Saturday, November 1, 2008

No Other Gods-Week Seven

I'm sitting here on a BEAUTIFUL fall Saturday morning. I just had a cup of coffee and a fantastic apple cinnamon muffin (fresh from a local bakery from a friend). We've been outside for a short game of family soccer. The girls are coloring here at the table, well two of them anyway. The other has thrown all her crayons on the floor and is currently "hopping" on them. Life is good. It's easy to trust God this morning.

This past week was stage change week at the church. My husband didn't get home before 2:00 a.m. a single night and was even out until 4:30 a.m. one night. I haven't seen my husband for most of the week. The girls allergies are in full-swing. I was having some health problems of my own this week. We were exhausted. It wasn't so easy to trust God this week.

Isn't it amazing what a little perspective will do? One day trusting God is difficult because things aren't going my way. The next day, trust comes easy because things are going my way (except for the "crayon hopping"). Now, I'm definitely not saying that trust should be based on our circumstances. It shouldn't. Trust is something I've been wrestling with God over for the last seven years, so this week's study was tugging at me tremendously!
It's so cool to open my Bible study and read and study about Jonah, Paul, Abraham, Sarah, and others and see just how much my present-day life relates to their Bible-times lives. I've been angry like Jonah. I've been frustrated like Paul. I've been confused like Abraham. I've been unbelieving like Sarah. I've been obedient. I've been disobedient. I can look back at all the things in their lives and in my life and see without a shadow of a doubt the overwhelming power of God in my life. I can see His compassion, His grace, His unfailing love, His strength in my weakness, His power over all circumstances, His trustworthiness, His faithfulness, His protection; all in times of hardship and in times of tranquility.

I sure hope that this week in scripture gave you some new perspective too. I hope that you related to these stories as much as I did. I wish we could sit down with a cup of coffee and talk through the things we learned. I've so enjoyed sharing with you ladies and can't believe we are almost done. I've chosen lots of questions this week that might allow us to share some of our life experiences with each other. Remember, you don't have to answer them all!

Alright, grab a cup of coffee or tea or whatever you like and let's have ourselves a little "chat" over our questions. Love you ladies!

1. Can you think of a time when God asked you to turn from something but wasn't specific as to what He wanted you to move toward? (Page 148)

2. What was your definition of legalism on page 150? How did you tie Matthew 23:25-26 into your definition?

3. Can you think of a time in your life when God used something that was intended for harm to bring about good? (Page 154)

4. Do you agree that surrender is about the will and trust is about the heart? Why or why not?
About our get-together, I think we were all in unison to bring our favorite brunch food and that we should include the pumpkin muffins. Anyone ready to try the pumpkin muffins? I can't wait to see you all Saturday! I'll be emailing you directions and specifics. Have a good last week in this study!


Hope said...

1. Can I think of a time when God asked me to turn from something but wasn't specific as to what He wanted me to move toward? Oh my YES! Just this past year. God said to me and my husband, "Hey quit your job. Your ONLY way of providing for your family. Sell your house. Sell everything you own. Move in with your in-laws. Give up having health insurance. Give up your privacy. Give up your sense of independence. Do it now. You don't know where I'm taking you, but I promise you'll want to be there!" We did. It took 18 months. He showed us where to go. We're here. We LOVE it here! He was right! Thus, the reason I really want to meet Abraham and Sarah in heaven some day. I feel a sense of connection to them. :)

2. Okay, I can spell just about any word you give me, but I've never been much of a word-definer. Please don't laugh. Webster's won't be calling me for a job any time soon. Here's my definition. Legalism: "Following rules so strictly that following the rules becomes more important than the rules themselves."

The passage was about hypocrisy with appearance being the only things stressed. I think my definition relates in that when following the rules becomes the focus instead of why you have the rules, it becomes a matter of impressing people with your ability to follow the rules instead of having the right heart-attitude and wanting to following the rules. Enough of that clear-as-mud definition. Onto the next question.

3. Can I think of a time when God used something that was intended for harm to bring about good? Absolutely! You've all heard it already. The birth and death of Jael our firstborn. The most difficult thing I have ever faced and yet the best thing that has ever "happened" to me!

4. Do you agree that surrender is about the will and trust is about the heart? My oh my. Trust and obey. There was a time in my life where I trusted God and obeyed out of a love for Him. Then, Jael died. I didn't "feel" like I trusted Him. (Long story). I spent YEARS obeying Him because I knew I had to, not because I wanted to. It was obeying without trusting. It was a daily choice to obey regardless of how I felt. I think there are times in our lives when we have to obey because He asks us to, not because we want to. (This is why I related to Jonah!) After Jael's death, I became SO ANGRY with God! If I had disobeyed at that point in my life, I can't even imagine the downward spiral and separation from God that would have occurred. I am so grateful that I chose to obey even when I didn't trust. Through lots of prayer, Bible study, and time for God to work in me, I am still rebuilding that trust. I'm obeying more and more every day out of a love for Him and desire to obey Him. Trust is something that comes with intimacy. The more intimate I am with Christ, the more I can trust Him. I'm learning this from experience. So, surrender can be about the will and trust can be about the heart, but we have to choose them both! My heart can say surrender, but my will can say no. However, I haven't personally been able to will myself to trust until I've got intimacy in my heart. Make sense? That's just my personal experience. How about you?

Nancy said...

#1-From previous posts, it's probably pretty evident that I have been feeling that nudge to turn from my current role of working Mom and I'm guessing that it's for the purpose of staying at home, but there are also times when I wonder if the specifics about my discontentment with my current state of life is simply because He hasn't yet revealed to me what I am to move toward. I like for things to be black and white. I am most comfortable living in my "square space" where life is predictable. I'm very grateful for the many Biblical examples of women who were feeling a little bit uncertain, mixed-up, and insecure.

#2- Legalism is allowing rules to dominate every aspect of your being, thus preventing you from being able to just be the being you were created to be. Ok...yes, that was a bit of play with words. But, I agree with Hope's definition and will share that I have battled a spirit of legalism in my life for much of my Christian walk. Mostly, I think that it stems from being insecure in my belief that grace really does cover every part of my life. I had a relationship with another Christian women at our previous church that I used as a point of reference in my attempt to become like the Proverbs 31 woman. The trouble was that the more I tried to be a "good girl" and follow the rules that I perceived to be necessary for being like my female counterpart, the more I became oppressed and eventually, depressed. It wasn't until a devastating experience surrounding our relationship that I realized that I was falling into the pit of legalism. I struggle with this still today, with my actions as a Christian parent, wife, and friend. I also fight this temptation with worrying about raising my children to have a clear set of rules to abide by, but not stifling their genuine desire to be passionate about life.

#3- This question brings to mind my own suffering with anxiety and depression that began in my teen years and has reared its ugly head at times ever since. I tried for many years to hide it, to ignore it, to put on a false mask to cover it, and all attempts were eventually unsuccessful. There was a season when it felt like I had been defeated, but God empowered me to keep fighting the good fight. I'm still fighting it and pray that I don't ever lose sight of Christ being at the forefront of my battleground. What I have found is that ever since I opened up about my personal struggles, God has used me to minister to other women who share the very same battles. In fact, just this morning, I ran into a friend who was feeling like a wreck in her roles of wife and Mommy. I pray that I was able to give her the right words of encouragement and hope that I was able to allow her some freedom to share her innermost struggles. More that anything, I hope that others see me as being transparent and approachable.

#4- Yes, oh yes! I can trust with my heart, but continue to work on surrendering my will to God. I still fight those urges to earn affection through "doing" or "being" something, instead of just surrendering and trusting. I'm sure that I could easily end this battle by just waving a giant white flag in surrender. And, there are many times where I feel like I've done that, but for some crazy reason, I keep retreating back to my old ways of defiance and lack of trust.

I'm looking forward to our get-together and will plan to make some sort of sweet treat. Please let me know if I can help in any other way! Thanks!

Nancy said...

Just wanted to say that I will bring pumpkin muffins for the brunch gathering. I found a recipe for some cute pumpkin muffin/ cupcakes and think that we need to have them as a part of our celebration. See ya Saturday!

dianna said...

Nancy, those cute pumpkin muffins sound scrumptious! I will be making scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, juice, milk & coffee. Some fruit & anything else that might pop into my head at the last minute!

Let's see, as far as the discussion questions go....I loved what you ladies had to share.

I'm trying to think back over my life with the Lord...I guess the one thing for question #1 & #3 was when my divorce/bankruptcy happened in 1995. He was leading me towards a new & better life, but it didn't seem so at the time -it seemed like the heartache & mess would go on forever. I just knew that He was with me & He was leading me thru it, untangling the mess & getting me out of it AND making my faith & trust in Him & my love for Him stronger & stronger.

Thru this situation God turned me from relying on anything but Him. And that meant living totally on cash. No credit cards. Just cash, (my salary & child support) & the wisdom He gave me to handle my finances wisely. And my brother who loaned me enough money to buy an old car. God brought so much good out of all of this over the years, that I am still thanking Him! And I wish I had time to share it all! When I think about it all these years later, the specific thing He was moving me towards was (& continues to be) a deep & intimate relationship with Him!

Another time was in dealing with an in-law situation that started in 2002. (I almost think it would have been easier to understand if these people didn't claim to be Christians!) This has been an on-going situation that has gotten easier over time as I continue to be obedient to God's word & to understanding different personality types. I keep reminding myself to do the right thing & to show love no matter what I feel & to let God use me for His purpose...because God is doing something wonderful that I can't see the whole picture of yet!

#4 Yea, I would agree that surrender is about the will & trust is about the heart. I guess I have learned along the way that being obedient doesn't always feel good BUT knowing & trusting that God has promises that go along with being obedient makes me know that there will be good & joy that comes out of it. And then seeing the power & faithfulness of God move in that situation. The icky feelings I take to God & the obedience I do because I love Him. He says if I love Him I will obey Him. And I am like a little child before the Lord always, wanting to be like my Daddy. Plus I keep remembering the scripture that says He desires our obedience more than sacrifices...

Question #2 My definition of legalism was... man-made rules to give the appearance of outward holiness while the heart is not right. Which is like the dish that's clean on the outside but dirty on the inside.

Okay, I'm ready for those pumpkin muffins & a girly get-together!

Kari, Hope, Nancy & whomever else can make it, see you on Saturday! There will be lots of food!

Carrie said...

Where are you??? I miss youuuuu!