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EXCITING NEWS!

Excellent resource to document your personal Bible journey after a sermon, small group, devotional, etc.

Several have requested a Bible study journal to assist them in their independent study through books of the Bible. We have heard your need and have been diligently working on providing this for you. Exciting news–this is now available AND you have two selections!

Here is the primary information about each option:

Beautiful lined notebook supporting deeper understanding of Scripture when studying the Bible independently. The journals will introduce readers to a simple Bible study method entitled A.M.P.S.

A- Attention                  Allowing God to focus your attention
M- Meaning                   Studying Scripture for full contextual understanding
P- Perspective of God   Pausing to hear and consider the LORD’s point of view

S- Saturation                 Applying Scripture into your current circumstances and daily living

100 pages

2 pages explaining the AMPS format

6 x 9 with soft cover and good quality white paper contents

Fits easily in tote, purse, backpack, etc.

Amazing gift for friends and family

Floral option: http://bitly.ws/uKS8

Black botanical option: http://bitly.ws/uKSd

A Visual of going BEYOND the typography

BEYOND the typography
to letting Scripture saturate your life

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

Ponder this if you will…

In a moment’s notice, we can access the Bible on our phone, bookmark passages, and even magnify text if need be. We are blessed with the engagement opportunities afforded to us left and right. It is as painless as downloading an app. Free at that! WOW! Every mode luring each believer to go beyond the typography.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Joshua 1:8 (NIV)

What more could we desire? A prized prize and adored adornment can be displayed beyond a coffee table. We can showcase it on every device we own and pull up any passage regardless of our location. We can even screenshot verses of interest in the middle of a sermon and share it immediately on social media.

What a welcoming welcome. An opportunity to see past the layout we choose. A chance to experience the life-changing power the words hold. An open invitation to go beyond the charming print. An ability to interact with Scripture through exceeding levels of availability far outweighing anything previously offered. Oh, how attractive, tantalizing, and downright alluring.

Scripture Notebooking can do that for YOU!

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. 

James 4:8a (NIV)

YADA: How do you define “to know” God?

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We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16 (NIV)

Yada! A term I equate with true success in my life. This word ranks high on my favorite list yet, it has not always been this way.

Yada is a Hebrew word meaning “to know”. I love learning! So, it probably doesn’t come as a shock for those who know me to hear me state my deep feeling for this term. However, there is more to this four-letter word in my life than the surface level.

Visually, the world sees me craving information and textual knowledge. There is no denying it-I do. I would even go so far as to say it has opened the door to a deeper meaning of Yada in my life. This “to know” has placed me on a journey to go beyond textual knowledge of the LORD and really “know” Him for who He is. But remember, I said it hasn’t always been this way.

For many years, my “to know” was for my success. Then my intellectual knowledge of the LORD began transforming my heart and allowing me to redefine what it means to really “know”. Also, I began pursing my definition of “yada” for God’s glory and not my own.   

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By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 1 John 2:3 (NIV)

Due to failures in life and finding myself at rock bottom, spiritual wisdom was gained. I realized that the most important thing in my life was a growing relationship with the LORD. The life change I had to make was to go beyond periodically meeting with God to walking with Him 24/7. Although I still fall short at times, I have set a goal to live with the LORD right beside every moment-because He is.

So, what did this require of me? I have had to learn to say good morning every day, turn to Him first in all circumstances good or bad, trust in His promises, have faith in His attributes, and love Him on a level of complete obedience and count it as an honor. Let me just say-this is a struggle within my flesh, and I continually fight against “gods” taking the LORD’s place.  

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:8 (NIV)

Making God my firm foundation has been a journey. My desperation caused me to begin taking my relationship with the LORD to new heights and to realize it is an ongoing process. I had to learn to live my life with an open Bible, feed on His Word, and let the Holy Spirit lead. (Boy, that sounds easy when I see those words on paper!)

The difference between “to know” and “TO KNOW!” has been eye opening. My new “yada” has taken me from meeting with God periodically to walking with the lover of my soul continually. The LORD wants this for everyone. He loves us exponentially and craves for us to walk closely with Him in a relationship different from all others. This takes us beyond intellectual textbook knowledge to a deep personal commitment that transforms our heart, mind, and soul.

And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20 (NIV)

Refinement Ministry exist because of this life changing concept. The goal of the Bible studies, retreats, workshops, etc. is to support spiritual maturity. Hey, we are just ordinary, everyday people just like you who want to seek out this journey with like-minded Christians. We believe in community and the importance of sharing experiences, wisdom, and perspective with each other.

What is your definition of yada? Are you looking for ways to know God on a more intimate level? If so, we invite you to be a part of one of our Bible studies online, upcoming getaways, or weekend workshops. 2022 is dedicated to helping others go beyond text knowledge to intimate knowledge of who GOD IS and experience this through Scripture Notebooking!  

We are so excited to share this beautiful “yada” definition with you. Trust me when I say, it is life changing!

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 1 John 4:2 (NIV)

What am I – An Encourager or A Discourager?

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Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.” (Haggai 1:5, NIV)

As the Refining ministry continues the series “Major Wisdom through Minor Prophets”, I have found myself reflecting on the book of Haggai. I have been preparing to facilitate the upcoming one-night study by digging deep into various messages and translations on the material. No matter the view or angle, it seems the perspective of God is gently asking me to self-evaluate and answer the question: What am I?

Let me explain. Many of you know I tend to squawk out “Why?” when studying God’s word. Why this, why that, why would God use them, why didn’t the people just obey, why is this so hard, why does God want me doing it this way, why am I going through this valley again, etc. I am sure those around me are busting at the seams to really say, “Stop it with the whys! Just have faith and trust. Not everything is meant to be analyzed.” Yet, for me, my whys seem to be exactly what I need-WHY? Because they generate the real question God needs me to hear.

How true this is when it comes to Haggai. In an outstanding message by Gary Hamrick, he made this all too clear. He simply asked the question of WHY? Why did the Jewish exiles lose their fire and desire to rebuild the Temple of the Lord?

Well in my human, fleshy thinking I could come up with all kinds of reasons. I could even become extremely judgmental and place my thoughts on the situation without even stopping to put myself in their shoes. I might even go so far as to say, “Why in the world would they be released from captivity and not do everything possible to rebuild the Temple as God instructed?” Seriously, He is the one and only Lord who saved them from the enemy.

BUT…Did I ever stop to think about the opposition which discouraged them? Did I even once give thought to hostile neighbors threatening and enforcing legal allegations if they tried to rebuild? Did I take the time to put it into modern day perspective and reflect upon the discouragement around myself which stifles my own efforts in living for God? (I think you know the answer to these questions)

After almost two decades of discouragement, they seemed deflated and unmotivated to carry on any restoration of the Temple. So, they used the materials to build their own homes because this would cause they less stress and opposition. Sound familiar? I know it does for me. The discourager’s taunting pulled their attention away from the simple truth—The truth that we are saved from enemy when we are God’s children! We are released from captivity and the discouragement is straight from the enemy. He does everything in his power to use whoever he can to keep us from having faith and trusting in God.

YET…a turning point happens within the heart of these Jewish exiles. WHY? Because Haggai comes as an encourager. He inspired them to get back to work and put their energies into the things of God. They felt strengthened to step out and put the Father first. They choose to stop denying the Lord because of Haggai’s message.  Judah was back on track and within five years they accomplished what the Lord had ask of them two decades before. WHY? Because Haggai encouraged them!!!

What Am I? An Encourager or A Discourager?

What about you?

ZEPHANIAH: 3 week study

Happy July friends!

It is that time again–to gear back up and continue the online Bible study series, Major Wisdom through the Minor Prophets. This month’s study will only be three weeks and focus on one chapter a week.

Together we will embrace Bible intake and discuss our reflections from personal readings via Zoom. Weekly, we will uncover the original meaning from the author and uncover the takeaways for each of us individually. Digging into Scripture with like-minded sisters in Christ is a powerful experience.

Come join us for three weeks-one hour a week. Zephaniah will begin July 12th at 6:00 p.m.

July 12th Chapter 1

July 19th Chapter 2

July 26th Chapter 3

Please email the Refining Ministry, refining.journey@gmail.com by July 11th if you would like to participate. We will send you the link and additional materials for the study once we hear from you.

Let us know if you have any questions!  Also, if you know of anyone who might be interested in attending, please forward this information to them. 

In His Name,

Genna Stotts

How Can Bible Intake Be Visual?

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Hello! How are you this last full week of May? Good news-a three day weekend is on the way for many. The month of May seems to be a busy time with graduations, Mother’s Day, end of summer year, etc. However, it has been nice to enjoy some of these occasions in a somewhat “normal” setting this year.

In the education world, tapping into all modalities of learning is essential. Educators have to be creative in making the text come alive and extending opportunities for those digesting the material to do the same. This is no different for each of us when studying Scripture and ensuring our Bible intake sticks. Making those mental connections and embedded the overall message into our schema is necessary to ignite the transformation of our heart and mind.

Transparency moment: Scripture exposure has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Yet, most of my life it has gone in one ear and out the other. Oh when I first hear or read a promising message, I am so inspired and feel two inches taller, but once life slaps me around a couple of times (usually less than 24 hours later) I seem to be clueless. Why didn’t the takeaway stick?

God has captured my attention in recent years concerning engaging in His Word and allowing it to transform. (the capture was a three letter word-PIT!) I have always equated the Bible as a life manual and valued the power of its words, yet the struggle to infuse my innermost parts with Scripture was very real.

I have read, heard, and tried all kinds of advice-read more, study more, pray more, add in-depth Bible studies to your routine, buy a Bible dictionary, purchase a set of concordances, download this application, get assess to these Bible translations, mark all these websites as your favorite, follow Bible scholars regularly, listen to online sermons, go to conferences, join this Facebook group, etc. These are all terrific ideas and suggestions, but when I first wanted to make a significant change in my Bible intake-adding a million different things without addressing what would really make Scripture stick for me personally just made my life even more complicated. I didn’t know where to focus-everything was over the top good! I wanted engagement not involvement. I just made the issue a frustrating and exploding PROBLEM.

So I began embracing simplicity. Taking bite-size portions daily and setting myself up for success. I could not process the fire-hose information coming towards me. It took me addressing my attempted failures and laying the issue at the feet of God. The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see the answer was really simple-get out of the way and let Him lead.

Today, I want to share with you one way I have found to make God’s Word a visual in my life. If you wrestle with making the Bible come to life, I pray you are encouraged to embrace new ideas and are filled with God’s discernment to what will work best for you. Start small and give the Holy Spirit the permission to guide your efforts so the transformational power can ignite and change you inside out.

ONE WAY I MAKE SCRIPTURE VISUAL:

  • I pause and pray before reading God’s Word.
  • I read/reread and intensely study one chapter in the Bible weekly.
  • After praying and meditating over the information, I narrow my focus to a verse/s I feel the Holy Spirit is drawing me to fully digest.
  • I write out the Scripture.
    • The physical act allows me to take ownership.
    • It brings my focus to the words within the verse/s.
    • I seem to remember the Scripture from writing it.
    • The product becomes a snapshot of God speaking directly to me.
  • Sometimes I am drawn to one word within the copied Scripture.
  • I display it for a week and read it throughout my day.
  • I add my own flair to it. (can’t exactly call it art-lol!)
This is what must be done: When he sits down on the throne of his kingdom, the first thing he must do is make himself a copy of this Revelation on a scroll, copied under the supervision of the Levitical priests. That scroll is to remain at his side at all times; he is to study it every day so that he may learn what it means to fear his God, living in reverent obedience before these rules and regulations by following them. He must not become proud and arrogant, changing the commands at whim to suit himself or making up his own versions. If he reads and learns, he will have a long reign as king in Israel, he and his sons. Deuteronomy 17:18-19 (MSG)

Here is an example:

Steps I took:

  • I read Chapter 2 of Nahum.
  • I wrote out the verse which stood out to me to take ownership. (I choose two colors to distinguish the two thoughts presented.)
  • Then I selected one word which stood out to me. (I circled restore)
  • I displayed the card in a prominent spot. I read it over and over throughout the week and let it saturate my thinking.
  • We had a horrific hailstorm which wiped out our tender garden plants and many of the flowers we had planted. After walking through the yard to access the damage, restoration came to mind. I began to ponder the promise of God’s healing after the “destroyer” laid everything to waste. My mind went straight to a blossom. So, I took the card & drew a flower. It was a symbol of God’s promise, the beauty we find when we take refuge in Him, and the healing He will extend.
  • The card is a visual reminder of the message the Lord gave me. At the end of the week, I wrote my overall takeaway on the back of the card.

If you are a “visual” learner-start with just writing out Scripture once a week and allow it to saturate your thinking. Please do not make it complicated. You just need a Bible and a willingness to let God’s Word change you. Investigate ways to make the Bible come to life for you. Ask God for His discernment and help. You will be amazed at what He will reveal.

Share your thoughts. I would love to hear what you do routinely. Blessings and prayers to you, my friend.

Crown the Sword: Ch. 10-Perspective of God

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But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29 (NIV)

The Bible study begins and the facilitator states, “Hello, thank you for coming tonight. Our focal verse this evening, as we walk through Deuteronomy, is 4:29. Can someone read that for us?…So, let’s open the floor for discussion. Please share what this verse means to you.” Does this sound familiar? Then everyone begins to share and it seems as though anything goes. All opinions and thoughts are embraced.

There have been times in my life where I have walked away from encounters such as this and wondered, What is the real meaning? If we only heard God’s voice responding to the prompt, would it have resembled anything we shared? Yet, we were in God’s house and we all love the LORD deeply so surely our personal discernments are aligned when it comes to interrupting Scripture. Right? Maybe? Possibly?

Okay, let’s follow a squirrel for a moment. Have you ever said something and then it was misunderstood? Has anyone ever found a different meaning in the words you uttered? Miscommunication can play havoc on relationships, jobs, families, and you name it. So, who has the right to define the words you spoke? You! They were your thoughts, whether clear or not to others-whether well articulated or poorly communicated. Only you can truly clarify the meaning or the actual message you were trying to convey. That is your authority.

Back to the original thought…I have often wondered why my upbringing in the church never spoke directly about the perspective of God nor did they ever mention making time to just listen to His voice. God’s Word is His thoughts, promises, commands, love, revealing character, and lessons, yet I was never taught how to focus on text meaning according to God. It seemed I was more exposed to the opinions of other writers, preachers, teachers, believers and the like. Please do not misinterpret what I am saying. I am not trying to communicate that their thoughts and teachings were wrong. However, I do not believe that human understanding can be correct 100% of the time. BUT, God’s discernment is always spot on! So, why not teach others how to go to the LORD to gain His view. It will always be true.

Please give me grace to go deeper. How can we ensure our Bible intake is not swayed by our own intuition and “all about me” stance? How can I safeguard the meaning I digest from Scripture to align with the pureness of God’s ways? How can I fit my life into God’s story instead of twisting His Word to fit into my life? (Oh, this is my inner thoughts speaking to myself. I am so convicted, guilty, completely ashamed of the Bible abuse I have displayed!)

My sweet friends, I had (and I am still doing this) to train myself to approach God’s Word differently. I had to find reverence and honor beyond my “good Christian” outward knowing. I had to learn how to posture and position myself on a level far from comfort by pulling my understanding out of the equation. Somehow, I had to find a foreign mindset and stance beyond my self-centered being. God taught me the importance of the Holy Spirit’s leading, the need for depth in my Biblical intake, and the significance to sit at His feet and listen. He even spotlighted the need to know when Scripture was not represented accordingly. It was almost like He said to me, “Stop manipulating my Words and accepting anyone’s interruption. Come to me…I am the author.”

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s interpretations of things.” 2 Peter 1:20 (NIV)

Submitting to God’s will and leaning not on my own understanding is how “P” of AMPS came about. It was generated by many excellent role models, pastors, and authors who instilled the significance of comprehending Scripture in alignment with the Father’s intent. The Holy Spirit made an impact on my heart and mind by highlighting where I should go for true wisdom.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)

“Our mere knowledge of Scripture cannot achieve or maintain the support His Holy Word was meant to uphold without being rooted deep in prayer, submission, and faith. God’s perspective is essential as we absorb Scripture and come to know Him more. As we gain biblical knowledge and sharpen our skills under His authority, the more we will realize the significance of being in a relationship with the LORD. God wants us striving daily to grow in spiritual maturity through prayer, reading His Word, and meditating upon Scripture to receive His wisdom for daily living.” (pgs. 124-125 of Crown the Sword)

May His knowledge be regarded as the most valuable asset you can obtain. I pray we remember to hold it in high esteem and treasure it always-a precious, priceless gem only defined by God.

Crown the Sword: Ch. 8-Attention

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Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 

Acts 9:3 (ESV)

Did I capture your attention? Can you imagine your lips telling the world what you just ate through chameleon color-changing abilities? Mine might appear like dirt since my favorite thing to savor is the darkest chocolate possible. (YIKES!) What about you?

Matthew 6:22 states, “The eye is the lamp of the body.” So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body can be full of God’s pure light. Our eyes are arrested by many things throughout the day. Vision is an intake device controlling what can charm our senses, entice our minds, and even sway our hearts. This is why good marketing schemes can invoke our thinking and cause us to react outside of our norms. Oh those eyes!

Lets look to the Bible for some vision advice:

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:25-27. (NIV)

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. Matthew 5:29

He who walks righteously and speaks with sincerity, He who rejects unjust gain. And shakes his hands so that they hold no bribe; He who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed And shuts his eyes from looking upon evil; Isaiah 33:15 (NIV)

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Psalm 119:37 (ESV)

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27 (ESV)

Our attention will be engaged in any environment we entertain, healthy or not. Bright and flashy or dark and luring-humans have an eye for things that standout. Marketing experts profit from this sense by leaps and bounds. Just ask Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow-Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. (Side note: maybe we should make all Bibles purple poke-a-dotted) It is a known fact that the eyes tend to be drawn to things out of the ordinary. Ponder this: Remember seeing something you wish you had not seen but were drawn to it? You can’t seem to get it out of your head.

“The almighty Father provides Scripture as a method to procure our attention.” (pg. 89). “However, it takes effort on our part to place ourselves in God’s environment…” (pg. 90). The Holy Spirit gently draws us to particular verses as we engage in God’s Word and He does so according to God’s purpose and will.

Let us not forget, Scripture is the Voice of God-the very words which separated light from dark and brought everything into existence. Why wouldn’t we want to hang out among powerful, life-giving words and let it capture our attention? Well, I don’t know about you, but I have overused all the excuses you could probably utter…”I’m too busy, I’m not sure it all applies to me, I need to focus more on my career, I lack the motivation to stay in the Bible daily, I don’t understand some of Scripture so…, I’m not ready for God’s disciplined lifestyle, I don’t know where to start, etc.”

However, when the bright light was placed on my life, much like Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus, it exposed my excuses, sins, and flawed ways. I stood before the LORD guilty in so many ways. God had to use drastic forces to get my eyes back on what really mattered-Him! I wasn’t placing myself in Scripture so He could speak to me nor spending the time I needed in “listening” prayer to fully hear His words of discernment and guidance. I was doing life “my way” much like Saul.

“The LORD longs for our awareness of Him. God knows exactly what ensnares our interest. He is never surprised by what is attractive to us because His attention is continually on us. The Lord longs for us to reciprocate interest in Him.” (pg. 88-89). He knows how to captivate us, but He is gentle and patient–not to mention He gives us free will.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8a (NIV)

Chapter 8 of Crown the Sword is all about what to do once God draws our attention to certain passages of Scripture when we spend time reading His Word.

See your story in the Bible as you read it.

Highlight it and date it in a manner that is right for you.

Heed to His promptings and write out those verses to reflect upon throughout the week.

Place the verses in prominent area you frequent regularly.

Fill your environment with His Voice-Scripture.

Keep your Bible open as an invitation throughout your day to stop and read a bit.

Think outside of the box and let your creative juice flow.

Post the Scripture on your social media accounts.

Talk it over with a friend.

Pray it out.

First and foremost, let it draw you to the feet of Jesus. Hang out there for a bit and let Him take your vision to heights unknown. Your eyes will be amazed at the remarkable sight revealed — discovery of a magnificent power beyond the color-changing ability of a chameleon.

(P.S. What was the last thing you ate?)

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