Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Are Your Prayers Dangerous?

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

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

Ch 17 Praying the Dangerous Prayers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live more expectantly of experiencing God.

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

Wanting to Experience God More,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Looking For and Finding God

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

Ch 16 Finding God in Unlikely Places

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obedient to His Word.
In tune to His Voice.

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

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


© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sensing Him; Seeing Him

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

Chapter 15 A Glorious Sense of Possibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sensing Possibilities,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"I Like Me"

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

Chapter 14 Learning to Simply Like Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trying to Simply Like Me,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.