A Cautionary “Tell” on Highs & Lows

MH900302951

A. M. Thoughts: 
Life brings with it many highs and lows. The highs are those feel good moments that allow for personal victories and triumphs. The lows are those what was that moments that challenge or stretch us beyond our level of comfort. Whether you find yourself on the high end or low end of these moments, it is important to center or rather to ground yourself by staying close to the LORD and in His Word. 

DANGER!!!

If one dwells on or in the high indefinitely, there is a possibility that pride may begin to consume you. How does this happen? It happens slowly. It happens subtly. It begins with a general sense of elation, but it later shifts and becomes an inflated sense of self. (No, not in all cases, of course.) One begins to think, “Look what I have done! Look at what I can do.” I versus God becomes the focus. 

There is danger in this thinking. When God is taken out of the equation, it is then easier for Satan to lure and entice. Without an attachment to God or a grounding in Him, more and more selfish liberties can be taken, more and more tainted excuses can be made for why something was accomplished, etc. It is at this point that the evil one has you. He knows that he simply has to attract self to self.  In doing so, he understands  that it negates your need for God. Be warned! This is dangerous.

In contrast (and yet not), if one dwells on the lows constantly, there is a possibility that hopelessness can suffocate or rather drain the life out of you. How does this happen? It happens slowly. It happens subtly. It begins with a doubt, moves into fear, and germinates and grows into immobility. One begins to think, “Can I do this? Is there anything I can even do to fix this, change that, or make things right?” I versus God becomes the focus.

There is danger in this thinking. When dark, debilitating thoughts become more prominent in one’s mind and heart, there is then no room for God. (No, not in all cases, of course.) If God is pushed out or crowded out, the evil knows that he’s got you. He understands that darkness can be eradicated by light. The Light – the LORD Himself – casts out ALL darkness. He and He alone casts out Satan every time you hope, believe and trust in Him. He doesn’t want you to realize the power you have access to. 

Scripture Reflection: Proverbs

Challenge: Make a list of your successes. Give thanks to God for every one of them. Next, write down your challenges. Thank God for them also. Once you have done the aforementioned, prostrate yourself before the LORD and fully surrender your highs and lows. Give yourself into His keeping. Ask the LORD to direct you, to guide you, and to tell you (by way of His Word) what He would have you do from this point forward.

#5/52STUDY17

BREATHE|A Phone Tree Bible Study Experience ( Week 8)

IMG_0157

Thoughts… (My Reflections & Considerations)
So much came from my reading this week that I don’t even know where to begin! In order to make things simple enough to digest, I have decided to share the main points I learned as “Hear Me” points.

Week 8 “Hear Me” Points ->
1) We are loved by the eternal God who is not only the LORD God Provider, but He is also the LORD God Truth.
2) We can always trust God to communicate AND orchestrate His perfect plan, which will forever be THE perfect plan.

Words… (Scriptural References and Study Points)
– Read and study Exodus 16.
– Identify at least three ways that the LORD manifests His presence and provision in these verses.
– What is it important for us, as a people of God, to learn from Exodus 16:28?
– What do these verses teach us about trusting and depending on God?
– Reflect on Psalm 23’s “I shall not want” message and the LORD’s Prayer words, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
– What is the underlying Sabbath principle focus for this week?

Actions… (Life Application)

Recite these words out loud daily…”LORD, I trust You to provide the just right amount of what I truly need.”

“Listen for the rhythms of God’s grace and live according to its cadence – easy, light, full of mercy.”

Lean on Me (Table Talk Tuesdays, Week 3/5)

A Special Phone Tree Discussion Series Dedicated to Building Community

Lean On Me: Finding Intentional, Vulnerable, and Consistent Community (A Quote from the Book): “When we make a commitment to healthy relationships, we’re not only causing change within ourselves, we’re turning over control to others…When we commit to pursuing the desires God has for us relationally, we aren’t losing control. We’re making the choice to give it away in surrender.”

Table Talk: This week, I felt that it was important to highlight and emphasize three words that Anne Marie Miller spent time touching on in her writing. Those words were surrender, control, and vulnerability.

I believe that there is a give and take component to each one, especially when considering things of a spiritual nature.

None of these are easy. They all bring to mind the notion of trust. Trust, in and of itself, requires reliance on another. That is a foundational principle for any thriving community.

“Life-giving relationships require commitment and vulnerability from each person in the relationship.” – Anne Marie Miller

Table Talk Discussion Question: How does the Bible present the love-based action of trust, and how do you relate that to surrender, control, and vulnerability?

Prayer: LORD, when You call us to surrender, You challenge us to grow beyond ourselves. Sometimes, it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes, it’s hard. Sometimes, it makes us feel like we are at a loss or out of balance because the control we thought we had is no longer ours. We become vulnerable and fearful in a totally different way. Free us from the fear. Teach us to trust You more. Help us to thrive individually and relationally. In the name of the Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

To Read an Excerpt From This Book and To Order Your Copy: Lean On Me: Finding Intentional, Vulnerable, and Consistent Community

2015/01/img_0068-0.jpg

Lean on Me (Table Talk Tuesdays, Week 2/5)

A Special Phone Tree Discussion Series Dedicated to Building Community

Lean On Me: Finding Intentional, Vulnerable, and Consistent Community (A Quote from the Book): “In order to have healthy relationships with God and with others, we must surrender. To God, we must surrender our desire to live our lives for ourselves…With others, we surrender our need to be right. We surrender our need to be heard. We trust in the paradox of finding peace in serving instead of demanding to be served and complaining about it when we aren’t.

Yes, we must have healthy boundaries with others, but we must not build up walls. We must choose surrender and vulnerability over our fears of being hurt.

Surrender goes against our very nature to be independent. Surrender indicates we willingly choose to rely on others. We must rewire our thinking to recognize that needing another person (and being the person someone else needs) is not a weakness; it only strengthens us.”

Table Talk: Everything seems to go back to surrender, doesn’t it? And what does surrender go back to? Trust? Love? The heart? The LORD Himself? In truth, it goes back to all of these things. Most importantly, as if there were ever any doubt, it does go back the to LORD and to abandoning self into His keeping. If we do this – abandon ourselves to the heart of the One who loves us most – then what happens is that we can begin to embrace a Philippians 4:13 mindset/heartset toward everything else in our lives.

“Surrender first begins with our surrender to God.”   – Anne Marie Miller

Table Talk Discussion Question: What does surrender mean to you as it relates to God and as it relates to community?

Prayer: LORD, You have called us to do this great task – SURRENDER. In our own strength, it is impossible. In Your strength (and only in Yours), we are able! Help each one of us to move past ourselves and our fears and to approach, embrace, and accept the beauty that comes in and by way of holy surrender. In the name of the Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

To Read an Excerpt From This Book and To Order Your Copy: Lean On Me: Finding Intentional, Vulnerable, and Consistent Community

Lean on Me (Table Talk Tuesdays, Week 1/5)

A Special Phone Tree Discussion Series Dedicated to Building Community

Lean On Me: Finding Intentional, Vulnerable, and Consistent Community (A Quote from the Book): “We desperately want to belong, yet at the same time we yearn for independence. We want to prove to ourselves and those around us we can survive on our own. That we are not dependent. We are free. To rely on someone else is weakness, this conflicting voice utters. The ears of our spirits listen…It is a daily struggle and a daily surrender to allow ourselves the freedom to wrestle with our holy need for interdependence upon each other in the body of Christ.”

Table Talk: Trusting self enough to entrust yourself to others is no easy task. It is downright difficult. Allowing yourself to be seen, allowing others to witness your struggles, insecurities, doubts, and idiosyncrasies…are you kidding?!?! And yet, this is what we are repeatedly called to do in seasons of our lives.

Can I trust anyone?

Should I put my trust in him or her just because they are in my small group?

How can I trust when I have been betrayed so many times? 

Doesn’t trust have to be earned?

Why should I trust if no one seems to trust me?

These are the things that we sometimes think about when we contemplate the issue of trust. But thoughts like these should not dictate our lives.

Instead of viewing trust and entrusting self from a negative perspective, why not consider it from a positive one? Why not surrender the entire issue to the LORD and allow Him to prescribe what you need in terms of a healthy community?

“We are all created to belong to community by being there for others and asking for help when we need it. Sometimes fears and hang-ups can prevent us from choosing to acknowledge and act. Can you make a choice to accept our need for others and to be willing to love and serve others without hesitation?”Anne Marie Miller    

Table Talk Discussion Question: Do you trust God enough to entrust yourself and your need for community to Him?

Prayer: LORD God, trusting is a hard thing for us to do. We struggle with it greatly, and we beat ourselves up when we get it wrong in our relationships with others. Still, in Your perfect plan, we know that there is a place for it as it relates to community. Please help us to move past ourselves and our hang-ups. In the name of the Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

To Read an Excerpt From This Book and To Order Your Copy: Lean On Me: Finding Intentional, Vulnerable, and Consistent Community

 

My 5P Study Notes: Thessalonians (Letter 1, Chapter 2)

Thessalonians Summer Series
June-July 2014
5P Bible Study Method

“Few of us actually get physically beaten up for serving Christ. But each of us have been ‘treated outrageously,’ and the prospect of putting ourselves at risk again can be terrifying. We can’t let Satan shut us in or he wins that battle. He’s trying to make wound-lickers out of warriors…God can embolden us.” – Beth Moore, Children of the Day

Chapter 2: Pad of Paper & Pen
Pore, Paraphrase, Pull Out ->
– There is always a purpose in where and why God sends us.
– Even in the face of hardships and suffering, don’t stop declaring God’s Good News.
– Be bold in what you do for the LORD.
– Sometimes when you speak up for the LORD, conflict will come. Learn to expect it but do not be overcome by it.
– We have been given an assignment and a responsibility to share God’s message of salvation.
– Do not try to please others; focus on pleasing God.
– Be mindful that God examines and knows the heart. He is fully aware of why we do what we do.
– Our goal, our motivation, and our intent should always be God-focused.
– Be gentle and holy, just and blameless.
– Never forget the importance of comforting, consoling and encouraging others.
– Live a life worthy of God. Let your existence be about the glory of the Father.
– Give honor to God without pause. His praises should go forth continually.
– Personalize the Word of God.
– God speaks so make sure you are listening.
– The Word is at work in those who believe.
– As believers, you will find yourself among unbelievers. Do not lose heart.
– Satan will try to thwart your plans. Don’t grow weary, for God is with you.
– The reward of the faithful is the LORD Himself.
– Be the glory and the joy of the LORD.

Pose ->
1) Am I presently questioning why God has me where He has me?
2) When a conflict or challenge comes, do I remain silent or declare the message of God even more?
3) How do I show my boldness for the LORD outwardly (and inwardly)?
4) In what ways do I speak up for God?
5) Is the way that I handle difficult situations God-focused?
6) Who have I most recently shared the Word of God with?
7) Am I a people-pleaser or a God-pleaser?
8) What does my heart say about me, my love for others, and/or my love for God?
9) How do I display gentleness? Holiness?
10) What are some ways to comfort, console, and encourage others?
11) How do I dedicate myself to the LORD?
12) What comes out of my mouth more – praise or complaints?
13) What does it mean to personalize the Word of God?
14) How does one really go about listening to God?
15) What are some examples of how God’s word has worked in my life?
16) Do I genuinely carry myself as a believer or more so as an unbeliever?
17) Am I intimidated by Satan?
18) Do I trust God to be God?
19) How often do I remind myself of the reward of the LORD and why is it important to do so?
20) What does it mean to “be” as it relates to the joy and glory of the LORD?

Plan and Pin -> Answer every question in journal and/or through prayer. Select 2-3 questions to discuss with an accountability partner.

Join me all summer long as I work my way through 1 and 2 Thessalonians using P. Shirer’s 5P Bible Study Method. In addition to this, I will be completing Beth Moore’s latest study, Children of the Day, so you may get a few extra tidbits here and there. God bless and stay in His Word!