Thursday, November 14, 2013

Week 6 - A Confident Heart - Chapters 11 & 12

"Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope." Romans 15:4

Welcome to our final week of Renee Swope's A Confident Heart.  I am so glad you are here with me!  We read this book at a faster pace than previous studies, so congratulate yourself on a job well done.  With our busy lives, I know it wasn't easy, but I suspect that you will agree with me when I say, it was worth it!

In chapter 11 Renee reminds us of a few points that I think are very important.

She says, "I want you to know that living in  the power of God's promises isn't a one-time thing... return to every truth..., again and again." (pg 204)

This is a reminder to stay in God's word.  It is how we come to know God: His promises, His forgiveness, His love.  We cannot know or believe something if we don't take the time to read it, learn it, and live it.  When it comes to learning, repetition is the key!  When it comes to relationships, time and attention are vital.  To know God's promises, read them over and over. In order to have a relationship with Him, spend time together.   There are wonderful examples of people, just like us, in the Bible.  People who are not perfect, who need coaxing & convincing, who are broken, lost, and struggling.  People who are called & chosen by God, but still stray or disobey.  God does not give up on them and He does not give up on us.  Learn the promises He has for us by reading the Bible daily.  That is where we will find the answers to our most troubling questions and a guide for living a Saved life in this fallen world.

Renee also says, "As we live in the power of God's promises, we will still have struggles... As we become the women we want to be, and more importantly the women God created and called us to be, we will still go through times when we have questions and doubts.  Sometimes we may even ask, Is God enough?" (pg 211).

This second point is a tough, but obvious one!  Of course Christians have struggles.  In fact, some of the most faithful people I know have some of the biggest life struggles!  "But why?!", is what I hear from others and often ask myself.  'Why would a faithful Christian still face hardship or disease or broken relationships?  Doesn't God bless His children and aren't Christians nice people that everyone gets along with? ' These are questions for the ages!  As I read the Bible, I see that I am not alone in the asking of these questions.  And yes, the answers are in there, too.  The short answer I have come to, for my own understanding, is that blessings and hardships surround us, believers & non-believers alike.  The difference being who we go to for comfort and strength.  Who we look to in times of doubt. How we view ourselves when trouble is standing before us.  Whose hand we hold when we are walking through darkness.  Christians cry out to God for help; we reach for Jesus' hand to guide us.  No matter what, we know that we are loved and will not be abandoned.  We face no challenge, take no journey, stand against no enemy alone!  Our God is with us! 

It was no accident or happenstance that the stories of the Bible were passed down through generations and written in many languages, for all to read.  As Paul tells the Christians in Rome, "Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope." Romans 15:4.  God knew we would face many difficulties and would be in need of continued reminders of His love & faithfulness.  He knew we would need role models and guidance.  I encourage you to return to the Word again and again to look for answers, gain perspective, and draw closer to God.

Throughout A Confident Heart, Renee gives us tools to help us use Scripture to drive away the shadows: "When-Then" statements (pg 60), inserting our name into Scripture, praying God's word, remembering who we are in Christ (chart on pg 107-108), "AM/FM" statements (pg 113), discovering our spiritual gifts (pg 147), creating time & space to spend with Jesus (pg 175), and learning who God is through His names (pg 194).  All of chapter 12 is a chart of Scripture to combat our self-doubt and help us "live in the security of God's promises".  Hopefully one or more of these practices resonated with you, that you can use them in your everyday walk with the Lord.

I pray that as you read this book and studied Scripture, you started to uncover your Confident Heart.  And as you go on from here, you will continue to grow in faith.  Keep this book handy!  It is a wonderful resource and one that can be read multiple times.  I've read it twice in the last year and a half and discovered something new in every chapter. 

Now, it's your turn!!!
What spoke to your heart?  Was there something in any part of the book that made you say, "Ah-ha!"  A revelation?  Something that you have started doing to reveal your confident heart and start becoming the woman God created you to be?  Whatever you would like to share, I would love to read!

What a blessing it is to be on this journey together!!

Your Partner in Ministry,


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

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chaters 9 & 10 Continued

"We will only overcome our fears by walking through them, holding God's hand and trusting His heart to lead, protect, and preserve us."  Renee Swope in A Confident Heart (p. 197)

I can't believe I forgot my favorite part of the blog!!  YOUR FAVORITE QUOTES & IDEAS!!
That's something else we lose when we give in to self-doubt, worry, and fear: our mind!

Not that it makes us truly crazy, but when we are occupied with negative thoughts, it's easy to forget other, and often, more important things.  Things that don't require as much energy to keep in check.  Negative thoughts are like the proverbial squeaky wheel: they demand our attention!  And steal our peace.  And prevent us from being focused, productive, and truly alive!

I've been dealing with worry & fear over the last few weeks.  Nothing much, but I was treading lightly with a new person in my life.  Every time I had to communicate with her, I was concerned that whatever I said would be taken wrong.  I was careful how I "spoke" to her, limiting most of my communications to e-mail so I could cafefully craft what I was saying.  Something that was suppose to be a fun, collaborative endeavour had become a project filled with stress.  After an especially disturbing encounter, I prayed for wisdom & compassion in my attitude.  I felt my confidence grow with every future encounter and thought things were going well.  When she came at me with fear and control, I thought I was offering peace and information.  Then yesterday more hurtful and accusing words from her filled my head & heart with self-doubt!  Did I really do what she accused me of?  Am I that obtuse that I didn't see that I was causing her misery?  How could I do so much harm, when I thought I was doing good? 

Through prayer (y'know, the kind where I just open the top of my head and let God in because I'm at such a loss for words), friends, & loved ones I regained my perspective.  I was reminded of who I am in Christ.  I was reminded that I cannot control how people react and I cannot let their defeating words enter my heart.  Paul tells us, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need and thank him for all the has done.  If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7.  As long as I am living in Christ Jesus, God is guarding my heart and if God is with me, who can stand against me!?  NO ONE!  

So I followed Paul's advice, and did what I knew would bring me peace; I offered her an apology.  Whether or not she accepts it is up to her.  My heart is healed through Jehovah Shalom, the Lord my Peace (Judges 6:24).  Through this, I was inspired to make cards with the Names of God on them, so that I could keep them with me and be reminded of the promise of who He is.   When I figure out how to publish them, I'll share them here on the blog!  Until then, you can find a list of God's names and corresponding Scripture on page 194 of A Confident Heart.

NOW!  Tell me, what are your favorite quotes from chapters 9 & 10?  I look forward to reading all of your comments!!

Your Partner in Ministry,


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

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Week 5 - A Confident Heart - Chapters 9 & 10

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6-7

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible, because I worry!  I used to worry a lot - about everything.  My mom worries, my great-grandmother worried so I assumed it was 'in my blood'.  Some people are wired to worry!  Right?  
Sure, we all handle things differently.  But some of us are overly concerned about life, we play it over & over in our heads, we "over think" our words & actions.  This is especially true when we are overwhelmed or find ourselves in a stressful situation or with people who make us uncomfortable. 

For years I had read "don't worry" in the Bible and could not understand what it meant.  How does one not worry about: the dangers in life, being accepted, finding a job, making right choices, saying the right thing, being good enough, being happy, being safe, not making any big mistakes?!  I had no idea!  I read the words, but could not grasp their meaning.  

As I studied God's word I began to see a pattern.  He tells his people (those in the Bible and me & you) "do not be afraid" and "don't worry", a lot!  I take comfort in this because it means I am not alone in my worry.  And I should look to those people in the Bible as my example of how not to worry.  

Another favorite passage about worry is in Matthew 6:25-34.  In the NLT translation, Jesus says "don't worry" three times and asks "why worry".  He also asks, "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" (vs. 27) and answers, "Of course not." 
Wow!  If you worry, go back and read Jesus' words again.  When I read that & it's meaning finally sunk in, it was life changing!  Worrying about something does not make it better or add anything good to my life.  In fact, Renee has an acronym that I love: Worry Only Robs Rest from You.  Take a moment to recall a time you were worried about someone or something.  Do you remember how you felt?  Did you sleep well, were you unfocused, tired, feeling alone?  All of these feelings can lead us further down the path of worry, fear, and doubt.

How do we stop traveling down that dark road?  We turn towards the light!  We read God's Word and believe what he says.  For a reminder, go back to the chart on pages 107-108.  What a great list of scripture that tells us who we are in Christ!  We hold on to the promise of Grace and trust that we don't need to understand everything, because God does, and that's enough.  He is leading us - we just need to trust Him enough to follow Him.  Renee has some great tips on how to spend more time in God's word on pages 176-177.

Is one of your worries that you can't follow God consistently?  It's one of mine!  For a long time I felt God tugging on my heart to guide a Bible study.  But how could I, with all my shortcomings?!  It's the very reason I don't have an Ichthys magnet on my car.  I don't want others to know I'm a Christian when I'm being less than Christian-like behind the wheel!   And oh boy, could I relate to Renee's story about the day she spent at her mother's house - it started out beautifully and ended in a mess!  I know that feeling of going from a serene place to anger & disappointment in a very short time.  Then in comes worry, doubt, and feelings of failure and guilt.  I use to spend days beating myself up when I failed spectacularly, but that's not what God wants for us.  Instead he offers us grace & mercy (Hebrews 4:16).

All we need to do to receive it, is ask!

Your Partner in Ministry,


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