10 January 2014

On Taking Sermon Notes and Making More Resolutions

Yes, this really is January, and as I walk between stores beside a busy street, I can't help but stoop to capture these blooming beauties.  It's about 80 degrees, much warmer than the near-freezing temperatures in the middle of the night earlier in the week.  I'm wearing short sleeves and capris, soaking in more vitamin D than I've ever had access to in January before.

I don't stoop to photograph the ants who were using the sidewalk as their superhighway.  I'm not good enough to get a clear focus on them, but after going to them today, I can assure you, warm or cold, they are still working hard, thou sluggard.  See Proverbs 6:6-8 if you're wondering what in the world I'm talking about.

I've already posted about New Year's resolutions, but I have a little bit more to say about them.  It's because my husband read a great article a few weeks ago called Six Ways to Get More Out of a Sermon, and as one of the ways I'm putting the suggestions into practice, I've dug out my little old notebook I used to use for taking notes during sermons.

Last Sabbath, the first of the new year, the pastor preached about what seven of God's resolutions for our new year might be, from the book of Philippians.  Which was revolutionary for me on a couple of levels.

First, that I should have HIM make my resolutions for me.  Now, I try to live daily seeking His guidance and direction in my life, but for some reason when I make resolutions, I usually just make a list and go for it.  I make good resolutions, and I even pray about them, but I think I've been missing something richer and deeper, found in the pages of the Bible.

Second, I saw in a new way how God's instructions for our lives not only come with the command, but with clear and simple how-to's.

For example, one of the resolutions the pastor talked about was to "Do all things without murmerings and disputings: That ye may become blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world..."  Philippians 2:14, 15.

That's a good resolution to make, right?  But keeping our mouths from complaints and arguments is easier talked about than done.

In the very next verse, we have the solution:  "...holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain."  Philippians 2:16.

So the way we don't let ourselves complain and argue?  Fill our mouths with the gospel of Christ.  Keep working for the Lord until He comes.  Keep our eyes on the purpose He has laid out for our lives, not allowing ourselves to be distracted by pettiness or weariness.

I also have ringing in my ears a talk I believe I listened to for the first and second times yesterday and today, even though I've heard about the concept from my mother and her sisters for a good twenty years now.  {Could it really be that long?!  And yes, I listened to the whole thing at least twice.  It was that good.}

I grew up on Florence Littauer.  Her "Personality Plus" seminars played on our tape player over and over and over and over--usually at the kids' request.  We thought they were absolutely hysterical.  {Yes, we knew exactly what that word meant, reading level appropriate or not, and would have used it freely.}  

It was with keenest delight that I discovered one of my dearest friends from graduate school also grew up on Florence Littauer, and ever since that moment of discovery we have delighted in reminding each other of the "lost" car in the mall parking lot, the little witches swimming in the orange juice in the back seat, and the bunch of grapes neatly clipped apart with fingernail clippers.

I remember when my mother, her mother, and most of her sisters spent a weekend at a retreat with Florence Littauer as the speaker and first heard about the Silver Boxes.  That our words should be like silver boxes with bows on top--gifts to each other, meant to encourage and not tear down.

It's fresh for me, though, hearing it for myself.  By God's grace I want to take the message into my life, to be lived out more fully.  

She challenges her listeners to think of the people around us who need encouragement, and then to go give it.  She challenges us to think of ways our words might not have always been like gifts of grace to our hearers, and then not only to make the past right, but also to reform our ways for the future.

I'm going to start on those challenges this weekend.  What about you?


  1. Oh that is a sermon I would have loved to have heard!! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Also I have heard Florence Littauer on Focus on the Family and thought she was awesome. I am thinking I am going to look into seeing if I can hear more of her stuff.
    Have a Happy Sabbath~ Lisa :O)

    1. It was definitely a good sermon! If you're interested, send me an e-mail, and I'll try to type up the rest of the notes for you. It was a really neat message.


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