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,

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