Friday, October 31, 2008

Walking in His Shadow

Life is full of so much. Some days are beautiful and you live in them as a blessing and other days are just plain chaos. A goal of mine has been to walk through each day with God right beside me, in all things. I started to think on this more as I am not living so well within this goal. Not to sound like a broken record but I go back to these two verses that I came across recently and seem to be clinging to these days...
For my determined purpose is that I may know Him that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly, and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness even to His death, in the hope that if possible I may attain to the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead even while in the body.~Philippians 3:10-11, Amplified
And I—in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness. ~Psalm 17:15

I have always envision God being beside me a shadow. The thought came to me this morning as to why I am not fully able to awaken each morning and see God in everything or see God in me-my actions, my thoughts, my heart. He is with me-I know that, like a shadow. His shadow is constant, even on those rainy chaotic days but there is a placement problem. Let me clarify this.

You know how your own shadow will change directions based on the location of the suns reflective rays? The same is true of God. It is not that God chooses to be moved around me like a shadow in the reflective light of my heart, but it is my hearts reflection, my hearts devotion and comittment to Him that sends out the spiritual light to reflect His presence around me. Sometimes He is behind me, sometimes He is besides me, sometimes He is in front of me.

If I am to truly be satisfied, to be able to live seeing God in everything and reflecting Him back out through my life, there is only one place He should front of me, leading me. I am to walk in His shadow, not He in mine. Yes, there will be days in which the chaos and frustration will dim His shadow, there will be days that He will need to carry me, but if I allow my spiritual light to shine, there will always be a glimpse of Him. In the shadow of His cross I will find comfort, He will console my heart and soul and He will lead me in His way.

So I must ask daily if I am in the shadow of His goodness? I challenge you at ask yourself this same question.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. ~Psalm 91:1

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Behind Those Eyes Blog Bible Study

I got up really early this morning so I could get these chapters read. It's midterm week at the college and ministry has been busy so I was afraid I was going to miss posting altogether. But I made it and here are my reflective thoughts on another tough topic ('s) we have explored in Lelia's blog bible Study of Lisa Whittles book "Behind Those Eyes!

I do wish for a friendship as Lisa described with Colleen. I had that once. I miss her. I can not not claim a close female friend at the moment-it made me pray for such a friendship to come back to life and for God to send someone like Colleen to me. I could sure use her in my life again.

I think what stuck out the most to me in reading these two chapters was related to Chapter 6 Cosmetics for the Soul and the subject of satisfaction. It has been a topic so very near and dear to me as I have journeyed through this spiritual transformation. You know what I'm talking about, don't you...the changing of your wants, your desires, and what you truly find satisfaction in. When I read verses like Psalms 17:15 it's like eating a dove chocolate...soothing!
And I—in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.
It fills me with motivation and gives me hope. A hope that I too can awaken each morning and see God in everything and see His likeness in me.

"In order to find full and lasting satisfaction, we have to look to the heavenly things, not the temporal things of this world. Or ultimate goal has to be to seek Him and His righteousness above all else."

Am I satisfied with my life? Parts of it. All I want though is more of Him, more of God, more time in ministry. I am thirsty for the spiritual and that is such a good thing. What do I conceal? My insecurities of who I can be in Christ, my fear of still is so fresh. But as Lisa wrote in at the end of Chapter 7 The Feelings We Conceal:

"Whether we are feeling insecure, jealous, lonely, or afraid, our precious Father desires to hold us and tell us we are worthy, important, gifted, never alone, and never to fear"

He is all I need. He satisfies me above all else.

In Him~Pamela

For my determined purpose is that I may know Him that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly, and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness even to His death, in the hope that if possible I may attain to the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead even while in the body.~Philippians 3:10-11, Amplified

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Short and Sweet....

I came across a verse today. I have read it many times, but today, in this version, it spoke volumes. It spoke to my heart, to my life goal. It speaks truth...

For my determined purpose is that I may know Him that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly, and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness even to His death, in the hope. ~Philippians 3:10, Amplified
Determined purpose...progressively...deeply and intimately...perceiving...recognizing...understanding...what challenging words for the soul.
May this be your prayer today.
In Him~Pamela

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Behind Those Eyes: Ms. Spirituality (Chapter 5)

Spirituality is like a river flowing
through every person.
Unfortunately, it can be dammed in
times of illness, dying, and/or
bereavement, with pain, fear and loneliness.
However, a compassionate,
caring presence can prevent the dam
from forming and keep the river flowing.
~Steven Jeffers
(Institute for Spirituality in Health)

No challenges expected with the title of Lisa Whittles' chapter here-Ms. Spirituality-right? Wrong. I saw it a deer in headlights. What a sweet reminder to examine our heart in this concept of our "spirituality". I lost a distant colleague and friend-Steven Jeffers a few months ago in a car accident. I immediately thought of his work on this concept of spirituality in health care and the value he played in educating and fueling my passion for this subject.

I love this subject. As a nursing professor, I teach this. As a nurse and women of God, I live it. But do I live it in the right mind set-God's mind set?

I could rattle off a variety of definitions within the concepts of spirituality. In our faith community nurse course we offer for the experience nurse, I teach the concepts of spirituality and religion and what it is to be a nurse in a faith based community such as our churches. This class is made up of a diverse population of nurses from different faith backgrounds. I have been careful to not "offend"-to teach with an openness and acceptance of all the faith belief systems. I have used the same cautious approach in the classroom of our beginning nursing students as I have had professed atheist sitting in the those chairs. However, I have been convicted in this after reading this chapter.

Ouch. There's that word again...convicted. Are we really called to walk carefully in this matter? Are we really suppose to use caution as we identified the truth of our spirituality? NO! NO! NO!
Even though the college I teach at is professed to be "christian", there are no requirements for its students to be of the same thinking. We have all walks of faith, non-faith, sexuality, etc. Sadly this fine line in addressing concepts of God has masked the truth of spirituality. I thought I was entering into a much different environment when I accepted this position 5 years ago. However, I was most empowered and convicted by the following from this chapter which relates to my thinking as I teach my spirituality courses and examine my own heart:
"True spirituality is about the awesome power of God showing up in a person's life to the point that people around her notice a difference." (pp.95).
Wow. Can I say that of me? When I sit in my red paisley chair each morning for my quiet time or drive along listening to an inspiring christian song I can feel God's presence and the spiritual is very real and alive in me. Yet is it evidenced to others? I can work in every ministry, fill every void within my church, open and close the church doors every time there is an event but that does not make me spiritual. Does it really make me who I am? No. It's an action, a service, and it does not always require the spiritual.
When I came out of my "pit" I went through a spiritual distress time-I read everything I could on grace and healing, I only listened to Christian music, I prayed, I journaled relentlessly, I involved myself to the point of not feeling within the act. I was desperate for others to see what God was doing in my life, that I could be more than my sin. But my thoughts have changed over the last four years. My desperation has shifted gears to be more passionate about who Christ is and who I am in Christ=less focused on my outward works, more focused on my inward works. Its the inward work of our heart that leads us closer to God.
"The person who actually is spiritual is spiritual as it comes from the Holy Spirit and is in the presence of Almighty God". (pp.95)
I want more of Him. Yes, I want to serve, I want to be successful for Him but more than anything else, I want to know Him better than anything else. I want to be fully spiritual under His qualifications. In knowing Him more then I know my "desire to please God superseded [my] fear and anxieties about [my] leadership role" (pp. 93). I can serve in my church because the spiritual is alive and well in my heart and mind, not because I can perform an action.

Lisa's tough question for us this week: "Are you trading your reputation for repentance?" Yes, I am guilty of this. Oh Lord, forgive me for the times when I have done this. Then she ask, "Do you need to get spiritually real?" Well, it has been a work in progress but it is happening. Internally. Again, externally, I pray I can be more real than I ever have been. In the meantime, I am resting in this "desert time" I seem to be in and I am desperate for anything and everything He has for me that will draw me more fully into Him, into His spirituality. I will be most spiritual when I enter into eternity but until then my assignment is to be spiritually minded in all things.
So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. ~Romans 8:6

I cherish the insight everyone has within this blog Bible study which you can get to from our host blog site Lelia!! Thanks for taking the time to stop by here today. I will pray for each of you. I will stop by your postings this weekend. Blessings!

Now on a discerning note...I feel like I am so overwhelmed lately. To the point that my mind is tired. Did you see all the typo's in my last post? It shows in my speech, my thought process and now my dress...look closely at this picture...

I took my 12 year old shopping for some much needed winter clothes after our parent-teacher conference yesterday. We were at our last store and I happened to look down at my shoes. Do you see it? Oh my gosh...I wore two different shoes!! To the parent-teacher conference-to the mall and several other stores!!! After the initial shock I told my daughter I meant to do this. She is already embarrassed by her parents, I have now topped it for her. Augghhhhh!! My husband is thinking it's time to reserve a room at the extended care facility down the road. Seriously. I think I need prayer.

In Him~Pamela

Monday, October 13, 2008

Behind Those Eyes: Ms. Happiness (Chapter 4)

"God's Word is like a mirror in that it reveals to us our true nature"
~Alicia Britt Chole, Annonymous: Jesus hidden years and yours

I found this chapter a whole lot easier to stomach. I'm afraid I am not one to hide my emotions. If I am not shows (not always a good thing) and the opposite is true that when I am happy, you can tell. As I approached this chapter, before even reading the first words written by Lisa, I mentally asked myself "what makes me happy?" I immediately thought of my red paisley devotional chair. I have such contentment, security and joy when I am in it. Why? Because I have learned that my joy comes from God. Even in the worst of situations, I have internally experienced great peace and joy amidst the chaos. I love that I have reached this point-to recognize God in all things but do I live it externally, 24/7...not all the time. So hence this weeks conviction-to live in the joy I have had planted internally and show it more fully externally-24/7.

"Happiness is not always what it seems, and someone can easily impersonate happiness without actually having it" (pp.58)
I don't know why we are sometimes shocked by this. A marriage breaks up and we think "what went wrong? They seemed like such a perfect, happy and successful family". Been there? Experienced that? I have. Not so much with my own failed marriage (people knew we were struggling) but more so in the make-up of my husbands first marriage. He and I can both identify with the following statement as in the end of our first marriages, he was so drained from living in two different identities-the appearance of being happy, the reality of living so very far apart and I was drained of not caring anymore:
"It is our hypocrisy and self-focus that drains us. When we become purposed centered, internally directed, other focused and externally open, we discover energy we didn't know we had." Robert E. Quinn (pp.62)
Bingo. We drained ourselves dry. Our focus shifted from where it should be to what look better on the other side. We both tired of the fight, the untruth, and we gave in to our self thinking that life would be better any other way than what it was.
When we are not happy we must look at the internal and external causes. In this situation, if I am honest, I realize my focus was on me and not not where it should have been. I am sorry to say we do not regret walking away from those marriages. We do regret the way in which we came together. God knows what was endured in both situations and in His graces He has blessed Joe and I despite it all. Even in our new found happiness in each other and in our now spiritually strong marriage, we have learned that even we cannot make each other completely and fully happy. We have learned that our true joy comes from God and I guess that is why we are so committed to be on our knees together almost daily. Statistics show that re-marriages have a greater chance of not making it more so than first marriages do. Joe and I have learned dearly how to love, really love, and how to be committed. We have been given a second chance at it and we cherish this relationship.
"Happiness cannot be found inside us, no matter how hard we try to make it be true." (pp.62)

Again, I reflect back to my red paisley devotional chair. Happiness. I am with God. A place where my heart and mind is learning to "prefer to go strait to the Expert when it comes to the subject of true happiness" (pp.71). We are most happy, most joyful when we are living in God's will, connected and spiritually full of His goodness. And it is reflected to others around us. I wish it was easier to live this 24/7.
Somehow the things that bring "unhappiness" into our life seems to grab us and shakes us up. What a great reminder of my own life when I read Ecclesiastes chapter two. If you haven't read this, go there now and reflect on Solomon's wisdom. Nothing...nothing we do on this earth will satisfy our hearts, our life, our minds, our need to be loved. Nothing can fulfill any of those areas as the Lord can. I personally have found scripture to be the most powerful tool to fight off the grip of false happiness or discontentment. Currently, I cling to the verse I received at the She Speaks conference from Deut. 33:12 "Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between His shoulders."
Comfort. Secure. Rest. Peace. All of it comes from God. All of it leads to joy (happiness).

"This joy cannot be revoked, and it won't be changed according to our circumstances....the reality is joy that comes from our heavenly Father is easily achieved and readily offered." (pp.74)
So accept it. Live in it and be blessed. Don't let satan steal your joy!! Change your focus, change what you search for to bring you happiness. And remember our challenge verse:
You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand. ~Psalm 16:11

What stands in the way of me living fully in the joy I experience every time I sit quietly in that red paisley chair? Me. I need less of me and more of Christ. How about you?

For more refection from this blog Bible study stop over to our host Lelia's blog site!

Prayerfully, Pamela (MrsJoeB)
10/16-I have an addition to add to this chapter from one of my devotional readings this morning. It's worth sharing!
"I like to cultivate the spirit of happiness! It retunes my soul and keeps it so perfectly in tune that satan is fraid to touch it. The cords of my soul become so vibrant and full of heavenly electricity that he takes his friendish fingers from me and goes somewhere else! Satan is always weary of interfering with me when my heart is full of the happiness and joy of the Holy Spirit." ~L.B. Cowman, Streams in the Desert Devotions

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Behind Those Eyes, Ms Confidence (Chapter 3)

You know what I find so amazing about this Bible study? Your reflections! I have been so motivated and convicted by what others in this Bible study are taking from each chapter. To have the books author, Lisa Whittle, involved and responding to our responses is such an added bonus. To read her reflective thoughts after having followed God's direction in writing this book is powerful. Then there is Lelia, our host, one of the most amazing women of God that I have come to know and love. What a wonderful vision she has had in this ministry and we need to especially pray for her because satan is attacking her so severely for walking in God's truth.
May I boldly suggest we pray for each other? It seems we are all experiencing chaos as we venture through this study. Satan knows the outcome of our hearts and mind are not in his favor!! I try hard to get to everyone's posting but time does not always allow it. So I will commit to bless each Bible study member in prayer each week. I cherish your prayers too.

Chapter 3: Ms. Confidence
"Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. ~2 3:4
This week I had no questions about the verse at the beginning of this chapter. No argument here that our confidence only comes from Christ. The world and my own inabilities may have taken my confidence away, sometimes daily, but as I have grown in my relationship in Christ I have learned that even though I may be weak from outward appearances (or personal reflection), I have such peace because of the redemptive grace I have receive from my God.
"The truth is we really only need God."
Some of us have learned this lesson the hard way. My husband and I are trying to teach and demonstrate this truth to our girls. Why is it a lesson that has to be learned? Why can't they just take our word for it and adjust their life accordingly? Wishful thinking. The reality is that it is painful for us as parents to grow stronger in Christ and not see this evidenced in our kids life (I know your pain in raising me mom). Our biggest frustration is not knowing where we are going wrong.
We keep on our knees and trust God to overcome this concern. We are the current youth leaders in our church and we feel that our kids are getting too much of us. We are praying that God will send someone of a different influence into this role so our children will have more spiritual influences within their life. Pray for this with us won't you?
"...women who are open and vulnerable and real and genuine and without pretense. Those are the things that truly take strength"
There is a bite to this. I have tried to hide from my past though that has been difficult. I struggle with others not wanting to come to Christ because of it. Lelia challenged to address Lisa questions in the study section for thischapter "Is it hard for you to admit your vulnerabilities to others? To God?" I struggle with being real, open, vulnerable and without pretense to others, not so much with God. I find this vulnerablility with others is a part of the letting go phase. I know I am not alone. I find myself in a "desert" phase. My work schedule is preventing me from being all that I desire to be in ministry. Yet my heart aches to serve and honor God more fully in ministry. However, God seems to be calling me to solitude, to step back and soak Him in more. I am seeing that in this time of solitude-in this desert-I am learning to be confident in Christ and in that I will be able to be more confident in ministry when God's timing is opened up. I need more patience in this. It will help me to be real, open, vulnerable and without pretense.
"It all comes down to who our confidence is in,where it lies, and why we have confidence to begin with."
Reality, I have no confidence in myself. When I do, something usually brings me back to how vulnerable I can be, whether it is work related or correlated to my spirituality. There are days that I have thought that living in a monastery would be the perfect life (and I am not Catholic). I mean really...have you ever been to one of these things? I have for a silent retreat and it is wonderful. They are beautiful in so many ways and to be able to spend 24/7 soaking up God. WOW. Yet, God has placed such a burden in my heart to help other walk through healing from life's failure. I can't do that in a monastery except by prayer. It's all in God's timing. That is where my confidence lies!
Lisa referenced confidence at the end of this chapter as strength. The confident women is a women whose knees are callous from prayer, she is courageous amidst her fears, and she gives the best of herself to others. She "realizes life's mistake can be God's blessings and capitalizes on them". She knows that God is always present to "catch her when she falls". She wears grace and her "strength has faith that is in the journey that she will become strong". She is fearless, strong, empowered, independent, emotionally healthy and strives to accomplished God's plan in her life and not her own. Do you have a vision here of the Proverbs 31 women? I just did. It is thought that Solomon is describing in that passage his mother Bethsheba. What a powerful life testimony she has! Think about the journey she came from to be remembered like that!
"Our confidence comes from knowing not only whose we are but also who He is".
I may be in a desert, but like Paul when he was in chains, I see this as a period of confidence building and not frustration. For in the end...
“’Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold I will do something new, 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.’” Isaiah 43:18-19 (NAS)
God is preparing us for something big...big for Him. I am willing to be made willing. Are you? We are required to work on being confident in Him and not our self. Amen? Amen.

In Him~Pamela (MrsJoeB)