Scripture verses

6 things you might not know about the Quakers

I love that reading fiction helps me escape to another time or place, into a world that entertains me and gives me a break from work/house stuff/playing family errand runner and chauffeur. I love it even more when reading a novel teaches me some new things.

Path of FreedomThe book I read this weekend is a perfect example. Path of Freedom by Jennifer Hudson Taylor is part of the “Quilts of Love” series that Abingdon Press began publishing a few years ago. Each book in the series centers somehow on a quilt. In Path of Freedom, the quilt serves as a map to help guide two slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad (the story takes place before the Civil War).

The main characters, Flora and Bruce, are Quakers. I’ve never known much about Quakers other than they’re pacifists and that many settled in and around Pennsylvania when first coming to the U.S. So, in case you don’t know much more about Quakers than I do, here are a few things I learned (some from Path of Freedom, some thanks to the internet):

  • The full name for the group is the Society of Friends (which I’m guessing is what leads to them addressing each other as “Friend Bruce” or “Friend Flora” on many occasions).
  • The name “Quakers” originates from the fact that early worshipers would “quake with the spirit of God.”
  • Quakers are strong believers in equality among gender, race, and society in general. One verse from the Bible they use to support this view is Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”(NIV)
  • The Quakers became the first organization in history to ban slave holding, and in the 1800s Quakers populated the abolitionist movement in numbers far exceeding their proportion of all Americans.
  • Women Friends had a role and status more equal with men’s than in any other Christian church. They preached and ministered to mixed audiences, traveled extensively unaccompanied by men, and regulated the lives of fellow Quaker women without men’s assistance (such as in church discipline and marriage arrangements).
  • Both Daniel Boone and Abraham Lincoln had ancestors who were Quaker.

 

See? You never know what a little reading might teach you. 🙂

I have a soft spot in my heart for Jennifer’s books because we were in an online critique group together years ago and I love to see how well she’s done (plus, I’ve enjoyed all of her stories that I’ve read). If you’d like to learn more about Jennifer and her books, visit her website or Facebook page.

Your turn: Did you know any of these things about the Quakers? Or, what’s something interesting you’ve learned by reading a novel lately? Share with us in the comments!

 

Categories: Christian fiction, Historical research, Monday Musings, Scripture verses | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thankful I can question God

One of my challenges to myself lately is to pay more attention to the little things in life and be grateful for them, even if they don’t seem that important. I’ve seen “Thankful Thursday” blogs posts and memes periodically and thought that would be a good thing to incorporate here. I already had some ideas and thought I knew what I’d write about … and then I read today’s First 5 devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries.

First 5Just as background, Proverbs 31 is a ministry that focuses on building women up in their faith. They send out daily email devotionals, have published numerous books, sponsor a book club, lead online Bible studies, and host a fabulous yearly conference – among other things. One of their newer additions is First 5, an app with a 5-minute daily devotional. Instead of being about all sorts of things (like the email devos), First 5 goes through a particular book of the Bible by taking a closer look at a key verse from each chapter. You can even set it t be the first thing that pops up on your phone each morning so you’re sure to start the day with a few minutes with God.

Anyway … First 5 is currently going through the book of Exodus and today’s highlighted verse was Exodus 4:10 (“Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” NIV). Moses is trying to talk God out of the assignment he’s been given – to demand that Pharaoh set the Israelites free. Even though God had told Moses exactly what to do and assured him that He would be with Moses, even though God literally spoke the words aloud so there was no doubt in Moses’s mind who the directions were coming from. Even though God had filled Moses in on the plan, including that He would provide for the Israelites through plunder from the Egyptians.

Thankful ThursdayBut Moses still doubted what he was hearing and actually had the nerve to tell God that He must’ve made a mistake – Moses wasn’t the guy for the job. He let his insecurities get in the way of what God had already planned for him to do.

Sound familiar? Yeah, it does to me, too.

The doubts, the second guessing, the “what ifs” pile up and block what I think God wants me to do. Even worse, it happens when I KNOW what God wants me to do. I can be such an insecure girl.

So I pull a Moses, asking God if He’s sure that He’s sure about what I think He’s saying. Am I really understanding Him correctly? What if I’m wrong? What if I do what I think God wants me to do, but end up going off track from His plan? Could He send me a sign for confirmation? Or maybe another sign?

Sometimes the enemy has such a heyday with me and my mind, playing tricks and planting doubts. Like … a “real” Christian would listen and follow God without questioning … a Christian with stronger faith would step out and follow without asking for reassurance … God has much more important things to deal with than me and my neediness. Bah!

So that’s why, on this first Thursday of 2016, I’m thankful that God doesn’t mind my questions, no matter how silly or obnoxious they might be. He doesn’t mind my asking for help with my doubts, He doesn’t even mind when I ask if He’s crazy for doing what I think He’s doing.

I’m glad the Bible includes stories like this one with Moses. It reminds me I’m not alone when I have doubts or when I question God. It’s like I used to tell my middle school kids when I taught Sunday school all those years ago – talk to God about anything and everything, even when you’re almost afraid to bring it up. He’s big enough to take it.

And today I’m really thankful for that.

Your turn: What are you thankful for today? Share with us!

Categories: Living in Faith, Scripture Lessons, Scripture verses, Thankful Thursday | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

What I’ve Learned Lately … With Lynda Schab

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to author Lynda Schab. Lynda and I met a few years ago through an online critique group and I can honestly say that I have absolutely loved any of her writing I’ve ever read. She has a fresh, funny, I-can-relate-to-everything-her-character’s-going-through writing voice that pulls you right into her stories. I have a feeling that if we ever get the chance to meet in person it will be like we’re old friends. 🙂

So, here’s Lynda with some things she’s learned lately.

“Four things you can’t recover: The stone, after the throw. The word, after it’s said. The occasion, after it’s missed. Time, after it’s gone.”

I’d never heard that quote until a friend posted it on Facebook. But I love it! It’s so true, isn’t it? The two that hit me the hardest were WORDS and TIME.

WORDS: How often have I blurted something out to my kids or my husband in the heat of the moment? Too many to count, that’s for sure. There have been so many times I wish I could take my words back. I say I’m sorry, but it’s too late. The damage has been done. The hurt has been handed out. There have even been times when my words (or someone’s words to me) were so hurtful that major work needed to be done to repair the damage and restore the trust.

With that in mind, what a responsibility we have as writers! The words we write will impact the lives of those who read them – whether for good or bad. And the critiques and feedback we offer other writers will also leave a mark. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everything we say or write has to be positive and cheery. But how we execute criticism and bathe a difficult or negative message we’re conveying is what’s important. Always speak the truth- particularly hard-to-hear truth – in love. Remember that once the words are out, we can’t take them back.

Some scriptures to keep in mind:

Proverbs 12:18
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 18:21
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

James 1:26
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

James 3:5
Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

TIME…man, how many opportunities to spend time with my kids have I missed? Again, too many! Even more, how many opportunities to spend time with God have I passed up? WAY too many. Which makes me wonder how many priceless memories, or imprints on my kids’ hearts, or breakthroughs in my spiritual walk have been lost because I didn’t spend my time wisely.

Oy…

In the same way, how many books could I have written by now if I had spent my time writing instead of playing computer games or watching television? It kills me to think about it.

I don’t know about you, but when I get to heaven, I want to make God proud of the ways I used the time He gave me on earth. I’m not saying that playing computer games or watching TV is a bad thing, just that I, personally, need to re-evaluate how I spend my time. And when I do, I’m sure I’ll realize I’ve wasted way too much of it.

Ephesians 5:15-16
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Colossians 4:5-6
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

James 4:14-17
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

Basically, the quote about the four things you can’t recover has helped me to consider what’s truly important in life. How I act, what I say, and how I spend my time…these are things that affect not only my life (and others’ lives) here on earth, but that hold eternal value.

Something to think about today.

Categories: Scripture verses, What I've Learned Lately | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Caught in Translation

Have you ever come across a Bible verse that you know you must’ve read before, but that somehow seemed completely unfamiliar and new to you? It’s happened to me twice in the past couple of weeks – times when the verse just jumped out at me and I thought, “How in the world have I missed that before?”

The first was from Psalm 86:11: Lord, teach me how you want me to live. Then I will follow your truth. Give me a heart that doesn’t want anything more than to worship you.

Wow, I love that! It sums up exactly what I want – and what I need – in only 28 words. I’ve read all of Psalms and have studied some of them more in depth, but this verse never resonated with me so. I think it’s the translation – this is from the NIRV, which isn’t a translation I read very often. The NIV (which I used for years) says “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” The ESV (which I’ve used for about 2 years now) says “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”

Those are both pretty close to my newly-discovered version, but not exact. I love how the NIRV translation just puts everything on the line. Those are exactly the 3 things I want: to know how God wants me to live, to follow Him and His truth, and to worship Him wherever I am and whatever I’m doing.

The second verse that hit home for me is Romans 4:17: As it is written … in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

The verse is talking about the first covenant God made with Abraham, and how Abraham believed God. I love the reminders that the God Abraham believed and followed – the same God that we love and worship today – gives life to the dead and brings things into existence from nothing. What a summary of God’s power! I chose this as my next memory verse because sometimes I need a reminder of exactly how powerful and in control God is (sad, but true). If I believe that God really is who He says He is, then why do I worry about anything? Why do I get all in a wad over things people do or don’t do (or say), or why do I try to take things into my own hands to “fix” them? God has it all covered. All I have to do is show up with a willing heart and be ready to follow.

I think that’s a good thing to remember anytime, but especially as we just celebrated Holy Week and Easter. The God Abraham loved, served, and believed is the same God who created the universe out of nothing. He’s the same God who raised Jesus from the dead. And He’s the same God who is still very much in our world today, seeing His plan to completion. What a privilege that He lets us come along for the ride!

Now it’s your turn. What verses have you read or heard lately that really resonated? Or what’s one that you might have come across years ago but still keep fresh in your mind?

Categories: Monday Musings, Scripture verses | Tags: , | Leave a comment
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