Chapter 13: Lord, Preserve Me in Purity and Holiness

Before I started reading this chapter, I was worried.  Me?  Holy?  How is that possible?   In the past few days, I have felt far from it.  My choices in how I react to things have not been the greatest.  This past Friday, my mantra going through my head was “remember, you are a Christian.” … I even asked several friends to remind me if I forgot.

I read through her 7 ways to live in holiness….

#1: separate yourself from the world:  I believe I have done this fairly well.  There are a lot of things that the world loves that I have personally chosen to avoid and not participate in.   Instead of filling up a credit card with things I want, my husband and I choose to work hard, save our money and only buy things when we have the money to pay for it.

#2: purifying yourself: this is the one I was failing on Friday.  My thoughts were not in line with God.  My day started off horribly, and I got so very angry.  Instead of saying a quick prayer for God’s assistance, I let the situations fester and anger me. This was definitely not holy.

#3: living in the Spirit and not in the flesh: this isn’t just sexual sin, it’s the anger I felt Friday.  It’s being jealous of your neighbor who has something you don’t.  Things from keeping our spirit pure and our lives focused on God and not on us.

#4: staying clear of sexual immorality: I am so glad I am past this area of my life.  I did sell myself short as a young adult.  I am grateful that my husband accepted me and forgave me of my past.   I promised to remain faithful to him, and that is a promise I plan on keeping until death do us part! 🙂

5: being sanctified by Jesus: once we belong to Christ, we need to shed off our sinful ways.   In many ways, I think I have.  But I realize I am a work in progress, even after 19 years of belonging to Christ.

6: walk close to God: it is so important to be close to God.  Not just when trouble comes, but all the time.  That way, we feel peace and comfort in knowing that God is with us no matter what.

7: let God keep you: holiness is God’s will for our lives.   He planned it from the beginning for us.  When we live right, God will keep us from sin.   This is such encouraging thoughts.   The more I am closer to God , the more I can be like God.  We all should strive to be as close to God as we can.

This is the last of the bible studies on CN.  I plan on moving my bible study on The Power of a Praying Woman to Monogabliss.  I will be starting the book study over for those who haven’t had a chance to read the book, but would like to from what they have seen on the study.   I hope you plan on joining me there and joining in on the conversation.

Chapter 12: Lord, Plant Me so I Will Bear the Fruit of Your Spirit

Planting.  This chapter is coming at a very opportune time for me, as I am working in a new field in my life – preparing a new blog.   This will be an interesting challenge for me.  I’ve never been very good at blogging on my own.  I have two personal blogs that haven’t been written on in a LONG time.  LOL.  But I feel that God is in this one, so hopefully it will be successful.  Pray that the seeds I am planting now will produce much good fruit for the Lord!

I have never been good at planting.  This past spring, my daughter and I planted some seeds as an experiment for her to see how well they would grow.  She planted them and faithfully took her watering pot out daily to water the seeds.   Soon, we began seeing little sprouts.  She was so excited!   Then, the summer hit.   We had the 2nd most 100+degree days on record.   The faithfulness for both of us to go outside and water those plants waned.   Pretty soon, much to her chagrin, you guessed it…the plants died.

I like her line where she says, “All of us are planting something in our lives every single day, whether we realize it or not. And we are also reaping whatever we have planted in the past.”   In Sunday school, we were talking about greed.  In 2 Kings 5, I think we all know the story of Naaman, who was plagued with leprosy, came to Elisha and was healed.   But if you continue reading, Elisha had turned down any payment from Naaman.  But his servant, Gehazi decided to hurry after after Naaman, and he lied to Naaman and took money from him and clothing in Elisha’s name.   Then when he returned home, he lied to Elisha about where he was.  The seeds that Gehazi planted affected all of his descendants…he was cursed with Naaman’s leprosy … him and his family for ALL generations.    Can you imagine what he thought after reaping what he had sewn?  How about his children… grandchildren…his great grandchildren….

Stormie’s producing great crops section goes through the Fruit of the Spirit.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.   If we plan these seeds, the seeds that the Lord oversees, Jesus helps us to plant and nurture, and the Holy Spirit helps us with the harvest.

I’ve planted things in my past that did not bear good fruit.  Thank the Lord for forgiveness.  Daily, I try to plant new seeds, good seeds, and I cannot wait to watch them grow into fruition.  Which one is the hardest one for you to grow?  I am working on joy and self control.  Joy is something I have been expecting, but not seeing.   My life is great now, but I don’t feel any joy.  For some reason, the Christmas season always seems to do this to me as well, and I haven’t figured out why.   I need to find where my disconnect is with the Lord.   Self control…. eek.  I am not TOTALLY without self control, mind you, but there are areas I need work on.

What did you glean from this chapter?  How is your harvest going?

Chapter 11: Lord, Bless Me in the Work I Do

Chapter 11 has really struck me with a very real truth.  I’ll get to that in a minute.

While I was growing up, my Dad had a job he loved.   Until it was bought out by another company.  Instead of letting him go, the company started making him miserable.  I think there were some days he went to work and he had nothing to do for 8 hours a day.   He became very bored, very angry, and eventually they got their wish…he quit.   But before he left that job, we knew to leave Dad alone for 30 minutes to an hour after he got home.    He was miserable.   He stayed at the job because he needed to provide for his family.  He had a wife and three kids that depended on him.   The burden of the world was on his shoulders.   I don’t know if my Dad really ever had a job that he really enjoyed after that.  Maybe it was just work to him and a paycheck.

When DH and I married, we both decided that we learned something from our fathers… our work was not going to be that…it’s wasn’t going to be work.  We were going to really enjoy our work, even if we were dirt poor, living from paycheck to paycheck, we didn’t want to work at any job just to earn a paycheck.  We were both private music teachers…self employed, no insurance, but we were in love with each other, our jobs, life.   We were tested by our families…especially when I became pregnant with our son 5 months after our wedding.   “You should get a real job” … “You need to get a job with insurance”… “When ARE you going to get a real job?” … But we stood firm with our belief that we wanted to come home at the end of the day, and our son would enjoy two HAPPY parents who loved coming home after a long day to him.

Now about the real truth.   In May of 2005, I taught music lessons for one high school and it’s feeder schools…and at the end of that school year in May, they decided to let go ALL of their private trumpet staff…which included me.   Over the summer, I tried contacting other schools to see if they needed a trumpet teacher, but I couldn’t get a single bite.   So knowing that we needed a second income, I went to a friend that was the director of a child care center.   I asked if they needed any help.  I started out subbing for her, but eventually that September, I was hired on part time…. which later became full time…. which later became an afternoon supervisor…. which eventually I became the director of the center.   And I love my job.

You see, the realization I came to was that God has a season for everything.  He knows who needs to be where at what time to make things come together perfectly to His glory.  I had a vision as a child.  When I grew up, I wanted to have 50 children.  Yeah, seems really crazy, right…but it came true.  When I stepped into the office that used to be my friend’s office and realized that the sign on the door … Director… that was ME…and at that time, the center had 50 children enrolled…. and I loved everyone of them like they were my own.  I have now been Director of this child care center now for a little over 3 years.   It’s has grown to 66 children at this writing.  I love every one of them.  I love my staff.  I love the families.  I love my supervisors.   I feel that I am EXACTLY where God wants me at this point in my life.

Stormie is right.   God has given everyone a job, whether you are a SAHM or you work outside of the home.  Whether you volunteer or get paid for what you do.   Whatever work you do, do it well to the best of your ability.  One of my teachers came up to me the other day and told me that she has worked at several different child care centers in her life.   She loves mine the best.  She loves working for me.  She loves that everyone loves her.   I am sad that I am going to lose her at the end of December….but she is a pastor’s wife and she has work to do.   I told her when we talked once that I couldn’t help but treat everyone, staff and families, like they were Jesus.  At any point, any person that I come in contact with, could be the Savior.  Like in Genesis 18 when the Lord visited Abram.  Abram saw three visitors.   At any time, anyone who walks into my life could be the Lord, and I rejoice in treating them as I would treat my Savior, if he were to appear.   There is no other way to treat others, is there?

“No matter what your paycheck reflects, your work is important to God, it’s important to others, and it’s important to you.”  Amen to that.   Amen.

What did you glean from this chapter?  What stories do you have to tell about revelations you have had in this chapter?  I need to email my Dad…..

(PS… I am writing this during one of my “worship” times with youtube!  It’s so easy to write that way!!)

Chapter 10: Lord, Prepare Me to Be a True Worshiper

This is my favorite chapter in this whole book so far!  I LOVE to worship!  All of my Facebook friends have to endure my worship on my page… I go to youtube when the Spirit moves me and I type in one of my favorite Christian Contemporary groups/singers.   It could be Chris Tomlin… Paul Baloche…. 10th Avenue North… Hillsong…. Mercy Me…. I pick one of their songs…and of course, as I am listening to it, there in the right sidebar is a listing of MORE songs that I love!  So I link the one I am listening to on my Facebook page, and I am off!

Music is my way to worship.   Being a musician myself, not only does the music move me, I love listening to the words.   I hear God speaking to me, reminding me of things that I have forgotten.  When I am awakened at night by a bad dream, I start singing praise songs in my head to calm me down.   When I am at work feeling especially stressed out about something, I open a window on my computer and start Pandora on a Christian contemporary page.   It has such a calming, soothing effect.  At work, I probably drive people nuts going around singing praise songs out of the blue.  But it’s my way to worship.   I love to worship with music.

I liked the comment Stormie made “When I praised and worshiped God, it was like being hooked up to a spiritual IV.”  – YES!  That is exactly how I feel.  Everything melts away… anxiety … GONE.  fear… GONE.  confusion … GONE.  worry … you got it!  GONE!

We have just recently started attending a new church.  One of the first things my husband and I noticed was that the worship leader chose songs….sometimes really old praise songs… but the congregation was singing it.  Not just singing… belting out songs.   “Heart of Worship” … have you ever heard 200 people singing it in a small worship center before the sermon?   We’ve been to churches where some people sing, but most just stand there… totally unmoved.   This new church … it’s invigorating to be among 200 people who are singing praises to the Lord corporately.   It’s really moving.

So, I will leave you with one of my favorite songs that I start one of my Facebook “worship services” with.   It always reminds me that God is so much bigger than me, and I am so small … I am so unworthy, but he believes I am so worth it.   It is so overwhelming to realize at what great lengths God will go for me.   I am blessed.

Hope this takes you on a “Facebook worship session”… or just hang out on youtube and listen.  🙂

Who Am I

Chapter 9: Lord, Instruct Me as I Put My Life in Right Order

“We can’t live successfully without right priorities in our lives.”   As I read this chapter, I was enlightened to the truth in this statement.   God enlightened me that I have not been following HIS top two priorities… especially #1…. to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.    Oh, of course I love the Lord, but my relationship hasn’t been my top priority.  Life, and getting through each day has been my priority.  I’ve been trying to do things through MY own strength, and it fails me miserably.  Each day, I wake up thinking about what I need to do, all I need to accomplish…but never do I thank the Lord for the new day nor do I ask him to help guide me through the day.  To lead me down the right path that day and to help guide my decisions and all I do.   I forget that every day and Satan is so very pleased by it. “When you seek Him first every day and ask Him to help you put your life in order, He will do that.”  Lord, please help me to remember this as I start my day on Monday. My life is ruling me, and I need the Lord to rule over me.

Okay, I loved the section on submission.   As soon as I saw that word, I thought of my MIL.   You would think the word submission meant slavery.    No matter how much you try, you could never convince her that submission is a choice you make…something you decide to do, not something you are forced to do.  As I think of it, if Jesus can submit to the Father, then I can submit myself to him.   It’s the LEAST I can do considering the sacrifice he made for me.   I try my best to submit to my husband.  I am not the greatest at it, I am sure, but it is really important to me to do my best.  My family is in an interesting situation regarding the new church we attend, so I have a lot of thinking, investigating and praying to do about the section on submission to church authority.   You see, the church we have just begun attending is elder driven….there is no pastor per say, but an elder board that leads the church.   I was talking to my DH today about that and had him read the section in this book about it.   We are going to be asking questions about how do you submit to a church with no one lead figure, but 8 active elders.

So, what are your thoughts?  How much order (or disorder) is your life in?  What can (have) you done to fix it?

Chapter 8: Lord, Take Me Deeper in Your Word

“There is no way to draw closer to God, to have a clean and right heart before Him, or be a forgiving person, or walk in obedience to His ways, or take control of your mind, or stand against the enemy, or make Jesus Lord of your life unless you are in the Word of God every day.  It’s your compass.  Your guide.  You can’t get where you need to go without it”. ~ Stormie Omartian, Power of a Praying Woman.

This chapter came in the nick of time.   It’s the best chapter for me by far in this book.  It’s the one that God knew I needed to hear the most.   He knew that I would have an “a ha” moment this week when I read this chapter.   He’s right.

I am the world’s worst at reading my bible.  Well, that’s not an entirely  true statement.  I do read it in church, at bible study or Sunday school.   But on my own, I don’t make the time to read it.   I guess that makes me a really sad, pathetic example of a Christian.  I have good intentions.  Really I do.  I just don’t follow through.

I think that the biggest message I pulled from this chapter was in the last paragraphs of the chapter before the prayer.    She talks about in her early days as a Christian, how she suffered from depression and anxiety.   That’s me.   There are some things about life that are so overwhelming to me right now.  But I read these words from Stormie… “All it took was reading the Bible for a few minutes, and I would feel calm and hopeful again…. It leads us away from self-destructive thoughts and enables us to enjoy a sense of well being.  It gives us hope and keeps us on course.”  As soon as I read that, I LONGED for that.  I longed for peace.   I longed to not be anxious anymore.  I longed for the symptoms of depression to GO AWAY.  It’s incredible for me to find out that she experienced that once and the Word of God made it go away.   I definitely need that.

I have decided that I need to print out and post in my office at work her “Ten Good Reasons to Read God’s Word.”  Right now #1, #3, #6, #7 and #9 sound good to me.   I am sure I need all of them, but I am willing to start these one at a time.

Great chapter!  What did you glean from it?  How does the Word of God help you?  Are you faithful in your reading?

Chapter 7: Lord, Rule Me in Every Area of My Life

The key word in this very short chapter was surrender.   I looked up the word surrender.  Merriam-Webster had four definitions for the word.

1. to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand

2. to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another

3. to give (oneself) up into the power of another especially as a prisoner

4. to give (oneself) over to something (as an influence)

What I found more compelling about the word surrender was the synonyms for it…. cede, cough up, deliver, give up, hand over, lay down, relinquish, render, turn in, turn over, yield.

Jesus laid down his life for me.  And I cannot seem to let go of what I want for what he wants.   It’s crazy, isn’t it?  That we think we know what’s best…what we need to do…. never considering that God knows better than us.   I think about this actually quite often.   What if God called my family to be missionaries?  Could we drop everything and go?  What if God told us that we needed to tithe the full 10% on a month that we know we are going to be short?  Can we step out in faith and trust that God knows what he is doing?  Or do we say no, I can’t do that.   I know I am guilty of the latter.   And you know, it’s not that I don’t trust God….it’s that I am scared.   I listen to the serpent from the Garden of Eden…. he tells things that scare me.   And so I “feel better”, I don’t do what God asks of me.

I will be reading and rereading this chapter and hope that the Lord helps me to understand what I am to do for him.  Help me, Lord, to surrender to you.

Chapter 6: Lord, Show Me How to Take Control of My Mind

I could so relate to Stormie’s opening vignette in this chapter…. there have been times where I could not understand why I was so down.  There was absolutely no reason for me to be down, and I seriously thought I needed to call my doctor to see if my antidepressant needed to be increased.   It wasn’t until I was on Facebook, and I just all of the sudden  got into one of my Youtube kicks…. I started posting praise songs left and right.   Praise You in this Storm, Who Am I, East to West , Grace Like Rain, Lead Me to the Cross… one after another, these songs came to mind.  I sang them as a posted them on Facebook, all of the sudden my mood changed.   I was praising God and it chased Satan away.   He had stolen God’s word away from me, and all these praise songs brought them right back.

I play in a classic rock band.  There are times when I get so involved in listening to those songs on Pandora, I find that I have more troubles in my life when I completely move away from worship music.  We started off doing Classic Rock/Modern Worship performances, but soon, demand was asking more for our classic rock side…. The words in some of those songs can really lead your mind down the wrong road…. and I find myself being so stuck on listening to that kind of music… but last night, God reminded me on my 4 hour + drive from my parents house to home, that I needed to spend that time with him…. so on Pandora, I plugged into my Christian contemporary station and listened to that most of the way home.   It really lifted me up after the reason I went to see my parents…. both are having health issues and I feel so far away from them.   But I refused to entertain the vision Satan was trying to give me… “what a bad daughter you are for not being there for your parents….”,  “why aren’t you doing anything to help them.”  “You are too involved in your own life to even care about theirs…”     I choose to focus on the reason for this season in my life…. God has a plan for every one of us.  His will be done, not mine.

When Satan camps out in your mind, what do you do to keep him at bay and run him off?

Chapter 5: Lord, Strengthen Me to Stand Against the Enemy

This chapter is one I needed to read badly.   There are times in my life when I leave the door open just a crack, and Satan comes meandering right into my life again…because I let him in.

We have an enemy who is like a terrorist to our soul.”  I never heard this put this way, and it really stood out to me as I began the chapter this week.   Of course, I knew that Satan was the enemy, but I never thought about him as a terrorist…but he really is!  I know the feelings that I get when I let him get his foot in the door.   Lately, he has gotten in somehow, and I need to use the power Jesus gave me when he died on the cross for me to rid my life of Satan.  I know he is in my life right now because there is a lot of anxiety…forgetfulness…confusion…. It’s like my mind is a great big black kettle, and Satan is just stirring things up, throwing things in that just muddle me even more.   It’s times like these when I throw on some worship music.  Pandora has become my friend… I love to sing worship music.  I find that when I listen or sing along, Satan isn’t present anymore.  Cause he hates worship music!  He hates me praising God.   So he disappears.

I didn’t grow up in the church.  I didn’t memorize a lot of verses in my youth…it just wasn’t done in my household.   I didn’t have much to go on, except two grandmothers who showed me the love of God through themselves.    My Dad’s mother used to play organ, and she taught me from the beginning of my being “Jesus Loves Me”  She would play it and we would sing it and I would feel so free!  My Mom’s mother influenced me so much that on my 16th birthday all she could afford was to give me $5.  I used that $5 and some money I earned and bought my first bible.   That’s where my life started changing, a little at a time.  So worship music is my thing.   I love it when I find the words of a Paul Baloche song in Psalms.  It’s like finding something new that I didn’t know about God’s word.   (Yeah, it’s weird…I know!  LOL)

I love Stormie’s 5 weapons against Satan.   They are really good tools to have in our arsenal.  God’s word…Praise….Obedience….Faith….Prayer and fasting.   All wonderful weapons that every Christian has at his/her disposal.

My mom’s been battling with cancer.  She was in remission, but we recently found out that it may be back.  There are still tests to be done to see if it is or not.   But Mom commented to my sister at the last procedure… “why me?”  It’s because she’s a child of God.  It’s because she is obedient to God.   Those are the exact people that Satan tries to break down.  I told my sister to tell Mom that God won’t let her go through anything that she can’t handle, and he will always provide a way out.   I hope that I am blessed with the same faith that she has.   Her strength comes from the Lord.  “Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord” – Everlasting God by Brenton Brown.

Which weapon do you find that is the most effective way of keeping Satan out of your life?   What left an impression on you as you read through this chapter?

Chapter 4: Lord, Teach Me to Walk in Obedience to Your Ways

This was a very intriguing chapter for me.   I like to think that I walk in God’s ways, but I realize that I don’t always do it.  This past week has been excruciatingly hard on me, and I realize that if I had stopped to ask God’s help or for God to help me to do his will in all the situations I faced, it might have been a better, more organized week.

Here are some of the things that stood out to me that I underlined from my reading…

“We (women) know a lot about what we’re supposed to be doing, but we often have a hard time doing it.”  Why is this so?   I find, in my own life, that it probably is that I am just not walking in God’s will…listening to what he is telling me, and just trusting him that if I do it,  I will be blessed.   Omartian says, “I asked God to help me be disciplined enough to be daily in his Word, to pray faithfully, and to take the steps of obedience that I need to take.”   This is exactly what I need to do.  I need to start praying that God would help me with this area of my life.

“We get into trouble with we think we know what to do and we stop asking God if we’re doing it.”  I know that I am guilty, very guilty of doing this until I get so overwhelmed that I cry out to the Lord for help.  If I had spoken to the Lord for wisdom about a situation instead of jumping in head first, it probably would have worked out so much better and easier then how I thought I could do it.

“It is important that you keep asking God to show you what He wants you to do.” I think, for me, this goes along with the last point.   I worked for many years teaching private music lessons.  Came a point when I put all my eggs in one basket, teaching lessons for one school….and I lost my job at the end of that school year.   I tried all summer to find other schools to teach at, but could not.  So as a last resort because I REALLY needed to work, I went to a friend who was the director of a business that I never thought I would work in… child care.   She hired me and I started there part time….6 years later, I am still there and I am the director.   Never would I have thought that I would be where I am today, but I know it is what God wants ME to do at this time in my life.  So I will stay here as long as God wants me to be.

“When we do things we don’t like simply because we know we need to do them, it builds character in us.  It makes us disciplined.  It forms us into a leader God can trust.”  I can tell you in my current field of work, 90% of it is SO much fun.  I love it.  It’s the 10% that I so dread that I rely on the Lord.  Do I WANT to press parents for timely payments…NO, but if I don’t, how do I pay my bills and my employees.  Do I WANT to call a parent to tell them they need to take their sick child home after they left them there one hour ago… No, but I have to to follow state guidelines and rules.   Do I like conflict of ANY KIND in the workplace…an issue with a child, an issue with a parent, an issue with an employee… no.  Do I like calling Child Protective Services and deal with the aftermath when a family guesses it comes from me?   NO.  But it is the law and I have to do it if I have suspicions.     The biggest thing… I have to “trust that He knows the way and won’t hurt (me) in the process.” (parenthesis mine)

What insights did you pull from this week’s lesson?   What is keeping you from walking in obedience with the Lord?

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