Monday, June 8, 2015

Switching to summer mode

I am a 54-year-old kindergarten special education teacher's aide. School with the kids let out a week ago, and teachers and staff finished Friday. That means this is the first official summer day for me, being the first week-day I am not headed to school for a 7:15am starting bell.

I don't like to write a lot about myself, but occasionally I believe it's warranted. People need to get a context of who I am and what I am about so they can assess credibility. There are many Christian bloggers who aren't members of a local congregation, or who don't believe in real life ministries, don't perform a service, don't submit to oversight of pastors or elders, or who don't read the Bible. I am not one of those.

The Lord made it clear to me that I am not to be married. It is also clear that He gave me a delight in and a talent for teaching children. I was formerly a certified teacher but stopped some years ago to do other things like travel and become editor of a weekly newspaper. When I moved from Maine to Georgia, I returned to education once again but as a vastly different person. This time I came to education as a single, born-again, elder woman whom the Lord wants to use for His glory both at school and out of school. He designed my life so that I can be fulfilled in working with children in a not-too-stressful job, use it as a ministry both to kids and colleagues, but also to have lots of time off to write blog essays, based on the available time He has blessed me with.

So when the school vacations and summer rolls around, I am aware that I have a duty to redeem the time He has afforded me and to use the talents He has given me as a spiritual retreat and opportunity to dig into His word in a way I would not if I had a more stressful job, or a husband & family.

So I do. I'm filled with gratitude at the life He has given me and want all the more to glorify His name in all I think, say, and do.

However I am fleshly and given large quantities of time I can easily sink into laziness and simply end up watching endless episodes of "Sea Patrol" and reading easy novels in between naps.

In order to stay diligent and productive, I make a schedule. This is my day.

When I awake I am pretty refreshed and I after making coffee I sit down and begin study immediately. I pray through my prayer list. I then study.

I begin with reading the Bible. I recently finished 1 Corinthians so I sought advice from my teaching-pastor as to next steps. The past two summers he has given me a project to do and these have proved helpful in giving me summer structure. He suggested I read Galatians-Ephesians-Philippians-Colossians. He suggested I compare and contrast, and also look for the similarities in each books' use of presenting the indicative before the imperatives.

I love my Logos 6 software so I plugged in the four books into the software and generated a reading plan that would take 50 days to complete.

I am blessed with having lots of study aids, which I'll get to in a minute, but I believe that the best approach is two-fold: first prayer, then study the actual Bible. I read it directly.

After I read the designated chapters and have prayed in thanks, then I move to some study aids. Whatever the Spirit has pricked in me is what I go forward with next. Was I interested in looking at a map or atlas to see where Galatia is? Is there an archaeological dig with recent discoveries I can learn from? Did I get hung up on a word and need to do a Greek or Hebrew word study? Was there an animal or plant mentioned I'd like to follow upon? Is there a doctrine I would benefit by comparing to others in the NT? Is there a person mentioned I can learn more about by studying their biography? What does the Commentary say?

After the discipline of reading with prayerful attention, then I let loose my mind and see where the Spirit will take me. In the past, this combination has worked well for me. I believe this is one of the ways, with me anyway, He knits together a wider perspective and a greater understanding. I first put in the work to read His word, and it's not always easy, then He takes a seed and blows it and I follow. He directs my steps. Almost always, after reading the Bible I will look at my MacArthur commentary and usually the Matthew Henry Commentary to flesh out ideas.

Quite often this is when I receive an idea for a blog essay. Not always, but usually something from my morning reading will spark me into a direction, or will dock with another idea I'd had previously and I'll follow up on it and write. I put the idea down in draft and then I make breakfast and get dressed.

I don't like to hang around in my PJs all day. I think it's important to be dressed early just as if I was headed for work, albeit a few hours later ;)

I'll write. This takes me hours. For the better part of the next four or five hours I'll write a blog essay on and off, combined with study, cleaning up the kitchen, looking at Twitter or other people's blogs and listening to sermons or other Christian-oriented audio while I putter.

For the record, I can heartily recommend the following Bible teachers as trustworthy expositors:

John MacArthur
Phil Johnson
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones
S. Lewis Johnson

and also
Alistair Begg, Sinclair Ferguson, Adrian Rogers. I also enjoy Voddie Baucham and RC Sproul but not on the eschatological texts.
Yes here's the ubiquitous study photo. Bible, commentary, notebook, theological book
I'm currently reading, coffee, laptop with Logos 6,
and tissues because studying the Word is so moving

In the afternoon I slow down and around 3:30 or 4:00, about the time I'd be coming home from school, I'll switch to personal stuff. Then and only then do I watch Netflix or Hulu. I might read a novel. I listen to sermons while I craft at the kitchen table. I play with my photographs in post-processing software, I'll cook, go outside and take photos in the softening light. I answer emails.

Mixed in with these usual days are real-life discipling opportunities I do with people once per week, and church twice per week. It's important to stay connected with a local congregation. Virtual ministry doesn't substitute for real life ministry. I also go out once per week to get groceries. I try not to use the car much because summer is a time I can save on fuel consumption as one of the only discretionary utility bills I have control over. The less I browse and shop the less I crave and covet, so I restrict my shopping to groceries and try to stay away from Amazon, too, lol, though I LOVE to buy books. Pay for a teacher aide in Georgia is not too high but the Lord provides me with all I need to survive and thrive. I value time more than money. I really do have everything I need here in this little apartment that during the summer I call The Hermitage.

So that's it. I am a writer/blogger who studies the Word and I really am a member of a Baptist church and I really do serve in real life ministries, as well as all the stuff I do online.

I thank each and every one of you. So many of you have written to me to encourage me or provide oversight or offer sympathy or ask great questions. I love you my brethren, and I'm grateful not just for the time here to write and study but I'm humbled by and grateful to you, real people who bless me with your comments and questions. You keep me continually realizing that our faith constitutes a kingdom of people from all over the world! Because of you I don't get myopic or depressed at the state of things. I'm encouraged by you and energized by you, the thriving Kingdom of people whom Jesus loves and the Spirit indwells and God in His timing will glorify. Just imagine the Day when we all meet each other in the air!

Let me not forget to mention Study Aid #1: Bert

Study Aid #2: Luke. He's saying, "Hey it's my turn!"



Not to be outdone, Murray is on scene below, Study Aid #3


10 comments :

  1. Happy Summer! Hope it's a restful but productive one! :-D

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  2. To borrow a line from Todd Friel, "Good on you sister!" :-)

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  3. "I thank each and every one of you. So many of you have written to me to encourage me or provide oversight or offer sympathy or ask great questions. I love you my brethren, and I'm grateful not just for the time here to write and study but I'm humbled by and grateful to you, real people who bless me with your comments and questions. You keep me continually realizing that our faith constitutes a kingdom of people from all over the world! Because of you I don't get myopic or depressed at the state of things. I'm encouraged by you and energized by you, the thriving Kingdom of people whom Jesus loves and the Spirit indwells and God in His timing will glorify. Just imagine the Day when we all meet each other in the air!"

    Elizabeth, I have to wonder if you know how many of us LOVE you too? I can only imagine the thousands of people you have never heard from but that follow your blog and benefit from all that you have to say. Although only seen in our hearts, your countenance is truly beautiful!

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  4. I am thankful to the Lord for ordering your life as He has, so as to bless all of us through your writing! It will be fun to meet every one who is connected in community through your blog. Hopefully very soon!
    Jennifer

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  5. Thank you for sharing more about yourself, as well as how you order your days during the summer. Your three "helpers" are so cute. My daughter and I have three cats, too, and we certainly wouldn't get as much done if we didn't have their help! LOL

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  6. “I don't like to write a lot about myself, but occasionally I believe it's warranted. People need to get a context of who I am and what I am about so they can assess credibility.”

    This is true as you wrote, Elizabeth! I am glad that you do write about some of the things that go on in your redeemed life, it helps to increase our love for you and to see the Lord God’s work in each of us His redeemed.

    “Virtual ministry doesn't substitute for real life ministry” I understand what you have said here and agree with the CONTEXT. On the other hand, any way we can impact anyone including online, a letter, a book, an audio recording, etc, this too as you know is very influencing and part of our redeeming the time in getting out TRUTH. Well rounded ministry does included loving people up close in words of truth (the Word of God) and our loving helpful deeds. To be lop sided or unbalanced is not making the most of our time on this earth, and for the divine mandates from the Lord our God.

    I really appreciate you Elisabeth, and this is true because of your obvious deep commitment to the Lord God, as well as sound doctrine! Thank you for paying the price for that abandoned life to the purposes of our Lord God - even in those times of solitude, simplicity, and even the pain we the committed experience from time to time. Thank you for fighting against those people, places, things, etc, that war against our souls (individually and collectively). I believe that you are having a tremendous impact on the lives of many!

    I am not even coming close in my attempt to say that I honestly feel a real Christ like bond to you Elizabeth. I can also honestly say that I sense likewise a real bond to our other fellow saints that make comments on your site! It is really a sweet thing when I read what you write, and then to read what most of our precious brothers and sisters have to say too. I wish that I could hug each of you :--) (don’t believe in wishing-hey we will all meet in the air very soon with our Lord Jesus Christ so let the momentum continue to build).


    My love to our GREAT GOD and the Lord Jesus Christ, AND to ALL my dear brothers and sisters in Christ WORLDWIDE!

    Brother Rick :--))
    Metro Atlanta

    PS,
    To those not part of the family go here and learn how to be part of the family:
    www.gty.org
    Romans 10:9-13

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  7. Hey Elizabeth,
    I noticed your Puritan book in the picture of your study area. While your on break you should check out Don Kistlers sermons on the puritans and the attributes of God. They are on sermon audio.com. Really good!
    Pam

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    1. thanks Pam! I LOVE stuff like that! I appreciate the tip!

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  8. Elizabeth, My life is so blessed because of the work you do in Christ's name. I am sure so many are Blessed as well. I loved getting a bit of info on the life of my sister in Christ. I also appreciate your list on Trustworthy Teachers. I keep a list of the good and the bad because I get asked who I listen to also. I always lead them to John MacArthur. I also like RC Sproul except we differ on a couple of issues (Baptism and Eschatology). Anyway, Thank you so much for sharing your love for the Word of God! You are so much appreciated!

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    1. Deby, thank you! You are appreciated so much as well. May everything be for the glory of God.

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