Does Your Bible Belong at Goodwill?

When I was in high school, I hated reading the Bible. It was boring, wordy, and confusing. Nothing but my mother’s persuasion could make me flip through the pages of my little King James Bible, the one with my name engraved in rainbow lettering.

Growing up in church, I’ve had a Bible since birth. I knew the stories, I ran the drills, I could list the books in order. As a Christian, I understood its importance, I just couldn’t find the motivation or interest. If ever I did crack open my Bible, it was out of guilt or sadness.

Can you relate?

As college approached I felt God asking me if I would use the independence as an opportunity to grow with Him. “Are you going to follow Me or are you going to follow others who follow Me?” I felt Him say.

I challenged my desire and began reading the Bible for myself each night and each morning, hoping to work my way through the entire book. It took nearly three years, but I made it, learning a lot on the way. God opened up my need to experience more about Him and about His ways.

Like a series of padlocks dispersed through the words, each time through, another was chiec-cau-khoa3unlocked and a mystery was released into my heart. The more I discovered, the more I wanted to unlock until it finally became something I couldn’t live without.

Welcome to the turning point in my relationship with the God of the Universe. He didn’t have to bestow upon me a book that proves His existence or His power, or even foretells the future of the world. He didn’t have to offer a way for me to draw close to Him.

But He did.

Whether you’ve read the Bible as a kid, in high school, or last Sunday, the Bible should be treated as if it holds value in your life. What do I mean by that?

Do you let your trophies get dusty? Do you push a best friend aside until you need something? Do you love a movie so much but never watch it again?

If you have issues with motivation, don’t worry, I get it. But we can’t make excuses forever. How do you ever expect to make an ‘A’ on the test if you don’t study? Make the decision to do something good for your soul and relationship with Jesus.

Here are some ideas to help you rekindle your spiritual thirst.

  • Listen

Take a break from the favorite playlists and podcasts and turn on your Bible app and listen to a reading of the Bible. After all, faith does come through hearing the Word of God, right? (Romans 10:17)

  • Set goals

With each book of the Bible you finish, write it down and keep track of it until you’ve finished the whole Bible. Once you’re done, do it again. You’re never done reading the Word of God. (Is. 40:8)

  • Choose Daily

Set a few verses and chapters to read for your morning devotion and meditate on the passages that stick out to you. (Psalm 63:1)

  • Study

Research is the best way to help study the Bible. Discover the surrounding context, historical facts, original language, and culture. Many elements can help you understand it’s meaning if you take the time to look. (2 Tim. 3:16)

  • Search

If you constantly have questions about God, His works, His ways, His communication, its in the Bible. You want to figure out your purpose, your reason for living, your identity? Check the Bible. You CAN find answers in scripture, even if they’re answers you don’t necessarily like to hear.  (Is. 55:6)

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

∼John 8:31,32∼

If the Word is a map to the kingdom, a place where He’s prepared a home for us, we have no choice but to keep studying that map until we get to our destination. (Matt 6:33)

Take the chance to evaluate your time or lack of time in God’s Word. If I can be blunt, if you don’t spend any time in the Bible and you say you’re a follower of Christ, you may have to question if that’s really true.

Don’t wait until you feel like it–make the effort now to keep your Bible from getting lost in the clutter of your life. An unread Bible has more worth at Goodwill where someone else can get some use out of it.

Open your gift from God today; it may just change your life. It changed mine. (John 8:32)

God bless!

-LJM

 

Want to feel inspired? Click here to see a woman who’s read the Bible 342 times!  (page 16)

Follow me on twitter @leahjordanmeahl for encouraging Bible verses each week

 

 

 

 

 

 

Losing Weight: Body or Soul?

The two areas in my life that call for my attention and constantly undergo total resets are the disciplines of losing weight and spending time with God. Maybe you feel the same?

Losing weight seems to have a negative connotation, but we all know it’ll ultimately be for our good. Similarly, being a Christian has certain necessities, and sometimes, we fail to follow such criteria.

One thing is for certain, we’ll look in the mirror one day and say, “You have to make some changes.” Both processes can be powerfully transforming to your health as a person and as a child of God.

The spine of Christianity relies on two main elements: prayer and time reading the Bible. If you’re going to spend your life dedicated to getting closer to God, those are the keys to growing in faith, and they are both necessary for a relationship with Jesus.

If we’re talking about losing weight, no matter how many programs and products you use, you will always be faced with the bottom line: you must eat healthier and exercise more. Both areas take a lot of discipline and will affect your overall spiritual and physical health.

Prayer coincides with watching what you eat. You must constantly be aware and make choices about what you’re putting in your body. Likewise, prayer is a constant state of awareness of the spiritual realm and God’s presence with us. The Bible says to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), and in doing so, you’re feeding your spirit when you stay in communication with God.

dusty-bible

The little choices are the ones that make a significant impact and eventually, you will start to feel more cleansed and healthy.

Knowing about Jesus doesn’t make you anymore a Christian than knowing about a treadmill makes you physically fit. God has given His Word as a tool to understand Him, and if you don’t take advantage of it, the result ends up stunting your spiritual growth.

Reading the Bible can be like going to the gym. Though you may have moments when you drag your feet and make every excuse not to do it, in the end, you feel refreshed and rejuvenated knowing that you’ve done something good for yourself.

Both disciplines need to become lifestyles. They are day-to-day battles. The key is to keep pushing, and over time, you’ll start to see the changes. In the end, you’ll reap the benefits of your determination and perseverance, and the struggle will always be worth it.

God bless!

-LJM

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

When Your Heart Needs That New Car Smell

Soaped down, hot water jetted, and towel whipped, your car might as well have come out of the furnace like a piece of blown glass, crystal clean.

You know the feeling. Your beautiful wheeled baby is free from the layer of grime that had begun to build on the doors. Not a spot or blemish can be found sprinkled on the windows. The leaves stuck in the windshield wipers have been vanquished. And that’s not all.

The crumbs wedged in the crevices of the seats have been lapped away along with the dirt and candy wrappers that littered floor. Dust no longer coats the dashboard and the coffee stains have been scrubbed until their existence is forgotten.

To top it off, a little cardboard tree hangs from the rearview mirror filling the car with the aroma of sexy Black Ice or whimsical Tropical Sunrise.

That drive home feels just as satisfying as if you had driven straight off the lot with a new car. Remember that feeling and savor it as I tell you why a car wash is on my mind.

You see, that’s how I feel when I read the Bible. That’s how I feel when I spend time alone in my room praying. And not just the “Dear God, A. B. C. Amen” kind of praying, but simply being in total awareness and transparency with God, which is a state we tend to reserve for when we’re really in a bind.

As a result, I always end up feeling clean and new, but I often wonder why I don’t strive for that as often as I could?

Can we really say we drive a clean car when we only clean it once in a while?

Only when the dirt and clutter get too overwhelming, we finally cave and clean out the car, just to wait another six months before doing it again.

Our hearts are the same way. Every day adds another layer of grime or a new addition of garbage and we are the culprits. We allow it. Wouldn’t we feel better if we just kept the car clean?

I know God would prefer it that way.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” -Proverbs 4:23

The God of the universe can hold the stars in his hand like a pile of gold dust and yet He sent His Son so that our hearts could be His forever. We are just that precious to Him.

If we don’t take the time to maintain the condition of our heart with God’s Word and His presence, our heart will suffocate from the negative forces designed to strangle the life out of us. Their weapons? Chainmail of laziness. Arrows of bitterness. Daggers of anxiety. And of course, the tempting poison of everything the world has to offer.

As I challenge myself, I also challenge you to make more room in your heart for Jesus because He is the ultimate satisfaction and the greatest weapon for when Satan tries to steal it away. Believe me, he will try. It might take more work, but all the effort is worth it.

Don’t be caught with a dirty car, because you’re chauffeuring the King of Kings.

God bless!
-LJM
Romans 12:2, Psalm 51:10, Matthew 5:8

What Kind of Bible Reader Are You?

Growing up, reading the Bible was like pulling teeth for me. I had trouble understanding the flowery language, staying engaged with the density of historical facts, and applying the truth to my relationship with Jesus. Have you ever felt the same way?

When I started college, I was determined to read the Bible for myself which I believe was a turning point in my spiritual journey. From then I’ve experimented with Scripture reading methods and have come to the conclusion that there are 5 types of Bible readers.

Which one are you?

The Readers

These people approach the Bible like a trilogy combined into one book. They will most likely use an easy version to read and their priority is to tackle each book from front to back. Entering into one book, they will read all the chapters before going onto the next. Each one completed is a small victory until the day finally comes where they’ll celebrate having finished the entire Bible.

The Artists

A trend has emerged known as “Journaling,” but instead of pens and highlighters, these maxresdefaultreaders decorate their Bibles with water colors and calligraphy. Special Bibles have been printed with wide margins and even coloring templates to encourage the process. Their priority is to tap into their artistic mind and meditate on one verse or passage at a time. While savoring the intricacies of Scripture, they result in aesthetically pleasing pictures.

The Writers

When these people pick up their Bible, they come armed with highlighters, pens, pencils, and maybe even a notebook. Similar to The Artists, they prefer a wide-margined Bible so they have plenty of room to take notes. Their goal is to interact with the text, and they do so by writing questions, comments, and applications. Their Bibles are covered with rainbow streaks of color, underlined words and phrases, and notes squished in every possible empty space.

The Students

Scholars who want to understand the depth of Biblical mysteries fall into this category. They open the Bible with the goal of diving into specific topics or issues and research everything they can find about it. The versions they use probably include commentary from the original Greek and Hebrew translations. Their findings help make connections, support beliefs, and gain a better understanding of God and His ways. The students may be the best and most thorough group and one that bleeds into the others.

The Collectors

You may assume the collectors have something to do with the many versions of Bibles this group collects, but instead, it’s actually something their Bible collects.

Dust.

The Collectors use their Bible when needed whether on Sunday mornings, Bible studies, or in desperate situations. The rest of the time Bibles sit on shelves or nightstands while dust sneaks onto their leather covers.
∼∼∼
I believe the Bible speaks to us in diverse ways. I believe His angels swarm around and minister to us as soon as we open the Scriptures. I believe that spiritual growth is stunted without consistent time in God’s Story.

The world will suffocate the life out of us, and even though we have the means, we choose not to take a breath of fresh air. Choose to breathe in the clean air of Jesus’s love, The Father’s presence, and The Holy Spirit’s truth daily.

Choose to be less like the Collector and more like the Student, but whatever group you fall under, take something away from the Word every time you read it. You never know when it may come in handy.

You are loved and Jesus wants a relationship with you even more than you with Him.
So who are you?

God bless!

-LJM

Walking in the Cemetery

The other day I was reading my devotional, Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado before going to work. Under a list of bullet points I was surprised to read “Make major decisions in a cemetery.”

I had to reread that line a couple times. It seemed so random and not flowing with the other ideas, but I pondered it nonetheless. I decided that my next morning walk would be at a cemetery not far from my house.

The morning was slightly cooler than it’s been the past blazing week. I pulled into the cemetery and instead of being surrounded by headstones, I was surrounded by bouquets of flowers. Most of the grave markers are set flush to the ground so you have to practically be standing over top them to read them.

If you ever need a reality check, the cemetery is a good place to go. Especially when you see the markers of children who didn’t even make it to 5 or 10 years old.

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Visiting Uncle Skipper (2014)

My Uncle “Skipper” died of leukemia when he was 9 years old. He was my first real understanding of death, which is odd because I never met him. Even now I feel a strange connection with him and the knowledge of his brief but precious life.

 

In a cemetery you are very aware of lives that have come to an end and no matter what age, they’re always gone too soon. So, here are some thoughts I had while sitting on a cold stone bench overlooking the resting memorials.

If we could check off everything on our bucket list, would we feel like it was a life well spent? If we landed that dream job, married the love of our life, had the perfect number of children, and could afford a lake house for retirement, is that a successful life?

I gotta be honest, sometimes I feel like if I don’t achieve any of those things, I’ll have wasted my life. But a passage keeps coming to my mind.

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”  ∼Mark 8:34-36 (ESV)

In life, we are constantly bombarded with planning our future and making goals for everything we want to do while we’re still on this earth. Whenever someone close to us passes away, we are reminded that life is short and we should always live as if it’s our last day. While all of that is true and blanketed with good intentions, it’s easy to fall into making each day about us.

As Christians, the fact of the matter is time is short.

Time is short to represent Jesus.

Time is short to do His will.

Time is short to celebrate His name in thankfulness.

I was listening to an online sermon by Todd White (worth looking up here) and he made it abundantly clear that we might be the only Jesus people see. We might be the only Bible people read. What are we doing about it? Are we really making good use of our time as servants of Christ? That’s what it means to be a Christian, isn’t it?

The Bible consistently reminds us of our selfish nature, but thankfully, it also gives us a better alternative to living. If we could just peel our selfishness away and focus on living for God and for others (Lk 10:27), there will be no greater achievement on earth as it is in heaven.

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This epitaph inspired me because I realized I would rather be remembered by walking out the fruits of the Spirit than how many books I publish or performances I give. The fruits of the Spirit are evidence of God in our life so you better believe I want people to see them. They’re found here in Galatians 5 if you want to know what they are.

Let me leave you with a few ideas on how you can reveal the love of Jesus in your daily life:

  • Generously tip all of your servers (not just the deserving ones)
  • Leave notes of encouragement
  • Don’t complain about work
  • Learn peoples’ names (everyone likes to hear their name)

If you have any other ideas on how you like to represent Jesus, leave a comment so we all can learn from each other!

The next time you find yourself in the cemetery, remember the advice from my devotional: “make a major decision” to walk in the light of Jesus, bearing His fruit so the world can pick it from your branches.

God bless!

-LJM

P.S. Daytime walks in the cemetery are far less scary than nighttime walks.

Why I Went to See The Shack

I’m no stranger to Young’s The Shack nor its controversies.

YouTube videos detail the story’s brainwashing doctrine, theological scholars call it heresy, and articles flood my newsfeed with all the biblical reasons to avoid supporting the new film adaptation.

Even so, I went to see the film with an excitement that’s been building up since I first read the book seven months ago. I did, however try to keep in mind all of the opinionated articles I had read leading up to the film’s release.

The movie was very enjoyable even though it seemed like every actor was whispering the entire time. There were definitely lines and scenes that stayed close to the book, and I’ll admit that I bawled towards the end. The film though didn’t quite do the book justice as it had to sculpt away some of the funny nuances that made the novel special, but I feel the film kept the heart of the story.

And that heart isn’t to change the doctrine of Christianity.

I’ve read the book twice, which is something I never do whether I love a book or not. As an aspiring Christian fiction writer, I understand that fictional stories come from true places in the heart. The job is not to tell the same old cliché story. I won’t pretend to know Young’s intentions, but I will say that his story did for me what I hope to do with my future books.

In a tangible way, he reawakened the fantastic love God has for me and the world. No matter how many times I read the book or see the movie, I will always come away with these core messages:

  1. God is very fond of all of us and wants us to know Him rather than know about Him. (Romans 5:8)
  2. No matter how horribly evil someone can be, God still wants the chance to redeem. (Romans 3:23)
  3. Though some of our wounds are incredibly deep and painful, God still wants us to forgive those who caused them. (Matthew 5:44)
  4. We judge the world and God every day of our lives, but God’s ways are higher than our ways. (Matthew 7:1)

If I can add my voice to the many opinions out there, I believe that is the heart of the story.

I’m saddened by the fact that not everyone walks away with the same things and even more so that the story isn’t being given the chance to do what it was written to do. To tell people about the love of a good Father. To heal years of brokenness through the love of Jesus who understands. And to encourage others to grow more intimately with God.

Instead, it is rebuked, boycotted, and deemed blasphemous not by athiests, but by fellow believers.

We can all agree that the Bible is the place to search for truth, and a fictional story should not be treated as life giving as the Bible. That’s where the problem begins, but I highly doubt that we have to worry about Shack-supporting Christians uprising and throwing out the Word of God.

The Shack is not the film you should worry about tampering with your faith or idea about God. Even if you don’t agree with every little piece of information, the film is still clean, positive, encouraging, and moving.

In all honesty, those characteristics are far better than the negative ones that we Christians open ourselves to by seeing movies such as Sausage Party, Ouija, and Fifty Shades of Grey.

By all means don’t forsake your convictions. Stand up for what you believe in. That’s what I’m doing by writing this, and that’s all I can ask of you.

My hope is that our beliefs don’t cause us to fight our own fellow believers. Our enemy can be pretty effective with that strategy.

If you’d like to see my original review of the book, click here.

Have peace, show love, and be blessed!

-LJM

James 4:8

 

When You Fail at Your New Year’s Goals

New year, new you.

New weight goal.

New job goal.

New reading goal.

New personality goal.

The list of new resolutions is endless around this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with setting up goals to achieve, and there’s definitely nothing wrong with striving to be a better person. These are biblical concepts because even Jesus had goals to achieve before heading to the cross, and He has even more goals to conquer before He returns.

This year has so much in store for you, and I want you to get the most out of it as possible. That being said, here is my advice for what you can do to help with that new you.

Take some time in the morning to spend with God. 

Plain and simple. He is the one who provides for us day after day, year after year. Through all of the ups and downs, resolutions and failures, He is there wanting you invest the time He’s given you in your relationship with Him. After all, He is the one that does the work in you so that you can become a better you.

 

And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

Specialists say that eating a good breakfast can help you get through the day. Your average person may say a strong cup of coffee is the best way to start your morning. While I partake in both of these, I think God is the best source of energy, and there’s no better time like the peace and quiet of the early morning to power up.

So what are some things you can do in the morning?

bible-reading

1. Read the Bible

Spending time with God requires the Word of God. It is the ultimate way of getting to know Him.

2. Read a devotional

Some of my favorites are: Jesus Calling, God Calling, and Our Daily Bread. You can also find some websites that provide devotionals like Desiring God and Proverbs 31 and Christian Devotion Ministries. Don’t forget to check out the appstore to see what kind of daily devotionals they have to offer as well.

3. Pray

Talk to God. Tell Him about the day you had yesterday, or the one you’re going to have. Share your thoughts, concerns, and joys with Him. No detail is too trivial for our Heavenly Father.

4. Take notes

Jot down some thoughts or questions from your time in the Bible. Write down a list of your daily blessings. Write out encouraging Bible verses for you to hang onto throughout the day.

5. Worship

Put in your ear-buds and sing some soft praises while making your morning coffee or breakfast. Blast the Christian station on your way to school or work to give you an uplifting boost.

6. Remember

He is in control. He loves you. He wants to be with you. He is teaching you. And He will never leave you.

 It’s okay to fail.

I won’t hold it against you if you decide to skip a day at the gym and go to a Chinese buffet instead. I won’t hold it against you if you are rushing one morning and forget to read your Bible.

God won’t hold it against you either. He is there to help you reach your goals, to encourage you to keep going, and to pick you up when you fall.

With each failure comes the possibility for success. 

Don’t be discouraged when you lose motivation, or when you look at the long list of failed attempts. It’s so easy to be absorbed in self-pity and to want to give up, but you can’t finish the race without having to crawl out of the mud every now and again.

Join me in starting your year off right. Share your resolutions with me, I would love to hear them!

God Bless!

-LJM