Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Restoration by Another Name

...something I've been talking about
...something I've been desiring for me and His glory
...something I've been asking from God
...something I've been believing of God
...something I've been proclaiming
...something I've been feeling conviction

Something...for almost three years. Three long years. To be exact, 2.8 years.

I knew the package in which it would be. I knew what it would look like. I knew what it would feel like. I knew the glory the King would receive. I knew the Power it would take to accomplish. I knew who would be restored. I knew; I just knew.

...or so I thought. I thought restoration was of my marriage. I thought God was going to restore beloved and me in our marriage. Restoration but any other means? What's that? Isn't there only one definition? Isn't there only one means and one package for it?

No. God has restored my soul and my heart. God has restored my heart to be full and to be full to the capacity He created in me.

He restored my soul to His during the three years. He restored my heart to full peace and joy that only He could provide. He has restored my hope in something greater than I thought He had already provided with Ephesians 3:20. He has restored my belief that I can find true happiness. He has restored my faith in love, pure and simple love.

It is possible. Love for a lifetime. Yes, just as He destined for man and woman. Love: an action verb, not an adjective or feeling. For a lifetime: that's forever, until death do us part (or Christ returns). It is possible. It is likely.

Restoration: viewed with His lenses and not my finite, restricted lenses. My driver's license says: restricted. For you see, I am restricted from driving without glasses or contacts. I had been viewing God's plan, His desire, His definition of restoration as though I was driving without my contacts. And as easy as it is to pop in my contacts, God literally popped into my heart and my eyes His view of restoration and what it looks like from His position.

Wow. Have you ever had vision problems and once those new glasses go on...boom. The world is opened to such a vibrant, crisp, colorful view. I remember when I was in sixth grade and my dad was insistent on taking me and my brother to the eye doctor. My dad being a lifetime military man, he took us to Ft. Knox, KY. Boy, that was a long trip. On the way down there, my dad kept quizzing us if we could read this sign or that sign. In my stubbornness I kept saying "yes!" (Imagine that with a 12-year old snotty know-it-all attitude.) We had our long wait, as expected on a military base, and finally had our exams. Yep, I needed glasses. However much time passed and then back to school for the first day. I usually sat somewhat in the back and I literally without a doubt believed that was "normal" sight. I mean, God didn't create us to see the chalk board in the back of the class room. It was normal. NOT. I put on the royal blue speckled glasses and boom. I could see the numbers in Geometry. For real? How is that possible. I had no idea that is how it is suppose to be. You mean my dad was right? My dad had more insight and intuition in what I needed. Yes. And though I 'saw' that I did need glasses and I could read the board from great distances, that was still not going to stop me from taking off my glasses between classes. No, I couldn't wear my glasses in the hall way where everyone would see me. Because, only those who turned around in class would see my glasses. And of courses, the teachers.

My dad knew better and insisted we get an eye exam. My Father knew better and showed me His way. My Father knew better and began to prepare and heal me. My Father knew better and opened my eyes literally at the fork in the road. So close to take a different road and He put my bff's words very heavy and seriously in my heart. In my heart, to transform it and on my heart, to show me the way.

I still sit in awe of what He has done and the way He's done this marvelous plan of His. Wow. I am so unworthy of His forgiveness, grace, and wisdom. But He's granted it anyway. He is worthy of my praise and worship. He is worthy of my gratitude. He is worthy of my indebtedness forever. He is worthy of me holding His gift so preciously in my hand and tending to the heart He has given me as though it is my very own heart.

Lord Jesus, You are so worthy. So worthy. Lord, thank You for this path. Thank You for Your infinite wisdom in knowing exactly what I needed and exactly when I needed it. You, Lord, are the Creator of awesomeness. I will live the rest of my life showing praise to You for the giftS You have given me. I will treasure the heart You have placed in my hands. Lord, You have exciting and awesome things in store, don't You?! You truly are the Father of impossibles and the Father of Ephesians 3:20...more than once. There is no limit, Lord, to how many times you can knock our socks off. No, no limit to Your power and grace. I'm so unworthy of Your redeeming love. You, Lord, have restored me and redeemed me.

Being Restored By Him,

© Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Picture is of my Azalea yesterday.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

His: Fully and Completely, Forever

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays for the last time as I temporarily host for sweet Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Chapter 18: Forever

I cannot believe that I've been reading Lysa's awesome book for eighteen weeks. Eighteen. That's 1-8. Four and a half months. Wow. It's been a blessing for sure. Thanks to Lysa for her willingness to be real, open, and honest. But mostly, thanks to her for being obedient to God in writing this book. Fortunately, I won't be saying goodbye to Lysa nor this topic. I will be leading my ladies' small group in the Bible study that accompanies this book. We begin next week and I've been anticipating and excited since November when I found out she was writing a study.

Lysa's first sentence in this last chapter struck me. "It was one of the most beautiful marriage ceremonies I'd ever attended." In my heart of hearts, I thought, just like mine. Many people said mine was so beautiful and meaningful. I was told that there wasn't a dry eye in the church. We created our own ceremony and it was filled with God everywhere. We were both asked if we had committed our lives to Jesus Christ and then also had words of committed to Jesus throughout our marriage. That may sound very hypocritical considering the state of our union now: still united in God's eyes but not everything as God would desire at this point. My life as it is now, I can't focus on being a bride to a man but rather for this time I'm a bride to my Bridegroom Jesus alone.

I love what Lysa says here: "We were made for the greatest love story of them all. We were made to fall in love with Jesus." Those to me are such sweet words. We were made to fall in love with Jesus. And praise the Lord that I've done that. If I've done nothing else right in my life, I'm thankful that He led me to Himself. That He wooed me with His love. That He captivated my heart.

Stay with me as I process this. But Lysa touches on something that Beth Moore has been saying in her study, Esther. I'm going to try to formulate and process it as I write these words. Lysa shares how she had regrets and had not saved herself for her wedding day. She's not alone in that one, I'm positive. However, she's made peace with her past and realizes we cannot go back and change things. Oh how I'd love to change some of my past. To make right my wrongs. "My journey through life helped me grow a heart totally and purely devoted to Him." Beth says "we cannot amputate our history and fulfill our destiny." She is saying we can't be all that God wants us to be without our past, without our history, without our mistakes and regrets. I can hear Beth's sweet southern drawl (from her CDs) on this emphasis as she repeatedly says "are you hearin' me ladies? Are you gettin' this ladies?" Do we? Do we get what both of these ladies are saying? We can't be the person God is preparing us to be without the journey, without the history. We aren't going to be the person destined to be without journeying through life with our experiences, good and bad, in tote.

Now let's get back to this business of falling in love. Just like with any one and any relationship, love doesn't just happen. We don't just wake up saying "I love you" without putting action behind it. Relationships take time being invested, spent, and shared together. Jesus wants the same. "We will only fall in love when we draw close, deepened our understanding of Him, and seek to do life with Him." Seek to do life with Him.

Lysa momentarily touches on the imperfect heroes of faith. My mind immediately thought of David. I did the study, A Man After God's Heart, this past summer. I'm awed, yet blown away, yet fascinated that a man who could do such terrible things could also have this "title" placed upon him. A man who slept with another man's wife. A man who killed. A man who was deceptive. Yet. Yet, he was a man after God's own heart. To me there is no greater honor than to be called a man or woman after God's own heart. But David was a sinner. He had a past, a terrible past. He had ugliness in his history. That doesn't matter. Just like our pasts. They are what they are. We cannot dwell there but rather live today. Live today with Jesus. Life with Jesus.

The next subtitle Lysa has is Abandon. Oh how I don't like that word. It brings pain to my heart. It brings memories of the worst time in my heart. Is there anything more heartbreaking than to be abandoned. Whether it is from a parent, a friend, a spouse. I've experienced the latter two of those and I'd not wish that on anyone. Abandonment is worse than death. Worse than being separated by death is to be separated by abandonment. It is defined as "to leave completely, to forsake." Just that word makes my toes curl. To forsake someone. On the flip side, I know that no matter who else may forsake me in this life, Jesus will NEVER forsake me.

If we look at all sides of the word abandon, Lysa says it also plays a crucial role in every love story. Love? How can we associate such a negative word with such a joyous experience? Because it shows up in most all wedding vows. In sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful as long as you both shall live. "This forsaking all others is vital to a successful marriage...Leaving behind anything that would hinder the commitment." Wow. Those are very tough words to hear as I long for my failed marriage to be restored to a successful one, where all else is forsaken. If only these truths would have been made known and clear...

"Everything I have. Everything I own. Everything I hope for. Everything I fear. Everything I love. Everything I dream. It's all Yours, Jesus. I trust You in complete and utter abandon."

I abandon it all for the sake of the call.

Let's never be like the rich young ruler in Luke 18. "Instead of forsaking the trappings of this world, he chose to forsake the love his soul was made for."

Utterly surrendered to God's plans. That is exactly what I want to be. I want to do what causes God to pause: complete abandon to my will and utterly surrendered to Yours, God. Utterly surrendered. Utterly. Surrendered.

I can sometimes be goal oriented. Or at least I can set goals and set desires to complete certain things but I may not complete them as quickly as I'd desire. That gush of motivation gets beat down by life, laziness, and lack of motivation. Goals are all fine and well as long as they are kept in the right perspective and priority. "But when having a goal takes your focus off God and His daily intentions for you, it can cause trouble." Basically, when we are too busy focused on the future and on the things we've just got to complete, then we don't focus on today, the moment right now, or this second. Lord, may I always be open to your unfolding invitations.

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

"Becoming more than a good Bible study girl means that we desire God's revelations in our life more than we desire our own carefully constructed plans."

Striving to say and be...Yours God.
Fully and Completely. Forever.
If you have more to share on your blog, please use MckLinky below to hook up. I would greatly welcome any comments even if you are not doing the study. You don't have to be reading this book to share your wisdom and insight to this post. I love comments.
© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Are Your Prayers Dangerous?

Rain. Hairspray. Bangs. Rain. Spiritual vision speech. Frizz. Forgotten notes. More rain. Where was the Lord? He showed up in the umbrella He provided after Lysa got "wet, frustrated, and come face-to-face with something pretty ugly in my heart."

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays as I temporarily host for sweet
Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Ch 17 Praying the Dangerous Prayers

God is so much more concerned with our heart and our character, than He ever is with our circumstances. So if there's something ugly brewing in there, He's gonna do what it takes for us to address it.

"I realized that most times it's not the big things along my spiritual journey that tempt me to get off track. It's a culmination of small daily aggravations I know God could fix but doesn't." [my emphasis] That's a point of contention for me also. Big and small, the things God can fix but chooses not to fix. Even the things that are godly and would bring Him glory. Sometimes that's very, very hard when it's a big thing very close to our hearts...at least for me. And I've felt satan using that against me. Trying to make me focus on God not fixing things instead of focusing on what God does for me and Who God is to me.

"But what if instead of seeing these aggravations as inconveniences, I saw them as reminders to draw near to God?" What a wonderful perspective and outlook of these seemingly purposeless aggravations.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

And when we draw near to God, He'll speak to us. He'll wave over our minds that we'd never consider without Him during these times of drawing close to God. Sometimes when we draw near to God though, it's more about us being heard and not God being heard as we listen. It's so easy to center our prayers on ways we want God to bless us. Safety, health, ministry, home, finances, kids, food. Those are not bad prayers but maybe slightly flawed. "They set my expectations of God to be what I want without taking into consideration the possibility of God's bigger plan." Oh the things He can do when we have poor health, unsafe surroundings, lack of food, troubled kids, miserable finances. He can do things far greater than if we already had an A+ in all those areas. If we have all those things, then why would we need Him. From where would we draw our strength and wisdom?

I'm so terribly guilty of this and of not focusing on His bigger picture. In our small-perspective minds we can't fathom God's big plans; we can't envision the vastness of His plans. So we settle to what we can see and what we want. "I make God into One who stunts my growth with convenience and comfort rather than One who grows me into a woman of character, perseverance, and maturity." Did you get that? With our perspective WE make God to be One who stunts our growth. Yes, by having such a small vision, we stunt our own growth of what we can be if we just get out of our box and our comfort zone. And...take God out of the box we can put Him in.

"We want the promises but...not the dirt under our fingernails.
We want comfortable circumstances but...not transformation changes.
We want the gifts but...do we want the Giver more?"

We don't even come close to touching the promises of Jesus.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

Lysa quotes Nancy Guthrie from her article, "Prayers That Move the Heart of God." "There's so much to want--healed bodies, restored relationships, changed circumstances. But asking, seeking, and knocking aren't secret formulas for getting what we want from God; they're ways to get more of God. As I listen to God speak to me through His Word, He gives me more of Himself in fuller, newer ways. Then if healing doesn't come, if the relationship remains broken, or if the pressures increase, I have the opportunity to discover for myself He is enough. His presence is enough. His purpose is enough."

Wow. That's hard. That convicts me because I'm not satisfied with relationships not being restored. I must need a lot more growing because my heart hasn't seen the "opportunity" in this yet. Have I seen some benefits and growth? Yes. But full benefit to view it as an opportunity by remaining unrestored? No.

Nancy changed her prayers to be more about getting to know God rather than getting what she wants from God. Then, she began experiencing God in deeper ways than ever.

Lysa suggests we go deeper by praying dangerous prayers. "Why do we pray? To get things, or get God?" Which is the focus of our prayers?

Lysa is focusing on three things:
♥ aligning my heart with God's heart;
♥ escaping from my own selfish perspective of life;
♥ and listening, really listening, to God.

Like Lysa, I too, want my prayers to be more about hearing God than talking to God. I want God to be the One whispering to me. "Power enters our prayers...by listening for even the slightest whisper from the One who is all-powerful."

The beauty of dangerous prayers is "inviting the divine presence into otherwise mundane moments. They are dangerous [prayers] because they will not leave us unchanged--and most of us consider change right down frightening."

Lysa's dangerous prayers:
♥ God inconvenience me to be constantly reminded to draw near to You.
♥ Interrupt me, Lord.
♥ Shake things up in me, Lord.
♥ Reveal what's in me that's not of You, Lord.
♥ And, Lord more than anything, I want more of You.

"You may hear nothing at first. The silence may be deafening, frustrating, slightly disappointing. But don't stop sitting with God. At some point when God is the deepest desire of your heart, you will hear Him." [my emphasis]

Lord, Draw my heart out of the chaos and into the sweet stillness of Your presence.

"Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile." Jeremiah 29:12-14

Oh how I love to see those verses quoted, especially 12-13. Those that I call living in the shadow of the well-known Jeremiah 29:11. He will be found. He is not hiding from us. He is listening. He is not turning a deaf ear to us. Come, come to Me. With all your heart. All your heart.

Live more expectantly of experiencing God.

If you have more to share on your blog, please use MckLinky below to hook up. I would greatly welcome any comments even if you are not doing the study. You don't have to be reading this book to share your wisdom and insight to this post. I love comments.

Wanting to Experience God More,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Picture is of my wall decal in my chocolatey living room.
Are you craving chocolate now? I bet you are.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Looking For and Finding God

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays as I temporarily host for sweet Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Ch 16 Finding God in Unlikely Places

Lysa entices us at the beginning of the chapter with a story about clippity-clap shoes, publishers, and chocolate-covered strawberries. Again, just showing how real, down-to-earth, and authentic she is.

I just turned to the third page only to stop and stare at the heading "Seeing the Good in Hard Things." Seeing the good. That means there is good in the hard things but do we see it. Honestly, for me the pain and difficulty can easily cover and diminish the good. It's there; we/I just have to intently and purposefully look for it and choose to see it.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. Romans 8:26-28

He doesn't work things for our happiness or our timing but for our good. It's really a matter of trust. Do we trust the good He chooses? If we trust Him, then the happiness and timing should be of no concern. We know He works for our good. We must trust Him and we'll trust the good He has planned.

Hindsight is 20/20. We can see "now" why we had to go through the pain, rejection, and difficulty. We see the purpose in the pain. Many times we can interpret delays as punishment or discipline from God as though we were undeserving of the calling earlier. Rather, it is "His way of preparing [us] for it." Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

"God used that preparation time to teach me how to be passionate about following only His plans."

"Becoming more than a good Bible study girl means waiting for God's timing, waiting for the good He is working in us. And when we're ready to move forward, becoming a good Bible study girl means remembering to help those coming along just behind us. This ensures that our calling is not just about us."

Lysa shares how she discovered a conference notebook left in the bathroom stall at a convention. She wrote in the notebook before turning it into 'lost and found'. The owner of the notebook, Tracey, was blown away that of 1500 women and hundreds of bathroom stalls, both her and Lysa's paths crossed in divine ways. The entire encounter was solely supernatural by God. Lysa's comment in the notebook was the confirmation Tracey needed with a concern heavy on her for several months.

"The more we follow Jesus, the more we fall in love with Him, want to obey Him, experience life with Him, and become a beacon of light to others through Him."

Like Lysa says, I am one of those many people thinking God's plan will come in one lump assignment, one that is so obvious to me. But she believes "that discovering our purpose will unfold slowly like a seed planted deep in the ground." Just like the seed, our purpose "is revealed through embracing each and every circumstance God brought its way." Read that again. Embracing. Each. Every. God. Brought. Our way. He's allowed it; let's embrace it. It's a tough request but one we must do to completely fulfill His plan.

We shouldn't settle for less than what God has for us. And if we are truly trusting God, we will accept and desire His way, knowing it's the best.

Obedient to His Word.
In tune to His Voice.

God doesn't ask us to do great things but just to be greatly devoted to Him.

If you have more to share on your blog, please use MckLinky below to hook up. I would greatly welcome any comments even if you are not doing the study. You don't have to be reading this book to share your wisdom and insight to this post.


© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sensing Him; Seeing Him

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays as I temporarily host for sweet Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Chapter 15 A Glorious Sense of Possibility

Lysa begins by sharing an experience of delays in her flight to a speaking engagement. Upon several encounters the finally made another flight. Helped by a stranger. Void of any more delays. Many things that to the human eye can appear as coincidence or good luck. But Lysa saw much more.

For me personally, I don’t see anything as coincidence but rather Godincidences. A word I thought I created a couple years ago until I saw it used by someone a few months ago.

The word seek can be found numerous times in the Word. One of my favorites is one usually overlooked by its close neighbor, Jeremiah 29:11. You will seek Me and find me when you seek Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 “To see God means to actively look for Him and anticipate His activity in everything.” [my emphasis] To anticipate means to expect, believe, know that God is working in all areas of our lives.

If Lysa could give every woman only one gift it would be “to glimpse God throughout their days—the miraculous mixed with the mundane. This would radically change the way we think, the way we process, and certainly the degree to which we trust God.” The possibility of seeing God. The evidence of His activity. Knowing God without any evidence is an awesome gift. But to see evidence of His activity in our lives is superb. It is the whip cream and cherry on our delicious hot fudge sundae.

A fellow speaker of Proverbs 31 and friend of Lysa’s, Whitney Capps, had a forty foot pole-climb experience that went much further than a physical exertion. As she stopped just 12 inches from the top and tempted to give up, she determined to continue. She did but then fell. Whitney learned that she has little spiritual stamina and stops short of a full-on devotion to God. How many times do we all do that? We set out with a new devotional reading plan, a new Bible study, a new routine with God, and a few weeks into it something happens. The discipline is broken and we fall back into a disrupted devotion.

Whitney goes on to say “I’m not disappointed that I fell in the last second. I’m glad that I didn’t believe the lies that ‘close was close enough.’ The difference between emotion and devotion may only be a few inches, but the view is dramatically different. Emotion can get you near the top, but that’s about it. Only devotion lets you experience a view so grand it takes your breath away.” Lysa questions why we aren’t more “compelled, convinced, and concerned with pursuing God more wholeheartedly.” That word always perks my ears as I’ve been asking for several months for a wholehearted devotion and an undivided heart.

Has God’s commands-->Obeys them­-->Love Jesus-->Loved by God-->Loved by Jesus-->Sees Jesus.
Our personal road map. Atlas. Mapquest. McNally.

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. John 14:21

Whoever = everybody. Regardless of church attendance. Regardless of Bible knowledge. Regardless of past actions.

Has my commands and obeys them. His commands are in His Word. The greatest command being to love God with all we have. Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength. The second being to love others. (Mark 12:30-31) If we have a wholehearted devotion to God, filled with loving Him and others, it’s hard to lie, steal, cheat, hurt, etc.

He is the one who loves me. Who is he? Who is this person? The one who has God’s commands and obeys them. There is a direct relationship between our obedience and love. Our obedience is an act that shows our love for God. God wants to be loved. The One who is love. The One who loves. Yet, He still wants to be loved. He desires our love. He desires my love.

He who loves me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him. This is not a possibility but reality. It doesn’t say I might love you and I might show Myself. There’s no possible in it. I will love you and show Myself to you. If we obey Him, it will show our love for Him. If we love Him, we will obey Him. It’s not out of obligation but out of desire. Yes, a desire to obey God unlike a child obeying a parent out of obligation or even fear. Our love for God will compel us to obey Him.

Do you “dare to believe that Jesus would love to show Himself to you? Wouldn’t it make your soul come alive like never before to see evidence of His presence constantly and consistently all around you?” [my emphasis]

Lysa says “I can hardly go through anything in life without seeing God’s hand in it.” My mind is meditating on that. I know God’s hand is on my life and every area. However, I struggle with seeing His hand in certain situations. I can’t see what He’s doing in that conversation, in that relationship, in that emotional low. Yet I know He is, though I don’t see the details of His work. Maybe that’s it. Maybe me being such a detail-oriented person I’m looking for details and He doesn’t want me to focus that small? But then the supposed ‘happenstances’ and the ‘coincidences’--the Godincidences--of life are detailed. TMI…too much information on my complex mind for my precious readers.

Lysa hits the nail on the head with “what if an experience I attribute to God isn’t from Him at all?” That is so me. Sometimes it can be so gray in discerning His hand, satan’s scheme, or my flesh.

However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.1 Corinthians 2:9-10

“If only you will open up your heart to the possibilities for Him to use everyday things to change you, grow you, strengthen you, and remind you of His amazing love…You will start to see Him. You will start to hear Him. You will get to know Him more deeply. And you will want to follow Him more boldly. And what a glorious sense of possibility that is!”

If you have more to share on your blog, please use MckLinky below to hook up. I would greatly welcome any comments even if you are not doing the study. You don't have to be reading this book to share your wisdom and insight to this post.

Sensing Possibilities,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"I Like Me"

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays as I temporarily host for sweet Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Chapter 14 Learning to Simply Like Me

As I read that title I thought 'Oh no! Yeah right!' Let's say I don't have a surplus of self-esteem and liking myself. But I do have more self-esteem than I've probably ever had in 35 years.

Lysa spoke of the unique spelling of her name and what comes with that. My niece's name is Maya so we know too well how hard it is to find things with that spelling. Lysa is such a hoot; one of the reasons I adore her so much. "I had a bubble lettered homemade sign on my knock-off Huffy. Nothing speaks cool like an index card surrounded by duct tap flapping in the breeze as you blaze the trails of childhood." I know about homemade, hand-me-down, make-it-your-own, kind of childhood. We weren't living in plenty either.

I dido exactly what Lysa says here: "I have had to learn to appreciate my own uniqueness and, over time, have grown to like myself." Faults and flaws...God can make them florish.

Lysa shares the counter sides of Matthew 22:39 and Matthew 16:24-26. The debate of whether we should love ourselves. Instead we should learn "how to make peace with who we are so that feelings of insecurity don't become a distraction to living our faith out loud." A distraction. Not liking who we are can actually distract us from the main thing: living the Gospel and spreading the Gospel.

Have you ever gotten a necklace tangled up so bad it takes forever to fix? That's exactly what the self-distracting thoughts do to our hearts: Entangle. Entanglements of self-distracting thoughts.

Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Hebrews 12:1

That means we are to throw off the thoughts of ourselves that distract, hinder, and entangle. How? Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:2

Our eyes can't be fixed on ourselves and Jesus both. "Many of us spend years trying to hide or fix what we perceive as personal flaws." [my emphasis] Ahem. Perceive. Oh, how much of me I have perceived as flaws of mine. I still do. Super sensitive. Inquisitive. Very Curious. Just a few that come to mind.

Lysa tells us to think of things less appealing in us and how Jesus can use those for our good. I'm still baffled how He can use my curiosity and inquisitiveness. Yes, I gain knowledge (assuming my questions get answered) but how much does it bother those on whom I impose questions? Do others see it as me being interested or as a bother? I'm just talking this out but I know that I don't need to know how He will use my less appealing qualities but just know He will.

"Jesus would love for us to see ourselves as a package deal of unique qualities that He saw as necessary for the life He's calling us to live." A package deal you say? Necessary. My flaws and less appealing qualities are necessary for His calling on my life. Really? Hmm...seems I'd be better off without my irritating, damaging, inflicting flaws. But God knows best. He works it all out for our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)

In addition to our self-distracting thoughts, we need to avoid past distractions. That is, those hurts, struggles, and trials from our past that distract, entangle, and hinder us.

Lysa's abortion early in life was one such thing for her. This statement is rolling around my mind regarding my own life mess ups. "Up until that point [abortion], the things that brought hurt in my life were caused by others. But the abortion was a choice I made myself." There is such a sense of guilt when we inflict pain by our choices, even those we don't even realize we are making. Revisiting the past pain, guilt, and regret is like continually banging our head on the wall. "We can't move forward with God when our past keeps pulling us down."

I leave you with the closing remarks of this chapter in full because it's so good. It's like an equation in my analytical, logical, mathematical mind.

"The more we see our life's purpose unfold,
the more we'll be secure in the person God created us to be.

The more we become secure in the person God has created us to be,
the more we'll be able to make peace with liking who we are.

The more we make peace with liking who we are,
the more we will be able to untangle self-distracting thoughts.

The less entangled we are,
the more effective we'll be for Christ.

And we'll start to see how we are
becoming more than just a good Bible study girl."

If you have more to share on your blog, please use MckLinky below to hook up. I would greatly welcome any comments even if you are not doing the study. You don't have to be reading this book to share your wisdom and insight to this post.

Trying to Simply Like Me,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What To Do

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays as I temporarily host for sweet Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Chapter 13 What Do I Do When I Don't Feel God?
"Alone, misguided thoughts seem benign. But piled on top of one another, they clog up everything...I need to let God peel away the layers of untrue thoughts...move past wishful thinking for a deeper walk with God to the real thing."
What does the word "chosen" bring to mind? Years ago, school years and adult years, it would have reminded me how I'm never chosen, never picked for the gym activity, never picked as the friend, never picked for the recognition, never picked for the job, never picked to be the girlfriend.
Now, I think of God and His chosen ones. I think of how I am one of those chosen. It's not instant nor come natural to believe: He gives individual attention; He pauses to spend time with me; He sees me as unique. But in this journey of faith, I can stand tall knowing and saying confidently I AM chosen by God Almighty. Though I don't really know why...going back to that not-chosen, not-picked mentality, that says there's nothing worthy of choosing.
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12 I find it no coincidence that this was also the verse of the day on air1.com for Monday, the day I typed this.
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19
In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will. Ephesians 1:11
Chosen. Picked. Specifically. Purposefully.
Since love is not a feeling, we don't have to feel love to love someone. Therefore, love exists regardless of our feelings. "God never meant for us to feel our way to Him." We are to love our way to Him.
I would guess that everyone in their Christian walk would say they felt God distant or not there at least once, if not more, in their walk. The key to that fallible thought is feel, feeling. "When I process life through my feelings, I am left deceived and disillusioned. When I process life through God's truth, I am divinely comforted by His love and made confident in His calling on my life."
How many times have we also said we don't feel close to God? Again, God is always close to us, as close as a whisper, as close as a breath. Lysa says instead "God is close, and if I choose to be close back, He'll rearrange my feelings."

Rearrange me, Lord. Rearrange my feelings, Lord.

I've read many books on the subject of love and the resounding truth is this: we must choose to love and the feelings will follow. Upon God's disclosure of this truth, I can no longer accept the excuse from others or from myself that "I don't love him; He doesn't love her." We DO love and then we feel love. Period. It's a command to love. There is no choice. We can't say I don't have love feelings for her. I don't feel love for her. We just do it. This applies to our relationship with God also. We must purposefully choose to love God and be close to Him and the heart will follow with the feelings of love and closeness.

Make a choice despite the feelings.

Lysa shares her journey of how she began running little bits at a time until it developed into a desire and habit. But running is still a choice she has to make every day even when the desire to stay in bed is strong. Her friend chuckled upon hearing this because she thought it had become effortless. Though some days are easier than others, none are effortless. The same is true for our relationship with Christ (and other humans for that matter). Some days are easier than others to make the time to spend with God. But every day takes effort and an intentional choice to make time amongst the busyness.

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. Psalm 27:4
Pause. Wait. Dwell. Seek.

No time with God should ever be counted as loss.
"If we make the choice to ask for God's revelation and help, He will not leave us empty-handed or empty-hearted."

Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk inYour truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name. Psalm 86:11

Since finishing Beth Moore's study, A Heart Like His, several weeks ago, I have been praying for an undivided heart and a wholehearted devotion.

"It's making the choice to recognize God is close."

If you have more to share on your blog, please use MckLinky below to hook up. I would greatly welcome any comments even if you are not doing the study. You don't have to be reading this book to share your wisdom and insight to this post.

Making the Choice,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Admitting: He Can Hurt My Feelings

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays as I temporarily host for sweet Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Chapter 12: When God Hurts My Feelings

Hmmm...was my first thought upon reading this chapter's title. Because one of my flaws is being super sensitive...a curse and a blessing. Lysa says it best. "I don't know another way to say this, so I'll just shoot straight. Sometimes God hurts my feelings. Now, hear me out. I don't mean this in an irreverent way. I very much know my place, and I very much have a holy reverence for God. But tiptoeing around my gut reactions and pretending to be just fine-fine-fine with everything that comes my way doesn't pave an authentic connection between my heart and God's." God already knows our thoughts so He already know our feelings are hurt...hurt by Him. Admitting it begins healing and freedom.

I'm very bold in nature. Again, a blessing and a hurdle. Sometimes I am too bold and it takes discernment when to hold back and just zip it. Zip it shut and nip it. Nip it in the bud. "It's just that the bolder I am with pouring out my heart to Him, the bolder He is with His responses to me." So, I don't have to hold back my boldness with God. Like Lysa, I want God to be bold to help me discern between His voice speaking to me and my own. Much of my turmoil is not knowing when He is speaking and when it's simply me, especially in those desires that can be godly. God's boldness can enable us to look at things from His point of view.

When the painful situation of rejection and disappointment from losing a project turned into full-blown bitterness, Lysa went to God with her anger in boldness and she received the same in return. Not anger, but boldness.

Misperceptions. Sin-clouded views. Stubborn refusal.

"He addressed my misperceptions about the situation by helping me to see it from another perspective." It is so easy to do and we must remember God makes good out of bad. We never know when He is doing a work in the other person and not just us. He can make up for any loss.

"He helped me to see how sin clouded my view and that I was refusing to acknowledge my part." Sin...anger, bitterness, self-absorption. Often our view is clouded by what we think we deserve and what we think is "ours" whether it be opportunities or rights. The "mine" mentality.

"He showed me my stubbornness and my refusal to extend grace in my effort to prove I was right." Ouch. We want to be right. We want to see justice and fairness. Our flesh has this nasty temptation to want those who've hurt us to feel the same hurt. Maybe it's really a cry for our hurt to be acknowledged and understood by the "offender" inflicting the pain. But it's not our place to judge and withhold forgiveness or grace. What if God withheld forgiveness? Oh wait, He does if we withhold forgiveness. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:15 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Mark 11:25 [my emphasis]

Hurting people hurt people.

Every hurt is an opportunity to grow. A lesson to be learned. A step to be strengthened. Our character to be shaped in Christ's likeness. Sometimes "the hurt comes in the form of a loss that cuts into your heart so viciously it forever redefines who you are and how you think." Lysa calls it deep grief "that strains against everything you've believed. So much so you wonder how the promises that seemed so real on those thin Bible pages yesterday could ever possibly stand up under the weight of your enormous sadness today." I couldn't have said it better. The weight does seem so enormous, too enormous even for our Mighty God to lift. Lysa later says "It's understandable, really. We are told from an early age that God can do anything, and we've read the stories about Jesus helping people. But how do we process such beliefs in the face of loss?...the loss of any kind hurts."

Processing this really is supernatural and takes the power of the Holy Spirit within us. There's no other way to wrap our minds around a God who can do anything but not save our loss. As Lysa says, it really is a matter of not focusing on the why. It is a natural reaction of our heart and mind to ask why. The danger is letting those questions manifest anger in us and push us away from God. "Trying to come to grips with the fact that God could have prevented this grief but didn't is a bit like trying to catch the wind and turn it into something visible."

I never thought about it but listen to what Lysa says here. "If God gave us His reason why, we would judge Him. And His reasons, from our limited perspective, would always fall short. That's because our flat human perceptions simply can't process God's multidimensional, eternal reasons." Isn't that true? He could give us a reason but would that satisfy us or would it just cause us to ask "but why?" Can't You, Lord, fulfill Your plan in another? Yes, His reasons would fall short because we would always find a reason to do it differently or another way He could fulfill it.

I find it no coincidence that after discussing deep grief, inability to understand, and questions of why, that Lysa quotes the verse of my blog. The verse I try to claim, as in try to focus on my life being in His hands and being done in His ways and not mine. I do not have the mind of God nor the understanding of God. But I must trust His ways to truly be so much better than what my small, lateral mind can fathom. Trust me, it's a daily reminder because I can see my plan working well and bringing God glory. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

His scope is wider. His thoughts are more complete. "He is more capable of accurately discerning what is best in every circumstance." I need to tape that to my forehead. It's not at all that I don't believe it but rather I know He doesn't infringe upon our free will. So, is His best occurring in my life if He's not able to have free reign and able to give me His best because He won't infringe upon the free will of others? His character won't invade free will.

Asking why to our deep grief can still make us feel God had made an awful mistake. So Lysa suggests we instead ask what. "Now that this has happened, what am I supposed to do with it?" [my emphasis]

"Good can come from any loss if we make the choice not to resist the birthing process required to bring this good to life." And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Every loss takes time. Time to see the good, even if only morsels at first. "It takes being caught off guard when you catch yourself smiling, only to realize it's okay." It's easy for me to make funnies because it's who I am and I desire to make others laugh (including myself). But when that laugh comes from deep inside and brings a sense of peace and joy, even for that moment, that is what catches me off guard. In addition to time, it takes prayer and "making the decision to stop asking for answers and start asking for perspective." Hmmm.

This chapter has really hit me in some good places...in some places of pondering. It's reinforced and shown me to:
♥ always trust God's plan
♥ be on guard for unforgiveness
♥ be bold in my pain to God

If you have more to share on your blog, please use MckLinky below to hook up. I would greatly welcome any comments even if you are not doing the study. You don't have to be reading this book to share your wisdom and insight to this post.

Seeking the Good, Releasing the Hurt,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Get Your Groove On

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays as I temporarily host for sweet Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Chapter 11: How Jesus Helps Me Get My Groove Back

"It's ironic that when we set out to help others, we are often the ones who receive the greatest gift." I can't help but to think it's no coincidence nor ironic but rather how God designed it. If you will, the 'reward' for giving is to be blessed in return.

That is exactly what happened to Lysa when she and other Proverbs 31 gals went to Ecuador. She visited a woman who has five children with her husband living in a dark cavern called home with a kitchen, bedroom, dirt floors, rock walls, fire pit, two cots, and cardboard box-repaired-ceilings. When Lysa asked how to pray for her, she said for her husband to know Jesus, him to find work, and her to have strength to care for her family. She did not ask for her circumstance to be changed but rather "simply for God's provision in the midst of her circumstances." Like Lysa, when we set out to give, we get.

There's nothing more likely to humble us over our petty complaining than such a visit and encounter. However, life happens and the effect of the experience fades. Lysa entered an emotional funk, asking "God to please interrupt my feelings with His truth." That's genius. I love that request. Interrupt my feelings, Lord and shed Your truth on me. And God did just that for Lysa with a one-word answer: thanksgiving. Lysa began listing the things that brought thanks "and the more I verbalized what I was thankful for, the less cloudy my heart felt." The most basic things, for which we should be so grateful, are the very things we so easily take for granted. Running water. Electricity. Laundry. Car for easy transport. Money for groceries. Refrigerator to store food. Messes. Constant Interruptions. The very basic let alone the luxuries. Cell phones. Computers. Televisions. Abundance of clothes. To mention only a few. And at the end of it we should always find: thanksgiving.

"Thanksgiving is the very way Jesus helps us get our groove back."

Praising will defeat our uglies and thanking will defeat our bad attitudes. "The uglies cause us to lash out; an attitude funk causes us to shut down." As if that weren't enough... "Bad attitudes breed bad attitudes. Grumpy hearts breed more grumpy hearts. Ungratefulness breeds ungratefulness." The opposite can be true also. Good things will breed more good. So praising God breeds more praising. The more we praise the more we find for which to give God praise. The more we thank God the more we recognize to be thankful. "And a person who daily practices both praising and thanking has a rare joy that very few people posses."

"A person whose life is characterized by constant praise and thanksgiving despite their circumstances will shift from just verbalizing their praise and thanksgiving to living it out loud through their courageous stance for Christ."

When reading that quote, I think of Paul who lived contently in prison or Job who had everything taken. But it is also an illustration of the lives of Peter and John. In the book of Acts, they healed the crippled beggar, who went to the temple daily begging for help. Pleading. He wasn't given a second look or thought by passersby. Upon seeing Peter and John, he asked them for money. They looked straight at him and Peter said "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Acts 3:6 And indeed he did walk. He jumped to his feet. Can you imagine? I admit if I saw this today, I'd be filled with doubt. My analytical, logical mind would want it explained. Furthermore, if the person to tell me that it was by the power of Jesus, I'd about even more. Not that I doubt Jesus' power but the world today is filled with many prophesying to have such power like B*nny H*nn. Why can't I believe He heals by men today yet I have no doubt that Peter and John healed in Jesus' name. The onlookers at this time were shocked, astonished, and surprised. Peter and John clearly stated it was not by their own power that this man walked.

Isn't it amazing that despite the strong opposition and subsequent jailing, many believed . 5000 many. God was still sitting in His glory. He was not defeated by the nay-sayers and doubters. "When they [rulers and elders] saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13 [emphasis added]

Wow. It was so apparent to others, to doubters, that they had been with Jesus. Can others tell I've been with Jesus? Is Jesus overflowing out of me so others can see Him and feel Him during my ordinary day? "We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." Acts 4:20 They could not help but share Jesus. Is that my attitude or am I concerned with the fear? With being frustrated and grumpy? With my own daily routine?

I believe the Lord to be One filled with much grace, understanding an attitude of thanksgiving and praise is not born over night. Remember, where Peter was at one time...he denied knowing Christ. "They were inconvenienced and threatened in ways I can't even fathom. And yet their response was to boldly proclaim from their praise-filled, thankful hearts...It was the overflow of their lives and it became the routine of their lives." [emphasis added]

That routine overflow is how Jesus helps us get our groove back. Groove is defined as 'a fixed routine.'

"What is the fixed routine or natural inclination of our heart? Is it thanksgiving and praise as we see and count the blessings of our life? Or is it grumbling and complaining because we see our blessings as constant burdens to bear?"

I very much dido what Lysa says. "How I long to be like the apostles who were so consumed with thanksgiving that people took note they'd been with Jesus." [my emphasis]

♥ Overflowing evidence
♥ Intentionally verbalize
♥ Practice thanksgiving
♥ Live it out loud
♥ Breeds more thanksgiving
♥ Natural groove of our heart

If you have more to share on your blog, please use MckLinky below to hook up. I would greatly welcome any comments even if you are not doing the study. You don't have to be reading this book to share your wisdom and insight to this post.

Getting My Groove On,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Power of Praise in the Uglies

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays as I temporarily host for sweet Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Chapter 10 When My Ugly Comes Out

Lysa is all about everyday struggles. She is so real and experiences the same basic daily struggles as us. What happens to you when you discover every piece of laundry has red splotches from lipstick? Lysa admits what happens to her...tenderly referenced as her uglies. "Suddenly you'd never know I have been to church the past five Sundays in a row. My flesh just rises up, ushers my good Bible study self right out of the laundry room, and strips from my mind ever verse on patience I've ever memorized. I default to acting like a crazy woman. Crazy, I tell you. It's the kind of crazy that makes me awake at night and vow to do better. But then it happens again, and the shame, guilt, and feelings of yuck make me pull back from God and deem myself a failure."

When life gets messy, real messy, too messy, we can get ugly. Lysa is woman enough to admit it. So after life got messy, inconvenient, ill-timed and ill-tempered, Lysa turned to the real help she wanted. Jesus. And prayed. "Block me from acting how I feel like acting, and show me how to diffuse my frustration and anger." I love this because I so needed this in past times of extreme frustration and anger that caused the ugliest of uglies to be revealed, regrettably revealed.

After her prayer, Lysa received an email asking for prayer for the family of a fellow author and blogger who lost her battle with cancer. This stirred many thoughts in Lysa as it would all of us as we recognize the fragility of life and the importance of what transpires between the dashes (birth and death).

Lysa was blessed in making the connection between her spoken prayer and God's direct answer to it. "I suddenly realized that God is always present, always aware, always available, and always actively participating in our lives if only we'll make the choice to see Him--really see Him." That is awesome. I love that statement, don't you?!

An excellent example to follow in our ugly moments is from Psalm 103:1-5. Praise the Lord as He: Forgives us. Heals us. Redeems us. Loves us. Satisfies us. Strengthens us.

God probably couldn't feel further away from all of us than when our ugly appears. However, it's not that He left us at all but rather we've left Him; we've left His commands. Even in that, we are still not left without His grace. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 We should run after Him, seeking and receiving His mercy and grace to aid us and our uglies. We don't run to Him after we've corrected our ugly moment but rather in that moment so He can correct us, cleanse us, help us, and love us.

Lysa says it best, and sweetly. "Grace is the sugar that helps the bitter pills of confession and repentance go down without choking." Bitter and BIG pills. Though repentance is freeing it is still very bitter and big. It's very difficult to realize not that we've just done wrong but that we've done wrong against God Almighty.

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times: praise, praise, praise. There is power, purpose, and presence in praise. His power is released in praise. His presence is clear in praise. His purpose is revealed in praise. Lysa shares three life-changing words: "Praise the Lord" or in the world of texting and abbreviations that would be PTL. "Praise is the key that releases God's character back into even the ugliest of attitudes and darkest of situations."

Praise --> His Presence --> Fruit of His character.
God inhabits the praises of His people. (paraphrased from Psalm 22:3 KJV)

Lysa points out the obvious, we don't feel like or even want to praise God in our ugly moments. But just as we don't feel like saying no to that double-chocolate-fudgy-nut-caramel-cake, we have to make a conscious effort to resist it. We must also make a choice to praise.

Gratitude and praise are not the same. We need not be grateful for the bad circumstances but rather praise God for being in the midst of them. Despite the cancer, the financial troubles, the job loss, or the deteriorating home, we praise God for His sovereignty, His control, His provision.

I admit I operate much in my feelings and emotions. I am an extremely sensitive person, too sensitive unfortunately. It's like a double-edged sword or better yet a rose bush with thorns. There is good and bad to being a sensitive soul. Like Lysa says, "when we choose to operate in the sovereignty of God, we are choosing to operate in the power and authority of God." There is no greater place to be. NONE! We will never live with more power and authority than when we live in His sovereignty. No position, no amount of money, no status, will ever give us this kind of power and authority.

We must make praise a discipline, practicing it over and over, forming it into a natural habit.

Lysa suggest five areas which can make us susceptible to ugly situations and the uglies just spewing out of us. Not enough sleep, not enough time, not enough boundaries, too much sin, not enough fun events.

We should ask:
Am I overly tired?
Am I overly committed?
Have I compromised some of my healthy boundaries lately?
Is there sin in my life I'm avoiding?
Do I have things on my calendar to look forward to?

If you have more to share on your blog, please sign up using MckLinky below.

Praising Through the Uglies,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Words: Life or Death

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays as I temporarily host for sweet Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Chapter Nine "Corss My Heart and Close My Mouth"

Lysa shares that during the last few steps of childhood she had a secret. One she desperately wanted to share with Sally. Yet, she wondered if it would come back to bite her in the butt more or less. Sally proved faithful and trustworthy as she never shared Lysa's secret of her crush on...a...boy.

I've learned to be very cautious in what I share because I do fear that my words would be used against me as they have in the past.

"A friend who guards her words is a gift."

Trust. Loyalty. Secrets kept. Secret not shared.

Words. Spoken by a friend.
Lift up. Encouraged to achieve.
Tear down. Rendered powerless.

Lysa admits this to be one of the most challenging issues when becoming more than a good Bible study girl. It is this exact topic that is such an important lesson Jesus teaches us. A new command I give you: love one another. As I loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35

No choice. No option. A command. Not a little. Not some. Not when I want. Love as I have loved. And He loved to the Cross.

"For others to meet the reality of Jesus in our lives, we must be women of carefully chosen words. What comes out of our mouths is a tell tale sign of who we are, who we serve, and what we truly believe." Wow...that makes me really consider my every word, every gesture, every action.

So what does this mean? What does it require of us? A conviction in our heart and a denial of temptation in our teeth. Lysa shares it requires us to:
♥ Refuse to gossip
♥ Choose not to judge
♥ Be secure in our unique calling

Lysa wrote of how her friend, Holly, gave her a priceless gift. "She committed to me that she would never say anything dishonoring about me. It was more than just a commitment to me; it was a covenant promise she'd made with God." This verbalized commitment led the way to build a "beautiful trust rare between women." And if you have this trust with any female friends, hang onto it with dear life never letting it go.

"Gossip. Hurtful. Careless. Alluring. Easy to slip into. Hard to walk away from."

"If we just assume we won't be tempted to gossip, we are fooling ourselves and potentially setting ourselves up for trouble." The Bible teaches us many things about our words. James speaks a lot about our words including the infamous passage about our tongues in James 3. Lysa says three crucial rules taught in the Bible are put to action when we "verbalize to a friend that she can trust we will never betray her."

1~ Guard your tongue to keep out of trouble. (Proverbs 21:23)
2~ Limit your words to be wise. (Proverbs 10:19)
3~ Use your words to validate your relationship with the Lord, not negate it.
"I've found that the fewer the words I speak, the more intentional I can be with the words I do say."

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. James 1:26

"If we don't keep a keen watch on our words, we appear like hypocrites whose Jesus does not work." Ouch is right.

Uncontrolled thoughtless conversation. I feel like there is a sense of lack of control because my brain doesn't have time to fully process before speaking. I believe this is why I am such a better written communicator. The time it takes to write/type is enough for me to process. I'm not one that has to proof, re-read, and change. (I rarely do.) I don't mean to portray that my words and conversations are careless, negative, or destructive. Rather, just rambling and not as tight a ship as my perfectionist mind would like.

"We can say nothing but still harbor a judgmental spirit, and being judgmental is often what fuels gossip in the first place."

Melanie Chitwood of Proverbs 31 Ministries wrote this: "I've been thinking lately about how easy it is to judge others or to think I have the answers for them...In a nutshell, I can be self-righteous, just like the Pharisees. God is challenging me to examine my spoken and unspoken judgments of others. He wants us to come alongside others and help carry their burdens, rather than add to them with our criticism."

While looking for a verse I had in mind (Galatians 2), I found this one, poignantly relating to Melanie's references of the Pharisees. Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. Luke 11:26

It is so very easy to judge and not even realize it's a judgment: an assumption that what another person is doing is wrong. It is the 'should' statements. She should do that. She should not allow that. She should be this. It is what we think is right or wrong. We have to choose to not judge. We have to "refuse to be judgmental and rain down love instead."

Though the Pharisees adherence to God's law is admirable, with that obeying they judged harshly and loved little. Judging is sinning. The Pharisees did it. We do it. Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of saw dust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:1-3

We can judge in our hearts without it ever being spoken or shared. That infraction is no different and causes the same end result from God. Lysa shares how we can try to disguise judgment as just being boldly honest with someone. Yet, we have to earn that privilege to be boldy honest and have a level of friendship that can handle it. Lysa says it best about her friendship with Renee Swope. "We've made so many positive deposits in each other's lives that we have room for constructive criticism without the threat of bankrupting our friendship."

"When we are truly humble, we are less likely to be judgmental."

Lysa shares how an encounter with a friend at the grocery store began hurtful but resulted in security of her calling. Lysa told the friend she needed to help her child with a project because she'd be away at a conference. The friend's tone changed and she said "I don't know how you can possibly be okay with leaving your kids like that." Twist knife, jab harder, and pull out. I recall Lysa sharing this on her blog and how I hurt with her. To be judged and condemned for what God has called and equipped one to do.

I'm so very thankful such comments never deterred Lysa. Rather, such comments gave her yet another real life story to share with us and help us to grow. She is such a huge, huge blessing to so many. Listen to what Jesus says and revealed to Lysa that day. I tell you the truth no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much. Luke 18-29-30.

Though Lysa may have wanted to blast "grocery-store judgment" woman and call her "meanie head" (in her heart only, of course), she chooses to call her "sister".

"As long as you are in the place God has called you and He's using you, then rest secure in that and let other's criticisms roll of your back...hard to do...but...freeing."

I'm so trying to do that and have God be my confidence and not seek it from anyone else. Though, my flesh does enjoy a little encouragement and signs of confirmation that I've understood His calling correctly.

"Be the kind of friend you desperately want. God will eventually honor your desire." Liz commented on my this post, "All I can do is be the best friend I know how to be and let God take care of the rest."

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 This verse has been on my list to memorize. Maybe the inclusion of it in this chapter will be the light to my fire to do it.

"We are uniquely designed to be drawn to certain people in friendship." I need to remember this as I struggle wondering if 'she' likes me and why we aren't as close friends as she is with 'her'. We aren't all designed to be bffs to each other. We aren't all designed to be great friends with every Sally, Joan, and Mary.

"A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are."

I would be so encouraged to hear your thoughts and read your comments. If you have more to say on this please use MckLinky and add your site.

This post is much longer than my normally long posts. However, there was so much good stuff in this chapter that I could not selfishly keep it to myself. (I even chose to cut out a few paragraphs.)

Cross my heart, close my mouth, I promise to love and honor you,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.