Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chapter 9 Encouragement

"What if what we're frantically seeking in the 'next thing' can be found only in the rests with Him between the beats?"  Rachel Olsen, INS, chapter 9

Thank you for being with me in this book and on this journey!  I am SO glad you are here :)

Once again, it's as if Rachel Olsen has been following me around for years!  I have so many "yes!", "me too!" and underlines in my book, it's ridiculous.  I am learning a lot about myself and my faith!  I hope you are, too :)

I am not one to skimp on my sleep (I usually have the opposite problem!), so being told rest is important is hardly a lesson I need to learn; but Rachel talks about rest in another way.   She puts forth the idea of rest as an act of trust (there's that word again) and worship.  That gives a whole new meaning to the phrase 'beauty rest'!

I am starting to come to the realization that I may be getting enough sleep, but I'm not sure that I'm getting enough Rest.  I do not often 'rest in the Lord' or 'wait on the Lord' like I should.  My rest is usually a recovery from the day's work (as evidenced by my falling asleep shortly after sitting on the sofa in the evening).  Perhaps, what I need to learn at this time in my life is that my rest is fuel for what God has called me to do.  Whether it's raising my children, being a loving wife, making a happy home, or serving my church & community, I need to tune in to what Rachel says is the "sacred rhythm of rest, rise, work rather than rise, work, rest" (INS, p.177).

How about you you?  What is this chapter saying to you?  Share your thoughts in the Comment section!  I am especially excited to hear your response to Romans 14 in question 3.

May you be blessed with transforming rest.

Your Partner in Ministry,

Monday, February 25, 2013

Week 8 - Chapter 9 - Turn the Beat Around

"On the seventh day, having finished his task, God rested from all his work.  And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from his work of creation."  Genesis 2:2-3

It happened again!  Our chapter 9 echoes what I heard in the sermon this Sunday at church!  Sometimes God works in mysterious ways.  Sometimes he just comes right out and says it!  And that's not all... the Proverbs 31 Daily Devotional last Thursday (Feb 22) was about 'waiting' and when I put my family's schedule on The Board this week, it was unusually sparse.  Some would call this coincidence - I call it God-incidence.  He has reminded me, through reading & listening, of the importance of resting in Him, of waiting on Him, and has given me the time and space to do it.  No excuses - just grace.   He is an Amazing God!

I am one of those people who NEED quiet time and plenty of sleep.  It's just the way I'm wired.  I may not accomplish as much in a day as some other women I know, but I have learned (through much trial and many errors) not to work when I'm tired.  It just creates more work!  So why do I need this reminder about rest & waiting?   I'm still working on that, but maybe in part because there are so many people around me who need the reminder, too.  Perhaps I need to encourage them to rest rather than push them to do more.  Maybe I need to create time & space for them to have their rest, rather than expecting more from them.

How will you use this reminder of rest & waiting in your life?  Share it with our community in the Comment section, so we can be encouraged & inspired.  Remember, if you are reading this in your e-mail, you need to go to the web page (by clicking on the title) to leave a comment.  I am excited to read how you will incorporate rest & waiting into your life!  If you're not sure how to rest or wait, ask a question or share your struggle.  We are all here to pray and encourage each other!

If you haven't started reading chapter 9 yet, grab your book, your favorite beverage, a pen, and your journal and claim some quiet time for yourself.  Before, during and after reading allow your heart and mind to absorb the lesson, let God's words in the scripture passages sink into you, and trust that God will do all He says and keep His promises to you. 

It is in the quiet times that we are able to hear God, but we must also remember to wait for Him to speak.  God doesn't vie for our attention, He waits for us to show Him that we are ready to listen to Him, without distraction; that we are waiting on Him to speak.

There are only 3 questions at the end of the chapter!  But let me add a 4th: what other scripture speaks about God and Jesus taking a rest or waiting?  I've put one of my favorites at the beginning of this post.  It makes me wonder, if God took a rest, why do I think I can go without it?

May you have time to rest and refresh throughout your week. 

Your Partner in Ministry,

"Then Jesus said, "Com to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."   Matt 11:28

Monday, February 18, 2013

Week 7 of INS - Ch 8 - Get By With a Little Help from Your Friends

"Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.  But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble.  A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.  Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." Ecc. 4:9-10,12

H-E-L-P spelled out on the beach; a signal fire in case a ship or plane is spotted; an orange flag attached to the car; the car hood open; waving arms; the international sign for choking: all are signals to others that help is required.  In these cases, immediate and desperate help.  These are situations where we have no problem asking for help from others.  Even as we try to help ourselves, we recognize that in order to be free from the present circumstances, assistance will be needed. 

But what about less dire circumstances?  What about less obvious, but difficult times?  Are we willing to signal for help when the kitchen is a wreck, family members have to be in 3 different places as the same time, or we're feeling exhausted & overwhelmed by emotions?  All too often, women prefer to try to do it all, all by ourselves.  I often wonder where this attitude comes from.  Is it a "modern woman" way of thinking?  Or have we always been this way?  Either way, it's something that seems to be an important aspect of being a woman in the 21st century.  And having the right smart phone will help you.  Have you seen that commercial!?  Oh my!

As we've been learning throughout this book and our study of Scripture, the way the world works is NOT the way God works.  Stop and re-read the scripture at the top.  And when you see that uber-productive commercial for a particular smart phone, repeat the scripture again! 

This is my favorite chapter!  Asking for help with my kids, projects, and housework did not come easily, but was forced upon me.  With a better understanding of how God created each of us to live together in community, to help each other, asking for help and giving it has become easier for me over the years. 

I hope you enjoy and learn as much from this chapter as I have! 

If you'd like a timeline for the week, here's what I suggest.

Monday (today):  Read chapter 8.  Take notes, underline, and come to the blog to respond to what you have read.  This is an important part of doing an on-line study: creating community through the Blog :)

Tuesday:  Questions #1 & #2.  I love the second part to question #2.  I hope you will share your thoughts on this both on the blog and in person (if you attend on Friday morning).

Wednesday: Questions #3 & #4.  Great questions for our modern way of life!

Thursday: Questions #5 & #6.  Note that there is no #5!  My best guess is that it should be where it says, "Paul writes in Galatians 6:2-5".  And in fact, there really is no question, so ponder the scripture and respond to it with whatever is stirred up in you.

Friday: If you are available, attend Re: at Redeemer Lutheran Church at 9:15am.  If Friday mornings find you elsewhere, come to the blog when you can (the beauty of online study) and share your favorite aspect of this chapter or tell how this chapter will impact your life moving forward.  I can't wait to read your responses! 

Thank you for helping the Re: Bible study and Blog be great!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Here's the lyrics to that famous song by the Beetles, "Help!"
courtesy of

Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help.

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me.

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways,
My independence seems to vanish in the haze.
But every now and then I feel so insecure,
I know that I just need you like I've never done before.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me.

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me, help me, help me, oh.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Encouragement for Chapter 7 of INS

"Faith is more caught than taught."  from Pastor Tom Kildea's sermon on February 10, 2013

Sunday was Transfiguration Sunday and I'm so happy that my schedule allowed me to attend church!  The transfiguration of Jesus is a mystical event!  The modern church often shies away from the mystic part of our faith, so I love the opportunity to celebrate it!  The thing is, we are drawn to the mystical; despite the fear it can bring, it makes us tingle, and we want to hold on to that feeling, just like Peter, John, and James in Luke 9:28.  The amazing thing about our belief in Christ is that
"...all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more." 2 Cor 3:18.  As Pastor Tom said in his sermon, 'intimate, deep contact with God changes you - you shine!'

So, you're asking, what does this have to do with Revealing the Secret of Perfection in God's Eyes?  When we read Jesus' definition of perfect in Matt 5:43-48, we understand that perfection comes when we 'love our enemies' and 'pray for those who persecute us'.  When we stop being so concerned with 'self' and turn our eyes to God, adjust our attitude from trying to do everything our way and allow God to work his divine plan in and through us, then we will be 'perfect'.  It takes practice and belief that a mystical transformation can occur in us, through the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:16-18).

If we can be transformed into perfection by spending time with God, by turning our eyes on Jesus, by proclaiming "Our God is an awesome God!" then why do we resist?  Rachel talks about this on page 136.  I agree with her observation that we have been 'conditioned  to earn our way, perform correctly, to make no mistakes' -' we are performance-based' and judge ourselves & others from this perspective.  This climate of competition is everywhere - it is an attitude that is both Caught & Taught!  When it's this pervasive, it's hard to resist.   Just this week I found Valentine's Day cards for 'competitive' couples and heard a school board & the public talk about giving students a 'competitive edge' by implementing full day kindergarten.  Competition begins at an early age and is found in every aspect of our lives, even Love!  No wonder we have such a difficult time embracing Jesus' perspective of grace-based love (pg 136).

As you spend time in this chapter, Scripture, and examination of yourself (through the questions) I hope you will begin to shine!  Leave your idea of perfect at the foot of the cross and embrace Jesus' perfection.  Teach your children, friends & family about True Perfection and allow faith to be 'caught' by those around you because of how you live!

Come to the blog and comment on Perfection & Competition and how it effects your life.  How are you allowing God to transform you?

If you were not able to attend services this past Sunday or would like to hear Pastor's Tom sermon, click on the link to Redeemer Lutheran Church, on the right.  You will be directed to Redeemer's website, click on Sermon Audio under the Worship tab, and choose February 10, 2013.  Some of the songs we sang were "How can I Keep from Singing", "Awesome God", Shine, Jesus, Shine", and "Give Thanks".  May they inspire and uplift you, as they do me!

Your Partner in Ministry,


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." Proverbs 16:24

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Week 6 of INS - Chapter 7 - Adjust Your Scale

"... let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.  It is by our actions that we know we are living in the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before the Lord, even if our hearts condemn us."  1 John 3:18-20

CONGRATULATIONS!!!  We have reached the half-way point of our Bible study!  There are 12 chapters and this week we are on chapter 7.  So, take a moment to pat yourself on the back :)  It takes real effort to choose to set time aside in our busy schedules for Bible study.  But, as I'm sure we're realizing, spending time with God is so worth it - for ourselves, our families, and our spirits!

While you're taking time to give yourself an "atta-girl", won't you come to the blog and comment on how spending time in Scripture and study has impacted your life, so far.? Sharing your faith journey will inspire someone!  And I would love to read how you're doing :)

Wow!  Chapter 7 is the most underlined chapter in my book!  It's as if Rachel has been listening in on my thoughts and following my life for, well, let's just say for a really long time.  This chapter cuts deep for me and I know I'll have to revisit it several times this week.

Over the years I have observed that, like the flight-or-fight response to fear, there are 2 responses to perfectionism, the fast (fight)-or-frozen (flight).  There is the perfectionist who is motivated to get everything done (her way).  And because she has so much to do, she's usually that high energy person who moves with the swiftness of swallows. As a result her clothes, hair, home, children, and any project she does has an appearance of being perfect.  Then there's the perfectionist who is frozen by the tasks in front of her because she is afraid that she can't do them to perfection.  In thinking she can't live up to her ideal of how these things should be, she decides to not even try.  She allows herself to get distracted, so that, when she falls short of her perfect image, she has a valid excuse.  The outside world probably doesn't even know she's a perfectionist; but it eats away at her inside.

Do you see yourself in either of these descriptions?  Maybe just a little or in only one area of your life?  Or perhaps you share your life with someone like this?  If your answer is 'yes' to any of these questions, then let me encourage you to keep reading!  Chapter 7 is just for you (and me).  I take comfort in Rachel's reminder that "No person in between the sacred pages - saint or sinner - was perfect, except for Jesus." (INS, pg 133). 

There is so much I want to say about this chapter, but not in one post; it would be way too long!  So, I will be back throughout the week, posting more about what it means to be "... perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.",  Matthew 5:48, and how that ties into the Scripture at the beginning of this post.

If you'd like a schedule for this week, here's what I suggest:

Monday - Read chapter 7.  Share your response to the chapter on the blog and/or post how your faith journey has been impacted through regular study & Scripture time.

Tuesday - Question #1.  This requires some true honesty with yourself.  Take your time and enjoy discovering something about yourself.

Wednesday - Questions #2 & #3 and check the blog!  Read, respond, ask questions, and share.  The blog is our connection to the community of Re:

Thursday - Question #4.  Have your read the story of Jonah as an adult?  Here's your chance to read and respond to his story.

May you have a beautiful week, filled with peace and love.

Your Partner in Ministry,


"We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps."  Proverbs 16:9

Monday, February 4, 2013

Week 5 of INS - Chapter 6 - Don't Be Afraid in the Dark

"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us."  2 Corinthians 1:4

We all have our trials.  Big or small; temporary or long lasting, does not matter.  Every woman faces difficulties throughout her life.  Being a Christian does not mean life will be smooth sailing.  Neither does being rich, gaining great knowledge, or earning wisdom.  It is what we do to seek comfort and then sharing that comfort when given the chance, that makes a difference in our lives.

Wherever we find our own personal darkness, we can rest assured that God will be with us, as Jesus promises in John 14:18, when He tells the disciples of the coming of the Holy Spirit, "No, I will not abandon you as orphans - I will come to you." 

This chapter is about comfort, strength, and beauty!  When we keep our eyes on God through prayer, reading His word, and acting the way Jesus has taught us, we are able to truly feel God's comfort and peace in troubling times.  In fact, James takes it a step further and says that we should "...let it be an opportunity for joy"  James 1:2

Please take your time with this chapter! 

Here is a suggested assignment for the week:

Monday (today) - Read the chapter - underlining, highlighting, and taking notes as you go. (I have a lot of pink marks in my book!)  Come to the blog and post your reaction to what you've read.

Tuesday - Read and answer Questions 1 & 2.  If you need more room than the book provides, grab a pretty journal and jot your thoughts, answers, and questions in it with your favorite pen!

Wednesday - Read and answer Questions 3 & 4.  Again, if you need more room than the book provides, grab a pretty journal and jot your thoughts, answers, and questions in it with your favorite pen!

Thursday - Come to the blog and post your thoughts on this chapter and it's questions.  What is your favorite quote or idea?  I can't wait to read what you think!  Remember, the more you contribute to the blog, the more you contribute to the richness of the Bible study and make real connections with the whole Re: community.

Dear Sisters,  All too often I imagine Jesus reaching out his hand to me, grabbing me up from my despair, and saying "You don't have much faith.  Why did you doubt me?" just like He did to Peter on the wind swept sea.  Thank you for being that hand of Jesus, often reaching out in your encouragement, support, and participation in this Bible study.  If ever you wonder if you have done work for God, know that you have, for me.

Your Partner in Ministry,

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Have Eyes Bigger Than Your Stomach" follow-up

"Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be."  Matthew 6:21  (NLT)

"Give whatever you can according to what you have.  If you are really eager to give, it isn't important how much you are able to give.  God wants you to give what you have, not what you don't have."  2 Corinthians 8: 11b-12  (NLT)

"You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give.  Don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure.  For God loves the person who gives cheerfully."  2 Corinthians 9:7

Yes, 3 quotes for the follow-up!  I couldn't choose just one because they all give me comfort and instruction when it comes to giving of my time, talent, and finances.  They are Biblical guidelines for living a generous life.

Do you struggle with what a generous life looks like or how to live it?  Sit with these verses a while and really let them sink it.  Memorize them, talk them over with someone you love and trust.  Go back and read just the Scripture Rachel talks about in this chapter (Matthew 6, Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy, 1 Kings 17: 7-24, 2 Corinthians 8 & 9).  Do you hear common thoughts and ideas?  Ask yourself how you will apply them to your life.

Finally, I want to comment on Rachel's "kingdom secret" on page 99.  As a Lutheran, the idea of having a 'divine savings plan' just doesn't sit right with me (and my Bible study ladies, too).  I don't think Rachel means to say that we have to buy our way into heaven by doing good works, but it kind of comes across that way.  We know that Christ died for our sins.  Period.  There is no way we can live a life worthy of salvation on our own, nor can we buy our way to heaven by doing good deeds here on Earth.  Read Ephesians 2:8-9. John 4:16, Titus 3:5.  What other Scripture do you like that tells about God's grace for our Salvation?  Leave them in the Comments for all of us to read!
(Remember if you're reading this in your e-mail, you have to go the website to post comments).

James 2:14-20 helps me to understand that doing good deeds should be a result of my faith.  Verses 21-26 go on to show us examples of faith supported by deeds in the Old Testament.

As Christians we are called to live a generous life, with Jesus as our example.  When we live generously out of our faith, we are rewarded (2 Cor 9:8-11 & Psalm 112:9, Matthew 6:4, 6, 18).

I'd love to hear about your response to this chapter!  If you need some ideas to get you started, why not comment on one or more of these?

* A generous person/people I know.
* Share a time you were generous and what, if anything, happened as a result.
* An area of generosity I'd like to improve in my life is...

Your Partner in Ministry,

"For your generosity to them will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.  And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the wonderful grace of God shown through you."  2 Corinthians 9:13-14