into my world” so to speak. This includes getting along with and loving my family, respecting my parents and their wishes, supporting my goals, encouraging my dreams, and pushing me to be better.
4. They have to be a leader or initiator. Everything else could be great and perfect and wonderful, but if I can’t follow their lead its bound to be a dismal relationship. The hard thing about this is that I’m such a natural leader and I tend to be really prideful. This last one is a huge challenge for me, which is why it’s really important for me to be with someone who *can* take that role as leader. Also, I need someone who will initiate the relationship with me as I don’t necessarily think its prudent for a girl to pursue a guy…so, naturally nothing will ever happen unless they’re an initiator….heh
So, not necessarily a “DO NOT DATE” list, but rather a “I will only date/continue to date if….” list ;)
Oh boy. Well, I certainly can’t claim the thoughts and perspectives that I have on marriage as original or my own, but rather a culmination of what I believe the scriptures lay out as purpose of marriage, as well as the loving and wonderful example that my parents have set for me.
Ultimately, marriage is a picture of Christ’s love for the church. I like to think that, ideally, two people get married because in the beauty of their love, commitment, and mutual submission they can glorify the magnificence of our Creator better than they ever could alone. Within that is obviously the issue of sex, which I strongly believe is a gift that should be saved exclusively for the commitment of marriage. This can be discussed more at length in person.
As exampled to me by my parents, marriage sharpens you, challenges you, and brings out the greatest and the worst in every person. My parents have always held to the mantra of “divorce never, murder maybe” meaning than their commitment to one another and with God really is until death, and should I ever get married I plan to hold that same commitment.
There’s so much more to say and my mind is swimming in so many different directions, that this would go on forever if I had the mental capacity and patience to just keep writing about it, haha! I would love to have a conversation or dialogue in person about it.
As far as where I view myself right now in context of the picture of marriage, I would never date someone I couldn’t eventually see myself marrying. Now, clearly knowing if you would actually want to marry someone obviously takes getting to know them…which sometimes means going on dates. In that aspect, there are obviously things that I may not find out about someone until *after* a couple of dates, where there are other no-brainers that are easily understood about an individual that may or may not be “deal-breakers”. As challenged by a speaker at a Bible study I attended for a while, I wrote a list of 4 uncompromisable attributes in any guy that I would date. Thus far I haven’t “dated off the list”, and I’m sure its saved me a great deal of disappointment and heartbreak, and had I established those standards sooner I would have saved myself that much more!
Also, I don’t mean that any date or “outing” I go on with a guy I’m automatically assuming he wants to marry me, nor do I plan to give my heart that freely and quickly. Rather, I hope that as I grow older and start dating and meeting “potentials” (as my friends and I secretly refer to attractive guys as), I don’t plan on scattering my affections without reason.
Also, I recognize, understand, and plan to adhere to my Biblical role as a woman and my strong belief that I was made to be cherished, loved, and pursued. So even though I have ideas of whom I might like to have a relationship or a sort of “prototype”, I guess you could say, I recognize that in a great aspect it isn’t up to me. Instead of stressing about looking for the right person, I’m trying to focus on just being the right person and learning how to be dependent solely on Christ.
What if I never get married? That could happen. However, I have faith that if I just focus on being the person that God created me to be, glorifying him with my abilities and talents, and offering up the relationships in my life to Him, that (should marriage be in my future) it will work out. Not that its just going to fall into place perfectly…but maybe something close to that ;)
The fact of the matter is that I’m not someone who believes you have to be married in order to be happy. Though (as a girly young college student) I do have those desires and giddy crushes and attractions and hopes, I also have my individual passions and dreams and goals, and I just want to live my life serving my Creator and partaking in uplifting and edifying relationships, whether or not any of them take a romantic turn.
“I desire money, not for my own selfish greed - I would be happy with a single bedroom apartment and some fun with the woman I love. But I have strange, lofty desires of tipping my pizza man or bartender $1000 and making their month amazing, or leaving a briefcase full of money at the doorstep of a single mother of three. Or walking in on a young couple who may not be able to afford the house of their dreams and telling the realtor that I will pay the difference between their down payment and the cost of the home. Perhaps this makes me strange, I think it makes sense.”—
My private voice instructor is a goddess. Perhaps the pagan reference is sacrilegious, but the best description I have after that is fairy godmother.
I’ve talked with so many people who don’t like their private instructors and dread their applied lessons, but somehow I was blessed with a woman who is not only incredibly hilarious and talented and a great teacher, but who understands me so well. I’ve been dealing with so much….stuff lately and she’s just so wise and insightful. There’s too many good things that she says that I would be pained not to share because her counsel transcends the realm of singing far too often. So this will be the first of many to come of transcribed (I record my lessons…baha) snippets of wisdom and/or hilarity from Dr. Baker: a woman I couldn’t possibly be more blessed to be able to work with.
"The bad news about being a singer is that your way of making music is inside the body that is stressed out, so don’t worry about. And its not stress like "omg i’ve got too much homework" its the unspoken medical real clinical kind of stress to your body and yours system, and its manifesting itself in your voice."
"Nobody makes a lot of money out of singing except maybe 4 people. You might be one of them, but incase you’re not you might as well have fun. Sing with great love and abandon."
B: I can hear that you’re tight. I can hear the stress of your life in your voice.
M: Yeah, I can feel that I’m tight, and I want to fix it, so I’m willing to do whatever…
B: Stop. Do me a favor. You can’t hurry love. That’s an old song [commence singing]. Don’t worry about it so much! I’ll take care of it. It might take a couple of weeks, it might take a couple of months, but its not going to happen overnight.
M: *sigh* yeah
B: How much are you practicing? Out of curiosity. Or do you practice at all?
M: I do, I do. Daily, an hour minimum
B: Do me a favor
M: I can practice more if-
B: Cut it in half
B: Half hour a day. You’re a good student, you’ve learned your repertoire. Just a half hour a day.
M: I can do that
B: With the other half, take a walk. Take a walk and think about the joy your voice is going to bring you in your life. Because - lets face it - you have a beautiful voice. And your lovely voice and sound is going to bring you great joy.
And I want you to realize that even though you’re in school and everybody keeps telling you what to do, you’re here for you. You’re here to grow and to have fun and to learn. So, take a good stress break. I walk all the time, I would go out of my mind if I couldn’t. But walk, and breathe, and enjoy.
And one more thing (because there’s always at least one therapy session per semester): Everybody has and will put their stuff on you. You’re an easy victum because you’re a great singer, you got into Concert Choir as a freshman, and there’s a lot of jealousy around. This trains you for real life. People will knock you down, teachers will teach in a negative way; I can’t do that.
This is a weird thing to be saying to a freshman, but take what you like, leave the rest behind, and don’t let it go to your instrument. Don’t let it take hold of your voice. Let it go. And develop a really thick skin…in about a week.
“We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.”—East of Eden
M:I hate texting. It's one of the most perturbing annoyances in my life right now.
M:I hate everything about it! I hate the clicking, I hate the sound my phone makes when I get a text message, I hate trying to think of a witty response to the inconsequential inquiries or comments people send me. You know?
M:And do you know what I really hate about text messaging?
M:I hate how accessible it makes me. I hate that everyone knows that at any hour of any day they can send me anything they want and I'll receive it. I hate it when people have something they want to say to me or something they wish to express and they can't just find me and tell me or give me a call or send me a GOSH DARN LETTER for goodness sakes.
M:I hate being in contact with my entire network of friends 24/7. I hate that when I see people there's nothing to talk about because we've already been debriefed on anything worthwhile in micro-messages via our phones. And I hate getting messages at every gosh-awful hour of the night
M:And what I hate the most about text messaging is that I don't hate it at all! I text all the time! I miss out on the people that are around me and the world around me because my fingers and eyes are glued to this social microcosm. I hate that I enjoy receiving text messages and texting back and having conversations this way.
M:That's it. I don't hate text messaging. I love text messaging. I hate the idea of text messaging. And I hate that I love text messaging.
“Lift up your eyes on high,
And see who has created these things,
Who brings out their host by number;
He calls them all by name,
By the greatness of His might
And the strength of His power;
Not one is missing.”— Isaiah 40:26
Just kidding - they’re Painted Lady Caterpillars. Not much for the eyes now, but in a couple weeks…! XD
Apparently the kit was supposed to come with five caterpillars, but it appears as if we only have four (which makes dividing them a lot easier: two for me and two for Stephanie) and the remains of one of them.
It kind of looks like it exploded during the shipping process…or something.
(As a side note, any name recommendations for my two caterpillars are welcome!)