What Are My Strongholds?

I began a new study this past week. Bible Studies at our church are so unpredictable. You think they are gonna be great. Last time I had one person sign up and 10 people showed up. For this study I had one person show up so I wasn’t worried and that person showed up. Just unpredictable. But I’m glad I look at it like whoever needs it is the one who shows up. So, we are changing rooms and my child care provider is this girl’s sister in law. So I am excited to see what the next 6 weeks holds. I’ve taught a lot of Thursday morning Bible Studies in my day. My day of being shaken by one person showing up has long past. Like I said I’m convinced that the one’s that show up are the one’s that are meant to get a message from the lessons. And one of those is me. So, I am ready. And we don’t really start lesson 1 until this coming Thursday so there’s still time for some new girls to come.

I started the week’s homework today. We are doing Beth Moore’s Living Free. It’s an older study. But it’s a strong one. Today’s lesson discussed the definition of a stronghold – anything that exalts itself above the power of God in our life. Just stopping to think off the top of my head I think of fear, worry and selfishness as immediate examples of strongholds in our lives today. Those were just the ones right off the top of my head.

Another lesson taught in today’s lesson was an introduction about praying God’s Word.

  1. Restate God’s truth, affirming your faith: Father, thank you that you are always good and that your love endures forever (I Chron. 16:34)
  2. Talk to God about passages you don’t understand: Faith Your word says, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (I John 2:6) I know that I do not live up to that standard. Please help me understand and walk like Christ.
  3. Ask God for what you need: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief?” (Mark 9:24)
  4. Confess sin and ask God to change your life: Father, I know that You hate pride and arrogance (Prov. 8:13); yet I see the ugly face of pride in my life. Teacher me today to be compassionate and humble (I Pet. 3:8)
  5. Praise God with your paraphrase of the words of Scripture: I know, Lord, that You are indescribably great. You are great than all the gods of this world. (Ps. 135:5)

This study is gonna be a good one! See you next round!

 

 

 

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The Magic Method to Overcoming Insecurity

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to write in my So Long Insecurity series. The last entry was The Roots of Insecurity on October 11. I apologize for leaving you hanging. It’s an ongoing battle to get my hands on a computer around here. In my last entry I talked about the most likely causes of the insecurities so many of us battle on a daily basis. Today is a much happier topic. Today we will discuss how we can overcome those causes and change the way we think so that we can recognize who God has created us to be, a wholy secure and strong woman of God who deserves respect. Praise the Lord!

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

Proverbs 31:25

One thing we can be sure of, if we constantly allow ourselves to give into our insecurities and not challenge them but let them control us, they will overtake our confidence and our interactions with those around us. We may think we have them well hidden so noone will ever know the pain we have deep inside. But the longer we push them down the more we have to walk on egg shells as if we are trying to avoid landmines. There are triggers all around us, seemingly innocent occurences, that threaten to reveal our true selves at any time. Here is a list that Beth included in her book. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Out of the corner of your eye you notice your man looking at another woman or you notice another woman looking at your man.
  • Your mom or mother-in-law gets that disapproving look on her face over how you parent your child.
  • The guy you used to date walks into the room with a gorgeous girl.
  • You poured out your heart to someone and they didn’t get it. You think you shared too much.
  • You finally reconcile with a friend after a hurtful disagreement. You can tell within thirty seconds that she doesn’t feel the same as she did before.
  • You get a new haircut and it doesn’t come out like you wanted it to.
  • You met someone you really admire and you say something stupid.

What are you supposed to do with triggers like that? How are you supposed to overcome your insecurities when seemingly every day things like that happen and unearths the hurt and pain you thought you had successfully hidden?

The key to overcoming those insecurities lies in the verse listed above from Proverbs 31. Overcoming them is not something we can do ourselves. Our insecurities are like giant anaconda snakes (I chose that snake because I believe it is the biggest snake there is). When those things get ahold of you do you think you can fight it off on your own? Of course not! You don’t have the strength for that. You need help from someone much stronger – preferably with a big gun (AND VERY GOOD AIM PLEASE!). Proverbs 31:25 tells us that God has dressed us with strength. Think about that for a minute. He hasn’t only dressed us with our own strength but as a child of his he has also dressed us with HIS strength. Ephesians 6:11 says Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Well, if these lies we tell ourselves aren’t a strategy of the devil then I don’t know what is. But as a Christian we are given/clothes with the Armor of God.

Now it’s one thing to know that but it’s something else entirely to claim. But that is the key to fighting those retched insecurities off. When you mind starts telling you that you aren’t good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough or WHATEVER enough remind yourself that you are created by a perfect being and are clothed with the strength and the armor of God – you possess the divine strength of your heavenly father. After so many times of replacing those negatives thoughts with the affirming thoughts of truth you will notice something different about yourself. In all actuality you are just doing what God tells us to do in Ephesians 4:23 – Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. That even applies to the thoughts and attitudes we have about ourselves.

I can hear you now saying “That’s it? That’s all there is to it? I’ve been eaten up by these insecurities all these years and all I’ve needed to do is tell myself they are lies and I am clothed in the strength of the Lord?” Uh YEP! That’s it! When I read this chapter I was reading between the lines for the hidden formula too. But THAT IS the magic formula. The hard part is remembering to do it before we get so overcome with the negative self talk. I know what it’s like to get to that point but I’m working on this magic method of combating insecurity. Let’s work this plan together. I have it from a pretty good source that this works – the Apostle Paul in Ephesians AND Beth Moore in So Long, Insecurity.

 

The Journey to the River

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT)

What does that passage tell you about a secure person? I see that their hope and confidence is going to be found in the Lord and that their roots are buried deep in the fresh nourishing earth untouched by the elements. Oh if only we could all be like that all the time. Sometimes I find myself far from the riverbank, far from the source of refreshing water, beaten down by the sun, dry as a bone with little hope and no confidence in anything. When I stop long enough in my life journey to look around me I see faces of others who seem to be in the same position. And honestly if I can even see the river from the dry desert I am wandering in I don’t see many people near the refreshing life giving water. That’s because we are all being affected by the murmurings and lies being fed to us from every direction and in turn making us feel insecure.

No one, man or woman, escapes the trap of insecurity. Because I am leading a women’s Bible study though I will be addressing women here on my blog. Keep in mind though that there are plenty of men who feel inadequate and pressured every day to measure up to some unseen measuring stick that leads them on a path of helpless insecurity as well.

Think about this just for a moment, what makes you feel the most insecure? Is it your looks, your weight, your financial situation, a relationship with a friend, your childhood or your husband. The list could go on and on. I will be honest with you and say that one area (and this is just ONE of them) that I am most insecure in is my physical appearance. I worry that my hair isn’t the right color, that my makeup looks poorly applied, that my stomach isn’t flat enough and that my legs look too fat in my jeans. If it has ANYTHING to do with my physical appearance I can guarantee you that I’m insecure about it. I’m pretty sure that I feel that way because of the TV shows that I watch and the magazines that I look at. All of the women on the shows and in the magazines look perfect and even if they have a few extras pounds on them I still think they look better than me. Now I ask you – why do I give these perfect strangers so much power over me? Why do I let them determine how I feel about myself today, September 20, 2012, in my own life in Nashville Tennessee? They don’t know who I am. They don’t care who I am. So why do I give them that power?

The kind of security we all need doesn’t come from a mirror, a bottle or another person. The kind of security we need can only come from God. What we really need is someone to love us when we are so distraught with disdain for ourselves. We condemn ourselves in our own minds so much that even if we had a positive thought I’m not sure we could hear it among all of the negative talk. We were created to need God to fulfill all of our needs. He hears all of those things we say to ourselves. He sees how much power we let the world have in determining our self-esteem. He knows the degree of the wounds to our spirit. And he is waiting right there – right in front of us – waiting for us to look up and see him and ask for his help. He knows what Satan’s scheme is. He knows how Satan works. But he also knows how to triumph over Satan. Satan is our enemy. Every lie that enters our mind is straight from him. But for every lie of Satan there is a victorious truth waiting in the open hands of Christ. Listen to HIM! Accept HIS truth!

What waits for us is that hope and confidence rooted deep into the refreshing waters Jeremiah wrote about. Join me on the journey to the river! We’ll go together as secure sisters!

What Does Faith Have To Do With Healing?

Today’s blog post I am gonna write about something I know nothing about – which really isn’t all that unusual for me. But I wanted to just let you know up front because I know a lot of you will have questions. I have questions but no concrete answers. Who knows maybe YOU will have the answers to my questions – in which case I should be letting YOU write this post.

As many of you know I am doing Beth Moore’s study on the book of James.

James is a very convicting book – well ALL of the Bible is convicting but you know what I mean. He doesn’t beat around the bush. He tells it just like it is. It’s not hard to grasp the meaning of what he is saying. Even the passage I am gonna discuss today seems very straightforward and easy to understand, yet I don’t get it. Here is the passage for today – James 5:13-15a:

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.

I have been raised in church all my life and have seen the elders of a church pray over someone and anoint them with oil. I have been anointed and prayed over a few times in my life. Yet here I am day in and day out for 18 1/2 years still suffering with Fibromyalgia. So I don’t get it. Is my faith lacking? That is a very real possibility. Has the faith of those who prayed over me and anointed me been lacking? Also a possibility. So my question is how can I change that. And honestly if I have the faith of Abraham when he stood before that altar ready to sacrifice his promised son, Isaac, would that make a difference?

I was very apprehensive about reading what Beth had to say about this passage throughout the entire study. Last night was the night that the study homework covered this passage. I couldn’t even answer the questions asked in the homework. All I could manage to do was read her commentary. My heart was pounding and it felt like an elephant sitting on my chest.

What I believe is the answer to my dilemma is that God has another purpose in my illness. Beth put it this way –

“When we’re sick, we pray like made for healing and summon leaders to pray likewise over us and, yes, anoint us with oil. If we remain ill after diligent, enduring, faith-filled prayer, particularly upon the part of our intercessors, what do we do? We entrust ourselves to the hands of our faithful God and His sovereign plan, abiding voraciously in His love.” – James: Mercy Triumphs page 179

No one can explain really why some people receive their healing on this earth and why others must wait. After giving it some heartfelt thought and prayer and discussion today at Bible Study I’m not sure if my lack of belief that he will heal me really has anything to do with whether or not I receive my healing here or in Heaven. I believe it all boils down to what God’s purpose is behind my illness. I will be honest, because that’s what this blog is all about, I think if I could make a “deal” with God to carry out the purpose without having to suffer I would do that. I believe I know the purpose for my suffering. I think I know why he has given me this burden to bear. And I think I am fulfilling that purpose. But I’d like the chance to do that work without having to suffer.

I also think part of the reason for my suffering is a lesson in expanding my faith. While the Bible tells me that God is able I don’t understand then why he doesn’t! Sometimes I get angry with God. And I know he expects that. He’s a big boy – he can handle it. And he is patient enough to walk with me and continue teaching me how to trust him – how to believe him – how to have faith in him. My question is – will I learn this lesson before I actually get to Heaven and get my ultimate healing? Now THERE is a challenge.

James – Mercy Triumphs Week 1

If you’ve been following me on Facebook then you know how excited I have been about beginning Beth Moore’s new Bible Study, James – Mercy Triumphs today.

It was as terrific as I was anticipating. What I was most surprised about is how different this study is from Beth’s other studies. I believe I have done every study she’s written at least once – some three times. So, I know how Beth writes and what her studies are like. I’ve been so exciting about this study because I love the book of James. Every verse in the book is a nugget of wisdom as rich as any you would find anywhere else in the Bible. And I happen to know that my daughter loves the book of James. That excites me! I wanted some way to integrate her into the study as well. We’ve never committed to a long term study together. But as it works out one of the paths the study can take is one that will allow me to do the study at home with her as well. I was praying for a way that she and I could work it out and it just so happens that the way that Beth wrote this study will be very doable for us to do it together here.

Let me explain. In case you aren’t familiar with Beth Moore’s Bible Studies, most of her studies are 10 weeks long. You have a workbook that has 5 days worth of homework per week. When you get together for the study you discuss the homework and then you watch an hour long video of Beth discussing some aspect of the study for that week. This study is structured differently. There are 5 different levels of participation. You can mix the various levels in any way you would like. Each level gets a little more involved. You choose what will work for you so that you can reach the level of involvement you need. The levels are:

1 – Participating in the video sessions only. for this level all you would have to do is watch the videos and fill in the video guide. You don’t even have to have the workbook if you don’t want to. Someone can make a copy of the listening guide each week. You can come to class – just watch the videos – involve yourself in the discussion as it moves along. This is what I can do with Lauren. I can make a copy of the listening guide with her and borrow the DVD to watch with her. We can watch it each week and talk about it.

2 – Participate in the video sessions + doing the weekly homework in the workbook. This is the typical way of doing a Beth Moore study like I mentioned above.

3 – Participate in the video sessions + doing the weekly homework in the workbook + handwriting the entire book of James at little each week. This allows you to go a little deeper in retaining what you learn because you are not only hearing it, discussing it but you’re also writing it.

4 – Participating in the video sessions + doing the weekly homework in the workbook + handwriting the entire book of James + reading “The Next Level with Melissa”. Melissa is Beth’s daughter. She has written a deeper theological piece to accompany each week of study. It appears at the end of the week’s homework. Melissa is a theologian and provides a more academic approach.

5 – Participating in the video sessions + doing the weekly homework in the workbook + handwriting the entire book of James + reading “the Next Level with Melissa” + Memorize the book of James. WOAH!! That’s hardcore! I’m afraid I won’t be able to go this level. I can’t remember my own name most days. But some people are terrific at memorizing and wouldn’t find this difficult at all. More power to ya.

So, as you can see this study is much different. I’m so excited to get started. I’m planning on digging in tonight. I hope to share some of the nuggets I discover on this journey. Watch out for them. It’s gonna be quite the journey indeed! I’d love for you to join me.

Washing, Studying and Writing

I have finished week one of November’s 3 in 30 challenge. And I must say it went rather well. I’m very pleased actually. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to participate in this challenge. Everytime I see a tweet come through from 3n30 or when I see something from 3 in 30 appear in my FB timeline I stop and think “have I met my goals for today”. I’m looking forward to posting this and linking it up on the site. Then I’ll spend some time touring blogland to encourage my fellow 3 in 30iers. But first, here is my update:

1. Laundry – I have done pretty well with this goal this week. My goal is to do at least one load a day. Somedays I have done more than one. But I have definitely done at least one load each day this week.

2. Bible Study – I haven’t been as consistent with this one as with the others. But I’m not behind. Each Beth Moore Bible study gives five lessons of homework to do in the week. So you have 5 days of study homework. The idea is to do one each day and have two days off. Well, it’s been a week and I am halfway through day 3. So tonight I will be doing 2 1/2 days. But that’s still better than it was – doing all 5 days on Saturday night.

3. NaBloPoMo – I’m right on target with this one. I have posted at least once ever day since November 1. So far I am where I’m supposed to be. Ron will be gone most of next week and then I will be out of town next weekend. So this next week will be the true test of this challenge.

At any rate, I am pleased! Now I’m off to see how my fellow challengers are doing this week.

Goals Goals Goals

Well today is a first for a couple of occasions for me here for November. I am getting back on the wagon with 3 in 30. I took a couple of months off because of health reasons and because we’ve been so busy I just haven’t taken the time to stay on top of things. And I’m also participating in NaBloPoMo once again. I haven’t done that since the spring. For the same reasons above I have gotten away from posting regularly here. I miss it and I feel so disconnected from my friends when I am not writing to you regularly.

First of all, as a refresher, 3 in 30 is a monthly challenge where you set 3 goals for yourself to work on in the next month (usually 30 days). Each Friday you write an update on how you’ve done on your goals that week and then you link it up on the 3 in 30 site. The support you receive from others who are taking part in the challenge is wonderful. You connect with them via Twitter and Facebook. It’s a wonderful opportunity to accomplish something you’ve been wanting to do and also make great new encouraging friends. I have missed all of them by not participating for a couple of months. I’m glad to be back.

Now to set my goals:

1. As is always the case for 3 in 30 for me, I vow to wash at least once load of laundry a day. Laundry is my arch enemy. It’s the biggest job that I hate the most around here. It has been on my goal list since I first began 3 in 30 back in February. I still haven’t mastered it yet. But I will keep it on the list until I have set the routine and accomplish it – no matter how long it takes.

2. Work on Bible Study at least 5 days a week. I am currently in a Lifegroup at church that is doing the Beth Moore study LIving Beyond Yourself. If you know anything about Beth Moore Bible studies then you know each week consists of 5 days of homework. Lately I have been doing the homework but I have mostly been doing it all on Saturday night because I am such a procrastinator. I would really prefer not to cram it all in at the last second. So, I’m thinking I might actually do the study as it was meant to be done – in 5 days instead of 1.

3. Post a daily entry to my blog for NaBloPoMo. The National Blog Posting Month is a great way to encourage you to post more regularly to your blog. There is usually a theme for the month. But November is the only month that doesn’t have a theme so it’s a great time to start. I need to get back into the habit of posting daily. The NaBloPoMo powers that be could happen by your blog any day to check up on you. There are prizes involved – although I’ve never won any prizes. I just don’t have that kind of luck. I don’t win anything. But I figure this month if I can keep up with 3 in 30 AND NaBloPoMo then I have really won anyway. NaBloPoMo is now being hosted on Blogher. You can visit my Blogher profile and check it all out. Or click this button below or in my sidebar:

NaBloPoMo 2011

There you have it! Care to join me?