from Rachel: Word of Life

What unique title does John give Jesus in verse 1? The “Word” of “life”. Why do you think John refers to Jesus as the Word? Give this some thought even if you’ve never been given a formal explanation. “Jesus said He had not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. He was theContinue reading “from Rachel: Word of Life”

I Still Can Be Happy

Dearest Rachel – There’s a certain unfortunate bias in my letters to you. This is in part because I generally make a point of writing to you first thing in the morning. To a certain extent, this is so I can get the task out of the way, and get on with the rest ofContinue reading “I Still Can Be Happy”

from Rachel: When Your Thought Closet is Blue

In Psalm 42:5, what question did [the psalmist] record? “Why are you downcast, O my soul?“Why so disturbed within me?” Why do you think the psalmist asked this question? Check one: He was… “searching for the reason for his despair.” What colors make up your thought closet? “purple” What color are your personality, your memories,Continue reading “from Rachel: When Your Thought Closet is Blue”

The Cost of Things Lost

Dearest Rachel – It would seem that the conventional wisdom, the rule of thumb, is more accurate than I had considered giving it credit for. Daniel and I have been waking up at ridiculous hours throughout the entirety of the past week since arriving back home, including today. I can’t speak for so much forContinue reading “The Cost of Things Lost”

Passing Another Milestone Upon the Verge of Joy

Dearest Rachel – Tomorrow, as you know, will be Thanksgiving. A day where we Americans collectively stop and try to remind ourselves how good we have it, and how we should be grateful for all those blessings in life that those of other places and times could only have dreamed of, as well as certainContinue reading “Passing Another Milestone Upon the Verge of Joy”

All or Nothing at All

Dearest Rachel – For all that it’s been an edifying trip (even with the distraction of me trying to write everything down as I’m walking through every single site), it’s really good to get back home, and pile myself into my own bed. Daniel agrees, despite the fact that his bed is essentially the familyContinue reading “All or Nothing at All”

Return to Israel

Dearest Rachel – After visiting Bethlehem and the shepherd’s caves, we head back into Israel proper. While we never needed our passports (because isn’t it still Israel? I mean, there is no separate country of Palestine at the moment), it has all the feel of a border crossing otherwise. As we arrive at Nebe Samuel,Continue reading “Return to Israel”

from Rachel: Who Is In the Center of Your Thought Closet?

Write what the psalmist told his soul to do in Psalm 146:1 “Praise the Lord” In your own words, what does it mean to tell your soul to praise God? “I try to focus on His greatness and holiness, and on His great love. I like to try to imagine future praise sessions in personContinue reading “from Rachel: Who Is In the Center of Your Thought Closet?”

from Rachel: Grumbles in the Thought Closet

Think about what you say when you talk to yourself. Do you ever grumble? If so, about what? “Yes, petty annoyances.” According to Philippians 2:3, how much are we permitted to do from selfishness? “nothing” Rather than out of selfishness, we are to act with what? “humility” Are your grumbles more justified than theirs were?Continue reading “from Rachel: Grumbles in the Thought Closet”

from Rachel: I Will Remember

Rate your memory by circling the number that most closely matches you – 1 being poor, 10 being excellent. “7” When it comes to criticism or past failures, rate your ability to remember. “8” When it comes to successes, compliments, or God’s benefits, how good is your memory? “7” What do the circled numbers inContinue reading “from Rachel: I Will Remember”

What Other People Think

Dearest Rachel – After heading downstairs from the home office (a bit on that near the end, by the way), getting ready to have breakfast and start my day, I realized that Daniel was awake, and listening to some of his usual stuff. Granted, this morning it seemed to be some sort of news report,Continue reading “What Other People Think”

Can’t Help But Compare

Dearest Rachel – Waking up ridiculously early this morning isn’t anywhere near as unpleasant as it has been, now that the fan motor has been replaced in the bedroom space heater. Still, without an immediate topic at hand to talk to you about today (since by waking up, I seem to have completely punctured whateverContinue reading “Can’t Help But Compare”

from Rachel: Fire in the Closet

What does James 4:1 say about our fiery potential? “They ‘come from desires that battle within you.’” What kind of words ignite your anger? “Mostly actions spark my anger, but I do feel righteous indignation over false accusations, especially when my self-defenses are dismissed without the slightest consideration.” What situations trigger frustration or ignite anger?Continue reading “from Rachel: Fire in the Closet”

from Rachel: Be Still, My Soul. Calm Down

Turn to Psalm 131:2. What did David say he had done? “He had stilled and quieted his soul.” This phrase within this particular song of ascent compares David’s soul stillness to what? “A weaned child” What do you think he meant? “With calm composure and peacefulness of an older child rather than the pig-like rootingContinue reading “from Rachel: Be Still, My Soul. Calm Down”

from Rachel: Fortifying Your Thought Closet

What did Jesus tell his disciples (Matthew 26:41)? Why? “Watch and pray – to avoid falling into temptation” Seriously, do you recognize your temptation trouble spots? “Yes” What are they? “Too much gaming, especially after midnight, but in the daytime and evening as well; too much TV – more that I want to watch thanContinue reading “from Rachel: Fortifying Your Thought Closet”

from Rachel: The Watchman at Your Thought-Closet Door

Think of a time your emotions got out of control. What kinds of thoughts or actions resulted? “Dishwasher incident” Emotion: “first annoyed and needlessly hurried, then a little bit cheated, then under attack and angry – rageful – furious” Thought: “He was deliberately being obnoxious and trying to make me furious, and ruining my pre-organization.”Continue reading “from Rachel: The Watchman at Your Thought-Closet Door”

from Rachel: Roots and Fruits

Hebrews 12:15 shows the link between roots and fruit. What does it warn against? “a bitter root growing up to cause trouble and defile many.” What is the “fruit” that the writer of Hebrews suggests springs from the “root” of bitterness? “trouble and defiling” Draw some fruit in the margin and label them with theContinue reading “from Rachel: Roots and Fruits”

The Things I Can’t Relate

Dearest Rachel – For all the times recently that I’ve gone into detail about this or that dream, there are those that I can’t relate to you – at least, not here. Sometimes, like this morning, it’s simply because the moment I open my eyes, everything pops like an enormous soap bubble. The only thingContinue reading “The Things I Can’t Relate”

Prickly

Dearest Rachel – I’m wearing shorts this morning. Not because it’s hot out today – although I’m to understand that it certainly will be later on in the day (hey, it’s July, what do you expect?) – but because I’m meeting Lars for a walk around the forest preserve, and I don’t want to disappointContinue reading “Prickly”

from Rachel: The Soundtrack in My Thought Closet

Do you meditate? “Yes” What did the Psalmist talk to himself about (Psalm 119)? Verse 27: I will talk to myself about “God’s wonders.” Verse 48: I will talk to myself about “God’s decrees.” Verse 78: I will talk to myself about “God’s precepts.” Verse 148: I will talk to myself about “God’s promises.” WriteContinue reading “from Rachel: The Soundtrack in My Thought Closet”

Facing Myself in the Morning

Dearest Rachel – Back in the day, when I was still a part of the work farce, Mohinder would ask me about what I told myself each morning when I would stare at myself in the bathroom mirror, getting ready for the new day. He didn’t seem to think I could face my reflection andContinue reading “Facing Myself in the Morning”

from Rachel: I Just Want Everyone to Love Me

Anyone else want to join me here? “Yep, I have belonged to the ‘just love me’ club too.” Looks like you agreed with the author that you are conflict-avoidant, risk-averse, and easily pushed (although you preferred the term ‘manipulated,’ for all the difference it made). You did not consider yourself easily-bullied, work-yourself-into-oblivion, or a bigContinue reading “from Rachel: I Just Want Everyone to Love Me”

from Rachel: God Offers a New Attitude

God can make us new women this week. Are you willing to commit to his compassionate, transforming work? “No promises yet, sorry. It’s Wednesday already, also. Added” (signature) “Thursday after day 5” Write down some other attitudes that belong to the category of “bad.” “Lazy, selfish, pleasure-seeking, comfort-loving, work-avoiding, worldly and pursuing worldly pleasures andContinue reading “from Rachel: God Offers a New Attitude”

The ‘All Right’ Lie

Hush… It’s going to be all right Dearest Rachel – It’s a lie that we tell our children. In the most extreme case at present, a Ukranian father has to tell them as he bundles them off with their mother; they are to head for the border and relative safety, while he must stay behindContinue reading “The ‘All Right’ Lie”