Challenge Day 21

Today’s Inspiration. When I was a kid I was forced to take five years of piano lessons. I’m guessing that in the beginning it wasn’t forced upon me, but after several teachers who kept making me play the same classical pieces over and over again—pieces I didn’t enjoy no matter how many times I had to learn to play them—I got tired of it. One thing I didn’t get tired of, though—and definitely didn’t learn from any of my piano teachers—was playing the fun duet that people now know as “Heart and Soul.”

The thing about the piano duet that is so well known—the recognizable bass line, and the easy melody that follows so quickly behind it—is that the original song with the lyrics aren’t as well known. And the phrase heart and soul was around a lot longer than the song, and meant something entirely different in the Jewish culture. Moses had passed a commandment down to his people from the LORD, and Jesus reaffirmed that commandment as the greatest in their law:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38, NIV)

Yesterday, your challenge was to explore the Biblical meaning of the heart. Today, we turn to the concept of the soul.

Ceramic green-blue bird in front of ceramic red ladybug. Photo text: Challenge Day 21, soul-love. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Today’s Challenge. What is the soul, as it is used in the Bible, and what does it mean to love the Lord your God with all your soul? Your challenge today is pray for understanding and then begin to explore this concept. Then, try to put it together with your understanding what it means to love God with all your heart.

Just like yesterday, don’t worry about building a complete understanding of it all in one afternoon—people have been asking what the soul is (and even debating its existence!) for centuries.

Today’s Participation. After exploring the Biblical concept of the word soul, try to simplify it by writing your own definition. Put the definition in the comments below or use it as a caption in an Instagram post that depicts the concept. Follow @rhondalorraineblog and use the hashtag #writinglifeaugustchallenge if you want me to see it!

Challenge Day 20

Today’s Inspiration. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied with the commandment to love God:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37, NIV)

Yesterday, I challenged you to ask the question, What is love? from a Biblical perspective. But you’ll notice that Jesus didn’t just say to love the Lord your God: He went further than that, as did the original commandment given in Deuteronomy (6:5, 10:12, 30:6). Jesus commanded us to love him in three different ways, the first of which is with all your heart. We’ll look into that today.

Antique wood and metal milk crate with fur peeking out from the inside. Photo text: Challenge Day 20, heart-love. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Today’s Challenge. What does it mean to love someone or something with all of your heart? In the English language, we often use the word to refer to something other than the physical organ inside our bodies, and that is how the word is used here—but to what was Jesus referring when he used the word heart and differentiated it from the soul and from the mind?

Your challenge today is to explore the concept of the heart and try to gain an understanding of what Jesus meant by using it in his reply to the Pharisees. Pray, ask for understanding, and then explore other uses of the word in the Bible. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t understand it all at once—this is a question (like yesterday’s) that humans have been pondering and trying to define for millennia; you only need to look through the history of rhetoric for proof of that. If you’re at a loss of where to start, try looking at the cross-references or the lexicon of the language in a resource like Bible Hub or a study Bible.

Today’s Participation. Using your understanding of what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart, imagine what one manifestation of this love would be or look like—what would you do or say? What would someone notice when they see it in you? Perhaps you don’t have to imagine it—perhaps you can tell us what you do do, what you do say, what people do see in you. Write about it in the comments or depict this and post it online using #writinglifeaugustchallenge. Be sure to tell us what inspired your understanding (what Bible verse or chapter?).

Challenge Day 19

Today’s Inspiration. I’ll be honest. After yesterday’s challenge post, I sat down this morning and had no idea where to go. What was next?

✔️Bible reading.

I prayed. I explored. I thought. I took some new photos to use in the blog posts. I browsed through Hebrews, Colossians, Ephesians, and Romans. I thought about “Christian living” and Googled it. I thought about everything Jesus told his disciples and began to be overwhelmed.

And then I remembered that Jesus simplified things for us. (Well, he reminded me.) Although perhaps “simplified” is not the right word, once we begin to unpack what he said. Jesus told us—told a Pharisee, actually—that what everything boils down to is love.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40, NIV)

Love. Christian living is about loving.

Close-up shot of rumpled red quilt back against a pale background. Photo text: Challenge Day 19, just love. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Today’s Challenge. Jesus boiled all of the Law and the Prophets—everything taught in the Old Testament, from Genesis to Malachi, down to two “simple” commandments. Simple, until we ask today’s question: What is love?

Um, yeah. Not so small a question. Google it and you get songs, psychology, dating sites, religious sites, articles from popular magazines, Wikipedia and dictionary definitions—it’s a big question that’s been asked for millennia. But Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God. Your task today is to explore the question What is love? from a Biblical perspective. Look it up in your Bible and see what God’s word has to say about it.

Today’s Participation. Take one thing the Bible has to say about love and use it to spark your creativity. Write a poem or journal entry or depict it in a sketch, painting, or photo. Share what you’ve done on Instagram using #writinglifeaugustchallenge, post something in the comments below, or show it to someone you see today to start a conversation about love from God’s perspective.