Archive for September, 2007

Dial Up From the Forest

My Dearest Siestas,
I’m still in the mountains and I only have dial-up so I have no idea whether this post will work. I’m going to give it a try. I’ve been up working on Esther since about 7:15 this morning and decided a few minutes ago to take a break and let my mind rest and rejuvenate. I got on-line which itself can be a feat out here in the middle of the forest. As God would have it, I was able to get on our blog and read many of your comments on the “confidence” post. The tears stung in my eyes as I praised Him for you, amened you, and prayed especially for you who I could tell needed an extra revelation of His Presence. I also marveled over the wonders of God’s timing in causing that simple post to be a clear word to many of you as it had been to me. Surely one of the most marvelous mysteries we encounter as a terrestrial creature redeemed but residing so far from Heaven is the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I bet, like me, you have had times when you felt prompted by the Spirit to do something that turned out to be your imagination or an embarrassingly stupid misinterpretation. Or, worse yet, big mistake. Like the time I told a friend whose loved one was in a coma that I felt God had told me He was about to take the loved one Home…and, coincidentally, no sooner had I shared the prophecy than she woke right up. She’s still alive and well many years later and will most certainly outlive me just to spite me. I’m laughing so hard I can hardly keep my laptop still. I don’t know why. I guess because we’re just so danged absurd sometimes, aren’t we?

One of my favorite stories a funny and humble friend of mine told me was about the time she awakened to hear the Scripture reference Philippians 6:13 in her heart over and over. She described how it echoed louder and louder within her like she imagined the voice of God beckoning young Samuel from his bed. She rose to see what personal revelation God would have for her, His dear servant, in that surely profound passage only to find that Philippians ended at the fourth chapter. We both laughed until we cried. I’ve never forgotten the point of that story and have tried since to keep an appropriate measure of tentativeness about what I felt God was revealing to me until it was confirmed or affirmed.

So, aren’t we all taken aback by the wonder that we – stiff of neck and stuffed of ear – really did hear from God on occasion? Oh, the mercy and tenacity of God to make Himself heard amid the clamor and clang of our attention deficit culture and self-absorbed souls! And, oh, to love Him more!

Thank you so much for praying for me to have a fruitful time here in the mountains. God has answered your prayers in a multitude of ways. Not only have I had wonderful times with Him in His Word and am well on my way to meeting my work goal for these four days. He has also greatly refreshed this overheated south Texan with cool forest air, bright yellow aspens, and the warm company of a few good friends who I only get to enjoy here. It’s rainy and chilly today and the only noise right now is the crackling of a fire Keith made a few hours ago before he packed up his tackle box. He trudged through the sagebrush down to the river nearby to do a little fly fishing. Yes, in the rain. He’s a beast. I’m going to study today then later this afternoon we’re planning to grab our binoculars and take a drive to a few of our secret spots in Teton Park where God sometimes puts wild treasures on display for us. Our goal today is some big bull elk. This is the time of year when their antlers are enormous and their distinctive bugling will stand the hair on the back of your neck straight up. I dig looking for wild game as much as Keith. I totally love hunting as long as no guns are involved. God may show us a host of delights this afternoon but even if I only see that handsome, lined face of my rugged man of 28 years on the other side of that front seat, the trip will be terrific.

A few random things before I sign off and hope this blog entry takes:
*Amanda, Curt, and Jackson are going to the State Fair of Texas in Dallas today to eat their annual Fletcher’s Corny Dog (it’s a religious experience for AJ) and to see Boyz II Men.
*When Keith put on his wading boots to fish yesterday, he could not get his right foot in the end of the shoe because something appeared to be stuffed in it. When he turned the boot over to beat on the heel and knock it out, two dead mice fell out on the garage floor.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

I love you.

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A Quick Word On My Way to the Mountains

Hey, You Darling Siestas! I’m packing up and heading to the mountains to write for the next four days but wanted to share a quick word with you that has really spoken to me this week. On Monday, my Scripture in my quiet time was Hebrews 10:35-36 out of the New English Translation and I’ve been saying it all week over myself, my loved ones and anybody who would listen. Maybe you could use it, too. Here goes:

“So do not throw away your confidence, because it has great reward. For you need endurance in order to do God’s will and so receive what is promised.”

Don’t pass over it quickly or lightly…even if you heard it years ago. Absorb what it’s saying. God has made us certain promises that we will only see fulfilled on the other side of a demanding climb. We’re going to have to sweat this one out and feel the burn in our limbs but the reward is going to be “great.” There is something God wants to give you, Beloved, but He’s purposely requiring tremendous perseverance from you in order for you to have what it takes to receive it rightly. Humbly. You will need ENDURANCE to do His will in this particular situation. It will not come easy because it’s too good to come cheap.

In order to try to stop you, Satan is attacking your confidence. Making you feel stupid. Ill-equipped. Or just plain ill. DO NOT THROW AWAY YOUR CONFIDENCE. Without Christ you can do nothing but, with Him, you are capable of things you’ve never dreamed. All surpassing power abides in your jar of clay. Do not shrink back. The God of the Universe looked the world over and found you.

“But you, keep your head…endure hardship, do the work…discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5

Yes, you have one.

I love you so dearly. AJ will keep an eye on you till I get back!

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A God for Real Life

Good Monday morning, my dearest Siestas! This is the day the Lord has made, Monday though it be! Let’s get an extra shot in that Starbucks today so we can have a little extra energy to rejoice and be glad in it!

I caught myself doing something this morning that made me think of my own walk with Christ then yours, my darling fellow-sojourners, because that’s the way God has wired me. It was still dark outside and I’d just finished my quiet time on the back porch. Our sanitation guys come early so I knew I’d better get the trash out before I missed them. As I was dragging a large trash can down the driveway and out to the curb with one hand, I held the other hand up in the air while I prayed some Scriptures out loud over my beloved son-in-law. It might have been any one of my closest loved ones but I knew he had a Greek test today and I wanted to spend some extra time on him. Suddenly the Holy Spirit made me aware of the sweet irony of what was happening. There I was, dragging a trash can filled with empty dog-food cans, coffee grounds, crumpled kleenex from blown noses, cardboard toilet tissue tubes, dryer lint, a weekend of Houston Chronicles, all manner of to-go food containers and goodness knows what other unmentionables out to the curb while having a holy moment with the King of all Creation.

And I thought to myself, “Isn’t that the way it is?” God’s Word and His ways were meant for real living. If we keep saving sacred practices for sacred life-moments, we will never truly see our theology collide with our reality. We may feel a tad better at church and more spiritually in-tune at Bible study but we’ll never get the fact that Christ meant to infuse Himself into our relentless carpool lines, traffic jams, elevator rides, grocery store check-outs, expense reports, tank fill-ups, and family fights. If we reserve divine moments for divine situations, we are in for long waits and short visits. I don’t know about you but I need Him more than that.

Sometimes we think something is wrong with us because our spiritual lives and disciplines are not glamorous. We frustrate ourselves with the wrong impression that other people’s are. We don’t realize that right in the middle of their quiet times, sometimes they have to jump up and run to the restroom…or nurse the baby…or yell at a barking dog, “Would you shut that up before you wake up every dad-blasted soul in the neighborhood?”

And, yet, right in the middle of real and un-sacred living, something sacred does happen. Though human eyes are blind to the sight, the cloudy pillar of God’s glory really does fall upon us and we, and our trash cans, are enveloped by His Presence. And He is pleased that we got it. That we got Him. And He got us. Right smack dab in the middle of living.

That’s what got me thinking. If God is not about dragging our trash to the curb for pick-up, what on earth is He for?

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

You are deeply loved today.

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Fine Foods of Toddlerhood

A few days ago I made (heated up in the oven) fish sticks for Jackson’s lunch for the first time. My mom is always joking about ridiculous things that should go in our baby books, so I sent her a text saying that I would have to stick some pictures of this momentous occasion in there. Let me tell you that my son loves food. There’s really nothing he won’t eat. That was until the fish sticks.

Here he is sitting down for some fine cuisine from the bounty of the sea. I took the first bite to show him how yummy the fish sticks would be.

Ooh! I love to dip things!

Open wide!

Hmmmmmmm…

I dont’ know, Mom.

Ewwwww…

I thought perhaps the camera was distracting my son from the joy of his fish sticks, so I put it down. I sat next to him and searched the Web for the perfect costume for him for Fall Festival. (I ordered a really cute one. I can’t wait!) Minutes later I noticed that all the fish sticks were gone. Then I got a clue and looked in the high chair seat. You guessed it – they were all stuffed down in there.

I would not be deterred. I broke the fish sticks into small pieces for his convenience. Then he pretended to pick up a piece between his fingers, put his fingers to his mouth, and said “Yummy!” And then he smiled and clapped for himself. Maybe I should put that in the baby book.

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Nashville Commissioning

Here is the Nashville Deeper Still commissioning. Thanks so much for your patience! Our sweet Beth has been swamped. This comes from a blend of all three messages. It was based on the life of David and his summons of the Ark toward the end of his life.

My Dear Sister
Now it’s your turn
Take your Rhema
And obey it NOW!
No matter what awaits you
Or who doesn’t believe you
You are at a crossroad
Don’t miss God for the world!
Move past your offense
Forsake every stronghold
And go with God.
You are dearly loved
Completely forgiven
Deeply called
And thoroughly equipped
When you study God’s Word!
Get out there and live this thing
To the glory, honor, and supremacy
Of Christ Jesus, the King.
You go, Girl,
Deeper Still!
Because you are not a sissy!
God is with you
And your sister loves you.

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90 Days With The One and Only

After my high school graduation nine years ago (gasp!), I moved out of my parents’ home and planted myself in a place called Aggieland. That is, College Station, Texas – home of Texas A&M University and the Fightin’ Texas Aggies. Can I get a Whoop? Or at least an Amen? God gave me four life-changing years there. To the praise of His glory, the person who walked across the stage of Reed Arena and got her diploma in May of 2002 was very different from the 18-year-old kid who moved into Krueger Dormitory in August of 1998. Thank You so much, Jesus! I’m so happy that You did not leave me the way I was!

When I think about what God used to transform my life in those four years, undoubtedly the main factor was simply having a quiet time with Him each morning. And not just reading through a quick Scripture and a page of devotional material as I had done for years before, but a time in the morning when I settled the issue of Who was in control that day. When I faced the critical moment of choosing to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus or to the control of my flesh. God did such a work in me through my mom’s book Whispers of Hope, which I like to call The Purple Book. It’s a devotional journal that was brand-new at the time. I practically have it memorized now. I have gone through lots of devotional books over the years but it remains my favorite.

I had gotten the quiet time routine down over the years and had grown quite proud of my discipline. (Which is laughable because I never finish a Bible study that I don’t HAVE TO finish because I’m leading it. Oh, the irony of me being a Bible study writer’s daughter!) I remember a friend telling me that she had been struggling with having her quiet time lately and wondering how, this far into her walk with the Lord, she could struggle with something so basic. Awful! I know, my pride is shocking! It was a horrible thing for me to think. But don’t you worry, because the Lord took care of my self-righteous heart.

Not long after that, motherhood threw my devotional life into a complete tailspin. I struggled for a long time – longer than I care to admit – with “something so basic.” When our resource director mailed me a copy of the new devotional journal, David: 90 Days With a Heart Like His, I was tremendously excited to have a new start. I have had the most success with the format my mom uses in her devotional books and I had real hope that there might be 90 days of victory ahead of me. Well, it took me a little longer than 90 days, but the Lord won the battle for me. I just finished the book and I feel back on track in my devotional life, which means everything is going better. Hard times come and go, hormones rise and fall. But when the foundation of daily surrender and the filling of the Spirit are there, getting through the day is a lot easier and more enjoyable. Now can I get an Amen?

I had a feeling of dread when I realized I was getting down to the last 10 days of David. What on earth would I do next? I needed a devotional journal! Quick! That very day – that VERY DAY – the UPS man made a stop at my house and delivered an unexpected package from LPM. Inside was a copy of Jesus: 90 Days With The One and Only. Someone give Him some glory! I am definitely in need of some time with The One and Only! I had no idea there was going to be another devotional like David, although it does say “Personal Reflection Series” on the cover. That should have given me a clue. But hey, I’ve never claimed to have a lot of common sense.

So this morning was Day 1. What’s really cool is that I’ll be finishing up in December. It will be an extra-sweet Christmas season after spending 90 days meditating on the person of Christ each morning. I am so happy about this book that I just had to share it with you. If I didn’t know we had a devotional book about Jesus until it arrived at my doorstep, maybe you didn’t know either. My desire is never to sell you a product, but I have a feeling a few of you are like me and could use some good ideas for daily devotionals that put you in God’s Word. Maybe you’ve been using a devotional book that has really encouraged you in your own walk with Christ. By all means, share the wealth with your Siestas! Just keep in mind that the mention of a book in our comment section is not an LPM endorsement of a book or author’s doctrine.

I’m sure many of you have already seen the Nashville recap video on the Deeper Still blog, but if you haven’t you can view it here. Hopefully we will have the commissioning for you in the next few days. Have a great Monday!

Jesus: 90 Days With The One and Only
Personal Reflection Series

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Bible Study Newbies

Hey, You Darlin’ Siestas! I am buried under Esther research but just felt the need to stretch my aching back and say hi to you. I love AJ’s last post about our LPM Bible study starting on Tuesday and how she made it “Pray for your Bible study leader day”! What a cool thing! (Incidentally, she could be considered one of them. She facilitates a group of college girls who land on her house every Wednesday night to take part in video-driven Bible study and discussion.) I also absolutely loved how AJ put the emphasis on Bible study leaders of all sorts of curriculum. Around here, we just want women in the Word of God! We love Precept, BSF, CBS, and every other solid approach to the study of God’s Word. I’ve taken my staff through a number of other teachers’ Bible studies through the years. As my mentor taught me so many years ago, all of us must be students of many teachers so that we aren’t accidentally led astray with no other voice to call our doctrine into check.

I wanted to give you a quick report on Tuesday night. God granted us a full house with a number of women in our overflow room. We were astounded with the numbers and the participants were no doubt astounded with the parking. (By the time we have that kind of full house, people are parked all over the place both legally and, unfortunately, illegally. Half the orange cones are stuck under cars and most of the policemen have rededicated their lives to the saving Name of Jesus. Still, it’s the ladies who have been through the brunt of it when all is said and done. By the time they make it into the church through all manner of rush hour traffic and explain to their seventeen family members why they’ll be okay without them for one evening, they need counseling for Post Traumatic Stress.) By the second Tuesday night of any series, however, things calm down a bit. We’re invariably able to get everybody in the sanctuary because a number of people just can’t bear the thought of going through the trauma again. And I don’t blame them. Still, I’m so proud of those who persevere and I know God is after something specific with them. The most profound things God ever does in our lives are never convenient. Sometimes God wants us to fight for what He has a mind to give us. Remember, He gave Joshua and the Israelites the Promised Land then told them to go in there and fight for their place in it. Sometimes we have to fight traffic and drive around the church seven times to get to some Promise Land.

I trust God to sovereignly handpick the group that will become completely engaged in the journey and see it to completion. I fall head over heels in love with them every time. I’ll know by about the third Tuesday night who that group will be this go-round. In the meantime, I don’t believe God wastes even the one time somebody decides to drop in on any Bible study. He still plants a seed even if it’s not watered until later. This is the part I’m most excited about telling you. I asked the women to raise their hands if they’d never been to Bible study with us before. Hundreds, Siestas! Hundreds all over the room! I really felt like a number of them had literally never been to a study of any kind before. I believe the title, “It’s Tough Being a Woman” in the ads we placed in the Houston Chronicle caught a few eyes that otherwise might not have come. Because, after all, it IS tough being a woman. AND, the man who loves her.

Man, do I ever love me some Newbies! I love having women come to Bible study who have never darkened the door of a church before. I love hearing the sound of one of the brand new hard-back Bibles we give away cracking open. Seeing the light suddenly come on for a precious, unsuspecting woman in that pew is one of the greatest joys of my entire life. To watch her suddenly get the fact that the Bible is not just some archaic, out-of-touch religious guide for freaks but the living, powerful Word of Truth that will speak right into her home, workplace, and romance is what I live to see. So, here’s my challenge to you today: We’ve got to give those newbies a safe place to come and to learn. We’ve got to throw our arms open and embrace them or maybe, if they need a little space instead, let ‘em be just a bit. Then when they’re ready, hug them to no end. As much as we love one another in our Bible study groups and enjoy things just like they are, we never want to have a “ticktock the game’s locked and nobody else can play.” Nothing says something is working like somebody new coming. Let’s go out of our way to welcome every new face and make sure they know we’re glad they’re there…because are we ever!

September is a wonderful time for a new Bible study journey, isn’t it, Siestas? And a wonderful time to welcome somebody new to something that means the world to us. Just think, in a year every single one of us who is willing will be able to say to someone we met this Fall, “I can’t believe I haven’t loved you forever.” That’s one of the things I love most about Jesus. Life with Him doesn’t have to be long to be deep.

I so hope every one of you is engaged in some kind of small group Bible study this Fall! It’s a tremendously important part of our walk with Christ. He did not call us to go this thing alone, praise His Name. We NEED one another.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another one toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24,25

I love you, Siestas! Be back in touch soon.

PS. Amanda, Curt, and my little Dude are on their way to Houston right now. Yahoo-Jah!!!! Somebody grab a banner and a boom box!

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Fall Bible Study Kickoff!

We have been counting down the months, weeks, days, and now hours until our Fall Semester Bible Study kickoff for Esther. Praise the Lord! It’s finally here!

Needless to say, it is a very big day for LPM. I know all my c0-workers are in overdrive getting ready to fill their various roles tonight. My mom has been studying and praying all morning. My sister will be initiated into her first “first night of Bible study” as an official employee. Diane is getting boxes and boxes of inventory loaded into her Suburban to set out at the product table. And right now our Bible study coordinator, Jennifer Hamm, is probably power walking all over that church with a walkie talkie in hand.

We covet your prayers as we prepare for this evening. Our Tuesday night Bible study is extremely important to all of us. Getting to wash the feet of these precious ladies and serve up the Word of God on a silver platter is an incredible joy and privilege. This Tuesday night teaching series will also serve as the taping for Esther. In other words, what our girls see and hear will be what you see and hear when you view the Esther DVDs one day. The taping environment brings my mom’s stress level up several notches. Please ask God to give her peace, anointing, and focus. Thanks so much, ladies!

Why don’t we just make it Pray for Your Bible Study Leader Day? I know many of your groups are just starting or have just recently started. Most of us can relate to the nervous excitement that you feel in those first few weeks. Whoever your leader is – or maybe you are the leader – lift her up by name at this time. One of my best friends, Janelle, is leading a Precepts study that begins tonight, and I will meet my MOPS leader for the first time tomorrow morning. So I will be praying for my mom, Janelle, and my MOPS leader Amy today. Who are you praying for?

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Names and Faces

Sharon and Stacy. They’re who I met this morning at Starbucks on my way to work. Sharon, about my height with beautiful brown skin, was standing at the counter getting her man and her two tall drips of the day (House Blend I think) with two pastries. Didn’t see what kind. Already in the bag. Would like to have known but I felt a little funny asking. Sharon watches Wednesdays on Life Today and is going to try to come to the kick off of the Esther Bible study tomorrow night. We hugged like crazy. Then, while the barista was brewing up my Grande Nonfat Cappuccino, I met Stacy, a tiny little light-skinned blond who just finished “Get Out of That Pit” and felt like God had really spoken to her. She’s a missionary with YWAM and will head to Amsterdam in January. And, yes, missionaries can feel like they’re in a pit, too. And so can Bible teachers. And pastor’s wives. And pastors. Praise God, His arm is long enough and His hand is strong enough to rescue us all, no matter how deep we’ve gone or how long we’ve been.

I like to know names and see faces. And hug necks. A big crowd is overwhelming and so, somehow, is something contrived (like someone who doesn’t have enough to do trying to figure out which Starbucks – she’d be so disappointed with the let-down anyway) but when God alone appoints these momentary one-on-one encounters, something profound happens to me every time. Not to them. To ME. My worst nightmare in ministry – besides letting ministry steal my intimacy with Jesus – is losing touch with real, live people. Loving God and loving people. Serving God and serving people. That’s what it’s all about or it’s about nothing at all. Although I can’t see your faces, you have become a very real community to me. I know many of your “names” by this time. Like Boomama and Patty and The Preacher’s Wife and Ocean Mommy and so many others beside them and have come to appreciate you so and laugh with you and love Jesus with you. I often stop and pray for you as I read. I don’t even have to know a name, my beloved “Anonymous,” if I can occasionally read through your words and see your heart because, in seeing your heart with my wild imagination, my mind’s eye conjures up a face. And it’s so darlin’. Every last one of you are to me. All shapes and sizes and ages and do’s. Make-up or not. Highlights or not.

As we launch another Bible study tomorrow night and I labor again at the computer today in the solitary confinement of what God has most called me to do, He has added two names to my life and two loves to my heart. Sharon and Stacy. And I am grateful.

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Deeper Still – Nashville

Check out the updates on the Deeper Still Blog.

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