God Is Not Through Yet … It is not just a cliche

It has been months since my last blog because of so many things. Part of my growth as a Christian is that I have to study, really study the Bible. What I learned first was that I was clinging to my “old” understanding of the Hall of Heroes of the Bible: Moses, Saul, David, Solomon … just so many who I thought I knew. Time allowed me to set my understanding in stone, but studying with new eyes and an open heart and mind has absolutely excited me for even more studying. I had tried doing my own Bible study from devotional books, but that is not studying, that is reading for me. The last time I “really” blogged, I talked about the five stones David went into battle with against the Philistine Giant, Goliath. To learn that he did not kill the giant with his stone, just rendered him down on his level, and the death blow came from the use of Goliath’s sword to defeat him for his king, Saul (1 Samuel 17) taught me that I needed to visit the stories of my youth. Since that time, I have completed directed studies through The Women’s Bible Cafe'(that is a trademark) and can be joined by women interested in truly learning the meat of God’s Word (www.womensbiblecafe.com). My heart has been so blessed by the women in these online studies. A brief overview is that these groups are only an hour long with the individual using a study book/guide to read and study five daily lessons prior to the meeting time one chooses. They have groups every day, several time options to choose from and the participants are from everywhere, different ages, different life experiences and we learn together by answering five questions about the studies of that week. There have been times I have felt God talking to me through the keyboard. The two studies I have done online were: “Jeremiah, Daring to Hope in an Unstable World” by Melissa Spoelstra, and the most recent, “What Love Is” by Kelly Minter, a study of the Love Letters, 1,2,3 John. Although I am considered “mature” at the age of 64, I found myself a baby compared to the depth of some of the women who shared online. I encourage you to consider the option of online Bible study with this group. Having said that, the next study begins March 23, and you have a choice from two studies. I have already signed up for that study and have ordered my book, but books can be purchased from Lifeway Christian Book Store. I encourage you to visit The Women’s Bible Cafe’ at: http://www.womensbiblecafe.com and follow the studies and choose the one you want as there are usually two from which to choose, and do it today so that you can find your own group and your study topic and join a group of women on March 23. The leader of this site is Christine Abraham and joining her world has been the greatest experience for my soul.

While doing these studies, the first for 10 weeks and the second for 6 weeks, I was also participating in a study with a small group of ladies at my church, but we had women from other churches who participated. This group was initiated by two young mothers who attend my church, they were responding to God calling them to study. What a joy to see the devotion of those who take our places as we age and transition out of leadership ourselves. We studied “Seeking a Heart Like His” which was the study of David’s heart, the heart that God loved so very much. This was an awesome experience and I did this at the same time of my online studies. And I am going to do this yet again as we have decided to do a study of Esther, also beginning in March after we do the last video study with David, as led by Beth Moore. I have learned so much, I fell in love with the two young ladies leading the study and came away hungry for the fellowship with these young ladies, the ladies who sat at the table and ready for more. I miss the weekly time together. I have such a respect now for the young ladies, for Beth Moore and for all the women who have studied and put together this group. Cotile Baptist Church may not be on your life’s map, but it is on mine.

What I have learned is that we never stop growing if we listen to God. I also learned a different approach to praying (from the Women’s Bible Cafe’) through the use of a Prayer Journal or a Prayer Box (this one is my preference). I can now see God’s hand in my prayer life, I get to touch the card on which my request is written, and I have learned to pray and leave it with God. This is huge for me because I tended to want to help God answer my prayers, on my timeline and in the way I am sure is what HE will be doing. Yes, I have a control issue that now I am trying to change. I pray for women whom I have never met, except through the responses they type in the 60 precious minutes we are connected through the internet. I am thankful there are no cameras because I am sure I looked utterly dumbfounded when women from Hawaii, California, Maine, New Mexico were talking and sharing with me. My world is so big yet so small now. And although technology is one of my “idols” that steal my time, I am so blessed to have this gateway that provides me with what my heart and soul needed.

Doing two studies at the same time is not good for everyone, and it would be easier for me to do one or the other, but I have never approached anything I do with a mindset of it being easy. I advise that you do one, and really commit to doing the kind of studying that is beneficial. I use the book, write all over the book in the format of the study book, but I also have a notebook where I capture my thoughts and sometimes even more references as God leads my time with HIM. The 20 or 30 minutes of study each day for me becomes much more because of what I need from God and what HE needs from me.

When I started typing this morning, I had my own agenda. After two lines, God led me to HIS topic for today’s blog. Yet another reminder to “let go and let God …”, it is HIS message that HE wants me to share, a reminder to be willing to study, to learn and grow. Yes I am sharing with you because God directed me to write my book of “growing my faith”, but that growth did not stop just because I did what was started in 1985. My journey of growth in understanding and faith continues, and I am grateful for that.

After slaying the giant … what next?

In keeping with the story of David facing the Philistines’ giant (I Samuel 17:22-58), I wanted to share with you my thoughts on what we all can learn from the young shepherd boy with the heart of a king.  What has to be kept in mind is that David, the youngest son of Jesse, had already been anointed to be king by Samuel.  David had also soothed Saul’s depression by playing his lyre for him until the evil spirit left him (1 Samuel 16:14-23).  So Saul knew of David’s youth, his profession as a protector of his sheep and even his physical appearance.  So now this meek young man has become the adored slayer of giants.  True it was only one giant, but David was widely admired by the children of Israel.  Because Saul’s armor was not part of what David carried into the battle, David used Goliath’s own sword to behead him to take to King Saul.  After presenting Saul with the head of the slain giant, he simply returned to tend his sheep.  He had a role in the family to fulfill and had only wandered into the battle when he was taking food to his brothers who were in the king’s army, as directed by his father.  So David did not allow his accomplishment to change who he was in his heart or in his family.  How are we after a battle with Satan?  Do we return to what the Lord wants us to do, or do we lose our way in human pride.  We know for a fact that later in life David allowed sin to enter his life, and we do the same.  But we do also experience victories.  Having faced the “cancer giant” in my life, I am keenly aware that I am not the same, physically or spiritually.  The weapons, or stones, used to defeat the physical cancer, have now become the weapons of my life.  David returned to tending his sheep, I returned to providing for my family, working, and fulfilling the family roles that I have chosen for myself, with God’s leading.  David knew his own strength and was secure in what he did while I have had to learn that kind of confidence.  I asked God last week to confirm my calling to write my book, to continue my blog and stay the course.  Through participating in the Beth Moore online Bible Study in the Women’s Bible Cafe®, I became aware of how important it is for us to know we are doing EXACTLY what God has directed us to do.  If you have read my book by now, Asking What: No More Whys, Soaring on Eagles Wings Defeating Life’s Labels, Anger and Cancer, you know that I know what I am to do by the confirmation of knowing that I have reached one person through the sharing of my story of how I needed to grow my faith.  That certainty has not changed, but the way I do it or the way I need to accomplish obedience could change.  I struggle with a new giant, self doubt.  Satan and I were officially at war, and I had my five smooth stones.  So I listed seven items that I had felt were God’s words to me and asked God to differentiate for me, the difference between His calling and possibly my selfish desires to prove to the world that I am here.  It was very overwhelming to me.  I went to college at two different times in my life – ten years apart.  College was an opportunity to improve my ability to provide for my family, a security for the future.  Why the doubt – because I wanted to prove to people in my past that I had the right to pursue an education, so there could have been selfish motives in my actions.  Seven items were on the list, quickly reduced by three because I knew I had heard God’s voice in my heart directing my path.  But my book and the blog was different than what college had provided and prepared me to do.   These were expensive undertakings ($$$) and the devil had presented to me the thought that I had wasted precious resources, time and money.  It appeared to be a good argument.  In the study of Jeremiah, I had just finished studying chapter 1 and the words from God to Jeremiah had moved me to seek affirmation (Jeremiah 1:5-8).  Leaving it with God to show me I was on the right path, I prayed and thought this will be a long wait because my heart was troubled about the possibilities that had led to the sin of doubt.  Within 18 hours of making the entry into my notebook, I had the truth presented to me, in writing.  It was once again one person, just as my prayer in Chapter 7 of my book, just as God had answered that it would be.  God does not waste time and as His servant, I know that I have not wasted my time or resources in this path I am now on.  Disappointments ave been in my heart for a few weeks, they were part of the items on the list I had made and I perceived those disappointments as resulting from the desires of my heart and not necessarily what God had intended for me to do.  That is not the truth, so once again the stones that I have chosen as my life’s weapons did not fail me.  I prayed, had faith that God would hear me, answer me in His time and He would strengthen me when I became weary.  That dread that brought on the doubt, frustration and an overwhelming fear that I had taken the reins away from God was the same “bully” that David had faced.  I had the tools, I have my faith and now I also have confirmation of His will for my life.  So I have chosen a new routine to my Bible Study, I write down my prayer to God and go back and date (even write down the time) of the confirmation and then thank God, praise Him for His work in my life and stay the course.  Now I can tend my sheep.

Learn to ask “What?” in Life’s Times of Trials …

"In all things, give thanks, ...." Philippians 4:6

“In all things, give thanks, ….” Philippians 4:6

This past week I had an opportunity to discuss the journey that led me to grow my faith. Although I have just written about that journey in my self-published book, Asking What: No More Whys, this was yet another time to develop another area of my faith. The gathering was a prayer group of Baptist women; yes the label because that became very important as our interactions were relaxed and personal. The ladies were from multiple decades of maturity so questions asked and stories shared were representative of some who learned the same Southern Baptist mores that I had grown up being taught. Others were from the decade that allowed women to grow up with more flexibility. Having input from practices that were on opposite ends of a continuum was another layer of growth for me. The one thing that made this different was that one of my daughters, Deilia, had gone with me to make sure I did not get lost, and this was the first time one of my daughters was in the audience, in this case joining me at the table. It was a strange and necessary feeling to be able to reach down and put my hand on her knee when I referred to something that had been part of their upbringing in my evolving faith and journey of discovery. The Lord led me to talk with these prayer warriors about learning to “be of good cheer” (Luke 8: 43-48, v. 48) where the woman with the issue of blood for twelve years received healing because she reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, after twelve years of struggling with the illness. I chose Luke’s gospel to read from although it is reported in Matthew’s and Mark’s gospels, because he was a physician and that was important for this group of women who prayed for healing and the needs of the community. After discussing the need to be of good cheer when our faith opened the door of blessing for us to the delicate topic of “giving thanks” in all things (Philippians 4:6, NKJV). Explaining to a person who was new in her cancer survival journey and sharing how hard it had been for me to be thankful for the concurrent cancer journeys of my sister and I was a quiet segment for the group. After we acknowledged the difficulty of giving thanks about some of life’s burdens, we moved to the discussion of labels based on a discussion about what I know is my life’s ministry (the use of the word ministry was the Southern Baptist point of deliberation). Deciding to conclude with an excerpt from Chapter 5, Be Sure You Have on Clean Underwear …) it was exhilarating to acknowledge our goodness because God created us and proclaimed “it is good”. Most had made their beds, left no soiled dishes in the sink and all reported they had on clean underwear … and we all shared the light bulb moment as we discussed how these mental tapes had controlled our self-esteem and self-worth. Before the night ended, my daughter had shared about her reaction to my bilateral mastectomies and how we had grown through the difficult times of my recovery and her aunt’s lost battle. Indeed I was soaring on eagles’ wings as returned to our homes, because these prayer warriors had a beautiful ministry to the community and each other, and this mom had a new level of respect for the emotional and Christian maturity I observed in my daughter.

The Knot Prayer from Facebook

This came across on Facebook today from my cousin and it speaks to why I chose to write a book whose subject looked at labels, the labels that can, if we allow, stop us from reaching our potential.   Divorcee was probably the toughest label I had to deal with, but I did.  I will be a Baptist, a Southern Baptist, but that was my identity more than I was my own identity for years until I started exploring the scripture in a totally different way.  I was more of a “Southern Baptist Covenant” person, and there is a difference.  I am a Christian, that is my directing force.  Then as I moved through the step-parent label I really came to understand why we can freeze in time, stuck in a label.  Then cancer came, I learned then that I had to determine my path – either a victim or a survivor. I was afraid when faced with danger, so I was a victim then until I allowed God to carry me through that experience.  I am a daughter, an obedient daughter, and that proved to be a tougher role as I matured, because many times I had to be okay with my parents, even as they completed their journeys on this earth and I became the care giver and the roles were somewhat switched.  I am a wife, and that can be confusing if living by the “submissive” rule, because I am independent and, at times, stubborn.  But I have learned to compromise and remain “cool, calm and corrected” as Robert H Schuller suggests in his book, The Be (Happy) Attitudes.  These and more lessons learned are in Asking ‘What’, No More ‘Whys’.  I lived by the “can nots” for so very long, victory came through the lessons of life and allowing God to place me on Eagle’s Wings and Soar.

The Knot Prayer

The Knot Prayer