Thursday, February 26, 2009

Get Rid of the Fear

I don't know how last week's DVD affected you, but that was some pretty heavy stuff, wasn't it? (I wish I had heard Beth Moore's thoughts on dying before I was diagnosed with cancer!) I had warned the day class ahead of time that this week's DVD topic was heavy and would be a lot to absorb. About three-fourths of the way through the DVD, I noticed that there was not a sound--literally--in the room; no one moved a muscle, every eye was riveted on the screen. I'm not sure they were even taking notes. The silence had an odd feel to it.

Usually, when the DVD finishes, everyone is gathering her belongings and chatting with others around her. That morning, instead, there was total silence; no one moved at all. As I walked to the front to dismiss the group, I was unprepared for what I said. Their eyes were huge, and I can't even describe the looks that I saw on their faces. I was so taken aback by those looks that I totally lost my train of thought. All I could think of to say was, "Well, how about that?" Even then, it was several seconds before anyone gathered her wits enough to say simply, "Wow."

Heavy, heavy, heavy! But it was so basic, basic, basic! How could we have missed something so basic for so long? I've been a Christian a long time, and I've never heard the topic of fear taught as it was taught in that session. As Beth Moore pointed out, we all have our own private fears. "What if----?" Usually when we say that, we are referring to something we fear, so Beth suggested that we remember that the "if" stands for "I Fear." We've all heard that most of the things that we fear never happen; they are just "False Evidence Appearing Real." So we're wasting a lot of time, mental energy, etc. on something that may never happen. I love, love, love how Beth led us through the worst possible scenarios and showed us how we as Christians can survive even our worst fears--the death of a child or spouse, the pregnant 15-year-old daughter, the terrible health diagnosis, a tornado demolishing a home, whatever. We can handle it! Philippians 4:13 promises us that! It doesn't promise that it's going to be easy or fun, but we can get through it!

In thinking about those things, we all are prone to think, "If ----, I couldn't stand it. I would just die." That is a point of weakness in our faith, and Satan will focus in on that issue to break down our trust in God. But if we face life truly trusting that: 1) God loves us, 2) God knows what is best for us, and 3) He is able to do anything He chooses, then we really can live our lives with a minimum of fear. Think about how much of your day is spent in fear. What could you do with that much time and mental energy every day if you didn't have to deal with fear?!

The last part of the DVD was something I had considered, but I had never heard it put the way that Beth put it. In essence, she said that if our not being healed from some serious disease or our not recovering from a bad car wreck was God's plan for us, that was part of our destiny. We should live that part of our destiny as courageously as we live the rest of our destiny. The Timmons' translation for that is, "If that kind of death is God's destiny for you, do a good job of it!" I've known of situations in which the manner that someone died actually witnessed to other people. How awesome is that!

If you'll think about it, we all should die the way that we're supposed to live--so that God will be glorified. In order to live and die in that manner, we have to get rid of the fear. Praise God, that is truly possible!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's Tough Being a Woman Thrown a Giant-Size Weight

"They had become so worldly and so thoroughly assimilated into Persian culture that they'd lost their protective shield. God had told His people from the time of Moses that He'd protect them and fight their battles for the them as long as they worshiped Him only. If they forgot Him, He would still love them but He would not shield them. Instead, He'd use their enemies to turn His people back to Him." Pg 85 Beth Moore's "Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman."

We are called to live a life that is to be set apart. We are to be a beacon of light and salt of the Earth (Matthew 5:13-16), and yet Christians living in America have become very assimilated to worldly values thereby loosing our flavor and our protective shield. We have allowed the world to penetrate our homes via the Internet, television and music. Intrinsically, these things are not bad, but they are tools that have been used to desensitize us and our children and have coerced us into believing the standards of the world are what we need to strive to attain or become and that behaviors once considered unacceptable, inappropriate or went against the moral fiber taught in the Bible are now antiquated. We are no longer under God's protective shield.

It's easy to blame people on Wall Street, the CEOs of the automobile industry, bank heads, and congressional leaders for the dismal economy, failing housing market, rising unemployment, and the list could go on and on, but when we point one finger at someone else, there are three more pointing back at yourself. How many of us have bought into the world's view of living on credit? How about living in excess? How about living beyond our means? Buying houses that leave the household budget lacking forcing the owner to live on credit. Insisting on name brand and top of the line items, when it is more economical and reasonable to buy generic.

Ladies, the giant weight we are under is of our own making. Failing to be good stewards, participating in gossip and slander, allowing gluttony to be a daily event on every level literally and figuratively, failing to keep the Sabbath day holy, refusing to obey our parents or submitting to the authority in our lives, giving one's self to someone other than our spouse whether it is physical or emotional, failing to forgive and love our neighbors as ourselves, holding tighter to anger than to love, allowing our children to never be in want, refusing to respond to God's prompting to act, to minister, to repent, passing judgment and feeling more prideful than we aught, sitting idly by while unborn babies are being sacrificed, giving in to addictions of pornography, excessive shopping, computer time, designer drugs and alcohol, you name your poison -- but let's call it what it is. It's SIN.

And for too long, we've been trying to dress up our sin to make it more palatable, more pleasant and sometimes we even parade it at church. But if you put a dress on a pig, it's still a pig. No matter how we might try to dress up our sin, God sees to the heart of the matter. He doesn't see shades of gray either. There is a quote that says, "Those who are given to white lies soon become color blind." Meaning what we might consider a white lie now will consequently grow until they are all white lies and there are no shades of gray, and definitely no black.

I would like to make a recommendation because you may be sitting there like I am wondering what sin have I gussied up or dressed up that God sees, what is it that I need to be sensitized to, what has a hold on my life, my vision that needs to be addressed. I want you to consider fasting. Fast the 12 to 24 hours before your class on Monday night or Tuesday morning. Please be sure to drink water. We don't want anyone to become dehydrated, but abstain from food, candy, and gum. You may want to consider fasting from the computer, television, the newspapers and magazine, and choose to focus on the Word of God during this time. Make it a priority to meditate, pray and spend quiet time with God. When He speaks to you, be open and receptive, repent, and then make an action plan with God's guidance as to how to move forward.

I know this is a heavy blog this week, but this is what I was given.

We look forward to seeing you next week and getting back into the swing of the Bible study.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's Tough Being a Woman in a Mean World -- Follow Up

"Refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and

expecting the other person to die."

Sandra--Last week we studied about the meanness in the world, and, according to Beth Moore, the "toughest part can be not getting mean with it." So how do you keep from getting mean? That's a good question because, as humans, we have an inane desire to "handle things" ourselves sometimes, and, not only does it usually not work, it's not the way God instructs us to handle the pain and the meanness of the world.

Another excerpt from last week's lesson is that, "No matter how we sparkle at church or Bible study, on earth we still have pain. Instead of going ahead and feeling the pain, processing it before God, and letting Him heal us, sometimes we opt for a trade-in. We swap pain for anger because it's easier for a while, and, boy, can it be energizing! Soon mad turns to mean. Friends turn enemies. And Agags turn to Hamans."

There is some really good news because in John 16:33 we are reminded that, "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I (God) have overcome the world." Sounds good; makes sense to me. But we live on earth with all these other humans, and we need to figure out how to deal with the folks who intentionally hurt us. It all boils down to one thing--forgiveness. I didn't say it would be easy, but we have to learn to forgive. Forgiving is not difficult when someone apologizes and begs our forgiveness. However, it's quite a different story when someone hurts us and has no remorse whatsoever; forgiving that person is a little more challenging.

How logical is the following situation? "Refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." Think about that for a minute. There is no logic in that approach to a problem; it's just not the best way to handle a situation, is it? In fact, it's just downright self-defeating, and, dare I use the word--"stupid." Obviously then, we as humans don't always handle forgiveness the right way, do we?

Let's look at how God tells us to handle it. According to Romans 12:19(NLT), "Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. LEAVE THAT TO GOD. For it is written, 'I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,' says the Lord." Hmmm--sounds good but not so easy to do, is it?

The first step to forgiving someone is to relinquish your right to get even. That's what Romans 12:19 is all about, and don't you think God can handle a situation better than you? Of course, that's what we believe. It's just that, well---as humans, we want to see the person who hurt us get zapped---hard---immediately! That's why we have to give the situation to God; trust Him to do a better job of dealing with the person than we can.

The second step is that you have to realize that forgiveness does NOT depend on a feeling. Forgiveness has nothing to do with how you feel; it is a matter of will! It's a CHOICE you make.

And if you think all the above is way too much for you, then just remember this: You forgive because your Father told you so; it's a matter of obedience. I don't know about you, but as I was growing up, when my dad told me to do something, it NEVER crossed my mind to question him. He said it; I did it--simple as that.

"Forgiveness is a journey, sometimes a long one. We may need some time before we get to the station of complete healing, but the nice thing is that we are being healed enroute. When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover the prisoner we set free was us."

Remember--No Bible study next week! See you Feb. 23 and 24!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's Tough Being a Woman in a Mean World

A few weeks ago I had to take Erin to Shriner's hospital, and the lady who was checking us in had this piece of paper on the wall. I asked her to provide me a with a copy, and she kindly did.

Watch your 'Thoughts,'

they become your words;

Watch your 'Words,'

they become actions;

Watch your 'Actions,'

they become habits;

Watch your 'habits,'

they become character;

Watch 'Character,'

for it becomes your 'Destiny.'

Haman's thoughts became his words that led to his actions which eventually led to his destiny of being impaled on a gallow he had made for someone else. Meanness has at least three outlets. Do you struggle with any of these areas, or maybe you recognize these in someone else?
  1. Thoughts -- Has anything ever just rubbed you the wrong way? And no matter what you do, it's stuck in your craw, and then it begins to fester. The enemy would like nothing more than to get into our heads and do the maximum amount of damage without doing too much of the work. Whether it is fear, a real or perceived threat, or mental anguish that has a hold of our mind, it is a foothold for Satan. The way we combat this is with truth and the word of God. Colossians 3:2 tells us to "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Philippians 4:8 says "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things." When the wrong thoughts enter our minds, we must replace it with truth.

  2. Speech -- It's not just bigots that show their true colors by the words of their mouths, but gossipers and slanderers are also known for their unbridled tongues. Haman selectively chose his words, so they would be more palatable. "There is a certain people" sounds very vague and ambiguous, but if he were to have said Mordecai and the Jews, don't you think that would have set off some type of an alarm because it gives a face and a name and a life to those "certain people." By using "certain people," he also removed the fact that this was a personal vendetta, and he appealed to the king's sense of honor and supposed best interest. Matthew 12:34 b states, "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." James 3:8 - 9 "but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness." The Bible advises us in Proverbs 21: 23 "He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity," and in Psalms 141:3 "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips."

  3. Actions -- Haman wasn't satisfied with just killing Mordecai. He wanted to destroy Mordecai and all his people. Some people get angry and never get over it. The anger turns inward and seethes into bitterness. Some just aren't satisfied with taking their anger out on one subject but submit a whole family to their wrath.

As Christians, we need to diligently monitor our thoughts, speech, and actions because if we too closely resemble the Hamans of this world, people won't know we are Christians. We will have become assimilated to this culture and not to our heavenly calling. Ladies, let's control our thoughts and focus on the things that are true, so Satan cannot have a foothold into our lives. Let's use our mouths to edify one another and not tear others down. Even if you hear something that is true yet negative about someone else, that doesn't mean you have to share it. Our actions should reflect those of our heavenly Father, and we need to practice self-restraint and commit our actions unto the Lord.

It's important to control our thoughts because they do lead to words that become actions and eventually determines our destiny, our destiny in Christ.

We look forward to seeing you next week. Be praying for one another.