Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saying Yes

Over the past four weeks, I have been reading Lysa Terkeurst's book What Happens When Women Say Yes to God as part of Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor.

God has been speaking to me in amazing ways during this study.  He has opened my eyes to how saying yes is more about saying yes to Him and obeying His Word daily in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions than in the big monumental decisions that come our way.  If we learn to say yes in the small, the more likely our yes will be there in the tall.

Daily dependence on Him is what He desires.  He wants us to keep our eyes on Him and off our circumstances or trials.

What we focus on becomes magnified in our lives.  If we focus on the negative, our problems or fears appear bigger than they are in reality.

Recently, as I was talking to the Lord about a trial in my life, God asked me this question:
"Sue, what have you been focusing on?"

Then He said:  "Focus on Me"


I have to choose what I will focus on?  I have to choose minute by minute if I will rest in the Lord or worry about the minutes to come.  

In What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, Lysa Terkeurst describes a time when her daughter was fearful of how she would perform in a dance recital. She shared what she said to her daughter.  It is a beautiful depiction of what happens when we keep our eyes on Jesus:

"It doesn't matter if you mess up.  What matters is that keep your eyes on me the whole time.  We'll do this together..."

"She danced when the steps came easy.  She danced when her steps got jumbled.  She danced even when her emotions begged her to quit.  She danced the whole way through.  She danced and I smiled..." 

"As she kept her attention focused solely on my smile and the touch of my gaze, it was as if the world slowly faded away...This is the way God wants me to dance through life.  As long as my gaze is locked on His, I dance and He smiles..."

"My steps so often betray the desire of my heart, but it is not my perfect performance that captures His attention.  Rather, it is my complete dependence on Him that He notices."  pg. 94, 96, 98 

Isn't that beautiful?  The Lord knows we won't do this dance perfectly, but it is beautiful none the less.  His desire is for our eyes to remain on Him and acknowledge our need for Him every day, minute by minute.  

My heart's desire is to be a woman who says yes to God even when the dance seems difficult, even when I forget the steps, even when I am afraid, and even when I don't know what comes next. 

He knows the steps.  He knows what comes next.  He knows the ending.  He is already there and has seen the beautiful outcome.  

Father, I need You.  I am desperate for You.  Father, I recognize my need to depend on Your daily, and even every minute.  I can't do this dance on my own.  I need Your grace and Your guidance in all I do.  I ask for you to show me every step and help me to stay focused on You and Your love for me.  If left to myself, I am sure to mess up.  I pray for my moves to be in line with Your perfect will.  I pray I would keep my gaze on You and as I do I would dance a beautiful dance with You and  it would draw others to You.  In Jesus' name, Amen

  















Monday, August 26, 2013

Rebuilding on the Rock

My husband held me as I sobbed uncontrollably.  His arms comforted and calmed me as the broken pieces of my heart violently shook inside, desperate for healing.

How could I have reacted that way?  How could I have responded in such a disrespectful manner towards a friend?  

I was hurting.  Angry.  And you know what they say, "Hurting people hurt people."  Only, I NEVER act like that. Not now.  Not anymore.  Where did that come from?

I knew I needed the Lord to intervene.

I won't go into all of it here.  It would be too much to write.  Some things have happened that have shook my foundation to the core -- and as it would happen, it was my core that the Lord wanted to expose.

"Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.  But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell.  And great was its fall."  Matthew 7:24-27

Apparently, my foundation was a little shaky.  Rains had come.  Floods had come.  Winds blew.  I was beat.  I tried to stand, but I was wobbly.  I fell.

My security and identity were not planted as firmly as they needed to be on the Rock.  I had built part of my identity on something false.  I thought I was firmly planted, but the foundation was sand.  God revealed to me that I had placed much of my identity in my leadership roles and having a place of position in my local church.  God recently led us to step away and subsequently He stripped those away.  With that identity now gone, I was feeling lost and insecure.  In addition, I have experienced great rejection lately and I had struggled with the fear of rejection for years.  All of this added together made for quite a messy concoction.

This mess was dirtying my heart and when a button was pushed that hit the fresh wound, the pain created a reaction resulting in yuck spewing out.

As I reread this, it sounds a little like I am justifying this unwanted reaction.  However, there is no justification for sin.

My heart was broken over my sin.  I apologized profusely to my friend and asked for her forgiveness.  I asked the Lord to forgive me.

In addition, I had let myself and a friend down in how I had responded.  I had failed to measure up to my ideal.  Lord, help me!  Right at that moment, the Lord spoke to me through the book "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God."  I opened up the book and saw this:

"Satan wants to catch us off guard and use our reactions against us.  He loves to whisper, 'If you can't be godly and obedient in the small mishaps of life, how do you think you're going to be able to pass the bigger tests and trials?'  So in the quietness of our hearts we ponder our reactions to life's situations. And if we find our attitude wanting, we label ourselves unable....  

I am not a woman who should be labeled unable.  I am a woman on a journey of learning how to make sure my reactions don't deny Christ's presence in me. I am a woman who says yes to God not because my emotions and reactions are always perfect. No, I say yes to God because he is perfectly able to forgive me, love me, remind me, challenge me, and show me how to weather trials in ways that prove His Spirit resides in me. I remind myself often that people don't care to meet my Jesus until they meet the reality of Jesus in my life." pg. 70

Yes, I failed that day. However, that does not mean I am a failure. It means I am a human in desperate need of my Savior.

I believe part of the reason the Lord has recently stripped away the things I had built a false sense of security on is so He could make room to rebuild a new firm foundation.

My foundation has to be on the Rock.  Nothing less will do.  My foundation cannot be on what others think of me, my relationships, my positions, my parenting, my job, my activities, my actions or reactions.

We cannot tie our identities to anything other than Christ.  When that piece of our identity is lost or doesn't measure up to our set standards, we will feel insecure and lost. Jesus has to be enough.  Jesus is enough. 

If our foundation is anything other than Christ, we will fall short and when we do, we will fall.   

The Rock is the only solid structure that will support our frail human condition.  So then, when the rains descend, and the floods come, and the winds rage and beat against you (the house of the Lord), you will not fall.  You will then stand firm, securely founded in your identity in Him.  

Have you built your foundation on anything other than Christ?  Is the Lord speaking to you about anything you have based your identity on other than Him?  Are you ready to ask Him to reveal these sandy structures in your heart and ask Him to replace them with the firm foundation of Jesus?  

Oh Lord, how we need you.  Father, we are desperate for you.  Build our house, build us on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.  Let us not hold onto any sense of false security.  Reveal the wobbly structures of our lives.  Show us anything we have built up to serve as our foundation where only the Rock should be. Remove the false security.  Break it down to make room to rebuild our foundation on You and Your truth. We love you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.  









Thursday, August 22, 2013

# Amazed--What Happens When We Say Yes

I am so excited to introduce you to a sweet friend God put in my life about one year ago.  I met Lelia Chealey at the She Speaks Conference in 2012 and sometimes God connects you with friends that you just know need to remain in your life. 

Lelia writes at www.leliachealey.com is currently working on a book for women encouraging them to stop hiding among the baggage of their past and let God use their story for His glory.  Lelia has also led 5 blog on-line Bible studies with author interaction from March 2008-June 2009 known as YES to GOD Tuesday’s with women all over the United States, Malaysia and even Australia.

Lelia contacted me and wanted to write a guest post today to go along with the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study, “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” because this study impacted her life in amazing ways.  Thank you Lelia for giving your time to share with us today! -Sue 

#Amazed--What Happens When We Say Yes

I got out of my car and walked into my house in tears. I was supposed to be on my way to meet my sister and mom for some shopping, but instead I was standing in front of my husband crying. Before I took off on my afternoon shopping trip, my phone alerted me of a private message on Facebook. A message that would become my proof that when we say yes to God with the good and the bad, He will use us in ways that will leave us bewildered, excited and in awe of just how great He is.

I read the message to my husband and he immediately began to praise God with me. Back in 2002, I found myself sitting in an abortion clinic. A Christian wife and mom of three, I knew what I was choosing to do was wrong, but selfishly I took the life of the baby that was not from my husband. After a long journey of forgiveness & healing from adultery and abortion, God asked me to trust Him with my story. In 2008, for the first time He asked me to share my story publicly and I said yes.

Over the last 5 years, I have had many opportunities to share of God’s redeeming love through writing and in the last year, through speaking engagements. However, this Facebook message from a complete stranger would not only unleash praise, it would encourage me to keep saying yes to the Chief Shepherd.

Hi Lelia,

You don’t know me, but I just wanted you to know that your post on abortion showed up on 
my friends ‘news feed on Facebook on Thursday. It is what kept going through the mind of my 
daughter who just found out she was pregnant, and because of a previous difficult pregnancy, 
felt she sort of had no choice, but to have an abortion. Once again, God has used you to save 
another baby. PRAISE HIM!

I’m humbled and in tears as I write this. His power is SO awesomely obvious. For your post 
to show up when it did…His timing is perfect. Twice, she sat in front of the abortion clinic 
(including this morning), and both times knew that she couldn’t go through with it. I just found 
this out a couple hours ago. I want to thank you for your story and am so sorry you went through 
your painful ordeal. His glory is being exposed in our weaknesses and our imperfections.

Today, my eyes are more opened to HIS grace and His love than they have been in a long time. 
This will be a risky pregnancy, but I know and so does my daughter, that He has it all in control. 
May God continue to bless you and use you for His glory. I just had to let you know how grateful 
am to God and to you for sharing your story on Facebook---it has saved a life in Houston, Texas. 

Ladies, when you say yes to God get ready to be taken to places that only He knows you need to be. I had no idea that a young woman was driving herself to an abortion clinic in Texas on the same day I posted that status on Facebook, but God did.

The love of Christ compels us to choose obedience.” ~Lysa TerKeurst

The more my Savior loves me and we grow in relationship, the more I want to say yes to Him. I could write all day about what has happened when I have chosen to say yes to God. Lysa sums up my experiences best when she said, “It’s true—God wants it all. And it’s in the exchange of what we want for what God wants that we experience the adventure and freedom and power of saying yes to God.”

Unfortunately, I have many more answers of no to God than I do of saying yes, but what I have learned is that when I trust Him, He will do things in my life and through my life that only He is capable of doing. Just like saving a baby in Houston, Texas. I didn’t do the saving, God did.

I just said yes when He prompted me to write a status about abortion on Facebook. That’s a big God. That’s a God that wants to use us for His glory.

“God is using all of your experiences, both good and bad, to develop your character to match your calling. After all, dear friend, you never know how God will use you until you let Him."

Let Him.

He’ll make your yes worth it.

-Lelia Chealey


Lelia lives in Nebraska and is a wife, mom of three and *very young* grandma of two little girls.
She enjoys girlfriend gatherings at coffee shops over a hot cup of cappuccino whenever she can
get away. She loves sharing God’s greatness through her life, writing and speaking. You can visit
her at her website at www.leliachealey.com


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Radical Obedience

What is radical obedience?

Is it selling all of our possessions and moving to Africa to be a missionary?

Is it adopting orphans from a foreign land inviting them into a loving home?

Is it going to church every Sunday and Wednesday?

Is it quitting our secular job to go work in the ministry full time or volunteer our time?

It might be any of the above or all of the above or...

It might mean forgiving a brother or sister in Christ who has offended you.

It might mean helping a neighbor by watching her kids after school even if you are tired from a busy day.

It might mean making a meal for a family going through a difficult situation.

It might mean going out of your way to talk to that person that everyone else avoids.

See, we often think of radical obedience as being this huge request God asks of us that requires sacrifice and significant dying of our wants and self.   

Everyday acts of obedience also require sacrifice and crucifying our flesh.  It is those everyday mundane decisions of obedience that make up a life surrendered to God.

Last week I wrote about God asking me to give Him my hurts and forgive some people who had deeply wounded me.  I did give it to Him at the time.  However,  I found that my thoughts kept going back and replaying the hurt over in my mind.  I knew God was asking me to surrender this to Him once and for all.

I know the dangers of offense.  I have been down that road before.  If not for the grace of God and His loving correction and insight, I would have ended up in a heaping pile of toxic unforgiveness and resentment.  I know offense poisons the soul and darkens the heart.  And I know I cannot walk with God and be offended.

If I want to walk with God I don't have the right to be offended.  How can I hold onto this hurt when Jesus has forgiven me of so much?

I needed to ask myself two questions,  "What will it cost me to obey God?"  and "What will is cost me to not obey God?"

When I asked myself those two questions, it became obvious that no matter what it takes, I needed to obey God.  

Lysa Terkeurst puts it this way in What Happens When Women Say Yes to God:

"We need not fear what our disobedience will cause to happen in our life.  We should only fear what our disobedience will cause us to miss."  pg. 45

Yes, obeying God will cost something.  It will cost us our will, our way, and our fleshly wants.

However, disobedience will cause us to miss out on God's best in our lives.  It will cost us to miss His blessings.  It will also rob us of our Kingdom rights as heirs in Christ--His gifts of joy and peace.

Radical obedience is always worth the cost.  The cost of not obeying is always more than what it will cost to obey.

Let's obey with radical obedience not just in the big life altering decisions, but also in the daily decisions.   For it is those daily decisions that make up a life surrendered to Him.   

Lord, help us to live a life of radical obedience.  Help us to hear your voice and choose to obey even when it doesn't make sense, even when it is hard.  When it is beyond ourselves, I pray we would lean on You to carry us through.  I pray that we would die to ourselves daily and live a life surrendered to You and Your will.  Oh Father, all of this is beyond ourselves.  We desperately need you to live this life of radical obedience and I pray we would by Your power in us.  We love you.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.   

  

 







Friday, August 9, 2013

Sacrifice of Praise


Today I had extra time during lunch and went to a nearby park.  My eyes scanned the perimeter to search out the best spot for some quiet time.  Immediately I was drawn to a fountain nestled by a circle of chair-sized rocks.  I spied a boulder perfect for perching as I enjoyed my solitude with the Lord.

As I mentioned earlier this week in Super Jesus Girl --Pull Yourself Together, last week was a tough week for me.  Some people I dearly love did some things that hurt my heart.  God has been so good and has helped me to let it go.

I read something the other day in "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God" by Lysa Terkeurst that helped me immensely.

"Someone told me to look at my loss as a sacrifice of praise to God...Give this to Him without feeling bitter."  

As I sat there today, I had already given my hurt and my loss to Him.  I began to talk to Him about it again. As I did, I realized He was there.  Now I know He is always there, always with us.  But, I began to talk to him as if he was sitting on the rock in front of me.  So often, we forget that He really is with us!

As I envisioned Him sitting there, I saw Him holding out His hands saying, "Give it to me.  Let me have it and I will give you something in return."  

A song I love began playing in my mind during this exchange.  It is "Restoration" by David Brymer. (I encourage you to click on it...it is amazing!)

In this song, he sings:

You take mourning and turn it into dancing
You take weeping and turn it into laughing
You take mourning and turn it into dancing
You take my sadness and turn it into joy


As He took my hurt, pain, and loss.   He handed me a box.  

It was Him taking my mourning and turning it into dancing.  

It was Him taking my tears and in turn giving me laughter. 

It was Him taking my sadness and in return giving me joy!  

He makes all things new!  Tears rolled down my cheeks in joy as I praised my Lord for all His goodness! He really has taken my weeping and turned it into laughing.  He has taken my sadness and turned it into joy! 

I want to encourage you today.  Has someone hurt you?  Are you in pain today or suffered a loss?  Give it to Him as a sacrifice of praise.  Do not hold onto it.  Don't be bitter or angry. Forgive.  Let it go.  

He is there before you with open hands today saying, 


"Give it to me.  This is not your burden to bear. It was never meant

 for you to carry.  This is not yours. Let me have it and I will give

 you something beautiful in return, a

 life full of dancing, laughter, and joy."  









Thursday, August 8, 2013

He Waits to be Wanted

 This week I started the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study with Melissa Taylor, "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God" by Lysa Terkeurst.   On page 14, Lysa talks about how we have become "so familiar with God yet so unaware."

This truth has become known to me over the course of the last few months.  I am beginning to see that though I knew and know God, there is so much more of God that I have never experienced.

My friend, Kay Smith, said it this way, "I just know we cannot know 100% of who He is and what all He does. I think if we were to know all that, our physical bodies would just melt or burst or something...the goodness and beauty would blow us away."  

No, we cannot know God completely.  We cannot fathom all of His wonders.  However, I can tell you this...I am a soul who longs for more.
 

I want to know God more.  I want to see more of Him.  I want to feel more of Him.  I want to hear Him more.  I want all He has for me and I want to pursue Him with all I have in me.  

And...

"He waits to be wanted."  A.W.Tozier

When was the last time you stopped at home, knelt down by your bed, put on worship music and just basked in His presence and love?  He waits to be worshipped.

When was the last time you woke up early eager to spend time with your Creator?  He waits to be with you.
 
When was the last time you opened up His Word with expectation to hear from Him? He waits in His Word.

When you are out and about in your day, do you keep your thoughts on Him?  Is He constantly on your mind like a new love?  He waits to be wanted. 

We live in a busy world.  If we don't make wanting God more a priority, it will not happen.

Sometime in the day, I want to encourage you to set aside a time to worship (maybe 3-5 minutes...if you have longer, great!), then read His Word and ask Him to speak to you.  Write down what He says to you in a journal. 

During the day, pray about everything.  "Pray without ceasing"  1 Thess 5:7  Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, pray for Him to guide you, give you wisdom.  Keep praise music playing and in your head, and keep your focus on Him. 

Start by doing something to know more of Him, even if it is something small.  One small step leads to another.  If you are a soul that longs for more, God will meet you where you are and guide you every step of the way.  He waits to be wanted.

Oh Lord, we want more of you.  We want to hear You.  Help us turn off the noise and tune into the soft gentle whisper of Your still small voice.  Reveal more of yourself to us, we long to know you more.     
Worship song "Beautiful" by Kari Jobe









Monday, August 5, 2013

Super Jesus Girl -- Pull Yourself Together!


Last week was a hard week for me.  Some hurtful things happened to me last week.   The emotional pain was so strong I physically hurt. I was distracted and found it difficult to focus on ministry.  I was like a wounded puppy licking her wounds, engulfed in self-pity and totally inward focused...

...That is until Saturday night.  I was on my bed talking to my husband (who has saved me thousands of dollars in therapy by the way!) about my pain.   I had been a mess all week, and he (in a sweet and loving way) decided the self-pity had to stop.  He wanted his confident wife back.  We need friends who will lovingly tell us when we have been moping long enough.  So, God used my husband and a Disney movie (once again) to speak to me. This time He used them to slap me out of self-pity.

Have you seen The Incredibles?  Great movie.  There is a scene in this movie, where the heroin (Elasti-girl) is having a pity party.  Now, she is Elasti-Girl!  She can stretch into any shape and she is married to Mr. Incredible, a super hero who lives up to his name.  Elasti-Girl is having a pity party because she is afraid Mr. Incredible has left her.  (That wasn't the case, he had just been captured by bad guys.)  Anyway, through sobs and snotty tissues, she asks a friend of hers what she should do.  Her friend emphatically replies while slapping her with a newspaper:

"WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!  WHAT DO YOU MEAN- 'WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?'  YOU ARE ELASTI-GIRL!!...PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER!...YOU WILL REMIND HIM OF WHO YOU ARE!"

God and my husband lovingly slapped me around (not literally).  He said in the same voice used in the movie, "What are you talking about?  What do you mean--what am I going to do?   You are Super Jesus Girl...PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER!"

He was right.  In that moment, everything changed.  I remembered who I was..I am Super Rockin Bloggin Jesus Girl!  I am Jesus' girl.  It doesn't matter what anyone does to me.  He is with me.  He is for me.  He is my shield.  He is my defender.  If anyone hurts me, they have to answer to Him, my Daddy.

Suddenly, He became my focus again and the pain was replaced with joy.  

The first part of self-pity is "self".  We aren't helping anyone else by focusing on our pain and ourselves. Elasti-girl couldn't do hero work and save her husband as long as she was just crying and feeling sorry for herself.  It was when she was reminded who she was that she was able to go out and save.

We are called to save.  We are called to be heroes to a lost and dying world.  We are called to encourage the broken and defend the innocent.  We are called to preach the gospel and reach out and minister to others.  It is hard to do hero work when we are inward focused.  To be who God called us to be, we have to be upward and outward focused.

We have a choice when we are hurt.  We can wallow in self-pity or we can remember who we are and remind ourselves we are HIS.

YOU ARE SUPER JESUS GIRL...PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER!!!  Now, go out and be the hero God has called you to be!    

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will  have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33

"And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.
1 Samuel 30:6 (emphasis added)




 
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