Thursday, July 25, 2013

a break from being a peace maker

This has been a rough week.  Rough in many ways but slowly, the Lord is chipping away at my pride.  You see, I want to be a great mom, I desire to be a great wife, I long to be a great friend and on top of all that, I want people to like me!!!!  This week there have been many tears as I have struggled to find joy in my parenting and in loving my husband rightly.  I have been self focused and fearful.  I want GREAT kids but the thought of what it takes to instill values and right behavior is exhausting.  I KNOW and believe that it is God alone who saves, so, I am able to rest easy there.  Truly, I am not even thinking about that right now, I mean, I do pray for Him to save and do so quickly, but I mean just the day to day.  It is SO 24/7.  And, to top it off, I am not even sure what I should be doing and not doing.  Yes, I have read the books and gone to the classes at church, but just like my kids, I forget. 

Today, I was blessed to be able to spend some time with a few friends.  One of my little cherubs began to disobey to the point that discipline was necessary and all the while, I was thinking that my new friend must be horrified at what she was seeing and my long time friend must be thanking her lucky stars that hers are all about grown! 

You know, I have a friend who is ahead of me in life.  But, there are times when she and I can get together and just talk about life and that refreshes me.  She has seen my ugliness and the ugliness of my kids.  My friend encouraged me today and offered me wise counsel.  I also heard my friend say some hard things.  Not cruel or harsh....but hard for me to hear because remember what I said, I want everyone to think my kids are great and that I am great!!!  :)  But, alas this friend knows me and knows I AM many things but great is not one of them.  Often when I spend time with her, I walk away refreshed and chewing on different things.  Today, I am tired.  I am emotionally drained and this was not even that trying of a day.  I need a break.  And, in Gods kindness, hubby and I are going to go on a date tonight.  We need this.  We need time away together. 

Thank you for friends...friends that love and press on.  Friends that know me and love me anyway.  Thank you that you chip away at pride and that you offer hope.  Lord let me put my faith solely in you for my parenting and all that I need for life and godliness. Thank you for date night.  Lord, please save my kids.  Please grant me wisdom as I learn to parent them and see them as YOURS on loan to me. 
In Jesus Name

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chapter 3 Suffering

Oh where to begin in this chapter......

The first thing that resonated with me was : Suffering tempts us to doubt the goodness of God....but, IF I am humble and seeking him daily and often times minute by minute, I am able to speak truth to myself and fight this temptation.  Now, I don't do it well often, but by Gods grace, I am growing.  

The question of suffering is a huge topic in many circles today...the author tells us that the bible is not silent on the topic of suffering, but, there is no simple answer as to why we suffer...

We are reminded that:
We are fallen people living in a fallen world
God uses suffering to lovingly discipline us
Suffering conforms us to Christ
Suffering grows our faith
Suffering deepens our relationship with God

And then we are introduced to different kinds of suffering:
Betrayal ( In this section, the author reminds us that "we dehumanize ourselves if we cut ourselves off from others even though it is risky to love"..) I had to think about this one for a bit because I have had times where I have felt it would be "better" or "easier" if I would just cut people off....maybe for a time, to take a break when there is great conflict, there is wisdom in that, but I guess totally cutting people off is really only self serving...
Complex pain:  another reminder to me in this section..David Powlison reminds us" Knowledge of a person's history may be important for many reasons(compassion, understanding, knowledge of characteristic temptations), but it never determines the heart's inclinations."  Just another reminder to me that I need to listen more and talk less....Thank I do not always have to be the one to correct, admonish or challenge a friend....I can just listen and love.
Those we love suffer

How Others Help Us
Two things we can not give ourselves:  encouragement and comfort....we need other people!  I need others in my life...even if it means conflict.
Shared Grief   (In sharing the suffering of another person, there is a time for loving silence) ugh!  I fail often
Biblical Hope
Wise Counsel (one of the most important things we can do while suffering is seek godly counsel....wise counsel helps us to glorify God....we can glorify God in suffering, by knowing Him, trusting Him and Obeying Him

Some Gentle Warnings
Sometimes people let us down....this seems like a duh! statement, but it is true....Lord let this NOT be true of me....I have been let down and I am sure I have let others down and when I think about it, it makes me sad....
Don't give toward not away!  This is such a good reminder to me...especially in marriage.  I often will run away emotionally and it really just causes more conflict....i need to remember to run to the Lord and toward the person I am in conflict with
Be Merciful
To enter into another's suffering is a precious gift

Suffering Well
Remember God is with you
Resist bitterness ....we suffer well when we DECIDE by faith not to be bitter toward those who have caused our suffering
Trust that God is Sovereign
Compare Correctly
Persevere:  The Grace to persevere to the end depends on our absolute commitment to continually feed on Jesus as our bread of life
Stay fixed on eternity

Some good thoughts in this chapter.....another reminder that we MUST know the one who knows us and made us.  It is not and can not be enough to say we belong to know WHO He is is what will ultimately allow us to suffer well....and to have a few close friends who will walk the journey with you and will give wise counsel and pray is a HUGE blessing.  I am blessed to have a few of those friends in my life.  And, I long to be that kind of friend.  This book is LONG and it is tough....but God is gracious and is gentle in revealing my sin bit by bit and little by little because HE KNOWS ME  and knows that I would not be able to survive if it all was shown to me at once!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chapters 1 and 2

Okay, I did not do this very well last post.  I was a little confused about part 1 of chapter 1 or section 1 or whatever it was....but, here I will share my thoughts on Chapter 1:  Thinking about God and Chapter 2 : Idolatry.

This chapter is really helpful to, help us shape our thinking about WHO God is, hence the title name.  God is Holy and Merciful.  We must somehow wrap our minds around the fact that God is holy (yet loves the most vile of sinners...which is you and me) AND God is merciful in that he does NOT give us what we deserve (which is hell).  The author goes on to tell us " Our sin requires punishment, but the mercy of God withholds it and even lavishes life upon us!"  THIS IS THE GOSPEL!!!! Jesus satisfies both the holiness and the mercy of God.  As women who desire to be peace makers, we must remember both the holiness and mercy of God.  The author tells of the danger that believers face in embracing this truth....."when tempted to sin, we may want to focus on "grace" and when tempted to self-condemn, we may want to focus on "law" and when we give in to these temptations, we lose our is the mercy and holiness of God together that produce "shalom".

God Adopts us
God delights in us
We are God's beloved area that resonated with me in this subsection was the lie that when we sin, we need a little time to earn our way "up" to God again.....that we need time to make up for what we have done in order to receive God's love again.  I KNOW this is a lie from the pit of Hell, but I confess that I struggle with this often; most often I see it in my prayer life.  When I am in the pit, often I find it hard to approach the Lord in prayer (which is the VERY life-giving thing that I need)!!!!!  
God loves us particularly
God loves us because we are this paragraph, something that stuck out to me was the author tells of a game she plays with her husband.....why do you love me?  She says that when she asks her husband, "why do you love me?, he always responds, "because you are mine".  This is Gods response too!  REST in this truth, Delight in it!  Find yourself wholly defined by it.  "This is Christianity 101. The Gospel in a nut shell.  We are the blessed recipients of eternal love.  God loves us more than the number of stars in the sky and grains of sand on the beach.

There are many other points the authors make in this section but basically, in order to grow into a woman of peace, I must understand the Gospel and preach it to myself daily!

Chapter 2:  Idolatry
pg 45 ...."our hearts are continually in movement either toward or away from God.  The objects of our worship are the things we value supremely and the things in which we find our greatest pleasure, joy and security.  We make minute by minute choices to worship either the one true God or false gods."  

Idols cause conflicts
" when idols rule us, we stumble in our christian walk and we attack or avoid other people.  We do WHATEVER it takes to defend and cherish what is precious to us." 

The Development of an Idol
Idols lead to death
Idols give no lasting help or security
Idols blind us .....We choose false gods, idols over God himself.  In so doing, we both avoid God and set ourselves up in opposition to him.  Instead of loving as we ought, we live to please ourselves and feed our idols and our lives bear the fruit of our false worship: dissatisfaction , lack of peace, and distorted vision.
-This section really made me think about a few particular times in my life where I have been so consumed with the idol of "something" that these things were true of me.  I have had and still have many idols.  One in particular was a very strong desire to see a ministry run a certain way....MY WAY!!!  Over the years, I have hurt feelings and made a huge stink all in the name of wanting it to be "better"....but, in the kindness of the Lord, He has been gracious to SLOWLY change me and my perspective on the situation and is even giving me a strong desire to participate in the ministry in whatever capacity HE desires me to and to be a blessing to those around me no matter "how" the ministry looks.....I have been blinded by the idol of ME! 
Idols cannot give us meaning or fulfillment 
Idols lead to death

This was a lengthy chapter on Idols...then we get to the HELP part

Turning Away from Idols
Idolatry is heart worship- devotion to anything in all of creation except God.

Identify your idols
Prayerfully wield the sword of the spirit
Get Help
Remember that God is Faithful

Turning toward the Lord
Don't just turn to another idol
Christ delivers us
Grace changes what we love ( I LOVE THIS ONE)!!!!
God hears us when we call to HIM (I LOVE THIS ONE TOO!!)

From Idolatry to Shalom
"We are functional idolaters as we seek satisfaction in things outside of the Lord and are guilty of wrong worship."  "To be peacemaking women, our hope is to rest in God's grace as we turn from false gods.  This is a lifelong battle.  It is our ongoing calling to turn away from idols and turn toward the Lord.  This is one of the foundational aspects of our sanctification and conformity to Christ.  We must never think, "if only I can have victory over this idol, then my life will be great.'  No!  As Christians, we fully realize that even as God's grace enables us to knock one idol over and banish it from the alter of our hearts, another idol is waiting to take its place."  We must be CONTINUALLY  turning away from idols and to the LORD!  

This last section was the kicker for me.  I say that a lot..."will I ever have victory over this sin?"  While I know that God gives us grace and we do see victories, it was so comforting to me to be reminded that it IS a life long very own good vs evil plot!  
Oh Lord Jesus, help me to remember that ANYTHING or ANYONE that I love more than you is an idol.  Help me Lord, to be always turning away from idols and running hard after you.  Mostly so you will be honored but also so that I can become a woman of peace, which DOES honor you.  I love you Lord and thank you for this book, the authors and for your son Jesus who ALONE is worthy and who ALONE gives victory, grace and peace.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Chapter 1/Part 1

Chapter 1: Part 1
Conflicts with God

At first glance, I was unsure of what this title would entail.  I really was not comfortable with this title.  I mean, who in their right mind would confess to having a conflict with God???!!!  Ahhh stay tuned, I learned a lot in this section.  First of all, again, we are hit with a precious gem of scripture....Heb 4:15-16.  It reminds us that we do not have a great high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in EVERY way.....and then we are told, that we can approach the throne of Grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Which, is a huge comfort to me seeing as I seem to be in a constant state of need!

Also, in this section,  the author reminds us that "a mere head knowledge of theology often fails to accomplish real change in our lives."  I remember a time not long ago, when I would explain something to a person and say "I feel like there is a road block from my head to my heart."  "I know what I should be doing, yet, I can't get myself there."  For me often, this is what I experience:  I KNOW what I know but, I have not claimed what I know to be working in my life to change me.  I am often guilty of possessing head knowledge but never letting it get to my heart to do its best work!  

David Powlison reminds us in this part, "People change when biblical truth becomes more loud and vivid than previous life experience."  Wow, that was a great reminder for me.  
On page 27, the author talks about our ultimate relationship (with God) and how conflicts often arise when we experience a disconnect between our confessional theology (what we profess to believe about God) and our practical theology (what we actually think and live).  Because relationships clearly demonstrate our practical theology, biblical truth must deeply penetrate our hearts if we are to experience relationships of shalom. 

Have I said that there is much to chew on?  Oh man, how I long to be changed.  How I desire to be known as a peacemaker.  But really the heart of this is:  my relationship with the peace GIVER!  Jesus Christ himself.  It is NOT enough that He knows me....I MUST know Him and in order to do that, I must choose Him and spend time with Him so that I can be changed.  Just like Powlison states, Biblical truth MUST become more loud and vivid to me in order to drown out previous life experience.  

I am praying that I will not only "survive" reading this book :)  But that I will grow and thrive as well!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Peacemaking Women

Oh how I wish I were a great finisher!  I love to start.  I love the start of a new school year, a new project, a new recipe....a new whatever, but often I don't finish well and I HATE that!  So, I am trying to finish several things well.  One thing I am trying to finish well is several books that I have started.  Earlier this year, I listed a bunch of books that I was going to read and review and I think I did two or three.  That was pretty good!  But, I have been missing something.....accountability! 

 I have this great group of friends.  We have been friends for years now and have really been through lots of things.  We have seen each other through, births and deaths, we have seen each other through surgery and job loss, adoption and graduation.  You name it, and we have probably prayed for one another about it.  We also USED to read books together, and I loved it.  I loved the different thoughts that we shared and the accountability that reading together brought. 

At the very beginning of Summer, after our group met, a friend and I discussed the possibility of reading a book together and we tossed it out to the rest of the group.  I am not sure who all wants to read it but I know that I do and at least one friend does as well.  So, I guess here is where I will post and process and she will do the same on her blog.  Not only do I NEED to read this book, I WANT to read it and really, this group of women is one group that I would love to read it with.

To be honest, when my friend and I talked about books, there were others that I thought of first.  One book that my friend kept talking about, sounded really good to me.  But, God knew, this is the book we both needed to read.  

Peace Making Women by Tara Klena Barthel and Judy Dabler
I am SLOWLY reading this book, chewing on every word!!!  So, I have read the intro and first chapter.  I will just talk about the intro in this post.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.  The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thess 3:16
First off, what a comfort to know that my Lord is the Lord of peace and able to give me peace at all times and in every way.....I WANT to be a woman at peace, of peace and able to impart peace to those around order to do that, I MUST know this Lord!!!

On page 14, the author says, "We know intellectually that Jesus is all we need, and yet we clamor for more.  We lust after the desires of our hearts....Though we may have great wisdom in many areas of life, we sometimes relate to others like unbelievers."  Okay, let me just close this book RIGHT NOW, I am done!!! 

The Hebrew word for peace, Shalom, is a rich word encompassing far more that the absence of conflict.  Where there is Shalom, life is good and sound.  Just let that soak in for a minute.....where there is Shalom, life is good and sound.  Who does not want a good and sound life??  I know I do!  The author goes on to say that Shalom is often described according to the threefold model of :
peace with God
peace with others
peace within

Why should we be peacemaking women?
Christ Compels us
pg 17.....She says, "We reflect the nature of God when we are slow to anger, quick to forgive, and filled with love and faithfulness."

God is the first and ultimate peacemaker

God enables us to be peacemaking women
"We become true peacemakers through repentance, faith, and rightful worship of God alone.  We are ambassadors of peace when we trust in God's grace, count others as better than ourselves, bear one another's burdens and forgive our offenders.  In short, we are peacemaking women  when we drink so deeply of the peace of God that it becomes a lasting part of us and the motivating factor in all we do and say."

Here is where I really got hit between the eyes:  on page 19, the author, Judy describes a time that her mother confronted her and said this, " Judy, when you leave a room, you leave behind bleeding and wounded people."
I thought, Oh dear Lord, how many times is this true of me?  Often I am sad to say.  So, as I am reading this book and chewing on it, this is ONE thing that I continue to reflect on.  What wounds am I leaving?  I am excited to press on, to dig out the biblical hope that is there.  I am going to have a love/hate relationship with this book but by the Grace of God, I will come out a more peaceable women when I am finished!