Monday, February 28, 2011

God's Portion, Position, and Promise

It was storming, and I had such a headache and felt so tired! I figured I could just go to bed early, read a little, I try to always read before bed. I thought "what do I read?" I picked up What Happens When Women Walk in Faith and decided to read a chapter in that and then a little from my favorite author, Jane Kirkpatrick. So I did just that.

This is the final chapter in the death phase, and somehow as I've read through this book I have felt as if I have gone through the phases with each section. That is pretty exciting since "Resurrection" is next! I don't know if the resurrection of my God dream will happen by the time I finish this book, but I do believe God will have done more work in me. I want to be one of His shining masterpieces. It makes me tear up just thinking about becoming more like that, His masterpiece.

In this final chapter of death, sounds ominous, Lysa reminds me of who this is all for anyway. God birthed a dream in me as a little girl. I am not sure exactly when, but as early as ten years-old I knew this was a God dream for my life. Twenty-five plus years later, and that dream has felt crushed at times, but I know it is just as much His gift to me then ever. Funny, the dream is a gift from Him. I know that the fulfillment of the dream will be one of the most glorious, remarkable things to ever happen to me, but thinking about the dream is also a gift to me.

But there will be times when I will grumble and fear and focus on the path with it's twist and turns, valleys and pitfalls. In those times I need to remember that He is more portion. Some of Lysa's words literally flew up and hit me and made me say "amen!" right out loud. Chester, the cat, was annoyed by that since he was busy sleeping at my feet, but I smiled at him and told him, "that Jesus was talking to me." She wrote about the big lie of satan. The lie that I have to do everything right to make God notice, to make God work.

Sure there are important things I need to do in order to grow closer to God. I have to read His Word, which I have fallen in love with doing. I have to pray. I have always prayed to God like a conversation. It isn't flowery, but it is real. I have found I talk to Him more and more. But I do those things not to get Him to see me. Satan wants me to think I have to do them. I have to be good. I have to grip on tight and try not to make any mistakes in my day. He tries to make me believe I have "be" before God will do.

That is so wrong! I know that in my head, but sometimes my heart and emotions see the situation and I think, "I just need to be better." But God! God is my portion! God knows I will not be able to do that. He knows I will fall down. I will get angry at rude students, a dog that has to go out for the millionth time, and friend who says something insensitive. He knows my weaknesses and failures and yet He is my portion. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9a

He fills up all the empty spaces in me, all the weakness with His strength. And He notices me. He sees everything about me. I don't have to do anything to get His attention. He knows me and is at work all the time.

Sometimes when I am driving and stop at a red light I look over at the car next to me. I will probably never see that person again. I have no idea what he or she is going through. I have no idea of that person's beliefs, struggles, pains, or joys. But I sit there and am amazed that God does! I am in awe!

God's position in my life is important too. God must be first! So often, if I'm being honest, He isn't. I could get stuck in that and feel shame and guilt, but that wouldn't be putting Him in first place. That would still be me in first place! My focus wouldn't be on Him, but on my lack of Him.

It is also easy to get caught up on focusing on the dream He birthed in me. I mean twenty-five plus years is a long time and plenty of opportunity to spend thinking about it more than Him. But He is the promise maker! It is His dream for my life. I have to focus on Him and allowing Him to work the dream through to completion.

It is God's promise. He leads me through he necessary to get to the Promised Land. The troubles, the desert places, all of those are making me more like Him, more ready to receive the promise. I have to develop into the person who can receive the promise. I have to mature, experience, and be formed in order to be ready for all that the promise brings. At ten, I wasn't ready. At thirty I wasn't ready. Today I'm not ready, but He promised His dream for me. So I know He will make me ready, each trial and triumph at a time, because God always keeps His promises.

This phase is a gift from Him. It breaks away, kills, some of me that isn't right for the dream. It has grown me closer to Him. It has let me see His love and learn to trust in Him. It sounds weird to say I am joyful, giddy almost with joy, in this phase, but I am.

I said before that I read and planned to got to bed early. I did that. I read and then prayed. I didn't get far in my prayers. I remember talking to Him about how powerful He is. I woke up about an hour later, only a few minutes after 9. My toes were tingling. I know that sounds weird, but God was rushing through me so much my feet couldn't be still. I was loving it and being driven by it to. It drove me right out and bed and onto the blog to post. I can't explain Him, but He is moving. He is working. He is what I repeatedly think is impossible. He is opening me up and spilling out through me. Right now the clock just struck 10 and I may regret this at 4:30 when the alarm goes off, but right now I am overwhelmed by His love!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

God Isn't Surprised by Death

Deep in the death phase of What Happens When Women Walk in Faith and feeling like I'm dying for real! No one ever said that this life would be easy or that it would even make sense. Not even really sure what is going on, but I'm a bit of an emotional basket case right now. I believe it is something breaking, dying, something that needs to be dealt with by God so I can move deeper in Him. Enough of that on to the chapter!

I love Spring! I love looking at the buds on trees each day and watch them unfold and grow. I love the smell of dirt when things are being planted. Every Spring I think about seeds and the growth that comes from them. Lysa takes about seeds in this unit. Seeds get planted into the earth. They need water and then they will break open, die, and start to grow into something new. I feel like the seed, cracking open, dying from the seed stage and becoming a, hopefully, beautiful plant, maybe even a flower. I love the way Lysa puts it, "who would have thought that a glorious plant could come from a tiny seed in a dark place?" Life can grow even in a dark place, a death place.

If I truly want more of God, if I truly want Him to heal the broken parts, to tear down the walls, to bring forth life in me, then I have to realize He is going to crack some things, changing them from seeds, to something alive and able to bloom. I will not say I enjoy it, but I don't want temporary happiness I want true joy that comes from Him.

This next section of the chapter is good for me, I will probably need to reread it often. It's called "Being Broken is Not Being Sidelined". I know I confuse this all the time. Lysa writes some of the questions I ask myself all the time, like "why would God plant a vision in my heart and then let it turns out like this?" Um, wait I think I asked that today, last night, and even the day before that. Why did I ask it? Because it seems to be dead and my emotions are on high right now. But I cannot rely on my feelings. My feelings start telling me negative things, bad things, ugly things, and those cannot be from God. He doesn't blame me, not that I don't deserve it. He doesn't say I'm worthless, because He gave His son for me to make me worthy. He doesn't say I will never change, because He is the one who changes me.

Instead of focusing on my emotions, I need to remember He is in control. He is breaking me from the seed to grow. Did you know that even if the seed cracks open away from the surface of the dirt, it will twist around and start growing up towards the light? I want to press towards the Light no matter how twisted I need to be to grow in His direction.

Lysa goes on to state that more people don't live the extraordinary life of faith because they see death as being sidelined. Think about the seed. If it stopped after cracking open and just stayed like that it would not grow. It would be worse than sidelined. I am sure many people, myself included, have gotten to the death phase, felt sidelined, and put themselves out of the life of faith. God isn't sidelining me. He is using the brokenness of the seed wall to grow me, to shine through me.

Lysa took the beatitudes and put them together in an interesting way. I will end this post with that and let you think on it.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit...the broken people.
Blessed are those who mourn...broken to the point of great weeping.
Blessed are the meek...weeping to the point of being humbled past worldly things.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness...humbled and desiring to be filled with God alone. Blessed are the merciful...filled with God and able to overflow mercy to others.
Blessed are the pure in heart...freely extending mercy and living with a "yes" heart for God.
Blessed are the peacemakers...saying yes to God and bringing His peace everywhere they go.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of certain in His peace that even when they face hardships, they trust and confidently walk with God no matter what."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pressing Through the Pain

Well, this is the death phase so pain comes with the territory. I could sum up the whole chapter with this, "that's the secret of pressing through the pain. Really, it's the secret of pressing through all of this life. Learning to depend on God, asking for His provision, and then remembering to look for His ready answers." Lysa.

Going through the pain of a death of anything is hard, it's overwhelming. Thinking about focusing on God when the pain is so raw seems impossible. I know when I am in pain it is easy focus on the pain and the thing that caused me pain. Last week I was in pain. I felt like my heart had stopped and I was overwhelmed by feelings that I didn't think I would have. Honestly, I had no thoughts. I felt blank, numb, and in pain.

I could have stayed there. I could have blamed the pain on someone else or my own lack, but I didn't want to. I wanted to find God. I wanted to pour out the pain to Him and try to see what the purpose of the pain was. If nothing else the pain drove me to God. I know He has a plan. I know He is at work.

Lysa writes, " God is near. He's drawing me close, teaching me lessons I can't learn any other way, revealing more of His character, allowing me to experience Him in even more amazing ways." That is what I want! I want to be confident that even through the pain He is near. I want to learn the lessons He has for me, but most importantly I want Him. I want to know Him! I guess that is the point of it all, Him!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Death Does Not Mean Defeat

This is the 1st chapter in the death phase of the book. I didn't highlight much in this chapter. Not because there was not much worthy of remembering, but because it's point is simple. It's not easy, not simplistic, but simple: "death brings about a new life that can't be found any other way."

I am sure that I have experienced a lot of deaths in my life, some more difficult to understand than others. Every death brings about a new place, a new dream, a new phase of life. I recently had a friendship death. Actually it has been over a year, almost two now, but it still hurts. I haven't figured out what the purpose of it is, but I have to rest in God, be still, and know that He has a reason.

The friendship died because the other person decided to kill it. She stopped talking to me and even after she decided to talk to me again it was too late. I never knew why she stopped talking to me, she blamed it on busyness, but that is unlikely. Since she was unwilling to tell me the real reason, and we both knew there was a real one, there was always an elephant in the room. It became painful even trying to talk to her. We had become instant friends, and I truly cared for her. If we could have gotten passed whatever it was I would have been thrilled, but it wasn't meant to be.

Then God literally moved me from the situation. I tried to stay in contact, but it felt so one sided. She'd say the right things but when it came time to put into action she didn't. So almost two years later I still feel sad, but know it has a purpose.

It does feel like a defeat. It feels like I lost a friend; I failed to keep the friendship together;  I couldn't just look past the hurt and move forward. But I tried. I really tried. I swallowed my pride and keep reaching out. I finally had to realize that death had come long ago and I need to let it go.

The good news is that God knows I desire for good friends, real friends. I've never been the popular girl, the one with tons and tons of friends. I've always been the one who wants a few good, real friends. I believe that from this death He must have a real friend, a true friendship planned for me. I do have a friend or two who are good friends, but I seek that "kindred spirit" Anne of Green Gables sought. I want to grow closer to God and I believe He knows my desire for such a friendship and He already has that friend for me. So this is not a defeat, but rather a death of the old and time of preparing for the new.

On another note, Garren wiggled his toes yesterday! I cry with joy when I read of the small steps in his father's blog. I also cry out to God to the Lord for healing and for the family. I have seen my prayer life soar to new heights since this all happened. Not only for Garren and the Janes family, but for so many areas. The other night I was praying about a situation that seems impossible and I was crying. I grew quiet and heard "be still". Now that is something people say all the time, and of course God said it on more than one occasion. I continued to think about the situation and felt the thoughts running into each other and yet I still heard "be still." I can't deny that was God. I pray that I will continue to draw close to Him and listen and obey His voice.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Learning to Lead

First off, I added Geoffrey Janes blog to my blog list below. Please check it out and see how much God is working through this man, his family, and Garren. I am amazed at their faith and trust and God's amazing work!

This is the last chapter of the believing phase. Not so sure I'm looking forward to the next phase, death, sounds like fun! Honestly, this chapter was a surprise to me. I don't see myself as a leader. Now I'm a bit of a rebel so I'm not usually a follower either. I'm a teacher so I guess being a leader comes with the job, but other than that I'm not so sure. Then I read this chapter and it certainly made me think.

Lysa wrote about Moses and how God turned him into a leader. Although his position as Pharaoh's daughter would have given him a place of power, maybe even leadership it wasn't in that position that he lead. I'm not sure he ever wanted to even then. We certainly know that he didn't want to do it when God told him he was going back to Egypt to lead His people out.

Moses gave God all the reasons why he wasn't qualified. I know I do that. I am not a speaker. I mean I have no trouble talk in front of children, but adults, that's a whole other story. I'm not saying He's calling me to do that, but I even have trouble talking in front of a small group, even just one person. Which lately I have found kind a sad. When I was a kid, and it was okay to write stuff like this, my teachers said all these nice things about me and would end it with "but talks too much." I wonder now if satan knew God had something for me to say and even as a child he tried to shut me up. Well, if God does have something for me to say I better get more in tune with Him. I digress.

I like how Lysa wrote it, "Moses learned to be a good leader by walking in obedience to God. Moses developed into a great leader by being consistent enough with his habits of obedience that they became the natural reactions of his heart. The way to be a good leader is for your actions to be reflective of God reigning inside you. But to be a great leader is for your reactions to be reflective of God reigning inside you."

I am not sure I want to lead, I mean Moses had a lot of headaches leading the Israelites, but if I am to be a leader I want to be a great one. I want to react in a way that shows God reigning in me. But the point of the believing phase is to getting me to a spot where I can deny how real God is.

Now, on to the death phase, yippee!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

God Will Make a Way

The latest blog about Garren.

Chapter 11 of What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst.

"Suddenly, my absolute belief that God was in control started to waver. I wanted to believe. I willed myself to stay strong in my belief," Lysa.

This believing phase isn't easy, it has it's share of complications, frustrations, and and doubts. That seems to go against the whole idea of believing. But if you read the Psalms it seems that David went from believing one moment and despair the next. So if David, a man after God's own heart, had trouble believing then I shouldn't be surprised when I do.

Last week was one of the most emotional ones of my life, and yet I could see the hand of God all over the place. Then one day I was on a high with the good news I heard about Garren and the works of God I was seeing. Then one of my "ittes" walked right up to me, literally, and the despair flooded over me. I was stunned! I remember thinking, "this isn't funny God!" I cried, I cried hard and the next day I felt on the verge of tears all day. But I worked my way out of the darkness of that despair by looking toward the Light.

Lysa wrote it as,"our feelings do not have to dictate our choices." I did let me emotions dictate at first but I sought God in the depths of those emotions and He pulled me out. I could have chosen to stay there. To wallow in them. But I want to live the life of victory God has for each of us and I decided letting satan have any hold in my life was not what I wanted.

God is right there with me, growing me, comforting me, speaking to me, showing me and making a way. The best thing about His way is it is so much better than I can ever dream up. It is beyond the beyond!

Please continue to pray for Garren and the Janes family.

Roadblocks and Reassurances

Please take a moment to pray for Garren Janes and his family. His dad's most recent post from his blog will be linked here as long as Garren needs our prayers.

I think it would be nice if the bbelieving phase would just be easy, with no troubles. I mean there's a famine phase and a death phase so it seems only right to have the believing phase be a piece of cake. But it's not. There are roadblocks!

Lysa wrote about something near and dear to my prayers at times, change the circumstances! I have prayed for God to change the circumstances so many times, to just move that mountain. But time and time again I have come to realize the circumstance didn't need to change. I did!

Lysa asked the question, "so why doesn't He?" Why doesn't He just move that annoying person to a new job, a new house, a new planet! How about that nagging pain He just takes it away. Why doesn't He just instantly heal the heart break of a relationship ending? Why, why, why! Lysa answers it like this, "the answer is that He loves us too much to leave us the way we are."

We tend to not see us as the one who needs changing, but we do. Until I become like Christ I will always need to be the one changing. Does that other person or situation? Yes, but it reminds me of how the lion Aslan responds to questions about others. He says that is their story. I do not have to worry about anyone else's story. That's God's job and He does it the best!

So in the believing phase there are roadblocks, there are frustrations and distractions. "You are not being sidetracked," Lysa. She reminds me that it is God's way, His plan. Now are there roadblocks, walls, mountains in other phases? Yes, but somehow in the believing phase it seems a bit easier to know that it isn't a big NO! from God. I guess it is easier in phase to know it's a growth opportunity. That doesn't make it easy, heart work is never easy, but there is a peace in believing God is using it for His glory and to grow me.

Lysa quotes Hosea 10:12 and then adds her thoughts to it. "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness on you."

Here's it again with Lysa's additions, "Sow for yourselves righteousness {right choices that honor God even when you don't feel like it}, reap the fruit of unfailing love {love for the lovely and unlovely alike}, and break up your unplowed ground {whether that be the blockades in your driveway or blockades in your heart}; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes {and He most certainly will} and showers {more than you could ever hope for or imagine} righteousness on you." (She tells a blockaded driveway story in this chapter.)

So continue to know, to believe, in this phase that God is in control and He has given you a promise and He is faithful to accomplish it and prepare you along the way to receive it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Most Unlikely Path

"A Most Unlikely Path" is the first chapter in the bbelieving phase.

"God knows the best routes for us. He sees dangers and temptations that we don't see along the way. Sometimes we get frustrated with God when He takes us through places we hadn't planned on going. His route sometimes appears to be out of the way, inconvenient, tiresome, and confusing. But we must recognize His voice, listen carefully, and do exactly as He instructs." This is moving from the famine phase to the believing phase.

In this phase we believe God in ways that we always wanted to. We walk more with Him, because we want more of Him. As we walk with Him we hear His voice more clearly and we see Him at work more. He becomes so real to us!

In this phase I trust Him and believe Him so much I should just go ahead and confirm out loud that I trust Him and I am willing to travel those paths even if they are confusing and out of the way. As Lysa puts it, "Lord, whatever Your will for my life is, that is what I want?"

I recently watched a teaching with Priscilla Shirer and she was talking about how God has beyond the beyond in mind for us. She explained that to mean that God does not only beyond what we can even think of, but even beyond that! So I guess it is good to dream big and know that what He will do is even bigger than that!

I love this phase! I find myself saying over and over again, "You are so good!"