Thursday, April 29, 2010

Climbing Out of a Revelation

First, I'm really mad that something happened to the ultra-elegant, glass-paned door background I had on here.  I guess they discontinued gone it Google!  That was a perfect background for my blog title.

On to more important things...

I feel like I've spent the past few days literally trying to climb out of the revelations of insecurity the Lord gave me during the Beth Moore simulcast.  He cast His light upon my life and suddenly I could see the pit I'm in. I've been overwhelmed by the reality of it all and I've mourned the sheer existence of insecurity in my life.  And the truth is, the depth of the insecurity is what has thrown me off.  It goes way deeper than I thought.  I'm just thankful that His revealing light cuts to the heart of the matter and NO darkness can exist in His light.  I've been reminded of the following verse through this entire process...

"But this is a people robbed and plundered; they are all of them snared in holes and hidden in houses of bondage. They have become a prey, with no one to deliver them, a spoil, with no one to say, Restore them!"  Isaiah 42:22

I used this verse at the last encounter I taught.  These very words came out of my own stinkin' mouth!  I hate it when something I've taught is shown to me again, and I'm not living it out (or in this case, I am living in it).  HATE IT!  And that, of course, tries to make me feel even more insecure.  So sorry, there's no more room left on the merry-go-round of Shannon's insecurities...I just can't take that one on.  (I'm learning!)

So here I go, climbing my way out of the pit of insecurity.  The enemy has truly robbed and plundered my life and kept me in bondage through insecurity.  But Praise God I do have a Restorer.  There is Someone who has already delivered me from the enemy.  Where all of the insecurities began, no longer matters.  Why I've held on to them and allowed them to suffocate me spiritually, is of no concern to me at this point.  I'm tired of "looking down" at the bottom of the pit and dwelling on what I've been living with...I'm now looking up at my Deliverer.

That's not to say that I haven't been mourning the sin of it all.  When I realized just how deep insecurity has rooted itself in my life, I was overcome by a tidal wave of emotions that I've been trying to climb out of ever since.  I've been in a state of mourning since last Saturday.  I've felt myself draw inward.  At times I've wanted to close my eyes and pretend it's not true.  I've just been in flat-out denial.  I've tried to reason it all away.  I've had the "But, this...." conversations.  (I still have one every once in a while.)  I've cried (of course)!  I've battled some depression.  I've fought the urge to just quit...stamp a big "F" for failure on my forehead and stick me in the reject insecurity in that, right!?  (Thank you Lord for Your still, small voice of reason and love that won't let me do that.)

I love what Isaiah 42:16 says, "And I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known. I will make darkness into light before them and make uneven places into a plain. These things I have determined to do [for them]; and I will not leave them forsaken."

Have I been blind?  Yes.  Have I been so prideful that I thought God would love others more than me? *gulp*  Yes.  Have I allowed relationships here on Earth dictate the way I perceive God's incomprehensible love?  Yes.  Will I ever be good enough?  Not in my own strength an knowledge, but most definitely through the blood and power of Christ I will. am.

Dealing with sin is never fun or easy.  I'm just so thankful that He's been there every step of the way...making those uneven places into plains...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bible Studies and Lessons Learned

Have you ever noticed that disputes with your spouse seem to happen on the way to church?  Maybe it's because that is about the only time that Rich and I are together in a small space with no means of escape.  Of course, I also believe it's because the enemy wants us so distracted and funky by the time we get to church that we're not able to worship, minister and receive the Word like we need to.  Well, a few weeks ago, on our way to life group, we had one of "those fights".  You know what I'm talking about.  The kind of fight where you look over at the other one and have a vision of yourself reaching over and wrapping your hands around their neck.  Or when you sit there thinking, "God said you're a gift to me...He must have been in a dirty Santa kind of mood that day!"  (Oh the things we will think, say and do when we get angry or frustrated!) Fortunately, we have both matured in our walks with the Lord and we both secretly knew that we had to shed light on this issue, so we both shared during prayer time.  I was so thankful that when Rich and I got in the car to leave, we were able to rationally share our hearts and that we had asked for prayer and accountability at life group. Just knowing that the other person recognized the seriousness of the issue and shared during prayer time was a comfort and the walls began to fall! I love how the Lord operates even through our hard-headed, stiff-neck selves.

When I opened up and spilled my guts to the ladies, it was like opening up a dam and letting the flood waters go.  Nearly every woman in the room started sharing their experiences.  It was very obvious that our marriages needing some strengthening.  I believe that will be the case until the day the Lord returns.  No relationship can survive without investing time and effort.  As the days went by I prayed for various couples as the Lord would bring them to my mind.  Then the next life group rolled around and the discussions continued.  I love how the Lord loves us so much that He puts us with people that will love us through the difficult times and will lovingly hold us accountable.  (Those ladies did that for me.  They were praying for me just like I was praying for them.  During the week, they would ask me how things were going.  They are so amazing!)  So I immediately went home and pulled out the old, tried-and-true "The Power of a Praying Wife".  I began to read a few pages and the words began to jump off the page at me.  It really ministered to me and stirred up my spirit.  I started sending out texts with different points from the book.  I just had to share them...I couldn't keep this life-sustaining word to myself.  As the day went on, I really felt that the Lord was drawing me to do a bible study on this book.  So I began writing, reading, referencing and praying.  Without knowing what I was already doing, our spirit-lead life group leader asked me about teaching this to our life group.  hehehehe...  Of course I accepted with a big 'ole "ABSOLUTELY"!!!

In the mean time...

So I purchased the Beth Moore "Esther" bible study CDs and workbook well over a year ago.  I got about 3 full lessons under my belt and to be honest with you, it just wasn't doing much for I quit.  I put it up on a shelf, and I had often thought about how I needed to one day get back to it.  I've learned that just because it didn't minister to me then, doesn't mean that it won't minister to me later.  I wasn't ready for it.  Maybe I couldn't appreciate it.  Maybe my mind was on something else.  Well, the Holy Spirit had me get those CDs back out this week and listen to them in the car.  All I can say is WOW.  From the first word out of her mouth, I have been eating it up like a cheesecake and Nutella crepe.  (That one's for you Jenny!)  Man, how it has ministered to me.  I have found myself clapping, laughing, "amening" and talking to Beth while driving down the road.  Thankfully I recognize my limitations so I do not try to take notes while driving down the road.  Anyone that has ridden with me is giving a hearty "Praise God" right now.

If you have much experience with the Holy Spirit you know that He doesn't lead you to do something without there being a purpose behind it.  There is a purpose for everything that He says and does and this time was no exception.  It has amazed me how much the Esther bible study and the Power of a Praying Wife book are intertwining and giving me excellent material for my bible study.  It's gorgeous!  It's exciting!  I can't stop talking about poor friends.  I start talking and I have to remind myself to take a breath.  I hope that I'm able believe that I'm going to transfer this excitement to the ladies in our group.  I pray that this study is going to light a fire within them like it has me.  I have so far to go in becoming the Proverbs 31 woman.  But I'm going to get there...I'm learning MANY lessons along the way, and I can't wait to share them with others.

I'm going to leave us with a quote from Michael Omartian in "The Power of a Praying Wife".  I believe if given the chance, our husbands would say the same.  Our men need us, more than they may even realize.  I'm Richard's helpmate.  The question I have to face is, "am I really helping him or am I fighting against him?"

"I cannot imagine what my life would be without her [his wife Stormie Omartian].  It gives me comfort and security and also fulfills the mission the Lord has for us to pray for each other and bear one another's burdens.  I can think of no better way to truly love your husband than by lifting him up in prayer on a consistent basis.  It is a priceless gift that helps him experience God's blessings and grace."

Friday, April 9, 2010

Anger Belongs in the Garbage

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God's righteousness doesn't grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.
James 1:19-20 (MSG)

Anger...anyone else struggle with this?  "Anyone"...ha...meaning do "you" struggle with it?  Of course "you" do!  Well, I've been a little angry today off-and-on for a while now.  I did get pretty angry today and knew in my spirit that I had to immediately deal with it.  I started off at just plugging in the word "anger" to see what the Word had to say about the subject.  (As though I didn't already know, but I needed a good reminder.)  The first few pages showed scripture after scripture that talked about God's anger.  "See, even God gets angry" was my first response...."good for me" I thought, "I've got a right to be angry.  He got so angry He left them, cursed them, punished them!"  

Well...I only made it to Numbers 14:18 before He smacked me in the back of the head with this scripture, "The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion..."  Man! I can't help but recognize how patient He is with my stubborn self.  He surely is abounding with love for me and is always quick to forgive my sins and rebellion.  Okay, so my anger has started simmering down a bit.  So I continue on...

After reading about not letting the sun go down on your anger and that anger sits in the laps of fools, I came across James 1:19-20 (in the Message bible, of course).  I love the way we are given an "order of operations" in the first part of this scripture.  First and foremost, LISTEN.  Second, be slow to speak. Meaning I need to process what I've heard and seen before I say a stinkin' word.  Then, let anger fall behind in irregular/scattered intervals.  Today I listened...but that's as far as I got...I started dropping the ball on step 2 and by step 3 I totally crashed and burned.  I went down in a flaming ball of anger.

I press on into verse 20...

My number one goal is to grow in righteousness and holiness.  This year, more than ever, my spirit has been crying out for more righteousness...more holiness.  But verse 20 clearly points out that the righteousness I seek is not going to grow out of my anger.  How counterproductive anger is in our lives!  I know that if I let it stay it will kill everything within me...all the ground I have conquered spiritually will be lost to a very unfair and unjust enemy. 

"...So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage..."  This anger within me stinks.  It's dead and rotting.  It's deadly in's cancerous evil.  Those are two words that we as humans do not like to hear..."evil" and "cancer".  Both of those words bring up a sense of fear, as they should.  Because as creations of God, we inherently recognize the seriousness of those two things...whether we've surrendered our lives to God or not.  We know that both only produce pain and death and they are not "of the Lord".  So James tells us to throw that anger in the's's not worth keeping.

I immediately thought of Oscar the Grouch...hence the picture.  Oscar lives in the garbage, he feeds on the garbage...therefore his heart, mind and mouth reflect garbage.  Not only do I need to throw my anger in the garbage can...I also need to make sure I don't jump in there with it and start "feasting" on it comes the great part...

"...In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life."

God wants to landscape me with His Word....making me a beautiful, life-giving garden of salvation.  I live with a landscaper.  I know the amazing things they can do with a simple plot of land.  They can take it from an abandoned, barren, heap of rocks to a gorgeous, well-designed piece of eye candy.  A place where people can relax and enjoy their surroundings.  Well, everytime I get angry I'm taking a rock or a piece of trash and throwing it right in the middle of God's beautiful garden.  Rocks cause damage.  They break things. They stop water and Son light from getting to the plants.  Therefore, they cause death.  Trash stinks.  It attracts rodents and bugs.  It will eventually turn the garden into a dump.  I hate it when people litter...I should remind myself of that the next time I litter God's garden with anger...or other sin. anger is gone...I can now go home...right after I go get that piece of trash out of God's garden...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Forgotten God

Dear Francis Chan,

My toes are no longer suitable for flip flops this summer because your book has stepped all over them!  As I finish up the book and move on to "Crazy Love" I can't help but wonder if I'll have any toes left at all.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment with my pedicurist, counselor, I mean, the Holy Spirit.

This book has been great for me.  This past year I decided I was going to dive deeper into knowing Him...I'm talking really knowing Him.  Not just for the sake of teaching about Him, but for my own personal relationship with Him.  I finally read all the way through "Good Morning Holy Spirit" and then moved straight into "Forgotten God" and those two books have really beefed-up my relationship with Him.

One thing Francis discussed was how we spend so much time focusing on the "grand plan" that God has for us someday that we totally miss what we need to do today.  You know what I'm talking about...those divine appointments in the grocery store, serving at church even when it means sweeping the floors, showing random acts of kindness to people you don't know or believe don't "deserve it", taking your sick life group member a pot of soup after working all day, taking the time to call and pray for someone that has been on your heart all day, stepping out into a ministry that intimidates you or doesn't seem to be "setting you up" for the grander plan that you have in mind...He pointed out that we often hide behind the "one day God's going to show me the bigger plan He has for my life" and so we end up sitting on the sidelines doing nothing.  Therefore, we never achieve the "bigger plan" that God has because He can't trust us. 

If He can't trust us with little...He definitely cannot give us much.  Luke 12:48 reminds us that, "Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!"  If I'm not willing to serve the people in my church by sweeping the floor or feeding them when they're sick, then what makes me think the Lord can trust me enough to place me over those very same people?  That concept is simply Leadership 101...even the world knows that principle!

As my wise old husband says, "it's a process".  We've got to go through the daily process of being led by the Spirit at work, home, church, and yes even Wal-Mart in order for the foundation to be laid that the Lord will use to build His overall plan upon in our lives.  Trying to go straight into the Grand Plan without laying the foundation is like trying to building a house without a foundation...what happens when you do that?  The house falls.  Just the same, the calling on our life is only as strong as our spiritual foundation.  I believe it was Christine Cane that said, "What's on you will destroy you if what's in you can't sustain you."  (Something like that!)

Father, I want to keep on, keeping on!  Let what I perceive as "small" responsibilities and steps become very big within my spirit!