Monday, July 31, 2017

Do You Open Your Bible Out of Obligation or Expectation?

For years as a young follower of Christ, I opened my Bible because I was supposed to. I checked it off my "Be a Good Christian" to-do list and felt better about myself, at least for the moment.

Now don't get me wrong. Opening my Bible was never a waste of time or energy. I was developing a life discipline, but without expecting God to speak, I was just spinning my wheels.

As the years have passed, and I continue to grow up in the faith, tasting more and more of His delectable truth for myself, I now know God has something for me each and every time I open my Bible.

I want to read to see what my Father has to say to me.
In this moment.
Right where I am.

Reading the Bible out of obligation produces boredom and discontentment.

Reading the Bible with expectation produces great satisfaction and fullness of joy.

Soaking in the Word of God is the most important thing we do as disciples of Christ.

Why? Because Jesus is...

  • our Bread of life. (John 6:48)
  • our Portion. (Psalm 119:57)
  • our Sufficiency. (Matthew 6:25-34)
  • our Deliverer. (2 Timothy 4:18)
  • our Strength. (Psalm 46:1)
  • our Help. (Psalm 46:1)
  • our Breath. (Acts 17:25)
  • our very Life. (John 6:63)
And oh, so much more!

Without God's Word, there are no words, no life, no hope, no joy, no peace, no salvation.

His Words are eternal. So, why do we continually run after and feast on temporal, unsatisfying, tasteless morsels?

Pay close attention to what you feast on today: social media, books, gossip, the news, movies, reality shows, the Internet...

Let's walk away from the useless, empty words the world has to offer and meet God in His Word with great expectation. 

To help you with this, I would like to personally invite you into the conversation. To join the discussion, join The Red Carpet, Girls Only private Facebook Group (sorry guys!) on my author page @writermelanieshull. This will be a space for encouragement to stay in the Word of God, for real conversation, and where you can post what great things He has shown you so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine (Romans 1:12 ESV).

I. Can't. Wait!

My Pleasure,
Melanie


Thursday, July 27, 2017

God Speaks, Even Through Numbers



In a blog post sometime ago I wrote about how, at random times when I glance at a clock, the digital numbers 11:11 appear. It shows up on the car clock, the cell phone, the microwave, the clock by the bed, on the TV. It's become almost comical with me and my husband as to how often I look up and the time is 11:11.

The biblical meaning for the number 11 is disorder or chaos. Over 10 years ago, a magazine called 11:11 was given to me to examine. It's focus was all about the importance of self: self-awareness, self-meditation, self- reliance, etc., which is totally opposite from the teachings of Christ.

In Luke 9:23 Christ says, to follow Him we must deny self and take up our crosses daily. 

After God specifically told me we were going to begin a magazine called Living Real, in the parking lot after a writer's conference I had attended, the appearances of 11:11 on clocks began to grab my attention. I believe God has been affirming through these numbers that Living Real Magazine is my call and walk of obedience to counter chaos.

Our Bible study class on Sunday mornings is studying the appearances of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. One of our three teachers is focusing on how God speaks through numbers and the Hebrew language. Numbers have significant spiritual meaning just like words do. It's all so amazing.

This past Sunday morning, as I was listening and thinking through God's perfect, infinite wisdom, I thought, "Since God specifically gave me the name of Living Real for the magazine, I wonder what the numbers corresponding with the letters of our alphabet would mean?"  

I began scribbling...

L(12)+I(9)+V(21)+I(9)+N(14)+G(7)+R(19)+E(5)+A(1)+L(12)=172

172 is made up of all prime numbers, which is another lesson in itself.

Then I added the prime numbers together.  

 1+7+2 = 10

I was absolutely blown-a-way! Living Real = 10

The spiritual meaning of the number 10 is Jesus Christ!

To take it a step further, the total number of letters in Living Real are 10!

10:10 - Jesus Christ, perfection 
11:11 - disorder and chaos (The author of confusion? Satan.)

Jesus always counters confusion.


God didn't have to give me the title Living Real for the magazine, but He did. And He never does anything randomly or without purpose. Until Sunday, I had never thought about the spiritual meaning of the numbers embedded in these words, but God knew. He also knew when He spoke them to me He would not only affirm, but blow me away 10 years later.

I'm beyond words.

How has God blown you away lately?

My Pleasure,
Melanie

Please visit our website at livingrealmag.com and follow us on Facebook @LivingRealMagazine.





Monday, July 17, 2017

Follow My Blog and Be Entered to Win The Red Carpet Journal

Why The Red Carpet Journal?


 "What's said on the carpet stays on the carpet," she said, laughing as she introduced herself to the newcomer. "It's the rule for everyone who attends Bible studies at the Shull home."

It's my pleasure and my husband's to provide a safe, open and transparent space to encourage one another, equip the Body of Christ, and grow up in our faith. 

Many tell me, "If you ever replace the carpet, you cannot change the color." 

It's humbling to know that so many hearts feel safe and at home on the red carpet each week. 

Unlike Hollywood, it's not ourselves who are on display, but the radiance of God's glory (Hebrews 1:3), His Son, our Escort, who guides us along The Red Carpet walk called salvation. We seek to make Christ famous - one step, one life at a time. 

Because of over 30 years of in-home disciple-making and the red carpet's impact on so many, I felt the nudge to develop a resource tool for group or personal study, sermon note taking, journaling and doodling; pages to trace God's hand working in and through our lives. A place to write out Scripture, record petitions, prayers and praise. It's an extension from my heart to yours. 

And, yes! It's available NOW on amazon.com. 

If you choose to purchase or if you are already using a pilot copy this summer, please write a review on Amazon. I would be so appreciative and grateful. Search for The Red Carpet Journal by Melanie Shull and click on "review this item."

Here's a sneak peek inside!

1. Every 10 pages, there's a beautifully designed Scripture page.




2. The journaling pages are wide lined so any style handwriting feels at home.




3. The S.O.A.P. method for studying Scripture is also provided.



My prayer is that God will use this journal to align our steps with His, drawing many closer to His heart.

If you are not already a follower of my blog, please go to the sidebar, submit your email address, and you will be entered to win a copy of The Red Carpet Journal.

Drawing to be held on August 1, 2017! 


My Pleasure,
Melanie

Monday, July 10, 2017

From Bitter to Sweet: When God Changes Our Tastebuds


Moses' leading the great Exodus is one of my favorite accounts in the displaying of God's power and authority, love and grace, mercy and forgiveness to a stubborn people whom He has purchased, redeemed and set free.

In Genesis 15:22-27, after the children of Israel have passed through to the other side of the Red Sea, over dry land while massive walls of water are kept at bay with the breath of God, they begin to complain.

They have been walking in the wilderness for three days without drinkable water. Their only water source is bitter in the land of Marah (meaning bitter).

Moses intercedes on behalf of the people. Crying out to the LORD, He asks Him to provide drinkable water for them.

God shows Moses a tree.

What? God's answer to the bitter water problem is a tree? 

Moses had to be thinking the same, but He didn't question. Although God's instructions of what to do with the tree isn't noted, Moses was moved to throw the tree into the waters. In doing so, the bitter water became sweet to the taste. 

Not only was it now drinkable water, but it was...

Refreshing. 

Soothing.

Good.

God didn't remove the source of water, but He changed the taste of the water.

There are so many layers of truth in just these few verses, but the one for today is:

God doesn't have to remove the bitter to make it sweet.

God didn't dry up the bitter water supply and produce a new supply for the people. He answered the cry of His people, inserted His power, and the taste of the water changed.

Isn't that how God works in our lives? It's not that He removes what tastes bitter or bad, He inserts His power into what seems bitter and stirs the waters, making them sweet to the taste.

God may not change our circumstances, but He can change our tastebuds. 

God wants us to taste and see that He is good in ALL things. He is our refuge, our happy place, when our souls are thirsty for relief (Psalm 34:8).

The Lord waits patiently for us to cry out in our time of need because our cry signifies that we know He is the only one who can do the miraculous in the midst of our bitter situation.

How about you? Are you struggling for relief in the midst of something bitter tasting in your life? Cry out to Jesus, dear one. He is interceding on our behalf to the Father just as Moses interceded on behalf of the children of Israel. God can change what is bitter to sweet if we'll just allow His hand to stir the waters of our souls.

My Pleasure,
Melanie


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Feeling Stagnant? 3 Steps to Keep the Writing Waters Flowing




Do you ever have days, weeks, even months where life seems stagnant; not moving; standing still; even a little smelly?

I do.

Life can be difficult, and when we allow it to become stagnant it can be quite the chore to push through to allow the rivers of life to flow again.

Like a mountain creek clogged with trash and debris, a writer can also become stagnant. This past week has been a stagnant week for me. I've written some, but I feel as though the flow of words is at a stand-still. This isn't the first time this has happened, and I know it won't be the last.

My stagnant state seems to always be connected to my spiritual condition. How about you?

When we find ourselves in a "funk" and can't seem to shake free, here are some steps to take:



1. Pray and Repent.


Completely wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin (Psalm 51:2).

Confession is good for the soul. It gives the Spirit freedom to loosen and wash away what hinders our flow of freedom through Christ Jesus. He's always faithful to show us where we've lost our way and to restore back to us the joy of our salvation (Psalm 51:12). We just have to ask.

2. Search the Word. 



My life is down in the dust; give me life through Your Word (Psalm 119:26).

In our stagnant state, our spirits can become dry, longing to be resuscitated. We may not always know where to land, but when our hearts are seeking Truth, we always finds Him. Our spirits may be pricked through a conversation, a book, or through nature, but however He uncovers our awareness of our need for Him, God always draws us to Himself through the pages of the Ancient Words for life-giving refreshment.

3. Retreat and Renew.


He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life (Psalm 23:2b-3a).

Sometimes, we just need some quality alone time with our sweet Jesus. Personal retreats are priceless for renewing our spirits. To align with His ebb and flow, we must carve out time to relax and settle into the rhythm of His heart. There's nothing more soothing than allowing Him to row us through the river of life.



Dear Jesus, What is causing me to be stagnant? Search my heart. Bring to the surface anything that is hindering my walk with You. Restore, renew and refresh my spirit as I retreat with You. Clear out what's clogging up my heart so Your grace, mercy love and words can flow freely again into the hearts of others. 

In the powerful name of Jesus, I pray. 
Amen.

My Pleasure,
Melanie

All Scriptures are from the Christian Standard Bible version.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Heartbeat of Home



Why spend one evening a week with five precious high school girls? Because the heartbeat of our home is seeking to make Christ famous.

One life at a time.

We're called to know God, to love Him deeply and to bring Him glory with our lives. Young people need us to pour what we've learned about Christ into them. Sharing life experience mixed with the truth of the Word is the best way to impact the next generation. We're told to disciple, mentor and teach God's Truth to the generation coming behind us, because if we don't, who will?


Here's how we're doing discipleship this summer. We're soaping in God's Love Letter daily, aware of the fact that we carry the aroma (a sweet scent) of Christ wherever we go, and we're marking down His faithfulness in our lives with stones.




Soap, Scents and Stones - 
A summer GROW experience 

I provided the girls with a preview of my new journal called The Red Carpet Journal since I'm hosting them on my red carpet. I introduced them to the S.O.A.P. method of reading Scripture. Each week we take a few verses, S.O.A.P. through them, and then I assign more verses to S.O.A.P. through the following week. The girls and I come together to share our stories, intentionally looking for God's hand and any new truths we've uncovered from God's Love Letter from our personal study.

The first week we met, my intentions were for us to meet five or six times during the summer, but they blew me away when they said they wanted to meet every week for consistency. WOW! Who knew these beautiful heartstrings of Jesus would want to stay connected all summer long? 

Because of vacation, camp and Vacation Bible School, we've missed a couple of weeks, but we are back on this coming Sunday evening, and I can't wait!



We've eaten pizza, made our own smoothies, and this week, we'll play the card game "Spoons." I'm loving getting to know these girls and their hungry hearts to be all God has created them to be. 

What's the heartbeat of your home? Are you using it as a tool to disciple hearts? If not, why not invite someone to gather with you around your table to talk about the greatest Love Letter ever written? Invite someone over for a cookout or for coffee. By pouring God's grace, love and mercy into others we're being obedient in drawing attention to His Son, thus making Him famous, one life at a time.

My Pleasure,
Melanie


Monday, June 5, 2017

Conversations Over Chicken Salad, Watermelon and Sweet Tea


What's more southern than chicken salad croissants, watermelon and a large glass of sweet tea? Not much!

There's also nothing more delightful than to open your home to women who love to gather in true, southern style.

Excitement dripped all over the red carpet in my den as women arrived in anticipation of our Summer Book Club 2017. The book selected is Secrets Over Sweet Tea by Denise H. Jones. She is a true southern author with a flare for unencumbered realness.

Set in the quaint town of Franklin, Tennessee, Denise grabs your attention from the get-go. As Scarlett Jo Newberry (the larger-than-life pastor's wife) sports a flashy neon wardrobe on her prayer walks around the neighborhood, we observe her uncanny ways of uncovering secrets hidden behind closed doors and hearts. This little town is buzzing with intrigue, sadness, humor and much needed healing.

Why a Summer Book Club?

After the fall and spring seasons of intense Bible study, I like to lighten things up a bit in the summer. I choose a book which is a fun read, but also directs us to the Word and steers the conversation.

A Summer Book Club provides the opportunity to use spiritual gifts like hospitality and encouragement. I love crafting an atmosphere where calm and peace melt away the stresses of the day to day, and I enjoy watching the stress leave as people walk in.

Inviting women into a safe place to shed their facades, offers a sense of release to be real with one another. This brings me joy.

The presence and power of Christ filling the room, inviting us into deeper intimacy with Him as we open His Word and pray for one another, always leaves me in wonder and awe.

We need each other to bounce life off of. We need someone to hold us accountable along our salvation journeys. I cannot think of a better way to equip and encourage than to open up our homes to those eager to learn how to love God deeper and serve Him better.  Why not start a Summer Book Club yourself? Southern style, of course. Bless your heart.

By His Grace Alone,
Melanie

If you would like to order Secrets Over Sweet Tea, go to reclaiminghearts.com or christianbooks.com.