Friday, September 21, 2012

True Woman '12 w/Dannah Gresh

Okay, never done this before, but I am going to attempt to blog live from a True Woman break out session with Dannah Gresh.  What that means is that this blog will keep changing before your eyes! :) This session is called "What Children Need to Become Pure Holy Adults."  Join with me, comment, and when it is done, I am going to give away a set of Dannah Gresh books....Six Ways to Keep the Good in Your Boy and Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl.  Here we go!

Here is the link to Dannah Gresh's website, for those of you interested in her ministry.  Awesome resource for parents!

Did you know that Dannah has a church curriculum for group study of And the Bride Wore White?  Please check that out if you work with teens.

"Sometimes when a man and a woman love each other VERY much, they hold each other really, really tight." And so begins this session with Dannah.  That was her answer when her daughter came to her years ago and asked how her eggs in her belly knew to turn into babies!  Wow, what a great answer!  Any of you have a "First Conversation" story to share? :)

 As Dannah begins, I am struck with her passion for being a mommy mentor.  She has walked there before us and is has raised three Godly and pure children.  May she be one of our wise guides as we journey through motherhood.

The  I am overwhelmed with the culture that we live in and how it is assaulting our children and families.  There is an erosion of the fabric of Truth and and an all-out war on the Gospel.  As moms, we have to rise up and build up our homes and protect our children's purity.  

Six Strategies To Live Above The Culture:

1. Enter into God's healing for you.  II Cor. 1:3,4

To get to the heart of protecting our children's purity, we have to have to be healed ourselves.  Dannah says, "You cannot raise sexually pure kids until your heart is whole."  Has the sin of your past hindered you from feeling whole and pure?  

2. Become a connected mom.  Proverbs 22:6

I cannot say enough about this.  In her two books, Dannah details this more, but as I am thinking about this now, I think, in our technology-rich world, how are we unplugging from all of those distractions and plugging into our children?  I can think of a time recently when I was on my computer doing homework, my husband was watching TV, my middle guy was playing WII, my oldest was playing DS...and our evening passed with very little interaction.  Dannah tells us about the abundance of research on family connectedness and the importance it plays in our children's development.  Don't underestimate how vitally important face-to-face connectedness is for our children.  Make time to have meaningful, connected moments with them.  Can you share some of your strategies for connecting? What is something you are doing with your family to be connected?

3. Encourage creative role play. 3 John 1:1

TURN OFF THE TV.  TURN OFF VIDEO GAMES.  And as Dannah says, "LET THEM BE BORED!"  That's all I will say on the subject.  Anybody else want to chime in here?

4. Celebrate their physical maturity.  Psalm 139:13,14

Moms, it is paramount that we, our children's parents, are the source of knowledge as our children grow and their bodies change.  

5. Build a vision of their spouse.  II Timothy 3:1-5

Dannah made an outstanding and passionate plea to us that we stop focusing more on our children's future careers than we do their future mates.  Are you talking about their future oneness with a spouse?  "Positive messages are far more potent than negative ones."  

6. Become a praying mom.  Deuteronomy 9:1-5

"If you do not have an ongoing conversation with the Holy Spirit about raising your children to be set apart in this corrupt culture, you will become a paranoid mother whose legalism does not allow her children to face the giants God means for them to face." -Dannah Gresh

Done...Comment below some way this has blessed you.  If you have read the Six ways books, tell us how they have blessed you.  If you are familiar with Dannah's ministry, tell us a way that she and her ministry have blessed you.  If this is the first time that you have ever even heard the name, Dannah Gresh...then HALLEUJAH! This has served it's purpose.  She is THE BEST purity resource I have ever come across and whether she knows it or not, a great mentor of mine.  I am so very thankful that I can share her with you! :) 

Rise and Shine

Rise and Shine!!  Anyone but me remember mom, grandma, dad...someone who had gotten up before the chickens and had their coffee, come in to wake them up with that annoying mantra?  For me it was my Memaw.  She and my Grandaddy were up at like 5 am EVERY DAY (even Saturdays!) drinking coffee as black as night, and then in she would come....RISE AND SHINE, JULIE BUG!  Can anyone say "Fingernails down a chalkboard?!"  Covers would come up tightly over my head and I would snarl and hiss till she would go away. 

Spiritually speaking, lately I feel like I am living with the covers up over my head snarling and hissing at the world to go away.  My life has been so purposefully consumed by all of my comings and goings that I have been resisted opening up to the newness of the day.  All the while, that Voice inside is nudging, "Rise and shine, sleepy head."

Well, it's Friday morning, way too early to shine, but nevertheless, time to head back to the conference center for True Woman '12.  I was thinking a lot last night about this idea of personal revival.  Elyse Fitzpatrick and Nancy Leigh DeMoss both talked yesterday about those things which keep us from what God wants for us.  And both spoke about substitutes, idols, functional gods.  I could easily say that God is my all, but what if I asked myself, Where are my competing desires, passions, appetites? What are the things I long for more than I long for Him? What is it in my life that means more than God?  Or how about this one, What am I willing to sin to get? Yikes...that one stings a little. For me, though, it came down to What am I clinging to more than I am clinging to God?  Because lately my snarling and hissing has been all about self-protection.  I have been like a wounded animal, not willing to let anyone, especially God, tend to my wounds. For months I have been shielding my wounds afraid to let God open and dress them...afraid it would hurt too much. I have been clinging to my wounded heart more than the Savior that can heal it.  My pain has been my God.

Let me ask you, friend.  Is there something or someone that you are clinging to more than your Savior?  Is there a competing desire of your heart?  Is there a greater passion?  Is there something you are willing to sin for?  Claim it.  Deal with it.  He won't change you if He doesn't have all of you.  That is the prayer of my heart today, that I give Him all of me.  Could you pray the same?

Up for this morning is Janet Parshall, Andrea Griffith, and.....drum roll please.....MARY KASSIAN!  {crowd goes wild!}  I hope that you will live stream with us if you can.  Don't forget that I am giving away a great True Woman conference tote filled with awesome resources including three books from the leadership pre-conference!  Comment below or tweet @JewelsChohan with hashtag #TW12 to be entered to win!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Live Stream, Comment, and WIN!

The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water,
but a man of understanding will draw it out.
(Proverbs 20:5 ESV)
I am already SO encouraged by what I am hearing and experiencing here at True Woman '12.  I just finished up the Women's Leadership Pre-Conference with Elyse Fitzpatrick and Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  What a word from the Lord.  Check out my Twitter feed for just a taste of the many feast-worthy moments from that event.  I will blog more in-depth about that later!  Come back!

For now, I want to make sure each and every one of you who aren't here with me don't miss a minute.  I am sitting here in the conference hall listening to and watching the speakers' sound checks and I am struck with the thought that lives can and will be changed here this weekend.  Some will hear a Word from the Lord that will totally revolutionize their lives. Some will be encouraged in a weary journey.  Some will get the refreshing water for which their soul so desperately longs.  And some will come to know the Lord.  With that being said, I want to make sure that if there is anyone who is still on the fence about tuning in tonight or the rest of this weekend, I have a word for you.  Fall in.  Take a few moments to yourself and join me here tonight.  You don't have to be here to be here

To offer a little incentive to get online and live stream with us, I am going to be giving away a bag of goodies!  When I say goodies, I mean GOODIES!! I have received some awesome resources at the pre-conference that I am going to be giving away! This giveaway includes the following books: True Woman 101: Divine by Design by Mary Kassian & Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Voices of the True Woman Movement by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Mary Kassian and others, and Mended by Angie Smith.   I also have a True Woman Conference Tote full of resources to go with it!  You won't need this prize to be blessed tonight by joining in, but who doesn't love FREE STUFF?!

So here's the deal: to enter to win, you need to go RIGHT NOW and register to stream live with us.  The link is on my sidebar or you can click HERE.  If you haven't been able to stream, check out the @truewoman twitter feed for some highlights. Then you need to comment here below something that you are hearing that is encouraging you.  Alternatively, you can mention me in a Tweet @JewelsChohan and use hashtag #TW12.  That's it!  Comment or Tweet about the conference and you can win a pre-conference prize bag!  YAY FREE STUFF!! 

**UPDATE!  Just had an encouraging and humbling conversation with Mary Kassian.  I can't believe I am typing this.  If you know me, you know what a hero she is to me.  I am SO blessed.  And as a bonus, Mary Kassian has signed her two books from my giveaway!  I have to admit, it will be difficult to give those up; but nevertheless, I will :) 

Talk to you soon! -jewels

Leadership Pre Conference-True Woman '12

I'm Here!!  Leadership Pre-Conference is about to begin!   Eight hundred women from all over the country have registered and checked in for an interactive workshop specifically designed for women in women's ministry.  I am so humbled to be here and be a part.  This year's focus is on Women Helping Women.  It's amazing to me that these opportunities exist to deepen my love of the Lord and passion for ministering to women.

As I type Nancy Leigh DeMoss has stepped onto the stage to welcome this delegate...and would you believe there are women here from as far away as SWITZERLAND!  WOAH!

Okay, as excited as I am to share, I am more thrilled to participate!  So, if you haven't registered to LIVE STREAM, the click on my link in the sidebar and jump on here later to comment with me!

Hello, Nancy!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Would You Join Me?

Hello Friends, life gets ahead of us sometimes!  I cannot believe that I haven't found the time to sit and share in  so many months.  I have worked on so much writing, but never finished to completion anything to share.  So, I would love to share something with you that is enriching me daily at the moment.  

As many of you have heard me say before, my life was set into a more focused and purposed motion after attending a True Woman conference in 2008.  Wow!  What a journey I have been on!  The transcripts from that conference can be purchased in book form called Voices from the True Woman Movement or read and listened to straight from the website here.  I HIGHLY recommend the sessions from John Piper and Mary Kassian.  All of the others are AMAZING as well, but those are really the two speakers that spoke to me most greatly at that point in my journey.

In 2010, I attended the conference again.  I said before, this is not your ordinary women's conference.  It is so theologically sound and encouraging to the heart of a woman.  You can check out the sessions for that conference here.  I recommend Janet Parshall's: Mary's Secret to Embracing Life-Shaking Circumstances, Nancy Leigh DeMoss's: What is a True Woman, and a break-out session by Mary Kassian: The Genesis of Gender.  There isn't a sour note there, but that's where I would start.

Now, here it is, two years later, and True Woman '12 is just around the corner, 13 days away to be exact.  I have planned to attend this conference since early this year.  I wouldn't miss it.  Unfortunately, but maybe perfectly for me, I will be attending alone this year.  In the past, I have gone with a group of women from my church, but this year, other obligations have kept me from promoting or organizing it (hello new baby and full-time course load).  I am really trying to see this as a great opportunity to quiet my heart and focus without my usual distractions.  But, I have been a bit saddened that I haven't had the ability to get more women to this great conference with me.  

To my surprise, this morning, I received a message that this year's conference is going to be available via LIVE STREAM!  That's right, the entire conference will be available from wherever you are, assuming you have an internet connection!  YAY!! So I am wondering...WHO WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND TRUE WOMAN '12 WITH ME?!  The conference is September 20-21.  Would you commit to "attend" some or all of this year's conference with me by streaming online?  I would love to chat with you all about the conference and what God is doing through this great event after it is over.  What a great way for those of us who live in different parts of the country to share in this together and encourage one another from afar!  Share this blog with a friend and invite her to join us as well.  I believe God is going to do mighty things!  I am SO excited!

So, if you are willing to participate in this way, please leave a comment below.  Also, the True Woman conference has been sending a daily Heart Prep devotional leading up to the conference.  We are on day 9 today which I am posting below.  Days 1-8 are also linked if you would like to read those as well.

Commit today, and lets do this together!   I will post the Daily Heart Prep on here every day leading up and we can pray for one another as well.  Check back for the link to the live stream in my sidebar, and while you are preparing, check out the True Woman event page with the schedule and speakers info.  What a different experience doing this both solo and as a group!  I wonder how God will use this solitude/distance approach to this whole experience?  Again, don't forget to comment below that you are joining me!

Here is today's Heart Preparation...

True Woman 2012 Conference

Day 9: Pride on Your Side?

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. ~James 4:10
A missionary to a certain region in Africa—a man who had been greatly used by God as an instrument of revival—recalled that when he would mention (even as a passing reference) the name of another Christian to any of the national believers, they would often ask, “Is he a broken Christian?” Not, “Is he committed?” or “knowledgeable?” or “hardworking?”

“Is he broken . . . ?”

How can you tell if you’re a broken Christian? One way is to consider the difference between a broken person and a proud person:

Proud people desire to be known as a success. Broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others successful.

Proud people are elated by praise and deflated by criticism. Broken people know that any praise for their accomplishments belongs to the Lord, and that criticism can help them become more like Christ.

Proud people keep others at arm’s length. Broken people are willing to take the risk of getting close to others.

Proud people are concerned about the consequences and problems caused by their sin. Broken people are more concerned about how their sin has grieved and dishonored a holy God.

Proud people feel worthy of respect. Broken people feel a desperate need for God’s mercy.

If statements like these reveal the presence of pride in your heart, don’t despair; God has been merciful to show you your need. The first step of brokenness and humility is to get honest about these things, to acknowledge the true condition of your heart. Don’t try to cover up, justify, rationalize, compare yourself with others, or pretend you’re better off than you really are. The riches and blessings of God’s grace belong to those who recognize their spiritual poverty.
If someone were to ask your friends or family members of you, “Is she/he a broken Christian?” what would the response be?
Excerpted from Nancy’s newest book, The Quiet Place.
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Prayer Focus: Pray for protection from fear of man, pride, discouragement, and every other weapon the enemy might use against the women who attend.
There is an urgent need... and we have been called to respond


Friday, May 4, 2012

A Visit With My Dad

Ever feel like life is rumbling forward faster than you can keep up?  Like everything you want to do is going on without you while you drown in the the stuff you need to do?  Well, that's where I have been lately.  Sinking into Must-Do, Need-To-Do oblivion.  It's times like these that I really, honestly, more than anything, just wish I had a wise dad to go sit with on a big ol' porch, drink a huge cup of rich coffee, and have him tell me it's worth it.  He knows it's worth it, because he was there once, too.  I've been feeling like that a lot lately.  Don't mind if I say it, but it kind of sucks not having it.  And I know in my heart that my Heavenly, Father God wants that same company with me, but I like to throw myself a little pitty party once in a while and whine a little.  "I know you love me, God.  I know you're all the father I need.  But the truth is, I just want that Daddy wisdom sometimes.  And you're just not doing it for me!"  Shameful, right?!

So, as you may know, I'm in school right now.  My brain is moving ninety to nothing most of the time (and the nothing is the part I'm worried about!), but I am wrapping up my last couple of classes for the semester so I feel a little bit of rest coming on.  If you are anything like me (and women, you can probably relate best), when you're all wound up, usually you're doing just fine, but when things start to slow and settle, that's when the emotional release comes on.  You know what I mean?  You know what I mean...and the waterworks turn on! It's weird how that would expect that when stress is the highest, that's when you'd lose it.  But no, it's in that moment that you realize you've gotten to the clearing that all that pent-up emotion comes flooding out.  That's how it was for me this morning.  I have been having that little pitty party I was telling you about earlier with the Lord the last couple of weeks.  But today, oh today was that day.  I made a big cup of Starbucks Verona, sat down in my big, brown armchair, opened up the Word, and there was my my Dad.  Just when I needed Him the most, He was there.  Here's what He said:

    When I was a son with my father,
        tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
    he taught me and said to me,
    “Let your heart hold fast my words;
        keep my commandments, and live.
    Get wisdom; get insight;
        do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
    Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
        love her, and she will guard you.
    The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
        and whatever you get, get insight.
    Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
        she will honor you if you embrace her.
    She will place on your head a graceful garland;
        she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

(Proverbs 4:3-9 ESV)

My Dad's really poetic, right?!  Well, after that little chat, I had myself a good cry.  The wisdom of generations, passed down from father, to son, from father, to son, from Father, to me.  Just what I needed.  The exact Words that I was longing to hear, and my Father poured them into me as generously as I had poured that coffee!  All this hard work...all these late nights...all this wrestling with purpose, and giftedness, and's the pursuit of wisdom, and it's worthy.  I like how the NIV (1984) says verse 7, "Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding."  It can't get any clearer than that! 

So what about you?  Is there something your heart is aching to hear?  Is there a moment of clarity you are seeking or a pat on the back or a cool drink of water to keep running?  When was the last time you had coffee with your Dad and let Him pass on His Wisdom?  It's great if we have an earthly dad we can call upon, but we're not alone if we don't.  Care to share a time when your Father God met with you in a special way?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Polish the Silver

I've been working on this post for a couple of weeks...forgive me for its tardiness.  I am in a class called "Teaching the Bible" right now, and I have been focused on lesson plans for this class.   As I was working, I came across these verses and really wanted to share what the Lord had given me.  

Philippians 2:12-13
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Silver is beautiful.  Gold gets a lot of attention because of its value, but I love silver.  I always have.  Silver, too, is quite valuable.  When it is new and unmarred, I love the purity and brightness of it. I love how it reflects like a mirror and seems so clean.  But silver tarnishes.  As silver interacts with sulfides in the air, it changes from the beautiful, reflective, white, gleaming metal to a black, burnished surface.  Sulfides in the air are the result of pollution...interestingly, before the industrial revolution, silver did not tarnish.

But imagine with me that you were given one big, beautiful piece of silver and told that was your admittance to the greatest event you could ever think of being invited to.  Go ahead, use your wildest dreams...Grammys, Oscars, Super Bowl...and there you go, you're invited.  And all you need to get in is that beautiful, shiny piece of silver that was given to you as a gift.  The problem is, the event is a few years away, and that silver is going to tarnish.  So what are you going to do?

In the preceding verses to the above, Paul is recounting to the believers in Philipi, the work done on the cross by Christ, our Savior.  And then he goes on to encourage them to continue doing what they are doing.  He uses the phrase, "work out your own salvation."  This phrase gets misunderstood a lot by those wanting to point to it to show that salvation is not once and done on the cross, but something that we need to work for.  The fact is, however, that our salvation was complete upon the cross when He said, "It is finished."  His death was the payment for our sins and when we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).  When we were saved, it was done.  This is justification for our sins, we were made right.   The idea here, however, is that as God works in us (vs. 13), we work it out.   It is an idea of growing in maturity until the day of completion...Heaven.  It is about obedience and pushing towards the finish line with excellence.  Paul puts emphasis not on how much the Philippians knew, but how well they obeyed.  He knew that when God measures the character of a man, He puts the tape not around their head, but their heart.  And obedience is a heart matter.

How you behave in light of your salvation matters.  So Paul appeals to Christ's perfect obedience as he reminds them to "work out" their salvation...this is the idea of sanctification...becoming more Christ-like.  The world around us pollutes us, much like the sulfides pollute silver.  So in order to retain our luster and be transformed into the mirror-image of Christ, reflecting for all to see, we must POLISH and shine!  We work out our salvation because God is working in us.  This polishing is done by following Christ's example in our everyday lives.  I have created this acronym and found it helpful in reminding me how to do this as I seek to grow and mature.  Take a second to look at the first 11 verses of this chapter to see that obedient example to which Paul was referring.

  • P- Pray.  Spend quality time in prayer.  In verse 10, we see our call to this posture.  But all throughout scripture, God calls us to this intimate time with Him.  Jesus, Himself, even spent time seeking the Father in prayer.

  • O-Obey.  Obey in all things.  Although Jesus was God, we know that He was obedient to the Father.  Verse 8 reminds us that He was obedient even to the point of death.  We may not always like what scripture Has to say; it may be hard.  But God calls us to obedience.

  • L-Love.  Verses 1-2 remind us that we are to be in the same love.  Love is one of those words which gets easily distorted.  But to be in the same love as Paul, we must love Christ above all else.  This love must supersede all other selfish loves of this world.  This is how to truly experience unity in the body of Christ.  Love for others will pour out of a heart which is consumed with love for Christ.

  • I-Intentionality.  Intentionally look out for the interests of others.  It is natural to look out for your own interests, but in verses 3-5, we are reminded of the importance of looking out for others and putting their needs in front of your own.

  • S-Serve.  We are told that Christ came, not to be served, but to serve.  Verses 6-8 remind us that Christ willingly and voluntarily emptied Himself of His deity and took on the form of a man in order to serve mankind.  Have you considered the weight of this lately?  Have you asked yourself if you have humbled yourself and relinquished your rights lately?  We are so all-about our rights...but what about serving?  What about humbling yourself enough to give up your rights.  And not just once, but every day, all the time.

  • H-Honesty.  Speak the truth, honestly, all the time.  Tell others about what God has done in and through you, and speak about it often.  One of the greatest ways to grow in your own faith is by sharing it.  What Christ has done for us is GOOD NEWS, and it's not to be kept to ourselves!  Verse 11 tells us that at His name, all will confess.  This brings glory to God. 

So do you want shine?  Do you want to reflect His glory and be a mirror-image of the ONE who has done the work of salvation in you?  Then you have to POLISH.  Otherwise the toxins of the world will cause you to lose your luster.  Just like silver, you will never lose your value; your salvation is secure.  But as Christians, our maturity depends upon our upkeep and working out what God has worked in.  Knowledge plus maturity brings wisdom, so polish the silver.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Stupid is as Stupid Does...

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof is stupid. 


a : given to unintelligent decisions or acts : acting in an unintelligent or careless manner
b : lacking intelligence or reason
c : marked by or resulting from unreasoned thinking or acting 

When did stupid become a bad word?  I mean, come on?!  There are a lot of really vulgar words out there.  I hear them all the time.  I'll admit it, I have said one or two.  But my regular vocabulary does not include those words.  But stupid seems to be new to the list of unacceptable language.  I actually remember a period of time, somewhere around 1999, that I began to realize stupid was a word that I was going to have to remove from my everyday vocabulary.  And I remember being baffled a little by that.  But stupid isn't slang.  It isn't a cuss word.  It is a very descriptive purposeful word.  So I began to get a little miffed that I had to relegate the use of that word to quiet conversations with my husband for fear that some kid was gonna say, "OOOHH! You said a baaad word!"  Believe it or not, I actually had a very long debate with a friend in the company of my incredulous family over the acceptability of said word.  And when I say very long debate, I mean VERY long, PAINFULLY long.  Yeah, you don't want to debate with me, cause I don't stop! 

Now don't get me wrong, I realize this word has been grossly misused.  Schoolyard bullies and abusive adults have damaged others by their cowardly name calling.  It is NEVER okay to insult others with any descriptive adjectives. But that is, in fact, what this word is, a descriptive adjective.  And as with any adjective, it can be hurtful and misused.  But do we still call it a bad word when it's in the Bible?  If you can't tell, this is a wee-little soapbox of mine.  When I was studying this morning and came across this verse, I have to admit, I felt a little swell of pride.  I didn't go looking for a version of the Bible that termed this in just such a way, it just so happens that the brilliant scholars that translated the ESV (version that I use) agree with me :)  

Okay, enough of that.  In all seriousness.  Nobody wants to be thought of as stupid.  So why is it that we so quickly reject sound counsel when it disagrees with our sensibilities?  Why do we puff up whenever we receive correction?  It's because we wanna be right.  Nobody wants to be right more than me, I can guarantee it.  But I would rather know His Words than be a know-it-all.  So I have to accept that, quite often, I am wrong and need correcting.

Throughout the Scriptures, the author warns about the consequences of resisting or rejecting reproof.  Reproof is defined as moral correction, that is, correction of character, decision-making, judgment or values. It isn't easy to have someone correct us.  But the Bible says that it is necessary for life and knowledge and growth.  It takes discipline and correction to grow in maturity and wisdom.  And yet, we fight it tooth and nail.  We think we know it all and have arrived.  We think we can't be taught.  And dangerously at times, we defend our actions by saying, "God told me to...." or "I heard a Word from the Lord."  To that I say, if it's not written in His Word and wise, Godly counsel is telling you that you are making a mistake that needs correcting, you should probably realize that what you heard was your own voice talking and not that of the Lord.  It's easy to pin things on the Holy Spirit just to justify our stubborn efforts.  But the Bible warns us about this.  Fourteen times in particular we see this specific use of the word "reproof" in the Book of Proverbs, and each time, the writer gives an unflattering, blistering description of the outcome when one does not accept such correction or showers of blessings to those that listen. Simple, foolish, evil, scoffer, the brink of utter ruin, shame, and stupid or praised, upright, way of life, blessed, loved, and wise?  Which list of descriptions do you want said of you?

Remember what Mama always says...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hey Alma...Check Your Battery!

Take my instruction instead of silver,
and knowledge rather than choice gold, 
for wisdom is better than jewels,
and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. 

As a mom with three boys, I have been trying to learn to tune-out.  I am not trying to be a tuned-out mother, but you have to learn to tune some things out for your own sanity and so that they will learn to work things out on their own.  But the fact is, I have yet to perfect the tuning-out that my own mother was so, incredibly good at.  You know if you have, Mom, MOM!!!  My kids, however, do not approve of my tune-out venture. If I am distracted or ignore them even a little when they are trying to get my attention, they are relentless.  In fact, my sweet little Sebastian has even come over to me, patted me repeatedly on the arm and said, "M-OM!  DO YOU HEAR ME???  I was CALLING you!"  Maybe I'm getting better at it than I think...and maybe my Middle Son is gonna lose a hand if he keeps that up! No te metas conmigo!

Ever feel like you've gotten a little TOO good at tuning-out?  Ever have one of those moments when you know that God isn't just gently calling your name, but patting you repeatedly on the forehead to get your attention?  You know...those times when that still, small voice is just too still and small for your distracted and ignoring ears and it takes some serious stomping and shouting to wake you up?

This has never happened to me...I'm just askin'! (Thanks Mark)  

Well, the truth is, this has happened to me more times than I care to admit.  Quite often it happens when I stray from the basics.  Lately I have found myself fumbling through my quality time with God.  With school, and a new born, and the kids, and my marriage and so on, it's easy to get distracted and marginalize my prayer time.  Or I will thumb through the familiar pages of Scripture without really taking the time to digest the Words therein.  I know that the more I do that, the more my ears grow weak to His words.  Why is it that I allow myself to go through the motions without really listening?  A weak, lackluster spiritual life just makes me weak and lackluster in every other area of life.  And yet I do it anyway!

But, there is too much that needs me to be strong in every way to let myself dwell in this pattern.  What I need is a wise approach to getting back into the meat of the Word.  What I need is a hearing aid..with a STRONG battery! So, I go back to the basics of an old fashioned quiet time.  A quite time in my teens consisted of a time of prayer and meditation and a focused time in a devotional book by Oswald Chambers called My Utmost for His Highest or using some reading plan.  One of my favorite plans for going straight to the Scriptures is The Proverbs Plan.  Yes, I admit it, I am a Proverbs junkie!  But it is, after all, the Book of Wisdom.  Did you know there are 31 chapters in the Book of Proverbs?  What makes this great is that by reading one chapter a day, you can read through the book in a month, thus, The Proverbs Plan!  In case we've all forgotten, a wise approach to reading the Bible is not holding it in your hands, letting it open, and reading where you land!  A wise approach is diving into God's Word and reaching for every morsel you can get.  I love Proverbs because it seems as though it doesn't matter how many hundreds of times I read it, it speaks to me in a new way.  Remember that wisdom is more than's the maturity to know how to apply that knowledge.  And as I grow and mature, the Words of Proverbs have taken on new meanings. 

You know how I said that God sometimes has to speak a little louder to get my attention?  Well, I included the above Proverb for that very reason.  I have been wrestling with my own selfish desires...letting my priorities and my self sit squarely on top of my desire for Godliness and glorifying Him.  This morning I opened to Proverbs 8 (as it is the 8th of January) and here were His Words.  Take a second and read them again.  Funny thing is that my nickname of sorts is Jewels.  Not Jules, the way most "Julie"s would spell it but Jewels because my dear friend Nesha always said, "I like to spell it this way 'cause you're like a jewel!" (It's way better in her thick Texan accent!)  So here are God's words to me telling me that, in no uncertain terms, Wisdom is better than ME!  Yeah, I hear ya, Lord....LOUD AND CLEAR!  

The thing is, there are always going to be distractions and things pressing for our priorities, but sometimes we need to practice tuning-out those things and turning up our hearing aid.  Prayer and studying His words are the way to be completely tuned-in to Him. Our growth, our maturity in the Lord, and our desire to glorify God have got to come first.  We have to want wisdom more.  More than silver. More than gold or anything else.  Yes, even more than ourselves.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Heed the Call

The Call of Wisdom

Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.

Lately my heart has been broken.  On more than one occasion.  This condition has nothing to do with my relationship with my husband.  It has come from seeing Christians struggle with the consequences of their choices.  My heart aches every time I shed a tear with a friend whose life is falling apart at the seams, and the common theme is, "I just wish I knew what to do!"  The infamous statement which, if brought to its conclusion, would hold all the answers to happiness and fulfillment.  I have to admit, I cringe a little when I hear a sister in Christ utter those words.  Not because I have no compassion for her situation, but because I have heard those words spoken more to gain validation for her poor decision making than sincere desire to walk in Godly knowledge. "O, sad me!  Look at this situation I am in!  It is hopeless!  I have tried everything, and I just wish I knew what to do! I have tried everything....feel for me!"  I say this all the time, but it takes one to know one, and I have definitely been one!  I have been on the other side of that line of thinking, so I recognize the struggle all too well.  And although I, too, have lead myself down far too many destructive paths and cried out for direction, all is not lost.  There is, in fact, a very real way of knowing exactly what to do; each time, every time, in every situation. 

What I had to recognize, however, is that the path of walking in Godly knowledge isn't something I can just run to in times of chaos and expect to find conclusive answers that solve my problems.  I had to make the decision to get out of my simple way of thinking and run headlong into wisdom.  Wisdom doesn't happen overnight; it isn't just getting knowledge.  Wisdom is gaining knowledge and understanding and the maturity to know how to apply it.  And the only real Source for knowledge and understanding is the Word of God.  One of the first chapters of scripture that I memorized was I Corinthians 13.  Verse eleven says, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways."  That is maturity.  That is acquisition of knowledge and understanding.  That is the path to wisdom.  Put those childish ways behind you once and for all!

The problem is that our culture doesn't make this easy, even for Christians.  Our culture wants to spoon-feed babies.  Our culture wants to feed our selfish, what-makes-me-happy attitudes until we are fat and unhappy and surviving on anti-depressants.  Our culture wants to draw us as far away from wisdom and truth as possible by distorting the very foundation of God's Word.  Our culture has dictated a reinterpretation of the very core of who we were designed to be to the point that instead of maturing into Christian adulthood, we have lead ourselves down paths of spiritual immaturity and folly (more on that in a later post).  We have embraced our simplicity. We have rejected our foundational truths. We have rejected Wisdom.  And then we have cried aloud, "I wish I knew what to do," and felt frustrated when His words have seemed like riddles.

The way to "know what to do" is to seek Him.  It sounds so easy, but it isn't just a matter of saying, "I'm just trustin' the Lord."  It is seeking Him.  Pursuing Him.  Running headlong into the Word and finding out the Truth of Scripture.  It starts with knowing who you are in Christ.  Once you know who you are then you can begin to know what He wants you to do.  And not just during the difficult situations...because those will still come...but every day.  Seeking truth and applying it to your life is what wisdom is all about. That is how we mature and leave our folly behind.  That is how we step off of the path that leads to heartbreak and destruction and onto a new path that leads to abundant life.

This blog is about that abundant life.  This blog is about seeking truth and knowing who you are in Christ.  This blog is about journeying together on the path towards spiritual maturity.  And about seeking wisdom when she cries aloud.  This blog is about remembering that there is a Guide when we don't know what to do.  God wants us to be wise. Wisdom is calling.  In 2012, I am committing to reject simplicity and go deeper into His Word and into His heart.  I am committing to be useful.  I am committing to be so filled with His love that it pours out of me like a salve for the brokenhearted.  I am committing to be a wise girl so that I will know when and where to turn and so that He can pour His Spirit out to me and make His Words known to me.  Wanna join me?!  Heed the Call!