Posts Tagged ‘Beth Moore’

15
Jul

Making His Appeal Through Us…

Last Sunday I preached at my church. I, with much trepidation, told about my experiences with God over the past 4 years. Some of my faithful readers are probably saying, “But you blog openly about it!” 

True. But I don’t have to look many of you in the face as you read it! So, if you hate what I’m writing, I don’t have to know about it. I can live in a delusional world where everyone loves me! 

So, to get up in front of people I adore and love and ask them to believe all of this stuff is really tough territory for me. Thankfully, some were quite kind and said it helped them. Others simply politely kept their mouths closed! (This would be why I love my church!) Others, who were unable to hear it for one reason or another, asked that I let them read it. So, for those folks and for my faithful readers:

For those of you who don’t already know me, I am a mother of three grown children, the mother-in-law of two great people and the new grandmother of one fantastically awesome grandson. I’ve been in the mother role for over 30 years now. And some maternal habits don’t die easily, even after your children are all grown and you have no need of maternal habits anymore.

So, when our pastor asked me to preach today, I almost instinctively reached up to put my hand on his forehead and check his temperature. Here’s why:

I’m a preacher’s kid.

Wikipedia says that the stereotypes of a preacher’s kid are twofold: “in one, they are perfectly angelic role models, in the other they are rebels at the opposite extreme.” I tended toward the latter so here’s what I learned about church being Dad’s daughter:

  1. If the service begins at 9:30 am, you will have to be at church by 7:30 am, properly dressed and CLEAN. And there are few excuses tolerated for not doing so. “Not being a morning person” is NOT on the list of acceptable excuses.
  2. You can fit exactly 12 tic-tac-toe games on the back of an offering envelope. You can fit 16 on there if you write really small. Theoretically, you can fit 20 if the pew pencils are really sharp. However, since the preacher’s kid is usually responsible for sharpening the pew pencils, this will probably never be proven.
  3. Never sit on the right side of your mother’s elbow if you are snickering at Mrs. Zwiefelhofer’s oddly flowered hat during worship.

 

I will attempt to do something a bit more productive than what I just mentioned. But, if this goes seriously awry, I’m blaming our pastor, since he’s a preacher’s kid, too.

Unlike my dad, unlike our pastor, I am not a theologian. I’m something far worse.

I’m a blogger.

I comment on what I see around me and tell stories. So, today, I’m going to tell you some of my story.

Here’s the first thing you need to know about me:

My body hates me.

It rebels at the most inopportune times. I have had horribly debilitating migraines since I was 6 years old. I have had 4 heart attacks without any pre-existing risk factors for heart disease and I will probably have more. My rare condition is not remedied by medication, diet, exercise or being in a Zenlike position for the rest of my life. I developed anaphylactic shock reactions to most antibiotics and some painkillers after the first heart attacks at age 39. I never know what the next moment will bring. While I feel fine right now, I may be in the hospital ER when I leave here. But yet, I consider all of that good stuff.

Yes, good stuff. I don’t think I would have gotten to the relationship I have with God now if it weren’t for all of my medical adventures. But, I’m hoping what I learned about God in the process is now of some benefit to you.

Heart attack # 4 occurred on June 17, 2013. It was a doozy. I thought it was my ticket to Heaven, quite frankly. What was even more unsettling is that I couldn’t sense God’s presence at the time in my life when I most needed Him. I tried to pray, but it’s a little difficult to pray when your entire body is in severe pain. The one person who could relate to my situation, our minister, was moving to Ennis. Our new minister was moving to our town.

I recovered from “4”, I came home, and began to weep uncontrollably for several weeks. Nothing consoled me that used to console me. And I didn’t understand what God wanted me to do.

I became convinced that writing a blog had something to do with what I was on Earth to do for God. I had this sense of peace about it that only comes when you know something is of the Lord. There was only one problem. No one and I mean no one, was reading this blog.

As part of the anguish of a life that I thought had not produced much for the kingdom of God, I asked, “Why do you want me to keep writing this blog? No one is reading it.” I just hung the question out there for once in my life. My normally busy brain and interior voice, for once, was silent. In that silence, a quiet voice said, “Because I want to be with you.”

What?! I knew that voice was not mine. My voice would have said, “No one wants to be with you.” I had never heard that voice and I sensed an instant peace I cannot even describe. The only conclusions I could reach? Either that was God or it’s time for a psych eval at the local hospital.

Whatever it was…all I knew is that I wanted more of it. But I had absolutely no idea how to hear from that voice ever again. And was I even supposed to hear from it again? If it was indeed God’s voice, who am I to want God to speak to me more than once in my earthly life? I should be thankful for such an awesome gift and let it be.

I don’t do “Let it Be” very well. It’s my least favorite Beatles song.

Thankfully, God led me to a program in the metroplex that teaches exactly that. I am now surrounded by people who not only hear from God often, but also have visions and experience God in a myriad of ways that I never knew were possible. It has been a huge paradigm shift for me…everything inside of me is changing.

How do these people know how to do this on a regular basis? Because our beloved Christian saints of the past left us a road map. That road map comes in the forms of prayer practices that unfortunately, are not often shared in our churches today. Kory said it was not presented in his studies at his seminary. A lot of the books written about them are no longer in print.

Do I think this gift of God’s real presence in our lives is just for some of us and not for all of us? No.

Let me say that again: No.

Acts 2:38 says, “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” It’s quite clear that Peter does not think that this inward manifestation of God at work in us is just something reserved for the Apostles or only really, really devout Christians. If I can have this type of relationship with God, so can you.

Will God speak to you? I don’t know. Why? Because I’m not you and I’m not Him. He may choose to reveal Himself to you in a completely different way because you’re very different from me. What is meaningful for me may have no meaning to you. But trust me on this—God is at work in your life.

Why don’t we hear more about this kind of encounter with God if it’s possible for all of us to have it? I have a few theories about that.

First, it sounds crazy. Obviously, I’m not the first person to recognize that. Today’s Scripture reading says:  “If we are crazy, it’s for God’s sake. If we are rational, it’s for your sake.” (2 Cor. 5:13-21) Even our movies consider it fun to mock a person’s experience of hearing from God. As a result, those of us who have had this experience often fear how we will be viewed by others.

Second, we think we want to hear from God, but also fear it. What if God says something that we don’t like? What if He asks me to make a huge change or sacrifice to my present life? Mary Ann Scofield says, “It is natural to resist anything that threatens the status quo: Since God is always leading us toward becoming more loving, we will often resist God’s approach.”

Third, this sort of experience requires silence and stillness. It takes focus. Does that sound like 21st century America to you? Scofield further states: “Our culture does not value stopping, waiting, noticing, or pondering, though all of these are required for prayer. Our culture…rewards good deeds and punishes evildoing; God persists in being extravagantly generous and forgiving, upending all of our ideas about what is fair. Our culture lauds talent and success; yet God chooses to identify with the least among us.”

Everything screams for our attention and if our attention is not solely focused on God, God is polite and waits until we get quiet. It was just pointed out to me yesterday that the word silent has the exact same letters as listen. We have to stop and listen to God.

Was I anxious to lose the respect of the people I love and admire? No. Was I fearful about what I might hear from God? Yes. Was I good at being silent and still? Um. No. I was lousy at silence and stillness. But that scripture that says, “Be Still and Know that I am God” is oh, so true. If we want to know God, we have to get still, inside and out.

I’m entering my last year of training. As a way of documenting our journey with God, we are encouraged to keep a journal. I have never kept up with a journal or diary all the way to the last page. (I held up my four, sizable journals.) These first 4 journals are full—completely full of God moving in my life. God talking. God giving me visions. God teaching me, sweetly, gently and lovingly.

Do I write every day? No. Because I, like everyone else resist this new thing in my life that is upending my status quo.

So, how do I know that this is God’s voice and not something else? As my training group leader has said, “Does it produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit when you hear it? If not, it’s probably not God.” These conversations are supposed to produce something good, something kind, something loving, within me…within my family…within my neighborhood…within my community and perhaps, just perhaps, some day, within my world.

I’m the first to say I still don’t see outward signs of transformation. Most of the changes are only ones God and I notice. That’s why the journals are so important. When I’m feeling depressed about my walk with the Lord, I reread my first journal and realize I have, indeed, come a long way.

Here’s just a few things I’ve noticed about my life before and after these conversations with God:

  1. I used to love the latest and greatest Bible study on the shelves at Lifeway. Beth Moore was my girl! Now I’m looking for texts written by 11th century monks.
  2. I never understood the Scripture, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” Now I do.
  3. I used to think there were only 4 kinds of prayer at most. Now, I know there at least 50 ways to pray to God and a pile of variations for each of them.
  4. I used to have an opinion about everything and was very judgmental. Now, I prefer to wait and hear the other side of the story and suspend judgment. I try to simply accept people as they are now.
  5. I used to think I was not a great Christian if I wasn’t constantly doing something for His kingdom. Now, I prefer to just imagine myself sitting with the Lord.
  6. I used to play the loudest music on the planet and like contemporary music in worship. The louder the better. Now I prefer silence.
  7. I used to prefer praying “off the cuff.” I still do this a lot, but I now understand all too well the value of the prayers of others, written down and published.
  8. I no longer worry who will read my blog and often don’t write a thing there.
  9. 20 minutes of silent prayer once a week seemed like an eternity two years ago. Now, I may spend 5 times that amount in one day and it flies by.

 

It has been an adventure. God surprises me often with what He wants me to know. Here are a few snippets of what He has taught me:

  1. He has a sense of humor. One sleepy morning I was definitely having trouble focusing on Him. I asked, “Jesus? Did you ever wrestle with distractions? The reply? “Are you kidding? I had 12 and I handpicked each one.”
  2. I don’t fully trust Him. I don’t fully trust Him because I don’t fully trust people. People have hurt me. People have rejected me. They are human, after all, and make mistakes, like I do. I’m trying to overcome such fear, but it’s not easy.
  3. God accepts me as I am. In the words of William Paul Young, “He’s rather fond of me”.
  4. He tells us things in bite-sized pieces as we’re ready to hear the things He wants to tell us. He does this to prevent us from being overly frightened by the future. I could never have shared this story with you 2 short years ago. But, I’m here now!
  5. Nothing is wasted in the kingdom of God. It may look senseless, foolish and wasted to us, but God is still using it to bring light and love into us and into the world.
  6. God’s love and even correction is gentle, calm, peaceful, the joy of all joys, kind, and well-timed.
  7. When he speaks, I often cry. And I consider myself a rather stoic person. I’ve learned to keep a box of Kleenex and a large wastebasket nearby when praying.
  8. God speaks simply. He is often brief.
  9. What he repeats is what is important.

 

Perhaps you are wondering what God might say to us, as a church? So, I asked Him. And this is what I wrote in my journal as His response:

“I have much to tell them. Tell them I love them. Tell them I miss them. I am waiting for them. I will answer, if they pray. I am more than a church service on Sunday morning. I am more than a sermon and a prayer. I am a way of life. I am the way of life. I want to be an intimate part of everything they do. That is why they are created in my image, so we can be together for all eternity. I am waiting for them. I have much to tell them.”

So, how to hear what He has to tell you if you have never done this before? There are many ways, but let me suggest that you consider the following:

Give God 20 minutes of today.

Away from all of the noise.

Away from other people.

Set a timer for 20 minutes and open your Bible.

Find a scripture. Read it slowly. Let it wash over you.

Then, ask yourself: What word or phrase is jumping out at me? Ask yourself: What does God want me to know about this Scripture?

Then, be silent. Be still.

If it’s helpful, write this question in a journal and then write the first thing that comes to mind.

Trust that what you write is God speaking. Even if it isn’t, God still knows that your intention is to find Him. And He will, one day, somehow, honor that intention.

Keep writing, even if you don’t know what to write. Draw a picture if that makes more sense to you. Doodle, if like me, you’re not a great artist.

Silence the critic within you and wait for God. He is waiting for you.

02
Jan

The 12 Days of MIP 2014: 4 & 3…

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I hope that 2015 is a year in which you find personal success mastering challenges that have proven difficult in the past. Today’s choices for my favorite posts are about taking on the challenge to improve your walk with the Lord and to improve your physical health. Self-improvement, in whatever “realm” is at the heart of why I write this blog. I hope MIP inspires you to take charge of your life, punch fear in the face (in the words of Jon Acuff), and not only improve you, but the world around you. Here’s for a sampling of what I mean.

My 4th most favorite post is about changing one simple thing to improve your health. I asked all of you to wear a pedometer each day. It’s amazing how knowing how many steps you have taken each day causes you to be more active. If I were to issue this challenge today, I’d ask you to purchase an activity tracker that not only counts your steps, but tells you how many calories you have burned and evaluates your sleep patterns. Knowledge is power, folks, and merely knowing how well you’re meeting your fitness goals can spur you on to take control of your health in a relatively easy. But, if you can’t afford an activity tracker, a pedometer is a good alternative. Go here to see what I wrote in 2014.

If you had told me that I would blog about Beth Moore’s latest study when I started MIP, I would have seriously taken your temperature. I am still a little stunned that her organization gave me permission to do this. And many of you enjoyed these posts, particularly some of you who weren’t able to participate in her study because of distance or time constraints. Expect more of this in 2015! And for those of you who didn’t like these posts, I’m praying for you. 🙂 Go here for a sample of what I wrote this past fall and my choice for my 3rd most favorite post this year.

What simple things can you do this year to improve your life and the life of people around you? You are more powerful than you know. 🙂

Monday’s Post: What was your favorite WOW of 2014?

You Might Also Like: The 12 Days of MIP 2014: 6 & 5; The 12 Days of MIP 2014: 8 & 7; and The 12 Days of MIP 2014: 10 & 9

29
Oct

Fast 5: Oh, Bad Obadiah…

Petra

Confession Time: I often loathe reading my Bible. (I’ll wait for my Christian friends to gasp in horror from that little statement.) It’s not that I don’t want to hear what the good Lord wants to say to me through His word; it’s just that a good portion of the Old Testament is an odd collection of writings about times I have difficulty relating to modern life. In the words of Beth Moore, “It’s not always about you!” and I agree. Sometimes I just need to study those ancient writings and wait for the Lord to tell me its relevance.

If you also sometimes struggle to to read your Bible often or you have decided it’s a total waste of your time, may I suggest some of the following tips to help with that? Here they are:

1. Find a translation that works for you. I’m currently partial to the Message (or the Bible According to Eugene, as I like to call it–Eugene Peterson is the author of this paraphrase.) because it puts difficult passages into everyday English.

22
Oct

Children of the Day Post 9: 2 Thessalonians 3

Children of the Day

Today marks the last Children of the Day post, but have no fear–next week Wednesdays will feature a new feature: Fast 5 Reflections! What is “Fast 5”? It’s a study on the five shortest books of the Bible: Obadiah, Philemon, 2nd John, 3rd John, and Jude. Who’s the author of this study? Yours truly. Yes, I agree–we’re in trouble now! We will look at a new book each week and “weave” this study around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. And since Christians rarely give these books their due diligence, I hope it forces all of us to find what we should appreciate about some of the briefer “elements” of the modern Bible.

Before we can focus on that, let’s conclude our study by summarizing Beth‘s next to last video and on the beginning of the last week of homework for 2nd Thessalonians. Here’s what one might have missed if they were unable to hear her discussion of 2nd Thessalonians 2:

15
Oct

Children of the Day Post 8: 2 Thessalonians 2

Children of the DayIt was a relief to watch Beth’s video on 2 Thessalonians 1 last Sunday. Why? Because she chose to talk about a subject that most of us agree is essential to Christianity–the second coming of Jesus and avoided some topics that we, even as Christians, have a variety of opinions that can cause some lively discussion! Here is a little of what Beth said about his return to planet Earth:

1. Relief will come to those who are in discomfort.

2. Eternal “relocation” will be assigned.

3. We will marvel.

4. Jesus will be glorified by the “saints” around Him, because they will be perfected and complete.

This last statement floors me. If I believe that Jesus died in payment for all of my faults, mistakes and stupidity, then that must mean that Jesus thinks there is at least one redeeming quality about me that is worth crucifixion. And while that concept alone does floor me, it floors me even more to know that Jesus will be excited to have all of us around Him when He comes again. In fact 2 Thessalonians 1:12  states that we will be glorified. Say what? Come again? I must have misunderstood you, Paul. I shouldn’t be glorified, but yet there it is in black and white. The Message interprets it this way, “If your life honors the name of Jesus, then He will honor you.”

Guess I’d better get busy honoring His name, then! If that isn’t a reason to get busy and do good things for this decrepit world of ours, I don’t know what is. And trust me–this week’s homework cries for us to honor Him in a decrepit world because it talks about the “end times.”

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble reading and talking about the end of the world as we know it. The counselor in me took over this week and asked myself (Yes, I talk to myself–probably an indication I should seek counseling!), “Why do you hate this topic so much?” Hmmm….good question. But here are the possible answers:

1. I don’t like thinking about evil consuming our planet and someone so despising Jesus and His followers that they would have the audacity to claim they are God.

2. I am scared, that if this period of time occurs in my lifetime, I won’t be able to withstand all the persecution and will wind up caving to this evil.

3. I don’t completely know how to interpret these events as listed in the Bible and thus, I grow weary of trying to discern what’s symbolic and what’s literal.

Do any of these possible answers sound like you? Please tell me I have some company here! The Day 2 and Day 3 homework really made me feel this way, so it probably comes as no surprise that Beth’s writing in the Day 1 homework resonated with me far more.

It has always been a “bee in my bonnet” that all of us (Yes, Christians, too!) often put on a facade when around others so that people will think we “have it all together.” I get particularly irritated when a person in authority does this. Why? Because the Bible clearly states that all of us have screwed up–none of us are perfect!

There is a huge danger when we put on these facades and try to avoid difficult subjects and the ugliness of our lives. Those subjects gain power through our fear of them. And what we fear often paralyzes us at best and wrecks whole families and communities and nations at worst. It is far better to discuss these subjects, learn about how to deal with them in a healthy way and forgive anyone who falls prey to their tenacious claws. That’s when fear is dispelled and those nasty subjects suddenly don’t seem so powerful. They’re now manageable–they’re survivable. In fact God will probably use those experiences to make us even better equipped to help others through similar situations–equipped with compassion, patience, and understanding empathy.

So, why do we put on these facades? Because we want people to like us. And we think people won’t like us if we aren’t perfect little muffins. Well, sports fans? Generally speaking, when I show all “my warts,” people like me better. Don’t ask me why–they just do. Maybe because they see a little of themselves in my shortcomings? Maybe because they can breathe a sigh of relief that it’s okay not to be perfect? So, how do we get brave enough to show our warts to each other?

Yes, when we show them, there are some who will not like us. We’ve all had experience with that, haven’t we? Beth reminds us how to have the courage to be real on page 169, despite this: “If we don’t get our inherent need to be significant met by Jesus, we will shape a deceptive persona from the malleable clay of our vain imaginations.” We get the courage to be real from Jesus.

Jesus isn’t and wasn’t everyone’s “cup of tea,” either. And yet, that ridiculously ostracized guy wound up saving the world. And saving me just so He could honor little old me someday. Now, if that doesn’t make you feel better about your warts, I don’t know what will. And when you feel better about your warts, they suddenly are easier to share with others openly. They just don’t seem as important to cover up as they once did.

So, put away the wrinkle cream. Take off the Spanx. Chuck the hair dye in the trash. Use a little less make-up this week. Buy a bigger pair of jeans. Forget to dust your furniture. And tell someone about your warts. It’ll be okay. Jesus said so. 😉

Friday’s Post: Another “My Favorite Things“…

You Might Also Like: Children of the Day Post 7; Children of the Day Post 6; Children of the Day Post 5; Children of the Day Reflection # 4; and Children of the Day Reflection #3

08
Oct

Children of the Day Post 7: 2 Thessalonians 1

Children of the Day

Today I’m breaking with my “tradition” of summarizing last Sunday’s DVD session and then giving my thoughts about the homework for the week so far and simply tell you a little about myself as it pertains to the last DVD session. I promise to return to homework reflections next Wednesday! The topic in the last DVD session just demands the story, if I am to remain a transparent Christian here at MIP. If my past experience with telling this story has taught me anything, it’s that I usually lose the respect of half of my friends telling this story. But, Jesus told me that I should expect exactly that when sharing my faith story with others and since He’s “Exhibit A” of such a thing, I guess I’m in good company. Honestly? To retell this tale fills me with dread. But, my God told me to be “strong and courageous”, so here I go:

06
Oct

Word of the Week: froward

Book Club Readers: I’ve read the first few chapters of Beating GoliathIt never occurred to me that the Branch Davidian debacle had a negative impact on Baylor. How about you?

Children of the Day Post: Beth didn’t mince words about yet another tricky topic. Make sure you “tune in” Wednesday for a recap and my thoughts about this week’s homework so far.

Top Mommy Blog: Thanks to all who have helped MIP spread to new audiences! I would so appreciate it if you would rate MIP by clicking on the button to the right of this post!

Last week’s WOW (Word of the Week) was bonnyclabber. According to Merriam-Webster Online a bonnyclabber is the same thing as clabber. If you, like me, didn’t know what clabber is, the hubby and the daughter were right about this one: sour milk that has thickened or curdled. Thanks to the uneven dairy consumption rates at my home, clabber is something I ought to know all too well! That makes 2 in a row for the hubby and the daughter is getting way too many of these correct. I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me, knowing the intellects involved of both parties.

01
Oct

Children of the Day Post 6: I Thessalonians 5

Children of the Day

The last video session from Beth Moore was interesting to say the least! I Thessalonians 4 addresses the issue, head-on, regarding sexual immorality. Because our society now thinks that living together, aka adultery (Don’t blame the messenger here–that’s God’s definition!), is okay and normal, we have become numb, in many cases, to the onslaught of media, digital entertainment and books that all espouse a liberal policy here.

Let me state, most emphatically, that if you have lived with someone out of wedlock or slept with someone without being married, you will not get anything but love from me. God loves you just as much as He loves me and that will never, ever change because of some action on your part that doesn’t exactly square with the Word of God. If I believed anything other than that, then there is no hope of me ever getting to Heaven! Thankfully, all I have to do is say I believe that Jesus’ death and living again are enough to secure me at least a tiny piece of real estate in the back corner of Heaven. The same is true for you, my friend!

29
Sep

Word of the Week: bonnyclabber

Book Lovers: Do you have your copy of Beating GoliathIf not, now’s the time to download it on your e-reader. Go here for all of the details.

Have you missed a few sessions of Children of the Day? Read all of my Wednesday posts to catch up. Go here for the first one!

If you like this post, please consider clicking on the Top Mommy Blogs button to the right of this post and rating my blog. It helps MIP get noticed! Thanks!

Happy Monday, Word Lovers! Last week’s Word of the Week (WOW) was inkhorn. The hubby said an inkhorn was an inkwell for a quill pen and he was right! I knew I married a smart man!

This week’s WOW is bonnyclabber. And yes, I do sometimes pick WOWs that are just too much fun to play around with and bonnyclabber certainly fits that description! My guesses are as follows:

26
Sep

Lessons I Probably Shouldn’t Have Learned at Women of Faith…

dallas_poster_thumb

This year marked the 2nd year I attended the Dallas Women of Faith conference at the American Airlines Center. This is a rare opportunity to hear the foremost women authors and speakers in Christian thought and entertainment. This year was even better and since so many things are inspirational and downright funny, it would be nearly impossible to capture, in words, what transforms my soul each September. So, I chose to focus on the weird stuff that happens when trying to go to a Christian women’s conference with 14,000 other women in one of the largest urban megalopolis settings in the country. Here’s what I probably shouldn’t have noticed:

1. If you leave at noon for a conference that starts at 7 pm in Dallas and have the audacity to eat at Olive Garden, you will be 20 minutes late.

2. If you leave at 1 pm to make it to a conference that starts at 7 pm in Dallas and choose to eat the inferior concession stand food, you will be 40 minutes early.