Sunday, October 2, 2011

31 Days of Praying through the Psalms

I've adapted some of the daily Psalm segments from my last three books, and I'm posting a series on Psalms at one of my other blogs. Check it out at ruthjleamy.com every day this month. If you've read Sacred Signposts, you'll recognize the first ten days.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's Next?

If you finished studying Sacred Signposts, you might be looking for a new Bible study. I have a few suggestions.

If you just want a schedule of scriptures to read, turn to the back of your book and you'll find a schedule to read through Psalms in 60 days.

If you want to learn more about praying scripture, consider 31 Days of Praise or 31 Days of Prayer. Author Ruth Myers collected scriptures on various topics and phrased them as prayers. Each daily reading is only two or three pages long, and at the end it lists all the scriptures Ruth Myers used. If you use this in a discussion group, you might study three or four daily readings each week, and look up all the verses and talk about them. A leader could do a little prep work and find a few cross-references in her Bible to stretch the discussion time out a bit.

A great Bible study on prayer is Catherine Martin's Passionate Prayer. This is a 30 day devotional. For a group discussion, I recommend the Passionate Prayer Quiet Time Experience. This will have a little more homework than Sacred Signposts. You will look up a lot of scripture and read quotations from classic Christian authors. I highly recommend it.

If you want to learn about meditating on scripture and memorize a few incredibly encouraging verses, look at the Loving God with All Your Mind workbook, by Elizabeth George. I just finished using this workbook with a group of ladies at church, and we found we enjoyed it more when we did not use the DVD that can accompany it. There was plenty to think about and discuss in the workbook, and we wanted to spend our time in the Bible rather than watching the DVD. The DVD was an extra--it was not needed for the book. There is a longer version of this (not a workbook) but this one has more scriptures and is easier to discuss in a group setting.

If you'd like a book on the topic of praise, check out my Praise Patterns book.

In September I will have a new book available. The title is Only for my King: a Song of Service and Surrender. Its topic is serving God, and it will explore Biblical characters, historical Christians and contemporary Christians who served and surrendered to God.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gratitude

I need to apologize to the ladies studying Sacred Signposts at Lewis and Clark Bible church. I haven't posted anything for you lately! Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers even when I don't post.

I am thinking about the Gratitude chapter today: praising the all-powerful Lord who lived a meek and lowly life on this earth.

I bought a copy of Keith Getty's Piano Hymns for my husband. Yesterday I was trying to play the arrangement of "In Christ Alone" which is far beyond my limited musical abilities. I was sputtering about the key changes and how I really wanted it "just written like a hymn" -- and I didn't realize I was doing this audibly. Lydia was listening to me, however, and she politely pointed out that "Maybe that book is written for more skilled people, Mama."

I laughed and agreed with her.

Later I thought about the title of the song, and how thankful I am that I can stand and live and have a ministry "In Christ Alone." It's all about Him. Not me. Not my skill (or lack thereof). He is the reason I have anything to share with you. He is the reason I rejoice.

And suddenly I was humming a line from another song:

"And life is worth the living just because He lives."



I added this to the list at Thought Provoking Thursdays, hosted here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

a little more about Faith

I received this in an e-mail from Dayspring and I thought it complemented the Faith chapter.

The Measure

You are my portion, O Lord. Psalm 119:57 AMP

Let the grace of the Lord be the measure of your sufficiency;
let the peace of the Lord be the measure of your quietness;
let the power of the Lord be the measure of your strength;
let the goodness of the Lord be the measure of your contentment;
let the love of the Lord be the measure of your service;
let the faithfulness of the Lord be the measure of your trust;
let the beauty of the Lord be the measure of your worship;
let the fullness of the Lord be the measure of your joy;
let the sovereignty of the Lord be the measure of your confidence;
let the promises of the Lord be the measure of your expectations;
let the coming of the Lord be the measure of hope.

--Roy Lessin

Saturday, April 2, 2011

praying for faith...and with faith

This is a prayer from my journal three years ago. My father's health was failing, and I was stressed. Praying through Scriptures -- using the words of Scripture and responding to them -- brought me so much comfort and strength. Praying this way really helped me to put my faith into words, and to trust in the reality of "Christ Over Me."


Praying with Psalm 22-24

Lift up your heads, you gates!
Rise up, ancient doors!
Then the King of glory will come in.


O King of glory,
Creator of heaven and earth,
Lord of love and mercy,
I invited You into my life
on a spring afternoon
when I was four years old.
Thank You for never leaving
even when I forget You're here
and try to carry all
my burdens alone.

Do not be far from me,
because distress is near
and there is no one to help.


Sometimes "distress" seems closer to me
than You, Lord.
But You live within me
and no one -- and nothing --
can be closer than that.

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.


I'd like more money, Lord.
I'd like some assistance with the responsibilities
of being the only child of an ailing father.
I'd like to fly away to Ireland today.
But I have You, Lord,
and I have a loving husband
and children
and a house
and two cats
and thirty-seven varieties of tea in the pantry --
so, really,
I lack nothing.

He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name's sake.


Last week, Lord,
on a stressful day,
You provided refreshing green scenery
and precious amusing memories
to keep me company.

Even when I go
through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff --
they comfort me.


You are with me.
You comfort me.
Truly, Lord,
I lack nothing.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love
will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
as long as I live.


Sometimes I feel that stress and exhaustion
and headaches pursue me --
but You promise that Your goodness and faithful love
will be with me every day.

(Psa. 24:7, 22:11, 23:1-6)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

a prayer

This didn't make it into the book. It's Patrick's prayer, with my own response to it. Do try this at home: write someone else's prayer, or a scripture verse, and insert your own responses. Use it as a structure, a signpost, a place to begin.

Christ, as a light illumine and guide us
Fill us with Your joy today, Lord, and direct our choices.
Christ, as a shield overshadow us
I ask You to protect us from discouragement and danger.
Christ under us
Lord we need Your strength and support.
Christ over us
Help us to trust You and praise You, our faithful Friend!
Christ beside us on our left and our right
Remind us of Your presence Lord, all day long.
This day be within and without us
Shape our inner attitudes and control our outward actions.
Lowly and meek, yet all-powerful
We pause to marvel at Your life, death and resurrection.
Be in the heart of each to whom we speak

Lord, plant Your truth in the hearts of everyone we meet today.
In the mouth of each who speaks unto us
Keep us tuned to Your voice, through whomever You choose to speak.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Praying for Strength

Hello, Lewis and Clark ladies (and other readers), this week you're reading the Strength chapter.

Here is a simple prayer based on Psalm 38. I wrote this in a busy season several years ago, and I'm re-using it this month. I love discovering prayers from a few years ago and remembering how God answered! Those memories help me to trust Him now.

Lord, my every desire is known to You;
my sighing is not hidden from You.

I put my hope in You, Lord;
You will answer, Lord my God.

(Psalm 38:9, 15)

Lord, You know all the activities and responsibilities I am juggling this month.
You are my Hope
my Strength
and You will enable me to accomplish Your will.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Praying for Protection

If you're reading chapter three this week, you're praying for protection. I looked back at my prayer journal in search of a prayer on this topic. I found this.

Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous ones;
praise from the upright is beautiful.

...The earth is full of the Lord's unfailing love.

We wait for the Lord;
He is our help and shield.
For our hearts rejoice in Him,
because we trust in His holy name.
May Your faithful love rest on us, Lord,
for we put our hope in You.

Proclaim with me the Lord's greatness;
let us exalt His name together.

Those who look to Him are radiant with joy...

(Psa. 33:1, 5, 20-22, 34:3, 5)


Oh Lord,
Thank You for walking with me through this long day.
You are my help, my shield, my hope, my joy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Praying in Color on St. Patrick's Day


I didn't draw this today--my prayer journal today had many of these phrases but it's too sloppy to share. This is a prayer drawing (stenciling, to be precise) I made a few weeks ago as I prayed through the requests in St. Patrick's prayer.

My complete post on Praying in Color is here.

Come by the Hills - Celtic Thunder - Damian Mc Ginty

This is a beautiful song with fabulous scenes of Ireland. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

praying for light

This week the ladies at Lewis and Clark Bible church are studying chapter two and praying for light.

Because of our God's merciful compassion,
the Dawn from on high will visit us
to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

(Luke 1:78-79, emphasis added)

It is a peaceful day when I see the Lord as my Dawn, my Sunrise. Any light that brightens my day comes from Him.

O blessed Lord, beyond the moment's sorrow
I see above, beneath, before, behind--
Eternal Love. Give me today, tomorrow,
A quiet mind.
--Amy Carmichael, Mountain Breezes, p. 139)

When I pray this poem, I like to substitute whatever I'm feeling for the word sorrow: anxiousness, exhaustion, blahness, joy.... Beyond my changing emotions, I want to see Him, Eternal Love and Light.

The Savior is a great source of comfort to us...Many live in the darkness of divorce or in the shadow of death. Some watch a loved one slowly disintegrate before their eyes. Others, in seemingly “perfect” circumstances, live in the deepest darkness of all -- depression that nothing seems to penetrate! Listen to the Good News! There’s light at the end of the tunnel -- look up and see Jesus standing there! Hear what He says: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) --from a blogpost by Jill Briscoe.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Recipe!

When we visited Ireland, we brought home this yummy recipe for Irish brown bread. I am not a baker, but I can manage this.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

St. Patrick's Breastplate: A Modern Version

Look for St. Patrick's Breastplace at itunes.com; you'll find this version from an album by Stefan Van Voorst. The words are modernised without losing the beauty of the prayer. The tune is catchy and upbeat yet still prayerful. My children love this song. My five year old calls it "Christ, Christ, today." I love to listen to this in the car on the way to Bible study.

Christ with me
Before me
Behind me
Within me
Above me
Beneath me
Around me
Throughout me
On my right and left
In length, and height, and breadth
With You I will not fear
Whether far or whether near

I arise today
Through a mighty strength
Following the One who showed the way
I’m alive today
Through Christ my strength
I’m following the One who showed the way
Uphold me and guide me
Look before me
Speak for me
Protect me and guard me
Watch o’er me
Come save me

In the heart of the ones who think of me
In the mouth of the ones who speak of me
Every eye that sees
Every ear that hears
Christ be...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Distractions and Interruptions

This is a special message for the ladies at Lewis and Clark Church who are studying Sacred Signposts...but you're all welcome to read it.

Do you often get interrupted or distracted when you're trying to pray? Let me share a story with you.

It's a true story, and it happened during the Second World War. There was a professor called Jack who lived in a country village in England. He loved solitude and quietness because he was not just a professor but a writer—an author of Christian books. He needed quiet times to study and write. But during that time, many parents in London sent their children away from the danger of the bombs that were falling on the city so regularly, and people in country villages let these children stay with them. Jack felt that serving others was the way to put Christianity into practice, so he agreed to let several children stay with him. They interrupted his work. His home was no longer quiet. He was distracted.

But one rainy day one of those children began playing in an old wardrobe and wondering what might be behind it. And suddenly, this interruption gave the professor an idea: the beginning of a story.

You've probably read that story: it's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The professor, though he liked to be called "Jack", was C. S. Lewis. Eventually the story became a whole series of books that have blessed so many people, adults and children alike, for decades.

That interruption became a blessing. And beyond that one scene, having children in the house and getting acquainted with them helped Lewis to write in a way that was so fascinating to children.

This story reminds me to thank God for the interruptions and to realize that He's in control.

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men. (Colossians 3:23)
I like this verse. It tells me that whether I'm reading my Bible or getting my daughter a bandaid, I'm still serving God.

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
This verse reminds me that the work God is doing in me today–whatever He is calling me to do or change—He is the one who is doing the work. It is in His strength that I follow Him. Even when I'm interrupted or distracted, He has begun a good work in me and He won't give up.

So if you're distracted today, trust God to make those interruptions into a blessing.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Irish hymn writers and an Irish Tune

Here is Kristyn Getty singing, "What Grace is Mine." You'll recognize the tune as "Danny Boy" or "Londonderry Air." Then she sings "In Christ Alone," one of my favorite hymns.

"I bow my heart, take my cross and follow Him."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Welcome, Lewis and Clark Ladies!

Here's a little welcome video from me to the Bible study meeting at Lewis and Clark Bible Church in Astoria, Oregon.

video

If you're looking for the music listed on page one, it's here.

Thank you again for taking this journey of prayer with me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Soundtrack

Each chapter of Sacred Signposts includes a hymn. These are my favorite arrangements. This is the list on page one. And no, that's not my typo in the first song. That's Itunes' typo.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ribbon Roads: Countdown to St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is a month away! My husband and I were incredibly blessed to spend six days in Ireland in 2007. Here is a song from Keith and Kristyn Getty describing the "Ribbon Roads" winding up and down the green hills of Ireland. I love this song because it describes not only some great memories of Ireland, but the winding road of life: looking back, looking forward, keeping the Journey's End in view. And as we meditate on our life's journey, we see, to paraphrase Patrick, "Christ Over Us, Christ beside us on our left and our right."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Introducing St. Patrick

St. Patrick was a missionary to Ireland around the year 400 A.D. In the century before his birth, Christianity had become not only legal, but also the official religion of the Roman Empire. Patrick was born into a religious family in the Roman province of Britannia (now England), but he wasn't very interested in spiritual things as a young boy. When he was about fourteen Patrick was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland, a wild pagan land that even the Romans never attempted to conquer. There Patrick became a slave and a shepherd, and during the long lonely days with the sheep, he remembered the God his family worshiped, and he began to pray. In Patrick's own words:

There the Lord brought me to a sense of my unbelief, that I might, even
at a late season, call my sins to remembrance, and turn with all my heart to the
Lord my God, who regarded my low estate, and, taking pity on my youth and
ignorance, guarded me, before I understood anything, or had learned to
distinguish between good and evil, and strengthened and comforted me as a father
does his son.

Eventually, he escaped from Ireland and returned to his home. But he could not forget the Emerald Isle, and he began to have dreams about Irish people calling him to come and tell them about the true God.

Patrick studied for the ministry and sought the approval of the church in Rome. Church denominations and mission organizations did not yet exist, but Rome was the superpower government of its day and Christianity was its official religion. Thus, having the approval of the church at Rome was helpful if one was setting out to convert a barbarian nation. Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary—one of the first missionaries to venture beyond the reaches of the Roman Empire. There may have been a few Christians scattered through Ireland before Patrick's arrival; some historians think these Christians asked the Roman church to send a missionary to build churches and oversee the congregations.

Though some pagans opposed Patrick, many Irish people responded to him and believed in Jesus Christ. Patrick founded monasteries throughout Ireland, which were apparently more like our modern seminaries than to the later medieval monasteries. These institutions trained men to minister—and did not require their students to be unmarried or to take vows of poverty. Later, Irish monks began monasteries in Europe, where Scriptures were copied and preserved throughout the middle ages.

The Irish Christians loved and respected Patrick, and after his death, fanciful tales began to spring up about his life; centuries later it is a little difficult to sort out exactly which elements of these stories are true, but Patrick's own short autobiography did survive, known as “The Confession of St. Patrick.”

The prayer I chose as the outline for this study is a modern translation of a segment of a longer poem often attributed to Patrick. The entire poem is known as “The Breastplate of St. Patrick” or “The Lorica of St. Patrick”. Before their conversion to Christianity, the people of Ireland composed many poems known as “loricae” asking for the protection of their pagan gods. Patrick's poem was something new, a prayer for protection addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Several accounts of Patrick's life state that he prayed this prayer while being pursued by pagans, and that while he prayed, his attackers passed right by him, seeing a herd of deer instead of Patrick and his friends.

Patrick wrote a short autobiography that he called his “Confession”. He was very humble about his success as an evangelist, often lamenting his lack of education (his studies were interrupted by his years in slavery). He marveled that God had chosen him to be a missionary:

Who am I, O Lord, or what is my calling, that Thou hast granted me so much of
Thy Divine presence? So that at this day I can constantly rejoice among the
nations, and magnify Thy name wherever I may be, not only in prosperity, but in
adversity [teaching me] that I ought to accept with a contented mind whatever
may befall me, whether good or evil, and always give thanks to God, who showed
me that I should believe in Him for ever.

This is an excerpt from Sacred Signposts, Chapter One, copyright 2009. (You can read Patrick's Confession here.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Praying the Psalms: an excerpt from Chapter 1

Sometimes I pray a Psalm exactly as it is written, whispering the words of Scripture directly to God. Other times I mediate on the words of a Psalm and respond to God with a prayer prompted by His word. Let me illustrate: when I read the twenty-third Psalm, I pray “Even when I go through the darkest valley I fear no danger; for You are with me” (verse 4) just as it is written, but when I read “He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name's sake” (verse 3) I might respond, “Lord, You have renewed my life! You have guided me on the right paths! Thank You!”

As you read the twenty-third Psalm today, meditate on the Lord's guidance and presence in your life. If the Psalm reminds you of specific blessings, stop and praise God for them.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name's sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley
I fear no danger, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live. (Psalm 23:1-6)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why read Psalms in a study of Paul and Patrick?

Each daily reading in Sacred Signposts ends with a selection of Psalms relating to the theme of the chapter. Why are we reading the Psalms when we're studying Paul and Patrick? Because the Psalms were their prayer patterns too. Psalms was the prayer book of Israel, and Paul, as a devout Jew, would have read and recited this book often. Like Paul, many of the first Christians were Jews, and they kept right on praying the Psalms. The early Irish church followed this tradition too, and thus we can assume that Patrick prayed these prayers as well.
I chose to include segments of Psalms in this study because I think it's the easiest way to jump right into praying Scripture. Psalms gives us a pattern for praying honestly as well as eloquently—not because God doesn't hear simple spur-of-the-moment prayers (He does!), but because, when circumstances allow, He is worthy of thoughtful meditative prayer. Praying the Psalms also inserts a note of triumphant praise into our prayers, lifting our gaze from our needs and our requests to focus on the Lord Himself.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Psalms for Wednesday

Sometimes when I read Psalms, I am awed by the whole-hearted desire for God expressed by the authors. If I am praying these statements to God, am I being honest? Or are my desires half-hearted at best? I try to turn my thoughts and questions into prayer, asking God to give me a firmer commitment to prayer, a greater love for His word, and a consuming desire for Himself.

God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You.
I thirst for You; my body faints for You
in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water...
My lips will glorify You because Your faithful love is better than life.
So I will praise You as long as I live;
at Your name, I will lift up my hands.
You satisfy me as with rich food;
my mouth will praise You with joyful lips. (Psalm 63:1,3-5)
Your righteousness reaches heaven, God,
You who have done great things;
God, who is like You?
You caused me to experience many troubles and misfortunes,
but You will revive me again.
You will bring me up again,
even from the depths of the earth.
You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.
Therefore, with a lute I will praise You
for Your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing to You with a harp,
Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to You
because You have redeemed me. (Psalm 71:19-22)


Lord, You know my longing for a deeper prayer life. You know I want to speak with You, not just demand Your help or read my prayer list. Give me the desire, the tools, and the time.

This is an excerpt from Sacred Signposts, chapter one.