Sunday, August 31, 2008

Building Walls

We had a special guest speaker today, Robert Stearns of Eagles' Wings...and he had a word for the house, which I think really applies to all of us:

The stakes are higher than you realize

He talked about the ability of one ordinary person, making extraordinary decisions, to change the world...then challenged each of us to make the decision to be that person; to rebuild the necessary, protective, defining walls that have been breached, broken and burned (Nehemiah was the example).

It was a powerful message (here's the podcast), and it made me think about how my routine day goes...doing routine things. I don't realize the importance of the moment...that little-noted decision to postpone, put off, momentarily delay my time with God. It happens more than I'd like to admit. Especially since that postponement or delay somehow tends to turn into the entire day and I've missed my daily manna without intending to.

I need to be more wise, more discerning. There really is more at stake than I realize.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Flashback #12: Boundaries

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I found this entry just this morning...and was surprised that I'd forgotten it until I read it. I actually copied a bit of it into a required autobiographical paper I had to write in the one post-bachelor's-degree class I've taken (about six months after I wrote the original entry), 'Child Development'. My professor put a little star by it...I guess *she* liked it! Anyway, it's dated April 22, 1992:

Anything and everything is defined by its boundaries; whether it's a Bach fugue, a city, a denomination or a person. There are many different kinds of boundaries: Legal boundaries (i.e., the speed limit), physical boundaries, moral boundaries, intellectual boundaries, etc.

I am defined by the boundaries I set for myself. Some of these may be fairly flexible and subject to change as I grow and mature. Others are rock-solid; boundaries I could not step across without having to totally remake myself as a person. By crossing these boundaries or disposing of them, the definition of me would cease to be...I would have to be redefined.

Notice, this implies that where there are NO boundaries, there is no definition.

Now these boundaries...cannot be dictated or legislated, these defining boundaries are self-imposed boundaries. Or maybe, [they are] the boundaries the Spirit sets for us. Whichever, it is up to us to choose them.

Adam and Eve chose to step beyond their boundaries, and all humanity was redefined. Jesus maintained his, so now each individual has the opportunity to be redefined [once more].

As I typed that just now, I realized I didn't say something quite the way I meant it. The boundaries God set for Adam and Eve were simple: don't eat the fruit of that tree. The boundaries they set for themselves were the boundaries of obedience. Once they decided to disobey, they first stepped across their own boundaries, which led them to crossing the boundaries God set.

Society can set legal boundaries, but we must decide if we are going to live within those boundaries or not. The decision to honor/not honor boundaries set by those in authority is really what I'm talking about...that is the *personal* boundary that defines one's character.

No one but me can set my own personal boundaries.

Anyway, food for thought today!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I smell good.


We do little gift bags for the ladies who register for the woman's conference each year, and this year is no exception. Usually, those bags contain a package of Kleenex, a couple of mints, a bottle of water, a notepad and pen, and a little vial of mixed anointing oil.

I spent a couple of hours at church this morning helping to fill the vials for this year's conference (starts in 2 weeks).

You know what? You can't fill those teeny vials without getting somewhat anointed yourself.

So today I am walking in the fragrance of spikenard, frankincense and myrrh.

And it really does smell good!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Five 'B's -- Bride

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The Five 'B's' of a Godly Woman: A Blogged Bible 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

A Godly Woman is a Bride

(Warning: I'm going to get really abstract here...)

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: 'Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns! Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.' -- Rev. 19:6-7

I began studying this under the assumption that the Bride of Christ is clearly stated to be the church, but as I really dug into it I found that there was no scripture reference that states this explicitly. There are, however, scriptures that *imply* that the church is the Bride of Christ...most notably the passage in Ephesians 5: 22-32, which compares the relationship of husband and wife to that of Christ and church. Also, the passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 18 describes the catching away of the believers (which is commonly called 'The Rapture',and although that name is not given to it in Scripture it works as a short description of that catching away) as very much like the traditional wedding ritual of the Bridegroom taking the Bride from her father's house to the house he has prepared for her. Compare that imagery to John 14: 1 - 3: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. That is a picture of the Jewish Bridegroom preparing to receive his Betrothed.

So the entire body of believers is the Bride of Christ...and there's a wedding coming.

But the abstract thing is that what we are corporately, we are also individually. I have no idea how God manages to do this, but we each are, in this case, not one part of a whole, as in only experiencing the event corporately, but each one experiencing the marriage as an individual, with the whole attention of the Bridegroom. We will not be hidden in the crowd, occupying just a part of the bridal train; we will, as individuals, 'see face to face...know fully as I am known.' (1 Cor 13:12)

Think of the most incredible corporate worship service you have been in. When the Spirit of God is moving, the body as a whole perceives it, but it is because the individuals in the body experience it; each experience is fully individual. God moves on the body...and each person experiences God's presence as a personal event. So it is with the Bride.

As far as each individual is concerned, each one of us is...alone...the Bride.

The most intimate knowledge is reserved for the Bridegroom and His Bride.

I still remember the moment that I realized that the Bride of Christ is going to be celebrated at the marriage feast...and what follows a marriage feast is a consummation.

What can the consummation of that marriage be? We have no earthly idea, because such a thing is not an earthly possibility. Not only is it beyond our experience, it is beyond our ability to consider.

But there is a greater marvel than that.

Consummation leads to conception leads to birth.

What will the marriage of the Lamb and His Bride engender? CS Lewis was right to call it 'the beginning of all things'.

Closing thoughts Revelation 19:7 states that '...his bride has made herself ready.' Verse 8 goes on to state that her garment is fine linen, which stands for the righteous acts of the saints. However, Ephesians 5:25 - 27 says that '...Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish,but holy and blameless.' Think of the bride on the morning of her wedding...bathing, anointing, dressing...preparing for the ceremony. However, much of that has been done for us, as the Bride of Christ. HE has cleansed us, anointed us, provided the garment of righteousness for us. Our task in making ourselves ready is only to receive what He has done, and put on the righteousness He has provided. How am I submitting to that process, and in what ways am I still trying to substitute my own righteousness, which Isaiah 64:6 clearly demonstrates is not a bridal gown, for the true righteousness He has provided?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jubilee Monday #6: Unfolding Dreams

Last night, our pastor and worship team traveled a bit over an hour to a nearby city to do guest ministry at a church there.

Although this had been planned for some time, it just so happened that yesterday was the first Sunday for their new pastor. And, it just so happened that their new pastor (Pastor Bill) was the first Senior Associate Pastor of our church, where he served for something like 4 years. He left, with the full blessing and love of our congregation, 2 1/2 years ago to take on a new associate/ administrative position in Florida, and, through a series of events and contacts that can only be supernatural ('You couldn't make this stuff up!' he told us), was just called to be the Senior Pastor at the church down the road a piece.

Did we have a celebration last night? You bet.

But what was amazing was this: during the brief message our pastor gave, he mentioned that this represented an unfolding of dreams that had been long laid aside; a returning to the dreams of youth.

As I listened, I thought, 'That sounds like Jubilee.'

Then I remembered that Pastor Bill is six months older than I am. It's *his* Jubilee year, too.

I was greatly encouraged. What God does for one, he will do for another. So now I'm going to think this week about this:

What are the dreams that I've considered unattainable, that I've folded up and put away?

Maybe I should pull them out and dust them off and see what God does with them.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Flashback Friday #11 - Thirsty

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Here's an entry dated April 7, 2003:
For seeking God in a dry place, read Psalms 42 & 43. The whole cry of the desperate heart is there. Two verses in particular stand out to me:
"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?... send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then I will go to the altar of my God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, o God, my God." (Ps. 42:2, 43:3-4)

"When can I go and meet with God?"

Boy, isn't that still true for me today? But it is reassuring to know that God will draw me with truth and light to the time and place where I can meet with Him...I don't have to flounder around trying to figure it out for myself.

All I really need to do is look for His Light, listen for His truth...and respond.

Aye, there's the rub. I must respond. Immediately.

Not after I finish (whatever) or postpone it to a more convenient time.

I think that's the price that those who truly know God and walk with Him pay. That's where we really lay down our will for His. Look, listen, and respond.

The spring will not refresh the thirsty if the thirsty do not turn aside and drink from it.

Man, am I ever stomping on my own toes this morning!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Five B's: Bold

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The Five 'B's' of a Godly Woman: A Blogged Bible 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

A Godly Woman is Bold

Well, sort of, anyway.

Y'see, the American Heritage Dictionary lists the following varied definitions for the word 'Bold':
1)Fearless and courageous
2)Requiring or exhibiting courage and bravery
3)Unduly forward or brazen in manner
4)Clear and distinct to the eye: standing out prominently

Three out of four, would you say?

1 and 2 are basically different ways of saying the same thing; 3 is definitely not a quality of the Godly Woman, and there are verses pertaining to that kind of boldness, but I'm not going there in this little study. Finally, I believe 4 is true, but in an abstract fashion.

As I said in the study on 'Brave', I think the difference between being brave and bold is that someone who is brave is facing fear and yet proceeding, while someone who is bold is unafraid.

And, I think there are two ways of being unafraid.

The first way is through grace of ability. Just for example, it's not difficult for me to get up in front of people and speak. Oh, I might be nervous about doing a good job, but I'm not afraid in the sense that I want to bolt out the door or toss my breakfast. It's something I can do, I know I can do it, I even enjoy it a bit. I may or may not do a good job of speaking...but I'm not afraid to try it. And if I mess up (by saying 'Moldovia' instead of 'Moldova', for instance), I can laugh at myself.

"The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion." - Prov. 28:1

"Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold." - 2 Cor. 3:12

"After they prayed, the place where the were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." - Acts 4:31

"For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ." - Acts 28:30-31

I think the second way is through the ability of grace. It comes by the way of bravery...doing something, even though I'm scared spitless, until I find that God really does take it and make it into something I could never do on my own. Then the fear is gradually outgrown, and I can be bold where once I was brave.

"When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted." Ps. 138:3

"Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness." - Acts 4:29

As I jotted down references from the concordance, I noticed that the largest concentration of the words boldly/boldness is in Acts. I don't think that's a coincidence; look back up at Acts 4:31: 'And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.' The ability to shift from doing it afraid to doing it without fear has got to lie in the filling of the Holy Spirit. He enables us to do what makes us afraid, then teaches us in the process that we have nothing to fear.

And a woman who truly is not afraid is...someone who stands out against the crowd. Distinct.

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." - 2 Tim. 1:7

Closing thoughts: One of my favorite challenging questions now challenges me again: "What would you do if you truly were not afraid?" What are the first steps I must take with the Spirit in order to do those things?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jubilee Monday # 5: The Discipline of Rest

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

A little blurb from last week's post, 'Real rest is a discipline,' has really been confronting me a bit this week. My Sweet Baboo and I got to get away for the weekend, since it was our 28th wedding anniversary (much thanks to older DD and DS for covering us on the home front!) and over the course of the weekend we talked about rest. How much we needed it. As an example, the housekeeping staff at the state park lodge rapped loudly on our door and woke us up at 9:20 Saturday morning. MSB said he'd just been kind of dozing, but I was SOUND asleep and nearly had to be peeled off the ceiling after being startled awake.

Still asleep at 9:20? I was more tired than I realized.

But on my end, the discipline of daily rest means going to bed on time and getting up on time. I've mentioned before that I'm somewhat of a night owl, and it's easy for me to get caught up in a project and stay up until midnight or one AM without even realizing it. 'Course, then I'm toast the next day, because the kids have to be off to school and I can't sleep through it. And I frequently end up catching a 90-minute nap...during what should be prime use-the-day time... and then staying up until way late again.

It's a no-rest cycle.

So, as we discussed on our weekend away, we decided that the discipline of rest means picking a bedtime and sticking to it.

Even if it means I have to put down the book, turn off the sewing machine, save the budget file...whatever.

Jubilee is rest, and real rest is a discipline.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Flashback Friday #10 - Priorities?

posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

This is a post that I don't remember writing and I don't remember the event it records, so it's like reading someone else's writing. And it kind of slapped my face, if you know what I mean. It's dated April 19, 1994 (my older son's sixth birthday, incidentally):

Sunday night, [I had a three-minute] notice on giving a testimony of "What a Christian Family Means to Me."...if I'd've had more time, I could've come up with a nice little well-rounded testimony: with three minutes prep, what I said was what was on my heart.

-- That it's not right for the church to be in conflict with the family.
-- That the primary place where children are to learn about God is in the home.
-- That service to God is whatever he's called you to do, not just what you do at church.
-- That church is for fellowship, worship and service to each other: our everyday life lived before the world is where God is served.
-- That time must be given to those who serve God away from the church.
-- That serving God in my family must take precedence over serving God in my church (but should not be confused with using my family as an excuse not to serve Him [at all] at church)

[Our Pastor] said he disagreed with about 90% of what I said, although I'm not sure he was serious [he could have been teasing...we were well enough acquainted that I didn't take it personally, anyway]. Several ladies were vigorously agreeing with me, both during [my little talk] and after, so I guess I'm not that far out in left field!

That really rattled my chain because I have literally been at church all day, for almost every day in the past week and a half, sewing costumes, working on the girls' ministry, doing some administrative volunteer work. The 'service to my family' has been laughable. I realize that this intensity is just for a season, and will be over shortly, but...I need to remember what my first and primary calling is.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

How 'Bout that Senior Discount?

Last night was the Royal Ranger Advancement service at church. Our girls' classes always go to the sanctuary to watch/support their awards, just as the guys come to ours, but we had a little teeniny thing to do in last night's service.

Last fall, we had a fundraiser...big jugs for coin raise money for Stella's House, a post-orphanage home in Moldova for girls who are basically kicked out of the state-run orphanages at age 16. Ranger Senior Commander (those who read the sewing blog will remember the Pirate Costume I made for him earlier this year) had issued a challenge over the fundraiser. If the boys raised more money than the girls, then he would get to put a pie in the face of our Coordinator. If, however, the girls raised the most money, he'd take a pie in the face from her.

Well, the girls collected about $300 more than the boys, and Sir Sr. Commander was to receive his pie in the face at the Christmas Skating party, since both the Rangers and the girls were there. But, somehow, that didn't happen.

Yesterday, while the two of us were working on costume maintenance at church, Miss M commented that we still owed him a pie. We did some phone calling to try and get a 'pie'; in the interest of fairness (since he would be in his dress Ranger uniform), I cut a hole in the bottom of a trash bag and toted it along to church last night so he could protect his clothes. Well, the phone calls didn't quite get the message done, but we did get a green light (unbeknownst to Sr. Commander) to proceed with the facial pie.

So I took off as the service was starting and went to the local Kroger to procure a foil pie plate and a can of spray whipped cream.

Checked out with it, and the cashier told me the total due, then added, 'You're a Senior, right?'

I was expecting her to ask me if I were using credit or debit, so I didn't have a context for her question and asked her to repeat it.

"You're a senior...over fifty five?"

"Ack! NO!!" She kind of apologized as she hit the total and I swiped my card.

"Oh, I guess I should've just said, 'Sure, give me the quarter discount!'" I commented as I signed the charge slip. Then I laughed, "But I suppose that's what I get for the prank I'm about to pull..."

When I told Senior Commander about that, after the service and his pie, he commented, "That's what you deserve!"

I suppose he's right...but it was fun. ;)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Five B's : Beautiful

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The Five 'B's' of a Godly Woman: A Blogged Bible 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

A Godly Woman is Beautiful

This subject has been preached/taught on for so long, in so many ways, it's really hard to come up with a fresh view of it. But we need to...because we forget that, as women who are pursuing the One who pursues us, we are beautiful. Really beautiful. Truly beautiful...

Oh, we all know 1 Peter 3:3-6 : Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

All kinds of indignities have been imposed on women down through the years based on those verses....and no, I'm not going to list them. You've seen it, you know. And you know that such things are not the Father's heart for His daughters.

So, what is beauty? The real thing, not the fake images foisted upon us by the entertainment and fashion industries? Or the other extreme...the precise and legalistic application of 1 Peter 3:3-6.

Now, don't get me wrong...I do believe Peter is describing a truly beautiful woman. But I don't believe he's talking about a woman who takes no care at all for her personal appearance. No, he's describing a woman who is excellent in all things, but her greatest priority is not her personal appearance...not her jewelry, not her shoes, not her hair style/color, it's her spirit that gets her greatest efforts. And don't neglect the last sentence: do what is right and do not give way to fear. There is a strength in beauty...true beauty does not give way to fear. This is not a drably attired, mousey, quiet, intimidated woman he's describing. It is a 'woman, fully grown' (anybody else watch the 'Tammy' movies years ago?); fully matured into a woman as God intended a woman to be. As I think about it, the false beauty being touted by various folks who make money from it has a lot of fear mixed into this dress, wear this look, correct this flaw, wear this size...or you won't be seen as successful, smart, and worthy of someone's time.

We had a weekly ladies Bible study at church a few years back which was taught by various women in leadership. They ranged in age grandmothers. And at some point each week, listening to the speaker for that week, I would look at her and think, 'Wow, she's beautiful!'...and it was true of each and every one of them. God's spirit shone through them in such a way that ANY one looking at these ladies' faces would have to see their beauty.

We don't need to compare ourselves to any airbrushed image to figure out what beauty is; we don't need be afraid to express ourselves as women who like pretty things. We just need to hear what the King says about us:

The King is enthralled by your beauty - Ps. 45:11

How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh,how beautiful!...Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. - Song of Songs 1:15, 2:10

Therefore, I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her...'In that day, declares the LORD, 'You will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master.' - Hosea 2:14,16

Friends: Who is this coming up from the desert, leaning on her lover? - Song of Songs 8:5

Closing thoughts: In what ways have I exchanged God's view of beauty, which does not give in to fear, for a false beauty that's based on fear? How would my day-to-day conversation change if I *really* believed that the King of the Universe is captivated by my beauty?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jubilee Monday # 4

I've caught myself.

I realized, after re-reading the past Jubilee Monday posts that, while I am identifying Things To Be Done in a Jubilee Year, I haven't actually made specific plans to implement those things. I've got to to that, too, not just recognize what I *need* to do.

So far I've noted:

-Living off of 'what is taken directly from the field' entails no stashing (ok, that is specific to fabric), and finding specific places I need to trust God.

-Rest means I'm going to have to deliberately, on purpose, have times of 'doing nothing'.

I don't want to let this year just be an exploration of the ideas of Jubilee...I need to manifest Jubilee in my life. Finding specific places I need to trust God and resting are identified, but not implemented. To be truthful, I think they are two sides of the same coin. If I enforce rest, then I have to trust God to make the remaining time enough to do what must be done. Sort of like the principle of tithing...if I give 10%, I have to trust God that the other 90% will be enough.

Of course, I recognize that there's wisdom involved...I can't be irresponsible and believe that just because I'm following a formula of obedience God is obligated to take care of me. Tithing doesn't mean I can spend however, whenever, and wherever my little fleshly heart desires and expect God to provide. But it does mean that there will be enough to supply all my NEEDS and give some to other needs/ministries. The concept of rest doesn't mean I can piddle around doing worthless stuff (which I am good at, btw) as a way of ignoring tasks I don't want to do and expect things that need to be done to get done. Real rest is a discipline.

Scheduling my time has always been one of my, um, weaker points. I tend to put all of my time/energy into whatever is most urgent, and let everything else go. The trouble is, there's always something that seems to be 'most urgent', and the non-urgent, maintenance things of life get shoved aside over and over again.

I know this isn't going to get done in the next week or even month, but I really am trying to work the 'non-urgent' things into the schedule.

I may even sign up for Flylady...sigh.

Ok, that's one example. I've been dancing around signing up for Flylady for several years. I've got Sink Reflections, I've cleaned my sink about four times and it always gets messed back up. Something in me is holding back.

Maybe the something is because I'm not willing to be accountable to anyone for my time? A root of rebellion?


Ok. An application. Sometime during the month of August, I will sign up for Flylady's email list.

To help me get started down the road of disciplined time use...disciplined rest.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Flashback Friday #9 - Take Me Back to the Heart of Worship

posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

This week's Friday Flashback is dated Jan. 24, 2002, and was written during a ladies' study at church. On this particular day, we were instructed to find a quiet place and just spend some time with God ourselves.

The way out is through. Set your face and keep going; don't give up and don't turn back....

Worship is the key -- Lord, teach me to worship you totally from my heart w/o concern for [what] anyone else [thinks about it]: Worship is the key.

Worship is an automatic response to the presence of God, to His manifestation in my life. The sacrifice of praise is worship when I do NOT sense the presence of God. Lord, move my heart to worship even in those times when I don't sense You and don't understand what is going on [in my life].

I'm not sure if that's when the concept of 'the sacrifice of praise' begin to form itself in my spirit or not; but I know that somewhere along the line I have come to the conclusion that the sacrifice of praise is what we do when life is throwing curve balls...or us; we're taking hits and we don't understand why and God seems either unconcerned or uninvolved with us. It's easy to praise God when things are fine, but when things are the farthest from fine is when it is a sacrifice to put worship in one's mouth and command one's soul to bless the Lord. That is praise that is a decision, not a response.

I'm currently reading in Psalms, and I'm finding David does this over and over...he lists the opposition in his life, then commands his soul to praise God.

It is the only way is the way through. Worship.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Five B's: Brave

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The Five 'B's' of a Godly Woman: A Blogged Bible 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

A Godly Woman is Brave

Brave: 1) Possessing or displaying courage (the state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger with self-possession, confidence and resolution; valor); Valiant (possessing or acting with valor (courage, boldness, bravery); brave, courageous, stouthearted); 2) Making a fine display; splendid. Applies to admirable human action in difficult conditions; frequently associated with an innate quality.
(The American Heritage Dictionary, slightly paraphrased for brevity)

Brave: Possessing the ability to pursue an action or maintain a moral stance even when afraid of possible painful results; proceeding in the face of fear. (ahem - my definition).

What the difference is between brave and Bold (that's lesson 3)? what qualities distinguish bravery from boldness enough that they were listed as two different characteristics? I'm not going into boldness here -- I AM going to save it for the post in two weeks -- but I will say that what I came up with was boldness is behaving from a position of lack of fear, while bravery is being afraid...and doing it anyway.

If you look up 'Afraid' and 'Fear' in the concordance, there are many, many entries entreating us to trust God and not be afraid. Here are just a few:

"Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God" - Deut. 1:17

"The LORD is my light and my salvation -- whom shall I fear?" - Ps. 27: 1

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Josh. 1:9

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27

On the other hand, there are also numerous scriptures exhorting us TO fear -- God. Again, a small sample:

"Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God." - Lev. 25:17

"Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing." - Ps. 34:9

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom..." - Ps. 111: 10

"Better a little with the Fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil." -Prov. 15:16

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell." - Matt. 10:28

"Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king." - 1 Pet. 2:17

So, how to reconcile the 'Don't be afraid...but fear' message? I think the key is in 1 Corinthians 2:14: "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." We still have a flesh...a 'man without the spirit' in us, even after the rebirth that makes us spiritually alive. This part of us, our flesh, is still subject to fear. The spirit in us is not afraid, but knows to fear and honor God.

Bravery is the choice to follow the spirit, which is the fear of God, rather than give into the flesh, which is just afraid. The flesh, or to put it another way, the old nature, the self, is afraid of lots of things:

In my self, I'm afraid of pain and suffering -- physical and emotional.
I'm afraid of rejection, I'm afraid of failure. I'm afraid of being left alone. I'm afraid of poverty. Lots of fears.

In my spirit, I know that God will give me all I need. I know God will never leave me or forsake me. I know that any failure, rejection or pain I endure by following Him will serve a purpose and will be requited by Him when that purpose is served. I know, so long as I choose to obey God, He will take care of me in all why should I be afraid of anything? I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.

But the flesh is still there, and the flesh voices its fears loud and long.

To be a brave woman of God, I must daily face those fears, and choose to fear God instead.

And do it even when the flesh is afraid.

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you." - Ps. 56:3

Closing Thoughts: In what ways have I allowed the fears of the flesh to determine my actions in the past week or month? What would the fear of the LORD have directed me to do in those situations, had I listened to the Spirit? What lesson can I learn from that to enable me to follow the Spirit's leading next time my fears confront me?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Jubilee Monday #3 -- Rest

Jubilee...I have to trust God for my provision for the year.

I also have to intentionally rest. God intended Jubilee to also be a year of rest.

This may be harder than trusting God for provision.

Oldest Daughter and I were, by a strange stroke of scheduling, the only people in the house Friday night. She wanted to watch a movie together, and I'd picked up a DVD on sale that she'd never seen...Grant and Hepburn's Bringing up Baby.

I hadn't seen that movie in absolute ages, but I remembered thinking it was hysterically funny. So, I agreed to watch it with her.

I got about 30 minutes into it before I *had* to get up and do something. I just couldn't stand sitting still.

My Sweet Baboo and number 2 son, The Actor, however, were canoing down Tennessee's Buffalo River. When they got back, MSB talked about how calm and peaceful it was floating down the river and said that he wondered if it would be something I would enjoy (with the connotation that he might take me canoing sometime). Well, aside from the fact that I swim like a rock and am therefore not terribly comfortable with water sports in general, I just didn't think I'd enjoy sitting still in a the hot to bugs and possibly snakes... enough to make it worth while. Besides, I wouldn't be accomplishing anything.

He looked at me and said, 'You are too busy.'

He's right.

When did I lose the ability to do nothing?

Somehow, in the Year of Jubilee, I have to find make some time to do just that.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Flashback Friday # 8 : Intensive Care

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

This is from January 23, 2005, written during a late night prayer time:

Sharon Zink [a guest speaker] talked today about God putting her in 'intensive care' [spiritually] - and I thought about who goes into 'intensive care' and why....

Firstly, generally speaking, someone who is not going to get better, period, is not put into intensive care. No one who has no hope of survival goes into intensive care. Intensive care is for those who either are expected to recover or who stand a chance of recovery. So to be in intensive care is to know that there is hope.

People go into intensive care because:
1) they are very ill. But this is not the usual case... most illnesses are caught before they reach this stage.

2) they have had surgery. Surgery either removes something [that is diseased], corrects or repairs something or replaces something....

3) they have an injury - a serious injury - and are put into intensive care to be watched and evaluated until the immediate danger is over

4) Neonatal intensive care - a baby who's too immature to survive w/o special attention or was born with a life-threatening condition.

There is lots of room for spiritual parallels. In every case, someone goes into intensive care because their survival is threatened.

And, as is typical for my late-night journal entries, this stops abruptly right there. I didn't try to focus on the spiritual significance of that...maybe it is time to go back and consider some of those things, and remember that God cares deeply about our spiritual condition and will put us in intensive care. There's a lot more that could be written here -- how do you recognize being in intensive care, what can you expect in intensive care, things like that.

Hm. Lots of room to develop that theme.