Breaking Free Week 3

I am thrilled to be blogging through our Breaking Free study by Beth Moore with Women’s Bible Café. You can find them at http://womensbiblecafe.org/.

I stood in the sticker/planner aisle at Hobby Lobby almost giddy with excitement. Who am I kidding? I WAS giddy with excitement. Give me a new planner and matching clips and stickers and something laminated and I am one happy camper. THIS planner was going to change my life though. It wasn’t going to be for my day to day appointments, or work commitments, or homework assignments. This one was going to be a PRAYER binder. I had seen this so many times in so many blog posts and I just had to have one. I watched many YouTube videos on just how to do it. A prayer binder has a place to assign different types of prayer requests to different sections of the planner. Maybe a different section for each day of the week. Maybe a different section for each situation you are praying over. Or different people to pray for. Or a combination of all of it. The point was, when you were done making the planner you now had a place for a guided prayer time and a place to write prayer requests and the answers to prayer. I loved it. All.of.it. I picked out the perfect cover, the perfect paper inserts, dividers, matching clippies and washi tape for the whole project. And I made an AMAZING prayer binder.

And it sat. On the desk. For months. Unopened. Day after day it was a glaring reminder to me of an ingrained spiritual habit…I was more concerned with creating a SYSTEM of worship and walking with God than I was with actually doing the thing.

I fell into this trap in a myriad of different ways but it always ended up the same way. I would hear about some spiritual discipline and some very well-meaning person trying to encourage me in my walk would tell me how they practiced it. Because let’s be serious here, I wanted all the details. How are you close with God? How did you get to be so spiritual? So they would tell me what their routine was and I would try my level best to duplicate it.

But if I couldn’t duplicate it exactly, I wouldn’t attempt it at all. It had to be all or nothing. It had to be RIGHT.

One of the obstacles we are exploring in our study this week has to do with legalism, or what I call “Jesus Plus.” It’s the concept that in order to walk with Jesus correctly, you needed Jesus plus fill-in-the-blank. Jesus plus the right church. Jesus plus the right translation of the bible. Jesus plus a certain kind of family. How about Jesus plus a certain amount of faith? Jesus plus something…never just Jesus. I didn’t and don’t go to a church that promotes this in any sense of the concept. This is all Dawn, every day. The pursuit of perfection in a place where the beauty of the gospel is that Jesus came for the imperfect.

I sincerely wish I could say that the prayer binder situation was a distant memory from when I was a new believer, but the binder went from the desk to a moving box just a few months ago, 20+ years into my walk. I am so grateful that my eyes are being opened to the chains that I have placed on myself.

Stay in the Word this week dear friends. Keep walking even when it gets hard.

Oh and PS…there is not one thing wrong with an awesome prayer binder! Do whatever works for you. I promise if you show it to me I won’t go over the deep end.

Agree

So here I am participating in my first Five Minute Friday in a long while with a new blog. Five Minute Friday is an arena to free write for five minutes on a particular topic, no editing. Today’s topic is AGREE.

I fight with the Lord all the time about who I am in Him. He tells me that I am loved. I am unlovable so He must be mistaken. I don’t agree with Him. He tells me that I am a warrior. Spineless jellyfish is more like it. Worse…a spineless jellyfish that folds up and turns into a blob of goo at the first sign of opposition. Again I don’t agree with Him. He says I am forgiven. What in the absolute world? Doesn’t He even know what I have done? Who I have been? He must be mistaking me with someone else. I don’t agree.

What if my attitude changed? What if I learned to walk in the loved/warrior/forgiven truth of what He says? What about my posture would change? How would my dealings with other people be affected? Would I be able to offer others the grace that has so freely been given to me? I’ll bet I would. Here’s to Day One.

Privilege

I am joining the gang at Five Minute Friday today! The process is this…we have a word for the day and five minutes to write whatever we want on the topic…no editing. Our word today is Privilege. Here goes:

I thought this was going to go differently. When I saw our word for today I thought instantly about what I wanted to say. Then my daughter called and so I had to wait a moment to write anything down. So here I sit with this word and a different scenario entirely.

My daughter is having a difficult week.

She found out she has a massive tax bill to pay this year. A conversation with a friend didn’t go as planned. Her cat was diagnosed with cancer (poor cat and cat mama!) and had to have surgery today. AND THEN…her car started to shimmy when she drives it at higher speeds. All within a 5 day period of time. All while she is trying to walk through this life and get some sort of ahead and at 24 things like this seem insurmountable. These problems are not so large in the grand scheme of things I know. But piled on top of each other they can make someone I love scared and frustrated and mama bear wants to fix it all. And she lives three hours from me so I can’t be right there to hug her and love her and hold her hand while the cat has surgery.

But I have the privilege of taking her tender heart before the throne of our God who has promised that He will listen. It is something that I can take so lightly at times, a gift that I can pick up and put down when it’s convenient. I need to remember that to stand before the very throne of God is a precious thing, and I am so grateful to have the reminder today that it is available to me at any moment.

Oh my five minutes goes fast…

Breaking Free Week 2

So thankful to be blogging through Breaking Free with Women’s Bible Café! You can find them here at http://womensbiblecafe.org/.  We are on week two of homework and discussions this week.

Beth walks us through five defined benefits this week (that the entire study will build on and explore) that God intends for us. They are:

  1. To know God and believe Him
  2. To glorify God
  3. To find satisfaction in God
  4. To experience God’s peace
  5. To enjoy God’s presence

Truth be told, I seem to struggle with every one and sometimes all at once. I think the one that really defines all of my struggles in my walk with Christ is this…”to know God and believe Him.”  It comes up over and over in so many different ways.

In the book “One Thousand Gifts” Ann Voskamp says something like this: “You can say Yes to God for salvation at conversion and spend the rest of your life saying No.”

God says “You are loved.” I say “I am unlovable.”  And so I act unlovable.

God says “You are forgiven.” I say “You have no idea what I have done.”  And so I act unforgiven.

God says “I am with you.” I say “You must have more important people to comfort.”  And so I act alone.

God says “I have given you so much grace.” I say “Yeah but you are WRONG for doing it.”  And so I don’t receive grace well.  And as a result I don’t extend it much.  (at all?  I’ll be optimistic and say “much”)

No, no, no. I.Don’t.Believe.You.   You’re promises are for other people.  People who have performed well and suffered long and are giants of the faith and all of that.  People who deserve it.  Because I sure don’t.

I feel a hitch in my spirit every time I think this through that goes something like this: “You’re right. Get over it.”  It’s hard to get over it because feeling like I am the absolute worst is actually something I am really good at!  We all want to be good at something.  So much for life goals.

This is me walking in my own power and my own understanding. Control issues anyone?  But we are called to something different.

We are told in scripture of a story in which Jesus comes upon a father who is asking Him for help for his son.

“”But if you are able to do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 Then Jesus said to him, “‘If you are able?’ All things are possible for the one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the boy cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”” (Mark 9:22b-24 NET)

In other words, “I want to believe, but I’m not quite there. Help.”

Beth Moore says in our study, “Trusting an invisible God does not come naturally to any believer. A trust relationship grows only by stepping out in faith and making the choice to trust.”

If this is where you are, do you know that you can ask for God’s help? Ask Him to give you enough faith to take one step, and when that one goes ok to take another, and then another, and pretty soon you have a history of walking with a faithful God and trust will build.  Write it down so you have a record to look back on when you forget.  Unless it’s just me who can be forgetful.

Stay in the Word this week. Keep walking.  Go to your study group even if you don’t have all of the homework done.  “See” you next week.

 

Breaking Free Week 1

Sooooo….I had been set up. Again.  I fell into the trap of my pet habitual sin like someone who put it on their calendar.  I know better.  And I’m tired of fighting.

I truly believe that God gives me what I need when I need it to give me the courage to fight this battle. Again.  And this time?  It’s this study.  Again.  I am so thrilled to be able to walk through it with the community at Women’s Bible Café at http://womensbiblecafe.org/blog/.

But can I be brutally honest for just a moment? The process of learning about habitual sin can be daunting.  Terrifying in fact.  Sometimes we know what we struggle with.  Sometimes the thought processes are so ingrained that it never even occurred to us to pursue freedom because it never occurred to us that we were in bondage.

And sometimes….the SIN FEELS SAFER. At the heart of every sin is the fact that we are believing a lie, whatever that may be.  Maybe the lie is that we deserve better.  Maybe it’s that we can’t change what we do.  We can see ourselves as unlovable, unredeemable and not worth the effort.  The habits we use to protect ourselves from harm start as a comforting blanket and morph into a vise slowly choking out any hope of freedom.

Our foundational verses for Breaking Free are found in Isaiah 61:1-4. I love the New Century Version of Isaiah 61:1:

The Lord God has put his Spirit in me,
because the Lord has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts are broken,
to tell the captives they are free,
and to tell the prisoners they are released. (emphasis mine)

Past tense. If I could shout it from the rooftops I would.  We don’t have to earn freedom.  Jesus paid the price already, and scripture says that if we are in Him, we have His power. If we could just learn to WALK IN IT what kind of difference would it make in our lives?

Don’t think for a moment that this will be easy. Ask yourself though, what do you have to lose?  Because to walk in the freedom that only Jesus gives, the work is worth it.