Monday, November 29, 2010

Lesson 10 Chapter 10 Mother, Daughters, and Sisters

This is the very last lesson and it's gone so fast!  We started out all together watching a video of a speaker talking about how hard it was to let go of her daughter and entrust her to God.  The harder she tried to control the situation the more she was forced to let go.  And the more she let go the more she learned to enjoy life.  Deb S. also shared her letting go of her daughter Sam and how we can really believe we are doing what we think is in the best interest of our child when in fact we are not allowing them to try things on their own.  This was such a intense time for Deb that the emotions are still there when retelling the story.

Deb was successful in letting go but it took time.  I will tell you Deb's daughter is an incredible girl, and she has made choices that any parent would be proud of.  Sam is gracious and loving to everyone she comes in contact with (that rates high on my list).  She loves God with her whole heart, strives to do her best in school and is a hard worker at her job.  Yes, you can let go and the world will not fall apart, you can see Sam rose up to the task beautifully.  Of coarse she has a good role model to follow in Deb.

My own daughter is a senior in high school this year so I know the feeling too.  But I also have a son who is 24 and is on his own for the first time this year in his new house.  After living in a large living area in our basement for years while he finished college I was still wondering as he was moving will he live without dusting for a year like he does here?  Will he have piles of clothes everywhere?  Will he remember to pay his bills?  Well he also stepped up to it in a way that surprised me.  He actually can pick out things for his house that match and look good.  Because it is his house he has taken ownership and pride in his investment.  And he has done well with staying in his budget.

I think we take a freeze frame and advance it to the future and think how are they ever going to be capable to making it on their own.  We should all be glad we weren't judge on how we were as teenagers to how we would be as adults or we would indeed all be in trouble!  There are times our children are going to make choices we don't agree with but from my experience God has every single time through prayer  stepped in, when we as parent's could do nothing but pray.

Deb's group talked a lot about the influence of a mother.  The other part of the chapter talked about female friendships which our group talked more about that aspect.  Stasi talked about her relationship with her mother and how she felt she had been a disappointment to her mother as a daughter.  Stasi admits she did make a lot of mistakes growing up.  Stasi and her mom would disagree about everything and so for 15 years they just talked about the weather.  Finally God revealed to Stasi that she made her mother feel the same way she she was a disappointment. An embarrassment. A failure. And she said with clarity she felt her mother's sorrow.  She realized in that moment her mother wanted to like her, know her and enjoy her just as much as she wanted her mom to do for her.  She had withheld her acceptance from her.  And she realized for the first time how deeply she had wounded her.

Stasi felt compelled to make it right with her mom and she did.  One month later her mother found out she was dying and four months later she did indeed die. How gracious was God in putting that on Stasi heart so she would have that healing time with her mother.

We may not physically give birth but we are all called to mother.  And all women are called to give birth.  Women give birth to all kinds of things--to books, our churches, creative expressions, to ideas, etc.

When we enter into the our world and into the lives of those we love and offer our tender and strong feminine hearts, we cannot help but mother them.


We all have many people who mother us rather they are neighbors, teachers, sisters, or friends.  Women must have women friends because we have a vast need for relationships that a husband and children can not met.  Women friends become the face of God to one another the face of grace, of delight, of mercy.

Now I do know a lot of women have expressed that they have a history of not trusting women, just stick with me if you are one of those women.  God's word has much to say about the issue which may just clarify things for you.

If you are like me you may not have seen your mother having healthy friendships or you may have thought it was your duty to bring everyone into your inner circle to try to win them over with Christ's love.  And there may be times when God with wants you to minister to certain people but it is still not letting them in your inner circle.  You may only have one in the inner circle and that's ok.  If you truly have none I do believe God can give one through prayer so don't give up.  When you are in a toxic friendship you are going to be drawn in to a battle with anger and that's not where God wants for you.

Web MD has a list of signs of Toxic Friendships

People who are negative, criticize, belittles, or puts you down.

Make you feel unhappy, unhealthy and unequal.

Expect you to pick them up.

Drain the life right out of you.

Lies to you, makes promises they don't keep.

Wants all your time.

Is jealous of you.

Has a lot of drama in their life.

You want friends who have the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self control.  Also a healthy friendship has a balance of give and take.  We must nurture a friendship.

Just to remember to give grace because we are not perfect this side of heaven and we can be good friends to each other but never the perfect friend.

Thank you for taking the journey with us through this great book.  We will be announcing a new topic in Feb. 2011.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lesson 9 Chapter 12 A Irreplaceable Role

I love the part in the book where Stasi writes "History is still unfolding and your existence on this earth as a woman is proof that you have an irreplaceable role to play.  You are a woman, are you not?  An ezer kenegdo to your core.  Your lingering disbelief (may it be fading away) that anything important hangs on your life is only evidence of the long assault on your heart by the one who knows who you could be and fears you.
There is much life saving that needs to be done yet, and someone needs to do it.  Not in a pressure-filled, you'd better get to it kind of a way.  Rather, an invitation.  Your feminine heart is an invitation by your Creator.  To what?   To play an irreplaceable role in His Story. "

What destinies are hanging on to you saying yes?  Remember the verse in the Bible that says God has made good works for you to walk in before you were even born?  And in Acts chapter 17 it talks about how he put us in a specific time and place.  Our lives are not random at all, what is God inviting you to?
The book talks about how Mary, mother of Jesus was invited to be the mother of Christ, and her saying yes, may it be as you have said, was the invitation God gave her to live and have an irreplaceable role in His Story.

What is God inviting you to....a relationship with him first and foremost.  As we are increasingly healed and growing in Christ, God restores our desires to us.  Some of us are being recovered and others are being discovered.  Is God restoring any desires in you?

Now in our Bible study time with the women I must admit we were pretty lost about our desires.  I think most of us have very little time to think much less dream.  I would sure love some comments on this how we can change this.

The next part of the book was on what role women play in relationships.  Women are the ones who keep relationships going and make them a priority.  Stasi says in the book " You have an irreplaceable role in your relationships.  No one can be to the people in your life who you can be to them.  No one can offer what you can offer.  There are many things God calls us to do, but loving well always comes first.  And don't your relationships feel opposed?  Of course,  They must be fought for."

"The reason we fear to step out is because we know that it might not go well (is that an understatement?)     

We have a history of wounds screaming at us to play it safe.  We feel so deeply that if it doesn't go well, if we are not received well, their reaction becomes the verdict on our lives, on our very beings, on our hearts.  We fear that our deepest doubts about ourselves as women will be confirmed."

We could all relate to that statement in red.  This is the struggle the enemy comes against us in, can I be transparent with others?  Can I be lovable just the way I am and have anything of value to give in a relationship?  The answer is YES!  We don't have to wait to offer our lives until we have our act together.  If we did, would anyone ever feel like offering anything?  God asks us to be vulnerable.  He invites us to share and give in our weaknesses.  He wants us to offer the beauty that he has given in our weakness even when we are keenly aware that it is not all that we wish it were.  He wants us to trust him.  

If we continue to hide, much will be lost.  We cannot have intimacy with God or anyone else if we stay hidden and only offer who we think we ought to be or what we believe is wanted.  What freedom we have found in our circle of women being able to share the deepest parts of ourselves, we have knit our hearts together.  Yes, right here at COB and none of us will be the same again.
One by one we let our guard drop sharing sometimes shame that we had been carrying, painful struggles, doubts we had about ourselves.  The love and tears for each other has been overwhelming and heartfelt.  We are each others cheerleaders now and have taken great delight in every step forward and every prayer answered on each others behalf.  This is how God meant for it to be.  We get our strength and hope from seeing what God has done for each one us.  The enemy wants us to hide, we can not receive support in prayers or feel the love of Jesus coming through our sisters on our behalf unless we will share our deepest parts.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lesson 8 Chapter 8 Beauty to Unveil

We started out with Deb S. sharing her many stories how fear griped her so many times in her life, some coming from within herself and some from her surroundings.  How she tried to overcome them unsuccessful and later successful and what God was teaching her through all this.  She also included a sheet from the book "Breaking Intimidation" by John Bevere.  Someone had given it to her and she was surprised at how under the radar this had been for her, the true causes.  This book turned her thinking and life around.  Deb S. had also given me a copy a long time ago and I'd have to say the same thing for myself, that it helped me turn things around that I didn't even know was going on (I had thought at the time why is she giving me this book, I don't suffer from this!).  Pick up these sheets on the information desk they are with last weeks lessons.  If you can't buy it they should have some at the library that you could check out.

In our groups we talked about our biggest fears.  Number one among all the women was fear of rejection.  To talk about the fear was important because if we really fear lack of acceptance we will build walls, and our beauty that God gave us for other will never shine through.  We read together from the book on page 138  A woman who is striving invites others to strive.  The message sometimes implicit in her actions, sometimes explicit through her words---is, "Get your act together.  Life is uncertain.  There is not time for your heart here.  Shape up.  Get Busy.  That's what is important."  She does not say, "All is well.  All shall be well."  Her fear doesn't allow it  She is withholding the very things her world needs.

This is not offering comfort or nourishing someones soul as God would desire us to do.  We need someone who will listen to us fully, not judging us but cheering us on where ever we are.  Acceptance is what we need and our souls desire from others.  We also talked about how as we grow older we realize that the people who don't accept us and even lash out at us do it from their hurt in their lives and it really has nothing to do with us or what just happened.  Very few people seek to purposely hurt us.  When we view it this way very often our dismay can turn into compassion for their hurting hearts.

Now we did talk also about their are some people we can not and should not entrust our hearts to and even give our beauty to.  I believe God will be faithful and giving us discernment in this if we ask him.
But it's really when we refuse to give it to anyone at all.  Page 130 says "A woman who is hiding invites others to do the same.  "Don't be vulnerable, Hide yourself."  A woman who makes herself vulnerable and available for intimacy invites others to do the same.  After all, Eve is the incarnation of the heart of God for intimacy.  She says to the world, through her invitation to relationship.  "You are wanted here.  We want to know you.  Come in.  Share yourself.  Be enjoyed.  Enjoy me as I share myself." A woman who is controlling cannot invite others to rest, to be known.  They will feel controlled in her presence.  It won't feel safe there.  A woman who is unveiling her beauty is inviting others to life.  She risks being vulnerable; exposing her true heart and inviting other's to share theirs.  She is not demanding, but she is hopeful."

Being vulnerable is so important, the group I am in has been just that.  One at a time we have let our guard down, showing our true heart and fears.  What has happened is we have connected deeply with each other with great love and compassion for each of our sisters.  When you bring the raw truth we can feel your pain and disappointment.   Our hearts connect and through passionate prayer filled with love and compassion our hearts sing in unison for God healing touch on behalf of each other.  We have seen many miracles in our group over these past weeks for just about everyone in the group.  I think God is saying this is what it's all about, this is the way we need to be with each other.  So if you are hanging on to your hurt and refusing to share it because of your fear.....let it go.  If a big group is to much just email Deb or I and we would be happy to get together with you.

Some of you may know I spent the first ten years at our church barely saying a word.  Yes, I was hiding.
I had fear of rejection that of coarse I wasn't going to reveal to any one.  If a group was too big I would start even feeling like I couldn't breathe.  Some how I thought everything I said sounded stupid and if I did happen to say anything, I would analyze it to death, and hold my breathe that no one would rebuff me.  But at least I could teach the children.  After Deb S. gave me the book on intimidation I knew the enemy had me in a corner for way to long but I didn't know how to break free.  One day in desperation to get rid of this bondage I went to Dale in the back of the church for her to pray for me and the Lord gave her discretion and she felt I had a spirit of intimation on me and she prayed against it and it fell off!

I knew I could not do what God was calling me to do if I couldn't get over this.  It felt impossible, truly.
I even at times imaged if someone said stand in front of the congregation or be shot and I could not even be clear in mind that I would even do it then!  Ladies please don't wait ten years like I did, if God can free me from something in my mind seemed so totally impossible He can and will do it for YOU!

I remember the week before I was set free someone in the congregation was speaking and said some times we just need to take that leap of faith and just jump.  JUST JUMP!

Psalm 34:4-10  I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears, They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed.  This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.  The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them. O taste and see that the Lord is good, Blessed is the man who trust in Him!  Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!  There is no want to those who fear Him.  The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.

We also read I Peter 3:3-4 "Your beauty should no come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. which is of great worth in God's sight."  Notice it says gentle and quiet SPIRIT (not voice, many of us thought we may fail on that account alone), but a inner calmness.  If we are striving we certainly aren't calm.  We can strive to be perfect, as a mother, wife, worker, in our appearance, our homes appearance.  God doesn't desire that for us.  Maybe our heart should be our barometer , when the tension shoots up it maybe time to accept it as it is.

"A woman of true beauty offers others the grace to be and the room to become.  In her presence, we can release the tension and pressure that so often grip our hearts.  We can also breathe in the truth that God loves us and that He is good."  Can others come to you and be released from tension and pressure?
If not they will hide the truth from you.  And from that point you won't know what to pray or how to cheer them on.  We need to give GRACE and COMFORT.

Proverbs 4:23  "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the well spring of life." Not guard as in protect, hide.  No guard here means to guard your heart from all the negative and worthless things that life may offer.  Guard your time with God, protect your heart with His love, spend time with Him in intimacy.

God call us to stop hiding, to stop dominating, to trust Him and to offer our true selves to Him.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lesson 7 Chapter 9 Arousing Adam

We spent the first thirty minutes watching a video of men being interviewed about many different questions women have about the inner workings of a man's heart.  It doesn't take long to realize why we have the push and pull between the sexes and how if we just understand where the other is coming from we can have better harmony.

Do men and boys want to be delighted in?  Yes, they want to please you and to know they have what it takes to be your hero.  What makes them stop trying and become passive?  When we don't value what they tried to do on our behalf and only focus on what was lacking about it.  Practice makes perfect but some times we don't give them room to grow.  We may even be more gifted or skilled in an area and we would just rather do it ourselves.

There core question is do they have what it takes to be a strong man, a hero in their women's lives.
Have you ever thought through how that question may have been answered in the life of the men you love,  your sons, brothers, fathers and husbands?  Can a woman answer the core question of a man's heart?  Only God can answer the man's core questions.  A man goes to Eve to offer his strength.  He does not go to her to get it.

The same holds true for Eve, She can not look to Adam for the validation of her soul.  But many women do, and feel if they have a man they are o.k.  The men in the video said women are an emotional abyss and they know they can not fill it.  God made it that way so we would come to Him,  He alone can fill it.
Only God can tell us who we are.

What can a woman do to encourage and strengthen men?  Not expect him to fulfill us.  We need to offer our softness, to believe in him and to need his strength.  To tell him he has what it takes.

What does it say when we refuse to be have nothing to offer me.  I don't need your strength.  We attack, dominate, make them fill uninvited and unwanted.  How often we don't even realize what message we are sending!  We can think in our minds we are doing something positive for them in being strong ourselves for them but in reality they long to rise up and be the strong hero.  And they can be what God intended if we allow them the room to struggle, make mistakes and grow in this with out pointing out there shortcomings all the time.  This takes patience and sometimes we are in such a hurry to just live life we just take right over.

I Peter 3:6  "Life Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master.  You are her daughters in you do what is right and do not give way to fear."

How does this verse relate to living a life of love?  I don't think we have to live life in fear that if we give grace to our men in love that it may not turn out perfect.  We just need to do what is right and be that inviting place of beauty, and resting.  If we struggle to make life perfect we are not resting.  Are we soft, showing we need our men and appreciating what they are able to bring to us.

I don't know about you but God showed me through this study some times I need to work on and change.  We can easily fall into the pattern of the world for women that we are strong and we don't need anyone at all.  But we don't realized that as we reached out to be loved we are at the same time pushing men out with our lack of vulnerability .  It's time to bring the walls down that separate us.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lesson 6 Chapter 7 Romanced

Remember when Jesus calls Himself our Bridegroom?  This is the most intimate of all metaphors Jesus chose to describe His love and longing for us and the relationship He invites us into.  What can be more joyful than getting to know one another, celebrating each moment together.  Someone who is deeply committed to us, that we feel in their acceptance of us, that therefore we can share the deepest part of ourselves.  The story of your life is also the story of the long and passionate pursuit of your heat by the One who knows you best and loves you most.

God's romance towards you is immensely personal.  It will be as if it has been scripted for your heart alone  It is hear we can ask God, "Do you love me?  May I have a whale, or a starfish or a butterfly?"  Is this question hard for you to even ask God.  There is no feeling better in the whole world than to have prayer answered in such a way you know it was God alone, He heard you, and answered you back.

God delights in revealing Himself to those who seek Him with all their hearts and He loves to reveal His heart to us again and again.

Jeremiah 31:3  I have loved you with an everlasting love.
And it really is true....the God of the universe wants us to spend all eternity with Him...that's how important we are to Him!  Not to mention He allowed His only son to be sacrifice for sins to do this!
Now that is amazing love!

God has made women for romance...her heart comes alive and she becomes radiant.  When she is not being pursued she is like a flower without water.  God wants to heal us through His love.  His heart towards us is not one of disappointment or disapproval  but of one who sees your potential and what you need to help you flourish into that person you were created to be.

It can be such a revelation that God wants our love.  We have to fight the busyness of life to spend time with God.  We can't love someone we don't know.  Sure we can always find sometime to pray but when do we listen to His voice.  He speaks to us through His Word.  Ask Him for help to create the time you need and ask Him to reveal His self to you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lesson 5 Chapter 5 A Special Hatred & Chapter 11 Warrior Princesses

These chapters I thought were some of the best in the book so don't skip them.  We had an awesome time Monday during our studies.  Deb S. made up some extra handouts for us on Qualities of a Spiritual Warrior by Graham Cooke, Mother Teresa...NO Greater Love and a copy of Proverbs 31.  You can pick them up at the information desk if you want a copy.

Deb S. in her introduction talked about a profile on women in China.  It is a bleak out look if you are born a girl there because of the one child law they mostly all just want a son.  Baby girls are abandoned in great rates and the care is so poor that not many survive.  But women are being treated poorly in many countries as well, assaulted and seen as disposable.  Where does this hatred for women, seen all over the world come from?  Why is it so evil?

For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those might powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. Eph. 6:12

Satan has a special hatred for women because a one time he was the object of great beauty, Son of the Morning. It infers a glory, a brightness or radiance unique to him.  Satan fell because of his beauty. Pride in wanting adoration for himself.  Now his heart for revenge is to assault beauty.  Beauty in everything God created but especially women, they are God's final touch on creation and they are the life givers.

Satan was a murderer from the beginning,  John 8:44 says" You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him."  He brings death and his kingdom of death, ritual sacrifices, genocide, the Holocaust, abortion  those are his ideas.  That is why Eve is his greatest human threat, for she brings life.  She is a lifesaver and a life giver.  When you see her beauty and life giving together you can see that Satan's bitter heart assaults her with a special hatred.  Don't you see this reflected all through out history?

Does it now make sense that he has a systemic, often brutal, nearly universal assault on femininity?  Satan causes the hatred for women because if God's beauty is truly revealed in women's beauty, he feels he must debase it and cause it to be an object of shame.  Satan wishes to destroy the object of God's affection, the pinnacle of His creation because destroying it will make it harder for all people to see and experience His beauty.

This revelation is so important for us to understand.  In order to live the life that Jesus wants us to live, we must be aware that we have an enemy who is busy trying to steal, kill and destroy our lives.  We must believe this or we end up blaming God for things the devil is doing and our view of the good, faithful, loving heart of God is badly skewed.

We must put on the armor of God every day and stand firm in the truth.  We must resist the devil and command him and his minions to depart-out loud--in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ.

I John 1 4:4 You dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by Him, we cry Abba, Father.

Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore, put on your full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

Now I hope you really got the first part in dark print--the out loud part.  I know if you have never done it before your thinking can't I just ask God to take care of it?  Yes, you could but it's like asking why Christians should share the gospel with another person rather than praying and asking God to reveal the gospel to that person directly.  Or why should be speak words of encouragement to someone who is discouraged rather than just praying and asking God to encourage that person?  The answer just might be that God direct involvement makes us stronger.  We don't always want to settle all our children's disputes , we send them back out to learn how to settle things on their own.  We want them to grow stronger in these skills.  We gain the eternal significance of this ministry when we pray out loud, the joy of seeing someone set free.  And sometimes we have to set ourselves free when we need to.

Pastor Tom gave a sermon on praying to cast out evil spirits and gave his own story how the first time someone did that over Him he was like ok but thinking I don't know about this.  Well, he was healed of an injury and encouraged us it doesn't hurt to try.  Not everything that goes wrong in our lives has an evil spirit at work but you won't know until you try.

Right after church I remember I was so anxious to get in my car and try it.  I spoke aloud saying if there is any spirit coming against my hearing I command you to leave in Jesus name and by His blood and power.  It doesn't have to be that exactly to get results.  Well since there was no noise in the car I didn't know until I went to work with the kids and lo and behold I could hear them!  What use to be a constant thought for me about what did they just say....has vanished!  Now I want to say the loss of hearing seemed natural in that I had a lot of ear infections when I was younger and this had been getting worse over the years.  I just thought that just the way it is.  NO! Don't ever accept that.

Satan wants to destroy what we have and drown us in doubt, guilt, fear, confusion, sickness, envy, and anger.  He is an accuser and an adversary.  He wants to keep us in bondage and is very deceptive in getting us to believe lies about our selves.  Not every thought that comes into your mind is your own.  He is an accuser...your not...fill in the blank or you'll never.........tell yourself the truth and think on that not the lie.  Command him to leave!  Just in case you don't know, no where in the Bible does it state that Satan can read our minds, only God can do that.  Demons and Satan are limited by God's control and have limited power.  They can only do what God permits and no more.  The good news is these things can be resisted by Christians through the authority that Christ gives them!  But just one note, not all sin and evil are from Satan and demons.  Our fleshly desires produce sin, so in that we don't need to cast it our we just need to repent of it.

On Monday the group I was in stayed until 10:00 praying over each other and taking back what was ours.  I was on a spiritual high after that, it was that awesome.  I can't wait to see all the wonderful things God is going to be doing for each one of you!