Learning To Pray The Psalms

At a recent Lifeway YouLead event, Kelly King shared a method for using the Psalms as a language for prayer.  Here’s the process…

  1. Make a numbered list from 1 – 30
  2. Find the number that corresponds to today’s date (i.e. September 16 = Psalm 16)
  3. Add 30 to each date until there are 5 numbers listed on each line. When you are finished, you should have numbers 1 – 150 in groups of 5  (i.e 1, 31, 61, 91, 121). This should give you 1 Psalm to pray every day for 5 months. For months with 31 days, choose a Psalm or a passage from a longer Psalm to use on day 31.
  4. Read the Psalm for that day.
  5. Using the language from that Psalm, say or write your prayer(s). Use personal pronouns to customize the words for your thoughts, praises and needs.
  6. If you don’t get all the way through each verse of the Psalm, that’s OK. Use whatever portion that speaks to you in your time with the Lord.

Here’s an example of what this might look like for Psalm 16…

Read Psalm 16

Lord,

Thank you for protecting me! Even today, You have kept me safe in ways I don’t even know. There are situations where You provide shelter so I know I can trust You completely.

Unfortunately, there are times when I don’t remember to trust You…I believe there are parts of my life that I can “handle alone”. Of course, I would never say that. My actions prove that’s what I think, though.

Like David, I can say ‘YOU ARE MY LORD’. None of my words are ever enough to thank you for being my creator and my savior before You became my Lord.

Lord, You are the only good thing about me. Without You, I am nothing but a sinner condemned to hell! Help me be honest about that when I am tempted to try to trust more in myself than in You.

When I am focused on You, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by how well You provide for me. Help me ALWAYS look at You first – Help me ALWAYS trust You completely – even when I don’t understand where You are leading.

Thank you for helping me “rest securely”, no matter what! Because of You, my heart can be glad, regardless of my circumstances or emotions. I want my life to point to You, above all else. Help me remember to let You guide me!

Amen.

Going To Work

For years and years, I have watched my mother listen. Don’t worry, she does her share of talking to! But her listening helps her talking make an impact. Wherever she is, she usually ends up in a conversation with someone – salesperson, waiter, friend, handyman, cashier, etc. Instead of just talking to pass the time or fill the silence, she listens. Then, she responds to what she hears …with encouragement, humor, an invitation, her story, and even Scripture. In an inviting, simple way, her faith “goes to work”.

For a LONG time, I didn’t realize that all her talking and listening had a point. As an adult, I have come to see it’s how she bears the fruit of her faith. She listens and takes interest in the people she naturally comes in contact with. Then, she engages them where they are. If they have never heard of Jesus, she invites them to learn. If they know Him but are not acting like they do, she challenges them to recommit. If they can’t see Him because of pain or needs in their life, she offers help.

It’s not complicated.

It’s not programmed.

It’s not overbearing or “in your face”.

It’s her faith. And it goes to work every time she leaves the house.

What’s YOUR story? We’d love to hear it and help you share it with others. Visit our website & answer 5 questions  to tell your story!

 

Storytellers

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From the earliest moments of our lives, we hear, read and tell stories. Stories are a form of communication and education. They are new every day and continue as long as people are alive. They are universal. In fact, Scripture tells the one, most powerful, most important story of all time!

Stories are meant to be shared and they are powerful tools for connecting with and loving others.  Because the disciples and Christ-followers throughout time have shared their stories, you and I know about Jesus and how He gives us a hope beyond ourselves. As believers, we are commanded to tell those same stories and “be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Several years ago, a young woman attended an event at a church she had never been to before. As people were arriving and finding their seats, one of the hosts from the church went over to the woman and introduced herself. When the young woman responded by telling her name, the host said, “So tell me your story.” Immediately, the young woman became a storyteller and it was such a welcoming moment.

You have a story and we invite you to become a storyteller!

How can you do that?

It’s very simple. You can tell your story by answering 5 Questions on our website. We’ll use those answers and your photo in a future blog post to help people meet, connect and walk with Dawson Women everywhere!

 

Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reboot!

Often, when electronics are not performing the way they are supposed to, they need a “reboot”, a pause to turn it completely off and restart it. That’s what we are doing with our Women’s Ministry Blog and we couldn’t be more excited! After a LONG PAUSE, we are restarting the Dawson Women’s Ministry BLOG and we hope you’ll join us here, often, as you engage with all the ways God is working through women at Dawson.

The Dawson Women’s Ministry is designed to involve ALL women. It is not something a woman “joins”. Rather, it is something a woman “is”! As Paul encouraged the Colossians, we seek to be “woven into a tapestry of love”. This ministry offers a variety of ways to be involved throughout each year: studies that focus on Scripture and God’s work in individual lives and the corporate body of the church; the TABLE ministry that opens homes in the community for intentional conversation about God; and SPECIAL EVENTS that focus on specific areas of need and/or concern.

Our goals for this blog, as well as our overall online presence, are:

  1. (the most important!) – Share how God is working in, around and through Dawson women.
  2. Provide a central source of information for anything and everything pertaining to the ministry.
  3. Provide a consistent place for interaction with our church members and ministry visitors.
  4. Direct members and visitors to the Dawson website for information about ministries and programs of the entire family of faith.

We hope you’ll visit here often, learn what God is doing at Dawson and share what He’s doing in your life as well!

Because of Him,

Kristen Torres, Minister of Spiritual Development

Dawson Family of Faith – 205.871.7324

Learning to Look for the”Great” In Every Day

by Erin Hollis

When I was a little girl, my dad often drove us to school.  Looking back I think those 15 minutes in the car each day have become some of his favorite moments in life.  He loved to sing loudly, scare us by abruptly screaming out at stop signs and wave to random people as we sped by.  He also found embarrassing us in the carpool line a daily requirement (still does, for that matter…).  Sunglasses with giant royal blue rims were his accessory of choice for the endeavor.  He would wait until we were just about to unload and throw those hideously gigantic shades on his face to greet our friends.  As our teachers and classmates would point and laugh I will never forget what he would say, “What kind of day are we going to have?!?!?”  He would wait until we responded.  Often times we declined.  So he would scream, GREAT DAY!!!”  No matter what kind of mood I was in, that one daily dialogue always brought a smile to my face.

Recently, I needed my dad to remind me of the importance of frame of mind.  The rain was coming down in thick sheets as we traveled down the road.  I had already burned the waffles that morning, slipped and fell down the stairs to the garage and now my oldest daughter needed to go potty fifteen minutes away from our destination.  I was ready to call it a day.  Crawl back in bed and hide under the covers.  As we crested a hill, I noticed a quaint little chapel nestled amongst some tall pines.  At the edge of the parking lot was a sign that read:

Every day will not be great.

But there will be something GREAT about every day.

Wow.  God shows up, doesn’t He?  Right when we reach the brink of desperation, He’s there.  Reaching a hand out to catch us from a fall.

I started to think about the message from the sign that day and my heart realized God was posturing me for an attitude adjustment.  Just like my Dad had done for me everyday as a child.  When we go through the motions each day it’s so easy to get worn down, beat up, exhausted.  That’s completely understandable.  We might even find ourselves leaning towards a “Negative Nelly” mentality at times.  But if we take a moment each morning before our feet even hit the floor to say, “Today is going to be a great day.  I have the gift of another day.  Let’s do this.” we have already taken the first step to start our day on a positive note.

So often in life attitude is everything.  Full disclosure: the fact that you woke up and continue to exist may be the only “great” parts of some days.  Don’t let that discourage you.  If we look at life through a positive lens (take for example giant royal blue rimmed sunglasses) we are destined to see the good in our reality rather than focusing on the bad.

“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.”  Ecclesiastes 7:14

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“I am a child of God, a wife and mother to my two greatest blessings. I dearly love my faith, my family and getting the most out of life!” Read her daily at http://www.erinbrownhollis.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Am That Baby

iamthatbaby1

I looked in the mirror this morning and realized I am the most important person in the world to God. And so is the next person. And the next person. Because God is all-powerful and omnipresent, it’s as if each of us has God entire giving sole attention to us. Do we fail to ask for His attention? If so, we grievously fail ourselves.

I’ve seen a baby ultrasound face picture recently, remembered the one of my daughter, and visited a Chinese friend and her newborn son. As I looked at my face in the mirror, I thought of that, how I was once that beautiful, brand-new creation knit together in my mother’s womb. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, of course, but – also of course – I am just as precious to God today as I was when tiny, helpless, and innocent.

And so are you.

In late September we buried the last of our parents, Jeff’s 93-year-old mother. Pictures from her youth were quite impressive at the funeral visitation. How beautiful she was, an 18-year-old war bride! That face at 93 – the one under the lid of the casket – suffered years of declining health. But no wrinkle, no pallor, no weakness mars beauty except to us, who sometimes forget what beauty is.

In these pictures, granddaughter and grandmother show remarkable family resemblance at similar age!

iamthatbaby3

 

Never forget how beautiful you are, and live accordingly! The world needs your beauty to shine forth in positive words and good works.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalm 139:13-14

Betsy Lowery is a native of North Carolina who has lived in Alabama her entire adult life. A Dawson member, she is a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and an employee at Vestavia Hills Baptist Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. Her devotional book, Pause: Everyday Prayers for Everyday Women, was published in 2004. She is now offering regular excerpts from the book on Facebook at Books by Betsy Lowery under the heading “PAUSE to Remember.” She shares longer devotional messages at calledoutlife.wordpress.com and has two inspirational novels in the works that she hopes will be published. Betsy loves to spend morning time before work at Panera Bread, knitting or writing over breakfast. Betsy and her husband, Jeff, have two grown daughters.

Rest for 24 Measures

by Betsy Lowery

After I watched the series finale of Downton Abbey, in my wakeful moments that night, and first thing the next morning, the show’s theme song kept running through my head. After some time being aware of this, I asked myself, “Exercising energy hearing or thinking the theme song to a popular PBS drama isn’t going to advance the cause of Christ in any way, is it? Shouldn’t you be praying instead?”

Take a look at how seriously the writer of Psalm 119:1-7 took the matter of knowing and obeying God:

Be blameless
Keep God’s statutes
Seek God with the whole heart
Follow God’s ways
Obey God’s precepts (fully)
Have steadfast ways
Consider God’s commands
Learn God’s laws

Does that list shout “pressure to perform” to you? Feeling a considerable amount of that type of pressure (or desire) to do well – not to please people, but as a servant of God, I want to be sure my blogging time is spent creating posts that provide solutions that may make a reader’s life better instead of lofty-sounding challenges that make life seem more of a struggle. “Pressure” might not be the best word. Perhaps: longing, intention, or goal. It’s a very real effect caused by having a serious attitude about what one “ought” to be doing. So….maybe pressure is the right word, after all.

Picture a strong current that moves a person wherever it wants to, unless that person is swimming fiercely, every moment, to go in a particular direction. That mental image is of something that’s very tiring, isn’t it? Certainly, biblical teaching on spiritual warfare and on persistent service seems to support this notion of constantly battling and never letting up for a second:

· be aware of the devil’s schemes all the time [1 Peter 5:8]
· mature as a Christian [Hebrews 5:13]
· pray without ceasing [1 Thessalonians 5:17]
· and, when it’s much easier just to go home from work and “veg” in all of one’s free time, serve one’s neighbor more readily than serving oneself [Mark 9:35]

Tired. Straining for progress upstream, with aching arms. Believing myself to be failing when my mind dwells on a particular song that I tell myself is “inconsequential” because, although it may be clever and pretty, it doesn’t appear to expressly exalt Jesus. Pressure. Is the water current I mentioned earlier really “the world” dragging me in the wrong direction, or is the current I’m swimming against the pressure I put on myself every day?

Now I picture the Holy Spirit towing me against the current. He’s doing all the work, and I’m being moved in the right direction. No, we can’t be lazy. Lazy people waste potential and opportunity; “sloth” is one of the seven deadly sins. We must put our hands to the plow and not look backward if we would follow Christ and inherit our spiritual reward. But, where does laziness end and reasonable, restful abiding begin?

Jesus said: I am the vine, you are the branches. Abide in me. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Last March, I told my husband that our Sunday School literature, LifeWay’s MasterWork series, is almost too good. There is so much that I underline and dog-ear and scribble about in the margins, wanting to apply the well-stated concepts, to learn from them, to internalize them, and to live with more effectiveness as a Christian because of them. I have kept every quarterly issue for the past four years or so. It would take a monastery resident’s schedule, where hours every day are allotted to prayer and study, for me to make the best use of this material that others have prayerfully created and that my church has generously provided. But I don’t live in a monastery. I work full-time and commute more than an hour, round trip, five days a week. I come home to be stared in the face by dirty floors and junk mail and a weedy yard and a messy closet. And dishes!

In the discretionary time I do have, I want God to use my thoughts and my activities for others’ benefit and for my own health. In light of that, lately I’ve been looking for heaven’s Registrar office so I can officially drop out of what feels like “advanced studies” and sign up for kindergarten again, where objects are large and bright and hands-on, where I can learn amazing things like colors and numbers for the first time again. Jesus did say the kingdom of heaven belongs to “such as these” (children).

One week after I observed that our Bible study literature is too good for my own good, God gave me a helpful insight during worship. My attention happened to be drawn to one of the percussionists during a beautiful song by choir and orchestra. Holding a pair of cymbals, he played sizzling accents, well-placed here and there, and he played commanding crashes for dramatic emphasis as the music score dictated. A sizzle or a crash in every measure would have rendered that instrument’s sound much less noticeable, much less interesting. Anyone who talks incessantly begins to be tuned out by bored hearers. I found myself wondering how many measures of rest the percussionist had, on average, between “notes.” The title of this article tells you my guess. (It may be way off.) I have to make this a life lesson: Take the measures of rest that the Composer wrote into your part, then play audible notes (or a visible role) when the time is right.

(Gear) shifting metaphors now… We don’t have to be pushing the gas pedal of our lives every second. Sometimes we coast. Sometimes we have the brake on, waiting our turn to act or to speak, while it’s another’s turn to be moving. And sometimes the car is sitting with the motor off and the keys out of the ignition. Now, that is real rest.

 

I Got A Rock

by Kristen Torres

I love to watch the classic Peanut Gang movies every holiday. In “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, when Charlie Brown goes trick-or-treating with his friends wearing a ghost costume with a few too many holes, he has the same unenthusiastic response as he leaves each house, “I got a rock.”  Unlike Charlie Brown, I love collecting rocks! Whether it be a casual walk, a hike in the woods with family, a vacation spot, or simply a memorable moment, I love to find just the right rock for the occasion!

stagnantRecently, I had the opportunity to go on a staff retreat…a true retreat. While taking some personal time to reflect and practice the presence of God, I meandered through God’s glorious creation and, of course, collected a couple of rocks. One rock was found near a pool of stagnant water and the other one near a vibrant stream.

In Altar’d, we are reminded that “in the symbol language of Scripture, a rock is the symbol for Jesus and water is the Holy Spirit.” (p. 170) Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38) flowing

On my walk and talk with the Lord, I listened…a lot. I thanked Him that His Spirit in me does not look like a stagnant and mucky pool of water (rock #1) and I recognized, once again, the precious gift of Living Water flowing through me (rock #2).

Near the end of the trail, when I found a patch of moss shaped like a heart, the Spirit led me to hum the hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”

Over time, I’ve found many rocks for my collection but none more precious than the Rock of Ages.

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Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace;

streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.

Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come;

and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God;

he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!

Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;

here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

Start At The Very Beginning

For what seems like a very long time, we’ve been talking about finding a venue to share in-depth information about what God is doing in the hearts of the women of the Dawson Family of Faith. This blog is that venue and we are so grateful to God for His timing and provision as we expand WOVEN to include this method of communication.

The WOVEN ministry is designed to involve all women. It is not something a woman “joins”. Rather, it is something a woman “is”! As Paul encouraged the Colossians, we seek to be “woven into a tapestry of love”. WOVEN offers a variety of ways to be involved throughout each year: studies that focus on Scripture and God’s work in individual lives and the corporate body of the church; the TABLE ministry that opens homes in the community for intentional conversation about God; MOMS & MORE that explores aspects of Godly parenting and grand-parenting; and SPECIAL EVENTS that focus on specific areas of need and/or concern.

Our goals for this blog, as well as our overall online presence, are:

  1. (the most important!) – Share how God is working in, around and through WOVEN women.
  2. Provide a central source of information for anything and everything pertaining to the WOVEN ministry.
  3. Provide a consistent place for interaction with our members and visitors.
  4. Direct members and visitors to the Dawson website for information about ministries and programs of the entire family of faith.

We hope you’ll visit here often, learn what God is doing at Dawson and share what He’s doing in your life as well!

Because of Him,

Kristen Torres, Minister of Spiritual Development

Dawson Family of Faith – 205.871.7324