Just Finished the Old Testament!

Image result for old testamentI hesitated to write this blog because I was a little low-key embarrassed about how long it took me. Fortunately, I am confident that God can use my flaws, and less than perfect example to bless others 🙂 So, here it is. In January of 2015, I decided to stop jumping around from book to book during my personal devotions, and only read the Bible cover to cover, Genesis to Revelation. Well guys, it’s FIVE YEARS LATER AND I JUST FINISHED MALACHI. That’s right. Technically, it’s 5 years and 3 months later, and I finally finished the 39 books of the Old Testament.

I wish I could tell you it took me that long due to my deep reflection and long months of study in each book. But it all actuality, it took me that long because reading only one chapter a day (929 chapters total in the OT), taking random blocks of time off because I didn’t prioritize reading, taking breaks from some (cough cough prophetic) books that I struggled to “get something out of” and reading something else–quickly added up to it taking me over 1,900 days to finish this part of the written story of God.

I’m not sure how to go about reflecting on 5 years of reading, but I do know a couple things that I am walking away with before I begin Matthew that I’d like to share with you!

1.) I would never want to read the OT without a study Bible! 

There were SO many verses, chapters, and to be honest-entire books that confused me! I have a degree in Biblical Studies; I teach the metanarrative of Scripture to 7th graders at a local Christian school; I have been attending a Bible-believing church since I was 6 years old. And yet- WOW-this book is complex, layered, ancient, and confusing. There are not many instances where I would sit down to read and NOT greatly utilize the footnotes to help me understand what on earth was going on/what the author was actually communicating. I’m so grateful for the clarification and information found in my study Bible!

Additionally, each book in my Bible starts with about 7 pages of notes about the book such as: themes, authorship, occasion, date, literary features, and structure. I would often take notes from these pages in my journal as I began or ended reading to help me wrap my mind around the book as a whole. Additionally, whenever I took my “hiatuses of laziness” and didn’t read for like a month, when returning to the text, I would read that introduction/look at the outline to re-establish where I am at in the story.

2.) I am glad it took me so long. 

Although I am not glad for the times I went without reading at all, but I AM glad for how slowly I walked through these pages. I applaud those who read through the Bible in a year or stick to a rigorous reading schedule. I think their discipline is beautiful, and I am SURE that God reveals amazing things when going through his story so quickly! But, for me, I loved (typically) reading only a chapter at a time. I loved thinking more deeply about the history of Israel, the promise of a messiah, and all the prophecies that I knew were going to be fulfilled finally in Jesus! I appreciate the freedom of being able to take more time or less time in different chapters or books-without ever feeling like I am “falling behind” or “ahead of schedule”.

3.) Some days, I got nothing. 

Most of the time when I read, I try and read until I “get something”-meaning, I can reflect from the text a truth about who God is and praise him for it, or a truth about who I am, and what I need the Holy Spirit to do in my life. Some books, (especially Wisdom Literature) such as Proverbs and Psalms-are so easy to read and apply. A numbered list of “takeaways” might get up into the 30’s for one chapter! Many Old Testament books have gripping stories with characters to learn from and God’s glorious attributes on shining display. Other books are more complicated and tedious.  Towards the end, some of those dear minor prophets were so dang confusing and repetitive-I felt like I kept observing the same things over and over again (which is kind of the point) and found no new illuminating grains of beauty that I was hoping to see each time I read the Word.

Typically, if I read a chapter and find myself feeling confused or unmoved, I read the footnotes and often that will bring a spiritual truth to mind that I had not yet seen or considered. But sometimes I would read a chapter, read the footnotes and my heart nor my mind would be stirred in any way. So I would read the next chapter. And sometimes, felt the exact same thing. So, I would try reading one more chapter; surely something would stand out to me out of three chapters! And sometimes-I still would “get nothing”.

 And that is 100% okay.

Having consistent, intimate time with God is a gift whether I walk away with something or not. The point is not to always have a sentence to carry with me throughout the day-the point is fellowship, commitment, growth, and love. The days of “getting nothing” don’t come often, but when they do, I close my Bible and say a prayer of gratefulness-despite my lack of takeaway or understanding. No matter what, it is a privilege and joy to have the ability and opportunity to seek to know God through his word.

____________________________

All this to say if you’ve never tried reading the Bible from cover to cover-I recommend it! Get your hands on a good study Bible, a journal, and grab your perseverance. Oh and another helpful resource-before, during, or after each book-watch The Bible Project‘s summary/overview on Youtube! Just search the book name + Bible project!

Image result for the bible project

Reading the OT has definitely stirred my heart and excitement for the Messiah to actually come! I am so looking forward to reading the New Testament with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the people of Israel and the character of Yahweh. Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts, and as always- thanks for reading!!!

-Betty

My Next Adventure: TEACHING!

Like most college students, I changed my major after my freshman year. I switched from Music Education to Music Performace, and I can vividly remember the conversation I had with Dr. Bigley about the decision. Well. Not really that vividly, it was 10 years ago. But I do remember the concluding sentence. He told me,

“Betty,  it doesn’t really matter what you choose. If God wants you to teach, he will have you teach. And if God wants you to perform–it doesn’t matter what your degree says-you’ll perform.” 

Now, here we are a decade later, and I am fulfilling that very “prophesy”. I don’t have a degree in Education (I wish!), and I don’t have any real classroom experience, but God has wonderfully, graciously, and randomly made a way for me to be a teacher.

Image result for east hill christian school

On Monday, I start teaching fulltime at East Hill Christian School! I am a 6th grade Science, Math, and (my favorite subject) Bible teacher and I am pumped! Oh, and terrified. I am very aware of my lack of knowledge when it comes to classroom management, lesson plannings, and let’s be real-6th-grade science.

But, depending wholeheartedly on the Holy Spirit, I am going to joyfully, humbly, and creatively teach my 6th graders. And by teach, I mean guide, learn from, love, encourage, challenge, pray for, evaluate, and disciple the dear students God brings my way.  I am excited to learn from other teachers,  learn from my many mistakes, and grow in knowing how to best guide young people to understand and treasure truth and intellect. I am very passionate about Christian education and cannot wait to interweave the character of God into our lessons to help cultivate children who delight in their Creator.

I am very grateful to God for giving me this opportunity, and as aforementioned, completely dependent on Him to use me and teach me to be a master teacher! And from y’all I welcome any resources/tips/words of wisdom/encouragement/etc. that you may have for me!

As always, thanks for taking the time to read and hear my heart!

Much Love!

Mrs. Bacon 🙂

 

Education is the Most Powerful Weapon by Nelson Mandela - 8 1/2 x 11 art print signed by Aimee Ferre

 

Checking off the standards you've taught becomes the focus, but the reality is that this quote perfectly describes our true purpose as teachers.

 

My teacher thought I was smarter than I was - so I was.

You teach what you know,  but you reproduce what you are.  -- Howard Hendricks pic.twitter.com/oNRVmS2qOr

#StaffroomEducation #Education #Teacher #Teaching #Pupil #Student #Quote #Saturday #Wales #UK #Cardiff #School

Principles and Benefits of a Classical Education

Give Journaling a Try!

I met with a dear friend this morning who’s husband is overseas in Germany and they have been separated for FAR TOO LONG! She mentioned how during the stints of time they have to go without ANY communication, she clings to memories, voicemails, old texts, and video messages gone back and forth.

Don’t we all do that? Our hearts love to treasure memories, and our minds need to recount learned truths to ourselves over and over again in times of doubt.

This premise is one of the reasons I advocate SO strongly for journaling about or to God! It allows you the opportunity to look back at your relationship with God and see the times where he was especially sweet, and also the times he felt distant–only to be followed again by a time of nearness.  It shows you the lessons you’ve had to learn time and time again, the prayers he has graciously answered, and the power of being in the Word.

Try writing out your prayers to him, or outlining your prayers each day. Or try journaling ONE take away each time you read the word. Write a poem, or doodle the lyrics or images relating to your favorite song or hymn. There are a million ways to do it; figure out what works for you! Let me know what journaling does in you, and let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns!

(Also, journaling should not trump or replace your time in the Word, but supplement and fortify it :))

Lastly, here’s a little video about my journaling history and habits 🙂

Much Love,

Betty

Tips for your Time in the Word

Writing yesterday’s post about my time in the word, inspired me to provide ya’ll with a few more details and helpful tips about my morning routine with God!

I definitely don’t get to do it this thoroughly everyday, or even most days, BUT when I do follow my structure that I talk about below, it is always SO GOOD!

  1. Wake Up Early
    1. I love waking up with enough time to get ready and have breakfast and feel squared away for the day before jumping into time with the Lord. If I feel rushed or preoccupied about whatever-my time with Him in the word is significantly effected.
  2. Start the Process Sooner
    1. It’s helpful when you don’t just all of a sudden sit down and expect to have a beautiful deep communion with the Lord! Work your way into it! Just like if you and I were to meet for coffee, I wouldn’t just ask “So what is the biggest thing you are burdened by right now?” the minute we sat down (well maybe I would-but not usually!). Typically, we would have some “small talk” and preliminary conversation before getting in deep. I like to do the same with the Lord. I often will pray (I have daily prayers posted on my bathroom mirror) or listen to Christian podcasts (Mortification of Spin, Ask Pastor John, The Gospel Coalition, or The Briefing) while I do my hair and make-up to be preparing my heart for time with the Lord. Also (guilty of not doing this)-go to bed at a decent hour so that mornings aren’t so hard 🙂
  3. Pray-before and after
    1. The ONLY way we have any understanding or blessing from being in the Word, is if the Holy Spirit works in us to understand and love it’s pages. We need to remember our dependence on him and thank him for his grace in helping us! If your mind wanders a lot when praying-trying journaling!
  4. REFLECT, REFLECT, REFLECT!
    1. How many times have I read something one day, and the next day have NO MEMORY of reading ANYTHING? Toooo many times! The best way I’ve found to prevent that is to always take time to meditate on what I just read. I have to land on a takeaway or an action step or a thing to praise God for anew! This quote is SOOOOO TRUE!

So maybe just try and implement one of these if they are new to you! Don’t overcomplicate it! Just know that spending time with God everyday is going to make you more like him-and that is a WONDERFUL thing! Just aim to get to know him and love him more each time you are in the Word, and remember that it’s not something to dread, but something to delight in!

What are some of your tips/best practices?  What kind of questions do you have about time with the Lord?

How I Work Through a Psalm

Do you ever wake up, and just NEED to read a psalm? I felt that way this morning. I have a few “go to” ones-and among my favorites is Psalm 62.

I don’t know about you, but I often feel like I am in a season of waiting for something. Waiting for God to show me the next step, waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for an answer- trying to peacefully and joyfully wait on God’s perfect timing for something. So, I love the truths found in this particular Psalm.

To give you a glimpse into how I spend my time in the Word, I tried to “mark up” the below digital version the same I would mark up the paper version. Typically, after reading the chapter, I go through and journal about 1.) what the passage tells me about WHO God is, and 2.) what difference the passage should make in my life. Then I try to pray through the passage and my observations-praising God for his attributes I see on display in the chapter, and praying for what was revealed about my need for change.

So let’s have a look!

Psalm 62-English Standard Version (ESV)

My Soul Waits for God Alone

To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

62 For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation. ❤ 
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

How long will all of you attack a man
    to batter him,
    like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.
    They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
    but inwardly they curse. Selah

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken. !!!
On God rests my salvation and my glory; ❤
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God. ❤

Trust in him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before him;
    God is a refuge for us. Selah

Those of low estate are but a breath;
    those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
    they are together lighter than a breath.
10 Put no trust in extortion;
    set no vain hopes on robbery;
    if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

11 Once God has spoken;
    twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12     and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
    according to his work. (faith)

Again, when I finish reading I write down what the Psalm tells me about God and about mankind/me. Here is what I saw:

  • My “waiting” is not for OTHER people or things…I’m actually waiting on God’s perfect timing to orchestrate the next thing-a reminder of his sovereignty (v.1, 5)
  • He is my rock- he is the stable, immovable, foundation for all things-including my life, he never changes (v. 2,6)
  • He is my salvation-it’s only by his grace that I am his–and this is the biggest gift of all (v. 2,6)
  • He is my fortress-he protects me from EVERYTHING he wants me to not have in my life, and allows only what he knows is best for me (v. 2,6)
  • He is my only hope-he is the only one who can do anything about anything-and he will do what is perfect (v. 5)
  • I shall not be shaken-knowing these truths gives me an otherworldly sort of peace and confidence no matter what comes my way (v. 6)
  • I can trust him with ANYTHING and EVERYTHING (v. 8)
  • He wants me to pour out my cares, concerns, heartache, fears, worries, joys, blessings, gratitudes–everything to him through prayer (v. 8)
  • I shouldn’t set my heart on anything temporary, anything of this world (v. 10)
  • God is all-powerful. That means there is nothing he can’t do, and if he chooses not to do something-then that is best, because I know that he is also trustworthy and good (v.11)
  • God’s love is steady, consistent, and unconditional (v.12)

And then I’ll pray through these things! 🙂 That usually takes up my time in the morning, and I don’t often get through more than a chapter (unless I’m in genealogies–then I’m FLYING ;)) Let me know if you have any follow up questions about this simple routine!

Blessings on your day!

Love ,

Betty