Sunday, January 27, 2008

4th Night Notes

Last week in the video she talked about strongholds, the things in our lives that keep us from fully experiencing God or things that build a wall between us and God.

We have all have had or still have strongholds in our lives that keep us in bondage, that keep us from true worship, that keep us from being all God wants us to be.

Strongholds are satan’s way of keeping us in a cage so that we wont be able to realize our full potential in Christ. They are lies the enemy whispers in our ear to tell us that we aren’t good enough to worship God, that we are hypocrites, that our sins are too many for God to forgive, that the things we have done in the past disqualify us from God’s grace.

The devil’s job is to do whatever is necessary to make sure that we do not clearly hear the voice of God through the Holy Spirit.

Last week, I asked that everyone write down at least one verse that can be used against satan in regard to our personal strongholds. I will compile everyone’s verses under headings and pass them out next week.

So, I guess you have noticed that the majority of this study has to do with the Holy Spirit.

We all have some sort of image of God in our minds and we all have a picture of what we think Jesus looks like (he has brown shoulder length hair, blue eyes and a beard, right? - wrong). But we tend to forget about the Holy Spirit because of His name…..the word spirit makes it hard to picture so we kind of just forget that part of the Trinity.

Day 1 talks about the persistence of God in trying to get our attention.

In 1 Samuel 3:1-10 God called Samuel 4 times before Samuel finally recognized His voice and even then it was Eli who alerted him that it was God speaking.

As a side note, I think it is important to point out that in this case god didn’t speak to Eli - he spoke to Samuel - a boy

1 Samuel 3:1 says, “The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions“.

That should encourage us in that God spoke to a mere boy. He didn’t speak to the priest as you would think, but a normal, everyday boy who chose to worship Him. When we choose to worship Him and stay ‘about His business’, He will speak to us as well.

When Samuel finally recognized that it was God speaking, verses 3:19, 21 tell us that the Lord was with Samuel and revealed Himself to Samuel.

I think when we shut out all the other voices in our heads and acknowledge that the Lord is speaking, He will reveal Himself to us as well.

In John 4:7-26 the Lord spoke to the Samaritan woman 7times - she said in vs. 25 “I know that Messiah is coming”, so that tells us at first she didn’t know that she was actually speaking to the Messiah then finally the Lord says to her “I who speak to you am He”.

Don’t you wonder what she thought at first or wouldn’t it be funny to be able to go back in time and see her expression when she really ‘got it’ that she was talking to the One she had been expecting all her life?

Neither Samuel or the woman at the well recognized Who was speaking to them at first.

How are we like the woman at the well?

We are sinful and sometimes don’t recognize when the Lord is revealing our sins to us - sometimes it takes many tries for God to get through to us.

Read Job 33:15-22

How did God choose to speak in these verses?

Do you believe God still speaks through dreams and visions?

Do you believe God disciplines people with sickness or pain today?

I believe God will go to any lengths to get our attention and turn our hearts back to him - I also believe just like Pastor Arden said on Sunday that there are people who are saved but have turned so far away from God that He takes them to heaven early.

Day 2 on page 50 talks about how God speaks to us personally and individually.

Isaiah 45:3 says “And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.”

He knows our name and calls us by it - can you imagine what it will be like when we are standing face to face with Jesus and He calls us by name? On that day, all our attention will be on Him. There will be no “I’ve got something else to do” or “Can you wait a minute?“ - all of our attention will be His. It is awesome to think about seeing Jesus in person and hearing Him say our name, but the fact is that He calls us by name right here on earth and much of the time we are too distracted and busy to listen.

James 4:17 says “To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

That is a pretty sobering verse. How many times have we known something was the right thing to do and just simply not done it?

On page 50 and 51 she talks about how God commands specific obedience from all of us on some things, but there are other things that He speaks to us individually about . For example, there are people who would say that all secular music is evil, but still others who say it is okay to listen to some secular music - both people may be saved and on their way to heaven, but just disagree because of how the Lord has spoken to them personally.

We sometimes want to impose our personal beliefs on others in a legalistic way - a good example of that is interpretation of scripture.

Many denominations interpret scripture in a different way than we Southern Baptists do. The differences may not make a difference in whether we go to heaven or hell, but we all want to be right so we try to impress our interpretation on them.

Does anyone have an example of how another believer has tried to hold you in bondage to THEIR conviction?

Do you think you judge others based on your personal convictions?

Have someone read Romans 14:12-21

Verse 13 says to stop passing judgement on one another.

Name some things Christians judge other Christians for.

Name some things we judge non-Christians for.

1 Corinthians 8:12 says “And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ“.

On page 51, she talks about the Christian church in Rome and how some of the believers were Jews and some were Gentiles. Their different cultural upbringings caused each group to have differing views on whether certain foods should be eaten or not. Can you think of an example in today’s terms?

Paul tells us that we are not to do something that would cause a brother or sister to stumble. What is something we could do innocently that might cause our brother to stumble?

On page 57, she talks about how we can verify the voice of the Holy Spirit.

We all know the verse in Hebrews that says “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart“. (4:12)

Do you believe the Word of God is living and active?

The Word of God (from the Holy Spirit or from the Bible) is just as relevant for us today as it was for Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah, etc.etc - the Word comes to us in a different form than what they experienced, but it is just as powerful.

The writer of Hebrews said that the Word of God is living and active. Hebrews was written after Jesus ascension (Hebrews 1:3 says “The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven“) and before the destruction of the temple in 70 AD.
John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God”……, this verse being written after Jesus was in heaven shows that the Hebrew writer knew that the Word was living and active even though the Word (Jesus) was in heaven.

Why is the Word living and active? The Holy Spirit

At the top of page 58, she talks about how we sometimes try to steal God’s glory and draw attention to ourselves.

She asks, “How do you feel when you see another woman who obviously seeks attention for herself?” I answered repulsed.

I have to be honest when I read this question, one person immediately came to my mind - someone I see every week - someone who I believe thinks a little too highly of herself. As I was thinking of this person, the Lord brought another person to my mind who fits that description - someone I see everyday when I look in the mirror.

We have been learning how God will not tell us to do anything that contradicts the scripture. No matter how we try to justify what we ‘think’ the Lord is telling us - if it doesn’t align with His Word - we are mistaking what He is saying.

God is never going to tell us to do something that He has clearly forbidden in His Word - and He will not bless disobedience.

If you are dating an unbeliever and you feel like the Lord is giving you the ‘go ahead’ to marry that person - you are dead wrong - it is a sin for you to even be dating an unbeliever much less marry one.

On page 60, how did everyone do on the little ranking quiz?

How many of us listed reading God’s Word as #1?

I think it is pretty telling when you look at how the majority of our time is spent.

On the bottom of page 61 and over on 62, she talks about how Jesus spoke with authority.

Luke 24:32 says “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us…..?”

In Matthew 7:28-29 Jesus spoke and the people were amazed……they were amazed because He taught with Authority!

Can you think of a time when God spoke to you personally with authority?

When I sat down to study this lesson, I had been rushing around and doing this and that. I had taken out the trash and my hands were dirty and need to be washed. When I opened my Bible, God spoke to my spirit and said “you don’t need to handle my Word until you have clean hands and a clean heart” I needed to ‘do business’ with God before He could ‘do business’ with me…..It wasn’t just my hands that needed washing - I had unconfused sin that needed to be brought out and forgiven before He could show me what I needed to learn from His Word.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I wonder.......

I wonder if it is possible for a person's head to actually explode from sinus pressure (it is like my eyes are in danger of actually popping out of their sockets at any minute).......

I wonder why all airflow is cut off to my body when I lay down (you know those dolls that close their eyes when you lay them down? same thing with my nose)............

I wonder how I have a stopped up nose that still runs - isnt that a contradiction in terms?.......

I wonder why I cant hear very well, but the sound of my 4 yr old screeching like a car coming to a stop makes my head swim (it is like a sound that only a dog or a dolphin can hear).......

I wonder why when I turn my head it takes at least 2 minutes for it to actually get there ( I am in a fog, people)..........

I wonder where all this junk in my head has come from (satan I bet).............

I wonder if anyone has ever died from a sinus infection.... I might be the first (If I never post on this blog again, you will know why)

I also wonder why it is that you cannot pour hot chocolate mix into boiling water without it bubbling over like a chemistry experiment, but you can pour boiling water over the hot chocolate mix and nothing happens (I also wonder why I can never remember which is the correct way to do it and why I always end up having to clean up a huge chocolate mess)...

I would love to post something worthy of your reading time, but my head is so full of snot I am too dizzy to think (well, I cant think of anything but summer and the days when I was well).

What I would really love to do is lay down on my couch with my big quilt and go to sleep (for about 6 hours), but that is apparently not a possibility when you have small children (and a husband).

So, when I can think clearly, I will post something that you would actually care to read (unlike this post - sorry for wasting your time).......... :-)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

3rd Night Notes

Here are the notes I have prepared for Wednesday night. Ignore the little 'notes to self' - that is how I keep my place. Also, remember there is a lot of dialogue between each statement. These notes are made up of the things that occurred to me as I was doing my 'homeowrk' (dont you hate people who use quotes all the time? I promise I dont do "air quotes" when I talk to people in person). I use these notes to keep me on track so that I dont end up making and hour and a half class into a three hour class. Anyway, I hope they are easy to understand (I wrote them so they are pretty simple ;-).
This week's study was all about the Miracle of the Holy Spirit

Do we see the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a miracle today?

I don’t think we do.

Maybe its because our culture has a sense of entitlement - maybe we think the Holy Spirit is the least God can do for all the trouble we have to go through here on earth. Maybe its because we don’t understand enough about the Holy Spirit to really grasp the ‘concept’ of being indwelt by the Spirit of God OR maybe, (and this is my personal opinion) we don’t really BELIEVE in the power of the Holy Spirit, so the Holy Spirit is just ‘church talk’ to many of us

The truth is that the miracle of our receiving the Holy Spirit at salvation today is no more of a miracle than when the people we read about in the book of Acts received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

We are at a disadvantage today in that we have so many miraculous inventions and distractions (ie TV, Internet) that we are too busy to notice the Holy Spirit that lives within us. Those people were hungry for a sign from God - our lives are so filled with outside influences that we don’t even have (or take) time to tap into the power God has given us.

Over and over in the Old Testament we read about God speaking to people. Abraham, Moses, etc. etc. all audibly heard God speak to them - there was no question about what God wanted them to do - He told them plainly what to do (dosnt mean they always obeyed, but they knew what to do)

Today God still speaks to us - not audibly but through the Holy Spirit.

Even though we don’t have an audible voice to hear today (we have the still small voice of the Holy Spirit), we are still held just as accountable as Moses, Abraham and other OT believers for how we obey.

In the Old Testament God spoke to His people using His own voice or sometimes angels. In the New Testament He spoke through Jesus and today He speaks through the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is how He has chosen to communicate with us today and we are to obey that voice just as the people in the OT were to obey the direct voice of God.

The manner in which He speaks today is different, but His ultimate purpose is the same - for us to listen to Him and obey what He says.

On page 30, the book talks about how sometimes the Lord confirms His voice to us through others or His word
Does anyone have an example of the Lord speaking to you in a sensational way?

John 16:7 says, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”
Old Testament believers had to go through the priests and make sacrifices to get to God - we get to go directly to God and never have to worry about sacrifices because Jesus took care of that on the cross - He is our sacrifice. We think of the people in the OT as being closer to God, but in reality, we have an advantage in coming to the Lord because of the Holy Spirit.

On page 32, day 2, the title is The Conscience and The Holy Spirit
I think a lot of people confuse their conscience and the Holy Spirit - she makes a good point that even non-Christians can have a moral conscience - we all know unsaved people who live basically moral lives (ie. don’t steal, don’t cheat, etc). The difference is non-Christians do not have the Holy Spirit

Page 35, day 3, starts the section titled The Guidance of the Holy Spirit
I think day 2 and day 3 go together in that the Holy Spirit transforms our conscience to align with the desires of Christ -
The Holy Spirit is not your conscience, but the Holy Spirit is working in and through your conscience to accomplish God’s plan for your life
1 Thessalonians 5:23 says “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ“.
Notice that spirit and soul are mentioned before body.

Most of the time we are more interested in our physical bodies than our spirit and soul

Name some things we do to take care of our physical body

Name some things we do to take care of our spirit/soul

Day 4, page 38 talks about being transformed by the Holy Spirit
Romans 7:14-19 says “For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am made out of flesh, sold into sin's power. For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do.”

On page 38, what did you say was the biggest battle between flesh and spirit?
From the time we are saved (even before) the Holy Spirit is working to make us like Jesus - we/ourselves are the roadblock - we don’t allow the Spirit to perfect us - a lot of the time our problem is that we have too much of the world in us to enjoy Jesus and too much of Jesus in us to enjoy the world.

On page 39, how many of you answered that you struggle most to present your mouth as a living sacrifice ?
Day 5 - Led By the Holy Spirit
When we are saved, the Holy Spirit begins to change our hearts and minds so that what we may have done before we no longer want to do -The Holy Spirit is kind of like a marriage counselor - Jesus is the Bridegroom and we are the bride - the Holy Spirit helps keep us tuned into our Bridegroom - the Spirit helps us remain faithful to our Bridegroom

The problem is that we are fickle - even though we have the Spirit - we don’t always listen and are not always faithful in our relationship with God - thankfully He is faithful when we are not

Have you ever thought of your love of the world, things, etc as committing adultery?

If your husband came to you and said, “Honey, I love you, but I also love a few other women and I like to spend time with them and spend money on them just as much as I like to do those things for you”

Wouldn’t you say that is adultery?

Same thing with our relationship with God - when we (the bride) make the things of this world as important as our relationship with God, we are committing adultery

On page 42, What is the difference between seeking God’s will and seeking Him?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dash **Updated**

Dash had his birthday party on Saturday night - thought you might want to see some pics. He was surprised that we all dressed up. Everything went well with one exception : He threw up everything he ate (cake and all - not pretty) that night when he went to bed. Don't worry, he isn't sick, he just has a cough. Occasionally Dash starts coughing and makes himself throw up. (And yes, Jennifer, I cleaned it up all by myself - my husband would actually die before he cleaned up vomit). I would also like to thank Jennifer Partin and Janel for the awards they sent me! I am undeserving, but very appreciative -- see my sidebar for details! :-) Even though I am a MOSH (mother of a superhero), I dont get many awards, so thank you. The rewards of being a mother to a superhero are many, but it is always nice to be recognized - thank you both!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Pulling Our Weight

Hebrews 10:24-25
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the Day approaching.

Church membership is a hot topic today. If you want to make people mad, then tell them they need to be a member of a local church (by local, I mean not the 'global' church). I recently had a conversation with a woman who said that she worships at home by herself. She said that she found the people in the church to be hypocrites, socialites, and liars. I agree that churches are full of those types. We all know people who come to church for the wrong reasons (admit it - you are thinking of some examples as you read this, arent you?). There will always be people who come to church for social reasons or to 'be seen' by the community. There will always be people who come to church only on Easter and Christmas Eve. There will always be people who gripe about everything that happens (good or bad) in the church. There is no such thing as a perfect church or perfect church family on this earth.

The church is known as the 'body' of Christ. When we are saved, we become part of that body. Each part of the body (each member) has a gift or talent -- something they are called to do. When a member of the body (a saved person) cuts themself off from the body by "forsaking the assembling", they become disconnected and cause the body not to function properly. When we receive salvation, we also receive responsibility in the body of Christ. Like the heart, lungs, liver, etc, we each have a job to do and when we lay down on the job, the body of Christ does not function at 100%. In other words, we cannot accomplish God's purpose by sitting on our couch watching Joel Osteen (see funny by Jennifer).

People get so frustrated when they try to do or be something in the church that they were not created to do. We also get frustrated with others who do not do what they are supposed to. When we don't do what God called us to in the church, we are a drain on the body of Christ. When we don't pull our weight in the body, we put a strain on the other members (our brothers and sisters) and we cause the body to be unhealthy. I think it is better to find your gift and place in the body and work well in that area. Rather than trying to do a thousand things "half-way", it is better to do what you are called to do well.

We were born-again into a family with billions of siblings, yet that does not mean that the responsibility of God's purpose does not fall on us. We are called to participate in fulfilling God's purposes. God has allowed us to be a part of a local group of believers so that together we can accomplish tasks for His Kingdom. There are believers who live in remote areas of the world who may be forced to worship alone, but for most of us we are blessed to be near a local church where we can worship and serve God with our brothers and sisters in Christ. God never called us to be loner-Christians, so sitting on the couch just wont do.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Baby Is 4

At 9:14 am on January 15th, 2004, we welcomed our baby Kaden into the world. He was a month early and only weighed around 5 lbs. I know I am a little (actually a lot) biased, but he was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen - I think it was because he was so small he looked like a doll I had when I was little (only that doll was named Debbie like all my other dolls - remember Debbie Boone? Loved her). It is so hard for me to believe that he is already 4 years old. He has a personality that draws people (especially other children) to him and the best word I can use to describe him is "fun". He lives to play and loves his brother madly - they are fun to watch together - when they grow up they are gonna have some hilarious stories to tell their children. It is not unusual for me to be working around the house and feel Kaden hug my leg and kiss my hand. I hear 'I love you, Mommy" several times a day. He has the sweetest voice and I love to hear him recite his AWANAS Bible verses. He catches onto most any concept or activity very quickly - maybe because he is a second child, maybe because he is unusually bright or maybe because I am biased (see above). He is quirky in a funny way - he hates the sight of dryer lint and he thinks he is Dash off the Incredibles movie and gets mad if we call him anything other than "Dash". He cracks us up with the things he says - there is never a day that we don't laugh hysterically at his antics. He and his brother are pure joy and I love them desperately.

Shortly after Kaden was born, I came down with/got/contracted (not sure what the correct term is) Bell's Palsy (the whole right side of my face was paralyzed and drooping). His birth (my second emergency c-section) was much easier than the birth of my first son, so I wasn't in as much pain and I had no 'baby blues'. I woke up the morning of March 8th to feed my new little bundle of joy and I thought my face felt strange - I couldn't feel the right side at all. I just assumed I had slept hard and laid on that side for too long. I fed the baby and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and quickly realized something was terribly wrong. I went to where my husband was still in bed and I showed him my face. He sat up in bed and looked at me - I knew he saw the problem. When I talked, the right side of my mouth never moved which caused my speech to be somewhat slurred. I remember crying like a baby and my husband saying, "I think I know what is wrong. A guy I used to work with got this and it only lasted 2 weeks." We called his parents to watch the boys and we went straight to the E.R.

When we got to the E.R., they took me straight back to a room, because they suspected I had a stroke (I was terrified - remember Grandma on the Waltons?). After several tests, the doctor came back and said it was Bell's Palsy and it would probably be better in a few weeks. Then the doctor, Dr. Runnels said something I will never forget. He said, "Would you mind if I prayed for you right now?". I was shocked - I never had a doctor ask to pray for me before. Of course I said yes as I cried - I cried because I looked like a stroke victim AND because this doctor wanted to pray for me. I went home with the hope that this crazy palsy would be gone very soon. To make a long story short, after several visits to neurologists and specialists, I was told that stress, hormones, and lack of sleep may have caused this problem and I may never recover from it fully. I spent a year going to physical therapy where they shocked my face constantly for 20 minutes at a time - very painful.

What I was told would probably be a two week affliction turned into one year of looking like a stoke patient. During this time, God dealt with me on so many issues. He showed me how vain and proud I was and how independent of Him I was. I cannot tell you how many days I couldn't wait until my husband would leave for work so I could lay in the floor and just cry. I would put the boys down for their nap and cry and pray and ask God 'why me?'. You see, Bell's Palsy isn't a life threatening thing - it is a vanity threatening thing. When you look in the mirror and see someone else, it shakes up every area of your life. It is hard to explain unless you have been there, but your face is 'you' and when you see someone other than the 'you' you have always known, it is very disconcerting. The fact that there is nothing you can do about it adds insult to injury. Let's face it, we women are not happy when something is not right on our face!

I will never forget taking a trip to Cincinnati to see the Reds play. We went with some friends and I thought I was much better (not sure if I was just used to seeing my face or if I had quit looking at it). We had awesome seats - in the 'businessman's section'. Our friend who lives there has season passes and we got the royal treatment. We were sitting in front of some business men and I kept hearing them laugh - they were drinking beer (the smell of which makes me nauseous). I was enjoying the game even though it was so hot that day. I remember looking up at the Jumbo-tron (that big screen where they show the screaming fans) and seeing my family on that huge screen. In an instant I noticed that the face that I thought was better, was really not better at all. And to make matters worse, the men behind me were making fun of me. Those men laughed and snickered and said awful things about ME- I was so embarrassed for me and for my husband. You see, I have never been a beauty queen, but I have never known anyone to make fun of the way I look before. If I could have crawled under that seat I would have. It was all I could do to keep from breaking out into the 'ugly cry' (you know the one where your shoulders go up and down and you have black makeup streaks all over your face). I held back the tears - I would have rather died than to have those men see me cry because of them ---more pride.
That experience caused me to be much more sensitive to people who are 'different' or handicapped in some way. Not that I ever made fun of them, but now I sympathize - I have 'been there' in a small way. When I first got the Bell's Palsy and realized that it wasn't going to be over quickly, I was mad that God would let this happen. I mean, I should be enjoying my new baby and didn't I have enough to worry about without this?

God soon showed me that He was using that palsy to refine me in ways I can't even describe to this day. He showed me that I am dependent upon Him for everything -- whether I like to admit it or not, I can do nothing apart from Him. He showed me that my worth has nothing to do with how I look. He showed me that my purpose is to serve and trust Him even when I don't understand what He is doing. He taught me that He works on His timetable and not mine. He showed me from the beginning that I had to 'keep on keeping on' for my kids even though I wanted to stay home until I was better. He helped me stop focusing on me and start focusing on Him. I have since had the opportunity to encourage several other women I know who have had to deal with Bell's Palsy. After about a year of struggling with Bell's Palsy, the Lord saw fit to heal me (not completely, but probably about 95%). I still have residual effects, but the lessons I learned are worth that 5% that I am left to deal with.

So, the birth of my sweet Kaden brought about lots of joy, but lots of hard lessons as well. I wouldn't trade those lessons for any amount of money and I DEFINITELY wouldn't trade my sweet baby K for anything in the world. I pray that I never, ever have to go through that embarrassment and pain (did I mention that I was dizzy and in terrible pain that whole year?) again, but I am thankful that the Lord was so sweet to heal me and so loving in His discipline. I pray that I never forget those lessons He taught me in the desert and I pray that I can share what He has taught me with others.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Let Peace Rule

Colossians 3:15 says, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful". I have not done a great job of letting peace rule in my heart over the past few days. Some circumstances have caused me to let worry rule in my heart. Why is it that sometimes I let my circumstances seem bigger than my God? I have spent three days worrying over something that I have no control over. I know that God does have control, but I have spent this time fretting instead of trusting. I am not normally one to get so flustered and let worry take over, but this time I have done a poor job of letting peace rule.

I have always thought that peace is the key to discerning whether someone is walking with the Lord or if they are a 'carnal Christian' (I hate that term, but I am having a problem coming up with another one right now). I know people who claim to be saved, yet chaos rules every area of their life - some of them even thrive on chaos. I am not saying a Christian's life will always be peaceful, perfect and stress-free, but someone who trusts the Lord and 'leans not to his/her own understanding' will not live their life in a constant state of alarm, turmoil, and panic. Do you know anyone who professes to be a Christian, yet shows no sign of peace in their heart because they let circumstances rule their life? I know several, but I never want to be that type of person.

I know a person who claims to know the Lord. She left her husband for someone else. They have a blended family where there is always trouble with kids and exes. There is never a time when there isn't some sort of traumatic thing going on in that family. This person thrives on turmoil and chaos. We all know people like that. People who say they are Christians, but have no peace. Am I the only one who wonders if those people are actually saved? (I know I am not the judge, but I am called to witness to the lost - can't witness to the lost if I can't discern who the lost are).

I have not mentioned my recent worries to anyone other than my mother and husband, but I wonder if people can sense my worry . Maybe I have been distant or not attentive - maybe other people have sensed that I am not at peace. Maybe I have appeared to others as one of those people who claim Jesus, but have no inner peace that passes understanding. I doubt that is the case, but inward worry could certainly lead to outward signs and lead others to believe that I do not know Jesus. It occurred to me this morning that worry leads to more worry and when we worry we create chaos in our own lives which is seen and sensed by others. (I know that was a long, run-on sentence,but I am struggling today - give me a break ;-). Which leads me to the question: Do others see peace ruling in my heart or do they see chaos and turmoil ruling?
We all know people who are so concerned and troubled that they can't seem to concentrate on anything. Their inward worry has manifested itself outwardly and everyone can see that there is conflict in that person's life.

There are so many verses in the Bible that tell us 'do not worry'. God knew that we would be a bunch of worry-warts so He made sure to tell us over and over to stop worrying. He also knew that our unbelief would lead to worry and worry would lead to us being a poor witness to His power. Not only is worrying a sin, but it makes us a terrible witness to others. The Lord has been dealing with me on this for the past couple of days--just thought I would share with you what He has been saying to me. I have had a terrible time keeping my thoughts straight this morning and as you can see I have also had a terrible time putting them into writing. Sorry for the rambling randomness. Here are a few 'worry' verses. Maybe you need to read them today or maybe you need to share them with someone else.

Matthew 6:34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Luke 12:22[ Do Not Worry ] Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.
Matthew 6:25[ Do Not Worry ] "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Luke 12:26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Luke 21:14But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.
Matthew 6:28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
Luke 12:29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it
Luke 12:11"When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say,
Matthew 10:19But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say,
Matthew 6:31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
Matthew 6:27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?
Luke 12:25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Okay, so I got this award from Jenny (did y'all notice that link? I am so tech savvy ;-). Anyway, I thank Jenny (link again) for her encouragement. She is a sweet, sweet girl who loves the Lord. You all need to go to her blog and check out her memo in case you missed it.

Here comes my acceptance speech (because I will never get an Oscar, this is as close as I will ever get):

I would like to thank Jenny for thinking of me and making me laugh when I read her blog. I would like to thank all the little people who helped make this possible (by little people I mean Lake and Kaden who are sometimes quiet while I am blogging). I would like to thank Jesus for giving me the Word. I would like to thank all the teachers who taught me English (even though I am not very good at using the language properly). I would like to thank my husband for marrying me when no one else would (even though he does not read my blog and really doesnt even know what a blog is). And lastly, I would like to thank all the sweet people who read my blog and comment (heck, I am even thankful for those who dont comment - but a word every once in a while would be nice ;-). You guys are a bright spot in my day!

I am supposed to pass this along to some other people, but I am afraid I will leave someone out or hurt someone's feelings - I know, I need counseling (and after today I also need some valium - just kidding). I read all the blogs on my sidebar everyday so I guess you could say I get my daily dose of all of them.

Thanks Jenny!!!!
My class notes for Night #2 are below just in case you are interested.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Notes For Night #2

Class went very well last night. Our small group turned into a group of about 32 ladies - All ages (mostly mid 30's, but some 40's, 50's and some 20's). We had a fun time with our get-to-know you game - we laughed our heads off at some of the ladies' answers. One of the questions I had to answer was : What is your biggest pet peeve? There are so many, how is a girl to decide? Anyway, I went with girls/women who wear thong underwear and want us all to know it. You know, the women who wear thongs that come up over the back of their jeans - - these women bend over - alot. Some of them say things like "I always wear a thong so you can't see my panty line". Now, I dont tell you about my granny panties, so what makes you think I wanna know about your thongs? The criteria for the underwear I buy is that it WILL NOT go into places that it shouldn't - who wants to constantly have to pull your underwear out of 'there'? Why would anyone want to buy underwear that purposely goes right into 'no man's land'? Defies all logic, if you ask me. Apparently the ladies in my group know the women of which I speak because they laughed -- hard - they laughed hard.

Anyway, I wanted to type up my notes for next week early so I could add/subtract over the next 6 days. Here is what I have so far. . . . . . . . . . . .
We Christians are funny people. By that I mean that we place emphasis on alot of unimportant things. We argue over dress, over styles of worship, over music, and all sorts of other differences. The truth of the matter is that for a Christian there is only one thing that matters eternally. For a Christian, everything rises or falls on RELATIONSHIP.

This week we have learned how to aniticipate God's voice.

Jeremiah 33:3 says 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'

Last week I asked if any of us have ever had doubts that God speaks to us and almost everyone of us raised our hands. Let me ask you this.......

If God Himself came to you in person and spoke a word just for you, would you believe Him? Would you believe that He speaks to you?

Our first reaction is to say "Of course, I would believe!", but the Israelites saw what He did in Egypt - they saw the plagues and the passover and the exodus, but they still didn't really believe Him. His presence was with them in the form of a cloud yet they still didnt believe in Him fully. So, what did they do? They made idols. They worshipped hand made images instead of the God that delievered them. Maybe we shouldnt be so quick to think ourselves so civilized and spiritual---we have much in common with the Israelites and unbelief is just the beginning. The Israelites were fickle people. They believed God when things were good and when things didn't go as they wanted, they made idols----remind you of anyone?

In Habakuk 1:2-3 we see Habakuk asking God "How long?" and "Why?". Everyone of us has asked that question at some time in our life (maybe several times in our lives).

Habakuk 1:5 gives us the answer to "How long?" and "Why?" --- It says, "Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told". In other words, the answer to your questions "How long?' and "Why?" are coming if you will only look, watch, and be amazed at ME. God says, the work is not yours to do, but Mine. Sometimes there is work to be done on our part, other times God says, step back, hold your hands up and let Me do My thing for your good and My glory.

Could your expectancy level be a factor in how often and how clearly you hear God's voice?

In Matthew 9:22, Jesus told the woman who was bleeding "take heart daughter, your faith has healed you" - this woman had faith that she would be healed. Could it be that our faith determines whether or how often we hear a word from God?

Many of us pray with doubt in our hearts - we are praying doubters. It's like we are saying "God, I want you to do this, but I doubt you really will". Expectancy is KEY. We pray with an attitude of defeat not expectation - we pray as though God is not big enough to handle our requests. Not only do we doubt He is big enough, but alot of the time we pray asking for direction when we know full well we are going to do what we want to do anyway.

When you were dating, if your future husband came to you and said, "I want to marry you, but we have to wait three years", would you have said "I love you, but I really dont want to wait so ---see ya, I need to go my own way". No, you would have said, "I dont like the wait, but I am willing because I love you that much." Same thing in our relationship with God. If we value His opinion and presence in our lives, then we should be willing to wait on Him.

We have to realize that there is purpose in the process of waiting on the Lord. The things you experienced as a child and teenager have shaped your personality and character and made you the person you are today. Had your life been different, your personality and character would be different as well. There was purpose in your growing up experience - there is purpose in your 'wait time'. During your wait God can change your heart or the hearts of others, He can change your circumstances, He will make things work out for your good in His time. The wait time is not wasted time, but a time for you to grow and change -- it is necessary for His plan and for your growth.

Luke 8:18 says "So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.”

Those who listen and OBEY will be given understanding - those who dont will lose what little understanding they have. That should scare us to death! We do not want to lose our understanding of the things of God........

Habakuk 2:1 says "I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved".

Habakuk expected reproof --- are we willing to accept reproof or do we expect God to be our "yes man"?

Over and over in the Bible we see examples of how God responds to people who do not obey Him. When we know His word and dont obey it we sin and therefore must reap the consequences. When we disobey for an extended period of time, we eventually lose our ability to hear God's voice. Anyone who has ever lived through a period of blatant sin knows this truth all too well. Our hearts become calloused to the things of God and our ears close to His voice.

Eccelesiastes 5:1-2 says "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.
Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few". In other words, keep our ears open and our big mouths shut!

There have been times that my kids have wanted to help me do something and I have told them no - I wouldnt tell them this, but the reason I said no was because they might mess up what I am trying to accomplish.
We know that Psalm 46:10 says "Be still and know that I am God". Sometimes we are supposed to act, sometimes God says to just 'be still and let Me work My plan because you would just mess the plan up anyway.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bible Study Notes for Night #1

I told you guys I would post my notes for the Bible study I begin leading tomorrow night. I wish I had done this for the last studies I led. Maybe sometime I will get a chance to post the old notes as well. Please disregard grammatical errors - these are for me to refer to - no one else will see them (well, no one in my class). The first night I always play a get-to-know you game of some kind. This time I am passing out a huge bowl filled with Starbursts, Lifesavers, and Jolly Ranchers and I am telling each person to take 4 pieces of candy in different colors. Then I pass out a paper that has questions labeled with the colors ---for example if you pick a red piece of candy you have to tell everyone "What is one goal you would like to accomplish before you die?". Corny, I know, but a good way to get to know people.

I am also giving a "pop quiz" tomorrow night. The questions are as follows:

1. Who does God talk to?
2. Does God talk to you?
3. How do you know God talks to you?
4. How does God talk to you?
5. When does god talk to you?
6. Why does God talk to you?
7. What do you want to get from this study?

This way the ladies can look back at their answers in 6 weeks and see if any of them have changed or if they got the answers they wanted from this study.

Over the next 6 weeks, we are going to be learning how to distinguish the voice of God from all the other voices we hear telling us what to do (including our own).

I think we all have times when we question whether something we are doing or getting ready to do is of God or if we are going out on our own without His blessing (I am good at that - an expert actually). This study is going to help us all learn to know when God is speaking to us. We’ll talk more about that later.

I have said this before, but I think it is important to say it again. I heard Chuck Swindoll say that 90% of Christians pray 30 seconds or less per day. That means we spend more time talking to our dogs than we do talking to God. We spend more time picking out our shoes for the day than we do talking to God.

Have someone read Jeremiah 2:32
32 Does a maiden forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number

This verse tells us that God is shocked that His people can go days without fellowship with Him.
Have someone read Psalm 5:1-3
"Give ear to my words, O Lord. Consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King and my God. For unto Thee will I pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning. O Lord in the morning, will I direct my prayer unto Thee and will look up." There are several other verses that speak to meeting God in the morning.

Just like God said to give the first fruits of your money because that determines what I’m gonna do with the rest of it ---He says give me the first part of your day because that determines what I’m gonna do with the rest of it.

Do I believe that we REQUIRED to come to God in the morning? No, but there must be something to it since He made it a point of mentioning that to us in His word.

Let’s all try to make it a point to meet God first thing in the morning - maybe that is not the time you have your Bible study, but let's definitely meet Him with prayer that He will help us to really GET what He is telling us through this study and that He will help us to actively listen and anticipate Him speaking to us.

They say that habits are formed by doing something repeatedly for 6 straight weeks, so if you don’t have a daily quiet time or have gotten out of the habit of having a quiet time - this study is going to be a great way to get into or back into the habit.

Matthew 17:5
While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud covered [a] them, and a voice from the cloud said:
This is My beloved Son.
I take delight in Him.
Listen to Him!

He didnt say obey, He didnt say serve, He didnt say worship in this verse -----He said LISTEN!!!! You cant listen to someone who does not speak, can you?

Do you really believe that God speaks today?

We have all heard people say “God spoke to me” or the “the Lord is leading me to do….”, but do you really believe it?

Raise your hand if you have ever had doubts that God will speak directly to you….

Do you expect Him to speak to you - are you listening for Him to give you a specific Word meant just for you?

We have all heard it said that our faith is not a religion, it’s a relationship……how can you have a relationship with someone who cannot communicate with you?

God loved us enough to send Jesus to die for us, He loves us enough to speak to us. Over and over the Bible tells us that God is jealous for us. He made each one of us, He is jealous because He is not first in our lives, He sent His son to die for us----does that sound like Someone who will not speak to us personally.

He says He is the Good Shepherd and ‘My sheep know my voice’ - how can we know the voice of someone who does not speak to us? We can’t.

John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God”………He IS the Word……what does the Word do? It speaks.

At the end of class I will ask everyone to get on their knees facing their chair and pretend Jesus is there in that chair. We will confess that we dont always or have not always believed that He talks to us ---that there have been times He has spoken and we have ignored Him, we need to be forgiven for our unbelief and we are asking for a fresh Word directly from HIM to us.

And barring any major catastrophe, that will be Night #1...............

I will post notes from Night #2 as soon as they are put in understandable form..................... :-)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Running Ahead

Don't you hate it when you open someone's blog page and it is the same post you read a week ago? If you said yes to that question, then you are hating me right now ;-). I have been busy with back to school and 'new house stuff' and quite frankly, I haven't had anything blogworthy to say in the past week. I have been studying for the class I begin leading on Wednesday night (Priscilla Shirer's Discerning the Voice of God). It is another great study by Priscilla and I highly recommend to everyone. I think discerning the voice of God is sometimes confusing to all of us, especially to new Christians. I think it is puzzling because many people are not sure how or IF He really speaks to us.

Do you believe that God speaks to people today? I mean do you REALLY believe it? We say things like "I believe the Lord is telling me to...." or "The Lord is really speaking to me in the area of.....", but do we really mean that or are we taking our own thoughts and pretending they are the voice of God? OR, how many times do we pray about something knowing full well we are going to do what we want to do?

It's been years since I did Experiencing God, but I remember one of the big parts of that book was about the ways God speaks to us (circumstances, people, His Word, etc). I think when it comes to hearing God's voice, we have two main problems: 1. We don't know how to listen 2. We don't like to wait.

God can speak to us in any way He chooses, but much of the time we are too busy worrying to listen to what He is saying. When we are praying for or about something, He may bring the subject up in lots of different places with lots of different people and use them to confirm which way we should go. He may direct us to a verse in the Bible that speaks to what we are praying about or He may orchestrate circumstances to just 'work out' for us. The truth is that sometimes we are just too busy or preoccupied to see what He is doing for us.
It's funny, there is something that I have been wondering and praying about for a few years now. I feel like God may be leading me to do something and it is a huge undertaking. Lately, I have been feeling an urgency about starting this 'project' and I cannot tell you the number of people who have mentioned this same thing to me. I have had people whom I dont even know and ahve never even spoken to before talk to me about this very thing in one way or another.

The other problem, waiting, is one that I personally have the biggest problem with. I mean, really, does anyone LIKE to wait? I like to make things happen on my own and hope that God will bless it, but I usually end up falling flat on my face. In my own experience, running ahead of God never works. We live in a fast-paced society and we dont like to wait for anything. We feel as though we are wasting time when plans aren't coming together as fast as we want them to. We want to manipulate God and manipulate circumstnaces when what we really need to do is wait on Him. There is much to be learned in the process of waiting - there is purpose in the process of waiting.

God is not McDonald's. There is no 'may I take your order, drive to the first window' with God. He will carry out his plan in His own time and teach us in the process. A brain surgeon doesn't become a brain surgeon overnight. He starts out with core college classes, then moves on to med school, then to specialized training, then residency, and so on. He starts with the desire to become a doctor and ends several years later with a license to practice. The many years of learning and training are what makes him ready to perform surgery-- without the process he is just a 'wannabe' (and nobody wants a 'wannabe' opening up their brain). Same with us. We start out with a desire, we pray about it, we wait and while we wait God changes us and teaches us. He may make our desires a reality or He may change our desires to fit His will. Either way, the wait has a purpose only known to God. The wait is just as, if not more important, as the end result--that is a hard concept to grasp, but one that can change your life if you let it.

God's job is to work everything out for His glory, not ours. Our job is to continue listening for His voice (everywhere) and to continue praying for His will to be done. His job is NOT to conform to our wants and our job is NOT to run ahead of Him and go our own way. Easier said than done sometimes, but necessary - very necessary.

Pray for me and the women who will be taking my class. Last time I had around 38 women -- not sure how many will be in this one. I see women who never open their Bibles except on Sunday mornings - pray that they make a habit out of daily Bible study (they say habits are formed in 6 weeks - this class lasts 7 weeks). These women come to class from work or from a long day with their kids and they are tired - pray that they will make time to study and see it as a blessing not another chore. Pray that my kids stay healthy during this time so that I will not have to miss (my husband works odd hours sometimes and may not be able to keep them). Pray that unsaved women will come and hear something that pricks their heart.

I am thinking that I might post my notes for each weeks class for you guys to read.

Time to get in the shower -- more later.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year---New Things

Isaiah 48:6
You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled,but you refuse to admit it.Now I will tell you new things,secrets you have not yet heard.

Romans 4:17
That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

Titus 3:5
He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 65:17
"Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.

Isaiah 43:19
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 42:9
See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you."

I love to visit blogs I have never seen before. It isnt something I have a lot of time to do, but occasionally, I have a few minutes to click around and check out blogs that are new to me. Recently, I clicked on a blog as I looked through the posts I noticed that every post was simply a verse from the Bible. I like to look at these blogs to take a peek into the lives of the people who created them, so I wasnt expecting to see Bible verses as the only thing in every post. I quickly clicked out of that blog and moved on to another more interesting one. Then it hit me, I just closed the door on Jesus Christ Himself. John 1:1 says "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God". When I left that blog in haste, I might as well have said "Jesus, you are boring to me, so I am moving on to more interesting topics". After all, is the Word of God written in a blog or on a computer screen any less powerful than it is in any other form? The Word of God, whether on a screen or written in a book, is "living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart".The Word of God is the Word from God no matter where you read it. And God can speak to us however He chooses - why not through a blog?

I realized that day that sometimes I have more interest in what a mere person has to say than I do in what the One and Only has to say to me. I am not saying that I don't have quiet time with the Lord, but maybe there are times aside from just my everyday ordinary quiet time that He wants to talk to me. I am embarrassed to say that I know there are times when I am too busy or too uninterested to listen to what He has to say to me. I get busy and I know He is urging me to spend time with Him, but sometimes I procrastinate and miss out on whatever it is He wants to share with me. Stupid of me, I know. What could be more important than a Word from God's mouth to my heart? Ummmmm, NOTHING.

I seem to be an expert at giving more attention to other people than I do to God. I don't think there is anything wrong with viewing other people's blogs, as a matter of fact, I am blessed everyday by what I read on many of your blogsites. What IS wrong is when I look at the Word and see it as irrlevant to me. I don't just do this in blog land, but in my home as well. There are so many times when I should sit down with the Lord, but I choose to do something else instead.

When you saw the verses I listed above, did you read through them all or did you scan to see if I personally had something to say? (Trust me I have nothing to say that would be anywhere near as significant to you and your life as the Holy Bible).

The above verses talk about new things that the Lord has done and will do in the future. I pray that He helps me get over myself (and others) and focus on the 'new things' He wants to do in me in 2008. Isaiah 43:9 says, "Behold, I am doing a new thing!". I am banking on this promise in my own life. Lord Jesus, I need you to do a 'new thing' in me (and I really need it soon ;-) - a new post concerning impatience coming soon :-).

Happy First Day of 2008!