Thursday, February 23, 2012

Be Real

A few days ago, I was randomly browsing through various links on some Christian blogs and websites.   More than one caught my attention as they indicated that they had overcome some sort of adversity.   Stopping the mouse for my little arrow to hover over their "About Me" tag,  I clicked.  

In each case, they truly had overcome some sin or some stronghold in their life.  I am not diminishing God's work in their life at all.

But for each of these people I read about, it seemed like they had sinned once, felt great remorse, turned their lives around and it has been great ever since.  Or at least that was how I saw it portrayed.    I truly don't believe that was the way it was intended, but that is what I saw.  Or is that really how it happened?

Did their marriage, their kids, their finances, and all their decisions just fall into place and they lived happily ever after?   I don't think so.   Satan doesn't quit that easily.  

So what about the woman or girl reading their posts who has failed over and over and over again?  The one who thinks she isn't good enough or that perhaps God's grace really isn't enough to cover all of her sins.   What about the lady who still doesn't think that God could possibly love someone like her because He really does know every single thing she has ever done?

I am not suggesting that we should write about all the negative in life, nor that we should give Satan one ounce of glory.  But being real is what helps pull others out of pits and places of darkness and hopelessness.  

When we share what Jesus has done for us, it encourages others that they too can make it.    When the reality is spoken that marriage is tough, children from age 0 through adulthood push us to our knees, that fear grips us in the middle of the night for no apparent reason and that Jesus Christ is faithful through it all, lives can be changed.

The women who have had the greatest spiritual impact in my life are those who shared their lives with me and didn't pretend that everything is or always has been easy and perfect.   These were godly women who love Jesus with all of their heart and serve Him with reckless abandon. These are women who still face trials and heartache and disappointment and health issues.   But they continue to persevere and push through to the feet of Jesus day in and day out.  

Keep pushing.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

James & Beth -what a team!

Every once in awhile you do a Bible study that just kicks your tail!  Beth Moore's study on James is like having a personal spiritual trainer who won't let up until you get yourself into shape spiritually.    Seriously, I have never heard a sermon or done a study that had this much impact on my life.

No doubt, memorizing the book of James while I am studying it helps me to retain it and apply it. The Word of God is living and active and you can't help but change inside and out if you spend enough time in it.   

I could go on and on about each section I have studied or each verse I have memorized thus far.   Every single word has impacted me in some way.   Really it has.   

But last week when I was studying James 4:11-12, it was like someone punched me in the stomach.   I don't know about you, but it is easy for me to find myself on that slippery slope of judgment and justify it.   After all, I was just sharing something that I felt.  No I wasn't, I was judging plain and simple! 

So God and I spent some time together on this.  Him shining His light in the dark places of my soul where the pieces of judgment like to hang out.  Me opening my heart to Him asking him to show me and convict me when my thoughts starting heading the wrong way. 

Some amazing things began to happen immediately.  First, I suddenly felt a freedom that I can't quite put into words.   When we live according to the Word of God, we are truly free.  He tells us so.  But to feel the freedom is so, well, freeing.  

Secondly, all those people and instances that I found to be so irritating, suddenly weren't.   God softened my heart and opened my eyes to see differently.  Perhaps the only irritating common denominator was me.   You get the point.   

I am so extremely grateful that we can rely on the Word of God to be and do all that it claims it is and will do.    There is so much more to learn and to apply and yet God takes the little bit we read or study and uses it right then and there when we submit ourselves to Him.    

May He open your eyes to see His word in a fresh and freeing way today. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

James and Something New

For several years, I have done Beth Moore Bible studies with a group of wonderful women.   When Beth's new study James, Mercy Triumphs was due to come out, I kept debating over doing it on my own or inviting other women to a group study.   Still undecided, I finally just asked for the workbook for Christmas and I would download the videos on my own.

After starting the study, I realized that this time around I needed to have this be just between me and the Lord.     And I'm okay with that.

One of the challenges in the book is to memorize the entire book of James in 5 months.  I have wanted to memorize large chunks of scripture, but somehow never pushed myself to follow through.  Now I had the motivation.  

Doing the study and memorizing the scriptures at the same time has made it so much easier.  I have something to draw from and relate to as I go. Not to mention, that God clearly had a lot of work to do on me in just the first seven verses.    Have mercy!

About the same time that I was getting ready to tackle James, I came across this link  about memorizing Colossians on   Suddenly I didn't feel so 'alone' in my efforts and desire to memorize whole books of the Bible.    Even if I was doing a different book over a different time frame, I could still apply many of these ideas to my own memory work.

If you think memorizing scripture is too daunting or that you just aren't good at memorizing things, I still encourage you to give it a try.   I am always amazed at how quickly God starts working in my life and on my soul when I commit to memorizing His word.  It truly is alive and active and will purify us and transform our thinking when we meditate on it throughout the day and night.

God will never allow us to put that much effort into His word only to leave us the same as when we started. What have you got to lose?   Try it - you just might like it!