Why I Listen to the Scriptures as I Read Them

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I’m in a Bible study right now which asks me to read multiple chapters of the Bible per week. To help me finish the work, I began listening to a recording of the passages I was to read. It started as a practical solution but has become a favorite way to read the Scriptures.

The benefits I found:

1. Pacing
A great recording moves through the Scriptures at a steady pace. I better understand the grand sweep of the passages. It also keeps me from getting distracted or sleepy.

2. Pronunciation 
The reader knows how to pronounce every difficult name and location so I learn how to pronounce them as well.

3. Enjoyment
Listening to a gifted reader is delightful. It reminds me of being read to as a child. It makes reading the Scriptures feel communal rather than lonely.

My favorite Scripture recording is available free of charge through BibleGateway.com.

  • Go to their site or app
  • At the top of the page type in the Scripture you want to read
  • Next to the Scripture, change the translation to New International Version – UK (NIVUK)
  • Press search. It will take you to the Scripture.
  • Just above the Scripture, you’ll see several options including sharing or printing the Scripture. To listen to the Scripture, click the audio icon on the far right. It’s that simple.

This translation is read by celebrated actor Sir David Suchet. His reading style is simple, soulful, and engaging.

Blessed reading!

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Why I Listen to the Scriptures as I Read Them
© 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Recommended Resource- Pray As You Go

Followers of Jesus nurture their relationship with God by “doing devotions.” We head to the bookstore, or maybe even our local church, to pick up a guide to read on a daily basis. It’s a great way to build a habit of spending time with God and very helpful for stretching us in our understanding of God’s character and Word.

Here’s where it can be problematic:

  • We’re always reading about someone else’s encounter with God in place of having encounters ourselves. We stay at a distance from God.
  • Our devotions become knowledge-driven or emotion-driven rather than Scripture-driven and encounter-driven. We may find what we read interesting, we may be stirred by the story, but are we receiving it as a call to apply spiritual truth to our life?
  • Our prayer life stays shallow if we only use the prayers of others and never practice praying ourselves.
  • We can become forever dependent on an “expert” rather than trusting God wants to speak to us right now, at whatever point we are in our journey of faith.

So do we dump the devotional books/guides and just read the Scripture? Well… Reading Scripture can be a powerful daily devotion option, especially when you use one of these approaches to give you some structure. “Just me and my Bible” can also be intimidating, confusing, and lonely.

It’s no wonder we struggle.

For many of us, we need something in between. We want to encounter God in a transforming way through the Scriptures, but we also need some guidance. I found this in between, this sweet spot of devotional practice, through a resource called Pray as You Go. 

pray as you goPray As You Go is an audio and written prayer practice offered six days per week via a free website and app by Jesuit Media Initiatives. It is helpful for both Catholics and Protestants because it’s so Scripture driven.

  • Each session begins with a bell or chime followed by music to help you settle into a prayerful frame of mind
  • A Scripture is read
  • Reflection questions based on the Scripture are offered with time for you to respond by simply talking or listening to God
  • The Scripture is read again followed by a closing blessing

The aim of Pray as You Go is to help you to:

  • become more aware of God’s presence in your life
  • listen to and reflect on God’s Word
  • grow in your relationship with God

How I find Pray as You Go helpful 

  • Its peaceful meditative tone is a very different tone than my loud, full, rushed day. I need this time of stillness and contemplation.
  • The questions appeal to my imagination. They open me to explore the Scripture, to listen deeply, to engage it for myself. It is an experience. The questions can also challenge me to look at a passage in a new or deeper way.
  • The open-ended questions help me apply what I’m hearing
  • I feel connected to a community of believers rather than by myself. I especially like the music selections from around the world.
  • It uses texts throughout the Bible so I don’t just read my favorite passages
  • I like to settle into a comfortable chair when I use Pray as You Go. Others use it during their morning commute, on a break during the work day, while out for a walk, etc.
  • After the 10-13 minute devotion, I’m motivated to continue praying or journaling

I’d love to hear from you! 

  • Give Pray as You Go a try. How was the experience?
  • What is your current devotional practice? How is it helpful to you?
  • How have your devotional practices changed as you’ve matured in faith?

May the Lord bless you and bring strength and transformation into your life through your devotional practices. – Lisa <><

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Recommendation- Pray As You Go © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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Why I Use 4 Journals Instead of 1

My spiritual life grew richer and deeper thanks to the practice of spiritual journaling. When I first started, I used to put everything in one journal- some reflections on a scripture next to memories from a trip next to notes from a lecture next to a prayer next to a brain dump for an upcoming project. It was a mess and I had trouble finding the treasures when I needed them again.

This year, I made a change- dividing my writing needs into four journals. It’s been a huge improvement. Maybe it will be helpful to you as well.

For most of my journaling, I use inexpensive, college-ruled composition books. I need a place to write and they serve that purpose. Three of my four journals are composition books. I leave a page or two at the beginning of each for a table of contents.

  1. A journal for general note taking, project planning, and brainstorming
  2. A journal for morning devotions, prayers, and evening reflection
  3. A journal to record memories from my travels

My fourth journal is a Clever Fox Planner. I wanted to try bullet journaling for scheduling appointments, to do lists, resource lists, etc. The Clever Fox Planner is a hybrid with predesigned spreads at the front (such as goal setting, monthly calendars, and weekly scheduling) and standard bullet journal pages at the back. I like the quality of this planner, especially the thick pages and that it lays flat when open. It’s working well for me in conjunction with my digital Google calendar. (not an affiliate link, not a sponsored review)

I’d love to hear from you!

  • What journals do you keep?
  • What topics do you writing about?
  • Do you have a favorite planner or journal? What do you like about it?

May the Lord bless you and reveal many things to you through your journaling.
– Lisa <><

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Why I Use 4 Journals Instead of 1 © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Ending Your Day with Reflection Questions

I read an article recently about the benefits of ending your day with several reflection questions. I’ve found the practice helpful and thought you would as well.

Reflection is an ancient practice, with references in the Bible (Lamentations 3:40-41; Galatians 6:4-5; 2 Corinthians 13:5). Ignatius of Loyola encouraged the practice with the early Jesuits, as did John Wesley with the early Methodists.

Here’s what I noticed
As you walk through the questions, you decompress and let go, you also rest in knowing where you’re headed the next day, both of which foster better sleep.

More importantly, questions like these keep us self-aware and awake to the Holy Spirit. As we answer the questions we hear from God and move forward in the journey of faith. Never forget faith is a movement. We are followers of Christ, moving forward with intentionality, constant discovery, and growth. Our growing bears fruit in our words, actions, and service to others.

I also noticed the longer I keep to the practice, the richer it becomes. It started off simple, even superficial. But as the days passed, I began to be more honest with myself. I also began to trust I could be more and more honest with God.

write journalHere are the questions I’m using. They came from several different sources. I answer them by writing in a journal.

1. What happened today?
Make a quick bullet list or write a narrative

2. Glory Sighting: Where did you see God at work in others? In and through you?
Each day can bring a new testimony to God’s grace, provision, and power.

3. What did you read/hear/learn?
Christians are lifelong learners

4. What are you thankful for?
“A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.” ― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

5. How are you feeling emotionally?
Be honest and seek Christ’s perspective

6. How did you fall short of loving God, others, and yourself?
Ask for and receive Christ’s forgiveness and freedom

7. What are you asking the Holy Spirit to do in you and through you?
This could be about a relationship, your work, a situation, your ministry, etc.

8. What will you do tomorrow to move forward with Christ?
Answer this in relation to question 7

What questions would you add to this list? I look forward to hearing about your time with God and to seeing the great and good changes this practice will bring in your life.
– Lisa <><

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NRSV
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

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Ending Your Day With Reflection Questions © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon Series Recordings: Pursue Wisdom, based on the Book of Proverbs

Proverbs-SeriesSermon Series: Pursue Wisdom
Inspired by the book Making Life Work: Putting God’s Wisdom into Action and the Bible Study Wisdom: Making Life Work, both by Bill Hybels.

Message 1 of 6: Pursue Wisdom- Intentional Living
Scriptures: Proverbs 2:1-15; Luke 15
Offered 5/3/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Message 2 of 6: Consider the Ant – Take the Initiative
Scriptures: Proverbs 6:6-11, 20-24
Offered 5/10/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Message 3 of 6: Integrity – Speaking and Living the Truth
Scriptures: Proverbs 11:3; Proverbs 21:6; Exodus 20:16; Matthew 5:37; Proverbs 11:1; Proverbs 14:25; Ephesians 4:15
Offered 5/17/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Message 4 of 6: Relationships: Mutuality and Honoring One Another
Scriptures: Proverbs 21:21; 17:6; Ephesians 5:21-6:9
Offered 5/24/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Message 5 of 6: Anger and Self Control: Reacting vs Responding
Scriptures: Ephesians 4:26-27; Proverbs 21:7; Proverbs 25:28; Proverbs 29:11; Proverbs 30:33; James 1:19-20; Proverbs 19:11; Proverbs 16:32
Offered 5/31/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

Message 6 of 6: Trust God
Scriptures: Proverbs 3:1-12
Offered 6/7/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

© 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Devotion: Let Me Remember

Remembering by Reginald K. Gee

Psalm 102:11-12
My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
your name endures to all generations.

Recently, I came across the poem Let me remember by Winston O. Abbott. Four times the poet says, “Let me remember” before getting to what he wants to remember: “that my life is not a solitary thing.”

Abbot echoes the wisdom of John Donne, “No man is an island.” How true. What I do and who I am matters far beyond me. Each of us is interconnected to each other and to the natural world. We’re not just interconnected, we’re interdependent. Our actions, our words, our very being, ripple through countless lives. Yes, life is a series of fleeting moments of the present; yet when tied to others and tied to God, they are the powerful stuff of forever.

The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.
– Helen Keller

Time and again, my vision is shrouded to this truth. Shrouded in the mists of my daily doing: deadlines, calls, chores, family. Shrouded in the mists of heartache and longing. Even the most memorable moments can be lost in the midst of busyness, distraction, or trivial escape. It’s time for the mist to lift. It’s time to re-member, time to put the present bits together for the good of the whole.

Let us pray: Lord, take away the mists that keep us from the fullness of relationship and interaction. Lift the congestion and smog. Blow through. Clear the way until we are fully present to you, to nature, and to one another. In the Name of Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Light, we pray. Amen.

Let me remember, by Winston O. Abbott
Let
me
remember
beyond forgetting —
let
me
remember—
let me remember always
for my spirit is often shrouded in the mists
let me remember beyond forgetting
that my life is not a solitary thing
it is a bit of the rushing tide
a leaf of the bending tree
a kernel of grain the golden wheat fields
a whisper of wind about the mountaintop
a reflection of sunlight upon the shining waters
it is fleeting
it is of the moment
it is timeless
it is of eternity.

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please leave a comment.

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Excerpt from Remember Roy G. Biv by The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist

“Roy G. Biv”
“Every Good Boy Does Fine.”
“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”
“I before E, except after C.”

You recognize these. They are tools we learned as children to collect and retrieve facts that would be helpful throughout our lives.

But something has happened. With today’s portable personal technology, designed to store more and more personal information, our ability to remember has actually decreased. In a study a few years ago by Ian Robertson, professor at Trinity College in Dublin, dependence on such devices to remember birthdays, phone numbers, email addresses, and other important data has diminished the memory capacity of our brains!

“People have more to remember these days, and they are relying on technology for their memory. But the less you use of your memory, the poorer it becomes. This may be reflected in the survey findings which show that the over 50s who grew up committing more to memory report better performance in many areas than those under 30 who are heavily reliant on technology to act as their day to day aide memoir.”

Here’s the lesson: True remembrance takes intentionality and effort. And that is as true of spiritual matters as it is of dates and numbers. It’s one thing merely to recall central elements of our faith. It’s quite another to allow those memories to shape our conscience and inform our behavior.

On over ninety occasions in the Bible, God called people to remember God’s saving activity throughout history, through rituals, prayers, and symbols. From the Psalms to the seder, from the Ten Commandments to the Beatitudes, the Bible is filled with reminders of our identity and calling as kingdom people.