How's everything going? You about ready to jump into Luke? This is gonna be awesome! For those of you who have been quizzing for a few years, Luke is much bigger than GEPCP and a little longer than Acts. I'm not sure about how it relates exactly to any of the other years, but I do know it's one of the longest overall.
With the first chapter being eighty verses in itself, it might seem a little overwhelming, But the great thing you have to remember, is that it's not eighty verses of Paul-isms (:P); It's a book of stories. And, at least for me, stories are easier to understand and remember.
Periodically throughout this year, I hope to do quiet time posts on what my immediate takeaway is from the material, as we go through it. But I guess we'll just see how it goes and play it by ear :P
So here we go, first chapter:
In the introduction and first part of chapter one, it's made clear that both Elizabeth and Zechariah were committed to the Lord, and followed His commands. But we find out that they don't have any children because Elizabeth is barren.
Now, being barren in those days took away any dignity or real purpose for women. It was shameful to not be able to bare children to carry on the family name. Because of this, Elizabeth was probably someone few people wanted to associate with, or be around.
Although Elizabeth's condition was just natural, the fact that God chose her to mother the child who would have one of the most amazing ministries in Christian history, is pretty cool.
It also reminds me that no matter how we see ourselves (our physical, mental, or emotional failings and flaws) God looks at our heart, and the spiritual side of us, and disregards what we find so important.
The Bible says we are the righteousness of Christ, and that we were immediately sealed (Ephesians 1:13), air-tight in our spirit when we accepted Christ at the beginning of our salvation. That means that one third of us (our spirit - the other two thirds are our soul and body. The soul, as described throughout the Word, is made up of our mind intellect and emotions. The body is the physical, what we can see with our eyes. Both of these two are effected by the Spirit, but we have to intentionally allow it to do so) is the same as it will ever be.
And this is what God sees; He sees us as perfect, loved children, regardless of what other people might think or say, or what we might think or say about ourselves.
Also, the fact that neither of them blamed God for, or stopped serving Him because of their inability to produce offspring is pretty significant. And not only did they not stop serving him completely - they observed all the Lord's commands and decrees blamelessly. That doesn't happen without a lot of effort, as they were still under the old Testament Law.
They were both obviously still seeking a good relationship with God, instead of doing what was easy, and hating God for not giving them children.
As for Elizabeth remaining in seclusion, I'm not sure if anyone really knows why. Maybe it was her way of thanking God, or because she only wanted to be seen when she had a visable bump so people would actually believe her, or maybe it was just because she didn't have anyone to tell, since any peers would be passed by now.
When Elizabeth becomes pregnant, she immediately starts praising and thanking God - she doesn't show a bitter response, as I'm sure would be very easy.
A month after Elizabeth came out of seclusion, Gabriel appears to Mary.
One difference in Mary and Zechariah's meetings with the angel, is that Zechariah was startled and gripped with fear, and Mary was greatly troubled at his words. Even though we know that Zechariah was righteous in the sight of God, and we don't know anything about Mary's spiritual state from this passage, I'm inclined to assume that either the angel was notably gentler with Mary, or that Mary had a deeper relationship with God to the point that God and angels (the Spiritual) were more real to her than the natural. But these are just my thoughts on this passage.
I like that the angel also tells Mary about Elizabeth's pregnancy, to make a point about the power of God. "No word from God will ever fail" this is incredible - the Bible tells us over and over again about how we can trust God and His word, and when it emphisises "no word" it means that you can't just pick and choose the promises you believe, because of what you're physically seeing and experiencing. "Let God be true and every man be a liar." (Romans 3:4)
I can't imagine what it must have been like to receive this word from Gabriel, but Mary responds with submission and acceptance. I think I might have had a couple more questions (like a thousand) but Mary's quiet, yet roaring faith is clearly on display as she just goes along with this life-changing news - she rolls with it.
By the end of the chapter, Zechariah and Elizabeth are filled with the Holy Spirit, along with John, before he is even born.
I guess my main take away from this is just to not underestemate God's power and goodness, to remember how God sees me, and that He is bigger than any and all of my problems.
I can't wait for the season to start, and to really get into the rest of this book! As always, thanks for reading, guys!
Keep calm and quiz on (and out)!
Your fellow quizzer,
How ya doing? How's your break going? Today I'm going to be talking about some of the keys to having the best season ever. And to begin, I'm going to lead you through a couple things about the first key, which is creating a killer jump-start to the Luke season.
- Take a break
Breaking is essential to avoiding a burn out. How long the break is depends on how serious you are about quizzing, and how experienced. For example, if you're super intense with quizzing, but not well seasoned and used to studying a lot of the time, you'll want to take a longer break. The more experienced you are, the less likely a burn out will be, usually.
If you take at least a short break, then it'll give you time to recharge your enthusiasm and be able to charge into Luke stronger and faster than you would otherwise. Work hard, rest hard. But it wherever you are, try to discern how you think you'll do with that, take into account your other priorities, and go with that.
- Make sure your investment in quizzing (time, thought and effort) matches your priorities
if you're spending too much of those things for what number it is on your priority list, then it might be a good thing to consider revising the situation. The same goes if you find yourself in an opposite situation.
If you want to be balanced, it's important to pay attention to each leg of the table. If one part of your life isn't balanced in itself, then it would make sense if your life as a whole isn't either.
The next key element is to make a strategy - make a battle plan for attacking the new season.
First of all, assess where you are and where you would like to go this season. Remember; the only limits are the ones we ourselves create.
Don't skip this part - no matter if your goal is to be the top quizzer individually at nationals, or to make the district team, everyone can benefit from taking an afternoon to draw out their plan. If your certain about where you want to go and you're already settled how to get there, you'll probably find that running with it is a lot easier.
Be optimistic when making your strategy - don't get yourself discouraged before the season even has a chance to begin and show you how great it will be. Yeah, you might be needing to focus more on school, or sports, or you might even be having some significant change in your life coming up here this next year, but after three years of quizzing I'm convinced that you can't do any harm by being realistically optimistic about things.
When you sit down to make the formula for next season, here's a few things to consider- time, conviction/passion, and experience.
Speaking from experience of doing this to a point where it was unhealthy for me (academically, personally, socially, and even physically) don't let quizzing become so important to you that you neglect everything else in your life.
Your identity doesn't come from how you quiz. Love quizzing, be passionate about quizzing, do your best in quizzing, but never become so absorbed with it that it comes before God, people, your health, and your future.
Quizzing's awesome right? So let's be careful not to abuse our use of it.
Don't force yourself to love quizzing - look for things that inspire you about it, and talk to people about it. Coming at it from this angle usually results in stronger and more long-term excitement for quizzing.
If if quizzing's something that inhabits your dreams at times, if it's something you really look forward to working on after your work is complete, if it's something you enjoy regardless of the scoreboard, if it's something that helps inspire you to work your hardest at other things in your life, and encourages you in your spiritual walk, I'd say its a healthy and beneficial hobby.
Experience isn't something that has as much importance in how you form your strategies, because it might hold you back a little if you don't have much of it. But that's kind of the fun part about it too; you still get to completely discover how awesome of a quizzer you can be! That's pretty exciting.
On on the other hand, if you do have a good amount of experience, then that's cool too! I've probably got it pretty much figured out; you know what's going on, and you know how to work your tail off in order to achieve your goals.
The next thing you need to do when making your plan, is to figure out what your goals are.
What do you want your study sessions to look like? How would you like to do at smaller tournaments, invitationals and the end of season qualifying tournaments? What do you want to get better at, more specifically?
Once you have your goals, it's time to figure out what you want the format of your plan to look like. Pick one that inspires you, makes you happy, focuses you; and one that will help you reach the goals you've established to work towards.
Write out steps to these goals, and it you don't know what those steps would be, cha-cha back and dissect your goal. Don't be afraid to ask your coach about it too.
Now that you've got be rough draft of your battle plan, go revise it. When it says exactly what you want it to say, get creative! Get some markers, stickers, whatever you want, and make it something that excites you.
Finally, hang it up somewhere you'll see it often, and study it so you know it by heart, if you don't already.
The third and final key I will discuss today, is knowing how to keep on following through with what you've set out to do. You've planned you attack, so now it's time to attack your plan.
Finding the right motivation is important - learn how to motivate yourself in a way that builds you up, rather than tears you down. Do do it in a way that you work out of excitement for how you've done, how you know you'll do, and not in a way that you work out of fear or guilt or not doing as well as you could.
Always find a positive, and focus on that.
Staying motivated is usually a little harder to do. Just remember to keep your goals in front of you, believing that you can achieve then, and then tell yourself you can, and get to work - even if you don't feel like it in that moment. Make being inspired a priority.
To recap, here are the key elements we've been talking about today;
- Having a killer jump-start
- Making a strategy
- Following through with it
I hope this helps you this season. And that you have a great time! Good luck, and thanks for reading.
Keep calm and quiz on (and out)!
Your fellow quizzer,
Hello again, my friends!
Another season has been completed, and another one is speeding toward us again.
I'm not going to jump right into study ideas, plans, and motivation for the Luke 2016-2017 season (although all of that and more will be coming very soon!); I wanted to take a minute to reflect and visit the base of how I started, and why I'm still quizzing.
Now, my intention isn't to write a long-winded, sentimental, boring story; I'm going to tell you the two-point story of how I was introduced to quizzing, go over my two top reasons of why I continue to quiz, and expand a little on how studying the Word has, and continues to effect me.
How I began:
1. My family and I visited a local church where they had a quiz team
2. My current crush happened to be on that team
And that's pretty much the gist of it. I would really like to be able to say that I jumped at the opportunity to study and compete with God's word, and I'm embarrassed whenever I share the real reason, but even though how it happened isn't something I'm proud of, the simple fact that I did, is something I'll never forget.
No matter how you started, you're still going with it, so what's your reasoning now? Well here are my main two reasons why I choose to continue to invest my time, energy, money, and thoughts into Bible quizzing three years later.
Although I know that competition isn't the focus of quizzing, as long as I'm learning it as the word of God and not just quizzing material, I don't see anything wrong with being the best I can be in regard to competition.
Consistent study helps with self-discipline, reading and thinking about God clears the mind and gives peace and joy, and needing to understand the material forces you to study, rather than to just read.
Of course reading the Bible is one of the best habits you can have, but like my coach has said, there's a difference between just reading, and actually studying out the Word.
When you find yourself studying the Word often, God can show you incredible things. When I don't put in the effort to spend time just fully dwelling in the Word with God, I can see the difference in how I am able to react to things throughout the day.
I don't know about you, but some days it feels like the every essence of who and what I am is being tried, and when my responce has nothing to do with God and everything to do with me, I'm easily defeated.
But when I can point to Jesus, when a scripture is the first thing that comes to mind in a difficult situation, I know I'll be able to overcome - by opening my clenched fists and letting God handle it.
I'm obviously no expert on this; really, I'd only say I've started to try and get to know the Lord for about a year. And a lot of things in the past year haven't been easy - I guess that's just proof that I'm going the the direction the devil doesn't want me heading.
But being involved in Bible Quizzing has helped me start to really see the importance of studying scripture, and it's also given me confidence in my ability to understand difficult areas of scripture, if and when I seek hard enough and rely on God for help.
As you take a few deep breaths before diving into Luke, don't be afraid to really search yourself and define the reason(s) why you quiz. You might find it motivational, as self-reflection often is.
During this next season, I hope and pray that God will reveal Himself to you in ways He never has before, and that we all grow closer to Him through our quizzing journeys.
No matter if Luke is your second, or last year, I genuinely wish you the best, and can't wait to get started!
Thanks for reading!
Keep calm and quiz on (and out)!
Your fellow quizzer,
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Mallory is a sixth-year Teen Bible Quizzer originally from the Southern region, and now in the Northwest, quizzing over the book of John with her three younger siblings. <3
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