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."

To see what others are saying about this fabulous book and chapter, go to

Measured By Him Alone,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's Not About Seeing

I was catching up on visiting bloggy friends this past Wednesday. I was at a site (which I can't recall for the life of me) and I saw a comment from Heather whom I hadn't communicated with in some time. I clicked on her blog, On the Road. A scripture on her side bar caught my eye and I read it quickly. Hebrews 11:1. That's good. I've heard that one. I'm familiar with that one.

Literally the very next stop was this post at Angie's Free Spirit Haven. Toward's the bottom of her post she had Hebrews 11:1 in a graphic image. I read through it and after finishing, I realized, "This is the second time in minutes I've read this verse. Wait. Read that again. Maybe this is God."

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 [my emphasis]

Are You, Lord, telling me to be sure of what I hope for? To be sure of restoration? I see no evidence of that, yet You want me to be certain of it...certain of what I do not see? Hopeful of what I do not see? Sure of what I hope for? How Lord? Don't worry with the how, sweet child, just be sure.

Let me retract and vaguely enlighten why this verse on this day would mean so much.

Wednesday morning I had the dream of dreams...my heart's desire fulfilled, beloved returned. Two were literally united as one again. It weighed so heavily on my heart all day Wednesday. My heart was hurting so bad...still hurting. I wanted the vividness of the dream to go away. You know what I mean about vividness...the feelings of it being and feeling SO real. I can't bear the dream without the reality. God help me.

Then, He tells me through two blogs that His Word says faith is being sure of what I hope for. He knows what I hope for. He knows I've not seen any evidence of it. It's what I hope but not what I see. Thank You, Lord. May I not forget You speaking to me through this verse.

So that day I...
Begged for return. Asked for healing. Feared no restoration.
Pleaded. Begged. Asked. Feared.

I'm writing this verse on my heart. I'm writing about this encounter so I won't soon forget God speaking to me, assuring me, and re-assuring me.

And if that's not enough. There's been a song on the radio for the last several weeks. Here's a few lines that always encourage me. My additions in brackets.

What Faith Can Do by Kutless

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains [that seem impossible]
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling [and resting on my heart]

And I’ve seen miracles just happen [better known as my suddenly]
Silent prayers get answered [amen!]
Broken hearts become brand new [can't wait]
That’s what faith can do

It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard [or what you are told]
Impossible is not a word [not in God's dictionary]
It’s just a reason for someone not to try

Everybody’s scared to death [it is scary to follow blindly]
When they decide to take that step.
Out on the water

Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing [oh yes!!!]
You will find your way
If you keep believing [that's faith, right?]

Overcome the odds [big odds, but not impossible odds]
You do have a chance
That’s what faith can do
When the world says you can’t [or says it can't happen]
It’ll tell you that you can! [it can happen]

Believing While Not Seeing,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Picture is of my pink spirea

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hollow to Whole

Can I be honest with you all? When I read the title of chapter two, "Flitting To and Fro", I didn't have a clue what flitting meant. I have honestly never heard that word. In case any of you want to stand with me in ignorance and admit it, I'll share its definition: to pass quickly or abruptly from one place or condition to another, to move in an erratic fluttering manner.

Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl.

Lysa begins by sharing how she felt as though she couldn't quite land and figure out what she had to offer after she said yes to God. Oh, are we suppose to figure that out? I still haven't figured out what I have to offer. I said yes to God years ago and am just finally beginning to be where I should've been all those years ago. "Even though I knew in my head that only God could fill my soul, I still found myself wanting my husband and kids to do the job. It just seemed easier trying to get these things from those I could see and touch." Did Lysa just jump into my head and steal my thoughts?

"No person, possession, profession, or position ever fills the cup of a wounded, empty heart." If I might add, none of those fills any heart even a heart not enduring heartache or emptiness. Those things will never bring what our heart truly wants and needs. We ask those things to fill us up. We get that education. Still empty. We get that job. Still empty. We get that job. Empty. We get married. Empty. We have 2.5 children and a dog. Still empty. We get that house. Empty. We add the picket fence. Empty. Car. Pool. Boat. It's a never-ending pit. It's a bucket with a hole, never to be filled completely but always will a slow leak. God is the only One who can plug the hole and fill the bucket.

Then we play the torturous 'if only' game. If only I had this, that, or the other. Lysa shared an example of this and I'll shed my skin and share mine.

I could be really happy and fulfilled if only I had:
♥ a skinnier body ♥ a healed complexion ♥ a husband to return ♥ a more outgoing personality ♥ a higher confidence ♥ a sense of clear purpose ♥ an un-empty home ♥ a big ministry of speaking, teaching, writing

"Becoming more than a good Bible study girl means realizing that apart from a thriving relationship with God, even if you get everything on your list, there would still be a hollow gap in your soul."

Lysa suggest we replace our 'if only' statements "with something that draws your heart into God's truth." His Truth from scripture will never leave us empty.

Instead of "if only I had a clear purpose..."
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Instead of "if only I had a better physical image..."
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him. Genesis 1:27

Instead of "if only I had a husband to return..."
All things are possible with God. Mark 10:27b
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
And that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:26

Instead of "if only I had a more outgoing personality and more confidence..."
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 2 Corinthians 3:4-5

Instead of "if only I had an un-empty home..."
Jesus replied, 'If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him.'

John 14:23 Instead of "if only I had a big ministry..."
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant. 2 Corinthians 3:6a
Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. Jeremiah 30:2
I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. Romans 15:14

"When God's Word gets inside of us, it becomes the new way we process life. It rearranges our thoughts, our motives, our needs, and our desires." God fills every crack in our soul and makes us whole, filled, and complete. God fits our soul like a glove. He fully covers us with His love and truth.

"Living in the moment with God, defined by His truth, and with no unrealistic expectations for others or things to fill me up. Not reaching back for what was lost in my yesterdays. And not reaching for what I hope will be my tomorrow. But living fully with what is right in front of me. And truly seeing the gift of this moment."

Oh, Lysa, you got into my heart and head. I so need and want to do this.

No unrealistic expectations.
Not reaching back to yesterday.
Not reaching forward to tomorrow.
Living fully in front of me.
Seeing the gift of this moment.

Shall I say anymore? No, so see what others are saying at
Lelia's place.

Seeking to Fill My Hollow with Him,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Enough is Never Enough

It's been a long time since I did an online study and posted it. Can I still do it? Sure. Am I up to it? Hope so. I've lacked structure and discipline over the summer. I'm ready to have that restored. Even more, I so want a life-changing experience with God through this study. I don't even know that I am a "good Bible study girl" but I want much more than that. I want to go deeper with God. Don't we all want that? It's a matter if we are ready to put forth the effort, to allow our minds to be transformed, and to have our hearts freed.

When Lelia said she was hosting a study on Lysa Terkeurst's new book, Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl, I was tempted. Tempted to do it; tempted to cop out, wimp out, be lazy. To be honest, fear might have been my driving factor to do it. Fear? Yes, fear of what I might miss by not 1) reading this book and 2) processing my thoughts by composing a post. So, here I am. Here I am, Lord. Asking You to change my heart, transform my mind and renew my spirit all to go deeper...deeper with You, Lord.

If the title to chapter one doesn't say enough (no pun intended), then what does? "Trying to Be Good Enough" is the chapter title. I have to admit I was surprised to hear how this feeling resonated in Lysa. It's hard to imagine a woman like her feeling she was not good enough nor acceptable. I've only known of her for over a year but I can't express how much I think of her, respect her, and admire her.

"The heart of a woman is not only deep and wondrous but tender and vulnerable."

Lysa shares how we define ourselves with labels. This is true and I believe the problem lies in the crutch we create with the label. What happens when the label fails? Then where are we? Then who are we? "I was someone's girlfriend, but then we would break up. I was a good student, but then I'd made a bad grade. I was responsible, but then pulled a stupid stunt an wrecked my car."

Clutching to any identity, outside of God's child, will always lead to failure, disappointment, and unmet expectations.

Even with labeling God, we encounter pitfalls. Lysa shares her early view of religion being a good addition to life as "I was keeping up my end of the bargain with God, and He was keeping His." With the loss of her baby sister, anger erupted, her view of God changed, and now her identity did also. She'd no longer be "Lysa, the good girl."

"My flawed ideas of God would only let me love Him when He did good things."

Wow...have we ever fallen into that pit? The pit of judging God or treating God according to what He does instead of who He is? I admit I have. I may not say it outright to Him but He knows when I view Him differently and get my heart hurt over things He did or rather did not do for me. We must be careful to always view God through the lens of who He is and nothing else.

"The thought that I wasn't good enough was more than just a feeling. It had become the filter through which I processed life." If we filter everything through not feeling good enough, we will never see victory. I guess I've never really realized the feeling of 'not being good enough' does filter everything in my life. It's like looking through rose colored glasses. No matter what we look at, everything will be a shade of rose. The green trees will be green but with a shade of rose. The blue sky will be blue with a shade of rose. So, if we look at everything through 'not good enough' lenses, there's no way we'll ever measure up. We'll never see full victory as it will be victory shaded with a little "not good enough".

Having a false perception of ourselves and God will inevitably cause us to run into a brick wall, unable to deny or avoid God and truth.

When Lysa found God with Jeremiah 29:11, she realized her "flawed perception of being identified by my circumstances."

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

I'm specifically separating verses 12-13 from 11. I think too many times verse 11 gets all the fame and attention and verses 12-13 get left in the dust. Don't get me wrong as 29:11 is one of my life verses but the following two are so precious, not deserving of being overlooked.

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. Jeremiah 29:12-13

He tells us we will seek Him BUT we will find Him when we seek Him with ALL our heart. What value is it to seek Him if we don't find Him? So isn't it worth the effort to not just seek Him but to seek Him with all our heart, with our whole heart, with every breath, with every ounce of energy, with everything that exists in our soul?

As Lysa says, it "requires more than just the routine Christian good girl checklist: pray, read the Bible, do a Bible study, go to church, be nice, don't hold a grudge against boys who didn't ask you to couple skate in fifth grade."

Okay, her last one doesn't apply to all of us, just 832 of us.

Gotta love that Lysa and her sense of humor...a woman after my own heart with my own corny sense of humor (that if I must say so myself, brings me much joy to be corny in humor.)

Of these three sentences, one is so powerful to me. "I want my life with Jesus to be fulfilling. I want my beliefs to work no matter what life throws at me. I want to be so certain of God's presence that I never feel like I have to face anything in my own strength or rely on my own perspectives."

I do very much want fulfillment. I want certainty of God's presence. But my mind and heart kept reading and gravitating to the second: my beliefs to work...what life throws at me. As I type this, literally the first line grabs my heart more now. I so want my life with Jesus to be fulfilling. Odd how one sentenced grabbed me so tight last night and another is grabbing me today.

Wanting Jesus. But wanting "wanting Jesus" to be enough. Does anyone feel this? Does anyone struggle with this? Jesus is enough but "wanting Jesus" to be enough for me.

"How might our lives look if we were so filled with God's truth's we could let go of the pain of our past, not get tripped up by the troubles of today, or consumed by worries about tomorrow?" Woah...to be so filled that the pain escapes my heart and sets my mind free.

If you listen to Christian radio, you know Matthew West tells us about going through the motions. Lysa adds that just these good Bible study girl things "will not fill our souls. They must be done with great expectation and heart cry for God to lead us into a deeper and more life-changing connection with Him." [my emphasis]

We can't pray, study the Bible, and go to church for name sake. We can't do those things because we know we are suppose to or fearful if we don't. We must do them with a deep cry from our heart to God's heart to change us and draw us deeper.

"True fulfillment is never found in seeking to do enough, be enough, have enough, know enough, or accomplish enough." Enough is never enough. Enough is a pitfall...a never-ending pitfall. Striving to be enough of anything will never fulfill us. I've tried and I do believe I'm tired.

Lysa's prayer (and now mine too).
"God, I want to see You.
God, I want to hear You.
God, I want to know You.
So That I can follow hard after You every day."

I'm so glad I said yes to God and decided to read this book. To see what others have to say about this wonderful book and exciting adventure, go to

Seeking Him for my "enough",

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.