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.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'm Not Equipped for Hers

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 Eight "But I Want What She Has"

Lysa begins this chapter with a pure and grateful attitude she recalled as a child, a poor child. From her reflection she was content with a Barbie doll shoebox house instead of the pink plastic house, the neighborhood ditch instead of a metal swing set, one day at the beach instead of a week. The storebought pink plastic house was too confining when she had split levels in her shoe boxes. The ditch served as a Grand Canyon for leaping, a palace for high tea, or a swimming pool of water and mud. And, a day at the beach was enough time to get burned; any longer and they'd be overcooked. But then, Lysa's family moved into their own house and Lysa thought she'd died and gone to Heaven "until the day I realized we were poor." Wow. The beauty and gift of not knowing one is poor.

Lysa didn't realize this until the governor's daughter started attending her school. Lysa never dreamed they would have anything in common let alone ever be friends. Upon being invited to play at the governor's house, Lysa's mind whirled on the luxuries: gated, fenced, huge house, security, marbled floors, fancy artwork, and things named beyond her vocabulary. Interesting enough those didn't tug on Lysa's contented heart. "It was my friend's ability to get what she wanted when she wanted it that lured my heart away from feeling like the lucky girl I'd always been." Always been. What a bubble that should never be burst. I've had my discontentment, or rather wavering contentment, crushed by jealousy or envy of another let alone full contentment stolen.

Lysa began to notice things to which she had been oblivious: sheets, clothes, toys. She began to feel poor as she held herself and her life to that of another. Comparing ourselves gets us in so much trouble. I usually think I'm a nice dresser for work until one co-worker comes to campus every so often. Dressed to kill. Not necessarily fancy but always well put together. A natural style of classy. I hate feeling less than equal, less than classy, less than "in style".

"I did what too many people do when they build themselves up against another person and walk away feeling deprived: I started resenting my life. I stopped looking for the good in my situation or appreciating what I did have." I am so guilty of that. I don't appreciate enough my life and what God has done for me. "I'm blinded to what I do have in the face of what I lack."

Desiring something other than what I have leads to a discontented and ungrateful heart. I don't want to desire for more or anything other than what I have, but the flesh is strong. His Spirit is stronger though.

"Whenever I get an overly idyllic view of someone else's circumstances, I often remind myself out loud 'I am not equipped to handle what they have--both good and bad.' "

Wow. In the last 2 1/2 years I have so often looked at every married woman, and even mothers, and wanted what they had: a husband. Just to have a life partner, true love, and soul mate. Yet, I've often done what Lysa says. I speak out loud acknowledging that any of those wives could have a terrible husband and maybe even a hateful one. That wife may be living a life of compromise. And not in a good way but rather, a compromise of herself, her value, her faith. There are worse things than being single. There are worse things than waiting for a marriage to be restored. I ask myself 'are you sure about the last one, Paula?' Yes, it is a very painful phase of limbo.

"When I want the good things someone has, I must realize that I'm also asking for the bad that comes along with it." A package deal. The good, the bad, the ugly.

Good for them doesn't mean good for me.

We aren't all equipped to handle the same good nor the same bad. We don't have the same spirit and soul. We are all equipped differently to endure the good and bad of our own circumstances but not equipped for what "they" have.

Are your thoughts controlled? 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. NIV. For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ESV

I usually think of self-control in relation to actions, words, and emotions. Controlling our anger. Controlling our tongue. But where does our anger and tongue (words) start? It starts in our thought life before evolving to words verbalized.

Lysa is so right when she says "Too many of us live with an uncontrolled thought life." Thoughts are a choice. We can choose to combat negative, destructive thoughts and redirect them to positive, encouraging, and godly thoughts. Here's a great exercise from Lysa. "Think of something you want that someone else has. Have you ever been lured into thinking, 'If only I had ____________ like that person, my life would be great!' "

Well, yeah, I've thought that. I think that. More times than I care to admit especially when it comes to marriage and husbands. Oh, and an occasional physical body image thought. I'm nothing if I'm not honest. So now redirect those thoughts by saying:
"I am not equipped for her good.
I am not equipped for her bad.
I am not equipped to carry the weight of her victories.
I am not equipped to shoulder her burdens.
I am not equipped to be her in any way.
I am, however, perfectly equipped to be me.
Therefore, thank You, God for only entrusting me with what I have and who I am."

Did you catch that third line? Yes, victories have weight. Hmm.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

I find it no coincidence this scripture was preached on Sunday. So much rest is needed. A lighter burden desired. A yoke easier to bear.

Her burden is manageable because it's her burden for which she is equipped. Her burden placed on me could be detrimental, unbearable, and excruciating for me.

Please leave a comment and if you have more to say on your blog, please enter your name using MckLinky.

Equipped for Mine Only,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

He Loves Me: Does She Like Me?

UPDATE: I will be guest hosting the Yes to God Tuesdays online Bible studies as my sweet friend, Lelia, is unable at this time. I have participated in all but one of her studies over the last 18 months.

We've all done the pull-the-daisy petals: he likes me, he likes me not. We expect that to work. And, if it ends on he like me not, well there are do-overs. We do it over hoping for the opposite. As women don't we also do this with females? Am I the only one who wonders if a woman likes me and values my friendship? I've often felt my friendships were lopsided. That is, that I put more value, desire, and energy into the friendship than the other person.

Take a guess at the title of chapter seven in Becoming More. That's right..."She Likes Me, She Likes Me Not". Lysa shared her childhood dreams of pappagallo flats and madras shorts, changing her name to Buffy, and grosgrain hair ribbons. It all boiled down to "I just wanted to be accepted. By someone."

I wouldn't go back to grade school or high school for anything. Too much drama of not feeling accepted, girl "fights", and wanting to fit in.

When Lysa blogged on this topic, she received numerous comments from ladies feeling this way as an adult. Many women thought they were alone in their feelings, insecurities, and wanting to be accepted and liked. We are not alone! Women are creatures specifically created for relationships, female relationships, and girl friends.

I had not thought of this but Lysa says maybe we can never be totally rid of our insecurities. "If they press us to draw closer to God, the only secure thing, then healthy doses of insecurities might not be so bad." Though, those insecurities that distract and paralyze need to be addressed.
Lysa shares that to make peace with our feelings of inadequacy, we "must operate in God's love and operate with God's love."

*Operating IN God's Love*

"Operating in God's love means understanding how His love can redefine my natural thought processes." How? With God's Word. Meditating and soaking in His Word will transform our thoughts to align with His truth about us...depleting satan's lies. "I have retrained my brain so God's truths interrupt my negative thought patterns."

"Stop looking to others for validation." Does that hit others in the heart like it does me? I look to my supervisors to validate my value as an employee. I look to my readers to validate my ability to write. I look to my friends to validate my 'likeability'. I need to veer to God's Word in front of the negative thoughts to cut them off before they start. Kind of like cutting people off when I drive. Just joking!!

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken. Isaiah 4:10

"This comforting reality helps me to not shy away from hard things but to press into God's strength and operate with more courage."

Though we may not be accepted, nor liked, nor validated, we never escape the unfailing love of the Almighty One. A 10.0 earthquake won't shake His love for us.

Infallible. Stable. Reliable. Able despite us, what we do or don't do.

Meditation. Repetition. Of God's word, His thoughts, His truth.
"Until the truth seeps in and I can leave the petal-pulling behind."

*Operating WITH God's Love*

"Operating with God's love allows me to rest in a security beyond myself. It's okay that I'm insecure if it prompts me to rely on God more fully." God can show us the way to use our insecurities for our advantage. How? Insecurities can create sensitivity and discernment in us for others with insecurities. Through a hug, an encouraging word, a comment (ON THIS BLOG...wink wink), an email, or a card (remember those from way back in the postal days?)

Robert McGee, from The Search for Significance, says: "Loneliness is one of the most dangerous and widespread problems in America...Ninety-two percent of Christians attending a recent Bible conference admitted...feelings of loneliness were a major problem...sense of despair at feeling unloved...fear of being unwanted or unaccepted."

By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35

Allow God to use our insecurities and prompt us to love others more. "Really think about the simplicity of simply loving others and yet the absolute profound impact that it could make." Profound impact.

"One of satan's greatest tools to hold us back from telling the world about Christ is to get us to put our sense of security in the wrong place."

Look for the good. Judge less. Overlook rude actions. Be sensitive to those overlooked.

Insecurity is "a gift that should lead me to operate in God's love and with God's love."

Maybe we all need to join Lysa in replacing The Official Preppy Handbook with The Official Holy Bible.

I know that petal pushers (capris) are in style but let's not be petal pullers. Let's not focus on whether he or she likes us but that the Almighty One loves us.

Leave a comment and if you have more to say on your blog, please enter your name using MckLinky.

Letting God Rid Me of Petal-Pulling,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Picture is of the Ohio River.
To see more pictures visit my FB page.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lessons & Pineapples

After reading the first two pages of chapter six, the title is very fitting and makes perfect sense...Unlikely Lessons From a Pineapple. Probably like many people, Lysa feared the unknown of cutting a fresh pineapple to the extent that she would just not buy one. Until...until she watched a friend cut one. Then her world opened up, never to be the same again.

As a child I remember pineapples being a delicacy in our home because they were so expensive. I loved fresh pineapple but we didn't have the extra money for that. Then one day my mom bought me (us) one. I took a picture of it sitting in a chair, which I still have. I was one happy teenager.

Lysa didn't know how to cut a pineapple so she just never bought one. She uses this as a great analogy for how she first looked at studying the Bible...from afar. Choosing canned pineapple over fresh. Choosing to read books about the Bible over studying the Bible.

I would guess many of us find reading someone's experiences and thoughts on the Word to be easier than studying and learning straight from the Bible. It can be an intimidating Book but a Book which without we can't live. We should breath it.

Learning facts versus learning life applications. "Becoming more than a good Bible study girl means pursuing God's truth so passionately that it actually becomes part of our nature."

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22 Make a habit of applying God's Word.

"Knowing God's Word and doing what it says not only saves us from heartbreak and trouble, it also brings more satisfaction to our souls more than anything else ever could."

Security and satisfaction.

It's not just reading but applying God's Word. Actually, dare I say that reading becomes null and void if it's not applied? We can buy a fresh pineapple but if we don't crack it open, it becomes rotten and inedible. If we don't fully eat the Word, we are not filled with it.

"If people ever say Jesus and His biblical truths don't work, I am quick to ask how consistently they've applied what they've read. People fail; truth never does."

Lysa shares and reflects on the story of David and Goliath. I just finished A Heart Like His by Beth Moore so the life of David is still very fresh in my heart.

But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Convicting for sure.

"Allowing the traits of biblical characters to cause us to do some introspective thinking will deepen our study and make what we're learning more applicable to our lives." And applying Scripture to our lives is what it is all about. Applying not just reading. It's hard, I know.

And we know our heart, and thus our character, is top priority to God. I've often asked God, if there is more He needs to do in my heart and character while I wait on Him and my desire of restoration, then please do so. I know that He has work to do on both parties before He can restore.

Lysa shares how any time something seems out of order in Scripture that we should stop and look deeper, asking why? Why was David overlooked? Why was he not even considered by his father when Samuel came searching for a king?

David didn't look like a king. He didn't smell like a king. He wasn't positioned for a king. But David had the heart God was seeking. A heart like His. Is there anything greater to be called?

"Overlooked by everyone, but handpicked by God." Wow! One pivotal fact about David but one we can also apply to our lives and thus change the outlook on our own lives. Others may reject me. Others may step over me for the task. Others may overlook me when choosing love. Others may put me last on their list of friends. But, God will always choose me. God has chosen me. God has handpicked me with His Almighty Hands.

That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthian 12:10

Often when we are rejected and overlooked it is because God has chosen and handpicked us. When I am weak (or rather feel weak), He makes me strong. He makes me capable!

After being chosen as king, David was sent right back from where he came--tending his sheep. Why? To wait. A tough place for sure. "Waiting can sometimes consume a person with questions, wants, and worries." Amen, sister. I thought I was alone in asking, wanting, and worrying while I wait. I can't help but to think at least David knew he would be king one day while he waited. That had to make the wait better, didn't it? Unfortunately, I've not heard such a clear and strong call on my heart. I can only go with what I feel my convictions to be...but no clear promise as with David's anointing. What I wouldn't give to hear His call and assurance while I'm waiting. Even more than that, David wasn't ever bothered by the wait. I guess I can somewhat understand that. If I knew something was going to happen, as David did with his kingship, I think I could wait more patiently.

David didn't wonder, resist, or doubt. David rested knowing this was "the right place for right now." I believe that for myself...that is God must have a purpose and therefore this has to be the right place for right now, but only for now. I believe in His purpose of my waiting and my unfulfilled desires deep within my heart. But it doesn't seem to sooth the ache any more.

He makes me lie down in green pastures [rest]
He leads me beside quiet waters [reflection]
He restores my soul [restoration]
He guides me in paths of righteousness [right choices]
for His name's sake [it is all about God, not about David]
Psalm 23:2-3

"David chose to resist the temptation of discontentment by seeing the greater good of this waiting period."

When David finally faces Goliath, it is the training in his every day life that prepares him to fight and defeat Goliath. "God can use the tasks of my everyday life to deliver my character to the point that it matches my calling."

"Never again settle for the canned version of anything."
Ain't that the truth, especially for this fresh-fruit-lovin gal.

Trying to Learn His Lessons,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Time With God: A Privilege

In Becoming More, Lysa opens chapter five, "Devotion Time Blues", by telling us of the stressful preparation for her sister's visit. High on that list of stress was discovering a mattress floating in her pond, visible for all to see.

It's no secret that if we run ourselves ragged, we will be physically drained. We run on empty when we've depleted all our physical energies. We give more than we have. The same is true for our spiritual life. If we don't revive our spiritual tank by spending time with God, we will be running on empty. To be spiritually depleted is worse than being physically depleted.

Lysa points out something very interesting. Each time Jesus proclaimed peace, whether to His disciples or to Thomas or to whomever, the writer ends it with an exclamation point. "Peace be with you!" Jesus was intentional and emphatic with urgency. So why peace? Why was Jesus so emphatic to give us peace? Lysa points out that the world can give false joy, false hope, and false love. But it cannot give false peace. Peaceful moments, maybe. Only Christ is the author, provider, and giver of peace. I believe peace to be the number one thing most all people desire in their lives. You think maybe Jesus knows that?!!

How does He give peace then? One way is through the time spent with Him. He prepares for the day ahead so we can act and react with peace at our center. I love how Lysa reminds us that "He knows things and see things for which I need to be prepared." I can forget that at 7am God already knows what I will incur at 12pm, 5pm, 8pm. Seeking God will fill me with more of Him and prepare me with what I need to handle that day. He has shown me that when I forgo our time together, I forgo my preparedness and enter chaos.

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. Psalm 139:1-4
[my emphasis]

"He loves us enough to desire to protect us from our natural-flesh responses." Oh yes Lord, how I need Your protection from my own fleshly responses, from my flesh period.

"If my heart has been prepared to receive God's most perfect help, I am able to receive it right when I need it and I'm much more likely to apply it immediately."

As Lysa says it seems so elementary to say we need to read the Bible every day and spend time with Jesus. Isn't this what we first discovered as a babe in Christ? Isn't it evident that it makes life easier to endure? Isn't this told to us all the time in sermons, devotionals, studies, etc.?

So why do we fail? Why is it hard to do? Why do we struggle with being faithful in these?

Before we explore struggling with quiet time, I want to share a couple paragraphs that I feel shows just how real Lysa is. She's been there. Done that. She shares this with such honesty and humor. How can we not: 1) shake our hands in agreement and 2) laugh at how ridiculous but true it is.

"Have you ever been at a church service when the teacher asked everyone to turn to a particular book of the Bible and you couldn't for the life of you remember where in the Bible that book is located? And for Pete's sake, have you noticed how loud Bible pages are? You start to sweat...you feel every eye...on you. Heaven forbid you actually turn to the table of contents. The reality is, some of those who so easily turned to that scripture are just sitting there with their Bibles cracked open to the wrong place pretending to follow along."

You gotta love that Lysa!

I remember when she did the survey about devotion times on her blog and found that many people struggle with their devotion time. We are not alone.

Ill-equipped. Intimidated. Mundane habit. (Those described the feelings women confessed.) One commenter, Kelli, described the struggles as "the duty of devotion rather than the desire." Instead of our time with God being out of habit and an ordinary ritual, it should be "a way that God will speak to them, help them, and equip them for a more meaningful life." I can I can sure use a dose of "meaningful."

"We underestimate the power made available to us when we spend time with God. Our earthly eyes are limited. Start embracing the incredible privilege to meet with Jesus every day."

"Devotions don't have to be perfect to be powerful and effective." This reminds me of what James tells us. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16

A righteous soul just willing to be with God in prayer and devotion. He'll do the rest, directing the time we give to Him.

If I've heard it advised once, I've heard it a hundred times. Start devotion time with prayer. Pray every time before reading His Word. Do I? No, I admit it. I'm guilty of not doing this and that's a shame because I'm not allowing His full power to be released in me and my time with Him. I go in phases--sometimes I've been faithful to pray before entering His presence but unfortunately I'm not in that phase right now, yet. I try to say to myself that He knows my heart's desire when I come to Him; He know I want Him to speak to me through His Word. But He still wants us to verbalize our feelings. Asking Him into our time gives Him full permission to govern it. It should be "preparation for the great adventure God and I are about to head off on together in the hours ahead." That just puts a totally different perspective on it.

Okay. Stop the bus. Hold the traffic. Lysa shares this scripture. Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Psalm 86:11 Yeah, okay, great verse you say. But even greater is that I just finished a study with Beth Moore on David ("A Heart Like His"). One of the last days was about having an undivided heart and a wholehearted devotion.

I digressed.

I love how Lysa's friend asked her if she had considered putting the whole mattress incidence in her book. Her answer was so precious and priceless: "No, there might be too many chapters that started off with some kind of everyday life antic that put me on the edge of a breakdown only to have Jesus talk me off the coffee table and teach me something new in the process." Her friend said "Lysa isn't that where most of us live? And isn't that sort of the point of your book?" Amen. And, I'm so glad Lysa is real and shows us not only the errors of her ways but the lessons from the Lord.

"Remember we aren't after perfectly accomplishing our quiet time routine...[but] about seeing our time with God as the most precious and valuable minutes of our day."

What a refreshing and reviving perspective that this heart of mine needed.

To see what others have to say, visit Lelia.

Embracing Time With God,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Picture is of my Live Forever.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Going Beyond

Chapter four of Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl is appropriately named, "Beyond Sunday Morning". I agree with Lysa when she says regardless of the length of our walk with God "we would all do well to desire more of Him." I'm so very thankful that our gracious God "honors the honest prayers of people desiring a richer connection with Him."

We can learn much from children. Lysa hoped the preacher man would listen and take heed to her young child thoughts. When she was a child, she expressed her desire to have children's church like she had experienced elsewhere. She desired to have someone preach to kids in a way they could understand and apply as they read the Bible. Why? On the lighter side "because, really, it's a shame to wear a scratchy dress for half a weekend day and sit on a hard pew only to draw pictures, fall asleep, and count spit droplets." At such a young age, not yet discovering Jesus, she desired more than a Sunday routine. "What I really loved was the way my friend's church made me want to go home and open the Bible for myself." [As I said, we can learn much from children.]

Five words that we all need to take to heart: open the Bible for myself. Too many times we seek the church for spiritual growth and learning when we need to be self-feeders. Bill Hybels says it best. "When people became Christians, we should have started teaching them that they have to take responsibility to become 'self-feeders'. We should have taught people how to read their Bible between services and how to practice spiritual disciplines much more aggressively on their own!"

Discipline. Spiritual discipline. Practice spiritual discipline. Aggressively practice. That's a big order to chew but we're called to chew it so we will have the best nutrients, the best spiritual walk with God. For a mother is there any greater milestone than her child feeding oneself? (Okay there are many.) There is freedom for the mother like the freedom of becoming a self-feeder of God. There's nothing better than a Christian becoming a self-feeder and not relying on another person to feed us.

Oh how I wish I would've known to feed myself at a young age of 21 and a babe in Christ. If I would've known what I know now...If I would've known to seek for myself in God's Word...If I would've been lead to the trough, maybe I would've drank for myself. Instead, I made a vast "mistake"...a life-changing decision. Yes, a growing experience but something I'd rather not have on my life's "resume".

Instead of seeking the church and the ministry to feed us and fulfill our needs, we must seek to make a difference in the body of Christ. Kind of like: don't ask what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country. Just replace country with church and we have what God desires for us. "Where can I become a woman who applies her knowledge of the Bible? Where can I live out the message of Jesus by serving, loving, and giving?"
Studying the Bible does not come easy. It takes time and determination. Yes, we have to study the Bible to know the Bible. We are not going to gain all God desires for us by listening to a sermon preached or a lesson taught. We have to go deeper and study on our own. "We'll never grow to our full potential unless we jump in and get serious about studying scripture." Lysa suggests three things to do when we determine to tackling the intimidation and study the Word alone: pray, discover the context, and read the passage phrase by phrase.

We will be on our way to become a self-feeder by doing those. Of course it is always good to pray before reading His Word, asking God each time to teach us and show us His Truths for our lives. We call upon God to open our eyes and prepare our hearts for the riches we are about to receive. Approaching His Word is like approaching a bountiful feast...a feast for our souls.

Many times we can assume that simply reading the text will enlighten us. There is so much more to reading the Bible than say a fictional book or any book for that matter...a leisure read without stops of meditation. There is so much in a study Bible to aid us. Like Lysa, I also like to read the intro or info section of each book. It gives the time, author, place, and theme. Knowing the background gives more understanding while reading the Word. It's almost like a light bulb going off: 'Oh that's why it says that. Oh that's who that is. Oh that's the circumstance surrounding the passage.'

Dissecting is also helpful when reading the Bible. It takes time but if I'm seeking to truly understand a passage, I also read the commentary notes with each verse. Though the commentary is simply one man's thoughts, it can give understanding where there is none.

Lysa suggests reading the passage phrase by phrase and writing down the verse and then group the word or words that "go" together.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. Ephesians 1:17

I keep asking...
"constant prayer. daily dependence. discipline and perseverance and determination."

the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father...
"go to God personally. completely enjoyable."

may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation...
"Having wisdom and revelation might help them [Ephesians] make a good choice or two, but Paul wants them to have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that their every word, every attitude, every action and reaction, every thought is infused with the wisdom of God and reined in by His revelation."
That's deep. That's a huge eye-opener. Such a vast difference between wisdom/revelation and the Spirit of wisdom/revelation.

so that you may know Him better...
"So that reveals the intentions of the heart. Having the Spirit of wisdom and revelation is purely 'so that' I can know God better. Really know Him."

Oh to know God better. Is there anything greater?

Wanting to Go Beyond,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Measuring Gone All Wrong

Chapter three of Lysa's book is called "When I Feel Like I Don't Measure Up". Shall I just end my post here and now? Is there really anything else left to say? I am far from a bettin' woman but I'd bet we all struggle with this, even to some degree, if not deeper.

Lysa shares her dream of receiving the Really Good Mommy Award by making 100 individually wrapped brownies for a school fundraiser. That is, homemade from a box and no less the caramel turtle kind, not just the plain ones. Nope, plain ones would not be deserving of this fabulous award. Moments before loading the brownies into her unused, still price-tagged basket and heading to school, it happened. Lysa realized the homemade deliciousness had nuts in them. Yes, nuts. Nutted brownies for a nut-free school. Yes, a nut-free school. No nuts allowed. (I guess I wouldn't be allowed in the school then.☺) Needless (or nut-less) to say, Lysa received no award that day. But rather, I'm guessing a learning lesson she received. "The more I let my mind free-fall into the pit of negativity and shame, the more disabled I felt."

Oh how very true. Nothing comes from being in that pit of negativity and shame, except more guilt. More guilt and shame only disable us further. They do not enable us to conquer and achieve, but rather bind us in captivity and inadequacy. It is satan who wants us to stay right there, feeling inadequate. "He wants us to go to Bible study, learn deep truths of God, leave all encouraged, and then come home and have a complete meltdown over ninety-seven brownies that didn't make the bake sale cut." Oh how my past is filled with so much of that. Meltdowns. Major meltdowns. It didn't just melt down but melt away. My sanity. My clarity. My mercy. My reasoning. Melted.

In the middle of the inadequate feelings is satan causing us to then doubt God. Question God. Lose faith in God. Distance God. Like Lysa said, we ask why Jesus doesn't step in and tell us "no nuts" in the brownies. He is more than capable of that simple thing. He heals the sick. He raises the dead. He parts the sea. He moves mountains we can't even see. What a conniving scheme of satan's. "If satan can get us asking these kinds of questions, then we can easily justify distancing ourselves from God, once more reducing our relationship with Him to items on a checklist." As Lysa says, we need not ask the question "Why doesn't Jesus work for me?" when things don't happen as we think or ask. When we fall short we need to ask "How can I see Jesus even in this?" We do this by "pull[ing] back from whatever situation I'm facing and separate my circumstance from my identity." So often we erroneously identify with our circumstances. We place our identity in our circumstances.

I failed at baking cookies, so I am a terrible mom. I missed a deadline, so I'm a terrible employee. I overstepped my words, so I'm a terrible friend. I missed a moment to respect, so I'm a terrible wife.

"Becoming more than a good Bible study girl means I separate my shortcomings from my identity and let Jesus be the only measure of my worth." Doing this "allows me to see the circumstance for what it is - a mistake." Oh how hard that is. It takes purposeful effort to distinguish between a circumstance as a mistake and my identity as a failure. I can't help but to think that forgiveness is the bridge to properly connecting circumstances and identity. Could it be that forgiving one's self can give proper perspective of mistakes and failures? Would a dose of grace allow us to make mistakes without automatically equating that to a detriment of our identity?

For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity. Proverbs 24:16

"I feel bad for him. He had seven bake sale debacles. That comes out to 700 individually wrapped, homemade-from-the-box turtle brownies. Okay, I readily admit that maybe that wasn't his exact circumstance. I bet he made full-out peanut butter cookies."

Why in the world do I share that? Of all things to quote from this fabulous author and person who has so much wonderful knowledge to share? Well, there's no huge bang. No huge ah ha moment. No spectacular voa-la. Just to share her amazing and witty humor that I truly adore and enjoy tremendously.

I digress so let's carry on...The Proverbs man fell seven times and he rose seven times. He was not defeated. He did not give up or rather give in to satan's lies and tactics. He remained true to his identity by not allowing his mistakes to identify him.

Falling down--failing--should not cause us to stay down and defeated but it should call us to action, to change. Each failure is an opportunity to learn and grown. Each fall allows for a lesson, or two, or three.

"The reason failure hurts is because we are trying so stinkin' hard to measure up. But the way people measure each other can change frequently, based on feelings, performance, and often unrealistic expectations." And if I may add: mood. Mood can change how people measure each other. If our motive or purpose is to prove our worth, get compliments, or earn approval, we are bound to be disappointed.

"God never intended for us to rely on others for our sense of well-being. Only He is equipped to provide that."

As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father's commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:9-11

Remember His love.
Remain in His love.
Obey His commands.
His joy in me.
Joy complete.

"Instead of resting my heart in the unrealistic hope that others will make my joy complete, I have to rest my heart with Jesus only."

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Measured By Him Alone,

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