Category Archives: Come Closer Fall 2017

Celebrate Good Times – COME ON! (Lessons from “Elf” ;) )

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One week.  GIRLS!!!!  One week til Christmas!  One week!  To quote Buddy the Elf, “SANTA – OMG – I KNOW HIM!!!!”

I’m super giggly about that because Elf is such a silly, silly movie!  The one liners, the Christmas kitsch, the feel good singing at the end.  Oh my goodness, it gets you in the mood, girls!  I love it!

But do you know what I love the best (besides smiling, of course… 😉 )?

Wendie as buddy the elf

I love how Buddy the Elf can celebrate just about anything.  From the world’s “best” cup of coffee, to ABC gum (Already Been Chewed …in case you didn’t already know that acronym…you’re welcome).  Buddy has the gift of worship.

As we wrap up our Come Closer series of studying 12 spiritual disciplines, I love that we are ending on WORSHIP!!!  Worship is like watching a football game and when your team scores a touchdown; your body cannot help but throw your arms in the air!  It’s spontaneous clapping at the end of a symphony performance.  It’s the tears of awe streaming down your face when you are welcoming a new baby (or even puppy, as the case may be…) into your world. (I’m such a sucker for the puppies – it isn’t even a joke.  I LOVE them!)

Big Boy Pic from Taylir

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA! Love my Fry Guy!

Worship is essentially our response –authentically and organically – to the goodness of God in the moment in which we experience it. How do we react at a gorgeous sunset?  The birth of a baby?  Even the surprise of answered prayer, the awareness of provision we hadn’t noticed before or expected.  It’s WORSHIP!!!

Worship 3

Worship is our soul acknowledging His presence. It’s us reacting to His action and influence around us.

Worship 1

And it’s often one of the hardest disciplines, too, because when your team is down and the game ends and you’re on the losing end, how can you seriously and honestly praise anyone?

I’ve been there, in my own way. If  you are there right now, email me. I’ll pray for you, with you, and into you. Stick with us into the new year, because I promise we will be talking about concrete ways to build God into what you are experiencing.

But today, I’m asking that we all just take a minute or two considering worship as a form of celebration.

worship 5

You guys know I love to put myself in Bible stories, especially ones where Jesus is the leading character. Which is pretty much every story  in the gospels, so yeah.  I have this tendency to play this  supporting, behind the scenes kind of  role in all my versions of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John right next to the main characters.

worship 6

But here’s pretty much one of my faves. It’s Jesus’s very first miracle. It’s the very first story about Jesus as, like, a big boy.  His ministry is just about to launch and somehow, someway, he and his mom and some other people have been invited to this wedding in the town of Cana.  And about half way through the party, they run out of wine.  OUT OF WINE.  AT A WEDDING.  WHAT?!  Poor planners or something.  But yet…

worship 7

But yet. In the midst of the party and the food and the celebration, Mary, our Mother Mary, this brave momma of the Son of God, goes over to Jesus (because, you know it’s a wedding and they’re not at the same table because it just isn’t the way it’s done…), and, in my version, she has  her hands on her hips and she has just a touch of an attitude, and she basically says, “Um. You need to do something about this.   I know you’re trying to humble and behind the scenes and stuff like that right now.  But these people are our friends, our people.  And they are out of wine.  AT A WEDDING. And that isn’t cool.  So.  Can you help us out?”

At first, like any young adult, he gives her an eye roll. Right? “Woman, what business is this of mine?”  (He actually says that. TO HIS MOMMA.  Look it up if you don’t believe me.) But then, like all mature-ish moms, she flippantly turns around, ups His eye roll, and confidently says to the servers, “Yeah.  He’s got this.  Do what he tells you to do and then fill ’em up.”

worship 4

I think they went home that night and had the giggles and stayed up high fiving and hugging. They knew some pretty intense and awful stuff was coming. But that night? I think they celebrated. His very first public miracle was for the FUN of it.  Celebration, girls.  It’s a big, darn big, deal.  And I LOVE it.  Like SUPER LOVE IT!!!!!!!

Worship 2

Girls. We gotta celebrate when the opportunities present themselves.  And here’s the even cooler thing:  He’s present in all of it if we just take the time to look for Him.  And THAT is what we’ve been discovering all semester.  All these disciplines lead to this:  our seeking and acknowledging of Him and His miracles – big and small  – in our lives.  We may not have always gotten them right or practiced them at all.  But you know what?  He saw us.  He sees us.  And He knows our heart.  He knows we love Him, that we’re seeking Him, and that we honestly just want to come closer.  And He’s celebrating with us today as we come closer to celebrating HIM at Christmas!

SO.  I’m CRAZY glad you joined us on this journey.  I am proud of you for reading and trying and questioning and trying again when things were new, uncomfortable, and even hard. And I cannot wait to tell you what’s coming in the New Year.  But that’s a post for January, sweet friends.  (Insert silly grin, giggles, hand clapping, and summersaults – because cartwheels are just too hard for this body…!)

In the meantime, here’s a little glimpse into where we are headed, which is even deeper into the disciplines we’ve been talking about this semester.  You aren’t going to want to miss this, girls.  It’s better than good…it’s GREAT!

She Persisted grace Logo Enlongated

I wish you and yours a very Merry and WONDERFUL Christmas and holiday break.  We’ll be back here the first week of January to let you know what we are up to in 2018. 😉

Thank you, as always, for your trust, prayers, support, and love.  I send all of that AND MORE back you way.

Peace, love, joy, and GRATITUDE!

Wendie

PS – Check out what I got from some gals for Christmas… aren’t they the most clever sisters ever?!

Typewriter from Camille and Amy

 

 

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Filling in the empty spaces (how to serve well)

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I like to think that I can relate just about any lesson worth learning to fountain Diet Coke.  I’ve been drinking it since I was 15 and hardly ever drink it unless it is SPECIFICALLY from McDonald’s (no lectures on how bad it is for me – you’re going to ruin the lesson here… 😉 ).  There’s something just so perfect about their magical mixture of ice and the bubbly goodness!  Basically, it’s a glass filled to the brim with the best ice ever, and then all the empty spaces in between the ice are filled up with super carbonated soda!

diet coke

That’s something special right there, I’ll tell you!

I just love that image and how it relates to the spiritual discipline of service and the outpouring of lovingkindness into this world. Basically, it’s like this:  We see a “glass” that has empty spaces, and we use what we have fill it up.

This past Sunday, the Gospel reading at Church was Matthew 25:31-46.  Go ahead and click that link and read it for yourself!  Pretty powerful instruction on how we are to SERVE here on Earth, don’t you think?

Jesus is basically saying, when He returns to take us home, we will be called to account for how well we LOVED this side of Heaven – how well we poured out of ourselves and into the lives of those around us in need.  Right there in the middle of the passage, He lists for us the myriad of needs that exist in this world:  hunger and thirst (physical and spiritual),  loneliness and isolation, captivity, needs of all kinds, sickness.  And He makes it pretty clear that we have the power and obligation to serve anyone whose needs sound anything like those named on that list.

Girls, we are called to be traveling, mobile embassies for Christ; we maintain an open door policy to invite His people in – regardless of who they are and what their circumstances – and to pour out His love into and onto everyone He chooses to put in our path.

We fill in all the empty spaces with love. And in turn, He refills us so we can keep the good stuff flowing. That’s the miracle of service!

Here’s the thing I’ve come to know-that I know-that I know about the practice and discipline of service. First of all, it’s closely tied to the concept of calling.  I believe our calling is our chance to marry up our birthright gifts (these are the gifts God gave you when He thought you up!) with our passion.  When we can do that, that’s our “calling”.  For example, I was blessed with the gift of teaching.  I also happen to have a passion for Jesus.  So I soar in my calling when I teach others about Christ!  YAY! 🙂

So, calling =  gifts married up with passion.  And when we operate in that zone, the outpouring of our calling is renewed though God continuing to fill us up so we can keep it going on.  You know what I mean, right?  When we operating in this supernaturally, “spirit led zone”, we do not get depleted.  We get things done.  We excel.  We soar.

Similarly, service (as a discipline) also taps into our birthright gifts and talents. But instead of leaning into our passion, we soar in service when we marry up our gifts with what breaks our hearts.  And that list we just talked about up there in Matthew 25?  That’s chockful of things that break our hearts.  Jesus is just asking us to pick one and serve by filling in the empty spaces of someone’s heartbreaking situation.    That’s a miracle, girls.  And once again, the flip side reward of that miracle is the refilling of ourselves so we can keep pouring out.

And here’s a really cool thing, too. Our calling and our call to service often change throughout our seasons of life and circumstances.  And you know what?  I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be that way.

esther 4-14

 

Marry up your gifts and talents with what inspires you right now-that’s calling.

Marry up your gifts and talents for what currently breaks your heart-that’s service. And your biggest impact will be where your heart opens the widest.

Take some time and talk with God about your gifts, your passions, and what breaks your heart.  See if He doesn’t give you a little insight on how you can weave those things together to make a difference not only in someone else’s life, but YOURS too.

Following along with our Come Closer series?  Would you believe we only have ONE MORE WEEK to go?!  Spend this next week finishing up your Enjoying Jesus book and get ready for a final lesson next week on WORSHIP!  YIPEE!!!  And stay tuned – we’ll announce what’s coming NEXT soon!!! 😉

Enjoy the weekend, sister friends!

Peace, love and JOY!

Wendie

 

You do you. I’ll do me.

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If there is ONE thing I can say about practicing spiritual disciplines it’s this:  it’s personal.

Even though we’re all reading the same study (Enjoying Jesus) and following along with the same series here (Come Closer), we are all getting something different out of it.

That’s the beauty of such a wonderfully creative God.  We are each unique.  We each respond to the vast aspects of His holy character and His call on our lives differently.

And while I know study and meditation may not necessary sound amazingly exciting on the surface, these two disciplines we are covering this week  are my jam.  They are my entire heart toward God wrapped up in one luscious package.  They are the love language in which God speaks to my heart and the voice with which I hear Him most clearly. There is NOTHING I love more than some good, solid alone time with my Bible, a pen, my journal, and GOD.  As a matter of fact, I even told all the sister friends this week that if Tim were ever to ask them what the perfect gift would be for me, they now know they are supposed to say:  “A weekend away at a shwanky hotel tucked away with cozy pah-jeejees (aka pajamas), Prosecco, Perrier, and a Bible.”  Well, and maybe this handsome devil, as long as someone was willing to walk him for me.

Big Boy Pic from Taylir

I’m a simpleton at heart, aren’t I?  😉

The point is, I LOVE these two disciplines and if you aren’t sure about them yet, I’m hoping to convert you today!

We read and study scripture to get to know the sound of God’s voice and heart. We get to know the things that matter to Him, to His heart, and we also get to know the things He doesn’t like.  It’s not so much knowledge for the sake of knowledge (although there really isn’t anything wrong with that unless we use that knowledge in order to be a know-it-all or to somehow distort the teaching of it).  But it’s more about getting to know what’s important to God because that information beings us closer to Him.

Think about it.  In your best relationships, you know what is important to the other person, right?  So it makes sense that we should know what’s important to God!  He reveals His character to us through His Word – His Living Word.

In other words, “study”, in and of itself, answers the questions of what does God say, what does God like, what does God want us to do.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.   Deuteronomy 11:18-19, NIV

Meditation, which of course goes hand-in-hand with study, answers the question of what does God want this information to mean personally for me? So while study could stand alone without meditation, meditation would be difficult to be independent of study because it’s hard to think about something you don’t know about!

So in order to get the most out of scripture, we should be doing both.

One of the videos for this week’s chapter has Julie talking about how meditation allows her time to dwell with a specific portion of scripture. I love that, especially if we put that in context with how we defined “dwell” a few weeks ago as in “pitching a tent with”.  So when we meditate, we are sitting down and hanging out with God and His word for a little while and letting Him speak to the importance of that piece of wisdom to us.

There are tons of different formulas to studying a piece of scripture. But the first thing we should do before we even begin the study piece of this is to come quietly before God and ask that He guides our study.  We ask that He would be with us and help us to get a little bit of wisdom out of what we are reading.  We surrender our own agenda or preconceived ideas that might be lurking in our hearts and minds, and just ask the Holy Spirit to guide our reading.

And then, I think it comes down to personal choice in how you decide to study. I found this graphic on Pinterest this weekend and think it’s just brilliant.

what to do with your Bible

I already put one in each of my Bibles, I love it so much!  Basically, study is a way for us to answer the question for ourselves:  “What does this say and how can I make this as easy as possible for me to understand.  You all should know yourself well enough at this point to know how you learn best.  Maybe you’re a memorizer or maybe you are a list maker.  Maybe you are artsy or a journal-er.  Whatever your preferred method of learning something, do that.  And don’t rush through it.  It’s not a race, it’s an exercise, a practice, a discipline.

As you first start out, you might find it difficult to decide what passage to study. You can always think about your favorite Bible stories or verses and start there.  Maybe there is something particular on your mind and heart that day and so you can use your Bible index or Concordance to look up a few verses that speak to that topic until you find one that seems to really resonate.

You can use a devotional or the gospel of the day or anything like that to get you started.  You can use any of the verses we’ve looked up so far in this study.  The key is to pick something digestible in one sitting.  In other words, a few verses or a short chapter – not an entire book.  Read it and play around with it for a bit. You will know God nudging  you to it if it piques your interest, makes you want to ask a question about it, or if you want to sort of insert yourself into the story.  Stay with the study piece until you get it.  Take it with you throughout your day, your week, etc.  Maybe read it a couple times a day.  Share the facts of the story with someone else (even if it’s me – I’m always up for some good Bible stories!).

Once you are able to close your Bible and sort of factually retell the “story” or verses you’ve been studying, you’re ready to move on to meditation!

Meditation basically answers the questions of “What does God want me to know about Him through these words and what is He calling me to do about it?”

Now. Just like study, there are a bazillion ways you can go about this.  You should’ve tried out one method in our book on day 2 with Psalm 1, which I hope was a good experience for you.  Maybe it feels weird at first, but it is insightful, right?

And AGAIN, the first thing to do is always invite the Holy Spirit to guide you through the process!  Otherwise, it’s just you deciding what YOU think about it, not what God wants to reveal to you!

I personally have used a method called Lectio Divina (which is Latin for Divine Reading), which is a contemplative sort of prayer meditation that originates from the Benedictines I think dating back to the 6th century.  And sort of like the Ignatian Daily Examen, it can be morphed a bit to suit your needs.  Here’s a graphic that explain it more clearly than I probably can in words!  If you want more info on this, just Google it!

Lectio Divina

The most important piece of this dynamic duo of study + meditation is this:  quiet your mind and ask God to guide you.  He never turns down an authentic, intimate invitation like that, girls.  And be patient with yourselves.  We are a society of BUSY BUSY BUSY.  And these disciples we are learning about and trying are all about QUALITY TIME spent in pursuit of drawing closer to God.  It’s counterintuitive to our nature.  But the payoff is well worth the time and effort!

Following along with our Come Closer study?!  Make sure you’re up to date with all the reading so far (you should be finished reading through Week 3 in the Enjoying Jesus Book).  This week, I encourage everyone to find two or three verses and attempt to study AND meditate on them!  We will be back here on the blog in two weeks (we are using next week to have extra study and meditation time!).  Get ready for the next two disciplines  (one of which is my LEAST fave…fasting 😉 ).

Here’s a great link to our fifth song by The Afters.  I LOVE it!

May God’s peace, love, and JOY infuse you FULLY this week!

So much love,

Wendie

 

Thy Will Be Done (for reals.)

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Oh my GIRLS!  There is so so so much that we still need to discuss and digest about prayer.  Like, how and why Daniel was so good at it and how he did it.  Like, what is the secret power (if any…) to the prosperity prayer of Jabez.  Why did Job keep the faith in the face of unanswered prayer after unanswered prayer?  What was Jonah thinking when God wouldn’t let up on His will for Nineveh and Jonah’s part in it?! And..and…and…!

BUT… it occurs to me that the title of our study book is Enjoying Jesus.  Not Enjoying Daniel, or Jabez, or Jonah, or Job.  It’s Enjoying JESUS.  So why don’t we spend our time today looking at Him?

Revive Matt 1128-30

I love it! LOVE it!  So much richness in three little verses.  But right now, there is one key phrase I want you to focus on:

Watch. How. I. Do. It.

It’s little but it’s mighty.  In other words, Jesus is simply saying, “WATCH ME”.

In everything He came here to do, in all His holiness and goodness, He acted as the ultimate role model didn’t He? And from today forward in this study, we will be looking at how Jesus, Himself, practiced each of these disciplines.

First of all, through the gospels, Jesus is in constant contact with the Father. Communicating = Prayer.  Prayer was not only important to Jesus, but something He treated as a priority.

Second, when the disciples asked Him how to pray, it’s one of those rare times that He doesn’t answer them with a story or a parable.  He just straight up answers them with solid teaching on HOW TO PRAY.

I’m going to park myself right here for a bit while you look up these two nuggets: Luke 11:1-4;  and Matthew 6:7-13.

(Those might sound just a wee bit familiar to you if you’ve spent even a millisecond in a church at any point in your life 🙂 !)

If we look at those two passages, we see exactly how Jesus would like us to pray, and it basically encompasses a lot of the “types” of prayers we talked about last week and wrote for homework!

Sister friends, it’s pretty simple: we acknowledge God; submit our will to His (okay, this one is WAY easier said than done…); ask Him to meet our needs, ask for forgiveness when we don’t get it right (and for Him to teach us how to let others off the hook when they screw up – because, guess what?  They are human too).  We pray that He would protect us and the people we love and keep us from harm.  And we end by praising Him for His awesomeness!

That’s how we pray.

Our friend, Margaret Feinberg, says this about prayer:

“Speaking + Listening + Waiting = Prayer”

(She’s pretty smart, isn’t she?!)

Oh but  that waiting part; that’s hard. At least it is for me, because I can fall into the pit of a pity party if I’m not careful.  “God didn’t hear me.  I must not have prayed hard enough or had enough people praying with me or He’s mad at me or just doesn’t care enough to answer me.”

It’s all fine and good when things worked out as we would have them, right? But what about when we think He hasn’t answered us, or even worse, when it seems as if He says “NO WAY, JOSE!”?

Well, let’s just open back up to Matthew chapter 6 for a sec. I’m going to re-read just the second half of verse 10 for you here:

“May your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”

Your will. Meaning God’s will.

In other words, “Help me to step out of the way and let You do Your thing; regardless of how You work it out. Your will, Lord.  Not the millions of options I’ve set at your feet waiting for You, God, to pick one of them. Your option. Your will be done. Not mine.”

Surrender. 

(You might want to cue the “Mic Drop” here because this is where it gets super for reals.)

Jesus uses this phrase again – “Your will be done” much later in Matthew in the garden of Gethsemane : “He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine’.” (Matt 26:39)

He says it again just three verses later: “Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, ‘My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, Your will be done’.” (Matt 26:42)

Let’s be clear here. Jesus is God.  He knew what was going to happen so He knew the suffering was coming.  Yet twice He prayed, “Your will be done”.  I don’t claim to know what Jesus was thinking in these moments.  But I’m asking you to just think on it for sec.  I don’t know if I’m right here or not, but I don’t think Jesus prayed those words for His benefit, or even for the benefit of the sleeping disciples; I think He said the words for ours.  Maybe a part of the reason He said those very words is so we could “WATCH HOW HE DOES IT” even in the face of death.

Thy will be done.

Now. I know firsthand how confusing this piece of prayer life with God can seem because that level of utter surrender could put us at 180 degrees at odds with our desire to believe we have a good, good Father.  AND a Savior in Jesus who will rescue us and all those we love from pain and suffering.  And yet we continue to experience things that are difficult, full of pain, and could even be perceived as cruel.

But then, this:

Jer 29 11

This, sweet friends, is the very essence of faith. Can we, when everything is stacked against us and we know that we know that we know we have a God that could swoop down and save us in a millisecond, yet He does not (at least in that moment), can we still claim that He is for us and not against us, and has good and prosperous plans in mind for us here on Earth?

Thy will be done.

“For we know that in all things God works together with those who love Him and have been called to His purpose to bring about what is good.” Romans 8:28

I love that verse because it serves as a comforting reminder that regardless of what it looks like in terms of our current circumstances, He’s “on it” because we love Him and we’ve been called to walk with Him. He’s working the good already into it even when we don’t feel it.

But you wanna know something REAL? Sometimes even Romans 8:28 doesn’t alter the feelings and emotions that accompany the disappointment that something we so madly have prayed for isn’t going to come our way now – or maybe ever – in the earthly realm.  But I hope it gives you the faith and the strength to keep praying because where you are at any given moment (and the circumstances surrounding it) are purposeful to God, even if excruciatingly painful.   He reveals Himself to us in the waiting, pulls us closer, answering our heart’s biggest desire, which is to be walking in alignment with Him and His will.

So this week, I encourage you to keep up with the prayers we started last week! And let’s add another line to the prayer we are building together this series:

“Lord, help me hear You today.

Thank you for loving me.

I know you have good plans for me; Thy. Will. Be. Done.”

Whew.  Thank you, God, that it’s Your  will and not mine.  For reals.

If you are following our Come Closer study online with us, please read the last three days of Chapter 2 in Enjoying Jesus.  We’ll be back here next week talking about CONFESSION!  I know, you’re already jumping up and down in excitement 😉 !

Check out this week’s song, “Loving My Jesus” by Casting Crowns!

Praying that God’s peace, love, and JOY infuse you FULLY this week, sister friends!  A JESUS BATH BOMB, SISTERS!!!!  😉

Xoxoxoxoxo,

W

Barely Breathing (the Power of Prayer)

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Psalm 116-2

Do you pray? I ask because it’s as important as anything else we do in our relationship with God.

Prayer, as a practice, is inherently built into all of the remaining disciplines (practices!) in our study book, Enjoying Jesus.  The practice of prayer is literally woven into everything we do when it comes to our spiritual life because basically, at the core of it, prayer is any form of communication with God.  That’s the basic definition of it:  prayer  = talking with God about what we are doing, feeling, experiencing, hoping for, not hoping for, etc.

The end.

Just kidding. I have a bit more to say on the subject… 😉

First, let’s agree that prayer is different than “wishing” because prayer is more than just asking for something. If all we are doing with our prayer life is asking for things, then we are simply creating a wish list and treating God like Santa Claus.  Don’t get me wrong.  He wants us to share our desires and our needs with Him; of course He does!  And those prayers of petition (a.k.a. asking for the things we need) are a vital and healthy part of prayer. But they are just one of many different kinds of prayer in which we can engage.

Here’s what prayer really is, sister friends. This is what author John Orberg says and I LOVE IT:  “Among all the other work prayer does, prayer is most importantly the knitting together of the human heart with the heart of God.”

Our hearts woven together with His. SWOON!!!!

We, as Christians, have a real-life relationship with a real-life God. There’s really no other way to say it.  So let me say it again, girls:  We are in a relationship with God.  Even more than that, and I know it sounds weird and maybe a little awkward to say this, but we are in a love relationship with Him.  I’m not talking romantic love.  But I am talking this crazy kind of love that doesn’t exist anywhere else.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10

That’s some pretty big love right there. And this love of His is all encompassing because we can’t get away from it!

Runaway bunny

(Ahem…The Runaway Bunny, anyone??!! I cry even looking at the cover of that one!)

SO MUCH LOVE!!!

“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.  My Father will love them and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:23, NIV

That phrase there: “make our home”?  That’s translated from a Greek phrase that means to “pitch a tent”.  So, in Jesus’ own words, through our obedience, through our hearing of His words, He chooses to make space in each of our individual “worlds” and pop a squat.

And He’s not going anywhere. Regardless of how our world is spinning, how messy it gets, and even if we choose to ignore the tepee He pitched in the middle of it all.  He’s saying, “I’m not going anywhere, girl. So come closer, have a seat, and let’s talk.”

He’s not asking for long, drawn out rehearsed prayers. But hey, if that’s your thing, go for it. However, if you just want to say, “This day stinks.”  That’s cool with Him, too.  If you want to say, “That is the prettiest sunset I’ve ever seen.”  He’ll sit back and watch it with you.  No matter how big or small your thoughts seem to you, He wants to hear about it and share IN it with you.

Girls, if it matters to you, it matters to God. Big, small, or somewhere in between.

Let me say that again: If it matters to you, it matters to God.

Prayer is our way of getting thoughts up and out so we can make space for what He has to say about it in return.  And trust me.  You’re gonna want to know what He thinks.

Prayer can be done in many different ways. We have traditional, memorized prayers that have been passed down to us through our families and churches. These are things like grace before a meal, versions of creeds we say at church, the Our Father/Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and rosary sequences.  These are prayers  because they are words we speak to God.  It’s okay that we’ve been taught and possibly even memorized them – as long as we remember they have MEANING.

We also have prayers from the heart, spoken within our own private space. These prayers can take the form of worship (telling God how great we believe He is); petition (asking for things we need spiritually and otherwise); intercession (praying for the needs of others); thanksgiving and gratitude (thanking God for providing for our needs and for the good things that happen to ourselves and others), and praise (answered prayer, expression of our love for God, etc.).  We even have laments, which are passionate prayers expressing our pain and disappointment, these prayers are “real talk” about our honest feelings of our current situations and circumstances.

Next week, we’ll talk about practical ideas on incorporating prayer into your life “for reals”.  We will also talk about how to deal with it when prayer answers are delayed or answered in a way we didn’t expect.

Between now and then, though, I want you to take some time and try writing 5-6 prayers of your own:

  1. Prayer of worship (praising God for His goodness – check out Psalms 103-107 for some awesome thoughts on the greatness of God)
  2. Prayer of petition (asking for something you personally need)
  3. Prayer of intercession (praying for the needs of someone else)
  4. Prayer of thanksgiving (gratitude for something great that day you didn’t expect or even think to pray about)
  5. Prayer of Praise (answered prayer, expression of your love for God)
  6. Prayer of Lament (honest feelings of pain and disappointment – even if directed at God – He can take it, girls.)

All of the prayers you record can be ones we’ve been taught or memorized, or they can be of our own wording, or even a combo of both. No prayer is a wrong prayer because God wants us communicating with Him.  Why?  Because His love, His grace, and His mercy meet us (AND CHANGE US) when we pray.

This week, let’s add another intention to our list! Last week, we started our intentions with, “Lord help me hear you today.”  How about we add this one for our current week:  “Jesus, thank you for loving me.”  It’s almost like we are building ourselves a perfect prayer, isn’t it?  Sounds like a pretty good idea, right?! 😉

Take some time this week to check out our song for this week called Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells! It’s my “go to” anthem on  “those days”…!

See you back here next week as we finish up our discussion and practice of prayer!

May peace find you fully today!

xoxoxoxoxo,

W

 

Would You Go to Jail for Jesus?

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“So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding.”

Hebrews 6:1, NLT

That’s our guiding scripture this series, sisters, and it’s a good one!

Here it is in The Message:

Hebrews 6-1

I love that!  Let’s grow ourselves up a bit in how well we know our Savior, sisters.

Why?  Because many of us believe in God but don’t live in a way that clearly bears fruit, or shows, that we honestly know Him.

In the book, The Christian Atheist,   Craig Groschel states that 94% of the American Christians claim to believe in and follow a God that is good, loving, and benevolent.  But he goes on to surmise that 94% of American Christians aren’t living in a way that would show others they hold that belief.  He begins his book with this:  “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”  In other words, do you know Christ so well that your outward behavior conveys that you know Him.

Take a sec and ask yourself that question. And then take a sec to consider the disciple, Peter.  When the going got tough, he wouldn’t admit to even knowing Jesus, let alone let himself get convicted for it.  And if Peter could do that, the “rock the church was built upon” Peter?  Um, well then, you better believe you and I are capable of that same level of denial in both word and deed.

“People claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live.”

Titus 1:16, NLT

In our time here on Earth, I doubt many/any of us will actually be placed on trial for being a Christian, so we may never actually have to utter the words that we do not “know Him”. But we do deny Him when we live in ways that don’t mimic or reflect His heart.  Why do we do that?

Maybe it’s because we haven’t spent enough time with Him to really know Him.

THIS is why we are back at Bible study this fall: to get to know Him so well that our lives reflect Him in all we do.

We cannot know Him personally unless we spend time with Him. Bottom line.  And that means spending time with Him in more than just a mass or church service here, or a Bible study meeting there.  Girls, we need to be looking for Him.

You’ll be able to find him if you’re serious, looking for him with your whole heart and soul.

Deuteronomy 4:29-31, MSG

I love this quote by a 17th century French archbishop (Francois Fenelon):  “There is only one way to follow God:  to not take a single step without Him, and to follow with a brave heart wherever He leads.”

These spiritual disciplines we are about the begin studying together are ancient practices, or ways, in which we can seek that voice of God so that we can achieve that goal of not taking a single step without Him and following bravely and in faith where He leads.

“What God wants is reverential intimacy. He wants us close enough to Him that we know His heart – close enough to hear His heartbeat.  He wants to look in our eyes, and He wants us to look into His.  He wants us to hear His voice above all other voices we entertain.”  David Benne, Surrender to Love.

Girls, in order to know Him, we need to hear Him.

Did you know that the word obey comes from the Latin word audire, which mean to listen, or to hear.  And so, in order to know Jesus, we need to hear.  We need to be “all ears”.

And we can be sure that we know him if we obey [hear] his commandments.

1 John 2:3-6, NLT

Every single spiritual discipline we will study, practice, and try together this fall has a common thread – we are learning to listen for His voice.

I love when I can bring things full circle. Last fall, we completed Margaret Feinberg’s study, Wonderstruck.   A few years before writing Wonderstruck, she wrote a very cool book about understanding scripture from the viewpoint of shepherds, farmers, and bee keepers.  It’s called Scouting the Divine.  I’ll park myself right here for a minute while you click this link to read something from that book that just might just blow your mind about the importance of getting to know His voice.

john 10 27, 29

Is  that perfect or what? He promises that we can hear His voice, and that when we follow Him: He. Will. Not. Let. Us. Go.

Amen to that. Jesus is not content to just sit around waiting for us.  He’s pulling up the chair, calling your name, cupping your face in His hands, and saying, “Come closer.”

What will you do? Because you do have a choice.  As for me,  I choose to scooch my chair right up next to His to hear Him speak to my heart. I will rest my head in His Holy hands. I will let Him disciple me (which is the root word in discipline, derived from a Greek word that simply means “gentle tutoring” – how awesome is that?) so that I can get “convicted” in the courts of heaven for being a follower of Christ.

Such good stuff, right? If you are interested in following along with us here online, click here to find out more about our study, Come Closer!  If you are in our physical studies OR following along online with the Enjoying Jesus book, please read Chapter 2, Days 1 and 2 (on prayer) for next week!

Are you rocking our playlist? Click here to hear the first song on our list: Testify by NEEDTOBREATHE

Each week, we will end  with a short phrase based on scripture that we can call to mind throughout the week, that helps us to set the tone each morning and throughout the day and helps remind us that we are seeking to infuse every moment of every day, not just Bible study morning and Sunday at church, with a deepening of our spiritual relationship with God.

This week, let’s recall that scripture from John 10:27: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”  Our intention phrase/mantra this week is:  “Jesus, help me hear you today.”  Maybe you pray it before your feet hit the ground in the morning.  Maybe you say it several times during the day to remind yourself He promised you’d know His voice.  Maybe you use that short prayer in difficult moments or in simple celebrations of joys.  Maybe you turn it into a prayer of gratitude as your head hits the pillows at night:  “Jesus, thank you for speaking to me today.”  Use the comments section below to let us know how YOU hear and experience Him this week!

I pray blessings and love over each of you this week. Can’t wait to meet you back here next week for some thoughts on coming closer to God through prayer!

Peace, love and joy,

Wendie