Monday, July 10, 2017

To Christian Leaders

My husband and I this morning were talking about the church - the difference between the church I used to go to and the church I now go to.  We also talked about drawing people to Christ and how our lives as Christians are in the U.S. as opposed to another country.

Since I have never lived abroad, but my husband comes from Colombia, I don't have his perspective, but now I am seeing more his perspective after having left my previous church.  While there, people were nice to me, at least to my face.  Now, I realize that the church is made up of flawed people and no church is without flawed people.

I have seen more growth in my Christian walk after having left my last church and I didn't realize why.  And it was because I was no longer being confined to an underlying legalism that I didn't realize existed.  Now I can see more of what it was.

Not on social media much except in one place and I do see the how now I am shunned by most of the people that I went to church with - both still now attending that church and by many of those whom no longer go there anymore.  It's sort of weird.  I didn't leave that church because I was angry, rather it didn't seem like we were fitting there anymore.  Frankly, I'm not sure if we fit there for quite some time.

Yes, I learned a lot and perhaps I could have connected more.  In my own brokenness, my own flaws, maybe I should have connected better.  Maybe it through my writing, my posts I connected with people.  I found it odd that some people were super friendly with me, but that was only because they wanted something from me - they needed my help, they needed me to fill in for them, or to bring something or anything like that.

Yes, there were a number of years I was needy and I was helped by the church.  For that, I am grateful.  I wasn't asking for it, but some people out of their own hearts, came to assist me.  I'm not saying all things or even most things are bad of that former church, but I am left confused.  When I make a comment on someone's stuff and they are wanting to connect with people, I guess ignoring them, eventually they go away.

What was my crime?  I was just trying to provide for the needs of my family and they weren't being met where we were, so with careful prayer for over 2 yrs, we made the decision to leave.  It was scary to leave my comfort zone, and after searching every Sunday for several months and talking to a number of churches, we found a church we liked that we all agreed we wanted to be there.

Is being a Christian ousting those not in your clique?  I have been offended at some people deleting me, while yet retaining others whom we know, or ignoring my friend requests, or blocking me.  What did I do wrong?  I am a wife, a mother, a friend, a Christian, a follower of Christ.  But, I wonder to some of these teachers of the Bible, are they really just a Pharisee, claiming they love Christ, but don't really love others?

Ghandi would have become a Christian, I would surmise, except that he saw the lack of love and the actions of those people who called themselves Christ followers.  Jesus spoke Truth to people.  He loved ALL people.  He may have not accepted or liked their actions, but He loved ALL peoples.

My husband had told me maybe there wasn't really anyone at my last church that really liked me.   That hurt to hear, but I think he's probably correct.  Maybe all those meals I made, or helping people move, or praying for others never really mattered except to be used for at that time.  Maybe Life Group there was just to form those social cliques and if you're outside of them, you're not accepted.

I saw some other people also at the church ousted by people from the church.  I didn't oust them.  I would still talk to them.  If I didn't talk to them, and there was only one person, it wasn't because of the church, rather it was because she couldn't respect my boundaries which I had told her directly.  I think my past church.

Maybe I should have talked to the pastor about us leaving, but quite a few other people had tried to do that before me and it didn't go well with them.  I never felt super connected to the pastor and felt mostly that he was beyond me.  And, at the time of where I was, I didn't want to feel further rejection so I just disappeared into the night.

Not saying everyone there is like that.  I can name one person who is not like that at all, maybe two.  But, if a church is to grow and to flourish, maybe when people leave, shutting the door to them may not be a good thing either.

Honestly, I've never faced this before, well maybe some when I divorced my first husband and left that church.  That's understandable as his family had been there for more than 2 decades and me divorcing their son . . .

Maybe it's just the church I left.  I didn't feel I left on bad terms.  Well, it's just the way it is.  I just need to know that I don't want to be like many of those whom are doing this - look good on the outside, play Christian well, but only use people for when you need them for whatever your purpose is and then when they are of no use, then discard them.  Keep preaching the Gospel, but don't have to live it.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Screwtape Letters (by C.S. Lewis) - LETTER 1 - Reason & Reality

"The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle onto the Enemy's own ground." - Screwtape



1.  Use your imagination and describe Screwtape and Wormwood.  Take into account their appearance, personalities, and demeanor.  Who would you rather have a conversation with and why?

I see both Screwtape and Wormwood as being very prideful.  The appearance in my mind is that Uncle Screwtape is a large, grossly fat man - aging, old clothes, fat stubby fingers.  His face is craggly and old, deep crevices, mangled skin and a bit disfigured.  His clothes are mainly neat, but ill fitting.  I imagine his voice to be firm, forceful, thundering, strong, sarcastic and commanding, condescending.  As for Wormwood, physically I see him as taller, slender, but his figure has had less disfiguration.  His hands have long slender fingers, but with darkened nails and tips with long fingernails.  He always has a smug look on his face, like he knows everything, but at least he tries to listen to his uncle and sort of thinks his uncle is a bit of a nag and pompous.  He has contempt for his uncle.

Personally, I would like to have a conversation with Uncle Screwtape.  He has a great deal of experience and knowledge and I would like to glean this knowledge from him and get help from Uncle Screwtape's Enemy (God) to combat his own schemes.


Both my kids saw Uncle Screwtape as slender.  But we all agreed that they were both prideful.

2.  SCREWTAPE'S GAME PLAN - Which action of Screwtape below do you think would be most effective in keeping teens from knowing Christ today?  Why?

a.  Convincing teens that "real life" is just like their favorite reality show.
b.  Convincing teens that they are immortal and will never die.
c.  Replacing "right" or "wrong" with "what's trending".
d.  Acting without considering any consequences.
e.  Distracting teens with media and other forms of technology.

I would choose E, to distract teens with media and other forms of technology.  If you keep them distracted, they don't have time to think about anything.  Their time is consumed with frivolous things that take up time, waste time, and have no eternal value, yet they'll think it's important.

My son chose B and my daughter chose C.  We had a nice discussion on this and this is where we saw things differently.  

3.  True or false.  Satan wants you focused only on spiritual matters not non-essential matters.

False.  Satan wants you to focus on the non-essential matters making you think they are really important.  He doesn't want you to think at all about spiritual matters, so if he can distract you to not think of things, the better.

We all agreed on this.

4.  Have you ever known someone who refused to come to church because of their disappointment with another Christian or the church?  How does that change the way you talk to them about church?

Yes.  Actually much of my family is like this because Christians they have seen have a worse testimony than the lives they personally live, why would they need to go to church?  I don't really talk much about church to them, but really just try to live my life correctly, in a way that pleases God, but not necessarily like people expect or think Christians should be like.  Our actions and how we live life will speak much louder than the words we say.  At some point, however, you do need to say some things, but your life should already show the words in action.

The kids shared about different people they knew specifically that this is applicable to.  

5.  BIBLE STUDY QUESTION - Read Luke 10:39-42.  39 She had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was continually listening to His teaching. 40 But Martha was very busy and distracted with all of her serving responsibilities; and she approached Him and said, “Lord, is it of no concern to You that my sister has left me to do the serving alone? Tell her to help me and do her part.”41 But the Lord replied to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her.”  What ordinary, everyday distractions was Martha concerned with?  Who did it make her resent?  What did she miss out on?

Martha was concerned with preparing dinner, cleaning house, getting things ready for dinner.  How that looks like for each of us may be different, but it's really those things that have no eternal value that we put all our focus on so there is no time to think about or do what is important, that has eternal value.  Martha resented Mary for not pitching in to help her because she thought getting things done was more important than to pay attention to what Jesus was wanting.  Martha missed out on a lot in terms of really getting that doing all the dinner & other stuff was trivial in the grand scheme of things.  Not saying those things didn't need to be done, but maybe it could have been done to a less perfectionistic standard so there could be time listening to what Jesus wanted to share.

How this looks like in real life, in my life, is I can be like Martha a lot, taking care of things and then being resentful of my family for not cooperating.  But, when all is said and done, though it's still important for my family these things get done, maybe I can minimize the "stuff" that needs to be done and really love and listen to them, take time to spend with them instead of always being so busy.


We all were in agreement here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Screwtape Letters (by C.S. Lewis) - Introduction

This summer I decided more than a month ago that my 2 teenage kids and I would do the study guide for teens on The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  If you haven't read this or listened to the audio, it's really well worth reading or listening to.  The premise of this book is based on how the devil trips up Christians and I really think it's so well-written.  C.S. Lewis is a prolific and profound writer.  He was once an atheist.  This book is a satirical, fictional novel that addresses Biblical Christian theological issues such as temptation, sin, resistance.

Having a 16-yr old, soon to be 17-yr old and one final year of high school left, I am faced with wondering if I've prepared my daughter enough for the "real world".  Things look much differently now than when I graduated from high school more than 30 yrs ago and embarked on my own.  Many things that were wrong were called wrong then, but now many things that are wrong are right and finding that those things that are right (meaning good as defined by the Bible) are shunned and there has been persecution of Bible Christians now more so in the United States than ever.

Granted, persecution for Christians in the U.S. is still nothing like that of many parts of the world where it's really bad even to the point of death or a tortured death.  It's important for my kids to be able to see the ploys of the devil and to know how to make good decisions that please & honor God, as well as better understand what they believe.

I'll be sharing this journey we are embarking on this summer through the 31 LETTERS of this book.  Each of my kids and I will read each letter separately, as well as answer the questions in the study guide for that letter.  Then, we will come together to discuss the letter and the study guide for that letter.  I will share my portion of the study guide.  Truly I am excited to be doing this with my two teenagers.

Hopefully this study will be very beneficial for them and life changing as they go on to make decisions and choices in their lives as young people.  It is a challenging world we live in and I want to equip them with not only practical tools to live in the every day world, but more importantly, spiritual tools to help them stand strong in this evil day.  To help them have a solid walk with the Lord.  In some past summers, we've read the Bible together on multiple occasions in different translations, as well as chronologically.  We've had many great discussions.  Now it's time to dig a little deeper in this area of sin & temptation and how to combat this.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Intentional Woman: The Widow of Zarephath: When There's Nothing Left - Chapter 18

A Beach in Malibu, CA
1.  Write down any thoughts or insights that you gained from this chapter.  What was notable to you from the reading?

I felt at some points in my life like the Widow Z - there was nothing left for me to give.  But, unlike the Widow Z, I knew the Lord as my Savior.  But still then, it was a challenge to trust God's provision because I had never before trusted Him in this manner.  When I lost everything financially and every other avenue was exhausted, there was no one to turn to but to God.  For nearly 6 years, I lived and depended on God's continual supply of miracles and He did just that.

Actually, God more than abundantly supplied when there was nothing.  He made something out of practically nothing, which that is what He did through Elijah for the Widow Z.  I have come to learn to trust God, even though now I still have great challenges, I recall God's provision to sustain me and to honor my faith in Him.

God is good and faithful all the time.  How He is may not be our definition or how we'd like to see God turn things around for us, but His ways are ALWAYS best, as I've come to learn.  His timing is always perfect.

2.  Has there ever been a time in your life or a situation where you felt you had nothing left?  Maybe it was physical, emotional, or even spiritual?  Describe your story here.

Yes, in 2007 when I learned my husband was cheating on me and through to 2014 when during that period of time I had lost my marriage, my home, all the financial stuff I'd worked so hard for for years, I had to really rely on God to meet my needs.  He did.  In the end, last year, I got full and sole custody of my kids, got remarried in 2013 to a really great guy, moved into our home in 2015.  God has really blessed, but it took years as God had to work in and through my life to show me how personal and how much He cared for my children, husband and I.

The rest of the story is in the question before this.

3.  How do these verses encourage you about God's sufficiency for everything in our lives, including difficulties and suffering?
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [a]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with [b]insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (NIV)
When we give up fighting with God and give Him the control, that's when we are the strongest.  So often we think like we can do everything on our own, but the truth is, we can't do anything with God.  It doesn't mean we're helpless, but it means that we're to acknowledge that it is God that gives us our breath, our life, and to be humble before Him, knowing that HE is the one who empowers us.
  • Ephesians 3:20-21 - 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations [a]forever and ever. Amen. (NASB)
I have a number of verses in the Bible that are my favorite and these are a couple of my favorite.  As a child, I remember saying to God that HE could do more than my imagination?  Wow, that's pretty big.  And thus, I went about seeing if this was true or not.  But, when I went through my downfall, it was challenging to see that the God I loved and served while as a child and young adult would be this same God who would carry me through my challenges.  BUT, He IS that same God and so much more.  I had to learn to be humble and truly acknowledge success from God and that God gives success to many people whether they love Him or not.
  • Philippians 4:19But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (KJV)
This is so true.  I saw God when we had nothing or almost nothing supply all our needs.  There are many examples through my difficult financial years that I can recall God coming through.  One Sunday I had gone to church and I was in need of gas for my car.  I told no one, but after church JL came up to me and asked me if he could provide some gas for me.  I nearly cried because the only person that knew of that need was God.  He laid on JL's heart to provide this need at that moment.  I pray that God richly bless JL for all his life for being obedient to God and providing for this in my life.  He is a humble servant of God.

4.  How do you think Widow Z's faith impacted her son?  What does this say to the importance of living by faith as an example to our children?

I think it greatly impacted Widow Z's son - her faith.  He saw her example and I think that allowed him to trust God.  Thus, when we are not trusting God, our children see this, but they also see when we trust God.  Faith is not seeing, but acting upon as if it were.

5.  Before God did the first miracle in Widow Z's life, Elijah sensed that she was afraid to trust God.  He tells her not to be afraid of the outcome of obedience, but just obey God's Word.  Often in Scripture God encourages us regarding fear and obedience.  Write out these verses and comment on what they teach us regarding fear and trust?
  • Psalm 27:1The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom should I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom should I be afraid? (HCSB)
God is above all and though the devil may have a great influence in this world and there is real evil and terror, God is greater than the devil and though our bodies can be destroyed, if we are God's, then no one can take us from God spiritually.
  • Psalm 139:7-12I can never escape from your Spirit!  I can never get away from your presence!  If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.  If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.  11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.  To you the night shines as bright as day.  Darkness and light are the same to you. (NLT)
God sees and knows all.  Sometimes we think we can do something in secret, but we can't because God sees.
  • Isaiah 43:1-3aNow this is what theLord says—the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel—“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.  I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.  You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.  For I Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior, give Egypt as a ransom for you, Cush and Seba in your place. (HCSB)
God doesn't delight when we go through troubles, but He says He will be with us no matter what.  When we are one of His children, it doesn't mean we won't go through hardships, but it does mean He will be with us through those challenges.  Those challenges are to help mold us to be more like God, pleasing to Him.  But also, they are to reveal God's glory.  God knows us each personally and intimately, but do we?
  • Matthew 10:29-3129-31 “What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. (MSG)
If God cares for the little creatures in life whom were not formed in His image, how much more does He love us?  So if He cares for them so much, their needs, our confidence that He cares for us should be solid.
6.  Has there been a time in your life that you were afraid, but trusted God, living by faith not by sight?  Or is there something in your life right now that God is asking you to trust and obey Him in first, though you can't see the outcome, though you might have fear in doing so?  Explain.

Yes, when I lost my home and all my finances.  Yes, there are a number of things I have in my life right now that I'm trusting God on - my husband's walk with God, my children's walk with God, His financial destiny for me, God's spiritual work He has for me, the kids' education and lives.

What I do now is daily I am on my knees praying to the Lord.  When I sin, or God reveals to me I am sinning, then I am quick to repent and get healing for those soul wounds that those sins caused.  Basically on a short leash with God, however, what I want to make sure is that I have nothing in common with the enemy and his cohorts so that my prayers are powerful and effective.  I want my walk with the Lord to be powerful, all the strongholds in my life to be broken and to walk close to God, hearing and obeying Him.

Yes, there is still some fear, but in 2 Corinthians 10:5 it says that we're to take captive all our thoughts and put them in submission to Christ.  The fear I have I know is not from God.  So, I am delving more into God's Word, memorizing Scripture more as this is a spiritual battle and it's very real.

7.  In times past God did raise people from the dead to demonstrate death no longer has power over us if we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior.  Because of the fall in the Garden of Eden, death was the penalty for sin.  But because of Christ, no longer will those born again have to pay the sin penalty of death and live in eternity without Him.  

While He does not seem to raise the physically dead in our day, He certainly could.  But the principle of resurrection is clear:  God is able.  He is able to resurrect marriages that seem dead and buried.  He is able to resurrect prodigal children who seem lost and dead to their families because of rebellion.  He is able to resurrect a soul that seems hardened and hard to reach.  He is able to give us life just to do the ordinary duties of a wife and mother that may seem overwhelming to us too.  Yes, God is able!

How do these verses encourage you in God's ability to meet the needs in your life and help you live intentionally for Him?
  • Isaiah 50:2b“Why, when I came, was there no man [to greet Me]?  When I called, why was there no one to answer?  Is My hand really so short that it cannot redeem [My servants]?  Or have I no power to rescue?  Listen carefully, with My rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers into a desert; Their fish stink because there is no water And die of thirst. (AMP)
God can do anything, I mean anything.  Sometimes I doubt God can, but that's in my own sinfulness and frailty that I succumb to wrong thinking.  Who am I to question an omniscient God?  He can make time stand still.  He can move Heaven and Earth to get something done.  He created the galaxy and all there is.  There is no reason to doubt that God can provide and meet my needs.
  • Jeremiah 32:7, 27Watch! Hanamel, the son of your uncle Shallum, is coming to you to say, ‘Buy my field in Anathoth for yourself, for you own the right of redemption to buy it.’  27 “Look, I am Yahweh, the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me?
Nothing is too hard for God.  God uses challenging times to sometimes test us, sometimes just to show His glory, to draw others to Him or even ourselves, or even just because He can.
  • Psalm 139:7-18 (a must read!) - I can never escape from your Spirit!  I can never get away from your presence!  If I go up to heaven, you are there;  if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.  If I ride the wings of the morning,  if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me,  and your strength will support me.  11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.  To you the night shines as bright as day.  Darkness and light are the same to you.  13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.  15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.  16 You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.  17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[b]O God.  They cannot be numbered!  18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!  And when I wake up, you are still with me!
Absolutely nothing is hidden from God.  When I feel small and alone, that's a lie from the pit of hell.  I am not alone.  Even when everything seems like a lost cause, God has a Divine plan.  I do not need to be in control.  He knows everything I am going through.  He knows how I feel and all of that, He cares for every bit of it.  That is comforting to know.

MAKING IT PERSONAL JOURNAL

Write any thoughts or convictions that you have in regard to this chapter.  What personal lessons concerning the Widow Z will you apply to your own life?  How will you be more intentional as a woman of God?

I've already and still am applying the things that Widow Z does.  Though financially I am not in hardship now and I have a good life, I would like to see my husband walk closely with God, to have a heart after God's own heart and to lead our family spiritually.  I would like to see my kids have a really deep relationship with God instead of doing things in their own strength.  But, the key is for me to role model doing these things, which I am working on.

God is helping me get rid of destructive independence and to develop complete reliance on Him.  Sometimes I just get caught up in my own stuff that I am no longer intentionally being the woman of God He desires of me.  But, God's kindness always brings me to repentance and I get back on track again and again.  I am grateful for God's never ending mercy.


FINAL JOURNALING THOUGHTS

What will you take away from this study?  Which Titus 2 attribute spoke most to your heart and why?  What changes will you make to be God's most intentional woman?  Which woman of God lesson impacted you the most?  How will you be more intentional as a result of things you learned from her life and situation?

The thing I probably take most from this study is to be really intentional in my walk with God instead of the sometimes haphazard ways I've approached in the past.  I think the Titus 2 attribute that spoke most to me was that submission isn't just the physical thing of submitting, doing, but it's really a heart thing, an attitude.  If you have a wrong attitude, even though physically you may be submitting, then you are truly NOT submitting.  That was really eye-opening.

I've already made many changes and continue to make changes in my walk with God as an Intentional Christ Follower.  I've talked about them in the prior 17 chapters.  God has a purpose for each of our lives.  Each person that is talked about in the Bible has a purpose, whether the person was a good person that loved God or an evil person against God.  I can learn from each of these people.

The two people I loved most reading about were Esther and Mary, mother of Jesus.  Those 2 chapters moved me the most.  Esther with her submission to her King and husband, though he was not a Christ Follow and Mary, in trusting God with the whole plan for Jesus.  How challenging it must have been for each women to hold onto faith in God's plan, even though they could not see or understand.  The willingly submissive spirit that gave them strength in the face of great trials and tribulation.  They were intentional and received God's blessing for obeying and honoring Him.

I want God to say to me one day, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Listening without needing to put my own thoughts into others.  Be slow to speak, swift to listen.  I love in Proverbs it says that a wife ought to do no harm to her husband, but bring him good all the days of her life.  Sometimes when I have gotten angry at my husband, that's not the case, but the Holy Spirit convicted me of this.  So, when I am upset with him, I'm to think only good thoughts, to bring my husband good, to bless him during this time of upsetness.

I am to continue to guard my thoughts and to think on things that are true, lovely, right and take any stray thoughts captive, submit them to Jesus.  Test my thoughts to see if they are in line with the Word of God and if they're not, then be quick to repent and get healing for my soul.

This has been a wonderful book and study that we went through the past 9+ months and I have enjoyed it, learned a lot, was challenged by it.  My marriage has gotten even deeper and better than before this study began.  It's amazing.  I have also been greatly challenged in my own personal walk with the Lord.

I went through a huge decluttering thing physically of my home.  Before that, I was decluttering relationships, people and things that no longer served me.  I am working now on decluttering my virtual environment.  God is helping me to be intentionally a godlier woman, wife, mother, friend, person and through obeying, I am hearing His voice so much better.  It's not easy, but I feel a greater closeness to my Lord than before this study.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Intentional Woman: Intentional Faith - Chapter 17

Monarch Butterfly at Boyce Arboretum
1.  Write down any thoughts or insights that you gained from reading this chapter.  What was notable to you from the reading?
There was so much in this chapter as she talked about Blasphemy, Holiness, Faith, Trust, Submission, Putting our Hope in Jesus, Girding our Minds, Not to Conform to This World, Be Sober in Spirit.  I think the 2 things that really stuck out to me were Holiness and Girding our Minds.  I'm finding when I can take control of my thoughts and make them obey Christ, things go WAY better than if I just let them run a muck.

This past weekend, I really intentionally focused on this despite physically not feeling well and the Lord just blew me away with how my husband responded.  A soft answer DOES turn away potential wrath, thwarts arguments.  Also, having good body posture that is inviting and friendly is a part of how one responds, as well as quietly with a gentle spirit doing things.  It was a super busy weekend and there was so much to do.

In my spirit I was quiet and gentle (1 Peter 3:4).  I did not entertain any voices of complaining, whining, or pity party (2 Corinthians 10:5).  I focused on the tasks at hand with a cheerful attitude and though I was feeling physically in some pain and like I was starting to come down with something, a merry heart does a body good (Proverbs 17:22).

Having a Christlike attitude without telling my husband, but showing it quietly through the whole weekend really made him take notice.  He made several comments about this in a god way and that made him feel really respected and loved.  Thank you, God!



2.  Describe how your faith in God is demonstrated in your marriage relationship?  In your mothering?  Are there any areas where you have been convicted to be obedient?

As I spend daily time in God's Word, time in prayer, especially on my knees, God is doing some really awesome things.  He's transforming how I see others and seeing them more through His eyes.  Wanting change in others begins with changes in my own life.   My kids and husband are way more responsive when I'm being intentionally calm in how I communicate rather than yelling.

God has convicted since last week that my spirit was not gentle and quiet, so I've been allowing God to work on me in that and I'm seeing some pretty good, positive results.  It's given me power to endure through some long days filled with lots of stuff to do with a godly attitude.

Also, I've been doing a lot of SOAKING in prayer and this has been quite amazing and transforming.



3.  How is disobedience to God's commandments unloving, dishonoring and even blasphemous to the Lord?

It means that we are evilly doing things and that's not good.



4.  In what areas of your life are you like the father with the demon-possessed son, who said to Jesus, "I believe!  Help my unbelief!"

Since I can be a fairly high strung person, to have a quiet, gentle spirit seems so far-fetched.  I definitely cannot do it in my own human power and need the Dunamis, Resurrection power of the Holy Spirit.


5.  From 1 Peter 1:13-16
(13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”) write out your own application of these faith action steps.  How will you be obedient strengthening the faith of your calling as a wife, mother and woman of God?
  • I will gird my mind for action by . . . only entertaining thoughts that please God.
  • I will keep sober in my spirit by . . . by not entertaining entitlement mindsets & thoughts.
  • I will fix my hope in God by . . . memorizing Scripture to remind me of God's promises.
  • I will not conform to the world by . . . taking a lazy way to do things, rather I will take God's way.
  • I will be holy in my behavior by . . . really listening to others, praying about my responses, and doing things in kindness & love.

MAKING IT PERSONAL JOURNAL

Write any thoughts or convictions that you have in regard to this chapter.  What personal lessons concerning Intentional Faith will you apply in your own life?  How will you be more intentional as a woman of God?

I'm going to continue when I sleep to do SOAKING stuff as I'm finding this really healing.  But, I am going to Intentionally LISTEN to others without having to interject my own opinions and thoughts.  And, I'm going to continue to destroy every conversation in my head that with the Power & Authority of Jesus Christ that is ungodly, that tells me I am entitled, and humbly lay down my rights so that I can see true transformation take place in my life and then others, too.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ENTITLEMENT Does NOT Produce a Gentle & Quiet Spirit

Abandoned Car at the Petrified Forest
For the past two years, I have been going nearly weekly to EMDR therapy, which is professional counseling.  Nearly 2 years ago I had a panic attack that I thought was a heart attack.  Thankfully it was not a heart attack.  It was confirmed that my physical heart is in great condition, but the internal, subconscious workings of my mind were very stressed out and in need of great care.

We started out addressing the anxiety I felt with having a job that was stressful for little pay.  My husband a couple months before got hired on full-time as a software engineer working for a Native American government.  They loved him as a contractor and ended up not only paying him what they paid him as a contractor, but gave him 33% above that salary along with full benefits.  That more than made up for the need for my salary and my husband encouraged me to quit my job, which I did within a few weeks of my panic attack.

Since I'd never had a panic attack before, it really felt like a heart attack and it was an awful feeling.  Through these past years, I've addressed with my therapist who is also a strong Christian, many issues I've had that were very deep rooted.  EMDR is a therapy that addresses balancing the left and right hemispheres of the brain that have been traumatized making one hemisphere of the brain continually more over reactive than it ought to be by emotionally reliving traumas, or what you as the individual perceives as traumas.

A trauma could be anything from a little 4 yr old dropping an ice cream cone, her perception of devastation to victims of crimes like rape or war or experiencing murder, etc.  There is the whole gambit.  Because I've done EMDR at two other times in my life, and have been doing EFT for 16 yrs, I have become more attuned to stuff that many people do not notice.  However, there are still things I do not notice unless pointed out to me.  It's all a learning process.

I am grateful to my husband for allowing me to go to these weekly private EMDR therapy sessions, as they are costly.  But, we are seeing good results and more results as time goes by with changes in how I view and do things.  I don't believe talk therapy alone is effective.  And there are many therapies that prescribe medication for which I am not a proponent of usually.  It just masks the roots of the issues and doesn't allow you to get in touch with these things and thus, you continue to live in this state of trauma unless you're medicated.

We've also recently been using acupuncture to address some emotional issues.  Prayer, of course, is the biggest component to all this and for the Holy Spirit to reveal the areas that need to be addressed.  If God wanted to heal me instantly, He can.  BUT, He hasn't.  It's been good that God hasn't instantly healed me because it's forcing me to work through the process of healing and seeing gradual changes as I take actions each week.

For quite a few months now, I've been plagued with a re-addiction to Dr. Pepper.  I've prayed about it so many times, done EFT, and we've addressed quite a few things in EMDR, and we've also one time used some acupuncture.  BUT, to no avail.  However, yesterday's session with my EMDR therapist sparked something that hasn't been sparked in our sessions.  I told her while her doing EMDR on me, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me the root of my anger, frustrations, etc had been coming from the fact that my spirit was not gentle nor quiet, and that God wanted to cultivate a gentle & quiet spirit within me.

What the heck, I was thinking?  In 1 Peter 3:3-5 it says,
  • Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; (NIV)
As part of the Titus 2 Bible study for the past 9 months, I've learned a lot and gained a lot in my walk with God as a woman, wife, and mother.  Why wasn't my spirit gentle and quiet?  It came down to ENTITLEMENT - one's right.  We live in an entitlement culture and society.  And whether you are truly entitled or not, people have continually asserted that you are entitled.  

When you are entitled, you have a different mindset than humbly laying down what you are entitled to.  It is a prideful, selfish attitude.  Look around at all the protests, at all the people who assert themselves.  They say they are doing it for the greater good, but it's not true.  It's very selfish, prideful, aggressive, bullying, destruction, disrespectful, haughty, self-serving.  You must call a spade a spade.  There is no agree to disagree.  It's only one way or all hell breaks loose.
Yes, you got your degree or you have the work experience, but that doesn't mean any company is entitled to give you a job.  You may be a woman, but that doesn't entitle you to become the President of the United States.  You may have given birth to 8 children, but that doesn't entitle you to getting help from anyone.  You may have worked really hard on your project, but that doesn't entitle you to a good grade or that your project will work.  Life IS and can be quite unfair.

My husband commented yesterday that he's been noticing that around the 5-8 pm every day lately, I've been a grouch and ready to start a fight, or just meanly sarcastic.  I've been working to quit drinking Dr. Pepper and maybe without it, that was my 'go to' or crutch, like some women have a glass of wine or two or three each day or men grabbing a few beers to sit in front of the boob tube.  

The Lord has been convicting me that though I may not say anything verbally, my curt attitude, sharp, cutting remarks as well as body language, they all show that my inward attitude is not real good.  Why?  Sometimes I feel like I'm not appreciated or taken for granted, and that I am ENTITLED to be appreciated.  As I've cultivated this attitude with the secret conversations in my head, this has also been tending to the Garden of Entitlement in my mind and creating a spirit that is argumentative, easily offended, bitter, and resentful.  Definitely no signs of a gentle and quiet spirit.
It says in 1 Peter 3:3-5 that God greatly values and finds precious a GENTLE & QUIET SPIRIT.  How do you cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit?

1.  Think on Right Things.  

Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." (NIV)

2.  Discipline Your Thoughts.  

2 Corinthians 10:5 says, "and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ." (HCSB)

3.  Meditate & Memorize Bible Verses.

Psalm 119:11 says, "Your Word I have treasured and stored in my heart, That I may not sin against You." (AMP)

4.  Repent For Sins That Come to Mind and Get Healing For The Sin Trauma

2 Corinthians 7:9-10 says, "But now I am happy—not because I made you sad, but because your sadness made you change your ways. That sadness was used by God, and so we caused you no harm. 10 For the sadness that is used by God brings a change of heart that leads to salvation—and there is no regret in that! But sadness that is merely human causes death." (GNT)

James 5:16 says, "16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]." (AMP)

1 Peter 2:24 says, "24 Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross. He did this so that we would stop living for sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you were healed." (ERV)

5.  Take Authority in Jesus' Name Over Thoughts Over the Demonic

Luke 10:19 says, "19 Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you." (NLT)

Just like anything you want to be successful at, you must discipline yourself to do the things that it takes to be successful.  You must find your Why and Purpose for this success.  It must own you.  And you must get rid of things that impede your success.  True and lasting success is not easy, but well worth it.

If outwardly we show a smile and keep our tongue from spewing out bad things, eventually the things of our heart that are hidden will come out.  Jeremiah 17:9-10 says, "
The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.  But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind.  I get to the heart of the human.  I get to the root of things.  I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.” (MSG)

And I love what Ezekiel 36:26 says, "26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart."  (NLT)

If we allow God to change our heart by changing the things we continually think about, which changes our actions, then our attitudes will also change as we begin to do things God's way, then we will see through God's eyes other people. How amazing and transformed our lives will be for the better.

Let your outside be consistent with your inside.



Monday, April 24, 2017

The Intentional Woman: Esther: Trusting in a Sovereign God - Chapter 16

The Grand Tetons (Summer 2014)

1.  Write down any thoughts or insights that you gained from reading the text and the lesson this week.  What was notable to you from the reading?


The text reading was really short.  Thankfully last week we had a lesson on this from M.  What was notable to me was that Esther was a very godly woman and her husband wasn't.  However, Esther still submitted to her husband and his authority over her where it didn't conflict with God.  I have a lot to learn about submission from Esther.  It's often not easy to submit, at least for me.  God totally blessed and protected Esther as well as her people due to her obedience.

2.  What can you learn about Esther's appeal to her husband?  What did she do?

Esther appealed to her husband through her submission and her ability to respect her husband.  She listened to wise advice and was patient, methodical.  She trusted really in God and was willing to take the negative consequences, if there be that.  She was respectful the whole time.

3.  Do you have like-minded Titus 2 women to help you pray and think wisely about your marriage and mothering?  If not, will you pray for God to bring a prayer partner to your life?

Yes, I do.

4.  How did Esther adapt to and support her husband's leadership and customs without compromising God's Word?  In what ways has God called you to adapt and support your husband's leadership?  List the ways here:

Esther obeyed the King, but she was willing to accept even death for approaching the King.  God calls me to be an encourager to my husband, as well as to let him have the last word on things.  It's not easy, though.  And, God calls me to support my husband and his many hobbies, whether I agree or not.  I often think my husband gets obsessed with things, but learning that as I submit to my husband with a GOOD ATTITUDE, that will win him more to more reasonableness than me having a bad attitude.

Every husband wants to be encouraged, respected, know they are valuable and can make their wife happy.  Every husband wants his wife to believe in him, to trust in him.  It's not easy, but when I keep my focus on God, I can trust my husband and be the wife he needs me to be, and the kind of wife God wants me to be for my husband, to be patient, be kind, and all those other things 1 Corinthians 13 talks about.

5.  Submitting to authority is really a heart issue.  Children resist parental authority.  As we grow, our sinful nature tends to resist whatever authority God brings into our lives to teach us to live under His authority.  Sometimes it is a fear issue, sometimes pride, sometimes wanting to be in control and sometimes just rebellion.  Can you identify any of these areas in your heart when you struggle with submission to your husband's God-given authority?

I am often challenged to submit via my attitude when my husband goes overboard in his "interests".  I'm much more practical, but I know my husband finds enjoyment in his various hobbies and interests and wants me to be supportive here.  My attitude often gets in the way and I really need to be continually before God repenting and asking Him to help me be patient with my husband, to love him in the way he needs to be loved.

MAKING IT PERSONAL JOURNAL

Write any thoughts or convictions that you have in regard to this chapter.  What personal lessons concerning Esther will you apply in your own life?  How will you be more intentional as a woman of God?

Submission is done with a willing attitude, not with a rotten attitude.  I am working on this, but God is identifying a number of areas where my attitude leaves a lot to be desired.  God is keeping me on a short leash here and quickly convicting me when I cop an attitude.