The Conlectio Newsletter
Bible Study Doesn't Change Your Heart
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It was bedtime, and as we usually do when the girls go to bed, I was singing a quick hymn and praying before lights-out. We'd found asking the girls “What would you like to pray for?”  was too vague for their little minds, so we started asking: “Is there anything you want to tell God, or anything you're worried about?"
This particularly evening, one of my girls WAS worried. Consistent pushback about what should have been an easy, minor thing made me wonder if anxiety was driving her outrage, and I asked her about it. “Yes, I'm worried about people laughing at me.” She confessed.
“You know, I worry about that too sometimes.” I replied. “I have had to learn that people aren't thinking about me as much as I think they are. And that most people are kind. And that the most important opinion is God's, not theirs!”
“But I still worry about it!"
“Yes. But did you know Jesus promised to take your worries?"
She narrowed her eyes. “He did not!”
“Yes He did! Said it right in the Bible: ”Come to me, you who are weary…. and you will find rest for your souls." (Matt. 11:28-30) He even said we can take all our worries, and grab them like this - “ I made a fist. ”And throw them up, and He'll catch them and carry them for us." (Ps. 55:22) I mimed catching the “worries” and she laughed. And then she said something that stopped me in my tracks.
“I get up and read my Bible every day, but it doesn't help! It doesn't stop me getting mad. It doesn't stop people laughing. It doesn't WORK."
And I thought - How many of us have thought the same thing, because we were taught the same thing, and never stopped to question it?
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The question my daughter was asking, beneath her frustration, is one many Christians have asked: I study or read my Bible consistently, daily even, so why doesn't anything change? Why do I still have these desires to sin? Why am I still struggling?
I am so grateful she asked it young and I get to be part of her spiritual journey. But even for those who ask it older, there is hope for a transformed understanding of the Bible and the Christian life. Better yet, there is hope for a Christian life that is what Jesus promised: abundant, full, peaceful, joyful, and full of His overcoming power.
But here's the hard truth we have to face: Bible study, by itself, does not transform us.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror  and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” 
James 1:22-25
It is possible, according to James, to look into the Word of God, to even see yourself honestly in the Word of God, and to walk away unchanged, forgetful, and ultimately disconnected from the power of Christ. So what's the key? “Whoever looks intently into the law that gives freedom, and continues in it… doing it - they will be blessed in what they do."
There are atheists who know the Bible better than the average Christian. Demons believe in God - and tremble (James 2:19). The Bible is inerrant, inspired, and authoritative, unable to deceive and right in all its teaching. But the words alone do not transform us. The “rite” of Bible reading does not result in a powerful, transformed life.
The ones who persevere in obedience to the truth they're reading are the ones who become like Jesus.
And the only way to persevere into true life change is by the Spirit of God. “Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16) We cannot white knuckle sanctification. Sure, you can become moral. You can become outwardly virtuous. You can do the right things. But you can do all of that and be hollow. You can do all of it and be resentful, bitter, empty, lost, and tired. Or… 
You can be morally strong and spiritually free. Boldly convicted and completely at peace. Suffering greatly and full of joy. That kind of supernatural tension is not achieved through ritual. It is a mystery worked by the Spirit of God, the One who equips and comforts, convicts and leads, speaks and guides; the advantage of being Christian: the Holy Spirit. He applies the word of God, lights it on fire, activates it in our soul. He reminds us of the truth when we need it and speaks to us, telling us what way to go. Jesus, the Word made flesh, speaks through the Word on pages so the Word may come alive in us.
Back at my daughter's bedside, I obviously couldn't use these words. “I am so glad you brought that up," I said, pulling the blanket around her. “the Bible is important, and I am so glad you're reading it. It tells the big story of God's love - how we were separated from Him, needed someone to bridge the gap, and God loved us so much He sent Himself to make a way. Who made the way?”
She scrunched her face. “….Jesus?”
“Right. Jesus made a way for us to be friends with God. Our anger and meanness doesn't keep us from Him because of Jesus. But… the Bible is just the beginning. We can't read it and move on. Our job is to listen for God's voice throughout the day. After the Bible, we must listen when He speaks, do what He says. So - when you feel those worries come, grab them - ” I took her fist; she chuckled. “- and throw them to Jesus, like He asks. He will remind you. And when He does, you can choose to obey His voice, or not. When we keep ignoring His voice, He becomes harder to hear - not because He isn't there, but because we have trained ourselves not to listen. Make sense?"
“I guess so.”
“Let's pray.”
Make sense? 
I hope so. 
Praying for you.

Free Gift to Virtual Verity Hosts!
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More info on virtual tickets on the conference page!
On Social Media This Week
  • Instagram: @phyliciamasonheimer (also shared to FB)
    • Monday: Ask Anything on FB/IG
    • Tuesday: The Conlectio + Why Bible Study Doesn't Change Hearts
    • Wednesday: Verity Episode: How to Walk by the Spirit
    • Thursday: Day in the Life
    • Friday: Book and product recs (IG)
  • Instagram: @willowsbendhomeschool
    • Monday: Break Week
    • Tuesday: Homeschool Q/A
    • Wednesday: Farm and Nontoxic tutorials (as I can!)
    • Thursday: Off
    • Friday: Off
What I'm Reading
  • October's List: Here's a little update on where I am so far on these.
    • A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny (audiobook)
      • About halfway through - faster paced than many of her books, with a new cast of characters. I haven't had a lot of listening time but I'm trying to finish it soon!
    • On Christian Liberty by Martin Luther
      • A classic by Luther and quite short. I've enjoyed reading this in the morning.
    • The Calling Journey (I forget the author - it's a workbook)
      • I'm halfway through this, going slowly and sketching out my own life/calling notes as I go. I think it comes from a charismatic perspective but it is interesting and biblically based. 
    • Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel
    • Loving Your Husband Well by Lisa Jacobson
      • I read one of these chapters a few times a week and they always make me think!
    • The Messiah Comes to Middle Earth by Philip Ryken
      • Almost done with this - it aligned nicely with watching Rings of Power. Absolutely LOVE this book.
What I'm Loving
  • On Prayer: Lots of questions on prayer resources after last week's email! I am working on an episode about this, but two great books to start - 
    • Prayer by Richard Foster 
    • Pray Confidently and Consistently by Val Woerner
  • Poshmark: Sometimes I can't find what I am looking for in thrift shops, so I head to Poshmark! I love that I can search the exact brands I am looking for - Woolrich, Anthropologie, Banana Republic, Express, etc. - and find great deals. I get my kids' winter boots here (Sorel is my favorite) and even some of my winter coats and shoes. I recently grabbed some Irish knit sweaters and vintage cardigans.
  • The Heart in Pilgrimage: This new devotional by Crossway is not just beautiful on the outside, it's full of the rich words of our Christian predecessors on the pages within. I have loved incorporating this into my morning time with God. Readings from Martin Luther, Thomas a Kempis, Florence Nightingale, Jonathan Edwards and so many more.
  • The Stanley Cup (not the hockey one): If you're a Canadian or Michigander (like me) “Stanley Cup” means something different! I don't mean the giant silver one… Just those trendy water mugs every influencer seems to have. Well, I guess I'm basic, because now I have one too. And… it's worth it! Truly lives up to the hype. I struggle to drink enough water (if it isn't in front of me or easy to carry I just don't drink it) and this helps me get in 80 ounces a day. I get mine right from Stanley.
  • Eyelashes: So historically I used Flutterhabit, but during the summer when Josh and I eliminated all our subscriptions I took a break from my order. While I still stand by FH and believe they are the BEST false eyelash brand out there (I use falsies because they last a week and I hate mascara) lately I've gotten drugstore falsies, cut them into ¼ inch sections, and glue them on like I did the FH version (under your natural lashes, not on top). While it's a bit more work and the lashes aren't as nice quality, it did save me money and it's almost the same effect. (I think I have an FH code though. PHY10)
  • Nespresso: Thanks to my friend Kalin and my friend Kristen's husband Zach, I've been influenced… after my Ninja coffee maker died earlier this year, I read every review of every cheap-ish espresso machine out there and this consistently seems like the best option. I'll update soon!
On the Farm
  • I promised to share my chili recipe for big crowds! This is my go-to for large parties (40+) which we host about once a quarter. I've made variations of it as well, but chili is a safe GF/DF option to serve with chips.
    • 5 lbs ground beef
    • 5 lbs pork sausage
    • 7 28 oz cans of diced tomatoes
    • 7 28 ounce cans of tomato sauce
    • 7 cans pinto beans
    • 7 cans light kidney beans
    • 2 bunches of celery, chopped
    • ½ a bag of onions, chopped
    • 2 bags frozen peppers and onions
    • ¼-½ c. chili powder
    • 2 TB cumin
    • 1 TB salt
    • 1 TB pepper
    • ¼ c. Worcestershire Sauce
    • 2 tsp Liquid Smoke
    • 6 cups water
      • Brown the meat in a cast iron pan and set aside. Meanwhile, in the biggest stock pot you have (I use a turkey fryer!) sauté the onions, peppers and celery in olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, seasonings and water. Once blended, add beans and meat and simmer on low 2-4 hours. For large parties, I like to prep this in the morning and start simmering in early afternoon. I turn off the burner at the party start time and move the pot to wherever we are serving. Make sure you have a nice long ladle or you'll lose the spoon in the giant pot! ;) Serves 100.
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In Our Homeschool
  • On break this week from our co-op, but I'm using it as a catch-up week since we won't be schooling during the week of Verity Conference!
  • The annual homeschool harvest party was a blast - even though it rained the entire time! We crowded into the garage for food and coffee and the kids didn't mind that it was 40 degrees, windy and wet. Some of them still bobbed for apples, and we still made the hay ride happen - donut bobbing and sack races too!
  • This week's school will focus extra on getting ahead on phonics lessons and lots of memory review. If it ever stops raining (it's been seven straight days) maybe we will go for a walk!
for the awakening, 

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