Tuesday, March 29, 2011


We have a new pastor at church who will be over our discipleship/education areas, and he wanted to see material from past programs. So I've dug out my binder from what we called 'RELEASE' school of ministry...7 12-week courses all geared to training folks in areas needed for doing any kind of service. The courses were:


This was in the 2002- 2004 time frame; on Wednesday nights before I got involved in the Girls' Ministry program. However, the church grew so fast that we literally ran out of places to put the classes and the 7th session never was (or, maybe, hasn't yet been) offered.

The basic structure for each course was that we had a book to read, we were given a specific portion of the Bible to read so that we read the entire Book over the course of the 7 - class schedule, pertinent Scripture to memorize, and classes to attend. At the end of each course, we were to turn in a one-page book report on the book and do a small written test on the memory work.

The book report was a very interesting thing. It was to be 3 paragraphs; the first was a summary of the book, the second was noting what was personally significant and the third was to be action point or points to be taken as a result of what was learned.

I actually thought it would be good to apply that process to any book I read...and I did it once.

Now, when I pulled the binder with all my accumulated material (the one class I'm missing just happens to be the 7th one) to take in to our new pastor, I read over some of it. I was dismayed to find that lack of follow through on my intention to summarize the books I'd read was pretty much the picture in a nutshell of my staying power on what I'd learned in general.

I have failed to implement even one of my action points...and they were good, important points, all geared to deepening my relationship with my Lord. What happened?

My friends, I got busy. And I got distracted.

I looked over my history for the past 6 - 7 years, and I found that 1)My ministry involvement at church increased tremendously 2) My volunteer sewing increased tremendously and 3) My time on the internet, in online sewing communities, blogging, and now Facebook increased tremendously.

Now, there's nothing *wrong* with any of that, and some of it is even commendable, but if my personal spiritual growth has stagnated then it is Not Good.

But it's all part of Who I Am Now.

And I'm reminded that, at the start of the year, I asked God to take me apart and put me back together again and I realize that all of this is part of that process. I do not want just fall back into the old patterns once I'm 100% healthy and back to Doing again.

It's a submission issue, of course, and I actually summed it up in my book report for the Responsibility class (the book was The Glad Surrender, by Elisabeth Elliot):

...discipline is not so much an act of my will forcing my behavior, but of my will submitting to the Father and letting Him mold my behavior...to do what I have repeatedly proven I cannot do in my own strength and determination.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Faithful Friday Faves: Jeremiah

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Back in 1994, I was teaching the Jr/Sr High students Sunday School class in the little denominational church we were attending. The curriculum we were using covered the entire Bible in 6 years. We were heading into a new quarter of study, and the upcoming book was Jeremiah.

The thought of teaching Jeremiah to a bunch of teenagers really intimidated me.

So, in preparation, one of the things I did was procure a copy of The International Inductive Study Bible, so I could dig in a little deeper.

It was a doorway into a new level of appreciation for the Word. Instead of being dull and boring, Jeremiah came alive.

At least, it did for me. I don't know if the kids got anything out of it or not.

In skimming through for today's selection, I found myself getting goosebumpy over the similarities between Jeremiah's culture and the culture in which we live. As I commented on Facebook, it's almost like reading today's newspaper.

And we all know the outcome of the social norms of Jeremiah's day.

So the verse that jumped out at me early in the book is a true injunction to all of us:
This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." - Jer. 6:16a

Note that ancient is not necessarily equated w/good here...and it's true, all societies have mistakes in their past that we would do well not to repeat. But the problem is that our society has not only discarded the mistakes, but the solid things as well, lumping them all together.

Just as they did in Jeremiah's day.

"But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'" - Jer 6:16 b

Oh, that we would learn wisdom, and ask for the good way, which is ancient, and find rest...

Jeremiah always stirs up an emotion in me that is nearly grief as the narrative moves through the last kings of Judah to the disastrous destruction of the city and all the things the Jews held precious...because they had convinced themselves such a thing Could Never Happen.

Ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Faithful Friday Faves: Isaiah

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Isaiah is a pretty amazing book; prophecy and oracle and just about in the middle, a narrative. Skimming through it, promise after promise spoke to me about God's heart to bless His people.

But the verse that jumped up and said 'Pay attention!' is in the narrative of Sennacherib's siege of Jerusalem:

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, this is the word the LORD has spoken against him:.... -Is. 38:21-22a

And the text goes on to answer Sennacherib's taunts against God and promise deliverance to the people of Judah.

What got my attention, though, was God's declaration of why He was moved to answer...Because Hezekiah prayed. Not because He was defending His Name, not because Sennacherib had crossed a line...but because Hezekiah prayed.

That probably caught my eye because one of the books I'm reading during my (ahem) down time is Beth Moore's Breaking Free, and I'd just gotten totally convicted by her chapter on prayerlessness.

Oh, I pray, but as I've probably said before, I've let myself get so busy that my prayer life is more like living on pick-up from the drive through than living on solid food. I need to pull all the issues in my life together and seriously lay them before the Lord.

And I need to make that my lifestyle.

Because it's not about praying eloquent prayers, it's not about praying anointed prayers, it's not about praying with Holy Ghost goose-bumps...it's just about praying.

And I needed to be reminded.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Be Careful What You Ask For

So...mono slowed me down but didn't stop me, then last night, while doing an 'urgent' small sewing project for The Actor, I whacked a small divot off my finger w/my rotary cutter (my typing...and retyping and retyping...is bordering on ludicrous. I must want to share this really bad...). So now even the little I was doing has gotten more difficult.

Do you suppose Someone is trying to tell me something?

In trying to find my bearings again, I picked up my journal and re-read some of my more recent (as in the last 12 months) entries, and when I read this bit, dated June 30, lamenting my over booked calendar, I laughed out loud at myself:

You said that I can do all things through You, who gives me strength. But I don't wanna do all things -- I just want a chance to do nothing....

Now, in all honesty I was confessing and asking for help and grace. That was not a prayer I expected to be heard, much less answered.

But here I am with a chance to do nothing...and, well, let's just say there's a reason our words should be seasoned w/grace; sometimes we have to eat them...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Faithful Friday Faves: Song of Songs

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Is there any other book of the Bible that has more names? Song of Solomon, Song of Songs, Canticles...whatever you call it, let me just say, this is a tough read for someone who's been battling mononucleosis and hasn't had so much as a real kiss in weeks...

Oh, sorry, was that TMI?


Truth is, stuff like mono...or other, much more costly, much more dire, much more stressful circumstances are a true test for love. The pure enjoyment of the relationship pictured in Song of Songs is one aspect of it, sure, but the real demonstration is the guy who leaves work early to pick up the kids from school and run them around to various activities so that his wife can sit home with her feet up, trying to mind the doctor and rest.

It's the guy who does the dishes, picks up dinner from the fried chicken folks (or the hamburger folks, or the pizza folks, or even makes a pot of chili from scratch), and prays over his puny wife for strength and healing before he heads to work.

One of these days, his wife will be well again and love can be celebrated as Solomon and Shulamith celebrated it, but in the meantime there's a statement about real, solid love found in the book that is the absolute truth:

Many waters cannot quench love, rivers cannot wash it away - Songs 8:7a

Friday, March 4, 2011

Faithful Friday Faves - Ecclesiastes

Posted By Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I'm reminded that, when I set out to do this little survey, I mentioned that the verses might not be the most spiritually profound...just a selection from the book that means something to me.

Ecclesiastes has some marvelous moments in it, it's true, but there is an overriding cynicism that usually leaves me feeling rather melancholy after studying it. I kind of think that cynicism is the inevitable result of someone trying to live a religious life, as opposed to living in a relationship w/ God, while pursuing success in the secular society, but I'm not going to go into that today.

As I was skimming through, I found a verse that always makes me smile...not because of what the verse actually says, but just because of the double meaning it has in our society today. It's a proverb, stuck amongst several other proverbs, so there's no real context to grasp what Solomon was really talking about.

I'll just post it without comment...you can draw your own conclusions.

The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. - Ecc. 10:2

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Am I Listening?

Last week, I went to work on Tuesday, thinking I was over the hump as I hadn't had any mono symptoms. I came home tired, but not worn out, and really figured I was on the uphill.

In the mail that day was a precious card from a friend...stamped and decorated, with a devotional reading in it. I thought of you as I read this devotional... she wrote.

I quickly read through it; it was about trusting God in times of weakness. A very good word. I smiled to myself, I'm over it now. But how sweet of her to send it!

Well, let me tell you, I was NOT 'over it'. My Sweet Baboo called the doctors office on Tuesday THIS WEEK to find out how long I should plan to lay low. They told him 6 - 8 weeks, IF I honestly rest.

I'm only about halfway done.

So I dug my friend's card back out, and this morning made it part of my devotional. The note says it's from Jesus Calling

Thank Me for the conditions that are requiring you to be still. Do not spoil these quiet hours by wishing them away, waiting impatiently to be active again...instead of resenting the limitations of a weakened body, search for My way in the midst of these very circumstances. Limitations can be liberating when your strongest desire is living close to Me.

I actually have not been wishing them away; but I HAVE been trying to squeeze in things that I didn't have time to do when I was active. Hence I am NOT being still. I actually almost feel like I'm wasting the down time by NOT being down. I'm fiddling with things...not terribly taxing, but DOING just the same...when I could be sitting at the table, with my Bible, with a couple of books that I really want to read, soaking Him in.

Instead, I'm puttering about doing things, fearing that I'll be up and active before I get the stuff done and...having wasted my opportunity to draw near to Him by doing stuff.

Yes, it's a contradiction! And, in my down time, I don't have enough time.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hm...He Speaks Where You Don't Expect It...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Last weekend was trying; it was the production weekend for the play the kids had been preparing since Christmas break...Romeo and Juliet. It's likely the Actor's last school production, and he had the role of Mercutio. I had to go watch his performance...we went to the Saturday matinee, as I thought that would be the least taxing. Then, because I had no substitute for my Sunday morning class, I went to church to teach first service. One thing led to another, and, well, I ended up leaving around the middle of 3rd service; I'd been at church 5 hours. I was tired and achy and headed home, but the Princess wanted to go see the Sunday matinee and she didn't want to go alone. I thought about the work I'd seen the day before, and realized that I really didn't want to pass up my last chance to see Mercutio. So I went again.

And, Mondays being Mondays, I went in to work for a bit and stayed 6 hours.

Sometimes ya just gotta do what ya gotta do.

I'm achy, sore throaty and beat.

I've obviously not licked the mono bug yet; I brought work home (is it a blessing to be able to access the data base and work from any computer?) and plan to stay here for the rest of the week.

Now, I really am trying to figure out the purpose in all this. I am obviously being pulled aside from the routine; I'm missing something here.

Then, this morning I checked Facebook to find that two of my friends, who don't know each other at all and who live in different parts of the country, had the following back-to-back posts:

Keep your eyes on Me! Waves of adversity are washing over you, and you feel tempted to give up. As your circumstances consume more and more of your attention, you are losing sight of Me. Yet I am with you always, holding you by your right hand. I am fully aware of your situation, and I will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear. Psalm 73:23; I Corinthians 10:13


"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." Matthew 6:34 (MSG)

Those phrases "Keep your eyes on Me!" and "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now" jumped off the screen at me.

I admit it; I've not been spending all this down time focusing on what God is doing; I've mostly been focusing on what I can do and what I need to do and what I can't get to that's bugging me.

So...I need a serious change of focus. What IS God doing, right now?

I won't get that if I don't focus on HIM instead of the STUFF.

(and thanks to Laurie and Buffi for putting a sermon on Facebook without even knowing it... ;) )