Monday, November 30, 2009

An answer to many prayers...

Random events sometimes makes sense when they are all put together.

I've been struggling with contentment this fall. God's given me a vision for a meaningful ministry. He's even given me tools to use. I've been introduced to people who tell me that they marvel at the timing of meeting me and to the helpfulness of these tools in their lives. My journey is proving to be helpful to others as they walk with the Lord. Serious amounts of joy and purpose have surrounded all of that.

So what is the problem? Money. Events keep taking place that have drained our financial resources or things we are responsible for have shown evidence that they need our attention beyond our ability to pay right now. One solution to this problem is that I stop spending my time doing what I do. I go get a job that pays me for my time. Enter confusion and frustration. During the summer, I start asking God for help. Don't know how to be not confused and not frustrated.

Enter random events...

Devotional in Colorado includes thoughts on "being thankful in all circumstances".

Participation through the fall in a bible study focused on Colossians. Guess what is a very big theme in this book. Yep, thankfulness.

A friend gives me a book called Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I initially loan it out to someone in my small group because I have 20+ books on my must read shelf in my office. It gets returned to me the Thursday before Thanksgiving.

While devouring this book on gratefulness the light bulb finally goes off. Nope not random events at all. Instead they are all very purposeful answers to pray.

Dear beloved daughter,

You, my dear, have a gratitude problem. Don't beat yourself up to bad about it. It's a common problem. If you will take, what I've been showing you for a couple of months now to heart - then you'll be allowing me to change your life.

Your Heavenly Father

So at the end of Nancy's book, there is a 30 day devotional and journal project. I'm on day three. I'm very grateful to be doing this between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I'm also marveling once again how God answers prayer over time.

I've already seen confusion replaced with trust... ignorance with knowledge... frustration with hopefulness. All in the midst of no more clarity then I had a month ago about how God is going to provide. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt this has been a significant missing piece. As I allow myself to focus on what/who I'm grateful for each day, I'm better able to give up on trying to control my future.

To my friends who have been in the midst of this confusion with me. Thanks for your patience with me. Thanks for listening to me work through this. Thanks for praying with me and for me.

"Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart." Apostle Paul

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ft. Worth Update

I'm happy to report that a friend has decided to join me in Ft. Worth on Tuesdays! It's incredibly nice to have a partner in this adventure!

The girls amaze me in one way or another every single week. This week one of them asked the group to help her come up with a list of things that distract us from our relationship with God. Can you get a better conversation starter question from a student to the group?

I told another friend a week or so ago, I have no idea what I'm doing. She said you mean your on a wing and a prayer. That's a pretty accurate description. So far its working out just fine. Jesus keeps answering our prayers for this group.

If you think of these girls, pray they have courage to keep trusting God with their lives!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Thoughts on Listen To My Life

Below is a newsletter article I was asked to write so I thought I'd post it here too.

What’s Up with Listen To My Life

I was asked if I would write about Listen To My Life and what I see happening in the retreats/workshops/classes that use this material. That’s a really big and broad topic. Why is that? Well, for one thing every life and all the stories that make up that life are very unique. And, God is very aware of who we are… what matters to each of us and why. So as you hear the stories you experience all the variety that comes with uniqueness.

On the other extreme, you see the common themes that make up all of our lives. So you have a chance to marvel at these people who God has created; marvel at how God interacts with them throughout their lives. And you also get the chance to see where your journey has been similar.

A couple of different opportunities arise around the similarities. Sometimes in the similarities you have the opportunity to encourage hope because of what you have been brought through. At other times you are the one receiving hope because of how faith in God has made a radical difference in the life of someone else.

I also see another major theme that shows up during Listen To My Life. It is a place where lies have the opportunity to be replaced with truth. In this process you discover what motivates you and why. This is an excellent resource of information. Sometimes you discover you’re motivated by something that is not true. You realize the lies keep you fearful or controlled. When the lie gets replaced with genuine trust in God there is a freedom that comes with that transformation in your thinking. As you experience that process it trains you to continue repeating it with the Lord and with other believers. You start to ask yourself, “What do I believe? Why do I believe it? Is that true? If it’s not true, LORD show me what is. Give me the faith I need to walk by faith in You.”

Watching people go through all this and being there with them as they explore their journeys is marvelous… heart wrenching… hopeful… challenging… eye opening… mysterious and revealing. You see, every time God is trusted, change happens. I want to be a part of helping people trust God just a little bit more every day. So after five times of doing Listen To My Life as either a participant or a Facilitator, I have no hesitations about going through it again and again. May the Lord keep leading me to others that can benefit as much as I have benefited.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Is this vanity?

Got a little surprised today when I looked up the word vanity. The first definition didn't surprise me.

Vanity - excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities and achievements.

But the second one did, because I would not have been able to state this a definition but on a subconscious level this is believed.

Vanity - lack of real value; hollowness; worthlessness.

Christian women are in the midst of confusion. When is doing something I believe is good for me a vain choice and when is it not?

Or, they struggle when, they do something that is good for them and it produces good results but then deal with vanity about it at the end. Sure complicates decision making about in future choices. If I'm just going to wind up a vain idiot - Why bother?

I start to explore these thoughts the most when someone in the media says: "If you don't take good care of your self then you can't take good care of other people" I wonder, "Why does that statement ring hollow?"

Here's a few things that I think we should consider the next time we're wrestling with this. Why am I motivated to take action on this... whatever this is for you? Are there any vain reasons driving me? If so what are they and why? Is there something the Lord wants me to reconsider about those types of motivations?

On the other hand, are there any truly healthy God honoring reasons for why I'm motivated to take action? If so, how do I look to God for help? Who's going to get the credit if change actually happens in my life?

This is a big deal! Lack of delving into this paralyzes so many.