Ephesians and more

I'm so thankful for Paul's letter to the church of Ephesus.

I find so much comfort in 1:11 "In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will." I'm eternally thankful that the Lord works all things according to His will rather than mine.  There are moments in this life that I don't rest in the comfort of this promise as I should because I am too caught up in trying to rest in my self sufficiency.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I can't understand the grace discussed in Ephesians 2: 4-5: "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ -- by grace you have been saved.." But I 100% believe in the truth discussed here.  My salvation depends on it.

I'm thankful for the sections of Paul's letter that directly discuss unity within the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:1-3 "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worth of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." 

As a girl - this one cuts right to the core in all of the right ways: Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."  Not gonna lie.. I don't often consider if what I'm saying is giving grace to those who hear.

The goal of the abiding life: Ephesians 5:10 "and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord."

Priority check:  Ephesians 5:15-16 "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." 

These are just the highlights.  I could basically type out every verse in Ephesians and tell you how the Lord reveals Himself through it and how that was made real to me through this study.

So... what now?  I've been asking myself the same exact thing.  I've recently listened to a couple of podcasts regarding bible memorization.  I've typically been one of those 'oh I am horrible at memorizing things' kind of people - yet find it pretty easy to remember lyrics to my favorite songs.  Well - my heart isn't buying that excuse anymore.

So - I guess that means I'm going to memorize scripture.

I wasn't really sure where to even start - until I heard another podcast of one of the most influential authors/pastors posted a week or so ago answering that exact question: Where do I even start? He suggested that Romans 8 is a great place to start.  I found this fitting since my favorite verse is found here {Romans 8:28}.

So here I am… 2 days in and 2 {somewhat memorized} verses into Romans 8.  I'm already well aware that only His grace will get me through the remaining 37 verses ... only His grace will engrave the words on my heart ... only His grace has given me this longing to tattoo the Word on my heart…. tattoo isn't even the right word.  I don't want to merely write His word… I want to engrave it in my soul.  I want my life to be impacted by the words I commit to memory.  I want these verses to be a lens that filters this life through the perspective of the gospel.  Only by His grace.

I've become increasingly aware of just how important scripture memory is.  I know - it's about time, Raylene.

I've only been encouraged to memorize scripture basically my whole life… and I have memorized bits and pieces of the Word throughout my life.  But the understanding of just how valuable it is to have it hidden in my heart - the word for word pieces of scripture - rather than just vague concepts and promises.  Scripture is powerful, people.  Do you get that? Might want to write that one down. {I'll wait}

So what are you studying right now?   How do you see the Lord using that to challenge you and ultimately encourage growth in you? 


Top 11 highlights of 2013...

-MY BROTHER:  GOT MARRIED and started an amazing journey called: the military.  I'm thankful for his adventurous heart and His humility that is truly outstanding.

-This closing out of 2013 marks Scott's 1/2 way done with his BS in Electrical Engineering.  This was his 1st year at UMKC = 4.0, baby! #proudwifey #closerandclosertobabies

-Future Grace: the single most influential book in my walk with Christ, thus far - hands.down. {go ahead and add this book to your New Years resolution}

-GSM ministry and our new focus- I've always enjoyed serving in this ministry, but this past year we have begun to focus on the ministry side: the motives behind, how to be intentional with the gospel, and really evaluate the goals we try to reach for each and everything we do, teach, listen to, watch, and plan.  I'm so thankful for this shift in focus.  Honestly, I was hesitant at first: afraid of the unknown and change. I didn't even realize just how much we were lacking in this area until we started to walk down this road.  Not to mention… I love these students.  I'm so thankful for the way I see the Lord working in the hearts and souls of these students.

-Shane and Shane: re-discovering my all time favorite musical duo has been a huge blessing this year - seems cheesy, I know.  But go ahead and watch this 6 minute video without being impacted by it's truth.

-This year has proved to be the most difficult financial state we've been in as a married couple - and yes, this is one of the top 10.  Why?  because God has used this season of life to grow us so much.  Closer to Him, closer to each other -it's so beautiful.  While most marriages fail over things like financial situations, the Lord has continued to sustain us and truly strengthen our marriage through it all.  How do people do marriages without Christ as the center anyway?

-Discipleship: it's taken most of the year for this to begin, mostly due to my own pride, over scheduled self, and my selfish ways - denying my need.... afraid of what my heart will reveal to another human.  It's interesting how our very {sin} nature is to NOT be vulnerable…

-Relationships: it's interesting to look back at this time last year and reflect on the amazing community The Lord has placed around us. I love growing with these people.

-I got a sister!! I'm so thankful for Melissa and I'm excited to grow old with her as my sister. I'm confident she will keep us both young. :)

-Church: I'm not certain I've sat under teaching any better than what I'm experiencing every week from the pulpit at SWBC.  This year has been an interesting transition regarding church.  Amazing months, and rough and discouraging months.  But one thing is certain - the gospel is the center of this body of believers, and for that I am truly thankful.  I don't ever leave those doors feeling the same way I did when I walked through them - no - I'm challenged, encouraged, convicted, loved, full of worship, overwhelmed by my community.

-Vanilla chai topped with cinnamon from Whistle Stop downtown.  Confession: it might be more about the company than the actual drink... Probably 60/40... Or 80/10