Friday, September 30, 2011

Faithful Friday Faves: 2 Corinthians

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

 There is so much in this little book; I've got it all marked up with notes scribbled all over the place.  So you can imagine that I had a difficult time choosing just one passage.

But, as usual my current set of circumstances and personal battles colors my choice and after some deliberation I decided to go with some good instruction on spiritual warfare...and found myself getting educated in the process.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,  and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  - 2 Cor. 10: 3 - 5

I think we have forgotten how to do spiritual warfare; in many cases Christians are encouraged to do battle with worldly powers in 'the only language they understand' ...usually economic.  I am not going to argue against such tactics, because there are a number of organizations/businesses who spend their profits in ways I do not support and so choose to take my business elsewhere, but I do not believe such things are ultimately successful in making long term changes.

If we use the world's weapons we will only achieve such victories as the world provides.  If we want true, Godly victories, then we must engage those weapons that are not those of the world.

And the first place to apply those weapons is to our own thinking.  We cannot wield the weapons of God in battles until we have first used them on our personal battleground and learned to demolish the strongholds in our own lives.

Because once I've seen those personal strongholds fall, how can I doubt God can bring down the ones in the world around me?

I don't know about you, dear reader, but this is a new revelation of this passage to me and I'm going to be chewing on it for a while...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reaching for Normal

We are coming up on two weeks after the Wedding, and today was actually the very first day I got to spend at home. You can imagine the mountain of laundry that has been accumulating while I've been trying to catch up stuff away from the house...I worked extra last week, and then we had our Girl's Ministries Sponsor Retreat last weekend at a Presbyterian camp about an hour away. A bridal shower for another couple at church Sunday afternoon/evening and then bam! Back to work again.

So the laundry has been the focus of the day. And I've been mentally trying to write a blog post about the weekend. I'm not having great inspiration about how to share it; but, since sometimes the best thing to do is to just start writing, I'm gonna give it a go anyway.

I went to the retreat absolutely running on fumes. It was all I could do to get out the door. I wore my grungy track pants and t shirts and took no makeup or jewelry. On purpose. Because I wasn't even gonna try to be something I wasn't. What I WAS was dead tired. Not so much physically as spiritually and emotionally. I was almost to the point of fighting tears as I drove up the Parkway towards church Friday afternoon. It wasn't that I didn't want to go...I was just so tired. And I knew we were going to be doing some sharing and some creative fun stuff and and I didn't feel like I had anything to offer. It didn't even feel like the retreat was part of my world...I was dealing with so much stuff that it sort of felt peripheral.

I'm sure some of the 'stuff' was just the normal emotional bottoming out after any major life event, but somehow I seem to have put my foot in my mouth more than is typical for me (and unfortunately that seems to be very typical...) last week and I just felt out of sorts with, well, everyone, pretty much. My usual feelings of blundering about saying and doing the worst possible things at the worst possible moments. Feeling that the dreams of my heart were trivial to just about everyone else in my world. I really just wanted to crawl in a hole and stay there for a few days. But I knew I couldn't. And I knew I couldn't go to the retreat in wet blanket mode, either. I needed to shift gears.

At first it was just a teeth-gritting act of spirit over flesh. I WILL rejoice in the God of my salvation! I WILL...I WILL ... I WILL! But as the weekend progressed, it became less an enforced attitude and more of a going with the flow. Even feeling sort of numb in the core of my spirit, I found myself being happy on the surface. It was fun. I could connect on that level and not worry about the underneath.

But Saturday morning I had a bit of a revelation that I'm going to try and share. The camp that we went to had a 'Prayer Labyrinth.' I've heard of these, but I'd never seen one, so I was rather surprised to see the little sign for the labyrinth next to a lawn area as we pulled into the parking lot. There were some surprised/ puzzled comments from others in the van, but I remembered reading an article in the newspaper about them a few years ago that said the purpose wasn't necessarily a new-agey sort of spiritualism, but actually meant simply for contemplation. I thought I'd go take a look at it while we were there if I could, and then promptly forgot all about it.

After our morning devotions the next day, we were told to go off by ourselves for an hour or so with journals and Bibles. Most of the ladies headed out the back of the building towards the lake; I decided to go out the front door. I wasn't sure where I'd head, but once I got out the door I saw a park bench off in the lawn area to the side of the parking lot, so I headed that way. It wasn't until I got right to the edge of the lawn that I saw the sign again that said this was the way to the prayer labyrinth. I still didn't intend to walk through the labyrinth; that wasn't why I went over there. But after about a half hour or so with my journal, I thought I'd at least take a look at it. The grass was just tall enough that I couldn't really see the pavers that outlined the path. The entrance was very close to the bench, as it turned out, and rather spontaneously I went in.

I walked slowly, paying attention. What was the lesson I was supposed to learn? The path went almost straight to the center, but just before it got there it doubled back and began to twist and turn, slowly working its way to the outermost ring before turning back to the center again. The pavers were not highly visible, but I deliberately watched just in front of my feet, trying not to anticipate where the next turn would lead. Once I got to the middle, I looked around. I couldn't discern the way out. Once more, once I left the center, the path went very quickly to the most remote point and then wound its way back to almost the center before exiting.

I think it took me about half an hour to follow the path to the center and back out. And I saw that I didn't have to see where the path was going at every moment; I could trust that it would take me to the destination. Furthermore, I saw that what looked like something that went quickly to the destination didn't, and what seemed to be heading away from the goal was actually moving me toward it. Somehow, that touched that raw place in my spirit and brought peace. Nothing in my circumstances changed, but I had a very tangible reminder that I really *don't* know where I am; I have to trust God to direct my path...and that it doesn't matter how far away from the desires of my heart I seem to be, the next turn in that path may bring me right to them. It's a matter of trust.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Faithful Friday Faves: 1 Corinthians

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Based on the events of the last week, involving a wedding and lots of thoughts of love and fidelity and romance, I'd pretty well decided on a selection from chapter 13 for today's post.  But I skimmed through the book just the same and, while I'm sticking with my original passage, I just have to comment that the book of 1 Corinthians is amazingly applicable to today.  I was really struck by the whole tone of the book and its rather strong words to believers who use the ungodly society around them as their model to determine their actions and attitudes. Wow.

Now, the Princess did not use this passage in her wedding; I had it printed on the programs in ours.  And whenever the subject comes up in the teen girls' classes I teach at church, I point out that this contains an EXCELLENT description of what love is and how it behaves.

Ladies, I say, any time you have some smooth talking young man declaring his love for you, please line his actions up against this passage and see if he is telling you the truth.

If I had done that in my late teens I could've saved myself much anguish, not to mention wasted time, as the longest-running relationship of my high school/ early college days lacked at LEAST half of these characteristics. Ahem.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.   - 1 Cor. 13: 4 - 8a

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thoughts on the Week

AS this is the week of the Princess's Wedding, I suppose it's appropriate that I have Some Thoughts.

Whilst I am wrangling that 'simple' dress I'm hoping to wear for the ceremony...that should have been in the 'done' column but has turned into a major exercise of patience...I'm thinking and reflecting.

Maybe I should be paying more attention to my sewing.  Perhaps then I wouldn't have to have removed one side of the zipper, untwist the dress at the shoulder, and then re-apply that side of the zipper.  But who knows?  I admit to being somewhat less than fully focused.  I have other things occupying my thoughts, I fear.

She's 25 years old; that's definitely not too young; I should have had plenty of time to prepare for this day, right?

When my mother asked me about getting ready for her to move out, I commented that she really isn't home much now anyway; this just means she'll be sleeping and doing her laundry elsewhere.  And hopefully my Chobani yogurt will quit disappearing from the fridge.

At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

Truth is, she's moved out 3 times before.  Every fall for Master's Commission, she'd pack up and leave and tell me that she was going to stay in the apartment the next summer.

But I knew she didn't have the financial wherewithal to make that happen.  So when she left, I knew she'd be back.

This time, she's not coming back. 

It could be worse; their apartment is just on the other end of town.  When I got married, I moved 400 miles away.  I won't be leaving the light on for her at night now, but they're still gonna be around for probably at least one meal a week.  I've never been geographically close to any family since I got married; I don't have a paradigm for it.  I guess we'll just make it up as we go.

But I'm finding myself truly amazed at how quickly we have arrived at this point...for all that it's been more than 25 years since we first held her.  I'm remembering so many parenting things I did wrong, and so few that I feel confident I did right.  So many things we wanted to do as a family that just didn't happen.  Part of me wants to holler 'Wait!  I'm not done yet!'

Doesn't matter.  She's done.  And in a wee couple of days she'll have a new name and a new home and a new life.  This is the goal of raising see them flutter out of the nest to their place in the world.  A lovely wedding ceremony -- be it big and fancy or small and intimate-- is both an invocation and a benediction.

So as the final preparations are upon us, Lord, let me do what's crucial and not sweat what isn't.

And please, please help me hold it together and not be a big snotty mess on Saturday.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

She Rev - Glory

Tonight was the leadership session for this year's women's conference, which starts tomorrow morning (side note:  since the next two weekends are busy busy busy, I will be taking a two-week break from the Faithful Friday posts...I'll be back w/ 1 Corinthians on the 23rd).

It might sound weird to have a session for the leadership, but when leadership teams from all the various ministries at all four campuses got together, we had 150 - 200  (ok, I'm horrible at estimating; it probably wasn't even close to 150.  Let's just say a whole bunch of) ladies.

And I know I, for one, needed some knocking into shape before I put on the 'Leader' badge in the morning to do ministry.

I've been somewhat distracted coming up on this conference; usually I'm all anticipation and preparation.  Three years ago I even blogged a Bible study as preparation.

But...this year...I'm still having some health issues that are taking more of my focus than I'd like, the home repairs are waiting insurance feedback, and we do have a wedding in, um, 9 days, for which I am woefully unready.

So, like I said, I've been distracted.

But tonight we heard from Dr. Mary Ann Brown, and, wow.

Where is your altar? She asked us.  The place of sacrifice and communion with God...does it need to be rebuilt?

In a word...yes...

 If tonight was any indication of what is to come, I believe the next couple of days are going to be intense.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Faithful Faves: Romans

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Sigh. I think I could do a 'Friday Faithful Faves' on every chapter  in Romans.  Picking one from the whole

I remember doing Romans in Bible Study Fellowship a number of years ago; I was really looking forward to the study, but it was tough.  I felt like I'd been pushed through a Play Doh Fun Factory by the time it was over.  Romans is a deep and challenging word.

But, it just so happens that, if I had to pick ONE verse from the whole Bible, my favorite 'verse to live by' is in Romans:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will.   -- Rom. 12:2

What a challenge...and what a promise.

One of the biggest questions of every believer is 'What is God's will?' when making decisions.

The secret to finding God's will is in that verse: Don't conform to the standards of the society around you, but let the spirit transform your mind  (and I would run over to Philippians chapter 2 for a discussion of  what our mind is to be transformed into, but that's outside the scope of today's discussion...).

The problem is that we tend to want to maintain our conformity with our society.  We don't want to stick out, be conspicuous, look uneducated or narrow minded.

Romans 12:2 pretty well tells us that we can't make that work if we really want to know God's will.  He WILL make us stick out, be conspicuous, have opinions that are scoffed at by others.

But, if we let Him transform us, guess what?  All the opinions of others won't matter...because we'll be able to see what HE wills for us.

A good verse to keep in mind...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September! AAAiiiieee!

Sara at The Cleft of the Rock has set herself a challenge to blog every day in September.  At first, I thought, 'What a great idea! A post a day for a month! It would get me back into the pattern of Paying Attention!'

And then I remembered....this is September. The Princess's wedding is the 17th. My house is a mess; her veil isn't started yet, and I haven't even pulled the pattern for my dress out of the package. Just when do I think I'm going to have time to write a post in any given day??? Maybe I'll shoot for a post a day in October...

Oh, BTW, has anyone else switched to Blogger's new interface?? Took me forever to realize I had to click on the little pencil icon to write a new post....sad...