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?

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Praising Through the Uglies,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.


Twinkle Mom @ Sunflower Faith said...

This was a great and timely chapter and something I think we all struggle with as moms and as followers who strive for the best and often, caught up by emotions or circumstances around us that we can (or can't) control, find ourselves dealing with the uglies.

I love how she reminded us the power of praise and it seems even handy to write down favorite praise scripture on cards, laminate them, use a book ring and just carry them around to pull out when we feel the uglies creeping up to get out.

valerie said...

That's good. I like the last part where she listed the five things that make us susceptible to ugly situations.
We all get in those situations at times and these are some good things to think about before "spewing." :)

I hope you're doing well Paula. I don't get around to checking my favorite blogs quite as often as I used to, but always enjoy when I get time to catch up.

Love ya,

tiggerdaisy said...

Great post! I can't wait for my book to arrive! How many more Tuesdays are left in this study?

Prayers and blessings,

Tonja said...

No, I am happy to write the letters when I enjoy the blog and the writer, as well!
What an excellent post! And, we all need to be reminded of these things often!
And, PRAISE is so important...God is deserving of our praise all the time...no matter the situation!