May 14, 2012

Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: Week Six w/ a Giveaway!

Welcome to Week Six of our Hidden Joy on-line study. This week we study Chapter Eight, “Quiet Time.”

***** Remember  the Prayer of Forgiveness is now available under the “Free Resources” link located in the top bar of this web site. Click here if you would like a copy of the Prayer. This takes you directly to my free resources. Click on the link that says “Prayer of Forgiveness.” If you have any trouble, just let me know. *****

This week we have another special guest post written by my dear friend and sister in Christ, Noelle.  Noelle and I met through my on-line studies.  She has been one of our greatest encouragers, supporters, and prayer warriors.  I asked her what she would like for me to share about her and have copied her words below.  These few sentences reveal the passion of her heart more than any introduction I could ever write.

God has taken me down some crazy paths in my life, including surviving heart failure when I was 28 and losing both of my parents in the span of 62 days. Through the twists and turns, God has completely transformed my heart, mind and body by His truth. My heart’s desire is to walk alongside others as they uncover their own heart, mind and body transformations. 

Noelle has journeyed through very difficult trials in her life, and God has brought her through them in some powerful ways.   I invited her to share bits and pieces of her journey with you today.  She has written a beautiful message straight from her heart.. I am praying that her words encourage you and motivate you to go deeper still in your personal time with God.

If her words speak to you today, please leave her a comment in the comment section of my web site.  Noelle has graciously offered to do a giveaway with her guest post.  She will give away three copies of Hidden Joy and will select  the winners from the comments you leave this week.  If you already have a copy, we would love for you to give the copy you win away.

At the end of Noelle’s message you will find the video for the week as well as this week’s memory verse and homework assignment. The prayer for the week is Noelle’s prayer.

I asked my doctor what went through his mind 13 years ago when he was called into the emergency room.  His eyes filled with tears as he explained, “I couldn’t sleep a wink that night because I knew you would be dead by the morning.”  We had a special patient-physician bond since I was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in my early twenties.  Knowing my kidneys were my weakness, we were both completely blindsided when the fight for my life ended up being unexpected heart failure when I was 28 years old.

It was nearly impossible to reconcile.  Within the span of hours, I went from being an athlete to needing emergency open heart surgery.   After my operation, I was on life support.  The physical pain was excruciating.   Fear and anxiety filled my days.  Oddly enough, though, I grew accustomed to this new way of life.  I’m not saying any of it was enjoyable… or even tolerable… but I got used to it.  There was only one thing I couldn’t endure.  My thirst.  All of the adjectives in our language cannot begin to describe how thirsty I was.

When I came out of my coma-like state, I used my best sign language to ask for a glass of water.  I was still in critical condition, so my fluids had to be significantly limited.  Instead of water, my nurse would put a couple of ice chips in my mouth.  Those ice chips did nothing for me, so I’d try to sleep as much as possible to escape my torment.  In my dreams, I’d fantasize about drinking glass after glass of pure water until my thirst was quenched.   It was heaven… until I woke up to… another ice chip.  As you can imagine, when I graduated from life support in the ICU to a regular hospital room and the nurse brought me a pitcher of water, I almost broke down in tears. 

Did you know that we are all born with that same kind of thirst? 

As the deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I go and stand before him? (Psalm 42:1-2 NLT)

This psalmist knows his deep thirst and he knows that only time with God can satisfy his need.  Your soul is thirsty.  Are you quenching your thirst with springs of “Living Water” (Jeremiah 2:13; 17:13) by having a daily quiet time?

What does your quiet time look like?  If you asked me ten years ago, I would have answered you this way (use your best robotic voice as you read), “First I go to my kitchen table, then I read one chapter from the Old Testament, one chapter from the New Testament, one Psalm, one Proverb and then I pray for ten minutes.”  Now, I know God honored my discipline, but I was trying to quench my thirst with ice chips.  I was still thirsty for more! 

How about you?  Do you have your quiet times scheduled in your calendar as irrevocable appointments?  Think of it this way.  If Wendy Blight said she was coming to your town and really wanted to meet you (probably at Chick-fil-A for some sweet tea), you know darn well that you would be there with bells on!  You would want to know all about her and you would be so excited to share what’s on your heart.  Admittedly, it can be hard to have that same excitement with God since He’s invisible to our eyes.  But Jesus said, “…Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”  (John 20:29 NLT)

Once you have your Father-daughter date scheduled in your calendar, what are you going to do?  Consider the newfound victory you are living in: you are finding forgiveness and releasing strongholds.  You have the freedom of a new life!  God is holding your face in His hands and He excitedly says, “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19 NIV84)  He is making a way in the desert!  Streams in the wasteland!  In other words, He is offering Living Water, not ice chips!

There are two tactics that have helped me transition from ice chips to water.  I have personalized my quiet times with God, and I have personalized His tone of voice so I can hear Him deep in my heart. 

I’ve traded my robotic quiet times for tailor made dates with my Heavenly Father.  Before I begin my quiet time, I take a moment to see where my heart pulls me.  Most early mornings I spend my time in my home office with a cup of coffee.  But there are instances when I feel drawn to get cozy on the couch, or maybe the kitchen table seems more fitting.  On the weekends, I drive out to my favorite bench which overlooks the beach.  Sometimes I let God lead me through the Bible.  Other mornings, I might be in the mood to sing praise music (I’m convinced my parrot-squawking voice sounds more like Carrie Underwood to God’s ears).  There are times when I’m involved in Bible studies and other times when I just want to write God a love letter or a thank you note. 

I’ve also learned to personalize God’s voice.  Matthew 11:28 is Jesus’ call to us when we are tired and burned out, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  I’ll tell you… when I was drinking ice chips, I couldn’t relate to that verse since I heard a Harlequin-romance-meets-Old-English voice in my mind.  But just as we use different tones of voices when we speak to different people, God’s voice is personalized to each of us.  I’m a playful and quirky girl.  In faith, I picture Jesus running a few strides in front of me turning to me with a big smile and calling me with a strong voice, “Come to me Noelle!”  Now, I can relate to that.  I have a friend who is more of a romantic, and she hears that verse whispered in her ear.  That resonates in her heart.

What about you?  How can you go from ice chips to Living Water?  Are your daily Father-daughter dates scheduled in your calendar?  What can you do to personalize them?  Do you hear God’s voice in a tone that touches your heart?  Drink up girlfriends!  God is pouring out Living Water for you and me…  Cheers!

 

Noelle, thank you for sharing this beautiful message with us! And, yes, I do LOVE me some sweet tea.

 

Below is this week’s video lesson, assignment, and prayer.

Assignment: Read Chapter Eight in Hidden Joy, “Quiet Time.” Complete the Guide for Reflection and Study questions for Chapter 8 located in the back of the book.

Memory Verse: “Be still and know that I am God..” Psalm 46:10

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for this amazing “small” group. You perfectly called each one here because Jesus has set her free… free indeed! As the heavy chains of unforgiveness are broken and as each stronghold is rendered powerless, You are calling us to an exciting new life! Give us ears to hear You as You call us to our special Father-daughter date each day. Help us to personalize our quiet times so we can fall madly in love with You. Help us to recognize that our thirst can be quenched by You alone. In our lives today, we can get deceived and think that busyness is a badge of honor. Our cell phones buzz, Facebook draws us in, even serving at church can take us away from the intimate times You want to have with us. Let us not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Our quiet times help us to renew our minds. Abba, bring us from ice chips to Living Water. We love You so much. We lift our prayers and sing Your praises in Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Noelle and I will be praying for God to speak personally and powerfully to each one of you as you become intentional in your time alone with God.  Please share with us what you experience throughout the week in your quiet time.  And don’t forget when you leave a comment, your name will be included  for a chance to win a copy of Hidden Joy.

Blessings,

May 7, 2012

Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: Week Five

Welcome to Week Five of our Hidden Joy on-line study. This week we study Chapter Seven, “Surrendering Your Strongholds.”  This is my most FAVORITE chapter.  Through this part of my journey, God showed me how FAITHFUL, BIG and POWERFUL He really is!!

***** Before we jump into this week’s message, the Prayer of Forgiveness is now available under the “Free Resources” link located in the top bar of this web site.  Click here if you would like a copy of the Prayer. This takes you directly to my free resources.  Click on the link that says “Prayer of Forgiveness.”   If you have any trouble, just let me know. *****

This week I have a special treat for you.  A dear Proverbs 31 friend and sister in Christ, Donna Bostick, shares a guest post today.  So many times we at Proverbs 31 are blessed by “virtual relationships,” women we meet on our websites or who serve P31 in some capacity from afar.  And every once in a while we have the pleasure of “live” face to face” meetings with these women.  That is what happened with Donna and me  a few months ago.  She came to Charlotte with a few other women who faithfully serve with Melissa Taylor in our on-line Bible Study ministry.  We all met at Chick-fil-A for lunch.  Donna shared with me how God did an amazing work in her life as it related to fear.  I invited her to share some of her journey with you today.  Below please find Donna’s words of wisdom on fear.  I am praying that her story encourages you and gives you great hope.  If her words bless you today, please leave her a comment in the comment section of my web site.

At the end of Donna’s message you will find the video for the week as well as this week’s memory verse and homework assignment.  The prayer for the week is Donna’s prayer.  As you journey through Chapter Seven, I am praying you will take your eyes of your stronghold, whatever it is, and FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS.  I pray you will TRUST in Him to take you to a new place in your battle – even just one baby step forward will be a victory.  And that is what I am praying for you!!!

Faith or Fear …. Your Choice
Donna Bostick

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV),

FEAR. We’ve all experienced, felt, and seen it. Some even live with it every day. 

How do we define fear?

What is fear to the five-year-old whose daddy flings a plate of hot spaghetti through the air, followed by a chair aimed at the TV? Will her mom be the next thing he hits; or will it be the girl?

What is fear to the little one in the police cruiser with her younger sister, not sure what she’s done wrong, only to find out her daddy broke the law by not following the custody ruling.

Or to the eight-year-old who hears the heavy footsteps of the neighbor getting closer to the bedroom door. She lies silently, hoping the evil man will pass the door. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t.

Or to the forty-year-old, alone in the doctor’s office. The doctor gently says, “I believe it’s cancer. We’ll take it one day, and one test, at a time; we’ll pray you through this.”Surgery removes the lump near her vocal cords; it’s not cancerous. But the roller coaster dips two days later: it is cancer—the fastest growing kind. Another surgery is needed ASAP. Three days after this, the diagnosis changes again. After a second surgery six weeks later, she’s told they got it all. Does she believe them this time?

What is fear to the fifty-year-old driving with Melissa Taylor when she hears, “Donna, you should be speaking and writing. You have lots to offer. I want to see you doing these things.”

Those were, and some still are, my fears.

For years my fears ruled my life and my emotions. I allowed fear to become anger; the kind of anger that I would bottle up and unleash on the most unlikely candidate at the most inopportune times. At times I would let my fear hold me captive to living in the shadows, hiding and sulking from my family and friends. Sometimes I would even profess hate at either the circumstances or at the people involved and yes, even at God. And other times I questioned why God would allow all of this to happen.

I don’t have all the answers. But I realized one day that I had a choice. I can let my fears rule over my heart, mind and soul, or I can allow God to heal me with His grace and truth, and give me hope to share with others. Some days I make the right choices and some days I don’t.

Over time I’ve discovered I don’t have to let my fears define me. 2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” God keeps the promises His Word is filled with. He’s given us a spirit of power and a sound mind. Although some will probably debate if I have a sound mind {and I would probably lose!}.
Despite my fears, God has shown me He has plans to prosper and not harm me, plans to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). He’s revealed Himself to be my Healer (Exodus 15:26); my Prince of Peace (Judges 6:24); my Protector, Defender and Abba Father who loves me no matter what (Psalm 68:5-6). God is my Daddy whose lap I can crawl into any time I become fearful.

Let’s begin to let go of our fears and take hold of these promises in His Word. We’re His daughters, protected and defended by His peace. Fears may have shaped our past, but they don’t have to define our future.

Thank you, Donna!! Your honesty and your words of wisdom have been such an encouragement.  And thank you also for generously giving of your time and talents  each week to serve Proverbs 31 through our on-line Bible study ministry.

Below is this week’s video lesson, assignment, and prayer.

Assignment: Read Chapter Seven in Hidden Joy, “Surrendering Your Strongholds.” Complete the Guide for Reflection and Study questions for Chapter 7 located in the back of the book.

Memory Verse: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

Prayer:

God, I praise You that You are my Future and Hope, and that You love me no matter what. Thank You that I can run to You and crawl in Your lap when fear overtakes me. Thanks for being a Promise Keeper, and the Author and Perfecter of my faith. Help me seek You with my entire being and remember Your faithfulness. I love and thank You for the life You’ve given me in You. Cause me to honor and glorify You with my life, actions, speech and heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

ENJOY some precious time with the Lord this week.  Sit at His feet and allow Him to minister to you and speak healing, renewing words into your heart and mind.

Blessings,

April 30, 2012

Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: Week Four

Hey girls,

Well, this is a hard week.  We focus on one word…

Forgiveness

This word elicits so many emotions.  God speaks to forgiveness numerous times throughout Scripture because He knows it is a challenge for His children.

As you work through this chapter, please remember I struggled with forgiving my attacker for years.  It is NOT something that came easily.  It is not something I learned in a week.  My heart’s desire is that God will take the Truths I share in this chapter and plant them deep in your heart.  I am praying He will tender your soul to receive them and allow them to penetrate to the deepest, darkest crevices and begin a mighty transformational work.

I invite you to be vulnerable this week.  Would you consider sharing your struggle with forgiveness so we can be praying for you?  I know how hard this is, and I commit to pray specifically for each one of you who leave a comment this week.  Unforgiveness is a HUGE stronghold, and Satan would love nothing more than to keep you in your place of unforgiveness.  DON’T GIVE HIM THIS PLEASURE!!  Claim the mind of Christ that is yours.  Stand firm on the Scriptures we study this week.  Work through the questions and invite God into the process.  He is waiting for you to bring this to Him and give you victory over this in your life.

Below please find the video message for this week as well as this week’s assignment, memory verse, and prayer.  In the message, I talk about a “Prayer of Forgiveness” I have written.  If you would like a copy, please leave your e-mail address, and I will send it to you.

Assignment: Read Chapter Six in Hidden Joy, “Learning Forgiveness.” Complete the Guide for Reflection and Study questions for Chapter 6 located in the back of the book.

Memory Verse: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the the Lord forgives you. Colossians 3:13

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, Your grace amazes me.  Thank You for dying on the cross for me when I was still a sinner.  Thank You for suffering pain, humiliation, and rejection for me.  Thank You that Your sacrifice was sufficient to forgive all my sins.  Lord, I am harboring unforgiveness in my heart.  I know this grieves your heart.  Please forgive me for refusing to extend grace and forgiveness the way you so graciously extended it to me.  You know how much this person has hurt me.  You know the wrongs they have done to me…how they have betrayed me.  But I know, Lord, Your will is forgiveness.  For it is in granting forgiveness that I will be freed!  Help me, Father to grant forgiveness.  Cleanse my heart from all bitterness, unforgiveness, and resentment.  Root out every ounce so that nothing is remains.  You are my strength, and in You alone I know that I am able to forgive.  Give me the courage and the strength to take this step.  I commit to leave all my pain  and hurt at the foot of the cross, allowing You to take it all.  I will hold on to nothing!  Please begin Your healing work in my heart and mind.  I ask all this in the powerful and healing Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, my Lord.  Amen.

 Please know I will be praying for you as you journey through this chapter on forgiveness. Please share what God does in your life in and through this chapter.

Blessings,