My New Favorite Word

I have a new favorite word. I have read it several times in my Bible readings. I sing it in songs. I have heard it many times throughout my life. But, today I read it in my verse for the day and for some reason it stuck with me.

In Psalm 51:10 it says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Steadfast stuck. I looked it up to see what the dictionary had to say about my new favorite word. Here is what I came up with: loyal, steady, dedicated, fixed in direction, firm in purpose, unwavering, firmly established, firmly fixed in place, single minded, and whole hearted.

This got me to thinking. Am I steadfast? My answer was yes. I am unwavering when it comes to eating. You can guarantee that I am going to eat every day. When my stomach starts to growl, I am gonna eat some food.

I am loyal in my relationships with people. Even when they are not being loyal to me.

I am dedicated to working. I enjoy the lifestyle that I live and I don’t want to give it up. Therefore I am dedicated to working so I can keep my bills paid.

So in some things I am very steadfast. But, I am not always loyal to God even though He is loyal to me all the time. I am not dedicated to Him. Oh yeah, sometimes I follow God’s will for me and sometimes I have faith that His plans for my life are perfect. Life goes pretty good and I get real comfy. That is when I begin to follow my own way. My spirit is anything but steadfast.

I looked up verses that had steadfast in it. There were several so I picked a few that I liked. In Psalm 119:5 it says,”Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!”

1Peter 5:10 says, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

Proverbs 11:19 He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life, And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death.

1Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

After reading those verses why in the world would I not remain steadfast. Why would I want to do anything but what God wants? It seems when I am doing my own thing I end up with a mess of a life that can only be cleaned up by my heavenly father.

I am going to strive to keep a steadfast spirit. I want my whole heart to be for God. I am going to try very hard to stay loyal to Him and follow His ways and not my own.

Worry Free in 2010

When I was about 8 years old, I thought that I was ugly. I had a few teeth missing and my hair was all kinds of not cool. But I really didn’t care that much. I knew that when I was 16 I would be pretty. Don’t ask me why 16 was the magic age. I just knew without any doubt  that God wouldn’t leave me looking ugly and it was just a matter of time. So I waited patiently. And, guess what? I was pretty by the time I was 16. No more missing teeth and no more uncool hair. I wasn’t model gorgeous but I was far from the little 8 year old that I once was.

Wow what faith!  My faith in God when I was little was big. I had absolutely no doubt what-so-ever that God would make me pretty. I had no worries. None. I knew all I had to do was wait on God and it would happen.

So why do I not have that kind of faith now? Why do I pray about something and then worry about it? Questioning God. Letting doubt set in. Where did my faith go?

I really had to think about this. For several days I have thought about what is different now. Why don’t I have the same faith in God that I had before?

As an adult I have had numerous chances to see God. To see just how faithful He really is. God has always taken care of me. So why do I struggle?

I don’t have answers to my questions. I do know that I am way more independent than I was when I was eight. I have learned to take care of myself. I guess that is why I have trouble letting someone else take over. Yep, even letting God have it.

So like a dummy I struggle and fall and try hard to fix my mess. Then when I finally slow down, I realize that I am not letting God take care of it. I am nuts. I should never take things into my own hands. God can take care of things so much better than I can. After all He does say in Matthew 11:28-30,  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

A new year is here and the first month is already half over. I am going to try hard to slow down and let God take care of all my worries. He will do a much better job of taking care of things. No more worries for me. I am just going to follow God and His will for me and enjoy my life.

Peace That Comes From God

Text in pink are from the book: Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl

by Lysa TerKeurst

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27

I read chapter 5 of the book and underlined several things that really stuck out to me as I was reading. As I was going back through, reading what I had underlined, I found a theme. It was peace. A peace that you can only get from truly knowing and loving God. So here are a few quotes from the book and some of my thoughts.

The world’s offering of joy, hope and love is fleeting, temporary, and dangerously unstable…but it can put on a good show in the short term.

It is so easy to reach for what the world has to offer. It is out there all over the place just waiting for me to grab and enjoy. But, like Lysa says, it is not stable or permanent. The feelings I get only last a little while and are not real. I am left feeling empty and alone.

It can offer peaceful settings and rituals to conjure up peaceful thoughts… but not true soul contentedness. The peace that flows despite circumstances can only be found through Jesus being with us.

Only Jesus can offer peace. True calm even in a storm. That is why it is so important for me to stay in His word and follow Him. Giving my all to knowing and loving Him. Then I am ready to face whatever life has to offer. I can handle all that comes my way listening to His instruction on what to do and how to handle any situation.


Keeping God as the Center of My Life

I took notes from a sermon that I heard on frontlinedc.com.  Todd Phillips did a whole series on keeping God as the center of our lives. To hear these for yourself, you can click on this link: http://www.frontlinedc.com/pages/page.asp?page_id=725 and then search for the series titled, Center.

Colossians 3:1-11

1) Get your thought life in order: Set our hearts and minds on things above.

You must get your thought life in order before your actions speak the truth of God.  Even if we make physical changes, our heart must be changed, our mind must be renewed with the truth of God or we will go back to our sin. We will go back even if we have to go another way because our original way is “closed” to us.

1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2Corinthians 4:16-18

2Do 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. Romans 12:2

2) Get your lifestyle in order- Once you have renewed your mind, gotten your thought life in order, then you can work on your lifestyle.

Knowledge vs. Wisdom- If you are not applying what you learn from God then you will become extremely frustrated and find little progress in your Christian experience.

5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices. Colossians 3:5-9

So, how do I put to death that temptation, that area of sin that I struggle with?

STAY:

* in the word: If you do not make the word of God a daily focus.  If you do not let it penetrate your heart daily. If you are not making it the hub of your experienced life with Christ, then you will fall. Pursue the word with fervor, understanding its life giving quality. Much of what we suffer from temptation and sin would be gone. The Holy Spirit guides us in the truth that it offers.

*close to mature believers: We tend to start sinning and hanging with people that are doing the same thing. DUH! We all need someone we can share everything with, that is further in their walk than us. They will love us and help us through those crisis points. They will teach us along the way.

*Away from temptation: We like to get as close to sin as we can without getting into it. We keep pushing the limit and before long we have gone over the line. Then we wonder- How did I get here?

*alert to our weak spots: Be aware of where Satan can get us.

God calls us to actively pursue holiness.

Do you really want that transforming life that Christ offers? Think on the things of God and do what God commands. Then you will become more like Christ.

10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Colossians 3:10-11


When I Feel Like I Don’t Measure Up

Text in blue are quotes from the book: Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa Terkeurst

I love the brownie story. I related to that story all too well. I guess it isn’t  in my nature to be the “perfect” mom. A June Cleaver if you will. I certainly don’t make the cut and my mom has no trouble in pointing that out to me.

God never intended for us to rely on others for our sense of well-being. Only He is equipped to provide that.

I have a wonderful mom. She always means well. She and I just don’t see things the same way. I worked hard to fit the mold she had for me. All I wanted from my mom was a pat on the back…an “atta girl”. Instead, I got criticism. Finally, after 34 years of trying to be the person my mom wanted me to be, I woke up. I realized this life is not hers, but mine. I decided that I wanted to live for an audience of One. The only One.

Instead of resting my heart in the unrealistic hope that others will make my joy complete, I have to rest my heart with Jesus only.

I had woken up from a bad dream. I was not only living for my mom, but for my husband, my kids, my work, my friends, and everyone that was “looking in”. I was exhausted.

I am trying hard to live for God and follow His will for me. No, I’m not perfect. I’m far from it in fact, but trying to measure up to everyone’s ruler was not healthy. It certainly wasn’t getting me anywhere either. Measuring up to God’s ruler is a much better way to live.

Satan delights in our feelings of inadequacy.

And that is exactly where Satan would have loved for me to stay. That’s his daily goal, actually. If Satan can use our everyday experiences, both big and small, to cripple our true identity, then he renders God’s people totally ineffective for the kingdom of Christ.

I really like how Lysa considers our enemy.  She recognizes that he is active in our lives and how he tries to pull us away from God. I get tugged and pulled at a lot. If I am not keeping God close, Satan gets a good hold on me and I begin to ask and dwell on that very dangerous thought: “Why doesn’t Jesus work for me?”

Oh how I have asked that question so many times in my life. I don’t like how I can take that question and run with it. When I do begin to play with that question, I begin to feel sorry for myself. I begin to walk a path that is rough to follow and hard to get off of. I put distance between God and myself. All the while thinking I am doing great because I am checking off the items on my good Bible study girl checklist waiting for God to bless my life.

Instead, when circumstances shift and we feel like we fall short, we should ask, “How can I see Jesus even in this?”

This question can be hard for me to ask. Satan can get a good hold on me sometimes and I just get angry with God. I get so upset with Him in fact that I don’t want to see where Jesus might be. I just want to dwell on myself and question God. Ask Him where my blessings are. It is a good thing God has mercy and grace.

Becoming more than a good Bible study girl means I separate my shortcomings from my identity and let Jesus be the only measure of my worth.

I am so thankful that God’s ruler is way better than anybody else’s ruler. His is even better than my own. I am going to try hard to measure my worth by God’s standards and not worry so much about how I measure up to some one else.



More Than a Good Bible Study Girl

Chapter 2

Flitting To and Fro

Text in purple is where I quoted from the book: Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst

Wow! This chapter gave me a lot to think about. If I quoted every line that I highlighted, I would have to just post the whole chapter.

It’s as if I carried around a little heart-shaped cup and extended it to whatever or whomever I perceived might fill it.

I have found myself trying to fill my cup with the “wrong” things over and over again. I can’t begin to count the number of times that I have put my children or a friend at the center of my life. Everything I did was for them. Even to the point of putting my well being and sometimes even my moral values to the side. And my cup was still empty. It was not filled.

The reality is no person, possession, profession, or position ever fills the cup of a wounded, empty heart- not my heart, not your heart. It’s an emptiness only God can fill. Anything we use as a substitute for God is an idol, a false god.

I remember the last time I put someone in this position. I wanted so bad for a friend of mine to fill my cup. It got to the point that God was no where to be found in our relationship. I was empty and we both were not happy. When I realized what I was doing, I had to put some distance between us and get God back in the center of my life. It was hard to do at first. Even though I was empty and unhappy, I had trouble separating myself from the relationship I had with my friend. I didn’t want to let go. I was afraid I might lose my friend forever. It took a lot of prayer and study. God is back as the center of my life and I still have my friend.

When God’s word gets inside of us, it becomes the new way we process life. It rearranges our thoughts, our motives, our needs and our desires.

As long as I daily make the choice to be guided by His truth, He replaces my hollowness with a wholeness of love that has no gaps.

Over the past year, I have learned how true these statements are. I have learned that if I stay in His word, my heart is full. I have the strength to withstand what ever life has to throw at me. I can stand strong and get through what comes my way. Even thrive in the storm.

But oh what a mess that has to be cleaned up when I don’t follow His truth. That  path is long and hard and takes twice as long. And as I keep saying, I’m left feeling empty and alone.

Instead of always looking to get fulfillment from my loved ones and the other blessings in my life, I can simply enjoy them for what they are.

How wonderful it is to sit back and enjoy the blessings that God has given me. I have been blessed way beyond measure. God is so awesome and fills my heart with so much love that it overflows. I just have to remember to hold my heart-shaped cup up to Him and his truth if I want Him to fill it.

A Good Bible Study Girl: Chapter 1- Trying to Be Good Enough

Anything in pink is a quote from the book.

I was a good Bible study girl and didn’t really know any better. I come from a fairy tale family. There was no major drama. I have always felt wanted and loved. My grandparents have seen 50 plus years of marriage and my parents just celebrated 43 years. We went to church every time the doors opened. Shoot, we unlocked the doors most of the the time. Church was first. We planned everything we did around it.

Seeking with all of your heart requires more than just the routine Christian good girl checklist:

Pray

Read the Bible

Do a Bible study

Go to church

Be nice

Oh yes, and I had my religion. I followed the “handbook” perfectly. I fit the mold to a tee. I was “lost in labels” and didn’t even know it. I was so busy making everyone happy, fitting the mold, following the “handbook”, that I never really knew who I was. I was empty. I was a very insecure person.

Still we continue the same patterns of trying to be good Bible study girls- hoping that if we do it long enough, fulfillment will somehow fall within our grasp.

In January of 2007, my life was changed forever. After 15 years of marriage I was getting a divorce. My husband left us for another woman and her three children. Because of my faith and a few really good friends, I made it through.

The first month or two are a blur. I am not even sure how I worked or took care of my kids. But one night while I was praying, God began to heal my broken heart and took the burden of my divorce from me.

I want total security no matter what happens. In other words, I want my relationship with Jesus to be enough to keep me sane and together and still fully devoted.

I began to see God as someone that I could have an intimate relationship with. I began a personal relationship with Him. That relationship has continued to grow. I stopped following the Christian checklist. I broke the mold that I had fit all my life.

My family thought that I had gone off the deep end. I was no longer the girl they had known for so many years. I was a rebel.

It is my prayer that reading this book will help you to discover two things: (1) a more meaningful connection with God, and (2) a truer fulfillment from letting your relationship with Him transform every area of your life.

This is where I am in my walk. I want to seek God with all my heart. I want a meaningful connection with Him. I want to talk with God and follow His will for me in every area of my life.  Even if I get messy in the process or seem crazy to others. That just means I am letting my little light shine.