Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The thing about blogging is...

Well, for starters, there has to be an element of creativity in order to have anything to blog about.
Then, of course, you have to have/find/make the time to put thoughts to computer and end up with a blog post.
The ironic thing is that this blog has a little link in my firefox menu bar (or whatever that thing is called.  I haven't been in a computer class since before blogs were invented!), so I see it and think about it and whoever may be reading every day. 
Today, I clicked on it and saw that the last entry was *gasp* March 28th.  And it wasn't a blog post so much as my notes from the Spring Brunch.

You ever just feel in need of a resurrection?  I think a female Christian artist had a song with that line int it in the past decade. Anyway, this blog is in need of a resurrection.  The passing of death (or near death) to life.  Thanks for your patience as I try to make it happen, and be faithful to the dream of what this blog could be:  a continual source of encouragement, laughter, sharing, caring, growing and leaning on each other in this weird online realm of social community.

So, here we go... let's try this again...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Belonging to the Lord

This past weekend, LEFC Women's Ministry hosted our annual Spring Brunch. 225 women from LEFC and their friends and family joined us for a wonderful morning of fellowship, laughter, and encouragement.

Below is the message God laid on my heart to share with our ladies... It was one of those God-moments that will serve as a spiritual marker in my life for years to come.
I'd been struggling for weeks trying to write this message. I knew where I thought it was going to go, but every time I sat down to write it, I'd have this mental block and just have to wait.
The night I finally was able to write it, I'd driven back from my parent's house (an hour's drive) and had been talking to the Lord about what He would have me to say. He began to flood my mind with a new direction for the message. As soon as I got home, I grabbed a tablet of paper and started to write the thoughts down so I wouldn't forget them. Rather than just jot down a few points, I ended up writing the entire message. I felt the Lord's Spirit so heavy on me, I was afraid to move. I didn't check the clock, didn't get up from my couch and barely let the pen leave the paper. And when I was done, not only had the Lord made clear to me what I was to say, He blew my mind and taught me some huge and powerful things FOR ME as well. I pray He touches your heart today. Jesus is everything. He is more than enough.

Belonging to the Lord

First, let’s talk about belonging. And what it means to belong.

To belong, immediately calls to mind 2 things. The thing were talking about and the who or what it belongs to.

• Children belong to their parents.

• Property belongs to the owner (a house, a car)

• You write your name on a cup at the party. Why? So you make sure you get the one that belongs to you every time.

• Food in a shared fridge. Your leftovers, your lunch.

• Growing up, we knew a family with a bunch of kids. To help the mom when folding the laundry, she stitched a colored thread on the bottom of each child’s sock so they got the ones that belong to them back.

• All these things are things we can look at and use the word: MINE. Like a child who ferociously guards his toy. These kids are MINE. This car is MINE. This cup at a party is MINE. This delicious piece of cheesecake left in the fridge is MINE. I called it. I wrote my name on it. I will fight you to the death for it. Uh, well, maybe not to the death, but you get the idea…

Those examples are more or less the things and they belong to us because we say so. But let’s think about things we belong to because WE say so.

• Maybe you belong to a gym.

• Many of you are wearing a wedding ring…declaring you are not on the market. You belong to another, you’re his!

• Players of a team wear shirts saying which team they belong to.

Belonging. Something either belongs to us or we belong to it.

Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at Isaiah 43.

It starts out with God talking to His people.

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
2"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
3"For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Then, later on verse 4 continues:

"Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and I love you, basically I will save your life. Do not fear for I am with you…

Verse 7:

Everyone who is called by My name,
And whom I have created for My glory,
Whom I have formed, even whom I have made."

That’s God. Talking to Israel. Absolutely applicable to us.

You belong to me. I treasure you. I cherish you. You are precious to me. I LOVE YOU.

Some of you need to hear that today. Some of you haven’t heard the words I LOVE YOU from another human being (and I’m not only talking about a man) in so long, you can't even remember the last time you did hear it.

The God of the UNIVERSE loves you. He loves you just the way you are. He treasures you. He cherishes you. You are precious to Him. HE LOVES YOU. Perfect or not. He loves you. And He can’t help it.

So, then the chapter continues to explain to the Lord’s people that they are His witnesses. People who have seen the things He can do. His chosen people for whom He has worked miracles for!

In verse 11 He says:
I am the Lord and there is no savior besides me.

He’s telling them, “Only I can be your God. Only I can work miracles like parting seas, providing water in a desert, keeping you safe in the fire. You belong to Me and I love you. Nothing else can be for you what I AM for you.”

He doesn’t say, what I can be for you--IF you stinking people turn back to me, jump through these hoops, fulfill these 12 steps, stand on one foot while holding a finger to your nose…

He is the Lord and there is no Savior besides Him.

What about you? Are you trusting in anything or anyone for your saving…for your rescue… for your security… anyone or anything else you put your faith and trust and hope other than God?
Do you trust God to get you out from your mountain of debt—or are you handling that one all on your own?

Are you relying more on a relationship for encouragement, rescuing, security than you are trusting God?

Maybe it’s money, a relationship…Maybe it’s having nice things? There is nothing wrong with having nice things as long as you’re not working like a dog, killing yourself, sacrificing family in order to be or have the best of the best.

There are many things we can serve or set above our God… but to borrow a great acrostic from Beth Moore:



Whatever it is you’re setting higher than God in your life and priorities… it won’t save you and it won’t last. It’s only temporary. You can lose everything. It’s not worth it.

So, back to Isaiah:
God tells Israel you belong to me. You are precious to me. I love you. And I’m it. No one and nothing else could ever be for you what I am for you. Period.
The chapter continues with some well known verses of Scripture:

“Forget the former things,
Do not dwell in the past.
19"Behold, I am doing a new thing!,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert."

Forget the former things! Do not dwell in the past!

Did you hear that this morning?

Forget the past! Do not dwell in it.

Don’t camp there. Don’t live in the
Land of What If things had been different or If Only I would have made a different choice.

Well. You didn’t.

Even if we know we’ve taken a wrong turn, our God is too loving and too merciful to let us live in a perpetual state of un-blessing. If we realize we’ve taken the wrong path and try to make it right through Him… He is the God who restores. He makes all things new.

Granted, our pasts shape us and form us and mold us into who we are. But that doesn’t mean we’re stuck there! The great thing about life is that it’s a journey. Everyone has had bad things happen to them. EVERYONE. Those who walk in joy have left the past behind. They’ve learned what they needed to learn and left it in the past. Those who walk around in bitterness or with a victim’s mentality are still living in their past. And if that is you. If you are stuck in the Land of Woe is Me! To you I say, as respectfully as I know how: GET OVER IT! Leave it behind. Give it to Jesus and enjoy the present have a bright hope for the future!

God refers to Himself as I AM. Even earlier in our chapter, He says, I AM the Lord. I AM the One who got you out of trouble. He didn’t say, I was the One who rescued you. NO. HE IS. I AM the Lord. He is not the I WAS. He is the great I AM.

And because He is the I AM today. He will still be the I AM when tomorrow gets here. Maybe your future is scary: As you wait for the chemo to start or to finish, as you wait for the test results to come in, as you wait for a test you have scheduled in a week or 2, as your company is making decisions about lay offs and you or your husband could be next, as the surgery date is ever approaching.

Whenever that day arrives, He will be present then. That day He will still be I AM.

If this describes you…any of it… and you want to live a better way, raise the white flag of surrender. It’s not a sign of weakness, but a mark of great courage and great faith. Just surrender. Surrender control. Surrender your plan. Trust that He is BIG enough. He knows what He is doing. No matter the outcome, He is still God.

Back to Isaiah 43:
God is basically telling Israel to forget the past things He has done. Don’t dwell even on the good of the past. Sure, He did some mighty miracles among their people in the past. But He’s telling them that He is RIGHT NOW doing a work and they’re so focused on what great things He once could do, they can’t even see what He’s in the middle of doing RIGHT NOW.

My oh My, does that apply to us as well.

Do you ever feel like you used up all your blessings? Like God did some great thing for you, some huge miracle, came through for you in a HUGE way so much so that in your mind He becomes the God who did that thing rather than the God who can do ANYTHING. And you know he can do anything because He did THAT.

Are you stuck on who He was and not able to believe Him for who He is?

Israel was stuck on who He was.

God was pointing out their faith in His past actions and blindness to His current abilities. He then tells them:

Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob;
But you have become weary of Me, O Israel.
You have not been obeying Me, giving me the required offerings.
You haven’t been giving burnt offerings—you haven’t even been seeking forgiveness for your sins!
Rather, you have burdened me with your sins. You have wearied me with your iniquities.

Then, God tells them of His own faithfulness.

Basically, even though I’m burdened by your disobedience, complacency & sin…I AM the One who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake. And I will not remember your sins.

Our God is so faithful. He loves us So much… like the NT also tells us:
Though we are faithless, He remains faithful because He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)

Here comes the BEST part:

Chapter 44 continues…
Don’t worry Israel. I am faithful. You may have not made the most of this relationship. You may have turned your back on me and trusted everywhere else for only what I can give you, but this is what the Lord who formed you and created you says:

"I will pour out water on the thirsty land
And streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring
And My blessing on your descendants;
4And they will spring up among the grass
Like poplars by streams of water.'

You may have thought you left Me, but I will never leave you. You belong to Me! You are MINE!

Verse 5:
This one will say, “I am the Lord’s” and this one will be called by the name Jacob, and another will write on his hand, “I Belong to the Lord.”

All previously in our lesson this morning, God was telling His people: You belong to Me. You are precious to Me. I cherish you. I treasure you. You ARE MINE! I will do anything for you.

And yet, Israel just couldn’t get it.

They were lost in the past without hope for their own future, they had given up on God entirely. They thought He was just the God who was. They forgot He is the God who is. The Great I AM.

So God is assuring them, they (the people who are hearing His word through the prophet Isaiah) may not get it. But their descendents will. He is faithful to do what He says He will do… their descendents will come back to the Lord.

And not just come back as those who belong to the Lord because He says they do. They will come back with JOY because they themselves say so… they’ll have such joy they will not be able to contain it. They’ll just have to tell it: I am the Lord’s; they’ll name their children Jacob in honor of their heritage as God’s chosen people and they will write on their hands, I BELONG TO THE LORD!!

So the questions is: What about you?

Are you the one who bought some fire insurance several years ago and you have done little to embrace the abundant life OR are you so full of gratitude, joy, esteem, respect and faith you declare, I am the Lord’s and call your children Jacob and would write it on your hand (or you facebook) I Belong to the Lord!

If you need more Jesus and you need more joy…ask HIM for it! Get out of your pit!
Tell Him you’re a mess, ask Him for help and do what He says!

There is power in private prayer. Getting alone with God. There’s nothing like it. Spend time reading His word, getting to know Him, allowing Him to speak to your heart.

I tell you what, if you ask Him for more, He’ll give it to you. You just have to take the step out and ask Him to help you change.

As our time together comes to a close, I need to point out that there are very likely people in this room who don’t fall in either camp because they don’t yet BELONG TO THE LORD.

What about you?
Do you belong to the Lord?

Don’t we all?
No, we don’t. We’re not born followers of Jesus.

Do you belong to the Lord?
Maybe. Is not an ok answer. I think so or I hope so aren’t going to work either.

The Bible tells us that everyone has sinned (or done something wrong they know they shouldn’t do) and falls short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

Because of our sin, we aren’t good enough for God. He is holy and perfect and we are dirty and broken because of our sin.

The Bible also tells us that the penalty for our sin is death—eternal, forever separation from God. Or, in terms of heaven or hell, hell. (Romans 6:23)

Because we are not perfect like God, we can’t get into heaven when we die. There are no balances and scales to judge our good deeds against our bad deeds. Everyone falls short.

But God showed His love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

God knew we weren’t perfect. Satan deceived Adam & Eve and ruined perfection for all of us.
But God loves you so much that even though He knew we would sin and fail Him, He made a way to cancel out our sin so that we would no longer fall short.

He sent His only Son to earth (Jesus) to be born as a human in order that His Son, Jesus, a perfect, sinless man, would take your punishment for your sins upon Himself, so that your sin debt could be cancelled out.

Jesus died a horrible death, nailed to a cross 2000+ years ago so that you and I don’t have to pay the consequences of our sin. Our consequence, being an eternity apart from God, suffering unspeakable pain in hell.

Jesus, who died for our sins, was then buried in a tomb.

And 3 days later, He ROSE FROM THE DEAD! His resurrection of coming back from death to life guarantees Believers an eternity TOGETHER with God in heaven.

A Believer is someone who believes that she has sinned and because of her sin she deserves eternal, forever separation from God. She believes that God sent His Son Jesus to take her punishment so she won’t ever have to. Jesus died because of her sins, that means my sins, and your sins. A Believer believes that Jesus was buried and arose from the dead so that she can be sure of what happens to her soul after death in heaven. Some people call it being saved, others call it accepting Christ or being born again. Some call it following Jesus because a believer’s life on earth before her eternity in heaven is forever changed, too.

The Bible even tells us how easy it is to receive God’s free gift of eternal life or salvation:
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

It’s really the easiest thing to do with the biggest most unbelievable rewards:

So, if you're ready to follow Jesus today, you can pray this prayer to God. It's not a magic formula that you have to get just right or it won't work. Your mouth is just a way to express what you believe in your heart. You can say the words and not mean them and nothing would change in your life. But if you believe and are ready to follow Jesus from the depths of your heart, pray this prayer to Him now and tell Him so.

I confess that I have sinned.
I understand that because of my sin I deserve an eternity apart from You.
I believe that You sent Your Son, Jesus to take the punishment for my sin upon Himself.
I believe that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead.
I accept your free gift of salvation today.
I ask for your Spirit to guide me all the days of my life
And help me grow in relationship with you.

If you made a decision to follow Jesus today, please let me know! I'd love to tell you more about who Jesus is and help you as you begin to live your life with a fresh hope and a new joy! You can find my email on the staff directory HERE

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

His name is John

Let's just get this out of the way: Where have I been for 2 months?!
Answer: I have no good answer. I cannot believe 2 months have passed. I blinked and November passed me by and here it is, the end of December. No excuse.

I have a little Bible humor to share with you. Seriously.
If you jump inside the Scriptures you're reading and try to picture yourself as a bystander watching the scene unfold before you, Scripture comes to life...becomes so real and enjoyable. Try it. You'll be surprised how dear and precious the Word becomes. Or, sometimes... funny. Hang in here with me...

I love the Gospel of Luke.
Its style, detail... just love it.
There's something so familiar, comfortable and sentimental about hearing or reading Luke's account of the birth of Christ. More often than not, we begin in Luke 2,
"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. "

But if you page back to Luke 1, you'll read about what happened before the birth of Christ. Zechariah, a priest was chosen to offer incense in the temple. While he was offering incense, an angel appeared to him and told him his wife, Elizabeth who was advanced in years would conceive the forerunner to the Messiah, John.
Zechariah questioned Gabriel, much like Abraham, that his wife was advanced in years and how could he know for sure? So Gabriel answers and tells him "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. " He then tells Zechariah that because he didn't believe immediately, he would be silent and not be able to speak until he has a son who Gabriel tells him is to be named John.
In Jewish tradition, babies aren't given their names until 8 days after they are born, at their circumcision. Those who would perform the ceremony wanted to name the baby after his father. But Elizabeth said that his name should be John. But they disagreed with her suggestion because John was not a family name.
So (here's the amusing part...if you're still hanging with me) verse 62 tells us "so they made signs to his father as to what he wanted him called."
Did you ever notice that? Gabriel only told Zechariah that he would be unable to speak, not unable to hear! ha! Zechariah had gotten into the habit of writing things on a tablet or making signs to be understood, but he would have been able to hear the world around him.
I love when the Word reminds us we are human. Isn't that just what we would do? It's like when people talk really loud to someone who doesn't know very much English. They're not deaf. Just slow it down, don't turn it up!
As the account continues, Zechariah "asked for a tablet" and wrote "His name is John." And at once, "his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God."

The moral of the story: If the angel Gabriel visits you to give you a message, believe him and the One who sent him. If the angel Gabriel doesn't visit you, but the Lord Himself speaks to your heart... Believe Him and the One who sent Him.

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

First Friday/Spring Brunch Committees

Hello Ladies!

Thanks to all of you who have responded and volunteered to be a part of these committees! We have 4-5 on board for Spring Brunch and myself and 1 other confirmed for First Fridays.

Here's a little more information about what I'm looking for regarding the First Friday committee.
I understand if you can't commit to 12 First Fridays! That's quite a bit! And I know adding one more meeting a month to our calendars can be overwhelming. I think we could meet monthly if that suits everyone's schedules, and if not, we can meet every other month & plan 2 events at each meeting and rely on email communication for minor details.
Also, if you want to volunteer to help with the planning of some but not all, that's fine, too. There are a few that don't need any planning (summer stuff) and some that need only minimal. There are a few, though that need creativity, errand runners and people willing to pitch in and set up.
Here's the list I've come up with.
Perhaps there are a few that you could be a part of:
January 7th: Swap Meet
February 4th: Pajama Party
March 4th: Game Night (board games, group pictionary, minute to win it, maybe wii..FUN)
April 1st: Talent Show
May 4th: Prom Night
June 3rd: Movie Theater (Penn Cinema) & Ice Cream
July 1st: Pool Party
August 5th: Picnic
September 2nd: Barnstormer's Game (let's hope they're in town... if not we might be able to swap Aug with Sept)
October: Barn Party
November 4th: Soup Night and Book Swap
December 2nd: Ladies Latte/Coffee House

So... as many as are interested to help plan, I'd be so grateful. Really, you wouldn't have to commit to all of them. I'd appreciate your help on just one. Or, you could help with the planning but not the execution, OR you could commit to helping with set up/clean up of an event but not attend the planning meeting. OR we could chat about it and see what works best for you.

And those interested in Spring Brunch planning, Come On! I've never attended a Spring Brunch here, so I'll be leaning on your input greatly.

Looking forward to all God is going to do in and through you ladies in 2011. From WBF to new friendships to First Fridays, etc... He's moving. He's working. Join In!

Monday, October 25, 2010

When God Ran

I got an email recently from one of the fabulous women in our Daniel WBF class and she simply stated, "I didn't know how hungry I'd been until I started feasting on God's word."

Let that sink in.
Roll it around a time or two.

Is that you?
Are you getting by on the knowledge you have of God's Word without diving in and letting it spark a fresh hunger and fire within?
And why on earth is having a consistent, daily time set aside for scripture reading and purposeful prayer and sitting quietly before God so stinking hard to fit in? We KNOW how much better life is with Jesus at the center, giving Him our day before we start racing through it and yet, rather than run to Him, we just... well, we don't.
And what would it look like if we did?
Who would you be if you let God have more of you?
What if you let Him have all of you?

Think about that. Picture it.
So, what holds you here? Are you stuck? Afraid? Holding too tightly to things of this world? Not willing to let go of cherished sin? Maybe you haven't realized how long it's been since you carved out some quiet time and talked to the Lord?
Maybe you feel like it's been so long that maybe it's too long? Really? Too long? For Jesus? That may work on the surface, for the enemy to tell you that lie to keep you away, but if you think about that... it's been so long since I've been where I need to be with the Lord that it's probably been too long and He's given up on me.
Given up on you? Over a few months, many months, a year, 2 years, 5 years that have passed without you even realizing it... and yet you think it's been too long? Well, how long is too long? 2 months but not 3? 1 year but not 2?

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear. --Isaiah 59:1

You know those moments in life when someone makes a statement that you know will be with you forever? We were in our Connect Groups one Sunday after the morning service at the church I used to work at in Virginia. We were all sitting around the table talking about something similar to this topic and my dear friend, Mina, who incidentally is so full of wisdom and timely words of encouragement I can hardly stand it... she said something to this effect... The Bible doesn't give us 10 steps to getting back into the groove with God. It doesn't talk about us earning our way back to the "sweet spot". What it does talk about is God saying "Return to Me", and about a Prodigal Son being IMMEDIATELY, ENTIRELY, FULLY welcomed back to the Father. He didn't shame him for being gone and wasting the money. He didn't look on him with disappointment. He hadn't stopped caring as time went on.
What does the Scripture say?

First, it doesn't tell us how long he'd been gone. "When he came to his senses." (Luke 15:17)

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." (Luke 15:20)

Ok, I won't preach a sermon BUT...

"While he was still a long way off": The son made his way back. Can you imagine it? Shoulders slumped, dejected, feeling unworthy, guilty, shameful, embarrassed... just coming upon his father's land maybe coming up over the farthest hill to be possible to be seen.

"his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him": He was waiting and watching. He didn't care how much time had passed, he always longed for his son to return.

"he ran to his son": This part can make your heart stop. This is the only time in Scripture when God (because this is a parable, the father is representing God) is seen RUNNING. Are you ready for this? The son was a long way off, had decided it was time to come back, to come home, the Father was watching and waiting and as soon as he saw his son, the father took off running to him. He could have made the long trek worse by making the son pay his penance, feel the weight of his guilt, endure a few more steps of shame, but no. He would have none of that. The Father bridged the gap. He more than met him halfway.

He removed the distance.

Isn't that what we sometimes need?
We feel the distance.
We want it removed.
But we feel so bad for being gone so long, we don't know how to get back to where we'd once been.

There is no magic formula.
It's simple: Begin your journey back. Open the Bible. Talk to Him, tell Him you want more of Him... that you're ready to return. And He'll do it for you, too. He'll remove the distance.

Keep your eyes wide open so you don't miss it: He'll run for you, too.

Click Here to listen to an AMAZING song sung by Phillips, Craig & Dean called "When God Ran"

This post was a God-thing. I sat down to blog tonight to tell you I couldn't really blog tonight and this is the direction God took it. I love Him so. And He adores you. If you're feeling the sweet nudge of His spirit drawing you, then know He did it for you.

Monday, October 18, 2010


"Accountability is not always easy, but it is necessary." --Ryan Snyder

If you were in Sunday's service, you might remember that quote from the message. I wonder: Do you have someone in your life who shares your love for Jesus? Who is in this with you? Who you KNOW will caution you before you fall into a pit and throw in a rope when you do... and that person will love you no less when you fall. That person will not hold your failures over you, but will rejoice in the redeeming work of the Lord? Who is your "person"?

Maybe you sat in the service on Sunday and thought, "Gosh, I've never had a relationship like that in my ENTIRE life." Well, do you want one? Do you need a girlfriend to come alongside of you and do this thing with you? In it together. Iron sharpening iron. A faithful friend. If that kind of friendship is missing from your life, I suggest you find one. Not just at random, but by prayerful consideration. Ask the Lord for such a friend or accountability partner.

So, this thing called Accountability. It's really a beautiful thing when it's working the way Ryan shared on Sunday. There's a lot it can look like, and I'll go into it in just a minute, but there are also a few things that accountability is not.
1. It is not a license to freely sin to your heart's content. You're first and foremost accountable before God.
2. It is not a brag session on your sin, failures and missteps. Each and every one of them sent your Savior to a torturous death on a Cross so you might be redeemed. Never forget that. If we pictured Christ's bloody body hanging from that cross in those brief moments before we choose to sin, perhaps we'd have a little reverence and take the way of escape He's promised.
3. It is not a get-together without getting accountable. How much we miss if neither party is brave enough to bring the conversation to the reason for getting together.

So, maybe you're longing for it but don't have any idea where to begin.
Here are a few suggestions. Not a how-to book. I didn't find this in Scripture. Mostly from personal experience or something I heard about or came across. Just a starting point if this is where you want to go.

What do you want? Do you think you want to meet one on one with someone? Maybe the idea of a group of 3 or 4 is more appealing? Not sure? ASK JESUS. If He has stirred in your heart the desire to do something like this, talk to Him. Spend time in His presence, see what He says.

Once you think you know if you want one-on-one or a group, prayerfully determine who these people might be. Perhaps there's someone you meet with on a regular basis or a dear friend and right away you know you and Suzy Jones would make great accountability partners. If you don't know who you might meet with, ASK JESUS to show you. Recently, being new on staff, Greg encouraged me to have a sister in Christ praying with me and for me personally and the ministry I am involved in with you. I felt overwhelmed because I barely knew the ladies, but I began to ask the Lord and as I did, as I was around a certain woman, God would remind me and even suggest in my heart to ask her. The God of the Universe, concerned with the details of our lives. Unfathomable. Yet, unmistakable. So, if you need the partner, let it be a God thing.
Then, when you know who you want to approach, do so. Ask them if they are familiar with accountability partners or accountability groups. Would they be interested in getting together with you and building that kind of relationship. If they missed the sermon, tell them to listen to it online!

Share what each of you would like the group/partnership to look like. How often will you meet? What kinds of things will you discuss? This can be important, especially when it's new. Realize that someone new to your life is probably not going to be comfortable sharing her deepest sin issues outright with you until she feels loved, accepted, safe and knows she can trust you. These things take time. But, while you're building those bridges, start with easier things:
Consistency in daily Quiet Time
Consistency in daily Prayer times
Memorizing a new verse or passage of Scripture each week/2 weeks/month
You can even start with something specific you know you need to uproot from your life that you're willing to entrust to your new accountability partner. Some examples: How much time you spend watching TV, What shows you choose to watch, Working on responding in love to your spouse or teenager, Getting to the gym however many # of days.

No need to sit down at the coffee shop an start declaring your struggles! Have a little chat, enjoy each other's company. Find out how her week was, what God is doing in her life, etc. But then, before long, turn the conversation to the reason you're there. Bring a little notebook with you. Write down what you're going to ask your friend about and what she's going to ask you about next time you meet. Then, throughout the week, pray for your dear sister in Christ and the things she wants to work on. And, be reminded daily of what you want to work on before you meet again. Knowing that she's praying, knowing that you desire to see change, and knowing you'll have to report back on how the week went will all contribute to victory.

Be honest with yourself and your accountability partner or group. Remember why you wanted this partnership/group to begin with. Be willing to be the first to say you messed up. Be gentle and full of grace. When someone says where she fell short, don't tell her how to fix it for next time. Ask her what she might do in that situation next time it occurs? Offer suggestions graciously, fully aware of the plank in your own eye. With humility. The thing is, James says "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." James 4:17 More often than not, she's gonna know what she should have/would have/could have done. You don't need to tell her. But, to best walk in victory, ask her to tell you.

Sometimes in our world of wanting to be superwoman, we say we want to be held accountable to a rigid thing like committing to exercise 5 days a week for an hour a day but then the kids get sick, the car breaks down, life happens and you just can't do that much. But you can do some. So, celebrate the "some" and be more realistic in your expectations of yourself for next time. As the partner, think about your partner's requests for her own want-to's for the week. If you think it's too lofty, ask her if she thinks it's realistic. Some of us set ourselves up for failure because somewhere subconsciously we think we're going to fail anyway. Send that back to the pit from which it came! "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." And let the things you want to change be Holy Spirit driven. Let Him show you where He wants to sharpen you, rather than picking random things you a) know you can do before the next week or b) are driven by the world's motives and not the Spirit.

There is something special in a friendship when your friend tells you she'll pray for you. But there is a sweetness and sincerity that develops when she prays WITH you. I would encourage every accountability meeting to start and end with prayer. Whether you're sitting in Starbucks or over the phone. Pray for her, let her pray for you. Encourage each other.

This is the MOST important part of a successful accountability group/partnership. You have to have a conversation at the outset that EVERYTHING said between you will stay in the confines of that safe circle of you and your partner/group. The ONLY exception is if someone tells you something that jeopardizes someone's safety or well-being. Otherwise, husbands, sisters, friends, best friends, co-workers who don't even know your friend, children, anyone else not in the accountability partnership or group is off limits. Then, you know what? You agreed to keep it confidential, then, keep your mouth shut. (I say in love). Seriously, live with integrity here, ladies. Be the kind of accountability partner you want to have.

Whew! Ok, really, this is not a magic formula. Just suggestions or a starting point. If you truly desire to have this kind of relationship, cover the thing in prayer. Wait on the Lord, trust Him to work and then watch for Him to amaze you. He can and He will.

I'd love to chat with you if you want more direction, need someone to join you in prayer about finding a partner, etc.

In case I haven't told you lately, I'm crazy about you. Blessed beyond measure to be counted among you and overjoyed to be used of God to lead you closer to Him.
Much Love,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dogsitting in Boyertown

This weekend, my parents went to New York to visit my brother and his family. They asked me to stay at their house and watch their dog. Koko. A beautiful, loving, mild mannered Australian Shepherd.
Aaaaahhh... a much needed and appreciated "retreat" right here in the real world.

In the past few days, I...

Slept with a dog on my bed. He is SO not allowed to do that, but knows I won't kick him off.

Collected about 100 stink bugs in a container of Mr. Clean. They're dead now. But their 20 or so closest friends and family are still hanging around. Ew!

Visited my 91 year old great-aunt Margaret at the rehab facility she's staying at until she regains strength after a recent hospital stay. Today, I filed her nails and made some memories.

Watched the Phillies beat the Reds! Twice!

Missed church at LEFC on Sunday but just listened to the message online. So glad I did. I want to be a sold out disciple joining Jesus in His Movement, don't you? "Encountering Jesus on a daily basis and engaging the world around me for Him." Phenomenal message. You should definitely listen to it if you missed it. God is doing great things at LEFC!

Started reading a fabulous book called "Surrender to Love" by David Benner. It is so good.

Took a mid-term exam. Online. Open book. Lucky me.

Went to see "Life as We Know It." I haven't been to a movie in forever! It's the new romantic comedy with Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel. Very cute.

Thought about stuff. Perhaps you find that funny. I find that I need downtime to think. Long drives are great for thinking (and praying). Once, when I was in college, I was sitting alone in the dorm room. Just sitting on the couch thinking. No tv on, no books in my lap. My roommate walked in and was like. Are you ok? I said, yeah, I'm just thinking. She didn't get it. We had a good laugh. I did some thinking :o)

Thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful weather this weekend. The cool night air, the trees changing colors, gorgeous sunshine.

Aaahhhh... definitely needed a weekend like this. It's been a long time coming.

"Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him..." Psalm 37:7 (NAS)