Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's No Secret Study - Week 3

If you are reading Rachel Olsen's It's No Secret with me...welcome to week 3 of our study.

Have a blessed week,
Laura

Week 3 – July 31- Aug. 6, 2011
As you read each chapter, take notes or mark any parts in your book you want to remember.

Monday & Tuesday
  • Read Chapter 5 “Have Eyes Bigger Than Your Stomach: Revealing the Secret of Living Generously” and complete the Bible Study at the end of the chapter.
  • Visit Laura’s blog at www.laurarath.blogspot.com for the beginning of the week post and leave a comment with your thoughts from the reading.

Wednesday & Thursday
  • Read Chapter 6 “Don’t Be Afraid in the Dark: Revealing the Secret of Growth through Trials” and complete the Bible Study.
  • Visit Laura’s blog at www.laurarath.blogspot.com for the mid-week post. Leave a comment to the post with your thoughts from the reading.
Friday
  • Spend some personal time with God and reflect on this week's reading. This day can also be used to catch up on the reading if you got behind.




Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More Reading with Rachel Olsen

How are you doing with this week’s reading in It’s No Secret? Chapter 3 on humility and Chapter 4 on conflicts—two very good chapters.

I’ve been doing some extra reading on Rachel Olsen’s blog this week. If you would like to go a little further with these two topics, I encourage you to visit these links.

Chapter 3…

Chapter 4…



What points are really capturing your attention and sticking with you this week? Click below to leave a comment.

In Christ,
Laura

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pride vs. Humility

“They say that pride comes before a fall. Looks like nobody told that to Haman.” (Veggie Tales: Esther, the Girl Who Became Queen © 2000 Big Idea Productions, Inc.)

As I read chapter 3 on pride and humility in Rachel Olsen’s It’s No Secret, I could hear the narrator’s voice in my head saying this line from the Veggie Tales movie, Esther. The movie and the line “pride comes before a fall” are forever linked in my memory. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a less violent version of the Old Testament book of Esther.

I have to confess that for years, I thought “pride comes before a fall” was in the book of Esther. It’s actually in the book of Proverbs. I never looked it up—until a few days ago when I read chapter 3 and thought about the movie. That led me down a road of interesting research, a few bits of which I’d like to share with you in today’s blog.

The book of Proverbs has quite a bit to say about pride. I find the different Bible translations interesting.

Proverbs 16:18
NIV - “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
The Message - “First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.”

Proverbs 11:2
NIV - “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
NLT - “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
The Message – “The stuck-up fall flat on their faces, but down-to-earth people stand firm.”

Proverbs 13:10
NLT – “Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.”
NIV – “Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”
The Message – “Arrogant know-it-alls stir up discord, but wise men and women listen to each other's counsel.”

Pride keeps my focus on myself, while humility takes my focus off of myself. Humility is thinking less about myself, not to be confused with thinking less of myself. Humility is thinking about God and others more than I think about myself.

I really like what my NLT Study Bible has to say on pride and humility…
“Humility is demonstrated when a person recognizes a mistake, listens to another’s correction, and learns life’s lessons. It is hard for the proud to accept this discipline. Pride puts self first and does not allow the cracks and flaws to show in public. However, truly humble people acknowledge that others have something to teach them about life.” (NLT Study Bible, © 2008 Tyndale House Publishers)

What are your thoughts on pride and humility? Was there something you learned in this chapter or through your own research that you’ll share with us?

In case you’re wondering what happened that day with me and the Esther movie…I dug out our old VHS tape. I wanted to watch it and my daughter asked if she could watch it with me. I like that she’s still young enough to think it was fun and not roll her eyes at me. J

Please post your comments by clicking below…

In Christ,
Laura

Sunday, July 24, 2011

It's No Secret Study - Week 2

Welcome to week 2 of our study on It's No Secret by Rachel Olsen. I pray you are enjoying the book as much as I am. 

Below you will find this week's reading schedule.

Have a blessed week,
Laura

Week 2 – July 24- July 30, 2011
As you read each chapter, underline or highlight in your book any points you want to remember. You may also want to take notes in your book or a journal.

Monday & Tuesday
  • Read Chapter 3 “Kill your Competition: Revealing the Secret Power of Humility” and complete the Bible Study at the end of the chapter.
  • Visit Laura’s blog at www.laurarath.blogspot.com for the beginning of the week post. Leave a comment to the post with your thoughts from the reading.
Wednesday & Thursday
  • Read Chapter 4 “Keep a Heavenly Lawyer on Retainer: Revealing the Secret to Handling Conflicts Biblically” and complete the Bible Study.
  • Visit Laura’s blog at www.laurarath.blogspot.com for the mid-week post. Leave a comment to the post with your thoughts from the reading.
Friday

  • Spend some personal time with God and reflect on this week’s reading. This day can also be used to catch up on the reading if you got behind.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Blessings are Greater Than the Cost

Earlier this week I wrote about responding to God—inviting Him into my daily life, meeting Him there, and spending time with Him. So, as I read about the cost of following Christ in chapter 2 of Rachel Olsen’s It’s No Secret, I thought about the blessings versus the cost of anything I give up to spend time with God.

5:00–6:00 a.m. This used to be my favorite time of day to spend with God. The house is quiet, I have time to myself, and usually my mind isn’t already cluttered with details of the day. The problem is two other things compete for that time slot in my day—exercise and sleep.

I decided it was time to discipline myself to find other quiet times of the day to be in God’s Word—times when I could go off by myself, even with others at home, and tune out anything and anyone trying to get my attention. Sometimes that involves scheduling time, or giving up a leisure activity such as reading fiction or watching a television program.

In time it got easier. I learned to put the stress and frustration of the day aside and focus on God. I learned to recognize when I need to take 10 minutes at that very moment to stop and pray or to read Scripture. Discipline became desire—on the days I don’t make time to spend with God, I miss it. I can tell a big difference in my attitude, my reactions, and how I’m feeling.

The blessings have outweighed the cost of anything I gave up to change my schedule. But there is one blessing I never imagined—the change in my daughter. While I used to spend more time studying God’s Word before she was awake in the morning, I was now spending more time when she was a witness to it. As she saw me reading and studying my Bible, I saw her doing the same. Sometimes she would read on her own and come to me with questions. Other times she would ask if she could get her Bible and join me wherever I happened to be studying. It was an unexpected result and a wonderful blessing to see her want to spend time with God!

What is God asking of us today? Will we follow though or will we resist His lead? Whatever we give up for our relationship with God, it is worth it. We get back so much more than we give!

In Christ,
Laura

Monday, July 18, 2011

How Do I Respond?

If you’re reading Rachel Olsen’s It’s No Secret with me, Welcome! We are in the first week of our online study.

As I read the Introduction and Chapter 1 of It’s No Secret, I thought about how I respond to God. Do I talk to Him only when I think I need to, or do I spend time with Him wanting to get to know Him better?

I would say the first of these two choices used to be true. I knew God was there and I turned to Him nightly for prayers, in times of trouble, and for the occasional thank you.

However, that’s not the case now, and I know when it changed. Almost 11 years ago my daughter was born, and she cried for the first five weeks of her life. No, not constantly, although it sure felt that way. I was overtired, rarely accepted help from others, and felt incredibly alone. Out of complete desperation, I turned to God and clung to Him. He used that low point in my life to draw me close and He didn’t let go.

Slowly, but steadily, I started out on my faith journey and I began to get to know Jesus in a way I had never experienced before—as a friend and a constant companion. Jesus knows what it’s like to walk this side of Heaven. He knows it’s not easy. He knows the temptations and the rejection from others. He knows the loneliness and the sadness. And He promises to walk with us.

As I started to understand this, I wanted to know more. I wanted to spend more time in God’s Word, and as I spent more time in the Bible, God showed me more of Him and of His Son, Jesus.

I never used to understand how if I read the same verse in the Bible over and over I could still learn something new. But as I’ve grown in my faith I believe God opens up His Word to us, and as we’re ready, He gives us more understanding. I believe it because I’ve experienced it. What used to be just words I was reading started to have meaning, and I was beginning to understand them. As I spend time with Jesus, He shows me more of Himself and draws me closer to Him. And the more I get to know Him, the more time I want to spend with Him.

I love how author Rachel Olsen says this in the Introduction of It’s No Secret
“…befriending Jesus—drawing close to Him over time—develops our ability to recognize His still, small voice. Our heart grows familiar with and closer to His, enabling us to understand His meaning when that used to float right over our heads.”

How true this is! I’m constantly amazed at what I learn from God’s Word now, and I wonder how I’ve missed it for so long. I’m in awe of how God draws me to the Scripture verse I need when I need it, and through that verse I find the comfort and direction I’ve been craving.

My prayer is that wherever you are on your faith journey, you feel the Lord draw you closer into a relationship with Him.

What captured your attention in the Intro and Chapter 1? Will you share it with us by posting a comment?

If you’d like to read more from author Rachel Olsen about spending time in God’s Word, here’s the link to a blog she posted on March 29, 2011. Rachel Olsen – Step One: Show

In Christ,
Laura

Sunday, July 17, 2011

It's No Secret - Week 1

Welcome! If you are reading and studying It's No Secret by Rachel Olsen with me, the reading schedule for the first week is listed below.

If you are not yet involved in the study but would like more information on the book or the online study, click here: It's No Secret.

Have a blessed week,
Laura

Week 1 – July 17- July 23, 2011
As you read each chapter, underline or highlight in your book any points you want to remember. You may also want to take notes in your book or purchase a journal to use for this study.

Monday & Tuesday
  • Read the Introduction "Can I Tell You a Secret?" and Chapter 1 "Always RSVP: Revealing the Secret to Responding to God" and complete the Bible Study at the end of the chapter.
  • Visit Laura's blog at www.laurarath.blogspot.com for the beginning of the week post. Leave a comment with your thoughts on the reading.

Wednesday & Thursday
  • Read Chapter 2 "Know When to Pay Retail: Revealing the Secret Cost of Following Christ" and complete the Bible Study.
  • Visit Laura's blog at www.laurarath.blogspot.com for the mid-week post and leave a comment.

Friday
  • Spend some personal time with God and reflect on this week's reading.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    It's No Secret - Begins Sunday

    As we get ready to begin our online study of It's No Secret by Rachel Olsen on Sunday, July 17, I want to let you know about BibleGateway.com. On this site you can search for Scripture in different versions of the Bible. So, if you don't have a Bible, or if you want to compare how a verse reads in two or more versions, you can do so here.

    If you've signed up for the study by e-mailing me at laurajrath@gmail.com, you will receive an e-mail each Sunday with the suggested reading schedule. The schedule will also be posted on my blog. Remember, it's a suggested schedule, meaning you are free to work at your own pace. I plan to post on Monday and Wednesday each week with my thoughts on the reading, but I also ask for your grace and forgiveness if I'm late in posting. Life (and writer's block) sometimes get in the way of best laid plans.

    I encourage everyone to comment to the blog posts with your thoughts on the reading and how you see God working in your life.

    To post a comment:
    Click on the word "comments" at the end of the post.
    In the new screen, type in your comment and choose an identity - Name (skip URL) or Anonymous.
    Click Preview to see how your comment will look, then click Publish.

    If you haven't signed up yet, it's not too late. Just send me an e-mail at laurajrath@gmail.com with your name, e-mail address, city, and state.

    Until Sunday...

    God Bless,
    Laura

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    It's No Secret - Online Bible Study Starting Soon

    Our 6-week online study of It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know by Rachel Olsen is set to begin on July 17. Each online study I host on my blog is an opportunity for women who want to grow in God's Word and communicate with other women in the study, but with the luxury of being on your own schedule.

    If you have never participated in an online study before, here are just a few positives...
    • No meeting commitments. 
    • No dress code - PJs are perfectly acceptable!
    • You set your schedule. As we work through the book, I will post a suggested reading schedule to keep us on track and going through the same chapters at the same time. However, it's up to you when you read or comment to a blog.
    • Non-denominational. Open to all women, no matter where you live, or what your church background may be.
    Our first online study was on Lysa TerKeurst's What Happens When Women Say Yes to God. Our group consisted of 25 women from 4 states. It was amazing to watch as God brought us together!

    For more information or to sign up for the It's No Secret study beginning on July 17, click here: It's No Secret.

    If you've had an experience in an online study you'd like to share, I encourage you to leave a comment to this post.

    In Christ,
    Laura