Be Still

Just be still

No matter what the circumstances, divorce is never an easy process. Add in children to the marriage and the crushing blow, and deep hurts are exponentially multiplied. In the process of a divorce, a key verse found in Exodus became hope in an otherwise difficult time in one woman’s life.

Exodus 14:14

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Praying and clinging to these words originally offered to the escaping Israelites became a promise to claim personally in a modern day scary, and uncertain time. The words were prayed often, while holding hands with a close friend both in tears, over the phone, through countless texts, and various memes served as reminders.

As house hunting for something more affordable, and appropriate for a soon to be single mom of 4 there was one house that seemed to be the perfect lay out. The location too would satisfy the terms that were being spelled out by official papers filed in court. Passing through the laundry room of this occupied home, a wooden plaque was hung that displayed the words of Exodus 14:14. Its presence was not missed by the buyer. With some resistance, lots of prayer, and even asking for the laundry room sign to be conveyed if the seller agreed to the offer, the little house became the hers. No coincidences here, God received the glory! God showed Himself to be faithful, and He certainly fought for His beloved when she could not fight for herself.

Be Still

In the beginning…

For all you Sound of Music fans out there; Let’s start from the very beginning, its a very good place to start. Genesis is the very first book of the Bible and spells out the creation story, and in Genesis 2:2-3 God himself demonstrates the concept of stillness or rest. Even God was stilled, he rested and saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

God leads by example. He isn’t asking us to do anything that He isn’t willing to do himself. Here is something else; God wasn’t tired. He didn’t require a day to “take a load off” so to speak, not even after creating the Earth and everything in it. God introduces a concept of Menuha (Hebrew word for rest). On the Sabbath day, He provided a portrait of fulfillment, completeness and blessing that would be the framework for Sabbath rest in generations to come. He actually commands his people later through Moses to keep the Sabbath day holy. His chosen people, the Israelites had to be reminded officially. We modern day Christ-followers are no different. God desires for us be still, connect with Him and experience rest.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give
you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

Do you need rest for your soul? Most of us are familiar with the Hebrew word for peace. Shalom is more than peace, it is also used to ask for silence or calm. Additionally, Shalom is used as a warm greeting or farewell. Besides no war zones between countries, peace is defined as the freedom from oppressive thoughts. Being still with God ushers in peace. I love Shalom being used as a greeting or farewell; like the bookends to our day, many believers have morning and nightly prayers. Without bookends of prayer, we are unable to remain upright and at peace for long.

Throughout history humans continually search for peace. Most all say with their mouths they want peace, but it is elusive. Can any of us go a full 24 hour day in keeping a peaceful heart and mind? Jesus’ words are recorded in John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Throughout the Bible, God’s word reminds us to “Remember Him.” Sounds simple enough, but to truly Remember Him is more than just at the time we take communion i.e. the Lord’s Supper. To Remember Him, we must try to give him our burdens, and seek His help and guidance. In Remembering Him, we place ourselves in submissive humility to the God of the Universe. When we take time to be still before Him, we allow Him to mold us and shape us. We must give Him time to speak to us. We must be willing to be comfortable with silence, and fine tune our ears to listen. We can not understand fully, or experience the fullness of what God has waiting for His beloved children this side of heaven. However, He does not want to see us struggling and white knuckling life without Him. He cares for us, and the work of Jesus allows us to approach Him today. The curtain was torn from top to bottom. He is waiting for you to come near to Him and receive his peace and rest.

Read Psalm 46:10

10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 

We are called to be still. Why? Not just because God Himself did so on the seventh day. Not just because He will help ease our burdens and give us rest. Not just because we can experience peace even when we are troubled. But because we need to know more of who God is, and He wants to reveal himself and His plan to His beloved followers. When is that last time you were still before the Lord? Anyone remember back in the 90’s the whole WWJD movement? Let your mind meditate of these last two facts:

  1. Jesus (God’s only begotten son) knows God best.
  2. The one who knew Him best, prayed the most.

 

Shalom my friends, I pray that you will carve out time to be still before your Heavenly Father today.

 

Be Still

stART of Stillness

You may be a Bible study pro, and some are just beginning to test the waters of your faith and exploring God’s word. Wherever you are, God desired for you to be here. God made it very clear to me that all the writing I did that none would go to waste. Much of what I worked on did not make the final cut for the Be Still bible study, but I will be sharing it here. It is my sincere hope and prayer that God will reveal himself more clearly to each one of us and that each one reading here will deepen their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Growing in your faith, and trusting in God not only brings us peace and the ability to be peaceful people, but as we will see all of our efforts will bring honor and glory to Him and Him alone.

God loves us and sent Jesus to bridge the gap that our human sin nature caused. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus allowed believers the honor of close commune with the Father. Christ followers, are not just saved by grace, sealed for eternity in Heaven, but are awarded with the Holy Spirit. His very goodness can fill our weak fleshy bodies. The Holy Spirit gives us the means to experience a full life despite our Earthly circumstances. However, it is only by His power that we can reach a level of fulfillment, joy, hope, and peace this side of eternity. He isn’t just the God of the Old Testament, or the New Testament, but of the current and present age. He is active and alive. He longs to be in relationship with his beloved children. No matter where you are right now, I guarantee He longs for a closer relationship with you. Do you believe that is possible?

Open your Bible to read all of Psalm 46. This is where we will be parked today, so leave it open for easy reference.

Read through a second time and look for all the attributes, names, and descriptions of God. Record what you find here.

possible answers

 

  • refuge (v.1)
  • strength (v.1)
  • holy (v.4)
  • Most High (v.4)
  • Helper (v.5)
  • speaks/has a voice (v.6)
  • Lord Almighy (v.7)
  • fortress (v.7 & v.11)
  • peace (v.9)
  • exalted (v.10)

Verses 1-3 speaks of mountains shaking, landslides, roaring dangerous waters which are all too commonly experienced and even viewed in awe and fear while watching World News programs. On the heels of natural disasters, verse 6  speaks of nations in uproar and unrest. Literally, the forces of politics and government, threats of uneasy relations, and acts of war are also in our current reality. The forces of nature, and the condition of political instability are easily feared by many. The reality is that no matter how democratic a country we may reside, we must remember that at no point in time are natural disasters, or nations’ governments out of God’s control. He is sovereign over all. When we practice the act of submitting ourselves to the Father, and become still, the results are life changing.

Take an in-depth look at what Psalm 46 is calling us to do; it invites us to take some personal inventory, to step back and realistically examine our relationship status with Jesus Christ. By challenging yourself to dig deep into the study of this scripture, the journey can increase your dependence on God. From my personal experience, every moment you are still before The Great I AM will be worth all the time you have sacrificed and set aside for Him. All you do to develop a more intimate personal relationship with the one who loves us enough to die for us will be worth it every time. Unlike our Earthly relationships, God never gives stingily, or with strings attached. There is no manipulation, or withholding of love until you dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s. He is waiting arms outstretched. Are you ready to spend some quality with the lover of your soul? I sure hope you answered positively. He wants to reveal Himself to us. He wants to deepen your trust and faith. Are you ready to let him prick your skin and get under your skin for some fine tuning of your heart and mind?

Most often, where does your fear reside?

Most believers would agree they desire to live a life of great closeness to Abba Father. However, the actual reality seems to be something not easily realized.

Find some paper, perhaps a sticky note (whatever is closest to you) and write out Psalm 46:10. Feel free to be as artistic as you want. Make an effort to commit to hide these words in your heart.

Look at the words of Psalm 46:10 as your personal invitation to come sit at the Father’s feet. Accept Psalm 46:10 to know Him in a very up close and real way. Each of us have crazy, busy lives and He is calling you to BE STILL. According to this scripture, what should we experience when we are still?

What does Psalm 46:10 say will result with our stillness, and knowing God?

Like the famous question which came first the chicken or the egg, the same can be said of this continuous circle, and process of being still and knowing God. Please do not quickly make the assumption that this study is going to force you to add one more thing your daily “to do” list. The hope is that you would willingly turn to Him, and abide in Him on an regular and consistent basis. By practicing times of stillness with no other agenda other than getting to spend time with the Lord, your knowledge and heart will literally develop beyond your current perception and understanding of the Great I Am. As we increase our spiritual muscle we develop an internal strength to relinquish personal power to Him who is All Powerful. As we become more aware of His control, we can avoid letting circumstances control our responses because our God has it all under control. Unlike us humans, nothing, literally NOTHING (no thing) surprises God. He never acts out of haste, or with unwarranted wrath because He is righteous. It is easy for us to get carried away by emotions, fear, anger, and hurt in a moment of weakness. If we aren’t careful our responses can become unhinged and ungodly to say the least. Can you identify 2-3 triggers that can cause you to fly off the handle in anger, or become depressed, perhaps things you frequently worry about?

By the end of this study, it is my prayer that you will learn the art of remembering the very words of Psalm 46:10 and put your faith to work. It sounds like an oxymoron, but just as God is asking us to practice stillness, it is a call for our active participation with Him. By remembering God’s teachings, we allow Him to remind us to be still, even amid a flurry of activity and imminent turmoil. He calms all of our fears, he offers strength and direction in the moments of stillness. We are assured and can literally feel His presence, and have the courage to move forward. When we are in close communion we will even be able to hear Him speak to us. It seems unreal and unbelievable, perhaps even foolishness to those who have never experienced life in complete oneness with the Father. However, many Christ followers not only have encountered our Savior once or twice, we too are learning to lean in, being still and letting Him grow and groom us to be more like Him with every passing day. If this sounds like something you are yearning for, and you seek to know Him more, you must be learn to be still. By the way, He will get all the praise!

If you haven’t done so already, Write out Psalm 46:10 on a mirror, white board, chalk board, index card, or post-it note somewhere to be displayed so you can submit its truth to memory. Additionally, write out a prayer asking God to help you know Him better. If time is a factor, ask the creator of time to multiply yours. Confess any apprehension you may have to Him now regarding your apprehension to stillness. Remember, nothing you can say to Him will surprise Him.

Take the time to find and listen to the song Open the Eyes of My Heart by Michael W. Smith. 

Prayer

Finding My Voice (conclusion)

You can read Finding My Voice by clicking on the title link just provided. However, this post should be able to stand alone in its truth.

As I was preparing for what I was to share with the ladies of the first Be Still study, I went back to one of my earliest journals that I kept. My October 2, 2014 entry was written while at a 72 hour intensive women’s retreat. I read directly from it, and since it is a “prayer journal,” I asked the women gathered to please close their eyes as I read the words unedited from my journal. As I began, I asked these sweet sisters to listen carefully, and try to identify how God surely heard my words and has undoubtedly answered my requests.

Lord, Thank you for this time. I love spending time with you in silence, in the stillness. Despite my loud personality and at times non-stop mouth, my love, desire and need for time in the quiet with you and in prayer are what I yearn for the most. Better than glitz, glamor, and the like; You are my provider. You are the only thing that satisfies. You are the lover of my soul. I am Your precious child, and Your design.

How many times have I missed this? The business of busy-ness. I ask you now Lord to keep my focus on You. Drain myself of me! Instead, fill me with You, and You alone. Let me replace all my opinions of myself with the opinions, love, and adjectives You have for me. Surround me, embrace me with Your holiness, and righteousness.

For all the ladies here and for myself also, speak Your word and truth into our hearts. I no longer pray with my eyes closed, but rather with pen in hand. Let me be an instrument to be used by You Lord. Show me opportunities to share my love and faith in You.

I closed with this prepared prayer. “Oh Heavenly Father, thank you for letting me share and remember this prayer from over 4 years ago. Nothing is a surprise to You. You are here Lord, and you are in this place. Thank you for each woman here today. May each of them know they have been prayed for by many prayer warriors sitting in this room, and elsewhere. There is power in prayer! We have no doubt that You have hand selected this study for each one of us to be part of, and we are using this time of learning how to surrender all unto You. I pray each one of us can leave here encouraged to live out Psalm 46:10. May we humble ourselves, be deliberate and obedient to practice being still so that we can know the Great I AM. Take us deeper in our faith. Thank you for giving me a voice to make your name great. You deserve all our praise. You know everything about us, and love us STILL. You are our Mighty Counselor.”
In Jesus Name, Amen

For those of you readers old enough to remember Andy Rooney and his famous way of bringing us The rest of the story, I want to share with you a little God wink that the majority of those ladies were not aware of. The women’s director had let each one of us on the writing team have freedom in what and how we presented out little speech to address the women in attendance. She and another church staff would deliver the bigger teaching points for each week. We did not meet beforehand to discuss exactly what each of us were going to share to make a seamless flow. But you know what? God did! That week the ladies got to hear my testimony. I had talked about seeking help with a counselor, and later in the hour information was given on who to contact for counseling and other needs. It was like my testimony was a volleyball set for God to drive His point home about using the community of believers to help each other out along our journey. I don’t know if I adequately described how exciting and goose-bump giving this was for us; but it was not by coincidence, nor by chance. God orchestrated the timing and it was perfect. We knew at that moment along with many others along the way, we were operating in His will and obedient to His direction. We were serving as His vessels.

Today take time to ask the Lord to open your spiritual eyes, and be willing to go and do what He has planned for you. Remember, you are chosen, and you are His. You have been called out of the darkness, and into His glorious light! You have a voice. Carve out time to meet with Him to find what He wants you to share, and then don’t keep it to yourself. You matter to Him. You matter to others that need to hear your struggle and the victory you have found in Jesus. 

 

Prayer

Finding My Voice

I began following Jesus after my first child was born. God grew me in my faith right alongside my children as they grew up in church. I started serving in pre-school, children, and youth ministries until God had me step out a couple years ago when I agreed to be part of a women’s writing team for a study on Psalm 46:10. I would be jumping in the deep end without my floaties, and trusting God with His plans for me.

I have no problems talking to strangers, or oversharing for that matter.  But one of the hardest parts of the study was the moment I had to stand up and publicly give a little insight into myself. Now mind you, I am typically comfortable speaking in front of large groups of children or teenagers, but these were women: Godly women, women of all ages, backgrounds, gifts, wisdom, and status in our church and community. When I got up on that stage, I was physically shaking and terrified. I heard it in my unsteady voice.  The enemy was on full attack mode and whispering all sorts of doubts and telling me how unqualified I was to speak to others. I persevered, and what you are about to read, was what I read aloud to a full room of ladies whose eyes were parked on me.  

About 7 years ago, I was in a bad place and stayed there for some time. I felt alone, I had health issues, and feelings of failure for quitting my job as a Jr. High science teacher, and at the bottom of my spiral down I was on the verge of ending my 20 year marriage. Thankfully, I sought help. At the conclusion of my very first session with a Christian counselor he told me these 3 things about myself:

  1. I have Mommy issues
  2. I have abandonment issues
  3. I didn’t have a voice. 

The first two were well realized, and self diagnosed years before. However, I wrestled with that last one for a while. I didn’t have a voice? How is that possible? I didn’t keep things in, I’m an open book. But I soon realized that for most of my life I wasn’t being heard, or not by the people that mattered most. I began writing then as part of my therapy. It didn’t start out great either. There was some ugly crying, ripping up papers, and what I like to call “serious butt time.” A nice way to put it is that a whole lot of time, and work has gone into the transformation and healing I have experienced.

But you know what? I found my voice in writing. I found that despite my ADHD tendencies, I could focus when I dove into pen what started out in a old partially used cheap spiral notebook. I found that I naturally began writing to my audience of ONE.  My therapeutic writing, pouring my guts out morphed into prayers and meditation and lessons from God.

My intimacy with the Lord has grown exponentially over the years. Early each morning my time with God isn’t just a luxury, or a box to check on my Christian to-do list. Plain and simple, it is hard work, takes time, but it is worth all of the effort and has become a daily necessity for me. Why? Because HE hears me. He always has time for me. He extends grace. He created me and loves me beyond measure. He is mine and I am His. He will never leave me, nor abandon me. Jesus is all I need.

To be continued…Finding My Voice (conclusion)

After my obedience in posting I’m back, I was prompted to make an entry every day until God tells me to stop with the daily submission for public viewing. I want to keep it short, so tomorrow check back to read the closing of this public testimony. Have a blessed day, and know that you are not alone.

Prayer

I’m back

I do not know why I am so reluctant, but after updating my “About” page it seems this site kept track of my approximately 2 years of silence. In this moment, I am forced to fully realize exactly how long I’ve been stiff arming the Sovereign God. I realize its time to take the foam ear plugs that I was using to silence the Holy Spirit. (FYI, they didn’t work because I heard His promptings anyway.) During my absence from posting publicly, I did not fall away and at no point did I stop pouring my heart out to the Lord in prayer and with writing.

This blog launched me into an opportunity very far out of my comfort zone. I spent a good part of a year on a women’s writing team from my local church to develop a Bible study on Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” I can tell you it challenged me in ways I never imagined. I had many moments, and full on days I would struggle and fight with God over my placement and worthiness of working on such a big project with a group of ladies that certainly were “more than” me. My emotions were all over the place throughout the course of the project. Here is some of what I did that reveals my struggle, see if you can relate to any of them. I compared myself to the others, I devalued my own submissions and ideas, I was fearful, unsure, obstinate; I would get off track, derailed, throw fits, ignore and procrastinate. I would be silent, I would think of a million other things I could be doing, I cried, I resented my “yes,” I contemplated quitting, and wondered why anyone would ever want to read anything I had to offer.  What’s more, is I’m sure I could go on with a thousand other not so lovely things I did wrong, but you know what? I did the most important thing .

I prayed. Every. Single. Day.

I prayed on my own in the solitude. I prayed with these writing sisters. I prayed with my small group. I was prayed for, and this study was being prayed over by so many I wouldn’t even know who all to thank. With God, I persevered. He never left me. He didn’t give up on me. I wasn’t a mistake to be included in this small circle of amazing Christian ladies. Reality check: Typing that last line, is tough even now. I do not consider myself worthy, but God does. He sees me, and He doesn’t want me to be silent on my struggles.

Today I choose to be obedient to my calling. Today I push all of my anxieties, and the list of reasons why I could be doing anything other than spending this extra time on my bottom in front of my computer to the side. I tell my negative self-chatter to put a sock in it for just a few. In doing so, I will let Jesus speak through me.  I am chosen, and I am who the Great I AM says I am. I’m back and I’m giving notice to Satan that I will not be silent and let the enemy win today.

What is the Holy Spirit asking you to share with someone, or do for someone? Is there something you have overcome with the help of Christ that you can share and help another who needs encouragement? I pray today you spend time at His feet, and know you are worthy. Be obedient to do whatever it is He is prompting you to do. If you don’t sense anything, stay close to Him; ask for His guidance and remember His timing is perfect.

faith

Control

I have been parked in the book of James for many weeks now. I am reading scripture, praying for wisdom and deep understanding. I plainly ask the Holy Spirit to shine a light on any dark places where I do not fully allow his truth to penetrate and expose my hardened callouses and sinful pride. I am watching Francis Chan’s video series on James, working through a guided study by Max Lucado, as well as healthy discussion in my adult small group.

Lucado posed a question that seriously captured my attention; it is this:

Would you change the way you are living if you could see your future?

Why or why not?

In high school I lettered in debate of all things. Believe it or not, I am not fond of arguing. I do like researching and presenting logical facts, as well as being able to present and defend both sides of a question. My first response to this question on a personal level is YES. Yes, I would want to see the results of my lack of faith and sinful actions. Therefore, if I could quickly see the bellyflops and heartache of my poor choices, I would steer clear and adjust my words and decisions. Wouldn’t anyone want to avoid deep hurts to themselves and others they love? I would certainly change the way I am living if I could see into my future.

Take time to read James 4:1-10

Let’s look at it more pragmatically. As Christ followers, there are certain truths we all profess to believe.

  • His ways are higher than our own. Isaiah 55:8-9
  • We pray for God’s will to be done. Matthew 6:9-13
  • All good things come from God. James 1:17

I’m about to sound like I’m steering off course here, but stay with me. Do you remember the popular television game show, Let’s Make a Deal? The audience was typically dressed up in crazy costumes and trying to get noticed. As the chosen contestant was presented with different choices along the way hoping to be one of the final standing to play for the big prize hidden behind a door, box, or curtain. The excitement was fun for all, and what made it even more entertaining is that there was always the possibility someone may get ZONKED and end up with nothing of value other than a good laugh.

All of us have a free gift of grace, Jesus took care of that on the cross. He knows each one of us, and knows us better than we know ourselves even down to the number of hairs on our head. We live in a fallen sinful world, and many of us may think we get zonked more than average. Moreover, what the world would consider a ZONK, bad luck, a series of unfortunate events, etc. isn’t always what it seems. Many of the worst situations in my life, have been times that I turn to God and lean into him with a comfort that can not be explained until you have lived it personally. In life we have choices to make everyday. We don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.

If I truly want to pray, and live according to God’s will, I must trust him. I must be willing to be obedient to let him lead me. I must give up my craving to know ahead of time and stop “helping him out.” That is something I have a tendency to do. I want control, so sometimes I try to get a sneak peak by snooping around, nowadays cyber-stalking is such an easy temptation. I tend to want things to go the way I want and I find myself manipulating situations to formulate my desired outcomes. When I do these things, I am not letting God do his will. I am acting as the world would and quite honestly seeking their approval and applaud. In my meddling, I am working against God. I must allow God to do a work in me and be content, satisfied, and filled with joy without knowing what is behind each door. I must stay in his word, able to hear his voice, and go where he leads. I desire to know God’s will, but more than that, I must be willing to do God’s will. I must be obedient to act (have my go-shoes on Designer Shoes of Peace). Faith and love are action words. Create in me a pure heart Lord that allows me to bravely walk upright along the path you have designed for me. I humbly give up my rights to be in control. Let my life be lived for your kingdom, and set apart from this world. Thank you for delivering your Holy Spirit to reside in me. Continue to transform my thinking through the reading of your faultless God-breathed scripture.