Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Plain Vanilla: Patience, Part 2

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

When I re-read last week's excerpt from my Plain Vanilla Files, I noticed that I mentioned that there were *three* applications of patience...and 'don't give up' was the first. So I thought I'd go ahead and do a little three-parter and post the other two applications and the discussion about them, too...so, here's Part 2; Part 3 will be next week.

The second application of patience is that we must deliberately avoid doing anything in our own strength to try and bring the promise to pass. It’s so easy to assume that just because a course of action makes sense to us and seems to be in agreement with what God has said it must be the right thing to do...and go do it.

The key word there is assume. God may intend for us to do something that will lead to the fulfillment of the promise, but He will tell us if that’s the case. In our own reasoning, we invariably will decide on the wrong course of action. Not sometimes; not most of the time; always!

I really don't want to list all the times in my own life I've proven that to be true! Fortunately, I don't have to. I can refer to the Word. The classic example of doing something to bring the promise to pass is the conception of Ishmael. This is another familiar story, and Abraham and Sarah get a lot of bad press over this. Don’t forget – we have the advantage of hindsight. Try to put yourself in their situation. Think how it looked to them.

At the word of the Lord, a 75-year old man and his 65-year-old wife set out from Haran with his nephew and all the servants and livestock they had acquired. The man had no children, despite the ironical fact that his name meant “Exalted Father” (I suspect that, at that time, Abram considered Lot to be his heir). They went to Canaan, where God appeared to Abram and declared, “To your offspring I will give this land.” Abram built the first of many altars that he would build to God and called on His name. It is not recorded what Abram thought about God’s promise here; it may be that seventy-five and sixty-five may not have been quite as unlikely for childbearing then as it would be now. It was a promise, but year after year went by and no children appeared.

They wandered about in Egypt to escape a famine, and acquired a few more servants – including a young woman named Hagar, who became Sarai’s personal maid. After they returned to Canaan, Abram’s servants and Lot’s servants quarreled over who had grazing and watering rights where. Ultimately, the men split up, with Abram going to what later became Hebron and Lot going to what later became smoking dust and ashes. God again promised Abram that he would have offspring that no one could count who would inherit all the land he could see and walk through. Still, no children were born and Abram made his servant Eliezer his heir.

Then, Lot got into trouble when an alliance of Babylonian kings came and carted all the inhabitants of the cities of the Jordan plain – including Lot and his family and possessions – off into captivity. Abram heard about it, raised an army and took off after them. He caught the invaders off-guard, celebrating their victories. Abram and his army completely and utterly defeated them, recovering not only his nephew and his nephew’s household but also all the people and possessions of the towns of the plain. However, he refused to keep any plunder for himself, giving a tenth to the mysterious Melchizedek, portions to the men who had fought as his allies, and returning the rest to the people of the Sodom and Gomorrah region. Abram returned home with nothing to show for his excursion but the knowledge that he’d done the right thing.

But God knew what Abram had done, and He appeared to him again in a vision and promised to be Abram’s “shield and very great reward.” Keep in mind, about ten years had passed since God had begun to talk to Abram about offspring. Abram didn’t want a reward – he wanted sons. The first thing out of his mouth when God promised him a reward was something to the effect of “Well, there’s not much point to that – any reward You give me will be passed on to Eliezer since You haven’t given me any children!” This time, God not only promised Abram offspring as numerous as the stars, He promised Abram a son from his own body. But – go to Genesis 15 and read it carefully and you will see that God does not mention Sarai.

So – can you imagine Abram coming back from this worship experience, elated over what God has told him? Imagine the joy in his face as he tells Sarai about his wonderful worship experience and the marvelous promise God gave him...then imagine the cold knot Sarai feels growing in the pit of her stomach. She didn't hear the voice of God or dream in visions. Finally, she gets brave enough to ask Abram, “Who is going to have this baby?” I can see Abram look at her blankly for just a moment, so she rephrases the question, “Did God say that I would bear this child?” Suddenly, Abram realizes that God was rather vague on that point, and he stammers, “Uh, no, He didn’t say who would have the baby.”

What a blow to Sarai that had to have been! She knew that she was well past the age of childbearing. The possibility of having the child herself was too ludicrous to consider. It was a stretch to believe that Abram would father a child. Sarai could see only two possibilities – either she was going to die, and Abram would remarry and then have children, or Abram was going to take a second wife or concubine. Either way, she would have felt as if she were being set aside as useless.

I don’t know how long she agonized over the situation, or how much she cried as she considered the options, but finally she decided that she would have to sacrifice her relationship to her husband to see God’s promises come to pass. It was the only way she thought she could have any part in fulfilling the promise at all, even though it was a vicarious participation. How long do you suppose it took her to pull her emotions into line enough for her to go to Abram and say, “Abram, since God has prevented me from having children, I have an idea...”?

Now, you have to remember that what she suggested was completely acceptable in that day and time. It was not at all “wrong” according to the moral standards of their culture. In fact, people may have wondered why Abram hadn’t already done something like this. From the Scripture account, many people have assumed Abram jumped at the idea, but the truth is that we don’t know how long it took Sarai to persuade Abram that this was what he should do. But, in the end, he agreed with her. After all, by the conventional standard of the day it wasn’t wrong and it could give Abram the son from his own body that he’d been promised. It made sense. It was logical. They seemed to have assumed it was what they were supposed to do. There’s no evidence that they ever once asked God if this was what He had in mind. There is also no record that God spoke again to Abram until Ishmael was about thirteen.

It’s quite possible that, all that time, Abram really believed Ishmael was the son God had promised him, despite the strife that this decision brought into his household. Unfortunately, the strife was not limited to his household, but has continued for centuries.... All from their earnest desire to bring about God’s promise. Mind you, that desire did not stem from unbelief that God would do what He said, but from their logical thought processes that told them that God would bring about His promise through their human efforts. Sarai, I’m convinced, believed she was making a noble sacrifice. Their motives were right, their faith was unshaken, but their human reasoning (the fatal fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) was their downfall.

They didn’t bail out of their situation, so they did eventually see the promise come to pass, but Abraham finally had to send Ishmael – the product of his own human effort to bring about God’s promise – away altogether. Think of the sacrifice this was for Abraham! The human efforts ultimately resulted in nothing but separation, pain and generation after generation of bitter conflict.

This should be a major warning to us. Sure, we don’t have the same set of circumstances, but anytime we attempt to bring about the promise of God by doing what seems reasonable, or what makes sense, without a clear word from God to do that, we will be heading off into the same error. Yes, the promise is fulfilled – but how much damage we do in trying to make it happen!

I can’t tell you how hard it is to be patient enough to stay on our faces until we know that we know we have heard from God – and be willing to even give up the promise rather than do anything by our own wisdom to bring it about. Now, God’s promises are always for our good, and they are certainly worth clinging to. But there comes a time when a distinction must be made between the promise that God has given and God’s presence and God’s purpose. God is infinitely more desirable than any promise He gives; His purpose will be fulfilled however He designs to fulfill it. His promises are always kept...but not usually in the way we expect. Therefore, we must desire His presence and His purpose above His promise.

Abraham learned this lesson. When God tested him again, Abraham trusted God. He actually would have killed his son at God’s word, trusting that God would keep his word of blessing Isaac. Do you see that placing Isaac on the altar was essentially the same test in trusting God to fulfill His promise as waiting on him to be born? Perhaps, if Abram and Sarai had not tried to bring about God’s promise themselves in the first place, Abraham would not have had to go through the ordeal of placing his son on the altar. When we fail a test, God does not get angry – He just leaves us with the consequences of our decisions and brings us back to the place where we must take the same test again.

So – don’t give up and don’t get in the way. Keep the Plain Vanilla Testimony that “God promised me something that I still don’t see any reason to believe is going to happen, but I’m going to hang out with Him and wait for Him to do it anyway.” Of course, if God tells you something you need to do, then jump up and do it, even if it seems silly (think of Naaman washing in the Jordan River). Just don’t make the assumption that you have to do something to see God work in your life. “The Lord helps those who help themselves” is a quaint proverb that sounds reasonable to our Puritan work ethic heritage, but the truth is that the Lord helps those who completely put their trust in Him and move in obedience. Those who help themselves by moving in assumption only receive what they've brought about themselves.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Jubilee Monday #11: Not guilty

I did something last week that I normally do not do.

I literally took a day off and did nothing productive.

Well, not in a quantitative way, anyway. I read a book my 15 Year Old Son (AKA 'The Actor -- he's in the local city school drama magnet program) was dying to talk about. It was a *big* book: 748 pages long.

And I spent Friday reading it. All. Day. Friday.

But I got it done and he was happy to discuss some things about it. So I suppose it wasn't a total waste of time.

However, I constantly fought a nagging sensation of 'I should be doing...' all day.

But I reminded myself that I was on the lookout for opportunities to do nothing; to rest. I decided this was a good one.

Now, I'm not looking for excuses not to do laundry, bookkeeping, etc., but sometimes a bit of downtime is a good thing.

That's one of the purposes of Jubilee.

So, I refuse to consider myself guilty of laziness; instead, I chose a day of rest.

And you know...the numb nearly-over-done sensation has lifted a bit. I feel more normal now than I have in a while.

Rest really is good.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Flashback Friday #15: New Batteries

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Because I feel like I need a smile, here's an entry dated May 19,1989:

[My Sweet Baboo] was playing with the kids the other night: bouncing, chasing, etc, and at one point just flopped on his stomach on the floor. [DD#1...then age 3] ran to the wall, scratched at it a bit, then went to her daddy and tickled around on his upper back.

When he asked her what she was doing, she replied, 'Putting in new batteries!'

Wish it was that easy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Leaving the Creek

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Yesterday's post stirred up some memories for me and I thought I'd share one testimony of how *we* were told to leave the dry creekbed...

We were in a very non-charismatic denominational church for almost exactly 20 years. Joined that church the Sunday after our first wedding anniversary, having spent the first year we were married looking for a church home. We dug in and got involved. It was a storefront church when we joined; in the time we were in it we purchased property and built a building, saw growth and collapse, five pastors, three interim pastors, great times and awful times. I can remember laying face down on our living room floor at one point, sobbing into the carpet, begging God to release us to go somewhere else. But His answer was 'No'...and He led me to 1 Kings and the story of Elijah, and showed me what it meant to wait on His word. In times of spiritual drought, we found that God always managed to get something to us to sustain us and keep us going; feeding us by the ravens, as it were (inspirational ministry TV programs were a key part of that...which, given my thoughts on television, I really consider being fed by the ravens!).

At the time of our last change in pastor, it began to be very clear to us that our season in that congregation was to undergo a change...but we really weren't sure what it was. It wasn't that church was discouraging; on the contrary, the pastor was feeding the flock and, by and large, the congregation was encouraged. But somehow we were still dry.

Then, we pulled into church one Sunday in May of 2000 to see that the marquee announcing that night's sermon was 'When the Creek Dries Up'. I laughed to My Sweet Baboo, wondering if our pastor was going to preach my lesson on patience.

But he didn't preach that. He stood in the pulpit and proclaimed change. Time to move on...time to go to new places, minister with new people, move to a new level with God.

I really think he believed he was preaching that word to a handful of folks who had been visiting our little church but hadn't joined in yet, but to me and my hubby, listening with weak knees and spiritual goosebumps, it had a whole 'nuther meaning. After such a long time, we were being released.

And our current church had just celebrated their first anniversary that same weekend.

Now, it took us a year to get completely disengaged from the duties and responsibilities we had, but we both look at that night as our Clear Word that it was time to move on. We were able to leave in the summer of '01 with the understanding of our friends and the leadership there; no one was hurt and there was no misunderstanding. After seeing so many painful departures over the years, it was a real benediction to us to be able to move on without any drama.

And that's the way it should be.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Plain Vanilla: Patience, Part 1

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Ok, today is Bible Study Day...and I haven't got a clue what the next study is going to be. So I dug back into the computer archives and pulled another excerpt from my writing on 'A Plain Vanilla Testimony'. Since I find myself rather impatiently fidgeting in some areas, this is appropriate for me, too...a reminder of the importance of patience.

God puts a big emphasis on the need for His people to be a patient people. Patience is:
- included in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22)
- a key quality of love (1 Cor. 13:4)
- part of Paul’s prayer for the believers at Colosse (Col. 1:11)
- one of the characteristics with which we are to clothe ourselves (Col.3:12)
- to be a significant part of any preaching, rebuke or encouragement we offer others (2 Tim. 4:2).

We are instructed to be patient with one another (Eph. 4:2, 1 Thess. 5:14). Patience, in and of itself, bears fruit in our lives. In Proverbs 14:29, we see that patience brings understanding. Hebrews 6:12 states that faith and patience are required to inherit what has been promised.

If you have a promise from God, something that you believe God has spoken to you and has for you, you must believe and be patient in order to see it come to pass.

Now, being patient has three distinct applications. The first application of patience is to not give up, chuck the whole thing and go live according to the pattern of this world. Hang on. Don’t quit. Sure it’s hard, but what else are you going to do? It’s possible to get mad at God for taking too long to fulfill a promise He had given and so just give up working in the kingdom, saying, “Well, God, You’re not keeping Your end of the bargain, so I’m just going to go do what I want.” Now, I’m not implying that someone who reacts that way will go and live a grossly sinful life from that point on...he or she could just be giving up on the church God put them in and go somewhere else. Or they could quit dealing with the person God has put on their heart to win or disciple. Or, they could bail out of a marriage. The essence is the same: there is a conscious decision to not wait on God any longer. The pattern of this world is: if your situation doesn’t change, then do what you can to change situations. But God's people are to wait on God for either His intervention or His instruction.

There is a terrific example of this in 2 Kings 17. It’s a fairly familiar story, but there is a point to be made regarding patience in a tough situation that I want to bring out. You know the details – Elijah told King Ahab that there would be no more rain until he prophesied it, then God sent him to the Kerith Ravine. He stayed there, getting his drinking water from the brook and his food from ravens until God told him where to go next. Here’s the lesson – God didn’t tell Elijah where to go next until the brook dried up. Now, imagine you’re Elijah. You’re sitting there by this brook, all by yourself. At first it’s not too tough – there’s food every day and plenty of water. But, little by little, you see the brook dwindle from a stream to a trickle. If you’re like me, you begin to remind God where you are. There’s enough water for now…but the future begins to look a bit iffy. I think I’d be praying something like, “Hello, God? Could you increase the water supply, please? I’m getting nervous.” But, there’s no word from heaven, and the trickle seems to turn overnight into a series of muddy, stagnant puddles. Now, the water isn’t even nice to look at, let alone drink. It smells bad. There are bugs in it. I think it was at this point that Elijah really began to exercise his patience. The world’s logic would say: this creek’s drying up, and if survival is the goal, anyone who is counting on this creek for a water supply should perhaps go find a better source. But, Elijah knew something we would do well to remember: only God knows where to find water. Apart from His guidance, we will never find it for ourselves. So, Elijah stayed put. Eventually, even those yucky puddles dried up and Elijah had no water at all. But, still he stayed where God told him to stay. He was determined to do what God said, even if it killed him. The only evidence he had all this time that God hadn’t forgotten him was that the birds kept showing up with food. Not until the brook was dry and the water was gone did the word of God come to him and tell him to go and stay with the widow in Zarephath. The brook was dry and the water was gone...that's pretty extreme obedience.

But Zarephath was on the opposite side of the country, which meant Elijah had to make quite a trip. Now, God could have supplied him with all the water he needed right at Kerith, if that had been His plan. But there was a widow and her son who would’ve starved if God’s provision for Elijah had not extended to them as well. My guess is that God sent Elijah to the ravine so that he was hidden while Ahab’s men scoured the country looking for him. After they’d given up, it was safe for him to make the journey. Elijah needed the sojourn at the brook. (Based on Obadiah's remarks in 1 Kings 18:9 - 14, I suspect that, by the time Elijah left the brook, there had been enough false ‘Elijah sightings’ that Ahab wouldn’t pay any attention to the real one!) What would’ve happened if he had used the evidence of the failing brook to determine that God wouldn’t take care of him? He probably would have gone wandering off, trying to find a pool or stream somewhere that wasn’t drying up. In doing that, he quite possibly could have been discovered by God’s enemies. The ravens certainly would not have continued to bring him food.

So, Elijah waited until he got a clear direction from God...even when waiting went contrary to every logical course of action. I suppose Elijah was blessed in that he had no “friends” around him telling him that he was foolish for sitting by a brook that was drying up! He didn’t have to defend his actions to anyone but himself. You and I, however, may need to stop up our ears to avoid listening to well-meaning, reasonable-sounding advice that runs contrary to what we honestly believe God has instructed. We have to be ready to deal with misunderstanding and frustration from friends, relatives, and anyone else who feels a need to voice an opinion about our course of action. Elijah’s patience was rewarded by new, miraculous provision; remember that as you deal with situations that appear to be drying up. Don’t give up and quit, even when the situation looks hopeless and everyone whose judgment you value (and a few folks whose judgment you don’t) counsels you to give up and move on. If God has put you in a position or situation, and you know God put you there, then you really have only one course of action: Stay until He tells you to move.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jubilee Monday #10...forgive us our debts

Whilst I'm still pondering my two previously noted aspects of Jubilee...trust for provision and rest...I think I'm going to crack open a third aspect of Jubilee:


Especially as I'm finding myself in need of some. No details, just an acknowledgment that I've put my foot in my mouth ...again...and need to make some apologies. Publicly. (Does anyone else ever find themselves needing to use Desenex as a dentifrice? Or am I the only one?)

There's a huge depth to the topic of forgiveness, and I could probably blog the rest of my Jubilee Mondays about it. And, because I'm still kinda bummed about my own blockheadedness, I'm not in a great study-it-out-and-look-for-revelation frame of mind.

I just wanna go squall on someone's shoulder and say 'I'm so sorry!!! I didn't mean it like that!' ...but I've got a communication glitch that needs to be remedied before I can do that (now, of all times, would I have just cleaned out my inbox so that I don't have email addresses I need).

But, I will put the topic out here, with the lid ajar for further exploration at a later date.

Jubilee means forgiving debts. It also means being forgiven.

Thank you, Lord.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Flashback Friday #14

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Just a nugget this time, from an entry dated Jan. 20, 2005...at midnight, but that's another story:

Pride cannot be wounded if Pride is dead

There are times when I find Pride is not dead...that flesh vs. spirit thing. And it's a whole battle to get over it. It's sort of like a disease that can be eradicated in one area, but lurks undetected in another part of the flesh to attack again later.

And I'm risking going off on a speculative ramble, so I'll stop before I do! I'll go write it in today's journal entry instead...maybe it'll show up in a future Flashback... ;)

Note: to make the Archived posts more accessible, I've split the series. You can find the first 13 posts to the Flashback Friday series Here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I feel like a 'Backslider'

I got an email from a good friend yesterday. One that had a lovely inspiring message about praying for friends.

At the conclusion of this lovely inspiring message, I was instructed to send the email on to ten friends, including the one who sent it, to let them know I prayed for them (don't forget to actually pray!).

I deleted it.

Oh, I hate the way those emails make me feel! Like some kind of low-life self-centered Christian who would refuse to pray for a friend.

Now, I didn't say I didn't pray. But I deleted the email. Giving the *impression* that I didn't pray.

I probably get one a month from various folks...emails that are wonderful, until you get to the last bit that says 'Now, if you love Jesus (or your friends or whatever), send this to...' Sometimes they even add 'If not, just delete this,' which really cranks up the guilt factor.

Why do people do that? I don't think my friend intended to make me feel bad; I'm sure she intended to just let me know she held me up to the Father, for which I am grateful. Just passing it along, without really thinking about the implications of the tail end of it. No, whoever wrote the email in the beginning and added that is the person I don't understand. It feels...manipulative. I feel like I have *no* good options....

I suppose I could delete the last few lines if I decide it's worth sending on, and substitute something like 'you are under no obligation to do anything whatever in response to this. I just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you.'

Maybe that would work. I dunno. I doubt it'll ever stop the cringe when I see 'If this touched your heart, forward this to ten people whom you would like to encourage today....'

And, btw, you are under no obligation whatever to respond in any way to this post.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

SHE Reflections

Every year, the women's conference is different from any previous conference. The tone is different, and it does different things in my spirit.

And I usually have to ponder and meditate for a while to fully understand what is going on.

Susan Beemer spoke about being 'Brave Enough to be Whole'...and used the woman with the issue of blood as the illustration.

Pastor Jenny Enyinda (our Jr. High Pastor) brought the house down Friday night, speaking of 'Unforgettable Boldness' -- as demonstrated by Mary of Bethany, whose bold anointing of the feet of Jesus was recorded and still spoken of even today.

Susan Dyer, who changed her schedule at the last minute to come in place of DeLynn Rizzo (DeLynn and her husband are pastors of Healing Place church in Baton Rouge, LA and were still involved in hurricane recovery; our offerings at the conference went to them), spoke on Indescribable, Incomparable Beauty...the beauty of God that will rest on us if we allow it, breaking the mantle of victimization which allows others to define us. (an aside...Susan Dyer has spoken at several of our women's conferences; she's an extremely focused, extremely disciplined lady who does not appear to have a shred of fear anywhere. I wish I could spend a week with her; I don't think my many insecurities and fears could handle being that close to No Fear. I don't know if there'd be much left of me after that week, but all the dross would be gone!)

Pastor Leisa spoke Saturday night about Becoming a Warrior (yes, 'becoming' the verb, not the adjective ;) ). She spoke of leading and following, of women who became what God called them to be regardless of age, social standing, or circumstances.

I have a bunch of nuggets of truth in my notes: things I need to get into my spirit. But the biggest thing that I came away with ... for me...was that I need to quit trying to be Martha, always serving for fear of being judged (boy, is there a long backstory to that! Not going there). I need to let go completely of my fear of the opinions of other people and choose the one thing that is needful...spending time at His feet.

In the Thursday night leaders' meeting, Susan Dyer spoke just a few minutes and had us do a little exercise. First, we prayed for revelation, then we were all instructed to write down what we received in our spirits. She told us we were practicing hearing from God. We shouldn't try to discern who the word was for just yet, but just listen and let God speak.

After we had written, she told us to put a Bible verse with the revelation.

When we were all done, she then told us that she had prayed for each of us to receive a revelation for ourselves...the word we received was for each of us.

I laughed because mine turned out surprisingly apt, but it has a universal application so I'll share it today, since it is nominally Bible study day anyway.

Blessed is the one who waits on Me, who doesn't run ahead.

Waiting is a test.

I will take you all the way to the journey's end in an instant if you wait on me before you start. If you start without me, you will be toiling when you could be resting and you will not get there any sooner.

So wait at the start -- rest and worship. Deepen yourself in Me, drink from the well there. In due season, I will come and take you myself to the destiny you have before you.

Isaiah 46:4 -- Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am He. I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

BTW...the magazine that you see contains 365 scriptures for daily devotions for a year. There are 4 months on Brave, 4 months on Beautiful, 4 months on Bold.... Becoming, we were told, is what we write ourselves. I had to laugh at my teeny little one-day-on-each-word study in comparison!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jubilee Monday #9: Confirmation

I sat down with my journal after Thursday's post on feeling blocked...numb...and asked God what was going on.

I was surprised and kind of scared by what I heard in my spirit in response:

This is a symptom of burnout

My Sweet Baboo and I have both heard many warnings about burning out. Yes, we do a lot of things. Yes, it gets stressful at times. People have cautioned us against letting ourselves burn out.

And we have dropped some things in order to relieve a little stress. But, as I talked about it to Ranger Senior Commander (he of the Pirate Costume project), I told him I could not look at a roomful of kids and say "I need some time off. Someone else will have to teach you."

This is a class that, from the time the program started in our church 7ish years ago, has YET to have one teacher with them for the entire three years they are in the class. How can we expect the kids to be committed if the adults teaching them are not?

Mostly, the stuff we do, we do because we love it. To NOT do it would be really sad. But SEVERAL times during the conference over the past weekend I received confirmation...in small ways and kind of big ways, all surprising and unexpected...that I'm supposed to get some rest.

I was just kind of looking at disciplined rest as a Jubilee thing...now I think it's really supposed to be a God thing.

However, I'm not sure rest means 'sit down'. Somehow, there must be a way to 'rest on the way'...break the pressure up some so that it's not so wearying, but still keep going. There are many people who are under greater stresses than we are. If stepping down would mean new people could step up, it would be one thing. But, unless there are folks hiding in the wings, stepping down would just mean increasing the load for others.

And, in some cases, stepping down would mean letting kids down. Again.

Not gonna do that.

I'm not sure what I really need to do (or not do).

I do know one thing I can decide for a start...I do not think I will let myself take on any new outside the house projects for at least the next month.

Beyond that, well, I'm just going to have to listen for the next step.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


The SHE Revolution Women's conference unofficially begins tonight with a session for leadership.

I am really, really needing it.

Not because I feel desperate for God...because I feel numb. Tired. Spiritually lethargic.

All the personal discipline I can muster can't seem to get over it.

Isn't that ironic, after studying out 'The Five B's' to prepare for the weekend? *Knowing* that I am Brave, Beautiful, Bold, Bride, and Becoming? Even with all the neat insight and new way of looking at those words that I found as I studied, it still felt more like an exercise in personal discipline. Maybe I was too focused on writing the study and not focused enough on applying it...ouch...

In our monthly night of worship last Sunday, I found myself really struggling to get to my 'secret place' of communion w/God. The imagery that came to me is humorous, but apt.

My kids play Nintendo video games from time to time; sometimes I get invited to play along...just to provide comic relief to everyone else. I seriously stink at those games.

You'd think someone who could manipulate fabric around a fast-moving needle or fast-moving needles/knives mechanism would have better eye-hand coordination than I do. But I digress.

In some of these games, there is a character that rather resembles a walking blue sponge....with a band-aid on his back side. I don't know what it's called in the world of video games, but he blocks the paths in some games and hinders progress in others.

The imagery that came to me is that my 'self' was blocking me...and my 'self' looked just like this obnoxious creature from the video game. Blocking the path and hindering my progress. I couldn't get past my 'self'.

Ok, I think I will just get my journal and look fresh at all those questions at the end of each of those '5 B's' lessons; time to see what's percolating in the 'self' that's blocking things up and needs a crucifixion.

As the conference starts early both tomorrow and Saturday, and runs all day into the evening, I probably won't post again until next week.

One way or another, this is going to be a good weekend.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Five B's : Conclusion

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

...here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. -- Ecc. 12:13

The word 'conclusion' triggered the memory of that verse, and I decided to start today's discussion with it, more or less tongue-in-cheek. But as I was typing it out, a recurring theme from the last five weeks resonated, and, ya know, there may be something to this. Let me emphasize one bit:

...the conclusion of the matter: Fear God...

Did anyone else notice how often the notion of being afraid vs. fearing God cropped up? Not only in the discussion of bravery, but in the rest of them.

Let me do a little recap:

Brave: being afraid and doing it anyway

Beautiful: Fully mature, not pursuing false beauty, which is based on being afraid of the opinions of others, but pursuing God, who has made all things beautiful - Ecc. 3:11, and not giving in to fear

Bold: Filled with the Holy Spirit and not conscious of fear, operating in the grace of ability and the ability of grace...bravery grown up

Bride: Throwing off fear of intimate knowledge; allowing God to cleanse, anoint and dress us in preparation for the wedding feast...and what follows.

Becoming: Overcoming the fear of being 'too much and not enough' and resting in the knowledge of being 'appropriate for God to work on, suitable for Him to use,and in the proper place at this time'.

Everyone of those attributes has an aspect of fear that must be overcome. And we need all of those attributes to overcome fear. If we understood...really understood...that the Enemy's only weapon against us is fear, we would fight our battles differently.

I didn't really plan to do this, but then these things rarely go according to plan anyway, so... consider the story of David and Goliath. Or rather, consider Goliath of Gath (1 Samuel 17). Over 9 feet tall, armored in heavy bronze, and a 15-pound tip on his spear, he intimidated the entire army of Israel. For 40 days, the sight of him and the words he shouted immobilized Saul and everyone with him. Fear kept them from fighting.

Do you see that? Fear kept them from fighting!

Then along came David, who knew from experience that God delivers intimidating enemies into the hand of His servant, and he was not afraid.

The only weapon Goliath had a chance to use against David was fear...and David did not give in to fear. Instead, he knocked down the giant with what God put in his hand, and then killed the giant with the giant's own sword.

The weapon the enemy threatened to use was the weapon that took the enemy's head!

But it had to be wielded by one who was not afraid...and fear of Goliath's battle abilities was only one of the fears that David had to overcome. He had to also overcome:

-fear of being misunderstood...his own brother accused him of being conceited and evilly ambitious.

-fear of responsibility. If he failed, the entire nation would serve the Philistines. There was more than just David's life riding on this battle.

-Fear of man; he first had to convince the king that he was fit for fighting such an enemy, even though he was only a young man. He did not let Saul's position cow him into considering himself unable to carry out what God put in his heart, but persisted in stating his case until he received Saul's blessing to go.

-Fear of reprisal: he selected five stones, not because he thought the first stone would fail, but because Goliath had four brothers! He was ready.

David refused to give in to any of those fears; by refusing to give in to fear, he took the enemy's only real weapon from his hand and allowed God to give him a victory.

If we overcome fear, the battle is won before it is fought.

But...consider this:

All five 'B's are characteristics of what a daughter of the Most High King is, not characteristics of what she will be someday in the future. God has already declared us to be brave enough to overcome the fears of the flesh, beautiful and desirable to Him, bold in our spirits, hiding nothing from Him, and exactly right for what He purposes for us. Now.

The only delay in that is the time it takes us to get that truth into our spirits; the truth of who we are, not who we will become. What we will be is unknown...only that we will be like Him (1 John 3:2). Don't confuse what we are now, thinking we are less than that, with what we will be, thinking that what He has declared us to be is the goal ahead. There is a greater thing that we do not know, cannot understand, ahead of us.

So we need to be fully...right now...all that He has made us.

Closing thoughts What are the fears that hinder believing I am brave, beautiful, bold...His Bride, most becoming? Write them down; be honest with the Bridegroom...open, vulnerable. He will not reject or ridicule...but provide what is needed to overcome them. Allow the Spirit to discern when those fears are operating...and choose to overcome them.

And, now that we've kind of established a bit of groundwork, anyone who is in the area is invited to come to the SHE Revolution, which begins Friday morning, and Seek His Embrace....

Monday, September 8, 2008

Jubilee Monday #8: Retracing my Steps

Trying to remember...how did Jubilee become a Shiny Sink?

Oh, yes, it's because
Jubilee is for Rest
Real Rest is a discipline
I need to discipline my days for disciplined rest
Flylady has great suggestions for discipilining days and
She makes you start with a clean sink....

Anyway, I shined my sink on Labor Day...and it's stayed shiny all week. For me, that's Really Something.

And I *did* sign up for the emails. Day three of the Babysteps list was rather emphatic about signing up for the emails. But she did mention that she had dramatically cut down on the amount of emails that were going out on a daily basis, so I decided to give it a go and signed up for the Daily Digest. I can skim read that in just a couple of minutes, picking out the babysteps that I need to work on and letting the more advanced choreography go right on by.

Right now, I'm thrilled to maintain a clean sink. If I can maintain a clean something, then sooner or later it will spread.

Order will be restored to the house.

And that's a pretty good Jubilee thing. ;)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Flashback Friday #13 - Pass the Tomatoes

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I found this entry and just had to chuckle. God really is in the little things. It's dated August 18, 2003:

Tuesday, we worked on banners at the church. I'd decided to have BLTS [bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches] for supper and planned to stop at the farmer's market on my way home from church for fresh tomatoes. But we worked at church until nearly 2 and I had to get home and eat some lunch before taking [my two youngest kids] to the dentist. So I had to admit that I didn't have time to stop for tomatoes.
"Lord," I prayed as I pulled out of the parking lot, "Could you give us some tomatoes, please?"

When I got home, I called [My Sweet Baboo] to remind him to pick up [the two older kids], and he asked me if I'd gotten any tomatoes. I told him no and explained why.
"Well," he replied, "Somebody brought in tomatoes to give away and I thought I'd get some if you wanted me to."


Yes, we had BLTS that night! ;) God amazes me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fruit Inspection

I don't know if I passed or not.

I'm not going into details, because I'm GOING to get over it, but I will just say that sometimes what I think should happen, for one reason or another, doesn't always line up with what someone in authority over me thinks needs to happen.

And, when it comes down to it, I must submit properly to the authority...even if I don't agree.

That is a test. God does this. It's a growth opportunity; He's got it all planned out. The fact that what *I* think should happen has many wonderful reasons why it should happen, has nothing to do with anything. If it was important in the kingdom, God would see that it happened that way. If it doesn't, He will still see that the folks who needed 'my' solution will be taken care of.

The test is whether or not one can submit without complaining or getting a bad attitude.

Now, I did have to tell some people what was happening...plans had to change. But I'm not entirely sure I did it in the correct, uncomplaining spirit. Y'see, it's easy to recognize the morning after that it was a test...and I should not complain.

It's hard to be aware of that in the midst of the struggle.

I'd probably give myself a C+, all things considered. Passing, but with lots of room for improvement....

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Five 'B's': Becoming

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...Becoming

Ya never know what the dictionary might say... here's what my American Heritage has to say for Becoming:
(adj)1) Appropriate; suitable; proper
2) Pleasing or attractive to the eye.

I have to go up a bit in the word list to become to find what I expected...the intransitive verb which is defined 'to grow or come to be'.

Perhaps there's a lesson there.

I have been mentally laying out my discussion for this lesson for a couple of days; all centered around the idea that 'becoming' basically means changing, growing, morphing. The verses I planned to use included things like 2 Corinthians 3:18...And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

And -- I'm being honest -- I was kind of resigned to the notion that I really wouldn't find anything *new* to say, no fresh revelation. Haven't we all been told, often, how God is in the process of remaking us? From even simple children's songs.. He's still workin' on me, to make me what I ought to be... to T shirt slogans; PBPWMGNFWMY (Please be patient with me, God's not finished with me yet) to posters (I have one with a cute kitten picture on the wall in my Jr. High Girl's Friends Club room that declares: God loves me the way I am, and too much to let me stay that way.)

I did think for a moment about 'becoming' as being attractive, flattering, as in that color is so becoming to you! and thought I could slip that in the study, but to find that becoming (adj) is defined as appropriate, suitable and proper was something of a surprise.

And, to be perfectly clear, I really believe the verb was the intention in our lesson on the Five B's back in July, which was the inspiration for this study.

But perhaps there is something God wants to say to us now about 'becoming' that is new and unexpected.

One of my recent 'Wow' books is Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge. I realize there are very varied opinions about it, but there is a profound statement on pages six and seven (and, no, I am not going to turn this into a study of the book; Stasi says something I need to quote): I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I've ever met feels it -- something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling at failing at who she is. I am not enough, and I am too much at the same time.

That feeling like I'm 'too much and not enough' has plagued me for most of my life. That is just the best description of it.

But, what if a Godly woman really is 'becoming'...the adjective? Then I find that I am neither too much nor not enough, but appropriate, suitable, proper.

To quote Goldilocks, 'Just right!'

Ok, I realize that this could be heading off into dangerous ground. Ground that says I'm just fine as I am, thank you, and I don't need to change anything about me. Ground that really does away with those Scriptures about changing. And that's not what 'becoming' should mean at all. Yes, we are being changed from glory to glory. Yes, we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus. We are a fallen people in a fallen world and we must be renewed and transformed. The Bible is very clear on that!

But, what I think we do sometimes is allow the Enemy to convince us that we are not worth God's time, God's effort, God's love. We are too much sinner and not enough saint for Him to bless us, or be concerned with us, or answer our prayers. That, my beloved friend who's stuck with me this far today, is a lie that must be recognized and dealt with.

The key is...who is doing the transforming? Am I trying to transform myself so that God will accept me? If I am, then the word I need to know is that I am BECOMING. I need to know that I am appropriate, suitable, proper. Appropriate for God to work on, suitable for Him to use, and in the proper place at this point in my life. Once I know those things, then it ceases to be me doing the work and simply becomes me being receptive to His work. Allowing him to prune those things that are too much and cultivate those things that are not enough.

When we submit to His process, then we truly are becoming...both the verb and the adjective.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Cor. 5:17

...put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Eph. 4:24

For you were once darkness,but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Eph. 5: 8 - 10

But now, he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Col. 1:22

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:6

Closing thoughts: How have I allowed my need to grow and change to become an obstacle for believing God loves me and accepts me as I am now? In what ways do I limit God from acting in my life because I believe I am 'too much' and 'not enough'?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Jubilee Monday #7: Shine the Sink

Ok, I didn't sign up for Flylady like I said I would. I've heard about the incredible volume of emails that come along with signing up for flylady...and Lord knows I spend too much time on the computer already.

So, instead I bookmarked the Babysteps Page. That will tell me what to do well enough, I think.

I know the secret to maintaining any kind of order and discipline in life is to have good habits; I don't wanna do the work to change my freewheeling, inefficient lifestyle but I need to. So I'm gonna start with the babysteps.

This is for rest, right? Um, right...ultimately, it will allow for some disciplined rest.

I wonder how long it's gonna take me to get there.