2013 Siesta Summer Bible Study Gathering 3!

Hi Sisters! Way to hang in there with Bible study for the summer! As usual, I’m putting the bare bones of instruction for your gathering here in writing for those of you who aren’t able to watch the video. If you do watch it, you may quickly note evidences of a ample technical difficulties, all of which were caused by yours truly. For instance, at one point, I got out of my chair to grab my car keys on a side table for an illustration and nearly tore my mic off and my shirt with it. That is why it will appear that I have done a magic trick. Other technical difficulties arose when, suddenly, the cold that I’d caught from my darling Annabeth lapsed me into certain phrases that sounded exactly like I was holding my nose. Only on words with the letter “b” was it most apparent which made the words “Bible” and “humble” particularly intriguing. We are a slick group of filmmakers around here. You’re a patient group and I love you! I am so honored to serve you guys and I know that God is really speaking to you through this study journey. Let’s persevere to the last page for the joy set before us!

The following interactives are based on Weeks 3 and 4 of your Gideon homework:

1. We can get no further than p.70 to stumble on something we could talk about all day. My small group and I loved the whole portion on weakness being a key. Glance at the bottom of the page and talk about the effect that your weakness tends to have on you when you focus on it.

2. Turn to p.75 and discuss the first paragraph and your answers to the second question: How have you seen misdirected credit lead to misplaced trust or unhealthy desires for you or someone else?

3. Turn to p.97 and share which answer you chose in response to the following question and explain why you tend to lean that direction: If you are in a season of life in which you feel insecure or doubtful about God, His Word, or His calling on your life, how do you honestly feel God is responding?

4. I so loved the teaching on p.101! How did the 4 Steps in Giving Our Gifts to God resonate with you or open your eyes? Conclude with the quote Priscilla gave us in the middle of p.107 – “honest doubt in which faith lives.” Give an example of honest doubt that you have had at a time when you were still full of faith. A time when those two things were not at odds but part of that same stretch of journey.

OK, Sisters! Finish your last 2 weeks of homework for our final gathering on July 23rd! You guys are fabulous! Thank you so much for participating. You are dearly loved here at LPM.

Siesta Summer Gideon Study – Week 3 from LPV on Vimeo.

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Intention to Action

*Update: Hey girls! Because I promised it and because a few have asked, here is the link to the podcast from last Sunday, “Kingdom Come”. Be blessed!

 

Girls, would someone explain to me how it is already July 8th? We are now into the second half of the year. Is it just me, or does it feel like 2013 just started? I always feel like I’m just starting to get a hold of a year when it slips through unnoticed and wham, another year has come and gone. In fact, July 4th always tries to throw me into a tailspin, because I know I have as much time from now until the end of the year, as I did from then to the beginning of the year. Does that even make sense? Sheesh. Basically, I’m either depressed or elated depending on how the year is going thus far based on what I thought it would look like, or what I wanted it to look like. Seriously, are you following? I think I’ve confused myself.

Which is what brings me to this post.

Do you remember at the beginning of the year when I tried, not so gracefully, to recap Passion 2013? If you don’t, here’s the post. (Listen, I realize it’s been six months since that post and it’s something I can barely even remember.) Anyway, what I haven’t forgotten that I think of nearly everyday is what Louie Giglio challenged us with the last day of Passion, and then a few days later, what my pastor Curtis challenged us with the first Sunday of the year.

Would you allow me to remind us all? (I’m not a fan of the bullet-point in a blog post, but I will use if necessary. Grin.)

1) Louie asked us, after throwing the Word down on Isaiah 61, “If THIS is the year of the Lord’s favor, what would you like? What would you ask for?”

2) Then Curtis Jones, my pastor, that following Sunday after boldly proclaiming Ephesians 3:20 challenged us that “2013 was the year of getting things done. Why? Because He is able, you are able according to the Spirit and after all, God gets the glory.”

Both to which I so boldly exclaimed, “Amen!” and went along with my day. However, my amen wasn’t a light one, as I knew exactly what it was I needed to get done this year. I knew exactly what I would ask the Lord’s favor over. But after all,  knowing and actually doing are two completely different things. One takes intention, the other takes boldness and action.

I’m not saying I’ve excelled in this, but I can tell you I’ve made progress, and I hope I know some people who could testify to that. I mean, let’s be honest, one simple thing was getting my wisdom teeth removed after putting it off for FOREVER, and boom, just like that, they’re gone. And I survived. I realize that’s a really silly example, but I’m so proud of myself for not letting fear take over again! Of course, there are some other action items and conversations I’ve had, but that’s another post for another day.

So why am I even bringing this up?

Because all last week I was reminded that if this was the year of getting things done, I had six months left to do the work. At least the work for 2013.

And then I went to church. And boom. Curtis, our beloved pastor, nailed it. I think I told him once before that it’s one thing to hear a message on Sunday, feel a little conviction from the Spirit and go on with your day. But it’s another thing when you leave church and know what you need to do, without a Spirit of condemnation, but one of grace. That’s a beautiful thing. To me, that’s what yesterday felt like. Convicting enough without condemnation to do the thing.

Why? Because, “Intention isn’t valued in the Kingdom of God. Obedience is.”

“Intention is not the same as faithfulness.”

Thank you, Curtis Jones, for those nuggets. (If you’re curious where this comes from, read about the parable of the two sons in Matthew 21:28 – 32. And I promise that when the podcast is up, I’ll link it here so you can take a listen if you so desire. I think I have permission to do that, but I’ll ask. For goodness sake, you might as well hear it from him instead of me giving you just some nuggets.I might as well go ahead and thank him for this post, too. After all, I feel like he wrote it. Laughing.)

As the old saying goes, we can talk the talk, but are we walking the walk?

Can we all just be honest and admit that we have a lot of good intentions? We intend to do a lot of good things. Even since January, we’ve all had a lot of good intentions about getting things done. But have we done them? I’m not saying obedience and boldness is easy, quite the contrary, actually. But in 100 years, our fruit will be the only thing that matters. So let’s bear a little fruit, y’all.

We have six months to do the thing. Time isn’t out yet. And praise God our God is a God of patience, compassion, slow to anger, rich in mercy and abounding in steadfast love. But let’s just ask ourselves what we’ve put off thus far? Your God is able, Sister. Let’s turn our intention into action. The longer we all delay, I promise you, the harder is gets!

I love y’all. I’m on this road WITH you.

Remember, it’s going to be a GOOD year. Grin.

“You crown the year with Your goodness; Your ways overflow with plenty.” Psalm 65:11 (HCSB)

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Rain Down Revival

Words blazed in my soul this morning with such force that I had to scramble to my feet to find paper. I’d prayed a few minutes earlier out on my front porch for true revival: for such a groundswell of souls saved that we’d have no earthly explanation, and for believers to be flooded by the Holy Spirit in such a way that our souls would be purified with a holy, selfless, unstoppable fervor. I have prayed those kinds of things before but this time I called upon the Lord with my whole heart to rip away this ceiling that seems to be over our heads. The Holy Spirit is moving with breathtaking force in parts of the world and in segments of the church. Why not among all of us?? And why not now? We love Him, too!

 

So many of our pastors, leaders, evangelists, and teachers are crying out for it. We see glimpses of it. We feel it pressing on the walls of many of our churches. The paint is beginning to crack. We sense a change coming. The roof shifting. We know the sun of righteousness is rising on a different kind of day and the horizon beaming with a new shade of color on young and old, on rich and poor. On all who would let Him lift their chins despite their sins, for our redemption draws near. I feel the stirring of a fresh work of the Holy Spirit in my own congregation and sense that He’s ushering us step-by-step and person-by-person and Sunday-by-Sunday to a place of open-armed willingness for whatever He would give us. For many of us who have felt the breezes of revival stirring, we can’t often define how the Holy Spirit is working or explain the difference between one gathering and the next. All we know is that there are times when we are left to say, “Only God could do that.” We taste it. It’s on the tip of our tongues but our throats are still parched.  Our voices may be hoarse and our volume weak but, at the sound of His yes, the mute would find speech.

 

I cried out this morning for Him to remove the obstacles that hold us at bay on the damp edges of a mighty torrent of revival when, before us, is the deep. We have seen drops of rain but, if we’re willing to be honest, most of us know that we have not yet seen what the living Lord Jesus Christ is capable of doing when He has a mind to pour His Spirit out on millions and wreak the holy havoc of true revival with innumerable souls. We have blamed our government and every secular institution possible when revival has ever remained a matter between God and His own people in the pages of Scripture. They are not our problem. We point fingers at our pastors when many of them have nearly broken their backs trying to drag us to revival. We hold worship leaders responsible for our own small worship and say that it must be the songs.

 

My heart burns with a sense that part of this ceiling over our heads is our demand that God must bring awakening and revival within our means, keep our rules, and respect our boundaries. If Christ is to do what He longs to do, we must relinquish all our expectations and formulas for revival. Lest we think we can’t leash a work He’s willing to perform, the words of Matthew 13:58 and Mark 6:5-6 won’t peel off the gospel page. We keep getting together and rehearsing for a revival He’s not yet fully attending. Why?? Why does He wait?

 

I think one reason is that we are afraid for Him to do whatever it would take. We are scared of the uncertainty of revival. We don’t trust God with the work of His own Spirit. He might embarrass us. Or make us change our minds. God won’t work contrary to His Word but many of us must admit that it is not His Word we are worried about Him working contrary to. We are worried about Him working contrary to our tastes. We are worried that He will not use our methods. I said we. I have done the same thing. I want Him to work in a way that makes me feel comfortable. But maybe a true outbreak of revival is not comfortable. I don’t know. I can’t say I’ve ever seen what I believe God may want to do in our day. Meanwhile, numerous gatherings of believers dwindle and die or rust for the sake of routine. Generations are falling away as revival clings to our doorposts. It’s there. It’s close. But why won’t it come on in? We feel it. We hunger for it. Why does it delay? Perhaps there are many reasons why revival waits and we could write more blog articles and list the possible hindrances and deliberate over them and mull over them and debate them and exert more and more energy while we have less and less time.

 

Or maybe we could say today,

Lord, if Your time is now – and it’s the only time countless millions have – remove the obstacles, whatever they are. Shove them out of the way and COME, Lord Jesus, with a torrential downpour of Your Holy Spirit.

 

I’m just looking for anyone out there who would be willing to echo a prayer something like this one. I bring it to you in humility, lacking much, wanting much. I do not wish to put words on any tongue detached from a heart. Vocabulary is meaningless without volition. If this is not you and if these sins are not yours and these aches find no place in your soul, you are not who I’m talking to. But this is me and I wondered if it might be anyone else, for where two or three are gathered in His Name, crying out for a cracked-open heaven, that ceiling that we feel shifting over our heads could shatter to our feet. I’m tired of giving God an inch and expecting a mile. I want to go with Him wherever He’s going.

 

 

Most glorious all-powerful, merciful God,

 

Your Son died for more than these. We thank You for what You’ve already done but we beg You to do infinitely more. Look upon this ailing planet, pulsing with the hopeless, helpless, the hiding and the dying. You have willed that people would not die in their sins but be saved and redeemed through Your Son, Jesus Christ. You promised that the Cross was big enough for us all, with stakes pointed northward, southward, eastward, westward, reaching everlasting arms to the ends of the earth. We know what Your Word says You can do and we confess to You that many of us have not yet seen it with our eyes but we feel it stirring in our souls. Hosanna, Lord! Save now!

 

We who are willing confess to you our sinful arrogance. We have prescribed to You by what means You, the solitary Healer, should heal souls and You have refused to sign Your Name to our prescriptions. We say to You this day, write Your Name across our sky and bring revival! Save by whatever means brings You glory. Bring it any way You like but bring it, Lord. We free You from using our methods. We free You from using our denominational names. We free You from using our buildings though we welcome You to them. We free You even from using us, though we cast ourselves before You at Your complete disposal and beg that You would. Use none of us. Use all of us. Use whatever people and whatever means honors You most but do it, Lord. Please do it!

 

We confess to You our appalling narcissism in asking You to mirror us. We confess to You our over-sophistication and snobbery. We confess to You that we are terrified of Your Holy Spirit. We confess our pathetic arrogance for having forbidden signs and wonders when there could be no greater sign and wonder than a tidal wave of salvation rolling on our dry banks. Oh, Jesus, that we would not leave You to marvel that You could do so few miracles among us because of our unbelief.

 

We repent this day for not trusting You with what revival should look like. We repent this day from prioritizing our dignity over Your downpour. We confess to You that we have torn pages from our Bibles and handed them back to You and demanded that You work through what was left. We confess to You this day that the tent pegs of Scripture are vastly wider than our imaginations and our expectations.

 

Lord, if souls are saved by the thousands of thousands and millions of millions, we pledge to You this day that we will not, in our sectarianism, pick apart the process and reason how it was not legitimate. We are ready even if it’s messy. Even if, atop the beautiful feet carrying the good news, are bruised and broken bodies of willing evangelists.

 

Open Heaven. Rain down, Holy Spirit. We repent for having asked You to respect our boundaries. We bow now to Your boundless Spirit and make room over our lowered heads for You to fall upon us with power and might and a firestorm of Your great affection. You have loved us so. You have loved us well. Scar our hearts with Your Cross and love through us, Lord. Oh, Holy Spirit of the Living Christ, come without limit. We have known You were able but begged You to be willing. All the while, we have been disabled because we have been unwilling.

 

To what conceivable degree we could have held them in our hands, we turn the reins of revival back over to the Rider who is Faithful and True and we plead that You would not let them rest on the neck of that great horse but that You’d bid him run.

 

Whatever, Lord. Do what You want but do it now. Do it here. You have no peer. Make Your name glorious. Save now. We avail ourselves.

O God, I avail myself.

In the holy name of Christ our King. Amen.

 

Savior, Savior, Hear my humble cry;

 

While on others Thou art calling, do not pass me by.

 

 

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“So Long, Insecurity” Teen Edition

WINNERS: Girls, are you ready to see who won our 20 copies?! So exciting! If the winners could email me (Lindsee) as soon as you get a chance at blog@lproof.org I will get your book to you as fast as possible. Go ahead and send me your name and mailing address! We can’t wait for you to have this book in your hands!

Thanks to random.org, the winners are… (the number by your name is your comment number, which is on the right hand side of your comment. So, be sure and check that your name lines up with that comment number!)

#4 – Amy Park
#12 – Danielle
#17 – Katie Frogge
#51 – Karalee Littleton
#53 – Madeline Noll
#66 – Corinne Jordan
#84 – Anna Phillips
#90 – Marleigh Jones
#114 – Halona Luna
#124 – Madison Dowling
#138 – Emma Madonna
#149 – Kelli Swisher
#179 – Lindsey Fair
#192 – Rebekah Vallejo
#194 – Emily Erwin
#203 – Maci Daves
#204 – Larissa Hilstad
#210 – Alexa Alexander
#219 – Laura Tidwell
#222 – Molly Swartz

Congrats, girls! I’ll be checking my inbox to hear from you. Have a great weekend!

 

 

*Update: Good Friday morning, girls! And happy belated 4th of July! Just wanted to let you all know that comments are now closed, but winners should be up by days end. And just a friendly reminder, it’s one book per winner! See you in bit!

 

Hey, Everybody! Beth just got something so fun in today’s mail!

Last summer I took a group of high school girls through Beth’s book, So Long, Insecurity. Many of you have also read and not only benefited, but also been changed by the book. I have no doubt these young girls took away truths that all of us wish we would have learned at their age. They loved it! What many may not realize is that the book also has a workbook companion, and it is equally as wonderful and organized.

In fact, nearly everyone that reads it has said something to the effect of, “I just wish I would have read this as a teenager!”

Well, your prayers and wishes came true!

On August 1st, Tyndale will release So Long, Insecurity, Teen Edition! Can I get an amen?

I get asked three questions nearly once a week. 1) Is there a teen edition for So Long, Insecurity? 2) Will Living Proof ever create or publish materials for high school girls? 3) Where can I find good, solid, biblical material for teens?

I don’t know the answer to number two, I always just tell them that we’re doing the best we can to serve these young girls, but since this is so new at Living Proof, only the Lord can know such a thing. The beauty is, I do have places and resources I can point folks to for resources that are helpful and biblical for high school girls, but as you can imagine, it’s just a really small pool to choose from!

So, I think you well know that we’re just as excited as you that Tyndale saw the need for this book and met it!

As I mentioned before, it doesn’t officially release until August 1st, but we wanted to do a giveaway! (You know we LOVE a reason to host a giveaway around here!) We also wanted to point you in some other social media directions for the book release and how you can own it if in fact you’ve been searching for this very thing.

So, for right now, we have 20 books to giveaway! Eeeek! All you have to do to qualify for the giveaway is to be just the right age  for it (13-19!) and simply enter your name (first and last are preferable) in the comment section.

For more information you can can visit:

Tyndale Teens

Sample the first chapter online

Purchase So Long, Insecurity Teen Edition here

Secure Girls Twitter Page

Tyndale Teens Pinterest Page

What a wealth!

Let’s hear from you!

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2013 Siesta Scripture Memory Team: Verse 13!

Hey, Everybody!

I am writing to you on Sunday afternoon since this post needs to go up first thing Monday morning and I am typing away on my laptop from Jackson and Annabeth’s room in our home. It’s the room where Keith and I get the best internet hookup. I like it anyway because it is filled with expressions of the only two kids on the earth I love as much as the two that I birthed. From Annabeth’s twin bed where I’m sitting, I can see a pink and green doll house, a blue and yellow race track, a dark green, fairly-convincing rubber lizard, a kids’ brightly colored exercise bike, a cardboard playhouse and a cardboard castle. It’s full on here in this room and, boy, has it had a work out in the last week.

Keith and I are blessed out of our minds to do lots of life with our grandkids because they only live about 20 minutes from our front door. Delightfully, their voices often reverberate off of these walls and their sweet feet are slap-happy on these wooden floors on a regular basis. We get to have sleepovers on occasions through out the year but once every summer Keith and I have them for the better part of a week and let their darling parents get some time together all by themselves. This last week was that segment of time – Camp Bibby we call it – for the summer of 2013. We kissed them goodbye on Friday night after a good, solid 5-day dose of them. I hate to admit to a small lump in my throat when they drove off with Amanda and Curtis, although I needed a nap in the worst way. Grin. It may be of some encouragement to you mothers of young children that, on Day 1, I did not shower until 3:00 PM. Yes, I do indeed remember what it was like to be a busy young mom whose life is not her own and when I forget, my two sweeties help me remember. Good grief, I would not trade them for anything in this world.

We do not have the time or space here for all the new quotes that have been added to my repertoire in the last week. Jackson and Annabeth are each hilarious, even when they don’t mean to be, so I try to have a pen nearby at all times. Annabeth announced to me on Friday afternoon that, when she grows up, she most definitely does NOT want to have a baby. “Why not?” I asked. “Because you have to go to the hospital,” she replied. And I thought to myself, whoa baby, that’s not all you have to do. As my mama always said, you also have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Translation: you think you’re going to die but, ordinarily, you do not, although at times your husband could be in considerable harm’s way if he spouts another word. Of course, I kept these thoughts to myself.

Annabeth paused for just a moment then spoke back up. “I just want a chihuahua and a cat.”

And that was that.

Jackson asked me how old I was while he was here because I recently had a birthday. He’s asked me that kind of thing before and it always ends up following the trail of whether or not I will still be his Bibby when he is in college. Curtis’s grandmother died a couple of years ago and I think he’s got it in his seven year-old head that grandmothers are tenuous creatures, here today, gone tomorrow. So, I said to him, “You know, Jackson, both your grandmothers are actually pretty young to have a grandkid as old as you. Because we all started so early, I think you can probably assume we’ll be around a while and see you grow up.” He sat on that a few moments then said, “Bibby, that makes you a rookie grandma. Do you know what a rookie is, Bibby?” Ah, yes, I do, Mister. I was a rookie mom with your mommy and a rookie grandma with you and I cannot think of two people on the planet through whom I’d rather be cast into those auspicious, busy, and often humbling roles.

I guess you’re wondering what all of this has to do with our Scripture memory. Well, I am getting to that right now. We have a daily verse at Camp Bibby and Psalm 32:9 out of the New Century Bible was our verse for Day 3 and the immediate favorite and clear winner for the fastest memorization. I taught the whole verse to Annabeth and Jackson but we only memorized part of it. Perhaps you will see why Jackson all but claimed it as his life verse. Kids totally love this kind of thing:

“Don’t be like a…donkey.” Psalm 32:9a

It made them almost as happy as talking about bathroom sounds. If I heard this verse once out of their mouths since Wednesday, I heard it 50 times. They could tell you what it means, too. I’ll stick the phrase back in the wider Scripture segment so that you’ll know what it means, too:
8       The LORD says, “I will make you wise and show you where to go. I will guide you and watch over you.
9       So don’t be like a horse or donkey, that doesn’t understand. They must be led with bits and reins,
or they will not come near you.”

Jackson would tell you that it means that God doesn’t want to have to tie us all up, or sit on us, or be all hard on us to get us to come to Him and to walk in His gracious and good will for our lives. He doesn’t want to have to make us obey Him so He can bless us. His deep desire is that we’d want to go with Him because we know that He is always for us, always leading us to triumph, always trustworthy, always right, and forever wanting to crown us with love and compassion and lead us away from bondage and such unnecessary harm.

I know it’s basic. But my mind’s been on the basics this last week with a seven year-old and a four year-old either one foot from me or on my person. I guess the question I’m throwing out on the table this week is this: Why do we continue to fight God and lash about in His grasp like He’s a big Taker instead of a Giver? What is it we think He’s trying to rob us of? To whom have we compared Him so that we’ve assumed we cannot trust Him?

Don’t be so stubborn, the psalmist is saying. Cooperate and go with God some place beautiful. Some place almost magical.

Revel in the two preceding verses in the same psalm (32), this time from the NIV:
6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to You
while You may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
7 You are my hiding place;
You will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Surround sound. Oh, if our spiritual ears could only be opened for a few glorious minutes, what a musical score we’d hear all around us. To go with Jesus is to go the way of deliverance. The way of music. The way of symphonies.  The way of ascent amid mighty rising waters. So, I’m going with Jackson in my memory work this round:

 

Beth, Houston. So don’t be like a horse or donkey, that doesn’t understand. They must be led with bits and reins, or they will not come near you. Psalm 32:9 NCV
So, what’s yours?

 

You are loved around here, Sister. We are honored to serve you.

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My “Good” Wasn’t Good Enough

Like many of you, I grew up in a Christian home and from the time my parents could put me in nursery, I was at church. Born and raised, you might say.

I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world and I think that is largely in part because I didn’t know any better. Every time the church doors were open, I was there. Quite simply, I really love the church. That’s a miracle.

However, I grew up believing a really big lie.

I grew up believing I didn’t have a worthwhile testimony to share. That even if I did share my testimony, it would fall on deaf ears. That it wouldn’t make a lick of difference to those I was sharing it with.

The fact is:

I did grow up in church.

I pretended (and looked) to have it all together.

I do come from a stable, loving home and family, though we’re as messed up and crazy as they come.

I was the teacher’s pet.

I attempted to follow all the rules. (That only works for so long.)

I liked looking like I had it all together. That is safe. That is not vulnerable. Hurt doesn’t happen when you fake it.

I have deep desires of my heart that have yet to be met.

I do have trials, hardships and life experiences to share.

I have not been given everything I’ve ever wanted and my life is not peaches and cream. Blessed, yes.

I’ve lied. I’ve gravely sinned. I’ve lusted. I’ve been angry. I’ve gossiped. I’m insecure. I’m helpless. I’m needy. And the list goes on and on.

I do have a testimony. I know my sins. I know my shortcomings. I need Jesus.

My attempt at holiness was lame to say the least. My attempt at producing any good in me to cover up the dark was helpless. My good was simply not good enough, though I desperately wanted it to be.

I don’t want to point fingers or blame any one person or thing, but I think we as a church have done a less than stellar job at portraying what a worthwhile testimony is. A testimony, as we have so endearingly coined it, is simply a public confession regarding the ways Jesus has changed your life.

My sins, no matter how big or small they may seem, still sent Jesus to the cross. My attempt at living a charmed life was feeble and frail.

Our testimony is what makes us authentic. Real. Relatable.

The truth is, everyone has gone through something that has changed him or her. If you have confessed Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savor, you well know that the old has gone and the new has come. You are a new creation. You’ve changed. Whatever it was that brought you to repentance in the first place, is the very thing worth sharing. Whatever it was that was once holding you captive that no longer has a hold on you, that’s worth sharing.

Need I list the things that hold us captive?

Legalism. Sexual Sin. Drugs. Addictions. Alcohol. Perfectionism. Insecurity. Lust. Greed. Jealousy. Hate. Pride. We could go on and on as this is clearly not an exhaustive list.

Where we as a church have strayed is that we glorify the big testimonies. We glorify the folks on the platform that have sinned “big”. We glorify the stories that seemed absolutely hopeless, but ended in victory.

Can I say something? Salvation through Jesus Christ is a miracle, regardless of where you have or have not been. It’s still a faith walk for every individual.

We were all hopeless. We all have victory in the end when we choose Jesus over _____________. (You fill in the blank.)

You, if you are in Christ, have something to offer. You have hope to offer.

If you’ve grown up in the church, don’t believe the lie you have nothing to share. First, yes you do.  If you are a living, breathing human, you’re flawed and need Jesus. Own up to that! But for you, maybe what someone needs to hear is that your good, despite all your failed efforts, wasn’t good enough to make it into the kingdom of heaven. There is one way, and His name is Jesus. You may be a really good, nice, sweet, charming, never-hurt-a-fly kind of person, but good doesn’t get you into Heaven. Jesus does.

To my young friends, don’t go looking for way to mess up so you have a story to share.

Share your story of less-than-perfect faithfulness to a God that has been nothing but perfectly faithful and loving towards you, despite your efforts of trying so hard. Share that even your goodness wasn’t good enough. Therefore, the good kid who has the works thing down, if they can’t do it, who can? That, my friends, is the gospel.

We’re justified by faith alone in Christ.

All sin keeps us from God. It keeps us bound up.

It just goes to show that there is no one good, no, not one. Can we emphasize that? Though from the outside it may appear I have little to confess day in and day out, that’s far from the truth. I lay my head on my pillow each night knowing how dearly loved I am in Christ, yet painfully aware of my shortcomings. Painfully aware of the areas that only Christ can change in me. Painfully aware of my ugliness.

Do we need the stories of God’s dramatic salvation and redemption? Absolutely! Do we keep sharing those and telling of how God has transformed our lives? Yes and amen! Do we continue to put them on the platform? By all means! May we all come humbly. Those stories also tell us that no one has out-sinned God, not matter how much they think they have! We need not be shocked or judgmental of anything or anyone. We should extend grace and love.

It reminds me of the Prodigal Son. One son did everything right (false) while the other was out doing everything wrong and yet they still needed the same grace. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re all more like the elder brother than we care to admit.

But let us be aware of the girl or boy that feels worthless because they didn’t have a Saul-to-Paul conversion.

My goal isn’t to deny what Christ has done for you and where He alone has brought you and rescued you from. Nor is my goal to magnify how good you’ve been. My goal is to glorify Christ.

Conversion is conversion regardless of the pits we’ve been in.

Salvation is salvation regardless of how we’ve acted.

God’s redemption is for everyone.

And His story is good enough to be told throughout the ages.

We were all lost. For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) But Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10) Translation = That’s US. That’s enough. That’s radical.

For the one who has served time in prison, been released and feels called to minister to those in prison. Yes! Go! Share that the same grace and mercy that was offered to you, is offered to everyone. In the name of Jesus.

For the girl who’s had an abortion and feels called to volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. To you I say go! In the name of Jesus.

For the person (girl or guy) who’s struggled with any type of sexual sin, has broken free, and feels called to minister out of that. Yes! Do it! In the name of Jesus. So that He would get the credit. So that the weight of life change would fall on His shoulders, not yours.

You are redeemed! God delights when anyone comes to faith in Him through Jesus.

Each of our redemption stories minister to different people all over. Not one of our stories will minister to everyone, that’s why we’re the body of Christ. We all have different experiences and stories to share, but the same Jesus.

Putting pressure on the story makes it about you. Putting pressure on the gospel makes it about Jesus

That’s your story. You were once dead and now you’re alive. And that is worth sharing, Sister.

Amen.

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2013 Siesta Summer Bible Study: 2nd Gathering

Hey, summer Bible study sisters! Watch the video if possible because I only put the barest bones in the written part of these summer Bible study posts. This version of your instructions is mostly for back up but, if you prefer to just get your assignments for your gathering this way and bypass all my verbose video-commentary, I certainly do understand that! Feel free! I just want to make sure you’ve experienced some personal interaction on here. Smiling.

OK! Here are your instructions for today and, remember! Your comments to this post are meant to be comprised of your responses to each of the interactives:

1. Based on the question in the middle of p.37 of your homework: To what specific area of holy bravery does God seem to be calling you in this present season?

2. Drawn from the portion on p.46 regarding the 5 ordinary tasks you perform on a daily basis, share a memory of an ordinary circumstance in which God met with you in an extraordinary way. If you’re new to all this and can’t think what to share, don’t feel lame or unspiritual. Pray for Him to do this very thing with you over the coming days and I have a feeling you won’t be disappointed.

3. Based on p.50 and the discussion about the first part of the divine declaration to Gideon, how confident or insecure do you tend to be regarding God’s promise that He is with you? Explain your answer.

4. Look at the bottom of p.57. Would you be willing to share the pair of terms that best describe a disparity you’ve dealt with between your self-perception and a biblical view of who you are in Christ? If you’re willing, also briefly explain your answer.

Ok, Sisters! That’s it! When you leave your comment, please be sure to put your first name, your city, whether you are in a small group or going solo, and your succinct responses to all or at least several of the interactives.

I’m crazy about you! Stay in the Word! We’ll meet again in 2 weeks on July 9th. Have Weeks 3 and 4 of your homework finished for that gathering if at all possible. So much love to you.

Siesta Summer Gideon Study – Week 2 from LPV on Vimeo.

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A Case of the Mondays

Good Monday morning, ladies!

Anybody have a case of the Mondays today? Like this pup?

Seriously made me laugh. I hope you did, too.

I started writing a post late Friday morning then decided to press hold and wait until today. I knew better than to publish anything because seriously, on a Friday afternoon in the summer, who reads a blog? Weekends, though they seem to rush on by in real life, tend to be much slower on the blog. So here we are. Yet another weekend behind us. Yet another Monday ahead of us. Grin.

If you don’t have a case of the Mondays, maybe you feel like this…

Yes, yes, yes! I won’t admit how often I think we need three day weekends instead of just two days. Of course, I’m kidding. Maybe. A co-worker sent me an email forward last week with some hilarious “when dogs talk” pictures and I just couldn’t help but share. I NEVER send forwards to people, but even I had to forward it on to a handful of folks. Anyway, I hope some of us, or all of us, can relate.

I, for one, am happy to see last week go. You know how some weeks you just feel like the enemy is doing everything to make you quit and just feel alone? That’s how I felt. I’m only telling you that because I know for a fact I’m not alone in that, and sometimes, we need to hear someone else say it so that we don’t feel even more alone. Thankfully, His mercies are new not just every day, but every week. Can I get an amen?

However, as silly as it seemed, I was going to wish all of you an official “Happy Summer!” on Friday, as it was, according to the calendar, the first official day of summer. I’m not sure how June 21st rolls around every year having already felt like we’ve had two months of summer weather, but that’s how Houston rolls.

I kicked off the so-called official summer by enjoying my apartment pool for a little bit on Saturday. Otherwise known as my happy place.

That’s a perk of apartment living. (Which outweighs some of the non-perks. Grin.) You get to enjoy the pleasures of a pool you may not otherwise have in your backyard. Especially on a very hot day in Houston. It was good.

Despite last week not being my favorite week, there were some highlights worth sharing.

1) We celebrated our beloved Beth’s birthday!

As you can imagine, she’s easy to love and celebrate! It was a simple lunch celebration at the office, but it was delightful. Could Mexican food brought in be anything but delightful? One thing she’s taught me, besides the million other Jesus things, is the gift of receiving! Quite literally, I don’t know anyone that receives gifts as well as she does. She simply makes you believe the gift you gave her is her most favorite thing ever and receives it with much glee and thankfulness! That alone is a gift, y’all. I think it makes it fun for both the giver and the receiver. If someone gives you a gift, be glad! Receive it well! Shoot, let the giver bless you! We don’t need to feel greedy, just thankful. Needless to say, we laughed, celebrated, then nearly collapsed from a food overdose. Grin.

2) This didn’t actually happen last week, but y’all. I’d like you to meet our resident LPM lizard.

If it is unclear to you, this lizard, whom we’ve not named, is eating a roach in one picture and a butterfly in the other. I hope you’re not eating lunch while reading this post. If so, my deepest apologies. He went for a little sweet and a little salty, and dude can hunt. I’m almost afraid to come back to the office from lunch afraid for fear we’ll find him after his hunt. Anyway, I thought you might find it interesting. Or disgusting. Or both. But I felt it was good blog material. Don’t you? Laughing.

3) Girls Bible study!

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it on the blog but as if Gideon wasn’t enough, we’re doing a small Girls Bible study this summer. In the words of our Siesta Mama, we’re afraid of boredom around here! That’s the truth! Last summer, I think I mentioned that I led some girls through So Long, Insecutiry. It was a lot, but so good. Girls ministry at LPM is still something we’re  working on and trying to figure out, so we’re taking it one sememster at a time. This summer, we’re just meeting four times together and each week someone different is joining us to share something unique with the group. It might just be my favorite summer yet. We met for the first time two week ago, we’ll meet again tomorrow, and two more evenings in July. If it comes to mind, we’d love your prayers! Oh, that this would not be in vain and would bear much fruit in the girls coming. They are the sweetest things ever. So timid. So outgoing. (I know, right?) So adorable. So loveable. So much room to grow. I’m excited for what’s ahead!

Well, I think that’s all for now. Just a little random, catch up since it’s been a week since I’ve said hi! Signing off for now. Much to do on this hot Monday in Houston!

Happy Monday!

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His Nearness; Our Good

This past Sunday at church we sang a song called “Bones” by Hillsong United. I was given the privilege to lead it for our congregation. A year ago I would have never even told you that I led a song for our church, rather, I would have just left it at the fact that we sang and I enjoyed it. However, over the past two or so months the Lord has really been doing a transforming work in my mind and when you see fruit from the transformation and taste a little bit of victory, it’s deeply satisfying. That is, the grace the Lord has poured out on you.

I’ve been discovering that when the Lord calls you to an area in your gifting to serve the body of believers He’s placed you in, timidity in entering into that calling out of fear is simply false pride. The gifts He’s given you are just that, gifts. You did nothing to earn it or even ask for it, so step into it with grace, confidence and a humility asking the Lord to accomplish in the Spirit what only He can. How much do we all miss out on simply because fear is holding us back? I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit I’m so guilty. Lord, help us. And He does! I’m convinced that when the Lord transforms your thinking, it in turn transforms your serving.

Can anyone say rabbit trail? That’s is absolutely not where I was planning on going when I started writing this post, but it’s certainly what I’ve been challenged with lately so I’ll leave it in there and move on. Grin. (I’m feeling a little all over the place today.)

Originally, what I wanted to share with you these simple lyrics we sang.

Oh Jesus, Alive in me.

Short and sweet, yet simply profound.

Isn’t that what we’re all after? That Jesus would be alive in us each and every day?

That we would be different, think different and act different because today He was alive in us? I don’t know how I can tangibly explain that Jesus makes a difference, but He absolutely does, without a doubt. If scripture tells us that it is “to our advantage” that when Christ went away He would send us our helper, the Holy Spirit (John 16:7), then I want to press into that advantage.

In my obsessive, anxious mind, uttering the words Jesus brings me almost instantaneous peace. Only Jesus can do something like that.

“You can calm the ocean, speak peace into my soul. Take me as I am, awaken my heart to beat again.”

When I feel like my world is spinning out of control, the fact that my name is engraved in the palm of God’s hands is indescribable. Translation: He really does care for me greatly and deeply.

“In his hand is the life of every living thing
 and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:10

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:15-16

When someone disappoints me, I’m all the more reminded that Jesus is the ONE person that won’t disappoint me. He’ll never leave me or forsake me. Does that mean things always go the way I wished they would? No. That would be a far cry from reality. But I do know that the things I’ve always hoped for that have eventually let me down, He’s not only come through but exceeded those hopes and dreams.

Yes, Jesus, be alive in me.

I recently told my coworkers that worshiping through singing sets my mind in a posture to receive from the Lord and be content in His love.

I sense His love and his pleasure when I’m singing and worshiping. You might not know it from the outside (much like you might not know when I feel like I’m going crazy from the outside), but the way it brings a calmness and peace to my mind, the joy I feel from worshiping, is almost unmatched. It’s simply where I can feel His presence. And it is good.

I know enough to know that feeling His presence isn’t the basis of our faith, but I can tell you it’s important. When we learn to seek God and find Him in our own intimate way, I know He is pleased as well. I’ve well learned that I don’t get any pleasure out of knowing Christ intimately through the faith of someone else.

There are few things I can do that allow me to surrender my frantic thinking and enjoy the Lord’s presence. Reading a good book allows me to do this as well. It doesn’t mean I never worry again, but it’s in these moments that I can breathe a sure breath and know God really in in control.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I want more of His presence. More of His Spirit. More of His peace. More of His mind.

I don’t know where and when you most sense God’s pleasure and presence.

For some it’s singing.
Reading.
Worshiping.
Running.
Memorizing scripture.
Dancing.
Gardening.
Bible Study.

Whatever it is, wherever it is you feel most at home in the presence of God, I’d encourage you to find it, cultivate and practice it often. Finding Him as our refuge and shelter is of utmost importance.

You can ask my coworkers, I don’t go a day without listening to music while working in the quietness of my own office. And rest assured, nearly the minute I walk away from my desk, I’m either humming or singing something. It’s true. And maybe annoying. But it is for my good.

We know this to be true; the nearness of God IS our GOOD.

Oh Jesus, Alive in me.

Yes and amen.

“But as for me, God’s presence is all I need. I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done.” Psalm 73:28 (NET)

“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” Psalm 95:2

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2013 Siesta Scripture Memory Team: Verse 12!

Hey Sweet Things! I’m putting this post up an evening early so I don’t have to be up and working at 7:00 AM on a Saturday morning off. Smiling. Thank you for understanding! Don’t stress if the comments aren’t moderated right away. We take it a little slower on weekends so nobody’s working nonstop.

 

I wish I had a way to add some great celebratory music to this post. You are officially halfway! Doesn’t that feel fabulous? Oh, come on, now. Let yourself feel it. Great job, Sisters! It’s not easy. We know we can do the second half because we have already done the first.  And we’ll do this next half exactly the same way: through the unction of the Holy Spirit. Just keep choosing Scriptures that are speaking to you in your exact season and need and they’ll come alive in the marrow of your bones.

 

I feel like I’ve been talking to you all day because I think of you while writing the lessons for the Bible study underway. We have hashed some things out in the Scriptures today, Sister. You just couldn’t hear them. I’ll just be glad when some of you are sitting on the other side of that page talking back. When I was at the taping for Children of the Day in May, we explained to the group that it would be a whole calendar year before the study comes out. The process takes a long time, especially because it involves both written work and video. We also have to dodge around a travel schedule that is set in calendar-stone a good bit in advance. But, in the twinkling of an eye, another month has already passed. The very last of the manuscript is due in December so you’ll not waste a prayer on me between now and then. I don’t get to write every week because I am on the road more often this time of year so each day I get to sit with my Bible open to 1st and 2nd Thessalonians is a gift. And a brain cracker at times.

 

You and I have plenty to do before next May, however! I so hope many of you are doing the Gideon Bible study this summer with us that our gifted sister, Priscilla Shirer wrote. It’s tremendously powerful. I saw one of you give her a shout-out today on Twitter with the hashtag #Siestaville at the end of it. It made me so happy. God has graced us with such anointed messengers at this hour in the Body of Christ, men and women alike. Hasn’t He? It has been my privilege to study under a number of them with you and to hear about many others from you. Our discipleship worlds are so much bigger when we’re willing to come together. Otherwise, we sit tight in all our own little corners and have no idea how many people God has gifted to serve the Body. We cheat ourselves when we separate ourselves.

 

OK, Sisters, are you ready to log in your 12th verses? I’m choosing mine from a sermon Curtis’s good friend, Jerrell Altic, brought in Curtis’s absence last Sunday at our church. His primary text was Mark 1 but he tied in a verse that really jumped out at me. I love the Book of Philemon and have taught out of it several times in the last two years but that’s the beauty of living words. A Scripture will suddenly pop off the page that had somehow been veiled from our recognition before. I’d been so taken with phrases like “yet for love’s sake” in verse 9 that I’d missed the treasure of V.6, and who couldn’t get distracted by a verse like the 15th? “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever.”  I bet some of you have a pretty slack-jawing testimony of that very concept under your own roof.

 

But when Jerrell referenced this verse, I knew it was my choice for our 12th round of SSMT. In fact, don’t tell but I jotted it immediately on the yellow notes app of my iPhone, took a screen shot and made it my screen saver right then. Sometimes a “now” word is like RIGHT NOW. Here it goes:

 

 

Beth, Houston. “I pray that the faith you share with us may deepen your understanding of every blessing that belongs to you in Christ.” Philemon 1:6 The NET Bible

 

I want God to deepen my understanding of every blessing that belongs to me in Christ while I’m here plowing into some stubborn earthly soil with sweat sopping my forehead. Don’t you? I’m so thankful to be blessed but wouldn’t fleshing it out be a whole different prospect if we came to understand the depth and breadth of many of those blessings? To stand on them, act on them, pray from them, teach from them, love from them, and serve through them? Now we’re talking.

 

Colossians 2:2-3 gives a glimpse into the grandeur involved as the Apostle Paul prays “that their (and our) hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

 

Look at that again: “the riches of full assurance of understanding.” We can’t soon wrap our minds around all that encompasses but we can instantly and actively start praying for God to deepen our understanding of the blessings that belongs to us in the One who embodies every divine and hidden treasure.

 

I’m making these prayers mine and I am looking for God to answer them. He wouldn’t dictate a prayer right there on the pages of the New Testament that He had no intention of responding to.

 

I love working through some verses and concepts with you, Sisters. You are so dear to me. Thank you for spending a little time around here and committing to something challenging in the midst of many priorities. I pray that every part of your life is invaded by the Word of God coursing through your brain. May God bring your harvest forth 100-fold.

 

It’s your turn, Sisters! Give me a hint about what Christ is doing in you right now through the selections of your verses. You are so loved.

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