Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Forgotten Prayer...Answered

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The testimony essay I mentioned Sunday night....

Just after the service ended at our previous church one Sunday several years ago, a friend stopped me before I could get out of the pew.

“I was watching you and Bruce today…and, well, don’t misunderstand me, but I just want you to know how blessed you are to have a husband like him. I hope you appreciate who he is.”

I knew her husband, and I knew where her remark was coming from, and I didn’t misunderstand her. I assured her that I did, indeed, appreciate the character of the man I married (see The Tenth Man) We chatted a bit more then headed out the door.

As I collected our kids and walked to the car, I puzzled over the incident. She was at least the third friend to make a statement like that to me. All of them were women who were married to men who did not…would not…take the role of family spiritual leader. There were other issues, too, but that was the biggest common denominator.

I looked at my husband as we got in the car. What did I do to deserve him? I wondered. I’m nobody special. So, I asked God, “Lord, how is that I ended up with such a good man?”

Immediately I saw in my head a picture of something I had not thought about in years and years. A rather gawky, awkward 13 -14 year old girl who always seemed at odds with her peers, getting off the school bus and kicking at the gravel as she walked up the quarter-mile plus driveway from the road to the house at the top of the hill, praying for her future husband….whom she wasn’t even sure existed.

Now, the thing that I must emphasize is that I was not praying faith-filled prayers. This was not spiritual warfare. There was no tangible anointing, no manifestation of the Spirit. I had Sunday School teachers and youth group leaders who told us that we should pray for our future spouses…and, because I wanted to be spiritually correct, and because I had a five-ten minute walk with nothing else to keep my mind occupied, I decided I would pray for my future husband…whoever, wherever he might be. So, I did...with about as much enthusiasm as I had when I sat down to do my homework.

Yet, in a pretty obvious way, God was showing me that those prayers really brought forth fruit. I had very nearly forgotten all about those prayers. I was amazed. God honored those prayers.

So now, when I'm teaching on purity and dating, or even teaching on prayer itself, this little story works its way into the lesson. Pray…even if you don’t think it’s important, even if you don’t feel like it’s spiritual, even if you may think it’s silly. Pray.

You might forget, but God won’t.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bible Study: The Five B's

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

By saying I was seeking direction, I really thought I was looking for the next book-of-the-Bible I was to dig into and study with those who drop by here. But I kept getting a big blank answer when I asked about what book should be next.

What I kept being drawn to, however, is preparation for the women's conference.

I tried to argue my way out of that, since only the ladies who live locally will likely make it to the conference, but that's ALL I'm hearing in my spirit right now. So, maybe I'm supposed to prepare myself for the conference and just present it for whoever else might need it.

So...our conference this year is titled 'The SHE Revolution' (SHE = 'Seeking His Embrace'); I'll quote from Pastor Leisa's Invitation: a conference dedicated to empowering us to be everything that we were born to be…brave, beautiful, bold daughters of God. You are His baby girl. You are meant to be passionate, nurturing, unique, beautiful, creative, and free. To be loved and too love others so extravagantly that the world around you can’t help but be changed. You were meant to laugh, to dance, to have fun with your sisters, and to eat chocolate…lots of it... This is for all of us. For daughters, mothers, sisters, and friends who need to know that true revolution comes when we allow the embrace of God to be our source of worth.

I have no idea who is going to be speaking at the conference this year; in years past, we have brought in special speakers, but I'm not so sure that's going to happen this year. As I said in an earlier post, this is...different. The vision for this came from some of the associate pastors and it is coming with a freshness, a newness that this is not our usual women's conference.

At our last women's ministry meeting, the associate pastors spoke on preparing for the conference, and they listed the 'Five B's' that characterize a woman of God. I've got six Tuesdays before the conference, I think I'll take one 'B' a week, and study it out...that'll leave the sixth Tuesday for a conclusion. I really don't know what kind of a conclusion I'll get to at the end. It'll be interesting to find out.

So, Here's our Syllabus for our 'Five B's' Study:

July 29 -- Intro
Aug. 5 -- B1: Brave
Aug. 12 -- B2: Beautiful
Aug. 19 -- B3: Bold
Aug. 26 -- B4: Bride
Sept. 2 -- B5: Becoming
Sept. 9 -- Conclusion

I'll be honest...I haven't tackled a study quite like this before. So I'm stretching myself a bit...or, rather, I'm being stretched, which is a different thing. Anyway, I'll welcome anyone who wants to join me on the 'Five B's' and comment along as we go!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Jubilee Monday #2

Hm. I don't think I'll actually get 52 Jubilee Monday posts after all; there'll be a couple of out-of-town weeks, and once every three months I'll have a 'no blog', I'll shoot for 48?

Anyway, I'm still mulling over the idea of not harvesting, but eating only what comes directly from the fields.

This really is an injunction to rely on God's provision. And, I'll be honest, there are times when I'd really rather rely on a fat savings account. Humans are so much more comfortable when we can handle, measure, and store up our provision ourselves; putting our treasure in Heaven and trusting that God will provide everything we need for us is, um, difficult.

Maybe we're afraid that God's idea of what we need is different from our idea? Ok, maybe I'm afraid that God's idea of what I need is not the same as MY idea of what I need?

So here's another Jubilee nugget: during this year, I need to look for opportunities to trust in God's provision, letting Him show me what I really need, instead of begging and pleading that He would provide what I believe I need.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

In an Essay Frame of Mind

Our annual women's conference at church is coming up early in September. It appears that will be a break from the usual this year. I don't know all the details, but I do know that it, well, just feels different!. I discovered one of the new ideas this past week when I went by the web page last week and noted that there is a call for essays from 'young' women about what they have overcome/how God has worked in their lives.

Now, I'm not a young woman by anyone's standards (well, maybe Methuselah would consider me young, but he's not around to ask). But when I checked on it, I found that an essay about something from *when* I was young would be a good thing.

So I decided to write up two and submit them, just to see what comes of it. One will be just a slightly re-written version of the Mark it Up and Consume it posts that I wrote about learning to dig into the Word for myself. The second will, I think, be an essay about an answer to prayer.

Maybe I'll run that one by on the blog first before the week's over, too.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tending my own vineyard

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi mother's sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I have neglected. -Song of Solomon 1:6b

I remember reading that a few years ago and it struck me how easy it is to tend to everyone else's problems, do what is expected by others, or even just get tied up in ministry, and just run out of time and energy to tend the personal vineyard.

Last spring, I realized I'd neglected things far too long; so I took a calendar and penciled in 'At Home Week' once every three months, just so I'd preserve a week w/no outside obligations. I also decided then that I'd stay off the internet for that week, and just tend to personal stuff.

Next week is the first scheduled 'At Home Week'...the others will be the 3rd week of October, the 3rd week of January and the 3rd week of April each year, if all goes according to plan.

So, next week I'll be tending the vineyard and praying for guidance...when I'm back on the 28th I hope to have a direction for the next Bible Study time.

Hope everyone has a great week next week and finds time to do a little of your own 'vineyard tending'...whatever form that needs to take.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Flashback Friday #7

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I picked up my journals today not just looking for something 'good' to share, but looking for a word from the past that I needed to hear again. And there were lots of things that don't lend themselves well to a blog post (waaaayyy too much back story involved!), but when I came across this phrase I knew it was for today:

God puts a high premium on foolishness

That was in a long chunk of notes taken at the Morningstar New Year's conference held in Jacksonville, Fl in 2000; it appears to be from the New Year's Eve service itself, but I don't have any indication of who spoke it. It's one of several nuggets that were written down rather randomly under 'Sun. Eve.'. Here are some more:

Revolutionary kids have revolutionary mentors

Stop cursing the 'wall' --it's a gift: this apparently inspired the following personal revelation:

The majority of my problems are mouth-induced:
-cursing myself
-others speaking negatively
-criticizing others multiplies judgement back to us.

*A critical [i.e., a word given in condemnation, not loving correction] word is always wrong -- even if it's correct*

And I might as well list the other three on that page:

You bear fruit out on a limb.

You gotta pick up the snake to go and free the people of God

Focusing on inadequacies is the opposite of faith.

Hm. Sort of a smorgasboard of flashbacks today...take whatever you need at the moment. ;)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Prayer Blueprint

Well, today is Tuesday, so that means something Bible-study related. I still haven't quite decided what to do next; I'd ask for opinions but so far that kind of question has been rather pointless so I'll just keep praying and considering...maybe by next week I'll have some sort of direction.

Meantime, I did have one more short lesson from my CWJC teachings hanging around in my computer, so I thought I'd pull it up and share it. It's a lesson on following Jesus' prayer pattern, and if it seems a bit abrupt, it's because it's basically just the notes that I used to teach from, unembllished. Anyway, here 'tis:

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

Matthew 6:9-13, NIV

‘This, then, is how you should pray’ (contrasted with people who pray on street corners, babbling on and on with lots of words to make a show – see verses 5-8). There is a parallel passage in Luke 11: 1-4, in which Jesus responds to his disciples’ request to teach them to pray with almost the same language. This is not a different approach to the story; it is an entirely different time and place in which Jesus teaches the same thing.

Our Father in heaven – First and foremost is the relationship with God the Father; that is the prerequisite to receiving anything from God

Hallowed be your Name – Adopt an attitude of worship; put yourself in awe of God

Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven – Deliberately place yourself in submission to God, surrender your will to His. Recognize that, if God’s will is to be done on earth, then we must each individually do that will.

After we have, in prayer, by prayer, and because of prayer, done those three things, then we are to present our requests for God – and these could be requests either for ourselves (supplication) or for others (intercession), since the plural ‘us’ is used. These requests are for:

Sustenance – that our needs be met – Give us today our daily bread
Forgiveness (note that this indicates we must forgive others) –Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (Debt: something that is owed)
Guidance – Lead us not into temptation
Deliverance – Deliver us from the evil one

Some translations (marginal notes in the NIV) add praise to the prayer – For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. While this does not appear in the oldest manuscripts, it is a paraphrase of a prayer of David’s in 1 Chronicles 29:10-13. God is certainly worthy of our praise.

What we call ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ is actually a model prayer for us; a form on which to construct our individual communion with God. It implies, not just talking to God, but also receiving from Him; listening to Him (for guidance, for example).

Monday, July 14, 2008

Jubilee Monday #1

Ok, I decided that, if I'm really going to be in pursuit of Jubilee this year, I need to do something active about it. So for (hopefully) 52 Mondays I'll post something about the Jubilee year.

And, here's the first thing that has been percolating about in my thoughts regarding Jubilee.

I admit to being a bit perplexed by the instruction not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.

Is it just me, or does this seem contradictory at first glance?

It took me a while to realize the difference between harvesting/reaping and taking directly from the field. Harvesting means collecting all the produce and storing it up for later use; when food is taken directly from the field, one goes out, collects what is needed for the meal or day's meals, prepares it and eats it. Nothing is stored for later use.

The whole sabbath/jubilee thing really is an exercise in trusting God, after all.

So, if this is my personal Year of Jubilee, how does that translate?

If you know me from the sewing blog, you know I am an avid fabric stasher. Always looking for that unique or especially useful piece of fabric at a bargain...even if I'm not going to use it right away. Shoot, at Christmas time I bought a piece of fabric that will make a smashing 'Mother of the ()' outfit, and I have no offspring who are even dating at the moment. But it was pretty and...well, I got it.

So my first, most obvious application is that I need to purchase only what is going to be sewn up immediately for the next year.

Boy, that will be hard. I've tried to do that from time to time in the past, and it always has collapsed when I stumbled across an incredible sale or unique fabric purchasing opportunity.

But, I think, since I'm considering it a Jubilee year, maybe this time I'll make it.

We'll see.

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's the Year of Jubilee...

Count off seven sabbaths of years -- seven times seven years-- so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere...sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields. In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to his own property. --Lev. 25:8 - 13, NIV

I had lunch with a friend a few years back; she was a bit older than me and approaching her 50th birthday. She told me that she felt she should use the year she was 49 as the 'Jubilee'...and actively seek ways in which she could release debts, live off what God provides and return to her inheritance...most of those were abstract items, of course, but it has stirred around in my spirit ever since.

Now I've hit my own 'Jubilee Year' and I've determined I'm going to do the same thing. I'm not sure how that will all play out, but I've got some ideas.

It should be an interesting journey.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lights in Reserve

Guess what! No table time last night after all! The fellowship hall is being renovated, and, due to the mess, we didn't really get to set up the tables. So my little lesson on lamps will get saved for another month.

But that's not to say the evening was a wash out. We had a team of speakers --the wife halves of our associate pastor teams (Sr. Associate, Youth, Jr. High -- ok, Jenny's single -- and College and Career) and one seminary student last night that delivered a one-two-three-four-five punch combo. I knew I was in trouble when my eyes started to sting before the first speaker got three sentences into the introduction...and I couldn't even really say why. But by the time they were done I think I saw some of the things that were stirring up inside.

And it's stuff I've confronted somewhat...or at least seen...before. But I didn't have time to dig into it and, just because life is what it is, it got shoved back under the carpet and kind of forgotten about. Last night, the carpet got peeled back and I saw anew some of the mess I'd let slip out of sight and out of mind.

I tell ya, I'm really getting tired of this stuff. I'm tired of not being connected to others as I should be. I'm tired of carrying wounds just because I don't want to bother someone else with them. I'm tired of not allowing myself to dream. I'm tired of not having a direction or a goal beyond what must be done in the next week-month-two months.

I'm tired of holding other folks at an emotional arm's length for reasons I don't even understand.

It's pride, you know.

And I'm tired of my pride running my life.

There was a lot of dirt under the carpet. I don't want to let it slip back again.

So, I'm trying to be a little more pro-active in building relationships. I don't know why that's so difficult.

I have long-embedded thought patterns/expectations that need to change. God helping me, they will.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Back, Blessed and Behind

Such a great trip we had! I'll post some pictures...maybe even a link to You Tube...if the folks who have those manage to get them where I can get to 'em. All 20 members of the immediate Parents-Kids-Grandkids family unit at least stood on stage and turned music pages; the two youngest (ages 4 and 6) right along with the rest. My Sweet Baboo talked with old friends; we reconnected with some family we hadn't seen in years. It was great, and I'm blessed to have been a part of it all.

But...a week and a half leaves a lot undone. Tonight is our monthly women's meeting, and, while I have a plan for my table time, it's still got to be put together. And I've got a Friends club lesson to put together for my jr. hi girls by tomorrow. And laundry, and sewing, and house cleaning, and budget....

So I'm off and running (or at least power walking.)