Let the Bible Be Your Primary Source of Spiritual Nourishment

Hello from the IF:Gathering here in Austin, TX. What an honor to spend time with so many Christian women leaders of similar heart. This global gathering of women not only includes the 2500 attendees here in Austin (tickets sold out in four minutes!) but over 2000 IF:Local groups all across the U.S. and around the world. It’s estimated that 500,000 people viewed the event last year. God is raising up an army of courageous women to link arms and live for the glory of God and the good of others.

Part of my contribution will be on stage Saturday morning with Margaret Feinberg, Rebekah Lyons and Esther Havens as we dive into John 15. Time will be limited so I thought I’d expand a bit on the four color clicky pen method of reading the Bible here. I’m also taping IF:Equip videos with Jeanne Stevens and wanted to include the part from 2 Timothy 3:16 about Scripture in this post.

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I usually have my Muji pen for journalling (seriously, such a great pen from Japan), a meaningful Starbucks gift card for underlying, and my four color clicky pen. What I like about using the four color pen is how it helps me read with intention. It’s like mining for gold or precious jewels. As I read I am asking, “What does this passage teach me about God? What do I learn about His character, His heart, His ways, what He loves, etc.”

Underline in GREEN: anything you learn about God’s character, I also underline prayers in the Bible like Col 1:9-12 and I box names of God in green (e.g. Father, LORD, Shepherd, King, Living Water, etc.)

Underline in BLUE: anything that is our part–things we are to know or do

Underline in BLACK: consequences of sin

Underline in RED: promises of God and any other extra special verses

Sometimes I combine colors, sometimes I circle repeated words. My encouragement is to become familiar with and make your Bible your own.

2 Timothy 3:16 reads, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”

  • teaching=to know
  • reproof=to stop
  • correction=to change
  • training in righteousness=to do

Hope you find this helpful as you study God’s word. We are blessed to have countless resources, the internet, and wonderful devotionals, but remember nothing replaces the written Word of God. If you have never read through the entire Bible, I encourage you to set a goal to read it through. Begin in the gospel of John.

Let the Word of God be your primary source of spiritual nourishment.

** You can view IF:Gathering 2016 for free online through midnight Monday, February 8th.

October Happenings

Oh my. My daughter just informed me.

The year 2024 is closer than the year 2005.

This of course has nothing to do with anything currently spinning around my little mind. I’m sipping a Pumpkin Spice iced frappuccino sweating in 90 degree weather and sniffing my unlit cinnamon pumpkin candle (too hot outside to light). These are my meager attempts to capture autumn. The calendar informs me fall arrived last week, but each day feels like endless summer. Just like 2005 feels closer than 2024.

Today I am reminded to base my faith on facts, not feelings. I don’t feel any different the day before, the day of and the day after my birthday. But the fact is each birthday marks the passing of another year. Okay, and sadly the fact is I need reading glasses now. God’s character and His Word remain steadfast and unchanging. My feelings are fickle and change based on my circumstances. We do well to invest in knowing and learning about the facts of our faith rather than rely on our feelings to dictate how we decide to live.

Didn’t expect the rabbit trail. The original purpose of this post was simply to share a few fun opportunities to hear radio interviews about Warrior In Pink coming up in October. And also to ask if you are the praying type to pray for the different speaking events. I’d be grateful for your prayers in the coming weeks.

IMG_2724Mark your calendars and please share with your friends:

  • October 3rd I’ll be sharing my cancer story at the St. Jude’s Breast Cancer Survivor’s annual retreat in Brea, CA
  • October 5th and 6th radio interview with FamilyLifeToday (those of you in southern California can tune into KKLA 99.5FM at 8:30am). Will also be available to listen online.
  • October 12-16th radio program Discover the Word (those of you in So Cal can tune into KKLA 99.5FM at 1:30pm). Also available online.
  • October 15th I’ll be sharing at Biola University as part of their annual Torrey Conference
  • October 21st. Interview with Jamie Ivey on her popular podcast The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. She will be giving away five copies of Warrior In Pink. Meeting Jamie and conducting interviews, taping IF:Equip videos and participating in the racial reconciliation roundtable at the IF:Gathering in February was one of the main highlights of the conference.
  • October 23-25th Darrin and I will be speaking at the UC Santa Barbara Cru Fall Retreat

Happy October to you all!

Guest Writing for She Reads Truth

Honored to be invited to guest write for She Reads Truth. This women’s daily Bible devotion is read by an estimated 300,000 women around the world. The premise is simple: women in the Word everyday. The photography is lovely and the team is fun and down to earth. They have a terrific phone app and all sorts of beautiful art. The timing for this first post came as the situation in Baltimore regarding the death of Freddy Gray escalated. I pray God will continue to use my words whether spoken or written to point people to Truth and help restore perspective. I’ve included the first part of the post below or you can read the complete post by clicking this link: http://shereadstruth.com/2015/04/29/honor-the-image-bearers/

 

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My arms ached from carrying his newly walking little brother. The 15-hour time change between California and Hong Kong meant waking while it was still dark and a predictable afternoon crash. With only one short week to spend visiting my parents, we determined to squeeze in all we could. The rocking motion from the ferry ride across the Hong Kong harbor put my younger son to sleep, but my preschool aged son knelt on the wooden bench. He strained his neck in order to peer out the window as the ferry carried our family across the dark green colored water. Jonathan watched, eyes barely blinking, as new sights, sounds, smells and an unfamiliar language filled his naturally inquisitive mind.

The long walkway brimmed with people as we exited the ferry. Jonathan skipped along ahead and then I watched as he slowed down, almost to a stop, and tried to make sense of what he saw. A man with no legs, no teeth, matted hair, covered in soot and sores, sat on a flattened cardboard box, begging. A few coins clanked against the metal canister he tapped on the cement. Scores of people hurried by him acting as if he was invisible. I watched Jonathan tilt his head; his young mind had no category for people living in such poverty.

I transferred my sleeping son into my husband’s arms as a quote from the Mystery of Marriageby Mike Mason came to mind:

“If man really is fashioned, more than anything else, in the image of God, then clearly it follows that there is nothing on earth so near to God as a human being. The conclusion is inescapable, that to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity in the world is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or at a beautiful sunset.”

Taking Jonathan’s hand, I pulled him over to the side. Once we moved out of the center of the steady stream of people, I knelt down so we could look straight into each other’s eyes.

You can finish reading the post here:

P. S. My next post comes out tomorrow for the Fruit of the Spirit series!

P.P.S. Here’s a link to one of the IF:Equip bible studies Jamie Ivey and I taught on 1 Peter. Click here

Video clips from IF:Gathering Racial Reconciliation Roundtable

Quick post for those of you who may not have seen the article earlier this week in Christianity Today. The video clips at the end of the interview were filmed at the IF:Gathering after the audience was excused. I’m encouraged to hear of new relationships formed as a result of our time. Please pray for humble hearts, for restoration, for walls to come down. So fitting as we enter Holy Week to think on the final prayer Jesus prayed for His disciples and for each of us:

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“All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.  And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” John 17:10-11

http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/march/modeling-healthy-gathering-on-race.html

Perspective From a Son And a Psalm

October is winding down. I can’t remember a fuller Fall. No easing in. Spring boarding off an incredible summer of ministry and training with student leaders from across the country, I jumped into the deep end of ministry activity at the start of this school year. Exhilarating, challenging, humbling, fun, s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g.

  • Joined Darrin’s Epic National Field Ministry team. I’m serving with some of the finest leaders and friends during an exciting time of growth and fruit. Even more convinced than ever who you serve with is as important or maybe even more important than where you serve.
  • Speaking schedule has been varied and extremely enjoyable. In addition to speaking a retreats and events, I’ve tried out new modes of teaching. Did my first webinar and first podcast this fall.
  • Started back working on my MA at Talbot Seminary (yeah Class of 2045!). Taking a hybrid version (online and two-three hour “in human” classes) of Hermeneutics/Bible Interpretation has given me a greater appreciation for the Scriptures and humbled me to the core.

One of many significant take-aways from my class has been shifting my focus from “What does this Bible verse say to ME” to “What does this passage of Scripture say about God. His character, His will, His attributes, His ways, His heart. Perspective off self onto God. Not only is this lesson coming through my seminary class, I’ve also been challenged and blessed by my son, Michael. He and some of his friends have been taking turns writing devotionals to encourage one another from the Bible. He shared this devotional with me and with his permission I’m sharing part of it here with you. Hope it blesses you as it did me.

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Read Psalm 8.

As a whole, the psalm is simply glorifying God. Think about today’s Christian music. How much of it is about what God does for us, and then we praise him after that, because of what he’s done for us. Worship is not meant to be about what God does for us or how much stronger we are because of the things God does for us. Worship is simply praising God and glorifying him. We need to start removing ourself from worship, because it takes away from the glory God truly deserves. Reflect on how you can simply glorify God like this psalm does, and not bring yourself into it.
 
Now pay special attention to verses 5-8. How significant is it that God put us in charge of his creations. In spite of our imperfections and how unworthy we are, God allows us to tend to his creations. He even says that we are just a little lower than the angels. How can we be better stewards of what God has given us in this world, whether it be material things like money and possessions, or things like talents, abilities, the friendships he’s put in your life, and your spiritual gifts. How can we use these to glorify God rather than ourselves, and be stewards of it, constantly aware that we don’t own or deserve any of it.
 
How can you use one (or all) of your spiritual gifts to glorify God? This week? This month? For the rest of your life?
How can you constantly remind yourself that nothing you own is yours, and through that depend on God more? And how can you steward it to the best of your ability?
 
Michael’s encouragement to worship God for who He is, not what He does for us along with the reminder that our lives are not our own and to steward well all God has given is so timely in light of this past month.

As we wind down breast cancer awareness month, here are a few more blogs highlighting “Warrior In Pink.” Grateful for these friends who are hosting book giveaways on their websites. Seriously. If ever you wanted to get a free copy of the book to keep or give to a friend, now is the time. And if you don’t win, my publisher is offering Warrior In Pink for the special price of $7.99. You can order here.

  • My friend, author and speaker, Donna Jones is hosting a giveaway here.
  • First podcast with a fellow writer I met at Mount Hermon Writers Conference, Bethany Macklin, here.
  • New friend from Canada, April Yamasaki, is hosting a giveaway here.

Feel free to leave Michael a comment below if what he shared ministered to you.

Gearing Up for Fall

Hello again. I’m back.

Three months. No blog posts. Actually, I wrote some great posts in my mind. They just never transferred from thought to actual words on page. All sorts of things fly around in my little brain each and every day. Entire conversations take place in my mind with “invisible Darrin.” (Darrin is my wise and wonderful husband of 23 years. He is not very fond of invisible Darrin). Invisible Darrin and I work through problems and reach all sorts of agreements the real Darrin learns of later. Lots of “Whaddya mean? I thought we talked about this already.” “Uh. No, Viv. You talked it through with invisible Darrin. Not me.” note: this method of conversing with an invisible spouse is extremely inefficient.

A lot of terrific happenings occurred these past three months:

  • My first Susan G. Komen, Orange County speaking event:

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Honor Roll and VIP reception for team leaders for the Race for the Cure

  • We spent a month living in the University of Hawaii dorms helping train and equip these wonderful staff and student leaders:

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“Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.”(1 Thessalonians 2:8)

  • helped with our church’s annual Kid’s Fun Club and Mom’s Fun Club

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Some fun events happening this fall:

  • After a five year detour, you know– battling cancer, writing and releasing a book and stuff, I have returned to Talbot Theological Seminary to work on my Masters Degree in Bible Exposition. This fall I’m taking Hermeneutics (how to interpret, understand and apply the Bible). First on the agenda: learn to spell Hermeneutics correctly.

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  • I have joined the Epic National Field Ministry team directed by the wise and wonderful real Darrin. Epic is the Asian American ministry of Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ)
  • I was interviewed by Worldwide Challenge, Cru’s magazine for the September/October issue on “Suffering Together”:10527706_10152227685976073_929868995084747981_n
  • I’ll be giving the message at our home church, Crossroads Community Church on Sept 14th at 10 a.m. Join us if you’re in the area!
  • Excited to speak at the Texas Epic Fall Conference at the end of the month! And a couple women’s retreats in October and November. I’m writing my first article for Today’s Christian Woman and participating in a Webinar with Elisa Morgan and Fulfill Magazine.
  • Several friends will be hosting Warrior In Pink book giveaways on their blogs in the coming weeks in light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’ll be sure to connect you to those sites.

So, what’s been happening in your corner of the world?

No Accidents

I’ve been turning the house upside down looking for my driver’s license. Flying out tomorrow to Baltimore and remembered identification is necessary to clear security. That, and small earrings. Don’t wear jumbo big metal ones. Trust me. I remembered the passport for identification option but discovered mine expired in September 2013. Sigh.

Online last night, around midnight, I found out the next available appointment at the DMV landed on May 21st. Sigh. So after dropping Julia off at school I gathered my coffee, big water, big bag-o-stuff (Darrin keeps telling me I should get a wagon!) and headed off to the dreaded DMV. Sigh.

The line ran out the door. Sigh. 

Temperatures are hitting the mid 90’s today and the sun was beating down. Sigh.

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Bumped into a couple from church so we caught up a little while waiting for our numbers to be called.

Two hours of waiting. Sigh. 

All the while I thought about my to-do list, my overturned wreck of a home, packing, prepping and which nail polish goes best with a hot pink dress. Finally, finally, FINALLY the electronic voice announced my number over the speaker. I smiled and worked my way up to the counter. Rainbow loom bracelets in little clear baggies greeted me. I thought to myself, “I bet she’s a mom.” Then I noticed the Bible verses tacked up all over her cubicle. I smiled wider and said, “I’m a Christian, too.”

Instant connection.

I shared how I needed my driver’s license because I was flying out tomorrow to speak at a church in Baltimore about my cancer journey. Whipped out a bookmark from my big bag o stuff, and  shared about the crazy journey to publishing. She shared, “I’m a two-time survivor.”

No accidents who we meet.

She showed me a picture of her beautiful daughter. I learned she was a single mom. Finances were tight. She wanted to know if the book was available on Kindle since the prices generally are cheaper. I smiled even bigger,

“I’ve got a book for you in my car.”

“Really?” She brushed away tears, “Oh, these are happy tears.”

We both agreed. It’s never an accident who we meet. And even when life seems “off” or inconvenient, God is at work. We are on assignment. A much larger tapestry is being woven and spun and you and are I part of God’s plan unfolding.

My new friend and sister in Christ, Angelica, is a shining bright light in the otherwise dismal DMV. God is using her to make a difference in the lives of hundreds who walk through the doors of the DMV. How grateful I am to have met her. How grateful to know I will see her again.

Offering Everything Back to Him

She asked me to tilt my head forward, combed my wet hair straight through to the ends, and then looking at me while we both faced the mirror she said through her smile, eyes twinkling,

“It’s long enough to donate, you know.” 

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Wow. It would be like coming full circle!”

She threw her head back laughing, and with her warm, Alabama accent she declared,

“That’s exactly what I was thinking! Full circle.”

Last Wednesday, the official release date of “Warrior In Pink,” I had an appointment with Jesslyn to get my hair cut. The same Jesslyn who has always, always cut my hair. The same Jesslyn who knew I was pregnant before I knew because she could tell the texture of my hair had changed. The same Jesslyn who gifted me with the sassy magazine haircut when I was diagnosed with cancer and knew I would go bald. The same Jesslyn who came over to our house to shave my head when the harsh chemo meds began taking over my body and my hair began to fall out. The same Jesslyn who styled my crazy “muffs” when curly chemo hair grew back.

Fighting back tears I replayed in my mind those milestone moments with Jesslyn.

Full circle.

And how wonderful. How absolutely appropriate to donate my hair back to someone who would be walking the now familiar road of cancer treatment.

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And symbolically the donation of my hair reflects the place the book holds in my heart. I’m seeking to offer everything back to Him.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things…

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Cancer has altered my hair from stick straight to wavy curls. And cancer has altered my heart. The One who remains unchanging through each and every twist and turn is the One who has sustained, provided, led, and loved with perfect faithfulness.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36

We are blessed to be a blessing.

He is worthy of our all, our everything.

Willful, Will-less, or Willing

Sometimes when I speak I find myself sharing things I didn’t plan on sharing. Weird audio-visual mishaps take place, derailing my train of thought, and I’m left scrambling on the inside. But sometimes those unplanned things end up being exactly what someone needed to hear. I’d chalk that up to the Holy Spirit’s work and the prayers of our ministry partners and friends.

Just a week ago I stood in front of a room packed with over 400 college students representing 40 campuses across the country. Our annual West Coast Epic conference took place down in San Diego. I had spent the past two years speaking at the East Coast conference so it had been awhile since I experienced conference west coast style (you know, things like the emcee Olympics event in Sochi, a staff zombie flash mob, students sharing in the form of spoken word, creative art, string quartet, rap, the lip sync contest sing off, etc.). What an incredible weekend filled with incredible students learning about our incredible God.

Epic West Coast Conference

Darrin, wearing the conference director hat this year, led the 50 or so staff in a time before the students arrived of personal evaluation and surrender. Symbolically pouring out a vial of water representing our lives poured out to God, he asked the staff to pray and add their “lives” to a glass vase as an offering to God: willing to go, do, say and give whatever God asked. And from this place of surrender the staff welcomed students who arrived from everywhere. Some alone, without knowing a single person, some with their posses and school flag (Arizona! :-) ).

So with this as the backdrop I went up on stage to deliver the first talk. The cordless microphone gave us all sorts of trouble; weird feedback, popping, and the like. My staff friend, Duncan, came up to the stage halfway through the talk and unwound the long cord and handed me a handheld mic. I lost my place in my notes and ended up skipping an entire section of the talk. When I looked at Gilbert, the time-keeper, I realized I still had more time. So I summarized, and went on to share, but not from my notes, about a willful, will-less or willing heart.

Turns out, based on questions and feedback, most people wanted to hear more about what I hadn’t planned on sharing.

I first learned about these three postures of the heart in a class I took at Talbot Seminary. (One day soon I plan to return to resume the Master’s degree I will eventually earn–at the age of 86).

Okay, so here goes:

A willful heart: says “I’m going to do this.” It is characterized by striving and depending on my own strength.

A willful heart may come from a place of wanting to live a life pleasing to God, but this life is spent trying to muster up willpower to charge ahead. Willful hearts can feed into pride and legalism. If convicted of sin the response of a willful heart is “I will do better. I will try harder.” When my heart is willful, I’m trying to live life in my own effort, and trying to be obedient in my own effort. Willful hearts can lead to burn out. Sometimes after all the striving and the inevitable disappointment, it leads to

A will-less heart: “God’s going to do it all. It doesn’t matter what I do.”

Will-less hearts are the “whatevah” (hold up the “w” with thumbs and pointer fingers). It’s a passive place of who cares, “God’s going to do what God’s going to do so what I do is inconsequential.” When my heart is will-less, I stop being engaged, I give up and my thinking is “why try.” I become cynical. When I sin my attitude is “Oh well. At least it’s forgiven.”

The heart is not changed or transformed when we are willful or will-less.

Rather than a willful or will-less heart, God asks for

A willing heart: “God I am desiring to grow. I will do whatever it is, but on my own I can’t.”

The willing heart recognizes our inability to live the Christian life on our own and expresses our dependence on God’s power. The key to the willing heart is really the issue of being yielded. It’s not about signing up and being a missionary in a foreign land and eating bugs. It’s the willingness to go if God asks. It’s the willingness to stay even if you want to go. It’s about a life surrendered, laid open. This is the key to the Christian life. This is how God’s Spirit is unleashed to empower believers to live the Christian life.

Our lives, a poured out offering to the Lord

God, I am willing to go where You want me to go, do what You want me to do, say what You want me to say, give what You want me to give.

The last morning of the conference students were invited to sign a card and symbolically pour out their lives to God.

Willing hearts.

One hundred and eighty-three students expressed willing hearts.

This new generation of leaders, through the power of the Holy Sprit, will change the world.

Do you have additional thoughts to add to this conversation?

Everyone Needs A Prisca

Everyone needs a Prisca.

Someone who takes the time to truly listen and understand the struggles of the heart.

Someone who models an authentic life of faith and grace and prayer.

Someone who has survived the current life stage you are seeking to navigate.

Everyone needs a Prisca.

Someone who believes wholeheartedly in the goodness of God and lives for eternal things unseen.

Someone who reminds us the ministry is unending, but the window interacting with our own children is small. And taking time to be good to ourselves is crucial.

Someone who applauds steps of faith and prays diligently. And then prays some more.

Everyone needs a Prisca.

Someone who is humble, a learner, compassionate, and incredibly, incredibly wise.

Someone who doesn’t fix problems, but knows how to hold emotions.

Someone to model after because they so reflect the heart of God.

Everyone needs a Prisca.

Someone who is mature, who speaks words of hope, who knows how to laugh at herself.

Someone who helps restore perspective.

Someone who loves well.

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Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7) 

I have six names written in the margin of my Bible next to this verse. Prisca is one of them. I’ve been blessed to know her for twenty years. She is one of my heroes of the faith.

Who do you have written on the margin of your Bible?

Who has your name written in theirs?